Monthly Archives: November 2012

seeking transformation through conversation

7 questions for a Scripture-centered, transformation seeking conversation.

1. What are you thankful for today?

2. What are you struggling with today?

3. If this story is from God, what does it teach us about him?

4. If this story is from God, what does it teach us about me? (Humanity?)

5. If this story is from God, how does it apply to me? or What does God need to change IN MY heart?

6. If this story is from God, what should we do together to obey this message from God?

7. Who could you share this story with?

These questions have been around for a good while, I first heard of them more than a decade ago. They were a method being used in a Deaf church in Eastern Europe I once attended. These particular questions are my adaptation from those used in the Church Planting Movement in their Discovery Bible Study. I learned about this in the Balkans a couple of years ago. I have continued to use and adapt them in transformation seeking conversations.

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timeless thinker, mere Christian

C. S. Lewis died on this date in 1963. Lewis seems to be a timeless thinker and writer. Many influential writers today acknowledge Lewis’ impact on them, or, at least his thinking comes through in their ideas, this is the mark of a classic writer, a writer whose ideas are biblical and stand the test of time.

His death, and the death of Huxley who also died on the same day, was eclipsed by the death of JFK. Kreeft wrote a dialogue which ensued on their arrival at the afterlife that examined their philosophies (I found the end of this book, while interesting, quite unsatisfying).

Nonetheless, Lewis’ impact hasn’t faded, but I hope young and younger readers will stretch beyond their beloved Narnia to, at least Mere Christianity.

So, on this Thanksgiving day, I am thankful that God sent Jack to us. And I hope people will read him so he can turn their head back to God.

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being nice?

I was intrigued by something in Francis Chan’s new book _Multiply_. (By the way, I saw it at Sam’s Club in paperback for under 10 bucks.) Anyway, Chan talks about the gospel affecting our lives (he’s talking about discipleship). It’s kind of like he saying the gospel should make us nicer.

Now being nice is not something I’m widely known for. But I am trying to work on that. Selectively, I admit. But I am aware and I am talking to God about this. Indeed for some of us, sanctification takes longer than others of you. Lewis talked about this in _Mere Christianity_… remember Dick Firkin and Miss Bates? I think it was the chapter “Nice People and New Men”. The point being, some of us have further to go than others of you as far as niceness is concerned.

So I had this dream (yes, I was up at 4, thank you jet lag), it was pretty vivid. I was working at Kroger (did you know I spent 21 years with Kroger?). I was all alone working the checkout line. There was a long line of customers. And this is the thing I remember about this dream, I was just working really hard to be nice to everyone. Unusual.

See, it’s really easy when you’re under great pressure to get frustrated and then to show that frustration by impatience and rudeness. (Like me at the movies the other night.) I think this is our natural inclination… to be abrupt and even rude, it is a reflection of selfishness, of wanting our own way,  what Lewis calls ‘the great sin’… pride.

So next time you’re in my local grocery store (not a Kroger), where there are usually 10 people in each of two lines and the poor cashier is under pressure and therefore not very nice, remember they didn’t make the schedule which put only two cashiers in the store at that time.

Chan suggests that, as the Gospel changes me, if I’m nice to them, they may be nice to the next person and then who knows? This is a very small way that the gospel can influence the culture in that moment and that place. I agree.

See, further back in line, quietly observing, is your neighbor or colleague, who is quietly wondering if the Gospel you are talking to them about is actually real.


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We use a simple one room flat in Budapest. No phone, no tv, no Internet. My son-in-law asked what I did… I read, I write, I think, I pray…

Each morning when I’d go out, I have a choice to make. At the end of my block I can go straight or turn left. Going straight is quicker and more direct to the tram. But turning left takes me to the Walking Street. Along this walking street there are pubs, restaurants and finally Starbucks. Several offer wifi. As I walk along the blocks my phone connects to the wifi and I and updates my Gmail and Twitter. At first it was a hassle, but once I got used to the system, it works great. And not having Internet all the time helps me be more present when I’m meeting with someone… Here is an article that I really resonated with about travel… read Kaplan

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First hike of the fall


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November 17, 2012 · 11:03

Home – some reflections

I’m home. It’s good to be home.

Last night in the car I realized how hard the return trip has become. It’s a really long day… thankfully my systems and habits of times of flights and seating and so on make the journey better… but, man, that’s a long trip… I guess I’m just getting older… It’s true, Shaw was right… “youth is wasted on the young.”

I met with the leader of a Budapest school the other day. What a blessing to hang out with a brother who is at the same time: intelligent, educated, humble and knows how get things done without making a big deal about his accomplishments. I want to learn from this. I think it’s called being  Christlike. I want to learn from this brother.

Thankfulness is what I was moved to by a couple of people who really demonstrated a fresh openness to the things it takes to walk closer behind Jesus.

Packer asked how we “move from knowing about God, to knowing God”… knowing about truth, and proclaiming truth is a hollow sound indeed when love is absent. True love, I think, wants to sit with and bring blessing to people, just proclaiming is seldom, if ever  enough. The experiences I’ve had recently have shown me how important that is for leaders to contemplate.

“Silence is golden” is a saying for a reason.

Real friendship is seen in sacrifice and real conversation.

I already miss all the walking I did to go about my normal tasks… I averaged walking 2.5 miles per day in Hungary… here, I will have to plan to walk… ahhh… the spread-out-ness of America…

It is so good to be home.

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