Getting a slow start this morning after a very busy but amazing Easter Sunday. Here are some random thoughts about a great day.
Now that I have your attention, and before you feel as though I am committing blasphemy by an admission like "We are Gods", just hang with me for a moment. Most wrestle with questions about God; "is He real, does He care, is He just, who is He? Unfortunately not many find resolution with these questions. However no matter the questions you ask, one thing is true about all of us and that is, we are all worshipers. Whether it is done in temples, churches, or in the living room, every person lavishes extravagant love on the object or objects of highest affection. We do this by the way we spend our time, what we spend our resources on, and what we sacrifice for. Religious expressions of worship like kneeling, singing, clapping, raising hands, giving to the poor, etc. is not worship but simply acts of worship and point to the object of highest importance.
A quick glance across culture one thing becomes painfully obvious and that is not the lack of worship toward God, but the earnest devotion and worship of a lesser God, the God of "ME". This God has it's own expressions of devotion to numerous to count; greed, pleasure at all costs, people's approval, hunger for power, selfish ambition, dishonest gain. This reflects a very present god, but unfortunately it is a weak impotent god who is unable to deliver the goods and ends up leaving the devotee on an endless quest that in the end would best be characterized by a man who knew it all too well, Solomon as he called it "meaningless", "a chasing after the wind". The question isn't whether are not you are devoted to God or not, it's a matter of which God are you devoted to.
The worship of the one true God in effect is the denial of any and all lesser God's. The process is becoming keenly aware of your own frailty and need for something more. This process is not automatic and will never be fully realized, but the pursuit of the God is a deep transfer of your heart's devotion, the byproduct of that is our response or acts of worship ie; loving, giving, blessing, singing, dancing, kneeling. This is puts a subtle shift in the idea that, "WE ARE GODS", that makes all the difference in the world and that shift is simply the addition of an apostrophe into the equation making it, "WE ARE GOD'S". Instead of being possessed by our own pursuits we willfully choose to surrender our pursuits to HIM.
This is a reminder I need every day as a Pastor attempting to do my best to serve God by serving His people. If ever I think that some gifting or insight I have somehow gives me power to be God I am in a world of trouble and so are you. Yesterday I was in a meeting with a bunch of pastor's and I heard our Navarre campus pastor Ron Rice, give his life verse that I have been wrestling with ever since and I think I might adopt it as mine as well, it's the words of John the Baptist in John 1:20. John the Baptist was a man of growing popularity and clout and Jesus comes on the scene, his honest confession to his devotees was simple and was summed up in the statement, "I AM NOT THE CHRIST". I'm not sure if there is a more liberating or a more powerful statement to be made in that admission. The only ability I have is to point people toward the one who is capable of changing everything. I must decrease so that He might increase.
Have a great weekend!
It's hard to believe that Easter is around the corner (April 12). It's going to be a crazy day. With the addition of our Foley Campus we will be having 11 services in 5 locations each of our existing campuses (Navarre, Blue Angel, Eastern Shore, & North) will be adding an additional service for Easter. We will have 3 services here at the North Campus; 8:30, 10:00, & 11:30am. It's amazing to think what God might do throughout this region as thousands gather to hear the good news. I just finished up the artwork for Easter and the 3 weeks series we will begin on Easter called Alive. What do you think?
I'm not sure what comes to mind when you here the word party. If you have kids, chances are you think of birthday cake on kids faces, cheesy decor, kids running around making a lot of noise. Or perhaps you think of some activity that conjures images of a frat house, kegs, and hangovers. Whatever images come to mind, chances are that you do not associate the term "party" with the word "church". However, these two ideas are actually closer than you think. Throughout history God called his people to celebrate (party) for various reasons, whether it be through festivals or holidays or the more practical and daily way of living that focuses on the amazing life that comes as one's own life is intertwined with God.
I have had many conversations with people both directly and indirectly about why they do not value "church", you would hear words like; "boring", "dull", "life-less", "predictable", or any other word you can come up with that gives your mind a picture of mindless and meaningless activity. I believe that church should be a lot of things but "boring", "dull", and "predictable" it cannot be. That's not to say that it should be all about entertainment, but something different that brings joy and meaning even in pain.
We are having an experiment with this tomorrow (Friday Feb, 20th), night as our band cranks up to provide an opportunity for us to experience and celebrate the reality of a living, loving God. The band is incredibly talented and you will certainly enjoy that, but that's not what makes it a party. There is nothing like rowdy people who are passionate about seeking God who come together, allowing the music to be an anthem for their love. The result is the presence of God which makes all the difference, and is what brings the "fullness of joy", as the Bible says.
So, we're having a party and you are invited to come. You will not be disappointed there will be amazing music, and coffee to boot. It is going to be an amazing night, and I hope you don't miss it.
I've been re-reading a great book that I have had for several years called, "The Future Leadership of the Church". It is a really good book but not because it is full of new profound concepts. Here is a brief synopsis:
The world is changing drastically, and the church is losing it's influence within the culture. To add to the problem there are drastically fewer capable and qualified men emerging into leadership roles within the body of Christ. There is a huge need for bold leadership, yet fewer people are rising to the surface and those in leadership roles are content with keeping their position rather than training others to take their place.
One quote that stands out in this section; "great movements require, great leadership". The changing world is poised for change. The opportunities that are presented in this day are unprecedented. The world is getting smaller, cities are growing, and the culture is diversifying. The ability to effect global change is at our door, thus the need to address future leadership is perhaps the most critical issue that must be addressed within the church.
The need is great, and change must take place. However, there are great obstacles along the way. to pull an excerpt from the book; "The secular and materialistic spirit of the age is a powerful cause in diverting young men from entering ministry. All ages have been materialistic, but at no time in the past and in no part of the world have the allurements of material progress and success been so potent with young men as they are today in North America." Those who would enter in ministry are distracted by ambition and miss God's calling. The culture is absorbed in new forms of idolatry and pursuits.
The Favoring Influences:
The future leadership in the church is not only God's responsibility but it is the obligation of current leadership to pray and foster environments that causes the young to emerge. It requires more than "praying that the Lord would send more laborers into the harvest field". We must pray, believe, and cultivate. From the book; "We cannot impute the deficiency of workers to neglect on the part of Christ. God would not fail to answer the prayer dictated by Himself. The failure lies at our own doors."
From the book; "The minister is under obligation to exercise this recruiting function. He should be working not only on the present Church, but also for the Church which is to be." There is a huge need for direct appeals to the younger generation to pursue the heroic nature of Christ into ministry. A concerted appeal to follow Christ wherever He goes. This appeal is going by the wayside in many circles, and many are simply content. Ministers must have concerted intentional appeals and invitations to the young to follow their example.
I love the church. I have given my life in service of Jesus through His church. I have concerns about the future, but I am also filled with hope. These are current issues that must be met with determination and intentionality to pursue the future and raise a new generation of followers rise to take their place.
The most profound element of this book is not it's content. As you could find this stuff in most modern church leadership books/conferences or in conversations with pastors. What is truly profound is that this book that details current challenges and struggles was written in a completely generation and culture from ours. The book "The Future Leadership of the Church", by John Mott, was published in 1909. The challenges the books catalogs have greatly compounded 100 years later and I'm not sure that we listened very much.
We must change, we must make room, we must get out of the way for the Kingdom's call or else the Vision of the future will be lost totally. On another note this book was published by an organization who 100 years ago who had a vision for training young men in leadership and ministry, the YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION, now known as the YMCA. Most would not even associate the YMCA with being an organization that fosters young men into Christian ministry. Staying focused on the vision is important, if not we will become something else altogether.
Three years ago this week we started the North Campus. It is amazing to see what God has done in our short history, and the doors he is opening for the future. Yesterday we had a great day to celebrate what God has done and to sell-out for His cause once again as we enter a new chapter in our campus. A few random thoughts from the day: