Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Ministry Rat Poison

"Don't talk about your neighbors behind their backs- No slander or gossip, please." Proverbs 24:28 MSG

Can anyone tell me the number one killer of any church or ministry?  It's not hard to guess from the verse. GOSSIP.  There is nothing in the world that can kill a ministry quicker than people talking about one another behind each other's backs.  After the dust settles from the big demise, a leader who allows gossip in their ministry will be looking around and speaking the immortal words of Socrates when he said, "I drank what?"

I have seen gossip tear churches to pieces.  I have seen gossip tear families apart.  And , I am sad to say, I have caught myself participating in gossip at times.  But, it was a man named Hal Mayer who taught me a key lesson in any minstry or church:  if you have a problem with someone, don't talk about it with anyone else but that person.  Once its resolved, you still should not talk to anyone about it.

Here is what I try to do when I hear someone going on and on about someone else:  "Have you talked with them about this?" If the answer is no then its time for me to exit stage left.  I tell them to go take it up with who they are refering to.  If they have a problem with that, then they have no back bone.

Here is how I feel about gossip now:  If you can't say what's on your mind to someone's face, then I don't need to hear it either. Shut up and move on with life.  If you really have to get it out, go talk to a tree or scream it out in your car alone.  Don't drag others down with you......

If there is a gossip in your minstry/church, confront them.  If they don't listen, ask them to leave.  If they won't leave, remove them. It's that simple.  Would you allow someone to slowly and knowingly poison you or your immediate family?  Then why allow it with your church family? 


Monday, March 26, 2012

Love God, Love Others, and Go

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30, 31 NIV)

This is going to be short and sweet, because Jesus was short and sweet about: these are the foundations of our faith. Jesus laid it all out there: Love God, Love Others.

We love God and others through the Great Commission.

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:17-20 NIV)

I had a great discussion with a good friend of mine who really believes the Bible is just stories, written by man who is fallible, so the Bible is fallible. It's okay with me that he doubts and doesn't believe. It's not my position to argue or convince, it's my position to love, understand, have an open mind for others hearts, and then begin the process of planting through love, understanding and relationship. God does the work in someone, not me. I am just the conduit. Anything more and I put myself equal to God. Not cool.

So #3: Love God, Love Others and what He asks you too.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Skipping the Rock

A few weeks ago, I came up with a list of about 10 things to live life by.  I was at a loss for some guidelines I wanted to set for myself, so what better way than the proverbial Top 10 list. Right?  Yesterday I posted about doing our best, preparing for the worst, and trusting that God will come through for us in ALL aspects of our lives.  Well, I figured I would continue for the next 9 days and post the rest.  (These will not be posted in any order of importance)

".....He straightened up and said, 'The sinless one among you, go first: throw the stone." John 8:7 MSG

The other day, my wife and I took our sons on our first so called "Family Vacation." It was short and sweet, but a whole heckuva lot of fun for us and the boys, minus the allergies and one missed event that I will admit was my fault.  On day 2, we stopped by the river in Smoky Mountain National Park and took the boys down to the river's edge to just check out the water.  While there, we saw many smooth river rocks that we started skipping across the rushing waters.  Being near a bridge, my oldest though it would be funny to "skip" rocks off the metal bridge spars because is sounded cool. But, the cars going over the bridge wouldn't like that (thank you God there were none driving by when he threw the rocks). But I noticed something about the ones he threw at the bridge:  in a wadded handful like a shotgun blast, some of those rocks would come bouncing back.  If not careful, they were going to hit him.

Here is my point:  Jesus taught us, in a very vivid way, not to throw river rocks at bridges in the Smoky Mountain National Park. Why? Because they just might come back and hit us.  In this passage from John, the Pharisees have brought a women caught in the act of sleeping with someone else's husband.  They want to trap him in saying something against the law of Moses which allows for stoning of someone caught in adultery. But he turns the table on them and makes them look within themselves at their own sin.

Here, God is not specifically saying there will be backlash from our condemnation, but that we must not throw that rock unless we can call ourselves sinless when we do.  Otherwise, we better be ready for the ricochet.  If we want to judge someone for their sins, we must be ready to be judged for ours.  Its that simple. Its easy to point out other's sins; it's much harder to point out our own.

If you throw the rocks at the bridge, be ready when some of them come back.  It WILL hurt.


Do, Prepare, and Trust

"Do your best, prepare for the worst-then trust God to bring victory."  Proverbs 21:31 MSG

I often wonder what doing my best looks like? Does it look like 14 hour days just to scrape out a meager paycheck?  What about volunteering for anything and everything at church?  Or even further, does it look like running around trying to serve everyone else in an effort to "work" my way to heaven?

I wonder the same about what the worst looks like and how to prepare for it. Living in a van down by the river?.........Our government falls apart and our country collapses?.........We are truly unsaved because of our heart, and not the way we presented ourself to other believers?

Proverbs is the most prolific book of wisdom ever written.  Here is what God has laid upon my heart after reading this passage over and over today: 

"Do your best...." everything you do, but your best must be in harmony (not balance, which means everything has equal measure) with all other aspects of life.  Christ displayed harmony in life in all that he did.  He did his best to serve His Father and others, but he harmonized that with the rest of his life and the ultimate vision for his life......God's vision.

".....prepare for the worst........"  Who cares about the end of the US or any other country.  We will survive and persavere.  Who cares about money or retirement or success?  In the end, they become our idols. Preparing for the worst means checking your will the worst affect you?  This leads to the last part of this verse.

".....then trust in God to bring victory.".........Doing and preparing lead to trust.  Trust leads to calm, contentment, and joy in life.  Joy leads to service beyond ourselves and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for where we are, what we are going through, and why we are going through it, good or bad.

God's purpose is beyond anything we can fathom.  The world tells us differently.  Do, prepare and trust.  Its imperative.