Archive for January, 2009
As I poured through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) looking at how Jesus demonstrated how to “love your neighbor as yourself” I was blown away. In three years or so, walking on foot, with no multimedia, no press agent or campaign director, the number and wide variety of people touched is simply amazing. And to see how he validated these people personally — not treating them as projects or notches on his successful ministry belt. He touched them. He asked them questions. He listened to their words and he noticed the cues in their circumstances to personally serve them and attend to their obvious and their deeper needs.
As the linked video suggests, Jesus is amazing! (Click on the text link or the image below to preview this video.)
So why don’t you take some time and simply list the people Jesus touched in the following places. I think you will be amazed, too!
- The key people that Jesus ministered to in John chapters 1-13
- The people Jesus served in Matthew 8-10
- The kinds of people Jesus dealt with in Mark 3
- The different folks Jesus blessed in Luke 7
Now don’t you think it’s amazing that he touched so many lives personally? And if we are to be like him, aren’t we going to have to be more aware of those around us that need to be touched?
For those in colder climes than West Texas, you will find it humorous that the whole town of Abilene is basically shut down because of an ice storm. We very seldomly get snow here — oh sure, we get occasional dry or “dandruff” snow as Donna calls it, but big huge velvety moist snowflakes are a very very rare occurrence. In other words, we don’t get packed snow or soft snow or heavy snow, we just get a comprehensive coating of black ice.
Because the “precipitation” comes down wet and then freezes, it is bound to the asphalt and concrete and very hard to even chip away — we have a 1/4 inch ice skating rink all over town. Those who have made fun of folks who can’t drive in snow, invariably find themselves calling for a tow truck because they felt sure they could show these dumb Texans how to drive in winter weather. If you have a Zamboni, you are okay. If not, put on some soup, grab a book, and put another log on the fire and let the rhythm God sends your way with icy weather, bring you a gift of a restful day!
Of course our local news treats these events as if it were a cataclysmic storm, but the real entertainment and consternation comes from watching the school districts and 5 local universities try to decide what to do about closures. Our phone rang off the wall between 6:15-6:30 this morning as Donna heard from the school district that they would start late and then later, they would not start at all today — school was cancelled. For a more rural school district with kids scattered all over the area, this seemed prudent and obvious. Locals schools were cancelled, too.
Then the universities got into the mix. Several universities let their students know immediately. Others, like my daughter’s graduate school, waited till the last minute to announce. In fact, some had already left for school. Students were confused and the ding-ding of Megan’s text message inbox went off about a dozen times before she got the final message. Megan had warmed her car and we were just about to finish the ice scraping chores when that last text message came in.
This whole process reminded me once again of how important it is for leaders to …
- be clear about our most important priorities (that mission/vision thing)
- consider the immediate needs of our group (real needs vs. wants)
- safeguard the welfare of our people (security and trust)
- act clearly and decisively in a timely manner (timing & clarity)
The problems, of course, are in the conflicting concerns of each of these four values. But I will personally try to process decisions and manage change based on these values rather than bouncing around between my own hunches — which it sure seemed like was happening this morning with all the indecision on travel on our Abilene skating rink and the safety of the people involved. And I will look at the appropriateness of this kind of grid as I look at leadership in Scripture as I read through the Bible this year.
What about you? Do you think the grids appropriate? Do they fit? Are they real life? And do they weight decisions in one direction too much? Would you rename the grids for other areas?
I’m interested in your input and think the discussion could be helpful.
In my Heartlight.org post this week, Welcome One Another, I reflect on Romans 15:5-7. There the focus is on how important it is to welcome one another into our lives and into the life of the church family. I hope you will take a look at the article and reflect on it. But in the blog today, I want us to focus more on things that we allow to be barriers to our welcoming folks into our church families. Let’s get honest and identify these barriers and then find ways to break through them. Here are some questions that might help “prime the pump” on this issue. I’d love to get your response and feedback on this.
What keeps us from having “the same mind” and being of “one heart” and glorifying God together with “one voice” Romans 15:5-7)?
Paul speaks strongly to his Christian friends in Philippi about “the same mind” and points us to having the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:1-11). What is “the mind of Christ”? How is it displayed in our lives?
What do you need to do to more deeply value and welcome brothers and sisters in Christ who are different from you?
What keeps you from reaching and welcoming others into the body of believers?
What barriers do we often let get in our way that keep us from more openly welcoming those who are different from us?
As we have been discussing the homebound, community, and experiencing Jesus, Sharon White sent this poem to me. I appreciate very much her tracking down the author and getting permission for us to share it with you. I believe it’s worth a good look (or listen) since it fits our ongoing discussion so well!
Please Hear What I Am Not Saying
Charles C. FinnDon’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I’m afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.
Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,
but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm and I’m in command
and that I need no one,
but don’t believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,
if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
of what I can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to, I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,
that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
and nothing of what’s everything,
of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I’m saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying,
what I’d like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can’t say.
I don’t like hiding.
I don’t like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you’ve got to help me.
You’ve got to hold out your hand
even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings–
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator–an honest-to-God creator–
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.
Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.
Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.
Charles C. Finn
Today has been wild.
First, the local newspaper, The Abilene Reporter News, picked up the story about the “Stethoscope” video hitting the 2 million mark on YouTube — Stephen Corbett and Rob Marcelain had put the video together and acted it out on some original ideas several of us had on illustrating the point, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” It made for lively discussion around town today.
Second, most of the day, I was in a meeting with our ministry team on the idea of Groups — something we are launching in a few weeks. We were making sure we were all on the same page before a “townhall meeting” with our congregation on Sunday night. I shared the clever communication video we used for to explain groups this piece earlier in the week. This video was also done by “Corbett and Crew!”
Third, I ran by the hospital to say “Good bye!” to a precious lady named Lamearl Jacobs who is ready to go home and be with the Lord. She is precious and her family — both physical and spiritual — miss her greatly.
Fourth, after finishing more meetings on Groups, met with a friend about some worship matters and noticed a fire on the north horizon. It looked like it was behind my folks place so I called them to make sure they were safe. They were … for now!
Fifth, I took Donna out to dinner and we had a great visit and saw friends from church. Right before we left for dinner, got an email that MSNBC is sending a reported by on Monday to do a national story on the “Stethoscope” video. Unbelievable. Just thankful that it is touching hearts.
Sixth, got a call from a young man who was trying to reach one of our members from church who was out trying to save his cattle from the out of control brush fire I had seen north of town. We both tried to call him for about an hour before he got to a place he could get a phone signal. Looks like the fire stopped short of his ranch, at least for the moment. But then I realized another friend had a ranch in the area. His place was burned to the ground and he waiting to see if the cattle had escaped to the river bed and survived — most ranchers in this area lost everything! I was exhausted after a couple of hours on the phone checking with everyone.
Seventh, watched the news and weather to check on the fire situation and get caught up on what was happening. Got around to finishing up the follow up post on our blog and Heartlight.org community on helping those who are homebound connect to community. Hope you will read the post and keep adding to the blog discussion: great ideas from you guys out in blogdom.
Whew! Ready to crash. I am wiped out and tomorrow looks to be a bit rugged, too. But not nearly so tough for me as for those who have lost everything to the fire and to the families who have lost loved ones recently. What a tough day for a lot of precious people.
Tomorrow I will share a kind of summary on our community and the homebound discussion. Some great ideas. Today, however, I wanted to share a great video done by Stephen Corbett and some of our Groups team at Southern Hills — Stephen is now famous for the video he did with Rob Marcelain that is now well over 2 million views, called Stethoscope. This video really defines what groups are in what we are trying to do in our church family, and what I believe we are trying to say in our discussion on community and the homebound. Take a look and see what you think!