Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A New Set of Tracks

What's your Deal?

For many years I have been thinking about the difference between sharing my faith by some program, like DE or EE, using a bunch of verses and a canned script, or by telling my own personal story of how God grabbed ahold of me and changed me. There are differences of opinion on this subject and some say that you need to give a chain of verses and get people to recite a prayer, while others say that this kind of thing should be much more relational and less Bible verses.

In reading Acts 22 this morning Paul asked to tell his conversion story and it wasn't well received. I don't see any verses in the passage, I know that now it is all verses, but no OT verses, and all he did was tell about who he was before, what he was doing and what happened that made him so different today; his story.

There was something different about Paul now that was very irritating to many around him, not because he was being a jerk, I mean he was killing people before and he was well received so maybe that's one clue, or because he was constantly reciting OT passages to them but because he was different than he was before. Paul was often in the Synagogue and in houses talking about Scripture, explaining to others what a certain passage meant, but when asked "What's your deal?" he gave his testimony instead of a long list of verses. Why do you suppose that is?

A Changed life is Hopeful

I don't have all the answers to all the questions that people have about the Bible; Paul was obviously in a much better place to refute objections than I am. I can't explain every question that the Bible raises, but I can tell of the hope that is in me. I can tell you that God did something in me and it's made me look at life much differently today than I did some years ago.

Everyone has something that they are looking forward to, maybe you want to call them goals and maybe you don't; some call it a "bucket list" and others are not that organized, but we all have something that causes us to get up in the morning and keeps us up later at night. God can change your bucket list and take everything that has no meaning and replace it with very meaningful things; things that have purpose. Paul understood this and so do I.

Who's the Hero?

In Paul's recounting of why he was different than before, there is only one "hero" in the story and it wasn't Paul. All Paul could say was that before God got ahold of his life, he was on one track and then, by no intention in himself, he was on a completely different track and the One who changed his course of direction was God.

It seems that people often want to point back to things that we have done in our conversion but if it were up to me, dependent on me, I would still be on the old track. God not only took me off that track but made it so that the new track is a much more enjoyable track to be on than was the old.

How does something like that happen? If my desires were the same as they were previously then everyday I would wake up and be miserable on the new tracks, but God changed my heart and that is why life is worth living and that is why life is full of hope. I no longer have my hope centered around things on earth and my hope is in what is to come.

Sure I have things I would like to accomplish today and tomorrow and this year, but if I don't see them accomplished my life in not wasted, because that is not why I live and breath any more. I don't know how that all happened but I know that God did something specific to and in me and HE changed my life and I never want to go back to the way it was before.

That's not a verse and I am not the "hero" of the story but God changed ME and I am glad He did even though I am not sure of all He did or even exactly when He did it all, but He did change me and that gives me hope, because if He can change me I know He can change you.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Father's Care in View

As a dad it is my job to provide for the family that God has given me. As dads we should take that responsibility seriously while yet understanding clearly that it is God that gives the means for us to provide. Often we get these 2 things out of perspective and think it is us, the dads, who are doing the providing; that is until the means we are given to provide is diminished or taken away completely.

So as I sit here are write and pray for the kids who are all the way across the continent I am reminded that it is not I who am the sole provider, it is not Ian who is not in charge of what happens, it is not required of us to be able to keep vehicles running on a shoe string budget, but rather it is God Who keeps things running, or NOT, and it is He Who alone is the provider of all we need.

So what kind of lessons does God teach us in times when we are not really able to provide for ourselves? What kinds of things do He want us to get?

I think, first off, that He is interested in us getting this idea- like the children of Israel in the wilderness. They actually had money and yet God placed them where the money was useless to provide for their daily needs. The ONLY thing they could do was to follow God's plan and receive what He gave.

The second thing is that we should be watching for what He does. I want to help the kids but at this time I really don't have the menas to do that and it doesn't matter bc God does have the means. He not only has the means but He is eager to give and wants to be recognized and thanked for His provision.

So today, as I pray from the other side of the US, I am humbled that God can provide much better than I and that He WILL provide in His time and perfectly for the needs of those that I love so much.

What an awesome God we serve and it is amazing to watch Him work in ways that only He can. Wait but get ready to worship because He provides more than we can ask or imagine and I have a pretty big imagination.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Leadership Expose'- Where's Nathan?

Massive Leadership Issues

As I watch the news, read some blogs, see some FB posts, follow some Twitter feeds and live life it seems there is an epic leadership disconnect going on today and the Church is not exempt, in fact maybe the Church is leading this decline.

Where are the Nathans in the world today who will stand up to these men and say, "Enough is enough. Either you do what is right or you will need to step down"?

Today our positions of leadership are filled from the inside, bottom up, so that every leader seems to have a bunch of dirt on the people below him and is willing to use that dirt to remain at the level he has attained no matter how ugly it might get; no matter who he needs to throw under the bus.

Biblical Model

Matthew 18:15-17 clearly defines how we are to deal with sin in the Church and it is not talking about just the pew sitters; it is SIN in the Church.
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

So, if I see someone do something that looks like sin to me, I am to go to that person, by myself, and in the spirit of Gal. 6:1, a spirit of meekness because it could be me next time, I am to confront them on this issue or concern. If they blow me off and say I am wrong and recriminate me, then I am to take 2 or 3 others with me and attempt to win the brother again; again, in the spirit of Gal. 6. If after this is done and there is still no repentance or humility, then I am to take it to the church, whether that be the leadership of the church as a whole is part of this question.

Today's Model

What it seems like is happening all too frequently in the Church today is that maybe the first to steps of Matt. 18 are being done but as soon as there is no repentance the playing field gets really messy. The "officials" come in to the aid of their favorite "players" and change the rules, don't make them play by the same rules that the Bible outlines and then even start to lobby penalties against those who were originally following the Biblical model.

How can this be? Where are the leaders who require leaders to be REAL leaders? Where are the men who will not turn their backs and say "I didn't see anything wrong", when in fact they absolutely know something is wrong but they are afraid of losing something and so rather than risk losing a position or a paycheck they look the other way, or even cover up the sin by lying? Where are they I ask?

Nathan's Example

Nathan was in a pretty tough spot. Nathan had to go tell the most beloved king of his country "You are that man." Do you think that is what Nathan was wanting to do when he got up that morning? Do you think he was thinking "This will be easy"? Do you think that maybe he was thinking he might lose his HEAD?

It doesn't matter what we might lose. If we know what the right thing to do is and we don't do it, that in itself is sin. Many leaders today know exactly what the right thing to do is and yet they look the other way. Many sheep will leave the Church and never look back because of how they have been treated by leadership.

It's interesting to me that early in Matt 18 there is a section on causing "little ones" to stumble. There is a "Woe to you" for causing others to stumble and do you suppose it could be directed at leadership? The Pharisees were pretty good at changing the rules, causing people to stumble and elevating themselves and their associates and Jesus called them a brood of vipers.

The Goal

The goal of Matt 18 is to win the brother. "Winning" takes on many forms and winning them might come in the form of them seeing their sin, repenting from that sin, losing their job and having an amazing impact on the Church for many generations in a different capacity. Winning is not letting their sin go on and on, never saying anything about it and hoping that someday God sends someone to say something. He already did and when you look in the mirror you're looking at him.

Nathan wasn't looking around for someone to do his job; he went and did it. In meekness and humility we are to go to our leaders and try to win them towards becoming more like Christ, to be better leaders and better sheep.

I am concerned for those leaders today that are not willing to lose something here on earth to do the right thing because God will always make it right! Be a friend and a brother to your leaders and do what God has called you to do; with respect, honor and meekness, but go do it.