Saturday, February 3, 2018

Let’s Talk Extraordinary

Recently, I was reading John MacArthur’s book: Twelve Ordinary Men. He points out how, in Matthew Chapters 8, 9, and 10, Jesus shares leadership responsibilities with his disciples. Our Lord chose ordinary men and trained them to become extraordinary leaders. There are four natural progressions in their training. First, they simply followed Jesus. These followers grew as they listening to and learned from His teachings. A fundamental principle of discipleship and leadership training is that you cannot be trained as a leader if you are not interested in learning and following. In other words, it is difficult to lead others if you have not first learned to follow. How can you lead if you do not understand being led? Second, there must be commitment. When Jesus called these men, they left everything to follow him. You cannot be trained to lead others if you fail to commit. If there is absence of self-sacrifice, there is absence of service. There is a connection between dying to self and service to God and for God. We are living in the most self centered society since the days of Noah. Jesus showed His followers the virtue of true servant leadership. Commitment to something greater than self gain is the key to becoming a servant leader like our Wonderful Lord. Third, there is internship. The Twelve had experiential opportunities and were privileged to spend premium time with Jesus being mentored and taught by Him. Think of it. How would you like to be mentored personally by the Son of God! Such education and experience can not be obtained in Seminary. It is through the process of internship that their character was shaped and their destiny fashioned. The final step of leadership training is empowerment for specific service. This is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus instructed followers to stay in Jerusalem until they receive the dynamic power from the Holy Spirit so that they might fulfill the Great Commission (Acts 1:8). These were ordinary men. It was the power of the Holy Spirit that made the difference. The lesson here is God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things so that He can be glorified. John MacArthur says, “God’s favorite instruments are nobodies, so that no man can boast before God.” (Reference: John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men (Nashville: Nelson, 2002), 15-19)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Let’s Talk Authenticity

There are many people who have lost confidence in the church because of the abuses and misuses of a few. These days every shortcoming in the church of Christ is spread out over the media to such a degree that, to the outsider, it makes all of us look corrupt. There is a cynicism towards the church today that causes many people to turn us off before we ever get a chance to let them know how wonderful Christ is. I believe that anyone who has the opportunity to see Jesus as He really is will want Him. He is that wonderful. He is that loving and kind. The problem is that there is a distorted portrait of Christ out there that causes people to push away. This explains why conventional modes of outreach that were effective in days gone by are no longer effective today. When you mention Christ or the church, people in our society immediately think of a fallen evangelist or the latest scandal in the church world. If they cannot trust the preacher with their money or the priest with their children, why should they listen when we try to share life with them? The truth of the matter is the day of hard sell, cold turkey evangelism may be coming to a close. The best way to get people to listen to us may be by developing a relationship with them. The key is trust. We can only influence people if there is a bond of trust in place. Trust can best be developed through relationship. Relationships can only happen as we are connected with each other. It is the relationship that builds the bridge of trust. Our society as a whole is so sick and tired of the “phony baloney” religion they see all around them. Quite frankly, so am I. People are looking for something real. As they develop a relationship with authentic believers and get to know them, they will become exposed to genuine Christianity. They will realize that Christians are real people just like they are, not perfect people, real people with real issues. They will see how God helps the believer with those issues. They will see the difference Christ makes in a real persons life. May God help us to develop the kind of authentic relationships that will empower us to influence our world for Christ.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

To God Be The Glory!

I have a friend who prayed a prayer thirty years ago asking the Lord to help him remain humble. He received an astonishing reply from the Lord. The Lord spoke to His heart that he should look at his life as that of an instrument. The instrument is not what receives the glory in a concert, it is the musician. The instrument is the vehicle through which the musician expresses himself. The instrument is the prized possession of the musician. Keeping the instrument clean and shiny is all a part of the performance so that light is reflected by it. From time to time the instrument must have the impurities blown out of it so that the music will be pure. He said that the Lord shared with him that the wind that blows through the instrument comes from the musician himself. In other words, it’s all about the musician making music and expressing himself through the instrument. The challenge of the Lord is to always be willing to be the instrument in the hand of the master musician. If we are willing to fill that function then we will go to the concert and great music will be shared but all of the glory will go to the one playing the instrument. To God be the glory!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Leading Change

Change is all around us. There is only one thing that really never changes and that is the fact that everything changes. Society is changing at a faster rate than ever before. How we, as leaders, handle change is critical if we hope to remain relevant and be productive in what God has called us to do. What does a leader do when change is unavoidable? John Kotter in his book Leading Change lays out a process to implementing change in an organization. He places an emphasis on the processes by encouraging several steps to be followed by the leader. The process begins with developing a desire for change by examining the landscape and identifying and discussing potential opportunities. Next, the leader would create a guiding coalition by putting together a group with enough power to lead the change and encouraging the group to work together like a team. This coalition would develop a vision and strategy to help direct the change effort. The leader would then empower broad-based action by changing systems or structures that undermine the change vision and encourage risk taking and nontraditional ideas and actions. Next it is important to generate short-term wins by visibly recognizing and rewarding people who made the wins possible. These wins lead to consolidating gains and producing more change by reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change agents. The last step is important as the leader must work to anchor new approaches in the culture by creating better performance through productivity-oriented behavior and more effective management. These steps should be effective in helping the leader become a change agent in the organization. May God help us to become that change agent.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Prioritizing Connecting

Jesus prioritized connecting by commissioning all believers to go out and make disciples of all people everywhere. This cannot be done without connecting. Connecting helps us to understand and comprehend the true essence of ministry. There is no higher goal than that of obtaining the standard of Christ Himself. When asked which is the greatest commandment Christ answered with the standard of God. That standard is to love God and to love people. Connecting Points is designed to connect people with God and with each other. It is by this means that we will begin to see people experience the two great purposes of God. These two purposes are communion and community. We were made for God (communion) and for each other (community). As we help people find their purpose singularly, we will see our church find its purpose collectively.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Are you a complainer?

Do you know someone who is always complaining? Are you a complainer? In 1 Corinthians 10:10, a stern warning is given: “We must not complain, as some of them did (referring to the children of Israel of old) – and they were destroyed by the Angel of Death.” (GNB) Due to the negative complaining, the Death Angel destroyed them. Literally this means that negative complaints are an invitation for evil to plague your life. It is like a welcome mat to Satan. Demons are just drawn to that kind of attitude. On the other hand, praise repels demonic forces. If you utter praise from your lips, demons will not come close. They hate it. They stick their old, pointed fingers in their old, nasty ears and their old, pointed tails between their legs and run from people who praise the Lord. Negative complaining produces an atmosphere conducive to evil. Negative complaining is like a sickness. It affects your health. Some people will complain about everything. The story is told about an old farmer who always complained about everything. “Got a new plow,” he said, “Oh, it’ll just get rusty.” It rained for his crops, “It will probably rot out the roots.” He just complained about everything. So his hunting buddies got together and said, “We’re going to find something he can’t complain about.” So, they trained this hunting dog to walk on water. One day, they went duck hunting. Boom! Boom! They killed two ducks and they said, “He won’t be able to complain about this.” They sent the dog out across the top of the water, grabbed the ducks, and back to the boat he came. They looked at the old, negative farmer and said, “What do you think about that?” The farmer said, “Old dog never learned to swim did he?” Some people are negative about everything. This isn’t the attitude we as followers of Christ should have. What should we do if we find ourselves with a complaining attitude? Eph. 4:23-29 gives us the answer: “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy ... Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (NLT)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Can you name your neighbors?

Can you name your neighbors? You probably cannot. We are living in a day when people are not as connected as in days past. Most adults, over the age of forty, remember a more innocent time. As a child, they could name every neighbor on their street. This is not true any more. Society has changed. People are more cynical and suspicious today and it is for good reason. Twenty-five years ago parents allowed their children to roam the neighborhood without fear. Only a fool would do that today. The deeper society plummets down this dark hole of innocence lost, the more disconnected we become. This is a problem. God created us to have relationship with Him and with each other. We, as believers, have a more involved problem. We are commissioned to connect to the greater community for the cause of Christ. This becomes more difficult, as society becomes more disconnected. The problem is that people are not connected to God, each other, or the greater community at large. May God help us to get back to the basics of relational ministry so that we can do what He wants us to do: Get Connected!