Contemplative is one of my favorite words. I love that it can refer to a religious order, probably because I know deep in my heart that if I were Catholic, I would join a convent. (I tend to go to the extremes) I also love the word contemplative because it is something I strive to be, yet often fail to achieve. It is a goal in a word and one that happens to be used infrequently, perhaps as a result of a cultural trend away from contemplation and stillness.

Contemplative is going to be my word of the month as I seek to focus on what amounts to be a spiritual discipline of quiet surrender and ultimate obedience. I've recently had the opportunity to observe two totally different individuals who have served in ministry for decades and who are often set upon pedestals in the minds of many. These two individuals, totally different from one another in demographic and ministry, have one thing in common. Humility. I have seen in each of them a single, compelling desire to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind coupled with an intentional shedding of the fear of man that finds itself in actions motivated by man's approval. It sounds cliché, but they are living for an audience of One. So simple and so incredibly difficult.

I know two other things about these individuals- they both got there by being contemplative and it really is Christ. Unfortunately, my natural inclination is to idolatrously strive toward actions that might help me be like these two individuals...but it really is Christ to Whom I should be striving.

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:1-11



Death is Not Dying

What if you had it all? What if you were in the midst of your thirties and thriving? What if you had a loving and devoted spouse? What if you had two beautiful little children? What if you had safety, security, and many good friends? What if you had a wonderful church and deep faith in Christ? What if you found out you had only weeks to live?

Response to death has always been fascinating to me. This has become especially so since the Lord saved me. There is nothing sadder to me than someone such as Princess Diana who seems to try so hard to find their way and then dies seemingly without having found The Way. I have often sat transfixed through hours of television reports on the death of a celebrity life being celebrated, with the distinct awareness that all evidence indicates that while this world is honoring and celebrating the celebrity, he is writhing in Hell. It is the ultimate reflection of the powers of this world to deceive.

Yet, there are other stories of those facing death that amaze and convict me while reminding me of God's goodness and power to overcome the curse of death. I have come across one such testimony this morning that is as powerful as anything I have ever seen. Rachel Barkley is a young mom facing death. She has a loving husband and two small children. She has a group of loving friends, freedom, and faith. And she does not have long to live. Her response and reflections are captured in a video presentation she gave to a women's conference in her home city of Vancouver. As part of her presentation, she notes the following:

"In His providence, God has used the tough things in my life to draw me closer to Him; to show me His great love and to teach me many things. I have learned that I am not perfect and I have the scars to prove it- thirteen of them, and they serve as the physical reminder of a spiritual reality that I can never be perfect on my own. I need a Savior. I have learned that the greatest evidence of God’s love is seen when I stand at the foot of the cross. He took my shame upon Himself and rescued me. I have learned that being a Christian is not just hope for the future, although it is most definitely that. It is the joy of knowing and trusting in a God who is loving and faithful no matter what the circumstances."
The full video of Rachel's presentation is available online by clicking here. It is 55 minutes long, but it is 55 minutes well spent. May we trust Him in life as Rachel is trusting Him in death.



Jumping Hoops and Being Good

I'm in the midst of reading through some Baptist21 content and just came across this sentence. It responds to a tendency I often find in my own heart, one that I am also often overwhelmingly frustrated with when I see it perpetuated in others:

"The Bible never treats the gospel as a hoop and morality is never exhorted apart from the Gospel."



Fanning the Flames?

I am starting to wish I were Amish. I readily admit that I have always been a tech junkie. I had Facebook and a Blackberry for a while before they were popular. Ask anyone who works with me and they'll tell you that I am constantly multitasking. I have not counted lately, but I am guessing I send between 100-150 emails a day. I know I receive that many. If I'm awake and not driving or in a meeting, then a laptop is probably on and within arms reach. This used to just be me and my personality quirk. It's not anymore. Now it seems that everyone is blogging, facebooking, and twittering.

I don't know why, but in the past few weeks I've started to feel smothered by the electronic connectedness of life these days. Are we really more effective? Are we really contributing more? Is this really socially healthy? Is the Kingdom of God truly benefiting?

I'm in publishing. And, yes, I (and we) most definitely care about the ministry impact of the books we publish. And, yes, we genuinely want to connect the message with the masses because we believe it will change their lives. But, the reality is that the publishing industry has changed drastically in the last several years, largely due to technological shifts and trends. As such, everyone is trying to figure out how to communicate a message in this new world while doing so efficiently and at minimal cost. We want to be good stewards of message and resources. The business realities require that we exhaust all available channels and mediums to communicate our message. Only I'm starting to wonder if we're all just exhausting ourselves and each other as we seek to squeeze every bit of opportunity from online networking.

I'm not sure what the answer is. I know that I am grateful for some ministries I've seen born out of blogs. The truth is that if someone has a blog that tens of thousands of people are following, then that means that they have a message that people clearly need (although not necessarily as a book). Yet, I can't help but wonder if we're in some way fanning the flames of over-networking because we know it helps us manage an increasingly challenging business model. I'm not sure, but the more I have thought about this post, I'm wondering if what I'm wrestling with is the tendency for us to try to encourage or create the mass followings online.

I'd genuinely like to hear how you reconcile the ministry with the frenzied craze of online networking. I'd especially like to hear from editors, marketing managers, and authors. I know there's genuine value there, I guess I'm just wondering how we can maintain and foster authenticity.



Detox Induced Thoughts

I am feeling extremely scatterbrained. My attention span is about 90 seconds. I know the cause. Brace yourself...I'm easing myself off caffeine. No, I'm not a coffee or Starbucks junkie. My drug of choice is Diet Dr. Pepper. A lot of it. I actually tracked it a few weeks ago and realized I was drinking in excess of 100 ounces a day. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that probably isn't great for me. So, I've been gradually decreasing my intake for the past couple weeks and am now down to one 20oz a day. In honor of my caffeine detox that has left me scatterbrained, I've got a few [very] random thoughts to share:

  • I just discovered an excellent resource for those raising support for missions. It looks great. You should check out MissionMatchUp.
  • We (at B&H/LifeWay) are in the midst of working on some plans for a women's online resource that is unlike anything else out there. It will take a couple months to launch, but suffice to say that I am super excited about the potential.
  • I am overjoyed that Mine That Bird won the Derby. I love when the underdog wins. He even looked less formidable than the other horses. Susan Boyle-esque. Yet another sign that outward appearance is not a sure indicator of internal substance. Easy belief to articulate, difficult to consistently manifest.
  • I really hate it when I get proposals in any font other than Times New Roman, 12 pt. I also hate any sort of creative formatting. The only components you need are a title page, headings, subheadings, and text in normal paragraph form. All Times New Roman. If you read this and ever send me a proposal, please, please, please follow these guidelines. It will make me happier when I read your proposal. That can only help you.
  • I'm getting a new office sometime in the next week. This is because a lady who has been working at B&H for almost twenty years has volunteered to give me her office and move into a cubicle. I can't get over it. I know that I would be angry and prideful if I were her. Yet, she is genuinely fine with it, no drama, and super gracious. Did I mention that I can't get over it? I really can't. I seriously feel like I should wash her feet or something incredibly symbolic. The problem is that I would do one kind and humble action then go back to being selfish while she embodies kindness and humility. I'm trying to believe sanctification is powerful enough to get even me there someday. Perhaps the lack of caffeine will help...



Sunday Quote

"If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead."
- William Law



Compassion in the Slums

These photos were taken today by a photographer/blogger traveling with a group surveying the work of Compassion International in India. They spent today in the slums of Kolkata (aka Calcutta). These particular slums are known to be among the worst of the worst in the entire world.

Yet, check out a couple of the images from Compassion's ministry:

Read Angie and Melissa's take on their day. View more of the photos. Pray. Sponsor a child. But most of all, worship our great God who can shine light into the darkest places on earth.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP