Archives For David Sanford


Every pastor who wants fully engaged board members, staff and church members needs to ask three probing questions.

  1. Do I understand the Greatest Commandment and take it seriously?
  2. Do I understand that I can love God wholeheartedly only if I have received, embraced, and cherished His deep love for me?
  3. Do I understand that I can love my neighbors as myself only if I love myself?

If you’re missing that last understanding—if it isn’t true of your board members, staff and church members—then the Greatest Commandment is mere theory. And, we’re definitely not alive at a heart level. Granted, we may be working hard. We may be doing our level best. Then again, let’s not kid ourselves. We’re not fully engaged.

To become more fully engaged, I highly recommend reading (or listening to) Jerry and Denise Basel’s landmark book, The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself.

Earlier this summer I spent three days with Jerry and Denise at their beautiful home north of Atlanta. They’re the real deal with a powerful message. Together, Jerry and Denise resolved a deep three-year nagging question/concern in my own life: What does it mean for me to obey Jesus and love…

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BurningEarlier this week a godly Christian friend of mine remarked, “Is it just me or is the world starting to spin out of control? It seems like all we’re doing is going from one major crisis to the next to the next. How are we supposed to catch our breath anymore?”

How should we respond in the midst of crises? The short answer, no surprise, is: By praying. More than any other writings, the ancient Hebrew and Christian hymn book, the Psalms, show us how.

Beginning with Psalm 3, and over and over again until Psalm 149, we find the psalmist actively and fervently praying to the Lord in various dire circumstances.

How many are my foes!…
Give me relief from my distress….
Listen to my cry for help…
Away from me, all you who do evil…
Save and deliver me from all who pursue me…

In seven out of every ten psalms, the writer is either crying out to the Lord for physical salvation, thanking God for sparing his life, reminding himself of the differing fates of the righteous and evildoers, or renewing his allegiance to God and His Word in the face of rampant wickedness.

If the psalms…

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QuestionsDo my questions have any bearing, any weight, on the core of orthodox Christianity?

In my book, If God Disappears, I talk about my experiences traversing a massive and very steep glacier. It took 12 hours to carve out hand and foot holds to go up. It took 5 minutes of glissading to come back down. Did my boots and gloves make any difference to that glacier while I was climbing up? And, did my boots make any difference on the way down? No. Why not? That glacier very well could have been on that steep mountain side for thousands of years. It was immensely thick and mainly consisted of very hard packed snow turned to ice. What’s more, the glacier stretched for 2 miles. My presence no more impacted that glacier than an ant does while walking up and down the bark of the massive 125-year-old pine tree in my front yard.

Again, do my questions have any bearing, any weight, on the core of orthodox Christianity? No. Why not? By definition, the core of orthodox Christianity was established nearly two thousand years ago. It was intensely forged and mainly consists of a…

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Every pastor who still wants to be in the ministry five years from now needs to take a day or two off each quarter to hit the “refresh” button.

The most valuable assets we have, after all, aren’t our offices, computers, books and other tangible resources. Instead, our greatest assets are intangible–our creative souls.

By “creative souls,” I’m speaking about everything inside us that makes us who we are at the office (and away from church, too). This includes our knowledge, skills, perceptions, understanding, craftsmanship, and wisdom. It includes our abilities to come up with brilliant ideas, new solutions, artistic expressions, and bursts of insight and intuition that surprise us.

The most important ways to replenish our creative souls is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. How? In the Bible, in church history, in modern biographies, and in contemporary experience we see many ways to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Some of these ways may include…

The PeacemakerEvery pastor who still wants to be in the ministry five years from now needs to carefully read seven books. All seven have been game-changers for me.

1. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by Arbinger Institute (Berrett-Koehler). This international mainstream best-seller applies what turns out to be the Golden Rule and a few other biblical principles to daily life including marriage, family, work, and ministry. Foundational truth of this book: We all have blindspots. By definition, we can’t identify, let alone address, our blind spots on our own. Instead, we need to invite a few respected, trusted individuals to speak into our lives with love and truth about each blind spot, weakness, and failing.

2. Leadership Above the Line by Sarah Sumner (Tyndale). On the back cover I’m quoted saying: “If you lead leaders, push other books aside—and make this the next one you read. Leadership Above the Line is 60 percent story, 100 percent breakthrough insights on leadership formation. Dr. Sarah Sumner’s character-based model is clear, her story is compelling, and her application tools are transformational. Highly recommended!”

3. The Ascent of a Leader: How Ordinary Relationships Develop Extraordinary Character…

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Japan AftermathLike most people, I still haven’t been able to comprehend the staggering toll from Japan’s worst disaster since World War II.

Nuclear radiation leaks, rolling blackouts that continue to put hospital patients and others (especially the elderly) at risk, a critical lack of sanitary water, the long-term displacement of massive numbers of people, and extremely unsafe conditions across hundreds of square miles will claim growing numbers of victims throughout 2011 and beyond.

I almost lost my life many months after the world’s second largest earthquake in the past century.

I was only five years old when the megathrust earthquake hit Alaska. It registered 9.2 on the Richter scale—like 25,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs going off at once. The ocean suddenly vanished around many of the Aleutian islands in the Bering Sea off the southern and southwestern coast of Alaska. Shipwrecks, rusting six-foot-high crab pots, and sea anemones suddenly lay exposed to the sky. Then terrifying tsunami waves up to 100 feet high swept over the islands, destroying almost everything in their path.

A few months later, my father moved our family to Kodiak, the largest of those islands. My father built huge communications…

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