Pursuing Good — Special

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What do you think of when you hear these phrases?

  • Your special someone.
  • A special day.
  • The daily special at your favorite restaurant.

I bet you thought of something or someone specific, or could, for each of those ideas.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

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Here I Stand. Non-Negotiable Principles

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“Here I stand I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
~Martin Luther

It’s a statement of extreme. It’s a declaration that you will die on this hill, fight until your last breath, be willing to lose everything to not lose this one thing. Here I stand, I can do no other. My conscience is convinced. It is nonnegotiable —something not open to discussion or modification.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

The Distinguishing Characteristic

Recently my wife and I moved into a new home. We don’t quite know what to call it. It is a 1 1/2 story house and defies all of the categories I have searched through on the internet.

People who know a lot about home construction could look at our house, any house, and tell you exactly what type of home it is — Cape Cod, Colonial, Bungalow, or even a McMansion (I had no idea there were so many types of homes or so much variety within each type of home). Each of these have a defining feature (or two) that immediately identify it as that type of home. When you build a home, you choose those traits at the outset. Of course I am going somewhere with this analogy.

In the ministry, we are in the people building business. What traits do people have when they are being properly formed as disciples of Christ? Make no mistake, this is the job. The apostle Paul said it this way: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” (Gal 4:19).

I am using that phrasing (Christ formed in us) to point to the characteristics or traits that we have as Christ followers. To that end, I have starting wondering whether or not there is a distinguishing characteristic of Christian maturity. Have you ever thought about that? If so, what would you say is the defining characteristic of Christian maturity?

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Pursuing Good: Appropriate

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I remember visiting a church with my family following the horrific attacks of 9/11. To be honest, I was not completely sure how I was feeling. I am sure you can relate. How odd was it that this church barely mentioned those events and did not seem to alter their service in any way. I left with nothing. Whatever that service was, it was not good… and we never went back.

I live within a few miles of Charlotte, NC. Recently our city made national news with the tragic police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and the subsequent protests. This was a time to stand with people who were hurting, to prophetically speak to power, and pray for our police officers. Among the members of our church, we had police officers assisting in the crowd control and congregants joining the protests! I didn’t say this was easy. That’s a lot of emotion to deal with. (And please forgive me for using this tragedy as an illustration. I know how intense it is and that is what makes this conversation about our ministry so critical. Of course I feel that weight. I’m feeling it now.) In fear of not offending anyone or fear of saying the wrong thing, I shudder to think how many congregations completely ignored the entire thing. Shameful.

These examples reveal responses that were neither suitable nor proper (the very definition of appropriate).

If you recall the backstory behind these pursuit of good posts, the example that sparked it all was examining what made an actor good. The characteristic about being appropriate had everything to do with body language and how an actor uses their body as an instrument to convey what is appropriate in a scene. This is an apt metaphor. Are we comfortable in our own skin as the body of Christ?

To be appropriate, we need both emotional range and spiritual fortitude/muscle to wade into these deep waters.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Pursuing Good: Complete

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In my recent post Pursuing Good: The Backstory, I began to process what makes something good. I ran into a couple of articles that really helped propel this idea forward. I even started to address the bad press we give good as opposed to great or excellent. I’ll continue to focus on that tension.

Here are the characteristics of a good service. A service is good when it is…

  1. authentic
  2. surprising
  3. exposing vulnerability
  4. interesting (with a by product of my engagement)
  5. appropriate
  6. complete or full (delivers on the expectation)
  7. special
  8. smooth in transitions
  9. purposeful (or communicating a point)
  10. impeccably executed

In this post, let’s do a deeper dive in #6—a service is good when it is complete. As usual, let’s start with a definition to get on the same page:

complete |kəmˈplēt| adjective
having all the necessary or appropriate parts
• entire; full
• having run its full course
(often used for emphasis) to the greatest extent or degree; total
Apple Dictionary v2.2.1

Let’s go.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.