- You should be friends with the people you work with. I know there will come times when this makes things awkward, but I've found that after a year of doing life with the people I serve with I couldn't imagine being as effective for Jesus without having the relationships we do.
It's odd because before I came here I was told by a former boss that I shouldn't aim for this but instead come in and positionally "establish my authority" and avoid getting too close with staff. I asked why, and he said because one day I'd have to have a hard conversation with a staff member and it would get messy because of the friendship. My theory at the time was that this was baloney, because it implies that friends can't speak hard truth into each other's lives. After a year of trying this theory out, I think I'm sticking with it.
Yes, we've had hard chats... and somehow by God's grace and our effort we're still groovin'.
- Theology is most complex when it is simple. I've been writing another book for the past few months that I finished last week. It was really a great challenge - a book on deep matters of theology that was to be written without a denominational bias and presented to a younger mind.
Try that one on.
The good news is that when I finished I was again amazed at the blessing it is to spend time in the simple complexities of God's Word. There's something very freeing about exploring issues like salvation, end times, and everything in between without your own bias being able to be a factor. It causes you to see the common ground Christians can find with each other and removes layers of unintentional arrogance we often don't realize we've waded into. After all, if people who walked with God all throughout history could get together to form the Apostle's Creed in times of heresy, certainly people who walk with God in present days can live it out together.
- My wife rocks. Granted, I've always known this but since my mom has moved in with us I have seen my wife take on such an amazing posture of servanthood that she's somehow even topped herself. Sure... she has her moments as we all do when the schedule of life adds up. It's the fact that she chooses to roll her sleeves up and press on, though, that most amazes me.
- Investing in the emerging generation is essential. I am finally in that stage I knew I'd one day be in when I'm having to have puberty conversations with pre-pubescent boys. I've learned from working with teens, though, that if I don't have these conversations now I'll have more difficult ones later. So instead of avoiding the topics I'm diving in as they come up from a biblical perspective. So far so good.
- I am in a very undeserved opportunity. In our church it's been exciting to see the different steps people are taking with Jesus Christ... many their first into salvation, and still others their next into discipleship. Every day I am humbled and awed of what God is up to and (for some reason) has invited me into. We've prayed through several strategic concerns over the past year, made some great steps forward, and are doing our best to be the people of God in our area.
- The next election will be huge for America. There are so many factors on the table, from the potential of a "first" this or that kind of president to what shifts might happen globally, economically, spiritually, and so forth. Personally I'm hoping for a President who daily leans to the voice of Jesus Christ and honors Him as King.
- Not every person who calls themselves a Christian believes in reconciliation. I don't need to share the details on how I concluded this in 2008, but I am simply amazed at that which is so foundational to Christianity - reconciliation between us and God - is so often overlooked between church folk when it comes to extending it to each other. Again, I'm not just talking about the particular instance I've recently experienced because it's rather common. Why do we resort to "agreeing to disagree" when Matthew 18 has a clear plan? Insults from afar are easy, but if Jesus has reached out to us in all our junk that should keep us motivated to become bridge builders instead of fence architects.
Argh... "Samsonite." (That's my code word for personal baggage... we all have it, you know. Might as well own up to it.)
- The church is still Jesus' plan to share His hope with the world: I'm more and more convinced of this everyday... life change is happening to households which then passes off the the next generation and so forth. People are embracing a change in how they do business in order to make space for God. The local church is having a global impact... not to mention a local one... and it rocks.
Yes - there are some bad examples still out there. It seems like some churches throw extra ingredients into the menu of what God's cookin'. They read the Cookbook and decide that they don't like this or that... or maybe they like "this" a little bit more than "that" so they put a lot of "this" in that creates a flavor of Christianity (if it's even that anymore) that tastes like something "else." So people try to "taste and see that the Lord is good" but end up tasting and seeing that __________ (insert church name/denomination slant/pastor so-and-so) is ____________.
Please note that there are TWO blanks - one for the who and the other for the perception... and unfortunately both will be equated with God. Meaning, often people will not question what they are receiving because they've grown up in a particular denomination/theology/association or always been under a certain pastor. No matter where the authority comes from the question should always be asked if it tracks back to God or merely the rantings of humanity. For more on this, refer to an earlier post.
Sorry... "Samsonite" again.
So there it is... just a few weeks into 2008 and already some good notes from life and the Lord. I hope to keep my pen handy.
How about you? What notes have you already taken in this year?