There are times when we can feel invisible. People pass us by and we are but furniture–our words ambient noise masked by the busy cacophony of our own industry. In my work, I have produced, led, and created experiences for crowds of thousands. I have done this since I was young. Being in front of people would rattle me, but that feeling wore off long ago. The grandeur of even a well-produced church Easter celebration where people are in wonder can be deafened by the inoculation of years of such effort. It is not cynicism where belief sours. It is being lost. It is feeling unseen.
When I looked down at Elias, his newborn body molded to my arm, I couldn’t help but question his life. He wasn’t the story I planned for. He wasn’t what I dreamed of or even wanted. I cried and felt an overwhelming amount of guilt as these thoughts saturated my mind.
The day I found out my son had Down syndrome, was the day I became a different person. I questioned God. I was angry with God.
Today my friend and creative mentor Randy Elrod published his memoirs, A Renaissance Redneck in a Mega-Church Pulpit during one of my favorite annual events, the Re:Create Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. This book is a very compelling and honest look at a creative leader’s journey. You may not be able to agree with all of what is said in this book, but not reading it as a leader in the church would be a mistake!
Thanksgiving Day, the time when anxiety levels spike due to clogged freeways, high expectations, and relational overload. And, it is the memory cataloging season to catch up with people you do not often spend enough time with–your immediate and extended families. We can easily get sidetracked with the downsides even while we attempt to be thankful for all the benefits afforded us in this life. When we do this inventory together, it makes us more capable as people to worship. There is power in gratitude. Praise takes effort, but it can change your life. What will we choose this Thanksgiving holiday?
We all agree praying is a spiritual discipline. But, who said it can’t be fun or creative. In fact, JOY is a fruit of the Spirit and I’m pretty sure the word “enJOY” is part of that. Praying should not be a fumbling like when a worship leader says “Jesus… just, just…” in low monotoned syllables. We can pray in some surprising ways, I think. Here are 10 CRAZY ways to pray. Be an Internet intercessor and share your ideas, too.
The ascetics of the early church lived in caves, whipped themselves, and made vows of celibacy or silence. Monasteries were founded. Many of these did some amazing work, from copying by hand the scripture to creating beer for the masses to make something useful and drinkable during the unsanitary Middle Ages. The dark side of monastic life is the whole idea of living in a conclave, removed from the world. To be “holy” literally means to be “set apart” for God. So, why not focus on the “ apart” part of it while living for God? Some brilliant things happen when sequestered to study and learn. University time does this. But, when and how do we forge a path in the secular as we grow in the sacred? And, our times these days are filled with technology that allows us a separate life. Do you live in a virtual monastery?
Betrayal. There is nothing that can seize sleep from the night like re-living each strand in the web of betrayal. To some degree, all of us lose oxygen from the sucker punch of opposition dealt from unexpected sources: friends, spouses, co-workers, and even fellow church people. What if even your own leadership at church betrays you? It can and will happen. Are you ready for it?
Recently, a visiting ministry leader shared with our church a short snippet of what God was doing with him and the work to train pastors overseas in Europe. Then, he mentioned that out of say 750 million in Europe there could be 700 million heading to hell. A friend sent me a text saying it felt weird to hear it that way. I agreed.
There are many causes that deserve our end of year giving back. I have chosen to make you aware of some friends who do amazing work to “empower women” and “embrace children” in places like Ethiopia, Eastern Europe, and in the USA. Doma International Founder and Executive Director Julie Clark has this to share with you my readers. MERRY CHRISTMAS! – RK
If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:15 (NIV)
“Feed me, Seymour,” is what the giant flesh eating plant declares in many scenes of the musical-to-movie Little Shop of Horrors. And, it is often what a worship leader or pastor hears sung from the pew. “Feed me, or I get up and take my measly tithes and offerings to the other church around the corner.” Today we must introduce zombie-style church shopping for the voracious appetite of loosely connected Christian consumers. Why, Christians can be zombies and the Bible makes this clear. So, If you want to be “fed” the word, soaked in worship, and sent out to rinse and repeat that each week, this guide is for you.
In the cool of December, the nights are longer. We need lights. We live in a world were lighted screens shine on our faces most of the day–computers, smart phones, TVs, and even the blinking lights of the microwave oven. We cannot escape light. But, there is something about decorating […]