I Am Becoming

drewMay 22nd, 2014Blog, FeaturedNo Comments
IABC_cover_big

I’ve been working on this new project for over 3 and 1/2 years and I’m so excited for you to hear it! I’ve never been so intimately connected to a record. These songs come from some deep places of joy and sorrow in my soul and I hope they encourage you in whatever season you’re in.

“…I’m trusting and learning..patient and loving..at least I am BECOMING”

Read More

Just As I Am

drewFebruary 14th, 2012Blog, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
Cline-12-3

Twenty years ago I met a beautiful girl in college.  She was a leader, smart and funny, in love with Jesus, and I loved being around her. We became great friends and then decided to take our relationship to the next level.  As we began to date, our conversations deepened and we began to discuss dreams and plans for the future. I remember the night we were driving somewhere and she began to tell me what she was hoping for in husband.  I wasn’t looking to get married at 18 but she was the kind of girl that definitely made me start thinking about it. I was on my best behavior and tried to come across like I had it all together and hoped that in some way I could impress her.  She shared what she had been hoping, even praying for in the man of her future.  She shared her desire that he be a passionate believer in Jesus, someone who could make her laugh, someone driven to succeed and become all that God wanted him to be. Up to this point, I was holding my own, I felt like I had a chance with this amazing girl. Then she added one last criteria, one last prerequisite. “I want him to be pure – to be a virgin”.  My heart dropped from what seemed to be the highest cliff in my chest and I’m sure my countenance changed.  I realized in that one split second I had been disqualified from the race to win her heart, that I might as well quit hoping and trying for a deeper friendship with her because I was not a virgin – not pure.  I began to cry.  She knew in that second that her desire for something more in a man wouldn’t be found in me.  I felt all the shame and guilt of my sin compounding in that moment. Now I hadn’t only disappointed and failed God, I had failed in my life and my future.  I felt with a stinging reality, a painful consequence of the “lusts of my youth”.  She began to cry. What had seemed like a beautifully charged moment of hope and destiny became a brutal awareness of the brokenness of sin. I don’t remember the exact conversation that followed but I do remember that at some point, she lowered her expectations and offered me grace. In the most real way I had ever experienced, I felt grace, undeserved favor – forgiveness.  That wasn’t the only time I disappointed that girl, and not the last time she offered me grace.  She’s been a beautiful, real, tangible reminder of God’s grace in my life.  She’s not perfect, and so I’ve had the privilege of returning the favor at times.  She has however taught me so much about how God loves me in spite of me, that even though I couldn’t measure up to His standards, God’s expectations and prerequisites were met in the holy, sinless life of Jesus. Jesus extended to me, through His sacrifice, a chance to have value, to be accepted, to be apart of His family. My sin disqualified me from a relationship with God, but Jesus applied His sacrifice to my life and I was accepted, given undeserved favor – forgiven.

Have you been so busy in your “work” for God that you’ve forgotten that moment His grace was traded for your sin? It’s easy to forget who we were, what we’ve done, or who we can be in our sinfulness. Let’s make time to worship this heroic friend that has made a way for us, whose grace is sufficient for all of us, whose love has accepted and justified us (just as if I had never sinned).

That girl became my wife nearly 18 years ago, and we now have two beautiful daughters who are teaching us new lessons on grace and mercy. We continue to be undone by God’s love and kindness for us and seek to model His grace for each other and those around us.

Rom. 5:8 (MSG)

“But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.”

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.”    – Martin Luther

For more study on this topic:

I Jn. 1:9 / Matt. 11:28 / Rom. 5:20 / 2Cor. 4:16 / 2Cor. 13:14 / 1Tim. 1:12

* Photo by Matt Britton

Read More

Contagion

drewJanuary 25th, 2012Blog, Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments

“This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.”

Luke 22:20 (MSG)

I recently watched a movie called Contagion.  It was pretty much a horror flick. Not in the classic sense set in a campground or on Halloween, and there were no monsters or crazy creatures – “only” a disease. What made it so scary weren’t visual effects or crazy costumes and make up design. It was the fact that the plot of this story could actually happen in real life.  The “monster” as it were, was a highly contagious disease contracted through the air and by touch.  Every angle and colorization of this film made you feel infected.  I found myself washing my hands excessively for days after this movie. Between that film and a recent stomach bug my family endured, I’ve thought a lot about germs, infection, cleanliness and cures.  If you’ve ever suffered through a bad flu or virus of some kind you know what I’m talking about. As the parent of two little girls both under 5, my wife and I are cleaning, disinfecting and gagging quite a bit.

I watched this movie with a parallel in mind. I couldn’t help but think about the disease you and I are both victims of. In fact, every human being contracted this illness from our mother and father – our original mother and father, Adam and Eve. Eden must have been an amazing place, no concerns, no illness, no fear, and only one rule. Adam and Eve disobey God, breaking that rule, and in the time it takes to compromise and bite into a temptation, they become sick, they feel confused, ashamed, and aware of their need to be covered. They were infected with Sin, this wasn’t the first case of the outbreak, it originated in Heaven. Lucifer sinned in his heart against God and suffered the consequence of being cast out of Heaven to later show up in our story as the influencer, the “pusher” of this forbidden fruit.  Since then the disease has been passed down in our very DNA. It is a part of the human condition. Our diagnosis is even scarier than that of the disease in Contagion because it’s not a matter of if we’ll get it or when, but that we’ve had it from even before we were born and the consequences are that of eternal death not just this temporal one. We didn’t contract it through germs or a bad meal. Instead, it’s lurking within us and affects everything we do and everything we are. We work to “disinfect” our lives, and think if we’ll follow certain rules we won’t meet the same fate as that of our disobedient ancestors.  In hopeful moments of the awareness for our own need to be covered, God in His grace shows us that there’s nothing we can do to fix the problem.  No ritual or work, no meds or therapy will reverse our eternally terminal illness. But He made a way, provided a cure and offers us life instead of our certain death without Him. That vaccine, that remedy, is the blood and sacrifice of Jesus. Nothing else will do, nothing but the blood of Jesus. Do you have the vaccine? Are you working towards the rescue of those who don’t know of this cure? Let’s tell the world of this breaking news, this antidote!

What can wash away my sins?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

For Further Study on this topic:

Matt 26:26 / Rom. 5:9 / Eph. 1:7 / Eph. 4:14 / Col. 1:18 / Heb. 9:11 / Heb 10:19 / Ps. 51 / Is 64:4

Read More

Rebuild

drewJanuary 12th, 2012Blog, Featured, Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The ChurchNo Comments
Modlay - Small

Hands And Feet (Haiti Tribute – Click to Play Song)

Today is the second anniversary of the tragic earthquake that devastated Haiti.  I woke up with the overwhelming thought, “what was that moment like when the whole world came crashing down?”.  I began to think about all those beautiful people who survived that event.  Does this day bring memories of loss and brokenness or hope and healing?  They say time heals all wounds, but wounds leave scars and scars remind us of pain and struggle. My prayer for that country is that their scars can also remind them of life and restoration, of God’s presence in the storm and be The Light that leads them out of the darkness.

I’m convinced that God allows tragedy and pain in our lives because of the change it can bring about in us.  In moments when I’ve been so full of confusion, broken-hearted and alone, I’m reminded that my only hope is in the Lord, not in who I am, what I’ve done or some delusional thought of what I can become. It’s not in my family or in my friends, not in what I have or want, not in anything but Jesus. One of the biggest things I’ve learned in those moments is that we don’t really understand or know what faith is until we really need it – have to have it. Growing up in church my entire life has afforded me the blessing of a foundation of faith in God, in my community, in my self.  But until we truly have no idea where the next paycheck is coming from, if the Lord will heal that disease, that broken heart, or relationship, we have to completely leave it at the feet of Jesus. No conditions, no expectations – just faith. Faith to truly believe that God is good, even when life is not. Faith to believe that He can use our story, no matter how tragic and confusing it seems to be in the moment of our pain. Faith to hope for days of peace and joy while walking through ones of darkness and depression.

Our God is a faithful friend, strong to walk with us, as together we rebuild what life has broken down. He provides all we need, and we work with the faith that at some point what looks like ground zero will be a place of unbelievable beauty – in His time.  We don’t remove our scars, we don’t hide those experiences, we paint around them, they provide context for the depth in our walk with Jesus and compassion for those around us surviving their own earthquakes.

What unexpected disaster has fallen down around you or someone you know?  Don’t act like it’s not there, that somehow no conversation is better than a word, a prayer, a supporting look or held hand.  Let’s run to those in pain, not with some lack of awareness that we can fix it or help in some way, but instead to just be present, just to stand with, just to listen.  God can and will heal and undergird our greatest life fractures, but let’s not let it just be a chapter in our story, but a building block toward something better, more beautiful, more dependent on our great God. He will rebuild and restore.

Job 22:21 (MSG)

“Give in to God, come to terms with him and everything will turn out just fine. Let him tell you what to do; take his words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and he’ll rebuild your life. Clean house of everything evil. Relax your grip on your money and abandon your gold-plated luxury. God Almighty will be your treasure, more wealth than you can imagine.”

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

* This picture is one I took of my dear little friend Modlay. He’s just one of the beautiful reasons to support the amazing work of Hands And Feet Mission in Jacmel, Haiti.  This little guy was born so small he almost didn’t make it.  He struggled with medical issues for the first part of his life, but you’d never know it by that smile.

* I wrote this song “Hands And Feet” just after the earthquake in 2010.  The proceeds from the sale of this song will go to help Modlay and his brothers and sisters at Hands And Feet Mission in Jacmel, Haiti. It will be one of the tracks on my upcoming project “I Am Becoming”.


Read More

Becoming

drewJanuary 4th, 2012Art, Blog, Leadership, Music Biz, WorshipNo Comments

Like life, art is both beautiful and hideous, happy and sad, light and dark.  In my opinion, the only good art is that which is true.  If art makes us feel something deep in the core of our souls, it’s because of truth, something reflected in paint, or stone, photograph or music that resonates within us is reminding us of our dreams, our love, our fear, and our pain.  When we as artists create at a level that moves people, we’ve earned the highest honor of creativity, a true reflection of Imago Dei (the Image of God).  In my experience, the most powerful expressions of art are those that come from context.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul”

Horatio Spafford penned these lyrics as his ship neared the tragic location where his 4 daughters perished only weeks before in a shipwreck. For nearly 150 years this hymn has reminded the church that in the middle of pain and brokenness, God is still there, giving us His peace that passes all understanding. I can’t imagine the loss and pain that Spafford was dealing with, but I’m glad he shared his pain and hope with us. It’s at these pivotal moments that we too should write and express our pain, questions and struggles through music or art.  As songwriters and storytellers we have to give full disclosure in what we’re walking through. As we lament or celebrate different seasons in life, we should faithfully translate the condition of our souls into tangible expressions that not only connect us to the lives and experiences of others, but helps us to heal and grow in the process.

Abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock once said: “Every good painter, paints what he is”. In other words, the finest and most sincere form of art is one that reflects who we really are, where we’ve been, or what we hope to become. The problem with much of our “Christian” music is that we’ve been too afraid to be that honest or open about who we really are and what we’re really wrestling with.  So instead of free handing the truth of our lives, we’ve begun to trace over what seems to work in our genre and sell in our bookstores or play on our radio stations.  It’s easy to fall into that trap, but my prayer for us is that we dare to create from the raw places of who we are, what God has allowed in our lives and the beauty of redemption in the gospel of Jesus. That story is worthy of nothing less than originality, risk and passion. God will use the ups and downs of the day to day to chip away at who we’ve been until He only sees who we can be.

Hebrews 6:1 (MSG) So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ.

Read More

Trust-Worthy Worship

drewApril 20th, 2011Blog, Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, Worship1 Comment
Trust Worthy Worship Pic

I started in ministry as a youth pastor, not so much because I was trained in it or prepared for it, but mainly because I was a student myself.  My first job in ministry was the summer of my freshman year in college.  I was 18, optimistic and clueless, but loved kids and loved Jesus. At the time it didn’t seem like it would be that hard to imagine introducing them to each other and caring for them for a summer.  I’ll never forget in those earlier years of youth ministry trying to teach on trust.  I had my whole group of kids at a “ropes course” and we were about to do the trust fall.  I’d seen this done in my own youth group and remembered it being a powerful way to teach kids how to care for each other and to build trust in our group.  Thinking this would be a great lesson for our kids, I was standing toward the back waiting for the learning to begin when the guide says “Drew why don’t you come up and be first to fall and show these kids there’s nothing to be afraid of.” I was terrified, but had no choice.  I began to climb a ladder against a tree that led to an 8 or 9 foot platform.  He told me to cross my arms and to wait for the signal to fall backwards into the arms of my group.  I remember turning around to see the kids and noticing that the group was made up of mostly Junior High girls.  I was 6’3” and 250, and my faith in this exercise was waning by the minute.  The guide had the kids shout “Do you trust us?” and I shouted back, “I trust you!”. Without thinking too much more I let my weigh fall back and my heart race. In that moment my action proved my words, that I really did trust those kids.  They caught me, though they took me to the ground.  One by one they couldn’t wait to climb the ladder and fall themselves.

Our lives of worship are much the same.  It’s imperative that we not just say words, we must follow through with the fall, we have to trust God in the action as well. To worship and not trust, is to not worship at all.  When we live our lives as offerings to God, giving Him all that we are and believing He will use our mountain tops as well as our valleys, we’re trusting His sovereignty.  It’s one thing to stand and sing of God’s faithfulness, yet quite another to experience it.  It’s easy to form words and even muster passion in our hearts about what we believe and our commitment to Christ but still so much more to live lives of action, sacrifice, and obedience. God is more pleased when we obey Him over our liturgy as we “serve” him. (I Sam. 15:22).  God is blessed with our promise of trust, but we’re not trusting until we actually exercise it. Our songs and service to God are good but it’s not until we put our hands to the serving of those who are in need or put our feet to the journey of sharing Jesus with the world that our words, songs and worship have the substance of meaning, the proof in the pudding as it were. Missionaries worship as they build relationships and serve the poor, pastors worship as they shepherd the sick, families worship as they eat dinner together, reminded of God’s provision. The broken heart is full of worship as it hopes in the Lord, mourns authentically, yet trusts completely. Is your worship grounded in trust.  Don’t just yell out “God I trust you” without being willing to fall.

Read More

The Scarlet Letter

drewApril 11th, 2011Art, Blog, Featured, Marriage/Family, The Church1 Comment
Scarlet Letter Pic

I think it was about the eighth grade or so that we read the classic story of The Scarlet Letter.  Though I remember understanding the moral of the story, I had never felt what the stories main character must have. One thing we know how to do quite well is to ostracize people.  People who are different, look different, live different, they’re usually the first to wear our badge of shame.  I was a jock in Jr. High, a thug.  The school year picture from seventh grade was sort of angelic and innocent, where my eighth grade picture reveals someone completely different.  When I look at those pictures, I see a child wanting to be seen as a man, or at least someone searching for identity and acceptance.  I seemed to have found some of it in being tough, fighting, cussing, smoking, and rebellion.  I see those two pictures, and at first want to laugh.  To laugh about my immaturity, my lack of awareness or sense of fashion.  But I think it saddens me more than it entertains me.  Seeing these two is a peek into the days of my innocence lost. The beginning of caring about what people think, starving for approval, and the creation of a personality that someone else wanted. This was not exactly the child that was created by God and raised by my parents. In those days I was one of the guys that felt he had the right to label people and put people down to lift myself up. I’ve been on that side of labeling; of accusing and pointing out others ‘specks’ though in my own eye was a tree of sin and mistakes.

I haven’t thought about that old book since those years of awkward adolescence, until recently.  I didn’t have an affair or have some moral failure that would cause a community to cast me out, but I have felt shame, I have felt ostracized and lonely and as a result I’ve thought about all the poor souls that too have felt on the outside, guilty of wrong or not, they’ve, we’ve been pushed to the side and had to find life outside of the world we’ve known. I’ve become so much more compassionate for those who’ve been misunderstood, who don’t fit in, or for whatever reason has just been sidelined.  I didn’t feel this as a kid, I was usually picked early on during sports and never felt the shame of being the kid the last team had to accept.  I can’t imagine that feeling as a child, but I know now as an adult, the sting is as sharp and the sadness as valid.  For many who live a season of their lives with a “scarlet letter” it sticks for longer than the season of scandal and reaches into other years and aspects of life, creating a personality decorated with dark colors and sunken shoulders and overwhelming sorrow. These walking wounded may have actually had an affair or divorce or committed some crime, and so they each have been labeled with their own letter representative of the offense.  Yet others like myself, though not guilty of some heinous sin, still feel labeled. I was let go recently from my job.  Not for poor performance or anything inappropriate, but for preference or cutbacks or some other reason I’m still unsure of.  Since that happened, I’ve struggled tremendously with shame, sadness and self-doubt.  I know who I am, how I’ve lived my life with integrity and passion for excellence and holiness, yet I’ve found myself shaken to the core.  Part of it goes back to that little eighth grader hoping for approval and having not gotten it.  Some of the pain is from what feels like betrayal and a lack of communication.  My loss of community and position has made me feel like there’s a “scarlet letter” on my life.  It could be an “F” for fired, or an “N” for not good enough, or even an “L” for loser.  I’ve felt all of them, but in my heart I know none of them represents me.  These last several months have made me sensitive to so many who would never darken the doors of the church because they hide under their own letters, letters that have been put on them or letters they’ve put on themselves. Either way I’ve noticed how very easy it is to be found in those descriptions instead of what’s true.

The truth is that I am identified with Christ (Gal. 3:26, 28) that I’m hidden in Christ (Col. 3:1-4) that I’m complete in Christ (Col. 2:9-10) that I’m His friend (John 15:15) that I am strengthened by Christ (Phil 4:13) that I’m chosen by Christ (John 15:16, Col. 3:12) that I’m an expression of Christ (Col. 3:4) that He has a purpose for my life (Col. 1:16, Ps. 138:8) that I’m loved by Christ (John 3:16, Eph. 1:4).  It’s also truth that God is still working on me (Rom. 8:28, Phil. 1:6, Col. 2:7) so I know that He has allowed every day I’ve faced.  Some days hold joy and love sweeter than life itself, and others pain, confusion, and darkness that find us on our faces crying out for help and healing. Both are being used of God to create in us the image of Jesus and who He is and a dependence on our God.

Have you ever felt labeled?  Do you ever feel like people have already made their mind up about you, without trying to know you or understand the situation? Maybe you’ve believed a lie, or forgotten the truth of who you are and who God is in you.  You, we are not alone.  Our prayers and songs and hearts ring out with the voice of experience.  We KNOW God is faithful, we KNOW God provides, we KNOW He loves us.  Without walking through moments and seasons of struggle, we would never know the depths of God’s love and goodness.

I think it’s time we change the letter. It still remains a “Scarlet” one however, bathed in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for us, redeemed by His love. “F” for forgiven, or “L” for loved, or even “C” for child of the Almighty God.  It’s not easy but we have to find our identity in truth, in God. We are more than how we feel or what someone thinks of us.  We will be found in Him, we will be identified by Him, we will live and move and have our being in the One who gives us life.

Psalm 23 (Message)

A David Psalm

1-3 God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows,

you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word,

you let me catch my breath

and send me in the right direction.

4 Even when the way goes through

Death Valley,

I’m not afraid

when you walk at my side.

Your trusty shepherd’s crook

makes me feel secure.

5 You serve me a six-course dinner

right in front of my enemies.

You revive my drooping head;

my cup brims with blessing.

6 Your beauty and love chase after me

every day of my life.

I’m back home in the house of God

for the rest of my life.

* Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of “The Scarlet Letter” (1850), regarded this painting, which William Walters commissioned from Merle in 1859, as the finest illustration of his novel. Set in Puritan Boston, the novel relates how Hester Prynne was publicly disgraced and condemned to wear a scarlet letter “A” for adultery. Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister who fathered her child, and Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s elderly husband, appear in the background.

Merle’s canvas reflects some of the same 19th-century historical interest in the Puritans as Hawthorne’s book, a fascination that reached its peak with the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863. By depicting Hester and her daughter, Pearl, in a pose that recalls that of the Madonna and Child, Merle underlines “The Scarlet Letter”’s themes of sin and redemption.

Read More

Surrender

drewJanuary 28th, 2011Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, Music Biz, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
IMG_8172

Luke 22:42

42“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Surrender.  It’s an interesting word.  It’s most commonly used in a military setting, meaning you give up the fight, to declare to an opponent that they have won, or to relinquish control because of force.  It could also mean to abandon or give up an idea or intention, or to lay down your rights. When I think about the word surrender, I picture a bloody field complete with soldiers muddy and exhausted.  I picture faces completely resigned to the fact that they can’t go on, that any further attempt to fight would be futile.  They throw down their weapons and their hands shoot up in the air to show their commitment to the loss.  Depending on which side you’re on is the difference in victory or defeat, joy or fear, life or death.

However, when we surrender our lives to Christ we don’t die, we live, we’re not defeated and instead WE are victorious.  The battle field with which you’ve wrestled with God my be bloodied by your stubbornness or arrogance, but when you come to the realization that it’s futile to fight with the One who loves you most, you too will resign all efforts to oppose His will for your life.  You’ll throw down every weapon or excuse and your hands will shoot up in the sky to show your commitment to Christ and His leadership in your life.  Jesus perfectly models surrender for us in this passage from Luke 22 and I think to remain committed to a life of surrender, it’s something we do every single day.

Father, accept my bowed head, and broken and contrite heart. My eyes closed and hands raised in surrender to You and Your will.  Forgive me for ever fighting or wrestling with You over my plans versus Yours for me.  I know You want the best for me and I lay my life down for You to do with what You want.  I relinquish my rights, and declare You Lord of my life and I pray as You did Lord Jesus, ‘not my will, but yours be done’.

For Further Study:

Matthew 10:39:

39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

* The Picture above is one I took of a woman worshipping at the Temple ruins at Capernaum (Peter’s hometown) near the sea of Galilee.  Click on the image for the full image.

Read More

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

drewJanuary 13th, 2011Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, Worship1 Comment
IMG_0823

This past Christmas season I was so overwhelmed with the joy of family, the warmth of nostalgia, and even the perfect “white” Christmas.  We didn’t see a lot of snow, but it was enough to make Norman Rockwell feel inspired.  I am a blessed man, that was the thought that kept playing in my mind as tears rolled down my face after watching my favorite movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”.  My heart recounted a list of all the things wonderful in my life.  At the top were my beautiful little girls, my loving wife, my amazing family, my church and all the community around us.  Just as I was having this moment “counting my blessings” as it were, I heard myself sobbing and realized that there was more to my tears than thankfulness.  Deep in my soul I was weeping for all the children around the world without a warm place to lay, a meal to eat, a family to love or a God to plead to.  My wife asked me if I was ok, noticing that I had gone from a simple crooked smile and occasional tear to out right water works.  In one split second I went from thankfulness to brokenness for those in need.  I felt convicted that because of all the blessings God had given us, I had been blinded to the great need around the world.  Only a few months back I had spent 10 days in Haiti, surrounded by beautiful children, some orphans with joy in their hearts because of the hope they’d been given by their caretakers and others with a vacant stare of numb loss.  My heart had made a quick leap from my two girls to all of those children.  These weren’t kids on a charity card or fundraising television broadcast, but faces and names and personalities I’d been blessed to hold, play with, and care for.  It’s amazingly sad how quickly we can forget the world of need around us, or at least put it out of our minds and return to our American nirvana.

As I type, as you read, children, men and women eek out meager lives of survival.  Even in booming economies or bustling international cities, people of all nations seek to survive.  If not physically from malnutrition or the crisis of natural disaster, from the emptiness of life without a Savior.  I found myself weeping over their needs physical and spiritual – feeling hopeless my sadness changed to prayers for them and giving them to the only One who can truly meet those needs.  As much as I loved being with those children and caring for them, it is nothing to the love that God has for them, for me.  It’s not enough to pray, we must go, we must do all that we can, but our mission doesn’t begin looking at a map, instead it may be weeping over their need and seeking the Father for next steps.  This Christmas season, I wept and remembered those in need. Next year I may be there in person, don’t know. My prayer however, is that I remember that Jesus came to be “God with us” and until the world has heard of his life, death and resurrection, and we as believers have loved the least of these as “unto Christ”, I’ll continue to weep for those in need and obey the Lord’s command to “go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of Jesus and teaching them all that He has taught us”.

* The photo above is one I took in the Sister’s Of Mercy Orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti.  She never smiled or showed any reaction or emotion at all. Her perfect face and lack of response made me think she looked like a little baby doll.  I can’t look at this picture without feeling the weight of that place and the needs so great every where you look.

Read More

Transparent Leadership

drewJanuary 7th, 2011Art, Blog, Featured, Leadership, The Church1 Comment
iStock_000013160309Small

Romans 7:17-20 (Message)

17 -20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

I’ve always loved this scripture because it makes me not feel so bad about myself.  If Paul can be this candid and blunt – totally transparent about how he struggles with his sin, than I can too.  It’s always been comforting knowing that this amazing saint was such a screw up .  Why is it then that we pastors so often come across like we know everything, like we’ve figured out this faith, and we can ‘answer any question you’d like to ask’? Whether you know it or not the world looks at us pastors and thinks we’re fake.  According to a new study on what non-Christians think about us, overwhelmingly, they think our lives and words are empty, so much so this study ended up as a book called “UnChristian”.  How did this “perfect” posture become our example to lead people in their faith journeys?  If Paul could openly write this honest confession to those he was trying to mentor in church leadership, why can’t we be transparent about who we are and how we struggle?  The world doesn’t have a problem with the fact that we make mistakes and are human, they have a problem with how we deal with those mistakes, how we hide from truth instead of humbly embracing it and dealing with our sin honestly.  Perhaps that’s how Paul was able to attract and reach so many, because he wasn’t the haughty, perfect, pious Pharisee he used to be, but instead just a broken sinner with a loving and forgiving God.

We so often live and worship as though we’re pleading with God to come near with one hand and holding Him off with the other, what’s our problem? Why is this Christian life so hard to live? Why do we sometimes feel like Paul, going crazy in the cycle of faith and fear or living holy or heathen?  Only Jesus was able to walk this line of humanity and holiness perfectly and that’s why we need Him so desperately.  He gives us the grace to own our failures and the truth to help us change. 

You may not see the inconsistency that we as Christians can so often portray but the world does, in fact if you’re a pastor – your church does. Many business books talk about leading strong, making decisions and staying the course, even if you’ve made a bad decision or regret how you’ve led, don’t show weakness, but keep your head up and keep going in the same direction. That’s not good leadership, that’s arrogance and a HUGE lack of awareness – in fact it’s sin.  People may be littered in your wake as you’ve forged ahead in your decisions to succeed, but souls lay casualties in your path from your calloused heart to the Spirit and insatiable ego to do more – Please STOP! Don’t forget that people, are your mission, not your strategy to grow or come across as in control.  And for the love, please admit your mistakes and brokenness before those you lead.  It’s what Paul did, He didn’t seem to have a problem owning his mistakes and talking about them, airing them and apologizing for them.  Let’s not try to come off as perfect or like we’ve figured out every mystery of life and the universe, but instead open our eyes and be honest about our struggles or mistakes and, like Paul, talk about it, lead with humility and transparency – brokenness, only then will the world, and your church, see the beauty and redemption in our God.

Read More