Showing posts with label Ministry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ministry. Show all posts

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Random Thoughts

Some thoughts culled from my random file. Some have occurred to me in moments of quiet reflection, some in discussion with others. For your edification, inspiration and/or amusement — or your money cheerfully refunded.
  • I have given up the idea of doing “great things” for God — I don’t trust my judgment anymore about what is “great.” I am learning to be content with doing what God leads me to do. He knows what He wants me to do, and I believe that will actually end up being the greatest thing I can do, whether or not it appears that way to me at the start. After years of ministry, I have learned that it is often the small things, things I don’t even remember doing or saying, that have the greatest effect.
  • If anyone thinks of ministry as a competition, he has already cut corners and is headed for trouble.
  • True ministry in the lives of others is always something initiated by God. We plan it one way, it often happens another. We stumble into it. We back into it. We wake up in the middle of it.
  • My advice to anyone who feels “called to ministry,” is to understand that the ministry is not his or hers — it belongs to Jesus. The ability to do ministry does not come from themselves — it comes from the Holy Spirit. When we yield it all completely to God, He will do amazing things through us, above all we could ask or imagine, because it will be His power at work in us.
  • My advice for Christians in other fields is similar. Our vocation (“calling”) is an assignment from the Lord, and it belongs to the Lord because we belong to the Lord. If He has called us to it, He will provide whatever we need to accomplish it. And when we yield it all completely to God, He will do amazing things through it, above all we could ask or imagine, because it will be His power at work in us.
  • I view preaching, both in the prep and in the delivery, as dynamic, not static. It is a process. I want to be aware of not just what the Word and the Spirit have said but they are saying in regard to the people to whom I am ministering. I have often experienced the message I end up delivering to be more effective than the one I prepared. There has often been an overlap between the two, of course, but not a 1:1 ratio. That said, I don't think it is usually necessary to announce that the Holy Spirit has given me something to preach that is different from what I prepared. I just go with what God is giving me, and count the prep for preaching to be a matter of the preparation of my heart as much (and usually more) than the preparation of my notes.
  • I don’t actually think much in terms of obedience. I think more in terms of loving God and loving others and letting the love of God work through me. It’s been said that we become like what we behold. As I get older, I find that my desire is to behold God more. In that, I discover that godly things flow out of my life, not as a matter of obedience or discipline or discipleship, but more naturally than that.
  • What does faith mean in the face of disappointment and tragedy? Faith does not deny the reality of tragedy, sickness or death, but it says that God is bigger than all those things, that He gets the last word on them and that that last word is a good one.
  • “Your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). Young men see what is, old men see what will be. Both aspects speak of awareness of who we are, where we are and why we are. God is from eternity — He takes the long view. His plans and purposes endure. “He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations” (Psalm 105:8). God has dreams a thousand generations long.
  • Every thought, word and deed should flow out of love for and relationship with God. Do nothing except what His love compels you to do.
  • The size of your God determines the size of your miracle. That is, how great and powerful and good you understand God to be will determine how big a miracle you will be able to believe Him for. Little God, little miracle. Big God, big miracle.
  • What does it cost to change the world? Everything. But it is well worth the price.
  • When you learn how to hear, you will know what to do.
  • Intimate relationship with God is the seedbed for every pure desire.
  • “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Believe the love.
  • Faithfulness — the ability to walk in faith, exercise faith, be full of faith.
  • Discipleship — in training to be like Jesus. Not a program but a relationship with Jesus and His people.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Secret of Ministry is Falling in Love with People

Georgian Banov, of Global Celebraton, bringing 5,000 Gypsies their favorite meal, fatted sheep stew. Georgian and his wife, Winnie, have fallen in love with the people.

Pondering 1 Thessalonians 2:6-17 in preparation for a Bible study group I teach, I was struck by just how much the apostle Paul loved the Jesus believers at Thessalonica — they were very much like family to him. See how he speaks of his and his ministry team’s relationship with them.
  • Like children. “We were like young children among you” (v. 7 NIV). “We became as infants in your midst” (LEB). Other versions, like the NKJV, say, “We were gentle among you.” Paul and his team tenderly identified with the new believers there, and were as gentle as children with them.
  • Like a mother. “Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you” (vv. 7-8 NIV).
  • Like a father. “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory” (vv. 11-12 NIV).
  • Like brothers. “For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea” (v. 14 NIV).
  • And in their absence, like orphans. “But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you” (v. 17 NIV).
All of this adds up to one of the key ingredients for a ministry that touches lives and changes the world. It is about falling in love with the people. For God Himself is love and He has fallen deeply in love with us. His desire is that we should not only love Him with all that is in us but that we should also love one another with all out love.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Developing Vital Relationship with God and Others

Here’s a definition I heard years ago about evangelism — telling the good news about Jesus the Messiah and the kingdom of God — and I think it is true about Christian ministry in general:
Evangelism is what happens when you have a vital relationship with God and a vital relationship with someone else.
I think Christians have often tried to domesticate evangelism by making it a program, or a script that we run through with people like a sales pitch. If you’ve ever been cornered, you know what I talking about. But it is really about developing vital relationships.

First is having a vital relationship with God. However, a lot of times we want to domesticate that relationship, to domesticate God and fit Him into our little box. But He is bigger than an hour or two on Sunday morning, bigger than a daily prayer or devotional, bigger than our own little home and our own little concerns and our little lives. Gloriously bigger! The more we come to know Him and the amazing things He wants to do in the world, the more we are vitalized, energized, our heartbeats coming into rhythm with His.

But we must also develop vital relationship with others. That is how God made us to be in the beginning. For God Himself is vital relationship — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a relationship of love with each other that is thoroughly full and complete. Yet, out of the divine love relationship among the Persons of the Trinity, God created the heavens and the earth, to share the overflow of their love, and vital relationship, with humanity.

To use an analogy, when I come into vital relationship with others, they will not only know me, they will know about my wife, because I am in vital relationship with my wife. Or think of some of the grandparents you know, and how eager they are to talk about their grandchildren. That’s because they are in vital relationship with those children. Likewise, when I am in vital relationship with others, they will know about the Lord Jesus, because I am in vital relationship with Him.

There are thousands of ways we can develop such relationships with the people we are naturally around everyday as we are out in the world. This is true not only on the individual level but also at the level of involvement with the larger communities of which we are a part. For example, the realms of family, education, government, business, media and the arts are all areas in which we can develop vital relationship with others.

These are all ways individual Christians can become more involved in the life of the community and develop vital relationships. But the local church, as a corporate body, can also develop vital relationship with the community in the same ways. For example, my son and his wife are part of a church in Ybor City (Tampa, FL). The church is only about eight years old, but they have, almost from the beginning, been developing a vital relationship with Booker T. Washington Elementary School, reaching out on the level of meeting practical needs. They have also been developing vital relationship with the Ybor community — the people of Ybor — and its culture. They are currently working on a project to develop vital relationship with the arts community there.

Now, let me be careful to say that vital relationship is not a means to an end; it is a sufficient end itself. It has no agenda; it is its own agenda — to know, love and fellowship with others, to live life together. But it is the nature of such relationships that we each share what is most important to us, that we may give ourselves openly and honestly and receive each other more fully. And so we give life to one another.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Leadership of Love

You can't lead the people if you don't love the people.
You can't save the people if you don't serve the people.
Cornel West, professor, Princeton University
Read this on the side of a Starbucks cup (I had a Skinny Café Latte). It is a truth that is woven into the fabric of the universe. For the worlds were framed by the Word of God, God is love, and love gives and serves (I call this the "algebra of love"). God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (John 3:16); Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

True leaders love and serve, just as God does.