Saturday, March 29, 2014

MESSAGE TO THE NEW GUY


If you grow up in church and believe that it is essentially an institution owned and operated by the rich and powerful… man, are you ever in the wrong church!

I would have likely distanced myself further and further from God’s people if there wasn’t a few that took the time to hear me, see what God was shaping and give me a chance.


The Apostle Paul knew what it was to be the new guy. When he experienced his conversion to Christ, he came to the church as the former enemy that used to beat them up. Now, the tables have turned and Paul is the humble, changed man who feels the call of God in his life to follow Jesus.

The apostles in Jerusalem may have politely told him to stay away. There were too many people that had been hurt by his previous actions. For the greater good, it would be better if Paul followed Jesus at a distance… from them.

But, there was an apostle named Barnabas who was willing to trust God in this. Barnabas was willing to take a risk on the newbie Paul and advocated for him. He brought him to the apostles in Jerusalem and vouched for him.

If you are sitting back in God’s Kingdom because you figure that ‘the experts’ do not want to hear you or do not need you, think again.  Is there someone in your life that can be your Barnabas? You need to know that someone understands you and sees your heart.

Some of you are keeping a safe distance from church and commitment. You have let the poor behaviour of a few keep you from stepping up. Don’t despise your youth, your inexperience or the self-confidence of the status quo.

There may be times when all the best efforts are yielding nothing and God wants to use your voice from the sidelines to bring a big catch into the nets. Everyone in God’s family is valued and important. Everyone has a function and uniqueness that cannot be realized through another. Talk to a Barnabas near you and tell them what’s in your heart.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MESSAGE TO EXPERTS

A strong leader knows when they are stumped. They know they cannot pull a rabbit out of the hat and they are willing to ask for help. Strength in leadership comes from seeking good counsel from trusted advisors, but also from the grass roots. 


A good leader knows that every decision affects the followers. They take into consideration the ones who seldom have a voice.

On the other hand, insecure leaders believe that every answer will come from their own sense of clever invention and skillful decision-making. They are not open to contrary opinions or ideas. In the mind of a weak leader, their power must be maintained at all costs.

Strong leaders know that the weak must be strengthened and given respect.  Strong leaders encourage and empower the followers.

Paul is mentoring a young man named Timothy. He had known him since Timothy was in his teens. Now placed as a pastor in his first church, Paul writes to Timothy,

1 Timothy 4:
12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Paul knew that there were people of his own generation who would look down at Timothy for being so young. How can a young pastor say anything to us? We’ve been around since Jesus and these young ones talk as if they have it all figured out.

Paul knew that Timothy needed the encouragement to take the lead with these older people. He knew that it was not good enough for Timothy to settle for the standard of the older ones. Timothy was chosen by God to pastor these people and needed encouragement to stand up to the bullying, dismissive attitudes.

If you can encourage a younger leader, you need to let them know that you’ve got their back. They ought not to listen to your negative peers. That young stranger on the sidelines may be the one that God chooses to speak through and fill the nets.



Sunday, March 23, 2014

ANOTHER OPTION


Our greatest answers may sometimes come from unexpected sources. Consider the seasoned fishermen taking advice from a stranger on the shore.




John 21:
“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.


These first century fishermen had one lake. All of their experience came from fishing with tried and true methods. From years of successfully harvesting the lake, they knew how to recognize its seasons, currents and conditions. They knew what sort of fish swam in its depths. Perhaps, they had reached a point where they were experts and could laugh at the new, inexperienced people starting out.

Still, their nets were empty this night. As experts, they could probably explain why there was no catch tonight.

The stranger on the shore asks if they caught any. “No.” It’s a one-word answer that may reveal that they are tired and defeated. It’s time to quit and head back to land. They have nothing to show for their time spent. They are returning empty.

In the state of emptiness, is it possible that we will consider a voice that we might ignore when full?

If the story had gone that they had a full catch and the stranger suggested throwing the net on the other side; who would have listened? Emptiness and humility may be necessary for us to hear truth coming from unexpected places.

If a church is to hear what the Spirit is saying to it, there will need to be a condition of heart that is open to suggestion. How might Jesus speak to us expert believers and tell us to drop net on the other side?

Could it be that we sometimes pull in empty nets to prepare us for listening to unlikely counsel? In the boat, they did not recognize that God was speaking to them from the stranger on the shore. But when the nets filled on the other side, they realized that Jesus was the stranger. It is a reoccurring story in the gospels that people did not recognize Jesus until something happened. We may miss Jesus’ voice and presence many times until we awaken to Him.

The fishermen thought it was a hopeless night and did not realize that success was right under their noses. The success was waiting where they were not going on their own.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

EXPERT SYNDROME

You may be sixty years old and have an 82-year-old parent who thinks they still know more than you do.

You may be the person in the factory with the least seniority and yet understand how to increase productivity and improve working conditions. You may not get a hearing from the boss. As the new person on the floor you are not expected to have it all figured out. Have you ever felt that you were not heard because you were not authorized to have a valid opinion?

You may be thirty-something and already rolling your eyes at the twenty-something crowd. A child in grade six may be angry if they have to associate with the child in grade three.

There’s a reoccurring attitude through life that you can arrive at an understanding of how things are and should be. Because of your authority in matters, you can chuckle and ignore the suggestions and opinions of the younger, less experienced and ‘uninformed’.

If we are humble and sensitive, we may find that the answer we need comes from an unexpected person or place. Aesop tells the story of the lion trapped in a net that is freed by the mouse chewing through the mesh. The powerful beast is set free by the most timid of creatures.

Could it be that there is another principle at work in God’s Kingdom? Does God not choose to work through the least and the lowest to show us something about our alleged strength?



Monday, March 17, 2014

GET PACKING



2 Corinthians 5:
20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. NIV



Did you catch your job description?  Ambassador!  Representative of the Most High...  Messenger of reconciliation…

You have to let go of your past to experience a new reality.  But what is the old parachute that wants to drag behind us?

For the adventurers, the past experiences are filled with war stories, fishing myths, and high school football stories.  The true adventurer learns that they are now part of a new team with new battles to fight. The heroic acts of the past need to be replaced with new stories. The successful fishermen must now become fishers of men.

Maybe the adventure of your past has left you with regrets and missed opportunities. You will not survive if you constantly drag behind you the ‘would’ve, could’ve, should’ve’ parachute. Forget the things that are behind and press on to what God has for you today.

Those who ‘bailed out’ had crisis and failure and were able to survive because of their parachute. At the most challenging and difficult point of impending destruction, they found God, they found rehab, bankruptcy or something that transitioned them to stable ground.

We are in the business of helping people who have had to bail out.  Our job is to help them unstrap the past and walk in a new way in a new land.  We actually believe we are on ‘a mission from God’.

What’s your code?  What are your rules that you live by? What part of our past experience needs to be unstrapped so we can progress on new terrain?

We need to understand in a new way the common ground we share with all humanity.  We are made of the same stuff and live on the same planet. No one is better and no one is worse than us. We need to let go of our own self-importance that comes from the mission.  This is what Jesus did in ‘the Incarnation’.  The idea that God would become a man and live among us…  that is a powerful picture of helping people. 

God has chosen to live out His message through you. Let’s get packing the old and live in the new.


Friday, March 14, 2014

ON THE GROUND


Sooner or later, every skydiver into the Kingdom realizes that God has ordained them to serve in His Mission.  This is what the apostle says about the Mission.




2 Corinthians 5:
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.


The disciple of Jesus commits to becoming a peacemaker. Reconciliation is the coming together of two parties that were separated by offence. The fact that God has done that for us in Christ means He has changed his view from seeing us as sinners to saints. Jesus landed on the ground to make peace between God and man. We have landed to share in Christ’s mission of bringing peace.

Are you on mission to see people being restored to relationship with God or do you have the past dragging you along to judge, find fault and lower view of humanity? The past brought you to this point in time, but the past can also be a drag and a heavy, dangerous weight.


Your mission from God depends on unstrapping the old view of humanity.


If God can put our sins on Christ and give us His righteousness, why do we want to hang on to a less than godly view?  Without Christ, we are left with all of our unrighteousness and there is no way home to the Father.

Let’s unstrap the worldly view and put on Jesus’ outlook. This includes how you previously viewed yourself through the lens of the world. To know Jesus is to the beginning of knowing yourself. How else can we begin to understand the eyes of the Creator?



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