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That the next generation will be inspired and prepared to live God's call and meet the challenges of their season.

 

 

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Daniel Allen 

Resourcing Leadership and Faith Formation 


Friday
Apr182014

The Crowds and Good Friday

Christians around the world call this Friday "Good" because of Jesus - his suffering and sacrifice for humankind.

Many will offer to God a prayer like the following, adapted from the Book of Common Prayer:

"Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold the crowds, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross. Behold them - and us - and draw us once more into the life that Jesus poured out through his suffering, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

I was in that crowd, as were you, the crowd for whom he was willing to suffer betrayal and crucifixion.

"Thank you, Jesus, for your willingness...for all you suffered...for your total surrender...for the life of the world. Amen."

How will you observe Good Friday today? Holy Saturday tomorrow?

Thursday
Apr172014

Listening for God's Call

Notice that in the Gospel of Mark (1:16-20) Jesus calls his followers to relationship, partnership, and leadership. But how does that call come to each of us? Where can we "listen" to hear God's call? Here are five ways God might speak to you...

  1. Through awe-inspiring encounters (think burning bushes and bright lights from heaven)
  2. Through a growing inner conviction (in your heart)
  3. Indirectly, through others
  4. Through providential circumstances
  5. Through recognition of God’s shaping of our lives – seeing God at work in our story

Awe-inspiring encounters are unmistakable experiences of God’s presence that show God is with us and has work for us to do. Like Moses and the burning bush or Saul on the road to Damascus, God might meet you in an undeniable, unforgettable, awe-inspiring way. Such a dramatic calling experience will shape your life from that point forward.

I’ve worked with many young adults who think God only calls through awe-inspiring supernatural encounters. I don’t blame them for thinking this way. The supernatural encounters get all the press. But we don’t see awe-inspiring experiences in the Bible with Timothy and Titus, or Daniel and Esther. They were each called, but in less dramatic fashion.

Through interviews with undergrads in courses at Liberty University, Elmer Towns found that only about 10% of those who expressed a call to a ministry experienced it in a sudden (awe-inspiring) fashion. The majority noted that their call came to them gradually, over time. They experienced a growing conviction about devoting their life to a particular cause or group of people. 

At other times God calls us indirectly, through other people. These are occasions where other people take actions on our behalf to dedicate us to God or recruit us into a specific work, like Hannah dedicating Samuel, Mordecai engaging Esther's help, Paul recruiting Timothy, or when John the Baptist was given to the Lord at birth. The calling then becomes actualized when it’s accepted and embraced personally.

You could also experience God’s call through providential circumstances. That is, you might look back at different circumstances in your life, or look around at current factors, and conclude that God is directing you toward a particular cause or group of people. This was the case with Nehemiah when he discovered how poorly Jerusalem and Judah were faring in the mid fifth century BC. Nehemiah was serving King Artaxerxes, with access to the king and the resources of the Persian kingdom. He found himself, providentially we would say, in a position to help. His concern for the residents of the city, coupled with his period of prayer and access to resources, led him to discern God’s call to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls and also to catalyze a spiritual renewal initiative (Nehemiah 1-7).

A fifth way that God’s call emerges is when we recognize God’s shaping of our lives. More on this fifth way in my next post.

Have you heard God's call? In what way did you hear God speak?

 

Tuesday
Nov122013

Remember Your Leaders

Remember your leaders. That's what the Book of Hebrews tells us (13.7-8). Remember those who spoke the Word of life to us. Remember their way of life and imitate their faith. Why? Because the Jesus who worked in their lives is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." 

We remember their testimony, reflecting on what they taught us, how they lived, and how they finished.

We remember Jesus, who worked in and through their lives. We take courage, knowing that Jesus is at work in and through us as well.

Today I join the worldwide Anglican Communion in remembering and honoring Charles Simeon, priest at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, for 54 years.

I first met Simeon during seminary when I did an advanced leadership development review of his life and legacy. Historians tell us that he was one of the prime leaders in the renewal of the Church of England. 

I remember his:

  • crisis of conscience that led to his conversion to Jesus while at Cambridge
  • biblical preaching
  • steadfastness in the face of spirited opposition
  • strategic mentoring of young leaders
  • planting of seeds that eventually grew into InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

 

Today I pray, with the Anglican Communion, the Collect of the Day for Charles Simeon, Priest, 1836:

O loving God, we know that all things are ordered by your unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see your hand; that, following the example and teaching of your servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve you with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Which of your leaders are you remembering today?

Friday
Oct042013

What Teddy Said

What do you do to replenish your reserves? Refuel your strength? I get help from great quotes. Here's one from Teddy Roosevelt that stokes my fire.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

This quote calls out to the do-er in me. The achiever, swashbuckler, adventurer. Calls me beyond timidity and passivity. Gets my blood up, in a good way.

Renews my courage for entering my arenas. For engaging my life.

Does it speak to you today? In what way?

Wednesday
Jul312013

What? > Why? 

When it comes to asking ourselves questions, it’s generally more productive to start the question with What (or How) instead of Why. 

Why questions often cause us to spiral downward in our thinking and self-perception…

  • Why do I always do that? (Because I’m an idiot.)
  • Why can’t I ever get it right? (Because I’m a slob.)
  • Why did she look at me that way? (Because she despises me.)
  • Why can’t I get better? (Because I’m doomed to failure.) 

What (or How) questions tap into our brain’s problem-solving capacity…

  • What could I do to change this? (I could do this… or this… or this…)
  • How could I think differently about this? (I could think this… or this… or this…)
  • What step could I take right now? (This one… or this one… or this one…)
  • How might a better way to do this look? (Like this… or this… or this…)

 Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but in many cases starting a question-to-self with What is more fruitful than starting it with Why.

When you engage in self-questioning, how do you typically start your questions?