Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Tim Keller in his book The Prodigal God says that about a year into planting Redeemer Church in New York City someone asked him who was coming to his church? He said, it was about one third non-believers, one third believers and one third “recovering believers.” (Prodigal God, p. 68)
As I reflected on that I realized that God is bringing many of the same kinds of people to Journey. People who are believers, non-believers and what Tim Keller calls “recovering believers.” Using the story of the prodigal son he describes “recovering believers” as the “younger brothers” who had been hurt and offended by the self-righteous “older brothers.”
Amazingly the “older brothers in this story are a picture of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law that were in the audience on the day that Jesus taught this parable, Luke 15:1. They were as lost as the tax collectors and sinners who were depicted by the “younger brother.” Sadly they were even more lost, because they were blinded or deceived and thus unable to see their true condition.
Tim Keller goes on to say, “elder brothers divide the world in two “The good people, like us are in and the bad people who are the real problem with the world are out. But Jesus says: “The humble are in and the proud are out. Luke 18:14. The people who confess they aren’t particularly good or open-minded are moving toward God, because the prerequisite for receiving the grace of God is to know you need it. The people who think they are just fine, thank you, are moving away from God.”
In the end the question is which brother are you? Both of them were lost and both of them needed Jesus. And both were invited by the Father to fellowship with him but sadly only the “younger brother” the one who realized his lostness accepted the Father’s invitation. The older brother, though invited by the Father, “became angry and refused to go in.” Don’t let your pride keep you from coming to Jesus.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
This week Carol and I are on vacation. For one thing we are celebrating our anniversary. We have been married for 37 years so I thought I would share 37 things I love about her. There are certainly more but it’s a start. Just wait till we’ve been married for 50!
1. The fact that even though she’s a morning person and I’m a night person she still goes out for coffee with me at night and stays up late to watch TV even if she does fall asleep.
2. The fact that she doesn’t have a competitive bone in her body. (she has 202 competitive bones in her body).
3. The fact that she gave me four healthy, energetic, enthusiastic, athletic boys
4. The way she encouraged them when they were growing up, helping with their homework, rebounding basketballs, attending soccer games, working so they could go to college and soooo much more!
5. The way she has supported me in following God even when it meant moving away from home, back home, away from home and back home again
6. The way she sees our ministry as a calling and a partnership and doesn’t complain when I have one more call to make, one more visit to make, one more card to write or one more change on the power point!
7. The way she helps me build boundaries so I take time for her and for the family.
8. The fact that we can enjoy doing anything together as long as we’re together!
9. The way she takes care of her self and looks in her new black and white dress.
10. The way she prays for me and for our Journey Church family.
11. The way she has adapted to my family and enjoys going out to eat, long meals at the table and hugging everyone when they come in and hugging them again when they leave.
12. The way she tries to “do it all” being a mom, grandma, pastor’s wife, work outside the home, take care of her mom, love her husband!
13. How she meets my needs even at times when she is not in the mood.
14. How she used to let me “rile up” the kids when I came home even though they were supposed to be settling down.
15. How she roots with me for the Buckeyes
16. How good she looks in red. (did I say something like that already?)
17. How she works to make my life “special”.
18. How she still wants to spend time with me even after “all these years.”
19. How she gives 100% to the kids and our grand daughter.
20. She let’s me choose which restaurant to go to for breakfast. (lunch or dinner)
21. How she is always there to build me up and believe in me.
22. How she helps me understand and be understanding of people.
23. How she gets me chicken noodle soup, pears and seven-up when I am sick and then leaves me alone.
24. How she lets me drive when we go somewhere together.
25. How good she plays the piano.
26. How she supported me in front of the kids when they were growing up.
27. How she trusts me and how I can trust her completely, entirely, wholly, and 100%.
28. How she makes me laugh and still laughs at my jokes.
29. How good she smells.
30. How she lets me share with her something I just learned in my reading
31. How she let's me use her as a sermon illustration even if I do have to give her a dollar.
32. How she keeps learning and trying new things.
33. How I can tell her anything and she doesn't judge me but understands and loves me
34. The fact that she is my very best friend.
35. How we still get to cuddle in bed at night.
36. The fact that she married me.
37. The fact that she stays married to me and loves it.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
As a pastor I am expected to be a leader. The problem with leadership is that it can either be good or bad. an article in Leadership magazine indicated that pastors are often bad leaders, especially when it comes to modeling humility.
The Barna Group research probed what we pastors do in response to our frustrations and disappointments. They asked “Think back to the last time you felt disappointed or frustrated with people in your congregation. What did you do-if anything-to address the challenges you faced?’ The pastors could mention anything that came to mind. Here are the top ten responses:
Prayed about the issue (37%)
Confronted the issue immediately (34%)
Had someone on ministry team/board/staff deal with the issue (15%)
Looked for Scripture to address, solve the problem (14%)
Sound counsel from someone I trusted (10%)
Talked with the person (9%)
Confronted the issue eventually (9%)
Addressed it from the pulpit/in a sermon (4%)
Had a council/board meeting (2%)
Self-examination (2%) Leadership, Spring 2010, p.72
Sadly the survey found that only 2% took the time to examine themselves. I’m not sure what to say or to do about that. Paul told the Corinthians that the very first thing they should do is examine themselves, 1 Corinthians 11:28. As painful as it may be let me suggest something. The next time you are frustrated or face disappointment with people ask yourself what could you have done different, said different, or even felt different that might have helped in the situation.
Jim Collins, suggests that superb leaders don’t look out the widow to blame others. They look in a mirror to take ownership when things don’t go well. They look out a window to praise others when things do go well. Whether you are a pastor, a parent, or whatever, the challenge is to examine ourselves, to look in the mirror and when we see something we don’t like examine ourselves first, before we judge others. Jesus said, to “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” Matthew 7:5. That’s love!