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July 2012
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September 2012

God's Exchange

Last week, we read Psalm 84 in our Bible reading plan as a church. This psalm is a cry of longing to be in God's presence. In Old Testament times, God's presence was localised in the Temple at Jerusalem. Some Israelites only made a pilgrimage there once a year. You can imagine the joy and excitement that this would have evoked. Today, since the work of Jesus Christ, we no longer need to take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem because we personally and collectively are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God chooses to live within us. What an amazing thing,... Read more →

The Parable of the Sheep and Goats

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt.25:31-46) occurs at the end of a lengthy teaching that Jesus gave in a private conversation with his disciples during the final week before his crucifixion. In response to their questions about the end of the age (Matt.24:1-3), Jesus outlined the signs of his coming (Matt.4:4-41) then focused on their need to be prepared (Matt.24:43-44), responsible (24:45-51), ready (Matt.25:1-13), productive (Matt.25:14-30), and living lives of compassion towards the needy (Matt.25:31-46). To bring home the impact of his challenge, Jesus made use of three parables: the parable of the ten bridesmaids, the parable... Read more →

Nobody Did It!

You might have heard the old story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody: There was an important job to do and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody would do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. This is a great challenge for all of us today. We can't do everything but we can... Read more →

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2012 - Reflections (Part 5)

My final reflections: 11. The Advantage (business consultant and best-selling author Patrick Lencioni). Building a healthy organisation is the single greatest competitive advantage. There are two requirements for organisational success: (1) be smart - strategy, marketing, finance, technology and 2) be healthy - minimal politics and confusion, high morale and productivity, low turnover. Most companies spend 80% of their time on #1. Four Disciplines to Master for Building Healthy Organisations: a. Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team. Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, Results. b. Create Clarity. This is not done through a mission statement! You must answer 6 critical questions:... Read more →

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2012 - Reflections (Part 4)

Here are some more reflections: 9. Changing the Odds (Geoffrey Canada). Geoffrey is the President and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone. He says, "Hope is infectious but so is despair." Lift your sense of your urgency. Break out of this idea that you can't. We put rovers on Mars when we want to! Succession plan ... how will the company survive if you died? Think intentionally about this. Plan to leave your organisation when it is on its way up (not going down). Tell them you are leaving and what you are doing to plan for it. Don't wait until... Read more →

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2012 - Reflections (Part 3)

Here is part 3 ... 7. Bridging the Generation Gap (Craig Groeschel, pastor of and best-selling author). Advice to the Older Generation: Don't resent or fear or judge the next generation. Believe in them. They need you. God values maturity. If you're not dead, you're not done. Hand ministry over - not just tasks (creates followers - people who simply do what they told) but authority (creates leaders). Give leadership to the next generation. Embrace the season that you are in. Don't try to be something you are not. The younger generation can smell a fake a million miles... Read more →

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2012 - Reflections (Part 2)

Here is part 2 of my reflections on the recent Willow Creek Leadership Summit: 5. Great by Choice (Jim Collins). Business professor and lecturer Jim Collins studied two teams travelling to the south pole, one who failed and one who succeeded, as part of answering the questions: "Why do some enterprises thrive in uncertainty and others do not?" The X factor of great leadership is humility + will (he calls these "Level 5" leaders in his book Good to Great). What else is needed is: a. Fanatic discipline. Create a 20-mile march and complete it every day! Don't over-stretch. Don't... Read more →

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2012 - Reflections (Part 1)

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Leadership Summit hosted by Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church. This is an excellent training event held annually in Chicago which reaches over 100,000 church and business leaders across America via satellite. Everyone wins when leaders get better. That's why leaders need to be humble enough to adopt a continual learning stance. Here are some of my takeaways and reflections: 1. Churches need to keep sowing more and more seed (Bill Hybels). In Luke 8, we have the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. Despite how bountifully the seed... Read more →

Grace by Which I Stand

I was thinking of an old song by Keith Green this morning: Grace by Which I Stand. It was written after Keith had been a Christian for many years and in many ways it shares some aspects of a 'Stage 4' experience of faith. Here are the lyrics: Lord, the feelings are not the same, I guess I'm older, I guess I've changed. And how I wish it had been explained, that as you're growing you must remember, That nothing lasts, except the grace of God, by which I stand, in Jesus. I know that I would surely fall away,... Read more →

Rhythms of Grace

Here is another one of my favourite sayings from Jesus: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." [Matt.11:28-30. Message Bible] A few thoughts: 1. God’s will is not for us to be … tired, worn out or... Read more →

Halftime Experience

During my sabbatical, I had the privilege of taking a two-day Halftime Experience with Bob Buford, the founder of Halftime, Leadership Network and The Drucker Institute. Bob is a kind, gracious and intelligent man. At 72 years of age, he comes across a little slow and deliberate, yet he has a listening ear and a very inquisitive mind. He has lived his message of turning from success (money) to significance (God’s kingdom) in the second half of his life. His halftime message has universal relevance in our generation of longer life spans and endless options. My desired outcomes for this... Read more →

Psalm 16

One of my favourite psalms is Psalm 16. It was given to Nicole and I on our wedding day by my brother-in-law, Frank Damazio. Psalm 16 - A Psalm of David Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names... Read more →

A Crossroads Experience

Here are some insightful words from the prophet Jeremiah, spoken 1000s of years ago but highly relevant for our lives today: Jer.6:16. This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ NLT Some reflections: There are times in our life journey where we come to a crossroads. This is a time to STOP. We don’t want to just keep going in automatic or on cruise... Read more →

Separating Fact from Fiction - on the Internet

Every day or so I receive one of those "pass it on" emails explaining some horrible thing that has happened or some latest conspiracy theory. It's hard to know what to believe. How do you separate fact from fiction? There is a web site dedicated to helping us in this area, called Snopes. Their mission is "to be the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation." You can use the search box on the web site to locate an item of interest or browse the site by category. A recent example (actually, it's been around... Read more →

Abiding in Christ

Some well know words from Jesus ... John 15:4-5. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. NLT Some reflections on Jesus' comments: Jesus puts the ball in our court. We choose whether to remain connected to him or not. It's up to us - not... Read more →