Miranda and I went to Dallas last weekend for the Right Now conference. It was a perfect way to get away and refocus ourselves on God. It just seemed like a good time to get away to think and dream and pray and talk about our future a bit. At this time in our lives, with our future so up in the air, we know we’ve probably got some tough times ahead of us. We wanted to use this time so that we could enter this time as healthy as possible so we can be more prepared for whatever the future holds. The conference helped us to get confirmation about a few things and God used many of the speakers to really encourage us on a deep level.
Here are some of the quotes I wrote down from the conference: (They may not be exact quotes – some are, but some are ideas expressed by the speakers which I wrote down as closely as I could.)
“If people follow you, will they get to Christ?” – Tim Ross
“Is there anybody in your church who is your written epistle?” – Tim Ross
“Small group = the purest form of the church. And the church exists for the world. Therefore, our small groups should exist for the world. Why do we build them for the benefit of the church?” – Alan Danielson
“Jesus’ small group met on the streets, in the bars, everywhere they went. It was the exception, not the rule to meet in a home.” – Alan Danielson
“If we aren’t traders, we are traitors to God.” – Alan Danielson on trading in the american dream for God’s.
“Leaders lean in to their strengths.” – Heather Zempel
“We like leadership where we can act as travel agents who sit in their offices and make decisions for others, but we should be more like tour guides who travel with their students.” – Heather Zempel
“I like the term ‘editor’ better than ‘accountability.’ Editors look for the good stuff and improvements as well as mistakes.” – Heather Zempel
“Carrots that reproduce have to stay in the ground an extra year. Farmers have to leave their best carrots in the ground. Stay planted so you can reproduce.” – Heather Zempel
“Lead with your ears.” – George Barna quoting Ken Blanchard
“I never learned anything talking.” – George Barna quoting Lou Holtz
“Leadership is about bringing the danger with you.” – George Barna quoting Erwin McManus
“Get them out of their comfort zones and believe in them more than they believe in themselves. Anyime you push an individual toward greatness, it’s because you believe he or she is capable of greatness.” – George Barna quoting Lou Holtz
“Scripture doesn’t say anything about a middle road. It’s clear there’s a narrow road and a broad road, but no middle.” – Francis Chan
“Imagine the fellowship you’d have if you were actually able to be crucified and suffer next to Jesus – looking Him in the eye as you suffer together.” – Francis Chan
“It doesn’t matter how many people are in a church or how great the worship is. God asked for a family – a body. That’s what we should strive for.” – Francis Chan
“There are ways to do church that no one has thought of yet.” – Mark Batterson
“Unbelief = putting circumstances between you and God. Faith = putting God between you and circumstances.” – Mark Batterson
“Neurology shows that the older you get, most people shift from right brain thinking to left brain thinking over time. Kids don’t have much experience stored in the left brain, so they live their lives in their imaginations.” – Mark Batterson
“God doesn’t fit in our left brain!” – Mark Batterson
“Don’t let an arrow of criticism pierce your heart unless it first passes through the filter of Scripture.” – Mark Batterson quoting Erwin McManus
“Sometimes criticism from a poor source should be received as a compliment. Sometimes a compliment is a criticism.” – Mark Batterson
“You’ll never be more than 80% certain.” Mark Batterson quoting Andy Stanley
“9 times out of 10 the answer to our prayer will come out of nowhere.” – Mark Batterson
“Compassion (International) is helping rescue us from the poverty of wealth.” – Anne Jackson
“The most Christian thing I’ve ever done is to give.” – Anne Jackson quoting Francis Chan
“A generous heart is never foolish.” – Tim Ross
“We may live like we’re gonna die tomorrow, but we should learn like we’re gonna live forever.” – Mark Batterson
“Like a watchman on a wall, prayer lets us see what other people can’t see.” – Mark Batterson on Col 4:2
“If it doesn’t seem crazy then God might not be in it.” – Mark Batterson
A friend of mine, Michael Chapman is going through a tough time right now – watching his mother die. She’s been whispering to someone while she’s in a out of consciousness over the past few days. Mike wrote a blog describing it and shared this quote:
In his book, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, Frederick Buechner says this about prayer: “Everybody prays whether we think of it as praying or not. The odd silence you fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of you as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the sky-rocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds you use for sighing with over your own life. These are all prayers in their way.”
What a beautiful way to describe prayer. It reminds me of Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” He knows our hearts and hears our prayers even when they’re not spoken, but the even better news is that He “groans” for us too!! I also love the imagery of the phrase in the quote saying the . . . . . “that floats up out of you.” Could that be the Spirit at work within us? I hope so.
Sometimes I close my posts with a prayer. Today, I’ll just say that something seems to be “floating up out of me” as I think about Mike’s mom, Jan. Maybe that’s the best prayer I can offer.
“May the force be with you.” It’s a classic quote. With those 5 little words I have referred you to a concept found in the Star Wars films. Almost anyone in our culture would recognize the reference, without mentioning the film itself. Jesus often did the same thing.
A practice called a “remez” (meaning “hint”) was practiced by most rabbis (including Jesus) during Biblical times. A “remez” is not actually hidden. It’s right in front of you if you know the Scriptures. They act like a pair of binoculars, revealing the full meaning of the interactions of first century Jews. You see, the Jewish educational system required that every young boy memorize the Old Testament Law. (1st Five Books of Bible) Many went on to memorize the entire Old Testament. Their culture was so steeped in the Scriptures, that they could quote a part of a verse knowing that almost everyone else would recognize the end. According to FishingtheAbyss.com, there are “30 – 50 (potentially more) remezim of Jesus recorded in the gospels.”
Here’s an example: Ever wonder why the Pharisees hated Jesus so much? Although He did say some things to them that were not very flattering, sometimes it’s what He didn’t say that bothered them the most.
Check out Mathew 21:16
But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
” ‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’?”
Why would that make them so angry? It doesn’t sound so bad. But check out what the rest of that verse says. He was quoting Psalm 8:2
From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
The Pharisees knew the end of the verse He was quoting – and Jesus knew it too. He called them “enemies!” No wonder they got so mad.
Anyway, the “remez” is an interesting practice. We’ve got to know the whole of Scripture in order to understand the intricacies of the things Jesus said (and didn’t day).
Here are a few other places Jesus used the “remez.” Look ’em up. It’s pretty cool stuff.
Matthew 21:13 hints at Isaiah 56:7 (Jesus isn’t as mad about them selling stuff in the temple area as much as He is concerned that this was the only place the Gentiles could worship and they were not being allowed to do so.)
Matthew 27:46 hints at Psalm 22:1 (Check out Psalm 22:13-18 – Jesus was telling them He was the Messiah.)
Luke 11:20 hints at Exodus 8:18-19
Luke 19:10 hints at Ezekiel 34 (Revealing Himself as the Messiah)
Mark 15:34 would have been an obvious “remez” to the Jews present at the time. Hinting at Psalm 22-24 (Messianic Psalms)
OK – so that should be enough to get you started. The bottom line for me is this. If we could approach the Scriptures with the context of Jewish culture, we’d have a much greater understanding and these sorts of nuances wouldn’t fly over our heads. I may be strange (and some of you know it’s true) but I’d sure like to be able to talk about the Scriptures as easily and with as much nuance as I do about Star Wars.
Anne Lamott is one of the best writers I think I’ve ever read – and funny too. Anyway, this morning I started listening to her audio book (she reads herself) called “Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.”
Anyway, I just thought I’d share a few quotes that struck me:
Peace is joy at rest. Joy is peace on it’s feet.
One of the top five most annoying things about God is that He rarely answers right away. It can take days or even weeks. Can you talk about God like this?
Maybe it was the ‘Ham of God.‘
She describes how seasonal showers fill up potholes in the rocks in the desert and frogs live in them. Then she says, “it seems you can go from parched to overflow in the blink of an eye.”
Here’s another quote from a talk she gave to a bunch of Pastors:
In his book, Paul the Leader, J. Oswald Sanders says, “The man who does not know fear cannot know courage.” (p.44, 1986, 4th printing, Navpress)
Hey guys – here’s a really good article I read on Ed Stetzer’s blog talking about the kind of faith people are really longing for. Check out the video clip from ER first.
Terry Mattingly writes:
Non-attendees (to church) want to ignore a generic God, but when/if they follow a faith, they want one that has robust beliefs and is worth following… Since growing churches tend to have more defined belief systems, when people start a journey to faith, they want something they see as worth believing and giving their life to. A generic god is hardly one worth committing to… As best I can tell, those who are not a regular part of a faith community still want to be “spiritual” people, but without a clear faith… Many fashion a tame God in their own image– a generic god for a generic spirituality, not a God who actually intervened in the world through the death of Christ and calls us to follow and live differently… For many, they want to get all the benefits of spirituality without any of the truth claims of a rigorous faith… I think the Oprah-ization of American spirituality has glorified “searching” for spiritual meaning but de-emphasized “finding.” In other words, it is good to be looking for spirituality, but it is intolerant to actually believe you have found a right faith and want to invite others to such. In “I’m O.K., You’re O.K. Spirituality,” the only sin is intolerance… and intolerance is defined to mean actually believing your faith is the correct one.
Behold: even NBC knows that a generic faith in a generic God does little good
when it really matters.
My Questions: What is the Godly way to express this appropriate intolerance for a false gospel? Why aren’t we (leaders in the church) telling those who are espousing this kind of “faith” to “Get out?” What kinds of precautions can we take to make sure the true “Gospel” is what we’re all about? What are the “answers” that people are looking/longing for?
Fear. It’s an interesting thing when it comes to leadership. My last post made a few people think I was afraid to step out in faith – afraid to do what God has called me to do. It’s true! I’m afraid. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid of walking away from a regular paycheck one day to follow this dream. I’m afraid of not being able to provide for my wife and child. I’m afraid I am misinterpreting God. I’m afraid of a whole bunch of things.
But (and maybe I should make that a great BIG “BUT”)
I’m even more afraid of just living from one day to the next – just existing. I’m more afraid of not being faithful in the little things and therefore forfeiting the amazing dreams God has for me. I’m more afraid of disappointing Him and of not being all that He has called me to be. I’m afraid of not drinking in the whole of God’s plan for me – of missing out on something. This is the kind of fear I can live with. And you know what I call that kind of fear?? I call it faith.
Anne Lamott talks about how fear and faith live together. Some people say that those two can’t be in the same room, but for me (and for her too) I’ve never stepped out on faith and not had fear lurking somewhere. Isn’t that what faith is? Stepping out in spite of the fear? Or even stepping into the fear?
This quote is appropriate to me. It’s my prayer that my life can reflect the ideas represented here.
It’s a famous quote which is sometimes wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so
that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other
people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”
I am afraid that God has made me “powerful beyond measure” and that I won’t live into it. I do not plan on “playing small” or “shrinking” but I plan to at least attempt to “make manifest the glory of God that is within me.” I hope that as I do it, others including my own son Kasen, will be “liberated from his fears” too. I hope to instill a sense of calling, adventure, and courage in him. And even if I fail in regards to chasing this church plant lion, it will still accomplish this: Kasen will have known a father who eagerly and persistently pressed on to God’s call. And I believe that will be enough to inspire and encourage him to chase his dreams and lions.
I will live my life in fear – fear of not being all God wants me to be. And because of this fear, I will live by faith – faith in the one who is calling me, Jesus Christ.
In the church world, commitment is a highly regarded value. It’s tough to find people who are truly committed to a ministry and when you do – you hold on to them tightly ’cause they are a huge asset.
But I wonder if it’s really commitment that we’re seeking? Here’s something Dr. Ayers said in class the other day: (It’s not word for word, but my interpretation of it.)
“Commitment says, ‘I can.’ but surrender says, ‘I can’t.’ Which does God really want? Are you ‘trying’ each day out of commitment or ‘dying’ each day out of surrender to God? Instead of trying to live for Him, we should be letting God live through us.”
I think some of this comes into play with the whole “enoughness” thing. When we are insecure in our own identity, we can try to make up for it by being extremely committed to something – then we get esteemed by others. It’s not very healthy though. On the other hand, when we “surrender” we get esteemed not by other people, but by God Himself. This is a much more healthy way find our identity and be esteemed. We are only enough, when we are in Christ. If our “enoughness” is found in other people esteeming us, then it probably has to do with what we can do for them and it won’t last ’cause we can’t work hard enough to satisfy the needs of another person consistently. However, if we are in Christ, he gives us an inner peace and satisfies our deepest longings and desires and we realize that we are enough simply by being with Him.
All this is to say that “surrender” is more important than “commitment.” Commitment can be about an outward appearance, but surrender comes from our inner identity.
All this makes me think of the Chris Tomlin song, “Enough.”
All of You
is more than enough for
all of me
for every thirst and every need.
You satisfy me with Your love
and all I have in You
is more than enough.
Nathaniel Brandon, “In considering the many parental messages that may have a detrimental effect on a child’s self-esteem, there is probably none I encounter more than some version of “You are not enough”. . . The tragedy of many people’s lives is that in accepting the verdict that they are not enough, they may spend years exhausting themselves in pursuit of the Holy Grail of enoughness.”
Enoughness – isn’t that what God addressed when he gave us the Sabbath? Here’s what I mean. Before the institution of the Sabbath, the nation of Israel was in slavery in Egypt. Their value and worth was directly related to the number of bricks they could make – or how many blocks they could move – or how much dirt they could shovel. Their value was tied to what they could do – how much they could perform. When God rescued them from Egypt, one of the first things he did is institute the Sabbath – it was kinda like God was saying, “Look, you guys are valuable to me simply for being who you are. I want you to spend one day a week doing nothing so that you can remember that you are my chosen people. Remember that you don’t have to do anything to earn my love and acceptance. You are enough because I made you enough – not because you did anything to earn it, but because I chose you. Remember how much I love you.”
As a Christian, I am enough too! I have been chosen, not for my works, but simply because God saw it as His good pleasure to choose me. Wow! That’s what I want Kasen to understand. For that matter, that’s what I want everyone to understand. How can I communicate that better? Maybe, there’s not a “better” way to say it – maybe I just need to keep saying it – to keep bringing it up – to pound it into people’s heads. Maybe I should say it enough that people can finish my sentence – I don’t know – I just know that I think it’s that important!