Standing in Awe

September 10, 2017 — 1 Comment

Personally, my heart has moved from anxiety and restlessness to a calm sense of peace and God’s presence in the past few hours. I’m asking Jesus to wake up from sleeping in the back of the boat and say a few words to calm the storms.

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Humility. It is my word for the year, and my consistent answer when teammates and friends ask how they can pray for me. I have been studying it, asking for it, and often in humiliating ways learning how much I need it.

Humility comes before honor. ~ Proverbs 15:33

My good friend Tristie Fisher recently wrote a brief post that captures much of what I’ve been thinking about, so I asked her if I could share it with you. Under the title “Honor? Position? Power? Here’s How” she writes:

“After 25 years of working with amazing leaders, there are certain things that are always true. My heroes are men & women of deep humility. 2 weeks ago, @pastorbriangfisher taught 2 principles from Matthew 20 that gave us all pause! “We want honor without humility. We want authority without submission.” Zing! We get it-we all struggle here! Instead of asking a generic , “Am I proud?” Join me in asking yourself these questions.

1. How low am I willing to go?

2. How much of the world’s success have I brought into my faith?

3. Am I disrespectful to my current authority?

4. Am I known for a loving or critical spirit?

5. Is my heart living in awe toward God or anger toward God?

“If you’re like me, these questions cut to the quick. Yet, we all want more of Jesus, more peace, more joy, & more satisfaction! Maybe it’s time to step up to going low.”

You can read more from Tristie at www.tristiefisher.com

What I’m Reading in 2017

January 17, 2017 — 4 Comments
Leaders are readers. Readers are leaders.

For the past 15 years I have made a habit of setting aside one week every six months devoted to reading. I gather recommendations from friends, colleagues, news articles, conferences, and voices I respect in various fields of interest. Those recommendations go on my Trello board entitled “Reading and Research.” During a typical reading week I’ll survey the lists, and move a handful of books from “Recommended” to “READING.”

Here are the books I am reading now or planning to read in the first part of 2017:

Reading Now:
You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K.A. Smith
“What do you want?” This was Jesus’ opening question in many of his conversations. Could discipleship – truly following Jesus – be more about what we want than what we know? This book was the runner up in Christianity Today’s “Best of 2016” book list, behind Beautiful Orthodoxy. I read Beautiful Orthodoxy last year and bought copies for my kids for Christmas. I don’t do that with many books. I recommend both books very highly.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson (audible version)
If it’s legal drama you want, forget John Grisham’s fiction. Stevenson brings us inside the actual cases, injustices, frustrations and cruelties of America’s racially imbalanced legal system. I find my mind opening and my heart aching for my country. This book has won multiple awards and has a well-earned 5-star rating on Amazon. Must read for anyone seeking to understand why Black Lives Matter. 

Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in a Digital Culture, by Heidi Campbell and Stephen Garner
If you’re involved in digital ministry you will appreciate the theological grounding Campbell and Garner provide. It’s a bit heady at times, but the chapters on “Theology of Technology 101” and “Networked Religion: Considering how Faith Is Lived in a Network Society” were worth the price for me. My team has been exploring the shifts we need to help our organization move from hierarchies to empowered networks. The authors explain how five key traits define networked religion: networked community (loose ties with varying levels of affiliation and commitment), storied identity (how people portray themselves to others via social and new media), convergent practice (e.g. how prayer and study habits have become increasingly self-directed), shifting authority (from pastors and credentialed gatekeepers to those with the largest internet followings), and multisite reality (recognizing that the online-offline distinction has been forever blurred).

Awe, by Paul Tripp (audible version)
“You don’t have a ______ problem, you have an awe problem,” writes Tripp. That blank can be filled with any pursuit, achievement, experience, or material good that captivates the human heart. What we are all seeking is awe. And only God can sustainably deliver awe for the human heart. I’m about halfway through this one and really appreciating Tripp’s personal illustrations, penetrating questions and biblical insights that challenge my idolatrous blindspots.

The Inevitable: Understanding 12 Technological Trends That Will Shape Our Future, by Kevin Kelly
Kelly takes us on a tour ten to 30 years into our technological future. Most of these trends are well underway today. I have a colleague, Aaron, on my team that is always talking about future trends stretching over the horizon, and then one to two years later I find myself reading about what Aaron mentioned. Reading Kelly’s book feels like I just finished a 24-hour coffee conversation with Aaron: stimulated, perplexed, curious and intrigued about the implications of digital tech and artificial intelligence on real people. Highly recommended for leaders and strategists responsible for future planning.

The Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert Coleman (reread for the umpteenth time)
Last Saturday morning I sat down and reread this classic. It’s a two coffee read that packs a lifetime of wallop. This is in my top five recommendations of formative books on the mentality — and intentionality — of raising up men and women who yearn to follow Jesus and take his message to the ends of the earth.

Up Next:
The Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change, by Bharat Anand
Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multi-sided Platforms, by David Evans and Richard Schmalensee
The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities, by JR Woodward and Dan White

Leaders are readers. Readers are leaders.

What’s on the top of your reading list for 2017?