Wednesday, October 31, 2007


One of the harsh realities of doing ministry in Washington, DC is that people tend to leave. A lot. If we were living in the mid-80s, our "Friends Are Friends Forever" tape would be worn straight through. With the high percentage of Hill staffers and students in DC and at NCC, specifically, there is ridiculously high turnover. In fact, our congregation surveys have shown that we lose 40-50% of our folks every year due to the rapid movement of people in and out of the city. You grow numb to it after a while, almost not even noticing that yet another person has moved clear across the country or the world.

But every now and then, someone leaves that shakes you out of the numbness. Today is one of those days.

There are several perspectives, reactions, and outlooks you can adopt, embrace, and express when living and ministering in such an environment. You can continue with life as normal, pouring yourself wholeheartedly into each person you meet and finding that you have maxed out your relational and emotional capacities. You can take the safe road and retreat entirely into current friendships and make a decision to not get too close to anymore people since they probably won't be around for much longer anyway. You can view each person as a potential missionary, in whom you can invest on average 2 years of discipleship and leadership training before boldly sending them back into the world to change it. All of these affect the way we live our personal lives and the way we do ministry.

I'm not sure I have it all figured out yet.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Work in Progress

One of my female pastor friends has finally started blogging. Ruth Everhart pastors a Presbyterian church just a few miles from DC, but we didn't meet until we landed in New York to prepare for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During the entire trip, Ruth journaled. At every stop at every holy site, she journaled. She seemed to have the capacity to absorb more, reflect more, be affected by more, and soak in the presence of the holy more than any of the rest of us. Her passionate dedication to recording every detail of every encounter with God inspired me, and I'm so excited to see that she's blogging.

Check it out at Work in Progress.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Hello. My name is Heather. And I am addicted to Facebook. This addiction started on October 18, 2007.

What a crazy world! I've reconnected with high school friends, elementary school friends, old theatre buddies, blog readers. It's insane. It's also making me think a lot about how we train leaders and create community in our leadership teams. Right now, we've got where we do a lot of online training, community building, and vision casting. It's a supplement to our leadership summits, leadership retreat, and zone/team meetings. But I'm wondering if there's a better way.

I know at least one NCC group is using Facebook to connect throughout the week. Are there any other small groups doing that? Some churches (including NCC now) are using Facebook as a way to network their members. Are there any churches using Facebook to connect their leadership community specifically?

Zone Leader Retreat

Fall is the season for retreats around NCC!! Upward Bound retreat, zone leader retreat, staff planning retreat, Alpha's nuts! In a few hours, I am heading to Harpers Ferry with my zone leaders. We'll spend the next 48 hours praying and dreaming about small groups, discipleship, and community at NCC in 2008.

I think retreats are essential to doing ministry in a way that really moves us forward. Anyone who has been around NCC for any length of time knows our formula:

Change of Place + Change of Pace = Change of Perspective

That's not just a cute phrase; it's true! Leaders especially need to set aside time for personal retreats. I get away one Friday each month to "retreat," though it looks different every time. Some Fridays are more focused on vision and planning while others are focused on reading and writing while others are focused on personal spiritual disciplines. Leaders also need to be intentional about getting away with their key leaders to build community, pray, and dream about the future. We try to incorporate both personal reflection and team building/planning into our zone leader retreat. It's going to be good!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Welcome Eowyn Ruth McClure

Éowyn Ruth McClure (that's my niece!) was born at 10:15 PM on October 23, 2007. She weighed seven pounds and measured 19.75 inches. Mother and little Ruthie are doing great. Welcome to the world, Eowyn Ruth! Congratulations, Laura and Casey!

Check out the McClure Blog if you want to see more.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Grab a Lion!


Want a free copy of the new Chase the Lion small group curriculum? Today is your day!

Mark Batterson gave away free copies of In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day to celebrate his birthday. My new niece was just born, so I figure I need to celebrate as well! We are giving away 100 copies of the member workbook of the new Chase the Lion small group curriculum from Threads. Here's how it works:
  1. Email John Hasler and include your name and mailing address.
  2. The first 100 people to email John will receive a free copy of the Chase the Lion workbook.
  3. The offer is limited to one workbook per person.
It's that easy! And if you'd be willing to post a review on your blog or site, that would be awesome. Let the chasing begin. Grab a lion!

Eowyn Ruth McClure is Here!

My little niece, Eowyn Ruth McClure, arrived a few days early! That's pronounced A-o-win. Think Tolkien. :) But I think they are going to call her Ruth.

She was born last night shortly before midnight. From the phone, it sounds like she's got a powerful set of pipes. I'll hopefully have pictures and more particulars later today! I'm so excited!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Great Big Giveaway

Later this week, we will be giving away 100 copies of the new Chase the Lion small group leader workbook. Stay tuned for details.


We had an amazing Upward Bound retreat! I'm not sure I can put it into words right now, so I'll wait. Instead, I'll post about something completely stupid.

The Upward Bound leadership team- Chris, John, Amanda, Ryan, and me-- got into some fierce Boggle playing. When I came up with the word "flay," everyone but Ryan voted it down. When I explained the definition- to remove the skin-- they all said, "No, you are thinking of filet."

For the record, from Webster's dictionary:

flay: 1) to strip off the skin or surface of, 2) to criticize harshly, 3) lash

Monday, October 22, 2007

Facebook friend Mary Abigail strongly suggested that I join Facebook. I've been known to follow Mary Abigail into all kinds of craziness before, so why not? I am now officially a Facebook member.

If you are on Facebook and want to be friends, let me know. If you are a friend and not on Facebook, then get on it! Mom...Laura...that includes y'all!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bounding Upward

I'm heading out in just a bit for our Upward Bound Retreat. It's one of our core discipleship experiences on the Seeker Island of our Discipleship Map. So excited about leading the retreat with the amazing Upward Bound team- Chris Jarrell, Amanda Norwich, and John Hasler. But I'm most excited about getting away for a retreat myself!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Theological Journey of a Female Pastor

We are in the middle of the “Elephant in the Church” series, and it’s been one of my favorite sermon series that we’ve ever done. From lifestyle elephants like alcohol and legalism to doctrinal elephants like Biblical inerrancy and hell, we’re covering quite a spectrum. But there are lots of other elephants out there.

One elephant in the church that we haven’t touched during this series is the topic of women in leadership/ministry/the pulpit. It’s particularly relevant at NCC because we’ve got a lot of people from church backgrounds that didn’t allow women in these positions. But NCC has a woman in that position. Me.

I’ve been asked many times before, even recently on this blog, to address the topic. I always shy away from it. Okay, I run away from it. Not because I don’t know what I think or because I’m ignorant of what the Bible says. It’s mainly because I don’t feel like that’s my particular battle to fight. I don’t believe that God has given me a mission of proving that women should be in leadership. I don’t even believe that God has given me a mission of helping other women find their way into such positions. Rather, I just want to keep my head down and focused on the work that God has given me to do—to make disciples.

And yeah—I’ll admit it. I’m a little scared because I know I don’t fit perfectly into any one theological camp. Those who approve of women in ministry may scold my remaining doubts and my rather traditional views of marriage. Those who disapprove of women in ministry may question my theology. But I guess it’s time for me to tackle this elephant.

My Church
National Community Church is affiliated denominationally and theologically with the Assemblies of God and methodologically with the Willow Creek Association. Both of which unapologetically endorse women in ministry. You can read the A/G position here and you can order a great message from John Ortberg (formerly of Willow Creek) here.

When asked about this issue, Pastor Mark once wrote, “My short answer is that we do have women in pastoral and leadership positions. This is one of those issues that has been somewhat divisive within the church for a long time and while I understand both sides of the issue, we've landed on the side of women having equal access to any leadership position within the NCC community. I won't go into the theological basis, but we believe that is the precedent set within the New Testament despite contextual verses that could be used to argue the opposite. It's a tough one, but that's where we stand.”

Unfortunately for me, my gender and perceived calling forced me to wrestle with the theology…

My Story
Here’s where I ramble on about stuff that few people beyond my mother will really care about. But it’s probably helpful to know where I’m coming from. Plus, it gives me more time to procrastinate tackling that elephant at hand.

My preaching gift emerged at a young age. When most kids were playing school and house, my sister and I played church. We’d come home from a typical Sunday at our neighborhood Southern Baptist mega-church, and we’d line up our stuffed animals for another round of Gospel preaching. My sister Laura was the pianist, organist, and song leader. I preached.

Through Vacation Bible School, Bible drill competitions, youth group, high school missions trips, and college ministry, I became more and more excited about the Bible and about the “destiny” – as my college pastor would refer to it—that God had for my life. To me, that meant being the best engineer I could be. Maybe going on some engineering missions trips or even working as an engineer in a third world country. Sometimes, I would catch myself outlining sermons during my quiet time.

I served in various ministry capacities- kindergarten Sunday School teacher, camp counselor, drama director, small group leader, campus ministry president, etc—throughout high school and college. Each position gave me the opportunity to hone different ministry skills and experiment with new spiritual gifts (and opportunities to fail miserably). I did some leading, teaching, and minor forms of “preaching” (I’d call it more like “sharing”) in many of these roles, but none of them seemed outside any Scriptural bounds.

The real trouble came when I returned to Washington, DC in 2001, and Pastor Mark Batterson asked me to come on board as the “small group coordinator.” That didn’t seem so bad. I would just be helping the small group leaders. Serving them. Giving advice here and there. Then, the day came when I was sitting in my cubicle in the Senate, busily working to keep freedom alive, and an email popped into my box, “Wanna preach next month?” Whew. Okay, it was just one sermon and it would be about our new small group model. Again—this is an exception to the rule. “I’m just sharing. It’s more informational than exegetical,” I convinced myself. Fast forward to the day when Pastor Mark asked me to join the staff of National Community Church full-time. Hmm…something to think about. As Pastor of Discipleship. Whoa…not prepared for that title.

That sent me on an intellectual and spiritual quest that lasted for about 2 years. I tried to glean as much as I could from lots of people I respected. From C. J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries to John Ortberg and Willow Creek Community Church. I read everything I could get my hands on—Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – the book and all the online stuff (John Piper and Wayne Grudem), Discovering Biblical Equality (Ronald Pierce and Rebecca Groothuis), Men and Women in the Church (Sarah Sumner), Women in the Church (Stanley Grenz), and others. There were people who loved God and were much smarter than me on both sides of the issue. I emailed men and women that I respect and have been very influential in my spiritual growth. I talked it over with my soon-to-be husband Ryan…a lot. I did (and do) believe that there was a God-created and God-ordained “order” in marriage and even to some extent in relationships between men and women in general. But on the question of women in ministry, the debate seemed to be coming back to a draw.

The Troubling Verse
For me, the entire debate centered around 2 Timothy 2:12, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” (NASB).

That seems pretty clear when we take it at face value. There are two ways to interpret this. One interpretation takes the verse at face value and lands on the side that women should not be in certain leadership positions. The second interpretation plays the cultural card, claiming that Paul was making a special rule for this particular church at a particular time in history. They land on the side of affirming women in all leadership positions. (For the sake of this discussion, I will use “ministry,” “leadership,” “eldership,” and “preaching” interchangeably. I know some people make distinctions and believe that some of these positions are permissible and others aren’t, but I’m not getting in that deep).

Whenever people begin to play the culture card, I get a bit suspicious. You’ve got to be very careful when you go that route because we run the risk of “culturing” our way out of anything we don’t like in Scripture. However, understanding the text within the context of its intended audience, history, and culture is one of the most basic principles of good exegesis. It's bad Biblical study to not consider the culture.

Another principle of Biblical study is to examine verses within the context of the larger text. Let's begin there:

9Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

15But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
Local Applications and Universal Truths
Alright, let’s look at this passage in terms of local applications and universal truths. Universal truths are Scriptures that can be taken at face value. They apply in all places and all times. Examples are Micah 6:8 (“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you. But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”) and Luke 10:27 (He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'") We don’t need to question those verses. They are plain and are consistently confirmed by other Scriptures.

Local applications are verses that apply to a specific place at a specific time for a specific reason. While there are universal and timeless principles that we can learn from such verses, they should not be taken at face value. An example of a local application is 1 Corinthians 7:1, “it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” (NASB). Paul is speaking here of marriage. The NIV translates it, “It is good for a man not to marry.” We cannot take this at face value because we know that God ordained, encouraged, and blessed marriage. We have to dig a little deeper to find out what Paul was communicating to the Corinthians in this particular verse.

Applying Local and Universal to 1 Timothy
Alright, back to 1 Timothy 9-14. Most scholars and average Bible readers would assign local application to verses 9-10. The principle in the verse is that women should be modest and carry themselves in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord. We would never consider braided hair to be a sign of immodesty. That was a cultural thing.

We would apply the same sort of nuance to verses 13-14. When Paul says that women will be saved through childbearing, no one takes that literally in any possible sense of the word. Volumes have been written to try to unravel what Paul meant there.

So, we apply local applications to verses 9-10 and verses 13-14. But many people want to apply universal truth to verses 11-12. I’m not sure that’s good Biblical interpretation. I think the more correct assumption would be that we need to apply some sort of cultural context to verses 11-12, as well.

Why would Paul say that? And what is the underlying principle that is universal? Some scholars believe the verse could also be translated, “I am not currently permitting a woman to teach.” Jesus brought tremendous equality to women. The idea of women being able to sit with men and learn alongside them was unheard of in Judaism at this time, but Jesus turned that upside down. So it’s quite possible that the primary emphasis here is an encouragement for women to take advantage of the opportunity to learn. The focus may be that Paul wanted this particular group of women to learn for the time being and to focus on the proper way to learn. He wanted them to learn before they taught. He wanted them to have first-hand knowledge so they wouldn’t pass along bad information like Eve did in the garden.

Also, I think the phrase “exercise authority,” which may be better translated as “usurp authority,” is significant. Paul may have been most concerned here about women who want to grab authority away from men or women who want to elevate their status, authority, and importance over men. The city of Ephesus revolved around the Temple of Artemis, a religion that exalted females and considered them superior to men. In this particular environment, Paul may have wanted to re-establish respect for and authority of men.

Finally, he may have been giving Timothy some warnings based on problems he had encountered with women teaching in the church of Ephesus.

The bottom line—we can’t really know for sure, but we’ve got a logical interpretation that preserves the universal Biblical principles within the cultural context. Either way, it’s difficult to take those verses at face value when the preceding and following verses are assigned cultural applications or nuanced readings.

The Women of Scripture
I read a lot of convincing stuff on 1 Timothy 2:12—on both sides of the debate. And I felt stuck. I needed to get out of the weeds and get a new perspective.

Another principle of Scriptural interpretation is to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. To take the whole counsel of God’s Word to bear on the issue at hand.

When I began to look at the story of God from a bird’s eye view, I began to see women being used in all kinds of teaching and leadership roles in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Deborah was a judge. That means she was the spiritual and political leader of Israel. The prophetess Huldah taught both King Josiah and the priest and brought revival in 2 Kings 22. Moses’ sister Miriam was a prophetess. In the New Testament, we see Priscilla and Aquilla discipling the apostle Paul. When their names are mentioned, Priscilla is often mentioned first which is significant for that particular culture and indicates she may have been the more prominent teacher. Phoebe was a deacon in the early church (Romans 16:1-2). Someone named Junias was listed as an apostle (Romans 16:7). While we aren’t completely sure whether Junias was a man or a woman, it is a female name.

While I cannot honestly say I’m 100% sure about my interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, here’s what I know for sure—God used lots of women in many different leadership roles within worshipping communities in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In deference to those who disagree with me, we still cannot draw any definite conclusion from that observation. A lot of people try to nuance the actions and positions of each of these women to make them “fit” into their presupposed theologies. Others will more nobly and honestly admit that they these women did assume leadership roles but warn that we cannot assume that was God’s perfect plan anymore than we could assume that the ubiquity of polygamy among the patriarchs indicated God’s approval.

My Restless Conclusion…for Today
Most credible scholars in this debate confess a level of uncertainty. The Scriptures simply aren’t 100% clear. Some argue, in a genuine attempt to remain true to Scripture, “We will not allow women into leadership until you can remove all uncertainty from all Biblical passages.” They run the risk of excluding many gifted women from certain positions of leadership. Others argue, also in a genuine attempt to remain true to Scripture, “Yes, there are passages that are difficult, but we need to acknowledge the leadership roles of women in Scripture and allow women to pursue every possible opportunity God would give them.” They run the risk of allowing women into positions that God has not designed them for.

Both sides are taking risks based on Scriptural uncertainties. Today, I’m taking the risk of being in a position of leadership and teaching. Am I always 100% certain of that calling? It’s tricky.

I’m absolutely convinced I’m called to preach.

I’m absolutely convinced I’m called to make disciples.

Does it mean doing it in a mixed-gender context? On some days, I’m not absolutely sure. But for now, the Old Testament judge Deborah is my role model, and I’m going to do my best to serve my pastor, my church, and leaders in every opportunity I receive.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Confessions of a Female Pastor

At NCC, we are currently running a sermon series entitled The Elephant in the Church. It's based on an old idiom, the elephant in the room, which refers to things that everyone is thinking about but no one is talking about. The series is awesome because it's forcing us as a church to talk about things that aren't comfortable; but we need to talk about them because the Bible talks about them.

One issue that has not been a part of the series but keeps surfacing in conversation is the idea of women in ministry. I spent several hours last night writing out my own journey and theological conclusions, and I'm going to post those tomorrow. For today, I'll leave you with these Confessions of a Female Pastor:
  1. When people walk out of my sermon, I say that it doesn’t bother me, and I really think that’s true. But sometimes I wonder if that’s just a defense mechanism
  2. I am theologically conservative. But since I'm a woman pastor, I worry that people will assume I am theologically liberal and/or a feminist.
  3. When I have a leader who isn’t playing by the rules, I am tempted to wonder if it is their way of not following my lead.
  4. When I talk to some people back home, I don’t tell them I’m a “pastor” because I’m afraid of what they’ll think. I use more vague words like “Small Group Coordinator” or “Director of Christian Education.”
  5. I often feel out of place at pastors’ meetings and conferences.
  6. I’m neither complementarian nor egalitarian. I’m both.
  7. I go to sleep many nights and wake up many mornings re-considering my interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12.
  8. I once wanted to use 1 Corinthians 14:26-31 in a sermon, but I didn’t because the next verse is “women should remain silent in the churches.” While that verse had nothing to do with the topic, I felt I would need to address it since people might “keep reading.” And it was just easier to avoid it altogether.
  9. I feel bad for my parents when people ask them what I do. It was more fun, more prestigious, and a lot easier to say “environmental engineer” and “legislative assistant for a U. S. Senator.”
  10. I hypocritically assume that most other female pastors have an agenda, a liberal theology, or a chip on their shoulder. That also makes me pharisaical.

  11. and one more just for kicks...

  12. I love to preach. There, I admitted it. While I cannot recall ever asking anyone to give me the opportunity to preach, it’s one of the things I love doing the most. And it's been a tough road to reconcile my desire to preach and my desire for Biblical honesty.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I Love Movies on My Day Off

It's my day off. I should be washing and folding clothes, cleaning the house, or getting back to a couple writing assignments. Instead, I'm only working on all of those thing with half my brain and finding excuses to not work with the other half my brain. All the while, Star Wars: A New Hope plays in the background.

There are certain movies I love to watch on my day off. I've seen them all a bazillion times, so I can put them on and only half pay attention if I need to be doing other things. Here are my top 5 movies to watch on my day off:
  1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Kingdom of Heaven
  3. The Fellowship of the Ring
  4. Luther
  5. Gladiator
I don't even want to think about what this says about my personality. So much for a relaxing day off, huh?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Crossings Church

I'm really excited about the launch of Crossings Church in the Glen Allen suburbs of Richmond this weekend. Josh and Beth Karrer were on staff with us at NCC for a few years-- Josh was our church-planter-in-residence (which means he was completely abused and assigned every type of task imaginable) and Beth was our office manager (which means she was abused, as well, come to think of it!)

We miss them so much around here, but I can't wait to see what God is going to do in them and through them as they launch this weekend. Please pray for them! And if you are a fellow church planter or one who is sympathetic to the church planting plight, send them a note of encouragement!

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Old Life

Ryan and I continued our house purge last weekend in preparation for our upcoming move. I painfully dumped hundreds of pages of engineering research, calculations, and design drawings into the dumpster. I had been saving so many important notes, homework, and projects from my classes- groundwater hydrology, artificial wetland design, wetland delineation and management, water and wastewater treatment system design, calculation of greenhouse gas emissions, filtration systems for aquaculture, etc.

The title of one paper made me laugh: Longitudinal Dispersion and Interstitial Velocity Relationship in Subsurface Flow Constructed Wetlands. Ten years ago, I knew what that meant.

I still feel like an environmental engineer, though. It's the way I approach community and discipleship. It's an organic process that requires engineering systems that foster the growth.

Small Group Models

I just finished some correspondence with a small groups pastor about NCC's model and other models of community and discipleship that are floating around out there. I'm a huge proponent of discovering and developing your philosophy and theology of community and discipleship before looking for a system or a model. For that process, I recommend reading George Barna's Growing True Disciples.

Here are some of the models that we've studied or have influenced us as we've created our group culture.
  • The Cell Group Model- championed by Dr. Cho, the cell group model began a lot of the excitement about groups around the world. It's the standard grow and multiply system. (Recommended reading: The Second Reformation, Making Small Groups Work)
  • The Willow Creek Model- I'm sure there's a more technical name for it, and it's probably more of a culture than a model, but this one has influenced us a ton. (Recommended reading: Building a Church of Small Groups, The Seven Deadly Sins of Small Group Ministry, Walking the Small Group Tightrope)
  • G-12 or Principle of 12- championed by Cesar Castellanos, this model has the potential to become too rigid and controlling, but the underlying principles are good. Our approach to coaching structures is based on this. (Recommended reading: Groups of 12, From 12 to 3)
  • The Neighborhood Model- championed by Randy Frazee, the neighborhood model is great for suburbia. Groups are established geographically. (Recommended reading: The Connecting Church)
  • Free Market Small Group System- championed by Ted Whaley and New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO, this system encourages leaders to develop community around interests, passions, and hobbies. This model has influenced us a lot and shapes our approach to how we launch groups. (Recommended reading: Dog Training, Fly Fishing, and Sharing Christ in the 21st Century)
  • The Closed Group Model- Northpoint Community Church does a great job with this! (Recommended reading: Creating Community)
  • The Missional Model- championed by Denise VanEck at Mars Hill Bible Church, this model puts service at the forefront of group life and purpose (as opposed to fellowship, Bible study, etc). This is a new one for me, but it's making me think a lot.
I'm sure I've missed some important ones, but these have been influential in our thinking.

Psalm 119:28

"I weep with grief; encourage me by your word."

As I meditate on Psalm 119 verse by verse, I realize just how bi-polar the Psalmist sounds. One verse, he is on top of the world. The next verse, he has sunk to the deepest pit.

Where do we go when we need encouragement? What do we do when sadness, frustration, and grief overwhelm us? The Bible gives us story after story of regular people who were faced with obstacles, defeat, injury, setbacks, and death. While the Bible never seems to answer the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?," it does give us examples of how we should live and respond during those circumstances. The book of Job shows us the life of a man who endures horrible circumstances. The book of Habakkuk shows us how to respond when God's actions don't seem to match his character and his promises.

One of my favorite passages from the life of David is found in 1 Samuel 30:6. David has returned home from battle with his army to discover that the Amalekites had destroyed their town and taken their families. Scriptures tells us that David "encouraged himself in the Lord." (KJV). Allow the Word of God to encourage you in every area of life.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chase the Lion Trailer

In case you want to check it out, Threads just posted a chase the lion promotional video on YouTube.

You can also get a free sample of the small group curriculum here.

If you are using the curriculum individually or in a group, we'd love to hear your feedback!

The Psalm 119 Journal

I'm resuming my journey and journal through Psalm 119-- blogging through my ruminations and reflections verse by verse. I started the journey back in July, but then I got sidetracked by all the "stuff" of ministry. This discipline is good for me, however, and I want to get back on track.

Psalm 119:27

"Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on you wonderful miracles."

Albert Einstein said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Do a miracle meditation experiment. Read through the Gospels and stop at every miracle along the way, letting that life-changing power of God seep into my own life. It seems you cannot turn a page of the Gospel story without running across Jesus doing something totally unexpected and miraculous, but I know the story so well that I often skip right through stuff without acknowledging how truly amazing these stories are. I've lost the shock factor. As we look at the miracles of Christ, let's consider what he did, why he did it, who was involved, and how that changed their lives.

For instance, I love the story of the roof crashers in Luke 5. These guys lugged a paralyzed man through the village to get him to Jesus; those are some committed guys. Once they arrived at the house, the realized they couldn't get in, so they dragged the guy onto the roof, dug through the roof, and lowered him in front of Jesus. Where was the owner of the house and what was he thinking? What were those four men thinking? How was that guy on the mat feeling as he sat at with everyone staring at him laying at Jesus feet with shingles falling on his head? Then, Jesus does the truly miraculous-- he forgives the man of his sins. And why did he do that? Because he saw the faith of the friends who brought him (Luke 5:20). That will change your world. The Pharisees shouted blasphemy, so Jesus just told the guy to get up and walk. So the guy picked up his mat, praised God, and walked home. Verse 25 says that the people who witnessed it were "gripped with great wonder" and they repeated, "We have seen amazing things today."

Stop and meditate on that for a bit. How were the lives of the four men changed knowing it was their faith that healed their friend? How was the life of the paralyzed man changed? What did he do with that mat? Did he go home and immediately burn it to leave behind his past? Did he hold onto it fearing the paralysis might return? Did he hang it on the wall as a memorial of his encounter with God's life-changing power? What about the people who witnessed these "amazing things?" Did that memory remain with them throughout their lives and how did it change them?

To bring it home, what miracles has God done in our lives that we have totally missed? Let's meditate on his miracles today.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007




Well, I've returned from my conference hopping. Wow-- Willow Creek Group Life Conference and Catalyst in 10 days. I needed the weekend to recover from relational and informational overload. It's quite a feat for me to be overloaded relationally and informationally, but I think it happened.

I'll be posting some thoughts here over the next few days if I can get myself organized.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Anybody heading to Catalyst? Mark Batterson will be leading a lab session this year- Chase the Lion. I'm super excited for him, and I know it's going to be great.

If you're going to Catalyst, I'd love to connect with you. Gimme a yell.

Lots to Think About

I'm so glad I went to the Willow Creek conference last week. I can't believe I've been doing small group ministry for this long and hadn't been to their small group conference. I've got tons to process and think about! I've noticed they are posting a lot of the notes from a lot of the sessions online here. I also hope that an interactive community develops on their blog to continue the conversations.