UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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A. B. Simpson’s Story

A. B. Simpson’s Story

People know this pictured spiritual leader as A.B. Simpson, especially those who associate themselves with a Christian denomination called the Christian & Missionary Alliance.  But, before that he was simply a young man named Albert. And Albert was one who exemplified The Empowered Life. Albert was born in Canada in 1843.  He was raised in a strict religious tradition, and was converted to Christ under the ministry of a visiting evangelist from Ireland when he was a teenager. Physically frail as a child, he wasn’t exactly the ideal picture of someone who would be thrive in ministry. But he was determined as he prepared for the ministry.  He had his first pastoral appointment in Ontario, and by age 30 he had settled in the United States as the pastor of the largest Presbyterian church at the time. As a Canadian, he played a major role in healing the divisions in

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Living Out the Fullest Meaning of the Presence of God

Yesterday we started examining The Empowered Life. We acknowledge that we are tired of living this upright kind of life and that we have come to the end of ourselves.  We say with our mouths that we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but how much do we really hold that to be real?  The fact is, Jesus – through the sanctifying Spirit – is able to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  Not only that, He can empower us to do great things for the Kingdom, much as he did at Pentecost for a group of ordinary disciples. But this can happen nothing short of an encounter with the Supernatural. The Presence of God However, in order to embrace the empowered life we have to tap in to the resources that God makes available for all believers.  And frankly that scares us.  Because when

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The Empowered Life Stream

The Empowered Life Stream

Is anyone tired?  Not the kind of tired that comes from staying up late last night or from having a busy week at work.  I’m talking about the kind of tired that is bone-weary, the kind of tired that says, “I’m ready for the next world.  Jesus, take me home now.” Do you feel that you are sludging along in a field of molasses, weary in this struggle of just trying to live life, let alone an “upright” life? The kind of tired that no amount of exercise or eating right or developing good habits or other people can solve? I know I experience that.  Every single day. Not hopelessness, just resignation. We’ve heard it sung from the church risers and we’ve heard it shouted from the pulpit:  Jesus, through the empowering, sanctifying Holy Spirit, is able to do for us what we are not able to do for ourselves. 

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The Abiding Life Stream

The Abiding Life Stream

The last few days we’ve been talking about the New Life.  Yesterday we heard John’s story.  Now we’re moving on to the second stream of Spiritual Leadership: the Abiding Life. What exactly do we mean when we talk about the Abiding Life?  Basically our main idea is this: Both the receiving of the sacraments (baptism and communion) and human intuition can be means by which believers experience intimacy with God; however, both sacrament and intuition can potentially lead to idolatry. Neither is a guarantor of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Ultimately God is the initiator, and we are respondents, not the other way around.  We are in this journey of an abiding life with God. Included within this Abiding Life are the Spiritual Disciplines: prayer fasting meditation worship and Scripture reading, to name a few. We use vivid images like the Vine and the Branches of John 15. Will

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John Newton’s Story

John Newton’s Story

This post is part of the blog series on Spiritual Leadership.  Our Freedom to Lead International team is currently in India doing our final module on the subject to church and ministry leaders from all parts of India and Nepal.  These discussions on this blog are a way to invite you into the experience. I’d like to introduce you to John.  I’ve never met John personally, though I have benefitted from his influence. Perhaps his story will influence you as well. John’s life is a great example of one who embraced the New Life in Christ. This New Life was not something that was not just born overnight, but, rather, involved a complicated journey.  This journey that spanned several decades brought him to the place of being able to touch many people through the gift of music. Although he had heard some stories from the Bible due to the faithfulness of

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The New Life Stream

The New Life Stream

This is part of a blog series on Spiritual Leadership.  As you are interacting with the themes, please be praying for the Freedom to Lead team that is currently in India and Nepal this month teaching on this important subject with national leaders there. October 15, 1974. As an elementary student I went to the Good News Club after school, and through the story of the Wordless Book, I prayed and invited Jesus into my heart.  Today I celebrate 40 years of being a follower of Jesus. July 27, 1972.  I was a teenager on a destructive path.  On this day Jesus radically changed my life. April 6, 2000.  I was a college student that thought he knew everything.  I was a philosophy major, after all.  But then someone shared Jesus with me and I surrendered my life to the One who is THE way, the truth, and the life.  My

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Of Bullock Carts and the Tension in Spiritual Leadership

Of Bullock Carts and the Tension in Spiritual Leadership

Spiritual Leadership Tell me, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of spiritual growth or discipleship?  A solitary individual meditating or praying?  People who are always ready to tell others about who God is and what He has done?  The woman who reaches out to her neighbors in their time of need?  People gathered together doing service on behalf of their church?  Healings, miracles, and speaking in tongues?  Administering the sacraments? When we talk about Spiritual Leadership we talk about something that addresses both the leader’s personal spiritual development as well as his or her role in the spiritual development of others. Those “streams” we’ve been talking about are different images of what a healthy spiritual life looks like.  They also give definition to Jesus’ command to “make disciples,” the emphasis being to lead others to “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” Jesus said that

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Spiritual Traditions: Living in the In-Between and Our Common Story

Spiritual Traditions: Living in the In-Between and Our Common Story

The Old Testament is rich with stories about a God who chooses a people for Himself and pursues relationship with them. Intertwined in these stories is the promise of an Anointed One who would come and make all things new, both for the present age and the age to come.  There is about a 400-year gap between the Old Testament and the New Testament.  In that gap there seems to be silence, but we have to wonder if there wasn’t a certain anticipation. We have to wonder if within those pages of history in the in-between, as the Israelites were rebuilding their lives again following a time of a captivity and exile, they weren’t also solidifying their faith, holding that promise closely. 400-Year Gap Four hundred years later, enter John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the Anointed One, Jesus of Nazareth.  For 33 years Jesus walked this

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Four Years, Eight Modules. What is Freedom to Lead International doing that is really so unique? 

Four Years, Eight Modules. What is Freedom to Lead International doing that is really so unique? 

Spiritual Leadership This post is part of a series on Spiritual Leadership while our Freedom to Lead team is in India and Nepal this October. When FTL went into India for the first time in 2010 we knew we were committing to a specific group of church and ministry leaders for the long haul.  And they were committing to us.  Although our initial commitment was a four-year program that would feature eight leadership development modules and one-on-one mentoring, we really didn’t know just how much God would stretch and mold and use us for His purposes.  We heard the calling and had the vision.  We even had what we thought was a clear strategy for Phase 1 of this ministry.  We set out to make a dent on the world.  But I don’t think any of us really expected the impact it would have, both on our lives personally and

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Spiritual Leadership: Back to India and Nepal

Spiritual Leadership: Back to India and Nepal

This month (starting October 6) Freedom to Lead International will be back in India and Nepal! During our time there we will be doing various events throughout the region, culminating October 22-24 with our final leadership development module on Spiritual Leadership.  This module will complete Phase 1 of our ministry in India and Nepal.  We anticipate great things as we go from this place. The Story is not finished yet.   On this blog between now and October 31 we will be highlighting various aspects of Spiritual Leadership, and we invite you to be part of the conversation.  At the end of each post will be a short prayer request for the FTL team that is there. Topics on the blog will include: The Tension of Spiritual Leadership: Our Faithfulness and God’s Grace The New Life The Abiding Life The Empowered Life The Compassionate Life The Witnessing Life Historical Examples of Spiritual Leadership John

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The Coming Social Tsunami

Brendan Eich, co-founder and CEO of open source company Mozilla, was forced to resign this week after it came to light that he made a $1000 personal donation to the 2008 campaign seeking to ban same-sex marriage in California. Eich’s resignation was prompted after OkCupid, an online dating service, encouraged thousands of its customers to boycott Mozilla’s Firefox web browser. A spokesperson for the gay-rights activist company wrote, We are pleased that OkCupid’s boycott has brought tremendous awareness to the critical matter of equal rights for all individuals and partnerships: today’s decision reaffirms Mozilla’s commitment to that cause.” J. O’Dell, a gay San Francisco journalist, had a different perspective. Just before Eich resigned, O’Dell interviewed the Mozilla CEO; he described their interaction like this: It would be difficult to find two people more ideologically dissimilar, but no tension hangs in the air. I was happy that such an unconventional executive

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Hollywood’s Noah

Hollywood’s Noah

This month Hollywood is releasing a movie loosely based on the story of Noah. Muslims are complaining because it isn’t true to the Koran. Christians are complaining because it isn’t true to the biblical text.  And other people are complaining because they wish it wasn’t Russell Crowe who was cast as the leading role.  Fair enough. But let’s keep our minds open just a tad. Open enough to encourage dialogue instead of dismissing the movie altogether just because we think it’s just another Hollywood attempt that completely gets the facts wrong. There is power in storycentric communication– even when it is Hollywood’s version. The picture we Christians paint of Noah is that of a boat with a couple of cute giraffes sticking their heads out the window. And the hippos and monkeys are smiling. Always smiling. There’s a dove and rainbow somewhere in there and a catchy tune about “40 days and

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