Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Life You’ve Always Wanted

John Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, is not just another book on spiritual disciplines. Choosing to focus more on the goal of internal transformation than the externals of the spiritual disciplines in the Christian life, Ortberg challenges the status quo on the subject, by discussing what this spiritual transformation looks like, and how we can obtain it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I appreciate Ortberg’s perspective on training vs. trying, in which he states, “spiritual transformation is not a matter of trying harder, but training wisely” (p.47). If we have it as our goal to become more like Christ, and grow in our ability to love God and love His people, than we should choose wisely which activities or disciplines we need in our lives in order to fully demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. As Ortberg states, the disciplines are not a way to earn favor with God, but are simply a “means of appropriating or growing toward the life that God graciously offers” (p.51). This is a helpful paradigm, because it starts with our motivation, and removes the sense of legalism that is so often associated with the disciplines.

Unfortunately for many, we tend to compartmentalize not only our lives, but the disciplines as well. Forgetting that Christ wants all of who we are. This is why I also appreciated Ortberg’s thoughts on the well-ordered heart, because it takes the emphasis off the externals of our faith and puts the focus on becoming more like Christ.  In placing our focus on the goal of transformation, we begin to think like the apostle Paul who did all things for the glory of the God (1 Cor. 10:31). And in turn we allow God to impact every aspect of our lives.

Ortberg’s book challenges us to shift our paradigm as it relates to the spiritual disciplines, reminding us to place the emphasis on transformation instead of on obedience to Christ and God’s Word. While certain disciplines are commanded of us, they are not there to get us extra credit, or for us to demonstrate how much we love God, but they are simply there to help me live a more fruitful life for Christ. By removing the law, we experience freedom, which as Ortberg states “is the life we you’ve always wanted” (p.153).

A Taste of the 2010 Leadership Summit

As you can tell, I am reviewing my notes from previous Leadership Summits. I think this year will be my 10th Anniversary of attending the Leadership Summit. Here are the things that grabbed my attention in 2010…

  1. We must let our hearts be broken by the things that break the heart of God. – Bob Pierce
  2. Good is the enemy of great! – Jim Collins
  3. What separates good leaders from great leaders is humility. – Jim Collins
  4. Hope is not wishful thinking, it’s confident expectations. – Christine Caine
  5. It doesn’t take much light to dispel the darkness. – Christine Caine
  6. Management leads to compliance, but leadership leads to engagement. – Daniel Pink
  7. Leaders give encouragement to build self-confidence. – Jack Welch
  8. I am a firm believer that the Lord sometimes has to short-circuit even our best plans for our benefit. – Tony Dungy
  9. You don’t win on emotion, you win on execution. – Tony Dungy
  10. Each day is a gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to Him. – T.D. Jakes

A Taste of the 2009 Leadership Summit

Here are some notable quips from the 2009 Willow Creek Leadership Summit…

  1. Leadership in sync with the Spirit, results in life and peace. – Bill Hybels
  2. It’s not compassionate, to not be truthful. – Bill Hybels
  3. Organizations lose their influence when the rate of change outpaces the organization. – Gary Hamel
  4. God has crafted in all of us a story that can be redeemed for his glory. – Wes Stafford
  5. Forgiveness means giving up the right for revenge. – Wes Stafford
  6. You will not forget what you do not forgive. – Wes Stafford
  7. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – David Gergen
  8. Faith gives our leadership a moral compass. – David Gergen
  9. Focus on what is working. Study it. Clone it. – Chip & Dan Heath
  10. We need to have a tolerance for failure. Failure can often be a stepping stone to success. – Chip & Dan Heath

A Taste of the 2008 Leadership Summit

Here are some notable quotes from the 2008 Leadership Summit…

  1. Facts are your friends. Are you courageous enough to face them?  – Bill Hybels
  2. Jesus did not ask the disciples for what he needed, he asked them for what they had. – Gary Haugen
  3. God will rescue us from all things petty, and lead us beyond our fear to courage. – Gary Haugen
  4. As leaders, we are giving people a gift to fundamentally make a difference in the life of another. – Wendy Kopp
  5. Spiritual leadership is all about creating the right soil for people to grow up into the people God intended them to be. – John Burke
  6. Jesus came for messy, broken people. – John Burke
  7. In order to reach people who no one is reaching, you need to do what no one else is doing. – Craig Groeschel
  8. Failure is often the first step to seeing God. – Craig Groeschel
  9. In community, we learn to be holy! – Chuck Colson
  10. Spiritual leadership is about getting more of God in my life, instead of getting more to lead. – Bill Hybels

Peter Pan

Last night was truly remarkable! We got to see Tony Award nominee Cathy Rigby take flight as Peter Pan in an all new production at the La Mirada Performing Arts Theater. Prior to the show, we even got to meet Cathy and snap a few photos with her.

This was Zach’s first Broadway show, and I don’t think we adequately prepared him or ourselves for what we were going to experience. It was truly amazing to see Cathy, who is almost 60 years old, take flight and prance around the stage with her awe-inspiring aerial feats. Cathy was just so much fun to watch and brought such enthusiasm and heart to this show. And it was super fun to watch Zach’s eyes light up, as together we experienced Peter Pan for the first time. We didn’t want the evening to end.

Below is a clip from Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan that has the same staging and costume from last night’s show! There are still some tickets for this weekend’s show and then they are off to the Fox Theater in Riverside and after that they’ll play the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. I highly recommend going to experience the wonder and excitement of Peter Pan!

Lessons from Peter

A successful entrepreneur with a thriving fishing business, Peter was a natural leader who was willing to take risks. He was bold, impulsive and often stuck out his neck in pursuit of being with Jesus. This zealous side of Peter served him well, but it also got him into trouble. Throughout the Scriptures, we see Peter struggling to let go of his agenda and accept God’s agenda, and in doing so, he sets himself up for failure time and time again.

While Peter didn’t lack for motivation, he did refuse to deal with many of the “know” and “below” barriers that prevented him from being the man God intended. Aware of Peter’s tendencies, Jesus allowed Peter to put himself in positions to fail, because in doing so, Jesus knew that Peter would also put himself in positions to grow. Every time Peter failed, he learned something about life and every time he learned something, he grew. And in learning from his mistakes, Peter became a different man.

Presented with the same challenges and opportunities, we would likely respond like Peter, who boasted too much, prayed too little, acted too fast and followed too far away. However, the good news is that just like Peter, who learned from his mistakes, there is a gracious Father who wants to do the same wonderful work in our lives as well. But that takes a commitment on our part. First, to be courageous enough to face our own “know”, “go” and “below” barriers to spiritual growth. Second, to trust God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

Becoming the Person God Intended

The most important task of our life is not what we do, but who we become. Since we are God’s people, created for his plan and purposes, he knows what we are intended to be. And being in Christ and growing in him means we are moving towards God’s best version for us.

Peter’s full name at birth was Simon Bar-Jonah (Matthew 16:17), meaning “Simon, son of Jonah” (John 21:15-17). But as one of his disciples, Jesus gives Simon another name, Peter, which means “rock.” However, before God could do the work he desired through Peter, he first had to do a work in him. Over time God would take a fisherman with an ambivalent, vacillating and impulsive personality and shape him into a rock like leader. And in God’s training process, Peter learned that in spite of his weaknesses, the Lord wanted to use him and had great plans for him.

Similarly, as God grows you, he wants to use the situations of life to refine and shape us for the mission he has called us to. God made you to flourish and to produce blessing beyond yourself. Flourishing is God’s plan and gift, and when you flourish, you are in harmony with God, other people, creation and yourself. And it means you are becoming the person God had in mind when he created you. It is moving towards God’s best version of you.

Just like Peter, God has a purpose and plan for you, but he won’t discard the raw material. He just redirects it.

The Power of Community

Eugene Peterson, known for his work on The Message, was asked to speak to the question of why everyone should consider being in a small group. His response, profoundly expresses the power of community:

“We learn best when we’re learning with others. A small group is the perfect setup for discussion. Truth is ambiguous. It’s not clear. If you want to absolutely clear language you have to use mathematics. That’s the only absolutely clear language we have. Everything else is subject to tone, inflection, context and relationship between people. A group is where you can work out those ambiguities through discussion. The way you get the gospel is to forgive someone, help someone, build a relationship with someone. It has relationship in it. That takes practice. It goes beyond just knowing something.”

1980’s Film Alphabet

As a small group champion, I am always looking for fun ways to connect people and help break the ice. I recently stumbled upon some fun guessing games from graphic design artist Stephen Wildish, who has come up with some awesome minimalist alphabet posters featuring classic movies from the 80’s, 90’s and other film genres.

If your small group is looking to have some fun, print up this poster and divide your group into teams and see how many answers they can come up within a few minutes.

In the meantime, how many 80’s movies can you name from the poster above? Check to see if you’re right using the answer key provided after the break. Don’t peak!

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