Some Thoughts on Moral Leadership

after Charlottesville

The violent clash in the beautiful city of Charlottesville should prompt us to think through and insist on basic moral leadership at all levels in our society. The alternative is unthinkable. Some thoughts…

  1. Our society needs moral leadership now.
  2. Moral leadership is not a function of public relations.
  3. Moral leadership must use words to clearly identify evils and virtues where they exist.
  4. Moral leadership must be more than words; it cannot be reduced to slogans or catchphrases.
  5. Moral leadership takes action.

Upcoming – I Want to Believe

In the upcoming weeks we will expand on the ideas in I Want to Believe: Finding Your Way in an Age of Many Faiths.

Description –

In I Want to Believe, Mel Lawrenz ignites a latent desire in all of us–the desire to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Lawrenz takes an honest dive into topics that are true areas of tension–doubt, rebirth, faith and action, and the essence of Christian faith. A fresh and engaging style draws readers into an unexpected conversation in which they receive concrete, concise descriptions of Christian faith in principle and in real life, and are shown contrasts with other faith alternatives. The chapters are skillful interweavings of narrative, illustration, and biblical reflection. Throughout the book, readers are assured that doubts are part of believing and that hardships in life do not contradict faith. For believers and seekers alike, I Want to Believe will fan the flame of faith and affirm the quest for believing.

Being a Father, Trusting the Father

thoughts from the house of mourning

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Oh, Eva, Eva, my sweet daughter. I so want to talk to you, and I so want to talk to other people about you. My heart is torn and empty and full–all at the same time. How can that be? I know that you fell into the arms of your loving heavenly Father when you died 14 days ago, though how I wish it were my arms. Maybe it’s okay that I write a few words to you, and maybe it’s okay that I let other people hear what I want to say. I don’t want to brag about you, which you would not have approved of. I want to shout out about the joy you brought to me and Mom and Christopher and so many others.

The Passing of a Saint

reflections on Win Couchman

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[from Whole Church]

Occasionally I go to Bob and Win’s house to have them pray for me. I feel greedy doing so, because I know that even without that request, Bob and Win pray for me every day. And I mean pray. They talk to God the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit; they pour out their hearts. That has to be one of the main reasons they are the compassionate, generous people they are. They look at other people, and they see, with a precise vision, their real need. And they see the grace of God all around.

Make or break: will we get good spiritual leadership today?

Why vast numbers of believers must exercise spiritual leadership where they live.

There is a view of leadership today that is disappointingly simplistic: merely getting people to do things. Many are successful in their efforts. They can get people to give money, attend large meetings, vote a certain way, develop a group identity, even to sacrifice. These are good things, but are not the apex of what Christian leaders are called to do.

A higher view of leadership includes higher purposes. This leadership aims at great aspirations, brilliant ideas, and high ideals. It aims at the betterment of people—their character and dignity, not just their pocketbook and status. It is committed to transformation. This is spiritual leadership—spiritual because it is empowered by the Spirit of God and its ends are spiritual vitality and growth. And the amazing thing is that God uses us even in our brokenness and sinfulness to lead people toward this transformation.

Suckers and Presidential Debates

a non-partisan comment on our political process

A sucker is born every minute. Supposedly P. T. Barnum, the ultimate circus showman, said this, though no one can prove it. All I know is this: I just don’t want to be one.

And yet, in this political circus in which we find ourselves, millions of people are being played as suckers. But it does not have to be.

Lessons in Prayer, part 1

Prayer is about Knowing God

Peter Marshall, the Scottish-American pastor who was also Chaplain to the United States Senate, offered this prayer about prayer in the 1940’s:

Lord, teach us to pray. Some of us are not skilled in the art of prayer. As we draw near to thee in thought, our spirits long for thy Spirit, and reach out for thee, longing to feel thee near. We know not how to express the deepest emotions that lie hidden in our hearts.

Theistic Manifesto: the Lord’s Prayer, part 2

reasons not to be an atheist

God Wills 

Your kingdom come, your will be done . . .

The second part of the Lord’s Prayer, this manifesto of theism, says, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10). If you pray that, then you are saying, “I believe God is a ruling king. He is leader over what he has created, he has a plan, and he knows how it all is supposed to work, so that means that he knows how my life is supposed to work. When I am confused or feel strung out or discouraged or feel like giving up, he is the Protector and the ruling Sovereign.

The Theistic Manifesto: the Lord’s Prayer

First point: God Is

God Is 

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .

The Lord’s Prayer begins simply: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (v. 9). Now you could say nothing more than that and have a belief system that fills in the deep cracks and fissures of atheism or materialism. Four truths: There is a God, He is personal and benevolent, He is above and apart from this finite world, and He is great and worthy of adoration.

Draw Closer to Christ This Easter Season

Given the uncertainty of our times, it is crucial that we have a full and deep connection with Jesus Christ. People are wondering…

  • What does being a follower of Jesus mean today?
  • How can I find an inner peace when there is so much noise in the world?
  • Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
  • Can I feel safe because of the power of God?
  • Our culture is changing so much, what does stay the same?
  • How exactly does Jesus make forgiveness possible in my life?
  • What does the cross of Jesus mean for real life today?
  • Did Jesus really rise from the dead? And what difference does it make?

The apostle Paul said: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). Great things happen when multitudes of people want to know Christ in that way!

Knowing Him is a set of daily readings in a paperback book or Kindle ebook for the three weeks leading up to Easter. Day 1 is Sunday, March 27, and the last day is Sunday, April 16. (Pastors and church leaders… consider sharing this with your congregation for a unifying spiritual growth experience.)

This three-week devotional includes mediations on the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, reflections on the meaning of salvation, forgiveness, reconciliation, and more, and special readings about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. There is always more for us to learn and understand about the crucified and risen Jesus! He is our only real hope.

NOTE: For a limited time Amazon has Knowing Him at under $10. Today is the best day to order your copy HERE.

 

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Books for Christmas Gifts

Books can change lives. What better gift to give someone you care about? Here are some book recommendations for Christmas giving in 2015. Christ has come!

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FREE DOWNLOADABLE CHRISTMAS GIFT BOOKMARK -> HERE

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The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, Timothy Keller

What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey

A Time for Dignity: Crisis and Faith Today, Mel Lawrenz

How to Understand the Bible: A Simple Guide, Mel Lawrenz

College Edition of How to Understand the Bible, Mel Lawrenz

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible (brand new), D. A. Carson, editor

Faith Through Aging Eyes (devotional thoughts for senior adults), Roselyn Aronson Staples

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Starting October 5 – RECONCILE

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You are invited to join in a 30-day exploration of the life-transforming, world-changing truth about reconciliation. Starting October 5 thousands of people from dozens of countries will join Elmbrook Church in this daily learning experience and conversation.

“To ‘reconcile’ or bring about ‘reconciliation’ is to restore harmony or friendship between two entities formerly divided” (Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible).

There is no debate about this: our world is broken.

Relationships in families and friendships are strained. The nations never get past conflict and war. Society is divided. Racial tensions stubbornly hang on. The human psyche itself is fractured. And our connection with God is at risk.

That is why God did what only God could do. In Jesus the Christ God made forgiveness and restoration possible. This is God’s great work of reconciliation. His way of gracing us with harmony again.

This, then, is the mission and the ministry of those who follow Jesus. To be reconciled with God, and then seek reconciliation with each other, and between groups of people. It is challenging and difficult. But it is the will of God and the mandate for the church.


Reconcile: this is what Christ has done; it is what we must do.

This 30-day devotional going from Genesis to Revelation unpacks the way real reconciliation is possible. It also includes real-life stories, prayers, song lyrics, and other features that will help us mediate deeply on the truth of reconciliation. The truth of reconciliation takes us down many paths: forgiveness, male-female relationships, racial antipathy, social tensions, church unity, just to name a few. It takes courage and faith to be people of reconciliation, but it is possible because God began the work, and has called us to this ministry and mission.
Get the 30-day devotional in your inbox by signing up HERE. (If you attend Elmbrook Church, pick up your free paperback copy at worship this weekend.)

“And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:19-20).

Please consider inviting your friends to sign up by using the SHARE links at the top.

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Important Subjects to Come

So far, in 23 different readings in “How to Understand the Bible,” through Bible Gateway we’ve covered three main areas: 1) approaching the Bible; 2) understanding the Old Testament; and 3) understanding the New Testament.

(If you missed any of this, or want to review any of this, you can go HERE, or you can get all the content of “How to Understand the Bible” in the paperback book HERE.)

Bible Gateway’s signup page is HERE.

Now we come to the fourth and final section, seven readings on “Interpreting the Bible.”

Though the Earth Give Way – Earthquake in Nepal

The words of Psalm 46 may come to mind as we think of the many who suffer in earthquake-stricken Nepal.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

One of the certainties of life is that life is full of uncertainty. No one knows when he or she might fall sick, or have an auto accident, or witness a natural catastrophe—be it fire, flood, or earthquake. Such was the case in Nepal when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck at 11:56 AM a few days ago.