Category Archives: Uncategorized

My panic attack and Simon Biles Olympic dreams.

Simon Biles is an amazing woman. She is powerful, charismatic, but still only human after all. After she pulled out of the event in the Olympics, much digital ink has been spilled. I grieve for her.

Last year, I had a car accident. A driver ran through a stop sign, came across to the far lane, and I couldn’t avoid him. He was convicted of “failure to yield.” His words were that he “looked down.” That’s a story for another day, including back pain for me, lessons learned about neck injuries and other things. It was a horrible accident, but fortunately my daughter and I lived to see another day.

What was unexpected was the panic attack. 2 months later, my family loaded up our van to move from Elk River Minnesota to Montreal, Canada where we would being serving our new ministry assignment. The stress of a move is always significant. This time, we would be pulling a trailer, moving a dog and cat, all during COVID. We were excited but also tired, emotional and overwhelmed.

Our day got a late start. I had documents that needed faxing and the locations weren’t open. Who needs a fax anyway? Heading out, we went through Wisconsin and started heading up towards the Upper Peninsula along the shores of Lake Michigan. We didn’t want to go through Chicago traffics so we decided to take the scenic route. If you’ve traveled with a family, you know trips take longer than expected. Night arrived long before we found our way to the hotel.

And I found myself driving deep in the woods of Wisconsin, pulling a trailer, responsible for my wife, my three wonderful kids, a dog and a cat. And suddenly, every side road became a danger. Every intersection hid an unseen vehicle that might fly out at any moment. My blood pressure is rising while writing this memory down. Trying not to concern the family, I didn’t tell them of my growing panic. I held on to the steering wheel and prayed for it to end. Mercifully it did, some 3 hours later.

I was shaken. I’m a grown man, have driven in some of the wildest cities in the world on both sides of the road. I’ve ridden my bike downtown through a European city (sorry mom, didn’t tell you.) I’ve bungee jumped, been charged by a gorilla and a herd of wild elephants. I have proof of all of these. But I never expected the panic attack. It was horrible, merciless, relentless and completely out of my control.

What is missed in the conversation is 2 things. What these gymnasts do is super dangerous. Who in their right mind does this kind of stuff? For those who say stuff like “if you can’t handle the heat,” well, I would invite you to try one of those flips. Just one. And i’ve been driving for 30 years with no accidents until I had one, an almost died. Ms. Biles gets it wrong and she is permanently injured, maybe dead.

The second is, what does it say about us as a nation that we lampoon someone because they fail our collective expectation. Strangely, we didn’t say that when she met the expectation.

I can understand, though I disagree, with political vitriol. But these kinds of attacks should remind us not of Simon Biles incredibly death defying, crazy skills. Rather, we should remember that there are things we still don’t understand about our minds and our emotions. And we should give grace. Because I sure needed it.

Book review applied to coaching.

Coaching questions drawn from Chris Voss 

Never Split the difference

As a former FBI kidnapping negotiator, Chris Voss’s book “Never Split the Difference” is a great resource for business. But as I listened to it, it dawned on me that many of his ideas are firmly grounded in the best practices of amazing coaches. Here are some quick takeaways.

1 Coaches can apply the Mirror principle.

Simply put, to keep someone talking and opening up, all you have to do is…

Use Voss’s Jedi trick. Repeat the last 2-3 words of what the client says as a question. This simple technique is amazingly effective at getting someone to go deeper into their thought pattern.

2, Coaches hear the client say… you’re right.

Coaches know when a client says “you’re right” that you have moved from coaching to mentoring or directing because the coach has contributed, not drawn out information, 

A good “that’s right” comes from a good summary, without interpretation, of the argument made by the client.

3. Coaches never ask why….

“Why?” is a roadmap to counseling, not coaching. Why is subjective and can be altered with time.

4. Coaches sit with silence…

Silence is the coaches awkward tool. Most people do not enjoy silence and will enter the gap with new information, often self-revelatory.

5. Coaches avoid ego traps… 

“What do you think? You’ve got more experience than me.” Questions like these present ego-traps (my words, not Voss’s) to the coach to be able to assert their knowledge, experience and competency. A good coach recognizes this as a detour from the main issues. 

1.     Bad question: explain to me

a.     Good questions.. explore that idea

2.     Bad question: why did you?

a.     Good question… tell the story about when you… 

Immoral AI, Ultron and the American presidential election.

As I sat and watched my home country turn upon itself in the last few months, my heart and my head have been, like many of you, asking “how could this happen?”

Many pundits have pointed digital fingers. Bad actors, fake news, real news called fake news, foreign influences, the list is long and varied. 

I would like to suggest the Algorithm. AI, or artificial intelligence.

As AI has progressed in computing power, conversations have begun among ethicists about what ethical and moral AI would look like. I would argue the conversation is functionally too late.

My kids are Avengers fans, and Age of Ultron is a disturbing look at when computer reach sentience (or come to life if you will), and then by choice do the math on humanity and decide to annihilate their creators. Perhaps this is in the future, but I would contend its already too late in other areas.

Ultron was the product of his coding.

The one thing our nation and our world can agree on is that we are polarized. We have become binary in our opinions, and we all live in the “echo chamber” of said opinions. Search on google and the results will return the echo chamber of your own opinion. Check your social feed, and find the echo chamber of your own beliefs. How did this happen? The AI, the algorithm, the code is written this way because on a moral assumption. That assumption is that people want to hear their own opionions and those who do hear their own opinions are more likely to purchase what advertisers are selling. Seems like a perverse logic, doesn’t it?

And we become more and more binary, black and white, us vs. them, survivalists. To the winners the spoils. To the losers, reparations and payback. Wait, didn’t they try that until WWI? Weren’t the seeds of WWII sown in the payback model of WW1? But I digress.

Should we be surprised? When building these supposedly all powerful algorithms, we coded for binary. That is how the actual physics of the machines work. On, off, on, off. A billion times a second. However, these are ultimately commercial enterprises, and  engineers put in lines of code that operate out of a system that seeks to maximize profits. Here is where I believe the immoral part came in. Systems that create echo chambers and view users not as consumers but rather the products to be sold, for, as Seth Godin so elaborately expands, we are the product, we are the data that is sold to the companies to whom we are the consumers. These systems are maximized for profit, not for the good of society. 

But a moral AI, a moral algorithm can take into account the need we have for diverse opinion. The need we have for humanizing the other side. A search can be customized not only to show favorite results, but unexpected. Or what if every google search not only revealed adds and search results, but non-profits doing good?

I am a deeply opinionated person. I have a strong worldview and an uncompromising faith in a few things. One of those beliefs is I am deeply convinced in the dignity of each person. You are far more complex than your single opinion on any given issue. Yet our world is being built not by informed opinions of elders who have walked for generations. Our world is not being shaped by considerate voices but rather technical giants who are still developing their moral compass as young people. Their funding? That comes from people who have already decided what they believe.

My kids are awesome but they simply do not have the reasoning skills to deduce the implications of their moral decisions. Does it make sense to have them coding our lives, turning us into lines of data to be sold across platforms to maximize the profits of media/marketing giants?

What then is the solution?

I would like to suggest coding for conscientious culture creation. What does that mean? That those who write the algorithms that run our lives be given mentors, elders, and coaches. They be given lessons on the impact of their coding on the daily lives of the data creators, their moms, their dads, their families.  Young adults have the malleability to learn the code and write the future. Who could have helped them deduce that their decisions 10 years ago about how to answer searches and find friends would get us here?

Because the future is here, and its’ very binary. If our future is going to be more nuanced, we need to code for it. 

Why I turned off comments on my blog

I hadn’t blogged in a few weeks, when I had an idea and opened my WordPress interface to post my new thoughts. Low and behold, a whole slew of new comments were waiting for approval. Excitement surged until I saw that most of them were from one person. They all started fairly amicably enough, the commenter used my first name. But I noticed a pattern after 2 of them. They were all negative. Nit picking. Nuance seeking.

If you read any kind of thought blog or opinion blog, or list blog, you agree with some, hate some, and forget 99% of what you read. The best you can hope for is “interesting thoughts.”

But I when I recently read “ignore all negative comments” I wondered, was that too far? Was I being too thin skinned? But I realized that my feed, my blog, my comments are mine.  I have enough acquaintances and family that can help correct me. Constructive criticism almost never is. Its merely destructive. Criticism takes a piggy back ride on the work and efforts of others. It should only be received in the context of relationship from someone who is alongside in the trenches, trying to make the world a better place.

Not someone who trolls your blog to tell you how wrong you are.

So turn off the comments. Delete them. If the person really wants to give you constructive feedback, they’ll call you or email you personally.

Oh wait, they can’t because they don’t have either of those.

How to know if you are adulting

I had never heard of “adulting” until recently. The phraseology is interesting, and I was to take it one more step.

As an immature teenager, I drove my sister crazy, annoying her about who was more mature. Proving, in hindsight, that I was less mature than my younger sibling. Maybe. That’s still up for debate.

Having spent the last 25 years “growing up,” becoming a father, and working with young adults, here is how I would answer my 16 year old self.

OK, so you think you are mature. I think if you can answer these questions with a yes, you are on your way to adulting in a healthy way.

  1. Do you Do without being asked?

My kids have chores. It’s a constant uphill battle to get dishes put away, the table cleared and the carpets vacuumed. They will do them. One now does without being asked. The other fights it Every. Single. Day.

I remember once trying to do an exercise with my staff around this idea. I asked them to look around the room and tell me what they sae. Confused, they mentioned the obvious: large furniture items, the lights, simple things. None of them mentioned the little pieces of paper I saw on the floor that needs to be picked up, the carpet that was askew, and a whole list of things I saw that needed to be done to make the room ready to receive guests. Admittedly, I had not prepared them for the task, so the results were not what they might have been.

Asking for help isn’t a sign of immaturity. Having to be told how to help constantly is. The mature see and do without being asked.

  1. Do you act in the face of injustice?

Dar Es Salaam Tanzania used to have this great little ice cream shop at a place called the Slipway. Lines were always long. One day, my wife was calmly standing in line behind a number of African ladies, when a woman from another ethnicity that sometimes looks down on locals, arrogantly cut in line. The African ladies were used to this, but my wife was having none of it. Posting on facebook, wearing a shirt, doing a run, those are great. But faced with injustice, my wife let this lady know in no uncertain terms that her arrogance and superior attitude was not acceptable.  When I heard of it, my conflict avoidance personality cringed. The more I think about it, the more proud I am of her. She didn’t post about it on facebook, she confronted the lady. sadly, the store owner didn’t stand with her. The other women in line though, I hope they maybe felt a little more dignity that day.

The mature don’t make excuses for injustice. They act. Racism doesn’t go away with good wishes. Mysogyny, bigotry, and the other ills of society must be engaged and confronted.

  1. Do you do for rewards or do you do from responsibility?

For a brief time, I did this thing called “Daddy Bucks” with my kids. It was a reward system where I paid them for doing tasks I wanted done. Picking up dog poop, vacuuming the stairs. Soon, nothing got done without a request for “Daddy bucks” or the question of “how much will you pay me?” My wife wisely shut the system down.

The mature don’t do things for rewards. They see their responsibility in the greater picture, either of a family, towards society, or many other different areas. And they respond. Rewards are nice but not necessary. No one would work for no money, so don’t take this the wrong way. (Work without reward is slavery and that’s evil.) But helping with chores around the house is not work, it’s part of being in a family.

Maturity receives generosity without shame

This what what my grandfather received for serving, for being injured in WWII. He did not do it for the reward.

My grandfather fought in WWII. My father has his flag in his office, a reminder of the lifelong cost he paid when he was injured by a landmine. The soldiers who went and died, fought not because they would be rewarded but because they felt a responsibility to their nation and to the future of their children. The mature respond out of responsibility, not rewards.

  1. Do you pay, or look for others to pay?

In 2004, I served under a friend at a University work in Nairobi Kenya. Several years later, I spent a little time in town. One of the young men who worked for the organization, making a starting salary, asked if he could take me to breakfast. We sat at Java house beside the United Nations complex and talked about life. To my surprise, Eric insisted on paying. At that point, I knew Eric was going to do well in life. He valued our time together enough to pay.

I love buying breakfast or lunch for young people and investing in them. That’s not my point. The point is that some things are worth investing your money into. 

maturity engages generosity as well as responsibility. 

I know 40 year olds who try to angle to get their parents to pay for small stuff. Listen, I’m as cheap as the next guy, but when I can, I want to pay. Maybe it’s a pride thing.

I have to say this too. I’ve had many seasons in life where I couldn’t pay and others did for me. Once, a friend paid for my broken transmission. Another time, a friend paid for my fishing trip. I’ve had more than one vehicle given to me over the years by generous friends. Needing help is not a reason to feel shame. Maturity receives generosity without shame. Maturity also engages generosity and responsibility.

That’s my quick list. What are some of the things you see as true signs of Healthy Adulting?

18 things and counting churches can do to love and serve their community during Covid-10.

My friend Tom is a recently approved Global worker. He sold his marketing firm to follow God. He and his wife will be helping all those using Business  around the world. I asked him to put together some thoughts from his marketing/background on what churches could do during this time. Some of these, most are doing. Some are super interesting. Some take money. Some don’t. If you want more, you can contact him me and I’ll put you in touch. 
Like most newly approved people, he is sort of on hold for now.
Here we go.
Ideas for Churches to Engage Their Community & Congregation During COVID-19
  1. Zoom/Conference Call/youtube/facebook live recorded Bible Studies so that people continue to learn (especially while they may have more time and self-quarantining.) Dig deep into the scriptures. Take the time you don’t normally have to do an in depth Bible study.
  2. Call the older people in your church and make sure they understand the HOW TO of connecting with technology. Can they find your live feed? Do they understand how to access the resources you are providing? Connect them with a teenager to be their “technology buddy.”
  3. Individually call everyone in your congregation or has dropped a kid off at your church (assuming they need to register their name, phone, address, etc. to be in childcare). See how they are doing and how you can pray for them. Invite them to join your social media, youtube, zoom calls, etc.
  4. Contact local nursing homes/hospitals/care facilities to see if you may speak to those who are living there. They likely have limited interaction with others there and their family because many of them are locked down due to many of them being high risk. A call, encouragement and prayer may go a long way. See when you can call them again to pray with them.
  5. Offer to pick up groceries or other needs for people who cannot leave their homes. Have those individuals pay you the cost of the groceries/needs. This could be offered to families staying at home, at-risk individuals,
  6. Use your social media channels to share ideas of what those you speak with are using to keep busy, sane, useful while in this season. Maybe have a games/puzzle exchange – drop off and pick up at the church, sidewalk chalk to help keep the kids active,
  7. Utilize facebook ads to reach people who may be in need in your local community. Invite them to request help from your church, join in on zoom calls/conference calls/video/social media/etc. So that they received words of encouragement and don’t feel alone.
  8. Idea sharing of what people are doing to entertain their kids. Simple games, entertainment, shows, arts and crafts, getting outside, etc. Post those ideas on your social media or record videos with those ideas – give credit to those who submitted the ideas. Add the ideas to your website, link from social media to that page. If more advanced, show video or still pictures of those ideas in practice. Additional opportunity, have designs on paper that people can cut out with the words of “thank you” “you rock!” “you are not alone” “in this together” and other encouraging words. You can also include the ability for your church name to be cut-out and chalked.
  9. Hear and share how people are seeing God move, answers to prayers. Give people encouragement that in what may feel overwhelming, how is God moving and showing himself as greater than this (He’s greater than all things).
  10. Let the community and your congregants share with you via social media or text messaging or email their prayer needs. Maybe even offer up corporate prayer time for others that want to join you on a conference call to pray over the requests for the day(s).
  11. Drive by– parking lot prayers– sidewalk visitation (depending on stay at home or social distrancing orders locally)
Visit people (not going inside due to social distancing) to pray with them and ask for prayer/bring things they may need. More people are home and actually home than usual. Might be a good way to get some personal face-to-face time with your congregation.
  1. Use your congregation leadership to help reach out to people. Focus on empowering leaderhsip, not on doing the ministry. BE Ephesians 5. There’s no need to do all of this yourself. Use your team. If you want to build your team, now is a great time to ask people to step up to help with some of these things. Engaged congregations are happier congregations and more impactful. They also tend to give and tithe more.
  2. Are there homeless, single parents or others around town who may need help? Talk to the local police/politicians/fire/ambulance/hospitals to see what you can do or supplies that can be provided. Food delivery services are becoming very busy (think Meals on Wheels). If supplies are needed and your congregation can help, help them out. You could also provide a meal to the fire/nurses/drs/etc. as a way to thank them for their work.
  3. Use facebook ads or door to door flyers to drop on people’s doors asking them if/how they need help or prayer and how to reach you or someone at the church. Maybe park a car with a sign that if someone needs help or prayer to contact you if you don’t want to go door to door.
  4. Encourage and support local businesses so they can continue to have business/revenue. Maybe even have a way for people to put in orders and the church can deliver those meals to people in the congregation or in need.
  5. If there are people who are truly at risk of losing their homes, apartments, etc. because of the job shut down, raising funds to help those people through or decreasing other costs (gift cards, food, electric/gas bills, etc.).
  6. Do you have preferred children’s programming (youtube channels, large church websites, etc.) you like that you can recommend to parents so that they aren’t having their kids watch movies or TV. If someone doesn’t have the internet but has Veggie Tales DVDs/VHS they are willing to let others use, that may be a great way to share.
  7. Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute has prepared an excellent strategic guide: “Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Step-by-Step, Research-Informed and Faith-Based Planning Manual.” It’s a good resource beyond what is written here.
  8. Post your recorded sermons online (facebook, youtube, etc.) online so that people can binge watch your sermons/teachings. If you don’t have them, offer up other sermons you like to help people stay engaged and encouraged. Or record some of your past sermons and post them online.
  9. Send a note/postcard/letter to your congregation. Mail can be very nice to get when you are stuck inside. Encourage them. Thank them for being part of the church. Let them know how they can engage and be more engaged.
  10. Post songs/youtube videos of songs that encourage and strengthen you. Let them watch and respond to the song via social media.
  11. Encourage people to get out for walks and exercise. Share what they saw/heard while out there.
  12. Provide daily, weekly prayer lists for what people can be praying for – i.e. local, state, national leadership, healing for people, to reach the lost, missions efforts, businesses to stay in business, rain and sun for farms, nurses, doctors, police, teachers, kids in schools, etc. If you can name specific people in the community, add those names to the prayer list. Include people in the congregation for prayer time – just that you are praying for them (not specific prayer needs unless they asked for them and want you to share.
  13. Have children of your congregation visit other congregates and write chalk messages on their driveways/sidewalks with encouraging words. This can also be done for many other people in the neighborhoods.
  14. Design a “Thank you!” that people can put in their windows to thank those driving by, their postal carrier, etc. Add your church logo to the design.
  15. Have a “hang out” time, with coffee or tea. Do an open “Zoom” or Google Hangout room, and tell people that the leaders will be there. Have it a “come and go” situation.
  16. Daily competitions: do a daily art challenge, clothing design, short story competition? run all sorts of daily competitions.
  17. Memories of our elders: ask the older people in your church to share their best testimony. They can call it in to the church, or post it on facebook.
  18. Neighborhood “bear hunt” for kids. People can put teddy bears in their windows and as people go for walks with kids they can be doing a bear hunt to keep the kids engaged and wanting to walk/bike further. It’s a reason to get out if people are going for walks/exercise.
  19. Have staff members call not just adult members but talk to the children. Sunday school teachers call their kids, youth workers call young people.

Thanks Tom!

What are other things you are seeing people do?

5 ways to know you are a digital addict and how to escape..

How to know if you are addicted to social media, and how to break the cycle.

I might be addicted. You also are most likely addicted. The question is not if, but “at what level” are we are addicted.

No I don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Opioids, nope. My, and most likely your addiction, is to social media and/or digital entertainment –netflix, hulu, etc. Particularly on our phones.

Questions to ask yourself to determine if you are addicted.

  1. When I’m bored, do I check my “insert preferred digital media.”
  2. When I’m relaxing, do I check my “insert preferred digital media.”
  3. When I see something I want to remember, do I share to …
  4. When I am offended do I…
  5. When I get distracted, is it by…

Researcher Simon Sinek singles out millenials in this interview as having digital addictions to social media. It’s worth your time. But I think Sinek misses the bigger picture. Grandmas and grandpas are addicted. Middle aged soccer moms.

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, …, and a dysfunctional emotional response.

As a society, we are increasingly turning to digital consumption to unwind, to relax. Similar to the alcoholic who wants “just one drink,” we’ll “just pop on” to FB, just watch “one show” on Netflix. Three hours later, well, it’s 1 am, and you gotta get up at 5:45.

From the American Society of Addiction Medicine

Short Definition of Addiction:

“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.” (http://www.asam.org/quality-practice/definition-of-addiction)

I current teach a couple classes at North Central University. Each semester, students in my Cultural Anthropology class write a paper reflecting on NCU culture as though they were an alien. One common theme runs throughout almost 200 papers now. 200 papers. 1 theme.

Sadness. Sadness at their connection to their digital lives. Particularly to this slavery to smart phones.

Charles Duhigg wrote an important book called “The Power of Habit” in which he identifies the habit loop. To break our addictions, we have to identify this loop, and break it. The loop is simple.

 

CUE>Habit> REWARD.

In the case of media, the cue might be dead space in our lives. Waiting in line. Waiting at the Red light. CUE.

HABIT> Reach for the phone.

Sadness. Sadness at their connection to their digital lives. 

Identifying the reward is much more subtle.

According to Sinek, the reward is the little shot of dopamine we might get from a “like” or a “comment.” Its why text messages are more rewarding if we have a sound associated with them. Ding… little shot of Dopamine.

Dopamine is the highly addictive feel good chemical release by our brain.

CUE-HABIT-REWARD

How do we then change the cycle?

  1. Practice self disciple. I know it sounds easy, but self discipline means putting the phone out of reach in the car. Practice. Work at it. Daily. Embrace the idea as though you were joining a self help group, or a sports team. Practice, practice, practice.
  2. Replace your single stop shop. Our phones have now become our complete life assistants. GPS, media player, movies on the go, alarm clocks and communication devices. How do you get out of the dependance on all that? You may need to pull out that old GPS. You may need to pull out the old iPod and load it with music. Or even unbox those old CDs. Prepare ahead of time to cut our need for the phone.
  3. Struggle. Character is formed through struggle. There is no other way. Resisting the urge will grow the muscle… if…
  4. Rewire the CUE-HABIT-REWARD cycle. Replace the habit with another. For example, boredom in line. That’s the cue. New habit- mindful breathing. Practice intentional deep breathing. Reward- infusion of long lasting health beneficial oxygen.

We are creatures of habit. We want to systematize our lives. But we want to be creatures of habit, not addition.

What are some of your suggestions for breaking the cycle?

Post feedback on our FB page.

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Adventures in Home Ownership: Part 1 Weeds

I recently bought my first house. Not on purpose, mind you. How is that even possible? Well, when looking for housing in the Twin Cities area, I discovered that renting was much more expensive than a mortgage payment. With some creative help from a mortgage guy, and after 3 weeks of unsuccessfully trying to find a place to rent, we purchased a home.

Up until now, we’ve always rented. I’ve tried, as best we can, to “leave it better than you found it.” The reality though, is that renting doesn’t carry the same intensity. Weeding for example. At my last rental home, I spent some time pulling weeds. I even sprayed the lawn. But prior tenants had left us far behind in the proverbial race. I left it better than I found it, but that still wasn’t great.

The old saying goes “Nothing works in a house except the owner.”

Now, my battle with weeds is daily. I am determined that those silly dandelions will not overcome my fescue. Not on my watch. The battle is a daily affair.

I wonder how many people want to rent their faith? Responsibility for maintenance falls to God or at best, the local church. My kid’s faith? Send them to Sunday school or camp once a year. That will take care of it, right? The Great Commission, reaching those who’ve never heard of Jesus with his message and his love? That’s for pastors and paid staff. And “daily working out you faith with fear and trembling,” well, who can blame me? I’m just human right?

No, actually the scriptures teach us that we are partakers in the divine. We are human, but we have the Spirit of God living within us. We have access to eternity and the attentive ear of the Eternal One.

The old saying goes “Nothing works in a house except the owner.”
May that be true of my faith as well.

When I think of owning, it brings a smile because I’m investing in something that over years will be uniquely my family’s. Weeding isn’t because I don’t own the home. Weeding is because of the type of home I want to own. In the same way, works don’t determine our salvation, works clarify and beautify the work that Christ has already done.

Weeding like an owner.

Time to celebrate the failing of another Mega-church pastor.

Doggone it, I want to cry.

Another one bites the dust.

Pastor Perry Noble had to step down from New Spring church.

The pundits are out in full force.

“I told you so.” “Mega-church pastors are evil.” Similar sentiments echo every single time one of the good guys goes down.

And to me, they are good guys. Guys like me who started a church in a living room. Guys like me who saw success and growth. Guys like me, guys better than me. Their success was much larger than mine. Brothers. Pastors.

None of them have gone down for the obvious big no-no. Sexual sin. Or money. The most recent one was alcohol. But it wasn’t really alcohol. It was pride. He wouldn’t submit to rebuke.

It’s always pride.

And I want to cry.

Now, lest you fall in the camp of “mega= non-biblical” consider that Peter, James, and Timothy, yeah, the Biblical Peter, James and Timothy, they pastored mega-churches. Certainly they were not organized the way our current churches are, but the books of Acts, especially early chapters, show the complexity of leading a large church.

Pastors of churches large and small throughout history have both failed and succeeded. But I’m rooting for everyone. Everyone to finish strong. I want you to finish strong. I want your business to succeed. I want your classroom to be life changing. I want your marriage to succeed.

Sometimes I’m sad that I had to step aside from a booming church because of health issues for my son. And sometimes I’m grateful. I don’t know if I would have escaped the pride trap. I think I might already have been failing that test. The severe mercy of the Lord protected me. Graham Cooke once said something to the effect of “Your gifting will take you where your character can’t hold you.” Too true.

My leader at the time I was in Tanzania several times told me, “Charles, be careful. Pull the plug before I have to pull it.” Having that kind of leadership may seem overbearing. I see it as protection.

Dang it Perry. I hurt for you.
Welcome to the pain of anonymity. The release of oppressive responsibility. And the Journey back to falling in love with Jesus.

Everyone now believes you when you say you aren’t perfect. I just wish more of those who claim to be your family wouldn’t be so happy.

Lord, save our leaders.