Archive for October 2011

How to get a job

  1. Learn how to learn. It’s about humility. We won’t go very far forward until we bow down and allow the lessons of God to permeate our souls. The good news…he is continually bringing us around to know what we don’t yet understand. We will never make make progress in our souls until we admit we are in desperate need of his intervention. “Mess with me” is our dangerous prayer.
  1. 2. Learn how to ask great questions. Great questions come out of great levels of curiosity. Reading in the power and leading of the Spirit is life changing.
  2. 3. Learn how to knuckle down. There is a lot we are called to accomplish we will never pull off save for mere commitment to the task that lies before us. The Kingdom goes forward on the backs of available people who are willing to say Yes to the call of Jesus, come what may.

Strategy of attacks

As we live a life of obedience we run into obstacles. Chalk it up to the universal principle of attack and counter-attack. As you sign up to do good and the will of God there will automatically come opposition. You are no longer moving in the direction of agreement with the culture that opposes God. Attack is simply going to be your lot in life every now and then.

How you deal with these attacks will be one of the first testings to come your direction. What are we to do with those who oppose us almost to an irrational level? Jesus and Paul give us simple counsel: “Bless and curse not.” Don’t give into your natural inclinations. Don’t strike back, even when they jolly well deserve it.

When is it time to worry

I was always told not to worry.

As a kid I was a natural worrier. When I couldn’t figure things I usually resorted to worrying.

Is there ever a good time to worry? Does worry accomplish anything good or worthwhile? It always has the promise something productive but it never produces good fruit. Abandon it! It is an utter waste of time. Instead, exert the faith God provides – a much stronger response to the unknown than the “w” word.

To me faith means not worrying.” – John Dewey

Leaders actually lead from the front

Phony leaders speculate from the sidelines but real leaders have a penchant for action. A pastor friend of mine understands this well. His phone message is,

“I’m not here right now because I’m out doing good to all kinds of people and casting out demons (Acts 10:38). Please leave a message.” That would be funny if it were mere words, but that is exactly what he does for a good part of each week.

Leaders own the task at hand by being personally involved. They distain too much talk that is sometimes mistaken as “planning.” Phony leaders sometimes coach, they even write books. Real leaders roll up their sleeves and lead from the front of the pack as they do what they preach. Real leaders have a prejudice for action. Yes they coach – they give advice, but they do it out of their commitment to activism – from the front. That’s why it’s called the “leading edge.”

Empowered – the normal Christian life

As you reach out to bring others to Christ, how much of what you do is happening by the power of the Holy Spirit…and how much is happening in mere human strength? For the most part we tend to be mixed people. At times we know his empowering, then we slip back and walk in our own strength.

It’s possible to live a version of the Christian life in self-empowering for an extended time when we aren’t giving the Kingdom away, but when we begin to do outreach we quickly come to the end of our own abilities. It is the will of God that we walk fluently in his presence. Success is giving away the Kingdom in the power of the Spirit. This is the normal Christian life.

Evangelist Dwight Moody operated consistently in the power of the Spirit. That was the key to his amazing evangelistic ministry, but it wasn’t always that way. Early in his outreaches he went through an extended time of not knowing the presence of the Spirit so he began to pursue the Lord – that he would be empowered. One day while walking the streets New York, out of the blue, God’s Spirit came upon him. He describes this in his journal:
Ah, what a day! – I cannot describe it. I seldom refer to it, it is almost too sacred an experience to name…I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay his hand.”

Our sense of God’s nearness will come and go. At times we will feel him – at other times we proceed by sheer faith. But as we walk in his empowering for ministry we will consistently know fruitfulness. Let’s ask him for more.

Outreach is work and play

Outreach is at times both work and play. On occasion we need to rally our energies, roll up our sleeves and do whatever it takes to just go for it, but too much of the hyper drive approach can melt us down.

We need to remember that ministry is the most enjoyable, the most energizing activity possible in this life. I like to say, Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is fun. That saying may not be in the Bible but it sure is biblical.

Let’s lighten up. Let’s dedicate ourselves to having fun in what God has called us to.

Vision primer

We’ve heard it hundreds of times – Without a vision we perish… On the other hand, sometimes the problem isn’t an utter lack of vision – it’s unclear vision. In those times we can also perish. God calls us to persevere until we have gotten clarity.

Sometimes we rely on mere data to convey what we could call vision. That’s the shell of things – the tip of the iceberg. God is calling us deeper. Let’s capture mere information and live it out in profound ways. It’s then that lives will be empowered, real vision will be released and there’ll be no more perishing.

Whose strength are you operating in?

How much of what you do is based on your ability versus the intervening strength of God? It’s possible to move forward in our strength for a prolonged time. For a time we don’t do all that poorly – at least on the outside. Jesus said his will for us was that we would bear fruit that lasts. That kind of enduring fruitfulness that brings glory to God won’t be produced in mere human strength.

If lately you have been going forward in our own strength – you’ve not had an occasional breakdown (or as a friend of mine puts it “a nervous breakthrough”) – of not coming to a revelation of your need for God to show up in your situation – you’ve probably been going it apart from the power of God.

“Not to worry” to quote Cliff Claven. Turn from the sin of self-dependency. You can decide today you are going to operate in the vine-branch dependency Jesus spoke of in John 15. Move as he moves. Think as he thinks. Be strong in his strength, not your own.

Whispering the Gospel

For the longest time I sought to shout my way into the lives of many who didn’t know Jesus.

We’ve become like the culture around us. We’ve toned our message up so loud we too yell when something far quieter would do. We’ve lost the ability to listen. I suggest we tone it down a few notches. Why don’t we become people who come alongside those we seek to win and whisper to them the message of God’s love. Whispering in a world of shouting will pique their attention. In a world of shouters we’ll stand out of the crowd.

Generosity changes everything

It’s easy to go through the motions of ministry – to appear to make progress when all we are doing is marching in place. Church history, modern and ancient, is filled with examples of two kinds of groups – those who made progress and those who regressed. What made the difference? Generosity of heart and action. We cross the line into effectiveness when we are generous. Mother Teresa and her Sisters of Charity and other Catholic and some Protestant groups are examples of great progress. When life is over, if we should live many decades, and we evaluate how we’ve done, I wonder if our lives will count for much more than our level of generosity toward others.