Archive for February, 2010

Is Your Joy Contagious?

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and get ready to feel good as you watch this video made in the train station in Antwerp, Belgium.


In March of 2009 a Belgian television produced this as a marketing device looking for someone to play the part of Maria in the Sound of Music. The video below features 200 dancers who appeared without any warning to the crowd in the station.

As you watch this observe the people passing by. How do they react at the beginning? What is their response the longer they experience the song?

Contagious Joy

Did you notice how the mood changes as the dance progresses. People on the fringes begin to dance. Joy begins to spread through the station.

Is your joy contagious? I’m not talking about when you meet with your brothers and sisters in Christ right now. I’m talking about train stations, and work places, and at home, and . . .

Is the way you live affecting those around you?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13 NIV

Grace and Peace,

Join the conversation: How does joyful living affect others? What are some ways our joy can be contagious?

17 Examples from the Prayer Pattern of Jesus

Jesus' Pattern of PrayerI was curious as to why the followers of Jesus might have asked him to teach them how to pray. I spent some time looking at what the Bible tells us about the prayer life of Jesus and what I found encouraged, challenged and inspired me.

Jesus. . .

  1. prayed on special occasions
  2. prayed in everyday circumstances
  3. prayed when he was alone
  4. prayed when he was with others
  5. prayed for himself
  6. prayed for others
  7. told stories about prayer
  8. taught lessons about prayer
  9. gave his followers a template for prayer
  10. prayed when things were great
  11. prayed when times were stressful
  12. prayed in conjunction with his miracles
  13. prayed spontaneously
  14. prayed in nature
  15. prayed in buildings
  16. could pray both like a sprinter and like a long distance runner
  17. prayed in intimate conversation with his Father

Teach me to pray

Now wonder they asked them to teach them how to pray.

Reading the following scripture passages in connection with the prayer life of Jesus made me want to develop a life habit like his.

Take a look at some of them. Bookmark this post to come back for a closer look, copy and paste them into your word processor and save the file, copy and print them.

Examining the prayer life of Jesus

Matthew 6:5-8; Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 7:7-12; Matthew 11:25; Matthew 14:22-23; Matthew 18:19-20; Matthew 26:26-28; Matthew 26:39-46; Matthew 27:46

Mark 1:35-37; Mark 7:32-37; Mark 8:6; Mark 10:13-16; Mark 11:22-26
Mark 14:32-42

Luke 3:21-22; Luke 5:12-16; Luke 6:12-13; Luke 9:18; Luke 9:28-35; Luke 10:17-21; Luke 11:1; Luke 18:1-8; Luke 18:9-14; Luke 22:31-34; Luke 23:34; Luke 23:46; Luke 24:13-35

John 6:11; John 11:41-42; John 12:20-28; John 14:13-14; John 17

“Lord Jesus, the desire of my heart is pray like you. I want to know the Father the way you do. I long for the life giving presence of the Spirit. I want to know better how to talk with you, the Father and the Spirit. Please teach me your pattern of prayer and develop a rhythm of prayer in me.”

Grace and Peace,

Join the conversation: What is it about the payer habit of Jesus that stands out the most to you? How would you write out your request for God to develop a life habit of prayer in you?

It’s About the Conversation

I’ve had two different experiences recently in facilitating conversations in our church. Small Group ConversationOne went great, the other not so well. One of the things I have to remember is that it is not so much about the “lesson” as it is about the “conversation.”

When the Lesson Reigned Supreme

I had an agenda. I had discovered a truth and I wanted the members to find it as well so, I built a lesson around that one truth. As a matter of fact, I didn’t really care if they found any other truth at all as long as they found mine.

The questions I asked were all designed to reach one conclusion – mine. I never let the members hear from the Spirit and talk with each other about what He was telling them through the scripture. Taking center stage I became a bore. I kept talking over the Spirit; drowning out his voice with mine. It would have been better if I had found a way to share the insight the Father had given me as part of a larger conversation.

I noticed two telltale signs of my flawed facilitation.

  1. Frustration grew when the members couldn’t give me the “right” answer.
  2. All responses were directed at me (the leader) and there was no interaction among the group.

The Refreshing Wind of Conversation

The other conversation was so different. My questions were open ended and I was not looking for specific answers. As I asked questions I tried to get out of the way and let the Spirit speak.

There was a refreshing wind blowing in the room as members shared from their hearts. Some wanted to sing. Some told stories. Some pointed to additional scripture passages.

I saw three positive differences. . .

  1. I did not have to say much because I was not in the spotlight.
  2. Group members were talking with each rather than to me only.
  3. The Spirit’s agenda is so much better than mine.

I much prefer the pattern of facilitating in the second meeting rather than the first. I think the group does too.

Grace and Peace,

Join this conversation: Do you have any questions or insights about facilitating a conversation in a small group?

7 Reasons to Have a Mashed Potato Bar

Mashed Potato Bar 01If you’re looking for a fun dinner for your group why not have a mashed potato bar. We tried it at our last gathering and had a great time. Instant potatoes would have been fine but Joni wouldn’t have it and made them from scratch. They were great! Members brought two or three of their favorite toppings. To add a little twist everyone was asked to bring their own cup, mug, bowl, martini glass, etc.

After receiving a scoop of mashed potatoes in our eating vessel, we chose our toppings buffet style. We were encouraged to go light on the servings at the beginning and then make repeated trips to try different toppings.

(I personally made it back to the buffet line 4 times!)Potato Bar 02

Some of the toppings were . . .

  • pulled pork
  • cubed grilled chicken
  • french fried onions
  • roasted garlic
  • sour cream and chives
  • cream cheese
  • shredded peppered cheese
  • roasted red peppers and broccoliMashed Potato Bar 04
  • grilled corn
  • bacon bits
  • brown gravy
  • butter

Here are 7 reasons to have a potato bar . . .

  1. Toppings were easy to bring
  2. It’s budget friendly
  3. Everyone gets involved by bringing something
  4. It encourages creativityMashed Potato Bar 05
  5. Personalities are revealed through the taste buds
  6. Almost everyone loves mashed potatoes – from the youngest to the oldest
  7. It’s great comfort food

Give it a try and let me know how it went. Be creative with your toppings and theme. You might want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your own Potato Bar.

Grace and Peace,

Join the conversation: Beyond the traditional pot luck dinner, what are some fun theme meals you have shared with your small group or church?

Let Us Love One Another

LetUs Love One AnotherHis young hand shot up without hesitancy and then he voiced the first scripture passage, 1 John 3:18-20. Eight year old Lucas (nine in two days) was the first to read from the printed sheet. It contained a number of verses to help us reflect on God’s love for us, our love for God and our love for others.

His brother Andrew (age 11) was right behind him reading 1 John 4:19-21. Second grader Joelle added John 3:16-17.

Fellowship with One Another

Our church met at a local retreat center where we shared a meal, played some fun games and spent some time singing. Ranging in age from 23 months to 60 years, we sat in a circle as the Spirit of God spoke to us and through us.

Beth and a few others told some stories about where they are seeing God at work. Others led the group in songs and choruses prompted from the scripture passages. Twenty-three month old Jack danced and clapped as we sang “Father We Adore You.” Joni said that she was suddenly reminded of a scripture song she learned as a young girl but couldn’t remember the tune. As soon as she finished quoting the words Dalia, Ardie, and Rebekah, were singing it. Testimonies were given about memorizing scripture songs as children. Sandi played her guitar and we worshiped as she sang from her heart.

Instructing One Another

Sitting in Tio David’s lap, four year old Johnny was learning from the example of his elder in Christ. He wanted to share a scripture. He pointed to one on the page and repeated two or three words at a time as David read the scripture . . .

The Father himself…loves you…because…you have loved me…and…have believed…that I came from God. (John 16:27)

Praying with and for One Another

To close we asked for three people to pray. Bill opened with praise for the love God has shown us and His allowing us to respond to that love. Lucas chimed in thanking God for loving us first. Our hearts joined his as he prayed the scripture passage he and his brother had read earlier. Jonathan closed with a confession for himself and all of us about our lack of being aware of opportunities to love others.

Click on last week’s post, My One Another Community, to review a partial list of scripture admonitions.

Grace and Peace,

Join the Conversation: What do you think are some of the values of participating with one another as described above?

Off the Shelf

Lilies of the FieldOn January 13, 2003 I climbed into my pickup and drove away on one of the most challenging journeys of my life.

As a minister and pastor of more than 30 years, God was calling me to step out of my comfort zone into unfamiliar ground. At age 53, I found myself moving toward a dream God had place within me.

My heart was in my throat as I watched my wife, Beth, waving from the sidewalk. For the first time in 30 years of marriage we would be apart for more than a few days at time. She was going to continue teaching until May and get our house ready to sell while I worked at a new job 400 miles away.

As I drove, the story replayed in my mind. My experience in professional ministry had been mainly positive. In my current pastorate, I had a good compensation package along with all the perks plus a good ministry budget. I had the freedom to lead. By all external appearances I had it pretty good.

I was not angry or at odd with traditional ministry. It was my roots and had been my life. But Christ was calling me to leave all that and to follow in a new direction. An enthusiasm for church planting and starting simple, organic churches was increasing.

You’re Not a Cut Flower

There is a certain a video from Whitestone Motion Pictures that captures how I feel about my journey. It reminds me of a line form a sermon I heard Charles Lee Williamson preach back in 1986. In referring to Jesus’ words, “See how the lilies of the field grow” he said “You’re not a cut flower.”

I think it’s more than the pickup truck in the movie that stirs me. It’s how God led me to get off the shelf. To live an organic life in Christ. To be a lily in the field among all the others.

Get a cup of coffee and click the play button and watch the 3:14 minute video, Off the Shelf and you might just catch a little of what my incredible journey has been like.

Grace and Peace,

Join the Conversation: Do you ever long to take a journey to find more in life? What’s keeping you on the shelf?