Waiting on God

Thoughts about waiting from Henry Blackaby…

Sometimes as you begin making adjustments, God will require that you wait on Him. This is not because God cannot keep up with you or that He does not know what to do next. God is interested in a love relationship with you. Your waiting on Him develops your absolute dependence on Him. Your waiting on Him assures that you will act on His timing and not your own.

While you wait, continue doing the last thing God told you to do. In waiting you are shifting the responsibility of the outcome to God – where it belongs. Then when God gives you specific guidance, He will do through you more in days and weeks than you could ever accomplish in years of labor. Waiting on Him is always worth the wait. His timing and His ways are always right. You must depend on Him to guide you in His way and in His timing to accomplish His purpose.

Here’s a great video from John Waller on the power of doing the right thing while you wait…

Experiencing God

I recently reread the classic book Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby about how to live a life of adventure with God by knowing and doing His will. I was first introduced to book in the early 1990’s, but the truths are timeless and it was a fresh remember to me of God’s invitation to join Him where he is already at work. Here are some of the stand out quotes from the book to peak your interest in reading it as well as to remind you of how God works:

• If you want to know God’s will, you must respond to His invitation to love Him wholeheartedly.
• “What is God’s will for my life?” is not the best question to ask. I think the right question is simply, “What is God’s will?”
• What God initiates, He completes.
• God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
• The Holy Spirit reveals truth. Truth is not just some concept to be studied. Truth is a person.
• When God speaks to a person, revealing His plans and purpose, it will always cause a crisis of belief. What you believe about God will determine what you do and how you live.
• The kinds of assignments that God gives in the Bible are always God sized.
• The world comes to know God when they see God’s nature expressed through His activity.
• No one can sum up all God is able to accomplish through one solitary life, wholly yielded, adjusted and obedient to Him!

If you haven’t read this classic, I strongly encourage it.

Three Marks of Effective Leaders

Three marks of effective leaders…

  1. Effective leaders never lose sight of the ultimate goal! In looking at the ministry of Christ, Jesus’ objective was always clear. As Robert Coleman writes in his book Master Plan of Evangelism, “[Jesus’] life was ordered by his objective. Everything he did and said was part of the whole pattern. It had significance because it contributed to the ultimate purpose of his life in redeeming the world for God [Luke 19:10; Matthew 20:28]. This was the motivating vision governing his behavior and not for one moment did Jesus lose sight of his goal” (Coleman, p. 18). Jesus seized every opportunity for decisive action, but never lost sight of his ultimate objective to redeem people to Himself (Luke 2:49). Jesus knew and understood what his overall objective was, and ultimately conceived a plan that would not fail, by calling twelve men to himself who would in turn lead the multitudes and usher in a Kingdom.
  2. Effective leaders lead by example! This was by its very essence the leadership style of Christ, who called twelve men to a relationship with himself, and allowed them to simply follow him (John 1:39,43; Matthew 4:19). To Jesus “knowledge was gained by association before it was understood by explanation” (Coleman, p.39), and he gave increasingly more time to his disciples as his ministry was drawing near knowing that his disciples would be the ones who would in turn give this kind of personal attention to others. Jesus’ ministry was marked by visible, memorable symbols and behaviors, for Jesus understood the principle that “more is caught than taught”, therefore he used everyday situations to teach life changing principles for the ultimate end of ushering in his Kingdom.
  3. Effective leaders take care of their souls! In looking at the life and ministry of Jesus, it is clear from the scripture that Jesus maintained a healthy balance in his private life. As the scripture states in Luke 2:52, Jesus kept growing “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” In other words, his life had balance, as he was committed to growing mentally, socially, physically, and spiritually. Also throughout his ministry, you often see Jesus seeking seclusion to commune with his father in prayer (Mark 1:35), setting a wonderful example to us, of the importance of taking care of yourself spiritually. This is especially important as all that we do in life needs to be the overflow of our relationship with God.

While Jesus could have been all things to all men, he choose rather to invest himself in a few who in turn could win the masses, and ultimately reach the world. And clearly he set an example for all of us to follow.

Day of God & American Independence

Back in 1986, I spent the 4th of July in the Soviet Union. I remember that day like yesterday! And for the last 26 years, I have reflected back on it with fond memories. You see, on that day, a Soviet college student named Alex and I met on the streets of Leningrad and struck up a conversation about America and God. Alex so wanted to be an American. He had heard so much about this land of freedom. And despite the Soviet propaganda of the time, he believed America was a land of hope.

Being that he wanted to be an American, I mentioned to Alex that on every 4th of July, America pauses to give thanks to God for their freedom and independence. We talked about how America’s freedom came with a sacrifice; and we eventually talked about the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made on behalf of everyone in the world, in order to know and experience freedom in Christ. It was a long conversation, one that led way into the morning hours. In fact, with the white nights of now St. Petersburg, we were completely unaware of how late it was and almost missed getting back over the bridge, in order to get back to our hotel for the night.

Before meeting Alex, he had never heard of God. But he was so intrigued by our conversation, especially after showing him our American currency, which says, “In God We Trust,” that he was willing to make certain sacrifices in order to engage in a conversation about spiritual things. That night as the taxi dropped us off at the hotel, Alex thanked us for spending the day with him. And as we parted ways, his last words to me where, “Today will always be known to me as the Day of God and American Independence!”

Twenty-six years later, I still remember my day with Alex and pause to pray for him. I don’t know if he ultimately got to America. I don’t know if he remembers our conversation. I don’t know what God is doing in his life. But God does. And I hope that one day in heaven, there will be a man named Alex who taps me on the shoulder and says, “I never forgot the Day of God and American Independence!”

Happy 4th of July!

Common Couples Counseling Mistakes

As a pastor, I do a lot of pastoral counseling. And over the years, I have seen many couples repeatedly make the same mistakes that can hinder their ability to work out their differences. In observing these couples, here’s my list of the three most common mistakes I see couples typically make in counseling:

1. Waiting Too Long to Get Help

According to John Gottman, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Washington and executive director of the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, “Couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy with their relationship before getting help.” And my experience would substantiate this claim. Many of the couples who come into my office are usually in a crisis and have such significant pain that it’s difficult to unpack. For the sake of your relationship, take a minute, swallow your pride, and admit to your issues and what you truly want from your marriage. Then seek out the advice of a trusted friend, counselor or pastor. Keeping short accounts in your marriage and getting help when you need it, will save you from a lot of pain and heartache down the road.

2. Wanting to Change the Other Person

You can’t change your spouse. It’s up to them to change their thinking, behavior, and eventually their feelings. A common mistake I see couples make is thinking that they can change the other person instead of working on their own issues. If both partners hold to this thinking, the counseling is bound to fail. Instead of demanding that the other person change, both spouses need to be willing to work on their own stuff; as well as demonstrate a willingness to learn, treat their spouse with respect, and make the behavioral changes that will mutually benefit the relationship.

3. Not Willing To Do the Work

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “we didn’t do the reading” or “didn’t do the exercises.” The bottom line is this…the relational problems in a marriage cannot be solved in the hour session with a counselor. Instead, the most profound change you’ll see in your relationship will come from you and your spouse really working together to implement the skills you’ve learned. By putting into practice what you learn in counseling, you’re taking the steps necessary to rebuild your relationship. If you don’t do the work outside the session, don’t expect things at home to ever change. You and your spouse must learn to relate in new ways, in everyday situations, in order for healing and change to occur.

Marriage counseling isn’t easy. It takes hard work and dedication from both parties, for a couple to really have a chance at rebuilding their marriage. If each spouse is committed to giving the process time, not trying to change the other person, and working together to genuinely improve the relationship, the marriage has a better chance of success.

Question: What might you add to this list?

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!

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