We cook. We eat. We bond. And the IF: Table questions are the secret sauce

Last weekend IF: Gathering again rocked Austin and thousands of women around the world. Last year I reviewed the Gathering here. This year, whether you attended IF: or not, I invite you to roll out the IF: experience each month around your own IF: Table–6 women, 4 questions, 2 hours.
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 IF: God is real…”Take the land!” by simply setting a table. In his famous description of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 I really think that the apostle Paul should have included a knife and a fork—so powerful is the opportunity for bringing God’s kingdom at a dinner table.

In today’s culture where we feel stressed by work and caregiving and meals tend to be hurried or ignored, where we are painfully aware that our table pales beside HGTV, it takes a bold stroke of Spirit-led intentionality to make space for cooking and serving. But the rewards are rich.

Our friend Brooke Axtell made an eloquent appeal last night on the Grammys to women trapped in abuse

Please join me in spreading this video and Brooke’s story within your circle of influence. And praying for women to be set free. Also, please pray for Brooke as she stands against powers of great darkness.

When Brooke was seven her Mom, Mollie, was hospitalized with a severe reaction to environmental poisoning. Her Dad traveled extensively for his business so they decided to put their two sons and Brooke in the care of a series of nannies.

One, a seminary student they thought they could trust, repeatedly sexually abused Brooke, even trafficked her to other men, as she recalled in a piece titled “What I Know of Silence,” written for an anthology of women’s writing in 2012. She was so ashamed it was years before she shared her experience with her family.

Last night, after a clip by President Obama on the subject of violence against women, Brooke briefly shared her story of another, more recent episode of sexual abuse by her boyfriend.

How do we speak from failure with integrity?

WorldproofingWe who follow Jesus have a high calling. And often a high privilege of telling others about him and his way of life, equipping or simply encouraging them on their journey. But we are all sinners, desperately in need of God’s saving grace. So when our lives haven’t aligned with the way of Jesus how do we decide if we still should speak (or write) about following Jesus in that way?

For example, How can we best honor Jesus and speak with integrity to our children about sexual purity if we were not sexually pure?

Or should we counsel and minister to other couples about how to have a strong marriage if we’ve struggled in our marriage or been separated or divorced? What if we’ve committed adultery?

Should we counsel others on how to help their children love and follow Jesus when our children have not followed him? Do we have anything to say? Should we keep silent? If not, how might we speak with integrity?

I probably have as many questions as answers on this so I’d love for you to think and engage with me on this topic…even give me your advice.

The Best Christian Response to Terror

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Another beheading. More Christians raped, murdered and fleeing ISIS in terror. The enemy wants us to feel powerless. Hunker down. Circle the wagons.

But Jesus always calls us to something richer and life-giving, even in the midst of death. After we’ve written a check, after we’ve gathered in our churches and prayed for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, after we’ve signed petitions…then what? What can we actually DO in a hands on way?

valentines-day_1100010892-1013intWith earthly love, often what you experience at first is not so much love, but what author Lauren Winner calls ‘ego blast.’ You are excited that someone so great is into you! But until you come to appreciate his beauty it isn’t really love, it’s using someone for your own gain.

In the same way, in our relationship with the Lord, we first long for what he can give us–salvation from hell, relief from suffering, material provisions…Jonathan Edwards reflected that religious people find God useful, but Christians find God beautiful.–Dee Brestin, Idol Lies

Idol Lies (Worthy)

If God doesn’t condemn me, then why all the regret? Why the feeling that I just don’t measure up or have what it takes?

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What a relief. God never labels me a Loser. He never dismisses me. Writes me off. Withdraws from relationship.

Love Word Sinking Showing Loss Of Love And Broken Heart

But it is one of the Holy Spirit’s jobs to convict us all of sin. And we’ve all felt his sharp elbows in our guilty little ribs. So what is the difference here? How can we live the difference between conviction that brings a proper response to the grave reality of our sin without getting sucked out to sea in an undertow of self-condemnation and regret?

The Tyranny of the Expected Response…What lies beneath?

Not so long ago…if someone phoned you and you didn’t answer…they just called you back.
Then, If someone emailed you…you responded within a day or two. All was well.
Then came instant messenger and Facebook messaging. We see you are logged in on Facebook so we kind of expect you to respond…
Then came a river of  tweets rushing by…I know you’re always checking your feed…Tweet me back!

Then came texting. Immediate. In the moment commentary. Can you believe that touchdown?! And this:

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Now there is a demanding expectation. Answer me, dang it!

What it takes to move people from here to there

(“Best of” blog)

After months of transition, job search, selling a home, finding a home, a month of waiting for the new home sale to close, we have finally, actually, irrevocably MOVED.

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What seemed so daunting and risky and unknown has become, step by step, reality. Actually, God is in the business of moving us all from HERE to THERE. And as Bill Hybels pointed out at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last week: the essence of leadership is to lead people from HERE, the current reality, to THERE, the much preferred future.

IF: the (mostly) under-40’s rock at their first un-conference

(“Best of” blog)
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I wrote this review of the first IF Gathering in Austin, Texas right after it happened last February (2014). As the banner above reads, they’ll be meeting again in February, 2015. I encourage you to gather there or online. A fresh wind is blowing out of Austin! And you can find out more here.

The 1200-seat Austin Municipal Auditorium sold out in under an hour. So they offered live streaming to anyone with a computer. And from around the world 20,000 more registered, many of those inviting friends and even churches full of women. It was as IF the organizers had blown a giant whistle and thousands had come running…to what no one was exactly sure. Not even the organizers.

The Dark Side of Creativity: Procrastination

hand draws brain signIs your brain like a German autobahn with lots of slick, European sports-car thoughts…zooming in out of nowhere…inspiring…creating…(distracting)? Creativity is a joy to give away–writing, cooking, festive table settings, gardening, crafts, ministry projects, lesson preps—all these rich gifts God has given us. But there’s a downside too.

To Grads. From Dallas Willard. How To Live a Successful Life.

(“Best of” blog)

It’s high graduation season—the time when Valedictorians and VIPs rifle their mental files for Something Significant to say about new beginnings and the quest for the good life. A couple of years ago on our radio program The Things That Matter Most I interviewed Dallas Willard about how we can live a successful life.Patty at Commencement

The interview began with questions about an essay in Atlantic Monthly. Journalist Joshua Wolf Shenk was allowed access to the archives of The Grant study, a long range Harvard research project that asked, What Makes us Happy? What should one do to live a successful life?