Archive for May 2007

Walk by love

This is the simple exhortation of Titus. Why does this letter encourage us to walk in this way? Here’s a theory. When God’s Spirit shows up in a spectacular way in any situation – as he was doing in most of the New Testament churches Paul and company were giving counsel to, it was very easy to become caught up in the “business” of church and forget what this was all about. One good friend of mine, a business owner in the L.A. area who was a new believer at the time used to occasionally ask when things were getting out of control, “Where does Jesus fit into this situation?” What a profound centering question!

By the same token, we – you and I need to be reminded on a regular basis to do the simple thing Jesus has called us to do… “Walk by love.” Through thick and thin, no matter what, never forget to…

Petty-ness that divides us

I like Tom Petty and his band the Heartbreakers. Trivia – they got their big break when they were the back-up band for Dylan quite a few years ago. Dylan has a way of spotting talent – his intuition is rarely wrong – one of his many talents.

“Petty” is amazingly gifted and on top of all of that, from what I understand, the way he behaves is not “petty” (yes, pun is intended!).

If I could pray for one thing this week for Jesus’ Church (that will not be overcome ultimately by the forces of darkness), then I would pray that she could see the remarkable smallness of what she sees to be a big deal so often that is in fact not only not a big deal, but is in fact a miniscule deal.

To prove my point, when we as believers try to explain various events in Church history to not-yet believers – distant or recent to not-yet believers – and why various groups divided over issues – sometimes taking one another’s lives – they simply look back with a wide-eyed stare as they wait for THE line that will explain what the conflict was over. (Of course you’ve already explained it… “You see, group B wanted to baptize people by dunking, while group A wanted to sprinkle, so Group A drown many hundreds of the dunkers in Lake Geneva….”)

Please don’t roll your eyes with the, “That was a long time ago and those guys were out of control” look.

This summer the largest denomination in the U.S. – many of my great friends are a part of this group – will have their annual week-long meeting.

I dread this meeting every year for two reasons.

1. Headlines will be made as they always are during this meeting in the host city because of the horrible tips (often stiffing waiting personnel) and the high level of rudeness shown all around to all they come in contact with. Of course, this is not true for all, but when close to the majority live out such inappropriate behavior, the reputation spreads – especially to news sources. Watch for it in mid-summer. It will be prevalent.

2. This summer in particular the gathering will be a whiz bang. No drownings are apt to happen, but just short of that is likely to occur. Most onlookers agree that either three or four groups will emerge from this group instead of the one 35,000+ sized group now. Group A – the “we stand for the truth” group – “stand for the truth” means just that – stand but don’t apply nor challenge people to change nor preach much beyond right wing political stances and the “get saved” message week in and week out; Group B – the social action group – popularized by recent converts to this group ex-president Clinton and ex-president Carter. Truth be told, this group is by no means liberal theologically all things being equal, but are cast as such by Group A, not surprisingly; Group C – the Purpose Driven (or whatever they will be called) – highly evangelistic, “we want to relate to the culture” group – my guess is the highly gifted leaders will go with this group by and large (that is in the no brainer category); finally Group D is the much smaller set that will be no more than a few hundred emerging / experimental churches.

This particular group has been through thick and thin for many decades without a split as large as this one. This looks to be interesting – and perhaps in God’s timing change that is overdue.

Chasing off religious attitudes

Getting my long promised tattoo on my right upper arm of the Nazarene movement. I have spoken at many many Naz events over the past several years. My next tattoo after that will be the logo of the Salvation Army on my left upper arm. I have been speaking at their events quite frequently as well. This I am pretty sure of: I am likely the only person on the Planet with a tatt of either of those logos. Both of those groups frown (an understatement) upon getting tattoos, in general. Why get a tattoo of their logo? I love to chase off religious attitudes / bondages.

How do we equip?

How do we walk into the future equipped, with as few surprises as possible?

It’s not about merely reading. I have been a big advocate of reading over the years – I will always read, watch, listen. I am hooked on learning as I hope all I have an influence upon are.
Yet the ultimate learning experience is based upon Socratic methods of going forward.
Socrates taught in the following ways:

1. Small groups

2. People who followed him closely – he mentored them / he coached them regarding how to effectively live life.

3. In learning situations that were in “high gear” the learning took place by Socrates asking questions of the group.

4. With the larger group of up to a dozen, he would break the group down into 2s and 3s.

With this in mind, we too as teachers, coaches can draw a tremendous amount from the classic style of communicating with our understudies. No more talking heads.

With our soon to come UnConference in Charlotte, NC much of the above will be taking place.

Norwegian Independence Day!

Tomorrow is a hallowed day in human history – Norwegian Independence Day. Yes that’s right. In 1863 (approximately) in a peaceful disconnection, Norway gained their independence from their oppressors – Sweden.

Having lived in Norway for some years, I always feel a bit of a disconnect on May 17. I am ethnically Swedish, but I have lived in Norway, I love Norway and the Norwegian people deeply – Janie and I started a church in Oslo which has gone on to start numbers of other churches, blah blah. But boy those Swedes – they were blood thirsty in their day.

Norway is a lot like Mayberry. The king of Norway holds a symbolic post – kind of like Andy Griffith – his son is the prince – he is a lot like Barney – with no bullets – just starter blanks.

I see the future for Scandinavia – it is an “in your face” place spiritually. There is no air of false spirituality in any of the four countries of Scandinavia. They are a step or two beyond the UK actually but wealthier for the common person and a wider, larger view of life than the UK.

If authors out there want to figure out where things are headed spiritually – move to Scandinavia for six months – travel about, meet lots of people, drink coffee, rub shoulders and meet the future of the rest of the Planet now. I saw what is happening in the U.S. in the mid-seventies when living there.

Selling our house…

We are in high speed now and in need of selling our West Chester (near Cincinnati) house. Not only selling the place, but closing on it muy pronto. We were told once about a month ago that a couple were purchasing it and not to show it to anyone else. Proverbs says about Eleventy-seven times not to plan on things happening until they happen because God is the one who controls all the plans – even though it is wise to make plans.

Janie told me she didn’t think we would sell the house to the first ones we showed the place to – that isn’t the way God does things… I told her, “Uh, yeah but maybe we’re just catching a break on this one…”

“Yeah, that’s what you always say big guy.”

When I thought about it, that IS what I always say.

Man I hate it when Janie is right – which is approximately always.

Early Bird Registrations still available

Walking in the OutflowEarly Bird Registrations are still available for the North Carolina UnConference, Walking in the Outflow with Steve Sjogren.

Saying goodbye to friends

Sorry to say goodbye to friends.

I continue to thank God that I am alive at this point in history – with email especially. I have a smart phone so I am able to access my email at all times – plus I have a high speed wireless card that goes with me everywhere. I tend to redeem my time well most of the time.

At events like the one this week I ask EVERYONE for their email addy, their snail mail addy and their mobile.

My oh my, how different things are now from just a decade ago.

The great good news is…we are in amazing contact with one another.

I call it “pinging” – connecting with 25 or 30 people a day via email – some days over 50. (Thank you Mrs. Anderson for teaching me to type at Globe High School in Arizona – one of three actually worthwhile classes those four years!)

You can’t have too many friends…

Still at the California shindig. It is good to see old friends. It is good to re-connect with long-term friends that run, in some cases, numerous decades back.

The scripture comes to mind – “Do not move the ancient boundaries.” That verse has a truckload of implications – few of which have to do with actual maps, charts. The idea at hand is simply “Maintain relationships… Do what it takes to have lifelong relationships… You can’t have too many friends…”

In our day there are a tremendous number of forces at work to keep all of us involved in a lot of tail chasing which ends in each of us involved in only 1 to 3 years relationships. That’s for the birds! I went to a friend’s mom’s memorial a few days ago. At this service, my friend, a powerful communicator btw, asked his boyhood friends present to stand up. I thought he was referring to 2 or 3 guys. To my pleasant surprise there were over a dozen guys present at his mom’s memorial. I got a tear in my eye at this vote for long-term-ness. These guys get it. In fact he mentioned, the twelve of them get together several times a year – all of them in their mid-50s. THAT is worth reproducing.

Seeing old friends…

Am at a gathering of pastors that I occasionally connect with.
Funny thing is, when I go to these things I am usually commandeered by people who need coaching as I am on my way into the official meetings. I have a difficult time passing by an old friend who is going through it and could use a word of insight or counsel for 30 minutes.