Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back from summer break:

Contentment…do you ever think about contentment? Over the last few weeks I’ve been considering this question. Am I content? Or do I mask discontentment in a quest for more stuff, eat more, buy more (no one say anything about shoes!) do more, on and on it goes.

Is contentment an acceptance of our circumstances? Is it just a passive action “I give up, nothing will change?” I don’t think so. Admiral Stockdale said something in a great book, Good to Great, that summed it up for me: “Never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end--which you can never afford to lose--with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” To me that is contentment; it’s not trying to convince myself that being overweight, out of shape and in debt is OK…just be content. Contentment is not an excuse for idleness or laziness, it’s an acknowledgment that things can be better and taking the discipline and fortitude to make the changes.

Or in some instances, it’s trusting God. Take the Apostle Paul for example. While in prison one day he prayed and the earth shook and the gates opened; he walked free. However, when put in prison again, he spent the rest of his life there. It is in this prison that Paul says “I have learned to be content in all circumstances.” Paul didn’t quit trying, he did lose faith. You see he knew in the end he would prevail and he kept doing what he knew to do, he shared the gospel. He didn’t let his circumstances dictate his attitude.

What are you called to do? Do the people around you feel inspired to move forward or dragged down by discontentment? You may be in the fight of your life, with a disease or some other circumstance, don’t lose faith!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

27 tough questions pastors ask

Every once in a while you read a book and think, "this is a resource I can use." There are numerous books out there for Pastors to use. Many tout answers to the church's toughest questions or a Pastor's biggest issues, few deliver. Dick Hardy's new book 27 Tough Questions Pastors Ask is one of the books that delivers. I am an avid reader and often teased about the number of books I read and those teasing swear that I can't remember all the information I've read. However, 27 Tough Questions is a book I will will remember and refer to often.

Hardy has organized the book in a very easy to navigate fashion. It reminds me of Bill Hybel's book Axioms. Short chapters, with concise and well written points. For example, we are currently in the process of interviewing a new staff member. I have paper clipped this section of his book. Hardy doesn't just "talk" about hiring he gives sample questions and specific guidance. "Get a very specific answer as to why he is leaving his current position. Force him to talk beyond 'I just feel God is moving me on.' In 99% of the cases, there is something there you need to know." And, if we make a mistake, the very next chapter is "Dismissing Staff", we're covered either way.

On a personal note, I am a staff pastor, often our positions are overlooked or negated by others...we're not considered "real" pastors. I have met Dick Hardy in person and through his book you feel his connection with all Pastors. He values the local church and understands the impact that the church has on the community. His heart and goal is to empower ALL Pastors to be the best they can be. Clear out a permanent easy to access space for this one because you'll go back to it over and over again. Each time this book is well worth the read. This books is available at

Monday, May 3, 2010

Friends and shoes

I’ve been laboring over what to write in the blog…I know it’s been a while. Over the past couple of weeks I attended our denominational District council and visited one of my best friends in the world at her home in Dallas. As I reflect on these two occasions I have plenty for which to be thankful. So, debate settled…blogging on thankfulness
At our district council I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from other ministers in our area. God created us to live in fellowship and companionship with other humans. He is all about relationship. I’m always in awe of the men and women who daily live their lives leading others to God. It is such an honor to be able to be in this profession.
However, I want to express and be most thankful for my friends. My friend Emily and I have been friends for almost 20 years! What a gift! We’ve seen each other married, have children and now are living through sending our kids off to college. As I watch some of the young mothers overwhelmed with their little ones’ I think back to the many days and evenings that Emily and I spent together with other friends, supporting each other and asking advice. We shared in a babysitting co-op, our kids attended the same elementary and our husbands worked for the same company. It was a unique God ordained situation. The key in friendship like this is choosing to be vulnerable, making an effort to spend time together and get to know one another. Much the same as our relationship with the Lord, we have to spend time together, stay in touch and be vulnerable. He wants to know us. In John 15 Jesus calls us friend. His description is someone who knows his father’s business, who obeys his commands and learns from Him.
So how do I know God’s business? I stay in touch. The only way I know what’s up with Emily is through communicating with her. We all have our friends with whom we’ve lost touch; the only way this happens with God is if we move. He doesn’t move, he never leaves us, he’s always there and he doesn’t change, but we have to stay in contact. I want to be that friend. I want to be a friend of God! Do you?

I had to have an addendum .... While in Dallas I saw the perfect shoe…maybe not perfect but a great shoe! Emily and I have many things in common, we love TV, a good cupcake and to shop, especially for shoes. I don’t know if it shows restraint that I walked away from these, because I still think about them. Is that obsession? I even drove out of my way to a little boutique to see if they had them in KC. If they did I was going to spiritualize it into some “God ordained” thing I didn’t know if someone else has ever faced a similar obsession? I wish I could get some great spiritual lesson out of this, not sure there is one. But these are a great pair of shoes!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Last blog I talked about my bout with anger: I’m happy to report that Eric and I are good. It did make for a great conversation about only asking questions that you wanted a truthful answer to, or at least don’t ask questions you don’t want answered truthfully.

This week I’ve been reading about ungodliness. According to Jerry Bridges ungodliness as an attitude toward God, “ungodliness may be defined as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory or of one’s dependence on God.” How do I live my “everyday life” thinking of God always, totally dependent on God? I think this is what Paul meant when he said pray without ceasing, and it’s hard to wrap my mind around. Always, all the time, every moment, dependent on God, that’s how I want to live, but do I?

I’ve spent my life trying to be independent; I’ve raised my children to be independent. Now, be dependent. This Christian walk is truly a journey. I guess instead of following a map that we have control over we need to invest in GPS. That way we are always plugged into Him. We learned to actually hear and obey that voice that says, “off course, please turn around.” I think He is speaking to us like that. Maybe that’s the picture of Godliness, we hear and obey the voice, however, more often than I would like, I mute the voice to continue on my course that seems better or quicker…Oh God that we would hear your voice and make those course corrections soon, and quickly so that we would know quickly the way you would have us to walk.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why Blog???

OK, for several years now, yes I said years, I've considered writing a blog. My first thought is, "why would anyone want to read what I am writing?" feels a bit presumptuous. I am caving to the electronic peer pressure, however, and this is the first entry to my blog. Who knew there were so many decisions to make when setting up a blog? What will it be called? My teenage daughter suggested: A Day in the Life of a Middle-Aged Mom. What!! It was quickly followed by, "lol, I love you." As you may have guessed, this whole conversation takes place on text. We humans just converse through the typed written word--blogging, texting... I chose Lisa's Leanings. My son, also a teenager, expressed his feelings with a stifled guffaw. He couldn't think of anything better though. Once a title is chosen, a color scheme and design is picked and then I can begin writing.

Why now? I've been reading a book, Respectable Sins, Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, by Jerry Bridges. This week in my Sunday morning class I will begin a teaching series on this book. It's a great time to write about what God is teaching me as I begin to look at my "respectable" sins. It's very easy to point the finger, as I'm reading, at others I think these particular sins may represent, but I've been challenged to hold up the mirror to myself. This self reflection enables me to see the places God can work. Here is an example of where God is at work:

Last night, on my Facebook, a friend posted pictures from her wedding 21 years ago, in which I was a bridesmaid. As I looked at the pictures I realized I was 50 lbs lighter back then. It was more than a little depressing. I looked at my loving husband and said, "do you wish I were 50 lbs. lighter now?" He said, "don't you?" OK, I don't think he meant it the way it came out, but I was IMMEDIATELY angry! I think it could be justified as righteous anger, too! I went to bed and pretended to go to sleep. No more talking to him. As God would have it, he began talking to me in my sulking state. Bringing to mind the VERY chapter I just read entitled, "ANGER." In this chapter Mr. Bridges encourages us to ask ourselves, "How would God have me respond to this situation? How can I best glorify God by my response?" I really wanted God to side with me. Instead, He is growing me, stretching me, and this morning in our regular time together we had quite the conversation. I have repented to the Lord, but have not apologized to my husband :-) I will, I will....