When God is giving you a dream

God loves to surprise us, doesn’t he?

David and I love the concept of “First Fruits.” There’s a principle in the Bible that urges us to give to God the FIRST part, the first fruits of our harvest, the first part of our energy, the first of our worship. One of the ways I try to honor that — and I am not successful every time, by any means. I love sleeping in way too much — is by spending time with God as close to first thing in the morning as possible. And I really love doing that on Mondays, the first day of the week. FIrst Fruits.

Well today my planned reading was Deuteronomy 1-3. I will be honest with you, I groaned a little when I saw that. I was hoping for a lovely Psalm or a little time with the New Testament church (now those folk knew how to live radical life…they jumped all in). But no. Today I was hanging out with those masters of discouragement, the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.

That’s when God kind of chuckled and kicked my backside, not with discouragement or boredom, but with encouragement and a bunch of exclamation points!!!!! Moses is recounting for the people how God had brought them safely through the wilderness. He’s telling all the old stories and the people — a new generation from the original wanderers by now — are eating it up. So Moses is acting as motivational coach to this generation, and he reminds them of what God had to tell them in earlier days.

I only got to verse 6 before it hit me.

Deuteronomy 1:6 (God speaking) “You’ve stayed long enough at this mountain!”

Ahhhh! That was it!

Get off the mountain!

The mountain…

  • The place God had SPOKEN and RECORDED his plan for the people.
  • The holiest of places in the wilderness!
  • It was also, by the way, the place that Moses blew the deal with the Lord and lost his chance to go to the promised land, so the mountain was also a place of FAILURE.

That mountain represented so much to the people, and God told them to get off it.

I started thinking about the mountains in our lives, both the times of incredible blessing and intimacy with God and also the times of failure. God doesn’t plan for us to dwell in either one of them for the rest of our lives. He intends for us to go out and conquer, go do the things he shows us. You see, the Israelites had a whole land to inhabit, and it wouldn’t get done if they stayed on the mountain.

Moses also reminds the Israelites of how afraid they were when they saw the land God had planned for them. In fact, Moses points out that God led them right up to the edge of the land, pointed at it and said “Go get it, kids!” What did the Israelites do? Acted like good church members and formed a feasibility study. They sent that advanced team into the land, and then listened to 10 out of 12 of them who said the job couldn’t be done. That moment of murmuring and fear cost them 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. An 11 day journey turned into 40 years. Wow. Somehow the people had forgotten that the same God who was with them on the mountain would also be with them in the land.

I forget that, too.

What hit me this morning was that God didn’t just march them straight into the Promised Land and then announce “We’re here! This is it!” No, he brought them to the edge of the Land and said to go get it. But it was a limited time offer: I’ll subdue your enemies if you go now. Murmur and pull back? Offer withdrawn for the moment.

  • God brings us to the edge of our dreams, points them out, and tells us to “Go.”
  • Dreams come with an expiration date: they are time sensitive!
  • When God says “Go!” he will also walk ahead of you.
  • If you’ve missed the opportunity, keep dreaming. God is a God of second and twenty second and forty second chances. He has a new dream for you.

Take a minute today to stop and notice what you are looking at. Are you looking at a dream? Is God pointing you there? Then it’s time to get off the mountain! Be strong, take courage, and go inhabit the land God is showing you.

PS I was searching for my illustration today and came across this quote from novelist Terry Pratchett: “Multiple exclamation points are a sure sign of someone who wears their underpants on their head.” Oh dear. Can they not also be a sign of a very excited blogger who has no underpants of any type on her head? My sincerest apologies to the punctuation offended among you. I shall confine myself to no exclamation points whatsoever in the next post!

I suppose a smiley face is out, too. Sigh.

CrowdSourcing: whose agenda do you follow?

The crowd usually gets it wrong.

The sooner I learn this, the better off I will be.

John 5 tells me the story of the man sitting by the pool of Bethesda, hoping to be healed when the heavenly messenger stirs the water and offers the opportunity. “Here it is! Your healing! Come!”

In verse 7 this man says, “Without a helping hand, someone else beats me to the water’s edge every time it is stirred.”

A helping hand. That’s all it would take to help this man get to the healing. Now I don’t know the reasons he hadn’t found that helping hand yet. Maybe he was stubborn, and refused to ask his family to sit with him, help him to the water’s edge. Maybe he was a grouchy, mean old man and no one ever wanted to help him. Perhaps he felt entitled. But it doesn’t really matter, does it. All he needed was a helping hand to get to the source of healing.

Eventually, Jesus stepped into his life and brought the healing he needed, whether he was prepared for it or not.

And what does the crowd do? Grumble because Jesus healed on the wrong day of the week. That healing didn’t fit the crowd’s agenda. And as soon as the grumbling started, the enemy stepped in to win the battle. You see, the healing was forgotten in the great “Carrying your mat on the Sabbath” controversy.

The crowd was wrong and the miracle went unnoticed.

Later, on a hillside by a lake, the crowd got a chance to be fed. Jesus was getting ready to teach about the true Bread of Life, the true source of life and healing and hope and purpose. But the crowd was hungry for the wrong thing. They were hungry for bread.

So Jesus gave them bread. Then he taught them some amazing words, taught them how to come to the source of healing.

And the crowd got it wrong again.

They wanted more bread.

“Oh, it would be so easy to believe if only we had never-ending bread,” they said. And I smirk at them, safely sitting in my kitchen thousands of years later. “Those people had God in front of them to eat, and all they could think about was getting a free meal or two or three. How could they?” Incomprehensible to me how they could be so concerned with what they were going to eat and miss the point that God was there, working, inviting them into the miraculous dance with him!

I smirk, but I should have wept.

One look at my prayer list tells me that 90% of the items there are about bread in one form or another. My bread may look different than theirs, but it is all about making sure my family and I have the things we think we need, when we want them, packaged nicely.

Some of these things are even necessary, but they aren’t the point.

The point is that Jesus came to invite us to join him in the work his Father is doing. Stop focusing on bread and think about focusing on the Bread of Heaven, the true source of life. He says, “And here’s the reason: I have come down from heaven not to pursue my own agenda, but to do what He desires. I am here on behalf of the Father who sent me. He sent me to care for all he has given me, so that nothing and no one will perish.” (John 6:38,39 The Voice Translation)

And the crowd looks at him and says, “Who do you think you are?”

Oh, I know those voices, the ones that say “Who do you think you are?” I listen to them daily, and they keep me from dancing. Who am I, indeed. I don’t write, because really, who am I? I don’t stoop down and help someone to the water’s edge because I’m too small, too insignificant, or the day is all wrong and might cause a controversy. Who do I think I am? I listen to the lies.

Some of the disciples listened to those lies, too. The Bible says that from that day on, a lot of the disciples walked away from Jesus because what he taught was too hard. Some of the saddest words written, I think.

But there were others who stayed. “Lord, if we were to go, who would we follow?” Simon Peter declared.

“I choose each one of you myself,” Jesus responds in John 6:70. Just imagine the power of those words…I CHOOSE YOU. It’s the answer to the crowd’s cry of “Who do you think you are?”

Who do I think I am? I’m chosen.

The crowd got it wrong, and went away unfed in the end. But the disciples stayed, accepted their identity as the chosen ones, and changed the world.

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

I just finished reading Mark Batterson’s latest book, The Circle Maker. If you have followed Coffee Shop Journal at all, you know that Batterson is one of my favorite authors in the current Christian landscape. So I have been slowly savoring The Circle Maker, letting its message sink deep rather than skimming the surface of my mind.

The premise of The Circle Maker is simple: God honors the prayers we pray. Hardly ground-breaking! But Batterson frames The Circle Maker in an ancient Jewish tale that takes prayer to a new place. There was, once upon a time, a Jewish prophet named Honi. Honi lived at a time when drought was torturing Israel, and it was time for Honi to pray on his country’s behalf. So Honi literally drew a circle in the dry sand, stepped inside it, and pledged not to leave until God answered his prayer.

It sprinkled.

Honi prayed again.

It rained cats and dogs and threatened to flood the nation.

Honi prayed again until a gentle rain fell.

Using Honi’s story mixed with stories from Batterson’s National Community Church and his own life, Batterson encourages us to circle – metaphorically and often literally – the dreams we have for our own lives, the dreams God planted. Pray, think long term, let your prayers build your legacy: Batterson encourages us over and over to do the hard work of bringing ourselves and our lives into harmony with God’s plan for us.

I spent some time recently thinking about the “circles” in my life.

While Mark Batterson was walking circles around the city of Washington DC (and I say we need more people walking circles and praying in Washington DC!), I feel as if sometimes I’ve just been walking IN circles. May I be honest? Sometimes I’m not so sure that my prayers are much different than the “positive affirmations” that pop psych gurus like to peddle off on us. I pray them, regularly, but I sometimes forget that someone is LISTENING to them.

God honors our prayers.

But do our prayers honor God?

I pray — most of the time — wimpy little me-sized prayers instead of the kind that have me shaking in my boots. At church this weekend we called those kind of prayers audacious prayers. Batterson reminds us that God loves those kind of prayers, because everyone knows that only he could accomplish them. Only God could possibly have one such a thing.

I don’t want to live my life missing out on God-sized answers to prayer.

I need to be drawing audacious circles and then standing in them.

If you want to get more information about The Circle Maker and watch some cool trailers, go to TheCircleMaker.

If we could only hear God!

“And these are but the outer fringe of his works;

how faint the whisper we hear of him/

Who then can understand

the thunder of his power?

— Job 26:14

I’ve seen God do some amazing things in the past few weeks. Perhaps my favorite is God’s total transformation of our friend Bob. Bob was addicted to pain pills and alcohol for 15 years at least — the growing-up years of his two precious daughters. The girls gave up on the idea of ever having their own earthly father in the way they needed and deserved. And God, the father of the fatherless, stepped in to help fill that need.

But there were holes left behind. Only Bob could fulfill his God-given purpose.

A few weeks ago Bob hit the bottom, and ended up in places he never imagined. They were not pretty places, but they were where he needed to be.

God sent John to Bob. John wasn’t afraid of those places. In fact, he revels in meeting the broken-hearted, like Bob. And through John, Bob saw God. We nearly keeled over in shock recently when we encountered Bob hanging around the lobby after church, clear-eyed and delighting in life out in the world again.

“What are you doing here, Bob?”

“Oh, John and I have a connection. He came when I was pretty low. What a great day! I haven’t been able to think this clearly for 15 years!”

I watched Bob’s daughter get  a hug from her daddy and I wanted to weep. It was so good! And it’s just a whisper of what God is doing all around us. Just a whisper! If only we could hear the thunder!

I know that Bob has quite a journey ahead of him, and he may slide back a few times before he gets it straight. But I also know that God is after his heart, and won’t stop until he has it. I can trust God.

As we were leaving, Bob casually mentioned that he’d signed up to be baptized. It was a perfectly normal, logical decision for Bob. For the rest of us it was a miracle.

Third Places are sometimes more churchy than church

It slips my mind, sometimes, that someone reading my posts may not know where they are written. With very few exceptions, most of my writing is done in Starbucks. If I didn’t write the actual post there, I at least scribbled notes to remind me later of the direction I’m going to take.

I don’t know all the reasons why Starbucks is my choice, but one of them is because it simply isn’t HOME. I can come here and focus, be myself, daydream and create. At home, well there’s laundry to be done, a new magazine in the mail, roaming dogs who terrorize me at every opportunity. The stuff of life. I connect with myself better — sometimes — when I’m not so surrounded by myself.

The other day I listened to two guys do the same at Starbucks. One was a regular, Dan, and I never caught the other’s name. Let’s call him Fred. These two guys began jabbering, and when I got up to go, literally two hours later, they were still jabbering. In the course of the hours they covered politics (conservative, but Dan has a liberal bent that inclines him to social justice), chiropractic (Fred is a chiropractor, and was convincing Dan — accurately in my humble opinion! — that chiropractic care could help him recover from his recent shoulder surgery), the military (both served, one flew planes, the other loved them). They covered their families, their work habits, their Starbucks drinks. They circled back around to why character and integrity matter in politics more than party affiliation, though each were registered Republicans. In short, they connected.

It was a life group in action. What do you call it at your church? At ours, during various moments, they have been life groups, journey groups, small groups, affinity groups. Whatever your definition, these two men joined a small group.

But let me ask you this question: when was the last time you saw two men begin with a passing nod acquaintance and end up with an intimacy and a feeling of belonging to the same tribe over the course of two hours?

That’s the genius of living life out in the community, in third places, shoulder to shoulder with your neighbors and strangers. Alan Hirsch, in his new book RIght Here Right now, says that “We have to be able to speak meaningfully into a culture, but in order to do that, we have to seriously examine a given culture for clues to what God is doing among a people….what is good new for THIS people?” My friend Dan was doing that. He was listening to Fred and conversing with him where he was at, the conversation meandering. And because it took place in this third place, others were welcome to join in or not. Some did, interacting as long as time and circumstances allowed. Others didn’t, living their own lives.

Either way, small group was had here in Starbucks, and a whole bunch of us got to join in.

I’m making the choice to go for community wherever possible. After all, I’m, pretty sure that’s where Jesus hung out. I just wonder if he’d have picked MY Starbucks!

What do you want from your church?

Picture 4

I read this in my email today from our friend Buddy Hoffman at Grace Fellowship, our church when we are in Atlanta. Sometimes I run across something I hadn’t even known in my soul until someone else verbalizes it. This letter, which is his regular weekly email to his congregation, is one of those moments. This IS what I want. This IS what we need. If you aren’t finding it, get yourself to a place where you do. It’s worth it.

This past week, while Jody and I were on vacation, I found myself in the unusual circumstance of not having to be anywhere on Sunday. Often, even when I am not a Grace, I am somewhere else teaching. I went out for a walk and began thinking about where we would worship Sunday, and it occurred to me that this is not a question I often ask: “What do I want in a church?” Then it occurred to me that I was really contemplating another question, easier to answer: “What do I not want.”

Kind of like, when it comes time to choose a restaurant, someone asks, “Where do you want to eat?” The answer sounds easy, but not even close.
“Anywhere.” comes the answer.
“How about burgers?” you say.
“I’m not thinking burgers.” is the reply.
“How about Subway?” you say.
“Had that Thursday.” comes the answer.
Someone starts naming places, and your realize all you really know is what you don’t want.

When it comes to church, I know what I am not looking for. I have no passion to sit with people lined up in pews, sing three hymns and listen to a sermon with three points and a poem. I have no yearning to hear someone’s idea of a religious pep talk, with a few movie clips thrown in to prove they are culturally relevant. I have no desire to listen to a Christian concert put on by a hand-full of rock band wannabes. It’s not that I mind hymns, poems or relevant movie clips, and I certainly enjoy a good band.

But, unlike finding a place to eat, I do know exactly what I want in a church gathering.

I want to hear someone open the Bible to a passage of Scripture that they have prayed over, meditated on, researched and marinated in. I want to hear what they learned, I want to hear what they discovered, I want to hear not just the results of their research, not just an academic lecture, but what they have heard from God. I want to know how this passage has impacted the church, not just this church, but the church historic.

I want to know how this passage intersects with the context of the whole of Scripture – where does this fit in the meta-narrative of Scripture, the Kingdom of God. I want to know how this passage has convicted and comforted the people that have gone before me, the communion of the Saints. I want to know what this passage meant in it’s orginal context to the ones God gave it. What were their circumstances and how did this passage shape them? I want to sit with a Bible in my hand, and look into that Word and listen for that voice deep in my soul that speaks to me though His Word.

I treasure that voice, it seldom screams, it most often whispers, but it is real as the skin I am in. I want to sit with a gathering of people who also long to hear that voice. I want to look around and see that same longing on their faces I feel in my heart. I want to look across the room and see people with old Bibles that are falling apart, new bibles with pages that are still stuck together, techies with Bibles on their iphones, and people who are just trying to figure it out but sense there is something going on here that is more than a history lesson, more than a lecture, more than a pep talk. I want an encounter with God Himself.

Then I want to this same person who has been marinating in this passage to challenge us all with how this connects to today and tomorrow. I want to hear what they have heard the Spirit speak; I want to hear that prophetic voice.

Then I want some time to absorb what I have heard; I don’t want to just jump up and run out. I want a worship leader to take me deeper in my response to the Word, to the prompting of the Spirit of the Living God. I want time to repent – the word “repent” means “to change my mind.” I want my mind renewed; I need to reflect on what I have heard. I want the kind of worship leader that knows it’s more than a “set list” and leading the band; it’s turning people’s faces to the face of God. It’s giving God what God is seeking: worship.

Sometimes it’s as brief as a blink, sometimes it is more like melting a glacier, but I do not want to just run out. If worship is responding rightly to Revelation, then I want to worship. I do not mean just sing a song, although it might be a song, or it might be a prayer. It might be that I need to raise my hands in surrender and agreement. It might be I need to get on my knees, right then and there; it might mean I need to get on my face, not later but now, in humility and with abandon. And I hunger to gather with people who feel the freedom to do the same.

I might need someone to pray with me. I want to be with people I can just turn to and say, “I need prayer” without feeling they are going to think I am strange. I love feeling someone’s hand on my shoulder and hearing them pray for me without even asking.

That is want I want. I really don’t care if it is in a Cathedral or a storefront. I don’t care if it is across the street or across town. It does not matter that much to me if the teacher is ordained, wearing a robe, in blue jeans, young or old. I really have no preference concerning the size of the church or the style of the service. What I want it to hear from God and gather with people who share that hunger. I want to see young people and old people, but real people. I want to be with people of different colors and cultures, but with a common craving for the heart of God.

I want to hear the Word, I want to worship and I want to do it with a community that takes both seriously.

I know what I want.

See you Sunday,

How I came undone at Catalyst 09

It started out like every other session at Catalyst 09: the organizers bring up on stage someone who is living out their faith in a unique way. We’ve seen basketball players and Michael Jackson dancers. In one memorable instance, a guy leapt from 35’9″ into a 12 inch deep pool of water. Catalyst is about experience, and each time a session opens you can bet you are in for a new one.

Picture 2

So this session started like all those others.

Ken Coleman, Catalyst staff and interviewer in chief, climbed the steps accompanied by a young-ish black man. As the interview began we learned that this boy — now a student at Moody — was originally from Kenya. He was a child sponsored by Compassion International. He began to speak, this Kenyan with an unbelievable accent that made us all listen closely. He told us about his family, their poverty, and how his mother had to give him to her sister, to try to help this boy survive. He ended up begging on the streets for awhile. He spoke matter of factly, describing horrors. But at the age of 8 he was sponsored by Compassion. “Mark, a man from the United States, sponsored me and my life was changed.”

Mark was a 20 year old student in the US who had a heart sold out for God. And working out his faith, Mark decided to sponsor a child. He sponsored this man, and sent him a letter. The Kenyan read the letter, an original, battered copy that he obviously treasured. Mark told the then-8-year-old about another friend, Jesus. And the little Kenyan boy believed him. The money from Compassion kept him off the streets. Gave him food. Helped him go to school. And now he is in the States, studying at Moody. Great story.

And oh, yes… the Kenyan now sponsors a child from Haiti, because he wants to give back. Some day he is going to return to Kenya to teach the Bible. Convicting, yes. Wow.

But then, then Jesus showed up.

From off stage out came a man. The man. Mark. The sponsor. Mark had never met his Kenyan “child.” When Ken Coleman made the introductions, the Kenyan man fell sobbing into his arms saying thank you. Now when I say sobbing, I mean sobbing. His sobs could be heard all over the auditorium. The two men stood there in a bear hug while one of them sobbed.

No dry eyes. None.

It was a beautiful picture of the face of God. It was black and white, it was United States and Africa. It was sponsor and sponsoree turned sponsor himself. It was everything that James called pure worship in Bible.

And I was undone.

Like the good little programmers they are, Catalyst staff had packets for any who wanted to sponsor their own child through Compassion. They had 1,200. All were gone within two minutes. If you didn’t agressively snatch a packet from an usher, you were out of luck. Gone.

But there are more. And I will find one!

Picture 1

In a related project, an armored car drove into the auditorium. Out of it came money…lots of it… from Hope International. The plan is this: each Catalyst attendee was given $10 in cash. We need to take that money and turn it into $100. We can do that by raising money or just adding on to it. We can use the $10 to buy supplies to raise money or use it as matching money. In any case, the goal is to return $100 to Hope International for their Never Ending Hope Project. This project has a great idea: raise $100 from us. Loan it to a business person who needs help. The business person pays it back when their business thrives, and then Hope International lends it out again. Your one donation can impact dozens, hundreds of lives. Great use of micro finance and micro lending!

So help me out, bloggy world. How should I turn my $10 into $100? (Technically, I need to turn $20 into $200 because David got his own $10, of course.) Anyone have any good ideas? I know I could just add the money and make up the $100 and send it, but I want to enter into the spirit of the adventure. So send me your ideas, and eventually I’m going to implement one of them. I’ll let you know how it goes! In the meantime, go to Never Ending Hope and check out the website.

And oh yes, you could go to Compassion International as well. They’re waiting for you.

Catalyst Wrap Up: Day Two, Part Two


Each year Catalyst gives out a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” This award, coming from the “younger” generation of leaders, is given to a person who exemplifies leadership and outstanding body of cumulative work in the Christian world. Last year this award was given to Billy Graham. This year the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Chuck Swindoll. What a deserved honor! At 75, he was spry and full of sparkle when he popped up those stairs to accept his award. Afterward, Chuck Swindoll delivered a talk that engaged us, challenged us, and set the bar. The highlights are below, and I should warn you that he loves lists. Lots of lists.

Charles Swindoll

Things I have learned about leadership in 50 years of ministry

  1. It’s lonely to lead
  2. It’s dangerous to succeed
  3. It’s hardest at home (illustrated by a story of changing the battery in his fire detector while being “heckled” by his wife. It ended with a battery being thrown. He was being real.)
  4. It’s essential to be real (as I said!)
  5. It’s painful to obey
  6. Brokenness and failure are necessary to your character
  7. My attitude is more important than my actions in any given situation
  8. Integrity eclipses image
  9. God’s way is always better than my way.
    “Perhaps the goal at Catalyst this year for you is to empty your hands.”
  10. Christ likeness begins and ends with humility

“Be willing to leave the familiar methods without disturbing the biblical message. In other words, DON’T MESS WITH THE MESSAGE!”

  • With every ministry, a special and unique mercy is needed.
  • In every ministry, the same things must be renounced and rejected:
    Hiding shameful things
    Doing deceitful things
    Corrupting truthful things
  • Through every ministry,  a unique style should be pursued.

It isn’t about us.

It is about Him.

We are bond servants

Five statements for the next 50 years:

  1. Whatever you do, do more with others and less alone. It keeps you accountable.
  2. Whenever you do it, emphasize quality…not quantity.
  3. Wherever you go, do it the same as if you were among those who know you best. It keeps you authentic.
  4. Whoever may respond, keep a level head.
  5. However long you lead, keep on dripping with gratitude and grace.

Louie Giglio

Louie is an author and speaker and the director of the Passion Conferences. Recently he has started a local church in the Atlanta area, Passion City Church.

“Leadership is knowing and following Jesus.”

  • The theme of Catalyst 09 is “On Your Mark.” To run a race, you need to know where you are going. Where are you going?
  • We are all going to a common destination.
  • Your life is shaped by the end you live for.
  • Our common destination and goal is to see the face of the Son of God.
  • His face is what we were made for. We can’t draw our life from anyone else, it is all in the smile of Jesus.
  • Find the confidence and courage to be what you need to be.
  • “At the end of the day, leadership is not about getting ahead, it is remember we already have one.”

Louie ended with a great analogy. We have all seen the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. At the end, just before the big reveal, Ty Pennington gathers with the family behind the big bus. As the crowd yells “Move That Bus!” the bus driver moves to reveal the new home while the camera stays fixed on the family and the music swells. We watch the family’s faces. And reflected there is the beauty and awe of their new home. The children whoop and holler, the momma cries, the daddy tries hard not to cry. (I usually do cry!). Only then do the cameras turn and pan the home. Our faces, said Louie, should be a bit like that. We should be reflecting the beauty and awe and grace and unfathomable magnificence of our Lord. People should say, “Wow, I’ve found God on your face.”

Andy Stanley

Closing Session — The Multiple Choice Team

I. Occasionally, there are gaps between what we expect people to do and what they actually do. This is expected and unavoidable. Sooner or later, something does not live up to your expectations or other’s expectations. This creates a gap.

A. We choose what goes in those gaps.

B. We choose to expect the best or assume the worst.

C. Two things make it difficult for us to believe the best: What I see and Who I am.

“We can choose to put ‘believe the best’ in that gap.

II. Developing a culture of trust is critical to the health and success of your organization.

A. Trust fuels productivity.

B. A culture characterized by trust attracts trustworthy people and quickly surfaces those who aren’t. Will everyone be trustworhty? No, of course not. But choosing to trust them will reveal them quickly so you can move them out of that position before they hurt your organization.

1. You will never know who you can’t trust until you trust them.

“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you might have made a hiring mistake.” Jim Collins

2. You will never know who you can trust until you trust them.

3. Trusting is risky. Refusing to trust is riskier.

C. Trust enables an organization to move faster.

“Teams use trust as currency. If it is in short supply, then the team is poor. If trust abounds, the members of the team have purchase power with each other to access each other’s gifts, talents, energy, creativity and love. The development of trust, then, becomes a significant leadership strategy.” Reggie McNeal

III. Developing a culture of trust begins with the leader.

A. Trust and suspicion are both telegraphed from the leader throughout an entire department or organization. You may think they don’t know….but they do!

B. When you can’t trust, you must choose to confront.

1. Concealed suspicion poisons the entire relationship.

“The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.” Mahatma Gandhi

2. The consequences of confrontation are far less severe than the consequences of concealment.

C. To develop a culture of trust, leaders must be trustworthy.

Catalyst 09: Day Two


Day Two at Catalyst did not disappoint! I came expecting a great day of connecting and learning and growing, but I have to admit to a little bit of grumbling at the early hour this morning! I am NOT a morning person, and the first session was an unknown (to me) speaker, so really why not sleep?

Glad I didn’t! I knew better.

So for now, here are the highlights of Day Two

Priscilla Shirer

Priscilla is an amazing speaker. She brought it for the first session of Catalyst this morning, and woke that crowd up right away! The daughter of preacher Tony Evans, she learned her preaching skills well. Today she spoke about “Life Interrupted,” a life that is divinely called and sent in a new direction. In other words, my life and your life.

  • We need to yield to the interrupted life. It is God’s way of moving us in a new direction.
  • Joshua is a biblical example of a man living an interrupted life.
  • Joshua acted immediately after hearing from the Lord. What is it that God is asking you to do? Act on it immediately! We are so good at excuses.
  • Joshua acted fearlessly, using the Holy Spirit inside of him.
  • Joshua acknowledged the presence of God, and so should we. “If God isn’t going, we don’t go, either.” jesus did his father’s will…and nothing else. What would it be like if we only moved when we sensed God moving?
  • Anticipate God’s miracles: stop playing it safe.

Priscilla told a story that bears repeating. Her young son was encountering the tooth fairy for the first time. He received $5 under his pillow, an amount his momma thought was extravagant. Hubby told Priscilla, “Don’t worry…I used the money from all those birthday cards he got and we put away.” In other words, Priscilla pointed out, her son was excited over a treasure he already possessed. Christians are often the same way: we have the treasure of the Holy Spirit within us but need to rediscover it.

Dave Ramsey

Most of you have probably heard Dave Ramsey speak on radio or television about finances. Today he spoke about building momentum.  Enjoyably, he began his presentation by having the crowd sing the lyrics to “The Beverly Hillbillies.” We knew every word. Even though 80% of us (not me, unfortunately) were born after the show was cancelled in 1971. That’s momentum.

  • When you have momentum, you look better than you are. When you don’t, you are better than you look.
  • Momentum is created. It does not randomly occur.
  • “Some of you haven’t ever worked hard enough to be burned out!” You have to pour yourself into your craft to create momentum.
  • Momentum is Focused Intensity over Time, multiplied by God. (I have no idea how to type mathematical equations…sorry!)
  • Focus is amazing in a culture that has none.
  • If you try to do it all, all at once, you won’t be able to get anything done!
  • Two things can cause you to lose momentum: fear and greed.
  • Excellence dissipates when you look too far ahead and anticipate what you haven’t yet earned.
  • Intensity: Pour intensity into things that matter. Nothing moves unless it is shoved. Intensity moves things!
  • “Light that is dispersed will light up a room, but light that is focused into a laser can perform surgery.”
  • “I persist long enough to win.” Og Mandino
  • Time: Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise wins every time. Think about it.
  • God: You are finite, but God is infinite. He multiplies your effectiveness when you pour yourself into something that matters. Shed the things that don’t matter.

After Dave Ramsey came a special, unbelievable time of discussing sponsorship of children and adoption. I am too emotionally spent to discuss it now, and it deserves its own post. Let’s just say that when they were finished, I was undone, wrecked. And that doesn’t happen easily.

OK, gang, that’s going to have to hold us over for the night. I’m so tired I can’t see straight! There is so much more to share.  First up tomorrow, Catalyst 09’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Chuck Swindoll. Not to mention Louie Giglio and another Andy Stanley message! David and I drive home in the morning…lots of time to type!

Goodnight from Catalyst 09!