What’s your mission?

Last fall I spent quite of bit of time with Jana crafting a “rule of life.” A rule of life is a description of the life God is calling you to lead. It means a life guided, nourished, and sustained by God’s Spirit, to the glory of God.

The kind of self-examination required in writing a rule of life doesn’t come easy. You have to be honest in assessing your strengths and weaknesses. What are the things which give you life? What are the things that suck the life out of you?

Out of all the people on the planet, what has God uniquely equipped and called you to do?

And so for the last several months I’ve been trying to learn to live into this rule. Get more sleep. Spend more time with Jana. Spend more time with the grandkids. Spend more time with God. Keep the Sabbath.

I thought I would share at least part of my rule of life here because I need help in living it out.

My call:

  • To be a city-center minister
  • To move people to hear, understand, and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ into their hearts


  • Build a dynamic, transforming church where all are welcome, lives are changed, and where the Gospel is proclaimed and lived out
  • Create a culture of experimentation and discernment
  • To preach the Gospel to a full church
  • To see thousands in the city come to faith, and be part of a movement of faith across the region and the world
  • To be a source of inspiration for city-center churches everywhere

I’m pleased to share my rule of life with anyone who’s interested. Here’s a wonderful resource I found most helpful: http://ruleoflife.com/myrule/


A justice’s faith

Within minutes of the announcement of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, political posturing over his replacement began. The irony is that partisan bickering is one of the reasons voters seem to be attracted to “outsider” presidential candidates this year.

But then came the moving, personal tributes from every one of Justice Scalia’s colleagues on the Supreme Court. It got me wondering. Why was Justice Scalia so loved by so many, including those who differed with him on the great legal issues of our time? Perhaps one of the reasons was that Antonin Scalia was a man of deep faith.

In 1998, all the Supreme Court justices attended the funeral  for Justice Lewis Powell at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. A few days later, the minister, Dr James Goodloe, received a letter from Justice Scalia. It’s worth reading in its entirety.

 Dear Dr. Goodloe:

I looked for you unsuccessfully at the luncheon following the funeral yesterday. I wanted to tell you how reverent and inspiring I found the service that you conducted.

In my aging years, I have attended so many funerals of prominent people that I consider myself a connoisseur of the genre. When the deceased and his family are nonbelievers, of course, there is not much to be said except praise for the departed who is no more. But even in Christian services conducted for deceased Christians, I am surprised at how often the eulogy is the centerpiece of the service, rather than (as it was in your church) the Resurrection of Christ, and the eternal life which follows from that. I am told that, in Roman Catholic canon law, encomiums at funeral Masses are not permitted—though if that is the rule, I have never seen it observed except in the breach. I have always thought there is much to be said for such a prohibition, not only because it spares from embarrassment or dissembling those of us about whom little good can truthfully be said, but also because, even when the deceased was an admirable person—indeed, especially when the deceased was an admirable person—praise for his virtues can cause us to forget that we are praying for, and giving thanks for, God’s inexplicable mercy to a sinner. (My goodness, that seems more like a Presbyterian thought than a Catholic one!)

Perhaps the clergymen who conduct relatively secular services are moved by a desire not to offend the nonbelievers in attendance—whose numbers tend to increase in proportion to the prominence of the deceased. What a great mistake. Weddings and funerals (but especially funerals) are the principal occasions left in modern America when you can preach the Good News not just to the faithful, but to those who have never really heard it.

Many thanks, Dr. Goodloe, for a service that did honor to Lewis and homage to God. It was a privilege to sit with your congregation. Best regards.


Antonin Scalia


360 view

A number of years ago I spent a week at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in Greensboro, North Carolina. The visit was the culmination of a “360 degree” evaluation I was trying out for the Air Force. In a “360” you answer a battery of questions about yourself, then a group of your superiors, peers, and subordinates answer the same questions about you. Finally, you meet with a psychotherapist to go over the results. Ideally, you want to be able to see yourself as others see you. It’s not good to think more highly of yourself than others (maybe your ego makes you blind to your faults).

The therapist told me that others consistently rated me higher than I rated myself. I was pleased, but not for long. She said it is also not good to think less of yourself than others: the gap represents untapped potential.

At the end of my week at CCL, I wanted to know if I should tell those who evaluated me what “my issues” were. The answer? Of course. Why? Because they already know! The idea is that when you own up to your issues, it builds trust, and others can support you as you work to build on strengths and overcome weaknesses.

We’re about to begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday this week. This is the season of prayer and self-examination where we prepare for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the time when we tell God, as best we can, what “our issues” are. In confessing our sin and brokenness to God, we’re not telling God anything new. God already knows us from all sides. Confession helps us to learn to see ourselves as God sees us. It frees us so the blessings of God can flow into our lives.

It’s so comforting to know that the One who knows everything about us loves us more than we can imagine and wants to make us into someone much like him.