A Life of Deep Gladness: 7 Questions

A Life of Deep Gladness: 7 Questions

Gladness

Frederick Beuchner, a brilliant author (and Presbyterian pastor) states:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

7 QUESTIONS FOR INSIGHT AND BREATHLESSNESS

  1. How aligned are those two key elements in your ministry…in your life?
  2. If there is any uncertainty in their alignment, what is the source or cause of their linkage?
  3. How important is it to you to experience “deep gladness”?
  4. Are you motivated to meet “the world’s deep hunger” with your life’s calling?
  5. Assuming for a moment that your calling (work, ministry, job) isn’t pulsing with “deep gladness,” how impactfully can you meet the world’s “deep hunger?”
  6. Gently now…if you’re not now, this very day, vitally engaged in sharing that from which your “deep gladness” bubbles, for what do you delay changing your situation?
  7. What steps can you take, now, today, that will realign your deep gladness with what the world so desperately needs from you?

Engage here. What is your place of “deep gladness?” How does it meet “the world’s deep hunger?” Who do you know that needs to consider these questions right now?

Delighted photo credit goes to this wonderful artist: Monica Blatton via photopin cc

First Church of the Holy Sausage

First Church of the Holy Sausage

Making Sausage

Is Church Leadership Really Like Watching Sausage Being Made?

Recently, I heard it said, a bit jokingly, that there are two things a person shouldn’t see:

  1. Sausage being made
  2. Church leadership in action

Having seen my fill of church leadership in action, both as a full-time staff member and a deeply involved volunteer, I can tell you that there is some truth to the metaphorical warning. Like any institution that involves multiple people in a decision making process, the very process can be laborious and messy. Points of view, positions and even feelings can get ground up and extruded out, while the goal is that something palatable and useful is being made in that process.

I can also assert that more than a few times I felt as if I was the sausage. Or at least the raw material from which the sausage was squeezed from. Very little seemed “sacred” within the discussion and implementation of the leadership of the church. Indeed, it seemed no better than the poorest of secular behaviors.

But Must It Be Like This?

Here’s the thing: why is it acceptable for the church to behave in the same way as the secular? Indeed, is it so commonplace that it’s to be joked about?

Sausage, by its very nature, has a predictable sameness to it. Precise widths. Uniform lengths. Consistency of texture and taste. One link just like the next. Like little soldiers. After having been crushed, mangled and ground.

Is this what we really want from our church leaders’ experience? Numbing repetition? Commitment to “the way it’s always been done?” Creativity crushed? Acceptance of poor behavior amongst leaders?

A New Metaphor

If, in fact, the actions of the leadership of any church can be compared in any way to the making of sausage, then something is completely out of whack. While this may be commonplace among the secular (and I’m not convinced that’s true), it is not acceptable within a Christian community. It’s nothing more than a glaring symptom of disease, a heartbreaking lack of vision, capitulation and a full embrace of the world’s mediocrity.

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Does that sound like sausage making and something to avoid watching?

Engage here. Do you believe that church leaders are called to something higher than sausage creation? Is there someone you know that may need to consider this paradigm shift in metaphors…and behavior?

The Gospel According To Homer

The Gospel According To Homer

Homer philosophy - PFR fit

gos·pel

/ˈgäspəl/

 

One of the definitions of gospel is “a thing that is absolutely true.”

I love this cartoon, because it’s really funny. In fact, I’ve used it in pretty high-powered business meetings as a “stopping idea.” We often need to have something surprise us into stopping long enough to question our thinking. This funny cartoon does that, in part, because it’s so funny.

Which begs the question:Do we find this cartoon (used with my permission after scanning our own, personal-use, refridgerator magnet) so funny because it presents a belief we recognize lots of people hold as true…even self-evident?

Which begs another question: How often are we one of those “lots of people”?

Engage here. What do you think about Homer’s Gospel? Why? And who do you know that may need to question this belief?

Message in a (Beer) Bottle

Message in a (Beer) Bottle

Bravely Done-PFRsize

“Message in a bottle”

It’s been the stuff of iconic songs, heart-tugging movies, books, numerous businesses…and real life. So far, the oldest known message in a bottle was found in late-summer, 2012. The bottle was set adrift in 1914, as part of an experiment about ocean currents, along with about 1,900 other bottles. No deep meaning or romantic quality accompanied that message. Just instructions on who to contact. Odds are that the department and officials expecting news were not still waiting 98 years later.

So, imagine my surprise and wonder to receive my own message in a bottle! Especially since all I had to do was pull it from the refrigerator, instead of from the wintry sea. We’re over 500 miles from the nearest ocean. But there it was! The Deschutes Brewing Company had enclosed a message to me, within their excellent seasonal and festive “Jubelale” beer:

BRAVELY DONE

Nice! So thoughtful! But how could they know? Perhaps the good brewmeisters at Deschutes are like Santa, and know not only who has been naughty and nice, but also who has been brave and timid. Strange as it may seem, I actually smiled at the message. The past 12 months have been exceptionally challenging–and scary–in terms of major life-transitions: I left a company I’d been with for 14 years and leapt full-time into a new entrepreneurial business, and found success along the way. Foremost was obtaining a long-held dream of getting published (which happened twice), as well as being recognized and awarded as an author (also twice). Nevertheless, it’s been almost astonishing to me how much bravery the past year has required of me. Lots of fretting. Lots.

Bravery As A Goal

As we move into the new year, consider this: according to research, typical New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by January 21st. Of the same year! In other words, many of our resolutions are tossed before the end of the new year’s first month.

Perhaps our top goal for this year could be: to be more brave.

Seems worthy of our commitment, don’t you think? If we can dig deep enough to find some bravery!

Spend a little time chasing down great quotes about bravery. It’ll do you good. Really. Good. Here’s one for you to mull over:

Success is not final,

failure is not fatal:

it is the courage to continue that counts.

― Winston S. Churchill

 

What’s been your experience? Do you consider yourself brave? Do others?

Engage here.

Smoking Hopium & Other Self-Defeating Habits

Smoking Hopium & Other Self-Defeating Habits

~Joel ‘s Blog

Smoking Hopium

Even non-smokers smoke hopium from time to time. In fact, lots of people smoke loads of hopium. Especially between major disappointments. So, it is smoked literally from time to time, one time to the next time. It would seem that hopium is just as addictive as its rhyming cousin: opium.

Intense jags of hopium smoking begin with the declaration, “It will be different this time!” Smoking jags are accompanied by considerable avoidance behaviors. Hopium addicts pretend that the laws of the universe won’t apply to them. Secretly, they believe that Forrest Gump got it wrong.

“Stupid isn’t as stupid does.”

At the same time, hopium smokers believe it’s really random circumstance that directs their path in life. So no one can influence how their life goes. “Life is what happens after you make plans” is an anthem for hopium smokers.

But what if they’re wrong? What if personal responsibility and consequences to actions are both true? And what if there are unseen side-effects that come with smoking hopium?

Hopium’s Side-Effects

While there are plenty of undesirable outcomes from smoking hopium, there are some that are far more serious:

  1. Impulsive decisionssmoking hopium
  2. Wishful thinking
  3. Delayed engagement
  4. Unfulfilled resolutions
  5. Lack of discipline
  6. Blaming
  7. Shaming
  8. Denial
  9. Reactiveness
  10. Unhappiness

A hopium habit is counterproductive to a fulfilled, happy and engaged life. Expecting a different outcome from the same inputs is, well, central to smoking hopium. And nuts. Remember the definition of insanity?

Words to Live By

Taking on each day with hope and confidence is exactly what living in a hopium-induced fog is not. Living life from a hope-filled core is based on faith, demonstrated in action and forward steps. A life built on smoking hopium is based on timidity, which is demonstrated in paralysis and lack of movement.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. John F. Kennedy

What are your thoughts? Have you experience–direct, or observed–of hopium use?

Engage here.

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