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what are you waiting for?

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At first it sounded so noble…”I spend 2-3 hours with God every morning.”  Then he said “And every afternoon I read a Christian book for 2-3 hours”….and then he hit the home run….”And at night I get in another 1-2 hours with God.”  Sounds like a good missionary to me….but then more came out.  He had time to do all of this because he had nothing else to do.  You see he had been sitting on the field for over a year literally doing nothing.  Why?  Because his boss created his platform…it wasn’t working and so he was waiting.  What was he waiting for?  Even he couldn’t answer the question.

What are you waiting for?  Permission?  Acceptance? Skills? Being comfortable? A book deal? Record deal? A new title or position?  I say…screw the reasons and go for it.  If what you’re doing isn’t working…then change it.  If your dream seems impossible…make it possible…start moving towards it. Whether we’re missionaries on the field or business people in the US we can do more than wait. Amanda Hocking isn’t waiting, and she’s making millions writing books without a publisher.

Sometimes it just takes a few moments to get unstuck from the moment.  The guy in the first paragraph took about 5 minutes.  We sat and talked, he finally shared his frustration and also his dreams.  And I gave him permission…he doesn’t work for me…or even in my part of Europe…but he’s not waiting anymore.  What’s your dream?  Do you have an idea?  A ministry you want to try?  What are you waiting for?

:::remember me…Grady Bauer?  I’ve left my home over at Missional Space and am now writing with my good friend and fellow sarcastic saint AlmostM.  Thanks for dropping by!

Categories : leadership
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Congratulations to the people of Egypt! It must feel like a new era of opportunity and hope. Both for you and others in the region including the peoples of Bahrain, Iran, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, etc., I pray for the very best for you. In this period of social unrest may you find peace, hope and truth.

A combination of inflationary food prices, decades of me-oriented leadership and social media innovations that are going mainstream make for a powerful convergence that impact the political, economic and social balance of a country and far beyond. While only one of these three factors can be significantly influenced, the leadership element demands attention. These events call for humility, integrity and trust among leaders and the people they represent. Chicanery and lies at this juncture, could cause outcomes that are far worse than the history they follow. Today is the time for leaders to embrace the golden rule. This is the era for those that would truly lead to “consider others better than [themselves].”

Categories : trends
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then and now

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a pic of "Christians protecting Muslims during their prayers" by @NevineZaki

Chaos is the order of the day. The unfolding events in Egypt over the past several days are compelling. With young and old standing up to say enough to the current regime calling for the president and his cronies to go while the government supporters have a seemingly endless supply of Molotov cocktails to hurl at the revolutionaries. Lives are at risk in the here and now. Future imprisonment for crimes against the people are a tangible risk for whichever side loses this battle.

This morning as our family read part of the story in Genesis, I was reminded of Joseph’s appointment to second in command in the land of Egypt. Here was a humble leader filled with integrity and a deft administrator who led people through enormous prosperity and then hardship. Through his leadership, the people of Egypt and the surrounding area were ultimately able to survive what should have been a devastating drought.

Contrasted with the story of Joseph, a recent rise in food prices along with decades of frustration have proved sufficient for an uprising. Today, the visual image of the outcome of me-oriented leadership is visible through global media. The revolutionaries are calling for and modeling a stark contrast (see above pic).

Categories : social justice, trends
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road trip

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This week I have the privilege of traveling with some of my favorite guys to participate in the regional RCN meetings throughout the sunny peninsula as we talk about what it can look like for the city church to think and participate globally. For those that will be at these gatherings, I look forward to meeting you. For those that will not be able to participate, I ask for your prayer for God to bless these conversations and would encourage you to learn about the city church through an interview at the Upstream site as well as at the Reproducing Churches Network site.

In Lakeland on Monday, we had a great time of prayer, encouragement, and seeking to learn and meet where possible the needs of others. This group, the start of city church as it is being expressed here in Florida at present, was one of the healthiest groups of leaders living out the New Testament that I have seen in the U.S. It was a blessing to hear some of what the church is doing regarding orphans, the homeless, those living in projects and others.

Several shared with me that God is at work in the I-4 corridor which runs across central Florida. This is evident through what was shared and consistent with the reality that some 20 plus guys were meeting together in one group meeting this month and spread out in smaller groups most other months to pray for their city. These leaders have consistently lead their respective gatherings to be in prayer every week for other churches in their community whether or not they are participating as an active part of the city church group.

It is beautiful.

Categories : Uncategorized
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rethinking team

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Imagine if at the end of basketball practice one day the coach says “tomorrow is the big game day. I want you all to wear your favorite jersey you can find laying around your house. Grab whatever ball or sporting gear that you like and then go to some field or court to play the game at 2:00 tomorrow. Chances are that I won’t be there.”

That would be more like recess rather than team sports. The above scenario does not embody what we would normally view as a team. Instead, this would be a whole bunch of people going out to play–whatever and wherever they want.

In conversation with a dear friend last week, I discussed the differences of a team and an association or a group. In working through some of these concepts with a “team” that is going out on mission, one of the leaders threw out the term community. That makes sense! This alleviates the pejorative connotation that comes with association of group in comparison with our much revered word team.

Undoubtedly, in mission there are some groups of people that are functioning as a team in every sense of the word. Others may function more as a community in most situations. While both will have a shared objective, only the team will have a shared strategy to achieve the ends.

Check out the latest blog on UC’s site to read more on this from my friend Bill Lewis: http://blog.theupstreamcollective.org/2010/10/04/were-a-team-right/

Categories : leadership
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The volume of silence

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It has happened before. Recently, I am aware of situations where it has happened again. What if a leader was suddenly, unexpectedly unable to talk for an extended period of time? What if the best (and worst) sermons a pastor could give were already taught? What if a teacher’s audible lessons in discipleship were already taught? What would it look like now? How would the disciple(s) do?

I have seen and experienced situations where those who were making disciples relocated in places far from the disciples they were training. Perhaps we thought they were ready. Maybe not. It is beyond us…still at times it hurts.

This weekend I had the privilege of meeting Brother Sam in person. We didn’t talk much because he was unable. Due to significant pain in his mouth of late, he visited the doctor and learned that he has oral cancer. More tests and treatment are soon to come. My prayers go out to him, his family, and his church. I look forward to having opportunities to sit and talk with him in the future. Through being with him and praying for him at this time, however, I have been prompted to ask many questions.

What if I lived my life with the expectation that I would soon be mute and no longer able to teach or disciple those walking with me? What would I do differently? What if, as one who makes disciples, I was suddenly unable to speak? What would I do to help advance others in walking more as He did? What if all the lessons I could ever teach were by example? How much would I pray? How much would I serve? How much would I think of others as better than myself? What changes would that make in how I view church?

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Pithy Wisdom

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He didn’t come in the VIP door. He hugged so many before and stayed and talked and took pictures with people after. Though he has reasons to boast, he was humble…and wise. Here are some of Rick Warren’s quotes from this session:

“The more important your job, the more humble you must be.”

“Don’t take early losses seriously.”

“Don’t focus on attendance. Focus on attendance and discipleship.”

“You have got to get over the prima donna complex….For the anointing of God, you must build your life on integrity, humility, and generosity.”

“You don’t have to be perfect to have integrity, but you do have to be authentic.”

“What matters is do you love people.”

“We actually grow best and we grow fastest through models.”

“The lesson of the whale…. When you get to the top and you are ready to blow, that’s when they harpoon you.”

Thank you Rick!

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Another New, Old Form of Proclamation

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There is no message more powerful. None. It cannot be matched. Though sharper than a double-edged sword, the Bible is a relatively little-used force in modern worship and discipleship. Often, a speaker will refer to a brief passage or verse as a launch point to make their own argument or explanation. At times, a preacher will belabor a single word study. While this is not wrong, it does raise two questions. First, for whose glory is the message given and the study done? Second, is there possibly a more effective mode? I hope that this first question will be wrestled with by all who teach the Bible. As for the second…


Read it. Aloud. To the community. Quote it. Share it.

There are numerous examples where this is done in the Bible. A few examples include:

  • Joshua reading the law to the people – Joshua 8
  • Josiah, who is convicted by the law when it is read to him, then, in turn, he reads it to the people – 2 Kings 22-23
  • Jesus reads from Isaiah in the temple – Luke 4

Promised that the Word of God will not return void, we are to proclaim it. This may be done simplest and best by letting the Word communicate for itself.

Last year I was in Germany when David Platt quoted the first 8 chapters of Romans to a group. Though I was unable to be in the meeting, I spoke with many afterward that were moved to tears and repentance because of the power of the Bible in context. Though presented as a different message and occasion, here is the essence of that time and an example of how powerfully the Word can communicate. It may be of value to note that he does not read this text, but rather quotes it. I encourage you to listen to the message in its entirety. It is really, really good…Scripture.

Note: This is the second post on the theme–A New, Old Form of Proclamation.

Categories : Bible, church
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An Essential Metaphor

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book-cover-with-gray-matConveying what is arguably the best metaphor for missional, incarnational living, “Live Sent: you are a letter” is a healthy, needed read for followers of Christ. Jason Dukes, who I am proud to call a friend, uses an extended metaphor or conceit throughout the book to share the ever-present reality that as disciples and disciple-makers we are the image of Christ to the lost. Like the snail mail or an email that is sent to be read, our lives are the content that communicates who Christ is. The reading of a letter or email can happen anywhere, but it must be close and personal. It is real. The book is a call to examine the way we live our lives. It is a call to live sent. Constantly. Consistently. Christ-like. Living sent.

Jason poses the question, “What’s my part in this epic called humanity?’ His answer is that each of us is to live our lives just as we are sent by God–because we are. In the book he communicates four main points.

First, he suggests that “there may be some things we need to rethink.” These things include life, church, relationships, and our intentions. He encourages the reader to ask if the way we are doing each of these is consistent with our call to live sent?

Second, he states that “living sent is all about trusting your value.” Made in the image of God, we can move forward in confidence that our life or our “live” (short “i” there) is worthwhile because of him.

Third, he shares that to live sent, we must do life together. He writes that the “epic of humanity…should be seen most beautifully within the movement Jesus started that he called His ‘church.'”

Fourth, we are to be consistently “giving ourselves away intentionally.” There is a really good example for that. Enough said.

Pick the book up and read it–to the end. Don’t miss out on the stories and the post scripts. They are important to make this both a “construct shift” and provide some practical, non-sequential handles to put this in motion. Because after all, living sent is about making disciples as we go.

One final note here that is important. It is the unwritten but very read post script. Jason is one humble guy. Borrow or steal his stuff and he’ll be fine. Just live and share it is his hope. Jason is unique in that he is not reacting to something that he grew up with that he needs to fix or improve. He has seen this sentness lived out in his family as he grew up in inner-city New Orleans doing life there. Watching his parents live sent there. He is blessed as he is part of a network of other humble leaders and followers and learners. He walks through life with some great guys that are also humble leaders: Jim Collins (no, not that Jim Collins the other one), Hal Haller, Robert Beckman, Adam Mayfield, Billy Mitchell, and others. These men along with their wives and children make up a great cloud of witnesses that are making disciples as they live sent. This is a tribe that has encouraged their brother Jason to write down the way that he has lived and shared and modeled and lived…so that others may see the realness of it. So that others may be challenged and encouraged to live sent. These are guys that are a blessing to me though we have been together only for a spot of time so far. Thank you Jason and crew.


Lessons from Communist Countries

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Chinese FistAglow from time spent recently in Cuba, a dear friend shared with me about some of the exciting things continuing to happen there in the midst of hunger, oppression, and persecution. Having just returned from his latest trip to the island, he shared about the abandon with which the believers are living their lives for the glory of the Most High. He had just concluded teaching a series of theological training modules in a Cuban city. He shared that 75 pastors and lay leaders from this city completed the extended course. These 75 pastors and lay leaders completed the theological training to continue providing leadership and to continue fulfilling their responsibilities. The work that had already begun in and through each one was to carry on to final completion some day in the future. My friend contrasted this with the completion of his theological training in the U.S. some years prior, where a large percentage of the graduates were hoping to find a place to serve, a position from which to lead. These were works that were to be started on some day in the future to then begin working toward a day of completion. I think there are lessons to be had here, but I am going to leave this fruit hanging on the tree for the reader to pick and sort.

Years ago I read a book that I referred to as the 29th chapter of Acts–that was before I was aware of the Acts 29 network. A friend of mine reviewed The Heavenly Man recently. I gladly recommend the review and heartily recommend the book. So much in the book is unbelievable that I have asked some that I know who have lived and are networked in China about the book’s veracity. I have been told that not only is the book credible, but it is only a partial story of the innumerable things that God has done and is doing there today. There are so many things to learn here. One thing that I am reminded of connected with the theological education aspect (as referenced above) is a distinct curriculum. Mornings were spent memorizing the book of Matthew. The afternoons were spent learning how to escape including jumping out of 2 and 3-story windows.

Food for thought….

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