plant. water. love. live.
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Just letting those few folks know who might even be remotely interested, I am now, hereford forever more going forward, until at least I change my mind, blogging solely at JasonCDukes.com. I am doing this simply because I just want to blog about what swirls in my head and heart as I am learning and living the ways of Jesus with my family and church family. Simple.
Hope this isn’t too confusing and that my Aunt Ethel who is the only subscriber to this blog will come over to the others side and subscribe there :-)
Hope this is a special Good Friday for you as you remember the cross today.
Here is an “imagine if” story for you this week. It has actually happened in various ways over the last eight years of @WestpointChurch, but let me frame it this way as an “imagine if” just to make it challenging and accessible for us.
Imagine the chance these next few days to dialogue with someone about Easter. Probably someone with whom you have been a friend for some time. They know you care about them. They know you celebrate for more than bunnies, chocolate, and eggs, but they know you aren’t some fanatic who doesn’t participate in a fun egg hunt and enjoy a Reese’s egg. However, they may not know exactly why Easter is meaningful to you. In other words, they may not know why resurrection really matters to you.
Imagine asking them this question:
>> have I ever told you why Easter means so much to me?
Maybe you have your own variation of that question. But the topic turns there. And the dialogue includes the significance of resurrection, the hope of life again, the lack of condemnation for the selfish choices that steal life because of the love of the One who gave His life yet is still alive.
These are more than religious concepts.
What would you share with someone if you had the chance to tell them the answer to that above question? Who might you ask that question to and have that dialogue with? Are you willing to pray for that chance to come in the next three days?
This could be the story of your weekend. And the story of a friend whom you have loved believing they are forever loved by the God who came near and died and rose again.
I pray it will be.
For the @WestpointChurch family, there are three specific chances to gather this Friday and Sunday I wanted to highlight. Below those three is a simple challenge for us as we are cultivating daily for Easter. Hope you will cultivate.
:: Good Friday at noon with the Church of West Orange at the Jesse Brock Community Center across from Dillard Elementary School.
:: Good Friday evening at 7:00 with Kensington Church at West Orange High School auditorium. This is going to be a very artistic and engaging expression of the story of the cross that we get to enjoy with a partnering church family.
:: Easter Sunday morning at 10:00 at Whispering Oak Elementary School (where we normally gather). Who will you invite to come with you to celebrate the resurrection on this special day?
Try to make it to two of these three if you can. And please pray about who God might want you to invite to come with you, someone with whom you have been walking and loving or someone who is a new friend or neighbor.
Don’t miss this chance to not just show the Gospel but share it, as well.
We know that Jesus said to make disciples. But are we, as His church, actually doing it?
This is a question our local church expression has been asking the last two years. And I have seen two major shifts occur for the folks who were doing it in theory only but are now actually doing it daily.
SHIFT ONE _ from discipleship to make disciples
The New Testament does not speak of “discipleship.” In the American church, we speak of it in terms of the thing that happens after evangelism efforts bring a convert. We think of it as a study for Christians in a classroom with fluorescent lights. On the other hand, the New Testament describes it in terms of “make disciples,” which is inclusive of evangelism. It is done out in the rhythms of the daily mainly, although a study can be involved at times. It is learning and living the ways of Jesus among the lost as we love them with a near love, like Jesus loves us, in hopes that those with whom we a walking will also believe they are loved by Jesus and begin to learn and live His ways among their friends rather than retreat to a classroom and church building.
SHIFT TWO _ from my family to being family
The church is not some program or event that serves the needs of my family once we follow Jesus. The church is people following Jesus together, learning and living His ways (especially His new command – John 13:34-35). I am not saying that the church doesn’t care for my family. I am just saying that the purpose of the church isn’t just about my family. Unfortunately, many of us treat the bride of Jesus in this way. However, what if the intent of Jesus was that we might be a family? More specifically, that we might be His family who lives as family with the people of our communities like He did with us. Read John 1:12-14. This is what He did. And the church must exist out among the lost and lonely that they might believe the God Who came near loves them and desires them in His family. But how will the know if all we do is think in terms of “my family?”
Francis Chan has shared for several years now a very simple teaching on HOW NOT TO MAKE DISCIPLES. It’s worth the watch for two minutes. Check it out below.
And may we not just memorize and study about making disciples. May we ACTUALLY make disciples.
I have done it now for two years. One day in April, I go without shoes. It is in hopes of someone asking me why and thus the opportunity to encourage them to do something about people in other parts of our world who do not have shoes.
Grant it, this is one of the best marketing ideas a company could have. It is a viral, grass-roots-driven, don’t-wear-shoes-so-people-will-buy-our-shoes-and-we-will-also-give-a-pair-away genius of an idea. And I understand that it does encourage people to buy a product, but it is a product from a company that is not perfect but is at least serious about providing a pair of shoes (and now eyeglasses, too) for people around the world who don’t have one.
Will you join me this year?
April 10th. Don’t wear shoes.
Prepare your boss / teacher / place of business that you won’t be wearing shoes that day and tell them why. Encourage some other folks to do it with you. And don’t do it to get a pat on the back. Do it simply to encourage people to love the poor in a tangible way. It’s an easy thing to do that also raises our own awareness about how much we take for granted that we do have shoes.
Jesus mentioned something in Luke 3:11 I know is not easily lived and unfortunately is not often lived.
11 He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.”
May we think about how that might apply to what all is in our closet and pantry. In the meantime, may we go barefoot on for just on day.
And if you don’t own a pair of TOMS, I recommend them. I am wearing my fifth pair. But I won’t be on April 10th.
Will you join me?
CLICK HERE to read more about “One Day without Shoes.” And check out the trailer below for April 10th, 2012.
Looking forward to having to push the gas pedal in my car barefooted.
Good Thursday to you! I wanted to take the post today for cultivating daily unto the nations to ask for some feedback from you.
What is one organization that is loving the nations in some specific way that you have worked with or supported that you would heartily recommend to others? What did you do with them? Is it an ongoing relationship or a one-time opportunity?
If anyone anywhere happens to read this and wants to chime in, please do so! I for one would like to see what you say. Please leave the name of the organization and your comments in the comment section of this post.
My friends Jamie and Zack just returned from Zambia, and I can tell you they were thoroughly impressed with Lifesong for Orphans and their work there. If you know anything about them, let me know, too, if you don’t mind.
Grateful that Jesus loves us like He does and invites us to experience His love as we love the nations together!!!
Julie Young is one of the most forward-thinking, discerning, innovative, encouraging, thoughtful, team-building, and wise leaders I know. She leads the Florida Virtual School, an accredited, public, online, e-learning school serving students K-12 all over the world. Almost 15 years ago, FLVS was founded. It was the country’s first state-wide, internet-based, public high school and has grown now to over 122,000 students and 1400 staff members. FLVS is part of the Florida public education system and serves students in all 67 Florida districts, 49 states, and 57 countries.
I had the privilege of coaching her two sons, and I am blessed with a friendship with her husband. I have utmost respect for them, and that’s why I asked her to share with me four suggestions regarding how she is cultivating daily in the marketplace – loving the people she encounters and leads there in hopes that they will know that they are loved unconditionally and graciously by the God who came near in Christ.
So grateful for Julie. Hope these will encourage you, too! Here are her four suggestions:
1. Share God’s love for them.
Even if you do not put the “God” label on it, you can share God’s love with others in the workplace by letting them know how special and precious they are. Even a simple note of thanks or praise can brighten someone’s day and turn off the negative thoughts and feelings that the Devil has planted in their minds. People need to know that they have a purpose. Others can usually point out someone’s strengths a lot easier than they can, and this can be linked to God’s love for them when it encourages them with the simple message, “You are the only one that can do what you do!”
I constantly try and recognize others publically for the good work they do, both with staff and students. I relish sharing the notes that come from parents who are obviously believers. It often allows me to share God’s Word as many parents will quote the Bible or thank God for their experiences and FLVS. One of my goals is for all staff to feel that I love them regardless of our distance or lack of a face to face relationship. I try to make the environment fun and relaxed and playful.
2. Give the grace you have been given.
We all get frustrated and flustered with co-workers from time to time. But no one is perfect. God gives me grace when I don’t get it right, or when I am just plain wrong. May we not neglect to give others the same. Just like the slave whose debt was forgiven and then refused to forgive other’s debts to him, you can end up in a bad situation.
I try to continually emphasize the value of mistakes and only ask that people try and not make the same mistake twice. I also look closely at whether or not a “mistake” is negligence and intentional or an honest mistake. I take those mishaps and turn them into learning lessons for all. In addition, I believe in second chances for those who have a committed heart to the organization. A person who may be unsuccessful in their role but is clearly dedicated to the organization and its leadership will have an opportunity to take a mulligan and move to another position in the organization if available and start over.
3. Create an environment with your words.
The Bible tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. You are the only one who can control what comes out of your mouth. So choose to create a positive and uplifting environment by speaking positively even if you have to give someone a correction or discipline. You will be amazed at how people’s attitudes will change when the positive words you speak start to take life as they are planted in the hearts of those around you.
Using the words, “blessed, loved, give back, be an example” etc. in notes and verbal comments often let people know where your heart is. It also gives them permission to express themselves. Using quotes from John Maxwell (some of my favorite leadership books), Andy Andrews, and others who are Christ-followers often times sends folks to those books for a good read. They get a two-for. :)
4. Set an example with integrity.
Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Jesus was the greatest example that we will ever have of that. Even when tempted after fasting 40 days and nights, where no one could see him, He did not waiver in doing what he knew was right. Remember, even if no one else is looking, God is, and our Father lifts those up who listen to Him and put Him first. He gives them favor, not only with those around them but also with authority as well.
One of the greatest ways to cultivate the Gospel is to refuse to come down to the world’s standards by maintaining your integrity everyday. My goal has always been to operate with transparency. If I make a mistake or have a gap, I share it and take public responsibility for it. I work diligently to set the example for others rather than be the exception due to my title. It’s funny, my team is always trying to give me a reserved parking spot or an exemption from a rule that others are expected to follow. I make it known in a humble fashion that I am no different; I just have a different job. I hold myself to the highest standards when it comes to budget and people management.
Great stuff, Julie!!! Thank you so very much for sharing these suggestions with us and for your leadership example.
Give Bruce a hug from me. And tell him I said I hope UK can win the 2012 Duke Invitational Tournament, I mean the 2012 NCAA Tournament. It is after all the 20th anniversary of “THE SHOT.” :)
Because we both have six kids, we get asked this one question a lot. It is always meant as a joke, and honestly I never get tired of being asked. Maybe it’s because I never get tired of the subject of the question, but that’s more of a Valentine’s post. Today’s post is for some breaking news celebrated from a grateful heart.
Oh yeah, the question we get asked because we both have six kids? Here you go – “You know how that happens right?”
And the antecedent of “both?” My brother Erik and I both have six kids, although my sixth isn’t due for face to face arrival until early August sometime.
And the exciting news?!? Erik and Erin’s sixth little gift arrived this morning!!!!!!!!!!
Emery Elaine Dukes comes into a family of five brothers. She will likely alternate thinking about them as a bunch of Knights in Shining Armor and a bunch over-protective, insensitive, annoyances. I am biased since they are my nephews, but I bet they will be the former much, much more than the latter. What is for sure is that the atmosphere of their home just got pinker and purpler and prettier. :)
And the picture that my wife sent me of Erik holding his brand new daughter was so breath-taking.
It was Erin’s sixth child born, and Jen got to be there this time for the first time. It was Erik’s sixth child born, but it was his first girl. And as a little brother, I don’t get to experience many things first before my wonderful big brother, but I have already held three daughters and look forward with excitement, Lord willing, to holding a fourth this summer. Erik got a whole new experience this morning holding a child that belonged to him that was not of the male persuasion. And it was breath-taking to behold knowing what was racing through his mind and heart.
It was exciting news! And we all are so grateful, celebrating each birth as though it actually is a gift from God that we in no way deserve.
Thank you Lord.
So cool that my dad has eleven grandchildren and one more on the way.
“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift, the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?”
(Psalm 127:3 MSG)
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!!! I saw these three videos and thought you might enjoy them, too. The first two are short stories on St. Patrick, one from Brown Bag Productions which is an award-winning film company out of Europe. The third video is an online commercial from the Guinness company that is pretty funny – a sheep dog gathering folks together for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
The fact that St. Patrick tends to be celebrated and highlighted more in the pubs than in church buildings possibly suggests two things – (1) that folks are quick to use a good excuse to party hard and (2) that the church should consider having more of a presence at Matthew’s house than at their own house (Matthew 9 and 10). Just thinking / typing out loud :-)
Much love. Grateful for the story, although definitely debatable and not definitive, of a guy like Patrick who prayed a lot and talked about Shamrocks a lot and seemed to love people with the near love of Jesus.
Don’t forget to wear green!
Here are the videos:
“Round Up Your Mates” from Guinness
So, other than the really well-done cartoon Veggie Tales did regarding St. Patrick, I don’t really know much about him. After reading some history on Patrick, sounds like Phil Vischer and the gang did a great job accurately sharing his story.
One major highlight is that he highlighted the unity of the Trinity in his preaching. Catholic.org, in their section on saints, had this to share regarding Patrick. Hopefully it will equip you to do more than wear green tomorrow :-)
Here’s hoping you don’t get pinched.
St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world’s most popular saints.
Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461.
Along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world shares our love of these saints. This is also a day when everyone’s Irish.
There are many legends and stories of St. Patrick, but this is his story.
Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies.
As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.
During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote
“The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same.” “I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”
Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family.
He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.”
He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.
Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.
Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick’s message.
Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).
Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.
He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.
Why a shamrock?
Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.
In His Footsteps
Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. He feared nothing, not even death, so complete was his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission.