Safe Space. Real Journey.

This past weekend my wife, Laura, was invited to be part of a small panel for a conversation during the 11:00 am Gathering at our church. And — she was invited just 10 minutes prior to the start of the Gathering. This wasn’t about poor planning at all. Rather, a woman who had participated at the earlier Gathering time had become ill and was unable to serve on the panel at 11:00 am. So, our friend, Beth Graybill (who has taught, hosted and led discussions beautifully through our recent Everyone an Icon series) made the ask.

I’m grateful for Laura. And I’m grateful for South Bend City Church. Here’s why.

It’s in You. And Your Team. Let’s Access It.

You know it’s good - your leadership, your team, your work, your life - but, there’s a gnawing sense that it could be better. More focused. More replenishing. More you.

I only have a few spots left

What's Your Label?

I didn't meet the guy who drives this Jaguar convertible. But he picked up this label somewhere - and then paid to announce it to everyone. At least everyone who sees his ride.

It's interesting - the labels we wear. Some we give to ourselves. Many we take on from someone else. 

  • Successful. Failure. Incapable. High Capacity. 
  • Skinny. Fat. Attractive. Ugly. 
  • Leader. Crowd-follower. Independent. Stubborn.
  • Rude. Sweet. Professional. Normal. Real.

I don't know where you picked up the label or labels you most naturally wear - ...

Embracing & Expanding Your Corporate Identity

I'm still processing a question posed to marketplace businesses in a recent INC. article. Senior writer, Ilan Mochari, suggests we ask ourselves, "What business am I really in?" He writes:

Had Starbucks, at any point, convinced itself that it was strictly in the coffee business, it might never have ventured into the realm of music. Likewise, had Apple, at any point, convinced itself that it was solely in the computer business...

Stepping off the Stage

 This isn't news: I'm a recovering Pharisee. That is, I'm a long-time "wrapped-in-religion people-pleaser." If you don't quite understand me yet, that means that too often in my life my motivation for most anything has come from trying to make others happy with me. Approval. Acceptance. Smiles. "Isn't he awesome?" kind of stuff.

Sick, I know. I lived that way for more years than I want to admit. So I won't. But I did.  

For years I dismissed myself from Jesus' audience of Pharisees. After all I wasn't putting on a show. I wasn't making a big production out of my serving or leading or caring for people. But if I'm waiting for accolades or bothered by the lack of them, well... welcome to my stage.

Truth is, I am still tempted to live out of that paradigm... that identity. 

The Gospel. Scandalous Grace.

There's a reason we affirm and sing the phrase "amazing grace." But it's almost unbelievable how unamazingly we treat grace. The Gospel Grace. God's grace.

What's so amazing about grace is that it is absolutely scandalous. It's not reasonable. It's not fair. It's supernatural.

  • An adulterous king is declared to be "a man after God's own heart." 
  • A man who gave his wife up as his sister for sexual relations with another man was "the father of many nations."
  • A prostitute makes it

Dying on the Battlefield of Well-Roundedness

Yesterday I grabbed the Xbox controller again, as I have the past several weeks since my daughter, Liv, and her boyfriend, Jacob, have been back home for the summer. Every time I play Call of Duty, I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten worse – not better – than the last time I played.

Yesterday I finished third place (Yes, that’s the same as last place when three people play, but third still gets a ribbon in most contests. It just sounds better to me.) every game we played. Finally, in utter disgust of my inability to coordinate my hands and eyes quickly enough to avoid being killed before taking out my two “enemies,” I declared, “This is my last game.” Death is death. I was dead. And I was done.

I don’t have the natural talent to kill imaginary enemies on my TV screen. I can do it. But, I’m not good at it.

Gaming isn’t my sweet spot.

I watch people, particularly leaders, painfully strive to be good at everything.

Original Grace vs. Original Sin | Part 2

I began this article yesterday, so if you're just hopping in, scroll down or use this link to read Part 1.

You know that little "x" that says "you are here" on the directional map at the mall? It's the "x" that identifies where you're standing at the moment, so you can navigate your way to a destination - whether it be your car or favorite store. t's true at the mall and it's true in life.

Everyone has an “x” that defines where he or she is.

nd we all arrived there through a journey. Maybe the journey seemed somehow unintentional or perhaps it was methodically plotted. Either way, a series of many steps has landed us where we are. 

It’s amazing that the scriptures are so filled with themes of journey and story, and yet we often fail to see the value of journey in someone else’s life. It’s easy to expect that once people have heard the truth, the only thing left to do is to obey. After all, Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). So they think, “You want to be free, you want to live life to the full? Then hear the truth and obey. Period.”

But it’s seldom that simple.

Original Grace vs Original Sin | Part 1

I’ve been wrestling lately with the crap inside of me. My own broken places. The effects of shame that rear up to suck me back into a hole of “you’re not good enough.” I’ve fought with my own besetting sin and the distractions that are triggers for me.

I’ve witnessed my sister going through the painful process of chemotherapy. I’ve read text reports of a family member’s baby fighting for his life. I’ve read the devastating reports and watched the wreckage video of tornadoes in Oklahoma. And I’ve read the tweets and heard the rhetoric of Christians pointing to the "justice" of God. His punishment for sin. I’m sick about the suffering and fed up with the judgment of people who speak for God.

Personal Vision: Seeing What Can Be

We're laser focused right now on our 2016 Vision as a church - Granger Community Church. his past weekend our senior pastor, Mark Beeson, urged each of us to ask "What do I want to see different in my own life by 2016? How much more loving and patient will I be? How will I be more like Jesus?"

I reread an article I wrote some time ago and reflected again...

In Matthew 4.18-20… Jesus looked past Peter's fishing nets, the smelly boats, the sun-beaten face… and saw someone who was not wise by human standards; not influential; not of noble birth. And said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

Jesus' focus was on Himself, on His call, and His ability to transform. He was not focused on

Your Teams Are People, Too

We know it, no one needs to remind us. Or do we need to be reminded? The volunteers and staff who make up our ministry teams matter as much as the people we're serving. Our teams are people, too.

As I've had conversations with volunteers and staff on my various teams over the past couple weeks, I've been reminded. People matter. People need value. These people are my first "customers" or "guests".

Just this past week or so, I've been reminded - they will experience value when: