Category Archives: Personal

Learning from a Little One

Napping at Enjoy (1)For the past week Mrs. Random and I have been in Glasgow, Scotland visiting and prepping for our daughter’s wedding. We’ve been enjoying the earliest and heaviest snow Scotland has experienced in 50 years from a small flat that we are sharing with the bride’s best friend from So. California, along with her husband and … M, their 11 month old daughter.

Having been away from living with babies for a while (a long while), it has been interesting to relearn some of the important life lessons that an almost 1 year old can teach us. I leave it to my readers to apply to themselves:

  • Sometimes nothing will make you happy, but … wait for it …
  • Sometimes everything makes you smile.
  • Cheerios are maybe the best thing ever invented. they almost always make you happy.
  • Eating is always exciting … unless there something more interesting in view. Rarely will there be anything more exciting.
  • You must train you parents to feed you. Crying helps.
  • You really don’t need many toys to be happy.
  • However, if you roll the toys under the sofa you will be unhappy.
  • Sippy cups might be the best invention ever.
  • Empty Sippy cups are a source of great sadness.
  • Cheerios are wonderful … like baby bagels.
  • Fashion is not all that important. You can easily mess up anything you wear.
  • Being cute means you get to be in lots of fun pictures just like a celebrity.
  • People can talk about your poop and you laugh!
  • If mommy says “no” to something, it is immediately very interesting.
  • It is really easy to train old people to make silly faces and noises.
  • If you snuggle up to old people they sigh a lot.
  • Being cute means that you can pretty much do whatever you want. This works best especially with any non-parental units that are around.
  • Naps are really nice. A good nap makes it so much easier to stay awake and fuss at night when your parents want to sleep.
  • Big people keep talking about  what day of week it is. They are silly. Every day is snuggle and giggle day. And Cheerio day.
  • When you are little, you get to teach your parents a lot about grace.
  • Grace is a good thing!
  • Did I mention Cheerios?

Some Meaningful Books I Have Read

I’m known around the church as one who reads quite a few books each year. One of our church members suggested that since I’m leaving Crossroads soon I should post a list of books that I’d recommend for others who, like me, read somewhat eclectically. So I reviewed my “books I’ve read” file and selected a mix of books that I’ve read, or re-read, in the past few years that have impacted me in some way. The links take you to my store which has more info on each one. (If you buy through my link it helps me buy more books!)

Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis. The classic book that just about everyone knows about, quotes from, but rarely reads.

Minister as Shepherd, Charles Jefferson. I read this book every couple of years just to remind myself of the high calling and significant responsibility of a pastor.

Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald. Another book I re-read quite often. One of the most practical books I’ve read on using my limited time well.

Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch. Any elder, or aspiring elder, should read this book.

Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman. Another classic on the training plan of Jesus. The foundation of my personal ministry strategy can be found here.

Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer. A most challenging book on the nature of God. In my opinion it is a “must read” for every believer.

Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders. Bite sized thoughts that go deep as one reflects on the topics. Another book I’ve re-read often.

Making of a Leader, Robert Clinton. Very practical for one who is seeking to understand the common stages that seem to mark the lives of leaders.

Why We’re Not Emergent, Kevin DeYoung &Ted Kluck. An unusual look at the whole post-modern, emerging church situation offering a significant critique by two young men who should be smack dab in the middle of it all but aren’t.

Leadership and Self-Deception, Arbinger Institute. Not a Christian book, but it just might change your ability to work well wherever you are.  

Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas. Excellent biblical reflection on this foundational relationship.

The Deliberate Church, Mark Dever. Not a book about methods or techniques, but rather the biblical principles which church leaders should seek deliberately to implement.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni. One of the most insightful books into the reasons teams fail to be effective. While primarily about business, Lencioni has gained a profound hearing among church leaders.

Death by Meeting, Patrick Lencioni. If you find meetings to be somewhat frustrating you might enjoy this one.

How Now Shall We Live, Charles Colson. One of the best on worldviews.

Margin, Richard Swenson. Out of time? Close to burnout? Swenson pulls no punches in clarifying the issues and prescribing solutions.

Leadership is an Art, Max DePree. A surprising book on leadership.

Leadership Jazz, Max DePree.

Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges. One of the first books that impacted my spiritual life. I read it often.

The Ultimate Priority, John MacArthur. One of John MacArthur’s earliest books. One of my favorites. What is the highest priority of the church and the Christian.

My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers. A classic devotional consisting of brief thoughts for each day. I have copied many of his insights to my journals over the years.

A Tale of Two Sons, John MacArthur. One of MacArthur’s most recent works. An excellent, hugely challenging look at one of the best known narratives of Jesus.

Résumé Reflections

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated my résumé. Twenty-three years in fact. I’ve reviewed a few hundred or so in my role as Executive Pastor and I’m trying to remember which ones actually gained my attention. I know that the people I hired usually did not have the most creative or cutting edge document, but something drew me to them. OK, someone drew me to them. I have to believe that the Holy Spirit is in the midst of the odd process churches use to find their staff and that he will guide, attract, draw, call dependent, praying, servants and dependent, praying, churches into relationship with one another.

In my human-ness I hope someone takes note the written summary of my life and ministry, but the whole process reminds me that God will be at work to bring his perfect result. That seems to be a good thing to reflect upon as I begin to tell the story of God’s work through the gifts he’s given to me.

On Making Decisions

I make decisions all the time. My work requires it. Life requires it. And I seem to be pretty good at it (as long as it’s not Linda asking where to go for dinner).

Some decisions are important – vital even. Most are not. Some affect me alone, while some touch other lives.  Some decisions have import far beyond what we might imagine. Some decisions take deep reflection and prayer before they are made while some decisions are trivial and can be made on the fly. Sometimes I need to decide how to decide, and other times it is obvious what is required. Some decisions I want to avoid and others bring nary a hesitation (did I just write “nary”?). And once made, no decision is beyond God’s ability to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

I’ve been dealing with all kinds of decisions this month. I’m glad I’m not alone.

A Day

Today was one of those days where it seemed that every meeting I had added new challenges to be dealt with. A new shepherding relationship that will be difficult. Choices made by others that will add to my workload. Positions held by others will complicate the decisions I must make. A finance team meeting leads to  difficult decisions about priorities. A friend is making extremely painful choices about his marriage and I have little to offer.

All in all, not unlike the days of many others who engage in ministry, or just life. Thankfully God brings strength and wisdom in the midst of every day, or we would despair. And He brings reminders of  the pleasant, joyful and good gifts He gives: Someone excited about gifts they are giving to one they love. Words of encouragement unknowingly spoken. A simple dinner out with my wife and daughter.

Another day to encourage us to find confident peace in the one who gives peace.

Back to Work

After twelve days of medical leave and holidays, I’m headed back to work this week. I’ve been able to keyboard some and the nagging pain is subsiding (of course the shoulder doc says that may change once we start therapy this week!).

I’d hoped to get some of the no brainer stuff caught up over my time off … at least do some reading. I discovered once more how much one part of the body can effect the others.  Along with not being able to move my arm, I was uncomfortable in just about any position after just a few minutes; and I found myself falling asleep after reading as little as 10 minutes … that may have been from pain meds … or lack of long, deep times of sleep.

I’m sure I’ll find a couple of things to be true as I return:

  • I’ll be pleased with how much our team does without me.
  • I’ll probably expect to get far more done than I will.
  • I’ll push it too hard right off.
  • I’ll enjoy being back with my friends.

I’m hoping to keep in mind how much pain others go through every day with injuries greater than mine … inside and out … especially those for whom the pain is chronic and not that of recovery. Lord help me!