A Microblog about What’s Wrong in Our Country Right Now

A Microblog about What’s Wrong in Our Country Right Now

Are you ready? Here we go: 

  1. We are possessed with listening to respond rather than listening to understand 
  2. We fundamentally cannot agreee to disagree well. Not only that; when we come upon a differing view we must demonize that person (or group behind that claim) by making them morally reprehensible 
  3. (Bonus point) we all just need a little more Jesus…

I’ll expound only on this last one then make prescriptions (cause diagnosing problems/making declarative statements about “what’s wrong” is damn folly without actually prescribing potential solutions… as Ghandi said, “BE the change you wish to see.”)

So I’m sorry for playing into the really old church joke (the answers always “Jesus!”), but I’m afraid it’s just plain true.

In other words, I believe placing Christ at the center of each and every area of our lives in greater and greater proportion is the very essence of the Christian faith. 

So yes, a little more Jesus; 1% more Jesus each day might do us all very well…

At the risk of being redundant, I make this claim because Jesus is the literal complete manifestation of perfect: truth, love, peace, hope, grace, mercy, strength, justice, goodness and life that ever was. 

He is life giving; his words and his life (as preserved historically in the Gospels). 

Our national dialogue is not very life giving right now. 

So do yourself a favor and invite some life into your… life.

That’s prescription #1.

#2 is this: practice.

When you come upon someone, in person or in community or online who has a different view than yours: practice just actually hearing them… 

Ask questions-not in order to load up rebuttals-but rather to fully hear and understand. 

And keep asking questions until you get to a part of them that’s so personal and vulnerable that you begin to see their humanity.

When you run out of questions, just sit quietly until you think of more. 

And then thank them and walk away… 

What you do next is critical:

Think about what you heard-compare it to the origins, factual accuracy, logical consistency and existential reality of your worldview and move forward. 

This, I think, may present us with a better way to live…

10 Questions From one of My Favorite Former Blind Persons

10 Questions From one of My Favorite Former Blind Persons

Just in the last 48 hours alone, odds are you’ve had loss of story, loss of identity, loss of point, purpose, direction or destiny.

We all have these momentary lapses of direction and belief. What I read in John chapter 9 about the blind man who stood up and spoke truth to power gives me hope and encouragement for each new day of crisis.

John 9: 1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered.

6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!

13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, 14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”

A big back and forth between the man and the pharisees (Jewish church elitists); they even bring his parents in to testify. Then it gets REALLY interesting…

24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

26 “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”

27 “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

28 Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! 29 We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”

30 “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

Here are some considerations for you that I think are power applicable (PA) to your life…

The rest of v. 3 says, “This happened so that the power of God could be seen”… where in your life is God trying to show the world how real he is, what evidence can you find of his work in your life?

Wash yourself in the pool of Siloam (the sending pool)… the thing, the material, the vehicle that corrects and heals, also sends… What is it in your life that God is trying to use to show, teach, reveal, correct in you but you possibly can’t even see that it’s a means of catapulting you into what’s next? v. 7

Recount how people just didn’t believe that this healed man was the same person… it’s a reminder that there will be people who mistake your identity but you declare it still. v. 8, 9

Your identity is closely tied to your story… stick to the facts and know your story, the truth of God’s work in your life is plain as day… how have you attempted to alter the narrative? v. 25

In the end do not give up hope, it is just a fact that some people will remain blind-never to catch the vision, your vision, God’s vision v. 27

How do you know if a thing is genuine and true? Test where it comes from. Jesus is from the Father, he does the Father’s work, that’s how you know he’s from the Father. Can you say the same thing about your so-called Christianity? The actual, tangible material of your life-does it reflect the One who saved and sent you? v. 32

Notice something and just let it mess you up a bit… this man comes to faith AFTER having been healed, AFTER being sent on mission  THEN Jesus has the conversation with him. What might this suggest about God’s grace, about his allowing people to be in process, about how his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55) v. 38

Jesus ends by telling you the point of the story: some are blind and are blind to their blindness, and I want to make a point out of them. What are your blind spots… can you even admit that you have them? v. 39


But what is it that I love most about this story? Two things:

It is upside down kingdom at its finest.

If you look closely you can see that Jesus took a seemingly worthless side-of-the-road bum and turned him into a fire-breathing prophet right before the eyes of the religious elite. It’s just whether we view the world this way or not, whether we are intentionally pushing forth and multiplying the upside down in our daily lives…?

AND

It is the extraordinary use of the ordinary person at its finest.

This is how Jesus has made his name famous-through the names, faces, stories and sentness of each and every one of his billion-strong followers. It’s just whether we believe it or not, whether we believe we might be used in this way or not…?

Maybe, just maybe, these are the twin themes of Jesus’ entire coming…?

 

 

Closing The Loop (1 Habit of The Most Focused Top Performers)

Closing The Loop (1 Habit of The Most Focused Top Performers)

It’s time for another MEGA-learning from the sheer gold vault of lessons, modules and learnings of my former supervisor…

Have you ever had SO MUCH going on at work or at home that you seem to riffle through one issue to the next, but never really gaining resolution?

Do you feel like someone on your team (family or work) is just an idea, program, initiative MACHINE, but you’re left wondering: ‘who was supposed to keep track of those?!” and “where are we at on that deal anyway?!”

Here’s a simple one: did you ever wonder why your training or resourcing event didn’t have the impact or traction that you desired?

I believe the answer lies within 3 simple words:

Close. The. Loop.

Well simply said, not always simply done…

I would define closing the loop like this:

Def. intentionally revisiting anything you start, until you’ve brought it to a finish.

This could be any idea, request, action item, program or initiative. Check in and continue to do so until you have reached agreed-upon resolution or success. 

The most simple illustration is this:

Last year I proposed a team goal of walking my people through a hospitality training.

It was your basic format where I had each team member read some case study material in advance then I would go around 1:1 with each person and walk them through an agenda of bullet point principles.

You see I actually thought my job was done at that point… you know, like “well I did the training, had 100% attendance and got the content out there so everyone must be ‘trained’ now, right?”

Here was the simple brilliance of what my supervisor encouraged me to do next…

He said what you should do now is go around 2-3 weeks later and first watch each one of those team members in action and see if they are actually implementing the new theories and techniques.

Watch them and ask them: how are you applying the material that we covered almost a month ago now.

That was closing the loop: do the training, check back in on the training. (Otherwise what was the point of the training?)

And that is the first principle of what closing the loop is all about

#1 Closing the loop essentially asks the question: “so what?”

You see, it’s not good enough to simply be a great idea man. The logic is totally intuitive: we all know that great visionaries and idea people would be nowhere without the doers and systems thinkers to enact these great ideas.

So in essence, the art and discipline of asking “so what?” “what’s next” is your accountability structure for testing outcomes and effectiveness. That brings us to point #2…

#2 Closing the loop means having someone consistent and focused enough to constantly ask that question.

If you aren’t that person, if you can’t perform this, what I’ll call “adapted discipline,” early or often enough then maybe this is your next hire, maybe this is your next volunteer recruit.

Because I’m convinced that team members who operate this way are absolutely the top performers in every organizational level… any organization, at least, that cares about actually working their mission and vision through their strategy into a reality.

And I introduce the idea of adapted style because probably not just anybody can do this well forever.

It has to be within someone’s “natural” style of leadership. Hence the sense of urgency you may need if you don’t already have this strength available on your team.

#3 Closing the loop is fundamentally about execution and implementation

If you feel forever stuck in the ideation stage, the brainstorm session, the dream cycle it’s not long before you realize how badly you need this way of thinking to positively infect your culture and DNA.

Ideas, programs and strategies never moved to implementation (which requires constant reassessment) are just that: sweet dreams. But closing the loop is not merely about doing, it has a built-in review gene…

#4 Closing the loop serves as a constant barometer for success, efficacy and effectiveness

Everyone wants to make progress, but few people know how to measure it.

Fewer still have the time or money to hire outside consultants to conduct, compile and analyze the data that will explain progress.

So here is your simple and free skill: the quickest measure for success is to build constant loop-closing opportunities and questions into the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly fabric of your organization.

Back to my illustration above: how did the training go? I don’t know, let’s go around and find out. I didn’t have to compile massive amount of numbers or data, I simply had to go ask and watch. Ask the team members what they were using and watch them in action.

#5 Closing the loop people are note-takers and note-takers are history-makers

That’s what we used to say to our teenagers at church: “note-takers are history-makers.”

The truth is: even the simple practice of writing or typing notes for something that is communicated to you is a quick and small way of closing the loop. How?

Because it’s is proven that when you are learning through listening (auditory style) and you connect that to moving your body or hands (kinesthetic style) to connect what’s going in your ears, you have a better shot at retention, growth and learning!

Well the same is true in your organizational leadership: you must have someone who is tracking the status from ideation>implementation and implementation>review.

Let me put it more plainly: no one can remember everything, so write it down, write it down and later on revisit by closing the loop.


I am a part of a small resource-lean organization that is entering a season of fairly massive rediscovery.

If we hope to see any traction in our renewed structures, we have no choice but to excel at closing the loop.

Here’s the reality: for you this tool may not be about winning, it might, literally, be about surviving.

I use the word focus in the title for a reason; if you don’t begin the disciplined process of staying focused by closing the loop, your job and your organization may not be around tomorrow.

Maybe you feel this same way; I suggest starting small: start taking notes to track progress and start asking the question: “so what?” You may not look or feel smart doing that now but over time it will reap a harvest. (Galatians 6:9)

I Ran a Marathon, So Here’s What I Learned

I Ran a Marathon, So Here’s What I Learned

This may be some of the most important writing I’ve ever put down, let me just start that way.

A couple of weeks ago now I ran my first full marathon-it was a terrible and tremendous experience that I am still a little “mental” about even now weeks later, but I thought I would share my takeaways with you.

I do firmly believe that these learnings will serve you all he days of your life in an incredibly profound way. In your leadership, in your relationships, in your darkest hour, the following 5 takeaways will mark you if you take them to heart.

What I want you to understand about what follows it’s that everything I’ve written below is as true for life as it was for the marathon. I’ll say again: it’s as true for YOUR LIFE, as it was for me in this marathon experience.


  • As much as I try to get around it, chose the right attitude about it, I simply can’t deny the fact that I’m resenting myself for not committing to my goals…

I had two goals going into the race: 1, to not take any walking breaks and 2, to finish by 4 hours. I failed to see either of those goals through.

As of now, I won’t ever run that race again and so that was my chance. There’s a lesson here about going for broke because there’s “no looking back”-that’s the mentality I should have had on the last 3 miles of the race.

Literally that’s where I fell apart, that’s where I walked the most, that’s where I picked up the extra 8 minutes-finishing 4:08:59 officially… I feel like I will be forever staring down those extra 9 minutes.

So here’s the 1st principle:

Honor your commitments so you don’t have to ever look back.

  • It hurts but I wasn’t hurt.

As a runner in this type of game, at least in my mind, I was expecting some kind of injury toward the end, just one misstep that would have me really really uncomfortable-like beyond the normal stiffness-and this would be the true mental battle of finishing well or finishing at all.

An injury like something pulled, something popped, something even chaffed badly enough to forge through.

The truth was far less complicated than that: yes, I was sore and stiff, but I was not injured in any way. My discomfort was marginal.

I walked simply because I didn’t want to run anymore. I just wanted to stop. I was having almost a toddler tantrum. That day I learned something very serious about my mental toughness.

You are tougher than you think. You are tougher than even you body tells you or your circumstance tells you or whatever input you’re being given; don’t always buy the input or at least question where the input is coming from.

  • You can’t do this thing alone.

I knew that I would want some people to come out and support at some basic, self-deprecating level, but I grossly underestimated my fundamental emotional need for moral support that day.

In addition to the $100 entry fees, I would have paid people to be at several strategic locations to cheer me on and give me that emotional boost. And I would have been counting on them.

Actually I would have liked to be surprised by some and counting still on others. At a marathon, at really most any organized race, there is this fabulous league of volunteers who hold out mini water and Gatorade cups and they cheer and hoot and holler and it’s pretty cool.

And then you even have your fellow runner standing next to you (perhaps the few unlike me with headphones buried in their ears), which brings a certain emotional solidarity and camaraderie-and seriously even this one can’t be underrated because when you’re pacing, you stay around some familiar faces for quite a time.

But still I needed more. And that’s what I realized about myself… I desperately needed people to be there…

…at mile 19 right before “the wall” and then truthfully at the middle of every mile till the end of the race… mile 22, mile 23, miles 24 through 26 and don’t forget the .2

You can’t do this race alone.

  • Expectations are not reality. If I could somehow insert an audio loop of that phrase repeating over and over again in your head right now, whilst simultaneously getting louder and louder each time, I would.

I ran and I trained and I sweat and I prepped and I practiced-mentally and physically! I told myself all the things I would need to know, I trained really as much as I could, but nothing prepared me for the unexpected turns, distances and feelings that lied ahead.

Why? Because by and large expectations-good, bad or otherwise-will never match reality. So what’s the positive learning?

Always expect the unexpected. 

  • Find a mantra and like a psycho repeat it to yourself (out loud if you’re able). 

Talking to myself, out loud, with headphones in was literally the only thing that made me cross that finish line at a “run” rather than a walk (which to me was the image of actual failure-to pass the finish line walking).

Something remarkable did happen because of the person running next to me, I was walking and this guy about my size and stamina was jogging but just this slow and steady pace, so slow it was barely above my walk and I thought to myself, ‘maybe I should try that’… And so I did.

Mind you I had already totally caved on whatever “pace” I was aiming at before so whatever level I was attempting before this point was already near a crawl, but there was something about this guy’s slow and steady march that I decided to try it on.

And then for no reason at all I just start repeating to myself out loud:

‘just stay right here… just stay right here… just stay right here…’

I’m just telling you folks: this was the moment… this was the emotional (spiritual) breakthrough for me.

This was the moment when my entire life would be served by this one lesson. I said to myself, ‘slow and steady, just small short little steps, just keep trotting, that’s it, that’s it…’

In that moment I was coaching myself, in that moment I was the encouragement, in that moment I was two people: the one running and the one talking to the runner.

My biggest regret is that literally this second person didn’t come out earlier, just 2 miles earlier even and then who knows what happens to my finish time goal. But that’s still not the point, the point is the life lesson:

There is immense power in the mantra, with some positive self talk you can do almost anything. 

One week later and I’m still having a hard time thinking about the race because I did not meet my goals. However, there are pride points too…

I finished just in time to make an appearance 30 minutes later at my new church job. 3 days later it was my 9-year anniversary, a reminder really of what that marriage has produced… FIVE KIDS!

And to have trained and finished a race at this point in my life was actually the whole purpose to begin with.

And then someone said something to me recently that shook me to the core that hopefully gives you equal pause: my unmet goals were still within the plan of a totally sovereign God so dwell on that instead.

I think my ultimate realization is this:

In life, in leadership, in work, you can have an unmet goal and still achieve your purpose, but it’s critical to keep the bigger learning and mission in mind.

Please repost and share if you think there’s someone who needs to read this, thanks!

Don’t Ever Abdicate (3 Areas of Your Life That are Under Assault)

Don’t Ever Abdicate (3 Areas of Your Life That are Under Assault)

Recently I was reminded of one of my most profound learnings from 2016… the danger of abdicating. (And the power that exists on the other side of abdication… walking into the fullness of what you’re called to do.)

Now, I don’t know about you, but the first thing that comes to mind when I think of abdicating is someone leaving a throne room in some far off distant land or time.

And in truth, that’s probably because we relegate the term to those sole sources of history or literature where, in fact, someone is giving up or renouncing their power.

Therein lies the gist of the dictionary definition, but honestly the more I look at this world the more enthralled I become with its meaning, significance and potential.

Ab*di*cate

To formally relinquish power, office or responsibility 

[Latin abdicāre, abdicāt-, to disclaim : ab-, away; see ab-1 + dicāre, to proclaim; see deik- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

ab′di·ca·ble (-kə-bəl) adj.
ab′di·ca′tion n.
ab′di·ca′tor n.

It’s like to ‘disclaim’ away your power, office or responsibility.

As people we love to bail on our jobs & responsibilities, in so doing we forfeit the very essence and power of leadership.

The reason that this word carries such weight with me is not its Latin linguistic origins, it’s because of the word’s origins in the Bible.

Like most good ideas, this concept of calling… of vocation… of purpose and meaning comes from the Bible. The concept of what we are called into, which is fundamentally about identity, has a rich and extensive biblical reference.

And I will be your Father and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty -2 Samuel 7

I mean seriously? At first glance, we kind of take all that for granted… ‘oh yeah sure we are his children… right he is our father… what a cute little so-called family…’

Like nearly so many references in scripture I fear that the terms are almost too familiar so they are in danger of becoming too garden variety, generic or watered down.

Quick identify recap according to this foundational biblical truth: if we are his sons and daughters and he is our Father and he is also Lord Almighty-that is to say: supreme king, ruler, the sole universal source of power and authority-this means that we are his heirs, we are his inheritors, we are his princes and princesses.

We are called to co-rule, co-create, co-reign…. great power and authority has been vested in us.

So you have an identity… you also have a power… that means you have options… leverage that power or abdicate that power.

I’ve already sought to establish from day 1 of this blog that all people are leaders… leaders of themselves, leaders of their children, leaders of their household, leaders of employees and organizations. If you are a leader of some thing then great power has been vested in you.

Will you leverage the power or abdicate the power?

I figure we abdicate in 3 major areas…

1, we abdicate in our marriages

Here’s what I know:
We abdicate in the way that we don’t pray for our spouses.
We abdicate in the way that we don’t make sex a priority.
We abdicate in the way that we put other things (kids, work, hobby) ahead of our spouse.

First, notice that I strategically use the word, “we” in each of these… I’m guilty in every one of these areas. And they are ordered pretty closely as well. Prayer is always the 1st and easiest hold out. Who has time to pray?

Or if we do it is “all day… as I’m driving and walking and cooking and working”-yes that is a good and wonderful thing in the life of a believer when we can be in some sort of constant prayer, but it’s also not the same as a devoted, concerted, set apart prayer discipline. And that’s what is needed in covering our spouses with prayer…

Prayer for protection against the enemy.
Prayer for what troubles or ails her.
Prayer for wisdom, guidance, purpose.
Prayer for grace and mercy. (Hello-Kids!)

Sex. Yep, sex… Some how, some way, God smiled upon my wife and I by sending a small handful of couples into our lives really over the last 4 years who have stressed the importance of intentional intimacy as the bedrock foundation for all else in the lifeblood of a marriage.

And that’s simply the truth of God’s gift of sex: it is the forging of all other securities. This physical intimacy breeds all the other intimacies needed: emotional, spiritual… even financial!

I mean think about it, you can’t (not in good conscience) come together in this intimate fashion, with things drastically at odds in those areas, but even if you have felt recent tension in one of those areas, the coming together from 2 to 1 has an absolutely mysterious and powerful effect on bridging those gaps of where we were missing each other… emotionally, spiritually and yes, even financially.

2, we abdicate in our vocation

We abdicate in our calling.

This abdication has two levels: 1, when we carelessly throw aside key aspects of our job description-our actual functional calling-we abdicate. And 2, when we refuse to carry the Light of the World with us into our individual sectors and industries we abdicate spiritually.

But when you think about it: both are bad witnesses. 1, when we show a lack of care for our work product, what does that say about our character->our heart->our God?

And of course 2, when we don’t seek to emulate Jesus in the way we act, talk and treat others while at work, what does that say about our faith being a worthy endeavor for others to inquire about…?

3, we abdicate in our parenting

It’s sad you know because recently at a group book study, when I was reminded all over again-the power of this word, I realized that our abdication has a certain unwieldy multiplying effect.

Take for example refusing to have the tough conversations with your children… hearing them, understanding them, spending time with them when you walk in the door.

Well when they-only a few years down the road-begin acting up and lashing out, how long before we finally conclude (based on even the counsel of good people) that they just need professional counseling or therapy?

(*Disclaimer: I’m not saying that therapy is bad for kids, teens and adults… of course it has its place! I’m talking about here the concept of preventable bahvior and character lapses due to OUR abdication as the primary developmental leads in the home!)

That would be a primary abdication that breeds a secondary abdication. We dropped the ball on seeing them, listening to them, sharing in process with them and then to compound that abdication we shipped them off.

Therein lies the cyclical nature of our abdication in parenting.

Abdication breeds abdication. Abdication multiplies abdication. Abdication supports and confirms more abdication!

Anytime we do not invest the time, effort and energy on the front end of things, we succumb to the assault of abdication.


But there’s a flip side because just as our abdication has a multiplying effect for weakness and loss, when we seize our God-given identities and authorities the power that comes with THAT has a radically multiplying affect too!

Where have you recently abdicated and sense the need to lean back in?

Don’t Tear Down The Bride…

Don’t Tear Down The Bride…

Have you ever caught someone talking badly about you, your family or your employer?

When it happens around the church world, as pastors, we’ll say, “don’t tear down the bride with that kind of talk…” or “man, that makes the bride look bad”

This idea of the Church (i.e. The universal body of believers, Christians, Catholic, etc) as the “bride of Christ” has many scriptural reference points but here’s one of them:

2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. (2 Corinthians 11)

Recently I found myself getting all worked up, rehearsing all the comeback lines and talking points (all of this neurotically in my head-of course) over someone who had publicly made a whole group of people I represent look and sound bad.

My first thought was: flame war.
My second thought was: I should call someone first.
My third thought was: dangit now I can’t go pick a fight.
Finally, I thought: geeze, that really worked me up… what can I learn from all this?

And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who has every temporarily given into the adrenalizing nature of self-defense record straightening…

But the thing that bummed me out the most is that this individual was basically from the same team… you know like the same office, the same community or church, like someone who carries the same last name.

I’ll be more transparent: it was a comment from a local pastor about another pastor (and his church) and here I am a pastor. (Oh man this is starting to look like a horribly sad “3 pastors walk into a bar” joke…)

And that is what makes this scenario so pathetically painful… because you would expect better right?!

And in this case you expect better not just because you’re hoping that everyone thinks like you, operates like you and treats others like you. But because the team, the family, the household is all governed by the same exact commandments!

Here’s my favorite and most direct example of what I mean:

The Gospels record several instances of Jesus rescuing people from demon-possession; of all his acts and wonders it’s a very consistent thematic act of Jesus’ miraculous ministry.

So like many occasions before it, the people…  “they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.” (Matthew 12)

And of course the religious elite were envious and humbled by their inability to explain and believe Jesus for who he was.

They-the pious ones of the times-(who so often stood in opposition to Jesus’ way and words) then call Jesus out (even though-yes, they’re supposed to be on same team) and say something to this affect:

“Sure, he can ‘cast’ out demons because he gets his power from the prince of demons.”

So I guess the logic is: he must be on the devil’s side because he has the ability to manipulate and control them.

And Jesus does what Jesus does best which is to confound them with a totally logical and truth-filled thing to say:

23 Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. 24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. 25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. (Mark 3; Matthew 12)

Well yeah, duh… I’m not trying to be magically original or profound here, I’m just trying to let the verse speak… It says very plainly: how can we be on the same team and yet tear each other apart-the sooner we do that the sooner we and all that we stand for falls to pieces.

A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. A family divided will collapse. An organization divided will collapse. A church divided will collapse.

Here are some learnings for me…

First, I got emotional. This was a great reminder of just how weak I am…

Now hear and understand me, I’m not suggesting that feelings are bad. I’m talking about a particular type of emotion that turns off the rational, higher functioning parts of your brain.

I was all alpha, all fight or flight, all incite a riot… and these, my friends, are a few of our favorite things, but not very helpful for a maturing leader.


Second, I was reminded of how I do NOT want to influence and lead people.

Here’s what I mean: do not mistake the catalyzing power of a message oriented around a common enemy. All good stories are born this way… hero, antagonist, plot (dramatic arch), conclusion. But I think it’s the lower and weaker road to mobilize people around an enemy rather than a common good.


Third, this affects all areas of our life. This is a motivation against common, everyday slander. Just don’t do it….

It does not serve anyone.
It doesn’t serve you or your reputation.
It doesn’t serve the listening audience and it obviously doesn’t serve the target of your verbal onslaught.

And when you at least say you believe in Jesus, and the way of Jesus was so clearly enemy love, you may have reason to pause and really begin to think about what serves your enemy. Weird, crazy, radical-I know… but that was the way of Jesus nonetheless.


Fourth, just take Jesus’ words… He says that when we do this, when we tear each other down from within the same team, we destroy ourselves. It’s self-destruction its cannibalism-it’s eating your own kind.

I think probably most Christians read the passage and think that Jesus was just talking about “them… out there”-the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of the devil.

But using his logic isn’t it so plain to see that the opposite is true within our kingdom-the kingdom of good and peace and righteousness? If we can even call it that with a historical legacy of in fighting such as ours.


Finally, my learning is that we have to build some consensus and some mandate around refusing to tear down our own team.

And in fact what I wanted to do to this guy who was putting my people on blast was not to meet him on that silly juvenile playing field that is the internet, but instead what I immediately sought to do was get his phone number…

No-not to call and berate him or crank call or threaten his children. But to set up a coffee date. Literally. And that’s something very recent that I’ve learned, but it’s as old as time… that when you have a problem with someone you go to the source.

You don’t go to their friends or their neighbors or their competitors, you go to the source and have words-eyeball to eyeball. If we could learn to do this more, if we could have the courage and resolve to meet “the enemy” direct and remember that we are in fact on the same team, oh Lord just imagine the possibilities.

Theology. (What’s Your Knowledge of God?)

Theology. (What’s Your Knowledge of God?)

It is said that more and more people, when asked about their belief system or religious association, are resonating more with the category of “none” than anything else.

You can read for yourself the full definition and statistical analysis of what I’m referencing, but it’s clear: more and more people just don’t find a personal connection with any sort of religious tribe or a personal savior God.

And it’s in the face of this growing trend that I would like to submit what is, potentially, a radical idea…

I personally believe that every single person living on this planet has been given two things as testament to the reality of God:

  1. An innate understanding… I believe that God is naturally revealed inside us. I think that being created in the image of God suggests that a piece of his character, identity, DNA… his “stuff” is literally hardwired into every single human being.
  2. An external natural order… I believe that if you look at the natural world around you, the “heavens and the earth” you cannot help but see the wonderful and awe-inspiring, oft-times inexplicable, characteristics of his created order (this planet, the universe, nature, etc).

Therefore, and here’s the zinger, anyone who claims that they do not believe (e.g. atheist, irreligious, “nones,”) is in a denial with what’s naturally inside and outside themselves that I cannot fathom.

He. is. all. around. us.

He is from within and from without.

And yes-there are a few verses I would like to include here in support of this theory. One from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament…

First check out Deuteronomy 30…

11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. 12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ 14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.

This scripture is pretty heavy and pretty wonderful. In the modern Bible it’s kept under the paragraph heading “THE CHOICE OF LIFE OR DEATH.”

It’s given to the people of Israel right as they are on the doorstep of inheriting their promised land. Moses, hand-picked by God and one of the most incredible leaders of all time, is about to die and Joshua is about to take over the reigns.

It’s that very last sentence-verse 14 that struck me. To me it’s just like, ‘yeah, we don’t have to pretend that God’s law, i.e. God’s way of living life as prescribed in the Bible, is some sort of inane outlandish concept.

If you really look at it, if you look at his “law,” again-the Bible, and take it as a whole contextual work-cover to cover-it makes insane sense as instruction for living your life.

In other words, ‘the message is very close at hand, its naturally on your lips and in your heart’… if you read it, you would see.

Though every human was born capable of doing tremendous harm and wrong. It is the paradox of life that we are also fully aware of what is good, right and just. It’s close at hand. So the question I want to probe very early on here is:

Why are we in denial of this reality?

The next passage comes from the New Testament Book of Romans

18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.[i] 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 2For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Again, I get the potentially radical and even “off-putting” nature of this passage, especially how it starts out… I mean the title heading for this section, “GOD’S ANGER AT SIN”…seems like your classic ‘fire and brimstone’ picket-sign-preacher message, but that’s not my main takeaway from this scripture…

Paul is writing here to an audience of “nones” from thousands of years ago-sure, but an audience of “nones” nonetheless (hah). What’s so relevant about this Roman audience is that they were just as “secular,” this city just as “filled with new ideas,” as any of ours today.

So I think this fits for our conversation here on multiple levels:

  1. It’s the precise audience I’m talking about for today. The labels and categories have changed, just like modern language has changed, but other than this-all things remain the same. It’s one of my favorite adages when it comes to the Bible, “there’s nothing new under the sun.”
  2. It speaks to this concept that God is revealed all around us; He as a personal, relational and tangible messiah and He is present and revealed.  Again I’ll say:

How can we deny this?

The first passage was written to believers. To religious insiders and God-fearers. So I will speak to those, here and now, for a minute:

Ask yourself: why have people  so increasingly associated with the word “nones” rather than with the name of Jesus… is it because they find his innate character within and without themselves so repulsive that they can’t help themselves but say, ‘ew, gross, no thanks, pass’…?

Not likely.

I would argue that they have us-our tribe, our culture, our church and our practice of our beliefs-as the repulsing agent.

Instead of being this stunning and immaculate bride of Christ, instead of being this irresistible community (that Israel was meant to be; that the Church was meant to be!), we reek.

And we need to set to work figuring out how we rectify this situation-by better working in and through culture JUST as Christ did by the way.


The second passage speaks to those outside the church and it is therefore why I turn to you next. If you are reading this and you find yourself in line with these inclinations (would rather be classified a “none” than be classified a “christian” or God forbid an “evangelical”), I would challenge you with this:

Why is it really that you have opted out of this message that is ‘on your lips and in your hearts’? What is the reason, for real, that you have chosen to reject ‘his eternal nature and divine power’ daily that engulfs us on all sides in this natural world?

I ask these questions because I would argue that you arrived here not out of a casual default, a gradual slide or drift. But rather an intentional decision. And at the root of every decision is a very personal motivation. So I say again: what’s your motivation? Or what’s your influence?

And I don’t probe this way for my sake. I ask for your sake.

I’ll end with this story…

I can remember as a child, probably around 10-years old asking my mom while lying in bed one night, “what about all the people around the world who may never get a chance to read a Bible or meet a Christian… how will they come to know Jesus?”

My mom responded by saying something to this effect, “the Bible says, ‘that even if there were no people around, even the rocks would bow down and worship.'” Of course I never took the time to look up what she was talking about, obviously, I was only 10.

But later I did. And it looks like she was talking about this passage right here:

“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” 40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!
-Luke 19

My challenge is not to convert you through the internet. My challenge is, however, for you-those who are dechurched (left the faith) or those who are unchurched (have never believed anything)-what is the real and true cause of your disbelief?

And if you cite “logic” as your answer, I will just give you this one proviso: you have only done half the work of discerning belief because relationship with Jesus always has and always will be about the head-to-heart connection.

If you would be so kind (operative word here!), please leave questions you have, challenges you have, push back, reasoning you have in the comments section. Forward and post on friends sites who you think need to read this… lets start a conversation or continue one.