Archive for November, 2012

Christmas love

one of the greatest fears i have, and this is somewhat of a new discovery for me, is that we [the church] don’t have a strong passionate love for God.

i think, or am coming to believe that we have a somewhat passive like toward God.

we like the idea of a God who hears us when we pray to Him about our needs & wants…

we like the idea of a God who loves us unconditionally…

we like a God who would send His Son for us…

we like a God who’s available anytime we need Him…

we like that God offers hope…

and, for the most part, we like that God is smarter than us.

i want to be clear here, i think that most, if not all of those that follow Christ would say we do indeed LOVE God greatly.  but i also think that our actions reveal the depth of our love for God.  and i think our actions are more than our willingness to be at church on sundays, serve on boards or committees or be faithful givers.

the actions i’m referring to revolve more around our willingness to do the difficult things God invites in our lives.  the things that require our willingness to let go of our comfort, our tradition, our usual “this is what we do” mentality.

there is a phrase that i can’t seem to get away from lately, here it is…

God is always going to ask you to do more than you think you’re capable of doing,

go to places you don’t think you belong,

& attempt things you don’t think you can finish …

after all, if you could do those things on your own you wouldn’t need God in the first place.

[ok, so that was more than a phrase; more of a run-on sentence]

so with this in mind, do my actions toward a God i say i love, i sing about, pray to, etc…do the actions of my daily life reflect a passionate love for this God?  or do those actions more resemble someone who i really, really, really like?

i’m highly confident that God is all about asking us to do hard things.  those things that seem unlikely & down-right impossible.  if, when faced with those highly challenging & improbable tasks or events or lifestyle changes do i shrink from the possibility?  or do i jump at the chance to trust Him more than i did earlier today?  a move like trusting Him in a greater capacity is a “passionate love” kind of move.

this kind of question is highly appropriate & important during this season of Christmas.

is God challenging you to change your gift giving patterns?

is He daring you to spend less on you & your family & instead make a difference in a life 1/2 a world away?

whenever i ask these kind of questions i’m accused of “stealing Christmas” & taking away the fun of the season.

stealing from whom?  what’s this holiday called?  who’s name is at the front?  

there is a maturity that needs to be realized in some of us.

an awakening to the reality of what we’re doing & the life we’re living.

God is going to ask you, if you’ve decided to follow Him, to do some hard things; [it’s not a question of “will He ask?”  He’s going to]  to do things that seem impossible, or at the very least; really hard.  don’t do them out of obligation or a sense that “God’s gonna’ get ya” mentality”.  do them…or at least consider doing them out of a profound, passionate love for a God who gave so much for you and i; during a season when those gifts show up in brilliant light, beautiful scenes & wonderful music that stirs the soul.

do those things out of a grand sense of love for Him.


how we work together


something i was thinking about last week, or maybe it was the week before, or last month…i don’t remember, doesn’t really matter i guess;

but it had to do with with whom we work for & whom we work with & the process of who’s driving the boat we’re all riding in.

yes, this is a leadership issue.

when we work with people & we all, usually, at some point work for someone; when we’re pushing toward a goal or a new objective is laid out there is a realization of who’s in charge, who’s driving this thing we headed toward, this hill we’re charging.

as an aside, i think the best leaders LOVE to be well-led.  not all of us love it, just the good leaders love it.  meaning that there are some of us that push against the leadership of the moment.  the truth is that we all have ideas & thoughts about what would be best.  the best leaders love it when someone they’re following leads them well into a new direction or effort.

all of that being said, there are a couple of questions that have popped up in my head over the past few weeks/month.

something that i’ve learned in my experience of following many leaders is that the best ones don’t always have to assert that they’re the ones in charge.

so a few questions that emerge for us in relation to those that we’re following:

when there are decisions to be made for the organization or team, is it imperative for the leader to make it clear to all other team members that it’s his/her final decision?

when ideas are floated out there in the discussion phase does it seem highly important to the leader that their idea is the idea that’s chosen?

does it seem like the leaders voice is the only one that’s really heard in meetings?

these questions shouldn’t be the only ones that are asked in regards to whether you can or cannot follow this kind of leader.  but they are questions that matter for good leadership.  i think these are important questions because i don’t assume that when i go into a mtg. i’ll be the smartest person in the room.  i enter meetings & decision making sessions believing that God may have spoken to someone else whose going to be there.  and if my voice is the only one that’s heard that’s a problem

certainly, i believe that there are times when i need to be highly vocal & push for something that God has placed before the organization.  but those times are not every month & point of discussion.

the progress of recovery


it’s been 2 years since i’ve began working with 2 churches in the “recovery” process.  i’m calling it a “recovery” process for lack of better language at this point & because that’s what we’re really after; a recovery of God’s vision, a recovery of impact in the neighborhood’s we live, recovery of a meaningful mission.

with all those things in mind, and having read loads of material & books & talked with others who’ve been through this kind of shift before there are a couple of things that have come to the surface recently.

when the health of a church begins to show up; and that can be a long process [discovering health], there are some systemic changes that are revealed.  some of those changes happen on their own & some we have to root out.

budgetary health

this is one that has just happened as we’ve found a healthy place to be & fleshed out our sense of mission in the community.  the reason i say “it’s just happened” is that it “happening” is a direct result of preaching straight from the word & allowing the strength of scripture speak loudly to us.  so that correction isn’t one that i’m willing to take credit for.  God & God alone get the credit for that.  so this is A sign, not THE sign of health.  i know plenty of churches that are operating at a budget surplus & are some of the most unhealthy & dysfunctional churches around.  no sense of mission, no urgency for the lost…unhealthy.

getting past “good enough

i’ve written about this once before [check the link above].  but i’ve realized something new.  i was talking with another church leader who had been in a similar leadership position & he said that we were under-going a whole mentality shift.  and that’s really true.  that we are changing the way we think about things and then that affects the way we actually do things.  in order to do new things we must be able to think in new ways.  i then believe that this is part of what paul is talking about in romans 12 when he mentions

“…the renewing of your mind…”

this is a shift that we’re going through, the ability to think in new ways & allowing our minds to be renewed by

“…God’s perfect will.”

at root, at the core of what we’re doing as a church has to be an answer to this question:

do we care more for the way we used to do things, or more for those that may find Jesus through this new way?

something interesting that has come to the surface as i’ve been working on/prep-ing & walking through the current series presidential JESUS is Jesus’ encounter with the centurion guard in matthew 8.

this has loads of political undertones!  consider the following:

the romans have taken over “the promised land” & the jews are now living in an occupied state.  for any rabbi, including Jesus, to have contact with & bring about an act of mercy; healing a sick daughter, would have brought raised some scrutiny & criticism,

“what in the world is He doing?!  doesn’t He realize that guy’s the enemy?!”

but everything that Jesus is doing in the surrounding passages connects to a larger issue in the activity of Jesus.  it would have been standard procedure to ignore or even curse the roman soldier [after all, He does that to a bush that’s not doing what it’s supposed to].

“let the roman’s daughter die!”

Jesus is talking about a 3rd way to live in a world that is corrupt & broken & ruled by corrupt & broken men & women.  this 3rd way of living revolves around matthew 5:38-40.

“don’t resist an evil person, give your coat, walk the 2nd mile…”

this move is, as Jesus helps the roman centurion, akin to a u.s. soldier being given hospitality from an iraqi during the hottest parts of the battle in iraq.  pretty interesting in how Jesus deals with this conversation & then what it says to us as we deal with the political climate of this country.

so a good question rises to the surface; what is our response to political undertakings, decisions, leaders & the rest that trickles down to us?

is our action that of resisting with all our might?

true, there are plenty of times & places that rebellion is the right action.  but i also believe that those times of grabbing the pitchforks & fire are very limited.

is our political activity one that mirrors the might & veracity of the ones we oppose?

Jesus & the kingdom He spoke of, is one that doesn’t force it’s way in the front door.  it’s one that doesn’t use the might & power at His disposal.  instead it’s one that is a bit more quiet, comes in the back door & is a bit more subtle.

and i think we’re called to a similar way of fighting the powers that be…