Monday, October 27, 2008

My Vinedresser

"But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." – James 1:4 (NKJV)

In the biblical tradition, a vinedresser is the keeper of the vineyard or the watchman over the field. His responsibilities seem to fall only during spring and harvest when he can be seen pruning the vines, planting seeds for new vines or reaping the crops. The remaining part of the year, the vinedresser will busy himself clearing a neighbor's rocky field or helping to build a new house in the village. The vinedresser could worry about pestilence, droughts, famine, or the scorching hot east winds, but he knows that God controls those events.

Does this mean that in the off season the vinedresser does not care for his field? No. He has learned the secret of patience. He has done his task; now the power of God, through nature, will bring the crops to fruition. The vinedresser realizes the invaluable secret: "let go and let God."

Jesus taught that we should be like the patient vinedresser. We should not be negative, worrying about events and circumstances beyond our control. Jesus encouraged us to understand that God sees the end from the beginning. The vinedresser’s trust in The Vinedresser is rewarded at harvest. Jesus described a similar reward in the parable of the soils—"some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matthew 13:8).

May God grant us the wisdom to know when to plant and when to sow; when to hold on and when to let go; when to undertake new tasks and how to let God bring them to completion; and the knowledge to make the right decisions with dignity!

* * *

Sometimes, God, I get impatient waiting for You to finish what I’ve started. Help me to let go and trust You for the outcome. Amen.

* * *

Do your part and let God take care of the rest.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Vacation Thoughts

There was a time, just a few centuries ago, when nautical maps of Europe
had legends that included the location of churches on land. Church
steeples doubled as navigational tools for ship captains. Churches were
typically built on choice real estate in the center of town or atop the
highest hill. And in some places, there were ordinances against building
anything taller than the church steeple so it would occupy the place
closest to heaven. Nothing was more visible on the pre-modern skyline
than church steeples. And in a sense, church steeples symbolized the
place of the church in culture. There was a day, in the not too distant
past, when church was the center of culture. Church was the place to go.
Church was the thing to do. Nothing was more visible than the church
steeple. Nothing was more audible than the church bells. And it might
be a slight exaggeration, but all the pre-modern church had to do was
raise a steeple and ring a bell.

Is it safe to say that things have changed?

The church no longer enjoys a cultural monopoly! We are the minority
in post-Christian America. And the significance of that is this: we can’t
afford to do church the way it’s always been done. Our incarnational
tactics must change.
Don’t get me wrong: the message is sacred. But methods are not. And the
moment we anoint our methods as sacred, we stop creating the future
and start repeating the past. We stop doing ministry out of imagination
and start doing ministry out of memory. And if we think that raising the
steeple or ringing the bells will get the job done; the church in America
will end up right where the Israelites found themselves in Judges 2:10:
After that generation died, another generation grew up who
did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things
he had done for Israel.

According to George Barna, 61% of twenty-somethings who grew
up going to church stop going to church at some point during their
twenties. They become dechurched. They still feel connected to God in
some form or fashion, but there is a disconnect with organized religion
and the institutional church. And for one reason or another, they are
checking out of the church at an alarming rate.
I love the church. I believe in the church.

Some people hear statistics like the one just cited — 61% of twenty-
somethings that grew up in church leave the church — and they wonder
what’s wrong with this generation. I think that’s the wrong reaction. I
can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with the church.
In the words of Pogo: we have seen the enemy and he is us.

As long as the
church stays on the
periphery, our culture will
never experience an epiphany.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ten Simple Things to Change Your Day

1. Get healthier
Eat smaller portions
Eat 5-6 times daily
Stay hydrated
Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity if you’re really serious

2. Call a past customer and ask what you could do to get him or her back.
3. Send a thank you note.
4. Write a personal note of encouragement to someone on your team.
5. Plan your day the night before or first thing in the morning.
6. Schedule accomplishment, not activity.
7. Read, study, pray for the first 30 minutes of each day.
8. Do one intentional act of kindness for a family member, friend or stranger.
9. End the day remembering all the good things that happened.
10. Tell someone you love them.

Let me know how your day went!