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Showing posts from June, 2012

Life Without A Net, Pt.1: Step Out On To The Edge

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On August 7, 1974 a man by the name of Phillipe Petit somehow strung a high wire in between the two towers of the World Trade Center, and then proceeded to spend the next 40 minutes dazzling New Yorkers with perhaps one of the greatest feats of high wire derring-do ever done.

Here is a quick video showing some photos of this, and it's set to soothing music:



This forty minute walk took six years to plan.

Petit made scale models of the towers, and even snuck into the life size towers several times while they were being built in order to observe security.  Once, he even disguised himself as a contractor to gain access.  The 450-pound cable Petit walked on between the towers had to be gradually strung after Petit and his crew shot a line across with a bow and area to a crew on the other side.

The New York City Transit Authority police force was called in to arrest Petit, who mocked them by jumping and dancing on the wire while they watched helplessly.  Finally, it started to rain, …

Overcoming The Resistance: Rationalization Bites

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Stephen Pressfield writes in the War of Art that "Rationalization is Resistance's spin doctor."

It's true.  Whenever the opportunity presents itself for us to fulfill our calling, to seek the higher purpose, to make our art to write that novel...

We rationalize a million different reasons why it won't work, we can't start, we have other, more important things to do.

And sometimes these reasons seem so valid and on point.

This week I experienced a bit of that rationalization.  I am working on my doctoral degree, which means that twice a year I go into learning/paper writing/going to school mode.  It means that I am away from home for two weeks at a time in June and then again in January.  It means that I will be reading  a ton of books and doing assignments before I go, and then reading a ton of books and writing a paper or three after I get back.

And the further I get into the process, the harder it has been to maintain it.

This week the refrigerator bro…

"Take & Eat---And Be Changed" - Thoughts On The Eucharist

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This Sunday I am preaching the final sermon of the series that I've been preaching for the month of June entitled, "Dusting Off Old Stuff."  This sermon series on essential Christian doctrines and why they matter has been an eye-opener for me.

And a reminder that I didn't remember that much from what I learned in seminary.

This is what happens when you drink from a fire hose, so to speak: you might get some water down your gullet, but all you remember is the fact that you got owned by the hose.

The topic of this sermon is The Lord's Supper.  Or Holy Communion.  Or the Eucharist.

Lots of Christians call it different things.  And celebrate it in different ways.
Which leads us to some questions that could use answering, at least in my mind. 


First, If we say that we are celebrating the Lord's Supper, why does it always seem as though we are acting like we are at a funeral?


Anyone else feel me on this?  Seriously, for most of my life I have experienced the Lor…

Overcoming The Resistance: Higher Callings

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I am reading and reflecting on the excellent book by Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art.I actually read the manifesto Do The Work by Pressfield some time ago, and many of the ideas within War of Art were being fleshed out there.  

Sadly, I think I read Pressfield's manifesto when I was on one of my "read a book a week" kicks, and didn't really absorb the straight up truths that he was laying down about creativity, art and the pursuit of calling.

Pressfield writes novels.  His most famous, The Legend of Bagger Vance was made into a movie.  His most recent novel was about the battle of Thermopylae.

Pressfield speaks a great deal about what he calls Resistance--that which keeps us from pursuing our true calling, being our true selves, producing the art that we were born to produce.

He offers a list of the activities, the callings, the art that most commonly cause Resistance to rear it's ugly head.  See if you can find one that resonates with you in this list, and…

Dalai Lama, Cab Rides and Dar: A Most Serene & Disturbing Dream

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I had this dream a few weeks ago, and I thought about writing it down.

And then that evil thing that author Stephen Pressfield calls the "Resistance" thwarted me, and I put it off.

But no longer.  This dream deserves to preserved in writing.  You'll see why in a moment.

I should also add that it probably deserves to be analyzed by someone who does that sort of thing.

At any rate, here is the dream in all of it's surreality.  

I am in a cab in a city, which I think is Chicago---at least that's what it feels like.  It's dark and the lights of the city are flashing by as we speed through the streets.  It looks like it has been raining, because the streets are sort of glistening like they do after it rains and the clouds move away.  


I look over at the seat next to me in the cab and I realize that I am sitting next to the Dalai Lama.  This seems odd to me even in the dream, but I can't think of anything to say.  The Dalai Lama smiles at me in that peacefu…

Working Smarter As A Church Leader: Optimization

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I recently read an article by Scott Belsky entitled "Why You Should Be Optimizing" on Work-Smart Strategies that was posted on the99percent.com.



[For clarification, the99percent.com is not connected in anyway to the Occupy movement---quite the contrary.  This site promotes creative, emergent leadership, art, culture, etc.]


Belsky identifies three areas of reflection regarding organizational optimization that leaders should take up.  I thought that I would reflect on Belsky's article (which you can find here) in the light of church leadership.  

1. Tinker With What Works
Belsky writes, 
"When you make an error, you are likely to persevere and keep trying until you get it right. But when you get it right – when you hit a home run – the human tendency is to rejoice and then move on to the next challenge. Despite research that encourages us to build on our strengths, we spend more time fixing what’s broken than optimizing what works. Why? Because any measure of success impa…

People Make Rules So They Don’t Have To Make Decisions | radical mentoring

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Are you a leader?  Are you in a position to make rules in your organization, church, business, etc.?

This is a great reminder that sometimes making rules is a way of avoiding having to make decisions, and put yourself out there as a leader.

Check out this blog post from a site that I follow called, "Radical Mentoring."

People Make Rules So They Don’t Have To Make Decisions | radical mentoring

"All My Sins Have Been Worshed Away!" Thoughts on Baptism

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Imagine...

It's the first century, and you are gathered with your family and some of your close friends in a grotto below the street of the town where you live.  You are a Christian, a follower of the Way of Jesus.  And you are about to be baptized.

The place you are gathered is a cistern to catch rain water.  Everyone seems nervous and solemn.  A man standing near the cistern, beckons each of you forward.  You take off the robe you are wearing and step naked into the water.  The man proclaims that you are "buried with Christ in his death," and that "you are raised to new life in his resurrection."  And he does this "In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

As you emerge you are given a white robe and the man anoints you liberally with oil.  Above you on the street, you can hear the sounds of your town waking up.  A rooster crows and a cart rumbles past.  If anyone on that street above knew you were here, they might very well try…

Circle of Life Moments & Other Stuff

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Yesterday I had the privilege of officiating at the wedding of a young man who was a member of my very first youth group.  Fourteen years ago, I became the part-time youth director of a very small Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, FL.  We had six kids in our group.

On my last day four years later, there were almost fifty kids in attendance.

All because of those original six kids---who are all grown up now, many of them with spouses and families of their own.

It was a fine wedding.  I stood there in the church where I preached my first sermon.  It smelled the same---a combination of old wood and hymnals mixed with something else.  Many of the same people were there, only older and grayer---just like me.

It was a circle of life moment.

As I drove around Tallahassee, which was my home for nearly five years, the memories of those early days in ministry came rushing back to me.  Every corner we turned reminded me of that time of my life.   The canopy roads shrouded in oak trees seem…

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together: Thoughts on Predestination

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When I was a kid and played sports, the only people who got trophies were the people who actually won something. Now everyone gets a trophy just for showing up.

 But despite the love-fest of indiscriminate trophy distribution at my children's awards ceremonies, everyone knows who the star on the team is.  Everyone knows which team beat all of the other teams for the entire season, even when the league officials fervently avoided keeping score.

 We may all want everyone to get a trophy and feel good about themselves, but we know that not everyone deserves one.  We also know that life isn't fair, and that sometimes even when we work hard, play hard, try hard and want something hard... it doesn't always go our way.

 I've noticed that the kids who tend to perform better than their peers at sports, scholastics, you name it, also tend to complain about the seeming lack of fairness inherent in the "Everyone's A Winner" approach. Because we all know that not …