Tamed And Domesticated. How Sad!

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I was just thinking this morning.  In my world of those who know me, many shudder when I say this.  Some even do the face palm thing while shaking their heads wondering to themselves, “Dear Lord, what is this man up to again?”  And a few even run and hide.  I’m OK with that because I am convinced God gave me a mind–a mind to learn with and a mind to question things–sometimes everything.

I am thinking about that word “TAME” and its partner word “DOMESTICATED”.  Somehow, there are those who think that the purpose of a relationship with God is about taming us.  There are many tribes (tribes are groups of people with a similar belief system and mindset about God, also known as denominations in some circles) who believe that in order to follow Jesus, we must be tamed.  They treat desire as if it were the modern-day equivalent of Biblical times leprosy.

And so this idea of desire is pushed back and beaten down so that respectability can rule and reign.  As I was thinking about that word TAME I realized that it rhymes with another word:  LAME.  So what if we started seeing DESIRE as something to, well DESIRE, to want, to insist on having?  Not just any DESIRE, but to have DESIRE for God–for what God is doing–and especially for what God wants us to do!

Can we agree, at least those smart enough to believe in Intelligent Design, that we have been created in God’s image?  OK!  God has DESIRES.  So if HE has DESIRES, why shouldn’t we?  Unfortunately many have traded in the God who has Great Desires for a god who is nice and kind and always gentle.  In others words, a domesticated god.  When something is domesticated it means we have TAMED it for OUR use, to use the way we want.

The True and Living God is neither TAME nor DOMESTICATED.  He is wild with DESIRE!  Oops, someone just said, “I don’t believe that!  Prove it from the Bible!”  Okey Dokey, be careful what you ask for; you just might get it, as in this case.  God sent a messenger to Eli the priest saying He, God, would take away the priesthood from Eli and his sons and raise up priests who do what, and I quote God, “I DESIRE!”  And in Isaiah 55:11–“It (His word) will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I DESIRE and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  And Jesus said in John 17:24–“Father, I DESIRE that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

Now, when it comes to US, should their be desire?  Now David was called a man after God’s own heart.  When he selected a worship leader, he chose Asaph.  I am sure David, who loved to worship God, wanted someone just as passionate as he.  Read these words of Asaph:

24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?  I DESIRE you more than anything on earth.

26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. (Psalm 73:24-26 NLT)

Let’s stop being Tame And Lame, and reclaim that word DESIRE.  The enemy has used it for too long as a sign of evil.  Desire, as God put it in us, is both good and necessary.  When we become “tame”, the enemy no longer fears us.  He has domesticated us, meaning, we are here for his pleasure and guess what else.  His “desires”, desires which are to keep us away from our created purpose and to prevent us from being Warriors.  One of the things that makes the enemy tremble with fear and trepidation is when he sees one of God’s Image Bearer’s doing exactly what Asaph wanted, to DESIRE God more than anything else.  When God’s designed DESIRE flows through you, the enemy runs and hides.  He wants you domesticated, God wants you wild and free as He designed you.  If you are not living out your relationship with God with that God-Designed-And-God-Pleasing DESIRE, you have been Tamed And Domesticated by the evil one.  And you are just plain old LAME.  And that is so sad, so very sad!

Love God with all you heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him and it will as you DESIRE Him more than anything else on earth.

 

A Yo-Yo Without String Living

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Pray tell, what good is a yo-yo without string?  I mean, really?  What’s its purpose?  Maybe it will make for a good late, late night infomercial?  “That’s right folks, a stringless yo-yo.  It’s available in 4 stunning colors and for a limited time you can get it for only 4 easy payments of $16.43, plus a reasonable processing fee.  But that’s not all, call in the next 17 minutes 14 seconds, we will send you another one in the color of our choice absolutely free, you only pay a separate processing fee.  And for just a very limited time, because you know we can’t do this forever, we will reduce it by 1 payment.  That’s right, only 3, you heard correctly, 3 payments instead of 4.  Call 888-2ABSURD, operators are standing by.  Batteries are not included.”

Can anyone out there in Blogland tell me what good is a yo-yo without string?  The only thing I can think of is maybe a paper weight or something to throw at somebody who is really annoying you.  (If you think of any other purpose, please share in the comments section below.)  Right now I hear some of you readers thinking, “Where is he going with this?”  (Be forewarned, I do have ESPN).  As ridiculous as it is to think of a stringless yo-yo, there is something happening in our culture that is even more than ridiculous, it is disheartening.

Many people have chosen to build their life upon how they feel.  They have chosen a purpose based on feelings, but wait, there’s more.  They have chosen to identify themselves based on how they feel.  A friend was sharing with me that his daughter who was, if I remember correctly, either a kindergarten or first grade teacher who had a parent that came to her at the first of the school year with important information about her child.  She told this teacher that one day “he” may come to school as a “she” or may come as a “he”.  It just depended on how he was feeling that morning.  Not based on biology and plumbing, just on those feelings of the day.

And living this “stringless yo-yo” life is not only being promoted in the arena of human sexuality, it is being lived out in so many, too many human lives.  Someone calls you worthless, a failure.  That feeling creeps, even comes like a tsunami over you and you live each day believing you are just that and nothing more.  You see others have success and lots of “stuff” and you “feel” like you are entitled to it.  Feelings!

Let’s say you have a medical condition and you need a specialist.  You don’t know one so you find one and make an appointment.  You’re first question should be, “Where did you go to school and what special training have you had?”  What if their answer was, “Oh, I only graduated high school.  But today I feel like a neurologist.  Oh wait, now I feel like a proctologist.  Where are those gloves?”  What would be your response?  I’m sure it would be to exit that room like the Roadrunner in those old cartoons.

1So why do people make the choice to live their lives based on feelings, either those feelings that have come from deep within or those feelings created by someone’s opinion of them?  Living by feelings is like a yo-yo with a string.  Up and down, up and down, over here, over there.  It’s a roller coaster ride that never ends.  And when you accept those “feelings” as your identity or even your purpose in life, the string is removed.  You are that stringless yo-yo.  But that is not the life you were created and designed for.  Your life is much more than a feeling.  The song is right, it’s “feelings, nothing more than feelings.”

There is a beauty, strength and design that exceeds those feelings.    Solomon shared in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.  God has a unique design for you that reflects His image.  Go back to the very beginning of the Bible and we can clearly see it.  Relationship–Perfect Relationship.  Perfect Relationship with Him, self and others.  This life is never based on a feeling, but on The Truth, Truth as God defines it.

And if you are living by and through your feelings, I want to take this moment to encourage you to take the time to really know God–His heart and purpose for your life.  It’s found in the Bible.  Take the time to read it for yourself, without add the interpretations and opinions of others, even mine.  Ask the Holy Spirit to join you in this journey to help you understand the big picture, not isolated bits and pieces that will be used to confirm those feelings.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading, and trust–trust in the God who loves you right where you are.  And loves you so much that He doesn’t want you to stay where you are, but to become all the HE sees in you.  Even if others don’t see it in you, and especially if you can’t see it in you.

Remember, love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him.  And don’t forget that God’s love is not a feeling, but His whole heart, a heart for you.

Live In A Different Story!

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“But my servant Caleb—this is a different story. He has a different spirit; he follows me passionately.” (Numbers 14:24 The Message)

I absolutely love the Story of Caleb.  Read Numbers 13 and 14 and how can anyone NOT love Caleb?  I love this man so much I just finished a sermon series about him.  There are so many things about this guy and I could preach a year or more just on him, if The Spirit would allow me.  I am blown away by how The Message translates God’s opinion of Caleb.  (You do know that God has an opinion about you, don’t you?)  “But my servant Caleb—this is a different story.”

How was his story different?  God sent 12 spies, leaders actually, into the Promised Land with very specific orders.  But it was never in their directive to determine if they could succeed at occupying and conquering the land.  But 10 of these alleged leaders exceeded their directives and made a decision that wasn’t theirs to make.  “We can’t do it!  We’re whipped!  Lets get a new lead pastor and go back to Egypt where we can eat all the onions and garlic we want!”  OK?  So, you want bad breath instead of God’s Promise?  Ain’t it amazing what good church folks will give up for bad breath!

It would now seem, if they are going to be a good old American democracy, that God’s Promise would never happen, at least by the story of the Halitosis Ten.  But there is another Story being told and written.  Caleb, along with Joshua, has a Different Story to write and tell.  Allow me, if you will, to share just a little bit about That Different Story.  It’s a Story of living in The Promise, not The Halitosis.  There is much to be said, but I will share 4 of the Key Qualities of Caleb.

1.  He Had A Different Mindset

Caleb isn’t being naive.  He saw the well fortified cities.  He saw that the land produced NFL Linemen sized people.  He saw every obstacle in front of them.  But Caleb saw more.  He saw God’s Presence through The Promise.   He saw the challenges in front of him through the faithfulness of God.  He had the mindset of looking at The Problem Solver, not the problem; of looking at the Giant Slayer, not the giant.  Caleb was really radicalhe trusted God.  I am amazed (probably more like disgusted) at those who say they are a Christian while insisting that as a church we have to play it safe.  Where’s the faith in that?  And where did Jesus ever say that following Him was safe?  See your situations as an individual and a church the same way Caleb saw what was in front of HimGod’s got this!

2.  He Had A Different Purpose

Caleb knew that his purpose was to be a reflection of GodHis heart and His purposes.  Caleb was willing to give up his Story to become a part of a much bigger Story, the Story of God’s purposes.  Ever since Adam and Eve messed it all up and ever since we perpetuate The Fall with our sinfulness, God has been at work and His work is very clear.  He wants to Redeem The Sinner, bring Recovery For The Broken, and to Restore His Image Bearers.  All of us have a Life Purpose, good, bad or indifferent, you have a Life Purpose.  Your Life Purpose will be based and built upon the information you believe is true.  Caleb believed God’s Promise is greater than any obstacle, so he chose as the Purpose of his life, to work where God is workingRedeeming, Recovering and Restoring.

3.  He Had A Different Courage

Caleb’s courage came from his Trust in God.  Caleb saw God as Trustworthy.  He didn’t stutter, blink or hesitate.  “Come on, gang!  God is Trustworthy!  You say you Trust in God?  Well, let’s put some action in that trust!”  Caleb’s roots grew deep in God.  Caleb understood that “roots” are not what holds us down to the ground, but enables to grow up and out.  This courage came out of something Caleb did not fully understand, but somehow knewthat God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, was inside him.  He knew that wherever he went, God was with himand that was enough.

4.  He Had A Different Plan

His plan was to stay close enough to God so that he could see how God would work it out.  He didn’t trust himself to figure it outhow it would happen.  He knew that God had a plan and all he needed to do was to be available for the ways that God wanted to use him.  Translated to 2017, the work of God is a Spiritual Work that requires Spiritual Tools (known as the Gifts of the Spirit), A Spiritual Heart (which is the heart of a servant), and A Spiritual Attitude (known as HE is the vine and we are the branchesbranches designed to bear much fruit).

Goodness gracious!  Where have all the Calebs gone today?  You can find the next Caleb by looking the mirror.  He’s longing to get outbecause there is a Caleb in you but you need to make the choice between The Promise and The Halitosis.  Which do you really want?

And remember to love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

Are Missional Communities a Threat to the Local Church?

How refreshing to see another pastor understand how God is calling us back to our true roots–community with God, fellow disciples, and in the neighborhoods! I encourage you to read all of Keith’s posts about Missional Communities…

The Light Breaks Through

lightstock_203698_download_medium_byrene_haney_Missional communities continue to be an instrument by which we can live out what it means to be a missional church in the 21st Century.- Keith Haney

 The new standard for information, Wikipedia, defines “missional communities” this way:

“A Missional community is a group of people, about the size of an extended family, who are united through Christian community around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships.”

I have to admit that is not a bad definition.  One congregation that has a robust mission community philosophy has the following as their definition and vision.  This plan comes from Christianity Today.

“What is a “missional community”?

 A community of Christ followers, on mission with God in obedience to the Holy Spirit that demonstrates and declares the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a particular people group.

Missional

  • They are committed to having spiritual conversations that…

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The Value Of Time Well Spent

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For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…A time to be quiet and a time to speak.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7 N.L.T.)

I’ve been in this time of blog silence.  For the past 2 months, with a couple of exceptions, I have avoided this blog and even reading a lot of the blogs I follow.  To my blogging friends please do not be offended.  God has been leading me in what Solomon calls “a season”.  It started out as a season for me to focus on God’s vision for the church I serve.  But God added another purpose–it was a season for me to focus on ME.  Please do not think I am self-serving and narcissistic.  Over these many years I have encouraged caregivers to take time to care for themselves.  Self-care is not a sin; it is essential.  Well, I have attempted to take my own advice.  The demands of church, community and family have been especially pressing in this season.  So it’s not like I haven’t been doing anything.  Yet, it the middle of all the pressing life-issues, I have managed to spend more time ALONE with Papa, and that is always a good thing, and a great use of our limited time.

d52a631a337f182e54842dc709c51079--adult-adhd-adult-humorThis time to be quiet has been a learning time.  One thing I’ve learned is that I need to be silent and still before God.  But here’s the thing:  I’m not good at being silent, and even worse at being still.  I do admit that I could probably be diagnosed as adult ADHD, oh look!  A squirrel!  And I keep repeating to myself David’s insight from Psalm 46:10–“Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.”

And what I have learned in this season is that when I’m not still, my spirit doesn’t grow and when my spirit doesn’t grow I get distracted from the life that honors God.  The struggle continues to be still and quiet but I am becoming more disciplined in it.  And in this time to be quiet, God has been affirming and confirming my role at this stage of my life, which is to completely become a Kingdom Pastor and not a hospice pastor.  Maybe I need to explain that statement.

A hospice pastor is very much like a hospice chaplain.  A hospice chaplain provides comfort to a patient, their family and friends as they near the end of this life.  A hospice pastor does the same thing, except it is offering comfort and ministry to a group of people known as the church, a dying church, but a church nonetheless.  And after decades of service in the Kingdom, they need to be affirmed for their history and given gentle care as they slowly pass away.  And they need someone to help them grieve.  This is a hospice pastor.

A Kingdom Pastor is one who is called to be God’s instrument of transformation into a new paradigm which is actually an old paradigm, a couple of thousand years old paradigm:  bringing the Body of Christ back to our roots of being involved in the story of The Kingdom of God and not the history of a local congregation.  At times I admit I am overwhelmed by the risks involved.  There are already those who think it’s time for me to leave.  I admit I get a bit uneasy, OK, SCARED, at this journey.  But I keep remembering (actually it’s the Holy Spirit that keeps reminding me) that those first disciples of Jesus took great risks.  And here’s another thought, from The Spirit of course: the greatest risk of all was taken by Jesus when He died for me and then called me to be this pastor and preacher.  With all the uncertainty that still remains in my mind, I am now ready to take the greatest risks ever in my life for the ONE who took the Greatest Risk of all eternity FOR my life.

Face it, change not only can be frightening, it IS frightening.  The urge to be like the Hebrew children who were so close to God’s Promise but wanted to go back to Egypt, is the urge we all must fight.  But remember Caleb–we do not fight this battle alone, but with the ONE who is Faithful to keep The Promise!  And remember, love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure, very sure, that all the glory goes to HIM!

“When Unity At All Costs Is Too Costly”

 

The link below is from a fellow pastor, mentor, leader and friend.  While his thoughts are directed towards and fitting for my fellow United Methodist Pastors, the principles Paul lays out will fit a variety of situations.  Sometimes we forget that when Jesus walked this creation as one He created, He was one of the most divisive personalities ever seen.  And if any of my readers are United Methodist, please take this blog as being hopeful–hopeful as we follow Jesus.

Click on the picture to go to Paul’s blog…

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Chinwag, Is That So Bad? Yeah It Is!

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Since the ripe old age of 18, I have been serving local congregations.  I started out as filling in as their “preacher” and finally reached the stage of “ordination to Word, Sacrament and Administration.”  I am now 61 and one thing I have noticed that is consistent in every place I have served, are those who think that chinwag is a spiritual gift that should be exercised frequently and with great authority.  However, those who exercise this alleged “gift” with skill and expertise that mirrors the skill of a diamond cutter are those who feign an albeit false, image of humility.

Perhaps I should give you the definition of this word “chinwag”.  One definition of this word is to have a casual conversation.  But the word means more that just a casual chit-chat.  According to Dictionary.Com as a noun it means “an idle chat; gossiping” and as a verb it means “to chat idly; gossip”.  Right now I started thinking about a cultural phenomenon known as “fake news”.  Many a blog has been written about fake news as if it is something new.  Unfortunately it has been around a long time, even in the church.

The Enemy, OUR enemy as real Followers of Jesus, knows he cannot defeat his “enemy”.  He lost when his enemy became human, he lost in the wilderness temptations, he lost on that Cross, and his ultimate defeat came from that cemetery.  So he has turned his attention on those who have had their status as Image Bearers restored and their FOB (Forward Operating Bases), set up in what he thinks is his territory.  These Forward Operating Bases are also known as local churches.

To weaken the Forward Operating Bases, our enemy gets willing participants to focus their thoughts and energy inwardly.  The result is they lose sight of our real enemy and turn our sisters and brothers in arms into an imaginary enemy.  And the primary weapon used is chinwag–gossip.  Our enemy is deceiving many into believing that it’s best to believe the worst about people.  It is not always easy to build strong relationships because often it requires time and energy–time and energy that some are unwilling to expend.  So they end up spreading what they hear and assumptions about what they hear.

I know for fact that in one FOB some called the Vision Committee the DIvision Committee.  Those words, that term, created far more damage for the future of the FOB than they realize.  And that’s the thing, “far more than they realize”.  We need to take the time to consider the impact of our words.  And we need to consider using better words in ways that are far better at building up rather than tearing down.  Consider the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:29 and from the God’s Word Translation, it goes like this:

 Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.  One of the biggest lies taught to kids goes like this:  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.”  Words do harm and hurt far more and the injury it causes takes far longer to heal than any broken bone.  Engaging is any conversation that is meant to belittle, harm or simply not founded on the truth opens the door for the enemy to do even more harmful work against The Kingdoms FOB.

It is far better to engage in conversations WITH people than to chinwag ABOUT people.  It turns one into a petty minded obstructionist and yet another tool and weapon for the enemy.  The enemy already has way too many weapons, so do not become another one for him.  Let your words be words that build others up.  After all, those last words of Jesus from the Cross, continues to build up people that people who chinwag try to destroy.  #YourWordsMatter!

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him.  By the way, HE is never glorified nor honored in your chinwag.

 

 

Ultracrepidarianism Is Killing The Local Church!

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Do you know what an expert is?  Well, listen to the word and you hear 2 words.  The first word is “ex”–“ex” means former, or once was.  The second word is (sounds like) “spurt”–a “spurt” is water under pressure.  Therefore, an expert is a has been who is under pressure.  So know that I am not an expert.  But I can see, think for myself and analyze with something rarely seen in our culture called common sense.

As established churches continue for the most part to be in a continued state of decline, many alleged experts (see the first paragraph) have offered a lot of ideas as to the causes of this direful situation.  I divide these alleged experts into two distinct categories.  I am sure you might could think of other categories.  But for the sake of this blog, let’s break it down into simple terms.

First there are the “Noobs“.  It has been a long time since some of these has beens under pressure, excuse me, “experts”, have served for any length of time in a local church, which leaves their inchoate input somewhat lacking at times in substance.  I once served under a bishop who had more time in the hollow halls (this is not a misprint, I said “hollow” not “hallow”; I said what I meant and I meant what I said) of academia than in the “field” of service in local churches.

The other group is the “Kabitzers“.  Unlike the Noobs who have only a little experience in the workings of The Kingdom, these have virtually none, zilch, nada!  They are the ones who believe their spiritual gift is to be a buttinsky.  They take great glee and find deep personal contentment in pointing out what others should be doing and what they aren’t doing right.  So let me share with you want I see is a serious malady in the 21st Century church in the good old U.S. of A.

Ultracrepidarianism has imbued itself, Nay!  Entrenched, Nay!  Built underground bunkers designed to survive a 500 kiloton nuclear blast, Aye!  Ultracrepidarians have built permanent bunkers beneath church basements with the intent of doing away with church as it should be, even though they say it is not their purpose.  Sneaky Ultracrepidarians!

I believe that the church, the body of Christ embedded in local communities, needs to make the conscious decision to step into a much bigger story, a deeper narrative, an epic journey that extends beyond their 911 location.  We need to clear out that path that is cluttered and obscured with our designs of what church should look like and embrace our Original Design.  What is that original design?  Oh, you precious soul, I’m so glad you asked.

It is to be a Kingdom of Servants.  Jesus only mentions the translated term “church” twice as He taught about the bigger picture:  The Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is about invading the territory of The Enemy, Satan; a territory He stole long, long ago.  It is about taking back what rightfully belongs to The Creator.  And the way God has chosen to fight The Enemy is through servants who are willing to sacrifice pride, comfort, and preferences in order to bring the One Thing that is missing in so many people:  Life As God Intends!  That’s what Jesus said in John 10:10 and see how different translations describe this Life:

I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. (CEV)

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (NKJV)

My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (NLT)

(and my personal favorite)  I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (The Message)

Jesus did not come to set up a Kingdom of Rules, Rituals and Traditions.  He came to bring back what was lost in Eden–Life in its fullest, more abundantly, rich and satisfying, more and better than you can dream of.  Life as God intends is a life of relationships with Him and each other.  To bring this life back to His Image Bearers, Jesus chose the form of a servant.  Servants serve–they serve The King in order to bring about the King’s purposes and desires.  And our King’s desire is for people to have “more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

And to help those under the domain and dominion of the Enemy, we need to know them, I mean, really know them.  It begins when we accept them unconditionally.  Ultracrepidarians want to change them to be people like them.  Servants want to see them transformed into the Image Bearers of The King.  And they will be, they are, when we know them and help them find The Life.  The ways we help them find The Life are as numerous as human needs.

If they are illiterate or functionally illiterate, we teach them to read.  If they are hungry, we feed them.  If they are unemployed, we help them develop skills for employment.  If they are fatherless or motherless, we become fathers and mothers to them.  If they are in prison, we go to them with unconditional love and no judgment; after all, they’ve already been judged or they would not be there.

And if they need a Savior (and who doesn’t?), we show them the Savior by letting them see what The Savior means to us and what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do in us, for us and through us.  When a locally embedded Kingdom Cell (otherwise known as a local church) decides they are tired of a church-centered story and moves into the Saga Of The Kingdom, the Ultracrepidarians will not be happy and will try to make others unhappy with such a move.  But we need to push through this and hope they will shred and burn their Ultracrepidarian Membership Card.  But if they do not, then we need to persist.  We will probably lose some church member for doing so, but we will gain Kingdom Servants.  And after all, isn’t this what we should be doing?

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the Glory goes to Him.  Oh, and Ultracrepidarians, we know who you are but we also know The King!

How To Get an Amen

I guess one has to be a preacher in order to appreciate the humor…and I do appreciate his humor!

The Unappreciated Pastor

Pastors, let’s face it, we all need amens. They keep us going. They light a fire under us. They remind us that we are doing what we have been called to do. Sadly, the amens often dry up. When an amen drought comes it can affect us deeply. During these days we need to prime the pump. We need to get an amen out of our people. Here are ten proven ways you can get an amen out of your people

  1. Ask for one.During your sermon simply ask “Can I get an Amen?” Oftentimes the amen will come immediately. However, some churches are very discerning about what they amen. Such churches will usually table the request. The request will be put on the agenda as an item to be considered at the next regularly scheduled business meeting. If all goes well, within the next month you will get your amen.
  2. Speak…

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Released into the Spirit: Guest Post by Dr. Vivian Johnson

Thought this one worth sharing…great insights!

David F. Watson

On Friday, December 2, 2016 during a Holy Spirit Seminar held at United Theological Seminary, I was “slain in the Spirit.” This phrase, at home with Pentecostals and other charismatic Christians, refers to people who fall to the floor during intense worship services because they are influenced or overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit.

vivian-johnson Dr. Vivian Johnson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Old Testament, United Theological Seminary 

This force of the Holy Spirit had an impact on me that seems more positive than being “slain.” The word “slain” connotes a sense of violence that was absent from my experience. It felt more like being “released into the Spirit.” Mentally, I held tightly to the disbelief that the Holy Spirit would manifest in that way. So strong was my conviction that all of the people lying on the floor were “faking,” I approached a leader of…

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Radical: Spirituality! Part 3

Welcome back to Episode 3 of True Spirituality.  Remember that True Spirituality Is Not Determined By How You Act In Church, But By How You Treat Other People.  There are 3 key components to this and let’s get to the first one:  True Spirituality Is Evidenced By Love.

2.  True Spirituality is Evidenced by Empathy.

What is empathy?  According to the dictionary it is:  “The capacity to identify with a person or object.”  In other words, it is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes—to see things from his or her point-of-view.  In discussing the matter of eating food that has been sacrificed to idols, remember that Paul has already stated that it is not a sin.  Then he goes on to say in verse 9:  “But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.”

You’ve got to look at everything you do in light of how it affects everyone else.  It’s about being able to recognize the impact your actions have on others.  Each of us has a sphere of influence where we make an impact either for the better or the worst of that person.  This can be hard to decipher as to what actually hurts a younger believer.  Remember that this passage is about a younger believer questioning their faith, not yours.

What you may see as being innocent and nothing wrong, it may hurt a new believer.  And not just our actions—but our words as well.  Our words can sting and hurt and beat down someone.  True spirituality is evidenced by empathy—being able to see the world from another’s point-of-view.  We must give thought to how our actions affect those around us.  We must learn to see the world through the eyes of others.

Here is what I have observed in my few 61 years of walking planet earth.  Most “young-the-faith” Christians have been led away more with our attitudes and words than our actions–i.e., what we do.  I loathe that saying, nay, LIE, that adults often tell children.  You know the one I’m talking about:  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.”

Here’s a great image of what true empathy looks like in practice:

empathy

Live out of these 4 elements and you will be developing true and deep spirituality.

So use your realm of influence to show more of the “thou shalts” than the “thou shalt nots”.  Maturity and holiness is not measured by how many of the “thou shalt nots” you keep.  It is measured by your love and remember that love is an action verb.

Tomorrow we will continue this journey, and until then, remember:  Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

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