Not Sure What To Say...

I left the queue open for this morning because I was anticipating having something to say about yesterday.

Yesterday we completed "the handoff" - a three year intentional transition from Ken Horton's 27-year tenure at McKinney Church. We spent the morning just like we should have: worshiping together, spending a good chunk of time remembering God's faithfulness to McKinney in the past, and ending the service with anticipation for the future.

I was hoping to have something profound to say. Mostly I'm just overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with gratitude for a successful transition. Overwhelmed with the "weight" of the responsibility that now rests on my shoulder. Overwhelmed with affection for a church family who has transitioned to this point so smoothly and embraced Kari and I so generously. Overwhelmed with pride for a staff team who worked so hard to make sure they said goodbye well. Overwhelmed with the finality of the fact that a moment Ken and I have anticipated for three years came and went in three minutes. Overwhelmed with excitement about what God could do through McKinney Church in the future.

Mostly, I'm overwhelmed with unspeakable joy. The Lord has done great things for us.

Oh dear goodness... Rare Friday Post

You were wondering what heaven looks like? Now you know. It looks like the Stockholm Library. HT: Ben Arment

Affluence and Giving

I read this quote (attributed to CS Lewis) the other day and have been pondering it for a while. What do you think?

"If we live at the same level of affluence as others who have our level of income, we are probably giving away too little."

Piper on Facebook

I read this post by John Piper yesterday and thought it was phenomenal. He puts his finger on what is a very real danger with technology and has some wise advice. So wise, rather than try to say something similar I'm just going to repost it in its entirety. 

Are apps a threat to God-focus? Yes. But it works both ways. Fight fire with fire.
If you are reading your Bible on your computer or your smartphone or your iPad, the presence of the email app and the news apps and the Facebook app threaten every moment to drag your attention away from the word of God.
True. Fight that. If your finger offends you, cut it off. Or use any other virtuous violence (Matthew 11:12) that sets you free to rivet your soul on God.
But don’t take mainly a defensive posture. Fight fire with fire.
Why should we think of the Facebook app threatening the Bible app? Why not the Bible app threatening the Facebook app, and the email app, and the RSS feeder, and the news?
Resolve that today you will press the Bible app three times during the day. No five times. Ten times! Maybe you will lose control and become addicted to Bible! Again and again get a two-minute dose of life-giving Food. Man shall not live by Facebook alone.
I’m serious. Never has God’s voice been so easily accessible. The ESV app is free. TheOliveTree BibleReader app is free. And so are lots of others. Let the Bible threaten your focus. Or better: Let the Bible bring you back to reality over and over during the day.

Workers or Work?

One of the most fun parts of our transition into the lead pastor role at McKinney has been connecting with some of our global mission partners as they come back into town. We support scores of people all over the world who are being used as a part of some incredible things.

This morning I got to visit with one of our partners who is on the way through trying to raise support. After we visited for a while about some of the unbelievable things she is doing, I asked her the question, "What's something you're learning?" I thought her answer was profound.

"I'm learning that in Mathew 9:38 is a more profound prayer than it seems. Jesus told his disciples to pray for workers, not just for more work. I often spend so much time asking God to multiply my time so I can get more work done. God wants me to pray for others to shoulder the load with me so they can experience the joys I experience every day."

Neat perspective, and one that moves us from being doers to disciplers.


An insecure, inarticulate shepherd who is God's choice to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and to the precipice of the Promised Land, Moses is fascinating to study as a leader.

This morning as I was reading in Numbers 16, something jumped out at me. If you remember the story, a man named Korah stages a coup against Aaron and Moses. He gathered 250 people in his rebellion and attempted to overthrow Moses. Moses goes before God and asks God to judge between them. In Numbers 16:20-21, God tells Moses and Aaron to stand back so he can destroy the whole congregation and start over with Moses and Aaron.

Moses' response is pretty amazing. He begs God not to destroy the congregation on behalf of the 250 who rebelled.

This isn't the first time Moses had to bail the people out. Previously, it wasn't just 250 who rebelled - it was the entire nation (Exodus 32:9-10). God promised to destroy them while fulfilling His promise to make a great nation out of Moses.

Moses gets the chance to start over with a new nation. More than once. More than once he gets a mulligan - a chance to start fresh with the promise from God he would be successful. And each time, Moses begs God to spare the people.

I don't know about you, but the chance to start fresh would have been tempting to me. These people disobeyed God around every corner. They disrespected Moses and Aaron, grumbled and complained about everything - they didn't have food and then when they received food they didn't like the menu. These people were worthless.

But Moses loved them. And Moses was jealous for God's character to be continually put on display.

He had to. That's the only explanation for why he constantly went to bat for those people.

Moses loved the people he led, and he did so out of a love for the God he served. The best way for the character of a God who is longsuffering, patient, kind, just, sovereign, and omnipotent to be put on display is through people who are obstinate, impatient, mean, unfair, out-of-control, and ultimately powerless. Moses knew that and "reminded" God of that every time he got the chance.

Truly loving the people you lead may be one of the biggest challenges leaders face. For Moses, it doesn't seem to have been rooted in the fact that the people were particularly love-worthy but that the God Moses served was love-worthy, and could be put on display through these stiff-necked and rebellious people (Deuteronomy 31:27) more than through any other group.


Ever notice that monumental things always cast a big shadow?

It seems intuitive when we are talking about trees, buildings, and statues. It is less intuitive when we are talking about gifts, personalities, and strengths; but my experience is that those things function the same way.

People with extraordinary gifts often have an extraordinary shadow side. And (just like with statues, trees, and buildings) the shadow side often resembles the bright side.

An extraordinarily gifted speaker often has the ability to run people into the ground with his words. A person with the ability to make quick, decisive judgments often has the ability to marginalize wise counselors in his path. A good thinker often tends to think everyone else needs a good lesson.

All that is not to say that leaders with huge gifts should be universally looked at with suspicion. It is to say that leaders who seem too good to be true probably are. It's also to warn leaders who have strong gifts to know that they probably have large shadows as well.

The self-aware leader, especially one who lives his life in light of the Cross, will always seek to know the size of his shadow and will invite others to shine the light on that dark side in order to eliminate the shadow his gifts inevitably cast.

Dead End Roads

From time to time I meet with a group of pastors from all kinds of different backgrounds and church situations. It's a great time of fellowship, learning, and encouragement.

Yesterday, one of the guys made a great point that I want to remember. He said this, "If I've learned one thing in my ministry it's this: when you realize you're walking down a dead-end road, stop walking. The longer you walk down a dead-end road, the more back tracking you're going to have to do before you can get back to the path you were looking for."

Whether it's a program, a personnel decision, or an argument that isn't going anywhere; the further you go down a dead end road, the longer it takes to recover.

There's an art to knowing the difference between a dead end and the scenic route. But, when you know it's a dead end, my friend's advice is wise: get back on through streets as quickly as you can.

Great at What You Can

One of my personal values as well as one of the things I expect of a team is greatness. Not greatness in everything, but greatness at the things for which greatness should be attainable.

I remember advice a piano teacher gave me one time. He said, "Chris, you are never going to play Liszt or Chopin like Van Cliburn does, but there is absolutely no reason on earth why you shouldn't be able to play your scales the way Van Cliburn does."

He made a great point.

I can't do everything with greatness. I can't even do everything someone else could do at the same level of greatness they might be able to do it. But there is absolutely no reason I can't do the fundamental things that everyone can do with greatness that rivals the very best.

In my estimation, this is one of the key things that separates great organizations from everyone else. It isn't that they can do eye-popping things with greatness; it's that they do obvious, fundamental things with greatness.


I spend a lot of time in strategic thought and discussions about how to move people to take another step toward a Christ-centered life. In our slice of "Churchdom," at some point during those conversations someone will say: "People just need to know that ____" or "If we could just teach people that _____" as if the primary reason people are less than Christ-centered is related to content.

You're never going to find me arguing against good content. We need to teach people the right things at the right time from the right source. Otherwise, any step we invite someone to take will be the wrong step.

But my experience is that very few people are motivated to move based strictly on content. Our decisions are much more visceral than that.

More and more I find myself trying to think along a dual track when we are thinking strategically. I do want to make sure we are informing people well but I also want to be sure that we are inspiring people to move.

Inspiring doesn't mean "gimmicky." More often than not I think gimmicks are counterproductive and a distraction. Inspiring people means giving them the picture of a reality they want more than anything else and presenting content through that lens. Tom Landry once told someone that the way to win championships was "to get a bunch of guys to do the hard work they hate more than anything else in the world so that they can achieve the one thing they want more than anything else in the world."

And inspiration has to stretch the gamut of what you're trying to do. It has to accompany any movement you hope people make: You have to inspire people to show up, inspire them to listen up, and inspire them to step up. Otherwise, the chances are, you're wasting your time.

The Living Church - Review

The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor
It strikes me that there are two ways to age. Some things (good wine or antiques) get better with age. Some things (milk, dirty laundry) rot and stink.

As a young pastor who is still on the front porch of my ministry career, I find myself drawn to spend time with guys who have aged well; especially guys in ministry. They're full of both wisdom and optimism. What they have forfeited in terms of physical energy is more than made up in the calculated and urgent way they invest their time and their words. Those are the guys I want to be like, so naturally they're the kind of guys I want to be around. They're also the kinds of guys I want to read. 

When I saw John Stott's book "The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor," I couldn't buy it fast enough. 

I have very little in common with John Stott. He is British, I'm American. He's 90-something, I'm barely 30-something. He's Anglican, I resist boxes... But we're both pastors, both love the Scriptures, and both love the Church. 

"The Living Church" is this 90-year-old man's "dream for the body of Christ in the world today." And it's written that way. It's written with the wisdom of a man who has walked with Christ longer than my parents have been alive, but with the passion of a man who has not forgotten how to dream. 

With pastoral care and the depth of a wise theologian, Stott unpacks what he believes is "God's vision for His Church," and talks specifically about Worship, Evangelism, Ministry, Fellowship, Preaching, Giving, and Impact." 

"The Living Church" is brimming with optimism and sensitivity. It has a good balance of forthrightness and grace, and leaves the reader optimistic about a Church that could be theologically deep and externally invested. It's a book that is easy to read, but shouldn't be read easily. 

I loved this book. 

Obviously, you won't agree with everything Stott argues. He is a 90-year old British Anglican for goodness sakes. But you'll agree with most of it. And you'll get the glimpse into the heart of a man who remains faithful and passionate about the most important things in the waning years of his ministry. 

Insecurity and a Buffer

Many, many pastors I have met struggle with some degree of personal insecurity. I think there are at least two reasons: The first is that Pastoral ministry can attract insecure people because (like it or not) it is the only position where a leader is able to wield the "God's Will Trump Card." Guys who are insecure can be attracted to pastoral ministry because it gives them power with something to hide behind. In my experience, this gets sniffed out pretty early in a pastor's ministry which effectively limits his influence. Most pastors I know are not insecure because of this.

Pastoral ministry affects every realm of a person's life. Church people are everywhere, and they're watching and evaluating. On Sunday, people are evaluating his sermon; on Tuesday they are evaluating whether or not he was friendly enough when he ran into them at a restaurant. 

Even the most beloved pastors I know report that they receive hateful mail from anonymous "Long Time Members/Givers" on a regular basis. At larger churches, those letters become almost a weekly occurrence, and that's for pastors who are long-tenured and beloved by the vast majority of the congregation. 

It's easy for a pastor to feel as if there is more armchair quarterbacking within the church they lead than takes place during the Super Bowl.

I've found that pastors need a close group of wise (non-staff) men and women whom they trust to give them honest, unvarnished feedback. Those men and women should agree to be his insecurity control. If they give the pastor honest feedback, both positive and negative, they will be a great buffer for the pastor's insecurity. He won't have to worry about being insecure; just serve and listen to them. 

Paying too much attention to anecdotal letters will either make a pastor insecure or arrogant. Instead, find a group of wise individuals who will give you the straight truth and trust them. 

Love and Respect

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs was at McKinney on Sunday, and is coming back on March 25-26 for a marriage conference based on his book "Love and Respect." Of the 50 or so marriage books I've read, "Love and Respect" ranks at the top of the list. If you can swing it, the conference will be worth whatever it would cost you to get here for it. You can register at or at

One of the (many) brilliant things Eggerichs talked about on Sunday is the way Hollywood has tapped into our God-given desire for Paradise but has perverted both the means and the end in the process.

In essence, all of us have a yearning in our hearts for Paradise. God has put eternity in the heart of every person alive (Ecclesiastes 3:11). However, true paradise can only be found in and through Him.

Hollywood makes millions by painting a desirable world that doesn't exist in reality and then makes us think that it is attainable if only we will...

What we end up with is collapse, either on the front-end or the back-end.

Either we get hurt in pursuit of False Paradise, or we reach False Paradise only to find out it is not Paradise after all. To quote Prof Hendricks, "We spend our whole life climbing the ladder of success [in relationships, career, entertainment, wealth, or anything else] only to reach the top and realize the ladder is leaning against the wrong building."

I was challenged this weekend to re-think my perspective on Paradise. Am I pursuing Paradise as God reveals it through godly means, or Paradise as Hollywood reveals it through religious means?

Radicals and Crazy Lovers

David Platt and Francis Chan have both written books in the past few years intended to drag complacent Christians off the sidelines. I've reviewed both books in the past. There was a lot to like about both of them. 

My main concern with Crazy Lovers and Radicals isn't just with those books; it's with a sentiment I hear quite a bit from my generation that those books reflect - the inference that if you want to truly follow Christ, you have to leave everything and live just a step above the poverty line. 

There's a place in will of God for Peter who "radically" left his nets by the shores of the Sea of Galilee and followed Jesus. But there is also a place for the cobbler in Macedonia who stayed so he could support the ministry of the apostles. There is a place for Matthew who left the fast-track toward being set for life. There's also a place for Theophilus, who likely bank-rolled the books of Luke and Acts.  

Christ-followers need to be radically sold out to following the leading of the Spirit. But you don't need to be ashamed if the Spirit leads you to Christ-centeredness right where you are. 

Somewhere we need illustrations of the bank president making $300,000 a year who is taking ground for the cause of Christ right where he is. We need illustrations of the person who leverages the luxury they have been afforded to point others toward something eternal. 

When Jesus challenged His followers to leave everything and follow Him, He was talking about heart displacement. For some people that will mean walking away from everything they have. For others, it will mean seeing everything they have through a Christ-centered lens, motivated by a Radical, Crazy Love.