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Showing posts from September, 2010

LEADING OTHERS TO GROW LARGER

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Some lead according to their stature and height.They build a ceiling on vision just above their own head.As long as other leaders and followers are shorter in stature, they can live comfortably in the containment of the leader’s vision.
The Pharisees led people with a clearly defined ceiling on God’s House.If they stretched up on tippy toe, they could touch the ceiling.They felt taller than others and thought they were authorized to define maximum growth potential.
In a small aquarium fish will only grow to a size suitable to their environment.The same fish in the wild can grow several times larger.
Indoor plants will only grow to the maximum potential of the soil pot they are planted in.They can grow several times larger when they have more resources.
On the birch tree in my front yard, there were two posts in the ground alongside the slender trunk of the young tree.The tree had the advantage of stabilizers while it grew to maturity.
Your role in leading leaders is to come alongside and j…

WILD FRONTIER LEADERSHIP

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How do you know if you are a leader or not?  The old adage is ‘look behind you.  If anyone is following, then you are a leader.’

The implication is that leadership attracts others to follow.
The best ministries are birthed by risk-takers and staffed by strugglers.


Leaders with small dreams can usually do what is required single-handedly and only require followers.
If you are a leader with a big dream, you inevitably reach the conclusion that you need help and cannot do everything yourself. 
Consider the difference between a man who decides to make a path through the woods behind his house and a new world explorer who intends to establish a new civilization.  One goal can be accomplished alone; the other requires teamwork.


A leader is a person with a magnet in his heart and a compass in his head.Robert Townsend


When God created humanity, His plan was that we would explore the world, take responsibility and create.  In His goal of redemption, He speaks to people about sharing in His desire to…

JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO GROW

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While we may work hard to pull weeds and organize our lives into neat, little rows—we cannot create the life of God in us.The only way this good garden grows is learning to trust the Master Gardener with our precious dirt.
The life of God is found in God.Jesus talked about the importance of staying intimately connected to Himself.
John 15:1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
This is our bottom line.We cannot grow a zucchini’s worth of godliness without remaining fixed to Jesus.How difficult is this for us?
As our own Steve Green once told us in a sermon, we do not struggle to hang on to God—we rest in the fact …

GARDENING GOD'S WAY

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A good gardener or orchard worker learns the ways and seasons of life.They learn how to protect and promote health so that life can have its way.The gardener chooses what should live and what should die.The truth is that you cannot produce life, but God can.
Galatians 5:22-23 But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
God has given us an incredible gift called ‘free will’.Every day we can choose what will live and what needs to be dying.When selfishness is allowed to grow, it depletes our desire to choose life.When we surrender to God, it is His will that go…

AN UNTENDED GARDEN

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Paul taught the Christians in Galatia how to tend the garden of their spirit.Like the Galatians, we have both good and bad things trying to grow in us.Some things are desirable to grow while other things are weeds that need to be removed.As new followers of Jesus, the Galatians began to live a new life with God’s Spirit in them.But other voices around them were trying to tell them how the garden of their spiritual life should be tended.The old influences reasoned that men should be circumcised like the Jews and they should try to regulate their lives with Old Testament law.
The reason God gave the Law to His people was to identify their motivations and point out the behaviour He was looking to grow in us.The Law clearly proved that we are naturally selfish and compulsively do harmful things.The Law was a gardener’s handbook identifying the weeds that needed removal.The Old Testament showed the need, but did not provide the power to solve the problem.Jesus would provide the seed we need…

URBAN GARDENING

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This year, New Song Church received permission from the city to farm a vacant lot across the street.  Our goal is to recruit teams of people to turn barren land into a luscious garden that will put fresh produce back into the community.  
It’s a good thing that my trustworthy friend Steve Green is overseeing the project.  He’s very passionate about gardening.  See his blog at http://stevesurbangarden.blogspot.com/ and website at http://wecsa.org/ .
One of the challenges to a garden in our neighbourhood may be soil contamination.  Just one block from the old Ford foundry, we are getting the soil tested to see if it contains arsenic or heavy metals from years of air pollution or from previous uses of this land.  If it is contaminated, we will need to use raised beds with imported dirt.
Although I’ve never paid much attention to gardening, I do have a basic understanding of how it works. 
When I was in Grade 3, I took a watermelon seed into the tiny backyard behind our row-house in Cambridg…

SHEMA IN THE HOUSE

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The Scriptures have much to say about relationships within a family.  In Judaism, the Shema is a prayer from Deuteronomy that became a tradition for morning and evening prayer times.



Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
From the recognition of God’s Oneness comes a call to unify all of our lives around loving God.
From the earliest age, we are to raise our children to love God wholeheartedly.  The Shema says to impress God’s commandments upon our children.  What does it mean to impress them? 
When we think about impressing…

FUNERALS ARE THE BIRTHDAY OF ORPHANS

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One of the more emotional parts of my job as a pastor is conducting funerals.  New Song Church has connections to many people who live close to the edge.  I bury more young, than I do old people.  Overdose, suicide and tragic circumstances are often part of the funerals I am called to.
One funeral was a particularly, tough day.  It was Andrea’s[i] funeral.  She was a young single mother who died accidentally from a drug overdose.  She lived close to the church and I often saw her and seven year old daughter Amber going to the store or coming to our church suppers on Friday night.
In the crowded funeral parlor, I stood in front of the open casket to conduct the service.  Behind me lay Andrea’s still body.  Six feet in front and to the left of me sat Amber next to a Children’s Aid worker.  As I looked into seven-year-old eyes, I broke and wept.  In that moment I saw clearly and touched the edge of what an orphan is.  An orphan cannot go back and find comfort from the same source.  The fut…

BOOK REVIEW: OUTLIVE YOUR LIFE

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On the third day... KAMBOOM!  Something exploded in the first century.  The shock waves devastated the kingdoms of this world and flattened the walls that separated people from God;  walls that separated people from people.

Max Lucado has written an account of the first 12 chapters of the Acts of the Apostles mixed with personal stories that demonstrate that the ripple effect of Pentecost is still echoing from that initial blast.

Can the dynamics of the first century church be experienced again?  Max is hopeful.  He has a revolutionary heart fused to the resurrected Christ.  His fuse is lit.

This is a call to 21st century Christians asking us to pray and dream and live a life that will leave enduring marks for the Kingdom of God.

Christianity Today Magazine called him 'America's Pastor'.  Max Lucado has published more than 60 adult and children's titles in a span of 25 years.  To commemorate that anniversary, he has written this book with all royalties going to sponsor…

CALLING ANXIOUS ORPHANS

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As a young boy, I remember awaking in the night feeling alone and afraid.  The darkness was oppressive and I was gripped by my feelings.  I made my way through the dark to the familiarity of my parents’ door.  I crawled in bed next to their sleeping forms.  In that place, I was warm and secure.  My fears subsided and I knew everything was going to be okay.  It was a place of faith, knowing that their presence was enough.
Jesus sees the orphan child in us gripped by the darkness and fear of not being good enough, failing and being judged.  At to that fearful child he offers hope.  His presence is enough when we are surrounded with darkness and fear.
Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
He is aware of our fear and uncertainty.  He sees the burden we carry and …

THE WINNING TEAM OF THE LAST PICKED

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A review of great men and women in the Bible reveals a strange selection of the ‘least likely to succeed’.In each case, the strategic difference was a connectedness to God.
David is the classic example.In the house of Jesse, he was the kid brother who watched the flocks while his older brothers got the attention.The prophet Samuel came to see if one of them would replace Saul as King of Israel.David wasn’t even invited into consideration by his own father.While his own family was oblivious to God’s potential in his life, God sent his servant Samuel to find him.
When David killed the giant Goliath, his own brothers doubted his motives and sneered at the idea of him succeeding.His family’s opinion would not change until God began to release the warrior and leader hiding in the kid brother.
David had to wait a long time before the time of his throne would come.He had to overcome great misunderstanding and malice before realizing the fulfillment of his call.During his days of exile and estra…

PICKING A CHILD FOR ADOPTION

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Think about the couple who go to an adoption agency to find a child to bring home.Most often, they will have criteria for selecting the one.Many prefer infants believing that they will be less affected by previous parenting.Most want a child that is free of defect and full of immediate potential.
But what God’s adoption strategy?Jesus seems to indicate preferential treatment for the one who is overlooked.
The one who has painful memories to deal with?No problem.Physical deformity or disability?I want that one.Older and with behavioral issues?I’ll have her.Attachment disorder?I can work with him.
My experience as a church planter in the inner-city has been one of learning the value of people in God’s eyes.I have seen firsthand the treasured people that others have overlooked and passed by.The world has it all wrong.The greatest among us is the least.We need to re-learn that in the church.
Paul viewed it this way:


1 Corinthians 1:26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. …

THE WIND OF CHANGE

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The disciples had seen Jesus many times in the weeks following His resurrection from the grave.Certainly, if he could do that, they should pay attention to what He was saying.Stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promised gift the Father would send them.
The second chapter in Acts describes what happened next.
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Ga…

RESTORING THE BROKEN COMMUNITY

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Whether you call it nationalism, racism, bigotry, protecting our interests, denominationalism, revelation knowledge or socio-economics, there is a root of arrogance that will cause people to breakdown communication and go in different directions.Pride goes before a fall and it can go before a divorce.Arrogance hardens the heart and demonizes the one outside your borders.
If we have so much trouble communicating clearly, how did the message of Jesus pass on from generation to generation and across every human barrier?
It has happened because God has placed the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit into those who have received Him.When we humble ourselves before God and admit to our pride and brokenness, we see that Jesus is indeed the Savior that we need.God alone is glorious and our homemade towers to Him fall flat.Jesus is the God-built tower that He descended down to us.
We could not engineer a real way to God.But God made the way to come find us.He broke through the barrier of our sin and…