Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We Have Moved...

Click here for my new site. Hopefully I'll figure how to automatically forward to WordPress, but if not, go ahead and save the new location or sign up for the email subscription at the new place!
Looking forward to visiting with you soon! Come on over...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sharing From My Treasure Box (Part 2)

As promised, Part 2 of my Treasures from the Leadership Summit. I don’t know exactly what I expected the second day of the conference to be. Whether I thought it would be better than the previous day or how it could possibly compare to Day 1. I just honestly don’t know. But I did feel that God had some things He wanted me to hear and I was ready to listen.

Again, my nuggets of gold from each speaker (order by appearance, my commentary in italics):
  1. Dave Gibbons: His topic was Thinking Forward – 3rd Culture Leadership
    Takeaway: Failure is success. (What?!)
    Questions: Can I accept that unless I fail, I can never move forward? Without failures, I’d never relate to real people?

  2. Andrew Rugasira: His topic was Thinking Forward – Aid vs Trade
    Takeaway: Aid alone undermines accountability, integrity and dignity.
    Question: What does God want me to do (not JUST give, but DO) to help people help themselves?

  3. Wess Stafford: His topic was Leveraging Your Past
    Takeaway/Question: What is your cause? Does it move you to tears? What moves you passionately?
    Hint: Read his book Too Small To Ignore

  4. David Gergen: Interview with Bill Hybels, topic Eyewitness to Power
    Takeaway: Don’t confuse motion with progress.
    Takeaway: Maturity is coming to grips with your flaws.

  5. Chip & Dan Heath: Interview with Craig Groeschel, topic Switch (new book, due out Spring 2010)
    Takeaway: Big problems are most often solved by a series of small solutions
    Takeaway: Prepare for the “valley”. This is where you find solutions.
    Takeaway: Failure is a necessary step to success. (Dang! Didn’t I hear that somewhere else recently?)

  6. Bono: Interview with Bill Hybels
    Takeaway: Love your neighbor is not advice, it’s a command.
    Takeaway: Inspire people to do missions, don’t bore them.
    Takeaway: If we neglect leadership positions as a means to serve the poor, we will be held accountable.
    Question: Where does your sphere of empathy end? Who is far enough away from you that they don’t matter? (Hint: the answer is no one.)

  7. Tony Blair: Interview with Jim Mellado
    Takeaway: If the facts change, we can change our minds.
    Takeaway: Doubt doesn’t always go away once the decision is made. (Ain’t that the truth?!)
    Takeaway: It’s the way the world works. Without leaders things don’t get done.

You may have noticed there were fewer “Questions” than "Takeaways" for me on the second day. Beats me why. Maybe I was so full of questions from the day before that I just didn’t write them down. But I did pick up on more pearls of wisdom the second day. I’ll close out this post with a few miscellaneous quotes that I think are particularly nice.

Listen more. – Bill Hybels

The kindest form of management is the truth. – Bill Hybels

Are you changing as fast as the world around you? (I don’t quite see how that is possible, myself, but it’s a goal to strive for, I guess). – Gary Hamel

God doesn’t have a Plan B – we are it! – Gary Hamel

Just because a leader isn’t asked to do something hard, doesn’t mean it’s not important. – Bill Hybels

And a final word from Bill Hybels

You have one life to live full-on for God. What are you going to live for? What are you willing to lay your life down for?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sharing From My Treasure Box (Part 1)

So, before I share some pearls of wisdom I picked up from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit last week, I feel the need to address my last post. I know it may have seemed a little out of character (for the blog, not me personally). Kind of like I was throwing up on Fear and Death. And I guess I was. I just felt the need to “put it out there” for anyone to see that I was denouncing the power and destruction that these cohorts desire. They will not bring us down. Our God is bigger than that and He has already defeated them. I’m just trying to live out what I believe!

There! Now on to my little Leadership Treasure Box.

It’s taken me the better part of three days to digest all that I saw and heard last Thursday and Friday. I have looked over the ton of notes scribbled down in my notebook and each time I do it’s like a jolt of excitement hits me all over again. That’s what I want to share with you. If you followed my Tweets or my Facebook status updates you were probably wondering where in the world I was and what I was up to. Well, Stonecreek Church had the privilege of hosting a private viewing of the Leadership Summit via satellite. It was an amazing experience. My heart-felt thanks to all who had a hand in making the whole thing possible. It was so nice to actually sleep in my own bed at night and still get to benefit from the wisdom of some of today’s greatest leaders from all over the world.

Without further ado…here are my takeaways (one from each speaker) in order of appearance.
  1. Bill Hybles: His topic was Leading in a New Reality
    Takeaway: What is your Replenishment Strategy? I have to keep my “bucket” full because I can’t lead out of emptiness.
    Question: What do my followers and colleagues see when they look at me? A full bucket or are they a little worried about me?
  2. Gary Hamel: His topic was Manage Differently Now
    Takeaway: When you’re in the trenches it’s easy to mistake the edge of a rut as the horizon.
    Question: Are you more committed to Redemption, Renewal and Reconciliation or Policies, Practices and Programs?
  3. Tim Keller: His topic was Leading People to the Prodigal God (I’m currently reading this book – it’s really good)
    Takeaway: The Gospel is not religion – it’s something entirely different.
    Question: What are my reasons and motives for doing what is right? To be my own savior? Or to please the one who saved me?
  4. Jessica Jackley: Her topic was Micro Finance Lending, co-founder of Kiva.org
    Takeaway: We must show instead of tell people why they should give.
    Question: Each “story” is special. How can I have the privilege to participate in their next chapter?
  5. Harvey Carey: His topic was Against All Odds (he is a bundle of energy!)
    Takeaway: Don’t just huddle without actually playing the game.
    Question: Transformation happens not when you say what you believe, but when you do what you believe. Does what I do really reflect what I believe?

That was the end of the line-up for Thursday. I’ll treat you to Friday’s treasures tomorrow. How’s that sound?

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Will NOT Fear! I Will Trust in God!

Our church family has suffered another “untimely” (for us) death today. This is the sixth one since May. We are a young congregation and two of those losses were children. Death has not been something that occupies a lot of our thought time. But lately it seems to be in our faces. It would be so easy to slip right into a fearful posture and imagine that Death is lurking around the corner, out to get us. But I refuse. I refuse to live in fear.

God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control. 2 Timothy 1:7

No matter how many times Death snatches lives from us when we are not prepared! I KNOW that God is in control. I know that GOD is in control. I know that God is in CONTROL!

What else do I know about God?

He is love.
He is good.
He is perfect.
He knows all.
He is not surprised by any of this.
He loves us.
He welcomes home His own with a grand party.
He never makes mistakes.
His thoughts and ways are not like my thoughts and ways.

Those are just a few that come immediately to mind. So I refuse to be fearful for my family, my church family, my community, nation or the world! God is still the Almighty and I WILL trust in Him and Him alone. Please join me in praying for the families left behind. Pray for peace and comfort that only God can provide. Amen.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

God, Will You Introduce Me To That Driver?

Another theme has appeared in the craziness that is my life. See if you can identify it:
  • Give Me Your Eyes (Brandon Heath)
  • We need to see people like God see them. (Steven Gibbs, among others)
  • “When we see them as God sees them, we will glimpse His images in their faces…” (The Hole In Our Gospel, Richard Stearns)

I think you get the idea. To live a full and meaningful life we must live outwardly not inwardly. We must care for others. But guess what? We can’t do that on our own. It doesn’t come naturally to us. The only way we can have that kind of compassion and love is to let God show it to them through us.

Now I don’t have a reputation for being the most patient or tolerant person. Prime example is when I’m in the car. If you’ve ever had the “privilege” of riding with me you know what I’m talking about. Just driving along and someone changes lanes on me at the last minute WITHOUT using a turn signal! Burns me up!! Or someone driving down the middle of two lanes, oblivious to the other cars on the road – equals wet-hen mad. People not obeying the traffic rules – BIG no-no in my book (I’m such a Vehicular Pharisee!) Don't even get me started on Parking Lot Etiquette. Yes, I’m Miss Big-Britches when I’m sitting in my driver’s seat behind the wheel. But would I yell so much at other drivers if I knew they could hear what I say? Um, probably not. Apparently I have plenty of room for God to tinker around in that area. He’s so good to me!

So this is what I’ve started doing. When someone really ticks me off in traffic I ask God to introduce me to the “object of His affection” in the other car. Then I make up things about that person that could be true (or better yet, I let God guide my imagination). I pretend that He says to me, “Yes, that’s Jean. I can understand why she forgot to use her blinker. She’s a little preoccupied this morning. You see, she’s waiting on a phone call from her doctor’s office about that test they did last week. Seems to her like it’s taking forever.” Or, “Oh, you mean Fred in that nice little silver sports car? He’s trying to make it to his second job on time today. His boss is a slave driver and has warned him for the last time not to show up at all if he’s showing up late.” And, “That’s Darlene. She’s out looking for apartments that she can afford for her and her 3 young children. Her husband left last month and cleaned out the checking account. It’s going to be rough on them for the next little bit.”

There’s a story in every car. I’m afraid we can get so wrapped up in our own stories that we forget everybody has their own story as well and the fact God is just as intimately familiar with theirs as He is with ours. Having compassion toward and patience with others doesn’t lessen the importance or significance of our own personal story. Quite the contrary, it adds more value than you can ever imagine.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So no matter what I say, what I believe and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle, (ouch!)
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, (how many strikes do I get?)
Doesn’t revel when other grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (The Message, commentary mine)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Just Ask...

My last post talked about a Great Secret that we have. One that we’re not supposed to keep to ourselves. We are meant to share it with others. In case you may be wondering how in the world to get started I’m not going to leave you hangin’. Sista’s gotcha covered. This is something one of my Blog Heroes (Tony Morgan) has done in the past. I’m kinda copying him by posting my notes from Sunday's message by my pastor, Steven Gibbs. You can go here and listen to a podcast of the entire message. (I promise it won’t be a waste of your time.) The message title was Just Ask.
The premise being, Connect (with others) and Invite (them to life change through Jesus).

  • Spiritual conversations by us connect people to God.

  • Jesus’ plan for succession is me and you.

  • Without you there is someone who will live without God.

  • Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.

  • God, help me to see people as you see them.

  • Start where people are.

  • Be radically inclusive.

  • How many people have you given up on?

  • They may be just one ASK away from LIFE CHANGE.

  • When we come together as a team we light a wildfire.

  • We'd better be more concerned about what God thinks of us instead of what others think of us.

  • What do you want to be about?

  • We will slip into selfishness if we’re not careful.

  • We want our lives to be about others.

  • What we believe about God will dictate how we reach out to others.

  • Who do you know that is just one ASK away from LIFE CHANGE?


I can’t wait to see and be a part of the GREATER THINGS that God has for us. We have a place for you at Stonecreek Church, too. Come on over…

So, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Can you think of someone who needs just one ASK? Do you need an ASK? Do you need LIFE CHANGE?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The One Secret I'm NOT Supposed to Keep!

I have a confession. I’m not good at keeping secrets. Hold on there…if you tell me something in confidence that I can do. It is not a problem. But if your husband or wife is planning a surprise birthday party for you, you better hope they don’t invite me until the last possible moment and that I don’t run into you at the grocery store on the way, because just as sure as the sun came up this morning, I will find a way to spill the beans! It’s too hard to pretend that I don’t know when something really good is about to happen to a person. It’s one reason I wait until the last minute to do any type of gift shopping. Because I can’t keep a stinking secret! I don’t mean to tell or ruin the surprise. I try so hard to NOT say anything that the reverse actually ends up happening. How crazy is that?

Well, lately God and I have been pondering (actually I’ve been doing the pondering, He’s been handling the revelation part) several times in scripture where Jesus uses the words, “whoever has been given much, much is expected” (or required). Now let me insert a disclaimer right here and now. I am no bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination. So understand that these are simply my own humble opinions. Please feel free to critique, (nicely, of course) correct, expand upon or in any way, shape or form set me straight if you don’t share said humble opinions. Let’s dialogue!

So, yes, God and I have been going over these words and the times that scripture records Jesus using them. Most often it was in some way connected to a parable. *NOTE – I love that Jesus was a storyteller and that His stories are still so relevant today, don’t you?* At times He is actually explaining the hidden meaning (read secret) in the parable to His disciples. See, Jesus can’t keep good news from people either! And that is exactly my point here.

I know that most times we use these verses to show what scripture teaches about how we should share the material blessings God has given us with others. I totally agree with that interpretation. But as I have been studying, it also appears to apply to knowledge and understanding God has given to us; entrusted to us to put it more accurately. If God opens our minds and hearts and grants us understanding of His great secrets, it comes with a responsibility to share them with others.

Think of it like this. If someone were to discover a cure for cancer and then proceed to seal the information in an envelope and lock it away in a file cabinet or hide it in a safe, we would practically, and I think justifiably, accuse them of murder. Withholding that kind of information from a dying person is nothing short of cruel. But may I suggest to you that we, as believers, are possibly guilty of much worse. We have the greatest secret of all. We know the best news there is to know and it affects everyone. And God has given us permission; no He has given us the responsibility to share it boldly. I know I’m guilty as charged. Why in the world would I choose this secret of all secrets to keep to myself? Now that makes no sense whatsoever.

So here’s today’s challenge: Read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – I’m not giving specific scripture links on purpose. I think you'll enjoy digging for it yourself) and look for the times Jesus indicates that if we have been given understanding we’re expected to share it; pay close attention to His last charge to His disciples as He leaves their physical presence. That’s where we receive our permission in the form of a commission. It’s our right. It’s our duty. But mostly it’s our privilege. I am so very thankful God allows us to be a part of the work that only He can do.

And if you are still looking for more after you read those four books, here is a link to a post containing a 30-day Plan to read through the whole New Testament. Our pastor shared it with us last year and it is totally do-able! Go for it. What do you have to lose? Ignorance?