Unsafe People

I just recently read a book called "Safe People" by Cloud and Townsend. It was a good one and goes well together with the book "Boundaries."  I told a friend of mine that if you read these two books together, you significantly reduce your chances of being hurt. :-) One of the sections of "Safe People" dealt with defining unsafe people. I found it helpful to identify the common traits of unhealthy people laid out in a list like this. Here they are:

1. Unsafe people think they have it all together instead of admitting their weakness.

2. Unsafe people are religious instead of spiritual.

3. Unsafe people are defensive instead of open to feedback.

4. Unsafe people are self-righteous instead of humble.

5. Unsafe people only apologize instead of changing their behavior.

6. Unsafe people avoid working on their problems instead of dealing with them.

7. Unsafe people demand trust instead of earning it.

8. Unsafe people believe they are perfect instead of admitting their faults.

9. Unsafe people blame others instead of taking responsibility.

10. Unsafe people lie instead of telling the truth.

11. Unsafe people are stagnant instead of growing.

12. Unsafe people avoid closeness instead of connecting.

13. Unsafe people are only concerned about "I" instead of "we".

14. Unsafe people resist freedom instead of encouraging it.

15. Unsafe people flatter us instead of confronting us.

16. Unsafe people condemn us instead of forgiving us.

17. Unsafe people stay in parent/child roles instead of relating as equals.

18. Unsafe people are unstable over time instead of being consistent.

19. Unsafe people are a negative influence on us, rather than a positive one.

20. Unsafe people gossip instead of keeping confidence.

Now the question is: What do we do with them? Unsafe people need love to.

Loving Your Kids on Purpose

LOPBanner I just finished reading the book "Loving Your Kids on Purpose" By Danny Silk. SOOO GOOD!!! I really liked it a lot. Tricia is on the last chapter and then we will be discussing it and watching the DVDs. As I read, I almost always tell Siri all my favorite parts. Well, here they are. It is long, but there are some pearls here. Enjoy!


The idea that there is somebody who has all the control and somebody who has none -is the root of all evil in relationships. That is the biggest lie you could ever teach your child. And it completely misrepresents the way that Jesus functions. This is a disrespect factory. You cultivate high levels of disrespect in your family system when you teach people: there's one of us who has power, and it's not you!

Obedience and behavior control is not the primary goal! Love and relationship is. It is very easy to mistake things with a compliant child. It's easy to mistake obedience for a good relationship. As long as the child is doing what you say, your relationship seems fine. Moment obedience is threatened, the relationship is threatened. This basically makes children resent you behind your back and they will never end up carrying your values or protecting your heart when you're not around. That fear based obedience. Not honest or genuine love.

We can create freedom that flows from the inside or constraints that flow from the outside. But God's kingdom is full of freedom and we better teacher children early how to operate with loads of freedom and choice. And we must introduce freedom to our small children and allow them to practice messing it up while they still have a safety net in our home and the stakes aren't as high.

This get at the heart: Nothing will ever be more important than my connection to you, kids. Your homework will never be more important than my connection to you. Your obedience, your respect level and your success will never be more important to me than my connection to you! I am here to help cast out the anxiety in your life and to have a deep heart connection with you.

You cannot control other people, and nobody can control you but you. We can learn very young that anger and violence will help us get the results we want from other people. And then we subtly do it with our children. This is not Kingdom parenting! If you do that one more time, I'm going to pull this car over…. I swear if I hear you say that again I'm going to… these are just not appropriate parenting methods.

Fear and love are opposites, biblically. If we want to create a normal for our family relationships in which love rules our interactions, then we simply must refuse to partner with any and all fear and punishment.

Now, the cool thing is that when we believe that we are the only ones who can control us and we exercise the power of self-control toward loving God, our spouses, and our children we are partnering with the Holy Spirit and inviting his kingdom to reign in our homes. But when we partner with a spirit of fear, we invite the kingdom of intimidation, manipulation, and anger to reign. The spiritual environment in our homes really boils down to the presence of either fear or love. No matter what your intentions or goals are as a parent, the fact is that you are cultivating a loving or fearful spiritual environment in your home, and that is what is really influencing your children.

You will never care well for kids until we care well for ourselves. We have to first protect what we have and gain some things before we can give it away.

We must set boundaries. Boundaries communicate value for what is inside those boundaries. If you have several junk cars out in the field it's called an eyesore. You put a fence around those cars, then you have a wrecking yard. If you put a building around those cars you have a garage. With each increase of limits you increase the value of what's inside. When you raise the level of what you require before you will allow access, you increase the value of what you are protecting.

Some parents have absolutely no boundaries for their children and basically are communicating to their kids that their heart and their needs don't matter at all. They have let their kids know that they do not respect themselves. So why should the kids respect them? But there are also other parents who are more aggressive and teach their kids that they have an electric fence around their lives and they need to stay away or they will get zapped. My needs matter and yours don't. Both of these extremes are very unhealthy.

A key here is that we must learn to control what we can control… Ourselves! Examples: "I will speak to you when your voice is as quiet as mine. I will take you to soccer as soon as you're done the vacuuming."

As parents, we decide in each situation what we are going to do. And we decide that we will not be controlled by another human being. We will control what we can control. Ourselves! And they get this...our children realize that we are very powerful and secure and they want to grow in the same.

We do not control other people. What we do control-on a good day-is ourselves. You want to feel powerless? Try telling other people what to do. The best way to set healthy limits in our relationships is to get good at telling other people what we are going to do, and then letting them decide how they want to deal with that.

Kids will always try to put their problem back in your lap. Don't allow it. We must make sure every mess (and messy situation) has an owner. Every problem must find its owner before we can offer a solution.

Car alarm goes off in a parking lot. The only person that can solve it is the owner. Anyone else tries to solve it by breaking a window and ripping out wires is a violator. This is how it is when we try to solve other people's problems in relationships.

We cannot falsely protect our children in the name of love.

Discipline works from the inside out, and punishment tries to work from the outside in.

There are three important messages discussed throughout the book that you want your children to receive: 1. You want your child to know that you are sad for them because they have a problem. Even though you cannot force them to be sad when they make a mistake, you can let them know that YOU are sad because you know that consequences of their poor choice will probably be painful. 2. Second, you want your child to know that you believe in their ability to figure out what to do and to do it. 3. Finally you want your child to know that you are happily willing to help them figure out what to do. Once their little hearts open up, we get to work together!

Your only hope to influence your teenager is a heart connection. You cannot govern a teenager with rules. You can govern the little ones with the rules, but when kids begin to grow up, your influence will be determined by their value for their relationship with you.

Books I'm Into These Days

I have read more in the last two months than I did in all of 2013! I love reading, but when I lack margin, reading is usually one of the first things to go. So glad that I am making the changes necessary in my life to read again. I come alive. I'm choosing not to give extensive reviews of most of what I am reading right now, but I thought I would give some brief recommendations/reviews.

Finished recently:

"Leading on Empty" by Wayne Cordiero. Whoa!!! Wow!!! What a brilliant book! Packed with wisdom and insight for leaders. But for a very particular group of leaders. If you are any of the following, I highly, highly commend this book to you: Are you tired? Stressed? Worn down? Super busy? Worried that you may not be able to keep this pace for the long haul? Feeling burn out is coming? Lacking margin for health and family? Not enough YOU time? Discontent in your ministry? If any of this is you, read this book. If several or most of these are you, stop right now and buy and read this book in the next two days!

“Brothers, We Are Not Professionals” by John Piper. The opening few pages of this book are enough to make you want to jump up and yell hallelujah! So rich. However, this is classic Piper. I like him. But for me….about 25% of what he writes is too legalistic and rigid for my theology. Same with this book. About half of it is truly excellent. But there are plenty of chapters that I had to just skim. Very traditional, legalistic thinking. That said, the book contains 36 short chapters. So, it is an easy read and easy to skip what you do not want to read. I have a PDF of the first chapter…which is the best. Email me and I will send it to you. Oh, and my eyes were really opened on the chapter about “Not serving God”- It is not a biblical principle to “serve God.” Read it. You will be surprised.

“What Jesus Started” by Steve Addison. I suggested that our training team read this together. We did. It is good. I found the first half to be biblically insightful but somewhat sluggish reading. He gets much more practical in the second half. Good book. Just not blown away by it. Fairly basic stuff floating around everywhere out there.



Below is what I am currently reading. I will share more reflections when I am done with them:

“God’s Will is Always Healing” by Joshua Greeson // Super eye-opening. Super controversial.

“The Permanent Revolution” by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim // Excellent work on Ephesians 4 five fold gifts with focus on the lost apostolic role of the church.

“The Gospel in Ten Words” by Paul Ellis

Also Re-reading “The Making of a Leader” by Robert Clinton // It will mean more to me now than the first time I read it. And the updated version has some new pearls.

Then there are the 85 other books on the runway….got the rest of my life for those...


Life of the Beloved

IMG_1259Well, I know it has been a LONG time since I blogged. Along with a lot of other things, I have had to lay it down in this last season due to my schedule. That is about to change. Some of you know that Tricia and I are in a very tender time of hearing the Lord about the intensity of our life and schedule. We (more me) are hearing VERY clearly from the Lord that it is time to cut way back on our DOING and find rest in him. That sets some minimal stage for this story and book review. The Story:

I spent last week in China. One morning I decided to take the morning off for rest, reflection, prayer and reading. Just the night before, my friend, hearing where I am at personally right now, suggested I read a book called "The Life of the Beloved" by Henri Nouwen. I wrote it down. So, the next morning I was searching the Kindle store for the book and realized that it is not available on Kindle (always bad news for we international people).  Literally, the second the screen said, "not available in Kindle",  there was a knock at my bedroom door. My host/friend, Kristin walked in with a book in her hand saying "I thought maybe you would want to read this while you are here."  I will let you guess the book. Yup. "The Life of the Beloved"!  God has better auto-delivery skills than Amazon any day of the week.

Please, catch this....in China. Pressing into the Lord. Wanting to read a certain book. Look for it. And it is hand delivered to my room at that second. This was not coincidence. To me, it was as if God himself knocked at the door and said: "Hey Son, you  TRULY are my beloved and I will come find you anytime and anywhere when you want me!"

Needless to say, I read the entire book within the next 24 hours and it was like water to my soul. What a fantastic work by Nouwen. And so very timely for me. As is typical for me I took notes (using Miss Siri). They are long, but I thought I would share them. They are just some of my favorite quotes and ideas.

Be encourage, that YOU TOO are the Beloved of God and on you, His favor rests.



The Life of the Beloved

When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. Sure, popularity and power can present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection.

Maybe you think you are more tempted by arrogance and by self-rejection.  But isn't arrogance, actually, the other side of self-rejection? Isn't arrogance putting yourself on a pedestal to avoid being seen as you see yourself? Isn't arrogance just another way of dealing with the feelings of worthlessness? Beneath our arrogance their lives much self-doubt, just as there is a great amount of pride even in our self-rejection. Whether I am inflated or deflated, I lose touch with the truth and distort my vision of reality.

Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the beloved.

That soft, gentle voice that calls me the Beloved has come to me in countless ways. My parents, friends, teachers, students, and the many strangers who crossed my path have all sounded that voice in different tones. I have been cared for by many people with much tenderness and gentleness. I have been taught and instructed with much patience and perseverance. I have been encouraged to keep going when I was ready to give up and was stimulated to try again when I failed. I have been rewarded and praised for success… But, somehow, all of these signs of love were not sufficient to convince me that I was the beloved. Beneath all my seemingly strong self-confidence there remained the question: if all those who shower me with so much attention could see and know me and my innermost self, would they still love me? That agonizing question, rooted in my inner shadow, kept persecuting me and made me run away from the very place where the quiet voice calling me the Beloved could be heard. I think you understand what I am talking about. Are you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don't you often hope: maybe this book, idea, course, trip, job, country, or relationship will fulfill my deepest desire. But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you'll go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burnout. This is the way to spiritual death!

We don't have to kill ourselves. We are the beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children, and friends loved or wounded us. That's the truth of our lives!

When the deep reality that we are the beloved of Jesus sinks fully into our hearts, what follows is that it has to become visible and tangible in the way to eat and drink, talk and love, play and work. When the deepest currents of our life no longer have any influence on the waves at the surface, then our vitality will eventually ebb, and we will end up lifeless and bored even when we are busy.

There are four primary words that I have used to identify the movements of the spirit in our lives. Those words are taken, blessed, broken and given. These words summarize my life as a priest because each day, when I come together around the table with members of my community, I take bread, bless it, break it, and give it. These words also summarize my life as a Christian because, as a Christian, I'm called to become bread for the world: bread that is taken, blessed, broken, and given. Most importantly however, they summarize my life as a human being because of every moment of my life somewhere, somehow the taking, the blessing, the breaking, and the giving are happening. Only gradually has their meaning become known to me, and I feel that I won't ever know their full potential. They are the most personal as well as the most universal words. Express the most spiritual as well as the most secular truth. They speak about the most divine as well as the most human behavior. The reach high as well as low, embrace God as well as people. This is simply to express the complexity of life and embrace it's ever unfolding mystery. They are the keys to understanding not only the lives of the great prophets of Israel and the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but also our own lives. I have chosen them not only because they are so deeply engraved in my being but also because, through them, I have become in touch with the ways of becoming the beloved.


We are taken… Chosen. But, often I have tried to show or prove that I was just me and that I have no desire to be put on a pedestal were treated as a special person. When you you treated as the chosen one, you are as liable to be persecuted as admired.

Here's a great spiritual mystery: to be chosen does not mean that others are rejected. It is very hard to conceive of this in a competitive world such as ours. All my memories of being chosen are linked to memories of others not be chosen. To be chosen as the beloved of God is something radically different. instead of excluding others, it includes others. Instead of rejecting others as less valuable, it accepts others in their own uniqueness. It is not a competitive, but a compassionate choice. Our minds have great difficulty in coming to grips to reality. Maybe our minds will never understand it. Perhaps it is only our hearts that can accomplish this.

As long as we allow our parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and lovers to determine whether we are chosen or not, we are caught in the net of the suffocating world that accepts or rejects us according to its own agenda of effectiveness and control.

The great spiritual battle begins-and never ends-with the reclaiming of our chosenness.

When we get in touch with our own chosen status, we are then able to truly see how others are chosen and to celebrate and draw their gifts as well… Leading to indescribably beautiful friendship.

Your life and my life are, each of them, one of a kind. No one has ever lived your life or my life before, and no one will ever live them again. Our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human existence - priceless and irreplaceable.


We all need and value blessing. Literally means speaking well or saying good things of someone. We all need some of that. We often talk about the need for affirmation. Without affirmation, it is hard to live well. To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation.  It is more than words of appreciation, it is more than pointing out someone's talents are good deeds, it is more than putting someone in the light. To give a blessing is to say yes to a person's belovedness. More than that: to give a blessing creates the reality of which it speaks.

One day we feel great, the next we feel miserable. One day we are full of new ideas, the next everything looks bleak and dull. One day we think we can take on the whole world, but the next even a little request seems too much for us. These mood swings show that we no longer hear the blessing that was heard by Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah and Rachel, and Jesus of Nazareth and that we, too, are to hear.  When we are thrown up and down by the little waves on the surface of our existence, we become easy victims of our manipulative world, but, when we continue to hear the deep gentle voice that blesses us, we can walk through life with a stable sense of well-being and true belonging.

We practically work out and claim our blessedness through prayer and presence.

I have read and written much of prayer, but when I go to a quiet place to pray, I realize, although I have a tendency to say many things to God, the real work of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me.

This might sound self-indulgent, but in practice, it is a hard discipline. I'm so afraid of being cursed, hearing that I am no good or not good enough, that I quickly give in to the temptation to start talking and to keep talking in order to control my fears. This focus is very hard work. It is not easy to enter into the silence and reach beyond the many demanding voices of our world and to discover that there is a small intimate voice saying "you are my beloved child and on you my favorite rests."  It's not to say that this will ever be a voice you will hear with bodily ears. I am not speaking about a hallucinating voice, but a voice that can be heard by the ear of faith, the ear of the inner heart.

Many people get very distracted in prayer. But if you will spend 30 minutes per day listening to the voice of love, you will gradually discover that something is happening of which you were not even aware.

We must also be present in order to receive blessings. They are all around us! But we have to actively choose to "waste" our time to receive them. Are we too busy on our way to important things to receive the blessings that Jesus is built-in for us each day?

Once we accept fully that we are chosen and that we are blessed, we are now ready to embrace ours and others brokenness.


The leaders and prophets of Israel, who were clearly chosen and blessed, all lived very broken lives. And we, beloved sons and daughters of God, cannot escape our brokenness either.

Our brokenness is always lived and experienced in a highly personal, and unique way. I am deeply convinced that each human being suffers in a way that no other human being suffers. Sure, we can make comparisons, we can talk about more or less suffering, but in the final analysis, your pain and my pain are so deeply personal that comparing them can scarcely bring any comfort or consolation.

Our brokenness is truly ours. And truly unique. Just as we have to claim our unique chosenness and unique blessedness, we have to do the same of our unique brokenness. Physical suffering pales in the face of a broken heart. It's the brokenness of heart we are talking about and that most impacts the earth.

The first step to healing is not a step away from the pain, but a step toward it.

The deep truth is that our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and peace we so desire, but can become, instead, the means to it.

As strange as it seems, we must embrace our brokenness and step into it… For we are not alone.

The great spiritual call of the beloved children of God is to pull their brokenness away from the shadow of the curse and put it under the light of the blessing. We must allow the blessing to touch us in our brokenness. Then our brokenness will gradually come to be seen as an opening toward the full acceptance of ourselves as the beloved.

I never realized that broken glass could shine so brightly.


Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others.

It is sad to see that, in our highly competitive and greedy world, we have lost touch with the joy of giving. True joy, happiness, and inner peace come from the giving of ourselves to others. A happy life is a life lived for others.

There is a mysterious link between our brokenness and our ability to give to each other. The times of our lives where we feel like we have the least to offer are often the times that make us able to give more instead of less. Our brokenness opens us to a deeper way of sharing our lives and offering each other hope.

Just as bread needs to be broken in order to be given, so, too, do our lives!

Think of how we share meals together. If there is conflict, the meal is torture. But where there is beautiful relationship the meal is a life-giving honor.

Don't you think that our desire to eat together is an expression of our even deeper desire to be food for one another? Don't we sometimes say: "that was a very nurturing conversation. That was a refreshing time"?


1. Giving yourself in life...

The real question is not "what can we offer each other" but "who can we be for each other"?

There is a big difference between talents and gifts. We have a few talents, but many gifts. Talents focus on what you can do while gifts focus on who you are. The true gifts that are in us often remain buried beneath our talents.

2. Giving yourself in death…

For those who know they are chosen, blessed and broken to be given, dying is a way of becoming pure gift.

Yes, there is such a thing as a good death. We ourselves are responsible for the way we die. We have to choose between clinging to life in such a way that death becomes nothing but a failure, or letting go of life and freedom so that we can be given to others as a source of hope.

Are you years on this earth are like a little seed planted in a very rich soil. For this seed to bear fruit, it must die. We often see or feel only the dying but the harvest the abundant even when we ourselves are not the harvesters.


The world is evil only the when you become enslaved to it. The great struggle facing us is not to leave the world, to reject our ambitions and aspirations, or to despise money and success, but to claim your spiritual truth and to live in the world as someone who does not belong to it.

The world may be a source of survival, but it will never be a source of life.  The world and its strategies may help you survive for a long time, but they cannot help you live, because the world is not the source even of its own life, let alone yours.

We must live the life of the BELOVED!

Toxic Charity

I recently finished reading the book "Toxic Charity" by Bob Lupton. It was a hard-hitting, direct and honest look at our charitable justice work and how it hurts people and relationships.  I liked the book, but felt that the Author did a poor job of dealing with many of the scriptural aspects of care for the poor. I took detailed notes of the book.  If you want them, email me and I will gladly send them to you.

If I Were Starting My Ministry Again

Over the weekend, one of our EMM leaders gave me this little book called "If I were starting my ministry again."  It is written by a seasoned Mennonite writer and leader named John Drescher. It was so impressed at the way that this man oozes wisdom. In 100 pages, he cranked out proverbial knowledge like water flowing from a hose. He spits tweets as he writes! (I reckon that is an odd way to refer to an older Mennonite man.) ;-)

Here are a some of the statements of great wisdom that I thought were worth sharing:

  • The word that I am trying to impart must first become flesh in me.
  • The flesh still feels that it can through training, education, gifts, hard work, and other personal qualities do a spiritual work. Jesus says we cannot. We will attend seminar after seminar to sharpen our skills but spend little time in solitude in prayer to have God shape our wills.
  • We should be committed to reading God's word each day before we read anything else. And we should be committed to talking with God each day before we talk with anyone else. People that we are ministering to our able to sense if we know Jesus personally and if we came from his presence.
  • Pastors should ask their churches whether they want their feet or their heads. We cannot give you both. If you want my feet to do all the chores and run all the errands and attend all the committees, then you should not expect him to preach sermons or teach the Bible with any depth.
  • There is a major difference between teaching people the effects of the Gospel and teaching the gospel itself.
  • Most of us are too strong for God to use us. As long as we feel that we can do a spiritual or eternal work ourselves the Lord will let us keep trying... but the result will only be human.
  • If you have to be reasoned into Christianity, some wise fellow can reason you out of it!  But when the Holy Spirit brings inner illumination, no one can reason you out of it.
  • I would never wish to be judged by my worst moments, neither should I judge the church or any member by its worst performers.
  • Until congregations allow pastors to spend their time on training the spiritually well minority rather than serving the unmotivated and disobedient majority, people will not live and serve as Christ intends.
  • If my prayer life sags, my whole life sags with it. If my prayer life goes up my life as a whole goes up with it. To fail here is to fail all down the line; to succeed here is to succeed everywhere. Whenever there is a crisis in the church, it is always first a crisis of prayer
  • My work is not to change people. I am to love people and to accept people. It is the Holy Spirit's work to convince, convict, and convert.
  • We can only grow in long-suffering when one tests how long we can suffer; so it is for all the fruit.
  • No one is a sudden moral failure. Lust, like bitterness, is allowed to lodge in the heart and mind over time.
  • We must never get off the train when we are going through the tunnel. There are plenty of discouragements in ministry, but it is not good to make a major decision during a time of discouragement.
  • We must beware of letting complements build self-confidence in spiritual things. The compliments of others can be used for evil if we are not determined to give all glory to God. The more gifted the leader, the greater the temptation and thirst for praise.
  • Our insistence in proving that we are right is nearly always an indication that there has been some point of disobedience.
  • Do not take the adverse reaction of one person too seriously without checking such criticism with other trusted leaders who can advise with candor and love. I have suffered most in ministry for believing broad, sweeping criticism from one person who claim to be speaking for many, only to discover it was a very personal reaction, backed only by some personal prejudice or agenda, and not the opinion of others at all.
  • I would avoid envy like the plague. Envy is to feel sad when another is glad. It raises its ugly head when someone succeeds in the area I work or in the area I seek to be successful.
  • Pride and self-conceit is the sin we are most conscious of in others and which we are most blind to in ourselves.

I hope you enjoyed some of this depth as much as I did. I think you can but it HERE.

The Prodigal God

Last weekend I read the book "The Prodigal God" by Tim Keller. The book is about the parable of the lost son. I really, really liked it! It revolutionized my understanding of this parable and touched into some deep places of my heart. Most of the times I have heard this parable taught, the majority of the attention is placed on the wayward son to show us all about God's great forgiveness. Second to the young son, the Father would be most popular for welcoming the son back home after his great dishonoring adventure.

Not so with the perspective of this book. Keller says this story is mainly about the older son and the damaging heart disease of the older son. And its is exactly the "older sons" that Jesus was addressing when he told this story. Read Luke 15:1.

Here's the problem with the eldest son: He was not aware that he was doing anything wrong, so naturally, he had no need for returning to the Father in repentance. "Older Brothers" are impressed with all they do right, full of pride and unaware of the rejection and pain they cause the Father. Older brother syndrome is a deeply dangerous condition. And, if you have been serving the Lord for a long time, it might be possible that you are infected with it.

I highly recommend this book to you.

African Friends & Money Matters

20120502-222711.jpgThis week I am aiming to finish up a few books that I had half read. I often get halfway through a book, think I've got the gist and lay it down. The problem is that this clashes with my desire to finish that which I start. Plus I'll not review and blog about a book I have not read in full.

Anyway, today I completed the book "African Friends and Money Matters". I'm short, I'll say that this is a must, must, must read for any westerner serving in Africa. This book will save you money, energy, embarrassment and relationships. And above all, it will de-ignorant (like my new word?) you and help you to love Africans through understating them.

Make no mistake about it, there are major, major cultural differences between a westerner and an African. And some of the stuff in this book will shock you.

I will probably write a follow up blog to this one where I will list out some of the most costly cultural clashes.

Speaking of Jesus; The Art of Non-Evangelism

This weekend I read Carl Medearis's newest book, "Speaking of Jesus; the Art of Non-Evangelism".  It was an easy read. I read it in two, two-hour sittings. I liked it! (Even more, I liked that I got it on my iPad for free. Thanks, Kindle!) 

Not profound, not theologically explanatory, not really anything new to me that I have not already concluded and try to live....BUT, well said, well written and well needed deprogramming and reprogramming of language for those who want to follow Jesus and make him known.

Point of the book: The word "Christian" and the religion of "Christianity" have harmed the cause of Jesus in the world. Stop using this language, stop defending a faith system or religion and start spreading the gospel for what it is....the good news of JESUS! Sop speaking of your doctrines, beliefs, churches, and theologies and start speaking of JESUS!

Interesting personal note: I have walked with a number of people this year who did not know and love Jesus...and now they do.  They are followers of Jesus.  I have NEVER told them they were "Christians" and I have never one time heard them call themselves "Christians"!  They only refer to themselves as followers of Jesus. So, this works.  And it changes everything.

Workers of the Eleventh Hour

If you are serious about world missions and the accomplishment of the great commission, I strongly urge you to read this blog post.  It is long, but it will be worth your time.  Trust me. Here are my notes and quotes from my reading of the book "Releasing The Workers of the Eleventh Hour" by Ben Naja. I believe that this is a prophetic book and it has opened my eyes and impacted how I see my future!!


The book is based off the parable of the landowner in Matthew 20. Just like the landowner in the parable who gathered workers throughout the whole day and even at the 11th hour, God has been calling missionaries to himself since the garden and is doing it even today in the 11th hour.

Mission is not a modern concept, and the great commission did not begin in the New Testament. Missions began in God's heart longing to restore man's broken relationship to him. Mission began in the garden of Eden at the fall.

The Author of this book believes that the parable of the landowner in Matthew 20 is a prophetic parable with the following meaning: The workers that were hired early in the morning represent the missionaries of you'll testament. Like Noah, Abraham, Jonah, and Israel. The workers hired at the third hour represent the missionaries of the New Testament. These would have been the apostles, many of which were martyred. Although this may have been a small group, it was very instrumental and powerful in a short period of time in laying the foundation for the church.  The workers of the sixth hour in the parable are the missionaries of the 4th to 18th centuries. Progress was very slow and very little people joined into mission...thanks to Constantine and the church entering the state. The workers of the ninth hour are the missionaries of the 19th and 20th centuries. There was major progress and over a period of 200 years, millions of people from all Nations came in contact with the Gospel and many churches were planted all over the world.  But just like the parable of the landowner, the Lord of the harvest goes out again to enlist more workers. The 11th hour workers represent the missionaries of the 21st century.  The workers of the ninth hour worked with tremendous effort and brought in an important part of the harvest, but with a decrease of global North workers and the drastic increase of world population, the Lord of the harvest knows that it is impossible for them to bring in the whole harvest on their own. 11th hour workers are needed!

We have made great advances in the last 200 years but we don't have another 200 years to wait. To reach the billions of people of our generation, millions of workers are required. And these workers are in the global South (Mainly Africa and Asia). The workers of the 11th hour will be so numerous that one will no longer speak of sending individuals, but of sending movements.

At the beginning of the 20th century, 94% of all Christians lived in the global North. By the year 2000, 71% of all Christians were living in the global South. This is an extremely significant shift. The church in the global North must recognize this change and keep in step with God's purposes for it. The Global North church has years of experience in cross cultural communication of the Gospel, and by sharing this experience with the leaders of the global South, they can help to catalyze and equip those who will do the majority of mission work in this final hour.

The leaders and churches of the global South are gaining confidence and independence. They no longer want to be seen as children, but they want to be taken seriously as partners. The leaders that God is raising up in the global South may very likely employ a more authoritative leadership style than the previous missionaries of the global North. That does not make it less biblical or less effective. We must trust them to set in place their own structures and send from their own structures. One of the reasons that it is so important that the global South develop its own sending structures is because their systems will match their culture. Especially in issues of conflict management and finance.

The workers of the 11th hour will not possess diplomas or academic titles. They will be made up of men and women that are qualified for ministry because of their maturity rather than their diplomas. They have received great authority through the anointing of the Holy Spirit rather than through positions or titles conferred by men.

Every year the western mission force loses around 7,650 missionaries. Formal theological institutions that say they train missionaries often address primarily knowledge components, not character or even skills needed to survive and thrive in cross-cultural missions. There will always be a need for graduates from seminaries and missionary training schools, but among the workers of the 11th hour, they will be in the minority.

The workers of the 11th hour do not expect financial support from their sending churches like the missionaries from the ninth hour and the global North. They may receive initial help or a small amount of regular support over a short period of time, but in general, their support will come from tent making (secular work).

One third of all unreached Muslim people groups are in sub-Saharan Africa, but proximate, or near to them, are 116 million Evangelical Christians. This is no coincidence. It shows God's careful preparation of his church to reach all people groups.

There are a number of reasons that people proximate to unreached peoples are best to be missionaries to those people. One is Geographic proximity. This is simple to understand because it is locationally convenient. Another is cultural proximity and this describes the proximity of a worker to the unreached in dimensions of worldview, customs and culture, historical affinity, and physical appearance. Another form of proximity is linguistic. This could mean that the sent come from similar linguistic families and languages with common structures and word use. Then there is economic proximity which describes the proximity of income levels and standards of living. When the missionary and their host people have the same standard of living, people are more likely to follow Jesus because of his person and his Gospel, rather than be influenced by a prospect of financial gain. Other aspects of proximity would include educational, sociological and missiological.

Workers of the ninth hour have modeled full support and full-time spiritual ministry for emerging missionaries of the global south. Such a model is not only too expensive for most churches in the global South, but, in most cases it is strategically unwise. Workers of the 11th hour should return to Paul's tent making model of the New Testament.  Working a job among the culture that you are serving will automatically provide you entrance into the hearts of the dozens and even hundreds of people. This spirit filled performance of secular work proclaims the Gospel wordlessly and paves the way for verbal proclamation.

The workers of the global South should not go to the churches of the global North asking for money to send out missionaries! This is NOT a reproducible approach to missions for the global South.

We must have a contextual messenger, and a contextual message in order to do fruitful contextual church planting which produces healthy contextual churches.

We really must pay attention to our personal evangelism strategies and recognize that they are not the best approach. We must start thinking in terms of entire families, villages and networks (Oikos) coming to faith together, and rapidly. This was not only the approach of the New Testament but it is the most sensible approach to see church planting movements take off and the great commission accomplished. Oikos evangelism aims to reach the heads of households. To win the head of a family means to win a potential leader, a potential new church and a potential new meeting place. It does not matter where the church meets, a new location is won, and multiplication is pre-programmed. Workers of the 11th hour or more likely to understand the importance of Oikos Evangelism as a strategy, because they themselves often come from an Oikos oriented background.

A massive unprecedented revolution of social structures has occurred within the last two centuries: the world population has migrated from rural areas into cities. The 21st century is an urban world just as the previous 20 centuries of Christianity have been a rural world. It is estimated that by 2100 the number of rural inhabitants maybe only 10% of the entire world. This trend is of such a magnitude that it can be categorized as a population movement: the movement of more than 1 billion people to the cities over the last two decades is the largest population movement in history. The worldwide church has not yet sufficiently responded to this shift. Today the church is still working within mostly rural structures and contexts.

At the beginning of the 21st-century, there were 482 megacities (which are cities above 1 million people) and 20 supercities (which are cities with more than 10 million people). It remains the job of the workers of the 11th hour to flood all megacities with house church movements to Jesus. So far mission has always been associated with a romantic ideal, a picture of tribal peoples, palm trees and sunsets. We need to paint a new vision into the hearts of our young pioneering missionaries. Our new vision of missionary ministry must focus on the cities. If we want to win the nations for Christ, we need to conquer the cities. The migration to the cities is so large that it must have a divinely ordained redemptive purpose behind it. The workers of the 11th hour understand this new reality, because many of them were born and raised in megacities.

The churches and missions agencies of the global North have responsibility to serve as catalysts to global South sending movements by encouraging their initiatives, patterns of engagement, development of ministry models and sending structures. Catalysts don't recruit co-workers for their own mission agencies; rather, they join the sending movements of the global South, working in their name and under their leadership.

If the workers of the last hundred years of missionary experience fail to pass on the lessons they've learned to the workers of the next hundred years, then they condemn the emerging missions movements of the global South to repeat their mistakes. But, our trainings that we offer to emerging 11th hour missionaries should be short, specific, need and practice oriented training. It usually should take place in the form of short seminars and conferences. And on site.

The balance between the two extremes of paternalism and unkindness must be maintained at all costs. There are ways to partner that hold responsibilities for both parties. Neither giving things to people nor doing things for people will be of much long-term benefit, and both may have serious negative side effects.

Workers of the ninth hour assist the sending movement of the global South by coaching and mentoring its leaders. Many of these mentors will not necessarily live among an unreached people group, rather will inspire, encourage and coach from the outside, from the global North. This will be a new emerging role called the non-residential missionary. They may not always be on site, but will not necessarily be less effective.

The church of the global North and the church of the global South must enter into equal partnership and the church of the global North needs to accept that the emerging movements of the global South must develop their own structures, implement their own strategies, follow their own leaders and bear their own name. The northern churches must except that they are no longer parents of underage children, but partners with mature counterparts.

Note: The Lord does not divide his church into global North and global South. He views it as one body through which he brings kingdom blessings to all the families on earth.

Many missions leaders believe that the fulfillment of the great commission could be achieved within our generation many believe that the final hour of world missions is rapidly approaching.

"Switch" by Chip & Dan Heath

In the last few days, I read this book called "Switch" by Chip and Dan Heath.  It's about change. It was great! Really liked it (though it is a secular book- whatever that means).  I highly recommend it for those influencing a change effort of any kind.  However, below, I will give you some of the main/best blurbs from the book. This pretty well covers it:

  • What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity.
  • Some is not a number. Soon is not a time. Here's the number:___. Here's the time:___. These must be specific in change efforts.
  • All of us can remember a time when a friend was laboring over what was wrong in their relationship. How many of us can recall a time when one of our friends spent the same amount time trying to analyze why things were working so well?
  • Bright spots matter. Find out what's working and do more of it. A major reason for change is when we locate bright spots and zero in on them. Instead we often find bright spots and choose not to trust them and become skeptical.
  • Major finding: big problems usually require small solutions sometimes over weeks and sometimes over decades. When many of us analyze problems we look for a solution that matches the scale of the problem. This is unwise. It is a wrong mental model. We see a 24 inch hole and look for 24 inch peg. Instead we must say what is working right now and how can we do more of it? Start there. This is solution focused change. We must stop asking what is broken and how do we fix it and start looking at what is working and do more of it.
  • Naturally most of us think choice is a good thing. But sometimes choice stops liberating and starts debilitating.
  • Any successful change requires translation of ambiguous goals into concrete behaviors. In short to make a switch you need to script the critical moves. You cannot script every move but it is extremely important that we script the critical moves that we want to see happen in the tough moments of change.
  • When you want someone to behave in a new way explain the new way clearly. Do not assume the new moves are obvious. Until you can ladder your way down from a change idea to a specific behavior, you are not ready to lead a switch. To create movement you've got to be specific and concrete.
  • When you're at the beginning, don't obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and envision a strong ending and get moving.
  • Simply raising the bar is the wrong approach if you want to motivate a reluctant elephant. You need to lower the bar. If you want a reluctant elephant to get moving you need to shrink the change. Need to encourage what progress is already been made and make the change that you are presenting look doable.
  • Sometimes people don't need milestones, they need inch pebbles. We must shrink the change so people feel big relative to the challenge. Yes, we shrink the change. But then, we must grow the people. Particularly in identity surrounding the potential task or change. Small steps toward them joining the change--foot in the door-- is needed.
  • Every one of us either has a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. The first will not see much change. The second will. Simple as that. Which are you?
  • In leading any switch or change the challenge is to keep the elephant moving forward. Whereas the rider needs direction, the elephant needs motivation. Motivation comes from a feeling, knowledge isn't enough to motivate change. But motivation also comes from confidence. The elephant has to believe that it's capable of conquering the change. And there are two ways to build people's confidence so that they feel *big* relative to their challenge. You can shrink the change or you can grow your people -- or preferably...both.
  • Behavior is contagious! It doesn't matter if you are a teenager with piercings or mature adult that's been in an industry for many years. Behavior is contagious on a social, personal and business level.
  • This is major: we do not need to create new believers so much as we need to unleash the believers we already have. We must tell influencers that support our change that it's safe to get vocal now. Unleash them!
  • There are reformers and there are resistors. Both are functioning out of a certain identity. As odd as it sounds, for major change to happen, the reform minded people must come together and form what is known as an oppositional identity. They need space and language to form their new identity. We must get the reformers together. We call that free space. They need to coordinate outside the gaze of the resisters!
  • Counterintuitively, you've got to let your organization have an identity conflicts. For a time, at least, you've got to permit an us versus them struggle to take place. Of course this violates our kumbaya & unity instincts and the feeling that we all must be on the same page all the time. It's l How on earth can 100 people all be in agreement on the same thing regarding change in difficult moments? It just isn't possible. So we must turn to the reformers get them together in a safe place and let them talk. Then we will get clarity and momentum toward our switch.
  • Change is not an event, it is a process. And if we want to keep that process moving, we must find the bright spots and encourage people every little step of the way. Just like training a monkey to ride a skateboard or dolphin to jump through hoop, we take it a little at a time with lots of rewards along the way.
  • When change works, it tends to follow a pattern. The people who change have clear direction, ample motivation, and a supportive environment. In other words, when change works, it's because the rider, the elephant, and the path are all aligned in support of the switch!!

Jesus for President


Last week I fininshed reading "Jesus For President" by Shane Claiborne (website here). Honestly, I am not even going to attempt to review it here in any detail.  Too rich for that and too deep for that.  It would just provoke a bunch of (controversial) conversation among people who have not read the book....which would be far more fun happening between people who actually have read the book.


I just want to say that it is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. I wept and worshipped my King multiple times while reading it.  I would frequently have to lay it down and sit in silence and conviction for the flippancy with which I live my life. And I promise you that, for most of you, if you would read this book, you will get a picture of Jesus you have never had before.  And you will probably realize that your theology needs some serious attention and revision.


I especially really, really, really reccomend this book to American Christians who like Fox News. And also to anyone who posted gratitude toward veterans on their Facebook wall yesterday (and I am not saying that it was wrong if you did so). Which reminds me....I saw this on Facebook yesterday.  It deeply grieved and saddened me.  If you want to know why, read this book.