When I first started working at McKinney, our pastoral care pastor came into my office and alerted me that I was "Pastor of the Day" on Thursdays.

"What a cool way to honor pastors," I thought. "Maybe they'll bring me cookies, let me wear a crown, and have everyone kiss my ring as they pass by my office when I'm the Pastor of the Day."

Turns out - that's not what Pastor of the Day is about after all.

We have a value of making sure anyone connected with our church is visited every day they're in the hospital. Pastor of the Day is the Pastor "on call" for hospital visits, and drop-ins who need to see a pastor, but don't have an appointment (often people needing financial assistance or in crisis situations).

Being Pastor of the Day is a pain in the rear sometimes, honestly. But I firmly believe it's one of the more important things I do all week. People who are in the hospital are normally at either one of the lowest or highest points in their lives. It means a lot for a pastor to go out of his way to come by the hospital and pray with them. And, it means something less if it comes from the Pastoral Care Pastor who gets paid primarily for those kinds of visits.

I just can't imagine ever getting to a position where I'm too important, or too busy to visit people in the hospital or in crisis. Visiting helpless people in their distress seems to be kind of a big deal in the Bible (James 1:27). When I get so caught up in strategic planning that I can't visit someone in the hospital, I'm missing the mark. When I'm so busy working on a sermon I'll deliver to people that I can't go see those people when they'll remember my words even more, my priorities are about me, and that's a bad starting place for ministry.

Go visit your people in the hospital. They'll never forget it. It will be one of the more strategic investments you'll make as a leader.


For the past couple of days I've been spending some of my "spare" time running down a couple of new ideas in theology that seem to be gaining popularity with younger theologians. We're in the process of trying to hire another pastor to our staff right now, and I've looked at a lot of resumes over the past couple of months. As a part of the questionnaire we send to candidates who show promise, we ask about the things they've read that have had a significant influence on their life. Many of those younger candidates are listing the work of NT Wright and James Dunn, who are proponents of what's called "The New Perspective(s) on Paul" as having a significant influence on their thinking.

I must have been passing notes to my wife during the class where those guys were mentioned in seminary, because until this week I knew next-to-nothing about that perspective. But that's not the point of my post.

Here's my problem. In order to gain a balanced understanding of the perspective, I've had to read at least two books: one that is an argument in favor of that position, and one that is a critical response to it. Now I love to read, but have a ministry to lead as well as a baby who poops in his diaper every ten minutes. I don't have time to wade through two or more books on every nuance of theology out there.

There are subscriptions out there for digests of secular management books, where CEOs and CFOs can read one periodical and get a summary and synopsis of the new books out that are starting to make waves in the world of management. That way, busy executives can peruse the "Big Ideas" of several books to glean the concepts and evaluate whether or not they need to actually read the book.

Does anyone know if something like that exists within the world of theology? Theological Journals do reviews of books, which is moderately helpful. But I'd prefer something that has less evaluation and more reflection of the book's actual content so I can do my own evaluation. Reviewers don't always reflect the contents of a book fairly or accurately, so they're not always the best source.

If nothing like that exists out there, it would be a great project for a few academically minded seminary graduates to undertake. I'd pay quite a bit of money to save that much time, and know several friends who would do the same.

Can someone help me?!

Reflect or Repel?

I've mentioned before that our Young Adults are all on a trek through the New Testament this year. We read a chapter a day, five days a week, and will complete the entire New Testament right after Christmas. In addition to our private readings each day, we're teaching through the portions we've read on Sundays. It hasn't been a perfect strategy - there are some kinks we'd need to iron out before we did it again - but you can't complain about the fact that the young adults who have been around the whole year will at least be exposed to lessons through the entire New Testament in 2008. That's not a bad thing.

We just finished 1 Corinthians (we're not going in order). I wrote a huge paper on 1 Corinthians in seminary, and have studied it several times before, but felt a freshness as we studied through the book this time.

It's hard to get away from the simplicity of the book. The point of the book is the point of the Church: Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:2).

Paul reminds them of the importance of a singular focus on Jesus Christ and Him crucified(chapters 1-4), talks about things that were distracting those outside the church from that message (chapters 5-6), things that were distracting those inside the church from that message (chapters 7-11), and then paints the picture of what a church with the correct focus should look like (chapters 12-14) before wrapping up the book with a reminder of the eternal hope we have in Jesus Christ and Him crucified (chapters 15-16).

The church in the United States isn't too far from the Corinthian church. We're divided, distracting, and distracted just like they were. And as I studied through 1 Corinthians, I couldn't help think how simple it would be to solve a majority of our problems by placing everything on the grid of Paul's message. "Is the thing we are doing reflecting or repelling the singular message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified?"

There are big issues out there to deal with today. There were big issues in Paul's day too. But sometimes, when we're chasing down big issues we forget all about bigger issues... like the Gospel.


We started a new series yesterday at McKinney called "Satisfied?" It's a series in the book of Ruth, which deals (among other things) with principles that enrich all of life's relationships.

I had a conversation yesterday with someone who was surprised we were going through the book of Ruth. You don't hear a lot of churches covering Old Testament books.

This is the third Old Testament book we've covered this year, and I'm really excited to be at a church that values the Old Testament as highly as the New.

Lots of churches camp out in the New Testament because it's easier. There's an extra step in interpreting and applying the Old Testament to the Church because the Old Testament was written to Israel, not the Church.

But, the Old Testament reveals Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27). When Paul said that "all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable" (2 Timothy 3:16), he would have been understood at that point to be talking primarily about the Old Testament.

Some of the books of the Old Testament sound eerily contemporary (Malachi, Amos). Some of them transcend culture and worship-styles (Psalms, Proverbs). Others, like the book of Ruth, demonstrate great lessons for practical living in relationship under the reign of a Sovereign God. You don't get much more practical than that.

If you're in Fort Worth for the next few weeks, I'd encourage you to make it a commitment to be around for these next few weeks. The people closest to you will be glad you did.


This "being a dad" thing is pretty cool. It's also a pretty huge learning curve. Here are a few of the lessons I've learned.

1. "Apart from Me, you can do nothing" is absolutely true. If I didn't believe in a Sovereign God, I don't think I could do this thing. When he whimpers, cries, or coughs in the middle of the night, God has to be in control.

2. I married well. There is nothing greater than a wife who knows how to love sacrificially.

3. Hormones suck.

4. Children really are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3).

5. The "fearfully and wonderfully made" thing is absolutely true too (139:14). Casen was born, and knew how to eat immediately. He's pretty sharp, and has to have been given that instinct by God.

6. Sometimes, you sacrifice without even thinking twice, just because love is so deep (Romans 5:8)

I'm sure there will be more to come. More pictures if you're interested: thefreelandfam.blogspot.com

Good Morning!

Last night was a pretty good night. Casen ate about every 2.5 hours, and Kari and I slept for about 2.5 hours total. I guess if you're going for symmetry, that's a pretty good day. He spent most of the time with his friends in the nursery so Mom and Dad could pretend to sleep without worrying about every little sigh and snore (he "breathes sweetly" like his mother).

Kari's enjoying Orange Juice this morning for the first time since she was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes several months ago. She enjoyed a piece of a Hershey bar from our friends Chris and Jen, and a chocolate chip cookie last night. Casen's blood sugars all look great too.

If you're in Fort Worth and are wanting to meet the little guy, we'd love to see you. Kari's going to take a shower here in a few minutes, and Casen's waiting in the nursery to see the pediatrician. At some point today, he's going to go the way of all good little Jewish babies, so he might be out of commission for some of you. Between that and a fairly rigorous feeding schedule, he'll try to work you into his busy day!
I think after this I'm going to start posting pictures at Kari's new blog - http://thefreelandfam.blogspot.com/. That way I don't jam up the RSS feed of those of who you are not really interested in baby pictures! I'll limit my bragging to Family Friday. Of course, how can you resist this face?


Boppo and Casen

The grandparents formerly known as "Big Mama" and "Fat Boy." Apparently that's not an appropriate name for grandparents.

Come on ladies...

Grandma Freeland and Millie in the background.

Happy Birthday Casen Knox Freeland

August 19, 2008

7 pounds, 6 ounces

20 inches long


Casen and Kari are doing great.

For those of you concerned about my welfare, I'm doing great too. I stayed conscious throughout the whole thing.

Millie and Boppo are here

Millie and Boppo made it just in time. The nurse just came in to check and says we're ready to start pushing momentarily. I'm going silent until later - hopefully with the big announcement.

Thanks for your prayers.

One more pic for a little while.

Looks like the electric razor failed me this morning. Oh well.

Kari's at an 8, which is good. Should have a kiddo in the next 3 or 4 hours. I'm looking forward to giving him a spankin'

Big Mama and Fat Boy Make Their Arrival

I think Dad set a personal best land-speed record en route from Stillwater. He usually limits himself to around 45 on the Interstate, but must have pushed 60 this afternoon. They made it to the hospital this afternoon about 3:30. I think Mom sprinted into the hospital - she was out of breath when they made it to the room.

Still waiting on Millie and Boppo - they're old pros at this, so I imagine they stopped for a leisurely dinner around Ardmore...

Glad we could be your entertainment during the workday. I've nearly quadrupled the number of hits on my blog today, so it's fairly evident some of you need more to do at work.

Still truckin'

Kari's still trying to get some rest. She's got Fresh Prince of Bel Aire playing in the background, and a blood pressure monitor and heart monitor that keep making noise, but she's doing pretty well. We think Big Mama and Fat Boy Freeland will be here shortly, and Millie and Boppo Williams to be here sometime just after them.

Doctor is estimating that the baby will probably arrive sometime around 7 or 8pm, so if the details bore you, you might check back before bedtime to see the excitement. To quote my pastor, "don't describe the labor, just show me the baby."

As for pictures, my cousin-in-law Phil Barrett just emailed me a PSA. Kari and I both got a kick out of it, so I'm sure he won't mind me sharing it with you.


I checked out your blog and I hope I am not too late. I noticed you are taking pictures of your wife in the delivery room and you were inside 15’. Are you crazy man? What are you thinking? You MUST maintain at least a 15’ safe barrier while taking pictures of your wife while in labor. If not, you may find yourself downstairs in the O.R. getting your camera surgically removed from your body. (I personally recommend a 15’ safe barrier at all times) PLEASE!!! DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER AND THE CAPABILITIES OF A WOMAN IN LAROR. It is sometimes frightening but just hang tough. My last caution: Do not let your wife get a hold of your hand or any part of your body during a contraction…. It WILL get crushed! (15’ safe barrier)

Call me in a week and we can discuss post partum depression. WOW, there’s a topic.

Good luck and let us know when “C” arrives.


Misbehaving Sons

Today was the only day we had told Baby C not to arrive. I reminded him last night before we went to sleep that today was the day Dr. Deem was working at the clinic in Granbury, so we needed him to hang on for at least a day.

I'm going to tell the doctor to spank his little hiney when he finally shows up.

Kari's progressing well. I think she's trying to be like the Jewish women in Moses day who were "vigorous" and gave birth in a hurry. But Big Mama and Fat Boy Freeland just called and told Kari to cross her legs so they can be here when he arrives.

For those of you worried that I'm missing the moment of the birth while I'm blogging, rest assured that my updates are strategically timed and okayed by Kari. The first was while she was getting the IV - the second was while she was getting the epidural. Now, she's trying to take a nap. (Those of you who know me know why my timing blog entries around the parts involving needles are strategic).

Kari says "hey," and that there's a reason they call it "labor" rather than "picnic." She also thinks that the epidural is one of God's greatest inventions.

Before Pics

This was this morning. Isn't that the cutest little pregnant lady you've ever seen?

And just now. Waiting for the epidural momentarily. The nurse took about 6 tries to get the IV in. Kari's a champ - she didn't pass out a single time. Much more of a man than her hubby.

Go Time

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog entry for a special bulletin from Labor and Delivery.

The Freelands have entered the building.

Rumblin' started about 3am on a fairly consistent basis. I was blissfully unaware of the situation until 5:45 when I woke up to go to work and Kari told me to keep the cell phone handy. About 9am she told me she called the doctor to beg for pain medicine and they told her to come on in to check things out.

We waited on him forever, and she was starting to get impatient. I said, "you know, you could really speed this up if your water would just break."

Thirty seconds later, it did.

I'll keep you posted. Right now, Kari's pretty okay with me liveblogging from the delivery room. Once we get closer to time (the doctor thinks sometime this evening), my updates will be a little less frequent.

If you're in the FW area, thanks for praying for us. You might wait to stop by until after the baby's born - as much as Kari loves being cheered on, I'm not sure this is a spectator sport!

What kind of team is your team?

Most church staffs describe themselves as a "team." But I've been on staff at four different churches in my life, and although each of them described their staff as a "team," the staff dynamic in each of those churches has been c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y different.

This past week as I watched the Olympics, I realized the difference: there are a lot of different types of teams. Their strategies of teamwork are different, which means their interaction and goal as a team are different. Here's how I would describe the last four teams I've served as a part of (in no particular order).

Gymnastics Team - Each person competes in individual events, with the results counting for or against the entire team. With the exception of the "hug" at the end of an individual event, there is little or no team interaction, and virtually no widespread team strategy. The coach finds the best individuals in each event and lets them do what they do best.

Track and Field Team - The track team is even more individualized than the gymnastics team. They travel together and wear the same uniforms, but that's about it. Each individual worries about himself, because the other members of the team have little or no affect on him. Success is individual - there are no team medals.

Soccer/Futbol Team - The soccer team has a common goal, and each person contributes towards that goal. Each person on the team has a position/specialty, though if the situation demands it they will switch. Strikers play defense when the other team has the ball, and sometimes (penalty kicks) defenders are responsible for scoring points. If one person fails, someone else is normally able to pick up the slack. The team rises and falls, wins or loses, and plays every aspect of the game together.

Basketball Team - The basketball team is fairly similar to the soccer team, except that (at least in the case of the United States) there tend to be two or three stars, and everyone else supports them in accomplishing the team goals. The whole team gets rewarded, though only a couple get recognized for their contribution on a regular basis.

How would you describe your staff team? Which philosophy do you think is the best? Can you think of other examples?

Wild Goose Chase - Review

I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Mark Batterson's newest book, "Wild Goose Chase" which will be available on Amazon this week. From time to time, authors allow a few bloggers to have a sneak peak of their books in return for writing a review so they can get the word out.

When I do reviews like this, I'm always afraid I'm going to end up like the Old Testament prophet who receives gifts to prophesy a certain way, but always gave bad news instead.

Fortunately, this isn't that time.

Wild Goose Chase is a spiritually encouraging book about following the Holy Spirit's guidance in your life. The title refers to a Celtic term for the Holy Spirit that is translated "The Wild Goose."

The book is not a theologically intense book, which is one of its strengths and weaknesses. It's a very easy read, and gives practical advice for engaging the adventure of a life that pursues the Holy Spirit's leading. Mark Batterson is an anecdote machine, which makes his main points extremely easy to remember and apply. The Wild Goose Chase is worth picking up if you're looking for a good, encouraging challenge to leave your life of comfort in search of adventure.

Batterson begins by helping the reader understand that the way of the Wild Goose should be pursued by prayer, Bible study, and then by following the desires of our hearts. One helpful reminder is that we shouldn't primarily seek signs to discern God's will, that signs almost always follow faith.

The rest of the Wild Goose Chase examines six cages in which believers often lock themselves; cages which prevent the Christian from chasing the adventure of a life pursuing God. Those cages are: responsibility (allowing our human responsibilities to eclipse our divine calling), routine (exchanging a dynamic relationship with God for routine), assumptions (creating God in the image of humanity), guilt (being held captive to our past mistakes), failure (giving up on dreams because of a setback), and fear (allowing worries to dictate our decisions).

If you're looking for a theological book on following God's will, you're going to be disappointed. The Wild Goose Chase has a tendency to use Scripture tangentially rather than primarily - meaning you get the picture sometimes that Batterson went to the Bible looking for an illustration of his already formed point rather than the other way around. He doesn't misuse Scripture, and isn't unbiblical, but sometimes the illustrations feel like a teeny bit of a stretch.

The only other weakness I came away with in the book is in Batterson's sense of adventure. Although I wholeheartedly agree that a life that chases the prompting of the Holy Spirit will always be an adventure, I'm not sure God has called everyone to relieve starvation in Africa, educate children in the inner city, or make movies with redemptive messages. Paul chased the Wild Goose and it led him through an amazing adventure. But the potter who stayed behind in Ephesus and quietly changed the world was on an adventure too - even though it might not have looked like an adventure to those around him. The point is: when you're keeping in step with the Spirit, serving the God of the Universe, life is an adventure because you're running towards eternity.

If you're looking for a book that will encourage you to break out of "safe," check out this book as soon as it is released.

Family Friday

Baby "C" watch is down to 6 days pre-induction, although our OBGYN said yesterday indicated she wouldn't be at all surprised if Kari popped before that. I've developed a Pavlovian response in which every time my phone rings, my heart stops. That's not good.

Pregnancy and marriage are two of God's greatest gifts; not just because in each case a lifelong relationship is established, but because people do a pretty great job of coming out of the woodwork to love on you.

We've had a bunch of showers, where people have dumped truckloads of gifts on us. Kari's hand is permanently deformed from writing "thank you" notes, though even they can't convey exactly how grateful we are for people thinking of us.

If you're in a Sunday School class or small group with young married people who are expecting children, the Union class at McKinney Church is currently setting an example you should follow. At some point late in the pregnancy (and also before marriages, for that matter), the class devotes the first several minutes of class to specifically praying for these new babies. They put the expectant mom and dad in the middle of the room and form a circle around them, and then take turns praying for that child. It's a really great tradition.

In ten or fifteen years, as some of these people visit with our son, they'll honestly be able to say that they were praying for him before he was born. What a cool thing...

Does Your Goal Need Jesus?

"Do we have a work we couldn't imagine doing for 30 minutes without prayer? If not, we either need another work, or need to do an old work with a new focus." - Gary Haugen

I had a great post typed up this morning, and hit "publish" about the same time the power went off at the church office. So, the post went into oblivion. That's probably an okay thing: since I'm in a hurry, I'll just post an abbreviated version.

I think one of the greatest sins of the 21st century is idolatrous individualism. As kids, Big Bird told us we could do anything we wanted to do. The Little Engine That Could could because he believed he could. Walt Disney told us if we could believe it, we could do it. And that's true...

... as long as what we're aiming to do is eternally insignificant.

Jesus is pretty clear (John 15:5) that we can't do anything apart from Him. Paul is pretty clear that through Him, we can do everything (Philippians 4:13).

Our problem is, we've got small goals, big selves, and a small God. Instead, we should serve a Big God with humility, trusting Him to accomplish His eternal (big) purposes through us.

What are you doing this week that you can't pull off if God doesn't show up?

Truth or Therapy

The problem in the church today is that we have bought into a lie. We have transferred our allegiance from Truth to therapy. - Chuck Colson

I'm not going to lie - I wasn't looking forward to Colson's portion of the Leadership Summit. But he led with this quote, and I wanted to dance on the table.

This is an area of my passion, and an area in which I'm working hard to grow.

It seems like a ton of churches fall on one side of the Truth/Therapy Spectrum or the other. Some churches spend years going through a single book of the Bible verse-by-verse because they want to capture every nuance, and their people are lopsided as a result.

Other churches forgo expositional preaching altogether because they think it is conflict with "meeting people where they are." But those people aren't ever trained to go anywhere else because they need a pastor to hold their hand and help them through life-change. They can't discover that Scripture is relevant to their lives. Instead they need a pastor to help them take that step, which is horribly inefficient leadership.

I refuse to believe there has to be a dilemma. The Scriptures are alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). God's Word always accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it out (55:11). God's Word doesn't need to be made relevant... it already is relevant.

When we proclaim God's Word (2 Timothy 4:2) clearly, it is therapeutic. But enough of creativity for creativity's sake. Enough of motivational speeches designed to affect life change based on logic and anecdotes rather than on God's Words. Enough clever speeches and gimmicky stunts that are completely separated from helping people understand what God has said. That's therapy divorced from Truth and it's short-sighted at best, eternally futile at worst.

Application of a sermon and application of a Scripture are not the same thing. Godly leaders lead with Truth, and allow application to stem from that.

Leading Yourself

"Everyone I've seen fail as a leader did not fail in leading others; they failed in leading themselves." - Bill George

I've got a list on the inside of one of my Bibles of all the pastors I know personally who have fallen from leadership because of hidden sin, along with a quote from Howard Hendrics: "This Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book."

I'm a fairly young pastor, so the list is only five or six names today - which is five or six names too long.

The guys I know who have fallen in their leadership are (for the most part) good guys who absolutely love the Lord, and love doing ministry. They're usually good fathers and good husbands with a significantly large blind spot. They weren't seeking hidden sin (whether sexual sin, or otherwise), they just passively fell into it.

The list in my Bible would be significantly longer if I included people who were not in full-time ministry - leadership falls are not exclusively a ministry problem.

From my limited experience, Bill George is absolutely right. You can't passively fall into sin if you're actively avoiding it.

What happens is this: great leaders recognize that leadership is about service (Mark 9:35), and service is about others. So we spend all our energy investing in serving others that we neglect the leadership of ourselves, and allow stuff to chip away at our foundation until everything collapses underneath us.

Great leaders understand that they have to lead themselves before they can lead anyone else. They flip the corporate structure upside down and begin with themselves and the people closest to them. Only then should they look for margin to lead others.

Bonus Post - Family Friday... on Monday

Since I was busy being hip on Friday, I missed my Family Friday post. So, here it is today, with some bonus material.

Baby watch is at 10 days and counting. We're going in for an ultrasound today, which is always a load of fun. He always likes to roll over and make sure there is no doubt about his gender.

Kari is being a trooper, even though she's uncomfortable most of the time. Last night was the exception. She was nice, comfy, and beginning to snore (sweetly) at the point Michael Phelps and the United States 4x100 meter relay team took the starting blocks for their race last night.

I kept my composure through 3.5 of the 4 legs of the relay, but as Jason Lezak begain to gain ground on that big-mouthed French guy I started to softly whisper "go, Go, GO."

Kari didn't hear me.

...Until Lezak touched the wall, and the result came up on the screen.

I went from horizontal to vertical on our bed in one-hundredth of a second, pumped my fist, and yelled pretty loud.

You know, it's amazing how fast a pregnant lady can move when she puts her mind to it...

It's also amazing how hard they can hit...

Why I Love Conferences...

I didn't know how helpful the Summit would be last week, but ended up having a great time. Two or three of the sessions were extremely good, two or three were okay, and two or three I could have done without. But that's a pretty good conference batting average for picky me.

The best part about church conferences is the ability they give me to unplug from my current ministry and view things from a birds-eye view. Our church staff is intentionally small, which has some significant upsides (I'll blog about that separately someday). But one of the downsides is that it doesn't afford me much in-office time to sit back and think about the ministry I lead. When I do unplug, it's usually for vacation where I try to focus as little as I can on the things going on on the front lines.

Conferences let me disconnect without checking out. I can hear what other people are doing, and spend some time intentionally thinking about what I'm doing. In other words, it lets me down-shift and download new information and ideas.

This week, I'll re-post the two or three best quotes of the weekend and talk about why I found them so helpful. If you didn't read the live-blog, stay tuned and I'll try to distill it down.

Finally, as always, the Summit was a chance to spend some quality time with some of our best friends in the world - Jason and Joy. Drew and Dawn met us for dinner on Friday night, but Drew was pretty important at the Summit. He said he was the emcee... I think he was just sharking the Willow Creek people for one of their vacant teaching pastor positions.

Relentless - Bill Hybels

- Re: Chuck Colson - I hope I'm as fired up as that guy is when I'm 76.

- (Quoting Mother Theresa) If God imparts Himself to us fully, do we respond with only a fraction of ourselves? How could we?

- Are you the kind of person who is lighting up the radar screen in the heavens right now by your yieldedness, willingness to do God's will without delay by refusing him nothing

- I meet leaders all the time who want to lead a bigger deal more than they want more of God in their life. They wish God would carte blanche cooperation with their plans.

- If you were God for a day, would you pick you for additional entrustments?

- There is a direct correlation between carte blanche cooperation - white flag surrender, and receiving a fresh assignment from God.

- Don't ever extinguish something new that God is trying to give life to in this world through your life. Embrace calling from God without delay. Refuse God nothing. You will never regret it.

- Outlast the opposition. Out pray the problems. Wear out those who stand in the way... who knows what God might do if you hang on to the vision He has for your life.

- (Quoting Mother Theresa) Even though I don't feel His presence for long periods of time, I will seek to love Him as He deserves to be loved.

- I don't know why I go through periods of my life where I can't feel the warmth of His Spirit more than people think I ought to feel it... but [I will] continue to serve Him anyway.

An Uncompromising Focus on People: Interview with Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson is the vice chairman and CEO of Best Buy.

- I went to seminary because my dad was a pastor and I was trying to honor my father's dream, and discovered that was not my dream.

- I didn't think I was attracted to being a leader. I got the chance to watch a lot of other people lead.

- I can't predict [the stories of the people who work with us] but I can influence them.

- I can't believe how lucky I am to be leading and alive at this particular moment in history.

- The [stat/metric] I care most about: If our employees are engaged in what they do, the customer is bound to have a good experience.

Question: How do you raise the level of engagement of employees?
- It takes someone leading who authentically cares about the people they are leading.

- One of the things that exists is that we have an image of what the leader is, and people are drawn to leadership because they're looking for affirmations of themselves. But a real leader gets that through a circuitous route through the joy they receive out of the empowerment of people.

- We (even as a church) separate things that aren't separated. If I have a leader that is going through a crisis, I have a number of problems. Long before I see sales disappating, I'm going to see it in someone's eyes.

- I don't think I've ever thought I was born to do this... I do think I am called to do the job.

How do you motivate someone who is under-performing?
- The first thing you have to go to is the base of what somebody leads from. If someone doesn't really believe in the core of the work. How are they coding what they're doing?

- Financial inscentives are powerful, but thin. They are not complete.

Bill: one of the challenges of pastoral leadership is that we are forced to be better leaders since we don't have financial incentives to use "willy nilly." It isn't looked well-upon.

Brad: (paraphrase) You are doing the most important work - more important than ours. You affect the underpinnings of the things that everyone uses in our company. If it's available and would help you to use it, you are morally obligated to use it, whether or not it's frowned upon.

Bill: Being a Christian and having such enourmous wealth come your way... any dissonance in that?

Brad: It's not such a good thing. You now have accountability for the wealth that came your way. It has its temptations and its responsibility...

Bill: Does everybody at Best Buy know that Brad is a Christ-Follower? If so, how would they know. If not, how would you be talk about that?

Brad: I'm running a secular company representing people of a broad range. I think people can tell I'm a Christian based on what they see. The toughest time I've had is when the person I'm working with is frustrated and struggling, and I know the answer, and I can't tell them... it's based on permission. Only when I sense the person wants to open up that dialogue to me. In my lens that is a green light. The last thing I want to do is let power [that comes from my position] enter the dialogue.

Bill: What do you want your legacy to be?

Brad: 4 Values at best buy - having fun while being the best, unquestioned integrity, learning through change, unleashing the power to lead.

- Treasure how much the people in the congregation's faith is being enriched by the things around them every day and that they get to take their faith into interesting places every day.

Interview of Catherine Rohr by Jim Mellado

Catherine Rohr is the founder and CEO of "Prison Entrepreneurship Program," a program that connects senior business executives with inmates to connect them with values-based entrepreneurial training enabling them to productively re-enter society.

- These guys have already proven to be entrepreneurs. We're just helping them excel at something they're already good at, legally.

- I truly believe God put me on earth so I could ultimately end up in prison.

- My favorite prayer: "Bring it on, God. Bring it on."

- We went all-in financially. Then God called me to Texas, which was the harder piece.

- For me it was one act of obedience at a time. One thing after another.

- God has a better plan for my life than mine, so I just need to chill out and let Him be in control.

- David, Moses, and Paul are "old school" murderers. We want to be like them. But today's murderers can't shake the label of "ex-con."

- Just show up in the morning [in prayer and reliance on God], get your orders for the day, and execute in obedience.

- (Jimmy) All of us lead up.

- It's very important to me that we don't take a dope dealer, teach him to be a better business man so he can be a better dope dealer. We're about building character.

- We can be broken and still be lovable, and loved.

- Don't let your emotions over criticism get in the way of you doing your business.

- I could spend all day long addressing rumors, so I don't.

- I don't work with perverts, lingerers, or slackers, so don't give me a lingering look or I'll kick you out.

- If I'm not in good shape (emotionally, spiritually, in my marriage), I'm letting the whole organization down.

- People like to give out of success, they don't like to fund out of desperation to keep the lights on. They want to be connected to a winner.

- We want to be about compassion, not pity.

- A lot of people tend to be wowed by my story. I'm just a person who had a skillset who gave it up for God. Why doesn't that happen more often? It's not about what Texas would be missing if I didn't follow in obedience. I can't imagine what I would be missing if I didn't follow.

- I dare you to pray "Bring it on, God."

Defending the Faith - Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson is the founder and president of Prison Fellowship, and author of a host of books and articles including a new book: "The Faith."

- The Great Commission is not about making converts; it's about making learners.

- The problem in the church today is that we have bought into a lie. We have transferred our allegiance from Truth to therapy.

- As a marine, I learned to do : Survey the field, serve the troops, give them a bigger vision... of a cause greater than themselves. Give them the challenge: "Follow me."

- If you're a shepherd and a leader, your job is not to pander to your people. It is to lead them. Lead them to defend the Truth and defend the faith.

- I respect all religions and belief systems, but I follow mine because they're True.

- Stop blaming the culture when everything goes wrong. The culture's sacked because we live under the fall. Culture is nothing but religion incarnate.

- What is Christianity? A conversation? Religion? Relationship with Christ? Church? None of those things... well, all of those things... but not just one of those things. John 1:1. "Logos" referes to all knowledge which has ever been or can ever been known. It is a worldview and a way of seeing all things through the eyes of God.

- Truth claims that Christianity demands: (1) God is. (2) He has spoken. (3) This is a fallen world. (4) The Birth of Christ is not just about a baby in a manger. (5) Unity is our condition.

- What's problem with the world today? I am. We're the problem. If you get that wrong, you'll get your theology wrong.

- A conversion is not when you raise your hand. It is when you go to the cross yourself and the old person is turned in. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

- It's not about whether you like the music. No! You're a part of a community.

- [Evangelism:] We don't impose, we propose.

- Don't say stupid things like "There is no Truth." Sure there is. There is Truth and you can know it. Without Truth there can be no freedom, liberty, or morality.

IT: How Leaders Can Get IT and Keep IT - Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel is the lead pastor of LifeChurch.tv and the author of numerous books including, "It," "Chazown," and one of the best books I know on dating: "Going all the Way."

- At Lifechurch, every person contributes together toward seeing one life changed.

- The key for any church maxing out is its leaders understanding who they are.

- We're not about being multi-site; we're about leading people to Christ. When it stops working or slows down we'll try something else.

- "It" is not the Spirit, because it's wrong and untrue that churches who don't have "It" don't have the Spirit.

- The campus that my family attends is the only one of 13 campuses that is smaller [over the past few years.]

- What is "It?" The answer is, "Don't know."

What we know about "It":
- God makes "it" happen
- We can't create it, reproduce it, manufacture it.
- It is rare that one person will bring "it," but it's common that one person will kill "it."
- It has an upside: transformed lives.
- It has a downside: critics.

Ministries that have "it" have a laser focus.
- Many people think more ministry=better. I think better ministry=better.

- What can you be the very best at in your ministry or organization?

- To reach people nobody else is reaching you have to do things nobody else is doing. To do things that nobody else is doing we can't do things that everyone else is doing.

- Basically what we were doing with a lot of our ministries was entertaining Christians from other churches.

- What are you doing that you need to stop doing? Take that home and let it keep you awake.

Churches with "it" see opportunities where everyone else sees obstacles. They see potential when everyone else sees problems.
- You have everything you need to do exactly what God wants you to do. (2 Peter 1:3)

- Lots of people say God provides by what He provides. We've found that God often guides by what He doesn't provide.

- What is God trying to show you through your greatest limitation?

Churches with "it" are willing to fail when those without "it" tend to play it safe.
- Failure is not an option; it's a necessity.

- Failure isn't missing God. It's often the first step into seeing God.

- God may be giving you a vision to do something and there are three steps of failure you need to do before you get it right.

- What has God called you to do that you're afraid to attempt? Now when are you going to do it?

Churches with "it" are led by people who have "it."
- You need to have "it" for your ministry to get "it."

- Sin is fun for a while and then it will mess. You. Up. Like a good sneeze. It feels good, and then there's stuff everywhere that needs to be cleaned up.

- [At one point in my life,] God showed me I had become a full-time pastor and a part-time follower of Christ.

- If you don't have "it," what are you going to do to get "it." I pray you don't sleep until you get "it" and fall in love again with Jesus.

"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Leading in New Cultural Realities, Part 2 - Efrem Smith

Efrem Smith is the senior pastor of the Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and author of "The Hip Hop Church" and "Raising Up Young Heroes."

- The culture should not be the enemy, but it's also not to be fully embraced either. It's complex.

- The world is before us, and we have to decide if we will lead in it.

- It seems like the more diverse we get the more divided we are. We are in need of leaders who will speak, love, serve, navigate this multiccultural world to bring about healing, peace, empowerment, true biblical prosperity where the second class have an idea that there is a God who brings...hope...

- The increase in multi-cultural marriages and children mean a generation that will not live by the rigid race labels of the past. We can't sing "red and yellow, black and white" any more. That was a cute kiddie song, but we have to grow up folks. People aren't there anymore.

- We must step out, not as experts and the qualified, but as ones who need to have something within us crucified so that we might be able to lead.

- We need now to lean on something above the government systems of the earth. We need something more supernatural and bigger than just democracy and capitalism in order to engage this world that it might be transformed.

- I don't know nobody who loves across race like God who sent His only begotten Son.

- If you can't love across race, class, urban and suburban, you can't lead today. Profit margin is not going to help you alone.

- Tina Turner changed my life.

- It always makes me crazy when people say "God told me." What are you going to say after that? So, I always say "I think I heard..." just to even it out. I think I heard... God say...!

- We've been sitting in the church like racial economic disparities don't exist within us.

- This is no time leaders for empire building. We need a force of children of God who will go to the places where hurting people are. We get that by abiding in Christ's love.

- Sometimes we have to stop dreaming about church buildings and get a vision of people transformation.

- We must be loving, abiding, and confessing leaders.

- One of the best things a leader can do is say "my bad."

- I'm not a meteorologist, but I heard that when high pressure meets low pressure, that's when you get a storm. And I can't help but think that some of the [storms in Christianity today are] because of the high pressure of what God wants to do againt the low pressure of what we'd rather do.

- The church is the only place in the world where people can "legitimately" make the case that it's okay to limit themselves to people who look like them.

- I understand the reason for single-ethnic churches. But what if we actually looked at what caused the problem in the first place and saw each other as beyond red and yellow black and white and saw that race labels aren't really who we are? What if we gave people on earth a sneak preview of heaven?

- God wants to perfect something, and perfecting comes through pruning.

- Crazy deranged kids come in all colors and sizes. In the hip-hop community we don't need any more grown men with "lil" before their name.

- If Bill Hybels can be Dutch, I can be Irish, and I'm getting into it. I eat Lucky Charms for breakfast.

**This is the point where Efrem started really preaching, and it was beyond typing. Holy toledo. I'm ready to preach now...**

Leading in New Cultural Realities, Part 1 - John Burke

John Burke is the Lead Pastor of Gateway Community Church in Austin, TX and author of No Perfect People Allowed, and a new book, Soul Revolution.

- What kind of soil do people need in order to grow into the masterpiece God created them to be? Is it possible that God created leaders to cultivate that soil?

- We don't have to fix or change or grow people - that's not our job. That's God's job. As coworkers, our job is the soil.

- Are you willing to get your hands dirty?

- How many sexually active drunk atheists do you have in your church?!

- What does it mean if we call ourselves Christian leaders, but our hands are not messy in the lives of the people Jesus Christ came for?

- Grace is the environment where people grow best.

- Are we leading people to see others through the eyes of grace? If you saw a Rembrandt painting covered in mud, would you treat it like junk? No, you would take it to a (M)aster restorer who could restore it to the priceless work of art it was created to be.

- Too many times church people make it difficult for people who are turning to God (Acts 15:19).

- The core problem of humanity is not behavioral. The source of all societal problems is broken relationship with God and with others.

- The good news, leaders, is that we can stop hiding, pretending to be something we're not - that's Phariseeism.

- What if we bring people into our small groups and they never change? Then you'll be like Jesus. [Don't forget about Judas].

- The branch doesn't have to work real hard to bear much fruit - it just stays connected to the vine. (John 15)

- Stay connected. Fruit happens.

- We did an experiment (The 60/60 experiment) and set our watches for every 60 minutes to help interrupt the tendency we have to ignore God throughout the day.

- Are you willing to get your hands dirty in the soil of cultivating this emerging culture that is around you? Tilling the soil with grace and authentic community... it will be messy, but it will be beautiful.

Hybels Interview with Wendy Kopp

Wendy Kopp is the founder of Teach for America, a non-profit agency which places some of America's most highly educated teachers in low-income areas.

- It's easy to be a leader when you're pursuing something that you absolutely believe in.

- We give people a gift when we give them the opportunity to contribute to something truly significant.

- [I had to be a better leader.] There was no other option. We were going to collapse, or I was going to will myself into being a better leader.

- People have to learn how to attain an integrated life (sanity).

Finding Your True North: Bill George

Bill George is former president of Medtronic, and is current Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and author of "True North."

- You are a child of God. Your playing small is not helpful in advancing His purpose.

- We've been choosing the wrong leaders for the wrong reason. Don't choose them for charisma, style, and image, and then be surprised when our leaders lack authenticity, integrity, and character.

- Quoting Drucker - "Leadership is not money, fame, or power. Leadership is responsibility."

- People in your organization know more than you in the information age. Give them an opportunity to lead.

- People want to be paid fairly, but ultimately want to find meaning and significance in what they're doing.

**Wow. Bill George speaks really quickly. Sounds like Lou Holtz, but after a quadruple shot of espresso**

Job of 21st century leadership:
Align - Bring people together around something. The hardest part of leadership.
Empower - job of a leader not to get people to follow you. To empower them to step up and lead. To unleash their power.
Serve - People are not there to serve us. We're there to serve them.
Collaborate - No single organization can solve all the problems.

- You can be a victim, or you can make a difference.

- The organization was changing me more than I was changing the organization.

- Understand the purpose for your leadership. Are you where you're supposed to be?

- Follow your compass, not your clock. It's not the time in your life, it's the direction of your life.

- If you don't get feedback, you can't grow.

- The real test is when everything you've been building up for the last 10 years is about to go down the drain. That's when you find out what your values really are. That's also when people are watching.

- The time to build your support team is now. If you wait until you're in crisis it will be too late.

- Think about the end of your life. When your favorite granddaughter looks up in your eyes and asks "What did you do to make a difference in the world," what would you say? Don't wait until the end of your life to think about that question.

- Most of us cannot change history alone, but if we come together we can bend the course of history and make the world a better place.

- I learned a lot more working at a soup kitchen than I ever did as the chairman of the board of United Way.

- Everyone I've seen fail as a leader did not fail in leading others, they failed in leading themselves.

Leadership Unscripted

This is a "brown bag" style open-forum lunch with Bill Hybels and Gary Haugen. They've been asking us to text message in our questions all morning.

Question for Bill Hybels: Is there a danger of over-using axioms, or forming axioms that are not true?

Answer: Absolutely. Form an idea in your mind, apply it to several dozen situations, and don't put an axiom on the same level as a biblical imperative. This is a principle that enables you to make decisions rapidly and effectively.

Question for both: Within the church ministry staff and non-profits, how do you release a part of the family

(Gary) There's not a distinction between what's good for the mission and what's good for God's people. It's not loving for a person who isn't performing well to be stuck in a job they're not doing well. It takes knowing a person and giving them every possible opportunity to perform. You have to show enough respect to your colleagues to be directly honest with them.

(Bill) We use an actual "A" "B" "C" grading schedule for people every year because everyone wants to know how they're doing. People enjoy the clarity. If you get two C's in a row, you will not stay in the role. B level work meets expectation and is the backbone. A level players take you to higher levels. Always err on the side of clarity.

Question: What are practical ways to help leaders continue to communicate the vision you're trying to communicate?

(Bill) Lots of times we senior pastors think the only vehicle for vision is a pulpit declaration every 6 months. That's wholly inadequate for the people who are living in real life. If you're at the point where if you say it one more time you're going to puke, you're probably just about right. If you ever underestimate the power of word choice you do so to your detriment and the detriment of the ministry.

Question: How do you reward performers in a culture of excellence without promoting a culture of people who do for the sake of doing?

(Gary) Few people come to a mission-driven organization to do for the sake of doing. There can be a sense in which people are not mission-driven, but appearance-driven. You tie excellence to the mission. Then there's never a problem with seeking as much excellence as the mission will allow you to do.

(Bill) There's a difference between striving for excellence and striving for perfection. Striving for perfection is crazy-making.

Question: Gary. Where do you take the pain of not rescuing them all?

(Gary) We don't always suceed. There's no way you're going to love truly deeply without the risk of being hurt. Truly celebrate the stories of the ones God does rescue.

(Bill) I feel this with the work of evangelism. I have given myself for 35 years to so many people around this community and have not made even a dent in their eagerness. You get beaten down. Why not just pastor the already convinced? Because that's not where life is. Life is the steeper climb. You can't quit. The day you do, something inside you starts to die. I'm thankful for what Gary said during his session emphasizing the goodness of God. That is so core to my theology. God is absolutely for us.

Just Courage: Charging the Darkness - Gary Haugen

Gary Haugen is the president and founder of the International Justice Mission that works to free children from child sex trafficking. (He's also bringing the flat-top back).

Leadership that actually matters to God:
- Leadership that actually matters to God is leadership in endeavors and issues that matter to God.

- Just because I'm leading and people are following doesn't mean I'm leading in areas that are passionate to my Maker.

- Are Jesus and I really interested in the same things? (Passion for the world, Passion for justice).

- What is God's plan for making it believable to the world that He is good? We are the plan, and there is no back-up plan.

- Injustice: an abuse of power that takes good things God intended from those who are weaker.

Leadership that matters matters precisely when the going is hopeless, frightening, and really difficult.

How do we lead when it seems hopeless? By refocusing the basis of our hope. Discouragement comes when we recognize what we can't do. Hope comes from focusing on who God is and what He wants to do. (Illustrated in Mark 6:30-44. Jesus didn't ask them for what was needed. He just asked for what they had).

How do we lead when the task seems scary? Remind the people of God that Jesus did not come to make us safe; He came to make us brave. If my life of following Jesus doesn't require bravery, I might need to check and make sure I'm actually following Jesus.

- At the end of the day one of the saddest feelings is having gone on the trip but missed the adventure.

- Does your calling need Jesus?

Leadership that actually matters to God's People:
How do we lead when the calling of God is hard? Effective leadership comes from 4 choices:
(1) Choosing not to be safe, (2) Choosing to seek deep spiritual health, (3) Choosing to pursue excellence, (4) Choosing to seize the joy.

- Do we have a work we couldn't imagine doing for 30 minutes without prayer? If not, we either need another work, or need to do an old work with a new focus.

- Is your devotional life a checklist of things you're supposed to do for the purpose of getting it over? Or is your devotional life an act of desperation? Is it discipline or desperation?

- If you want to inspire a thriving devotional life in the life of the people you lead, lead people on a climb where it's absolutely unsafe to go without God. They will either fall on their knees, or stop pretending.

- We've told ourselves great stories about how loving we are. The problem is, we haven't loved each other very well.

- Enough of the Christian-adjusted scale of mediocrity. It's bad for our witness, bad for those we serve, and it's bad for our souls.

- It should make us laugh from the belly to note that Jesus uses such utterly unqualified people as us to accomplish His purpose in the world. If that juxtaposition doesn't strike you as utterly funny, you might be over-qualified for leadership in the Kingdom of God.

- Something is wrong if Jesus's yoke is light and somehow mine is heavy [as a leader]. Jesus didn't lack seriousness for the Kingdom - He died for it. But He was gentle and humble. He lived embracing living in such a way that He was accused of being a wino. Some of us live with such a sour attitude that we can't ever be accused of that, and we think that's a good thing.. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

- At the end of the day in a world with such suffering and need, why have you been given so much? (Gary used a great illustration of body builders - they have all that muscle, but what's it for? Opening jam jars?) Why has God blessed us? Hopefully for more than just opening jam jars.

The High Drama of Decision Making - Bill Hybels

Smart/Funny things Bill said:

- We dumb nothing down for the girls, or the Canadians.

- Leadership's highest usage is to advance the purposes of God in this world.

- Great book on decision making: "Judgment" by Bennis and Tichy

- Christian leaders ask 4 questions when faced with a decision:
(1) Does the Bible weigh in?
(2) What Would Smart Advisers Advise me to do?
(3) What have you learned from past Pain/Gain/Experiences?
(4) Is the Holy Spirit Prompting me?

- Every leader has scars on his body. I have many scars. That's the only reason I'm speaking with a shirt on.

- Leaders must be adding to the vault of wisdom in decision making through their experiences day after day, year after year.

- (Paraphrase) Sometimes it's helpful to make a trial decision and walking around with it for a while to see if the decision is leading to life and peace (Romans 8:6) or anxiety and fear.

- Taking responsibility for poor decisions allows you to keep the wisdom intensity growing in your own life. If you're fuzzy on owning the responsibility for a poor decision, you will be fuzzy on the lesson to be learned.

- [The best] leaders learn how to condense the four questions [above] and compress them into self-composed leadership proverbs/sayings/axioms that give them microwave wisdom for their leadership decisions. (Example: The best way to turn my enemy is to turn my enemy into my friend." "Promote a clash of ideas." "Reward good performers by removing non-performers.")

- Do not believe the lie that avoided problems go away. Unattended problems grow fangs.

- A couple of Bill's own axioms:
(1) Vision leaks
(2) Get the Right People around the Table
(3) Facts are your friends.
(4) When something feels funky, engage.
(5) Leaders call fouls. Sometimes even on yourself.
(6) Take a flyer (calculated risk) every once in a while.
(7) This is church - Don't get caught up in "leadership" to the point that you forget the early church ate meals together. That was church. Look for "this is church" moments.

- You will never know life at its fullest until you are fully and uncompromisingly yielded to Christ, and fully and uncompromisingly getting about God's purposes in this world.

Ending with a special music group singing "Send Your Rain." Wow.

Session 1

Started off with a great time of music this morning.

Our God is a God Who Saves
Everlasting God
I'm Giving It All To You

I will tell you this: Churches that are doing video venues almost always do live worship and broadcast the teaching via video. That's for a reason: as great as the worship team was at Willow this morning, it just doesn't translate over video.

Jim Mellado (President of the Willow Creek Association) is introducing things now. Hybels should be up in a minute.

Leadership Summit - Liveblog

Gonna try my hand at live blogging today from the Leadership Summit at Chase Oaks Church in Plano, TX. I'm not sure how helpful I think it's going to be, but it's a great excuse to recharge a little bit, think a little bit, and spend some good time with some of our best friends in the world. So, check back for updates today. I'm going to blog my notes so those of you stuck in a cubicle somewhere will be jealous.

Stay tuned...


I got a difficult email this morning for a person I commented about nearly 4 years ago on a different blog than this one. She had just read my words when she googled her name, and was more than a little upset with me.

When I read back through my comment, and the situation in question (I had forgotten all about it), I still feel as though my opinion was absolutely spot-on, but I didn't choose to state that opinion in as gracious a way as I wish I had. Looking back, I think I could have changed three words in my comment and softened my comments dramatically. It likely wouldn't have changed anything in this woman's mind, but it probably would have been a little more comfortable in the face of her rebuke.

Words are powerful (James 3:6), whether they're written or spoken. And those of us who are good with words (and have lots of opinions) need to be even more careful to be sure that we speak words that build people up, always (Ephesians 4:29).


Yesterday I had a great conversation with a person wondering why our young adults weren't more "missional." After asking them to define their terms, what they were wondering is why we didn't do more service projects outside the church walls for people in need.

I mentioned to the person that this past weekend, a group of our young singles joined young singles from another church to make sandwiches and take ice cold water to hand out to homeless people on the street in downtown Fort Worth. Some of our young singles weren't able to be there because they were just finishing a repair to the roof of an elderly woman's home who couldn't afford to fix the roof or air condition her home - something both of our guys groups do on a regular basis. Sunday morning, three of our singles skipped our Eikon Sunday School class to work with the children of a homeless family at Beautiful Feet - a homeless ministry here in Fort Worth. One of our girls groups regularly folds clothes at a crisis pregnancy center, while another plays with terminally ill kids at Cooks Childrens Hospital. And, just last week our young singles ministry gave $3500 to help a foreign missionary have back surgery she couldn't afford. And that's just our singles minsitry... we're fairly "missional" every week.

The person who asked stood there with her mouth wide open and said, "I've never heard about any of that."

I responded, "That's kind of the point."

Although we could probably make a bigger deal about the "missional" stuff our young adult ministries do, there's a spiritual rationale behind our silence. Jesus says "Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:1-2).

Our externally devoted lifestyle isn't a publicity stunt. We don't send out press releases, or try to get on the news. We don't care if we get applause or not... We'd rather miss the applause than miss the reward.

Happy Birthday

My blog turned three yesterday. Honestly, after my first couple of posts, I wouldn't have bet you a dollar I'd still be doing this today. In fact, some of you who have mentioned starting blogs know that I caution most people against it. Blogs can become a beast that you have to feed in order for them to survive.

It's fun to go back over some of my older posts to see how my perspectives have changed in just three years. A couple of them are embarrassing, a couple of them are funny, and one or two of them have things that I don't remember writing, but am fairly proud of.

I've read a couple of blogposts from others recently about how to get more readers for your blog. Honestly, like I said a few weeks ago, I couldn't really care less if my blog has readers or not. The blog is for me to process things I'm thinking about and leadership lessons I'm learning so I can refer back to them in the future. Readers and commenters are nice because they force me to think carefully and write precisely, but ultimately you guys just get to be a mouse on the wall of my brain. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad, and occasionally it's just plain ugly.

Happy Birthday to dialogos - even if the dialogue is only with the voices in my head.

Family Friday - Baby Watch, Unrelated Rant

We have an induction date. Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz Freeland will begin to make his appearance on or before August 21st, 2008. If he's not here by that point, induction will happen at 4am. Good thing Kari's a morning person!

And now for something completely different: If anyone from Dish Network happens to read my blog, I'd sure love to talk to you. My pregnant wife was held "hostage" by a contractor yesterday who was supposed to be at the house between 12-5 yesterday, and finally graced us with his presence at 7. He called at 5:30 to say he might be a little late. Thanks for that.

Although I appreciate the 5 hour window between which a repairman might show up at my door, it's completely incomprehensible to not hit that 5 hour time frame without a courtesy phone call before the fact. I shouldn't have to call you.

And when I do have to call you, the robotic woman on the phone is sweet, but if she has to remind me that my call is important to you, it probably isn't. When I do finally talk to a human, and he puts me back on hold, another 15 minutes of Yanni is not the best way to find me in a good mood when he returns from his coffee break.

If Dish Network wasn't by far and away the best financial deal for my family, I would have switched to DirecTV last night. As it is, I'll probably wait until tonight.

Your product is important to me. Please continue to wait for my business. I will be back with you shortly.

Man, that felt good.

[/therapeutic rant]