Author Archive

On Leadership

September 8th, 2005

J. Oswald Sanders, in his book Spiritual Leadership, says “Spiritual leadership requires Spirit-filled people. Other qualities are important; to be Spirit-filled is indispensable.” Last night, I had a revelation of just that.

I was a bit depressed at the lack of interest for God that I was seeing in my girls at youth group. Few were even singing during worship, much less showing any emotion. I think a whole two brought their Bibles and only one was taking notes. Then a line from Remember the Titans popped into my head. “Attitude reflects leadership, Captain.” As soon as the thought came, I dismissed it. The sponsors were singing, even raising their hands. The sponsors had their Bibles and a couple were taking notes. We were doing fine-it didn’t have anything to do with us.

But as the service continued, I began to contemplate my life as a youth sponsor. I thought of our last meeting, where I’d urged more and more student involvement in leadership as a way of allowing the kids to gain ownership of Z-360. I thought of all the ideas I’d jotted down in my notebook–games to do, things to teach on, activities to do together. I realized I’d been applying human answers to a spiritual malady. The kids aren’t excited-let’s have more games. The kids aren’t involved-let’s give them more opportunities to get involved. The kid’s aren’t in the Word-let’s do a teaching on the importance of the Word. But none of those are the answer we need.

When one of the sponsors mentioned at our meeting that the real problem was our students’ spiritual state, I brushed it off. After all, what could we do about that? That’s an easy way out, a pat Sunday School response. It’s a fatalistic response-if the problem is that our students are spiritually dead, then what can we do?

Back to Remember the Titans–“Attitude reflects leadership, Captain.” I thought about it and realized I can’t remember the last time I sat down with the other sponsors and prayed for Z-360. I can’t remember the last time where we sat down together to testify of God’s greatness or to share in our struggles. I don’t remember the last time we opened the Word together. I don’t remember the last time we ate a meal together. I don’t remember the last time we played a game together. We’ve been leading in a fleshly, carnal way. It’s only natural that our student’s attitudes be fleshly and carnal. Attitude, after all, reflects leadership.

“Spiritual leadership requires Spirit-filled people. Other qualities are important; to be Spirit-filled is indispensable.” When the other qualities become our only focus and the Spirit is pushed to the back burner in our ministry, the only logical outcome is loss of vision, loss of momentum, loss of souls. Without the Spirit’s action in our ministries, we cannot excite, we cannot grow, we cannot do anything of eternal value. The Spirit is absolutely essential to Spiritual leadership.

Photos in the Paper

September 7th, 2005

So I was in the newspaper today-on the front page. Okay, more precisely, my photo was on the front page of the Daily Nebraskan. But–before you run out an secure yourself a copy, be warned. It’s not a good picture.

You see, the photo was actually of one of my kitchen-mates flipping sticky rice. I had been standing in the kitchen talking to another kitchen-mate when they entered the room for a picture. So, I’m in the background of Taem’s sticky rice shot.

Adding to the “badness” of the photo was the fact that it was shot at a crazy angle. The photographer was standing on a windowsill trying to get a good shot of the rice in motion. Not only that, I was laughing because the photographer was asking Taem to flip the rice higher and higher and higher–and the rice was breaking up and flying all over the room. So the picture definitely shows some big teeth and squinty eyes-Lovely!

Note to the hall for next time we beg for an article–Figure out when the photographer’s coming so we don’t have to stage a sticky rice flipping with yesterday’s leftovers.

Updating Site Format

September 6th, 2005

I’ve been contemplating updating my site’s format for quite a while. Hopefully this will be a bit easier to navigate. Let me know what you think of it–and tell me if you find any broken links or funny business. Thank you!

A Bit of a Nag

September 5th, 2005

I have my doubts about the oft heard statement that “the Holy Spirit is a gentleman.” Instead, I rather think He’s a nag. LESTER retreat was marvelous–but a little bit redundant. It seems that God is into driving things home.

On March 6, I wrote on this website that God had been speaking to me about not being consumed with serving others. Instead, I should be focused on sitting at Christ’s feet. This Saturday, Mike Jordahl shared from Isaiah 52:13, which begins, “My servant…” Mike asked the question, Whose servant? God’s servant, of course. While being a servant of God will inevitably lead to serving men, the role of the Christian is not to please men. It is to serve God and walk in relationship with Him.

On August 27, I wrote of my desire for greatness and of what I want to accomplish with my story. Sunday morning Darin Durand spoke about greatness and the difference between earthly and spiritual greatness. In small groups, we discussed how difficult it is to die to selfish desires in the pursuit of greatness–the same thing I have struggled with over the past few months.

Then on Sunday night, Lauren Libby gave a teaching on leadership. One of his points stuck out to me particularly because it has been on my heart for a while now. He said, “The leader transforms strategy into action by empowering others.” This only confirms what God has been speaking to me about empowering others to do much of the work that I am currently doing within the church–allowing them to serve in an increased way and giving me more time to focus on what God is calling me to directly.

While the teaching was a highlight of the trip, it was by no means the only one. I enjoyed taking a dip in the “Punch bowls” in my pajamas. The water was colder than cold, but I didn’t feel cold until I’d been out of the water for fifteen minutes–then I was freezing. The hike up and back was beautiful. All around I was impressed by the greatness and majesty of God.

Another big highlight of the trip was developing relationships. In a way, I felt like I was talking with someone almost constantly ;-) From the gals in my room to the folks I had dinner with to those that I ended up spending time with during odd hours of the day, I was constantly surrounded by opportunities to fellowship and to grow in relationship. Of course, when talking about relationship building, you can’t discount the ride up and back. I can see that despite my rocky start, the maxim proves true: “God doesn’t make typos when He writes the story of our lives–even when we, like children, are sitting on His lap pounding on the keyboard.” Even though I didn’t pay attention to exactly which parking garage I was supposed to be at and wandered around–God worked all things together for good. It was this “mistake” that allowed me to get to know several people that quite possibly I would not otherwise have gotten to know. God is faithful to arrange all things according to His purposes.

The Stories of our Lives

August 27th, 2005

I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. I’ve read thousands upon thousands of books in my life, which is yet young. I read the newspapers, devouring the “public interest” pieces. I watch movies and plays. I enjoy opera, poetry, lyric dance. I love stories.

Some of the stories reduce me to tears; some cause me to stand in anger. Some stories confuse me; while I identify with others. Some stories change my thinking; some reinforce what I already believe. Some stories raise questions in my mind; others lead to answers.

But there are some stories that do something else altogether. I often finish a biography claiming “Abigail Adams (or whoever else I was reading about) is my hero.” But after reading Corrie ten Boom’s autobiography The Hiding Place, I went away proclaiming that Corrie ten Boom’s God is my hero. Many books make me rise up inside–Francine River’s And the Shofar Blew spurred me to do all I could to promote the church as God has called it to be. Many accounts of true life events make me exclaim “That’s too bad” or “How exciting!” Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire made me fall on my knees in prayer. Many musical pieces inspire me with their beauty, but Listz’s Christus, telling the story of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, made me share its refrain with everyone I met–“Christ conquers, Christ rules, Christ commands all eternity.”

II Corinthians 3:3 says, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men.” As Christians, we have a story that every person who comes into contact with us reads. What do our stories say? What action do they evoke? To whom do they point?

I hunger to be remembered, to have done something worthwhile. I hunger that my name be remembered after I die, that somehow I have made some indelible impression on the earth. I hunger that somehow the earth will be a different place, a better place because I lived here.

As I look at the stories that impacted my life, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what I want my story to accomplish. I want people who hear my story, who read my writings, who meet me and talk to me–to see Christ. I want people to hear my story and proclaim, “Rebekah’s God is my hero.” I want people to read my poetry and share the refrain of God’s greatness with everyone they meet. I want people to hear my message and be driven to their knees in Christ’s honour. I want those who weep at my grave to glory in God’s greatness.

A Jacob Generation

August 12th, 2005

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. Our songs are full of it, our sermons full of hope. We sing, we speak, we proclaim “This is the generation of those who seek Your face.” That’s what we want, we say, but do we even know what it means?

Psalm 24:5-6 say “He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face. Selah.” One song we sing says, “This is the generation that seeks Your face, O God of Jacob.” Can you hear the difference between the two? While the song merely proclaims God to be the God of Jacob (which is perfectly true and appropriate), the Psalm declares that this generation is Jacob, the generation that seeks God’s face. While the song leads us nowhere in our study of Scriptures, the Psalm begs us to take a look at Jacob seeking God.

Genesis 32:24-32 tells the story of Jacob wrestling with God. Jacob had been left alone and a Man came out and they wrestled until day broke. The Man could not prevail against Jacob, so He touched Jacob’s leg, leaving him with a limp. At daybreak, the Man ordered Jacob to let Him go. Jacob refused, “Not until you bless me.” So the Man asked Jacob’s name, only to say, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” When Jacob asked the Man’s name, He only laughed, “Why do you want to know My name?” Then the Man blessed Jacob. Then Jacob named the place where they had been Peniel because He had seen God face to face and his life had been preserved.

What are the characteristics of a Jacob generation, a generation that seeks God’s face? The first is solitude with God. All the people left, and Jacob was alone with God. The second characteristic is wrestling with God. This generation holds on to God, spending all night if necessary wrestling. The third characteristic is the persistence of Jacob, who even at daybreak, refused to let go of God until He had blessed him.

And we cannot study the generation of Jacob without studying God’s response to this generation’s persistence and insistence upon God’s blessing. The first thing God did to Jacob was touch his hip so that he walked with a limp. The generation of Jacob is marked by a limp. This generation has had an encounter with God in such a way that their walk is forever changed. Additionally, when Jacob refused to let go, calling out for a blessing, God changed his name. A generation of Jacob is set apart by a changed identity. The very fiber of their being has been changed by an encounter with God. And the third thing God did in response to Jacob’s plea was blessing him. God heard Jacob’s prayer and answered. The generation of Jacob cries out to God and He answers.

To all those who desire to be a generation who seeks God’s face, take a look at Jacob’s encounter. The call to be a generation of Jacob is not small call. It requires solitude, wrestling, persistent. It results in a new way of walking, a new identity, and answered prayer. To all who sing of seeking, consider now what you sing. Are you willing to seek if it takes all night? Are you willing to wrestle, even wounded? Are you willing to persist, even when its been forever and your request has not been granted? Are you willing to let your walk be forever changed? Are you willing to let your identity be changed? Are you willing to accept what it means to be blessed by God? Consider and fear. Consider and rise up to the challenge. For it is only when we as a church step forward as a Jacob generation, that the world can be transformed.

The Church–past, present, and future

June 13th, 2005

As I look at the variety of books on church growth, church organizational patterns, church trends, and church management, I see an unsettling trend. Either the book is focused on maintaining the past–reliving the traditions and experiences of the past–or it is focused on continuing what is currently working–maintaining forever today’s models–or it is focused on pressing past everything that we have known to find an entirely new way of thinking. You may ask, “Well, doesn’t that cover all the bases? One of them should be right.” But my fear is that in the press of conversation about the church, we lose balance.

A church that is focused on the past cannot be a living church. Instead, it is a re-living church.

Just as a person with Alzheimer’s can waste away while reliving the experiences of the past, a church that focuses on reliving the past will die. This church may be living off of fat stores for the present, but it does nothing to ensure for itself a future. This church will die.

The church that is focused on the present is a selfish church. It is the narcissist church that insists upon forever maintaining itself as the star–not realizing that as the context changes, it must change to be effective. This church is forever keeping up with itself–never looking forward with dreams, never looking backward to correct mistakes. It is rudderless–directionless. This church will fail.

The church that is focused on the future is a pointless church. In its quest to be church of the future, its only definition is in rejecting past and present. This church dreams but does not accomplish, plans
but never executes. How can it, when the moment the future arrives it becomes nothing more than the present, and swiftly the past? This church is anchorless–having nothing to keep it from being blown about by every wind and wave.

What then should the church look like? How does a church avoid these pitfalls?

One of the most common injunctions throughout the Scriptures is to remember. Exodus 13:3 gives a stirring command to remember: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place.” In Exodus 20, the people were told to “remember
the Sabbath.” Throughout Deuteronomy, the injunction to remember brought with it both a warning and an encouragement. Remember God’s judgment and fear. Remember God’s mercy and obey. Remember what God has spoken. Remember God’s greatness. In the New Testament, we are told to remember Christ’s words. We are given the rite of Communion “in remembrance” of Christ. The church can not and must not disobey what is so obviously a part of the Christian life: Remembering the Past.

Paul’s life and letters clearly demonstrate the importance of the church being within the present. Paul’s epistles were not so much letters of remembrance or letters of vision casting than letters grounded in the current events of the church. Paul was busy dealing with the contemporary needs of the church–II Corinthians 8 refers to the physical needs of the church in Jerusalem and how the Corinthian church was going about meeting them. Galatians
addresses the immediate theological needs of the church of Galatia. The words of Christ also portray this present tense activity of the church. The teaching of Christ is not merely stories of the past nor prophecy of the future. Christ commanded concerning the present. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “When you bring your gift to the altar…” “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” These are not injunctions of the past, nor dreams for the future. This is a present day command. The church can not and must not stray from what is so obviously a part of the Christian life: Being relevant in the Present.

One cannot read the Bible without gaining an overwhelming sense of the future. The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation put shivers down spines, but even without getting into “end time theology”, the future is an integral part of Scripture. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is directed not only at the current believers, but at those who would come. The Great Commission, while being a present command, conveys a heady promise of the future. “And Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Paul preached of the greatness of the inheritance that will be revealed. Romans 8:23-25 says, “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for
it with perseverance.” The church can not and must not fail to possess what is so obviously a part of the Christian life: Hope for the Future.

As a church, we must press past a time frame or a verb tense. We must refrain from arguing opinion. We must lay aside the idea that progress comes by throwing out the old, or that continuing the old is progress. We must recognize the value of God’s progression of history–how the past shapes our present, which in turn shapes the future. We must recognize our role as facilitators of the narrative of God’s story. We are not the author of the story, we are merely participants in a chapter of the story. We cannot break out of the narrative to begin a new story. No, we must take the chapter we
have been given and continue the story on.

Hope in God

June 5th, 2005

For the past few months I’ve been contemplating the concept of hope. Hope is such an elusive thing to my mind. When I try to define hope, more than often I come up short. Hope is expectation, anticipation. Yes. That’s true; but that’s not definitive. Hope is believing, knowing and acting in accordance with that belief. Yes. That too is true, but more apt in describing faith than hope. But what then is hope?

If I were asked to describe my concept of hope as of right now, I would describe it in this way: In Luke 8:22-25, a great storm rises over the lake and the disciples wake a sleeping Jesus, saying, “Master, we are perishing.” Like men who had no hope, they panicked in the face of the storm. Jesus, on the other hand, personifies hope–as the storm passed, He was resting in the back of the boat, secure in the arms of Almighty God.

Hope is the faith that sits back and lets God do His work. It is the trust that rests in His arms when every earthly shelter fails. It is the faith that, rather than jumping to take on God’s tasks, stands back and lets Him complete it without our having to be in control. If faith is what enables us to step out when God says “Go” not knowing where our destination will be; then hope is what enables us to relax as we take the step, certain that whatever we may encounter on the journey, the end is beyond our wildest dreams.

Within the approximately 15 Greek and Hebrew words that are translated hope, three common threads can be discerned. The first element of hope is trust–the words betach, batach, bittachon, kesel, mibtach, chul, yachal, chasah, and elpis all carry this connotation. The second element of hope is anticipation–miqveh, seber, tocheleth, and tiqvah allude to this. The third element of hope is rest–displayed in the definitions of the words machseh and chasah (refuge), and in the definitions of seber, chul, yachal, sabar (meaning “to stay” or “to wait upon.”) These elements are never more clearly seen than in the Psalms, in which nearly a fifth contain hope and its corollaries as a major theme.

As I learn more about hope as God reveals it in His word, I pray that God would also teach me this hope–hope that trusts God completely, anticipating His goodness, resting in His mercy.

Only Free

May 26th, 2005

He told me once that His grace was sufficient for me
I brushed Him off, said I wanted to be free
He told me again that He was all I’d ever need
I pushed Him away–“I just want to be me.”

On my own, free
Why am I dying?
On my own, just me
Why am I breaking?

Broken, incomplete
Needy, bound
when He
is all I need

Only complete
When I’m held in His hands
Only free
When I’m bound by His arms
Only found
When I’m lost in Him

Working out bugs

May 24th, 2005

Thanks to my brother and his different browsers, hopefully you should be able to access this website via Mozilla at
least. Please let me know if you find more bugs that need to be ironed out–I want this to be as accessible as
possible. (And, if you’re on a Mac and can read this just fine–shoot me an email at b3master(at) It’d be
awesome to know if I’ve gotten my Mac problems worked out!) Thank you all for reading!

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