Let’s Show Some Respect

cell-phoneCall me the Police of Mobility if you want, but I’ve had enough and I’m beginning to be a big proponent of cell phone etiquette. Yes, I’m guilty of breaking some of these over the years. However, after some recent experiences, I have to say it’s time we really consider how we use our cell phones and realize they are a tool of communication that were never meant to enslave us. So when using your mobile device, please consider these…

8 Ways to Respect Others When Using Your Cell Phone…

1. Let the call go to voice mail! Unless someone is dying, is your call really more important than the person you are talking with? If the call is really that important, they’ll leave a message and you can call them back in a few minutes. Your first priority should be to the person you are with. If you do take a call, be respectful and ask permission of the people with you.

2. Keep your conversations private! Nobody else wants to hear about your private problems and conflicts, so pay attention to the surrounding audience. Go outside to take a call. Create some space between you and others. Find some privacy. If you can’t find a more private situation, use your text or email function to relay messages.

3. Speak softly. You do not have to yell to be heard. Mobile phones are designed for conversation at normal volume levels. Talk as you would talk to other people or on a land line phone. The person you are talking to even has a volume button on his or her phone. You can keep your voice low and discreet by directing your face down and slightly into your chest. If you are not sure if you are too loud, watch the reaction of people near you.

4. Avoid loud and obnoxious ring tones. This is for the lady in the elevator whose cell phone ring tone almost sent me through the roof. Do you really need to have a psycho scream or a police siren to let you know someone’s trying to reach you? Also, keep the ring tone at a reasonable volume, so as not to startle people.

5. Obey cell phone rules. Where there are rules about switching mobile phones off, please obey them. In hospitals and in airplanes, the signals can interfere with equipment. Or so they say. Place your phone in the silent mode or vibrate at church, in libraries, restaurants as well as theaters. And please use hands free Bluetooth devices when driving on the road.

6. Don’t try multi-tasking. Multi-tasking isn’t cool and you really can’t do it properly and safely anyway. Pay attention to what you are doing as multi-tasking can be hazardous, rude and inefficient. The person you are talking to deserves your full attention. So put the phone down, turn off your phone, call back later and concentrate on what you are doing. Your phone conversation can wait, and in doing so you will not inconvenience those around you.

7. Consider your surroundings. Seriously, must you really talk on the phone while in the loo? Especially a public restroom? Not only is this totally inappropriate, it’s an outright invasion of privacy. Be considerate of others who want a little privacy while doing their business.

8. Be present. Don’t prioritize your phone over the people you are with. When we first got Web browsing on our phones, it was fun to answer all questions that emerged during conversation by launching a Google search. The novelty has worn off, and it’s now considered rude. Enjoy the company of those you’re with and let them know they’re more important than your phone or Facebook comments.

In the Name of Jesus

12596_w185Three words best describe Henri Nouwen’s book, In the Name of Jesus, “simple but profound.” Using stories from Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4:1-11 and Peter’s call to ministry in John 21:15-19, Nouwen blends the scriptural truths of these passages to discuss the essential qualities for Christian leadership in the 21st century. In the book, Nouwen identifies three temptations facing Christian leaders today, and addresses the disciplines needed within ones life to counter these challenges.

In looking at the temptation account of Jesus in the desert, Nouwen discusses the temptations for relevance, popularity, and power. In defining these, Nouwen relates that leaders are tempted to know if what they are doing is: 1) making a difference (relevant); 2) winning great applause from men (popularity); and 3) influencing people and advancing their agenda to the degree they desire (power).

As a leader in the church, I have to be honest that I often find myself facing the same temptations Jesus faced in the desert. It is a constant struggle to not look to ministry for relevance, popularity and power. I don’t think any of these things influenced my desire to be in the ministry, but I find that I often need to die to my own wants and desires, and realize that ministry is not about me, but about God and His kingdom. I have seen this in my response to the emotional highs and lows of ministry, by sometimes wondering if what I am doing is truly making a difference (relevance. I have seen this in my hesitancy to speak the truth for fear of not being popular. And I have seen it demonstrated in my anger and frustration, when a goal becomes blocked or doesn’t live up to my expectation (power).

While in the text, Jesus dealt with the temptations by quoting truth from the Scriptures, Nouwen suggests that the antidotes to these three temptations are: 1) contemplative prayer; 2) confession and forgiveness; and 3) theological reflection. For those whose temptation is to be relevant, Nouwen advises that we practice the discipline of contemplative prayer, which can keep “us from being pulled from one urgent issue to another and from becoming strangers to our own and God’s heart” (p.28), because contemplative prayer keeps us connected with our first love. For those who struggle with the temptation to be popular, Nouwen suggests practicing the discipline of confession and forgiveness within the aspect of community, because this discipline keeps “our ministry communal and mutual” (p.65). And finally for those who wrestle with the desire for power, he suggests the discipline of theological reflection because it “allows us to discern critically where we are being led” (p.65).

If Jesus was tempted in this way, who are we think that we will avoid such temptation? Plain and simple, our biggest temptations as leaders in the church will definitely be the ones Jesus encountered. Therefore we would be wise to be prepared when it comes our way, by embracing and practicing the “simple, but profound” qualities for leadership that Nouwen discusses in his book.

God’s Whisper

imagesA year ago today, God spoke to Jennifer and I through these words in the devotional Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young…

October 6

Be willing to follow wherever I lead. Follow Me wholeheartedly, with glad anticipation quickening your pace. Though you don’t know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough! Some of My richest blessings are just around the bend: out of sight, but nonetheless very real. To receive these gifts, you must walk by faith—not by sight. This doesn’t mean closing your eyes to what is all around you. It means subordinating the visible world to the invisible Shepherd of your soul.

Sometimes I lead you up a high mountain with only My hand to support you. The higher you climb, the more spectacular the view becomes; also, the more keenly you sense your separation from the world with all its problems. This frees you to experience exuberantly the joyous reality of My Presence. Give yourself fully to these Glory-moments, awash in dazzling Light. I will eventually lead you down the mountain, back into community with others. Let My Light continue to shine within you as you walk among people again.

We live by faith, not by sight.
—2 Corinthians 5:7

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
—Psalm 96:6

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
—John 8:12

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
—Psalm 36:9

Two days later, I gave notice my notice at SeaCoast Grace Church to accept a call to Adventure Christian Church in Roseville! What a step of faith it was, prompted by these words, which we believe was the whisper of the Holy Spirit confirming His direction and will for our lives. One year later we are grateful that God confirmed His leading through these words, for they were the precise words we needed to hear at that moment. To God be the glory!

Faithful in Small Things

Law-of-promotion-300x234I’ve been meditating on Jesus’ words in Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” It’s a great leadership principle from the ultimate leader. When I think of those who did well with the little they had been given, I think of those great men and women in the Old Testament like David, Joseph and Ruth. None of them were able to skip the humbling tasks and the repetitive dedication that it took to become the well known people of faith. It took time – faithfulness to the task at hand.

In studying the call and anointing of David this past week, I was reminded about two lessons on leadership in God’s kingdom. First, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Secondly, character is not revealed in great deeds, but in little things (Luke 16:10).

King David grew up in Bethlehem. He was the youngest in the family, who was sent out to tend to the sheep and live a life of solitude. He was surrounded by sheep. He had no chance of rising socially. No-one saw and knew what he was doing all day long. He killed lions and bears, but he couldn’t post it on Facebook. Yet God saw David and used Samuel to appoint and anoint him as king in front of all his brothers (1 Samuel 16:13). But, what’s fascinating, is that David didn’t immediately assume the role of king. Instead of an immediate promotion, David submitted to serving the one already in that position and waited patiently for God’s appointment to actually become reality. In fact, David had to wait 15 years from the time he was first anointed by Samuel to the time he became king over Judah. It was another seven years before David was anointed king over all Israel. In fact, David waited over 20 years to rightfully take the throne of Israel.

David led a country that was far bigger than his flock of sheep in Bethlehem. But it began by David being faithful in the small things and waiting patiently on the Lord. God truly values faithfulness. Just look at Jesus. He came to earth and was faithful to do what the Father wanted, even to die on a cross for us. To be a man after God’s own heart means that we need to be faithful, not just with the big things, but the little things, too. You see, being faithful with the little things helps us to be faithful when it’s time for the big things. It’s a matter of the heart.

So, be faithful in small things and see how God will remain with you, for nothing is impossible with Him.

Breakfast with Boykin

This past weekend I got to hang out with LTG (Retired) Jerry Boykin, one of the original members of the US Army’s Delta Force. He was privileged to ultimately command these elite warriors in combat operations. Later, Jerry Boykin commanded all the Army’s Green Berets as well as participated in clandestine operations around the world. Today he is an ordained minister with a passion for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

General Boykin recently spoke to 400 men at our Men’s Breakfast. Below is the video from the breakfast, where he spoke on the 4 Pillars of Biblical Manhood.

Trust

577462_10200444369724239_1728339791_nBack on June 23, our good friend Sandra Kyung Lee entered into the presence of her Savior after a heroic battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. At her service at SeaCoast Grace Church, I shared that while we were trying to be attentive to Sandra’s needs, God did something within us that was truly remarkable…He used Sandra to bring us all closer to Jesus and to help us to experience the incarnation of “God with us”, through this wonderful thing called church.

One of the ways God worked through Sandra, was as this caring community that was serving the Lee family began to grow, the women of our church started a 90 Day reading plan and assigned various women to one another for prayer and reading accountability. The group designed the plan so that it would be accessible to Sandra, as her health began to fail her. So they decided that they would text or email one another. This worked for Sandra, as she was a rock star on the iPhone, relentlessly texting away with her left thumb.  From her home she could text, email and respond to the gals in the group as well as stay connected in community, especially as her life began shrinking around her. She, along with a few others, would also send out a Monday devotion. It became this great thing that ultimately over 100 women were committed to this organic challenge and to keeping each other accountable.

At the service, one of the gals from this group shared a devotional that Sandra wrote on Monday, October 15th, 2012. It gives a glimpse into the struggle of ALS, but it also offers hope and inspires me to have courageous faith as Sandra did. So today, I thought I would share it with you.

Trust

lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:20, 21 NKJV

The past several weeks have been difficult. My left arm and hand is getting weaker. I’ve experienced with other body parts this feeling before it became useless. If I lose my left arm and hand, it’ll mean I won’t be able to feed myself, nor write on my iPhone to communicate. I’ve struggled with anger these few weeks. I didn’t know where it was coming from. Now I realize the anger was from just feeling utter helplessness and having no control over the matter. I do carry hope of miracle. But dealing with this day-to-day, the anger snuck in without even me realizing it.

I confess that I was worried over what’ll happen if I lost this arm as well. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body  (Matthew 6:20, 21, 25 NKJV).

God has demonstrated how faithful He is to us. His timing is impeccable. I have tons of stories in our lives as well as from others of how God has provided in the past. I must not forget and remember that God is trustworthy. When we forget how God parted the red seas in our lives, we may die without ever seeing the promise land.

I may be in the desert struggling to survive but if we ask God for manna, he will give us just what we need for the day. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Today, I will trust my Father who provides for me perfectly. Thank you Father!

– Sandra Kyung Lee

Just as Sandra completed her seventh LA Marathon on March 17th of this year to the cheers of those at the finish line, she also finished her race on this earth surrounded by those she loved and was welcomed into the arms of Jesus who I am certain said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Small Groups, Big Impact

Small-Groups-Fall-11There is an old adage, “If you grow people, the people will grow the business.” I have been thinking a lot about that lately because I think we focus way too much energy on church growth. The bottom line is that it’s not about growing a big church. It’s about growing big people–people who serve sacrificially, give generously, dream ridiculously, and love gracefully.

My fundamental task as the Groups Pastor at Adventure Church is to achieve smallness and connection within a large organization. And in my opinion, the way to grow larger is to grow smaller via small groups. I honestly don’t think God will grow us beyond our ability to disciple people. If small groups are our primary context for discipleship, then the number of small groups we have will determine our growth potential as a church. It’s a stewardship issue.

So how are you growing the members of your church and helping them to become world-changers? Jesus invested in the few for the sake of the multitudes and I think we would be wise to follow his example. By spending less time thinking about the next big program, we’ll free up the time we need to invest ourselves in the lives of the men and women of our church, who in turn can change the world.

Head Scratching CCM Moment

PFR-12-in-2012-Opening-Concert-211If you know me, you know I am huge fan of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM)! I have been listening to the CCM genre since 1980 and have a huge library of discs that span the decades. In addition, I was a disc-jockey at KGFT FM in Santa Barbara during college, so I have some pretty rare 45’s and songs. However, in all my years listening to CCM, I have never heard this song from PFR, nor have I seen the video, until yesterday.

The song is so ridiculous and the video so funny, I just had to share. The first two minutes of the song are essentially a sweet music video version of Marley & Me. The bands sings a sentimental ode to a beloved golden retriever named Goldie, as viewers watch clips from home video of the friendly pooch playing fetch, running with the family and frolicking on the beach. Then, jarringly, at the 2:13 mark things take a dark turn as the band sings the bridge, informing the listener that Goldie may have in fact met an untimely demise, and something far more sinister is afoot: We are confident that this incident / Was not an accident / As per our investigation.

Well, what the heck happened to Goldie? Are they suggesting Goldie was murdered?! Disturbingly, there is a brief shot at 3:05 that appears to show the band members digging a shallow grave for Goldie! The video then mysteriously returns to its solemn tone as if nothing weird just happened. The world may never know what truly transpired on Goldie’s last day.

I can’t believe that this song ever got published. Let alone, that there was a video made for it.

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