“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!

Rumors_Extra-Gossip

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:

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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!