Thursday, January 24, 2008


It is a bit after 8pm on Thursday night. About 5:30pm I wrapped up my two week DMin cohort. It was a valuable time. Learned a great deal, but am running a bit on academic overload.

Currently I am in the Northwest World Club trying to catch up on e-mails, munching on cheese, crackers and pretzels. I also had a bit of cranberry juice. This somewhat healthy food paved the way for my cookies and brownie.

I am scheduled for a ten pm flight out of Los Angels. Connecting through Detroit I will arrive in Indy bright and early. I plan to sleep the entire trek from LAX to Detroit. Looking forward to it.

My brain is pretty much fried, so I don't have much tonight...okay, I typically don't have much! But this time I have a bit of a reason.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Today in my DMin class the Dean of the School talked to us about our upcoming dissertation. He mentioned that his job was to build sandboxes and allow others to play in them. The implied idea was that there was freedom within parameters.

I appreciated the intended application. I thought we need to beware of cats! Nothing can mess up a sandbox like a cat. I’m not real sure of this application, but it made me laugh.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Hebrews 13:16 states, "Don't forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God" (New Living Translation). This is a simple missional living guidline: Do good and share what you have.

Living each day like this, in the name of Jesus, provides a convergence of the gospel with misson. This is the simplicity of living a missional life.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I attended church in the Temecula Valley of Southern California. It went by the moniker Chorus Church. Its slug line was: Many voices, one song. I liked the message it sent of unity within diversity. It is a young church meeting in an Elementary School. They have done an excellent job of creating a space for worship within the walls of a multi-purpose room.

The Lead Pastor shared a message on forgiveness. At the conclusion of the sermon he asked that each person pull out a blank quarter sheet sized card. He told us to write a past offense, grudge, or anything that we might need to release to forgiveness or to forgive.

He then set a paper shredder on the platform. Using his own card he placed it in the shredder’s mouth. It was clutched in the fine teeth of the shredder. At the whirling sound of the shredder the Pastor said, “That is the sound of forgiveness.” The once whole card was now in neatly ripped pieces at the bottom of the basket.

People were encouraged to bring their cards forward to place in the shredder. So as music played and the elements of communion were available people, as they felt lead, went forward. They took the cup, broke the bread all to the sound of forgiveness.

What a wonderful description! It was a twenty-first century example of God’s grace and forgiveness in our lives. God is ready to shred whatever we are willing to place in his grace filled hands.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


It is easy and acceptable for existing organizations to allow its traditions and long tested methods to become barriers to innovation and progress. Maintaining the status quo, making decisions that result in the minimum of resistance, choosing control over empowerment, balking at new ideas, and “don’t rock the boat” become the values most lived out. People are implored to be reasonable. Reasonable being code for adapt yourself to where we are and what we are doing. But reasonable seldom provides the needed momentum for the relentless pursuit of real change.

Movements, if they are going to get traction, need unreasonable persons. It was George Bernard Shaw in his Maxims for Revolutionists that stated, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

It is time to pursue a measure of unreasonableness. It is time to live in such a manner that adaptation is made. It is time to courageously, boldly and purposefully to build toward real progress. Let us be unreasonable, together! Let us persist. Let us participate in authentic change.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I got kicked out of the Crystal Cathedral! This is not a misprint. I really did. Yes, that model of seeker sensitivity. The leader, Robert H. Schuller (not to be mistaken for Robert A. Schuller) who set the pace for innovation and Possibility Thinking. This was that very Cathedral.

Let me explain. I am currently participating in the second of three residencies for my DMin program at Talbot Seminary. This institution is a mere twelve miles, or so, from Garden Grove the home of the Glass edifice. I actually have been to the Cathedral campus several times. I love the place. It is a world unto itself. Quiet and serene! Dr. Schuller, the elder, had built the Center for Possibility Thinking. I had wanted to explore this particular building. Being this close I had to make the trek.

I figured visiting on a Friday afternoon I would have the place, virtually, to myself. Arriving I discovered I was not alone. It seems the ReThink Conference (I have heard of this conference, but so concludes my knowledge of this event) was in progress. Not only was I not alone on this sprawling campus I was, as far as I could see, the lone non-badge wearing campus crawler.

Undaunted, I headed directly to the Center for Possibility Thinking. It was a beautiful building: Open and airy. It had a casual atmosphere. It contained encouraging scripture and quotes that stirred my imagination beckoning me to think differently. I was reminded again why I love this place.

Finishing my exploration of the Possibility facility I backtracked across the large central mall area. There was a Plenary Session beginning in the Cathedral itself. A rear door stood open. I thought I might step in and simply listen for a few moments.

No sooner inside, an elderly (meaning older than me) lady approached me. She wore a red blazer with an insignia. That jacket and her confidant approach signaled she was in an `official’ capacity.

“May I see your badge?” She asked already knowing my answer.
“I don’t have a badge. I am not part of this conference.”
“I will have to ask you to leave.”
“I wanted to stand back here for just a few moments and listen.”
“I’m sorry, but I was told not to allow anyone in without a badge.”
Turning to leave, I looked at her and said, “You have a brutal job!”

Making my way back to my car, I thought even the Crystal Cathedral has its limits to welcoming. I wondered if that particular session might have been about churches and Christ followers being aware and open to sojourners.

She meant no harm. I took no offense. But how often do churches, subtly, ask folks to leave because they don’t have their “badge?”
The badges are different. It might be the badge of spiritual maturity. It could be the badge of holiness. It possibly could be the badge of proper attire, correct language, fundamental doctrine, or modern thinking.

How often do we unintentionally not allow folks to hang in the back, or float on the fringe just to listen until we see their badge? Probably more than we would care to admit. Well I need to be on my way. I want to dig my badge out for church this Sunday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Today Neil Cole author of the Organic Church was a guest lecturing in my DMin Class at Talbot. He shared that if an organization is to avoid becoming instutionalized the leaders and the organization must embrace a theology of death. Both the leaders and the organization must die to itself (Luke 8:23-24).

What I found interesting was his observation that the opposite of death, in this scenario, is not life, but SAFE. A true sign of a movement becoming institutional is the draw toward safety. The institution circles the wagons to protect itself from the “barrage” of outside influence. The organization moves from a theology of death to a theology of safe.

What does this theology of SAFE look like? He shared four “safe” descriptors:

Self-preservation = mission
Avoidance of the world and/or risk = wisdom
Financial security = responsible faith
Education = maturity

When a organization's choices are made to preserve what it has instead of moving out in missional ngagement it is on the edge of potential demise.

Can an organization play it safe? Yes! Should an organization play it safe? Many might say it must in order to survive for the long haul. But is survival the primary issue? Or should the organization boldly run after its proactive mission and say with Esther, “…If I [we] must die, I [we] am [are] willing to die” (Esther 4:16).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Tonight I got an unexpected invitation to join Alan Nelson, Ed Stetzer, Gary McIntosh and Chip Arn for dinner. These guys are HUGE in the area of church growth and church planting. What an honor. I had a great visit. It was extremely fun to listen, laugh and inteact on stuff of shared interest.

I happened to be in the right place at the right time with four guys who were willing to share a segment of their life with me. I felt I had hit the mother lode of opportunity. It was my lucky day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


It seems in our busy world there is a draw to develop our inner lives. This kind of activity is typically tied to solitude and deep inner reflection. But to find genuine balance we need to connect with others.

One expert in this discipline observed, "When left to our own devices, human beings can come up with unlimited delusions. We need somewhere we can go to test our own reality."

It is suggested that this 'reality testing' is best done in community. A safe place where a person might bounce off of others what they hear in their times of reflection. Of course this assumes that those in the community we choose are grounded enough to not allow their reality to skew their input into us.

It seems to me there must be a more objective tool to help balance what any of us perceive as our reality. It must be something that might keep all in the community grounded. Otherwise we will simply be informed by our own versions of reality which may or may not be correct.

What might this objective tool be? I suggest the Bible. It must be the Word of God with limited commentary. It needs to be the raw scripture simply laid over our lives. It is the scripture that "...exposes us for what we really are" (Hebrews 4:12). And it is in our wrestling with what we really are that we discover our genuine reality.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Today I begin two weeks of classes for a graduate degree I am working on. It is spent in Southern California. Not a bad place to be in January, especially since my current home is in the Indianapolis area.

It is full days of lectures and discussion. Each person in the cohort shares an affinity with the topics. Each of us are living out what we are learning. This makes these times an extension of our work, not an escape from what we do. It is learning in the lab of experience. We all come from the cauldron of having to produce effectiveness in what we do. Therefore all our discussion and conversation is built on what we are doing not what we might do.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I am a displaced Charger fan. I currently live in Indianapolis which is under the fan-ship of the Colts. When moving here two years ago from California I was asked for whom I might cheer? My “politically correct” response was: I will cheer for the Colts just as long as they are not playing the Chargers, affectionately know as the Bolts. In my two plus years of living in Indy they have played twice. In both scenarios the Bolts have taken it to them. Okay, for those who follow football a bit know the most recent win was really a gift from the Colts, but a double-u is a double-u none the less.

Today the two teams compete to see who gets the opportunity to play the Patriots for the AFC Championship. I am writing this for later posting as I am currently flying to Southern California for a graduate degree I am working toward. I share this as I will not catch this game until late in the first half. So anything I may say here might be spoiled by the actual events. Good news is, based on my philosophy of “fan-dom” I will have a team in the finals regardless.

I have come to highly respect the Colt organization. They are filled with quality individuals from the ownership right down to the playing field. Few men have the integrity and character of Tony Dungy. He has shown his consistency of faith and life on the most public of stages.

He has made it a point to downplay the reality they are the defending NFL Champions. It is not about what they did last year, but what they can do this year. In this week-ends USA Today (which I just got to today) Peyton Manning makes a great statement regarding last year’s Super Bowl accomplishment. “This is a new year, and we know nobody else cares what we did last year. And the truth of it is, we really don’t care either.”

This gave me a glimpse of the greatness of this franchise. They enjoyed the achievement of 2007, but they chose not to live there. There was an organizational wide understanding that complacency is not a plan. Past success can contribute to future achievement, as long as the conversation is not built on “how we where.”

I need to remember this. What I have done before holds no guarantees that such can be done again. Any past accomplishment can be built upon, but not if it is used as an anchor to hold me to it.

Bolts or Colts? I just hope for a well played game by both. Then the team moving on can do so with full knowledge it was earned. BOLTS WIN! BOLTS WIN!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Attitude changes everything! I have been told this for years. And I believe it wholeheartedly. I spent six years on the staff of John Maxwell. There is NO ONE who exemplifies this more than he does. I just read a chapter in his book, Today Matters. I was reminded again that I have to manage my attitude daily. A positive attitude is a choice I make daily.

I must decide to see the positive in every situation. I must determine that regardless of how someone responds to me, I can choose my response to them. I must tell myself, what I have told others: If you can’t change the look OF your situation, change how you look AT your situation. I can tend to be pessimistic. Armed with this information I need to confront my natural bent toward pessimism with an optimistic option.

Today I renew my desire to be optimistic. Today I will look for the positive in every situation. Today I will check potential negative attitudes at the door. Today I will practice gratitude. Today I will be hopeful. Today I will encourage others. Today I will forget yesterday, it is done. And tomorrow I will understand it is my today to begin fresh and new.

Monday, January 7, 2008


I came across this bent on the Ten Commandments. It seems it was hung on the wall of a “cowboy” church.

1. Just on God
2. Honor yer Ma & Pa
3. No telling tales or gossipin
4. Git yourself to Sunday meetin
5. Put nothin’ before god
6. No follin’ around with another fellow’s gal
7. No killin’
8. Watch yer mouth
9. Don’t take what ain’t yers
10. Don’t be hankerin’ for yer buddy’s stuff

Regardless of how they are verbalized, the key is to follow them the best yer can.

Friday, January 4, 2008


“Status quo lost. Change won.” This was the opinion voiced by John Edwards following the Iowa caucuses. It was his bent that due to the fact that Barack Obama came in first and he second the call was for change. Change from business as usual. Change from those inside the belt way running things (aren’t both these guys Senators?).

He may be correct in his observation. It was the quiet mannered former Baptist minister (can you ever really be a former minister?) who stole the show from his high spending, polished opponent. This seemed very unlikely several months ago.

The pundits noted that it was the independents and young people that moved the pendulum Obama’s way. If this was indeed the case it points out a principle of change: New folks have to get involved if something different is going to happen.

Let’s face it we all get into ruts. I pretty much have Grape Nuts mixed with Special K with Strawberries with non-fat milk and blueberries for breakfast. But, I have begun to use Organic non-fat milk and throwing some raspberries and blackberries into the mix. I guess I’m getting caught up in all this potential change…I know, radical!

I digress. What I want to communicate is that new people bring new ideas. It is way too easy for people to get comfortable in how things are done. We are not sure we really like the way, but we are comfortable. So we resist change. Could be that is what is beginning to happen in this political year: New folks are getting engaged in the process and they are forcing change. It would be fun if it were so.

The real challenge will be what actually happens if a “genuine” outsider gets in? The last time it happened, to my recollection, was Jimmy Carter. I voted for him (oops, that’s right! I think I am suppose to keep my vote to myself, well pretend you didn’t read that). I was registered republican and I still voted for him! (Okay, you didn’t read that either). I just liked the idea of change.

But let’s be honest, he didn’t do a very good job. It is very difficult for an outsider, once inside, to get traction. Carter has done his best work since he got back to the outside.

I’m not saying things can’t change, but it is just tough. What I think, I think, is that those who want real change have to go beyond their vote. It is one thing to help someone get in, but there has to be support once they are in. We too often think getting in is the point. It is not! Getting something done is the point. And no one can do that alone.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


The Iowa caucuses are tonight. No one is really sure what they are, but they evidently set the pace for the upcoming Presidential elections. All of the candidates have invested lots of time and money to convince people of two things: 1) Show up wherever it is they gather to caucus and 2) once there, vote for them.

Obviously the candidates have bought into the statement attributed to Woody Allen: “90% of life is just showing up.” I guess they figure if they can leverage the 90% and most of those “showing up” vote for them they might get a win.

It seems the Democrats and the Republicans caucus a bit different. The common thread is they meet in different locations and argue the merits of their candidates. But the Republicans take a secret ballot (why does this not surprise me) while the Democrats stand in various parts of the room with the name of their candidate written for all to see (I envision a giant post-it note). They then attempt to convince others to come over to their side. Kind of like a political Red Rover.

Even though I am a registered Republican I have to say I like the Democratic version better. If I am going to venture out in the cold, gather with bunches of people I am not that well acquainted with it seems much more spirited to discuss, debate and call people to move toward my candidate. It just seems to lose a little luster once the conversation is over to simply hunker down and write your favorite on a piece of paper.

It really makes little difference. As I said I am not a Democrat, at least by registration, nor do I live in Iowa. So tonight I get to stay inside and watch football. Then tomorrow listen to the pundits explain what that ruckus in the Iowa night was about.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Today is January 1, 2008. My wife and I stayed up and brought in the New Year in our typical quite manner. We had some friends over. Ate dinner, played games, talked and laughed. They left around ten-thirty. We cleaned up; then settled in to watch Dick Clark countdown to 2008 in time with the big ball of New York’s Time Square. We kissed, hugged and headed for bed grateful for the uneventful beginning to our upcoming year.

The BIG question everyone asks is “What is your New Year’s Resolution?” The top four are: 1) Lose weight; 2) Exercise; 3) Quit smoking; 4) Have fun. And, of course, the majority of resolutions are forgotten by February first. It is for this reason my resolution is NOT to make a resolution! That is correct…NO MORE RESOLUTIONS FOR ME.

Instead of resolutions I am going to have “try-solutions.” These are things I will TRY to do. And if I don’t keep them long term, at least I will have tried. This way I can celebrate for as many know, it is better to have tried and failed then to have never tried at all. I can celebrate my “trys” and not bemoan my failures.

Here are my 2008 “try-solutions:”

I will try to keep my consistency in exercise
I will try to listen more and talk less
I will try to let my wife know I love her in other ways then simply saying it
I will try to call my kids more
I will try to call my mom regularly
I will try to cultivate my relationship with God more consistently
I will try to live outside my comfort zone
I will try to speak honestly, but not harshly
I will try to determine what is REALLY important and do that
I will try to be more transparent even if it costs me something

There are more, but this will suffice for now. Try-solutions: A new bent on an old tradition. What might you try this year?