It’s been too long since I’ve blogged.
For those outside the blogging world, the practice can appear a bit narcissistic. Essentially, person X thinks that persons A, B, C & D want to actually read the random, scattered reflections of his/her mind.
However, this is not why I do so. Why do I blog?
1. To reflect on my own journey individually or communally. Writing is another step in the thought and learning process.
2. To pass along thoughts, advice, messages, or challenges via mass medium.
3. In all I do, I attempt to do in the name and glory of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I would not blog if I deemed it is totally unnecessary or without purpose. The challenge for each waking moment (between me and God) is, does your life matter if it “JUST” affects one person? The answer, without question, from God is YES, YES, and YES!!! Who gets to keep score? Not me. Not the world. Just God. One life matters to God.
Therefore, here are my latest thoughts, readings, and reflections on life, God, and the practice of following Jesus Christ.
Ryan, my older and much cooler older brother, recently attended a conference led by Paul Yadao. He passed along a few of the CDs and resources he picked up. Yadao heads a powerful healing ministry based out of the Philippines.
Yadao’s words have impacted me the last few weeks. He has coined the term: Soaking.
Soaking is the practice of simply dwelling in the presence of God. It is allowing ourselves to be still, to listen, to SOAK in the affirming love of the Father.
This is not innovative by any means. But the term has had a powerful affect on my life.
When we go to Soak, we aren’t going to ask, to do, or to get. Instead, we are simply THERE. We allow the Father to speak His love to us. We allow the Holy Spirit to soak into our core. We don’t go to absorb power (like a boost or recharge). We simply go to SOAK.
During these times, I might put on some quiet music or turn off the lights. Whatever the scenario, I simply imagine (imagination is key – there are no “accidents” in your imagination) the face of Jesus. Lately, God keeps giving me images of playing catch with Jesus in a wheat field (ala Field of Dreams) or simply taking things from my soul and floating them down a river.
If we don’t allow ourselves to soak in the Father’s love, the work of the Father will not be as powerful in our lives. If we don’t sit still and simply dwell with God, what can we hope to accomplish?
For the “anonymous Christian” (a new term I picked up for those who know the grace of God but don’t have words for it), this practice can be applied by simply sitting still for 15, 20, 30 minutes a day and setting your mind on things above (love, hope, grace, mercy, justice). If we’re always running on half a tank, what can we hope to do? Let yourself be still. Pray that God would speak love to you. It’s incredible.
“Soak in the Presence. Lead the People.”
The Energy Bus
The Energy Bus, by Jon Gordon, was given to me by one of my mentors, John Hogenson at St. Andrew’s. I’ve read a few books similar to this fable-style of writing. However, despite the simplicities of the stories, they always profoundly impact my current life thoughts.
The Energy Bus centers on the story of George and his disastrous work life, family life, and inner turmoil. As he experiences a flat tire and is forced to take the bus, he encounters Joy and she teaches him the 11 rules of The Energy Bus.
I won’t highlight all of them, but here are a few that made me feel good about the past year and the upcoming one.
Rule #1: You Drive Your Own Bus
This is similar to recent conversations I’ve shared with Dr. Kathy Arai. The message is this: We are in control of our bus. Before anyone freaks out, I still believe that God is in control ultimately. He is Creator; I am created. But I am not a puppet. I believe that we partner in this life with God to bring hope, justice, and peace to this world. The credit never goes to us (always to God), but we are still God’s Plan A to bring healing and hope.
How does this apply? It means we don’t have to be passive bystanders as the “bus” of our life moves in directions we don’t want it to go. It means we have a say in our life, our family, and our work. A passive mindset leads to complaining. An authoritative, I’m in control view, leads to an active participation in bringing about change.
Rule #3: Fuel Your Ride w/ Positive Energy
Feed the positive dog! I love this phrase. Each moment, you face a choice: See the bad or see the good? We must teach ourselves to feed the POSITIVE DOG! I love it.
How does this apply? I tend to lean toward a critical spirit. My greatest strength (seeing what needs work) is also my greatest weakness (being too critical and never feeling like I’ve done enough).
Rule #5: Don’t Waste Your Energy On Those Who Don’t Get On the Bus
This was an affirming reminder of the previous year. My first year at CLC faced much difficulty with some who refused to get on the bus. I will NEVER say that I did everything close to perfect when it came to figuring out what the bus was, where it was going, and how to get people on.
However, there will some (actually, there will always be some) who refuse to get on the bus. God has faithfully removed several of those who didn’t want, try, or desire to get on the bus.
At first, I took it personally. But as I’ve learned over the course of the year, you simply can’t waste inordinate amounts of time trying to convince those who will never get on.
There is always a place for second (third, fourth, and fifth) invitations, but after a while, it becomes clear some won’t get on. What are you supposed to do other than wish them well and hope they find another bus to get on!
Rule #6: No Energy Vampires Allowed
How true is it that some people suck life and others give life! Some spark energy and creativity and others spark dread and fear. On the bus, energy vampires are those who are ALWAYS taking energy away! I feel that for the first time there are truly NO ENERGY VAMPIRES in my life. It’s a freeing and incredible feeling! A leader must always give people a chance to change, but if they don’t, what else can you do other than let them go or force them off?
Rule X: YOUR POSITIVE ENERGY and VISION MUST BE GREATER THAN ANYONE and EVERYONE’s NEGATIVITY. Your CERTAINTY MUST BE GREATER THAN EVERYONE’s DOUBT.
Enough said. This is plastered on my wall. I fail at this often, but I’m committed to improving on this today.
All in all, a great fable. A must read for all leaders.
A New Kind of Christian
I won’t go into much detail, but I was a bit hesitant to read “A New Kind of Christian” by Brian McLaren. McLaren’s reputation is that of extreme left, extreme liberal, and potential universalist. Therefore, like all bad people, I tried to not listen to opposition voices (we should always listen to those who oppose our views!)
However, I found the story refreshing and insightful. Most of all, the story is a conversation between a conservative, traditional pastor who is questioning the powers that be and a more liberal, out of the box thinking teacher who is deconstructing every practice of Christianity.
Despite some theological questions, the book is a GREAT example of the kind of conversation that is occurring in our world today.
Some highlights include the questions of God’s expansive grace, the heaven/hell debate, and church practices.
I am attending Fuller Seminary. I love it. However, they are moving out of Las Vegas which I’m super bummed about.
However, God (honestly, GOD) had introduced me to The Master’s Institute a few years back. Based out of St. Paul, I couldn’t start seminary there because I had moved to Las Vegas. After a few prophetic voices had told me I was going to attend an “out of the box” seminary, God again slapped me in the face with this one. As soon as those voices spoke into my life, I received an email about a Southwest extension starting THIS YEAR out of The Master’s Institute.
Essentially, MI is a Lutheran-based, but not solely, seminary started 8 years ago. MI takes a more holistic approach to learning and seminary. Instead of pure academia, they combine relational, experiential, and mentoring with academic training. Instead of focusing on mere knowledge, they understand that knowledge alone does not make Kingdom-minded, Spirit-filled pastors or leaders. They are attempting to train people to lead ministry, not simply teach theological truths.
The downside is it is non-accredited.
However, in typical John style, I managed to ask 10-15 pastors/leaders of different denominations and churches what their opinion was of someone who would graduate from a non-accredited seminary.
All of the people I asked (and I managed to ask some “big names” in ministry world) were concerned very little with seminary education. In a few cases, they actually would prefer someone from a place like MI. The reality is: Traditional seminary (I won’t include Fuller in this, because I love Fuller) isn’t training Kingdom-minded, Spirit-led who can lead a congregation and a staff. Instead, many of these seminaries are operating in the modern way of academia (Prof. X takes knowledge and pours it into Person A and hopes transformation occurs through this knowledge dump).
All in all, I’m pumped. God is bigger than accreditation.