You are far more Precious to God than the Person you Love most on Earth is to you

You are far more precious to God than the person you love most on earth is to you.

Yet, I so often see people as opportunities for me to feel fulfilled rather than opportunities for me to relate with the secure unthreatened love of Jesus.  And that depersonalizes them into useful objects that I either appreciate or despise.

God didn’t put us on earth to retire comfortably, but to draw the people in your sphere of relating to Him by the power of our holy, radically self-sacrificing, other-centered love.  We are here to live A NEW WAY, to draw close to God in order to be formed into the likeness of His Son.

Of course we’ll face opposition where the battle to be holy will become so difficult and the narrow road so steep that we may leave the narrow road for a season.  But know this: God will not leave us there!  There is always a way back from sin!  Tears of hope will flow every time we experience God’s loving mercy when we fail.  God still loves us.  He will not give up on us.  He still has a plan.

So we must remain alert to compromised spiritual leaders who entice us more with the hope of blessings than with the promise of holiness, who lead you to think that God’s love makes Him more concerned with your present comfort than your eternal joy.

Can our Love for God just be another form of Self-Centeredness?

Love has no meaning unless it remains alive when the one you claim to love seems distant and unresponsive.  If you love God only when He immediately satisfies your desires, your love is merely one more form of self-centeredness.  Your love becomes trust only when you choose to believe that God brought you out of something bad to bring you into something good BEFORE YOU EXPERIENCE THAT SOMETHING GOOD.

Then your love is sustained by confidence in God’s character, not by enjoyment of current blessings.

How Church Leaders Should Handle “Problem People” (part two)

Bill Easum puts it this way in his book, Go Big:

One of the hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry was his constant attack on the status quo.  He challenged it every time he could.  Jesus loved people too much to allow them to remain such small persons.  Being nice has nothing to do with being Christian.  Being nice is often nothing more than a lack of compassion for people.

People who would rather be nice than Christian do not love enough.  They do not have enough compassion.  Instead, they are afraid of hurting someone or being hurt.  Fear is the opposite of love.  Remember, “Perfect love drives out fear” (I John 4:18).

This does not mean that we should set out to intimidate the bully or kick people out of the church.  But it does mean that we care enough about the future of our church not to allow anyone to stifle its ability to liberate people from bondage or victimization.  It means that we care enough about the bully that we will not allow the bully to intimidate the church because we know the spiritual vitality of both the bully and the church is at stake (120-21).

Does this seem reasonable?

How Church Leaders Should Handle “Problem People” (part one)

I’m so glad that I have had so few “problem people” in my 15 years of full time ministry.  But the few times I have had “problem people” in the church I discovered that it was best to handle problem people quickly, directly, lovingly, and firmly.  We are encouraged in Titus 3:10 (The Message), “Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him.”

Most stuggling churches are held hostage by 1 or 2 bullies or controllers who are opposed to the church making any change, even if the change would give the church a chance to thrive once again.  These people get their sense of self-worth by keeping the church so intimidated, either by their actions or their money, that very little can happen without their approval.  The sad thing is most of the leaders know that these people are a stumbling block to the church’s future but they won’t do anything about it.  They don’t confront the bully because they think that is the “Christian” thing to do, and in so doing, assist in the stunted growth or death of the congregation.

What’s your experience with “Problem people” and how have you found the best ways to handle them?

The Church (part six: your friend)

A river is purest at its source, and so we learn what the church is to be by studying the New Testament pattern. Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Church can be an enemy; church can even be neutral. Neither are what God intended. Here are some ways you can make sure the church is your friend, not your foe.

1. Make a commitment to be there every week.

People come up with great excuses. They will say, “I worshipped on the golf course.” They must play better than me because when I play I get to see a lot of God’s creation, woods, rough, lakes, sand.

Hebrews 10:25 reminds us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

The early New Testament church met throughout the week, even during some periods meeting on a daily basis in homes. The Bible tells us to pray, to study Scriptures, to partake of the Lord’s Supper, and to give offerings.

2. Participate with the right attitude.

Have the right attitude when you are there. Worship is not a chance for you to judge and pick apart everything. It is an opportunity to soak in the spiritual and biblical teaching and to be fulfilled through fellowship and encouragement. Go to church to participate, not evaluate.

3. Make an effort to serve.

Love and service go hand in hand. Both can dramatically affect your attitude and have incredible benefits for the church. Get involved.

If people do not serve at our church, light bulbs would go out and never be changed. Weeds would overtake the landscape. The Word of God would not be taught to children, and lives would not be changed. Marriages would not be salvaged. Rebellious teens would not find loving individuals with the strength and support to follow through with tough love. People would not be surrendering their lives to Christ. The church without servants would be a very empty building. Indeed, the church without you is just another building.

Someone has defined the scene at a football game as follows: “50,000 people who desperately need exercise watch 22 people who desperately need to rest.” Sometimes that accurately describes the 21st century Church. Too many Christians sit and watch the action without ever becoming a part of the action.

4. Make it a habit to invite others.

The followers of Jesus are required to go into politics, into business, into homes, into education. The purpose of the gospel is to penetrate the whole of common life.

5. Pray for the church.

Pray for the leaders, the members, and their impact in the community. They/we/I need it—desperately. Paul conveyed the message in 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.”

L.L. Parrott said, “What the church needs is more action, less factions, more workers, fewer shirkers, more backers, fewer slackers, more fasting, less feasting, more praying, less playing.”

Prayer is the power that propels the church to truly be the body of Christ.

6. Live a life that honors God and His Church.

Have you ever been out driving and you see a really unique car? I mean a classic old-time car, or a really beautiful sports car, or even a limousine? You know, cars that just stick out like a sore thumb, except instead of being a sore thumb, we’d like to see it in our garage.

That begs the question: How obvious is it to others that you are a Christian? Just as a classic is distinctive in a sea of cars, do you stand out among people?

Like it or not, people are walking up and taking a closer look at you to see if your actions match your beliefs. They are checking under the hood of your life. Double-mindedness turns churches into enemies. God doesn’t need that, and your community doesn’t need that, because it sends a mixed message. 1 Peter 2:12 says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Author George McDonald says, “Don’t tell me what you believe about God or even what you think you believe. Tell me what you didn’t do today that you wanted to do, but you didn’t because you love God. And tell me what you did do because you love God.”