Sunday, May 20, 2012

Success Can Be Your Greatest Enemy

But Peter lifted him up, saying, Stand up; I myself am also a man. (Acts 10:26 NKJV)

Success can be the greatest enemy to some of us. Success means the accomplishing of goals and the achievement of a fulfilled plan, but the goals achieved may be really bad for you.

Success and prominence can awaken a part of us that is dangerous. We all want to be admired. We all want to be known and heard. We all have a need to be needed. This can be dangerous if we have not been broken before the Lord. If we have not been broken before God then we will desire more and more success for the sake of success.

Peter faced a huge dilemma in the passage above. He had just touched success. He was at a place of fame. In that place he deferred back to God. This is much more than saying, "No, it was all God, not me." He deferred the fame and stardom that was being attributed to him.

We live in a personality driven generation. Spiritual leaders have to learn that God has to break us so we don't hunger for success but rather to have a life that makes a true difference.

How do we do this? There are no answers. You have to search your own heart.

1. Why do you want to be heard and known?
2. Do you always feel you are not appreciated enough?
3. Does the dream of success drive you or the desire for true impact?
4. Does more and bigger mean better to you?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cart Before the Horse- Missional

You have all heard, "Don't put the cart before the horse." The idea is that we can get key priorities mixed up that will prevent the forward motion that was originally intended.

In the Gospels we find a very significant principle. Before Jesus released the disciples into ministry, He called them to "be with Him."

I am part of, excited for and a proponent of the Missional movement. It is a great thing God is doing in our midst. Everyone is called to a ministry. Everyone is called to serve. Everyone is called to "live sent." I believe all this, but the Missional movement cannot START with these statements and sermons.

Why? Jesus did not start with these statements.

Before he called his disciples to go, he called them to simply "be with Him."

The Missional movement has to flow from a heart that is saturated and motivated by an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. People have to be encouraged to activate a living, vibrant relationship with Jesus FIRST. If we get this part right, then people will sense the prompting of the Spirit of God. They will be energized. Their ministry in the market place will not flow from a self-energized strategy, but rather it will be energized from heaven. Love will motivate their action instead if a sense of duty.

The key is not to teach people FIRST to serve more, do more and become Missional. The key is to teach them to be with Jesus intimately and personally. If this happens, we will see a people who possess the heart of God that burns for those don't know Christ.
If we bypass this foundational teaching of "being with Him," then we will see tired pastors teaching tired saints to do more, serve more and give more.

The Missional movement should flow from disciples who have hearts gripped by their Savior. The key is to intimately connect with Jesus. He is our source and strength. Let ministry flow out of relationship. Let our "being with Him" produce a doing "with Him." (we don't work for God, we partner with Him.)

If we get this mixed up we will see a certain fad that died because people were trying to model a Book of Acts life without the intimacy of being with Him in the Gospels.

Put the horse before the cart.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bitter-Birthed Movements

Jonathan Martin of Renovatus Church in Charlotte, NC sparked this topic in one of his blogs on church movements. I can't take all the credit for it.

I am all for different "expressions" of the church; example: home churches, traditional churches, Gen-X and even Messianic churches.

However, the problem that I do have is when an expression of a local church is being birthed out of hurt, bitterness and simply to prove a point against another expression. It's a huge problem when all their teachings is to prove someone else wrong. (might be the formation of a cult)

One of the prime examples in our modern context is the house church movement in America. I think the theory and practice of house churches in the right context can be a powerful expression. In China, where they are not allowed to meet corporately, the house church expression is a movement of evangelism and discipleship. It's very effective. The key to this movement is that it is birthed out of a passion and desire to see people saved and to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. They are not mad at a local church or hurt by a church. They were not voted out of a church or out to prove a point in which expression is better. They are not isolating themselves from mainstream Christianity. Their expression is the ONLY expression they can operate in due to government restrictions.

Any expression of the local church has to be birthed out of a God-ordained passion and calling. It cannot be birthed primarily out of being hurt by another local church expression. Neil Cole has done a terrific job of birthing house churches in California. He even states that was the strategy for THAT region and it may not be God's strategy for every region or everywhere. The expression depends on God's calling and the gift-mix of the leader.

We live in a generation who have been wounded by the church. Because of this (and I have been guilty) we seek to birth an expression that shields us from that hurt.

Here are a few thoughts:
1. Let passion, calling and not pain (hurt) be your driving force.
-Don't build something based on what you are against. I saw a Messianic guy post on Facebook this statement, "Many professed believers..." Wow. You just stated that you have the copyright on the perfect way to Jesus. Build something based on God's call. This will allow you to celebrate other expressions of the church and join in unity.

2. Don't birth an expression to prove a point on the best way to "do church."
-How many times have we seen this? The youth pastor at the traditional mainstream church gets discontented with the way things are done, he gathers his youth workers (while still taking a salary from the church he is at) and starts the beginnings of a new church. I can say this because I have been guilty. The whole premise is that we won't do it like "them." The mission can't be negative in nature instead of positive. If you can't celebrate the place you were birthed from, then you probably birthed it out of negativity. The other test is this: Are you in good standing and relationship with that church?

3. The expression should have some semblance of effectiveness.
-If you birthed an expression out of pain and hurt, and there is no effectiveness; you may be just "acting out" due to pain. As Gamiliel said about Paul, "If God is in it, it will succeed." The problem with some of the house churches in America is that they are 3 people who got mad at a church and meet in a home to go "deeper." There is no desire to see lives changed or desire for evangelism. Their is little effectiveness and pain is everyone's common denominator. Therefore, the result is an isolated, angry, small group.

The writer of Hebrews warns us, "The root of bitterness will defile the whole body." (Kevin's paraphrase)

Discontent coupled with God's calling should be a motivating factor to birth local expressions. Hurt, bitterness and wounds should never be.