Seeing The Tree in the Forest

It is quite a deal when you discover something new from something familiar.  You may have driven by that section of the forest a 110 times, and yet this time you noticed that one particular tree slightly hidden but somehow on this one day more obvious than all the others.  The unique color and type set it apart from the rest.  It is so obvious.  Makes you wonder why you had not really seen it before.  Your perspective of that familiar bush is slightly and refreshingly different because of the one very obvious tree that caught your attention.

 

  tree in a forest

 

It is helpful from time to time to take a closer look in order to see the tree in the forest.  And when we do it often has the capacity to change the way we see the forest, making it seem refreshingly new.

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Striking The Right Moment

match strike

 

The word kairos means a moment in time.  It holds a different meaning than chronos, which is how we typically think of time in terms of a sequence of seconds, minutes and hours ticking along.  Kairos has more to do with a right opportunity, or a ripe season, or the progression of something toward a perfect moment in time or even striking the right moment.  This week five amazing people from the VantagePoint3 tribe came together to begin a timely learning opportunity for their continued growth as leaders.  They are part of a creative cohort approach to seminary education sponsored by Sioux Falls Seminary called The Kairos Project.

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Holy Week…

 (…not really sure how I “drew” Holy Week for the blog post…)

 

On Palm Sunday, my pastor voiced something that I have also always felt.  He talked about how he always feels a little weird celebrating Holy Week…we, essentially, celebrate the brutal torture of our Savior.  I know, we actually celebrate the resurrection of our Savior and all that means.  However, leading up to the resurrection is the brutal torture and death of Jesus.  I have also felt a little weird celebrating Holy Week.  Easter Sunday (Victory Sunday), yes…the rest of the week, however, is such a bizarre turn of events from Palm Sunday to Good Friday.

 

Palm-Sunday

For each of the last few years during Holy Week, I read something I wrote on Good Friday the Easter after God turned my eyes toward this new path I am on… 

 

Good Friday – 2011

Thank You for today, Father.

Thank You for what you did for us today.

Thank You for the [Maundy-Thursday] service last night…

Thank You for working in my heart last night.

 

I have always had a hard time accepting your love and forgiveness…

thinking that I didn’t deserve it.

I still know that I don’t deserve it,

but I understood last night,

and accepted,

how much you really do love me.

I’ve talked it before.

I even preached it at Camp J last summer.

But, now I am learning to accept it for myself.

Jesus-Cross

 

Every year for Easter, we are running…

and the whole week is a little crazy.

Every year I lose sight of You.

Saturday comes and I had forgotten

about the sacrifice You made the day before.

 

I never want to take that for granted.

 

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Like Cutting With Scissors

My brother is one of my favorite persons.  Over the past many years he has been an odd blend of friend, priest, absolute favorite guitar player, and sometimes has even played well the role of annoying brother.

al dobko

One time he said to me, “I think there are rare moments when we are so in-step with the Holy Spirit that it is like cutting through paper with scissors without squeezing the blades together.  When all you need to do is lightly push.”

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Vista…a vp3 case cohort initiative

Over the past number of years I have had the privilege of spending time with pastors, staffs and sharp lay leaders discussing how the VP3 processes have created a good sort of stirring.  The amount of consistent lives changed has cued them to scootch up to their balcony to get a broader perspective of what is happening within their setting regarding the formation of their adults.

 

 balcony

When I met with these good people, I would often think of other good people who were hanging out in their particular balcony, and believed that somehow these same perspective seekers could learn from one another. As good as it was to visit each of their settings offering a question or word of advice, I felt the nudge to invite them to come together away from their setting in order to pay attention to what they noticed from their balconies, to trust what they found themselves caring about, and to come up with a way to address what they now noticed from the balcony.

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Being Led

The Reeses decided our vacation time this summer would include time spent in one of the most beautiful parts of the homeland of Canada, Banff National Park.  Just before you get into the park along the #1 Highway you come to Canmore, Alberta.  An impressive little town with ginormous sentinel mountains surrounding the town.
One of those mountains is called Ha-Ling Peak, named after a Chinese cook for the Canadian National Railway who in 1896 was double-dog-dared for fifty bucks to plant a flag at the top of the mountain.  Those wagering the fifty bucks said he couldn’t do it in less than ten hours.  He started at 7am and was back in time for lunch, planting a large enough flag for the doubters at the local watering hole to see.  That was before any paths were cut to make it “easier” to get to the top.

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Good Words From A Good Pastor

Jason Koleba is the lead pastor at Cochrane Alliance Church in Cochrane, Alberta.  If you get a chance to hang out with Jason, before you reach the end of your grande coffee you get a sense that he is a person in love with Jesus and His way in the world.  In fact, a concern for unleashing the church to live more missionally is a significant part of Jason’s signature, and why he knows the importance of investing in the deepening and empowering of those who call Cochrane Alliance their home.
The following are some words of encouragement and challenge he offered to those whom he had been walking alongside over the past three years, helping them discover more deeply who God is, who they are, and what God desires to do through their lives for the Kingdom.  To be honest, I find myself prayerfully hoping for similar words and letters to be given by more pastors across North America.  The church would become an attractive community again if such “walkingalongsideness” were practiced.

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Things May Be Different Than They Appear

I have been re-reading the Bible.  It’s been a while since I’ve read it from ding to dong.  Usually my intake of the Word is guided by a bit of a gut check to be honest with what book of the Bible or passage I need to land on for a bit.  And I have never been disappointed in the Spirit’s way of timing what I read with the particulars of my life.  Maybe that’s part of the “living and active” thing.

 

I’ve been making my way through Genesis over the past several weeks.  There have been many foundational blocks laid in Genesis that our faith has been built upon, held together by the mortar of God’s Spirit.  Quite frankly, I have found myself saying to myself many times on this read through, “Holy moly. Talk about your crazy narratives and timelines!”

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A Few Good Practices

It is a good practice to glean what you can from those who know how to practice well.  Last week VP3 hosted a webinar called, “Best Practices in Local Church Leadership Development.”  Three panelists joined our time to share what they have learned over the years regarding an investment in the formation of those within their local communities. Pam, Kent and Beth are seasoned at knowing how to notice the particulars of those whom they walk alongside.  All three know how to “call out” what they see dormant in peoples’ lives.  They are careful, yet direct in making appropriate and tailored prescriptions, helping people move toward a better place of maturity and a truer place of service.  Quite frankly, I was impressed with the practices they keep in this sometimes misunderstood deal of leadership development.  Their practice grows from a conviction that leadership development from a Christian perspective is first and always tethered to helping people tend to their followership to Jesus Christ.  You will benefit from listening in on what they said.  Here are some highlights…

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A Gathering of Saints

Last week twenty-seven of us gathered together in Sioux Falls for a retreat.  By the end of our two days together we realized we were no ordinary group of twenty-seven people.  We became a remarkable community of brothers and sisters in need of some space, perspective, words, silence and friendship.  The theme for our gathering was “A Sacred Heart.”  The hope for the gathering can be heard in David’s prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Ps 51:10).

 

There are no shortage of things that get us entangled and snared along the way of this deal we call ministry.  This unusual gathering of saints had plenty of tangles and snares to share, but more so plenty of presence, experience and from time to time a word or two to offer.

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