Questions For Team Members

Good questions outrank easy answers. —Paul Samuelson

We did something new today. Our core team met – not for business or administrative reasons – but to give some time and space for us to open up together. I wrote a list of 9 questions. I shared those questions with our team and asked them to each pick one to answer in our meeting.

It was a breath of fresh air for me. There were honest answers. There were tears. And we spent some time praying for each other.

Here are the 9 questions…

What made you… Read More

The Trap of Marketing a False Self

Humans long for unconditional love, but market a false self to get unconditional love. Hence, our true selves are neither known or loved. —Bruxy Cavey

I wear fake glasses. Let me explain…

About 18 years ago, I had LASIK surgery on my eyes. Since that time, I’ve pretty much had 20-20 vision. I don’t need glasses – not for reading, not for distance, not for vision.

But I started wearing fake glasses a while ago. They seemed like a nice decoration for my head (I’m bald, so there isn’t much else happening on my head). Glasses also frame in my eyes nicely—hiding the fact that I don’t really have eyebrows. And one more thing… glasses can make you look smarter.

So I wear fake glasses. Not all the time. I wear them on Sundays at church. I wear them when I’m dressed up and going out. Basically, I wear them once or twice a week. And the rest of the time there are no decorations on my head.

The funny thing about my fake glasses is: people who mostly only see me on Sunday don’t recognize me when they run into me and I’m NOT wearing my fake glasses. It’s almost as if they only know the “decorated” me, not the undecorated real me.

In a small way, this demonstrates the trap of marketing a false self. People see the image you project while failing to discover the real you.

And when people love, respect, or admire the projected you, the real you is… Read More

The Liberating Truth of Limits

In two months, two high-profile megachurch celebrity pastors have resigned from their churches. What’s going on? Well, it’s easy to become unbalanced and unhealthy. It’s easy to overextend and heap way too much significance on the shoulders of one individual.

It’s easy to mix mission (what God is calling us to do) with ambition (what I feel like I need to do in order to be significant, someone, enough).

“Because then I would be enough.”

These are the words of Jim Carrey – presenting at the Golden Globes – making fun of himself and the whole spectacle that is celebrity award shows…

He said… Read More

Learning To Listen

From Trevor Hudson’s book A Mile in My Shoes: Cultivating Compassion.

We grow toward Christlikeness as we become more caring. A non-caring Christ-follower is a contradiction in terms. However, we cannot show real concern, especially for those in pain, unless we first take time to listen.

We can only love those to whom we genuinely listen.

For this reason, if we intend to put our lives alongside those who suffer and reflect to them the compassion of Christ, our presence must always be a listening one. This could be why James encouraged his readers to “be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1.19).

Christians are not well known for their listening.

Often our own inability to listen well has made others feel isolated, unaccepted, and unloved. Thankfully, we can all learn to listen better. While few people seem naturally gifted as listeners, most of us need to develop this vital gateway to compassion. Few activities require as much energy, effort, and patience. Involving at least three basic steps, good listening enables us to grow in the Compassionate Way.

1. Stop Talking.

2. Give total attention to the one speaking.

3. Communicate understanding of what is shared.

Against the backdrop of these basic guidelines, I invite you to asses the quality of your current listening ability.

Growing in self-awareness about our listening ability often initiates a fresh commitment to become a better listener. Here are ten straightforward yes or no questions to consider. A positive answer to any number of them could… Read More

Real Grace Is Always A Little And Maybe A Lot Scandalous

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…women much like this prostitute fled toward Jesus, not away from him. The worse a person felt about herself, the more likely she saw Jesus as a refuge. Has the church lost that gift? —Philip Yancey

In Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing about Grace? he recounts a story about C. S. Lewis:

During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith.

They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.

The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply… Read More

Maybe We Should Talk To Strangers

I’m a typical Seattleite—polite, but in a distancy-kind-of-way. Definitely not chatty. Socially cocooned.

Whenever I read about the Seattle Freeze, I get it… I mean I really get it. But maybe we should talk to strangers.

That’s the conclusion I’m arriving at after watching Kio Stark’s TED Talk.

Here are my favorite lines from Why You Should Talk to Strangers:

“There are… huge benefits to using our senses instead of our fears. The first one is that it liberates us. When you think about it, using perception instead of categories is much easier said than done. Categories are something our brains use.”

When it comes to people, it’s sort of a shortcut for learning about them.

“We see male, female, young, old, black, brown, white, stranger, friend, and we use the information in that box. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s a road to bias. And it means we’re not thinking about people as individuals.”

Also—that description she used, “civil inattention,” um, wow. And ouch.

Her line about how “a dog or baby is social conduit” is funny and true.

I especially loved the part about how “we tend to meet disclosure with disclosure, even with strangers.”

Basically, I’m thinking the Seattle Freeze could use some… Read More

This Was The Year

Today is the first day of September. My daughter is off for her first day of high school. Yesterday, she picked up her driver’s permit.

On Sunday, I begin a new series at the church called, “A Year of_______________.”

The start of a new year (whether academic or calendar) usually has us thinking about goals and changes we’d like to make.

Norwegian jazz artist Ine Hoem has a song about expectations for a new year… it’s… Read More

He Told Me He Was Muslim & Asked If He Could Attend My Church

 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. —2 Corinthians 5.19

A few years ago, I noticed a new family at the church – husband and wife along with their three kids. They were good at slipping in and out of church quickly… but I hunted them down, introduced myself, got their names. I made it a point to chat with them – even if just for a few seconds – each Sunday.

After a few months, the husband asked if we could meet. He seemed like he had something heavy to share with me. At lunch, he told me how he had served time in prison – about a decade. After getting out, he met his wife. She’s the one who got the family coming to church.

Then he got to the point. He said, “In prison, I… Read More