Jude: Do More By Doing Less


Jude Big Banner

In my defense, my blog has been molasses style low. It was at a stand still yesterday until a friend of mine smacked some “Go Now” into it with an update. So…I can’t blame the blog.

It’s getting harder and harder to write posts, and frankly, it’s not from lack of ideas. It’s something else. But first, a really cool thing happened last week during one of my weekly meetings. I was sitting with a friend outside a Starbucks and we were talking about prayer.

Prayer equals integrity for pastors,” he said.

Bam! As it goes with your prayer life, so it goes with your integrity. When I think about a blog post, I get this mental picture where I am in prayer, taking a quiet moment to consider the theme, idea, way I talk about – taking that to God for some of that Holy Spirit muse action. But largely, there is always something else to do.

Something is always competing for my attention.

It’s easy for me to get out the penance whip and dig in, but that’s not a very productive approach to inspired writing.

Like today, the Jude blog post. Today, the verse is “Jude 1:2
May you have more and more mercy, peace, and love.”

Jude wants us to have more mercy, peace and love. The three things are important, and have to be sought after so that we have more, but things compete for my (our) attention and mercy, peace and love aren’t what I end up stockpiling. I chase after my tail, multi-tasking more and more (which has recently been repeated to me as: ‘multiple-tasking is actually doing more things less well’).

And, no, I do not really have a tail. That was a metaphor.

The Proverbs lay it down when it comes to integrity. Integrity is the machine that produces happiness and contentment. Integrity is the sum of doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason; and with good effect, “Proverbs 20:7 The righteous live with integrity; happy are their children who come after them.”

It’s kind of funny that in order to live a live full of integrity, the action is stop. In order to do more, the goal has to be to do less.

As we shift from the get more done less well mindset to the get more done by doing less, we get more mercy, peace and love. By creating space for nothing, Jude tells us, we make room for everything!

It’s hard to write blog posts when there is no room for the thing that makes me the most me, me: space to chill with the Spirit and seeking the joy of God’s imagination.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to “getting more done?”

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The Gospel of Jude: Let Love Rule

Jude-Let-Love-Rule

Letters have to start somehow, don’t they? Usually, I just go with “Hi ‘Insert name‘.” It’s simple and classic and doesn’t open any cans that I’m not prepared to close (unless the reader takes “Hi” as an accusation). Jude, however, hits hard with his greeting — as far as I’m concerned.

“To those who are called, loved by God the Father and kept safe by Jesus Christ.”

At first glance, a person can take these things for granted and not even really think about them. But what happens when you do can be dangerous.

A Really Difficult Post To Write

Receiving love from anyone is hard for me. I’m working on my stuff, but I realize that I’m not very good at being loved. Sometimes, I feel that perhaps I don’t deserve it, but not all the time. Some of it is the residue of self worth issues. When it comes to God, the Father, it’s really hard. Why would God love me? I mean, I know me, and I know what the Bible says about Him. Where do the two of us mix? In my heart I know that we are one strange mash up!

I Know Why I “Shouldn’t” Be Loved

I was there in kindergarden when I was such an awful beast. I stole a magnet off the science table in the second grade. I took a kid’s lunch in the fourth grade because his mom packed him things that had sugar in it. I was the guy that egged your house in junior high. I also wrapped it in high school…it wasn’t a badge of honor back then. I have been with me every step of the way, counting my wrongs, forgetting my rights and keeping track of every sin (whether it was one or not)! I know what I’ve done. I know who I have been. I know why I “shouldn’t” be loved. I’ve been with me my whole life.

That’s Why Jude Leads With ‘God Loves’

Before you go rock climbing, you have to put on the helmet and the safety harness so as you do the hard work of climbing, you are going be OK whether you reach the ground –or– you get lowered to the ground and take a second pass at it. Before anyone can read through what Jude has to say, you have to sit with the fact that God, the Father, loves you. In spite of what you might think of love, God or yourself, Jude’s words are truth: You are loved by God, the Father. In this passing statement, you have to wrestle with who you are, what love is and ultimately who God is.

Who you are is loved. Despite the best count of your wrongs, you are loved. Not namby pamby “Christian” speak type love. Real love, God love: Love with Teeth. An enemy forgiving love. A prostitute forgiving love. A casting out demons love. A death on a cross love. Never once in the Bible is God’s love compared to a teddy bear or fuzzy heart. Check out how Paul describes it in the Message version of 1 Corinthians 13. It’s tough to even conceive of a love like that.

Let Love Rule

Here’s what I know, and what I think Jude is telling us: God doesn’t let who we are get in the way of who He is and who He is is a God that loves you unrelentingly. He doesn’t care why you “shouldn’t” be loved, which may be one of the things he loves about you so much. And…I believe that God truly appreciates a strange mash up.

Do you wrestle with being loved? Of course you do. Do three things today that let someone around you know that you love them with Jude-style love. How are you going to/did you do that?

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Weekly Round Up #1: King on God, Bean on Twilight, a BIG payback

The last post I read was good news from Ira Glass, apparently he agrees that Christians aren’t so bad.

vine logo For those of us who wonder, “What the best use for the new social media platform Vine?” Here’s your answer.

Carlos Whitaker asks a great question: Are mega churches growing in size and stature at the expense of the Big “C” Church.

Pop Matter says that Hollywood thinks God can be pretty funny. Does religious satire strike you as true and noble, or just strike you?

information overload As you read this, are you taking in too much information. Are you on information overload? The Unclutterer asks four questions to help you navigate your way around your head exploding.

Ed Stetzer and Larry Osbourne talk about the difference between leadership and discipleship. Do you know what the difference is?

What can homosexual couples teach heterosexual couples about having a happy marriage? Example: “Don’t marry a woman!” You can read the Atlantic article and a Christian response.

Thom Rainer suggests 12 Ways To Encourage Church Staff Members. Don’t get an ideas ;)

And Michael Hyatt asks, “As a leader, what do you do when you have an employee or a colleague who disrespects you in front of your team? What do you do when this employee is a top performer and one of your supervisor’s favorites?” Tough Questions that his latest podcast addresses.

Has God something so awesome for you that you can’t wait to pay him back? That’s a recipe for certain disaster according to Richard Beck! Find out why.

Have you ever wondered what a mission trip to Oklahoma after a tornado might do to a nine year old? Will it help them or scar them? My Ragamuffin Soulmate knows…

Is it ever appropriate for a Christian to say “bullshit”? Rob Bell says it on UK radio. You can find out why here. Give you a hint: No one has let up on his stance on Gay Marriage…on either side of the pond.

Does Horror author Steven King believe in God? Does he get scared? NPR’s Fresh Air hosts an interview where the Master of Horror talks about all of this and much more.
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I haven’t heard much from Frances Bean Cobain, but Faith Goes Pop catches her telling us how she really feels about Twilight and why she turned down the roll of Bella.

Two leadership posts that I’m still thinking about: 10 ways to disrupt your normal from leadershipfreak and how leaders can swim with man eating sharks. Great posts both!

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A Tie That Testifies

You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children.” Rom 8:15

Ethiopian Tie

I know a thing or two about adoption.

Three years ago, my wife, Rebecca and I adopted a baby from Ethiopia. The process is daunting and grueling. It requires passion and persistence. You have to want to be a parent. You have to want that particular child. You have to want him more than anything else. Your heart bears down on that baby like a needle bears down on true north.

Adoption is not casual and it’s not accidental. It’s one of the most intentional, committed things I’ve ever done. And now that we have our third child, our life involves loving him as our own, with no distinction or unequal favor. Our life involves including him, learning how to create space for his uniqueness and the change he brings not only to our family today, but the generations of Harrisons that he will produce.

When we were in court, finalizing the adopted, the judge said something I will never forget, “I now dissolve the relationship of ‘adopted’ and confer upon Desmond the rights and privileges of natural sonship.” That court date dissolved the label “adopted.” After that, Desmond was our son, with no added titles or distinction. It still brings tears to my eyes…even as I type.

When Paul writes that we have been adopted by God, he means by way of assertion, that God has gone through all of this for us. The very same process and adjustment that I have experienced: the shift, the space, the love, the learning; all of this God has gone through for you.

And yet, I know that we don’t always “feel” like we have been adopted. We don’t “feel” like a child of God. We are disconnected from our sonship, our daughterhood.

It doesn’t have anything to do with feeling.

Adoption is a reality, a deep and profound reality. One day, my son might come to me and say, “Dad, I don’t ‘feel’ like I’m a Harrison.” In fact, I expect that day. He has some identity challenges ahead and my job is to ready myself so that I can lovingly and firmly walk him through them. Because I know as his Dad that he IS a Harrison. There is no one more Harrison than he is.

God agrees.
The court agrees.
Homeland Security agrees.
My tie agrees.

I bought this tie on the flight home with our new son. It has the Ethiopian alphabet on it. I thought that one day it would encourage him in some way. But still, the tie is a monument that affirms who he is: the son I flew across the world to call my own.

When Paul writes these words, I believe that he needs us to understand the context of adoption. We need to hear a story like this to understand all that God, the Father, is please to go through to call us his own.

In my mind’s eye, I imagine that God wears a tie. Something that testifies to my being. Something close to him, that I can look at when I need to remember everything he went through to call me his own.

Is there anything that you have that reminds you how much God has gone through to call you his own?

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Jude: Gimme Shelter

Jude Gimme Shelter Post

I was listening to the Rolling Stones’ song “Gimme Shelter” and was rocked by the lyrics I’ve heard so many times before, “War, Children, is just a shot away. Oh, a storm is threatening my very life today. If I don’t get some shelter, oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away.”

There’s A Storm Building

At any given moment we feel the full weight of these lyrics in our lives. There’s a storm building. We might know where it is, where it’s coming from. We might not. It may come on as a complete surprise and do some real damage. The other shoe may drop. Our job may be terminated, out-sourced. Our wife may tell us the marriage has been over for a while, or maybe that she’s been unhappy for a long time. Our kids may start slipping at school, crying on their way home, acting isolated and snarky.

We might find out someone we love is sick. It may turn out to be us. It might hit even closer to home. We might find out something we didn’t want to know. We might share something someone else didn’t need to know. Our alignment might be off and we do something out of anger that we can never take back.

Or worse, we do it intentionally. We might get swept away by a tidal wave of pornography, alcohol, addiction, dishonesty, fear, frustration, adultery, shame, guilt…

War, Children, Is Just A Shot Away.

I’ve talked to several men who feel like they have to fix all that before they engage Jesus in the life he has given them. I’ve talked to men who won’t darken the door of the church because they don’t believe they’re “fit” to.

NEWS FLASH:

No one is.
No one. Really!
No one.

There is no way that we can became fixed and fit, either. Not on our own.
Jude begins his greeting [Jude 1:1] saying that the reader, which at the moment is you, is three things:
1. Called
2. Loved
3. Kept Safe

These things are very different from angry, addicted and adversarial, aren’t they? Jesus doesn’t apply those kinds of labels; not to those who follow after him – however imperfectly. To you, the Lord God King of the Universe says, that you are chosen and invited, valued and respected, protected and favored.

Called, loved and kept safe.

Sit with that for a minute.

I’ll unpack this on the upcoming Tuesdays With Jude™. Until then, ponder this question and please leave a comment below. What is the difference between how you think of you and how God thinks of you?

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5 Podcasts That Add Awesomeness To My Week

I love podcasts. Having made a few and listened to a hundred, I thought I’d share my current top five. Sometimes they’re difficult to find the time for. Might I suggest taking a walk on your lunch break? There’s a ton of amazing free content out there. Drive time is also ideal…or when you’re supposed to be working.

listening to podcast

This Is Your Life

Michael Hyatt, precision platform promotor, blog and podcast champion host this weekly must listen podcast. Click here to check out his backlog of free, invaluable advice and instruction on platform, productivity and leadership (with a Christian faith slant).

Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast

Some of the greatest value on the web for the absolute price of free! Andy Stanley is not only the pastor of North Point Community Church in GA, but a great leadership coach, preaching mentor and idea connector. In his monthly leadercast you will walk away with more than enough to begin to work transformation in your ministry and life. (Michael Hyatt on the Leadership Podcast)

Homebrewed Culturecast

This is just wacky stuff. Hosts Christian Piatt, Amy Piatt and Jordan Green throw everything they can at the intersection of Jesus and Portland. Every episode has a worthwhile interview, some pretty funny patter on whatever happens to be going on in the world, and recommendations slightly tempered with just enough Portlandium. Keep in mind, this is not church, but it might make you think about it…

In The Loop with Andy Andrews

Andy Andrews is an author, speaker, master storyteller and life changer. I’ve read several of his booka and have never been disappointed. Every so often we all need encouragement, a way through a roadblock or hard times, from someone who has not only been there, but has found a way to articulate so that your inner child can share it with somebody else. Andy’s charming, disarming approach will keep you listening.

We’re Alive

I just finished season three of We’re Alive. This is one of my favorite mediums of entertainment: The Radio Drama. Casey Wayland has written and produced a zombie story in the vein of the old time radio drama. If you are looking for a good clean zombie story, this isn’t for you. Once I started, I got a few episodes in and stopped, because it was going to take a while to finish. But then I kept going because it’s Zombies + Radio Drama = Awesome! The final season starts August 4.

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15 Words: Trusting A Rhino

trusting a rhino

via satorireport

I invite you to add a 15 Word reflection on this photo.
What story does this photo tell about trust?
What story does this photo tell about you?

Mine…
Trust would be easy if the things I had to trust didn’t have a reputation.

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Memorial Day: Best Six Minutes Of Today

Here’s a way to get involved: Wounded Warrior Project

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How To Drum Like Jesus

“But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ…” Rom 8:17

huge pearl drum set

I have a step brother, Cameron. While it always seemed like his was a lot older than me, the difference between us is only three years. When I was a child, Cameron was the coolest living person in the Universe. To say that I idolized him does a disservice to the word, “idol.”

Sometimes he would walk by me and the awesomeness that was in his shadow cast itself upon me and in that moment I knew what it was to feel like I was cool.

He was a drummer, which really meant he was cooler than cool. He was good, too. He was one of those drummers that could have different limbs doing different things at the same time and I wanted to be just like him.

So I bought a drum set and began to practice. I didn’t play because I wanted to be a great drummer. I played because I wanted to be like him. Then I learned to fall in love with music. In my wanting to be like him, I became a musician. I did switch to guitar…you didn’t have to lug so much to gigs.

Because I played guitar, I was invited to lead worship music in a church. Because of that, I began to feel called to full time ministry. Because of that, I finished seminary. Because of that, I am now a pastor in SoCal.

His example set a path for me. Strange when you think about it.

When Paul mentions that we are fellow heirs with Jesus, what he is saying is that Jesus is the big brother. Paul’s gospel (Romans) is an invitation to do what the big brother does; to learn how to become like him. The more we practice being like the big brother, the more we learn to love what we are doing.

There is a path, a way forward in life in all of this: a really uncomplicated, normal, ordinary explanation.

If your big brother is cool, and you want to be like him…there’s a life in that somewhere.

Who are the people you looked up to as a kid?
How did they help to shape who you are?
What do you look up to now?
How are they helping you become more of who you want to be?

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Jude: Liar Liar

Jude liar liar

In the first Jude post, I mentioned the fact that, like Jude, I have brothers. While none of them are Jesus, it helps me to accept the authorship of the Jude’s letter and the authority of Jesus.

Remember, Jude called himself a slave of his brother. No self respecting brother would do that. Unless…the brother was actually the Master.

The truth is, we are going to be a slave to something or someone: tastes, desires, soccer, alcohol, pornography, career, self-esteem, self-loathing, fear, money, etc…

Choosing a master is an important job.

If you had to take stock of your life, to whom or what would you say your were a slave to? Is it to things that have to be done in secret? Is it to the things that cause you the most fear and anxiety? Is it to possessions that you think will complete you? Satisfy you? Sex? Cash? Cars? More? Bigger? Better?

Everybody has the tendency to fixate on material, spiritual, emotional and intellectual “stuff” that we think will rescue us from whatever it is that we need to be saved from: boredom, irrelevance, fear, frustration, disaster, anger, pick your poison. The question is: Does it work? And we, of course, know that the answer is “No.” I imagine a life in service of a Porsche loses its luster right about the time the new car smell goes away.
So…now for the hard part.

A slave in the ancient world had no status and even worse, they had no rights. Slaves were property like tables are property, with the slight exception that masters were bothered when tables got scratched. Slaves were at the mercy of their masters.

Well, masters command. They can be cruel and shaming, benign and unsatisfying, or they can be awesome, forgiving, empowering and encouraging.

That latter is Jesus.

To call yourself a slave of Christ is to say that you belong to him. That your only hope for freedom comes through him. You your life, words and actions, are his to command.

It reminds me of this Jim Carrey film, Liar Liar. Carrey plays a lawyer who finds himself unable to lie. Despite his ability to bend the truth par excellence, he has to tell the truth. There’s an invisible force at work in him, battling his truthless nature.

To be a slave is to battle your nature and submit it to the master, hopefully with slightly less caricature than Carrey has in Liar Liar. If Jesus is the master, then it stands to reason that we have to do what he says. So…that means we need to know what he says, right.

Jude walks us through a life in Christ’s command, that is, how to be a slave to the only master worth serving.

Jesus calls us to follow him and serve him. What makes that difficult for you?

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