Monthly Archives: August 2010

Release your inner flight attendant

In the 90’s, the term for unleashing your frustration was “going postal.” Today’s model is the JetBlue flight attendant who said enough is enough, cursed out his passengers, grabbed a beer off the beverage cart, and exited his plane by way of the emergency chute. Who hasn’t wanted to give our employers a piece of our mind and exit in a similarly dramatic fashion? Who hasn’t wanted to “do a Weasley” after a difficult day?

Perhaps our natural tendency to retaliate is why Paul prayed for the believers in the city of Colossae. “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:11). Perhaps if someone were praying that we had the power to endure with patience and joy, we’d be less apt to go postal or release our inner flight attendant.


From hero to goat

Some days you are the hero, some days the goat. Some days you are the statue people look up to, some days you are covered in pigeon droppings. Some days you are the leader with everyone following in your wake, some days you are merely taking a walk because there is no one in sight. Some days you are revered and honored, some days you are disavowed and removed from the organizational chart.

Don Wakamatsu, FORMER manager of the Seattle Mariners, can attest to how quickly one’s fortunes change. One year he is leading a dramatic turnaround from a 101-loss season and acclaimed for instilling a new “belief system” into a losing organization. The next year everything goes south and he loses the respect of the clubhouse, the team seemingly quits playing hard for him, and he takes the blame and gets fired with  two months left in the season.

The distance from hero to goat, from leader to strolling alone, is much shorter than any of us can imagine.

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Posted by on August 10, 2010 in Leadership, Seattle, Sports


An argument for self-discipline

One year ago this Saturday, I took a dizzying descent into vertigo. One lasting effect of that experience was not being able to exercise. Prior to that experience, I stayed in shape physically by bicycling and using a Nordic Track cross-country ski machine. Since I felt like Bambi on ice for several weeks, I quickly got “out of shape.” It was several weeks before I could start walking without help and even longer before getting back on the Nordic Track. After several months, I was able to start riding my bike. While my weight is back to where it was, my strength and stamina have not yet gotten back to my previous level. All of this serves to motivate me to maintain self-discipline in eating and exercise, because once you lose it, it takes even harder work to get it back.

The same is certainly true of spiritual health and fitness. Once you get out of the habit of daily Bible reading, prayer, journaling, or memorizing Scripture, your spiritual health goes out the window and you become more susceptible to temptation and sin. Once you give in and start that down path, it is difficult to turn around and rebuild your habits of holiness. Better to maintain the daily habits of spiritual discipline.


Way too cautious

Yesterday our church celebrated the end of a week of VBS by hosting a carnival for the community. My wife and I were tasked with inflating helium balloons and giving them out to the children. One mom had a three-year-old and a five-year-old in tow. I offered balloons to the two girls. The older one said in a bit of a whiny voice, “No, thank you. It will get soaked (It was sprinkling at the time), and it might pop.” I asked, “Are you sure you don’t want one?” “No,” she replied as she looked at her sister who kind of wanted one, “It might pop.” I felt sad that a five-year-old was way too practical and cautious to take a chance on a shiny balloon. I also wondered how many times she heard adults express a cautious, risk-free approach to life.


When you haven’t got a prayer

You are prodded awake from a sound asleep.  You glance at the clock.  It is 3AM.  A name comes to your mind of an old friend whom you haven’t seen in three years.  You have the sense that you should pray for the individual.  What would you pray for?

You are rummaging through one of the drawers in your desk.  You discover an old photo of seven friends camping together.  You realize you haven’t heard from two of them in quite some time.  You are prompted to pray for them.  What would you include in your prayer?

Your best friend enlisted in the Army.  You have not heard from him in three months since he left for basic training.  Something tells you to pray for him, but you aren’t sure how.  What would you pray?

How do you pray for someone when you don’t know what their needs are?  Is it enough to say, “God bless so-and-so”?

That question prompted me to study the prayers of the apostle Paul. As he sat in prison in Rome, he was prompted to pray for the churches in Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossae. His prayers provide a model of how & what to pray other believers, even when we may not know their needs.

We can pray that they will:

  • Understand who they are in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:15-23). We can pray that our friends will come to know God intimately (17) so that they will know three facts—the past call of salvation that produced hope (18a), the future inheritance that God has in his saints (18b), and the present power of God that is available to those of us who believe (19).
  • Become stronger spiritually (Ephesians 3:14-21). We can pray that God will strengthen our friends in four areas—strengthened with power (16-17a), have deep roots and firm foundations (17b), comprehend the love of Christ is all its dimensions (18-19a), and be filled up to God’s fullness (19b).
  • Grow more mature spiritually (Philippians 1:9-11). We can pray that our friends would make spiritual progress in love (9), pursue excellence (10a), live with integrity (10b), demonstrate good works (11a), and glorify God in everything (11b).
  • Have a deep, growing knowledge of God’s will (Colossians 1:9-14). We can pray that our friends will understand God’s plan and purpose (9), and that their character will be transformed and result in a life of service (10a), growth (10b), endurance (11), and praise (12).
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Posted by on August 6, 2010 in Prayer, Scripture


Jet lag is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo

A friend sent me a link for “Red Eye,” a visual description of one person’s flight from NY to  Berlin, with a stopover in London. Having traveled from Seattle to Moscow on several occasions, I can say I have experienced much of what he describes. Pretty funny.

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Posted by on August 5, 2010 in Fun, Travel


Unchurched Seattle

Seattle to continues to become more unchurched as time goes by. Or in the case of another church closing its doors, perhaps we should call it “less churched.”

This week, I learned that Emmanuel Bible Church closed its doors on July 18, 2010. The news bothered me more than other churches that have given up. I knew this church. I taught a Walk Thru the Bible seminar there some 15+ years ago. They were in a good location with a beautiful facility across the street from the Woodland Park Zoo. When they were searching for a new Senior Pastor, I offered my services but was turned down because I did not live in the area.

While I do not know any of the details that went into this decision, my guess is that a lack of leadership and vision ultimately led to them withering from within. I mourn their departure. I grieve their loss of hope. I am saddened they stopped growing. I mourn their death.

May God raise up a new body of believers who will believe the promise of Scripture, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b). May God raise up people who will obey the great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a). May God raise up new pastors who will follow the instructions of the apostle Paul, “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2a). May God help the believers in Seattle to share the good news of the gospel, with the result, “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b).


Posted by on August 3, 2010 in Church, Scripture, Seattle