Archives For April 2015

ADRA Nepal's photo.Luke 19:41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep.

Since last week my twitter and Facebook have been inundated with two hashtags:

#prayfornepal

#prayforbaltimore

I believe prayer is important. I believe prayer is essential. I believe prayer is necessary. I also believe it’s not enough.

To sit idly, from miles away, without being moved to action, is not what God had in mind when he sent us as ambassadors of his kingdom to the cities.

So, what can we do?

  1. For starters, give.

Hashtags won’t feed a displaced family. Prayer can give hope, but it won’t rebuild a house. As we look at the cities ravaged by injustice, poverty or natural disasters we can do more than pray. We must. Consider for example giving to www.adra.org/ They already have a presence there. There are a myriad of opportunities to help in Baltimore. You can give, you can help with cleanup, and you can have meaningful conversations with minority communities.

  1. Ask yourself why, not just what.

When we see buildings burning in one city and in ruble in another, we must ask the deeper question. There are eschatological implications. There are sociological implications. There are even soteriological implications. Dig deeper. There is always something more. In order to effect change, it is not only important to look for answers, it is paramount we look for solutions.

  1. Remember the city.

In many cases, instead of loving the city, we have been leaving the city, not just physically but relationally.  Love is more than a feeling for the city, it’s action in the city.  Jesus cried for the city, and had compassion for the people living there. That was wonderful, but not enough. He took those feelings and put them in action, as he healed, preached, helped. Cities have not traditionally been known for being centers of discipleship, conversions or morality. Taking that into consideration, there are several attitudes that one can take towards the cities.  There are at least four in the bible:

  1. Leave the city. Acts 16:39
  2. Condemn the city. Luke 9:53-55
  3. Avoid going into the city. Mathew 16:21-23
  4. Love the city. Mathew 9:36

 

What will you? #dosomething

 

 

9706495160 0abd9477eeI had been asked to do the Sabbath school commentary for Pan de Vida Productions (http://www.ppvida.com) The pastor who I’m following is a living legend. His name is Alejandro Bullon. Everybody knows him. Everyone. Even people who don’t know him, know him. For me its hard to follow a legend, who is also a personal ministry mentor. Replacing a household name can be intimidating, but it does not have to destroy or derail you.

Maybe you are in one of these situations:

You are the new pastor in a district following a well-loved predecessor.

You’re invited to speak at a conference where last year the main speaker killed.

You are the new VP, President or youth director and on the first day you encounter some 10 foot shoes you’re expected to fit (you prefer petite sizes)

Whether you’re taking over a school, a classroom, a pulpit or an assignment, the message is the same: you can thrive. Eventually. With emphasis on eventually. Did I mention eventually?

Here are three things I have learned when following very successful people:

  1. Embrace, don’t hate.

I’ve seen it many times. A new pastor or leader arrives and immediately points out all the shortcomings of his predecessor. That would be a mistake because everyone makes mistakes. By emphasizing his weak areas you leave exposed yours. I remember getting to a church and every house I visited, a previous pastor was mentioned. It was Pr. Orozco this, Pr. Orozco did that, Pr. Orozco was the greatest pastor who ever lived. So I invited him over to speak. His endorsement of my ministry went a long way. That church loves me now. What would have happened if I let my ego get in the way and attacked his shortcomings? He was a great pastor! By the way, be very wary about the people that come to you talking bad about your predecessor. They will hate you too eventually.

  1. Establish, don’t copy.

A common mistake leaders make when following a legend is going to the other extreme (from point 1, which is to hate everything the other one did) and copy verbatim all the plans, mannerisms and direction from previous leader. Some people will not like a new emphasis and direction and bail. That’s alright. You will lose some people. You will also gain some. It’s part of leadership. Change is good, they just don’t know it yet. Finding the balance between being respectful of past leaders while at the same time innovating is a very difficult thing to do. Talk about ideas. Not people.

  1. Be patient, don’t hurry.

Eventually. Remember that word? It took your predecessor years, sometimes decades to get to where he/she is at. What makes you think you can get there faster? Stay the course. Definitive, intentional steps in the same direction, refraining from personal attacks will take you where you want to go.

I don’t know how people will receive my SS lesson commentary. I’m bringing my own style and I am going to give it all I got. I’m prepared. God decides if I’m successful. If it goes well, amen. If it doesn’t, I will probably learn some things along the way. It’s not easy to follow a legend. But it’s possible to thrive. Eventually.

Comments? Thoughts?

No one gets into a relationship thinking: “This is going to wreck my life, alienate my family, friends, and leave me wounded (possibly for life”. Yet it happens all the time. Not all train wrecks can be avoided, but most can. It’s interesting that after the train wreck happens, people look back and say “I should have seen it coming”. Fact is, you did. At least parts of it, but you lied to yourself by thinking your situation was different.

I am not a counselor or psychologist nor do I play one on TV, yet in 22 years of praying and listening to people I have seen some familiar patterns emerge. I share this “straight from my gut” blog not because I’m an expert, but because I care. Before the wreck happens, consider eliminating the following three phrases from your life:

  1. What’s wrong with _________________________________________. (fill in the blank)

Most victims of relationship train wrecks said that phrase at some point.

I know I’m married, but, what’s wrong with a little flirting?

I know he has issues but what’s wrong with being forgiving? Aren’t we all imperfect?

I know she seems controlling, but what’s wrong with caring?

The problem with the “what’s wrong with” phrase is that it makes excuses for character flaws. If you have to spend time arguing with yourself or with mature people who love you, trying to justify the unjustifiable, you are probably treading in dangerous grounds.

Train wreck!

 

  1. I can save him/her.

People that like to play savior usually end up crucified by the exact same people they are trying to save. It’s interesting to watch this dynamic unfold. Many times, the satisfaction of getting attention overrides the potential for a broken heart and results in compromised values. There is something inside of all of us that craves attention. Starting and remaining in a relationship with an unhealthy person makes forget two important principles:

People are worse than you think they are.

The process of change is going to be harder than you think.

When you add to the mix an intimate physical relationship (very common in unhealthy individuals and relationships) you get a perfect storm. If you are wondering whether an intimate relationship with a person you are not married to is a good idea, think about this: Complete intimacy without complete commitment usually results in a complete mess.

Train wreck!

  1. This is perfect.

This is the balance to #2. You’ve probably heard it said, that if it’s too good to be true it probably is. There is no such thing as a perfect person or situation. If it seems too perfect, question it. Healthy relationships have disagreements and imperfections. There is a difference between imperfections and dysfunctions. These are three markers I use to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy relationships:

Control- are they trying to help you become a better you or a different you?

Abuse- once it happens it’s time to get out.

Vomit- when someone you just started dating or just met shares too much information with you (they vomit on you) it should be a warning sign something is not right.

 

Some of you are seeing the signs right now that a train wreck might be at hand. Stop coming up with excuses. Train-wrecks seldom end well. Pray for courage and surround yourself with a couple of friends to support you as you jump off. Better a scraped knee than a busted head.

Sorry for the bluntness.

No more train-wrecks!

Do you know what you believe and why? Author Mark Mittlelberg shares six ways people arrive at their beliefs:

1) The Relativistic Faith Path,
2) The Traditional Faith Path,
3) The Authoritarian Faith Path,
4) The Intuitive Faith Path,
5) The Mystical Faith Path,
6) The Evidential Faith Path

Its a great resource. I highly recommend it.

In it he shares a quiz you can use with your church, youth groups, young adults, seekers. See the link below.