Thursday, January 5, 2017


There is a lot of talk about transformation and changing lives these days.  What does that mean and what does it take to make it happen.  Webster defines transformation as “the act of changing in character or condition” or “change in outward form or appearance.”  When looking at these two definitions, the world tends to focus on the change that is outward and visible.  But those who know Christ understand that His transformation happens in the deepest recesses of the heart.

By watching how Christ brought about transformation, particularly among the disciples, we can quickly see that all spiritual transformation takes place in the arena of relationship.  I see this in two ways – relationship with Christ and the Father, but equally important, relationship with other believers.  Deep change within our hearts requires both the work of the Holy Spirit, along with the support of the Body of Christ that gives mutual care and support.

It is popular today to be a ‘transformational leader’.  This is a buzz term largely coming out of the business community.  However, it is also the goal of the spiritual leader, but in a totally different way.  As spiritual leaders, we are called to be under-shepherds of those God entrusts to us with Christ remaining as the Head Shepherd.  Our calling is not to bring or cause transformation, but to work with Christ to create the conditions, support and care by which He can work freely within people’s lives and hearts.  Once again, it is NOT our job to transform.  That is exclusively the work of Christ.

To see this happen, the leader must accept two realities.  The first is that transformation must be taking placing in his or her own life.  We cannot shepherd others towards spiritual transformation without abiding in Christ and He in us (John 15).  His abiding presence in us creates the context for ongoing, daily transformation.  As we understand and embrace this in our own lives, then we can begin to allow Christ to lead us in how we can support transformation in the lives of others.

As we enter 2017, are you seeking Christ’s abiding presence and daily transformation in your own life?  Who have you purposefully placed around you that can help this happen?  If this is true of your life now, then who might God be calling you to shepherd this coming year?  But remember, as Christ was called to sacrifice himself for us, are you willing to pay the price so someone else’s life may be changed?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lonely God

Could God be lonely?  This is somewhat of an abstract thought.  We often speak of having a relationship with God or with Jesus.  Yet I would contend that God IS lonely because our relationship time tends to be relegated to 10 minutes, maybe even a half hour, of us talking to Him.  Seldom do we take the time to have a true relationship, to sit down with Jesus and ask what is on His heart.  Do we know what is making Jesus weep today?

So, what really keeps us from doing this?  Yes, there is the obvious that He is not physically here to sit and have coffee or tea with.  But, I think there is something that goes much deeper with us.  In a word, I suggest the answer could be ‘fear’.

Sitting and truly listening to God through the power of the Holy Spirit makes us confront several scriptural realities.  The first is that “His ways are not our ways.” (Isaiah 55:9)  What if I discover I’ve been headed in the wrong direction all this time?  What if like Peter, He challenges my theology and understanding of what is true?  Secondly, sitting with Jesus suggests that like Peter, He may ask us to go where we would rather not go (John 15:18).

Both of these realities suggest a much deeper issue.  Do we truly love and trust God?  In our minds, we know God is love as we are told in 1 John 4.  But, without taking time with Jesus, how do we really know that this is true?  Will God ask me things that make me face a part of me that I don’t wish to face?  Will He tell me to do something that I can’t do?

I am far from being able to listen to Christ well, but the one thing I have learned is that He is pure love, and the burden of anything He asks is gentle and light.  Jesus will not snuff out a smoldering wick, but rather He will nurture it into a flame.  (Isaiah 42:3)  God is the loving Father who wants the very best for you.

Today, I invite all of us to take time to listen to the mind, the heart and the words of Jesus.  Let us find a time and place where He can speak to us, where we can hear Him call us His beloved.  It takes time to quiet our hearts, to put ‘life’ aside and to allow Jesus to show us His burden and His yoke.  In the Gospel of John, John spends all of chapter 15 describing the loving relationship where Jesus abides in us and us in Him.  This is the place where Jesus moves into our hearts and He becomes part of us.  I hope that even today you can find time to sit quietly - long enough to hear His gentle voice calling you by name.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sent Like Jesus

In John 20:21 Jesus makes the amazing statement: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  Do you believe this?  Do you see yourself sent like Jesus?  For that matter, how was Jesus sent?

I see four realities in the way the Father sent Jesus that should free us to also be sent like him.  Each are simple, yet powerful:

Jesus was sent as an ordinary man
Gene Peterson in The Message puts it this way, "and He became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood."  For the first 30 years of Jesus' life, he was just Jesus- the son of Joseph and Mary.  You know, the ones who claimed that God made Mary pregnant and then the king tried to kill their baby so they had to hide in Egypt. Yea, that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  Joseph was the carpenter that you went to when you needed a new porch or a new bed.  He was the guy everyone in the neighborhood knew.  Jesus was sent just like you and me. That is how God sends us with our neighbors knowing our families and us.  We are just to be ourselves with our personality, our skills, our quirky ways who have our own unique experience with God.  We cannot separate who God made us to be when we are sent, we will bring it with us just as Jesus did.

Jesus was sent by love in grace and truth
Because the Father loves everyone He created, He sent Jesus.  For the same reason and full of the same love, Jesus sends us into a world starved for love.  The world searches everywhere to find some offer of love - bad relationships, pornography, homosexuality... the list goes on.  We carry the only True love, full of grace and truth.  People so badly need grace and acceptance.  Christ said He came not to judge, yet His church is often known as a place of judgement.   He came to bring truth; not truth that hurts, but truth that sets people free.  Christ invites us to engage in the simple act of loving people by offering them grace that they've never known. This along with good truth will set them, the love-starved, free.

Jesus was sent to the lost
Where did Jesus live?  What were the great accusations by religious leaders against Him?  He lived in the midst of those in need of the love.  He lived with the lost.  Where do we live our lives? Do we live as neighbors to the lost? Too often the walls of the church keep us from living where Jesus lived.  There are opportunities all around us to meet people hurting for love.  All God is asking is that we live like Jesus among those who need us most.  Where in your daily circles - work, social, community, super market - are there people that God would like to use you to love?  Learn to see His creation through the compassionate eyes of Jesus.

Jesus was sent to make disciples
A few years back, the question "What would Jesus do?" became a popular slogan.  However, the simple answer got lost in the church.  Jesus didn't come to make believers or followers, although that first step is important.  He came to make obedient disciples.  He says "As you go, make disciples".  So how are we doing?  Do we begin each day with the simple mission statement of Jesus?  Today, how can you - an ordinary person - find those in need, love them in grace and truth, and help them become disciples of Christ obeying all He commands?

Each one of these four simple statements is both powerful, yet simple.  Being sent like Jesus asks nothing more than being yourself and obedience to Christ.  Today, may you go out like Jesus ...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Barricades and Bulldozers

Think back in your life about your teachers.  Some were life impacting and will be remembered as the best you ever had, and others were just bad.  What made the difference?  I asked this of a group of people and the best teachers were known for their passion and knowledge, their genuine care for the students, and the ability to maintain and demand high standards while challenging us to reach them.  The bad teachers were the opposite in almost every dimension.

Recently, I have been meditating on two statements of Christ that are very contrasting.  The first passage is found in Matthew 23:33 &14 where we hear Him say to the religious leaders, "I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won't let anyone else in either." (The Message)

In stark opposition, to describe His ministry, Christ quotes Isaiah 40:3 & 4 "Thunder in the desert!  Prepare for God 's arrival!  Make the road straight and smooth, a highway fit for our God.  Fill in the valleys, level off the hills, smooth out the ruts, clear out the rocks." (The Message)

The title of this blog comes from the images of these passages.  In one case, spiritual leaders were barricades, blocking the believers ability to get to their destination in Christ.  In the other group, they were people who did everything possible to prepare the way and help people get there.  They were doing the hard work of the bulldozers leveling the road.

It is any easy to draw the conclusion that we are clearly bulldozers.  But are we really willing to look at our lives, our churches and our practices.  When I look at our own mission, I see procedures and policies that 40 years were at the time greatly simplified the preparation and sending of global missionaries.  Today, modern transportation, the internet, and global real-time communications  has changed our reality.  Those same policies that once simplified life, now represent barriers to the sending of a new generation of missionaries called to ministry together with a truly global missionary force.

Where this becomes so complicated and demands the leading of the Holy Spirit is trying to determine what is a necessary 'high standard' that Christ is calling to, verses a roadblock to the the Gospel, the Kingdom and the future.

As I journey forward, my desire is to find myself on the side of Christ doing everything possible to make disciples who are so committed and engaged that they themselves form new disciples ultimately resulting in communities of Christians - "little Christs".  I want to be remembered as one of the good teachers - passionate, knowledgeable, demanding, and caring, doing everything I can to make others successful in Christ.