Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Isaiah 55:10-11

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"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
Isaiah tells us something specific about the effect that the word of God has in the world. When God's word is introduced into the world though scripture, teaching or preaching it accomplishes something: unfailingly and purposefully. God doesn't waste his words.

What Isaiah hints at is that it may take some doing for God to get this done. In the metaphor of the rain to bread process there's sprouting and seeding, harvesting and baking. And finally bread is produced. God's word is no different. Don't assume that a single hearing of a pithy sermon or a Bible motto will produce the desired transformation God intends to effect in your life. The word has to take root, it has to grow, it has to be harvested and it has to be applied. God's word is powerful tool for radical life transformation, but not a tool for invasion. God's word goes where it is invited and it achieves what we allow it to.

What Isaiah doesn't tells us is that God will accomplish what He intends, but that may not be what we intend. God's word is intimately and unbreakably tied to God's will. Although we can choose to allow it to enter our lives, there is no predicting the level of transformation it will accomplish once we allow it. Remember, God's word accomplishes what God intends not what we desire.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I John 3:2

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Beloved, now we are children of God and it hasn’t been revealed what we shall be. But we are aware that when He is revealed we will be like Him, that we will see Him as He truly is.
I love uncertainty in the Bible. It gives me such hope when I can see the humanity of the Bible’s authors slip through between the lines of their inspired texts. These authors have the Holy Spirit guiding their thoughts to produce God’s words for God’s world, but still they are human writers wrestling with real, human doubts and uncertainties.

John is honest with us that he just doesn't know what eternity with God will be like. he is confident that today, we are loved by God and accepted as His children. he knows that being connected to God in this way is transforming us into some remarkable future. But he also lets us know that he doesn’t know the details of what that future will be like. There’s something comforting about that.

I don’t know about you, but there are things about the Christian life that I don’t understand. Where is the intersection between the will of God and our own, personal responsibility? Why is Hell necessary, was there no other way? Do we pray for what we want or for God’s will. These are just the ones I’m willing to admit to.

But it is encouraging to me that with all his advantages, John’s in the same boat as I am. John walked with Jesus. John heard His words and saw His face. He shared meals and hugs with Jesus. He saw diseases healed, dead raised, and demons conquered. He was chosen by God and inspired by His spirit to write a Gospel, 3 epistles and the book of Revelation. But there were mysteries that even John didn’t understand.

For John, it was enough to know that God knew his future. He had a confident faith and a calm assurance that our glorious future in Jesus was worth the mystery...it was worth the not knowing.

The ancient Hebrews had a saying, “the secret things belong to God and the revealed things belong to us.” (Deut. 29:29) John knew he didn’t need to know everything about God to know God. What’s more it’s only those who approach God with humility who will ultimately know that Great Mysteries. Hebrews 4:16 may invite us to “approach the throne of grace boldly” but we still do it on our knees.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Focusing on Decided Voters

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I was listening to the Freakanomics podcast and one of the authors was talking about the election. He was saying how inefficient (a word economics love) it was that all this energy was being spent engaging undecided voters. In his mind the only people who are undecided right now are people who don't care or couldn't be bothered to have been paying attention. His idea was to instead give more "votes" to the most decided voters. That way the people who are the most informed and the most passionate would have the most impact on the election.

Now, this won't work in politics...what with our whole "one-man-one vote" commitment  But I was wondering if it applies to leaders.

Think of all the people you lead and get a picture in your mind of the 2 or 3 most committed, most passionate people. What could you do to make their "vote" count more?

So often our energy as leaders is spent on squeaky wheels and engaging the uninterested. What if we were more intentional about empowering and releasing the already engaged?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Heroes & Villans

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I was watching the commentary track on a superhero movie (NERD ALERT!!!) and the actor who played the bad guy was talking about how he prepared for the role. He said, "no one thinks that they are the bad guy." He went on to say that everyone is the hero of their own story. He said that to really portray that character, he had to find the motivations that convinced this guy he was actually the good guy.
I think that's true in real life also. No one leaves their house every morning determined to be the bad guy in everyone else's hero story. Regardless of how it appears to us, everyone thinks that they are the hero.
If we try to find the truth of their hero journey, maybe we can have more sympathy and grace for the villains in our lives.
The harder question to answer is in what ways are we the villains in someone else's story?
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Exception Bias

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An important lesson to learn in maturing is that exceptional events are not patterns or trends.

Koke & I were driving together and he made an observation that every time he looks at a clock it is 9:11. He thought that was kinda creepy. I asked him to think about the truth of what he has said.

The truth is that it is 9:11 roughly 0.13% each day. The truth is that Koke looks at the clock often throughout the day. The truth is that Koke remembers the times he sees 9:11 because of its other associations.

But we all do that. Our brains are wired to filter out the routine and focus on the exceptions. Sometimes this is not helpful. When a friend wrongs us, we define the relationship by that single failure and not by the countless times of past fidelity. When God seems distant we focus on our feelings of abandonment and not His history of consistent faithfulness.

Remember, negative exceptions inform our reality, but they don't define it.


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