Hidden Agenda

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret (John 18:20).

Want to lead like Jesus?

Stop hiding your agenda. [click to continue…]

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The inhabitants of a small third-world village were understandably alarmed.  An earthquake was literally shaking every corner of their world, and they were terrified.

All except for one elderly woman, that is, who remained completely calm throughout the whole ordeal.  When things had settled down, one of the villagers asked her, “Weren’t you afraid during that earthquake?”

“No,” she replied, “I wasn’t.  You see, I just rejoiced to know that I have a God who is powerful enough to shake the world.”

Needless to say, she had a “peace that passes all understanding.”  I wonder if I do.  I wonder if you do.

I was speaking on this at a retreat over the weekend and I recognized something really important about the peace that is every Christian’s birthright:

Peace isn’t the punch line of a beauty contest joke or the passive purview of those who breathe deeply and chant.  Peace isn’t for sissies.  It’s the result of a conquest.  It is an expression of the God of Heaven going to war to protect our thoughts and minds.

Read these two well-known verses again and look for the traces of battle: [click to continue…]

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We don’t wear veils much anymore – certainly not in this culture.  Unless, of course, “we” are a bride on her wedding day.  Nobody from Paris or New York sends skinny models down the runway wearing the latest veil fashions. And chances are, you won’t find them in Macy’s or Chico’s or that fabulously French discounter Target either.

But make no mistake about it.  We still wear them – sometimes for good reason, sometimes not.

Veils are for hiding.  For creating boundaries and secret spaces.  And sometimes that’s a good idea.  Ever meet somebody at a bus stop or party and ask the customary “How are you?” and they tell you?  In detail?  Sorta makes you wish you had a veil (or a gag) in your back pocket.

At other times veils are symbols or expressions of something else.  They are reminders of how broken, how sinful, how messed up we are.  The veil dresses up on the outside what is ugly or painful on the inside. [click to continue…]

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As long as people have searched for direction, worshipped their Creator, and looked for language to express their passion and warmth, we have returned again and again to stand by the fire.

The fire was an agent of God’s guidance and an ongoing expression of worship in the days of the tabernacle.  And we kept returning to stand by the fire.

A refiner and cleansing agent of the hearts of men, the fire was a symbol of God’s hatred for sin and an affirmation for the prophets who spoke His truth.  And again and again, we kept returning to stand by the fire.

The fire was a weapon of God’s voice, a light in the darkness, and an expression of hospitality and welcome. And from the dark places and lonely spaces, still we kept coming to stand by the fire.

The fire revealed a passion for God’s word in our bones, the baptism of the believer, the instrument of God’s testing, and the piercing gaze of the risen Christ.  And out of desperation or terror, love or longing, still we kept coming to stand by the fire.

And even today the Spirit and Bride invite you to come.  To be warmed and convicted and cleansed and restored and pure as you stand by the fire. [click to continue…]

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Picture a couple of goldfish in a cartoon.  Only instead of a fishbowl, they’re holed up in a blender.  One looks to the other and says, “The stress here is killing me!”

We had that cartoon at a place I used to work.

We also had that kind of stress.  We never quite knew when somebody might show up and punch “Puree.”

Morale was hard to come by in that environment because we presented one set of values to the public, but lived by a different set behind the office doors.  Information was available only on a “need to know” basis, and most people, most of the time, didn’t “need to know.”  Accountability ran down a one-way street.  Underlings were accountable for everything, including their email accounts and their bank accounts, while “leaders” answered to no one.

Oh… did I mention that this was a church? [click to continue…]

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Somewhere in the places where sighs give way to hope and promises sing to aching hearts, your soul waits for something different.  More than the pleasure of a passing moment or those 15 minutes of look-at-me, you were created with a craving soul.  “He has planted eternity in the human heart,” Solomon said, “but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

One day – sooner rather than later – that craving will be satisfied.  And not by what the pavement is made of or what the real estate market is like past the pearly gates.  Not by something that resembles Sunday morning at the church house, Monday noon at the White House, or Friday night at the penthouse.  Craving souls are smarter and deeper than that.

One day – nearer rather than farther – tired hearts, stale relationships and flyblown religion will give way to a new dawn.   And at long last your soul will taste satisfaction.  Ashes will give way to beauty.  You’ll trade your mourning in for the oil of joy.  You’ll wear a garment of praise – complete with dancing shoes – instead of a spirit of heaviness.  In the satisfaction of the soul… [click to continue…]

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I want to talk to you about something that for some people is pretty painful and scary.  Because of that, I want to say first that I am writing this in love.  I hope you can feel the love that compels me to say these things, even if they are difficult to receive or comprehend.

If this isn’t for you, it’s for somebody you know.  Maybe you can pass it along.

The truth is, I am afraid for you.

As you look in the mirror, as you go forth into the world, and as you relate to others, you only know two views.

You’re either a hero or a zero.

You are either on a pedestal or in the sewer.  [click to continue…]

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truth-loveThis is about the difference between creeds and deeds.  Action and diction.  Your words and your walk.

I’m assuming if you’re reading this that you want to be known and respected as a man or woman of truth.  That may be a big assumption, of course, since it’s possible that you went to bed last night with the happy memory of somebody you conned.

But if you’re a believer, God has placed a desire in your heart to please Him, and truth is one of the things that does that.  So is love.  So it’s no surprise that the Bible describes spiritual maturity as the fine art of “speaking the truth in love.”

And it is a fine art.  What do you do when words and wishes collide?  What do you say when your honest thoughts and feelings aren’t very loving?

Years ago I was sitting in a therapy group, where a couple of people were talking about their “inner child” and their “inner adolescent.”  It was a poignant discussion by some people who were sincerely seeking healing and growth.  But I couldn’t help but think, “My problem isn’t my inner child, or my inner adolescent.  My problem is with my inner jackass.”

I figured it would be better to stay quiet.  Love?  Maybe.  Self-protection?  No doubt about it.  I said it best when I said nothing at all.

The greatest love tends to show up in the fewest words.  [click to continue…]

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