Archive for the ‘new’ Tag

A New Direction   Leave a comment

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You may have noticed that I did not post anything last week.  That is because I was a retreat center in the middle of Texas without consistent internet or cell phone signal.  It is also because I was on a retreat which encouraged the participants to disconnect as much as possible.  The retreat was designed to help each of us look at four significant areas of our lives – physical health, spiritual health, financial health, and vocational health.  I must admit that I went to the retreat very apprehensive and very reluctant.  However, now that I am on this side of the retreat, I am extremely thankful that I attended.

Throughout the week, we had the opportunity to listen to faculty speak about the different areas of our life.  They provided insights and gave us opportunity to ask questions of ourselves.  We also met with a small group of fellow participants on a regular basis.  These meetings allowed us to share what we were discovering and discuss pieces of a plan that we were creating for the future steps we would take to improve ourselves in the four areas.  We learned a lot about each other’s current situation and aspects of each other’s lives.  We also had some personal time for contemplation and relaxation.

The week opened my eyes to the possibilities of new direction in my life.  I was able to create a plan that would help me be a better steward of the gifts which the Lord has provided me – my body, my finances, and my talents/skills.  I have already begun work on the physical and mental improvements which my plan included.  I am adjusting my eating and exercise habits.  My goal is to reduce my weight and to eat foods which are healthier for me.

As I came back to work today, I had a sense of new direction in my life.  I am sure that I will be sharing in this blog about my progress and new discoveries along my path.


Locomotive versus Horse   Leave a comment

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Back in the 1830’s there was a competition between Peter Cooper’s Tom Thumb locomotive and a horse-drawn railroad car.  This was a time of great change in transportation in the United States.  People were skeptical of this new invention called a locomotive and most preferred the familiar mode of transportation that used the power of a horse (or horses).  Peter Cooper wanted to prove that his Tom Thumb would help to increase the speed and efficiency of transportation for humans and freight alike so he staged this competition to win the support of the people.  Cooper’s locomotive lost due to mechanical failure but prior to the break down, the locomotive definitely was winning the race.  Over time, the horse-drawn trains were replaced with the locomotive-drawn trains and another step in transportation advanced.

I share this story because of some of the work that I am doing with two different organizations.  These organizations are in the midst of transition.  Both of them have individuals who are very dedicated to the organizations and the goals of the organization.  Some of them have given many years of blood, sweat, and tears for the organization while others have just begun their adventure.  Much like in the race between the locomotive and the horse, their is a division among the people regarding the introduction of a new idea or invention.  There are some who are skeptical about taking different directions and steps.  There are some who want to remain with the familiar.  There are others who have a great passion and energy who wish to help the organization move forward in new ways to achieve the goal that all of them share.

The lesson that I think those with new ideas can take from the Peter Cooper’s story is this….  you need to win the people over.  This means that you cannot create something new and unleash it on the people without helping them to experience how it can bring a benefit.  You need to allow time for conversation around the new idea.  You need to create opportunity of experiments and demonstrations.  You need to receive input and allow people to adjust to the ideas.  By taking these steps and going at a pace which will allow people to experience and adjust, you will be much more successful than if you go full force.

A New Thing   1 comment

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“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

(Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

After a conversation that I was a part of yesterday, this passage has been echoing in my mind.  I am working with a group which is charged with the task of determining where the future of a larger body within an organization may be going.  We have had a multitude of discussions and there are some recurring trains of thought.  The group is confident that the future means there needs to be a radical change from the past in the structure and the focus of the larger body.  So this is why the passage from Isaiah keeps coming to my mind.

I think that there are some major points found in this one verse which speak to me today and should probably speak to many Christians.  The passage begins by God declaring to a group of people who are stuck in exile that something new is taking place.  God is doing something new.  This is the action of God and not of some human mind.  God has decided to do something new and it is going to happen.  For me, this reminds me of two important truths….. I am not in charge and it is futile to resist if God is the one acting.

The second point that has caught my attention is in regards to timing.  God says “NOW (my emphasis) it springs up;” this is not some future event but what is happening right now.  God’s timing most often is not our own.  In fact, there are many occurrences when God’s timing definitely does not align with mine.  However, since God is control, God gets to determine the timing.

The third point is found in the very first word of the verse and in the second half of the second sentence.  The verse begins with “See” and the second half of the sentence states, “do you not perceive it?”  This led me to understand that God intends me to take notice of what God is doing.  Then I am troubled by the question God asks regarding my perception.  I wonder why I and others struggle to see what God is doing.  I think that if we are being honest, the major reason that we do not perceive God’s actions is because we do not want to see them.  If we see them, then we have to respond to them by either accepting or rejecting them.  If my statement earlier that resistance is futile is correct, then the only option available to us is to accept God’s actions.  If God’s actions require us to change, or to do away with past ways, or any other uncomfortable response, we try to bury our heads in the sand and ignore that God is doing something new.

The remainder of the verse tells us the reason for God’s new direction.  God can easily see when we are stuck in the wilderness.  God knows that we become thirsty and our lives dry up.  So in these new actions of God, God is trying to provide for us relief.  By doing something new, God leads us out of the wilderness by showing us the way and provides the streams that will quench our thirst.  It is clear to me that many of us, and the organizations of which we are members, are definitely in the wilderness.  This portion of the verse reminds me that there is hope and possibility.  God has already begun something new which will get us out of the wilderness and provide a cool drink for our lives.

So the challenge to me and probably many of you is to look and see what is this new thing God is doing and calling us to take notice.  Then I must trust and follow down the path that God is providing in the wilderness by this new thing.

Limitations   1 comment

Photo by HM Photography

Photo by HM Photography

This morning I have been pondering the following question:  “Do we limit ourselves too much?

The question came to mind during a conversation over coffee with some friends.  We were discussing trying new experiences such as new foods, new travel opportunities, new locations to live, and similar new experiences.  As the conversation continued we talked some about why people choose not to try something new.  During the conversation, the question I listed above came into my mind.

I think that there are a lot of reasons that we place limitations upon our lives.  Some of those reasons are very valid and have to do with safety, personal responsibility, and our values.  However, I wonder how many times we create excuses why we cannot, or do not want to, experience or do something.  I think many of these excuses come out of fear of the unknown.  We become worried about possible failure.  We become worried about rejection.  We become worried about our inability.  So we create an arbitrary limitation based on an excuse that we trace back to safety, responsibility or value conflicts.

However, we were created to live life and that life in abundance.  The writer of the letter to Timothy in the Bible tells us:  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)  We are to live life not in fear but in boldness.  Another passage from the Bible quotes Jesus as saying, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10b, NIV)  It seems very clear that our creator expected to have us live life fully.  Yet, I think we rob ourselves of that because we place limitations on ourselves that are often based on misperceptions and misunderstandings.

So maybe today we need to work on reducing the limitations in our lives that we create and living the life that we have been given to live with joy.

New Energy   Leave a comment

English: The initial "launch" tunnel...

English: The initial “launch” tunnel on Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever noticed how a new idea or a new project can generate new energy in individuals and groups?  This week I was part of some discussions regarding a new idea.  I was amazed as I observed the conversation among the group.  This group has been in existence for quite some time but I witnessed a re-energizing of the group as the discussions continued.  It was just as if someone had breathed some new life into the group.  There was a sense of excitement as various possibilities were discussed.  It truly was a great joy to be a part of this energizing experience.

What I took away from those discussions was a reminder of the importance of what it takes to keep a group vital.  For many groups it is very easy to become stagnant.  The image of pond water comes to mind.  Sure the group is still alive but there isn’t much energy and with time the group may even begin to smell, so to speak.  But if you introduce a new idea, concept or project, it is like you break down one of the side walls of the pond and start a hose running from the opposite side.  A flow begins that is filled with energy.  Movement begins to take place.  The old moves out and refreshing water flows into the body.

So as a leader of many different groups and organizations, I am reminded today of the importance of encouraging creative thoughts.  I am reminded of the importance of dreaming and looking outside of the normal.  I am reminded of the importance of being open and listening for new thoughts, concepts, and projects.

Posted December 13, 2012 by thoughtfulbeliever in Emergent, Experiences, Leadership, Life

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Ready to Explode   Leave a comment

A jack-in-the-box

A jack-in-the-box (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever been at that point in your life that you sense something is going to happen but you have no idea what it is or when it is going to happen?  It remains me of how when I was a young boy I used to play with my jack-in-the-box.  Now I knew that as I turned that crank and the tinny music played there would come a point that the latch on the top of the box would move and the “jack” inside would come bursting out when the lid was no longer held down.  Well, I am feeling like that same situation is happening in my life and the life of the church.

I think that the church is about to explode.  I don’t know when it is going to happen and I have no idea what that truly means but I am sensing that it something is coming.  About ten years ago, I started engaging in discussions about the status of the church and how the way that we were “doing” church seemed to be becoming less and less effective in reaching people.  More and more writers and contemporary Christian leaders began to add the voices to the conversation.  More and more church gatherings were designed around the “transformation” of the church and new approaches of how to live in community.  Today the conversations are daily and the participants in the conversations have reached high number levels.

With the increased discussions comes an increase in uncertainty.  Many people are very aware that major and significant changes are coming in the lives of believers and the churches that they affiliate with but no one seems able to truly state when the arrival is going to happen and what it will look like when it does.  This creates uncertainty because we ask how we are to live in this time of transition and what steps should be taken.  The old methods and certainties associated with “being the church” are falling away and losing their effectiveness.  Yet no one is clear on what should replace them and when the right time to make replacements might be.  Like the jack-in-the-box, we continue to turn the crank and await what until “jack” jumps out.

Another way to view this change might be like watching the eaglets hatch in the nest.  Many people from throughout the country and definitely throughout Iowa watched with anticipation the Eagle Webcam last spring and this spring wanting to see the new eagles hatch from their eggs.  People would spend hours with the website up on their computers even if they had minimized the window and worked on other tasks at the time.  Much excitement and discussion was generated because of the events of the eagles’ birth.  I believe that is what is happening in the church today.  Many people are watching to see when a new birth of the church will take place.  Much excitement and discussion is being generated.  With the eagles, we had a little knowledge of what to expect.  With the church, we have much less knowledge but as we watch the shell of what we have known the church to be being chipped away, we are excited to see what will emerge.

I sense that something is about to explode.  Not sure what it is or when it will happen but the energy is building.

Kicking Off a New Blog   Leave a comment

A few years ago, I began blogging.  However, I found that the scope of my blog was probably set too narrow.  It became harder and harder to create content for it and I would go for long periods without writing anything.

So I decide to launch a new blog on a new site.  I have broadened the scope and hope that this will increase my desire to actually share on a more frequent basis.  I also hope that this blog will have more interaction with readers and be viewed more frequently.

The scope of this blog is thoughts, questions, and life experiences that come my way as I strive to be a thoughtful believer of Jesus Christ.  I will also share resources and ideas that I find in my reading of other blogs, periodicals and books.  I hope to also offer quotes and concepts that may generate some discussion.

So here it goes…… hope you will check what I share regularly and maybe even subscribe to my RSS feed.

Posted July 26, 2011 by thoughtfulbeliever in Blog Info

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