Burton’s Mantra

My friend and former pastor Burton Purvis used to have a mantra he would repeat over and over to us:

Proper rations at proper times.


Burton at his bestThis was his working definition of stewardship. Because I had what I believed to be a superior definition, I would be endlessly irritated whenever Burton would repeat the phrase.

Then one day in my Bible reading I ran across this:

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?” —Luke 12:42

Wow. I could do a whole blog post—and probably should—on teachableness, humility, and openness to differing ideas. But as this phrase has rattled around in my head the last few weeks, I can’t get away from the central truth of Jesus’s words and how they apply to my relationships and responsibilities.

You see, as a colleague at work, or a husband or dad, or a pastor-teacher, or a Facebook friend—it isn’t necessary or wise to drop the whole load of what I think I’ve learned or what I’m passionate about (or what currently upsets me) on the people around me.

Even the things that come into my head from God himself.

As my friend Woods Watson used to say—and I’m paraphrasing from a very long time ago here—discernment is for the purpose of intercession, not for sharing.

One of the great challenges for me personally is to regulate what I’m sharing, whether with a friend in The Real World or a friend I know only through Facebook, so that I’m sharing only what is necessary for that friend at that moment.

As I look over the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s conversations, the way he approached different people at different times, I can see concrete examples of this principle at work.

We need filters in our lives in at least two directions:

  1. The filters in that allow us to be open to the ideas of others without polluting our thought processes and therefore our values.
  2. The filters out that keep us from doing real harm to others, even when we are speaking stuff that’s true, but that they’re not ready to process in real time.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. —Ephesians 4:29

According to their needs. Not mine.


This post was adapted from a Facebook status update written on September 29, 2012.


ALL IN croppedToday’s my Day Off/Working on my Own Stuff Day.

I just put on an old LifeChurch.tv T-shirt.

It has a picture of stacks of poker chips on the front. And the words “ALL IN” on the back.

Brings back old memories every time I put it on. Which is probably why on most Wednesdays it’s the shirt I choose to wear.

They gave it to us several years ago to promote a teaching series at LifeChurch. I remember how pumped all of us on the Host Team were as we wore the shirts and talked about what it meant to be “ALL IN.” It meant we weren’t just Christ followers on Sundays, but every day. Not just at the church facility, but everywhere we went. Not just with each other, but with everyone who came across our path. Not just as we were engaging in “religious” activities, but in every task of every day.

And not only when we’re in need, but in helping those around us who need Jesus just as much as we do.

We’re in a different city now, in a different state.

And we’re taking this part of the LifeChurch DNA with us.

Even though there’s no LifeChurch campus here, and—frankly—no church we know of with LifeChurch’s balance of passion for nonbelievers and vision for equipping them to reach their world, our little family remains ALL IN.

We simply cannot rest while so many folks don’t yet know Christ and what he wants to do for them, in them—and through them.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” —Matthew 9:36-38


If you can, do and teach…

“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach…


Rock Hudson in the WaterOne of my favorite movies as a kid was a Rock Hudson comedy called Man’s Favorite Sport?.

Hudson plays a guy who wrote a best-selling book on fishing. A hard-charging department store marketing executive decides it would be great to get him in a fishing tournament. His boss agrees.

The problem?

He has never fished in his life.

Continue reading

Telescope shoot out by Kaustav Bhattacharya

2 Questions (and an ‘if’) for Evaluating Vision

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. —John 14:10-14

First Question:

How big is
your vision?


Second Question:

is it?


If it’s not God’s vision
(no matter how BIG it is),

You’ve got
the wrong

Wanna dream big?

Life has been so much more exciting since I gave up the idea of dreaming big and started resting in whatever plan God gives me for the day or week. He has this charming knack for giving me small ideas with big implications that I don’t always fully grasp right away.

Wanna dream big?

Dream God.

Big as it gets.

Seeing the higher path

I had just said to Michelle, “It looks so lonely up there,” as we sat on the side of the path looking across a little valley up at the top of a very high hill (modest mountain?). All I could see were rocky places and pine trees clinging to steep sides.

She said, “Dad, look, there are people up there.”

Immediately, I could see people walking along what was obviously a path I couldn’t pick out before. There was even someone jogging along that unseen path.

If no one had been up there we would never have known there was a path. We would never have known there was a way to that path. And we wouldn’t have known we could keep on and eventually find it.

We’re going to go back when there’s more time in the day, and more energy, and keep on past our resting place. We’re confident we’ll be able to get up to that path and then look back across the small valley and see where we were sitting.

It was people who showed us the way when we were too tired to keep exploring.