The Problem is Not That We Want Too Much, We Want Too Little

C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory and Other Sermons:

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

See Why Be Motivated to Live the Christian Life?

Posted on March 3, 2015 .

Write the Reference John 14:1-6 on the Inside Cover of Your Bible

Every Christian needs to know Bible passages to turn to quickly in difficult times. John 14:1-6, in which Jesus comforts the Disciples prior to his crucifixion, is one of these passage. Read it aloud - - then write the reference on the inside cover of your Bible so that you can find it quickly.

[1] “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. [2] In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. [4] And you know the way to where I am going.” [5] Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” [6] Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:1-6 ESV)

Posted on March 1, 2015 .

"Vision Leaks" So Keep Telling the Story

What Bill Hybels says of church in his book Axiom (page 52), is true of every arena in which people lead. Vision leaks.

"You or I could deliver a mind-blowing, God-honoring, pulse quickening vision talk on Sunday that leaves everyone revved up to go change the world, but by Tuesday many people have forgotten they were even in church the previous weekend . . .

Let's keep reminding people of the vision. Keep telling the story. Keep refilling "vision buckets."

Posted on February 22, 2015 .

Bill Hybels: The Best Gift You Can Give Your Organization

In the below video Bill Hybels describes how he made changes in his schedule so that his bucket was filled.

If you don't have time to watch the whole video, at least notice the point he begins to make at about the 12:00 mark in the video.

Whenever you lead an organization . . .The best thing you bring to the table every single day is a filled up bucket and a heart that’s right with God and a heart that’s overflowing with optimism because of your faith in God. When you show up at your organization with a fresh spirit and a grace filled demeanor everybody around you benefits in profound ways.

Posted on February 8, 2015 .

Read a Book on Leadership

Leaders are readers. Here is a selection of six  recommended books on leadership. You probably don't need to read them all. But you may need to read at least one!

While Collins does not write from a Christian perspective, this book affirms many Christian principles of leadership. He and his research team identified qualities that allowed companies to go from "good" to "great" and it makes for fascinating and inspiring reading.

Hybels is always worth watching, reading, or listening to where leadership is concerned. Leadership Axioms is a collection of short chapters that can be read in 5-10 minute intervals. Courageous Leadership is written more like a traditional book on leadership.

Written from a secular point of view, this is one of the classic books on leadership. The section on vision is worth the price of the book.

The president of Southern Seminary, Mohler is one of the most courageous Christian leaders of our time. His biblical thesis is that leadership must flow out of integrity.

Stanley begins with the thought, "Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be." From there, he unfolds a practical book on how to develop a vision and share it with others.

Posted on February 1, 2015 .

Read the Day's Chapter of Proverbs

The biblical book of Proverbs sharpens the blades of our "wisdom saw." We need it!

There are 31 chapters in Proverbs. As a system of working through them, just read the chapter that coincides with the day of the month.

If it's the 20th day of the month, you might read, "It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling (Proverbs 20:3)."

Or, if it's the 21st day of the month, you might read, "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD (Proverbs 21:31)."

Posted on January 27, 2015 .

Take 10 To Read the Sermon on the Mount

In ten minutes time you can read the Sermon on the Mount - - the greatest sermon ever preached.

The sermon on the mount (Jesus’s sermon in Matthew 5-7) is the most important sermon ever preached. It would be enough to know that it is the featured sermon of our Lord. But when we consider that in three chapters the Sermon on the Mount includes the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, the Golden Rule, and so much more we begin to appreciate its brilliance even more.

The sermon on the mount is concentrated teaching. It is brief. To read it would take only about ten minutes and yet its truth has changed the world. Statements like “judge not lest ye be judged” are quoted by people who do not otherwise believe in the Bible (and probably misunderstand what the statement means!). The beauty of Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is respected by nearly everyone. John N. Day writes:

Whether one is a Christian or not, there is much to be both honored and emulated, for Jesus cuts straight to the heart. He confronts our human tendency toward “image religion” that is based on outward show and selfish attitudes. Jesus crushes our idols, especially those stubborn ones of entitlement and hypocrisy. In doing so, He demonstrates that a genuine relationship with God shows itself in selfless and humble-hearted obedience. It can be a mind-expanding and life-transforming sermon if we will take the time to truly hear. [1]

Indeed, the message of the sermon on the mount runs against the grain of a Machiavellian (cunning and manipulative) world that seeks to elevate self. Christ’s emphasis on the heart rather than on external behaviors was a sharp indictment not only of the Pharisees of his day but against our age as well.

We are all the more in awe of the Sermon on the Mount when we remind ourselves that not only did Jesus teach it, he perfectly lived it.[2] What a King we have!

[1] John N. Day, Truth Standing on Its Head: Insight For An Extraordinary Christian Walk from the Sermon on the Mount (Ventura, California: Nordskog Publishing, 2009), 1.

[2] W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew: In Three Volumes, International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988), 467.

Posted on January 25, 2015 .

Our Next Study at Pinnacle Forum Central Illinois

In the coming weeks (January - May 2015), in his study, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, John Ortberg will remind us that in life all the tokens, game pieces, and prizes are left behind when we walk away from the table. The only real "winnings" we claim and keep are our own souls and the love we have for Christ and each other.

If you think you might need a better game plan--one that offers an eternal perspective --this strategy filled playbook walks you through what it takes to really win big at the game of life.

Posted on January 20, 2015 .

Dr. King Gave Hope

A large part of the reason Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was so effective was because he gave hope. In the below conclusion of a speech he gave in Memphis, Dr. King assures his audience that they truly will get to the "promised land."

As leaders, the question before us today is, "How will we encourage people with the hope that racism will end?"

Dr. Martin Luther King's most famous speech was unquestionably his, "I Have a Dream," speech. Yet, it surely was not his only great speech. The speech Dr. King gave the night before he was murdered was also an incredible example of how leaders move people by their speaking. You can listen or read the entire speech.

In this speech, when Dr. King said, "I have been to the mountaintop," his biblically literate audience he immediately knew what he meant. Dr. King was comparing his leadership to that of Moses, the great Old Testament leader who led God's people out of slavery and to the Promised Land. Moses was not permitted to go into the Promised Land. But he was allowed to go to the mountaintop and see it  (Deuteronomy 34:1-7). Likewise, Dr. King knew that there was a strong possibility he would be killed before the Civil Rights Movement had achieved its goals. But surely the end was in sight.

The  clip is less than 3 minutes long. Yet in it we see many of the reasons Dr. King was so effective as a leader. Above all, Dr. King gave hope. After his audience heard Dr. King review all the progress that had been made, they were sure they would get to the Promised Land.

For more reflections on this speech, see Chris Brauns's post:  Leadership Lessons from Dr. King.

Posted on January 18, 2015 .

Are you growing?

Healthy plants grow.

Healthy Christians grow by being in their local churches, meeting with other believers (such as at Pinnacle Forum meetings!), and through prayer.

Peter concludes 2 Peter:

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Posted on January 13, 2015 .

Billy Graham on the Benefits of a Keen Sense of Humor

Billy Graham:

A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.

Maybe smile a little more today?

While you're smiling, by all means remember this:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19-21

Posted on January 11, 2015 .

There is No Third

Who are you?  Who-who, who-who?

Psalm 1 describes two kinds of people.  Which are you?

Option #1 – The first is the person who delights in God’s Word.  If you studied the life of this kind of person, you would be struck by his or her ongoing meditation on Scripture.

Option #2  – The alternative is the person who keeps company with people who have no regard for Christ or his word.  This person hangs out with Beevis. 

You might answer, “Well, I’m not sure that I fit either category.  I have this kind of third option going – – I’m a hybrid – – I’m not really sold out about God’s Word, but then I don’t think I’m Beevis’ sidekick either.  I’m option #3.”

Here’s the thing.  Read Psalm 1.  Read Matthew 7:13-29There is no third

There are two kinds of people.  Those who delight in God’s Word and those who don’t.

There are two roads: a broad road and a  narrow one.  

There are two kinds of houses: those built on the sandy land, and those built on the Rock.

There are two kinds of trees: those that bear fruit and those that don’t. 

There are two eternal destinies, not three.

As Derek Kidner as pointed out, there will come a day when the two ways, and there is no third, part forever.

*Adapted from "There is No Third."

Posted on January 4, 2015 .

With Gentleness and Respect

Be encouraged and challenged by how the Apostle Peter said we should talk to others about being followers of Jesus:

. . . But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. . .  1 Peter 3:15

Posted on December 30, 2014 .

Let's Talk

One of the great advantages of Pinnacle Forum is that we are establishing relationships. So let's use them. When we are struggling, rather than internalizing our problems, let's talk. Let's talk to each other. Let's talk to a pastor. Let's talk to a counselor. But let's do talk.

Recently, the community where I (Chris Brauns) serve, lost a 20 year old who took his own life. I thought and prayed all week about what to say to our community. Mostly, I said nothing.

But in the end, I chose two words: "Let's talk." I wrote a post on my web site and the goal was to encourage people to talk with me or another leader if they help.

You can read all of what I said here, but the point was straight-forward. We cannot keep ignoring our battles - - we can't anesthetize ourselves to grief. We need to get together and talk.

Posted on December 28, 2014 .