Restart-again!

First, I just discovered that the settings on Facebook that allow this blog to post in FB were set so that it posted on my page only, so most of you probably haven’t read the past several days’ posts.  To summarize:  I have moved to a new blog host, away from the Google-based Blogger site (starting to separate myself from Google due to my disapproval of their privacy policies).

Second:  I’m in Baton Rouge, LA, where Kelli and I are attending the Greater Things Conference, a gathering of some great Church leaders with a heart for loving our community and world.  Last night we heard from Joyce Meyer as the keynote speaker.  Today was filled with some AWESOME speakers, including Mark Batterson from National Community Church and Christine Caine, leader of the A21 Campaign to fight human trafficking (YES, it’s a huge problem–did you know that there are more slaves in the world today than there have been at any other time in human history?!).  Joshua Dubois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships spoke about how the Church can work with the government to eradicate hunger in our communities.  Also heard from Miles McPherson, a former NFL player-turned pastor, and a phenomenal speaker.

Tonight was topped off with Matthew and Tommy Barnett, two pillars in the Church, who are changing their communities, and changing the world.  Matthew Barnett leads the Los Angeles Dream Center, an example of what the Church can do when it sets its heart on loving the community, not preaching and judging the community.

In between all the speakers we attended workshops on how the Church can practically get involved in serving the community.  I’m excited, but also concerned.  Right now, I’m ready to take on the world, but I could very easily fall back into my rut when I get back home.  I’m praying that God keeps the burden real in the future that feels like a 50# weight laying on my chest right now.  You have my permission, and even my encouragement, to challenge me in the weeks ahead to find out what I’ve done with what I’ve learned this week.  Because I don’t want to follow the pattern of too many churches and Christians in our country today–developing a lot of head knowledge, but not having any impact on the world.

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Shabbat Shalom!

I had an amazing day in Jerusalem. My day started at Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus went to pray just before he was arrested, and less than 24 hours before he was crucified. I sat with my daughter and prayed and meditated on the Son of God suffering so that I could know Him and live in His blessing.

2 hours later I was caught up in a sea of people, headed to their prayers. Fathers holding the hands of their beautiful young daughters as they walked along, headed to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the Temple Mount, to participate in Friday afternoon prayers, the most significant worship time of the week for the Muslim world.

4 hours after that, I sat with a friend and his family, including his two beautiful daughters, and celebrated Kiddush and Shabbat dinner, beginning this Jewish worship day.

Three fathers of daughters, three worship experiences. Why must there be so much hate for others in these three cultures?

I do not purport to believe that all of us serve the same God, or all of our religions will achieve the same result. But my God says that I am to love all of these men, and their daughters, and to show them the love of Christ. After that, it’s up to them how they respond, but I’m to love them anyway. I will continue to do so, with the help of God who dwells within me, even if they don’t love me back.

Have a blessed Sabbath, wherever you are.

Boker Tov!

Wow–10 days since I posted. Lame excuses include spending essentially 2 days in travel mode from Alaska to Chicago to Istanbul to Tel Aviv to Tiberias. Then, 2 more days traveling around the Galilee area, pretty much on the go from 5 am to about 9 pm, when I pass out. But, we’re having an awesome time.

Among other sites visited today, we spent some time at Ein Herod, otherwise known as “Gideon’s Spring”. Here, God whittled down Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300, prior to leading them to attack the Midianites, whose camels outnumbered the sands of the seashore. The full story’s in Judges 7. It’s a pretty cool story with tons of application for all of us. Here’s a few nuances that really struck me today:

1) “Worry is meditating on the lies Satan is telling you.” Wish I could claim that one as my own, but my friend who shared it today got it from someone else. But there’s a lot of truth there.

2) God prepares each of us for a purpose, and even when the circumstances we face seem pre-disposed to cause us to fail, if we seek him and his purpose, we will prevail, as long as we’re obedient.

3) Even when we’re doing what God calls us to do, we can screw things up. God guarantees Gideon victory, and shows him a sign to confirm it. Then, Gideon tries to claim some of the glory by telling his men to shout “For the Lord and for Gideon” as they attack the Midianite camp. My first reaction is “REALLY??? God’s giving you a victory over a vastly superior force, with 300 of your own troops carrying trumpets and lamps, and YOU WANT CREDIT???” Then I look at my own life, and realize how much glory I’ve claimed, without even mentioning God.

Today, and with his help to tame my pride, EVERY day from here out, HE gets all the glory!

Today wraps up our vacation at Disneyworld, which bills itself as “The Happiest Place on Earth” and the place “Where All Your Dreams Come True.” it’s neither. Don’t get me wrong…I had a great time, but it was because I was here with my wife and daughter. That’s my Happiest Place on Earth-where my family is.

This place also made me think. I posted earlier about the riches spent to build this place. It IS impressive. We’re watching the nighttime parade at the Magic Kingdom. The showmanship, attention to detail, and excellence exhibited by the Disney organization should inspire each of us in our own jobs. I know–we’d all work hard and settle for nothing less than excellence if we worked at Disneyworld. Wrong! Some of these tourists are NOT happy–they’re downright mean and angry! But the “cast” always responds cheerfully. I wish I always had that attitude at work.

The design and engineering are also amazing! If you pay attention, you notice all sorts of details that make this place beyond the ordinary. In Animal Kingdom, the concrete paths look like real dirt trails, right down to the boot prints and bike tracks formed into it. They do the little things with excellence, not just the big things.

However, in the end, the experience left me feeling unfulfilled. I’ve wanted to go to Disneyworld since it opened. I imagined it to be magical. It’s not. It’s…nice. But for me, it’s turned into a metaphor for all the temporal things that we desire…Disneyworld as kids, and later cars, money, jobs, power, or prestige as adults. IF we ever attain them, we realize they aren’t all we imagined. We wind up unfulfilled. Like King Solomon said (a man who had it ALL by any measure of worldly success):

“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2

In the end, I agree with Solomon. Theres only one thing in this life that brings true fulfillment. If you don’t want to read his whole treatise on the emptiness of worldly success, you can skip to the ending, at Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Excuse me now while I watch the fireworks.

Communication thoughts…

Two quick thoughts before we head out for the day in Disney World. Both come from communications that I didn’t need to do, and could have very easily not initiated:

1) Talk about the uncomfortable things with the people that are really important. It’s much easier to bottle them up, and let them set. That’s how vinegar is made. It’s not going to be good for your long-term relationship, or for you.

2) Take the time to do those dumb little things for other people, even when you think it might be corny, or a waste of their time. God has a way of prompting YOU to do something that turns out to be what someone else needs, just when they need it. Most of the time, you don’t even get to know that you made a positive impact on that person at that particular time. Sometimes you do, if nothing else because they write you a note and let you know. So the next time God brings someone to mind for you to send a note to, or a gift, or just to call and say “hi, how’s it going?”, do it. You may be the difference in their day. And who knows–their note of “thanks” may be just what you needed to hear when you heard it.

Kinda cool how God works all that out in our lives, if we’re only willing to cooperate, huh?

Greetings from Disneyworld! We just arrived here after 2 days at a leadership conference in Orlando. The conference was an awesome opportunity to hear several great speakers discussing radical ideas to have influence in our changing world.

Four hour later i’m riding a monorail in a fantasyland. This is my first time here, and it’s overwhelming. Too many choices! We’ll be here for three and a half days, and there’s no way to experience it all. It’s hard to reconcile the news of unemployment, poverty, and suffering in our news today with the luxury and unlimited riches on display here. Two thoughts:

1) Americans in general have had it so good for so long that we (I’m certainly one in that “we”) don’t know what real poverty and suffering looks or feels like;

2) It’s hard to believe our economy’s in terrible shape when you see how much we spend on having fun. Or is that part of the cause of our economy’s terrible shape?