Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Watchman of Sorts...

1The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, 3and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. 7 "So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. Ezekiel 33:1-7

I read this passage this morning and could not help but to think of my role as a husband, father, friend, and pastor. In a way God has placed me to be a watchman in all of those distinct arenas. If you are a husband, father, friend, pastor, employer, coach, whatever it is, hopefully you feel blessed to be in such a position. I know I thank God daily for the wife I get to share my life with, the kids that I get to raise, the friends I live in community with and the church I get to help shepherd. All of these arenas of life are ALL wonderful blessings from God, and I am sure you have similar arenas of blessings as well.

But the question for me today and maybe for you is, what kind of watchman am I? If I am not careful I can dwell in these arenas, enjoy them and still not be engaged to level God wants me to be. If I am not careful I can dwell in these arenas as though they existed for me, and my needs and wants. If I am not careful I can become lazy and lax in my God-given role in those different domains, and as you can see from this passage, there could be grave consequences as a result of my spiritual laziness and indifference.

I know that as a husband, father, friend, and pastor God has called me to be a watchman of sorts and if I love those in my circle of care, then I must be spiritually alert not only for my own benefit but also for those God has placed me in life with. My kids are at an age that they are solely dependent upon my wife and I for their care and protection as is all kids their age. But, in regards to my friends, and the church I help lead, I can not make decisions for them. My job is to be faithful to instruct, encourage, lead and warn about impending dangers, the choice is theirs. But woe to me, if I see the "sword coming", if I see potential harm and danger beginning to encompass around them and I stay silent. I think we fail as watchman a lot of times because we care too much about the friendship than the friend, or we care too much about what they will think of us, over what God thinks. Not sure what tower, wall, perch God has you propped up on as a watchman, I just pray that you'll be faithful while He has you there. Just a rambling. God Bless You!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are You A Leader?

In ministry all you tend to hear about is "leadership". Now leadership is a huge part of ministry no doubt. I believe strongly in leadership, I believe whole-heartily that as a leader, we must continue to grow, sharpen our gifts, challenge the process. I resonate with so much of the things presented, taught, "conferenced" around concerning leadership, I really do. The only caveat I would throw in there, is that to me, the greatest leaders, are the ones who are the greatest followers. Sometimes, in our desire to lead, and lead well and lead effectively, it comes at the expense and detriment of our followership. The greatest thing I can do as a leader is be more committed to following than to the actual piece of leading. Leading is important, but if leading becomes primary, over following, then my leading has just lost a lot of power and to be quite frank it might even be tainted.

The greatest gift to ministry, is not you, the leader, its not your gifts, its not your ideas, its not your strategies, the greatest gift is Jesus. He is the only one who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. All of my so called "great qualities as a leader"pale in comparison to Christ. That being said, my acknowledgement of that fact should cause me as a leader to seek Him first. Everything I do as a leader should be an overflow from my direct followership of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said "follow me as I follow Christ." That's the declaration I want to make as a leader.

Leadership that flows out of following, will not allow those they are called to lead, to put them on a pedestal. Leadership that flows out of following, will cause the leader to remember that the only one worthy to be exalted and held high is Jesus. Leadership that flows out of following, keeps at the center the mission of Jesus Christ and doesn't manipulate others for selfish gain.

So the next time you pick up that next great leadership book or attend the latest and greatest leadership conference and listen to the next big thing in the area of leadership, none of which is bad, remember, it will still boil down to this one's your followership? Your leadership is effectiveness believe it or not is in direct proportion to how well you follow. So keep leading and lead well, but strive harder to follower!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Connecting with God

My marathon training has officially started once again. Though I have not stopped running since my last marathon earlier this year, it is now time to bring some much need focused attention to my running. I took up running solely for the purpose of meditation and worship. It has become a very therapeutic(I hate that word because it sounds so humanistic, but bare with me)time for me. I have found that my time while running is a good opportunity to pray, clear my mind, meditate on God's Word, think through some of the things I am facing, things facing my family, places I believe God is at work and places I believe He is leading us to.

While I was running this morning I began to thank God for showing me, how in everything and in all things we could worship Him and connect with Him. God has designed us to live in relationship with Him, but unfortunately even as Christians we have designated that to be a weekend church experience, or midweek Bible Study, or private devotion, yet God desires that we strive to live in communion with him. The Apostle Paul stated in 1 Thessalonians that we "are to pray without ceasing." The idea there is to strive to live in communication with God. We are not to compartmentalize our faith in such a way that we only connect with God through our different forms of religious expressions. But, that we are constantly desiring to seek God and connect with Him in all things and in all parts of our normal walking around life.

What does that mean? Well, you like to work out, use that time to pray, to meditate. Are you blessed with a friendship, relationship, spouse? Figure out how that or those relationships cause you and others to get deeper connected to Christ. Do you have a job? Remember that the actual job is secondary, to why God has you there. The primary reason you are at the place of work is not to get a check although that is important; the primary reason you are there is to be a conduit and catalyst for God's redemptive mission. You see if we desired and if we took the time to recognize, there are so many outlets provided for us to live in authentic community with God.

I love our worship services, but I certainly don't want that 1 hour to be my full of God or my commune with Him. I want connecting with the Creator, who has made it possible for me to connect with Him through Christ, a high priority and focus of my daily life. I am sure you want the same. So before you take your next run, your next drive, have your next conversation, punch in for your next shift, ask yourself, how can I maximize this time for Christ and deepen my walk with Him. I know that's a whole of rambling, but I am praying to that end. God Bless!

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." (Romans 12:1-2 The Message)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What do I live for?

I have been reading thru the book of 2 Corinthians right now and I have been really convicted by the verses of chapter five.
"And He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake died and was raised." (verse 5)

It is so easy as a Christian to embrace the Gospel, praise God for the message and promise of the Gospel and still miss the full depth of it. And I know that may seem as a huge overstatement but I know that in different seasons and moments of my life it is true. I thank God for my salvation, I thank God for reconciling me and changing my reality from enemy of Christ to friend of God. I truly am grateful for that, but my flesh is so cunning and my faith so weak, that I quickly revert to making the Gospel about me. I quickly put myself in the center of God's Gospel purpose instead of His glory!l. And then I come to a verse like this and my heart is just pierced!

The benefits of the Gospel are amazing and so undeserved but the purpose of the Gospel must also grip and and cause my heart to be in awe of as well. The fact that Christ died not to make much of me, but to make much if Him and of the Father. I must stay focused on the fact that Christ died so that my old life would be crucified thru Him and my new life hidden in Him as well. I must set at the forefront of my mind that Christ died so that I in turn would live for Him. Living for myself is what was leading me to a road of destruction, living for myself is what caused me to feel empty, living for myself is what open the door for addiction, living for myself is what tainted every thing in my life, and yet while I was consumed with that type of living, God demonstrated His love towards me, but sending His Son to die on the cross for my sin and for my life, my true life.

There is no joy or freedom in living for self, true and peace is found in being hid in Christ and living for Him and Him alone. I am praying that The Spirit would lead me to not to distort the Gospel, but actually walk in the fullness of it. I pray that the Spirit continue to illuminate my heart and mind and convict my heart of the times when I put myself in the center of God's universe instead of His glory. The Gospel is the good news, not about me, but about God. So here's a question that we may not want to answer to quickly and that is what am I living for right now? And before we give the typical Sunday School answer, it maybe good just to take a moment to ask the Spirit to illuminate that answer for us and then respond accordingly. Just a rambling, but one that I hope will cause us to think about the nature of the Gospel and my full and true response to it. God bless you!