Today I finished an exceptional book by Jon Gordon titled, “Training Camp.” Its a leadership fable, written in the fashion of Ken Blanchard and Patrick Lencioni. The impact is tremendous. The fable that Gordon offers is built around 11 principles that help us move from good to great. Here’s the list:

1. The best know what they truly want.
2. The best want it more.
3. The best are always striving to get better.
4. The best do ordinary things better than anyone else.
5. The best “zoom-focus”.
6. The best are mentally stronger.
7. The best overcome their fear(s).
8. The best seize the moment.
9. The best tap into a greater power than themselves.
10. The best leave a legacy.
11. The best make everyone around them better.

Intrigued? Let me recommend this outstanding work to you. Its a quick and easy read that delivers incredible help to those who are tired of being average.

Categories : Books, Leadership
Comments (0)
Aug
28

Pray for Houston

By · Comments (0)

Father in heaven,

Be present in Houston today:

For those who suffer,
For those who are displaced, and
For those whose lives will never be the same.

We pray that family and friends who are separated will be safely reunited.

We pray for the leaders of the communities that are impacted, for the leaders of the state of Texas, and for those who guide and direct federal assistance.

We pray especially for those who are first to respond and the last to leave.

May your mercy and grace abound.

Amen

Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (0)

If we were to ask Moses to tell us about himself at the end of Exodus chapter 2, he would self describe as an 80 year old man with a past, who has found himself living the simple life of a shepherd in the Midian desert.
God had other plans for Moses and called him to return to Egypt to deliver the people of God from slavery. Moses was understandably reluctant to accept such a large assignment. His reluctance was so great he determined to argue with God about his personal worthiness. He does so by making five telling objections.

Objection #1: “Who am I?” (Exodus 3:11)
In other words, Moses offers that he doesn’t think he can handle the assignment. One might note that he had already tried once to deliver an Israelite from the hand of an Egyptian taskmaster resulting in the taskmaster’s death. In response to his question, God offered his presence. He said, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12).

Objection #2: “What is your name?” (Exodus 3:13)
With this question, Moses is seeking authority. Names are necessary for relationships. It is the first thing one does when meeting a new person. If someone withholds their name, they are maintaining relational distance. Names signify intimacy, closeness and availability. In response, God provided not only his name, but a promise. In the following verses God outlined exactly what he was going to do through Moses (Exodus 3:14-22). And every word of his promise came true. But that still wasn’t enough.

Objection #3: “What if they don’t believe me?” (Exodus 4:1)
God’s answer to this question is interesting. “What is in your hand?” In Moses hand was his shepherd’s staff. One might assume that he used it with his livestock for a two-fold purpose–to provide direction and for protection. The point here is that from this moment in the story, the staff of Moses would be called the staff of God. The common, everyday item became uncommon when placed in the hands of almighty God (Exodus 4:2-9). God provided his power and enablement for Moses to accomplish the task he was called to perform.

Objection #4: “I am not eloquent.” (Exodus 4:10)
Moses appears to be reaching at this point. In Stephen’s sermon of Acts 7, he called Moses, “powerful in both speech and action” (Acts 7:22). Perhaps Moses has lost his confidence in Egyptian palace protocol. Nonetheless, God stated that he would provide Moses with the words he would need to speak (Exodus 4:11-12).

Objection #5: “Please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13)
Moses is finally reduced to admitting he didn’t want the assignment. God had pledged his presence, had made his promise, had offered his power, and guaranteed for his provision. God’s final response was to commend to Moses a partner for the task, his brother Aaron.

Do you hear or see yourself in any of these objections? Has fear caused you to become reluctant to respond to God’s invitation to serve him? The resources God provided Moses are the same resources he offers us today.

Categories : Jars of Clay
Comments (0)
Aug
22

Moses: “I am Afraid”

By · Comments (0)

Moses stands apart from many Old Testament characters in that he served as the great deliverer and law giver of Israel. He is a picture of strength and courage in the face of incredible odds. His feats of faith would establish him as one of the most revered of all the leaders of God’s people. If Israel had a Mount Rushmore, he would certainly be included in the memorial.

But he didn’t start that way. His story begins with fear and reluctance, standing barefoot before a burning bush, making excuse after excuse as to why he could not return to Egypt (Exodus 3:1-4:17). On the surface we see his hesitation, but beneath the surface we observe a man overcome by fear.

Why is Moses so afraid? For one thing, he has a past. Prior to this encounter with God we have two small vignettes from his biography that are forty years apart. There’s the story of his birth, hidden in the reeds along the water’s edge then taken in by Pharaoh’s daughter. Then, four decades later, his curiosity drives him to try to re-connect with his true people, only to lose his temper and commit murder. This murder would cause him to flee for his life to the Midian desert. So you can understand why he would be afraid to return to Egypt. He has a past.

Another issue Moses has is the fact that at the time of God’s call he is 80 years old. When I think of being 80 years old I think of being in the twilight of my life. For Moses, 80 meant a brand new start.

Moses certainly has reason to be afraid, no doubt about it. But he doesn’t see in himself what God sees in him. This is often true of us as well. God invites us to become involved in his Kingdom mission because he sees in us something we can’t see in ourselves.

What does God give us in our moments of hesitation and reluctance? I’ll take that up in part two of this post.

Categories : Jars of Clay
Comments (0)
Aug
14

Paper or Plastic?

By · Comments (0)

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not of ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, NLT)

We keep an empty gallon milk jug in our pantry. No, its not full of milk. Its been rinsed out and has a hole cut in its side and we use it to store our empty plastic grocery bags. The “single use bag” was developed by a firm in Sweden back in the 1960’s and made its way across the Atlantic in 1979. While many companies were trying to figure out what to do with this new material, it was the grocery stores that saw the value. They discovered they could save as much as 20% in the bagging costs by switching to these plastic bags versus offering the traditional paper sacks. In 1982, Kroger Stores introduced them to customers, followed quickly by Safeway. By 1985, 75% of all super markets were asking the question, “paper or plastic?” Consumers like me don’t consider them single use bags by any stretch of the imagination. We reuse them for everyday purposes from toting lunch to work to cleaning up after our pets in the back yard.

The Apostle Paul’s first century world had no concept of single use bags. His world was familiar with jars made of clay. Jars of clay were readily available. They were unexceptional, affordable and mass produced. They had flaws and imperfections and were used in a wide variety of ways. It would appear that first century citizens would have held them in the same regard as we do our common grocery sacks.

Paul used this image as a metaphor for discipleship and life in the Kingdom of God. Clay symbolizes the frailty of our mortal nature and the weakness of our flesh. Like clay, we are prone to imperfections. We crack and crumble.

The great paradox is that God entrusts the treasure of Christ to these jars of clay. The concept seems absurd at first, but it is not without purpose. God does this so that the weakness of our platform will highlight and not diminish the surpassing treasure of Christ himself.

Each of us has our own unique imperfections. Life has chipped and scratched us. Cracks have formed. The importance of that realization is that these imperfections become the very platform that God uses to display his Son.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting about some of the jars of clay that God used in Scripture. We’ll look at their imperfections and weaknesses and see how God used those very things for his glory. I suspect that we will see ourselves once again reflected in the truth of God’s word.

Categories : Jars of Clay
Comments (0)

As many of us are reeling from the events that have unfolded in Charlottesville, VA – with stories, images, and reports whirling about and yet developing – words can be tough to come by. When there is so much that can be said, indeed, that must be said in the light of tragic events such … Continued

Source: A Congregational Prayer for Churches After Charlottesville – Missio Alliance

Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (0)
Aug
04

Who’s the G.O.A.T.?

By · Comments (0)

Sports has brought us an interesting new acronymn: G.O.A.T., which stands for Greatest Of All Time. As Americans, we’re interested in such debate.

For instance, what is the greatest television show of all time? Certainly we have our prejudices, but if you base the question on the longest running broadcast, the answer would be The Simpsons, which has aired for 28 seasons. If you base it on the most episodes ever, then the answer would be Gunsmoke, which aired 635 separate shows.

What is the greatest movie of all time? Again, we have our favorites. But if you look to the box office, the movie Avatar would be number one, grossing $2.7 billion including international ticket sales. If you don’t like that metric, you can choose one of three movies, each of which earned eleven Academy Awards: Ben Hur, Titanic, and the Lord of the Rings.

Can you guess the greatest Rock band of all time? Total record sales would indicate the Beatles are the G.O.A.T., amassing sales topping 271 million records. But if you base the question on Grammy Awards, you would have to tip your hat to the band U2’s 22 trophies.

We tend to measure greatness in terms of longest, biggest, best or most. But Jesus defined it in other terms. When asked about what constitutes greatness, Jesus picked up a child from the listener’s midst and began to teach. (Matthew 18:1-14)

Jesus used a child to illustrate greatness in the kingdom. It wasn’t because children are pure or innocent. Its because children in Jesus’ day had no status or significance. They were completely dependent upon adults. While the text contains certain applications to children and children’s ministry, children in this instance are a metaphor for the values of discipleship. Faithful disciples of Jesus are, by nature, vulnerable, powerless and dependent. Our path to Kingdom greatness is paved with such genuine humility.

In light of this truth, we need to be careful with how we estimate our spiritual progress and the progress of our fellow disciples. Are we self reliant or God reliant? Are we powerful or powerless? Do we walk in pride or in humility? Are we great by human standards or by the standard that God has set forth?

Comments (0)
Aug
03

Jars of Clay

By · Comments (0)

On Sunday I will begin a new sermon series titled, “Jars of Clay.” The goal of this series is to demonstrate how God uses our weakness as a platform to display his surpassing power. For example,

Moses said, “I am afraid.”
Deborah said, “I am unqualified.”
Gideon said, “I am uncertain.”
Samson said, “I am self reliant.”
Nehemiah said, “This is hard.”
David said, “I am inexperienced.”
Jonah said, “I don’t understand.”
Paul said, “I am weak.”

In the lives of familiar characters and stories, we’ll discover how God enables us to serve in the midst of the cracks and imperfections of our lives. I hope you’ll check in from week to week and find encouragement to let the treasure of Jesus shine through your jar of clay.

Comments (0)
Jul
31

Look to This Day

By · Comments (0)

“Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very best of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power–

For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.”

Kalidasa, Fourth century A.D.

Categories : Vision
Comments (0)
Jun
26

Helpful Quote

By · Comments (0)

My sister shared the following quote as an introduction to a prayer she offered during worship yesterday. I liked it enough to share it with you today.

“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to make a difference that you lived at all.” — Leo Rosten

I hope it will inspire you today as it has me.

Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (0)