len on November 9th, 2017

For neither circumcision counts for anything,
nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

Gal. 6.15

John 1 is a recapitulation of Genesis 1. But now its Word and Spirit in creation. John does not mention the fall but assumes it. Time is compressed and fluid in this creation account. But John is clearly leaning toward restoration – all things will be summed up in Christ and God’s original purpose for creation restored. The light will shine on all humankind. Those who receive him will be renewed in God’s original design – that we should rule (Gen. 1.26).
John 2 we join a wedding feast. That should trip our memories of the broad movement of history toward another banquet in Rev. 19 – the marriage supper of the lamb. John’s vision is very broad – from creation to new creation, Genesis to Revelation. John 2 – water to wine. This is what new creation looks like: God’s power comes on ordinary things and they are made new! A new heaven and a new earth are coming and we will all be dancing!

John 3 the feast comes to Israel. But what is flesh is flesh and what is spirit is spirit. Israel’s teachers have been immersed in a textbook, but divorced from the Spirit. Suddenly renewal is coming to God’s people, who failed to recognize the Messiah when he arrived (Jn 1.11). Now the light dawns on God’s people Israel. The placement of the story of John the Baptist in this chapter allows John to cue us again to where this story is going – “bride and bridegroom” v. 29.

John 4. In ancient Israel the well was the place where weddings were celebrated. This time the marriage feast is not just for Israel but the universal banquet table opens up to include foreigners and outcasts. Isaiah’s vision of a universal gospel is fulfilled. All peoples and tribes and tongues will come to the new city, and all the nations will be healed (Rev 21-22)


len on November 9th, 2017

len on November 6th, 2017

coverThe manuscript is off to the publisher. I’m going to post a link to the Introduction and first chapter here. And this is the Abstract —

Our organizations are failing; as leaders we’re struggling. Nothing seems reliable anymore. How do we respond to adaptive challenges? Why do we feel so lost?

The Franklin expedition failed because they carried their baggage with them, a non-adaptive response to extreme conditions. In contrast Jesus sent the disciples out with nothing to sustain them. How do we get comfortable with vulnerability? Living on the edge is a journey into experimentation and adaptation. It requires new capacities and skills from leaders and teams. Even leaders get lost. Who survives and why? How do our mental maps limit us?

Iceland’s Silfra fissure is formed by the pulling apart of tectonic plates. Modernity has fragmented and broken into post-modernity and we feel the pressure. Merely managing the crisis is not sustainable. Instead we need to open space, finding a way to withdraw and reflect. Our paradigms of progress are oppressive. Jesus told us that we would lose our lives to find them. We move down to rise up.

How will the future find us? Living on edges creates tension, and tension generates wakefulness. Old assumptions about growth and leadership no longer apply. Our landscape has gone from solid to liquid. When we can no longer read maps, we train navigators. We work with tools and practices that help us “read” the landscape.

Change is a constant condition, and local knowledge has become paramount. Innovators start before they are ready and develop prototypes to test new conditions. New leadership types are appearing: poets and synergists and boundary-crossers. Listening and observing together we invite a new future. I describe organizations that found a new future.

Goal-posts have shifted and the field has become fluid. I offer a framework for understanding organizational culture and examine the role of leaders in emergent conditions. In self-organizing systems leaders disrupt existing patterns, encourage novelty and act as sensemakers. Leadership is less about decisive action and more about shaping environments.

Pilgrimage begins when we discover a yearning for something more. The final phase is arrival at the beginning and “knowing the place for the first time.” The metaphor of exile fits the experience of leadership in our time. What feels like a closed space might be a womb: a place of transformation and rebirth. The One on the throne says, “Behold! I make all things new!”

Broken Futures – CH 1 2017

len on October 20th, 2017

In the beginning was
the song of love.
Alone in empty nothingness
and space
It sang itself through
vaulted halls above
Reached gently out to
touch the Father’s face.
And all the tracklessness
where worlds would be
Cried “Father” through the
aching void. Sound tore
The distant chasm, and eternity
Called back — “I love you, Son —
sing Troubadour!”
His melody fell upward
into joy
And climbed its way
in spangled rhapsody.
Earthmaker’s infant stars
adored his boy,
And blazed his name through
every galaxy.
“Love,” sang the Spirit Son
and mountains came.
More melody, and life
began to grow.
He sang of light, and Darkness
fled in shame
Before a universe
in embryo.

“The Singer”

len on September 19th, 2017

And this is my prayer,
that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight .
Phil. 1.9

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
he pastures his flock among the lilies.
Song of Songs 6.3

Speaking out of Philippians 1 last week, I focused on v 9-11. What is the relationship between love and knowledge? This letter and Paul’s own life help in exploring that question. It’s a deeply human and deeply spiritual question, and it resonates in this letter with the warmth of Paul’s own heart.

Along his rough and tumble road, Paul ran suddenly into Jesus. His heart was crushed then expanded by the experience. Jesus and his kingdom became the passion of his life. ANd in that passion this question loomed large, because when we fall in love everything changes. It’s impossible to put it into words — and so, we try to put it into words. Other lovers have made the attempt.

I am filled with you.
Skin, blood, bone, brain and soul.
There’s no room for lack of trust, or trust,
Nothing in this existence but that existence.

ANd other apostles have explored the relationship of love and knowledge, a relationship which has only become more complex since the Enlightenment. From one of his hundred sermons on the Song of Songs, Bernard of Clairvaux writes,

Let us love affectionately, discreetly, intensely.
We know that the love of the heart, which we have said is affectionate,
is sweet indeed, but liable to be led astray
if it lacks the love of the soul.

And the love of the soul is wise indeed,
but fragile without that love which is called the love of strength.
“In Cantica” Sermon 20

What is love without knowledge? It goes astray. What is knowledge without love? It makes proud.

Love without knowledge fills the space with errors and guesses. And so you have Buddhists spinning prayer wheels and trying to empty their minds. And you have Hindus worshipping cows and stone idols.

Love – but without knowledge.

And love without knowledge also gives us every kind of moral error. Because the love of the heart is sweet, but it needs to be protected with the love of the soul – or the spirit. Otherwise, we just follow where our affections lead.
And in our time, that is generating a LOT of error and a lot of pain.

So the love of the heart is protected by the soul. And the SOUL’S love – is the wisdom of God. The Holy Spirit. But it’s fragile unless the soul has a clear vision – knowledge and revelation. And so these three loves travel together – a three-fold cord. The love of the heart — the love of the soul — and revelation.

And this is something of what Paul is getting at in his prayer here in ch 1. He prays for us for discernment. A most uncommon gift. Discernment calls us to hold the Word and the Spirit together. It calls us to maturity. Love becomes mature as we work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

Lots more to say — this was more or less the first half of my sermon.

len on September 16th, 2017

“Attention is a strange thing. It’s often thought that the way to retain power or influence is to hold onto people’s attention—to keep it active, front and center. That’s how iPhone rose to prominence, after all: by ripping a hole in popular understanding of mobile telephony and introducing a totally new paradigm.

“But over time, active attention recedes into the background. It has to. Extraordinary events, products, and ideas cannot survive as wild curiosities. They must be made ordinary. Such is the fate of every influential media form, from the electric light to the automobile to the refrigerator to the television to the smartphone.

“Media’s true power comes from this habituation. When everyone relies on electricity. When everyone unloads a dishwasher. When everyone commutes by personal automobile. When everyone connects and reads and works and plays on a smartphone…”

The Empire of Apple. The Atlantic. Sept. 12, 2017

len on September 15th, 2017


len on September 15th, 2017


len on September 9th, 2017

image“Because the very foundations of American society, including the family, are crumbling, we MUST seek and find strong leaders. But we need a new kind of leader—beyond the celebrity, beyond the pragmatist—to show us the way to the abundant life, the food life that God originally intended for his children and still longs for us to have..

“No medium or method of conveying the Christian gospel can meet people’s basic needs for recognition, involvement, worthiness, growth, and indeed salvation itself without the loving give and take of person-to-person interaction over a long period of time. This is what community really means, and this is exactly where popular religion and its leaders are not successful.

“In a secular society, in a world where homelessness is the norm, the only way religion can really be “successful” is to provide a home for the homeless—a family that includes not must my kind of people, but God’s kind of people, who love him with everything they have, and who love their neighbor as much as they love themselves. The church does need to become God’s ideal family, both in word and indeed. And its leaders will have to be heroic leaders ho really live and exemplify the life they preach and teach, whose authority is recognized in their nobility, in their concrete modeling of the love of God, the only force that can save and transform a world plagued with the consequences of sin.”

Richard Quebedeaux, 1982

len on September 9th, 2017

The inertia of the pragmatic church is often startling. When a movement grows in size and popularity it becomes like an ocean liner, requiring a huge expanse of space in order to negotiate any change in course. New movements are like lifeboats, small and flexible, diverse and empowered, and respond rapidly to their new environments. This is particularly true with a decentered movement like the emergent church. New movements don’t have the vested interest in system maintenance that older movements possess; they have less to lose and so are willing to experiment and take risks. Margaret Wheatley, in “Leadership and the New Science,” comments that we need explorers, those willing to venture where there are no maps. We need tinkerers.

“Tinkerers have skills but no clear plans. They make do with the materials at hand. Tinkering opens us to what’s possible in the moment.”

“Life’s tinkering has direction. It tinkers toward order – toward systems that are more complex and more effective. The process is exploratory and messy.”

“All this messy playfulness creates relationships that make available more: more expressions, more variety, more stability, more support. Who we become together will always be different than who we were alone. Our range of creative expression increases as we join with others.”