Renewal

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

Because of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ,

Through the glory of the God the Father,

I have been raised from the dead.

Today the trajectory of my life is full of anticipation, discovery, awakening and opportunity.  [click to continue…]

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Interesting question came across my radar last week. Ashton was in a room full of worship leaders for a nationwide series of summer camps. For 8 weeks they will be leading the same songs, doing the same things, week after week. Her question:

What advice would you give to us on how to remain renewed and refreshed every week? How do we not get into a cycle? Even when it is week 4 for us and we have sung the same songs every week… how do we fight that?

It’s a valid question, and the Fuge worship leaders aren’t the only ones who face it. The truth is, everybody in spiritual leadership has the task of “handling the holy things” week in and week out. Ashton’s “holy things” may be music and microphones. Yours may be a Bible or a lesson plan. Someone else’s may be the routine schedule of meetings you attend or lead. Regardless, Christians gathered in the name of Christ for any reason have an occasion to invite and expect His presence.

Until we don’t.

Until we drift into a routine or rut – what Ashton calls a “cycle.”

Now it’s time for this. Next – that. Then back to this. Then the other.  Before long, not only can we get bored with the whole thing, we telegraph that boredom to the very people we’re supposed to be leading.  As a result, the “gospel” no longer feels like “good news” and we lose our sense of wonder and gratitude.

(If that sound a lot like your Sunday morning experience, I’m sorry. But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to remain that way.)

My response to Ashton was one of those things that startled me with how fast it came. (That’s usually a sign that I didn’t originate the answer.)  The key to avoiding the rut:  Play, Stay, Away, and Pray. [click to continue…]

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Young man sitting relaxing and enjoying the view from dock

Lately it feels as though you’re doing a tightrope dance with the devil himself. He seduces you like an angel of light in one ear and shames you for all your failures in the other.  Your life feels, even smells like a sulfurous war zone and it sure seems as though the casualties are piling up.  But in the quake and the fury, there’s one and only one thing you need to know…

God’s got this.  All you have to do is trust Him.  And say “thank you.”

 

Like a broken cash register, your money drawer only seems to open when it time to shell it out to somebody else.  From disaster salesmen to debt collectors, everybody’s standing with an outstretched hand.  There’s always another reason to fret over this thing called The Economy, and even a box of Girl Scout cookies feels like a sacrificial charitable donation. But in the fear and loathing-, there’s one and only one thing you need to know…

God’s got this. All you have to do is trust Him. And say “thank you.” [click to continue…]

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Color abstract background with birds and flower and  blue eye.(Fumes, Form, and Fashion, Part 3)

Suffocating.  That’s how Amanda describes it. No, the office walls aren’t literally closing in on her. She isn’t fighting with anyone at work, home, or anywhere else. In fact, everything is really calm.  Predictable. Safe.  Consistent.

Or, to hear Amanda describe it, boring, ritualistic, depressing.  Yes, suffocating.

Everything on the outside speaks of steady in an unsteady world. But something inside the 33-year-old wife, mother, and loan processor at the local bank is screaming for something new. Different.  Something alive.

Amanda needs renewal.

What she may not realize is that with the urge to resurge, she’s standing at a dangerous fork in the road.  More on that in a minute. [click to continue…]

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path(Fumes, Form, and Fashion, Part 2)

Something in the woods near his grandfather’s farm seems to call to Adam. Ever since he was a little boy and his dad took him hiking or hunting there, this is the place where Adam, now a father himself, returns.  It doesn’t happen nearly as often or nearly enough these days. After all, Adam has responsibilities and stresses, and there never seems to be enough time.

For Phillip, it means a return to old disciplines that kept him in good shape throughout his 20s.  Now pushing 40, the problem for Phillip isn’t knowing what to do. It’s finding the will to actually do it.

Jacob follows the trail of his biblical namesake.  Just as the Lord called the patriarch back to Bethel – a place where he had previously encountered the Lord – so also Jacob is sensing a stirring to return to a place of spiritual life and growth he has known in the past.

Each of these are examples of a powerful and important tool of renewal and restoration, regardless of who you are.  But this is particularly true of men.  It’s why you often hear football coaches talk about “going back to the fundamentals.”  The biblical language mentions things like “remembering the former days.”  Check this out: [click to continue…]

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(Fumes, Form and Fashion, Part 1)

Burned Match

Thomas Watson Sr., founder of IBM, often said, “Everybody, from time to time, should take a step back and watch himself go by.”

Good wisdom. But hardly lived.  It’s reminiscent of the often-repeated story of the African (or Incan, depending on what you read) porters who carried the goods of an English (or American) type-A personality through the jungle with increasing pace for three days. Finally, on the fourth day, they matter-of-factly refused to go further, despite the pleas of the Western, time-bound explorers.  When asked for an explanation, they simply said, “We have been traveling so fast, we have to wait for our souls to catch up with us.”

There’s a simple word for that, often reserved for quaint memories of the good old days or emergency sessions of the Jesus Name Disaster Management Club.  It’s called renewal.  [click to continue…]

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Repeat icon

For the last several years I have replaced the idea of New Year’s Resolutions with a focus on one single idea – my one word  to help frame the kind of direction I sense the Lord leading me to steer my life toward in the coming year. Previous ideas for My One Word have included Finish, Lean, and One. What’s interesting is that those ideas are still, to one degree or another, relevant and a part of my soul’s DNA.

Last year the theme was Advance! You can read more about that here.  And let me just say, advance I did! On three fronts in particular, 2015 represented major moves forward, mostly in areas of ministry and career development.

One really good thing that arose out of that has been the establishment of LifeVesting International – a mission organization designed to mobilize the church to multiply the Church. We are launching our first series of trips this year to Thailand, and I am thrilled to see where that is going.

May I just say, however, that by the end of the year, I was about advanced out. Frankly, I started the year not nearly as enthusiastic about the One Word idea as I had in previous years. And in terms of what the One Word would actually be, there was nothing really compelling or inspiring.

I thought about the word “READ” because every year at this time I get inspired to read more.

That deafening sound you hear of silence… or crickets… yeah, that’s about how much enthusiasm and passion that idea generated.

But to this point – a few days into January – there was nothing compelling.

And that may actually be the point. [click to continue…]

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Boxing Gloves

How would it change the way you approached God if you knew – with confidence – that He was not angry with you? Or even arguing, wrestling or wearying you?

Take a look at this promise:

“For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would grow faint before Me,
And the breath of those whom I have made” (Isaiah 57:16).

The essential Old Testament story of the relationship between God and man is one of contention. The Lord had His standards – His Law. Man had his willful rebellion and sinful nature – so bad, even the finest of heroes is revealed as deeply flawed.

But in the verse above the Lord reveals another side to His character, and promises another kind of relationship. It will be one not based on contention or anger, but on revival and rebuilding.

I thought you should know today that this promise has been fulfilled. God is not contending anymore. He’s out of the wrestling business. [click to continue…]

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When was the last time you literally felt the tension or stress melt off of you?

How long has it been since you were so relaxed, breathing felt optional?

Where do you go to remember who you are, or reconnect – not just spiritually, but emotionally and physically also?

What would it look like for you if you suddenly found yourself surprised by peace?

All that and more has a single answer for me:  Friday.  That was the day we interrupted our regularly-schedule life and made the two-hour drive to the farm.  Know why?  Don’t laugh…

I wanted to see the flowers. [click to continue…]

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Dramatic religious photo illustration of Easter Sunday Morning reflecting a prayerful moment of silence with a silhoutted person bowing his head, a warm sunrise rises over a foggy lake, and three crosses appear as a vision on a hill, reflected in the water as well.

Oh, how I could sing forever of the amazing display of the way of His heart, His truth in your eyes, and the life of His Spirit, freely given and beautifully displayed in you, who have tasted and seen that He is good!  I pray for you, that He would:

Hold you in the palm of His hand as He brings restoration and healing to the broken places in your life – so that you sing His praises from a heart of peace…

Take you to the mountains of testimony to announce His peace and bring good news of happiness – so that your life declares that our God reigns… [click to continue…]

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