Archive for January, 2010
Everything begins with leadership. Without a leader, the greatest plan in the world is just a piece of paper. It takes a leader to make it happen. If you want to help your congregation balance the five purposes of the church, you’ll need leaders to help champion these purposes.
That doesn’t mean you need to find paid staff to fulfill these roles. Some of the best “staff” we have at Saddleback are volunteer staff members. But you do need somebody.
How do you find the right person – whether they are volunteer or paid?
You start by knowing your purpose. You’ll want a champion (again, staff or volunteer) for each of the purposes of the church (worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism/missions). You build your idea of a leader around where you want people to go. That’s what God has always done. When he wanted people to go from Egypt to the promised land, he found a leader named Moses to take them there. When he wanted to find a leader to take them into the promised land, he found Joshua because he knew where he wanted his people to go.
God develops leaders based on where his people are going. That’s what Christian leadership is all about. You want people to worship more deeply, develop meaningful relationships within the church, grow like Christ, serve in the church, and share their life mission in the world? Find leaders who can take them there.
So as you look for leaders to champion the biblical purposes, who are you looking for?
1. A person with passion: You want a person who has a heart that burns for this purpose, a passion for it. I’ve always had a passion for discipleship, helping people become more like Christ, and in the places where I have served, people have tended to grow spiritually. When I first came to Saddleback, the spiritual maturity team was an obvious place for me to serve. I’m sure you know people in your church who are passionate about a particular purpose, and when they serve through that purpose, people simply respond. That’s where you have to start in your search. Look through your church membership for people who have this kind of passion for a particular purpose.
2. A person who likes people: You want to find someone who can lead and likes people. Leadership is a “people job.” A person can have all kinds of passion for a purpose, but if they don’t like people, it’s not going to work.
3. A person with perspective: A person’s passion for a purpose must be tempered by the understanding that all the purposes are needed. A person must realize that just helping somebody have a quiet time is not enough; we must be living out all of the biblical purposes.
You probably already have some people in mind to be these purpose champions. As you are thinking about these people, ask yourself these three questions.
Do they have the biblical, character, and ministry-related qualifications to do this? Do they have the S.H.A.P.E.? You want the person you choose to be a fit for the position. What kind of qualifications and S.H.A.P.E. is needed depends upon your church and the position you’re trying to fill. Spend some time thinking about what you need and what you expect – then see if the candidate is the right person for the position.
Do they accept the vision? Great ministry qualifications never make up for a difference in ministry vision. In fact choosing someone who has the qualifications but not the same vision as you do can tear your church apart.
Are they willing to do the work? Obviously, you need somebody who can give the time. Remember you want to find a person who can really sink his or her teeth into the assignment. Whoever champions these purposes will have an important task in the church. Even if they are coming in as a volunteer, you’ll want to make sure they have time to fulfill the role.
I’m confident that God has someone for these positions in your church. You can’t build a church around God’s purposes on your own. You’ll burn yourself out trying. Look around in your church and see who can fill these roles. Ask God to send you just the right person – and watch him do just that.
Richard Baxter once said, “A surrendered life in the hands of a holy God is a fearful thing.”
That’s where we need to be as we lead our congregations toward total surrender to God.
What does it mean to be surrendered to God? The Bible’s word for surrender is also the word for brokenness. We know from the Bible that God uses broken vessels. It’s a divine principle.
The greatest example of this is Jesus. In Luke 22:42, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (NIV) In the New Testament, ‘cup’ always represents suffering. When Jesus looked into that cup, he saw every sin ever committed. You know that – every sin committed by me, and by you, and by the members of our congregations.
He saw every reason why I shouldn’t be a pastor; yet, he still called me to be one. He saw every reason why you shouldn’t be a pastor; yet, he still called you to be one. Get this – he saw every attack made upon you because you are the leader of your congregation. He saw every lie told about you; he saw every misunderstanding caused by selfish intentions; he saw betrayal. Yet, he still called the people of your congregation to be his own, and he asked you to be their shepherd.
Jesus looked into that cup of suffering and saw he’d be shouldering the blame for all those sins. He was the good Shepherd. He looked into that cup of suffering and said, “Father, if it is possible take this cup away from me. But nevertheless, not my will but your will be done.” That’s surrender! That’s total submission to the Father. That’s brokenness.
It shows us a divine principle: God takes us, he breaks us, he blesses us, and then he uses us. But, in order to use us, we need to be broken of our own sin and pride, just as Isaiah cried out, ‘I am a man of unclean lips,’ when he came face-to-face with Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord, God, Almighty.
God will never “reject a broken and repentant heart.” (Psalm 51:17 NLT)
God cannot use us to the fullest extent until we come to our own Gethsemane. We need to come to a place, and then remain at that place, where we say, “Father, not my will, not my ambition, not my desire to be popular, not anything, but your will be done.”
When we do that, God will do all kinds of amazing things through us. But it starts with brokenness. God will never “reject a broken and repentant heart.” (Psalm 51:17 NLT) He promises us that.
I’ve told my staff many times we don’t want to hire anyone who hasn’t had problems in life. They’re usually not very effective in ministry. I want people who have been broken. It makes people more real; it makes them more honest.
Why do we need our hearts broken? We need broken hearts over what’s happening in the world. Bob Pierce, who founded World Vision, said it like this: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”
God is looking for spiritual leaders who have surrendered everything to him.
May you and I both become that kind of leader for Christ.
As many as I love, I rebuke…
Revelation 3:19 NKJV
Addressing the end-time church, Jesus said: ‘… “you say, ‘I am rich… and have need of nothing’ and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore… repent”‘ (Revelation 3:17-19 NKJV).
Those are strong words! Why would Christ say that to us? Because: a) instead of believing God for New Testament results, we say God doesn’t do miracles any more b) we’ve tolerated division in the name of denominational loyalty c) we’ve taught that Christianity is mainly about avoiding things. As a result we’ve lost our joy, because intimacy with Christ cannot be achieved through performance d) many of our leaders have stopped modelling servant-hood and forgotten that Jesus washed feet and rode on a donkey e) instead of using our financial blessing to reach the world for Christ and care for the poor, we’re acquiring and splurging on ourselves f) we get upset when somebody uses contemporary methods to reach the younger generation. Instead of engaging the culture we’re hiding from it g) instead of ‘occupy till I come,’ we’d rather fly away. We read rapture novels when we should be praying for those living on the verge of martyrdom. Why can’t we have their kind of faith? We can; if we’re willing to pay the price.
I have come that they may have life… to the full.
John 10:10 NIV
At a street meeting, a young Salvation Army drummer was testifying about his past. ‘Before I became a Christian I used to drink and gamble, but I don’t do that any more. I used to swear and womanise, but I don’t do that any more either. Come to think of it… all I do now is stand on the same old street corner and beat the same old drum!’ Ever felt like that? You get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, drop into bed, get up next day and do it all again? Like Solomon, sometimes you can feel like ‘Everything is meaningless… ‘ (Ecclesiastes 12:8 NLT). But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Francis Schaeffer said, ‘Man has a purpose; to be in a relationship with God… when he forgets his purpose he forgets who he is and what life means.’ There’s more to life than beating the same old drum day after day. Jesus said ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10 NIV) and the first step is acknowledging that He died to show you the way back to God. Step two is recognising you need a personal relationship with Him. Step three is using the Bible as a blueprint for purpose and fulfillment. It’s the only book that answers the important questions, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I here?’ You’re not ‘a mistake’ as one woman said after discovering her mother had tried to abort her. In God’s eyes you have great value, and today He offers you ‘life to the full.’
Words of Wisdom
Thought for the week: “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without guideposts.” – C. S. Lewis
“Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.” – William Arthur Ward
“I would not give one moment of heaven for all the joy and riches of the world, even if it lasted for thousands and thousands of years.” – Martin Luther
“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.” – Jonathan Winters, Comedian
“God’s gift to us is who we are and our gift to God is who we become.” – Unknown.
“The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful, the world will prove loving and friendly and helpful to you. The world is what you are.” – Thomas Dreier
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” – The Bible (Isaiah 5:20).
2. On the Lighter Side
A hospital administrator was startled to see a patient fleeing down the hall from the operating room…
He stopped the patient and asked, “Do you mind telling me why you ran away from the operating room?” The patient looked at him with startled eyes and said, “It was because of what the nurse said!” The administrator inquired, “Oh? What did she say?” “She said, ‘Be brave! An appendectomy is quite simple.’” To which the administrator replied, “Well, so what? It is a simple procedure. I would think her words would comfort you!” The patient said, “I’ll tell you so what! The nurse said it to the doctor!
Relativists often confuse the changing behavioral situation with the unchanging moral duty.
For example, when discussing a moral topic like premarital sex or cohabitation, you often hear people in support of it say something like, “Get with it, this is the twenty-first century!” as if current behaviors dictate what’s right and wrong. To illustrate the absurdity of the relativist’s reasoning, you need only to turn the discussion to a more serious moral issue like murder, which also occurs much more frequently in America today that it did fifty years ago. How many relativists would speak in support of murder by asking us to “Get with it, this is the twenty-first century!”? That’s where their reasoning takes them when they confuse what people do with what they ought to do. (Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek)
4. An Old Farmer’s Advice
• Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and
• Keep skunks at a safe distance.
• Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
• A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere
• Words that soak into your ears are whispered…not yelled
• Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
• Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
• Do not corner something that you know is meaner than
• It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
• You cannot unsay a cruel word.
• Every path has a few puddles.
• When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
• The best sermons are lived, not preached.
• Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna
• Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
• Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
• Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and
think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
• Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t botherin’ you
• Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
• If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop
• Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
• The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to
deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.
• Always drink upstream from the herd.
• Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that
comes from bad judgment.
• Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than
puttin’ it back in.
• If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence,
try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
• Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.
Submitted by Ed Bradley
5. On Forgiveness
“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.” – William Arthur Ward
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Forgiveness is not an emotion, it’s a decision.” – Randall Worley
“If you wish to travel far and fast; travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears.” – Glenn Clark
– Source: http://www.beliefnet.com
6. Advice About Teens
By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (629.4)
Here are three suggestions for parents of teens, all learned through my own mistakes:
First, with emerging demands for independence, worries about peer acceptance, pressures of school and extracurricular activities, and a continuous search for self-identity, adolescents are on a physical and emotional roller coaster. Like every generation before them (including yours), teens are often arrogant and over-confident about their knowledge and your ignorance, and are deeply insecure about most other things.
They’re going to make mistakes, behave badly, and be thoroughly self-absorbed. Although they want you to be less involved in their lives, they actually need you more. And despite continual battles, if you’re open, you’ll experience glorious moments that all of you will cherish your whole lives.
Second, be firm but choose your battles carefully. Don’t back down when dealing with important principles, but don’t make every issue a hill you’re willing to die on either. Be content to lose occasionally and give in graciously.
Third, don’t belittle or underestimate the importance of their feelings. It may seem like they’re over-reacting, but teens feel emotions like embarrassment, loneliness, insecurity, frustration, and love intensely. It’s disrespectful to minimize or discount these feelings with useless advice like “You’ll get over it” or “Everyone feels that way.” Nor is it helpful to dismiss or invalidate an emotion by saying “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
Teens can be hard to love, but be patient. Soon they’ll be the parents of your grandchildren.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
© 2009 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation’s leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org
7. Believing Is Seeing
Sample of Daily Encounter by Dick Innes
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”1
When explorers from England first went to Australia, they discovered some strange and wonderful animals not seen anywhere else in the world—animals such as the kangaroo, the koala (which isn’t a bear as it is often called), and the ornithorhynchus—a mammal that laid eggs, spent some time in water and some on land, had a broad, flat tail, webbed feet, and a bill similar to a duck (now known as the platypus).
When the explorers returned home, nobody would believe their story about the platypus. All felt it was a hoax. Even after they returned to Australia and brought back a pelt from this strange animal, people still felt it was a hoax and refused to believe it was real.2
Many people say, “I believe only what I see for myself.” That’s not necessarily true either because, by and large, people see and believe only what they want to see and believe—and refuse to see and believe all else—regardless of the evidence.
However, what I see and believe has absolutely no effect on what is. What is, is—whether I see and believe it or not. For instance, I’ve never seen an atom but I’ve seen (at least in pictures) the evidence of its incredible power and believe it is real. I live close to a nuclear power plant and can’t see the electric power it is generating, but its electricity is probably powering my computer on which I am typing this article right now. I can’t see the electricity, but whether I believe it is real or not doesn’t affect its reality. It just is.
I’ve never seen God either, but I see evidence of his presence and mighty power everywhere I look—I see and believe because I want and choose to believe. With God, as with many things in life, believing is seeing. Indeed, the heavens declare the glory of God. Believe it and you will see.
Suggested prayer: “Dear God, open my eyes and help me to see the marvels of your creation, the majesty of your presence, the magnificence of your power and, above all, help me to see all the riches in Jesus Christ you have for me—including the gift of forgiveness and eternal life to live with you forever in heaven. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
1. Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV).
You give them something to eat.
Matthew 14:16 NKJV
Lee Brown noticed a little girl begging in her neighbourhood. Later she searched, but couldn’t find her at the local school. That day Brown decided to make a difference for other kids by adopting a first-grade class in one of the city’s lowest-performing schools, pledging to pay for any student wanting to attend college. Brown wasn’t wealthy. She was a cotton-picker-turned-real estate agent making $45,000 a year and raising two kids; but she honoured that pledge. She has personally contributed £10,000 every year, in addition to raising donations from others. Brown’s leap of faith rescued students who’d otherwise end up on the streets.
It takes courage to make a difference, especially when you can’t see a way to do it. When he was in Africa, David Livingstone received a letter saying, ‘We want to send helpers. Have you found a good road into your area yet?’ Livingstone wrote back, ‘If they only want to come when there’s a good road, don’t send them. I want people who’ll come when there’s no road!’ Surrounded by 5,000 hungry people, Jesus told his disciples, ‘You give them something to eat.’ It seemed impossible, but when they obeyed they witnessed a miracle. One writer says, ‘Christ will lead you into seemingly impossible situations… don’t avoid them. That’s where you’ll experience God… If you attempt only things you know are possible with the resources you possess… you’ll receive the credit and God will have no part in it… Have you received a word that awaits your next step of faith? Proceed, no matter now incredible it seems. You’ll experience the joy of seeing God perform a miracle, and so will those around you.’
Take A Leap Of Faith (2)
Faith is… the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 NAS
One day two caterpillars were plodding up a hill when they noticed a butterfly dipping and weaving overhead. Turning to his buddy, one said, ‘You’d never get me up in one of those things!’ Raise your sights, take a leap of faith! ‘faith is… the conviction of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1 NAS).
Glynnis Whitwer says, ‘God calls us to obedience without showing us the end result… There are days I’m tired of getting called out of my comfort zone… I’ve been known to whine and ask if I can serve God from the safety of my recliner. But that’s not God’s way. He doesn’t want me limited by my desire for security and control… Something inside is revealed when we’re pressured from without… [it] shines light on the truth about our faith… To grow, faith must be stretched, and that’s uncomfortable… Unlike some, I haven’t learned to trust God the easy way… by reading a book… listening to a sermon… or hearing how my friend trusts Him. I’m learning by stepping out into the adventure of obedience and discovering that He’s trustworthy. This happened when my husband and I started tithing (after I resisted for years), and watched God cover our needs and more… When I obeyed His command to write a book (although I didn’t know what I’d write about), and watched God open doors of opportunity… When we said yes to adoption, and are watching the blossoming of two little girls with hope and a future… Obeying when God hasn’t revealed the steps… or the final destination is challenging. But when we walk by faith He gets the glory, because we know we couldn’t have done it.’ So, take a leap of faith.
For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven… by the wind…
James 1:6 NKJV
The Bible says, ‘for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.’ (James 1:6-8 NKJV)). This Scripture applies specifically to asking God for wisdom, then rationalising and vacillating when He gives you an answer. But the same principle applies to all of life. Have you ever seen anything more fickle than a wave? The wind that takes it one direction today, takes it in an entirely different one tomorrow. ‘How does this apply to me?’ you ask:
1) if you’ve grown up in a family where every decision was made for you 2) if you spent your life around people who made reckless decisions that left you feeling ‘it’s too easy to get it wrong and too hard to get it right’ 3) if the bad decisions you’ve made in the past have sabotaged your confidence; then today’s devotion is just for you!
James makes the point that none of us learn to hear from God without making mistakes. So don’t be hard on yourself. Learn from your mistakes, correct the ones you can, and continue being decisive. Don’t fall back into a pattern of indecision because you got it wrong a few times. Often you’ll only know that you’ve done the right thing; when you do it! Devote a reasonable amount of time to waiting on God, and when necessary seek the counsel of others. But don’t be afraid to act; make a decision and follow through with it. In other words, ‘just do it!’
It is God who works in you…
Philippians 2:13 NKJV
A conduit is a channel through which things like water and electricity move from one point to another, and you are God’s conduit! You are designed to be a free-flowing channel for Jesus Christ Himself. God has chosen you to be His ‘change-agent’ in the earth. In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:10) the original Greek says, ‘Come thy kingdom. Be done thy will’ Jesus no longer walks among us physically, but He has given us His mandate and all the power we need to carry it out. In other words, it’s going to happen through you. God promised ‘Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours… ‘ (Deuteronomy 11:24 NKJV). We bring the influence and benefits of God’s kingdom wherever we go. The problem is, our ‘receivers’ don’t always work. It takes faith to believe we actually hear God’s instructions, just as it takes faith to believe an unseen radio wave is passing through our living rooms. Because we’re confident of that reality, we tune in, receive and transmit.
Scientists tell us that the greatest metal conduit is pure gold. According to the Bible, ‘the genuineness of your faith… much more precious than gold… ‘ (1 Peter 1:7NKJV). Certain obstacles can block our ability to receive and be conduits for God. If our hearts are hard, our wires are down, or if we’re unaware of our identity as conduits, we go through life without tapping into the power God’s given us. We must be full of the Word of God, and most importantly, spend time in intimacy with the Lord in order to be God’s conduit.