Friday, December 31, 2010


According to Roger Ebert - with whom I generally agree -- they are:

1 The Social Network
2 The King's Speech
3 Black Swan
4 I am Love
5 Winter's Bone
6 Inception
7 The Secret in their Eyes
8 The American
9 Kids are All Right
10 The Ghost Writer

Of those I have only seen: The King's Speech, Inception and The Ghost Writer.

The Bambino is on his/her way

Our daughter Angela and her husband Jared have thrilled us with the news that they are expecting baby #1 in June of 2011. Grandchild #4 is on the way. Woo hoo!

Puts a whole new spin on "Happy New Year"!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
In our family Christmas Eve is almost always an occasion for some rousing singing. Whether at a church service or around the family Christmas tree we love to celebrate the coming of Jesus as a babe in Bethlehem, through music. After all the Bible pretty much commands it in this Psalm and many others. Shout for joy! Burst into jubilant song! Make music to the Lord. Those don’t sound like mild suggestions to me. Do they to you? Be sure to sing the praises of Jesus today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Thoughts - Dec 6, 2010

Luke 1:67-80
Doctor Luke’s careful account of the birth of Jesus included this detail that the other writers left out. Once Zechariah had named his miracle baby John - and as a result regained his ability to speak - he sang an amazing Holy Spirit inspired song of praise. I wish I knew the tune - don’t you? But we do have the lyrics recorded for us here at the end of Luke’s first chapter -- “because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (1:78-79)

Obviously our man Zech knew his Old Testament -- in just this short section of his song he riffs on Malachi’s prophecy about the sun rising with healing in its rays, and he alludes to Isaiah’s words concerning the light shining on those who lived in the land of darkness. (Mal. 4:2, Isa 9:2) Great hymns and classic scripture passages provide a spiritual vocabulary to enrich and inspire our faith. Treasure them.

For centuries God’s people have celebrated his presence with singing. This Christmas make sure you take time to sing songs of praise to Christ the King.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Strong and Gentle - Both!

Isaiah 40:9-20 – Here again we hear echoes of Handel’s Messiah (I’m actually listening to it on YouTube as I write this.) This time it is the less familiar “O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion.”

Again the lyrics are directly from the KJV translation of verse 9 and 10. The verses that follow celebrate the fact that our God is both mighty and gentle. Our God is the Sovereign Lord who possesses both a strong right arm and a comforting embrace.

He can knock the enemy for a loop and he can carry a lamb close to his heart. Remember today as we inch 24 hours closer to Christmas that Jesus is both full of power and of kindness.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Music from "The Messiah"

She sings in English and the subtitles are in Spanish. Great music translates to every language.


Labor of Love -- Modern Classic

Love most of Andrew Peterson's stuff -- he wrote it -- Jill Phillips sings it.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kathy Mattea - There's A New Kid In Town

Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice - Dec 1

Isaiah 11:10-16 & Luke 1:39-45

Isaiah 11
On that day, Jesse's Root will be raised high, posted as a rallying banner for the peoples. The nations will all come to him. His headquarters will be glorious.
Isa 11:11 (The Message)

Our Old Testament reading reminds us that Jesus is a banner over his people. What is a banner? It is a flag that waves proudly over those who honor the kingdom it represents. A symbol of hope and unity and joy. This Christmas season may the joyous presence of Jesus wave like a banner over your life.

Luke 1
Our New Testament reading invites us to reflect on the visit between Mary and Elizabeth her cousin and the expectant mother of John the Baptist.

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women and lessed is the child you will bear!” Luke 1:41-42 NIV

Here is a terrific example of how to "rejoice with those who rejoice" -- or in more modern parlance -- be truly happy for someone else. Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus, is now pregnant for the very first time -- and she is well past the usual child bearing age. One tradition says that she was likely in her 80s. But when Mary came to visit her and shared the great news of her own pregnancy Elizabeth showed no sign of jealousy or envy. In fact when Elizabeth heard Mary's news she was totally thrilled for her. Think carefully about all this for a minute.

Mary's child is the Messiah -- Elizabeth's is the forerunner. Mary's child is born of the Holy Spirit -- Elizabeth's child is the result of a miraculous "natural" pregnancy. Humanly speaking, Mary's miracle baby outshines Elizabeth's, yet all we see from the older cousin is excitement and praise. I love that!

God himself rewards Elizabeth's heart of selfless praise by flooding her with the presence of His Holy Spirit and by giving her a wonderful son of her own. Whenever someone you know is singled out for some special blessing and you are tempted to feel a pang of envy -- remember Elizabeth and get happy for them. It is a choice you know.

Prayer: Lord Jesus I'm just thrilled that undeserving as I am, you came to earth to show me your love. That alone should be enough to give me a supportive attitude toward others. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I too can learn to rejoice when others prosper. Amen

Spiritual Exercise: Write a note of encouragement to someone you know who has recently been blessed. Be truly deeply happy for them.

Draw near.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Canadian Eh?

Top Ten Signs Showing You Might be Canadian

10. You're not offended by the term "HOMO MILK" and you understand "Vico".

9. You understand the phrase "Could you pass me a serviette, I just dropped my poutine, on the chesterfield."

8. You eat chocolate bars, not candy bars.

7. You know that Casey and Finnegan were not part of a Celtic musical group.

6. You get excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada.

5. You brag to Americans that: Shania Twain, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion & many more talented people, are Canadians.

4. Your ears perk up when you hear the theme song from 'Hockey Night in Canada'.

3. You know what a touque is.

2. You design your Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

1. You know that the last letter of the English alphabet is always pronounced "Zed" not "Zee"

Any questions?
GHT -- From Feb 13/04

Thanksgiving Thoughts

The worse moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.
G.K. Chesterton Common Domain November 26th, 2003

How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality. A child is resentful, negative--or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.
Sir John Marks Templeton Common Domain November 26th, 2003

It is therefore recommended; to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor.
Samuel Adams ,November 1, 1777 adopted by 13 States, Official Thanksgiving Proclamation November 26th, 2003

Be Thankful.

Advent Devotions -- Jesse's Tree

Tuesday November 30 -- Isaiah 11:1-9 & Luke 1:26-38

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

Isaiah 1:1-4 New International Version

One of the major themes of Advent season -- the four weeks leading up to Christmas -- is hope. During these 28 days we should feel a growing sense of holy anticipation. In that regard - even the anticipation that our culture at large feels about opening presents and festive family dinners can be our friend. As much as we complain about the seasonal preparations, about present buying and card sending and house decorating, we do them. And we enjoy them.

Those of us who are true followers of Jesus Christ also understand that there is another deeper reason we anticipate Christmas. Our deepest anticipation centers on the coming of the Messiah. He came once in history. He will come to us by His Spirit in our times of worship and prayer this holy season. And one day at the end of time He will come again to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. On Christmas Day most of us will open presents just like everyone else. But in some very sacred and special moments on that same day we will celebrate our Saviour's birth.

The Jesse Tree is an ancient method of celebrating the truth of this Old Testament passage. Jesus was a very real person from a very human family. Trace his ancestry back and you come to King David whose father was Jesse. We didn't make Him up. He wasn't a figment of someone's overworked imagination. He was the fulfillment of the prophet's ancient prediction. Jesus is the shoot who sprouted. He is the Branch who bears much fruit. He is the One on whom the Spirit of wisdom rests. There is no one else quite like Him.

Aren't you glad?

Friday, November 12, 2010

CONRACK -- The BEST Teacher movie of all time

CONRACK, directed by Martin Ritt; screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr., based on the book "The Water is Wide" by Pat Conroy; director of photography, John Alonzo; film editor, Frank Bracht; music, John Williams...

Running time: 106 minutes. This film is classified PG.

Pat Conroy . . . . . Jon Voight
Mad Billy . . . . . Paul Winfield
Mrs. Scott . . . . . Madge Sinclair
Mary . . . . . Tina Andrews
Quickfellow . . . . . Antonio Fargas
Edna . . . . . Ruth Attaway
Little Man . . . . . James O'Reare
Skeffington . . . . . Hume Cronyn

Set in 1969, based on Pat Conroy's "The Water Is Wide," the movie details the experiences of a young teacher (Jon Voight), who takes on the fifth through eighth grades in a black school on an island off the coast of South Carolina. The picture revives the hopes and frustrations of the nineteen-sixties, including the idea that deprived people may be nourished by education...

Mr. Voight plays a teacher who is battling through the web of suspicion that confronts a white outsider. At first, he's equally shocked by his students' ignorance—the four oldest in the class think that the Civil War was fought by the Germans and the Japanese—and by the grim black woman principal, who tells him, "Treat your babies stern, treat 'em tough. . . . Put your foot on 'em and keep it there" (Madge Sinclair, in an excellent performance.)

Soon he wins over the wary children and proceeds to teach them about the pyramids and Babe Ruth, the lotus position, their own genitals, the law of gravity, swimming, Brahms and Beethoven, while building their egos and their expectations of themselves...

I personally love - love - love this movie. Find it - rent it - see it -- if you can.

Outside the Walls - Year Three

This week at Timberview we are once more serving "Outside the Walls" of our church facility. In the past we have connected with a number of local community based service groups and served with them. Some pretty solid connections and partnerships have been established.

This fall we felt led to serve by identifying organizations and individuals who serve Veterans. We chose the week of Veterans Day to set it all up.

Nancy was so encouraged when she phoned the three female veterans we are going to serve this Saturday morning. They are so excited that we are coming. One said it just means a great deal to know that a local church really cares. I think that makes Jesus smile.

Don't you?

You Might Be from Michigan If...

YOU MIGHT BE FROM MICHIGAN (Or several places close to or like Michigan)

Borrowed and edited slightly from Carlee Padot's lovely Blog

1. If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in Michigan .

2. If you have worn shorts and a coat at the same time, you might live in Michigan .

3. If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Michigan.

4. If "Vacation" to you means going up north on I-75.

5. If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

6. If you often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.

7. If you see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings).

8. If you install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

9. If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife/girlfriend knows how to use them.

10. If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

11. If you think driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

12. If you "Down South" to you means Ohio or Indiana.

13. If a brat is something you eat.

14. If you drink pop and bake with soda.

15. If your doctor tells you to drink Vernors and you know it's not medicine.

16. If you think owning a Honda is Un-American.

17. If when asked where you live - you immediately hold up the palm of your right hand and use it as a map

True - very true!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Top Ten Teacher movies

The guys over at The Jesus Creed blog published a list of their Top Ten Teacher movies as follows:

1. Freedom Writers
2. Ron Clark Story
3. Coach Carter
4. Radio
5. Dangerous Minds
6. Dead Poets Society
7. Lean on Me
8. Stand and Deliver
9. To Sir, With Love
10. Blackboard Jungle

I find it interesting that they listed "Freedom writers" number one when it was so overlooked at the box office. I personally loved it too.

I would put Mr. Holland's Opus as number one on my list. What about you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chilean Miners Give Praise to God

Each of the miners emergeed from the capsule named "Fenix" wearing a shirt that says, "Thank you Lord." On the back are the words, "To Him be the glory and honor," taken from Psalm 95:4. "Because in his hands are the depths of the earth, and the heights of the mountains are His."

The shirts were donated by the brother of miner Jose Henriquez, who is an evangelical Christian and has been a spiritual guide for the group. The idea for the shirts came to Henriquez's brother, also a Christian, after hearing a sermon from his pastor on Psalm 95.

Mario SepĂșlveda, the second worker to be rescued and the one who gained the admiration of the world for his good attitude when he came out of the mine, was the first to speak to the press.

"God and the devil were fighting over me and God won", he said. " I always knew they would get me out. I always had faith in the professionals here in Chile and in the Great Creator."

The fourth miner to surface was the Bolivian Carlos Mamani. He knelt down, as soon as he came out of the capsule and pointed to heaven, giving thanks to God.

Omar Reygadas, a 56-year-old electrician did the same. He came out of the capsule with a Bible in his hands and knelt down to give thanks to God. Written on his helmet was, "God lives."

Terrific Stuff -- Thank the Lord for His protection and provision.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Just Pray -- Change Me

When you pray -- make your prayers focus on a changed life.

People who are learning to pray often get frustrated with prayer because it seems nothing ever changes. Maybe that’s because we aren’t praying for the right change. I’ve noticed that the vast majority of our prayers are for God to change our circumstances. Maybe God doesn’t want to change our circumstances. Maybe he wants to change us.

That doesn’t mean he won’t ever change our circumstances. I’ve seen God supply needs, open opportunities, and heal people in incredible ways. But I’ve also spent years praying for something that never changes. That should be my first clue that I may not be praying for the right thing.

It is important not to make prayer into a complaint session, when in reality it’s an incredible opportunity to gain the wisdom, direction, and power of the King of kings who rules all time and places.

Lord change me!

Just Pray -- with Praise

Make Your Prayers Praise-Filled.
Paul started his prayer in Ephesians 1:16 by saying, “I have not stopped giving thanks . . .”

He’d learned that the key to praying is not to focus on a list of troubles, but to praise God for what he has done. How can we do that—how can we give thanks in everything, as Paul later admonished us to do in his letter to the Thessalonians?

We have to trust that God knows what he’s doing. In time we learn to see the hand of God working in our lives even when they are difficult. We praise God -- not because we like the challenges He brings us -- but because we know He is worthy.

Make sure your prayers are filled with praise.

Balancing Prayers

Here are a few thoughts on how to pray in a healthy way.

Make Your Prayers God-Centered: When you pray, remember who you are talking to. You’ve been given the privilege of coming before the creator of the universe. This is the God who made everything that lives, and he has given you the honor of bringing requests before him. That’s why so many teachers tell us to start our prayers with adoration. When we tell God how great, powerful, and magnificent he is, it reminds us that he truly is those things. It gives us a sense of awe and expectancy that something great could come out of this conversation we’re having with the One who can do anything.

Paul spent more than half of his prayer in Ephesians 1 extolling God’s virtues. When Paul wrote this book, he was in prison. He could have listed a litany of prayer requests that would have made ours pale in comparison, but instead he focused on who God is. Surely the power of that prayer carried him further than any listing of complaints. It also showed the Ephesians how to pray victoriously in the midst of whatever they were facing.

Be sure to keep your prayers centered on God.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Six steps to Excellence

Recent Harvard Business Review article on excellence said:

Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we've found are most effective for our clients:

1 Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.

2 Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That's when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.

3 Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.

4 Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously, however, can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.

5 Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It's also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.

6 Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you'll take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them — build specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

Great practical advice for all of us!

Timberview Church -- Our Identity

Timberview -- A dynamic Free Methodist congregation

Timeless Foundation
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching rebuking correction and training in righteousness

Innovative Creativity
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created…

Missional Mindset
John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

Building Community
Romans 12:5 So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Extending Grace
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”

Resourcing Families
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Visionary Leadership
Romans 12:8 If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.

Incarnational Service
John 13:14 “Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to was each other’s feet.”

Enthusiastic Worship
Psalm 71:23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you…

Worldwide Mission
Acts 1:8 …tell people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

I like the way the combination of all these elements defines who we are as a church.

Project Runway Season 8 - My take

OK so I openly admit it -- I watch Project Runway. Of course owning up to that just proves that I am secure in my masculinity! Ha!

That being said -- I'm not really thrilled about the new 90 minute format. Too long. So I prefer DVRing the whole thing and then fast forwarding through the endless designer drama. Cassinova was too much last night! What a nutcase!

I really enjoyed reading New York Magazine's terrific review of this week's episode. Gretchen became the Evil Queen. (Hiss - boo.) Tim Gunn lost his temper and lit into her. (Yay)

Of course I too was YELLING at the TV when Gretchen kept on talking and talking and talking during the judge's questions. I also said they couldn't send her home yet because every reality TV show needs someone we can all hate. And I have also had enough of Ivy's self-important attitude and her blind allegiance to all things Gretchen. If Ivy doesn't nail it next week -- I think she goes home next.

We can wish can't we?

Re-finance Your Home?

Everyone I know in the banking /home financing industry says THIS is the week to refinance. Interest rates really are at the bottom. I checked into a 15 year mortgage and they are offering 3.75%. Amazing.

Just thought I'd pass it on.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mighty Hazel McCallion of Mississauga

So a friend of mine here in Spokane posted a video clip on Facebook of an amazing Canadian politician. She is the Mayor or Mississauga, Ontario, she has been elected 11 times in a row and she is now 88 years young! Turns out I've met her: Hazel McCallion.

She was recently featured on a CBC show called the Rick Mercer Report.

I recall meeting her when she welcomed the Free Methodist Church in Canada to our national General Conference meeting in Mississauga. I think it was about 1993. She spoke at the large Sunday worship and she told a story about going to a church camp as a teenager and how it inspired her for the rest of her life.

Way to go Hazel!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

50 Effective Ways To Boost Your Productivity

50 Effective Ways To Boost Your Productivity

Really like this article and it comes at a good time for me. Ramping up to a busy fall ministry schedule. Maybe you could use a few of these great ideas yourself.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday Rewind - Timberview

It was great to be back at Timberview and to observe our worship services in the capable hands of Pastor Chris Sloan. Titled "The Generational Bridge" the service featured a worship team with singers from Timberview's youth ministry "The Rock" led by our resident rocker Pete Kopplin. Pete and the team included a couple of new songs in the mix which added a fresh touch to the celebration.

Pastor Chris decided to use his third Sunday in charge of Sunday services to introduce a panel of two guys and a gal from the younger generation who answered a series of questions about contemporary culture, Christian spirituality, and the church, from a younger point of view. I found the three panelists both insightful and well-spoken. Way to go, Chase, Kelly and Bri. Nice job Chris!

Of course being back from a few weeks away also makes me that much more motivated to teach this coming Sunday. Like I often say -- I don't have to preach this coming Sunday -- I get to preach.


University of Michigan head football coach Rich Rod should step down

This past week coaches from the Michigan Wolverines received letters of reprimand from the NCAA. According to the Detroit Free Press, Head Coach Rich Rodriguez was singled out for "your failure to adequately monitor the duties and activities of the quality-control staff..."

Of course this comes after two terrible seasons on the field. I do not know why U of M ever hired this guys. But personally I think it is time they showed him the door!

Don't you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jackie Evancho, 10 (Opera Singer) ~ America's Got Talent YouTube acts

Little girl -- very big voice

Some say she is the next Susan Boyle. It will be interesting to see where this goes. Although her voice is amazing it is an odd feeling to hear it coming out of such a young person.

Almost hard to believe isn't it?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jet Blue Folk Hero -- Really?

The story about the Jet Blue Attendant -- Steven Slater who went ballistic and quit by sliding down the emergency exit -- is really taking off. I'm not sure he is a folk hero. That seems a little much to me. But clearly a lot of people would like to quit their jobs in a blaze of glory.

Read it all HERE

What do you think?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ernie Harwell -- Mitch Albom's Tribute

I knew it was did all of Michigan. Famed Tiger's broadcaster Ernie Harwell had come to terms with his inoperable cancer many months before. But somehow, living in Spokane now, I missed the news of his passing this past May. So I went to the Detroit Free Press where I knew Mitch Albom would have crafted a fitting tribute in his typically profound prose. I was not disappointed. Here is an excerpt:

...There is, in the story of any good man’s passing, the laundry list of achievements that should be mentioned, the fact that Harwell likely was the first baseball announcer to be traded for a player (in 1948), that he called games for the Dodgers, Giants, Orioles and Tigers, or that he missed just two broadcasts in 55 years behind the mike — one because he was being inducted into a hall of fame. The fact that he was there for Jackie Robinson’s career as well as Cecil Fielder’s, that he did 42 years in Detroit, that the press box in Comerica Park is now named in his honor, that he wrote hundreds of songs and penned a famous baseball poem, or that he felt unsatisfied by his path in the 1960s, attended a Billy Graham speech in Florida one night and gave his life, as he told me, “to the Lord,” remaining a devout Christian and living quietly by those precepts for the rest of his days...
Read more: Mitch Albom: Ernie Harwell: Gone now, but never forgotten | | Detroit Free Press

Ernie did indeed fall into the arms of Jesus. He'll be missed.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit - Friday AM

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the Willow Creek Summit is how powerful it is on a personal spiritual level.

Today began with an amazing worship set that involved a quiet reflective media leading in to worship direction from Greg Ferguson. The intensity of the worship team was palpable despite the very off-putting limitations of the video format. Here at LifeCenter the worship is played at such a quiet level (about half of what the room requires) that you feel very much like a spectator. Very few people sing enthusiastically -- it just feels odd. However there were a few moments when the authentic attitude of worship from the leaders transcended the atmosphere of the room.

Following that we heard a powerful spiritual message on what it means to be stuck in "The Land in Between". Pastor Jeff Manion from Grand Rapids shared a dynamic message based on Numbers 11 and the story of the children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness.

Most powerfully of all Bill Hybels came up at the end and led a great prayer time including worship songs, quiet moments and a challenge to dig deeper and commit or recommit our lives to God on a personal level.

The critics of Bill and Willow typically miss this aspect of his personal passion. I love it that even when teaching leadership to pastors and marketplace leaders Bill keeps challenging people to full devotion to Jesus.

I love that!

Hybels on Leadership

Christian leaders tend to do the following things well

1. Move from HERE to THERE

Leaders help churches move and grow and change. When we begin we tend to want to describe in glowing terms what it will be like when we get THERE.

When we talk excitedly about THERE some of our key early adopters will respond warmly to this vision-casting.

However sooner than we anticipate – others will respond telling us that they don’t really what to go THERE – because they really like it HERE.

HERE is not bad at all – it is comfortable – has been effective and is not very demanding. Why not just let us stay HERE.

Leadership Lesson #1 – ALWAYS help everyone see the downside of HERE – FIRST

Don’t worry about THERE until you have clearly demonstrated what is wrong with HERE

We are not here to Preside over a great HERE
We are not here to Protect things as they are HERE
We are called to MOVE from Here to There


Spend energy finding recruiting and training Fantastic leaders throughout your church/organization.

Fantastic People have the FOUR Cs

1 Character – are they solid deep strong growing Christ-followers
2 Competence – are they gifted and focused in ministry
3 Chemistry – do they have energy and connectivity with the rest of the team
4 Culture – will they feel at home with our leadership style and organizational values

Now think about each key leader – staff – board – volunteers:

Ask yourself -- if they suddenly resigned – how would you feel?

1. Relieved

2. Concerned

3. Destroyed

Call in every person who fits category #3 – those you would be devastated to lose and tell them so. Communicate your feelings – I value you and I treasure your input.

Tell us if anything is demotivating you so we can change it/fix it.

We NEVER want to lose you.


Along the way from HERE to THERE we tend to get stuck halfway

The middle third of the Marathon is the hardest – fun is over – end is not in sight

In the middle – your momentum can get broken

People lose their bearings and run out of steam.

SO -- Learn to celebrate along the way that way you refill the Vision Bucket

Make a commitment to celebrate every mile along the way to success

Data shows there is a 40% increase in the productivity of people who are INSPIRED

Bill's last point grows out of his new book on listening to quiet leadings from God along the way -- Whispers.

I found this session particularly helpful!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit - Jim Collins

  • Good is the enemy of the Great
    • Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline
  • What causes the Great to fall?
    • The greatest leaders are the most humble and know it is NOT about them
  • Understand: ANYONE can fall

  • 5 Stages of Decline (Largely self-inflicted)

  • Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success
  • Outrageous arrogance that neglects our primary calling and fails to renew itself. Failure to recognize that the blessing did not come from ourselves. Those great leaders who did not fall into this showed one thing: Humility in a leader.

    They are also ambitious, passionate, and willing to do whatever is required to fulfill the mission

    Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More

    Too much, too soon; breaking ‘Packard’s law’ -- which is that you must not grow too fast for the leaders you have in place. You must get strong "Fantastic People" on the bus and in the key seats for things to move forward.
    We must resist expansion and growth until the right people are ‘on the bus’ and in the right seats. THEN figure out where to drive the bus.

    Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril

    Failing organizations are in denial about the reality of failure and struggle around them. Numbers, feedback, grim realities etc. are denied because things still look great. See chart from book ‘How The Mighty Fall’ (Teams on the Way Up vs. Teams on the Way Down)

    Unhealthy optimism that denies reality and is unwilling to confront the most brutal facts. Strong leaders are willing to have faith that the mission will succeed but face the facts that right now things are not going that well. The accurately see the present reality but never give up believing that they will prevail.

  • Stage 4: Grasping for salvation.

    Leaders at this level are looking for a silver bullet. They think they will get a new vision or hire a great new charismatic leader to solve the problems. What they fail to realize is that g
    reatness is never a single event or breakthrough, but a cumulative process.

    Healthy turn around comes from restarting the flywheel of growth. This is done by careful disicpliend consistent intelligent progress - turn upon turn, push upon push; disciplined choice upon disciplined choice — excellent decisions over and over and over

    Stage 5: Capitulation.

    When you get here it’s ov
    er. You just give up. You have squandered financial, moral, relational capital, etc. and you have no more options.

    To avoid this pattern of decline ask yourself what would be lost if we disappeared? Why MUST you continue to endure, struggle, persist? Be driven by large noble purposes beyond money and success -- churches ought to have something to say about this!
  • Your grand purpose must then be rooted in core values that will NOT be compromised. What do we stand for that will never give up on? Are we willing to change anything in order to realize our larger purposes?
  • Never forget the genius of the AND!
  • Great leaders are always big on AND -- it is not either change methods or stay true to our mission -- it is AND!
    • Ten ‘To Do’s’
      • Do your diagnostics. ( has free assessment for "Good to great")
      • Count your blessings. Literally. (When we see all of the blessings that we did not cause = humility)
      • What is your personal "questions to statements" ratio? (Learn to ask the right questions, and have more questions than answers. Be more concerned about being interested than about being interesting!
      • How many key seats are vacant/filled with Fantastic People on your bus? What seats have yet to be filled, and what is the plan to get to 100% right people on the right bus in the right seats?
      • Do the Teams diagnostics (from Teams on the Way Up vs Teams on the Way Down) with your Fantastic People
      • With the right team of Fantastic People create an inventory of the brutal facts about your enterprise now.
      • Create a “Stop Doing” list. (What do we have the discipline to stop doing?) this is more important than your TO Do list.
      • Define the results you seek and the careful steps to get there and measure the milestones and significant points of progress along the way.
      • Double your reach to young people by changing your practices without changing your core values.
      • Set a BHAG rooted in your purpose so that your work will never be done.

Peter Drucker wrote 1/3 of his many books before age 65 -- 2/3 after age 65!

“The path out of darkness begins with those individuals (leaders) who are constitutionally incapable of capitulation.”

Again thanks to Eric Spangler's Blog for the basics which I was able to massage with some of my own comments etc. I have been having issues with editing the format -- sorry about that.
The content is still good stuff.

Willow Creek Leadership Summit -- Dr. Peter Zhao Xiao

Dr. Peter Xiao is a prominent Chinese economist who was commissioned by his government to study the success of the American economy. He concluded that a moral foundation based in Christianity allowed the American economy to flourish and he argued that China's economic growth would benefit from the spread of the Christian faith in China. He has embraced Christianity himself.

As a friend of China myself and student of Chinese culture I greatly admired Dr. Xiao's teaching and was
very aware that his remarks were no doubt being scrutinized by his own government who granted him permission for his lecture in a large church in America. Some of his remarks regarding past Chinese leaders and current government policy were clearly shaped by the political reality he faces.

(Dr. Xiao spoke through a translator who was introduced as a fellow Christian with little formal training as a translator. The translator chosen did not speak great English. Although the translator seemed very sincere and inspired by the moment I felt like he hurt the overall impact of this presentation.)

“I am here today to share the findings of my research which led me to the conclusion that the success of American society has resulted from its Christian foundation. When I began to study American society I read the Bible, saw the power and potential of the Christian faith and personally converted to Christianity. I have since gone back to
China to report to the leadership that I believe China will be blessed if the country openly embraces the Christian faith.

There are four great platforms of the interaction with the larger world:
Economics / Politics / Sports / Faith. China has excelled in each of these except this arena of Faith.
The greatest events of the past 2000 years include: The coming of Jesus 2000 years ago, the Protestant Reformation and evangelization of the Western World 700 years ago, the Rise of America 300 years ago, and now what is commonly being called the rise of China.

This notion that
China is rising is not completely accurate. What is really happening is that China is returning to its role as a world leader. She is coming back!
If world history is compared to a 5000 meter race - China was in the lead for all but the last 2 laps. Until as recently as 1820 China held one third of the world’s economy – which no one nation can match to this day. China is making a come back.

fell far behind in many ways during recent centuries until the last 30 years. Now she is catching up economically. By the end of 2010 China will surpass Japan and become the second largest economy in the world. By 2020 it may surpass America. However although China may catch up economically there is more to real success than just economics. China still has many unresolved problems: major pollution of large parts of the country, injustice and slavery, corruption in business etc.
China can export TVs but not the kind of things people want to watch on TV -- ethical standards and moral authority are still weak.

In Asia there are no countries who want to follow
China. But around the world more people want to follow America. America has something China does not -- America has a Dream. The
American Dream is more than nice cars and big houses and healthy systems – it also means American values -- which are largely Christian: Truthfulness, Honesty, Freedom, Love. China does not have a dream beyond gaining more wealth.
China should not only grow as an economy – she should also embrace the advanced cultures of the world and nurture herself on the values of the world as found in the teachings of the Christian Faith.

has already been influenced by Christianity for several centuries but early on most of that influence came from missionaries that the west sent to China. Though significant this Christian witness was often received with skepticism and resistance especially by our leaders. But still I want to thank you – Christians in the West -- for sending great Christians to teach us about your faith: Robert Morrison, James Hudson Taylor and Eric Liddell, the famous Olympian, to name a few. They helped to established a foundation of Christian faith for many Chinese.

When all the Christian missionaries were asked to leave
China in 1949 there were about 1 million Christians in China and many felt this would spell the end of their faith. But God worked in ways we could not have foreseen. God even used people who did not believe in Him to open up the way for the Christian message to flourish. Chairman Mao cleaned house of all religions including the false cults. Deng Xiao Ping opened up the window to the possibility of returning to religious faith. Since all this came to pass we now know that over the past 30 years there has been a
100 fold increase in Christianity in China. We now have 80 million Christians (conservatively) – to 130 million Christians in China. If it is not already -- then soon China will be the nation with the most protestant Christians in the world and will begin to send Christians to reach other parts of the world.

The biggest challenge facing
China is not economic – it is spiritual. We in China will either have "Transformation WITH the cross" or "Transformation WITHOUT the cross." For us to truly succeed we need transformation WITH the cross.

I have also reminded our people that the concept of becoming more open to Christianity is consistent with the Chinese way of thinking.
Chinese culture is not stubborn and static – it is willing to adapt and learn and change. In the past some dynasties turned to Taoism and Confucianism for a spiritual foundation. Later still other dynasties added elements of Buddhism to stabilize the nation. Now as China enters a third great era of renewal as a nation I recommend that we should allow Christianity to form the basis for this renewed society.

One reason it would be a good idea to embrace Christianity i
s that our government has a stated goal of building a more harmonious society. Surely Jesus and his teachings of unconditional love can make this harmonious society possible. Christianity is know to help people become more loving. Another reason to embrace Christianity is that o
ur government has asked everyone to conduct business honestly -- using only one set of books instead of two. Christianity values honesty. We already see the it is the Christian business people in China who are the first to respond positively to our government's call to not bribe – not to be sexually immoral – not to abuse employees – not to keep dishonest books.

So I strongly encourage that in the coming decade
China should become transformed WITH the cross. We should embrace the Christian faith more openly. If we do this China will become a
City on a Hill - A Nation of Integrity and A Blessing to the World.

In closing O have a word for you Christians in the West. Pl
ease pray for us and continue to show us how you can be economically great and still be honest and moral and kind and loving. Set a good example for us as a nation and as individual Christians so that we can learn more about how to follow Jesus every day in every aspect of life.
Thank you.”

Amazing insight into the Chinese mind from a Christian perspective...