Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Welcome To Our World

This is why we celebrate the incarnation! Merry Christmas!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fine Art of Facilitation

This post was originally published on Monday, July 28, 2014 at

Fine Art of Facilitation
Previously, I wrote about some of the ways a facilitator increases the odds of making a meeting successful. Today, I want to talk about the role of the facilitator in a different setting – a learning environment.

Let’s start with the same premise as today: A facilitator removes barriers. In a meeting, a barrier is anything that stands in the way of accomplishing the objectives of the meeting. In a learning environment, the facilitator’s role is to remove any barriers, which might impede insight, application and transformation.
Here’s my counsel for facilitating in a learning environment…
Be clear on the learning outcome. The facilitator is the guide on this journey; if he or she doesn’t know the desired destination, there’s virtually no chance of getting there. What do you want people to learn? What do you want them to do? How do you want them to change as a result of the experience? These are critical questions the facilitator must ask and answer before the session. Lack of clarity on this issue is the ultimate barrier to success.
Say enough for people to want to explore the topic. Another common barrier is lack of interest or desire on part of the learner. The people you are working with may not have sufficient interest to go on the journey you’re trying to take them on. I believe the challenge of every facilitator is to establish relevance and urgency regarding the topic at hand. Why should the audience care and be willing to engage? When you answer this question, you’ve removed another barrier to learning.
Say enough so they know how to explore the topic. Assuming you are successful in stirring interest and relevance, you can then guide the process of discovery. Although there are many ways to do this, one of my favorites is to set up the right conversations to prompt learning. Recently I saw this done very well. I was in session in which the facilitator setup to discovery process by asking people to share their past experiences – both good and bad, regarding the assigned topic. The activity set the stage for real insight.
Let people discover truth on their own whenever possible. In the session I just referenced, after the participants talked about their good and bad experiences, they were ready for question: “So, in light of your past experiences, what could you do differently in the future to improve your effectiveness?” The facilitator could have told the attendees the answer, and sometimes that is appropriate, but in a learning environment, truth discovered is preferred over truth declared.
Help people process their insights and application. Failure to act is the final barrier to be overcome. Don’t leave people hanging. If you identified the learning objectives at the onset, established sufficient relevance regarding the topic and stimulated the right conversations, it should be easy to help people find their own next steps. The best facilitators help people answer the question, “So what?” What will I do with my new insights on this topic? What are my next steps? Until people actually do something, you could argue, they really haven’t learned anything. Great facilitators always find a way to call people to action.
As a leader interested in creating a preferred future, it’s probably in our best interest to learn how to remove barriers. Besides, the line between great facilitation and great leadership is very thin; learning to do either one will enhance our ability to do the other. I’m working on both!

Please include the following boilerplate in your post. Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.
The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret will be released September 2, 2014.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Decision making and good discernment

Then  Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” 1 Chronicles 21:1-2

Human behavior is complicated. The forces that finally move a person to make a decision are not always evident to the person or to others. Passing the buck, avoiding responsibility or saying, "The devil made me do it," are not helpful in understanding human behavior.

When Satan incited David to take a census it brought judgment upon the whole nation. Nevertheless, David was responsible for giving the order to number the troops. His elders were also guilty because they went along with it.

David ordered a census that Scripture forbids. So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem.

What’s wrong with taking a census? Why such a heavy price for just taking a count on the size of the army?
Here’s why. David had been successful before because he knew that the king is not saved by a mighty army: a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength (See Psalm 33:16-17). David shifted his hope in his army instead of trusting in God.

Satan knew he could not sit down face-to-face with David and get him to serve anything other than the Lord his God. So the Devil subtly worked at shifting David’s confidence off the resources of God’s power and onto his own resources. This is often the fountain head of trouble.

The devil did not make David do it. David gave in to that subtle feeling that comes upon us when we feel strong, rich or invincible; that can't-do-anything-wrong mentality often leads us away from child like faith and humble submission to brash, impulsive thoughts and actions. 

Do we make the same mistake? Do we place more confidence in ourselves, our money, our talents, or even what people say about us, than the resources of almighty God and what God says about us?

Paul says away with depending on self. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3).

What honors the Lord is brokenness: a growing recognition of the need for total dependence on God. Broken people tend to say, "Lord, what would YOU want? 

What dishonors the Lord is placing faith in ourselves. Self driven people often say, "Here's what I want!"

We make decisions every day; some big and some small. Before the Lord, it is not the size of the decision that matters but how the decision is made.

What other factors do you consider when making decisions?

Friday, August 8, 2014

We need to hear this over and over again!

Christ met our greatest need for eternal life, but he also meets our need for significance. identity, acceptance, security and purpose. Let me encourage you to read aloud the following truths and personally appropriate them for yourself. Do this everyday!

Jason Gray sings about this need to remember who we are. His song, Remind me who I am is very uplifting. See below.

John 1:12                     I am God's child.
John 15:15                   I am Christ’s friend.
Rom. 5:1                      I have been justified.
I Cor. 6:17                   I am united with the Lord and I am One spirit with Him.
I Cor. 6:19,20              I have been bought with a price. I belong to God.
I Cor. 12:27                 I am a member of Christ's body.
Eph. 1: 1                      I am a Saint.
Eph. 1: 5                      I have been adopted as God's child.
Eph. 2:18                     I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit.
Col. 1: 14                    I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Col. 2:10                     I am complete in Christ.
Rom. 8:1,2                  I am free forever from condemnation.
Rom. 8:28                   I am assured that all things work together for good.
Rom 8:31                    I am free from any condemning charges against me.
Rom 8:35                    I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Cor. 1-21,22                         I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God.
Col. 3:3                       I am hidden with Christ in God.
Phil. 1:6                       I am confident that the good work that God has begun in me will be perfected.
Phil. 3:20                     I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Tim. 1:7                    I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.
Heb. 4:16                    I can find grace and mercy in time of need.
I John 5:18                  I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me.

Matt. 5: l3,14               I am the salt and light of the earth.
John 15:1.5                  I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life.
John 15:16                   I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
Acts 1: 3                      I am a personal witness of Christ.
I Cor.3:16                    I am God's temple.
2 Cor. 5:17                  I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
2 Cor.6:1                     I am God's co-worker (I Cor. 3:9)
Eph.2:6                        I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.
Eph. 2:10                     I am God's workmanship.
Eph.3:12                      I may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Phil. 4:13                     I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Blessing of Pain?

If allowed, pain can be life’s greatest teacher. A life of pleasure invites softness, lethargy and unresponsiveness to those moments in life when change is needed.
Author John C. Maxwell said “Pain prompts us to face who we are and where we are. What we do with that experience defines who we become.”
In my previous post I pointed out one of the mistakes we make when we are in pain is to make matters worse by crafting our solutions. When King Ahaz was in pain he did not call on the Lord for help but did what seemed right in his eyes.

In contrast, King Manasseh, for a period of his life was tone deaf to the voice of God (2 Chronicles 33:10). 

God spoke to him about his immoral behavior but he and the people did not listen to the voice of God.
It never goes well when the word of God is ignored. So God sent some pain into his life. The Lord gave the green light to the Assyrians who promptly captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with chains and carried him to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11).

In his pain he awakens to his need for help. Instead of trying to solve his problems on his own and make matters worse, this king took one essential step that you and I can also take when facing similar circumstances:

Humble prayer:
While Manasseh was in painful captivity, he asked the Lord God to forgive him and to help him. The Lord listened to Manasseh's prayer and saw how sorry he was, and so he let him go back to Jerusalem and rule as king. Manasseh knew from then on that the Lord was God (2 Chronicles 33: 12-13 CEV).

The blessing of pain
C. S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain) said “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

I know some of you might have a problem with Lewis’ view of God. God uses pain to rouse us from our somnolence? From our perspective this seems harsh but from the perspective of heaven here’s what the Scriptures say about pain in the believer’s life:

Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how God treats his children. Don't all parents correct their children? God corrects all his children, and if he doesn't correct you, then you don't really belong to him. Our earthly fathers correct us, and we still respect them. Isn't it even better to be given true life by letting our spiritual Father correct us? Our human fathers correct us for a short time, and they do it as they think best. But God corrects us for our own good, because he wants us to be holy, as he is. It is never fun to be corrected. In fact, at the time it is always painful. But if we learn to obey by being corrected, we will do right and live at peace (Hebrews 12: 7-11 CEV).

How has pain brought you greater awareness of yourself and God? 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A strategy for getting out of a hole

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought your plans or solutions would make matters better but instead made them worse? 

We have all been in situations like this before. Instead of making things better, "we dig ourselves into a hole. 

Meet Ahaz, king of Judah. In a moment of crisis, after losing several key battles, he decides to try something new. The NIV describes his "hole digging" this way: In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD
(2 Chronicles 28:22).

What did he do?
In his time of distress and trouble, King Ahaz did not call on the Lord but instead made sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him in battle. His reasoning went something like this: "Since the gods of the Syrians helped them to defeat me, I will now offer sacrifices to them and they will help me." (2 Chronicles 28:23-26)

The result Sounds reasonable, right? But it didn't work. Unfortunately, what seemed like a rational strategy on the surface only made matters worse. His decision resulted in his ruin and the ruin of Israel. In fact things got worse and his "solution" took him deeper into a hole. 

How do you get out of a hole?
1. The first order of business is to stop digging. Stop your problem solving. You heard it before, insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. So stop digging.
2. Ask for help. I can think of numerous times in my life when I failed to ask for help from God and from others and my failure to ask for help actually created a bigger hole for me. 
3. Take responsibility. In the Christian community, we would say admit to your failure; confess your sin or failure. But confession alone is not enough.
4. Seek a new path. God is rich in mercy and delights to forgive, heal and restore. After David's colossal sins against Bathsheba, her husband and the Lord, he prayed, 

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you. Psalm 32: 8-9
When faced with distress and trouble, what do you recommend as paths to renewal and change?

Friday, August 1, 2014

How to do the right thing and still miss the point

In reading through Scripture this morning I read this provocative line in 2 Chronicles 25: 2: And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.

This verse describes the twenty-five year old king of Judah, Amaziah. I don't know how this strikes you but it troubles me. It troubles me to think that we can do the right thing yet miss the point.

This condition is very prevalent in the church. People who never miss a Sunday. They read through the bible every year, they tithe...even on the gross! They serve on committees, engage in ministries and still miss the point. It is possible to do the right thing with the wrong motive.

What went wrong?
Externally, Amaziah was doing the right things but internally he harbored hidden idols. This reminds me of a recent quote from Barnabas Piper's new book, The Pastor's Kid: Finding your Own Faith and Identity:
I spent all those years knowing all the right answers about everything, convincing everyone I was all good. But at no point did I know what I believed. I knew answers, but not reality. I knew cognitive truth, but not experiential truth. I was an internal mess. I knew right and wrong. I knew Jesus and His saving work. I knew my need for a savior and grace. But I didn't believe these things. I didn't know them like I know my wife or my children— real, experiential, proven. And so, after twenty years as a Christian, sin took over my heart and then my life. It nearly cost me my marriage. It did cost me that job. I was broken. All because I knew answers about everything but didn't truly know what I believed. All because what I showed the world was “right” but inside me was a whole lot of wrong. It is only grace that has restored me.
Piper, Barnabas (2014-07-01). The Pastor's Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity (pp. 66-67). David C. Cook.

The solution
The only solution is grace. Step back from all the religious frenzy and religious busyness and let the grace of God wash over you. Look at the cross and remind yourself, Jesus paid it all.

Remember that all your righteous deeds are as filthy rags before the Lord (Isaiah 64:6). There is nothing you can do to earn God's favor. You can't buy or earn that which is a gift.

Remember, people looks on the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7). Never do anything to gain people's approval. God looks at the heart. Do everything for the glory of God.

Remember, we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are not called to put religious activities ahead of love for God.

A Prayer
Lord, with your penetrating eyes of love and grace you see us from the inside out. We try to fool ourselves and we try to present an image of ourselves to others, yet fail to honor you. Have mercy on us for our religious hypocrisy. You see us as we really are; help us now to come clean and repent of all that is hidden and destructive. We turn to Christ, who alone is able to deliver us from a cold and indifferent heart. Amen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The One Thing We All Do

Humans are worshiping creatures, and even when they don’t consciously or even unconsciously worship any kind of god they are all involved in the adoring pursuit of something greater than themselves.

Worship transforms humans, all of us, all the time, since you become like what you worship: those who worship money, power or sex have their characters formed by those strange powers, so that little by little the money-worshiper sees and experiences the world in terms of financial opportunities or dangers, the power-hungry person sees and experiences the world and other humans in terms of chances to gain power or threats to existing power, and the sex-worshiper sees the world
in terms of possible conquests (that word is interesting in itself) or rivals.

Those who consciously and deliberately choose not to worship those gods still have a range of others to select from, each of which will be character-forming in various ways. And, somewhere in the middle of this range, we find the worship of a God who was believed, by some people in the middle of the first century, to have revealed himself uniquely and decisively in a man called Jesus.

Wright, N. T. (2013-11-01). Paul and the Faithfulness of God: Two Book Set (Christian Origins and the Question of God) (Kindle Locations 1440-1447). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.