Archive for the 'Change!?!' Category

Books / Readings, Change!?!, Spiritual Formation

The Point of Life

Here’s another thought from Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. He writes that “the point of life is character transformation.” To illustrate idea, he tells a story that life has three parts:
1) We come into the world through birth and spend several years discovering ourselves.
2) In the second stage we long for a mate, to create a family, and find ways to be creative with our talents.
3) The last stage is a time for reflection when are bodies are slower, do less work and “think about a life lived rather than look forward to a life getting started.” (p. 69)

As I approach my birthday next week, more and more I’m beginning to realize my age is getting older and my body is slowing down. I recently completed a 1/2 marathon with an injured hamstring muscle… I don’t heal as fast as I used to. My hairline is receding. It’s getting more and more gray in color. I don’t mind going to bed earlier now than a few years ago… my body needs rest.

Am I different than the general population? No. I think I’m pretty average. Our bodies change with time. No matter how much exercise we do, what kind of diet we eat, or how much money we spend on health treatments, we can’t stop the aging process. Our bodies are transforming daily into something different than they were previously.

Miller goes on to say, “The human body essentially recreates itself every six months. Nearly every cell of hair and skin and bone dies and another is directed to its former place. You are not who you were… (six months ago).” (p.70)

So, what is the point of life? As our bodies go through physical transformation every day, week, month, and year, how is your character transformation proceeding? I believe that it constantly changes as well. Are you wiser, more loving, giving, patient, gentle and have more self-control than you were a year ago? How is your faith? Do you sense that you’re walking more with Jesus than you did a year ago?

What is the point of life? There may be many good answers to this question. What’s your’s?

Change!?!, Leadership

Goals for 2016?

It’s a tradition that many people laugh about— making New Years resolutions. It works for some to improve their lives, but for many it does not. What’s your experience with New Years resolutions?

Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and author of the book, Platform, says that the average person makes the same New Years resolution 10 separate times without success. Even after a heart attack, only 14 percent of people make any lasting changes around diet or exercise. Change is hard!

But here’s some good news! Dr. Gale Mathew did a study of 267 participants over a few years. She learned that you can increase your chances of success by 42% simply by writing down your goals. WOW!

So, I would first encourage you to begin 2016 by praying and asking God what it is God would want you to be about or do. Next, write these plans down so that you find greater faithfulness to God, your work, family, friends, and even yourself in the New Year.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

God bless you!


Books / Readings, Change!?!, Spiritual Formation

2016 Almost Here

The New Year is almost upon us! I’m looking forward to it. This past year has been huge in the amount of transitions! I’ve moved 5 times in 2015. Now, I’m settled back in my home and looking forward to being in one place for a while.

The past couple of weeks, I’ve read my first book by Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. I didn’t know what to expect, but was quite impressed with his writing skills. It’s a very readable, thought provoking and inspiring book.

Miller writes about a movie company that wants to make a movie about his life. In the process of writing the script with two other writers, he discovers what’s important to make life better, or “how to live a better story.”

New Years is a time to reflect over the past year and consider what you’d like to be different or better for the New Year. What elements would you like to be in your life story for next year? Joy? Conflict? Adventure? Challenge? Discouragement? Opportunities? Love?

I’m sure that we’ll experience all of those elements in our story next year. The real test of a “good” story in our life is how we respond to any element we find ourselves in.

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (pronounced how-oh-lay ma-ka-hee-key ho) — That’s Happy New Year in Hawaiian. May your life’s story be brighter in 2016!


Books / Readings, Change!?!, Missional

Viral Christianity?

Today, Ryan Braught (church planter in Lancaster, PA) posted a review of the book, Viral Jesus: Recovering the Contagious Power of the Gospel. Ryan writes, “The premise of this book is to recover the viral movement nature of the church. Rohde puts it this way, “In the early centuries Christianity was an explosive, viral movement that spread by word of mouth.” He then continues, “But today, the gospel is no longer spreading like wildfire throughout the western world. Slowly, Christianity has morphed into something much different…a stable institutionalized religion that no longer grips us with the excitement and spirituality of the early years.”

Ryan continues: “Rhode lays out 5 key aspects of a viral Jesus movement.
1. Apostolic teams found organic churches and networks that follow Jesus in every gathering. Yet every component, from individual Christians to networks, is easily reproducible and simple in design; simple but not simplistic.
2. Viral Jesus movements are focused on the kingdom, not on the church per se. This is because they are focused on the King and his commands.
3. Viral Jesus movements are founded with the fivefold ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11.
4. Viral movements, by their nature, are supernaturally powerful because they are under the authority and power of Jesus.
5. Finally, viral Jesus movements are led by Jesus alone. He is the one who provides stability and control.

From what Ryan writes, it sounds like this book is written under some of the same premises as The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church by Alan Hirsch and Leonard Sweet. In this book, Hirsch writes that when we recover our spiritual DNA and focus on Jesus, the gospel spreads quickly.

Is it possible for Christianity to spread like a virus in the U.S. today? What might this look like in your community? Have you seen or experienced anything like this?

One of the key quotes for Ryan in the book is, “I believe that Jesus gives ministry success to a person or team because they are obedient, not because they have great technique.”.

If you would like to read more of Ryan’s review of Viral Jesus, click here.


Change!?!, Community, Understanding Context

Guest Post — Ramblings of a Pastor

One of my pleasures, which I wish I had more time for, is reading the writings of pastors in their church newsletter. Sometimes, each pastor comes-up with a real gem that I think needs a larger audience than just their local church. The following comes from Pastor Don Shankster, of the Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Don is a bit closer to retirement than most of us. Yet, his life experiences can teach many of us things that we may not have had time to learn on our own. The following is one good lesson on dealing with “CHANGE”. Jeff

Ramblings of a Pastor

I have become a bit of a snob with my taste buds. After more than eight years of enjoying whole wheat breads, I am on alert in many restaurants that do not offer whole wheat (which is deemed healthier for you). I enjoy buckwheat pancakes on a regular basis, especially loaded with blueberries. Even Denny’s restaurants have upgraded to offering whole wheat pancakes with the extra “texture” that whole grains provide.

Recently I stopped at “The Place” in Flagstaff for breakfast. When I questioned the server on the availability of whole wheat in their menu she said, “Oh no, we don’t have anything ‘healthy’ on our menu here.” Denny’s has made the change, but The Place has not.

I do not like change. But my eating habits have changed as I learn what is better for me and as I begin to appreciate the healthier choices. My body is changing, not able to perform like it did ten years ago let alone twenty or thirty. I can throw all the tantrums I want to about going paperless in my banking, but the world is well on its way in that direction with or without me.

We serve a God we claim to be changeless, but one who looks for change in our hearts and actions. When God created the human body, it was made to go through changes. The earth is constantly changing with wind and water and pressure. Some natural landmarks like arches eventually fall down and change the landscape through freezing and thawing and erosion.

Faith that keeps us looking to God is also in flux. Our faith may be strengthening or weakening depending on our attention to it or the particular situation we find ourselves in. For our church to be relevant in this world, it, too, must change. Culture, media, social connections are all changing rapidly around us. A generation that has grown up with iPods and Facebook does not understand the vocabulary of the typewriter age. This new generation is more comfortable in public places with many options than in “sanctuaries” with limited offerings.

For a church these changes can be daunting. But underneath the façade of different music styles, seating arrangements, or media use are people still needing to belong, still looking for someone to care, still seeking to be loved. Our human form may change on the outside, but our needs remain constant on the inside. As God told Samuel when he went to anoint a new king, “Do not judge by his appearance or height (surface characteristics) … The Lord does not see as mortals see. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7) And, remember, the apostle Paul went to marketplaces to share the Good News.

Yes, I need to change to stay connected in this world. In the midst of this change the core interest to God does not change. Trying to be more diligent in searching the hearts of those around me, while working with the changes around me, Pastor Don

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