27 May 2013

Something's Coming!

I love the song, "Something's Coming" from West Side Story. Check out the video:

       Tony anticipated something GREAT. He was about to meet the love of his life (which in the end turned tragic).

         I wonder if we anticipate and HOPE enough. Recently I have been depressed - at times VERY depressed. What I have anticipated has been full of dread rather than full of hope.
         Today I am anticipating the good, I am hopeful that God prevails in the even darkest moments:
* The church that has imploded because of an unrepentant pastor who has crashed morally;
* The Jew and Arab who wish only ill of one another;
* The out-of-work HVAC worker who umpires baseball to put food on the table.
Like Tony says in West Side Story:
Could be!
Who knows?
There's something due any day;
I will know right away,
Soon as it shows.
It may come cannonballing down through the sky,
Gleam in its eye,
Bright as a rose!

15 May 2013

Dallas Willard Quotes - #1

“[Jesus] matters because of what he brought and what he still brings to ordinary human beings, living their ordinary lives and coping daily with their surroundings. He promises wholeness for their lives. In sharing our weaknesses he gives us strength and imparts through his companionship a life that has the quality of eternity.”
The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God

10 May 2013

Blog Break

Hi everyone. I am taking a break from blogging for a bit. I will let you know when I am back.


04 May 2013

Are You Successful? ... Please Send Money

I pastored a "successful" church in Amsterdam. A thousand people. Lots of different ministries. Our Sunday services were in the round - WOW!
       Someone once told me that I was fortunate that the church was growing and was a significant size. Why? Because I could get a pay increase the following year.
       When I heard this I thought to myself, "Someone please stop the Merry-Go-Round - I want to get off!!!"
       The first year I was pastor the church received the "Helix Award" from the Evangelical Alliance of the Netherlands as the most effective church in the country. We were given a little trophy.
       I never exactly figured out what to do with that trophy. 
       The "Success Syndrome" permeates so much of the Church in the West. It is disheartening to me, in an increasing way. Success is measured by several factors:
  * Size of congregation
  * Size of church budget
  * Senior pastor - presence, preaching, stature
  * Number of ministries offered to congregants
  * Quality of worship music
       When I pastored in Amsterdam we did a nine-week preaching series called, "Sex and the City." It was based on the Song of Solomon. It was a powerful time in some ways. God used it in people's lives.
       Leadership Journal even asked me to write up a brief article about it, seeing that the church is in Amsterdam of all places. Wow ... right?
       Here's the honest truth about my own heart in that series - I felt hollow, lonely, and without energy throughout that time. Sometimes I felt like we were putting on a show of sorts, and people from Amsterdam came week after week to see the show.
       Was it "wrong" for us to do that series? Of course not.
- But not because we wanted to "wow" people.
- Not because we wanted to get people to "come to our church."
- Not because I wanted to be successful.
- And not because I want people to drop 10 dollars or 10 euro in an offering plate.
       These days I do not pastor, and I do not have a "successful" platform in some senses. I seek to help Christians reach out to Jews and Muslims with the love of Christ. It's not the most "successful" endeavor in the world, but hopefully one that has some Kingdom impact in a small way.
       I hope I have gotten off the "merry-go-round" that often happens in Evangelical circles - the merry-go-round of "bigger is better," and "if you build it they will come." I believe wholeheartedly in the mission of God - to be God's primary instrument to introduce people to Jesus and to help them become disciples of him. Anything that distracts from this calling is not worth our time.

01 May 2013

It's Worth Being Unsuccessful

I am reading a compilation of Mother Teresa's letters in a book titled, "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light." These are some of the private writings of Teresa.
       They are both beautiful and gut-wrenching. The darkness and loneliness she lived with for so many years is simply astounding.
       More than 10 years after she founded the Sisters of Charity in Calcutta, she wrote this to her Archbishop:
     "Your Grace,
I want to say to you something - but I do not know how to express it. I am longing - with a painful longing to be all for God - to be holy in such a way that Jesus can live His life to the full in me. The more I want Him - the less I am wanted. I want to love Him as He has not been loved - and yet there is that separation - that terrible emptiness, that feeling of absence of God....
     "I am not complaining - I only want to go all the way with Christ. I am not writing to you as to His Grace - but to the father of my soul - for to you and from you I have not kept hidden anything."
       When I read this for the first time I had to exhale strongly afterward. Wow, what an incredible struggle and hope that Mother Teresa experienced. She knew Christ intimately, and yet she also recognized that she only saw through a glass dimly. Her driving passion and motivation was GOD ... not success, not notoriety, not power, not position, not title.
       The Church does not have nearly enough of these type of leaders - those who shun popularity, who do not seek the spotlight, who do not try to prove themselves. If only we could be content with Christ, and not so much with success.