Thursday, December 05, 2013
I'm not for sale.What about when it is not one person writing a big check, but pews full of people writing smaller checks that just don't bother if the message is "too harsh," or the demands for personal development are "too hard?"
By this I mean I can't soften on what's right in order to get a thumbs up, a perk or a check from someone who would have me give a "thumbs up, a perk or a check" on something wrong - be it themselves or an idea.
Every leader has to face this in a significant way, if not on an ongoing basis.
I'm not necessarily referring to an obvious, under-the-table deal. I'm talking about a grey area where you let your desire to further a dream become a logistical nightmare, or you allow your fear to not rock the boat cause you to water down a confrontation. Far too many good men and women sell their influence and passion to someone who has a big bank roll but a small character... and it's hard to ever overcome it.
Most of the people I have met in ministry are well able to withstand the temptation of the big check. It is the frog-in-the-water-coming-to-a-boil thing where they tend to fall on this standard. It's not when they sell themselves whole hog, rather when the sell themselves little piece by little piece that is the problem. "Oh the fingernail on the pinkie of my left hand just is not that important," they reason. The the right hand pinkie nail, and so it goes until eventually it is stuff that does matter.
Cases of "sellout" are rare. Cases of piece out are all too common. Relatedly, it is rarely the case where a decision is made that is just outright "bad." Rather it is a decision that is gray - where we sacrifice here to gain there.
We forget that we have the power of God at our disposal. We do not need to sacrifice anywhere to gain anywhere. God has promised us the best.
power sacrifice sellout
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
"I Did It"
Lent is often referred to as days of bright sadness. My experience with this season so far is that it is much easier to be sad than bright. We, the people can give the pigs a run for their money in the game of wallowing. Yes, it is a season for mourning, for taking a look at the stains on our fingers, stains that never ever occur in a vacuum. But that is not all, for in those moments lie the seeds of something else if we’re willing to take and plant.Not a lack of guilt, but guilt resolved. No escape from our sins, but a working out of our salvation.
Joan Didion once wrote, “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” Our ancestors in Genesis accepted responsibility for their lives; they said “I did it.” Lent provides us that same opportunity which, if taken, results in the virtue known as self-respect. Verily, verily I say this is something much different than self-esteem. Self-respect fashions a man or woman as noble. Not proud, but noble.
I have written many time here that confession is the core of our faith. What Blase makes plain here, I think, is that it is more than the core of our faith, it is the core of our emotional and mental well-being.
Yes, we did do it. Yes, we are guilty. But we have a Savior that loves us anyway. That means we can respect ourselves even in our guilt. That is the source of our nobility.I love the fact that he differentiates nobility and pride. How often we confuse the two.
So which are you, noble or proud?
Nobility Pride self-respect
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
We live in an era where the value of any message is directly related to the success it generates. And the proof of that success is found in the bearer of the message. If the bearer is successful, then the message has validity.Whoa! Back up the truck here. Success is NOT the problem, the problem is how we define success. Edelen sorta gets it right later in the post when he writes:
This formula not only drives success but is used to substantiate truth claims.
Why is the American obsession with success so detrimental to evangelism?
For us, success by worldly standards matters more.But then he goes on railing against "success."I really disagree with this presentation - Christians should be the most successful people in the world. Not only that success is in fact an indicator of truth claims. Which means, that if the church is failing - a case that Edelen makes when he opens his post - then it is because they do not have the truth!
Look, from the perspective of the time He was in the tomb, Christ was a dismal failure. But the resurrection is the most astounding success in history! In that Jesus redefined success.
I don't think we want to complain too loudly about being too successful. I think we want to change how we think of success. And until we do so, we have less than the truth. That's the issue.
Church Evangelism Success
Monday, December 02, 2013
Neither Bird Nor Plane
"Lead Pastor of Vintage Church in Raleigh, N.C., Tyler Jones urged a packed auditorium of church leaders on Tuesday to give up the "Superman complex" and start empowering members of their congregations to fulfill the ministry God has given to them.Uh, duh?!
Are you belittling or demeaning the ministry of other people?" asked Jones in his presentation. "As leaders we must empower every member of our churches to do the ministry that God has given them."
He explained to the audience that pastors are responsible for setting the environment of the church and when they behave in ways that overlook the power of God in the lives of church members, they are effectively limiting the scope of discipleship.
"You're going to have to be humble men and women as you lead. If you are a teacher it's not your word that persuades people. It's the spirit of God that transforms people," said Jones. "If God can use you to teach, He can use anybody to teach," he added.
He warned that when pastors remove the focus of their ministry from God to their own talents they move into the realm of idolatry which is not God's desire for His church.
But that presentation is still based on the paradigm that the pastor is in charge of the church. It is still based on the paradigm that it is up to the pastor to make room for ministry from others.
Pastors constantly complain about lazy congregations, but how many congregations feel oppressed by pastors. When a church is set up on the consumer model it is pretty hard to move from consumer to clerk, let alone something significant in the organization. Besides, who want to to work the counter?
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Friday, November 29, 2013
Dealing with Depression
I went thru a very rough patch in November when this “11″ setting on my depression meter stayed there for most of a month. I didn’t think I could take much more. I shared my story with a good friend and elder at my church.WOW! That is quite the confession there - full of good points and bad points. One hesitates to dive in because it seems like a critical word will make the depression worse and an encouraging word is a means of fueling and rewarding the depression. Not to mention depression colors perception pretty severely. That's a problem with depression, that's why it is often a matter for professionals and not something the Christian community can handle.
“You? Depressed? No, you couldn’t be. You’re the most upbeat person I know.”
Well, what can I say? I wear a really good mask. I tried again with another friend and elder, pulling him out of a Sunday service to pray for me right then. He did, but didn’t ask any questions or offer any encouragement. It was pray, then head back into the sanctuary. I headed home.
Three more elders, three more “I’ll pray for you” responses, then nothing. I spoke to our senior pastor, telling him I even had suicidal thoughts (fleeting; but still) in my despair. I stood there crying as I shared what had been going on in my life and how it had stripped me of just about everything. Our pastor told me he was proud of me for hanging in there. Excuse me. Did you hear what I just said? I despair of life so very much I thought about ending it all. That was my unspoken thought. Surely he’ll call me this week to get together for coffee and talk about this some more. No call. No coffee. No talk. No care.
So why does Smokey, an adamant non-Christian, “get it” when it comes to love, but most every Christian I know doesn’t? Why is it that when I am struggling, like I am right now, I can’t get my brothers and sisters in Christ to show love without a court order, but those like Smokey and other employees and customers I work with will show love in their words and deeds? How is it that those in whom Love Himself lives bottle up love and refuse to give it while those who do not know Love are very free with their love? I really don’t get it. I am ready to quit Christians, or at least quit hoping Christians will do what Jesus commanded and love each other. Christians don’t get it. Agnostics and atheists do. Something is really screwy here.
Am I wrong? Am I placing too much emphasis on love? Should I really expect my Christian friends to show me love with their words and actions? And when they don’t, do I have the right to ask them why not? Maybe love is outdated. Maybe I’m living in a fantasy world, thinking that when I am hurting I can expect others to come alongside of me and not leave. Perhaps wanting someone to say “I love you” is a wrong desire. I don’t know. I know I love others because Jesus tells me to, and because Love lives in me and I can do no less. Is it fair for me to question whether Love really lives in those who refuse to love?
On the other hand - he has a point. The Christian community generally is a pretty cold place. Everybody seems to be more concerned about themselves than about the other. But then as we discuss here pretty much endlessly, the Evangelical church with its consumeristic focus and appeal is designed to have precisely such people in the pews.
Do I guess the question is how does on respond to Dunn? The only thing I can think of is honesty. "Jeff, you're my Cristian brother, but depression is outside of my expertise and ability to help you with directly. Do you have professional help? Can I assist you in getting that help? Is there anything else I can help you with? I am there for you." I think chances are Dunn will not find that adequately loving, but I think that would be the depression talking not reality.
action depression love
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Related Tags: Happy Thanksgiving