Archive for September 2011

The power of the kindness of God

I read Romans chapter 2 for years before the light went on with an important verse one day – 2:4b. “The kindness of God leads to repentance” (NASB). A powerful force is released in the lives of others when we do a small thing – when we show the kindness of God in a practical way, even when that kindness is done in a seemingly small way.
Your acts of kindness release a desire in those served to repent. The problem we face in evangelism is we can try to talk people into changing their hearts when God isn’t initiating the change. That’s a tough sell. I love this verse because it promises that what we do leads to a “radical change” as the Message puts it.

Do The Work Of An Evangelist

Do you have to be an Evangelist to be effective in evangelism?
?“But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5
These are nearly Paul’s dying words to his understudy Pastor Timothy. Considering that they take on great weight.

Paul was highly effective in the ministry of evangelism since he was an Evangelist. but what about Pastor Timothy in Ephesus who received this letter. He was a shepherd. He didn’t travel about preaching like Paul, yet he did the work of an evangelist right in Ephesus. How did he do the work of an Evangelist?

  1. He encouraged those who had the gift of Evangelist. Those people stirred up evangelism in a dynamic, catalytic way in Ephesus.
  2. He weaved the value for evangelism into his messages on a regular basis.
  3. He dedicated a significant percentage of the funds coming in to the coffers in Ephesus directly local and distant outreach to see the Kingdom expanded.

Paul’s words serve as a balancing message for those who tend to excuse themselves entirely from any involvement from evangelism simply because they don’t see themselves as naturally operating in the realm of evangelism.

I lead a church in a town just southwest of Portland, Oregon. I have seen many get involved in the ministry of evangelism even though they are not entirely natural Evangelists. They have rightly understood that evangelism is a huge priority in the Kingdom of God, so they walk out the value of evangelism as part of their discipline as Believers – plus it’s incredibly fun to reach out in practical ways to the community! They too are doing the work of an Evangelist and I am incredibly proud of them for that.

I’m no evangelist

I recently took the online inventory commonly referred to as the APEST put together by Alan Hirsch and company (TheForgottenWays.org). I scored as a Shepherd-Prophet and not an Evangelist! In reading the SP combo I realized I have always been one who sought to passionately lead people to do things more than doing those things myself. Makes sense. I’ve always said, “My desire is to get people to do evangelism more than for me to do evangelism myself” so that test summary seems right on target.
That’s true for all the five-fold gifts. They are given “to equip the saints do the work of the ministry” more than to accomplish that work alone.
Now go do the work that matters – however you’re wired.

You are an idea receiver

There are many more great ideas yet to be discovered than all of us together have stumbled across. As I tally it, there are 300 plus outreach projects to date. Some of them are really cool, but the best ideas are yet to be found. The iPhone 5 is coming out in a few weeks. It will blow away all cell phones to date, but In technology the coolest things are still to come down the pipeline (thank you Steve Jobs and friends).

All inspiration is ultimately from God whether the receiver of that acknowledges it or not. Of course he needs our willingness to take the kernel he provides and work our tails off in order to get that idea in shape, but all seminal ideas originate with God.

He wants to birth an idea through you. He says, “Open your mouth, and I will fill it.” Open up wide. Here it comes.

Weird is good

We are tempted to think that that which is out of the stretch of the norm is a little “weird.” Systems thinking treats the new, the different, the avant-garde with skepticism. Yet it is here, in the realm of the weird, where Jesus does his greatest work. At least he starts out with the weird only to see that later become the norm.
Are you weird enough to be used by God? I hope so. God is looking for more weird people to change the world. Pray you are one of them.

A Simple, Costly Obedience

A while back I ran into a guy at church who looked a lot like someone I had seen on some album covers so I told him that with a little chuckle. He said, “That’s because I am that guy.” Turns out he was a part of the Eagles. One day not long after becoming a Believer he woke up and God told him he had to drop out of the band.
I thought, Did he really need to quit the band? Couldn’t he have stayed there and been a witness, and continued to collect millions a year? I thought, Too bad I wasn’t his friend when this was all going down. I could have counseled him with some wisdom and he could still be collecting millions in concert revenues. His tithe could come in handy (the things pastors think of…) I asked him Couldn’t you have just stayed in the band as a Christian Eagle (you’ve heard that line of thinking before). His answer floored me. “God told me to quit and follow him. I didn’t know any better than to just obey him.” God give us that brand of profound obedience.

Overcoming The Desire To Quit

It is common that as we get involved in changing the world that every once in a while we want to throw in the towel. I’ve been there numbers of times. Fortunately that desire usually goes away after a few hours or days. But it’s worth thinking through – what are we to do when we can’t get over the desire to quit. Instead of listing a ton of practical steps (which you could probably write yourself) it is enough to say this: we can’t quit. When we believe quitting isn’t an option we change the game entirely. Here’s some wisdom – just stop dwelling on this as an option. When MJ (Mary Jane) and I got married we decided that no matter how crazy we made each other we would never use the D word in conversation or as a threat. We’ve stuck to that for over 32 years now. You do the same with the Q word.

Plan Less, Do More

It is entirely possible to over plan, over think, over prepare in life but never get to the execution stage. There is something about the human condition – fear is what it’s called – that keeps us stuck in the ditch of never actually going for it. I see this continually in the area of outreach when coming alongside of leaders. We demand perfection before we start to move out. We feel we are somehow going to be judged harshly is we don’t hit it out of the ballpark with the thing we are considering doing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Live by the adage “Don’t let the fact that you can’t do everything stop you you from doing something.”

It’s time to lay down our conditions for obedience. It’s time to go for it. The time is short on all accounts. Life is over in a flash. Jesus’ return is emminant. People are suffering now.

Perseverance is the Name of the Game

I recently connected with someone who is introducing outreach at his church and is receiving a less than enthusiastic response. Not surprising.

In general, when we start something new, we will, of course, meet resistance. I have written a bit about the power of resistance on this blog and there is much more to write on this. Let’s face it – part of the fall of Adam is the tendency of all humans to be skeptical of new ideas no matter how powerful and important those ideas may be. Our role as idea carriers is to persevere come what may. The life we carry about is too important to worry about our personal sensitivities. Our role is to focus on the outcome.

What’s true for new ideas in general is especially true for outreach. I am convinced the Enemy of the purposes of God is hard at work seeking to dissuade people from positive thoughts about outreach. There is much ungrounded fear surrounding the notion of reaching out.

“God empower us for the marathon, not the 100 meter dash.”