Monday, June 28, 2010

Being a Banana

"Good leadership is the art of giving yourself away, and helping the people who bear more fruit in their own lives."

In Africa, there are many different kinds of trees - but there are two trees which are the most opposite from one another.  These are the Banyan trees and Banana trees.  Banyan trees are the greediest, most selfish trees around.  From a long distance away, you can usually tell if a tree is a Banyan, because everything around the tree is dead.  Banyans grow very tall, and live long lives, mostly because they selfishly drink up all the moisture and the life around them.  No fruit grows on a Banyan.  They are impressive to look at, but it is hard to say what the real purpose for a Banyan tree is.  It would seem that Banyan's live mostly for themselves.

Banana trees on the other hand, are the most generous trees around.  Shortly after a banana tree grows, it develops another tree right beside itself.  Then, as soon as that tree grows, it too grows another tree right on the side of it.  You can always tell Banana trees because you will usually find a sea of life surrounding one.  From miles away, even before you see a banana, you can tell that a tree is a Banana tree, just because of the amount of vibrant and lush growth that you see all around.  And, of course, Banana trees grow beautiful fruit.  Banana trees don't live as long as Banyan trees, partly because they give up their own lives, so that other trees can have life.

Jesus said, "By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" (Matt. 7:17).  Jesus also said, "I am he good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I down my life for the sheep." (John 10:14-15)

Be a Banana Tree!

All For Now,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Flying Solo"

This week at Highlands we are talking about "singleness".  One of the main problems with the concept of "singleness" in our society is that all of the terms associated with being "single" either connote a sense of non-completeness or loss (solitary, widow, alone, isolated, single, lonely, bachelor, bachelorette, just me).  As we think about "singleness" at Highlands, we want people to begin to see themselves being complete in God, and not having anything particularly wrong with them.  So, we are encouraging people to self identify themselves in a new way - as "Flying Solo".

All of us "Fly Solo" at one time or another.  All of us have aspects of our lives that are "solo experiences".  We are either not married yet, not planning on being married, our spouse has passed to the next world, our spouse is away for a period of time, we are divorced, or we are single in the faith (our spouse is not a Christ follower).  These times can be challenging, but they don't have to be. God speaks to people in solo situations!  God spoke to Moses, Mary, Abraham, Jacob, Paul and many others (99% of the Bible was written by people who were flying "solo missions") while they were "Flying Solo".

When my wife Star leaves for a couple of weeks to go visit her family in Tennessee, I begin a "solo mission".  My option is to either let my life totally go (fast food, TV, late nights, sleep late, not exercise, not pray, not read the Bible) or to grow closer to God through the solo experience.  

The great church leader St. Benedict lived in the 6th century - AD.  He led a group of people who were "Flying Solo" and who were actually excited about it - Benedictine Monks and Nuns.  When I think about monks and nuns I don't usually think of joy, freedom, adventure, journeying.  However, Benedicts followers were on life's greatest journey.  Here is a prayer that Benedictine taught his "solo flyers" that might speak wisdom to you as you fly your own "solo missions":

Gracious and Holy Father, 

Grant us the
 Intellect to understand You,
  the Reason to discern You, 
Diligence to seek You,
 Wisdom to find You,
 A spirit to know You,
 A heart to meditate upon You.
  May our ears hear You, 
May our eyes behold You,
 And may our tongues proclaim You.
  Give us grace that our way of life may be 
Pleasing to You, that we may have
he patience to wait for You, and the
Perseverance to look for You.
  Grant us a perfect end:  Your Holy Presence, 
A Blessed Resurrection, and Life Everlasting.
  We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord  - AMEN.