SatErn

There is nothing like parenting to reveal what is truly within my heart.

Like most days, I was greeted by my children upon arriving home from work. Julia proudly presented to me her latest art project. I responded by saying, “That is wonderful…but you misspelled ‘Saturn.'”

As soon as I said it (with the help of a pointed-look by my wife) I knew I had wounded her creative spirit. I was more concerned with her being “right” than I was in her taking a “risk.”

I have been guilty far too many times of parenting that way. And I am sure I have pastored that way as well. How many times have people had a nudge, an idea, a hope, a vision, a dream to do something far outside the parameters I have designed (whether real or imagined) only to have me respond by telling them that it is not the right time, or the right, way, or the right place, or even the right person.

They misspelled a word and it bothered me. Or maybe it is that they painted the solar system and I was upset because I would never had thought of doing that.

Now hear me, I am not saying that anyone should be able to do anything without any accountability or consequence. I am not talking about being righteous in Christ’s eyes but rather appearing right in my own. There is a paramount of difference. Sure the word was wrong. Julia will need to learn how to properly spell “Saturn.” But was it as important as I made it out to be?

And how, as leaders, do we balance between guarding the intentional vision and releasing creative cultures? When do we say “yes” and “no” for the reasons and with the right heart?

One of the reasons that I am most excited about church planting (Blue Bridge Church coming in October!) is that we will have ample opportunities for people to succeed and fail and learn from both results. I am looking forward to not having all of the answers – and seeing others serve and shine in ways that I will never be able to myself.

But such culture has to be created. Fostered. And protected. I must fight against the temptation to point out misspellings without first taking in the entirety of the picture.

SatErn

Rosling

Interesting insight: Fastest growing countries also have the highest mortality rate. Families who lose children tend to compensate by having more children.

Poverty tends to decrease as three factors increase: age of first marriage, education of women, and women integrated in the labor force.

What exactly does Rosling mean by family planning? Is there really a correlation between poverty and family size?

What is the church’s role in “family planning?” In resource-management?

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

Rosling

Announced

You ever wonder why Mark mentions nothing of Jesus’ lineage or birth?

The Bible reads, “That messenger was John the Baptist, who appeared in the desert near the Jordan River preaching that people should be ritually cleansed through baptism with water as a sign of both their changed hearts and God’s forgiveness of their sins” (Mark 1:4, The Voice).

The Voice commentators suggest, “Like all the greats of history, Jesus doesn’t just arrive – He is announced – and who better than John to do that? Right before Jesus makes His entrance into Mark’s narrative, John says, ‘I’ve washed you here with water, but when He gets here, he will wash you in the Spirit of God'” (391).

I wonder if we as the as church are called to look a lot more like John the Baptist than we would like to admit. Far too many times we point to little to nothing of significance. We act as if everything exciting is over. We stopped expecting. Anticipating. Believing.

And then there other church communities who are announcing everything BUT Christ. Too often we fall into the trap of trying to do it all. We develop a Messiah-like complex of sorts – as if we are the ones who must do everything. If only people stay busy. If only they stay connected. If only they learn more. But are following Jesus?

What if we are to point people to the Christ and join him on what he is already doing? Worry less about building our churches and invest more energy on showing (and sharing) that Jesus is truly in our midst.

Ask the question, “Do people know Jesus more after what they just heard or saw?” With that in mind, what would we need to do differently?

Announced

Death

Today David Brakke, lead pastor of Maltby Christian Assembly, began a new series based on eternity by talking about the reality of death.

The Apostle Paul writes, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account” (Philippians 1:21-23, ESV).

Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested, “You are not ready to live until you are ready to die.” Do we live in such a way? With such intentionality? Urgency? Holistically with a sense of passion, purpose, and patience? Tangibly pointing others towards an Everlasting God?

Pastor David suggested, “God would rather go to hell for us than be in heaven without us.”

How do we avoid the temptation to be so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good? Is this any more dangerous than being so caught up with the day-to-day grind that we forget our greater divine destiny?

Is there a way to equip people to live with the end in mind without becoming overwhelmed with our own mortality?

I look forward to how this series plays out in the weeks ahead.

Death

Swinging

The last batter on this video, the one wearing white baseball pants, is my older son. Jace hit his first grand slam today.

I have walked this earth for over three decades and still do not know what it feels like to hit a home run. He only had to wait until his third game into his first season of coach-pitch to belt one. I could not be a prouder father.

When it comes to athletics, he is nothing like me. And I don’t say that because he is talented. I say that because he actually is willing to swing.

I was afraid. I was easily one of the worst hitters on the team. Not for lack of appreciation for the game (baseball is my very favorite sport to this day). Not for lack of understanding (I get many of the concepts on the diamond). But mainly because I did not want to fail.

I cared far too much of what others thought of me. And it kept me from giving my best.

I still remember what it felt like, as an eight year old child, to swing at a terrible pitch because a catcher told me to swing. And to hear the opposing team laugh. I still remember what it felt like to be hit by a pitch for the first time – even when the pitcher was probably not throwing all that hard.

Somewhere along the way I stopped swinging. My only goal became to get on base – not to get a hit. I remember when I settled for getting walked. I was relieved that I did not strike out. I mistakenly believed that by not failing I had managed to succeed. Slowly but surely, I dreaded having to bat.

You can’t compete when you are afraid to fail. I was doomed to never become a hitter because I was unwilling to be a batter.

Needless to say, my baseball career did not go very far. Too bad. I loved catching. I loved the game. But I hated the risk.

Thank goodness that Jace is nothing like me. He believes he is going to hit every time. Or at least he plays like he does. He might not exceed at every level. Only time will tell. But at least he is playing at the level that he is at. He is not missing out. He is playing his part on the team.

I am glad that I am no longer like I was when I was younger. People like my son challenge me to have faith at the very times I don’t want to. They remind me to keep on swinging.

“Little-Leaguer me” would not have decided to plant Blue Bridge Church in the Tri-Cities. But I am no longer afraid to strike out. Or to get hit by a pitch or two. Okay, the truth is that I have never been more afraid in my life. But I love the Game far too much to miss another inning.

The unknowns are daunting. But I would have it no other way. Back into the batter’s box I go. For example, we just crossed a milestone in raising support for our pre-launch expenses. $100,000 raised to date! But we still need to raise an additional $50,000 by the end of the year. Intimidating? Absolutely. Impossible? Absolutely not. In fact, just in the last two weeks I have become much more bold in my requests. I am no longer concerned with hearing “no.” Why would I? I believe in what we are doing. Otherwise, why would I be doing it?

I am fully aware that I am capable of striking out. But I am certain of this much – I will not strike out looking.

Thank you Jace. You play to win.

Who knows? Your father might still have a grand slam in him after all.

Swinging