sharing our faith is a beautiful thing #RealMenConnect

img_8032Here’s something fun I have to share today. This morning I was blessed to be able to do a guest spot with a #1 rated podcast; I enjoyed the experience, I really like the host, and I’m seriously stoked.

I’ll share a link to the content when it’s posted – most likely a few weeks from now. But for today I’ll write about my impressions.

The podcast – Real Men Connect – is hosted by Dr. Joe Martin. Joe is passionate about seeing men connect both as brothers and as disciples of Jesus. It’s the kind of enthusiasm that translates well to the podcast format, keeping both the guest and the audience engaged.

Dr. Martin’s approach obviously communicates well, because Real Men Connect is now the top-rated podcast on iTunes for Christian men. That’s exciting for me because I have often prayed for the opportunity to get into this conversation at a national level.

Authenticity:

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Dr. Joe Martin

I often say that authenticity is the best possible communication tool we have at our disposal, and Joe is very much a “what you see is what you get” kind of a guy. We connected well from the outset, and because of that it was easy for me to respond to his excellent questions.

Specifically – and based on a recent article I wrote for All-Pro-Dad – Dr. Joe wanted to talk about how parents can have patience with their children. My first thought was, “good luck with that!” but then I remembered what I’d written, and realized that – having taught exceptional education as well as raising two amazing young adults – I actually do have some insight to share.

If you want to read the article at All Pro Dad, here’s the link: How to Have Patience With Your Kids. But our conversation was much more wide ranging. In fact, the key idea is something that we all need to take to heart: “Patience provides a place where hope can take root and grow.” That’s a good word not just for Christian men, or for dads, but for every last one of us.

I don’t want to give too much away from the podcast, but I’ll share one more thought that came up during our conversation. We were talking about the inclination men tend to have toward impatience, knee-jerk reaction, yell now think later, and going on the offensive prematurely.

“As Christian men in North America,” I said, “we like to put on the Armor of God (and strut around in it), but too often we’re so-so when it comes to the Fruit of the Spirit.”

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23

God won’t magically give us patience we don’t have. But God will come alongside us, and equip us, and give us strength, and guide us, and back us up, as we make the decision to be the kind of people who put into practice the life that Christ teaches. That’s discipleship, and it’s something we can’t even begin to achieve on our own.

Under those conditions, Christ-like patience will be just the beginning of our witness.

We need the love of God, the friendship of Jesus, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – and we need one another too.

– DEREK 

our lives tell the story

our lives tell the story

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”

“My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”

Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”

Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.” – John 18:35-37

Every Wednesday evening, my men’s covenant group is always – without fail – a significant blessing. Our time is a great mixture of insightful Bible-study, great conversation, heart-level sharing, listening, support, encouragement, and – most importantly – simply being together.

I leave our church not only full, and inspired, but thoughtful. Stuff we talk about takes up residence in the “mulling” portion of my brain (btw, if your brain doesn’t have a designated mulling slot, then you should definitely get one), and percolates – usually for several days.

This week we talked about trouble, difficulty, challenge, and tragedy. We used the Old Testament story of Joseph as our scripture reference, and our conversation circled around what story we tell about the gospel via the way that we respond.

PASSION = INVITATION

unnamed (4)-001I used this image – from the pastors’ conference I spoke at a couple of weeks ago – because of what’s on the screen behind me. It’s not the most flattering photograph ever taken of yours truly, but I love the words, “Your passion is an invitation…”

What I was talking about was the fact that people can read between the lines, not only when we talk, but as we live – especially as we live. If we have no evident passion for the good news about Jesus, then it really doesn’t come across as good news, does it? Our lives tell the story. Our lives become the most eloquent invitation that we can offer.

Fact is, we don’t chose whether or not to be witnesses. “It’s not my spiritual gift; I’ll leave that up to those who feel called to be a witness…” Nope, sorry, that’s not how it works. We are living witnesses to the faith we profess. The question is not if we are communicating about Jesus, the question is what story is it that we are telling?

  • The question is not if we are communicating about Jesus, the question is what story is it that we are telling?

One question we talked about Wednesday was living with courage. But this is something we seem to have all backwards in our popular culture. Aggression, fighting back, responding in kind when we are berated, returning evil for evil… these are all advertised – and modeled in the shows and movies we watch – as acts of courage. Christians get sucked into this too: “believers” are often hostile to those they disagree with; lawsuits are filed within churches; there are multiple splits and schisms; bad behavior is parsed as defending truth (who’s truth?)….

Bullying, hate, vitriol, fighting… these are not acts of courage. Jesus said this, just before he allowed them to nail him to a wooden cross: “My kingdom doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king” (John 18:36).

Jesus – “I am not that kind of king.”

This is one of those “no-brainer” statements that I’ve used many times before, but I’m going yo say it anyway. Jesus is our model; following Jesus means being imitators of God. Yet, so much of the time, Christians do the opposite: Instead of remaking ourselves in the image of Christ, we try to reinvent Jesus in the image of us.

and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children… – Ephesians 4:31-5:1

Courageous men and women of the light follow Jesus. We do tell a story in the way that we live and how we respond to the challenges we face – so let’s get the story right! – DEREK

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talking about discipleship

do we dare to enter the Promised Land?

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 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. – Ephesians 3:14-17

If you read this space often you know that occasionally (around every six weeks) I feature a link to a message from Wake Forest Presbyterian Church. Sometimes it’s because the sermon is so inspiring I just had to share; sometimes it’s because – even though we never collaborate – the content adds perfectly to the conversation I’m having on this page; sometimes it’s because the preaching communicates far beyond what I could manage here, no matter how well I might write.

Then, sometimes (and this was the case Sunday May 14) it’s all three, and I am simply doing a public service by encouraging you to take a few minutes to listen!

Looking into the Promised Land!

Chrome Legacy Window 5152017 31136 PMThe title of Sunday’s sermon was “A Prayer for Wake Forest Presbyterian Church” – but the content is timely, and applicable, and crucial to absolutely any faith community, anywhere, at any time.

The theme paralleled the main idea from the blog I had posted that very morning (“The Leaves of the Tree are for the Healing of the Nations“); the setting was Moses looking out over the Promised Land (I had just shared some slides of that very view at church Friday evening); then Rebekah’s level of vitality and engagement while preaching this week, as well as her storytelling, was at its very best.

If you’re someone who has lost enthusiasm for church, or who subscribes to the false narrative that Presbyterians don’t have any passion for Jesus, or who isn’t exposed to great preaching very often, then you owe it to yourself – and your faith – to check out this message (it starts around time stamp 10:00 on the link).

How Wide and How Deep:

Chrome Legacy Window 5162017 90122 AMUsually I can do a fair job of keeping the lid on my emotions at church (I really don’t like to have to dab my eyes or to deal with wet cheeks in public); but Rebekah’s story about “The Young Mothers’ Class” was so poignant, and the way it all came together at the end of the sermon so breathtakingly inspiring, that I had to work hard not to leak any more than just a little.

But it’s okay, God is continually challenging me to get over myself, and I am always moved by the power of a great story. Fact is, we all need to take a few bricks out of the walls we build around ourselves, and especially to dismantle the barriers we place between the deeper parts of our emotional core and the reach of God’s love. Sometimes conviction can leave us vulnerable, and feeling less in control.

But we belong to God, and this important truth sets up the second part of the reading from Ephesians: 

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (18-19).

How can we possibly grasp how wide and long and high and deep Christ’s love is if we don’t let God in? How can we be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God if we keep ourselves closed so tightly?

Do we really want to be the kind of disciples Jesus invites us to be? Do we really want to be the kind of churches Jesus is calling us to be? Do we really want to be filled to the measure of all fullness? Do we have any interest in entering the Promised Land?

If so, then we’re going to have to disassemble our defenses and trust God; we’re going to have to believe; we’re going to have to live our faith like we mean it…

(If you’d like to listen to the message, click here)

portraits around Mother’s Day

portraits around Mother’s Day

The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace. – Numbers 6:24-26

For our family, Mother’s Day turns out to be one more excuse to get together and celebrate life. Of course, it helps to have a handy assortment of mothers available, and I was pleased to be able to rustle up three generations for the perfunctory photo shoot. Then, adding our granddaughter Beks to the mix, that’s four generations of girls.

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Karen “PhD” Tharrington with Rebekah

At church, the day also turned the spotlight on those celebrating their graduation. One notable exception to the “I’m heading off to college” crowd was our friend Karen, who recently completed seven years of hard work to earn her PhD.

Everyone is excited when they get to graduate, but I believe Karen likely raised the bar to a new level! Rebekah and I stopped by her “PhDone” party Saturday evening, hoping for some of the brilliance and creativity to rub off on us. Listening to Rebekah’s sermon the next morning (see tomorrow’s post), I’m certain that a lot of it did!

It is, as I have written many times, a remarkable blessing to have my parents living so close. I don’t have to send flowers by FedEx, I can just walk next door. I don’t have to leave for the weekend to cook my mum a Mother’s Day dinner, we can just invite them over.

Additionally, Naomi and the children drove down from Richmond in time for church at Wake Forest Presbyterian, so our family dinner was the quality of busy, noisy, love-charged experience that nourishes both our bodies and our souls.

Often, I have to pinch myself to check that I am still living in reality! I’m so unbelievably blessed, and I don’t take this privilege lightly.

IMG_9652Life is not always easy – I understand that, nor is it always convenient, or pain-free, or necessarily fair; but there are moments – like this weekend on Mother’s Day – where the balance tips so markedly that it’s hard to remember how often there are times of struggle too.

It’s like one of our elders said Sunday, following such a great morning of love, encouragement, affirmation, and inspiration at WFPC – a celebration of abundant life that was spilling out into the community as everyone went their separate ways: “What a great morning! I think this is exactly what our founding fathers had in mind all those years ago. This is America at its best.”

To be sure, this is a Great Adventure; and it is so good, so very good, to reflect on how exceedingly wonderful life can be, and to be grateful.

In love, and because of love – DEREK

Enjoy these few Portraits around Mother’s Day:

living a great story…

living a great story…

 

Well, whatever you do, whether it’s eating or drinking or anything else, do it all so as to bring glory to God! – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Party Party Party!!!

DSC_0332I have already written about this past weekend’s deeply meaningful wedding – “What a Good Wedding can Teach about the Kingdom of God” and “More of the Good Stuff” – But the photos I shared were all from my cell-phone. Yesterday – finally – I got to take a look at what I had on my Nikon D3100, and several of the images are too good not to share.

In fact, because family members will doubtless be interested, I’ll share all the good ones in a slide show at the end of this post. I’m pretty confident that – even if you’re one of my many readers who doesn’t know the bride or the groom – the pictures are worth scrolling through all the way to the end.

What I like to do sometimes at weddings is to shoot candid photographs (unposed and unrequested) – grabbing stuff the professionals are less likely to include. So I played the role of paparazzi at the rehearsal, took a handful of pictures at the church before the wedding started (focusing on guests from WFPC), photographed the opening of the ceremony, then carried my camera around at the reception.

DSC_0478The location of the reception was beyond spectacular. The mansion – a mega-lavish American version of the classic Tuscan villa – commands a wonderful view of a large lake with open vistas to the west, the south, and the north. Expansive terraces easily accommodate more than 100 guests, and lush lawns lead down to the water.

The evening was perfect. Generous hospitality; cool weather; an amazing sunset; good food; great people; dancing; and an abundant overflow of genuine joy.

Then, as Rebekah and I left, we walked by a vintage Rolls-Royce waiting outside to whisk the newlyweds away.

DSC_0365 (1)So enjoy these photos. They tell a little of the story, and I know they will make you smile. I certainly know that Rebekah and I are smiling.

You see, it’s not only true to say that, as Jesus pointed out, “People are going to know you are my disciples by taking notice of the way that you love one another….” (John 13:35) But it’s also an important principle of living our discipleship to realize that… People the world over are going to understand something critically important about what it means to be people of faith when they observe the quality, the durability, and the depth of our joy.

At least that has been – and continues to be – my experience – DEREK

a sweeping victory!

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breakfast with the grands!

So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. God has done what was impossible for the Law, since it was weak because of selfishness. God condemned sin in the body by sending his own Son to deal with sin in the same body as humans, who are controlled by sin. Romans 8:1-3

One response to yesterday’s post –  Bagpipes, Dancing Girls, a Ladies’ Tea, and Frozen – asked, essentially, “so where was all the spiritual stuff?”

That’s always a good question, and it’s something we talked about more than once at the preacher retreat I helped lead a week ago. The “spiritual stuff” is – at its best – an underlying disposition that runs underneath everything else that’s going on in our day to day lives.

I have found it helpful to think of our spiritual life as the operating system that runs in the background, and the other stuff (relationships, church, politics, family, work, being an American, driving, how we use our resources, the meeting we have scheduled later today, lunch with a friend…) as Apps that sit on top of that operating system.

If the system goes down, then nothing else works properly. Also, certain protocols built into the underlying operating system govern how the other programs work. Christ’s Great Commandment, for example, must have precedence over absolutely everything else, and must inform even the smallest decision we approach.

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Providence in Richmond

So Monday morning, waking up in Richmond for breakfast with our grandchildren, then driving over to play golf in the Union Seminary fundraiser tournament, I approached the day as a disciple of Jesus. There is no “this is my life… and then this is my spiritual life.” No, there is simply my life, and it is either built on and directed by my response to the grace, mercy, and love of Jesus, or it is not.

It was the most beautiful of mornings. The tournament started in the high forties and finished up at around sixty-three degrees. Our team, despite leaving a lot of makable birdie and eagle putts unconverted, still managed a respectable 59 to share the win. It was great fun; good people, good company, and no pressure.

That’s how life should be. Teamwork; engaging the challenges and the opportunities together; mutual encouragement; building one another up; always moving forward toward the goal, enjoying the journey; being strong where another is weak; making the best out of any situation…

Fact is, we are already winners simply by being here, waking up to celebrate another new day!

IMG_9513I believe it’s all about the underlying aspect of gratitude, of owning the fact that we are God’s children, and of being willing to receive the grace that underlines this truth. Paul puts it like this, a little later in the same chapter: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Or, “In all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us!” (CEB)

That’s how I plan on engaging today; a sweeping victory. It’s my prayer that each one of us will consider doing the same.

– DEREK

Bagpipes, dancing girls, a ladies’ tea, and Frozen

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Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Sunday photos:

The Ladies’ Tea; The Ladies’ Tea II; The Kirking of the Tartans; Grandma learns about “Frozen.”

IMG_9472Coming back from the weekend wedding, Rebekah and I were not present with our church family at WFPC for worship. So, as we were hitting the Raleigh area late morning, we attended church at St. Andrews Presbyterian. The first Sunday in May happened to be their annual “Kirking of the Tartans” celebration. The church engaged the services of the NC State bagpipe troupe, along with drums. St. Andrews is a beautiful church, the pipers were made an impressive parade, and it was quite the spectacle.

We were back at WFPC before 2:00. Rebekah was busy teaching elders, and I sang a couple of songs at the annual Ladies’ Tea event. Several of the guys dressed up in tuxedos to serve, and the CLC was comfortably full with dignified conversation and elaborate hats.

Chrome Legacy Window 572017 91749 PMMy songs went off well – but I was helped by three little girls who decided to dance around me while I played. One song – Somebody’s Praying” – included the line “Angles are watching, I can feel them…” So I changed it, on the fly, to “Angles are dancing, I can see them.” And, “Angles are dancing around me….”

It doesn’t matter what you do, little girls dancing around you while you do it is guaranteed to make it better… and cuter… and more adorable.

Later, in Richmond, our grandchildren couldn’t believe their grandparents had never watched the movie Frozen. So, snuggled on the sofa with Rebekah, they patiently went through the entire move with us. We may be a couple of decades behind vis-a-vis Disney (by design), but, yes, we are now bona fide Frozen converts.

what a good wedding can teach about the kingdom of God…

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And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” – Revelation 19:9

This weekend Rebekah and I are over in the small North Carolina town of Stokesdale for the wedding of one of our young adults; Friday evening was the rehearsal, followed by dinner. The bride, Kaitlyn, is one of the purest voices in our praise team; her mom – Kim – is WFPC’s music ministries director; and her dad – Eddie – is in my Wednesday evening men’s group.

IMG_9422Both Kaitlyn and her soon-to-be husband, Jacob, have family roots around Stokesdale, so the weekend is like a big southern family homecoming.

The reason this is making it into my blog is twofold. One – it’s what I’m doing for the next two days, and I always write about what I learn (in terms of life and faith) from what’s going on. Two – and more importantly – this is a very happy wedding, and happy weddings turn out to be a great opportunity to tell the good story of God’s extravagant love and grace.

Love this generation!

As you can see from the first photograph, Kaitlyn and Jacob have tons of attendants. You can also see how Rebekah is helping them thoroughly enjoy themselves while going over the details. This is a group of young people who genuinely love one another and who value commitment.

I seriously fail to understand how and why so many people of my generation feel the need to criticize today’s twenty-something to thirty-something crowd. Personally, I see a lot more wisdom, altruism, willingness to serve, and maturity in these young people than I remember when many older Americans were this age. As a group, this crop of young Americans tends to come across as less materialistic and more public spirited; I have a lot of confidence in how they are going to respond to the challenge to lead over the next few decades.

The Kingdom of God:

IMG_9418The marriage feast is a lot like the kingdom of God. There is generosity, lavish celebration, wide open arms, welcome, faithfulness, commitment, renewal of hope, and promise for the future – all brought together in the context of extravagant love.

How much more like church can you get? How much more like God’s kingdom can we imagine?

Every day that I get to live, and love, and shine my light for God is a celebration of this magnitude. Now if only we could do a more consistent job when it comes to communicating this good news to those who need to hear it, with authenticity, and with the right amount of joy and enthusiasm?

Blessed and grateful – DEREK

this week in pictures (pray, eat, love, grieve, laugh, rain, travel…)

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Jesus – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full!” (John 10:10, NIV)

Today is going to be a wonderful day! I guess that’s always more than a possibility – especially considering what I believe about this Great Adventure that is “abundant life”; or, as Eugene Peterson paraphrases John 10:10, “Real and eternal life, more and better life than [we] ever dreamed of.”

But I’m especially looking forward to today because it’s all about thinking, and praying, and creativity, and writing, and preparation: I’ll be doing the final outline for the retreat I’m leading, and Rebekah is writing tomorrow morning’s sermon.

So for this morning’s post I’m simply going to share a series of photos that tell some of the story of this busy week.

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Mandy trying to hide behind Rebekah!

Wednesdays Together: Sadly, Wednesday night was our last church supper before the summer hiatus. My men’s Bible-study will continue, as well as many other mid-week groups and activities. I’m going to miss sitting with random friends, watching families meet up at church on their way home from work, seeing tired, tense people relax and receive nourishment – both physical and spiritual.

So our amazing director of food ministries – Mandy – was appropriately recognized and applauded, along with her wonderful staff of volunteers. She really does produce miracles in the kitchen, and her ministry helps facilitate a midweek charge of life that I’m going to miss like crazy over the next few months.

IMG_9288-001Herbs and Flavor: Out on the deck, my herb garden has responded beautifully to this week’s abundant rain, warmth, and sunshine, and I have a generous ongoing crop to enjoy with every possible variety of meal.

Having it all in pots right outside the back door makes it the perfect kitchen garden. Of course planning ahead is best, but sometimes I think about a sprig of sage, a handful of  basil leaves, or some finely chopped thyme right in the middle of food preparation, and all I have to do is walk outside.

Fresh makes a huge difference; I am richly blessed with goodness right at my fingertips!

IMG_9296-001RDU, MSP, Memorials, and Eternal Rest: Finally, Rebekah took a quick overnight trip to Minnesota, heading a couple of hours north of Minneapolis to be part of our friend Sandee’s funeral service. Graveside was around 30-degrees, she said, with a few snow flurries thrown in. Evidently this was Sandee’s last joke via her wry sense of humor: getting all her former Florida friends together one last time and then freezing their tails off.

That afternoon, at the Foley Presbyterian Church, Rebekah voiced some powerful words that I’m going to ask her to let me share in a post next week.

I always enjoy going to the airport, watching people come and go, sipping coffee in the Starbucks at “The Meeting Place”, witnessing reunions and goodbyes, the sense of exotic destinations wafting through the space like an invitation.

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tired but home

Rebekah returned home very tired but with an important sense of closure. It doesn’t matter who you are – preacher, disciple, “spiritual but not religious”, confused, agnostic – the passing of a loved one engages an instinct for the eternal that naturally wants to hone in on something more than the limitations of our understanding, our logic, our experience, even our hopes and dreams.

It’s always good to be home, and our friend Sandee is there now in a way that we can only imagine – DEREK

Reformation is not a “one-and-done” idea

DSC_0018One of my great challenges as a writer is finding the right balance between doing work that answers the calling of my soul, and completing more practical (paid) assignments for a variety of editors. When I’m at my best I manage to wrap the two together, sowing seeds of inspiration and encouragement despite the limitations of the subject matter.

This is one reason I enjoy speaking so much at conferences and retreats. I get to share the kind of content that drives the articles I post in this blog, and at the same time earn a little, thereby making it possible to continue doing the work I know I’m called to do.

So this morning, having set aside the necessary assignments, and taken care of some yard work before the temperatures creep out of the mid 70’s, I’m turning my attention to the upcoming Sunday evening through Tuesday morning retreat.

Here’s part of the flyer when they advertised the event:

You are invited, Come! Come for a rejuvenating retreat Sunday Evening, April 30 to Tuesday, May 2. Enjoy a little time away to listen for God’s good word for you, Discover new connections with your neighbors in ministry. It is our prayer for you that this retreat will be refreshing for your soul, inspiring for your ministry and renewing your strength for the journey.

15697625_10100872121124572_5621620429416620099_nRetreat leader Derek Maul is coming to Agape Retreat Center to lead us in “The Adventure of Discipleship”. During our time together we will not only get to know each other and pray together, we will let the Spirit speak to our hearts as we explore: • “Ministry is an Adventure!” • “From Recruiting Church Members to Equipping Disciples of Jesus” • “What Kind of Adventure is Your Story?” • “Get Real (keeping the Adventure Moving Forward)” • “Live Like You Mean it”

Well, when I re-read what I was planning to talk about I must admit I got a little excited!

web_13The unifying theme for this retreat is, “The Adventure of Discipleship.” I’ve mentioned before that – maybe once every year – I try to pour the overall direction of my content through a new filter.

  • One reason for this is I don’t want to fall into the trap of recycling the same stories.
  • Another is that if forces me to constantly reframe the conversation I’m having – both with myself and with others.
  • The third is that we are a Reformation people! It may be 500 years since Martin Luther helped focus the growing understanding that things needed to shift, but Reformation is not a “one-and-done” idea. We are always both reformed and reforming. I want to reflect the transformational nature of faith in everything I write, and say.

So I plan to begin by recognizing the fact that living faith hinges on transformation, that transformation is the work of the spirit, that our most important task as leaders is to be full to overflowing with light, and that Christian ministers – of all people – must make a fresh decision to follow Jesus absolutely every day.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:27

This is the adventure we’re on as disciples; it’s the adventure of following Jesus. How we respond to that is our invitation; it doesn’t get any clearer than who we are and how we live.

– In love, and because of love – DEREK