Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Don't delete the rough parts

When you want to write, the most important thing to do is just start writing. It doesn't have to be about anything in particular. Just put your hands on the keyboard and start typing what comes to mind. Soon your first thought will turn into a few sentences. Which will blend into a paragraph. With another paragraph shortly behind. That's how you start writing...you just write.

Of course, deleting all of that nonsense once you get to what you actually hoped you'd be writing about so nobody sees it is kind of important as well!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard, or read, this type of advice...

Unfortunately, I've subconsciously taken that advice and applied it to my life in general. That is...I delete all of the nonsense that led me to where I am once I'm at the point I think I should be. You know what I mean?

I don't tell the rough parts of the story.

The parts I feel embarrassed about. The ones that make me look like I don't know what I'm doing and instead make me look as if I'm just fumbling around like I'm in a dark room trying to find a door.

The parts where your "deep & dark sins" don't magically go away once you start following Jesus.

The parts where you struggle with the same issues as you thought you got over years ago.

You just happen to delete the part of your story where you made someone feel terrible. Where you didn't do the right thing. When you weren't the parent you could have been, the spouse you could have been, the employee, the leader, the human being you could have been.

We want to gloss over those parts even though they are an absolute necessity to jump-starting us in the right direction.

We need to stumble through them, and not ignore them, to become the person we truly are.

I tend to think Jesus doesn't just ignore those parts of the story and pretend they didn't happen.

Yes he removes our sins, and no we're not supposed to wallow in shame. However I don't think he means for us to act like we didn't do them in the first place. But instead he uses our experiences, our failures & our sins to help write the rest of our story.

I think that if we pretend they aren't there, our story just isn't complete. And really, it ends up not being our story at all. And we all know what happens when we pass off a story that isn't our own AS our own...right? When we act out a part that isn't really us?

It looks like crap and people smell it from a mile away. Some people even have a name for it.

And yet, I know I do it all the time. Even though somehow I feel my pretending those elements of my life don't exist makes it more complicated for God to transform & leverage them. Feel the same?

Friday, July 27, 2012

We are far too easily pleased

Stumbled upon this small quote from C.S. Lewis today. Wanted to share it with you.

It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us...like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

May we all stop being so easily pleased.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Definition of Office Politics

According to Patrick Lencioni in "5 Dysfunctions of a Team," office politics is:
...when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think.

What do you think of that definition?

Do you think doing that is political? Smart? Necessary to survive in the workplace? Just plain cowardly? Something else?

Curious to hear your thoughts! :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why spiritual growth plans suck

I originally posted this over at the NPC Group Coaching Blog...but thought it warranted a repost over here as well.

As we’re going through this series “MOVE,” you’re going to hear a lot about systems and practices that we’re examining here at NPC. As a group leader, this is “right in your wheelhouse” as I like to say. You guys ARE the “system” for spiritual growth and development at NPC…and when I forget about that, I get seriously pissed off.


Because when I start to think that I can “mass produce” disciples, or that in some way we can put a system behind creating authentic spirituality, or there’s a short-cut to becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ, there is only 1 place I’m going to end up: Complete and utter disappointment.

The reality is that spiritual growth isn’t systematic. It’s organic. I know, I know…”organic” what does that buzzword even mean? It just means that spiritual growth isn’t a “Do A, then B, then C, then…” type of approach. And our 21st century, post-modern, western civilization minds have a very hard time with that.

We want steps.

We want action plans.

We want X, Y, Z.

We want to put people through a spiritual wringer, have it squeeze out all the crap, put a bunch of Bible knowledge and humility in its place, and then have them come out squeaky clean the other side.

But that’s not what we have in the Bible.

Instead we have this Jesus who doesn’t say, “Hey guys, come check out this 7 point plan,” he says instead “Follow me.”

As we follow him, like the disciples we will have times where we’re going forward and gaining ground in our faith…and times when we’re falling backwards.

As a group leader, it’s so frustrating to see the people you care about doing that. I personally just want to grab a hold of them to make things better…to try to give them some sort of “do this, then that, then this” advice…

But it’s just not the way Jesus works.

Instead, I need to be constantly pointing them back to him. Not to some system. Directing people to the God they should be walking with, spending time with, following and learning from.

As a group leader, so should you.

And for those of us who want to take the people in our group, or in our church, and physically “move” them to the next phase of their spiritual growth…that is mindbogglingly frustrating.

Yes, we should be equipping people. Yes we should be helping to create communities where they can connect with other believers in life giving relationships. Yes we should have opportunities for them to learn and grow and stretch and serve.

But at the end of the day, none of that changes lives. Jesus does.

Screw everything else, and just spend your time pointing people back to him. Over and over again.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

United Methodist Ordination Process

This video makes my head, heart, and soul hurt. Coming from that system, I've known plenty of people who have been treated like that guy (or much worse). Video obviously made by someone who knows what they're talking about.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Abusing Scripture

2 days ago, I posted this status:
I wonder if it's ok for a guy who works at a church to say that he feels very hostile when people use scripture in conversation?

It got several retweets, a few likes, and a dozen comments or so on the Facebook. But it also got a few of my friends to ask me about what it meant, some public & some private.

I think they're right, it deserves clarification and can easily be misinterpreted at first glance.

What I did NOT mean

In no way am I hostile TO scripture. I'm not offended by hearing the Bible recited. I think that reading the Bible, and wrestling with it (discussing it) with others, is one of the most important things you can do to grow in your faith. I think, if anything, more of us suffer from scripture ignorance as opposed to having an abundance of scripture knowledge.

Too many of us make dangerous errors when we read or interpret scripture, such as:

  • Reading it outside of community. The reality is that most books of the Bible were written to groups of people...not individuals. So to think that the Bible is just between "us and God" can be a very dangerous practice.

  • Ignoring the context of the passage. This is where clobber verses come from. The ones that are used to beat people over the head. No good, people!

  • Ignoring how the original audience would have understood it. Everything in the Bible was written to (and by) specific people at a specific point in history to address specific things. If you don't try to understand how the original audience would have received it, and instead focus on how we in the 21st century receive it, I believe you're doing an injustice to the meaning.

  • Ignoring the supporting documents. This goes a bit in hand with the last point. Especially when we talk of the New Testament, there is a world of literature that would have influenced the mindset of the people hearing the new information. For one...ya know...the Old Testament. I think the best way to understand much of the NT (especially the writings of Paul) the best thing you could do is have a firmer understanding of the OT.

What I DID mean

That thought was born out of a long line of conversations with people who seem to just throw scripture verses into a conversation for either: bad reasons, or no reason at all.

It seems to be incredibly easy to take a verse (or passage) from the Bible, and just leverage it to validate whatever position you're already a fan of in the first place.

THAT is what I am hostile towards. Or maybe a better way to put it instead of hostility, is that is what I feel a discontent from.

Manipulating scripture to validate ourselves. As opposed to letting it ignite something in us that brings us to a new point in our lives. Instead of having it create some discontent with who we are vs who God is calling us to be, we have a tendency to use scripture like it's some sort of tool (or for way too many of us, a weapon).

Does that hostility make a bit more sense? Do you ever experience something of the same?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Facebook is a kinda a big deal

Had a great conversation with a new group leader after the 6:30p service tonight. She has only been coming with her family for about 2 months to North Point. But as I asked the standard "So how did you end up at NPC?" question, the answer I got was pretty awesome, "Well...Facebook."

Yep. Facebook.

She went on to tell me that she never heard of North Point before, but it seemed to keep popping up all the time on Facebook: friends' statuses, videos they'd post, quotes, links, etc. Since I do our web & social media for North Point, hearing that from someone who went from 2 months ago not being in NPC to now being so into it that she was interviewing to be a group leader was pretty awesome.

Then she drops a big one on me: When her family came to North Point, it was the first time she (or her husband) had been to church in 13 years. And not only that, she has begun "dragging her friends" (as she puts it) to NPC as well. And they're digging it. She even brought one of them along to her group leader interview, and invited her to be her co-leader (much to her friend's surprise, hilariously).

Even though I know how important Facebook is to spreading the word about a church, how big social sharing is between friends, how people check out a church on Facebook before they even show up for the 1st time...it's still good to meet someone that solidifies what I already know.

Facebook is kinda a big deal.