people

People, Goodness, Love—Us and the World

Photo by  Alexis Brown  on  Unsplash

Here are a few more posts from what I’ve posted on Medium. If you missed the other posts on Medium since early May, check out Haiku for You! and Reaching Out

These were published in Publishous and cover a broad range of topics.

I hope you’ll enjoy the reads!


Photo by  v2osk  on  Unsplash

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

As a young believer, I had to learn how to trust God.

It wasn’t natural for me. It isn’t natural for any of us.

Just as toddlers exert their free will before they can say it clearly, we like to “do it by our self!” American culture only reinforces this innate self-willed resistance to trusting God.

My worry chair

When my wife and I started our life together, we had a wing-backed, turquoise chair in our living room. Read more…


Photo by  Korney Violin  on  Unsplash

A Humble Love

“What the world needs now — is love, sweet love…” was the recurring line in a popular song in the mid-sixties sung by Jackie DeShannon. It was and still is one of my favorite songs from the ‘60s. This YouTube video link of the song captures the innocent hope of the sixties for universal love.

Another favorite song of mine from that era became somewhat of an anthem for the peace movement of the sixties. Sung by the Youngbloods, the chorus of “Get Together” epitomized the search for a unifying love— “Come on people now — smile on your brother — everybody get together — try to love one another right now.”!

A naive hope seemed to die with the close of the decade and the beginning of the “Me Generation” of the ‘70s. Read more…


Photo by  Warren Wong  on  Unsplash

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

The Need to See Beyond Ourselves

Agrarian economies still dominate a good part of the world, so planting and harvesting are important times of the year.

They impact the livelihoods of many people. How good the harvest is or isn’t impacts everyone.

Our economy in America is more diverse. In years past, we were considered an industrial economy with an agrarian backbone. But technology and its counterparts created an industry of its own.

Most Americans only see the effect of a good or bad harvest when it affects food prices. Read more…


Photo by  Volkan Olmez  on  Unsplash

We Christians — genuine followers of Christ — need to stop moralizing the Christian faith. We need to quit portraying Christianity as a life of moral goodness.

Our effort at goodness is a weak facade for faith. It presents a false face like a veneer—an appearance of goodness as if it was faith. But this misrepresents genuine Christianity.

If you ask most people to describe Christianity, believer and non-believer alike, you’ll get a reply related to some form of moral goodness…

I try to be a good person, who does good things and is kind to others.

Read more…

Those People Are Us

Those people!

Are there people in your life who only seem to come around when they have some need? Then they act like they’re your BFF?

They may want to borrow some money, need a ride, or be rescued from some crisis. They come to you when they need help but when the need is met, they’re gone again. When another need arises they’ll be back for more help.

In my roles as pastor in the US and later as a director of two ministries overseas, this was a common occurrence. I found some people to be in chronic need of help. Little time would pass when some new crisis hit their life.

But there were some people who needed assistance but once it was given they seemed to be stable and able to move forward on their own.

Some people just blurt out what they need or want right away. But for some, it takes a while to build up the courage to ask for whatever it is they need.

One lesson my wife and I learned over the years is there is not enough money or time to fill the needs of those who came to us for help. We had limited resources and limitations on our capacity to help.

So we did what we could with what we had to offer.

We are those people

The thing is—we are those people with God. You and me. All of us. Think about it. Be honest.

Continue reading this post on Medium—click here– Those People Are Us

8 Characteristics of a Servant Leader

https://unsplash.com/photos/kkQAfonO1XY

https://unsplash.com/photos/kkQAfonO1XY

In a previous post, I shared the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet as an example of servant leadership. As mentioned in that post, the idea of servant leadership has become more popular wherever leadership is discussed. However, transferring talk into action is always a challenge.

Knowing why we need to be servant leaders is answered by Jesus in John 13:12-17. But knowing how to do it—how to actually be a servant leader—is not always clear.

First of all, for pastors and leaders in churches it is fitting for us to be servant leaders because that’s how we see Jesus lead. This is reflected in what Jesus says about Himself and for His followers in Mark 10:43-45—

But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

It is also the very nature of Jesus—

… and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart. (Matt 11:29)

But what if you aren’t a pastor or leader, at least not in a recognized sense?

All believers are leaders in some way in various roles in life. Wherever we have influence in people’s lives—whether among family or friends or at work—as believers, we are called to be examples and this is an important qualification for any leader.

Even within the church, whether we are recognized by others as people having influence, we are called to fulfill God’s purpose for our life within His church body (Eph 4:15-16). 

Here are the first 3 of 8 characteristics of a servant leader—seen in the leadership of Jesus (John 13:1-17)

1– Motivated by love (verse 1)

This is always our first priority. We are to be compelled by love to serve others with our leadership—not ambition, nor obligation.

We need to see people as Jesus saw them and love them as Jesus loved them. Jesus had compassion on people as “sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). Jesus was compelled by His love for the Father. It was always His number one priority. But is it ours?

Click here to read the whole post

Sheep Need a Shepherd

People need leaders

A good friend told me long ago, "People need leaders." I was a young pastor and he was a captain of firefighters. We were leaders in our respective fields and I was his pastor—and we mentored one another as fellow followers of Jesus.

His statement resonated in my heart as true. It reminded me of my responsibility in God's kingdom. Not just as a pastor, but as a follower of Jesus. Discipleship done the way Jesus did with the twelve apostles will naturally produce leaders.

An important characteristic of the Jesus People Movement was the importance of life example in leadership. I'm concerned this is a neglected emphasis today in all aspects of leadership, but especially in God's kingdom.

Life example is important for leadership in God's kingdom

Grassroots leadership

Look at the leadership of Jesus and what He endeavored to instill in His followers. What was the key? Jesus was intentional about who He discipled and He did this through shared life—it was personal.

People were drawn to Him in a natural way. From the first to the last, people saw Him, heard Him, and could not ignore Him. Even those who opposed Him and later plotted to kill Him couldn't ignore Him.

So what was it about Jesus that drew people to Him? His design for leadership was to build from the ground up—a grassroots leadership. He set the example with His humility.

People saw Jesus and heard Him but could not ignore Him

Humble leadership

Jesus used no fanfare or clever strategy to draw more people. In fact, He often avoided big crowds of people and His teaching and expectations for following Him seemed to push people away from following (John 6:60-66).

This is so backward to what is popular and prevailing mantra of more and bigger is better.

But that's not the way of Jesus. It's also not the way of great leadership, according to Jim Collins in his book, From Good to Great.

What set apart the companies that rose to greatness? One essential—humble leadership. In a business model, this means putting the company and your people above your self. This was the example of Jesus for the kingdom of God.

Humility is essential for great leadership and to lead like Jesus

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Leadership in God's kingdom involves following the example of Jesus. This is seen throughout the gospels but illustrated and explained in John 10 where Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

Just as people need leaders—sheep need a shepherd—a shepherd they can trust.

Several years ago, I was asked what the basics were to pastoring and planting a church by a young missionary pastor in Thailand whom I mentor.

I came up with three words to summarize the responsibilities of a pastor—love, feed, and lead—based on John 10:1-18.

3 words can summarize the responsibilities of a pastor—love, feed, and lead

I'd like to unpack these three words related to the leadership of Jesus and pastoral leadership in additional posts. Hopefully, you'll see how they can apply to leadership at any level for anyone who is a follower of Jesus.

As a pastor and missionary overseas, I've found myself challenged by the unending demand and task of leading people in ministry. In the process of leading, I developed a basic list of ministry priorities and values.

Feel free to download that list here— Ministry Priorities and Values

Go! Get Out of the Bubble!

Bubbles_Juneau
Bubbles_Juneau

No doubt you've heard the phrase, living in a bubble or something similar. It was coined a few decades ago, based on the movie of a boy with an underdeveloped immune system who had to live in a bubble-like environment.

This made-for-TV movie came out in 1976 (The Boy in the Plastic Bubble), combining the life stories of two boys with rare diseases. Of course, the movie dramatized the story (added some fiction) and a romantic theme far from reality.

But the concept of living in a bubble—like an incubator—caught hold as a cultural expression. In real life, these boys were unable to venture out of their bubble-like environments without fatal consequences. And yet, their great desire was to live outside the bubble.

Imagine what it would be like to live in a sterile environment without physical human contact. 

Living in a bubble

It wasn't long before people applied the phrase living in a bubble to other situations and people. For example, the office of the U.S. presidency is bubble-like, with the 24/7 Secret Service guard, and screening of people with whom the president will come in contact.

Today it could apply to people focused on their cell phones, gaming, and social media in a virtual bubble. The phrase came to describe anyone isolated from the world around them.

Living in a bubble can describe anyone isolated from the world around them

Sadly, this describes many Christian believers.

Many Christians live in an insulated Christian world surrounded by other Christians and locked into Christian-oriented media and music. And, many Christians like it this way. They don't want to leave this protective bubble—their faith bubble.

And so, the world around them is untouched by their Christian beliefs and values. Why? Intentionally or not, we've constructed an ivory tower of faith.

Not as Jesus intended

This is not what Jesus had in mind when He spoke of the Kingdom of God on earth. Not at all.

This bubble-like isolation isn't reflected in Jesus' teaching about the kingdom of God. What Jesus intended for His followers is seen in several parables and other teachings.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus sent out twelve disciples to "preach the kingdom and to heal the sick" (Luke 9:1-6). Later, in the last year of the Lord's ministry on earth, Jesus sent out seventy others in the same way (Luke 10:1-12).

Here are His final instructions to those who would lead the church after His departure—

But the Holy Spirit will come on you and give you power. You will be my witnesses. You will tell people everywhere about me—in Jerusalem, in the rest of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world. (Acts 1:8 ERV)

This is echoed in all four of the gospels and termed the Great Commission. Jesus intended for His followers to be empowered and go out with His message to the world around them.

Jesus wanted His followers empowered to go into all the world with His message

Getting out of the Christian bubble

For the "Boy in the Bubble," leaving the bubble put him at risk for his life. But it's different for us followers of Christ. Our spiritual life is at risk if we don't get outside the Christian bubble!

We need to engage people who have different values and beliefs than our own. Here's a blog post by Pastor Cary Nieuwhof that addresses this— The Evangelism Conversation No One Is Having.

I've posted similar or related articles related to sharing your faith without being aggressive or overbearing. But, we still need to get out of our faith bubble to engage people who don't share our faith. How will they know if we don't share God's redemptive message with them?

Our spiritual life is at risk if we don't get outside the Christian bubble!

One simple question— 

Are you willing to get out of your own faith-bubble to engage people about faith?