Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Almost Walking

Hannah is now walking when we hold her hand! A big credit goes to playmate Charlie, 6 weeks her elder who started walking circa 11 months, for showing her the ropes. Seriously, she's the most motivated around him...she wants to join the fast moving fun but her army crawl just ain't cuttin' it anymore!

Will she walk by her birthday on October 15th? If so, we gots to get moving on toddler proofing the house!

By the way, subject for discussion. When do babies stop being babies? Virginia suggests that babies crawl; toddlers "toddle". So is that the line? Sounds reasonable to me - so I guess we'll enjoy our baby for a few weeks before she graduates to Toddler U!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

An Opportunity: Hannah and Daddy Day 5

First a picture: not flattering (this was in the morning and it was still dark and the flash got to her). This her new trick, crawl around with the bottle clenched in the teeth. Talent.

Our daughter is amazing! First, she performed brilliantly at Kids Church, not fussing when I dropped her off and staying chill for the next hour and a half. After church we went to the Haynes and had lunch with them and the Edmondsons. Hannah was awesome getting passed around and playing with the 2 year olds and getting fed by not me.

Speaking of lunch it was pure, bacon greizz scrumpt. I made the famous Granddaddy King pancake batter before and brought it over. Then Matt cooked everything else in bacon greizz. How could that not be delicious?

So Hannah slept for two hours, then I got her up to watch the Falcons beat the Saints in OT. Till the Bills start winning she'll have to watch ATL.

Since it went to over time we didn't leave till 4:30. I had to be at church at 6:30 so instead going home and back again I stopped at a Andrew and Elsie's (who happen to have NFL Sunday Ticket) to chill while he watched Seattle. I had a banana and 1/4 avacado but no knife (well, I didn't feel like walking from the man cave to the kitchen to get one) so I just peeled the nanner and held it up. The girl ate the whole thing (well I helped with two bites)! It was hilarious watching her mush down the entire nanner. So we follow suit with the avacado. Who needs finger foods when they can just be mouth foods?

We got to church and I held her for the first 30 mins until putting her down at 7. To keep her entertained I let her empty my wallet...numerous times. She loves pulling out the credit cards...yikes.

Comment of the night (from good friend Jason Jacobs): "Your daughter is so calming to watch. Watching her is like watching an aquarium or something." I'll take that as a compliment?!

Her only fussy moment came when we finally got home in a substantial rain shower. (Actually, it's mercifully been raining all day here...our first rain in weeks. And tomorrow the high is the 70's! Funny, how I look to that as "cool weather". It hasn't been that cool since I lived in NH!)

So she got rained on and fussed. But this actually provided a neat moment as I got to rock her to sleep. We don't actually do this much because she's such a great sleeper and typically goes right down. But this was a nice cap to our five days together. There's something indescribably sublime about your little girl snuggling safe on your chest, finally closing her eyes and breathing deeply and calmly. Lord thanks for these days and what you've taught me. Bless Hannah and bring momma home safely...


Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Opportunity: Hannah and Daddy Day 4

Four days and I haven't come to meltdown! In fact I've been holding up great. In fact I wouldn't even say "holding up" - things are great and I have nothing to complain about. I heard it said that while you can't control circumstances, one thing you can choose is attitude. It's amazing what a decision for a new perspective can do, in my case a decision to stop the self-pity and to find the opportunity. So Lord, thanks for the opportunity and thanks for giving the strength to choose a good attitude.

Notable events from the day:
  • Early run
  • New Trick: dive bomb out the front of the stroller on walks! We've been saying for a few weeks that we need to actually start using the seatbelt on the stroller as Hannah has found it it fun to stand up and even climb the sun shade while on a walk. I'm torn because usually she's not this adventurous. What's the deal? In the house she give a pathetic pout when I try to help her walk by only offering one hand, but on walk she'll stand just about straight up in a moving stroller! Go figure. So today she decided to peak over the front bar and twice I had to grab her by the booty and yank her back. So maybe it's time to stop this? At least I have some "daddy saved you life stories...so now you have to listen to my life advice" ammunition for the teenage years. Use it wisely...
  • Made myself a pizza for lunch while feeding Hannah. I even impressed myself, rolling out the dough, dumping some sweet tater on her tray, back to the dough, now back to me. It was scrumpt and I ate half of it then and holstered just shy of finishing the rest for dinner.
  • Got some actual school work in, reading a chapter and doing a 'little' writing...while watching Georgia Tech get hosed by NC State. ESPN3.com - dangerous.
  • She got clingy! We say lots of different folks on our walks today and while visiting friends. Upon first greeting she'd cry till I held her. At first it feels nice to be needed...but after 20 minutes it's like, "girl please, am I leftovers and you're saran wrap"? just made that up
  • Got to watch some football with Charles and Rikki and Charlie who is 6 weeks ahead of Hannah and walking. Even here Hannah was a little klingon. But she did settle in eventually for some pics...
  • John Pylant and Sioarse stopped by as he's home with her for the weekend. She was clingy too...so us two dads sat on the floor while our daughters would exchange glances and then sheepishly burrow into us. It fascinating to witness shame of sorts at such a young age...
  • She stuffed her face at dinner getting some egg yolk, sweet taters, nanners, black beans, mixed veggies and 8 oz of vintage June frozen mommy milk.
  • I cleaned and laundried and watched football...not bad...the house is actually feeling sustainable and I got to rest the ol' brain.
  • Oh ya - we skyped with Denton and Virginia. Hilarious - Hannah was real confused, sitting with a stunned look on her face trying to figure out mommy in 2d. Come home to us mommy! We love you and miss you!

An Opportunity: Hannah and Daddy Day 3

Today was one of those days that got filled up by all the little things. We ran in the morning and then I dropped Hannah at "daddy's day out." (Usually that's when I get my brain time - 4 hours to myself! I get this twice a week now, it's wild how I never appreciated my own personal brain time until Hannah. I don't know how single mom's do it...). Anyway I had to take my car to get the trunk latch fixed and then checked in with a friend who has been trying to get a hole of us to raise support for his job. All this driving, waiting for cars, and chatting just eats up a day so by the end of 4 hours I had read ten pages for class.

A fun day with Hannah though. One, she finally pooped! She hadn't laid an egg since momma left...and the one she left was one of those rock hard, clean break, numbers that just plop off into the toilet. Didn't see myself writing that sentence one year ago! Ya. So. After that I felt the need for social interaction and the exchange of complete sentences with peers. This proved beneficial to Hannah's walking of all things...

So Hannah is real cautious. She'll walk all over the house when we hold her hands but as soon as we take one off to try and "wean" her to walking, she sits right down. She's actually digressed in the ability to stand. She somehow learned to stand be learn to sit down. So we'd let go of her hands and she'd have to just sway there until we caught her because she didn't realize that knees could bend! Now that she's figured it out, she just sits down when we let go.

Anyway, I visited neighborhood friends Charles and Rikki and their son Charlie who is 6 weeks older than Hannah and walking. Over their she got walking envy and tried chasing him with me only holding one hand! She's never done this before so I encouraged it. She especially loves his cozy coup...hipe that's not indicative of her running after studs with flashy cars...

so that was fun. Nothing specially to report on food...she continues to play the tease-daddy game with the good food while giving me the beans! And tonight she went down well without the screaming...awesome!

Today's picture comes from daddy's day out. I left the camera with Miss Madeline to document her day. This is a nice artful shot of Hannah with her "magic blankie" courtesy of Mary Gosset.

Ok - g'night!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Opportunity: Hannah and Daddy Day 2

Our first full day together without mommy. She did great this morning, and I did great because my alarm was off! so instead of making up at 6, I woke to her "hungry fusses" at 7. I was super confused though because I was waiting for the alarm thinking, "girl, why you cryin' at 5 in the mornin?" Then I saw the time and got her fed...

So we played until our walk which took us to the park:
After swingin' she got her snack and a nap. We got in our run after the nap before eating a scrumpt lunch of peaches, avocado, and sweet tater. I even snuck in a little tofurkey.

After the nap she had a fairly fussy afternoon so we headed to church early for kinship where we resumed our new eating game. She feeds me! But often, at the last second, she'll pull the food out of my mouth and eat it herself. I mean dang. So she's gotten even cleverer - she'll feed me the black beans, but with the peaches and cheese? Nuh uh, she pulls those out of my mouth and horfs em down herself.

Kinship was great - she went down well and transitioned well to the carseat. At home though she wouldn't sleep and stood SCREAMING in the crib. I held her, I changed her, I gave her hot water, I sang! Nothing, only pathetic screams when I put her back. So I committed a cardinal sin of baby books, I gave her the bottle and left the room...she's been quiet for over an hour!

The attitude has been great so if you've been praying for me, thanks so much. I'm getting a lot done for school and even had time to make zucchini bread last night...
I am officially domesticated. And yes, it was delish.

Well, gots to sleep. She'll be dropped of at "daddy's day out" tomorrow so I'll get 4 straight hours of having my brain to myself! Whooo!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Opportunity: Hannah and Daddy Day 1

So it seemed terrifying at first: 5 days on my own with my 11 month old daughter! Today Virginia left for an Ortho conference in Colorado Springs and will be there Wednesday (today) through Sunday night late. Yikes! I admit I haven't had the best attitude about the prospect of these five days leading up to it. Reasons to complain: I'm solely in charge - Virginia usually wakes her up and also cares for after five till bed time; Virginia usually makes food for her, now that's me; when I go outside to change up the scenery it crazy hot because this is Augusta, GA - a place so far behind the times that it hasn't discovered seasons yet; blah blah blah.

So I realized that this pity party was both getting me down and stressing Virginia out and making her feel guilty. So by God's grace I'd like to take the opportunity to declare this an opportunity! Five days with my daughter alone - there are many out there who would love this chance. It hit home for me when I had lunch with a friend yesterday who lost his daughter to a stillborn birth. Have I become so ungrateful? So God, feel me with an attitude of gratitude. (wow, that flow was not intended!)

Here were today's activities...

11-12 Lunch: black beans, string cheese, green beans (1/3 jar), pears (1/2 jar) formula. Ate it all!

12:30 -2 Nap: woke up a little early so we played.

Snack: chugged 6 oz

2:30 - 4:30 Playtime: stayed in Hannah's room and played with blocks and daddy's phone. Self entertained while daddy read theology!

4:30-5:15 Nap!

5:30-6 Run! she's trying to make a call...
6-6:30 Dinner: hard boiled egg yoke, tofurkey, green beans (1/3 jar), black beans, banana, cheese, 5 oz., mixed veggies.

We also discovered a new game. Originally Hannah started holding out pieces of corn, ostensibly for me to eat! So I swooped in, ate it from her hand, and she laughed. Then she changed it up on me and gave a glimpse of the future perhaps...she held out the corn like before, had it all the way in my mouth, then pulled it back at the last second and ate it herself! Clever girl.

6:30~7 Wind down: check out this multitasker! just like her momma...

So now it's time to get working on those papers. I was blessed to have this day...thanks Hannah!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cozy Coup!

She looks such a natural behind the wheel doesn't she? I mean, one hand?! What a cutie eh? She's gonna be expensive...and totally worth it!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Redemption Catalyst

I was greatly encouraged recently by a friend involved with a campus ministry at MCG. He related the stories of two young men who came to faith through their bible study and are living radically transformed lives. I love these redemption stories...to be part of this sort of thing brings so much life...it's what I love about the Christian faith! And one need not be a vocational minister to experience this...

The phrase that kept coming to mind was "Redemption Catalyst." This should be the job description of every Christian! We are not the source of this redemption, but we are often privileged to be used in such a role. Are we making ourselves available? Here are some verses that help me think about this...

Supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to him as the LORD your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.
~ Deut. 15:14 - 15

This passage refers to the Israelites setting their slaves free on a regular basis. Notice that it is a practice of passing on redemption. Romans shows just how we have been redeemed...

...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
~ Rom. 3:24

Since all who believe have this redemption freely and liberally given, so we should freely and liberally give. In doing so we multiply the redemption given to us, in a sense. Let us not forget that before Christ we have all been slaves to sin, in need of a redeemer. And with that redemption came something incredible...

He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.’
~ Job 33:28

Having freely received the joy of living in the "light", how can we help but want other to experience this as well? Lord, help us identify what is "the best of our flock and winepress." Help us make the time to do this, and the courage to share of it. Let us be redemption catalysts and share in Your joy as more are brought into the light.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kinship Job Description: Worship Leader

• Practice Biblical Self-Leadership
⁃ Abides daily in praise, prayer, and scripture
⁃ Leads family first
⁃ Be continuing student of guitar and worship music

• Preparation
⁃ Get theme from Group or Worship Shepherd at least one week before kinship
⁃ Be wise about song selection. New songs should be easy to follow and learn. A good idea is to discuss trying a new song with the Worship shepherd and other leaders.
⁃ Pray and play through the set for the week leading up to kinship
⁃ consider involving others as helpers in leading song or in percussion
⁃ Ideally, have overheads and copies ready hours before kinship
⁃ Arrive at kinship at least 10 minutes early to organize music and instruments
⁃ Communicate with Group Facilitator concerning who will open and close in prayer
⁃ Inform Worship Shepherd ASAP if an issue arises

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kinship Job Description: Hospitality Coordinator

• Dinners
⁃ Create a schedule for meals rotation
⁃ Create and maintain a "dinner supplies" box (plates etc...) at the church

• Childcare
⁃ Communicate directly with providers
⁃ Collect monies from group members and pay providers
⁃ communicate with Jeff for check for providers

• Meals Ministry
⁃ In the event of babies / hospitalization / tough times etc...
⁃ Create schedule for meals. Can include those outside group...

• Communication
⁃ Jeff: checks for childcare
⁃ Childcare providers report to you in the event of schedule changes
⁃ Group: let the group know when folks are in need of home or hospital visits. Also, communicate with those in these situations to find good times.
⁃ Group Leader: inform of any needs, especially if responsibilities can't be covered for the night

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kinship Job Description: Worship Shepherd

• Practice Biblical Self-Leadership
⁃ Abides daily in praise, prayer, and scripture
⁃ Leads family first

• Administration
⁃ Scheduling leaders for each night, ideally one cycle in advance
⁃ Providing overheads or handouts when necessary
⁃ Keep and grow a digital library

• Delegate and Empower
⁃ Identifies new leaders
⁃ Trains and encourages new leaders

• Communication
⁃ With worship leaders, coordinating, encouraging and training
⁃ With group leader, coordinating worship with the night's cycle

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kinship Job Description: Celebration Coordinator

• Practice Biblical Self-Leaderhsip
⁃ Abides daily in praise, prayer, and scripture
⁃ Leads family first

• Cast Vision and Plan Fun Night
⁃ Fun night is a built in evangelistic opportunity!
⁃ Creates structure and appropriate programming for fun night to be welcoming to outsiders and uplifting to the community

• Birthdays & Anniversaries
⁃ Gets all member's birthdays and anniversaries on a calendar.
⁃ Coordinates celebrating these milestones at each month's fun night

• Delegate and Empower
⁃ Asks others to lead fun night
⁃ Involves others in activities; e.g. baking cakes, bringing games

• Communication
⁃ reports to group leader
⁃ communicates with group as necessary to get info and give dates for upcoming events
⁃ keep up with outreach coordinator for helping with evangelistic events

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kinship Job Description: Group Shepherd

• Practice Biblical Self-Leadership
⁃ Abides daily in praise, prayer, and scripture
⁃ Leads family first

• Cast Vision
⁃ Plans each cycle
⁃ Ensures the incorporation of the "five smooth stones" (corporate worship, member care, discipleship, compassion ministry, evangelism)
⁃ Anticipates growth and plans for multiplication

• Delegate and Empower
⁃ Identify apprentice leaders who will share in teaching and meet with them for training
⁃ Appoint leaders of all other areas of ministry
⁃ Communicate with all leaders on a regular basis offering spiritual guidance and encouragement

• Teach
⁃ Finally, the group leader will facilitate and lead discussion

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 16

The Resurrection
vv 1-20. Jesus appears to Women first! This is incredibly counter-cultural for the day as their testimony was not even allowed in court. It's no wonder then that their story was not at first believed by the disciples. How empowering, then, of Jesus toward a group with limited rights.

On a related note, He rebukes the disciples for not believing the women. God is wont to work by unexpected means. Will we recognize the truth? Or will prejudice blind us?

Finally, His final instructions are clear, "Go and preach in the whole world." His mentorship of the disciples was now complete, at least in its physical presence form. He had passed on His power as they now performed signs. Among other things, His resurrection provided the catalyst they needed to go out and preach and minister. And preach they did...in fact due to Jesus' multiplicative leadership, the church eventually spread throughout the world...and I am now writing this blog today because Jesus led and empowered 12 uneducated, minority, laborers. Is there any reason to underestimate the power of God?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 15

Before Pilate
vv 1-15. Still Jesus is shown injustice and still He remains silent. He is not pleading for His life nor trying to reason with the officials. He is resolute and Pilate is dumbfounded.

The Soldiers Mock
vv 16-20. These passages are reminders that following after Jesus involves "picking up our cross." Picking up a cross is an exhausting, painful, and gruesome task. I forget this. But Jesus went through it, trusting God that there was glory on the other side. Perhaps someday I or we will be in this very situation with our very lives on the line. Almost assuredly we will face lesser trials that we know we must endure for a good on the other end. LORD give us you strength to do so faithfully and obediently as you did.

The Crucifixion
vv 21-32. Even Jesus needed someone to help carry His burden. I know I would feel humiliated in this case. But if God incarnate can become weak and require an outsider to help for bit, then so should I accept such help.

The Death of Jesus
vv 33-41. Jesus questions God. "Why have you forsaken me?" But even in this question JEsus is quoting scripture. In a sense this is a prayer. And to the end Jesus is in tune with His father, even under the excruciating of circumstances.

The Burial of Jesus
vv 42-47. The story of Joseph or Arimathea is a great encouragement that there are those we don't expect who have been touched by the message we preach. So often I get consumed by what is right in front of me, but God could be working on people's hearts anywhere. The work of God is not limited to me!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 14

Jesus Anointed
vv 1-11. Here Jesus is in the last days of His life, a truth this woman has recognized, yet those closest to Him have missed. Sometimes those we lead might be oblivious to the reality of the situation and we may need to rebuke accordingly.

Also, some of the disciples are unaware of the season of ministry. They are having a "good" thought at the "wrong" time. Ministry isn't all about being efficient all the time, though there is an appropriate time to do so and to ask tough questions about how our money and resources are spent. This is GOOD thought for such a season, but this is a season of celebration in a sense...and celebration appears wasteful to the efficient eye. This woman is celebrating Jesus. And Jesus makes a huge value statement to all who would follow Him and to all who would lead in His name: WORSHIP IS THE FIRST PRIORITY! If we are not first plugged in to worship, our service to the poor and others will leave us totally depleted and aimless in purpose. This is almost like tithing: bring first to me, then live on the rest.

The Last/Lord's Supper
vv 12-26. Jesus is doing the difficult work of both saying goodbye and of preparing for His succession. He has to deal with both betrayal and misunderstanding from within. Leaders should be prepared for these potential situations.

Prediction of Denial

vv 27-31. In observing the life of our pastor Jeff, dozens have "fallen away" from his leadership. Some have left and returned, others have simply left in unhealthy fashion, never to return. In watching him it is amazing to see how confident he is in the direction of the church in the face of these difficulties. If we are not prepared for this and take it all personally, how debilitating indeed would it be?! If we are not confident in our direction how will we not capitulate to those who would try and manipulate us?

In Gethsemane

vv 32-42. Leadership can be a lonely venture. At His darkest hour, Jesus was abandoned by His inner circle! Yikes. Yet also at His darkest hour, He was connected to the source, speaking with the Father. Further, He displays great honesty, telling the Father His fears about the upcoming task. He is certainly not in denial about the importance, the gravity, and the heart wrenching challenge of what is to come.

Jesus Arrested
vv 43-52. In this chapter Jesus has already been betrayed from within. Now He is experiencing underhanded actions from without. Despite all of this, Jesus demonstrates extreme composure under the most challenging of circumstances.

Before the Sanhedrin
vv 53-65. Observe the patience and endurance of Jesus in the face of false accusations: "But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer." I know if I were being spat on and falsely accused, I would have a hard time not snapping on someone.

Peter's Denial
vv 66-72. Contrast Peter and Jesus. Peter, when minimally threatened, denies Him who has has sworn to die for, acting defensive and telling lies. Jesus, on the other hand, when threatened with His life, remains composed and silent among accusations. When finally asked the question of His identity, He gives the loaded and short response, "I Am", enough to condemn Him.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 13

Signs of the End
vv 1-31. Jesus gives commands and warnings about coming events, some seeming to have been fulfilled in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and some which seem to point toward future fulfillment at the second coming.
  • v3. Watch Out! There will be deceivers out there. Keep a vigilant mind to discern the truth and the light.
  • v7-8. Be ready! I wonder if the disciples heard of these signs and were like, "ok...duh...could you be a little more specific please?" I wonder if Jesus was even being sarcastic with them! Wars and famines and earthquakes happen all the time. It's funny how each generation interprets these verses as applying to them. So either everyone's wrong...or, maybe this is a brilliant play of Jesus! By describing signs that are common to each generation, each will constantly be looking, therefore maintaining vigilance against deception while keeping an expectation for Jesus' return. This reminder should fuel evangelism and mission and compassion in every generation. Brilliant!
  • v12-13. Again Jesus reminds that leadership in the church will lead to relational tension both in and outside the family.
  • v28. Figs. Jesus again uses an incredibly relevant and powerful example in context.
  • v31. Authority. A reminder that the Words of scripture are eternal, and eternally valuable.
Day and Hour Unknown
vv 32-37. Similar to vv 7-8 above, these verses are a great call to be consistent in our daily walk. Like the health inspector showing up at the restaurant, or the auditor to the business, or the safety official to the jobsite, we don't know when Christ will return. If we did we could sure act differently. But not knowing leads us to live lives of purity, of mission, or compassion, of love in community, and of peace with all. A great thought is, "would I be proud of Jesus showing up right now?" That's sobering, eh?

As leaders we can also learn from this. Not that we should never communicate when we will check in, but I wonder if making a habit of checking in at unexpected times would maintain a level of excellence in the work of the group.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 12

The Tenants
vv 1-12. Jesus displays incredible courage, knowing that He represents the son who is killed. What self-less resolve in knowingly going toward this end.

vv 13-17. Jesus' reputation as one of integrity proceeds Him. And again He shows His incredible wisdom in not being trapped by the Jewish leaders' questions. To them, if He answers "yes" then He would lose the support of the people. If "no" then He is guilty under Roman law and they can bring a charge against Him. Instead Jesus answers them with a question that pierces their souls. Brilliant!

vv 18-27. Jesus' question "are you not in error because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God" was surely quite an affront to these leaders! As He did earlier, Jesus uses an argument based on what His opponents find to be authoritative, in this case scripture, to both debunk their facade question and then to address their true issue.

The Greatest Commandment
vv 28-34. Jesus affirms the man who is seeking the Kingdom. I wonder what the disciples were thinking as they watched Jesus debate?

Jesus' Identity
vv 35-40. As the crowds are delighted and the disciples look on, two things are clear to me. For one, Jesus knows Scripture through and through and bases His arguments off of this authority. This is a great encouragement for me to follow - to know the Word and to trust it as having value and authority among men. Second, Jesus is certainly not afraid of challenging the establishment. And again what is interesting, Jesus does not attack Rome, but the Jewish leadership. Again, this would be today like not blaming the government but calling the church leadership to account.

The Widow's Offering
vv 41-44. Jesus makes a great teachable moment out of a seemingly insignificant event. This surely wold have left a deep impressing on the disciples, especially as they remembered this final week of Jesus' life in Jerusalem. Jesus reminds them that it's not about the act. it's about the heart. For us practically, giving isn't about a discrete amount, it's amount percentage.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 11

A Triumphal Entry
vv 1-11. Jesus delegates and entrusts two disciples with an important task. He gives them specific instructions that they must rust in completely. It must have been unnerving to carry out this task, essentially commandeering a colt, yet they were faithful and his instructions proved vital.

Clearing the Temple
vv 12-19. Jesus gives us an example of when it is right to act on zeal. While Jesus has confronted opponents verbally, up until now he has not used physical force. So there is a time and a place for it. Also interesting that the equivalent of the temple today would be a church...He is not using this violence against outsiders, but against those who should know better.

A Withered Fig Tree
vv 20-26. Jesus teaches against holding bitterness - a great key to leading well. As shown in Jesus' life, the leader will face opposition, both from outsiders and from close relatives and acquaintances. A call to forgive, that we may be forgiven, is also a great reminder of our true identity, not of a great self-made leader, but of a redeemed sinner.

Authority Challenged
vv 27-33. Jesus demonstrates incredible self-control and wisdom in this interaction with the teachers of the law and priests. Instead of answering their question or lashing out at them, he asks a clever question in response to their question. His ability to respond to critics in such a shrewd and intelligent way is one His leadership trademarks.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 10

vv 1-12. This event begins with crowds coming Jesus. v1 Says that, as was His custom, He taught them. This demonstrates Jesus' readiness to teach whenever the opportunity might arise.

Concerning divorce, Jesus points the Pharisees away from legality and toward the heart. This is a great principle: just because something is legal doesn't mean it's good to do. Gambling is legal, drunkenness is legal, strip clubs are legal, abortion is legal, and yes, divorce is legal. This is a reminder to seek first His Kingdom and the associated values. It is dangerous to accept as authoritative for our live that which the state calls legal, especially if the culture is regularly indulging in it.

The Little Children
vv 13-16. Children were not socially valued in this culture. To become like a child would be to become weak and dependent. And in a sense, this is what we admit when we come to Christ! In His upside down Kingdom, the values are reversed. So what does a child do well? They have unquestioned trust in their parents. This is huge to recognize for leaders. We do not become great by figuring it all our independently, but rather, by depending on our Father and trusting Him with that which we cannot explain.

The Rich Young Ruler
vv 17-31. Jesus cuts to the chase - what do we value most? We should be willing to sacrifice for that which we value most. This is indeed a difficult teaching.

vv 32-34. Jesus does not leave any surprises for the disciples, though they might not have understood all He said. I appreciate that He let them know how the passion week would proceed to give them hope through the dark periods.

James and John
vv 35-45. Jesus lays out the leadership paradigm for those in His Kingdom. Worldly leaders lord their authority over their followers, leveraging their influence for personal gain. But leaders in the Kingdom leverage their influence for the benefit of their followers, serving with their very lives as Christ did for the church.

Blind Bartimaeus
vv 46-52. Right after teaching on servant leadership, Jesus demonstrates it. While the disciples wanted to quiet this blind man, Jesus asks him, "what do you want me to do for you?" Wow, imagine a high powered CEO leading like that! And this was God! Wow!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 9

vv 2-13. Of late, the disciples had been misunderstanding what Jesus was all about. Peter had confessed the Christ, but immediately rebuked His for foretelling His death. After allowing this confusion to simmer for a week, Jesus decided to give the inner circle an undeniable experience of who He was. This was clearly strategic. Peter was probably the eldest and was the leader of the apostles and their spokesman (Acts 2). It seems that this experience sustained Him throughout His lifetime as He references this in His final letter (2 Pt 1:16-18). John was the youngest and would go on to be the longest lived. Perhaps having witnessed the Deity of Christ first hand allowed Him to genuinely write the beautiful prologue his gospel decades later. I am not as sure about Jame's role. He was the first martyr (Acts 12:2) among the apostles, so perhaps this vision gave Him strength in trial. He was also John's brother, one of the "Sons of Thunder." With such a name they likely had influence among the apostles. As a witness to the transfiguration, James' influence from that point on was surely shaped in a powerful way by this event. Or maybe Jesus was being wise about sibling relations, knowing the jealousy that could arise from sharing with one brother but not the other!

Spiritual Healing
vv 14-29. Jesus is not present at the beginning of this episode indicating that the disciples were ministering on their own...indicating that Jesus was in the process of multiplying Himself. Where then was Jesus? Though we can't know, it would not be surprising if He was praying in a lonely place.

As a leader, sometimes it's necessary to get the job done yourself. This brought to mind memories of working construction. We'd be trying to accomplish a task with framing, for example, when the boss would show up. Without rebuking us, he'd step in and bang out the job in no time. We'd sit back in awe of how he seemed to so easily handle what was frustrating to us. We'd be inspired to continue with like tasks and our admiration for the boss grew. It seems this is a similar situation. Though the disciples were being empowered to minister, there still comes a point when the boss needs to handle the job.

A Retreat
vv 30-32. Jesus did not want anyone to know where the were, because He was teaching His disciples. Man, to have been there! Why have such verses not registered in my brain in the past? At least from a leadership perspective, there is a vital principle at work here. It seems Jesus has established a rhythm to the ministry, interspersing time of work with times of solitary rest and group retreat. Perhaps He recognized that the disciples still had much to learn following the previous incident. Perhaps they were simply worn out. Regardless, it seems that Jesus jealously guarded this time of being with only the 12. These, apart from Judas, would be the leaders of the church upon His death. It was imperative to intentionally train them, both in hands on experience, and in intimate retreat.

Who's the Greatest?
vv 33-37. Despite the retreat, it's clear the disciples still had much to learn! In response to their arguing about who is the greatest, Jesus introduces a powerful and counter-cultural lesson about leadership: It's not about being the best and receiving the highest honor as they knew it and imagined it, it's about sacrificially serving. Later Jesus would act this out by washing their feet. Here He shames them by directing their ministry toward a child. In this cultural, children were not valued as ones to be ministered to. To serve children first, the least of these in a sense, would demonstrate a truly great servant heart.

If You're not against Us, You're for Us
vv 38-41. This is great little snapshot that points toward future denominational squabbles. The context of this argument is confined to those already within the church. This is important because later Jesus will say "If you're not with us you're against us." There He is talking about those outside the church. Today denominations may squabble about who has the best youth group, who has the best missions, who does worship right or preaching right. Some may emphasize teaching while some emphasize service. It is so easy to thing we have the best way of doing it. Jesus calls us to remember that we are part of a worldwide and multi-cultural body. Truth is, is the work is authentically being done in Jesus' name, we need to remember that we are all on the same team! Satan would love to drive wedges between us by inciting ministry "turf wars." I really appreciate Jesus' foresight in gifting us with this bit of wisdom.

Causing Other to Sin: Bad Move
vv 42-50. Our actions affect more than just ourselves. When we sin it is evident to others, especially when we a re in a position of influence. As leaders, this is a great call to responsibility!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 8

Four Thousand Fed
vv 1-13.
  • v2. Jesus has compassion on the crowd. He recognizes they will suffer from hunger if sent home without food. First of all, this shows how charismatic a teacher he was, that people would neglect their well being to listen to Him for three days! Further, it shows Jesus' empathy and awareness of the condition of His followers. He does not lead them to a place where their needs will be unmet. Through this empathy Jesus sustains them while they pursue Him.
  • v4. The disciples seem to have forgotten feeding the 5000. This has got to be frustrating for Jesus! This is a reminder that often it takes a while for those we are leading to really understand our vision.
  • v6-7. Again, Jesus empowers the disciples to be the ones to distribute the food. Perhaps this grew their compassion as well.
  • v12. Jesus sighs deeply! I imagine it like this...Mmmmmphhhhhhh. Is this His way of not lashing out immediately in anger at the Pharisees? Regardless, Jesus demonstrates extreme self-control by not granting the request of His opponents.
Yeast of the Pharisees
vv 14-21. Following from v4, Jesus addresses the fact that the disciples still don't understand who He is. As leaders we need to prepare ourselves for this reality; that often what we understand so well, what we have been thinking about for some time, what seems so real for us, is potentially going to take a while to sink in fully for our followers. We need patience. What's humbling as well is to remember that we are in a constant state akin to that of the disciples; of not understanding Jesus fully. Therefore, our experience as followers should give us empathy for the times when our leadership is not fully understood.

Blind Man in Bethsaida
vv 22-26. This story has always raised questions for me...why wasn't the man healed the first time? Maybe Jesus did this as a gift to us imperfect leaders as a reminder that change is a process. In healing this man Jesus stopped to check in on this process. He then continued with the healing. This could apply to several contexts but it is acutely applicable to ministry. When I disciple it is often difficult when results are not immediate. Simple idea but certainly worth learning from, especially in a day and age when there is an expectation for the instant.

Peter's Confession
vv 27-30. In a sense, this is the original "Come to Jesus" meeting! Following their recent misunderstandings, Jesus tests the disciples again to see where they stand. In a sense, He's getting the team all on the same page. What joy there must have been in Peter's recognition. It's these aha! moments that leaders in ministry, or leaders at work, or parents at home with kids live for.

A Prediction of Death
vv 31-9:1. Just when the disciples had come to a new level of understanding, Jesus stretched them again, giving them a challenging vision. Then in v34 He declares the cost of following Him. Peter's rebuke shows that though he had just come to a new level of understanding, thee was still a long way to go. I am reminded that understanding does not happen all at once...it would be wise for us to celebrate the mile markers then, and not just the finish line.

Jesus is upfront, not hiding anything about the cost of being part of His mission. Many may fall away in these times, but those left will be of good character.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 7

Clean and Unclean:
vv 1-23. Ironically, the very traditions of the Pharisees that were created to allow for holiness, kept them from obeying the commands of God! Said otherwise, their "established bureaucracy" kept them from actually achieving the "company mission." And so Jesus appropriately challenges the system. What He wisely recognizes is the need for men and women of sound character. The Pharisees were indeed talented, however, their hearts were empty, focused on fulfilling a law they had made up rather than abiding in the love of the Father. As a leader then we must ask for discernment. Why do we do what we do? What truth is it based on? Are we awed by talent, i.e. those who say the right things, or by character, i.e. those whose hearts are in the right place? As we lead ourselves, I am reminded that lip service is offensive to God, He wants my heart. Lord take it and mold it and shape it and fill it, letting it overflow to bless your people.

The Syrophoenician Woman
vv 24-30. Here Jesus does a difficult thing in staying the course of His mission. He was called to preach the Kingdom and repentance to the Jewish people and here was a Gentile begging for His help. It seems harsh the way He rebuffs her, but it was necessary for Him to stay focused and keep priorities...others would take up the mission to minister to the Gentiles. In leadership, this is not allowance to be harsh with people, but rather, to expect that there will be times when we let people down because of our priorities.

Good is the enemy of the Best. Would it be "good" to help this woman? Of course. But would it be the "best?" Not in this case. For example, Virginia and I were invited to over a dozen weddings in a 6 month time span. If we said yes to them all, they would be our entire life (and life's savings!). I wouldn't say anyone "begged" but we were strongly persuaded to come to the events by many. Our top priorities though are maintaining our family cohesion, to finishing school well, to being with our church family on Sundays, and being wise steward of our money. We couldn't go to all of these weddings and do this. And so we had to say no to most, dissappointing many friends and family along the way. In leadership we must be aware of the reality that being focused on a mission means we will eventually let people, often those close to us, down. Hopefully they will be as understanding as the Syrophoenician woman!

Healing a Deaf and Mute Man
vv 31-37. Jesus uses quite unusual methods to heal this man, sticking his finger in orifices and spiting on his eyes. Sometimes "the right tool for the job" might seem a bit strange. And it might look strange to others! Often following God''s design for our lives will look strange, but the results are powerful! Are we willing to act outside the box in following the will of God?
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