Monthly Archives: October 2010

Chambers Says it Better

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From “My Utmost For His Highest.”

If you have faith as a mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible for you —Matthew 17:20

We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, and it may be so in the initial stages. But we do not earn anything through faith— faith brings us into the right relationship with God and gives Him His opportunity to work. Yet God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as His saint to get you in direct contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of emotional enjoyment of His blessings. The beginning of your life of faith was very narrow and intense, centered around a small amount of experience that had as much emotion as faith in it, and it was full of light and sweetness. Then God withdrew His conscious blessings to teach you to “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And you are worth much more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight with your thrilling testimony.

Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds. Faith being worked out into reality must experience times of unbroken isolation. Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him— a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.” The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is— “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

It’s Who We Are, Not What We Do

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I had a brain wave the other day.

Working in a ministry setting, you hear a lot of jargon about “doing Kingdom work.”  Whether you work in a church or for a ministry organization, the emphasis so often is on “doing God’s will,” or “fulfilling your calling,” or my personal favorite, “reaching the world for Christ.”

Let me clarify by saying that all of these motivations and missions are great. Truly. I think that they are all admirable. I have quoted all these mantras myself at one time or another. But do you see all the action words in those statements (“doing,” “fulfilling,” and “reaching,”) were dependent on the person carrying them out?  It seems as though the focal point of our personal missions and messages are… off.

My point is this: How often does our doing of ministry get in the way of us being a ministry?

I’ll use myself as an example. I work for Compassion International. We are literally acting on the mandates and commands of Christ to look after the widow and the orphan, the hungry, the poor, and the afflicted. We are doing the work of God.  And when people ask what I do and I have the privilege of telling them about our ministry, they all respond with “Wow, that must be so fulfilling/rewarding/satisfying.”

And yes, it is. Without a doubt. But my work does not satisfy me completely. What I do does not fulfill me and bring me total peace.

What does bring me joy, peace, and hope though, is remembering that I am the work of Christ.

Beth Moore spoke at Catalyst earlier this month (more posts to come on that soon) and something she said shook me to the core.

“I’m miracle material.”

And I am. Everyone is. If anyone was without Christ and has now been saved by the free gift of His grace, through faith, than we all are miracle material. For we all have been rescued from death and freely given a new and righteous life. Is that not miraculous?

We are the object of His affection and His heart’s desire? Is that not miraculous considering where we have come from, the things we have done and the people we used to be?

Perhaps this is elementary to many, but I can not get over it.

I am a miracle.

You are a miracle.

We do not have to do His work, we only have to be His work.

Happy Birthday Bro!

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Meet Jason (aka “Ding Dong”).

Can you believe I'm related to that?

He’s my wiser, cooler, more capable dancer, older brother.  And I love him.  A lot.

You see, Jason isn’t just any older brother. He’s a teacher. 

He’s funny, without a doubt. But more than that, he’s caring, compassionate, gracious, and one of the most humble people I know. He’s diligent and disciplined. He’s quick to listen and slow to speak. He genuinely seeks to serve those around him. He has patience beyond reason and he loves completely.

More than all of this; more importantly than any of the above: He is passionately in love with Jesus. He is unabashedly and wholeheartedly after the heart of God. And of all the things that I have learned from him, this is the one thing that I have sought to immulate more than anything else.

He has been the best kind of older brother; learning lessons and passing them on when he didn’t even know it. I’m grateful to follow his shadow.

Happy birthday, Bro. I love you more every year.

Andy Stanley: Session 1 at Catalyst

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This picture is completely irrelevant... I just love penguins.

The over-arching theme of the Catalyst conference was “The Tension is Good” and each speaker to the various ways in which tension can be felt in the leaderships positions in the church or other ministries. It is inevitable.  Tension will always, always, show up where there is growth, strategy, mission, and unity among team members.

Andy Stanley was the first to speak to this tension. “Tension,” he began, “is always associated with our appetites.” Then he expanded on the universal appetites that every human, much less leader, will always have to manage. Manage and not completely solve. We’ll get to that in a minute. Progress, growth, responsibility, fame, respect, achievement, winning, and the longing to be envied are the eight major appetites that will be encountered by any leader, no matter how small or large their ministry. 

“There are three things to keep in mind, when understanding these tensions,” he explained.

1. God created them, but sin distorted them.
2. Appetites are never fully or finally satisfied.
3. Your appetites always whisper “now,” and never “wait, later.”

In recognizing that these appetites will  never be satisfied, that they know no end, sets the direction of our careers, faith, family, etc. Because they are not to be completely absolved; they are not to be “fixed.”  They are to be managed, maintained, and used to sharpen the strategy already in place.

If any of us were truly honest, we would readily admit that we don’t have it all together, personally or professionally.  We have missed the mark countless times; our strategy has failed.  And often times, it is because there was a mishandling of tension.  There were various perspectives, different opinions that were not all equally and respectfully taken into consideration.

And this is the role of the leader: to be a humble handler of insights and opportunities and to make the decision that will most benefit the whole, or in the case of the Church, that will most faithfully deliver the truth of the Gospel.

Stanley made this statement, “There are going to be opportunities that you shouldn’t take full advantage of because of the risk you take in veering from the course that God has already ordained and blessed.”

So, the challenge is this– Leaders, are you dead enough to yourself and your personal preferences, to be whole-heartedly pursuing the decision that not only points your team in the right direction, regardless of comfort, but that is most honoring to God?

Bring Back the Bowl

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I’m back from Catalyst.

It. Rocked. My. World.

The next several posts over the coming days will be dedicated to downloading what I learned while I was there, to help me process as well as to get feedback from you. Hopefully some constructive conversation will be sparked.

The first thing that I’d like to share with you is… the bowl cut. The 90’s hair cut.  It’s coming back. Check it.