Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Never Meant To Be

In the wake of his recent and untimely death, I have been thinking a great deal about Michael Jackson. Like him, love him or hate him, it doesn't diminish the effect that this man had on the music industry and an entire generation worldwide. We all know that he was an incredibly gifted little boy who ended up a deeply disturbed and broken man. What has gripped my heart is the reality of what fame and idolatry must do to any person. Because the fact is, we were never created to be worshiped and adored and so to receive the kind of attention this man lived with his entire life must have been a crushing burden. Yeah, yeah, I know...he signed up for it and in the process amassed a fortune that many would envy. But I would never want to know the reality of being worshiped and idolized. This was not even a reality until technology made it possible to be known to so many throughout the globe and now, thanks to vehicles like YouTube, anyone can be famous and very quickly. But it has always been appealing to humanity. What did the serpent offer the first woman? That she would be like God. And what does celebrity on such a grand scale offer a man or woman? The kind of renown and adoration that only God should ever experience. He can handle it. We cannot. And it breaks my heart to see what it does to a person. And it also breaks my heart to hear the masses crticize the giants when they fall whether those giants are in politics, entertainment, church leadership or business. So many of them do fall and the bigger the giant, the bigger the fall. And you know why? Because it was just never meant to be.


Monday, June 29, 2009

I Am Here...

That's right, my bloggy friends, I am away at the beach for a little R & R with my family. I would not even try to tell you how draining the past twelve months have been for us, but suffice it to say that it has felt at times like we have been climbing the cliffs of insanity from The Princess Bride. And I am afraid of heights. Anyway, we have found a way to get away to my favorite place to be so I may or may not be around this week. I think I will just leave you dangling so check back here and see what might pop up. I will definitely be back in full swing next Monday. Don't.... forget me when I'm gone.....my heart would break....I have loved you for so long....It's all I can take....
Oooh, sorry. A little Glass Tiger for your Monday pleasure...


Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Jumbles

--So, I sat in the Publix parking lot the other day for what seemed like forever and do you know what I was waiting for??? I will tell you. I was waiting for the car that was three cars ahead of me and that car was waiting for a choice parking spot. I would like to just note that the driver of the parked car was taking his sweet time loading his groceries into his car and he was even loading drinks into his cooler. Clearly this was going to be a long process but the prime parking spot hopeful was undaunted and was evidently determined that they MUST have that one parking spot. Now, I know it has been about 12000 degrees outside every day and nobody wants to be in the heat for longer than they have to, but why do people (most of whom are perfectly healthy and able to walk a hundred feet or so across a parking lot) insist on waiting for the closest parking spot, causing a twelve car pile up behind them, rather than just taking any old spot and just walk for the love of all that is good in this world!!???!! Sorry. Tangent.

--If you have the desire to see the movie, "He Is Just Not That Into You", I recommend that you take two aspirin and lie down until the urge passes. It was not worth the four dollars I spent renting it or the gas I burned driving to Blockbuster. You can trust me on this one.

--Apparently there is profit in avoiding pregnancy for teen girls now in the state of North Carolina. I don't want to just be critical because I do see the motivation behind this program, but really now...we are paying human beings to do what used to be a moral minimum. How did we get to this place? I suppose that, since we have reduced human sexuality to an animal urge that is beyond our control so we pass out birth control in place of self-control, it is a natural progression that we would begin offering financial incentives to help regulate moral behaviors. But that is just how I see it.

--Tim Stevens had a great post on his blog yesterday about how we do church in America. Frankly, I hate the phrase "do church" and for the record those were not words he used in this post but they are words that church leaders, myself included, have often used. I totally agree with his assertions about the busyness and programming of most churches and the expectations we place on Joe or Sally Churchgoer. Check it out here.

--I am headed to the ole' home town this weekend to see family and go to Crossway Church. Our very close friends, Rodney and Renee Thrift, planted Crossway Church almost seven years ago and God has been amazing them all ever since. If you ever get to the Southeast corner of Georgia, you have to stop in and experience Crossway Church. Tell them I sent you and you might get asked off the property. Just kidding. Oh, and do check out their website...it is verrry impressive!

Have a loverly weekend!!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Life's Great Mysteries--# 572

How is it that I carry a camera around with me at all times and yet when given the opportunity to spend a tremendous week of ministry with some of my very favorite people on the planet, I took NO PICTURES? Nix. Nil. Nada. You get the point.

It is a great mystery. I am a great mystery. Okay, really I am not, I am just totally and completely forgetful. But I want to enjoy life as I am living it rather than just take pictures of it. I do try, really I do. This was supposed to be a fascinating post on the power of team and how a motley group of crazy, love-sick Christian leaders get together and pull off a camp for hundreds of children every summer. I was going to tell you what incredible people I am privileged to work with as we plan this camp throughout the year and how no one is prideful and self-promoting but rather everyone lays their lives down, surrenders their gifts and talents, and the lives of children are forever changed. I was going to comment on the fact that the many children's pastors I work with are of the highest caliber. How they are not known nationwide is yet another of life's great mysteries. Napoleon once said that "A leader is a dealer in hope." And these leaders offer hope in immeasurable abundance to the children of this generation. I love the power of "we" and how together we attain what alone we could only dream. These are the things I wanted to tell you.

And I was going to post a picture of these amazing leaders that I call friends but, as I mentioned earlier, my camera never made it out of my bag. And that is mystery # 572.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Unlikely Warriors

"Some of the most brilliant battles have been fought by the most unlikely warriors."
-A Wrinkle In Time (movie)

I had the privilege of speaking to more than seven hundred kids and adult leaders at Kids Aflame Camp this past week. I am amazed each year to see children run to the altars and surrender their hurts, their hopes and their very lives to the living God. He knows all too well what hellish pain many of them have endured and He is always faithful to heal, to fill and to make new the lives of some of the tiniest of His warriors.

Children are not merely the hope of tomorrow. They are the unlikely warriors of today and my desire is to see the church make room for them, for their gifts and callings. Now. Today. Oh, how we need them!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chips and Axes: Are You In Possession?

Wednesday I wrote a post about the danger of allowing your passions to carry you along in leadership without first submitting to the Divine process of "proofing." The logical question to ask then is "do I have a chip on my shoulder and an axe to grind and how do I recognize them?"

It is painfully simple to see if you know what you are looking for. A man or woman who has been through this Divine process is willing to lay aside the passion in their heart if God asks. She is more fascinated with being with her Father than she is with working for Him. He is willing to cooperate with whatever authority is in his life even if it appears his passion will not take top priority. But when your pet passion, be it ending poverty, caring for the elderly, pastoring a megachurch or foreign missions, is the driving force in your life, you had better check your shoulder and your hands because you are most likely armed and dangerous and of precious little use to God. He chooses yielded vessels. He chooses vessels that do NOT dictate to Him the what and the how but instead are willing to completely die to the very passion that He instilled in them.

For me, it was eighteen years before He gave me permission to publically speak and write about the passion of my heart. And I thank God for the Divine process for it is that alone that makes the leader ready for the heat that inevitably accompanies leadership and the living out of the Holy discontent that keeps you awake at night. Leader, check your shoulder, check your hands and embrace the process.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chips and Axes: Weapons of Mass Destruction

It is a scary thing to work with a leader who has an axe to grind and a chip on his or her shoulder. And yet such leaders are everywhere, even in the church. Chips and axes are passions that have not been yielded to the tempering that comes from the Divine process. Unyielded passions will always become chips and axes and these will most assuredly become weapons that hurt those to whom you desire to minister.

My passion, my holy discontent as Bill Hybels calls it, is seeing women free in the church to lead in any capacity God desires and not be held back due to misuse of Scripture. For almost twenty years I wrestled with my passion and God put me through a process, a Divine process, that was necessary for me to be trustworthy with this message God placed within me. It is a proofing just like bread dough must go through before it is ready for the heat of the oven. The dough must be worked and kneaded and then put aside for the yeast to do it's job of making it ready to bake. Usually the dough is then "punched down" and set aside a second time for it to rise and become ready for the heat. And so it has been in my life. God has put me through rigorous circumstances and then put me aside while His deposit has done it's work within me. And then came the punching down (it is agony, friends) and more time sitting alone, waiting. All the while He was at work in the interior, making the woman ready before I could be trusted with His message.

There must be this season of proofing so that your passions do not become a chip or an axe. And if a leader is placed into the "heat of leadership" before the process is complete, what results is hard and incapable of being nourishment to others. How do you know if you do have a chip on your shoulder and an axe to grind? Head on back here Friday and I will tell you...


Monday, June 15, 2009

Are You Willing To Risk It?

I found this video of a dance tribe forming on Seth's blog this past week. This is a pretty typical group dynamic...once more than a few people join in something, people come in droves to do the very same. But as I watched the first strange man dancing all alone, and in a most bizarre way, I couldn't help but admire his freedom. The truth is, when you act in a way that is different from the norm, people will gawk and laugh and point. Many will feel very uncomfortable with your freedom and your willingness to express it. Others will feel contempt and usually that is because they secretly wish they had that kind of nerve and rather than be challenged by it, they will judge it instead and usually loud enough for others to hear.

Obeying God is just like this video. At times, you are going to look crazy and unstable in all of your ways. It could be that your actions start a revolution and, in time, others will be running to do what you had to work up the nerve to do. But sometimes you will dance alone. It is a risk of obedience. Are you willing to risk it?


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Is This For Real???

I am just not sure...


Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Jumbles

--If you have one minute and one second to spare, hop on over here and hear a small morsel from one of Tim Sander's recent talks on generosity. I honestly love this guy because he is constantly challenging the scarcity mindset and he is effectively breathing life into the hearts of people who are afraid of where we are in this nation. Really good stuff.

--As an avid reader, I try to give myself a taste of many different kinds of books to consistantly challenge and educate myself. Biographies are a great change of pace and I really love learning about people who have made their dreams come true and the path that got them there. Right now I am chewing through Julie Andrew's memoir and, wow, has her life has been fascinating! If you are looking for some summer reading, grab a biography and get lost in the life of someone you admire.

--It is now summertime and the season when a young man's fancy turns to....peeing outside. I have been trying to understand why members of the male species find that such a fascinating pastime. Is it just because they can? I can give birth, but this was never so much a fascination as a necessity in becoming a parent. If anyone has wisdom and insight into this phenom, I would appreciate it.

--I have a million and one things to do before next week so I am out of here, friends. Have a big weekend...read a biography...pee outside...knock yourself out!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Two Things a Leader MUST Have

My mind is a circus of thoughts today. I read of the recent moral failure of a prominent church planter/pastor/blogger, Gary Lamb, today. His five-year-old church plant, Revolution Church, is in Canton, Georgia in the Atlanta area and you can read about his recent resignation here. Why am I bringing attention to yet another blight on the American church? I am glad you asked.

Next to nurturing an intimate relationship with God, my greatest desire as a minister of the Gospel is to live a life of integrity. This desire is not so that I will be shiny and and stainless and admired, but so that my life will garner little attention and He will get it all. I have no doubt that Gary Lamb had similar desires when he set out to plant Revolution Church. The reality is that not one person on the planet is above the temptation of sexual sin or the sin of pride or any other sin for that matter. We will all fight temptation until we draw our last breath. And those who do think they are immune to such things are in the greatest danger. The only difference between a leader who falls and a leader who does not are boundaries and accountability.

Leader, if you remember nothing else I have written here these past two years, please remember this: you are only as safe from sin as the boundaries you set for yourself and the accountability that keeps you within them. To give you an example, I will share with you some of the boundaries that my husband and I have set for ourselves.

-We never, under any circumstances, allow ourselves to be alone with anyone of the opposite sex. Period.

-If anyone of the opposite sex behaves inappropriately with either of us, we quickly alert the other of the situation and handle it immediately.

-We never counsel someone of the opposite sex alone. We always have someone else sit in or we counsel that person together.

-We are very vocal about our marriage relationship and we publicly affirm that relationship so others see that we are knitted together and will not be an easy target.

-We nurture intimate relationships with close friends and mentors who know where we are in our walks with God...not just our ministry. Many leaders in the church talk freely about their ministries and say very little about their intimacy with Jesus. Open doors and open hearts are much safer.

-When we are struggling with anything, we get help. You cannot wrestle temptation alone. Run, don't walk, to your mentors or co-laborers and get help.

-We prioritize our lives. Ministry responsibilities MUST come after your marriage and then your family time. If you win your entire city for Christ but your children are neglected and hurting and your spouse is a stranger to you, you are a dismal failure.

Please let me clarify. I am writing this NOT to judge a fallen minister, but rather to expose the desperate need in the body of Christ for boundaries and accountability. I do not write these things because I am immune to sin, but rather because I know that I am wretched flesh and, if left to my own devices, I will sin . And so will you. Examine your life and ministry. Shore up the integrity of your own life and ministry by putting careful boundaries in place and then insure these boundaries with faithful people who will love you enough to correct you.

Your life depends on it. And if you lead, so do the lives of so many others.


Monday, June 8, 2009

The Glory of Being Alone

"Silence is the way to make solitude a reality"
~Henry Nouwen

When I was a girl, I spent many hours with my grandmother on her front porch watching the rain. Sometimes we would talk but more often than not words were unimportant and instead we would both get lost in the beautiful conversation between the wind and the raindrops. I did not understand in those days how she was schooling me in the art of solitude. All of the mornings I would find her in her breakfast room, sipping coffee and listening to the serenade of the blue jays and cardinals outside of her opened back door, she was teaching me the importance of what Wordsworth called "a wise passiveness."

I have known people who find themselves anything but companionable and I feel so sad for them as I have nearly always enjoyed my own company. This is not because I am anything special, but rather that I was taught at an early age to appreciate, even relish silence and solitude and to seek it out regularly as one might seek time with a dear friend. Sadly, this is a lost art in our current time and with an ever increasing number of distractions and ways to connect with others, this generation has forgotten how to connect with self, which ironically leaves us with much less to offer all the other people with whom we work so hard to connect.

Paul Tillich said that "Language has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone, and the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone." I long for my own children to know the glory of being alone for it is in that place where we become acquainted with our true selves and can then see the transformation from who we are to who we can become. God's transforming grace can meet us in the contemplative silence with an overwhelming clarity that is unknown in the hustle and bustle of busy living and it is a meeting of unparalleled importance. It is what elevates the leader from good to great, the Christian from shallow to deep and the person who is alone from pain to glory.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Jumbles

--If you have some time to burn and are sorely in need of a belly laugh, please click here and head over to hear Jeanne Robertson, a former Miss North Carolina, tell the story of "Left Brain's Grocery List." This woman is Southern and funny, my favorite combination except for dark chocolate and peanut butter which is indisputably the best combination there is. Amen.

--I am traveling today to the great state of South Carolina, home of intelligent and articulate beauty pageant contestants. Oops. Sorry. I couldn't help myself. Anyway, I am headed to Florence to see my nephew graduate from high school and I just have one question for you. If there are approximately three hundred graduates and I am there to see only one walk across the stage, is it wrong to do a crossword puzzle or read before and after my nephew walks? Yeah, I know. I am just gonna be bored. (sigh)

--I watched House Hunters on HGTV last night and I sat amazed as a young couple (they don't even have kids yet) purchased a $1.5 million home in Belize. Not to pander to the wealthy, the next episode featured a young couple about the same age who have been living in a tent in the woods (even more amazing) and have decided they might like to try life inside of some walls and under a roof so they were looking for a rental in the city. Who does that? Who gets engaged and then registers at the Bass Pro Shop because they want to set up housekeeping in a tent in the woods? I'm not saying it is wrong. I am a live-and-let-live kind of person. I'm just saying...I'm just saying...WHY???

--Hope you have a relaxing weekend and that you don't have to drive for sixteen hours in two days. That would be my destiny.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Deadline? What Deadline??

So, I spent the entire day yesterday finishing my preparations for a speaking gig I have in a little less than two weeks. I am privileged to be speaking to five or six hundred kids at Kids Aflame Camp in Bradenton, Florida. Sadly, due to my recent two week bout with lung sludge, I was a little late getting all my stuff into the media gurus that make everything flow flawlessly for a solid week of camp. I got it all done, though, and I was even able to make a few sage observations as I was wrapping up my work late last night.

Observation one: I suck at power point.

Observation two: My husband ROCKS at power point and he is my hero.

Observation three: I couldn't get all of my work done, take care of my three kids and write a decent post for today.

Observation four: I could not possibly skip a post and I would rather just let you get a peek into my life, chaotic though it is at times, than not show up at all. That would just be rude.

Observation five: I HATE to be late on a project deadline when other people are counting on me.

No, I don't have issues. Why do you ask?

The thing is, life happens, sometimes you get sick, and you just have to do the best you can with what you have to work with. My wise grandmother used to tell me to "just play your best with the hand you are dealt." Words to live by. What about you? Have you skidded into home plate just in the nick of time on any deadlines lately?


Monday, June 1, 2009

A Simple Truth

I have recently been feeding on a truth that I once learned in a 1994 Henry Blackaby Bible Study called "Experiencing God." One of Blackaby's key points is to "watch to see where God is working and join Him." It seems a simple truth but one that many people fail to remember. We are by nature self-centered so it is only natural to ask, "What is God's will for my life?" The better question to ask Him is "How can my life fit into Your will?" God has a grand scheme, a plan for His Kingdom, that is so much greater than our singular existence and yet it is difficult for most of us to ask the bigger question when all we can see is the one path we walk, forgetting that our one path is just a dot on the grand tapestry of human existence. For many, the weight of the question centers on "my life" when, if that part of the question is eliminated, what is left is "What is God's will?" And this was a truth that Jesus well understood.

No one on Earth has had the level of intimacy with the Father that Jesus enjoyed. And with Christ as our model, we, too, are taught to pursue an intimate, personal relationship with the God of the universe. In doing that, it becomes easy to forget that my ministry, my church, my hopes and dreams are not to be considered as the central theme. Jesus understood this. He was here to ONLY do the Father's will. He pulled away frequently to get His Father's perspective and direction and His existence revolved around that and that alone. It is His great plan and His ministry and His work that are the center and it is our role as daughters and sons to stay close to His heart and thus hear Him when He calls for us to "go here" or "stay there" or "do this" or (and this is the hardest) "wait." Still, so many labor in their fields of ministry, asking God to bless their efforts, and never even notice when God has moved on and is no longer at work among them.

It is better to think of life like a mobile that hangs over a child's crib. God is at the center and we are to be positioned by Him wherever He sees fit to place us for His Kingdom purpose and then revolve around His great purpose and just enjoy the nearness of our God, doing only what He asks us to do. If we are to change our placement, that is His doing and He has every right to put us wherever He wishes in order to accomplish His will. It always goes back to His will, His plan and His purposes. What is at the center of your existence? Is it your life or His? Is it your ministry or His? Remember it is never too late for a mid-course correction.