Being the oldest sibling, I have had the longest opportunity to view my mother up close. Let me just write a few lines.

She is the glue that holds our family together. Mom is of the persuasion that if you don't have anything good to say, you just keep it to yourself. And that has been something she has always done. I need more of that in my life.

Mom has this killer pork roast. It is salted and baked, then surrounded by sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. That was Sunday dinner growing up. I think it was the sauerkraut that made me want to come to Germany.

That home cooking is the cornerstone of family events. Tables are spread throughout the dining room and into the living room to be able to handle all the kids and grandkids; there are probably only four matched chairs, but there are always enough for anyone coming. Laughter fills the room, soon surplanted by merciless teasing when my brother and I get together. Some things simply don't change even after 40 years have passed. There is something healing about laughter.

The past ten months we have cried alot. One chair is empty now at family gatherings since my kid sister went to live with Jesus. But Mom's head is still held high, even when her heart is heavy. No self-pity. Somehow she goes on.

I never once heard her speak a sharp word to Dad. There was the 'look', but never a public dispute. Somehow I think she understands more about grace that I do.

Mom still lives in the same house - the first they ever purchased. The neighborhood has changed, and not really much for the better. It is not the classy side of town. But Mom doesn't care to move. She is the stable glue that holds us all together.

Her hair turned white - the kind that speaks of wisdom; the wisdom gathered from many years of highs and lows. My mother is a class act.

I love my mother.

Hudson and Maria Taylor157 years ago a young 21 year old named Hudson Taylor arrived in Shanghai, China. The face of missions and missions work would be radically changed via the boldness of his life and work.

When you think of the term contextualization, Taylor epitomized it by example. Missions and missionaries in the 19th century from London had certain unwritten guidelines as to how things were to be done. It was Hudson who did the unthinkable and donned local attire and hairstyle - all to assist an adopted culture to focus their attention on Christ, rather than the oddities of what was a foreign culture to them.

Hudson Taylor was a maverick.

Hudson Taylor has been a guiding example and shaping force on my thoughts, on my life, on my ministry philosophy. Hudson Taylor is the man.

Get this - Debbie and I spend a week in his adopted cities beginning February 7, 2011. Really. Shangai. Hanghzou. Yangzhou. Tracing the steps of this man who became an unstoppable force for his savior.

"If I had a thousand pounds China should have it- if I had a thousand lives, China should have them. No! Not China, but Christ. Can we do too much for Him? Can we do too much for such a precious Saviour?"

No, there are no plans to grow a ponytail. But you can count on my heart racing as we take in the sites of the culture he loved so dearly.

Seth GodinIn a recent article Seth Godin speaks about the difficulties of breaking free and changing your direction.

The guy [Bill James] who revolutionized baseball stats had a simple insight: past performance is a good indicator of future performance.

Although we claim to enjoy our freedom and really struggle against anything that restricts our choice, are we really free? Theologians would indicate that although we have a will that can choose, we have a bent that restricts true freedom. Although all things can become new, until that pattern is set, past performance is often a better indicator of future performance.

Godin points out this trait plays out in the hiring process. When you put a team together for a project, getting the right people selected is going to be critical. It is not just a good interview that determines the outcome, but whether the team can count on each other. Especially in a non-profit environment, where it is volunteer service, without the enticement of the carrot or the motivation of the stick.

Christology is the basis of your church plant. In other words, your theology - biblical or unbiblical, good or bad, will determine your church plant. Let me explain.

The Apostle Paul would deepen Jesus' words - I will build my church. Paul said it this way: We are his body.

Ok. So far, so good. Now, how do you view Jesus?

If your theology views him as being an extension of Israel - ie separate from all nations, to be holy via being disconnected from the world, your church will be shaped by that view. You will tend not to associate with those that are messy. You will find "biblical" reasons for your righteousness to stay away from the hurting and broken of the world, lest you become soiled.

Should your biblical understanding view Jesus as the incarnate Son of God who entered a sinful world to redeem mankind, and that would mean associating closely with sinners - that will also shape your church. You will become the salt of Mt. 5 - and you take your responsibility to enter a broken world very seriously. You will look for ways to express that need.

Biblical theology is huge. Understanding who Jesus really is will make a world of difference in what your church will ultimately become, and shape the impact you will have on your community and culture.

Habits are hard to break, aren't they? That is why we harp on our kids about being careful with those "little" idiosyncracies. That is why we prevent the first smoke, the bad choice, the ugly table manners.

Certain things can wield uncanny power over us. Then once they are chained to us, then breaking them is another story altogether. After quitting for the 20th time, we give up hope. And give up trying.

Take heart, no power - absolutely no power, with the exception of Jesus Christ, remains. The sun will go dark, politicians will be voted out, dethroned or deposed. Even addictions submit.

Watch this video as a reminder.