Friday, October 23, 2009


I've been privileged over the years to sit under and learn alongside of some pretty amazing leaders - most recently at my last church in New York. Each of those respective leaders had their own style, philosophy, experiences and personalities that "flavored" their approach, but the lessons I've gleaned from them have been nearly universal - especially if you want to be successful at all.

One of the many great things about those lessons is that, while they've been applied most frequently at the "institutional" or "professional" level, each lesson has been much broader and deeper than that. One could almost argue (quite successfully, I believe) that each finds its truest fulfillment outside of those levels, for their deepest fulfillment is found in the areas that, without which, we truly founder.

One tool where visualization of principles is often enhanced is through the watching of video media (movies, cartoons, slides, PowerPoint, etc.). My last "great leader" was keenly aware of this, and frequently used such to make his points. I'll never forget watching a movie together with staff entitled, "Drumline," for from it, I took away these golden nuggets of leadership wisdom - broad & deep. (Note: There is some language in this film that, depending upon your personal convictions, might bother you a bit - just so you're aware before you go and rent it).

Here's the nuggets I was able to "pan" from this media "stream," along with my own interpretation of what each means:
  • One band must produce one sound (True Community = Unimaginable Power)
  • It's not always about doing what you love most (Responsibility = Some things you don't love need done)
  • You've got to learn to follow well before you can lead well (Growth = You can't push people anywhere - you must draw them forward)
  • You've got to love the sound of the band more than the sound of your own drum (Humility = Only take prominence when invited to)

As I mentioned before, I believe that these are most powerful when they transcend our "professional" roles and become models for us as spouses, parents, friends and co-workers. Not only will adherence to these benefit us professionally, they will benefit us at every level of our lives. Why? Because each is a biblical principle, and was long before this film was made! As such, they move from the realm of "good ideas" to the arena of "foundational truth" - tried and tested over the generations.

My challenge to you is to take just one of these and ask the Lord to help you live it. The ripple effects of this commitment will oscillate farther than you could ever imagine, and you ensure that a "Well Done!" is on the way from Christ Himself!

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Not What You Think!

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

At least once a year (sometimes much more, depending upon your church), you are going to walk into your church and hear the pastor attempt to convince you to give more money to the work of the church. And, if your pastor is like most, he’ll more than likely refer to this month’s Scripture passage (among others) in his endeavors. Nothing wrong with this, but if that’s the only time you examine these verses, you will have missed the vast majority of the reason God chose to put them in His Word to us!

You see, the principles above can apply to money, but they are intended to go much farther than that. The verses aren’t intended to be primarily about money, but about our hearts (which is the bottom line for most of what the Bible teaches us, is you dare look!). Yes, God’s challenge to us each is to give, but if all we give is money, or if we dismiss this verse because we think that’s all it talks about, we will have missed one of God’s most important lessons!

The most important thing to take from God’s Word above is this: Generosity is one of the key distinguishing marks of a Christian, and it should characterize all of our behavior. Whether it is with our dollars, our time, our compliments, our gifts & abilities or our forgiveness (to name a few), each and every one should be characterized by generosity.

Why? Because God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has been incredibly generous with us, His children. Simply put, we should be generous in everything because God is generous in everything! Do you have to give just like someone else? Absolutely not!

Give like...give what...only you can give – you’ll be surprised at the results! You’ll discover that since such generosity honors and points people towards Him, it will invariably create within us a spirit of joy…I guarantee it!

Friday, October 9, 2009


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

Not long ago, I received an advertisement in the mail from a resort that was pulling out all the stops as it tried to tempt me into spending some of my hard-earned money. Its tactic? Dangling this phrase in front of my often-weary soul: “Looking for some peace and quiet? Have we got a dream vacation for you! Come join us for 6 days and 5 nights of absolute bliss as we pamper you on our beaches, catering to your every whim and desire!” I have to admit, it sounded good, and I’m sure would have even felt good, but the Lord flashed the “red light” in my heart and prompted me to make sure and take notice of an all-too-frequent lie deftly hidden among the luscious-sounding words of this advertisement. The lie? That peace can somehow be attained and enjoyed with nothing more than a change of location.

Make no mistake…this lie sells! Marketer after marketer attempts to convince us that the solution to our inner struggles is purely a geographical one. Each tempts us with the idea that we can leave behind all that troubles us if we’ll just come to their place. Sunset skies, tranquil waters, gentle breezes and our favorite foods are wonderful, but make no mistake; they have very little, if anything, to do with peace-finding. Our world is filled with people who have the capacity to go anywhere, do anything, move anytime, and yet “peaceful” would be the last word we’d use to characterize their lives!

Ever since his demise some millennia ago, our adversary, Satan, has been in the business of counterfeiting the real things of God. He readily dispenses cheap imitations of just about anything God offers: love (lust), joy (spending), and contentment (acquiring things) are just a few of the commonly peddled alternatives. And when we get to the topic of peace, he’d love for us to believe that it is obtainable any other way than by coming to Jesus Christ.

Trouble is (for Satan), Jesus makes it very clear that His peace is unique, unlike anything our enemy can ever offer. Look at His words in the verse above: "I do not give to you as the world gives." See, the world’s peace is fleeting, elusive and unpredictable. That means it’s tough to find, even on a good day, even harder to hang onto, and as far too many have discovered the hard way, unreliable at working the same way or providing the same thing twice.

Take Jesus’ peace, though, and you’ll find just the opposite to be true. It’s never hard to find, but comes any and every time we ask for it. It’s easy to hang onto, as Isaiah 26:3 states, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (just keep our eyes on Jesus). And it works the same way every single time we seek it, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a vacation anytime I can get one…but not to attain peace. The only place I need to be to attain this peace is with Jesus. An old piece of “bumper sticker theology” stated this truth quite simply: No Jesus? No Peace. Know Jesus? Know peace.

Take a vacation when you need one…but find your peace long before you leave. Jesus is ready and willing to grant you His peace…and quite possibly save you a lot of money!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pay Attention!

No question about it, these are interesting times (to say the least). Wild weather, eye-popping disasters, erratic economies, wide-spread disease and the constant metamorphosis of ideas, traditions & practices that once seemed unchangeable - you can no longer be completely sure of what the world will look like when you get up each morning.

As you might guess, in an era marked with such transition & change, I am frequently asked about what I think is going on. Questions like, "Is this the End Times?" "Do you think so-and-so the antichrist?" "Aren't you worried about the world your kids will live in?" are regular conversation between my roles as Pastor of a local church & Chaplain of a regional retirement community.

The truth is, I'm not exactly sure what all the turmoil, confusion and reorientation means. From day to day I have my thoughts, but I'm not prepared to say "Thus saith the Lord" about any of the particulars. What I do have a certainty about comes from Jesus' own words to us in the Gospels (you know: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John - His good ol' boys while on the earth).

Look at what He has to say about these types of times: "The disciples came to Jesus privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (Matthew 24, New International Version).

Now, you'll probably draw your own conclusions from this, but I'll tell you what I do know. Take a look at the world around you...see how it matches up with what He has said here...and know that at the very least, Jesus is saying to us today, "PAY ATTENTION!!" He gave us His Word so that we'd never have to be surprised by what's going on, and so we could face each day with a sense of expectation, not fear. May He find each of us ready for whatever tomorrow may hold; not because we're "super Christians" but because we paid attention and made Him our immovable anchor.