vision enabler…

I’m sitting here at the Catalyst West Conference and just heard Erwin Mcmanus speak on leading our most heroic life by helping others pursuit their dreams. It reminded me of this word that was given to me years ago. I remember wrestling with my role as a pastor and leader. I remember having a conversation with my friend and sharing about the concept of venture capitalism (VC). I told him at that moment that I think I’m supposed to be a ‘VE’- a Vision Enabler. I want to help people discover and realize the vision/dream that God places on people’s hearts an minds. I am constantly reminded of this role for me as I was contemplating creating Convergence in Oakland. Two years ago, I was reading the Bible which says, ‘the purposes in a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws it out.’ (Proverbs 20:5). I read that in the morning and then another pastor friend of mine (Dale Sanderson of Wellspring Covenant Church) started to share with me how his entire church was trying to become the ‘man of understanding.’ Imagine what our communities would look like if we started to unlock and enable the ‘God-given’ purpose and potential in those around us. What would our communities look like if we genuinely and fully gave our lives to others. Imagine…

shortsidedness…

i spent last thursday and friday at our denominational conference (PSWC) annual celebration.  it was a powerful time of listening, praying, and reflecting.  one deep conviction that is brewing in me since then is the importance and need to pray more.  i wrestle with this because most of the time nothing “happens” DURING my prayer time.  i’m always hoping that something miraculous will happen on the spot.  don’t get me wrong…  i think that there are moments where revelation and miracle happens in the midst of prayer, but for the most part, i don’t “feel” or “see” anything change during my time of prayer.

as part of the celebration, they honored our previous superintendent (John Notehelfer).  They particularly emphasized the fruit of his prayers in us ten years later.  it was at that moment that i realized that i am so shortsided.  i always want things to happen now.  i always feel like it’s pointless if things don’t change right before my eyes.  i think that it’s more productive to focus on what i can accomplish and finish quickly.  but real, lasting, impactful transformation happens through the power of God and the Holy Spirit.  and, it may not happen in a moment.  and it definitely happens when God’s people fall on their knees and pray. i mean, God calls us to this posture for healing of our communities:

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

so, maybe we if we can get beyond the shortsidedness of our “quick results” oriented life, we’d get on our knees and truly know in our hearts that it makes a difference in our world when we pray…

Speed…

so, my big question that i’ve been wrestling with for some time now that always gets rekindled when i come to a gathering of pastors and leaders is: “what does speed have to do with the power of the Holy Spirit?”

i ask this question because it seems that we’re mezmerized by the “fastest growing this…” and the “speed at which things get accomplished…”  oddly, it creates this anxiety in me that i’m moving too slowly and that i’m always fighting failure since i’m slowing down.  the affirmation of speed as it correlates to the power and presence of God also makes me feel like I don’t have that much power and presence of God in my life.  i’m sure i’m writing and thinking out of insecurity, but it’s hard when it’s in your face all the time and all around you.

what does the affirmation of speed create in me?  i think that i become more shallow.  i move from person to person because i don’t have time.  i’m very selective with my meetings in order to accomplish my agenda which needs to be accomplished quickly.  i work so hard that i can never “enjoy” the moment or the blessing right before me.  what’s worse is that i’m pretty sure i make others around me more anxious about moving too slowly and make them feel like lazy sluggards for not helping our community grow.  sorry…:)

i always think about the high probability that Jesus would be fired from most churches today because he wouldn’t be effective enough.  I think that he would be judged for only amassing 12 followers over the course of 3 years and the fact that 1 of them betrayed him only adds icing to the cake of the argument.  he deeply invested in his disciples and gave himself away.  he took the time to be with them and walked with them through ministry.

i fight for peace in my life all the time.  when someone asks how my church is going (codespeak for how’s attendance?) i always cringe a bit.  but, i believe that people in my church are growing.  i believe that we’re learning through the scriptures and through our experiences in our community.  i believe that strongholds are being broken and people are feeling more and more liberated.  i believe that we’re seeking after Christ and valuing our “relationship” with our Savior verus just trying to “fix” our junk.  so… i think we’re growing… really growing…

The Passion of the Christ…

Our core group got together tonight to watch the Passion of the Christ.  I’ve watched this movie twice now – once when it first came out in theaters and once again tonight.  I have to say that it’s an incredibly made movie and really brings the Scriptures to visual life.  So, kudos to Mel Gibson for a job well done…

I wanted to write my thoughts this time around, however, because they’re a bit different from my first viewing.  The first time I saw this move and even this time around, my heart breaks at the sight of Jesus being brutalized for our sin.  I was overwhelmed by guilt, shame, and gratitude all at the same time.  I couldn’t help but think about how I am like the Roman soldiers at times, like the Jewish Pharisees at others, and even like Pilate who thought that indifference would absolve him from responsibility.

This time, however, I kept hearing Jesus’s powerful words of forgiveness piercing my heart.  I kept hearing his voice speak out, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do…” and “You’ve heard it said, ‘love your friends and despise your enemies,’ but i tell you, “love your enemies…”  Jesus is praying for those who are persecuting Him.  He says to take heart when people hate you on account of Him because they hated Him first.  My gut kept yearning for justice.  I was hoping for vengeance.  I kept thinking about everyone who was persecuting Him getting theirs in the end.  I kept wanting WRATH!!!  But, His unconditional, never changing, ever forgiving love kept piercing my heart and soul. His voice kept whispering through my anger and disdain “He dies FOR us.”  He didn’t just bear the cross, He laid His life down on the cross FOR us.  This whisper started to change every emotion in me and started to affect me more than the loudest shouts of revenge.  HE GIVES HIS LIFE FOR US…

I am in desperate need of this grace.  And in my desperation, I now have this incredible desire to offer it…

can silence change the world???

we live in an age where efficiency and effectivity are the marks of success.  speed to delivery, visible change are all things that make me wonder sometimes if our spiritual activity changes anything.  i was reading some henri nouwen over the weekend and he talks about silent prayer and how silence actually changes us.  it was incredibly profound to think that God speaks to us in silence.  we’re constantly listening to a barrage of voices.  we listen to emails, txts, tweets, fb updates, websites, blogs, billboards, tv, movies, news, etc.  we’re bombarded by so much stuff that to sit in silence is outrageously difficult and painful.  there’s a detox or an “unplugging from the matrix” that is liberating and clarifying in so many ways.  i believe that by pursuing God in this venue that we ultimately change; thus, creating change in the world around us.  can silence change the world?  i believe it can.  as much as our productivity changes things, so can silence and the choice to stop and center ourselves on Christ.

i’m spending this week (passion week) in extended times of prayer (silence) and fasting.  as i enter into this week, i’m believing more and more that what we do in our spirit (spiritual disciplines) affects the world around us more than we recognize or choose to believe…

Weeds…

Sami and Jaci helping give perspective to my weed problem...

Sami and Jaci helping give perspective to my weed problem...

i’ve got weeds growing everywhere!!!  i put a couple shots of one patch that’s in front of my house.  One with my kids and car to give you some perspective on how tall they are and one that’s a bit closer up.  now, i’ve actually got to do some major work to get rid of these bad boys.  i can’t believe how fast they’ve grown.  this patch was dirt when we first moved in 9 months ago and now i can’t even see the dirt!  being a pastor and theologian, i can’t help but look at my weed garden and see the correlation to our lives.  i’ve put off taking care of my garden for almost a year and now i have

Yes, They're ALL Weeds!!!

Yes, They're ALL Weeds!!!

a serious problem that seems totally out of control and overwhelming.  i almost don’t know where to start.  i thought of weeds in my life that are now deeply rooted within me and think of how overwhelming they become when i choose to look away and ignore them.  when they started, they were just small little patches so i thought, “no biggie…  i’ll take care of it later.” after a while though, the crap in my life gets overwhelming and i feel like it’s a lost cause.  did you know that some weeds actually produce these little flowers that almost make them look pretty?  but no, they’re still weeds that grow out of control and start screwing up the rest of the garden.  weeds can be subversive that way.

i sat there thinking about all of the different strategies to kill them.  i’ve heard of different organic solutions (water and vinegar, boiling water, soap and water, etc.) but i’ve chosen to go the old school route of pulling them by hand.  one by one, i’m going to go after them.  since there are so many, i’ve asked my friend to help me out.  interesting isn’t it?  even in this, i can see how community makes such a difference in helping us figure out our junk as well as help us deal with it. wow, when i decide to deal with weeds, it actually brings me closer with people.  interesting.

weeds…  a curse, a blessing…

i’m pretty obsessed with my weeds right now…  enough talking about them.  time to get dirty and deal with them…