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Archive for August, 2010

Mixed Messages

This is what the LORD says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!- Jeremiah 22:3 (NLT)

Social justice has long been on the Lord’s agenda.  The issue is not whether it is on the Lord’s agenda.  The issue today is about what the Lord wants us to do with social justice in an era such as this.  The church needs to be clear about what the Lord is calling it to do in His name for the sake of social justice as much as it is to become clear about what it is not to do in His name regarding it.

The church needs to get clear on what the Lord said about social justice before it gets distracted and detoured with every single need that arises for advocacy opportunities and volunteer sign-ups.  Since Jesus healed a blind man named Bartimeus, are we to only work with those with physical infirmities and disabilities? Or, since the early church sold all of their possessions, are we to condemn the rich for their lifestyles while others in the same congregation live in poverty? We need to get clear on “thus saith the Lord” before we launch out into the wide expanse of social justice without any real mission or ministry.

The Lord gives us exactly what we need to get done what He has destined for us to do.  Every church can’t lead every movement for every cause.  If your pastor has a heart for a certain ministry such as prison re-entry or pro-life advocacy, take the time to hear his sincere desire for the ministry and its scriptural rationale.  Get to know what’s leading the man of God to see where He’s leading your church. 

Let the Word of God and His Spirit clear up some of the mixed messages that exist out there.  Yes, you may seem to hear when you hear about abortion clinics bombed in the name of the Lord.  There is news footage of professing Christians hurling derogatory insults at gay rights activists for their lifestyle choices.  What we have to do is go beyond the surface of the smoke and mirrors of all of that man-made confusion and settle in for a good look at God’s Word to see where He wants us headed and what He wants us doing.

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11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. – Titus 2:11-14 (NKJV)

Good works are to be part of the Christian church’s DNAPaul stressed that to Titus, his “true son” in the ministry of sharing the Good News, as he instructed him about establishing elders and setting things in order in Crete. Paul instructs Titus, as the appointed pastor over the Cretan believers, to show himself as a pattern of good works.  The people are to learn to become zealous for good works as the Lord’s “special people” by following after the Lord’s example and the example set by their spiritual leaders in the name of the Lord.  The people have to hear about it by sound doctrine and they have to see it by demonstration.  The church becomes more engaged with good works due to what the Lord showed and shared with the world over 2,000 years ago and what the pastor shows and shares with the congregation as the spiritual leader day by day.

We are not to simply sign up and show up for opportunities to do good works.  That’s not the essence of the message from Paul to Titus.  We are to become “zealous for good works,” according to Titus 2:14, demonstrating a fervent spirit for our calling to do good works in accordance with Ephesians 2:10Paul stresses that godly people should not only “be ready for every good work,” as in Titus 3;1, but also learn to “maintain good works” in Titus 3:8, 14.  According to Titus 3:14, our good works lead to our fruitfulness as we meet urgent needs.

  • Is your ministry demonstrating a “pattern of good works?”
  • What sort of trail are you leaving behind? Good works and good fruit?
  • Are others learning to minister to others based upon the example that you are providing?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works – Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)

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There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.- Galatians 3:28 (NLT)
There are some who consider their congregations “open,” but their reality is something entirely different.  However, some of the churches that come out of a background of putting the protest in Protestant find it difficult to include all others when those others support gay marriage, abortion or legalized marijuana.  These churches are open in the name of Jesus, but they must remain mindful to stick to the way of Jesus.

I used to live near a Methodist church that prominently posted this slogan on its marquee and advertisements.   Open Hearts… Open Minds… Open Doors… Open what? I keep wondering just how “open” they are.  Are there doors more open than their hearts and minds? I should hope not, seeing as how I know some well-meaning Methodists and Wesleyans.

Our churches need to intensify their inclusion.  America has its first African-American president in Barak Obama.  Now, as we go forward in faith, let us open up and crank up our inclusion of others. 

Let us become:

  • More Intense with Inclusion
  • More Intentional with Inclusion
  • More Inclusive with Inclusion

Does your church invest in supporting underserved community members with necessary programs? Is your church campus a safe haven for at-risk youth and abused women and their families? Can those in recovery walk into your church without the shadow of shame? Can those returning from prison and jail enter your congregation without being judged and condemned all over again?

I love the story of Rick Warren and Saddleback Church’s origin as told in the Purpose Driven Church.  Warren shares that the ministries at Saddleback were developed based upon the needs of the people who came to the church.  He developed ministries that helped meeting the needs of people who came to them and who lived around them. 

As you help others get better and to live differently, they become the spokespeople for what is possible within your church.  Ex-addicts go back and share the Word with other addicts who struggle with addiction.  Former gang members and drug dealers spread the word on the streets of what your church has done for them since they met Jesus at your church’s altar.  Your job? Keep intensifying your inclusion.  Touch lives like never before.  Make a difference in the lives of people who attend your worship services and who live around and near your church.  Remain open to innovative and inventive ways to invite and include people to be part of the family since we are all one in Christ Jesus.

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“Teamwork is not a preference, it is a requirement.”
Coach John Wooden

Losing isn’t the worst thing that can happen for a team.  Losing the sense of togetherness and teamwork can be more detrimental to a team than a series of defeats or a losing season.  We need to see how to keep the teamwork as a priority.  Teamwork is about the entire team working as a team.

  • Motivate PeopleEncourage: Get people motivated to work together.  Look into team-building exercises.  Structure fellowship time.  Work in some out-of-the-office activities or outings for the entire team and heir families.
  • Maintain Progress– Ensure: With a collective purpose and people motivated to pursue goals together, keep track on progress.  Keep the bottom line in view, but ensure that what your team has set out to do is being worked as a priority.  Saving costs does you no good if it costs you clients and contracts.  See what progress is being made towards goal and record it every step of the way.
  • Measure Performance – Evaluate: Work on seeing the bigger picture.  Get beyond your department. See how your team has impacted others.  Take a long, hard look at where you started and where you ended up.  Did you get things done as a team? Evaluate your results and performance. 
Do for others what you would like them to do for you– Matthew 7:12 (NLT)

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Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.

Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)

You can win with wise counsel.  The problem for many people in business and leadership is that they are looking for that one mentor who can answer all things that exist.  That’s not realistic or rational.  That’s not how you win. 

No one has all of the answers except God.  You need a “multitude of counselors” according to Proverbs 15:22 (NKJV).  Through the multitude of counselors, your plans are established and their feedback ensures that you have covered everything on the checklist for launching your venture.  There is no one-stop shop when it comes to mentoring.

How to identify a “multitude of counselors” for business and leadership:

  • Set your standard before you select your potential mentors and counselors
  • Get a variety of people from a wide variety of experiences and expertise (CEO/ presidents, business school faculty, board chairpersons, etc.)
  • Vary the age of your potential mentors and counselors (peers, elders, Baby Boomers, etc.)
  • Vary their level of education (drop-outs, MBA and seminary graduates, readers, Ivy League, lifelong lea and others)
  • Know their stories (successes and struggles…know that they are human)

Understand that you are seeking people out and accepting those who God sends your way as well.  You may not find as much as you discover that already exists around you.

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70 He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
71 from following the nursing ewes he brought him
to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
72 With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand.
Psalm 78:70-72 ESV

God does something miraculous with us. He uses imperfect people to accomplish the glorious work of His perfect plan.  Imagine that.  He uses whoever He chooses.

He chose David…

God Chooses Us
The choice is God’s, not ours.  He is open and honest when He states that His ways are not like our ways.  In fact, He clearly states that His ways are above ours.  God is autonomous.  He is God Almighty without our help.

…and took him from the sheepfolds…he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people

God Moves Us
God moves us from where He has us to where he wants us.  When you get a chance, check out Jonah’s story.  Jonah tried to get away as far from God’s determined destination for as possible, but God got him right where He wanted him.  God will move us.  He can move us like He did David and place us in a privileged and predestined position.  He can move us.

With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

God Uses Us
God used David to accomplish much through his livelihood and his life.  Even some of David’s stumbles and snafus led to him crafting beautiful psalms that resonate with hearts and souls today.  David was used by God.  God uses individuals who don’t have the right resume or the perfect portfolio.

God uses whoever He chooses.

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23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

Read Colossians 3 and you will discover about the “new” life we are to have in Christ.  The words used by Paul clarify the roles and responsibilities of believers in Christ.  To take it even further, the modern church needs to connect with its community and corporations.

C3 Connections connect: Church, Community and Corporations.  The Church is the body of believers in a local region.  They are called to live out their faith in the midst of the community.  Community, as far as we are concerned here, includes local schools, elected officials, volunteer centers, and even college and university campuses.  Corporations are separate in the C3 concept due to their nature and structure.  You can engage local corporations small business from to major corporations like Fortune 500 and other industry leaders headquartered or operating in your area by various means.  The point of C3 Connections is to establish and maintain connectivity between the Church, Community and Corporations.
You may be a pastor or ministry leader, even a community activist or school teacher, but you want to get connected to others in your area.  Organize with other like-minded people and some people who may not usually work with you and your comrades.  Set up a meeting and invite others from within the community to come out and share their interest in getting involved.  Once you have your interest meeting, you can determine who is on board and what is the level of activity that would seem feasible for your initial efforts. 
Don’t become alarmed if some doesn’t jump on board until you get going.  Some people don’t make a move until they see movement.

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