This video shows non-typical behavior in typical South Florida weather! I love sunshowers because often, a rainbow follows. So I encourage my kids to play in the rain… I think it’s good for the mind.

In the spirit of playing in sunshowers, so to speak, I have been thinking about a blog redesign for months. There are four areas about which I am very passionate. Sometimes I feel like I need four different blogs, and end up with a traffic jam in my head – which means nothing gets written! Leadership is probably the one about which I am most passionate. The other three (all dependent on leadership) are family life, women’s issues and of course, missions and social justice. I want to explore each one, and not miss any experiences for my readers or myself.

So, I’ll continue to blog here, but by the end of October (for no reason other than my birthday is in October!) the blog will be entirely different. It will have separate pages/streams for each of the subjects, so you will be able to go straight to your area of interest…

I’m also adding a couple of other fun surprise features! I can’t wait!

Thank you for always checking in. I appreciate you all. Stay tuned, I guarantee you’ll be glad you did!
Now tell me – I really wanna know – do YOU like to play in the rain??

Axioms to Grow Lives By

We are reading Axiom, by Bill Hybels, for our Bloggers Book Study. This is a fun book for many reasons. It is one of those books you can: a – go back to frequently; and b – quote frequently!
If you missed the first couple of days, you can see what Troy Gramling had to say, and Miguel’s insights.

Axiom 17 – ONLY GOD
Had to put this one in caps!! “When God accomplishes activity that no human being could possibly orchestrate, you have to respond somehow.” And no human can take the credit when God stirs hundreds to get baptized, or to give an unusually large offering, or when He exceeds our expectations in every way. ONLY GOD.

Axiom 18 – Plus-Side/Minus-Side
A growing church must be economically sustainable. A key to this is to keep a healthy balance in your hires between plus-side positions (those that tend to generate an increase in offerings) and minus-side positions (those that tend to consume more financial resources).

Axiom 19 – Institutionalize Key Values
Thanksgiving Day is an example of a day that has been created to institutionalize the value of thankfulness. In a church, you should force yourself to honor key values regularly and publicly. This can be an annual day to honor racial inclusiveness, or to focus on the needs of an impoverished world. “What you value in your church must be raised up, taught about, and celebrated on a regular basis.”

Axiom 20 – This Is Church
Are we allowed to have favorites? I have to say, this is one of mine. The point of This Is Church is that there are sacred moments throughout our days, (even for very “high level leaders” i.e., those carrying huge responsibilities), when you get to touch another person’s life in a holy way. God asks you to relax for a moment from your Very Important Responsibilities and pray for a hurting individual, or celebrate a milestone. “Christ said he was going to build ‘His church’ – a community of real people with real, beating hearts that would be attentive to each other and… quick to extend mercy and grace and love.”

Axioms 1-20 in the book are about Vision. Axioms 21-42 are about Teamwork.

Axiom 21 – The Three C’s
When seeking out and hiring new staff members, Hybels uses The Three C’s as his grid for prioritizing people-qualities: Character, Competence, and Chemistry. Only after a person passes the character test will he move on to the competence test. Once that is confirmed as well, it is indispensable that the person have the right chemistry for the team. Otherwise, he does not move ahead with a hire.

Axiom 22 – Never Say Someone’s No for Them
Leaders will ask God for the most qualified and visionary person to fill a role – they make a wish list of the very best person on earth to fill a position. Then, inexplicably, they undermine their own cause by making the assumption that that person will never say “yes” to an offer. But it is important to not limit what God can do in this situation. You need to ask and pursue, and not say “no” for a person by not even asking.

Axiom 23 – First Tested
One of the biggest mistakes any leader can make is putting people in significant leadership roles without first accurately assessing their spiritual depth, relational savvy, ability to work within a team, and ability to handle crises. This creates an insecure leader at a high level, who can in fact cause untold damage. Leaders must first be tested and observed, whether it is through informal activities, traveling together, participation in projects, or even long conversations.

Axiom 24 – DNA Carriers
This may be one of the hardest to quantify, but definitely one of the most important. When a leader assembles a team, he must make sure that they are all full carriers of the DNA of that vision. They can’t merely hire individuals to fulfill tasks. Each must be a vision carrier. “Great leaders take the time to explain to their team what they feel deeply about – what issues they would take a bullet for and why. Then great leaders show their staff members how to live out that DNA.”

I think we can use these, not just in building a ministry or business but, (with a little adaptation) in raising our children as future leaders!! Tomorrow, visit Mo’s blog for more great sayings!

Paying Attention to God

We have changed it up nicely for book four of the Blogger’s Book Study! Yesterday, Heredes introduced us to the first three chapters of Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala.

Let me tell you about chapters four and five. I have found myself tearing up several times as I read this book, because it is autobiographical, and the examples of God’s faithfulness are impressive. I can’t give you a “summary” – but walk with me now and we’ll pick up some gold nuggets!

The Greatest Discovery of All Time
Cymbala traces the history of prayer to Genesis 4:25-26. This was after Cain had killed Abel. It states that “at that time men began calling on the name of the Lord.” To pray means to “cry out,” to “implore aid.”
Throughout history, the great distinctive of God followers is that we call on the Name of the Lord. Satan’s strategy with God followers has always been, “Don’t call, don’t ask, don’t depend on God.” In fact, Psalm 14:4 defines the wicked as people who do NOT call on the Name of the Lord. The author puts it this way:

“The devil is not terribly frightened of our human efforts and credentials. But he knows his kingdom will be damaged when we begin to lift our hearts to God.”

When there have been huge manifestations of the power of God (also known as “revivals”), they have always been preceded by people calling on God with passion. This is also true on a personal level. Cymbala shared the moving story of his teenage daughter, who, even as the Tabernacle was experiencing “success,” was very far from God. It was a two and a half year ordeal that ended miraculously when at the Tuesday night prayer meeting they called out to God on her behalf.

This chapter made me ask myself… Do I call, connect, focus my attention on God the way I should, and understand that He is really the ONLY answer?? Or do I allow myself to think that presentation, professionalism, etc. will substitute for prayer? Hmm.

The Day Jesus Got Mad
Mark chapter 11 shows us a very angry Jesus, ripping through the temple because it was being prostituted by commerce, and used for purposes other than what was intended.
What was the intended use of the temple? Jesus quoted Isaiah and shouted out that it was to be “a house of prayer for all nationalities and races”!
The point Cymbala makes in chapter five of this book is this:

“Jesus is not terribly impressed with religious commercialism. He is concerned not only whether we’re doing God’s work, but also how and why we’re doing it.”

Here then is the test for a church – if people leave a meeting talking only about how wonderful the message was, or how beautifully the singers sang, then it is not successful. But if they leave with a greater understanding of who God is, saying things like, “Isn’t God good” or “He really touched me tonight” then your purpose is fulfilled.

The church should have a sweetness in the air, an aroma of prayer. Prayer is the defining mark of God’s dwelling. In fact, the author points out that God launched the first church in an environment of prayer, as people did nothing but wait on Him. When the church calls out to God, that is when grace is released, and hurting people encounter a loving God, and they in turn learn to call out to Him. This is Paul’s description of this process (per Romans 10):

  • Sending leads to preaching.
  • Preaching leads to hearing.
  • Hearing leads to believing.
  • Believing leads to calling on the name of the Lord.

Calling on the Name of the Lord is why the church is here on earth.

“If a meeting doesn’t end with people touching God, what kind of meeting is it? We haven’t really encountered God. We haven’t met with the only One powerful and loving enough to change our lives.”