Monday, August 29, 2011


One of the tricky "Can God do...?" questions you sometimes hear is, "Can God make two mountain peaks without a valley between them?" This is a question akin to, "Can God make a rock so big that he can't life it?" The answer to this kind of question is "God can do anything that is within his nature to do, and the fact that his nature does not allow contradiction is a positive trait not a negative one." But I digress. The main thing I want to talk about is how valleys come with the peaks.

Growing up in Alaska, I developed a love for Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. It rises up from the landscape in a daunting way, and can be seen from hundreds of miles around on a clear day. When I went to Colorado for college, I grew to appreciate the Rocky Mountain Range, as well. But, while the Rockies are formidable, experiencing the Rockies is not like experiencing McKinley. The difference? There are so many high peaks in the Rockies, that none stand out on the landscape quite like the solitary McKinley.

This is a subtlety, to be sure. But the artistic servant of Christ realizes that what makes a peak stand out is surrounding landscape, not so tall. If quietness gradually builds to a crescendo, the crashing of the cymbals has great impact. If it's nothing but crashing cymbals from beginning to end? Well, that's called noise. A ten thousand foot mountain rising from sea level seems more impressive than a twelve thousand footer with a base a mile above sea level. I was reminded of the difference between McKinley and the Rockies a few months ago, in a worship service. The worship team, in this particular case, led us in four "epic" songs in a row. By epic, I mean a song that is so significant, and meaning-full, that it rises above. (I'm sure you realize that not all songs are created equal.) I could appreciate the desire the leader had to string several of these large-magnitude songs together. But in a way, by putting them all together, the impact that any one of them could have had was lost. There was no longer a "peak." Everything was on a plane at higher elevation.

How does this apply? In various ways. It applies to the attendance rhythm of the year. If you have a high attendance every week, it won't be a high attendance any more. It will be your low attendance. It applies to personal "ups and downs." You can't always be "on top of it." There will be times when you experience less than "peak performance." It applies to all the ways we "express" ourselves through worship and teaching. I've said this to many pastors through the years, but there is no need for a teacher to "hit a home run" every weekend. I always coach, "Just get the bat on the ball. When you make solid contact, every now and then the ball will go out."

As a servant of Christ, don't become overly discouraged when things are "down." The valley may just be wonderfully setting up the next peak.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Had an interesting conversation the other day about the speed at which we sometimes move at CTK. As to their comfortability with the pace of change, the folks in the conversation represented the spectrum of possibilities, from early adopters to laggards. Some were "no go," some were "go slow," others were "go now." Each point of view had its rationale. As leaders in Christ's church, where should we fall on the spectrum? The answer: we should be moving at the pace of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we don't have a predetermined preference for fast or slow, now or later. Our preference is to be in sync with what God is doing, and when. Our desire is to be on His schedule, and sometimes that mean speeding up, and sometimes that means slowing down.

In Galatians 5:25 Paul says we should "keep in step with the Spirit." "With" is the key. We don't want to be arrogant and get in front of the Spirit. Like the early church, sometimes we wait in the upper room until the Holy Spirit arrives and comes upon us in power. We also don't want to be fearful and lag behind. When the pillar of fire and cloud moves, we move. We want to go with Him, beside Him. Truly, walking by faith is a real, lively experience between you and God.

I do think that walking by faith implies motion. There is a predisposition toward motion. It's the Christian walk, not the Christian sit. We are keeping in step, not getting stuck. So stay "in gear" even if your foot is on the brake waiting for the next green light. Like the children of Israel before leaving Egypt, if you are not yet moving, at least be packed and ready to go.