Saturday, April 12, 2014

A different kind of Atheism

The Roman Emperors referred to the Christians in the early church as "atheists". The didn't believe in the Roman God's. The Emperor Julian (AD 332-363) was frustrated that more and more people were being drawn to this new religion. Not only that, what stunned him about them was the Christ-exalting love that these Christians showed in spite of the persecution they were under.

"Atheism (Christianity) has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal...that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but OURS AS WELL; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them."

They were propelled to love inspite of the risk!

Quote from the book "Risk is right" by John Piper - Page 34

Monday, April 07, 2014

Hope has a name....JESUS

If there are words for Him then I don't have them. 
You see, my brain has not yet reached the point where it could 
form a thought that could adequately describe the greatness of my God, 
and my lungs have not yet developed the ability to release a breath 
with enough agility to breathe out the greatness of his love, 

and my voice, you see, 
my voice, is so inhibited, restrained by human limits 
that it's hard to even sing the praise of…  
You see if there are words for Him then I don't have them. 

My God, 
His grace is remarkable, mercies are enumerable, 
strength is impenetrable, He is Honourable, accountable, favourable, 
He is unsearchable yet knowable, indefinable yet approachable, indescribable yet personal, 
He is beyond comprehension, further than imagination, constant thru generations, 
king of every nation. 

But if there are words for Him then I don't have them. 
You see, my words are few, and to try to capture the one true God, 
using my vocabulary will never do, 
but I use words as an expression, 
an expression of worship to a saviour, 
a saviour who is both worthy and deserving of my praise, so I use words. 

My heart extols the Lord, blesses his name forever, 
He has won my heart captured my mind and has bound them both together, 
He has defeated me in my rebellion, 
conquered me in my sin, 
He has welcomed me into his presence, 
completely invited me in. 
He has made himself the object of my sight, 
flooding me with mercies in the morning, 
drowning me with grace in the night. 

But if there are words for Him 
then I don't have them. 
But what I do have is good news, 
for my God knew that man made words would never do, 
for words are just tools that we use to point to the truth, 
so He sent His son Jesus Christ as "The Word", living proof, 

He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation, 
for by Him all things are created, giving nothingness formation, 
and by His words he sustains, in the power of His name, 
for He is before all things and over all things he reigns, holy is his name, 
so praise him for his life... 

The way, he persevered in strife, 
the humble son of God becoming the perfect sacrifice, 
praise him for his death... 

that He willingly stood in our place, that he lovingly endured the grave, 
that he battled our enemy and on the third day rose in victory, 

He is everything that was promised, 
praise Him as your risen king,
lift your voice and sing for one day he will return for us 
and we will finally be united with our saviour for eternity, eternity. 

So it’s not just words that I proclaim, 
for my words point to "The Word" and "The Word" has a name, 
hope has a name, 
love has a name, 
peace has a name, 
love has a name 

and that name is Jesus Christ. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

In it for the LONG haul?

"The essential thing “in heaven and earth” is that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living" – Friedrich Nietzsche

“There is a great market in the world for religious experience; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for long term apprenticeship in what other generations called holiness.” - Eugene Peterson

There is nothing instant about following Jesus apart from taking the first step.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

12 ways a leader can kill his church

This post is a little bit a reaction. In no way do I think I have it all together and know that I have much to learn and these are purely my personal thoughts. I read an article today titled "Church Members, Here Are 10 Ways to KILL Your Church". Some of which may or may not be true. But it's my experience as a church leader that it is much more likely that "leaders" will cause the greatest damage to a church. So here are 12 ways a leader can harm or kill his church! (or at least encourage people to find another one)

  1. Don't practice what you preach
    Tell your church to do something you aren't prepared to do yourself. Tell them to tithe when a check on your bank account would see you somewhat lacking. Integrity must be found in leadership otherwise people will vote with their feet.
  2. Don't use the offerings for what you asked it for
    If you ask for a "Vision" offering. Make sure that you use the money for the specified actual vision. Every penny! If the price changes. Tell people. If you choose to go a different route. Tell people and offer them their money back. Be transparent!
  3. Surround yourself with yes men / women
    Healthy conflict is good. Leaders need people that make them think. The temptation is to surround yourself with people that thinks the sun shines out of your bum. It may make life easier in the short term but its a sure fire way to help you make bad decisions. Look for people that are Godly, madly in love with the church and big enough to ask a question.
  4. Have no real local accountability
    Local churches should have local leaders. There is a fad which is seeing leaders appoint fellow leaders from other churches in another part of the country or even another country as trustees or directors of the charity. This is not accountability it is trying to avoid accountability. It is also a sign of a weak leader. Rather than having to do some heavy lifting and actually talk, debate and convince people who know and love the church, they get their mate to tick the box.
  5. Assume that volunteers who don't show up can't be bothered.
    Not asking the question to find out what is going on in their life. What difficulties are they facing. Assuming the worst about people is a sure fire way to have them walk down the road to a church that appreciates them.
  6. Never release others into real leadership
    Call people leaders but constantly micro manage them. Criticise rather than coach when they make a mistake. Control them by ensuring they have to come back to you for almost every decision. Not allowing them to experiment and do things their way and insisting its your way or the highway.
  7. Beat up your congregation instead of building them up
    People already feel bad enough about themselves they don't need you to pile the pressure on. Inspire don't injure.
  8. Not making the local church God has placed you in your focus.
    You will always be the hero as a visiting speaker at another church so your ego will be fed. Jump off the band waggon of i will preach and your church and you speak at mine (with reciprocating monetary gifts). God has given you a flock and a city or town that he thinks needs you, give them and him your all.
  9. Thinking the congregation are there to serve you rather that you serving the congregation.
    As shepherds of God's people our example is the good shepherd. We are forever wedded to the bowl and towel of our master. No matter how many leadership books we devour with new techniques we are drawn back and confronted with a serving saviour. If we want people to serve us it maybe time to step out of leadership.
  10. Never personally tell another person about Jesus.
    Even worse shout at your congregation for their lack of evangelistic zeal when you can't actually remember the last person you invited to church, let alone they actually accepted and came and sat along side you.
  11. Keep hopping on and off the latest trend in church growth ideas.
    By enlarge your congregation don't care about, purpose driven, G12, attractonal v missional. (nothing wrong with any of them) They want a place where they are known, accepted as they are and inspired to change don't rob them of that with the latest fad.
  12. Forcing your vision through efficiently instead of winning people effectively.
    Not taking the time to win people is a sure fire way to empty the church. There will always be a few who won't go with you but the vast majority just want a compelling enough reason to change. God may have captured your heart now take the time to help others jump on board. Take time - people matter.

    The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God’s people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for. - Acts 20:28 (Message)