Monthly Archives: April 2010

A Short Reflection on Friends

Mrs. Random and I have had much opportunity to reflect on friendships this past year. We have had the privilege of all kinds of friendships over the course of our lives, but we are both of the personality types that tend to have only a few deep friendships among the myriad of acquaintances. We like, and enjoy, lots of people, but our (OK, mine more than her’s) bandwidth for deep friendships is limited. It takes time to develop those friends, and they mean much to us, even as it seems we have fewer in each season of life.

Since we are in a season between seasons as we wait for our next worship community to become clear, our friendships have been important gifts from the Lord. These are people who love us even as we imperfectly love them in return. Each one is a valuable treasure that remind us of God’s great goodness. CS Lewis reminds us of  sovereign design and work in our friendships. 

…In Friendship, we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for the Christian, there are, strictly speaking, not chances. A secret Master of Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends "You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.

The Four Loves


More Than Expected

“The will of God is always a bigger thing than we bargain for” – Jim Elliot

Just about a year ago I responded to the will of God. I left a comfortable and secure position with lots of challenges. I left with no where to go. And I left believing that it was within the will of God. I still do.

Since then I have been learning a great deal about God’s will not unfolding exactly as I might have expected. Not even close to my expectations. The main activity God seems to have for us is “waiting” which I’ve posted about several times this past year – especially in a four part series – one, two, three, and four. As Jim Eliot puts it, when we seek to follow God, we often find that it is about much more than we think – but most of the time we don’t understand that fact until much waiting has been involved.

  • Consider Abraham left home not knowing where he would ultimately live, or what God might do with him (Hebrews 11:8).
  • Consider Joseph who, doing the right things, wound up in troubling circumstances long before he saw what God had in mind, i.e., the saving of his family (Genesis 45:5-10).
  • Consider Simeon who waited his entire life to see “the Lord’s Christ” and finally gets the privilege of prophetically speaking a blessing recorded for all time (Luke 2:22-32). Or, Anna, who waited as a widow, not knowing that her habits of faithfulness and prayer would make her one of the first to see and give thanks to God for the one who would bring redemption.
    So, for us, the will of God involves more waiting than expected, and the work God has for us at the end of the wait may be, as Jim Eliot says, bigger than I bargain for. Yet we take comfort knowing that the One who wills is the One who walks with us, and is also the One who works in us to do His will.

Staff Values

Kudos to Oak Leaf Church for their commitment to the following values. I wish I could find the link again. I really like these practices within the overarching commitment to biblical excellence.

Community

We are a team, modeling community for our church. We’ll celebrate each other’s victories, pray for each other, and treat each other with respect. We’ll do life together.

Professionalism and Excellence

We value each other’s privacy and schedules in the office and in the home. People will know where we are during the day, what time we’ll be in and what time we will leave. We will do the things that matter most first, and not overlook the important for the urgent. We will do what we say we will do and be on time and prepared for meetings.

Team Ministry

We can accomplish more together than we can individually. We are not a federation of sub-ministries and realize that we all have a part in the overall vision of the church. We will communicate with each other and collaborate with each other. We will respect each other’s roles and positions.

Right Priorities

We will meet with God every day. We will cheat the ministry and the church before we cheat God and our families. We will work hard so we can honor our days off. We never take our staff hat off and realize that people are always watching.

Retreat and Relax

We will retreat once a year as a staff. We will retreat once a year by ourselves. We will use our vacation time and attend conferences.

People Matter

People matter more than programs, buildings and budgets, but not more than principles and purpose. We will get back with people within 24 hours when they call or e-mail us. We will close the loop on communication.


From My Journal

In April 1986 I had the privilege of attending a great pastors’ conference sponsored by Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland. I wrote a lot in my journal. I’m not sure why I highlighted these quotes in particular, but they must have made sense at the time.

Better to die young for what you believe than to die after living for something that doesn’t matter

Joe Aldrich

If you make people think they’re thinking they’ll love you. If you actually make them think they’ll hate you.

Howard Hendricks

The average pagan is interested in hearing more of the gospel than most of us aren’t sharing.

Howard Hendricks


Without Comment – on Courage

Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much deeper and much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody’s looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood.

Charles R. Swindoll


My Doctrinal Statement

I put the key words of my personal doctrinal statement in a visual cloud with thanks to Tagxedo. Doesn’t really do much, but it was an interesting experiment. I’m glad about the words that were the biggest.

truth cloud


Small Stories

"Go big, or go home” is a cliché/phrase that’s made it to the big time. It’s listed in the online Urban Dictionary; It is the title of an apparel company; it is the mantra of some venture capitalists; and, it has become the basis for lots of poker strategies. I imagine that most Americans sports enthusiasts have heard this quote.

It has even made its way into the pop culture of pithy sayings designed to encourage risk and passion in listeners and readers. In fact, I heard it recently in the introduction to a sermon. The pastor used it to add color about how his family operates, not as a theological point, and it was perfectly appropriate (and humorous). But it got me thinking about the validity of using it as an operating statement for life – especially as a Christian.

I guess, like so many clichés, it contains some truth. But adopted as a Christian life philosophy, it might miss the point more than hit it. I thought of the fact that Jesus calls us to faithfulness in small things (Luke 16:10). And then there is the the widow who gave little (a couple of pennies), only to be commended by God, even when others ostentatiously gave much, much, more (Luke 21:2). I guess you could argue that she really “went big” considering how little she had, but you get the point. Jesus was impressed more by her small gift given quietly than by the large amounts given by others.

Think of the implications for a church that adopted such a philosophy. Might it not encourage lying? If the small stories, or the small tasks, or the small acts of integrity, really don’t matter it would seem that we might begin to fudge a bit in our stories that we tell (or illustrations we pastors use) in order to make them seem more important. Or, might we just forget anything that was small since only the big acts really matter?  Mike Yaconelli told a story about a speaker friend who would tell a story about how his brother got sick and died using the story to make an excellent point. One time Mike said to him: “But your brother is alive. I just met him!”. The speaker replied, “Yeah, I know, but it sounds better when he dies.”

It may be off base, and maybe it is not that big of a deal, but I fear that we could create, or maybe have already created, a church where our normal, individual, daily stories are not considered big enough to really matter. So we just walk away because our lives are not considered big enough.