Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sacred People (part 3)

In this series of articles we're examining the life of Jesus to see what a truly sacred person looks like. And it may not be the most spiritual or holy person, although that's what we've been led to believe.  The answer may shock you.

Sacred People (part 1)
Sacred People (part 2)
Sacred People (part 4) 

Unholy people

So far we've talked about the need to be authentic and to begin to allow God to expand our thinking.  This time we're going to look at the turning point for the burgeoning Church (found in Acts 10).

As we also learned last time, the Jews sought to maintain their focus on God through isolation.  They wouldn't even eat with non-Jewish people.  But God wanted to invite "outsiders" in!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Missed Opportunity

Image source: sportz.guru

Our family checked out a nearby church this past Sunday.  One of the privileges of this season of our lives (searching for a pastoral position) is being able to visit a lot of churches.  Because of our experience as church planters, pastors and in associate pastoral roles over the past 25+ years we know churches inside and out.  But because of what we have learned in secular (unchurched) Europe we view every church through the lens of outsiders, especially Millennials and others that are far from God.

In visiting this church on Sunday we saw some things that were really good and things that would cause an unchurched person to never come back.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Competition

Image source: golime.co
Leaders are often competitive.  It's one of the things that drives us to build strong, innovative organizations.  It enables us to persevere through difficult situations without giving up.

But there is also a darker side... one that will destroy everything that God desires to build through us.  We end up eyeing everyone that is succeeding around us as "the competition."  Anytime we do this we reduce them from human beings created in God's image (Genesis 1:27) to rivals needing to be conquered.  And we forfeit the ability to work together to tackle big-picture problems.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Core Values Must Be Modeled

Image source: redhillconsultinggroup.com
As Jesus was having a meal in Levi’s home, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. - Mark 2:15

Jesus took His disciples along to dinner at Levi's (Matthew's) house. He modeled for them the kind of people He chose to spend time with. The disciples saw the criticism Jesus got from the religious leaders for hanging with "tax collectors and sinners." But they also saw His heart to connect with people that were far from God.

Spiritual leaders have to model the core values they wish to pass on to those they lead. It's not enough to simply talk about them or teach about them. We must embody them if we want them to be embraced by our team/church. I heard Pastor Rob Ketterling say, "If the unchurched are going to have a voice in my church it MUST be mine." Exactly!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Our First Priority

Image source: prioritiesmichigan.org
"He [Jesus] appointed twelve (whom he named apostles), so that they would be with him and he could send them to preach and to have authority to cast out demons." - Mark 3:14-15
We are ALL "called" by God to serve in full-time ministry. Some are called to serve in a church (pastors), and others to serve in church planting or a foreign country (missionaries). Still others are called to serve in their occupation (painters, bankers, bakers, programmers, etc.).

Notice, though, that when Jesus called His disciples and designated them as apostles the mission and priorities were clear: They were to first be with Him. Then, and only then, were they to go out to preach and do miracles.

It is the same with us... before we go out into our everyday mission field (our occupation) we are to keep first things first. We need to spend time with God, catching His heart and allowing Him to refresh and empower us. Then, and only then, should we head out into our calling. Spending time with God provides meaning and empowerment to spread the message and bring His power to a broken world.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Blood, Sweat and Tears of Evangelism

Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” They left their nets immediately and followed him. - Mark 1:17-18

When Jesus invited these men to become His disciples (that was the point of this "follow me" invitation) they realized exactly what He meant, for they were fishermen by trade.

Jesus wasn't referring to the holiday weekend, relaxing, cast out a line and wait for the fish to bite kind of fishing. He was referring to the long days/nights of blood, sweat and tears, labor-intensive occupation of net fishing. It involved throwing a round, weighted net over the side of the boat, waiting for it to sink and then pulling it back in - often with little or no results. (See Luke 5:5 and John 21:3) THEY KNEW WHAT HE WAS IMPLYING AND STILL THEY LEFT EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW HIM!!!

Far too many believers are unwilling to put in the time, effort and prayer necessary to truly share the Good News of God's grace to their relational circle. We want something that is socially and financially convenient and that fits into our busy schedule and our lifestyle. This isn't effective. It won't produce the results God intended for us to have. God's way of reaching people requires a lifetime commitment to discipleship (following Him by growing in our trust and obedience to God). If we will simply follow Him, HE will MAKE US fishers of men and women.

All He asks for is our commitment to follow. If we'll do that, He'll take care of the rest!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sacred People (part 2)

In this series of articles we're examining the life of Jesus to see what a truly sacred person looks like. And it may not be the most spiritual or holy person, although that's what we've been led to believe.  What we discover may shock you.

Sacred People (part 1)
Sacred People (part 3)
Sacred People (part 4) 

Getting out of the box

The Jews in Jesus' day lived by rigid legal standards – some established by God and others added by men.  These rules were put in place to keep their hearts and their focus solely on Him.  This included isolating themselves from people that didn’t serve their God.  As a matter of fact, Jews wouldn’t associate or even eat with non-Jews.  This tradition continued with the believers in the early years following Jesus' resurrection and return to heaven.  Their churches were made up entirely of Jews or converts to Judaism.

But God never planned to keep the message of the Jewish Messiah (Jesus) just for the Jews.  His plan all along was for men, women and children of all nations to be a part of His family.  In order to make this a reality, God had to get the Jewish believers out of their isolationist box!  A radical worldview transformation was necessary for this to happen.  Jesus warned that this would happen:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sacred People (part 1)

In this series of articles we're examining the life of Jesus to see what a truly sacred person looks like. And it may not be the most spiritual or holy person, although that's what we've been led to believe.  What we discover may shock you.

Just be real

The lady that cuts my hair is a trip! (in a good way)  She has multiple tattoos (almost a full sleeve), multiple piercings, WILD hair colors and likes "eccentric" clothing.  She's nothing like me, except for our mutual gift for sarcasm and honesty :)  One day she told how she used to go to church with her parents, but never really fit in because she asked too many questions.  Questions make religious people nervous because they bring up uncomfortable topics.  Apparently in a church you’re supposed to stick to the script!  So she finally came to the conclusion that, “I don’t belong in a church.”

Unfortunately I could tell you story after story after story that has exactly the same ending.  This breaks my heart!  We have FAILED in our primary assignment – to represent Jesus to a broken world.