December 2013

Ten Questions Really Worth Asking: Your End of Year Reflection

Looking Back so you can Look Ahead
For many years I have done an "end of the year reflection." I look back over the year, remember what happened, reflect on those things and then seek to discern meaning, purpose and lessons learned. Then, I look ahead to the new year and I make plans for the new year. These are not simply resolutions, although my RESOLVE is high. These are things I desire, things I deem important and valuable. Therefore, these resolutions are framed as goals and desired outcomes.

Wishing you a Very Joyful Christmas

With the Holidays upon us... and people crazy busy with family, friends and festivities... I am taking the rest of the year off from blogging. I'll be back right after the New Year.

Blessings, grace, joy and peace to all of you.


Reliable Authors and Wise Spirituality

Core Authors and Reliable Guides: For me - Gordon T. Smith is one of that tribe.

I read widely. I think carefully. I reflect deeply. I synthesize constantly. And then I seek to implement and integrate into life, ministry and mission the fruit of reading, thinking, refelction and synthesis.

At the core of my ministry/vocation is that of developing people. Through preaching and teaching, through writing, through seminars, courses, classes, workshops and retreats - the desire of my heart is to empower followers of Jesus (and especially those called to leadership) for maturity, fruitfulness and finishing well. It is an UNDERSTATEMENT to say this is important. It is urgent, vital, critical . . . The challenges facing the evangelical church of Christ in North America are difficult and daunting. The culture is not simply post-Christendom, it is post-Christian . . . and I believe, increasingly antagonistic to the Christian faith.

We Are All Over the Theological Map

This is an "off the top of my head post" stimulated by some of the immediate reading I am doing on the subject of justification and sanctification. So no editing, no refining, just an immediate response...

Sometimes when I am reading books by Christians who come from places SIGNIFICANTLY different then where I am... it is both humbling and confusing. How can we come to such different positions on Scripture? But -- we do.

I just finished a book where the author would say to me - "Brian, you do not understand the Gospel."

Christmas, Atheists, Marketers and Worshippers

Did you catch the Rant and Rave from the atheist against Christ in Christmas? 
An atheist who is angry about Christianity... believes Christianity is a force for evil... that Christianity is for the foolish, uneducated... and that the real meaning of Christmas can be nicely celebrated with no need for Jesus.

I just have one comment.


A Life Soaked With Scripture

A Bible Nourished Spirituality.
So what are you reading these days?
What biblical passages are important to your spirituality right now?
What good books are helping you grow in faith?

The 50 Best Business Books

The Ultimate Time-Saving Guide to the Secrets of Business Success

So I stopped down at the local Books A Million (BAM) store to pick up a few easy reading items for the weekend (anticipating a major winter storm starting Saturday through Sunday morning). I picked up the TIME Special Commemorative Edition on Nelson Mandela. For people who don't like to read longer works like Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom) this is a nice overview of his life and work. Really worth picking up while the world is still engaged with his life and legacy.

Kid President on the 20 Things We Should Say More Often

End of the Work Week Pick--up. Enjoy the common-sense, down-to earth advice of Kid President. It is really good. And of course, try some of it today. Pass it on using the share buttons at the bottom of the post.

Sir Ken Robinson and TED

This post is directly inspired from PRESENTATION ZEN by Garr Reynolds, who is one of the regular bloggers that I truly appreciate. I always learn something from his great resources.

In this post, Garr talks about one of the best TED presenters EVER - Sir Ken Robinson. I have loved Sir Ken Robinson and his previous TED talks. They are amazing and are some of the most watched TED talks ever.

Life Long Learning and Personal Development

At the core of the LCI mission and vision is that of developing leaders.

We are very good at helping leaders develop a deep and meaningful spiritual life with Christ.
We are also very good at empowering and resourcing leaders with the skills, habits and perspectives of fruitful leadership.
Then we train leaders in the art of mentoring and spiritual direction.
Finally, we come alongside leaders to help them learn how to become architects of learning communities.

That is the core of LCI. We are essentially and relentlessly developmental. So we spend a lot of time studying how learning takes place in adults, how formation best unfolds and how development processes can be enhanced.

One of the things we have learned is how important it is for us to help you - learn how to learn. The more you understand the nature of the learning process, the more tools you have that make good learning possible, then the more you can contribute to the developmental processes we provide.

Tim Keller and John Piper talk about C.S. Lewis

It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to exaggerate how much I like C.S. Lewis. Every year I re-read several of my favorite Lewis books. Every year I read one or two new books about Lewis. The great book this year was the new one by Alistar McGrath (see the image to the right),  In recent months I decided to create  Pinterest Board full of favorite Lewis quotes. It is an evolving board. You can see those images by clicking here.

The Science of Great Ideas and Rapid Skill Learning

There are a number of sites that have subscriptions that I receive on a daily basis. While these articles are often quite a bit longer then most of my daily posts, from time to time I find an article that I think is worth sharing. Today I am providing links for two very good articles.

First -- The Science of Great Ideas: How to Train Your Creative Brain.
I am always vitally interested in the creative process. Thinking outside the box, imaginative thinking, design thinking, systems thinking - all with an innovative bent. This is a longer article, with a little bit of vocabularly on how the brain works. But it is quite accesible.

The Ten Lessons of Political Greatness

The Soul of a Leader by Waller Newell was a great book... long, detailed... but highly readable and more - VERY GOOD. The final pages of his book summarize the Ten Lessons of Political Greatness. After a long tour through modern American Presidents, then a visit to Lincoln and Napoleon, followed by a look at the ancient Greek democracies, Waller Newell gives his summary. I hope these have at least some power for you who probably have not read his book. Here they are with little or no explanation.

1.  Character trumps brains, or at least formal education.

2.  Inspiring rhetoric is necessary, but only in moderation.

Pleasantly Expectant or Dangerously Attentive

WOW! Did that phrase ever capture my attention when I read it in The Soul of a Leader. It comes from the great British biographer of Lincoln - Lord Charnwood. Charnwood was comparing the style of speaking used in the British Parliment with the way Lincoln spoke.

The British speakers strove to keep their listeners:

"pleasantly expectant rather than dangerously attentive . . .
Lincoln's style was the exact reverse."

Abraham Lincoln had a different task. To persuade, convince, mobilize, direct, inspire and renew the moral, political and spiritual life of a divided nation.


This thought from van Gogh has a lot to say to leaders. It inspires me and it comforts me.

Leadership (at the least) is challenging and difficult. There are problems and struggles that just go with the leadership terrain. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Leadership, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it." Well, it isn't easy and so everyone isn't doing it.

Leaders are those who accept the challenges and problems. The difficulties don't scare them away... In many cases, they are leading because of the problems. 

Theology Matters

Many years ago I read a quote that said, "It is not a matter of whether you are a theologian. To think about God or talk about god or believe anything about God is theology. Everyone is a theologian. It is only a matter of whether you are a good or a bad theologian."

This quote adds another idea. Whether your theology is good or bad, it will be most seen by those who are closest to you. For that is what theology (good or bad) does. It shapes how we live, how we relate, our values, our desires, our character… theology affects everything.