Making Room For You In Your Life

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” - Thomas A. Edison

The malady infecting my generation is busyness. Wishing and hoping, we reach out to life believing busyness equals importance. We deny it. But, when we pull back the façade and our prententiousness, we know our operational truth: When we’re busy we feel worthy.

Over the past few years, I’ve been busy. Busy speaking and traveling, writing for The Palmer Perspective and other outlets, like Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed and Sojourners; busy ghost-writing projects which are important to me; busy working on an exciting and super-secret project which I pray pans out; busy with a website and on-line course which failed because I was too busy; and busy, busy, busy trying to love and care for my wife, Rochelle and our two daughters. Oh wait! I’ve also been busy trying my best to love and serve a local church.

Each arena connects me with encouraging people who are grateful for my efforts. While their words buoy my spirit, those same words deceive my sense of worth, tricking me into doing more and staying busier than I ought. I’m beginning to worry that my busyness is seeming not doing.

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Speaking of Michael Brown

My friend, a fellow preacher, Jeff, took his wife bowling a few years back. In the lane next to them a couple drank, bowled, and drank some more. Jeff, never having met a stranger, struck up a conversation. As tends to happen in conversation, the woman asked, “What do you do for a living?” Jeff replied, “I’m a preacher.” Throwing her head back, swishing another Coors down her gullet, she looked back, and said, “I hope you’re a good preacher.”
Jeff smiled.

“I go to church,” she added. “I like my preacher because he talks about real s***!”

If I were to criticize my professional guild, I would say this: Sometimes, we lack the will, the clarity, or the courage, to talk about things that matter.

In Search of Michael Brown

Many Christians went to church Sunday and didn’t hear the name Michael Brown. It came as a welcomed event for some. Brown’s name is all over the news as well as the cable and radio outlets pretending to be news. I’m sure there are many of us who were more than happy to sing rousing choruses of How Great Is Our God and Oceans, without the bother of being swept up in the deluge of news regarding a slain, unarmed black kid.

At the same time, there were sparse mentions of Israel and Hamas, ISIS, Ebola, and other devastating revelations pooling around the world. And that’s sad. It’s sad because it reveals (once again) the anemic ability of Christian churches to talk about things that matter.

Why The Problem Exist (In Part)


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Tell Me What A ‘Disciple’ Is…Please!

“We need to make disciples!”

If you want loud applause from an audience of Christian leaders, make sure you mention how important it is to make disciples. The applause come because of our present-day fascination with all things “missional” and “disciple-making.” It’s kinda cool.

Last year, I spent two days listening to and learning from a few great thinkers share about “making disciples.” The opening speaker wanted to make one thing clear: The church is in trouble. According to some poll, some Christians didn’t believe what he thought they ought to believe about baptism or hell or atonement theory. Even more Christians confessed to premarital sex and Christian divorce rates were inching up. At the same time, he said, we should all be ashamed of not fully embracing the theology of adoption and adopt little black kids from Africa. If I didn’t know before, I knew now: We pastors aren’t “making disciples” (or at least that guys version of one). I wanted to tell him, I’ve already got my little black kids. Two of them.

The conference only got worse. Over two days, speakers reinforced how we weren’t “doing enough,” or “teaching the gospel enough,” or “serving the community enough.” There were a lot of “enoughs.”

We also heard about what a waste of time it was to “preach sermons” and how “people aren’t interested in your ivory tower theology.” All of this, of course, was done in the service of getting us pastors to “make disciples.” I discovered we weren’t doing enough, because I wrote it all down in my “you suck at ministry” notebook they placed in our goody bags.

But I noticed a huge gap in my notes. No one ever bothered to explain what a disciple was, what a disciple looked like, or how — as a Christian leader — I’d know when I had one.

The speakers told stories, though. Stories about churches helping the homeless. Tales of young, urban hipsters serving little old, blue-haired ladies and so on. We worshiped. We listened. We left not knowing what a disciple was.

I know it sounds kind of silly, but if we’re going spend this much time talking, writing, and aiming at “discipleship,” shouldn’t we have some idea when we’ve hit the target? If you’re going to guilt me into believing I’ve failed to make disciples or the American church has let down the Kingdom, shouldn’t you make a contrast between what we have and what should have?

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It’s You, Not Me: Why More & More Ministers Are Leaving Churches of Christ

Late last year, I wrote the post below. It was my most read ever.  I still receive hate e-mail and blog posts responses about it. I’ve reached out to every negative blog responder I’m aware of. None have responded. What I thought was a simple report of what I was hearing, was interpreted (by some) as an attack on the church. It was anything but.

Enjoy.

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If you worship in a Church of Christ (my tribe), your church might be primed to lose her minister. And the next one. And the one after that. Quickly.

First, a bit of explanation for non-Church of Christ readers. In my “non-denomination,” the local church selects individual men and women to serve as her ministers / pastors / preachers. These folks may be trained or not. Theologically adept or not. Qualified or not. It’s up to the church.

Since each congregation is autonomous, churches can dismiss their ministers at will.  Likewise, ministers can pick-up and move at will. I know what you’re thinking, “Wow! That sounds like a lot of turnover.” Congratulations, you’re right. You’re so right that when Church of Christ ministers get together with colleagues, conversations typically begin like this: “Are you still at ________________?” We anticipate moving. What can I say? We’re mobile.

While pastoral (yeah, I just used the “p” word) turnover is high among most Christians denominations, many Churches of Christ, I feel, are at unprecedented risk of chasing away the most gifted and best trained leaders in her midst.

Why am I concerned?

leaving-church

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You’re Worth Your Investment

You’re going to fail if you don’t bet on yourself.

This past week I heard the story of Reginald “Reggie” Hudlin. Hudlin is a screen-writer, director, producer, and former CEO of BET. He is also a graduate of Harvard University, but he was born and raised in East St. Louis, one of the most dangerous cities in the country.  Hudlin’s most recent credit was as producer of Django Unchained and his first was House Party.

As you can see, Hudlin possesses an incredibly creative mind and has accomplished much in his field.
Hudlin tells the story of selling his very first script. The script was hand-written on legal paper, but that wasn’t all that strange at the time. As a struggling creative, Hudlin caught the bus and bummed rides with friends to get to and from pitch meetings and to connect with artists and studio executives. He was broke and did whatever he had to do to make rent. Then, all of Hudlin’s hard work payed off. He sold his first script. He only made $2,500, but for him that $2,500 was a fortune. But now Hudlin had a choice to make. He’d made enough money to either buy a used car or purchase a computer. 

 

Hudlin went with the computer.

As convenient (and fun) as it would be to have a car – or even to spend the money celebrating with friends – Hudlin opted to invest in himself. He says, “I figured with a computer, I could sell a lot more scripts.” He bet on himself. He invested, not in his comfort, but in his goals.
My life as a pastor and BeachBody coach gives me a front-row seat to people saying they want to make changes or move ahead, but we typically don’t mean it. We often fail to realize that making changes means investing in ourselves. When the next step cost money, time, or more effort than we first imagined, we bail, quit, or try to opt for the cheapest option.  Then we turn up shocked when investing nothing and doing nothing got us nothing.

Truthfully, though, those who invest in their goals are the people who meet them.

Suppose you want to grow spiritually, what lengths are you willing to go to? Will you spend money on those books, that retreat, or the time and money to find a spiritual director?  Will you wake-up earlier or delete unnecessary events from your calendar in order to carve out focused time with God?If you want to get fit, are you ready to revamp your nutrition, work with a coach, and pay the monetary and physical price?If you have goals, how does your life reflect movement toward those goals? And I say this so that you’ll know this: You can do anything!

All it takes is a willingness to invest in yourself. I think you’re worth it.

Tell us, what one thing can you do TODAY to invest in yourself?

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