Nearly 100,000 people have taken the 40-Day Prayer Challenge. So encouraged by the testimonies I’m hearing. Some amazing miracles! And I love that people are forming prayer circles with others! I think the summer months are a great time to do a 40-Day Challenge with family, friends, small group or a church-wide campaign.
Change of PACE + Change of PLACE = Change of Perspective.
That is my formula for fresh ideas. It’s so easy to get into a mental rut isn’t it? Once we’ve been in an environment for a while we stop noticing things. Psychologists call it inattentional blindness. We lose our ability to see things from the vantage point of a guest. And when that happens, we lose our creative edge. So how do we get it back? One of the simplest ways is changing pace or changing place.
Sometimes all it takes is a mental vacation. Edison used to get some of his best ideas after a nap. Sometimes visiting a different environment can get us new eyes. I still notice everything about every church and coffeehouse I visit. I’m always doing reconnaissance! The brilliant book, Geeks and Geezers, talks about great leaders being first-class noticers. We naturally notice more when we’re in a new environment because our reticular activating system is on red-alter. I love doing off-site meetings because where your butt sits affects how your brain thinks! I think trips to new places can wake us up to new realities that help us see our old reality differently! For some reason, some of my best ideas happen at 30,000 feet when I’m on an airplane.
Here are a few ideas to jump-start your right-brain:
1. Set your alarm two hours earlier than normal.
2. Visit an art gallery
3. Do a 24-hour silent retreat
4. Read a book on a topic you know nothing about.
5. Do a ten-minute stream of consciousness writing exercise.
There are dozes of other mechanisms to jump-start creativity, but you need to figure out what works for your personality. Routines are healthy and holy. In fact, we call them spiritual disciples. But once the routine becomes routine, you need to break the routine!
The French writer, Jacques Réda, had a peculiar habit. He used to walk the streets of Paris with the intention of seeing one new thing each day. It was the way he renewed his love for the city. That’s how we renew our love for anything!
I love historical fiction. And I realize that we get a little gun shy when it comes to biblical narrative because we don’t want to “read into” the text anything that isn’t there. But that also means we don’t “get out” as much as we could or should because our reading lacks imagination.
Frank Viola has just released a new book called God’s Favorite Place on Earth that releases May 1. It’s a creative slant that will jar you out of your “Christian rut” and give you new eyes for looking at EVERYTHING. It’s a quick, inspiring, and entertaining read. It’s told from the vantage point of Lazarus post-resurrection and near-death, his second death.
If you get the book between May 1-7, you will also get 25 FREE GIFTS. Check it out: www.GodsFavoritePlace.com
I honestly believe that most people have at least one book in them. The problem is that many people go to the grave with their book still in them. Why? Nine times out of ten, they never finish the book because the never start it. I think the first chapter is the hardest chapter. It’s a downhill coast from there. You need to find a metaphor, find your voice. Then the book unfolds. Is it easy? No. It involves blood, sweat, and tears. And a lot less sleep. One key to writing is a book is setting your alarm very early in the morning! But if you do, the book will come out of you. And it’s NOT about how many copies you sell. If God has called you to write, then typing on a keyboard is an act of obedience. You are writing for an audience of one!
Isaiah 30:8 is one of my writing verses. It encapsulates why I write.
And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.
A witness forever. Did you catch that? I love that. A book is a message in a bottle that lands on distant shores. A book is a time capsule that future generations will discover. I hope my my great-great-grandchildren read what I wrote. It’ll give them a glimpse into my heart and mind a hundred years after I die.
A book is what I call asynchronous ministry. It exponentially expands your influence because it doesn’t have any spacetime restraints. You can only be in one place at one time! But books can be anywhere, anytime. Books are divine appointments waiting to happen. They enable supernatural synchronicities to occur. Somebody somewhere is reading something I wrote around the clock.
My prayer has always been this: Lord, put my books in the right hands at the right time. And the way God has answered that prayer is nothing short of amazing. Here’s a fun example. Megan Fox, the actress in Transformers, was caught with a copy of The Circle Maker by paparazzi in Brazil (scroll down). You just never know who God will use you to touch via writing. But that is the beauty of a book. Once it’s out of your hands and in His Almighty hands, anything can happen!
You have a book in you. I know you do! And God is calling it out the way he called Lazarus out of the tomb. Come out, book. Come out.
I can finally announce our speaking lineup for City Fathers on 06.06. You can also register at cityfathers.org.
I honestly believe this is one of the most significant events we’ve hosted as a church. Pastors, please come but don’t come by yourself. Bring your staff. I believe there is a generational blessing that will be passed on. It’s high time that we give honor where honor is due. So for one day we’ll sit at the feet of our city fathers. We’ll glean from their wisdom and we’ll ask for their blessing.
I know that most conferences are all about the latest and greatest. This is not that. This is about learning from those who have been faithful and fruitful for the long-haul. It’s going to be a banner day for the church-at-large in Washington, DC.
We always give moms and dads a small gift on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Honestly, it’s usually a little trinket or cake pop. Why not give them something a little more useful or meaningful? We’ve got a bulk discount on Praying Circles Around Your Children for the month of April.
Get 50 copies for $100 plus shipping here.
We are now taking applications for the protege program at National Community Church. It’s a year-long internship that involves mentorship in leadership. I love hanging out with our proteges talking about everything from sermon-planning to goal-setting! Interns also choose a ministry department and get a portfolio. It’s an amazing opportunity to lead and learn in a wide-variety of ministries–worship, kids, outreach, discipleship, and even Ebenezers Coffeehouse.
Today we celebrate Ebenezer’s Anniversary! What a ride! We opened the doors on March 15, 2006. To date, we’ve given away $675,000 in net profits. And we’re just getting started. Last year we served 65,516 cups of coffee alone! I don’t think Starbucks has to be nervous, but I think this model will be replicated in DC and beyond. In fact, our first affiliate in Charlotte, NC is in the works! The original mission was simple: coffee with a cause. It’s amazing how many people have experienced a divine appointment at Ebz!
This coffeehouse was once a crackhouse that we literally prayed circles around for five years! We had virtually no money and no people when God birthed the vision, but the more we prayed the more the price went down! We bought the property that was originally listed for $1 million for $325,000. Ebenezer’s took one miracle after another–each one bigger and crazier! It was a BHAP–big, hairy, audacious prayer!
On our coffee sleeves we inscribe SFSG. It stands for So Far So God. There is a long backstory, but its our translation of I Samuel 7:12. The Hebrew word Ebenezer means hitherto the Lord has helped us.
So far so God.
Tens of thousands of people have taken the 40-Day Prayer Challenge during Lent. It’s been a great way to ramp up for Easter. There are lots of churches that are going to leverage Draw the Circle leading up to Pentecost. You can’t plan Pentecost, but if you pray for ten days like the early believers did, Pentecost is bound to happen! Why not turn the 40 days between Easter and Pentecost into a 40-day prayer challenge?
If you want to do a 40-Day Prayer Challenge with your church or small group, check out the FREE resources and BULK DISCOUNT at thecirclemaker.com.
My trip to Israel was not a tour. It was a pilgrimage. There were so many holy moments that I lost count. I’m afraid we’ve lost the art of pilgrimage in Christianity. In Judaism, every able-bodied male was required to make three pilgrimages to Jerusalem every year. It was a spiritual journey, literally.
When we first landed in Tel Aviv, our Jewish guide, Ilan, told us that if we hadn’t been to the Holy Land we “read the Bible wrong.” He was right. It’s amazing how one-dimensional my understanding of Scripture was. There are nuances of Scripture that went right over my head like an inside-joke! The trip whet my appetite to study everything from Jewish culture to Israel’s geography. My takeaway verse is Matthew 9:13: “Go and learn what this means.” The trip gave me a three-dimensional understanding. As I read passages, I can now visualize them. As Saint Jerome observed, the Holy Land truly is the fifth gospel.
We had an incredible guide in Marc Turnage. And I’m so grateful for The Center for Holy Land Studies. I was exhausted at the end of every day, but it was so exhilarating. I honestly think that one pilgrimage to the Holy Land is probably worth ten years of sermons! We are thinking about designing an annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land for National Community Church. It was such a catalytic experience in my life that I want to facilitate it for others. It’s not convenient or cheap getting to Israel, but I think it’s worth every penny and every second.