Archive for May, 2009

Influence = Derek and ChrisTiana Rice

Sunday, May 31st, 2009


“I am not ashamed to confess publicly that next to theology there is no art which is the equal of music, for she alone, after theology, can do what otherwise only theology can accomplish, namely, quiet and cheer up the soul of man, which is clear evidence that the devil, the originator of depressing worries and troubled thoughts, flees from the voice of music just as he flees from the words of theology.  For this very reason the prophets cultivated no art so much as music …

-  Martin Luther, 1530

To lead worship, as expressed in music, obviously requires some natural abilities and acquired skills.  But those alone, do not make good worship leaders.

All of us have been subjected to people who lead “worship” who are more intent on performance and listening to the sound of their own words and voices rather than knowing how to usher participants into the presence of God.

Derek and ChrisTiana Rice are two of my favorites when it comes to the use of music in worship.  And it is not because of their talent – which is considerable – but because of the source of their leadership.  Worship, and leading others in this pursuit, emanates out of their own intimacy with Jesus.  It flows from the depth of their souls and is grounded in their awe of the holy.

I’d like to clone them.  And this actually what will happen in the years ahead as they mentor, coach and develop others with their same sensitivities and passion.

Derek and ChrisTiana serve with NieuCommunities in San Diego, CA.

Influence = Nadim

Friday, May 29th, 2009

It’s a region of the world where everything seems to collide.

Shiite and Sunni Muslims, Druze, Syrians, Palestinians, Iranians, Maronite Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelical Protestants, all mixed together with the ever-present incendiary threat of Israeli bombs.  It’s an emotional pressure-cooker where the Christian movement is marginalized and routinely on the defensive.

israeli-bomging south-beirut

It is easy to want to flee.  To get out.  Any sane person would do whatever they could to insure the safety of their family and the opportunity to pursue a life free from war, devastation and persecution.

But as those who are serious followers of Jesus know, the call of God is not a call to safety, personal peace or prosperity.  It’s a call to sacrifice and sometimes to suffering.


That’s why Nadim is one of my heroes.  He could take his wife, Julie, their son, and their two twin girls waiting to be born, and he could leave.  But he’s staying.  And more than that, he is committed to being, in word and deed, the presence of Jesus in this strategic region.  He is committed to giving his life to mentor, coach, train and multiply a new generation of leaders for the Christian movement in a region that is unquestionably the most critical flash point on the global scene.

cross-in-conflictThis month, the cover story on National Geographic magazine, entitled The Christian Exodus from the Holy Land, soberly describes how the beleaguered Christian population of the Middle East is shrinking.  In that part of the world where Christianity has its roots, the Church is fast becoming an endangered species.

May God multiply many times over more men and women with the courage, fortitude, and commitment of Nadim who will be the key to steming the tide this article describes.

Influence = Ardath Smith

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

ardath-smithChurch history is full of those unsung heroes who behind the scenes wield enormous influence because they have been connected to God in deep and profound ways.  They hear his voice.  And they are able to take others by the hand and help lead them into such a relationship with the holy.

Ardath is contemporary example of one of these.  As part of the CRM-US Staff Development and Care Team, she serves people all over the globe as a spiritual director.  Through her presence, she helps men and women discern the voice of God and see more clearly his fingerprints on their lives.  She does it quietly.  She does it gently.  She does it with remarkable discernment.  And she does it with class.

Ardath used to be a top drawer musician – cello was her instrument.  But she had to give it up because of physical limitations.  But God has compensated.  She now makes beautiful music with people’s lives that will last much longer than the momentary sounds that please the human ear.  And in that Spirit-empowered process, I am convinced she gives God great pleasure.

Influence = Jeri Little

Monday, May 25th, 2009


I met him in 1988.  He was a run n’ gun businessman from Orange Co, California who decided to go taste and see, in a 2 week trip, what life and ministry was like in communist Romania.  That experience turned his world upside down.

20 years later, Jeri Little has left a profound mark on Romania, 16 of those years having lived with his family in the city of Iasi in the northeast corner of the country, about 10 kilometers from the boarder of the former Soviet Union.

What Jeri and his wife Gloria have accomplished is nothing less than the remarkable.  It is one of the stellar success stories today of what business for mission is all about.  Today, the “Little Texas” complex – a 200 seat Tex-Mex restaurant, 4 star hotel, business and event center – is a testimony to Jeri’s skill, perseverance,  and obedience to God’s clear call.   Not only is it a model business demonstrating to Romanians customers and all who visit that business can be successful and run with Christian values and intent, but the profits from the complex are a major source of funding for an array of ministry initiatives in Romania and nearby Moldova.

littletexas121 littletexas01

It’s all been captured in a recently published volume, Merchant to Romania that’s available on Amazon.   It is a gripping story.   Through it all, I’ve been honored to walk with Jeri as a fan and most importantly, as a friend.


As Jeri turns his sights toward other business for mission projects in the Middle East and other places around the world, my hope is that God will use this story to inspire a legion of young entrepreneurs to follow in Jeri’s footsteps.

Jeri proves again, that all it really takes for God to use a life in extraordinary ways is a willingnss to simply “show up.”

Influence = Dave Everitt

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


Dave Everitt is one of my heroes.

•    He is an unconventional “missionary.”  He breaks the stereotypes.
•    He puts flesh and blood to the concept of being apostolic.
•    Dave just “shows up” and God seems to do the rest.  No presumption.  No ego.  Just a willingness to be there and then trust God to do the supernatural.
•    The guy oozes passion.
•    He’s larger than life and is a mutation between a cross-cultural Rambo and a big, cuddly teddy-bear.
•    His legacy and influence in Cambodia will be legendary.  The lives he’s touched will affect the Christian movement in that nation for generations to come.

Dave and Lisa Everitt have lived and minister  in Cambodia with InnerCHANGE, CRM’s order among the poor.  For more information, go to

everitt-sf1I was with Dave in San Francisco last month and let him loose on a group of younger men – one in particular who may may have similar  potential to Dave but it’s latent – and Dave held court for four straight hours.   I was in tears at least three times as he recounted stories of God’s presence and faithfulness in Asia.  It was gripping.

There are places all over the world in need of people like Dave Everitt.  God, give us new generations of people willing to just “show up” and see the supernatural presence of God flow through them in word and deed.

Influence =

Friday, May 22nd, 2009


“The word influence is derived from an ancient astrological term describing the power of the stars to affect the destiny of human beings.  The definition has changed over the centuries, but influence remains a mysterious force and a difficult one to measure …

We look for people whose ideas, discoveries, talent and yes, power shape and transform our world.  These are our modern stars who shape our destiny.”

TIME Magazine, May 11, 2009, page 4

I get to rub shoulders every day with people of enormous influence, people who are indeed modern stars who are shaping the destiny of our world.

None, however, were included in TIME’s recent listing of the World’s Most Influential 100 People. That’s really TIME’s problem.  Those who would make it on my list are not the visible movers and shaker that the world would recognize or honor.  They are the unseen people, often deep in the incarnational woodwork, whose lives are playing to an otherworldly audience.

On my list are those whom we will become quite familiar  when we gather for movie night in heaven and look at the video reruns of God’s heroes throughout redemptive history.   They are the people who are really making a difference and whom, as the writer of the book of Hebrews puts it in the New Testament,  ” ...the world is not worthy.”

I’ll be writing about these individuals in the weeks ahead.

Leadership Mentoring Groups

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Few things I do are as enjoyable or as energizing as the Leadership Mentoring Groups that I occasionally get to pull together for younger leaders.  I’ve done these for about ten years.  It’s refreshing to be able to get my head out of the clouds of organizational leadership and all the demands of CRM around the world and engage in a meaningful way with men and women of this caliber.

Men's Group

These groups use some of our reFocusing processes, a good dose of spiritual formation and mentoring concepts, and address issues of being a bible-centered leader.  (Bobby Clinton often joins us for an evening on this topic).   The result is that these younger leaders move toward clarity regarding God’s leading and calling in their lives.  That is significant as most are making decisions now that will affect the future trajectories of their lives and ministry.  I suspect almost all of these men and women will end up in some form of vocational ministry and many will be with CRM somewhere around the world.

Women's Group

What is also remarkable is the % in each group that have pronounced apostolic and leadership calling.  For many, the level of frustration has been high as they have thrashed around searching for their “niche” in God’s kingdom purposes.  As a result of the weeks they invest together, most begin to hit stride in finding the groove that God has for them.  For some, my role with CRM means I can help sponsor them into contexts where their calling can be lived out to the max.

I hope to do such groups a couple times each year.  While I am pleased at the gender diversity represented in this past cycle, I would like to see more cultural diversity that would better reflect the changing face of the Church in North America.  Nevertheless, these two groups above were exceptional, and the destinies these individuals will walk into will contribute profoundly to Jesus and his Kingdom.