Galatians 3

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Act Like Yourself…

This starts with identity. We have two identities.

Individual identity, “Who am I?”

Group identity, “Who are my people?”

Before we think of who we are, we need to know there is a lot inside of us ready to be like someone else. Our best true self, you can call it. We have the blueprint of the one God created. When we are acting like ourselves then, it is acting like our best, true selves.

So, who am I?

I am the son of an adoring Father who is the King of all that exists. You are the daughter of an adoring Father who is King.

Who are my people?

We are royalty. My people are those who identify with the same loving Father and follow in his ways, trusting in Jesus, our model and teacher, as well as our Savior.

Individual identity and group identity are not identical, but they can’t be separated.

As my identity is developing, how do I respond? It is helpful to think of group identity here, because that takes priority.

We start really developing group identity when we reach middle school age. This is why middle school or jr. high as you might have called it, are remembered not so fondly for many of us. Unless we suppressed those years all together:)

You might remember middle school as an awkward time. We mainly think of puberty issues and such as the source of our non-fond memories and awkwardness. With the latest brain science what we realize now is the main challenge of those years is we are establishing a group identity. Who are my people? Middle School students tend to experiment and go from group to group. Not as much puberty and awkwardness but confusion over who my people are.

This is why we invest in young people at this critical time so they know who their people are. Those who share life with them following Jesus. This is why we partner with parents to give sons and daughters the opportunity to explore who they are in the context of a faith community.

Here’s the thing. In the identity center of the brain we have neurons called, “mirror neurons.” These neurons can’t look at themselves. They can only look at others and activate the neurons that reflect what they see.

Jim Wilder says, “If I live with people who regularly show disgust around me, my mirror neurons will reflect that and I will learn to think of myself as someone who generates disgust. If I live with parents who take delight in who I am and demonstrate that delight regularly, I learn to see myself as someone who brings joy to others.”


Whenever you feel pressure or anxiety, remember you are God’s son or daughter facing pressure or anxiety.

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This is the second in a four part series on what it means to be a RARE leader. We are combining biblical principles with the latest brain science, based on the book Rare Leadership, by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder.

When we develop four uncommon habits to increase our emotional maturity (EQ) we increase trust, joy, and engagement with the people we live with. The people we work with.

Daily Devotions for the Week based on this message


Matthew 5:23-24 

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Dr. Marcus Warner speaks of four simple strategies to help us get started in learning to remain relational. He uses the acronym, CAKE.

Curiosity- “I’m curious…”

You can test whether your relational circuit is on or off by your curiosity level. You are interested in what is going on inside someone else and what would help them connect relationally. Opposite of sarcasm. “I’m curious why you’re such a putz.”

Appreciation- When you share appreciation you will see more good. When you criticize you will see more bad.

Kindness- Doing things that create joy in someone else. In the process, your joy grows, as well. Shared joy when you are glad to be with someone.

Kindness- Doing things that create joy in someone else. In the process your joy grows, as well. Shared joy when you are glad to be with someone.

Envelope Conversation- Start with the history of the importance of the relationship. Then discuss a problem you are having. Describe the problems in the most productive and least harmful way. Then, realize your hope that the relationship will be even stronger once the problem is solved.

Recognize your own anger, especially anger in search of a story. Anger looking for a story gets amplified.

Anger is not voluntary. It is part of the fast track of our brain. This is why we develop  habits which make it possible for us to be relationally angry or we can work around it in a healthy way.

One work-around Dallas Willard highlighted is to become the kind of person who did not get angry. He would say, “There is nothing you can do out of anger that you can’t do better without it.”

And if you do experience anger, how do you know you are dealing with it in a relational way God advocates? You will know you have dealt with anger God’s way when there is no collateral damage.


When is the last time you saw anyone in the media and entertainment industry handle anger in a godly relational way? Could this be a trick question?


Ephesians 4

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Anger is not necessarily sin, but as I recently heard, “it has a short shelf life.” This is why Paul is telling us to get rid of it. The less joy we have, the more anger. And anger becomes a real problem because it quickly turns off the relational circuits. The problem with anger is it can never be tamed, it has to be guarded against.

We need to be able to stay in relationship without being angry. Why? Because judgment is a sin. Discernment is trying to figure something out together, but judgment is when you are self-righteous and condemning. These are the results of staying angry. When you are judgmental you are non-relational. And when you are non-relational, when your RC’s are shut down, you can’t be fully loving. And you can’t relate with Jesus at the time you are angry, so you don’t even have access to what he has available that could help.

Think of the internet. Much of communication via the Internet is not communication at all. Facebook might proclaim they will, …help you connect and share with people in your life,” but that is not usually the case.

The internet is overwhelmingly non-relational and fosters so much anger and judging. This is why when you use the internet thinking you are building relationship you practice very risky behavior. Much of what transpires on social media becomes anger quickly. Society speaks so often about the dangers of practicing “unsafe” sex, but practicing “unsafe anger” doesn’t seem to be on our radar at all. And it can be just as dangerous as unsafe sex in the long run.


What internet/ social media guidelines can you use to practice safe communication?



This Sunday is the second in a four part series on what it means to be a rare leader. We are combining biblical principles with the latest brain science, based on the book Rare Leadership, by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder….



Leadership is more about answering the question, “Who am I to be?” than it is, “What am I to do?”

Being a healthy and effective leader is way more about our EQ, Emotional Quotient than it is our IQ, Intelligence Quotient.

EQ is about the kind of person we are underneath the surface, and how we interact with others. Much of the new research on performance success in leadership says the ratio is 1/3 IQ and 2/3 EQ.

Emotional intelligence or emotional maturity counts for twice as much as IQ and technical skills combined to be successful in leading others, yet this is not commonly known nor commonly seen. How can we change that? There are four uncommon habits that will increase our EQ.

When we develop these habits we increase trust, joy, and engagement with the people we lead.

These habits make up the acronym, RARE, as in Rare Leader. They are:

R which stands for Remain Relational

A which stands for Act Like Yourself

R which stands for Return To Joy

E which stands for Endure Hardship Well


This week we will look at what it means to…



My friend, Lynn Cory, author of Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God, has this to say about Halloween:

“Halloween is the only day of the year when many of our neighbors come to our homes.  Don’t miss this great opportunity to be at home when they stop by.  Let’s be hospitable!”

Here are some of his helpful suggestions…

Prior to Halloween:

Invite neighbor kids over with their parents for a pumpkin carving night.

Before Halloween, have a make-your-own trick-or-treat bag craft time. Set up a table with plain grocery bags, markers, glue sticks, stickers, and paints.

Have a neighborhood pumpkin-picking outing event. Check the phone book for local pick-your-own pumpkin patches. Make it a neighborhood tradition!

Organize a Halloween costume parade and contest in your neighborhood. Send out flyers to all the neighbors letting them know when and where the parade will be. Have everyone gather before you all go off to trick-or-treat. Serve donuts and cider.

Halloween Evening:

Water giveaway on warm evenings.

Hot chocolate, cider, or hot coffee, giveaway on cooler evenings.

Set up an outdoor picture-taking event for kids in costumes.  (Use a digital or Polaroid camera so children have their photos right away.)

Harvest games (ex. beanbag toss in wooden jack-o’-lantern.)

Halloween Bounce House – One church rented 30 bounce houses for those in their congregation to put up in their front yards on Halloween.

Barbeque hamburgers and/or hot dogs in the front yard and include waters.

Put out chairs in the front yard, so neighbors can sit down for a while and rest and drink something.  One pastor moved his living room furniture, including lamps, out on the front lawn and made his place very inviting.

Decorate your front yard with bales of hay that kids can sit on or can be used for taking pictures.  One pastor has a “Dachshund Coral.”  He puts out bales of hay in his fenced in front yard with a couple of Dachshunds and the fun begins.  Hundreds of kids show up to have their pictures taken.

Take treats to elderly neighbors who would appreciate the attention.

Join together with other neighbors from the neighborhood for Halloween.  This allows you an evening to spend time talking with other neighbors.

Be creative, what idea do you have?



1 Corinthian 13

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”

Imagine an on/off switch on the back of your neck. This is your relational circuit. When the switch is turned “ON” you are in synch with the people around you emotionally. Able to relate. When the switch is “OFF,” your capacity to remain relational disappears. TYour relational circuits or “RC’s” are shut down. Dr. Karl Lehman has identified some tests to see if your relational circuits are shut off.

Signs you have shut down relationally

1. You don’t feel like being around someone you normally like.

2. You just want to make a person or a problem go away.

3. Your mind is locked on to something upsetting.

4. You become aggressive in the way interrogate, judge, or fix people.

5. You don’t want to make eye contact.

6. You feel like it is their fault if they get hurt by something you do or say.

You can relate to others if your “RC’s” are shut off. It just won’t be pleasant or helpful. It will simply bring grief.


When are you most vulnerable to having your “RC’s” shut off?


Tuesday, October 25

Philippians 4

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

How do you map out your world? There are two general ways you can do this.

  1. Fear-based people will map their world around problems that need to be solved. Their brains lock in on whatever is scary or potentially bad in their environment. This is what gets all their attention. They will always find something wrong.
  2. Joy-based people will map their world around what is good in their lives. They fix their minds on what they appreciate. Like Paul says in Philippians, “…things want are excellent and worthy of praise.”

When you are a joy-based person, you don’t ignore your problems. You just learn how to solve problems in a way that makes your relationships stronger.

Emotionally immature people will make their relationships the problem that needs to be solved. Like co-dependent people who will actually bond over fear of losing the relationship. In these cases, if the relationship is ended, then real problems do occur. Like prolonged and bitter lawsuits, violence, and yes, even death. “If I can’t have her, nobody will.”

Joy-based life is true life.


Are you more fear-based in your approach to life, or more joy-based? Choose joy


(This is a blog post about Halloween I have submitted to Life Model Works website)

First, let’s get this one out of the way for parents. Parents, if you grew up in the United States and so did your parents, maybe even your grandparents, then if you celebrate Halloween as the American traditional holiday it was when you or your parents or your grandparents were kids, you’ve got it covered. You can have the traditional down-home American Halloween, even today.

Now, along with that, the focus on how everyone else chooses to celebrate Halloween is going to be whatever is the craziest, most provocative, most extreme stuff out there. What sizzles sells. This is why what the media and social media chooses to cover this Halloween season won’t be you out trick or treating with your cute little Ninja Turtle.

Second, if you are a parent who is a Christian, here is a disclaimer. I am a biblical scholar, as are my colleagues. We can make 10 cases of why Halloween is not helpful, 10 why it is not harmful, and 10 more why it is a great opportunity to spread joy and love your neighbors.

I am also a historian, as are many of my colleagues, and so we have already studied all the varied background information about the “origins” of Halloween and such. I personally don’t find origin stories all that helpful when making decisions about present reality, and I notice that when we do make origin stories a huge deal, we tend to simply grab on to the origin stories that serves our point of view. When we pastor-types hang out together, we can argue all of these points and then see who the loudest, most aggressive person is, as he or she will probably go away thinking they are the Bible Answer Guy/ Origin Historian Extraordinaire. Come to think of it, if that’s the case, then we do have a problem and will need to do some work on self-satisfaction and humility. That’s not good…

Where does that lead us?

I will give my opinion as a Christian/parent/grandparent/pastor. This is profound, so wait for it…wait for it….

Do whatever you want, with common sense. If you don’t want to do anything? Don’t.

Alright, but what is common sense?

According to the latest brain science, God designed us so that the emotional well-being of children has already been wired to a great extent by age one. Parents, whatever you decide about Halloween is not going to “scar them for life.”

Hospitality toward your neighbor is a big deal for Jesus, and an important model for your children to witness. A friend of mine said it this way:

“Halloween is the only day of the year when many of our neighbors come to our homes.  Don’t miss this great opportunity to be at home when they stop by.  Let’s be hospitable!”

I would add, hospitality toward you neighbor might include trick or treating in your own neighborhood, as there are many homes that still have a warm remembrance of the down-home Halloween of days gone by, and your kids will increase the joy level of their evening, some in a significant way.

Appropriate costumes? For your children? Not too dark; not over-sexualized.

Appropriate costumes for neighbor’s kids? That’s their business. But, what do you do if they come to your door as a gory zombie or a sexy nun?

Give them candy without an editorial.

If you are already done trick or treating with your own kid and they see the gory or over-sexualized, at the end of the night, you can have a meaningful conversation about their experiences in general and the topic of costumes might come up. Then go for it.

Personally, as a pastor of a church where we celebrate Holy Communion every Sunday,  whenever I see gory monsters, zombies, and vampires, if these same kids choose to worship with us some day and they are not familiar with Holy Communion, it will be very interesting when I start talking about eating the body of Jesus and drinking his blood…

Oh, well, Happy Halloween! Or not…