Year in Review — 50’s done; here’s 51!

With my big 50th behind me, I wanted to share some of my favorite things from 2018
Before I get to some of my favorite things, I want to acknowledge that this has been an emotionally tough year. Where I work, we have undergone some staff transitions and that is always hard even when people are going to follow new assignments. In the fall, my good friend Luke was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has conquered it with joy. He is the joy taser. In addition, watching other close friends go through personally tough situations is very stressful and you never quite know how to help. Maybe this seemingly increase in seriousness is part of getting older? It’s hard regardless.

Keep thinking! Continue reading…

I Never Knew You

Recently, I came across some insights in a book I have been reading that help flesh out some ideas I have been struggling to name. Let’s get into it.

The goal of spiritual disciplines

If you ask someone how to grow as a Christian they will tell you to read your Bible and pray. It’s not bad advice, but it is universally almost never followed. Few Christians read their Bible, or have an informed and rich engagement with it. Even fewer have fulfilling, meaningful prayer lives. I know all about that having walked with Jesus since I was a young child—having tried to get to know Jesus since I was a young child. Now that I am 50 I am beginning to see some things differently.

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

pursuinggood_appropriate

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.