I liked this sketchnote that I found recently about the importance of leaders being storytellers.
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Growing up in a house of faith, I was warned, “Never pray for humility. When you do God humbles you.” That never sounded like fun, so I didn’t. Literally. However, recently I am been thinking about humility and how I can sharpen that character quality in my life. I have come up with a 5-Day Challenge on humility that has already proved itself to be a great test of will…I mean “unwill”.
My 5-Day Humility Challenge uses three aspects of my normal life which I normally desire to be “first” or to get my own way. Instead, the 5-Day Humility Challenge is an intentional way of submitting myself to others, thus giving me an opportunity in normal life to practice humility. Feel to try these with me.
- Driving the Speed Limit: The area I live in has all kinds of speed demons, of which I am the worst of sinners. So, to practice humility, the 5-Day Humility Challenge involves me driving the speed of the road (to the letter of the law). I don’t go with the flow of traffic, and I don’t justify my speed for any reason.
- Parking Furthest Away: We have a saying when we find a great parking spot at the mall or grocery store, “Why shouldn’t I have the best?” It suggests that I am deserving of a great parking spot. So, with the 5-Day Humility Challenge I park in the furthest parking spot and walk the distance in. You will get looks and you will get cold (especially on windy days). However, you recognize all the people that you are submitting to as you walk past their cars.
- Take the Longest Line: In suburban culture you will notoriously spend park of your week in a line (we love to stand in lines, it seems). The 5-Day Humility Challenge asks that instead of finding the shortest line in the grocery store, DOT, Menards, Costco or Target, you find the l-o-n-g-e-s-t and wait in it until your turn. One of the reasons we seek out short lines is because we believe our time is more valuable than the others around us. We have things to do! But standing in line, with others in front of us gives us a humble heart and helps us to recognize our place.
This is a 5-Day Challenge, it doesn’t have to be a lifestyle. Although I would suggest that you incorporate as much of it as you can. I would aslo have you come up with you own (please put what you did in the comments section below). The point of it is for you to consciously put others before yourself in a practical, and sometimes unpleasant, way. I hope you experience the humility of Christ is just a small way through this discipline.
But Pope John Paul II’s words ring true: “Christ … assigns the dignity of every woman as a task to every man.” If that’s right, the men in my party, in my church, in my life have failed; they ask me to participate in overlooking the offense.
He didn’t do anything wrong. You caused this. You enjoyed it. You deserved it.
Instead of those words bouncing around my head, they are bouncing around my Facebook feed, off the lips of my friends, from the screens of my phone and laptop. They are directed toward Bill Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s accusers.
Republicans who have lamented the Clintonian proclivity to malign women are now defending the same activities because … well, they idolize power or their own strategic cleverness. Trump, like the preacher, is too important to abandon. We have become what we said we despised.
– via Washington Post
This is a section of an article written by Nancy French, a four-time New York Times best-selling author, in The Washington Post. I highly encourage any evangelical Christian to read it and consider the issue.
The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy:
“The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.” (1 Timothy 5:24).
This is message is given to him in a list of things that Paul is instructing him on. It’s a power statement for Timothy, his protege, to understand.
There are a couple of ways we look at this. First, Paul lets Timothy know there are two different types of people out there. There are those who blatantly sin, and those whose sins are hidden. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, so Paul is telling Timothy know that sometimes it isn’t obvious, the sins of others. There are people who can’t help but sin blatantly. They lack self control and understanding of how their sin is detrimental to their heart condition. There are others that keep their sins hidden. However, Paul lets us know that even they will be found out.
Secondly, this speaks to how we should look at others. It is east to judge those who sin openly and be quick and harsh with our condemnation. But we need to be careful that we don’t show bias toward the one and lighten the weight of the sin of the other. For example, I know of a particular Christian college that at one time found out that one of their students was pregnant due to pre-marital sex. They had a morality contract that they had the students sign, and this young woman was in breech of it. She was expelled from school. Later another young woman came forward in confession that she had recently received an abortion due to an unwanted pregnancy. The school showed compassion on he and let her remain enrolled. There was a great uproar by a few people (me included) that this was unfair and promoted the wrong message to the student body. The college administration was focusing on the public, open sin and disregarding the “trailing sin” of the other young woman. They realized quickly that they were in error and corrected their mistake.
I am not quick to judge the school because I do this on a daily basis. I overlook the sin of one person and accentuate the sin of another. This is not Christlike. All sins will be found out. Some people can’t help but sin openly, while others try to hide their sin. The solution is open confession of sin. People need to admit their issues, confess it to God and others and ask for accountability. When we try to short change this process we tend to keep our sins hidden. When we keep our sins hidden we tend to judge those who don’t. But all sin will be found out. It’s only a matter of how we want to confront it.
We white American Baptists/baptists tend to eschew displays of emotion in worship. Why? Why would we not at least occasionally demonstrate some physical response to profound gratitude, joy, conviction, etc., while hearing or singing the gospel? And yet, it is so rare among us….
I think we need to work toward a change in our typical white baptist ethos about worship, inviting people to cry, to raise their hands, to kneel, to say an “amen” or a “hallelujah” if they feel so led. But I don’t think just inviting it will do much; I think the worship leaders will need to find ways to incorporate some emotional displays, done decently and in order, into the worship—using the choir and/or worship team.
Too much white baptist worship is inclined toward the mind and the will avoiding any attempt to touch the emotions. I suspect much of that has to do with not wanting to be thought of as fanatics, but to me that’s a shame—to be controlled by what others might think.
– via Roger E. Olson
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
As your kids get older you will find that you need to master the tiny moments in time where your family all comes together. In our family, due to work schedules, sport schedules, homework, church responsibilities, and ministry, we don’t get opportunities to have dinner or family night as much as we did when our kids were young. In those days we spent entire weekends together. Now we long for a convergence to take place that is similar (and as rare) as planets aligning in space. So, we treasure the 5-Minute moments.
The first moment is from 6:45-6:50AM. Seth is almost headed out the door to catch his bus. Grace has come down from her morning shower, head wet and still groggy. Seth, being the morning person, likes to dance about our cat-like daughter who paws at him as a tabby cat would. Everyone talks about their day ahead and the morning anthem is called out as it is every morning as people leave, “Go get ’em!”
The second moment is after school from 4:30-4:35PM (only on M-W-F). The kids, and mom, come home from school and tell of their day around the kitchen table as they scarf down anything that isn’t claimed for leftovers dinner that night. If I’m kind, I’d have made ice cream cookie sandwiches that the kids love and eat quickly before their evening responsibilities. The talk is about how the day went, which kid has more homework, the night time schedule, and how much pressure we put on them to succeed. They usually find their corners of the house after this to warm themselves in the glow of their favorite screen before they leave for the evening.
Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…
The last 5-Minute moment is from 9:45-9:50PM. The day is done and we all sit on the bed in our bedroom and wallow in our fatigue from full days. There are tears sometimes, scoldings too, but mostly it is a time of love and stories. We laugh at a funny event explained by one of us, or an observation of stupidity noticed in the day. This five minutes is so important and seems like everyone wishes it would last longer. People linger until they have to find their own beds to find rest to prepare for the next day, and the next 5-Minute Moment.
So, what are the core values of 5-Minute Moments?
- Listening (make sure they are talking more than you)
- Empathy (Karla says start there. Understand them and their situation)
- Upbeat (Push for positive, but recognize the negative)
- Food (It makes them stay around longer—like bears)
- Touch (Try to hug, pat, squeeze their Charmin, etc.)
- Focused (eliminate all distractions, namely phones)
We can begin to understand why God must allow humans to inflict suffering on one another and the animal kingdom, for without free will we wouldn’t have the capacity to love. But why would an all-good God create a world in which animals survive by inflicting incredible suffering on other animals? Why would a loving God create a world in which innumerable parasites, viruses, diseases, and genetic mutations torment and kill millions of adults, children, and animals every year? And why would a beneficent Creator allow “natural” disasters like earthquakes, tsunami’s, hurricanes, droughts, and famines to afflict nightmarish suffering on millions of humans and animals? All of these aspects of nature deserve a place in Darwin’s hypothetical book of nature, written by “the Devil’s Chaplain,” for all seem to reflect the character of a malevolent Devil more than the character of an all-good, all-loving and all-powerful God.
– via Greg Boyd – ReKnew
Recently in studying for an upcoming sermon series I was in Romans 1. Romans for most pastors is like a juicy steak: they like to cut big bites, let the flavors settle in, chew slowly and keep eating. However, this particular instance I was challenged by just a phase. Actually not even a phrase, but a word in that phrase.
Roman 1:13 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.
Paul is letting the Roman church know that he is eager to get involved in the work that they are doing and that he, too, has a mission. His mission isn’t just to Jewish people, but in fact to ALL people (Gentiles). He write in Romans 1:14 that he is “obligated” to reach all types of people (Greeks and Barbarians) of all different types of backgrounds (wise and foolish). The word obligated stuck out to me. In it’s Greek form (opheiletēs) it means that a person is indebted. That they are someone who has done something wrong and they have to make up for it. This spurred many thoughts in my soul as I enjoyed the marinated juiciness of this peace of truth-steak!
First, although most modern believers love to sit in the grace that our salvation in Christ brings, I am challenged that I owe God everything because of what He did for me through Jesus. I, too, am obligated to live a life that is in complete obedience to him (sharing Christ with others included). This rubs some people wrongly when they feel like they have to “work” for their salvation. But that isn’t what Paul is saying. He is letting his readers know that such an amazing miracle of transformation took place in his life because of what God did, he is compelled to live his life in thankful, obligated gratitude.
Have you ever had your life saved by someone? Have you walked out in front of a car, or started slipping on a cliff’s edge toward cetain doom? Or, maybe you have received the internal organ from someone who has donated it to your benefit? These are just small examples of what it might feel like to be indebted to someone for saving your life. Now, think about the eternal nature of your life. God saved you eternally from a horrific ending apart from him. He, instead, had his son experience it. This should heighten our level of appreciated, and in turn our obligation to Him. I must admit I do not spend my days in the weight of that obligation objective.
Secondly, Paul’s obligation to God showed itself in evangelistic application. Paul felt compelled to share what had been done to him with others. I can imagine him meeting someone for the first time and saying, “let me tell you how God brought me back from death” or “let me tell you about when my eyes were really opened to who Jesus really is”. Paul had a story to tell and that story had him as one of the main characters. His obligation to Greeks and barbarians is actually a mirror reflection of how he saw himself. Paul saw it as imperative to reach these people with the gospel.
In his book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert C. Coleman puts it this way:
“Christian disciples are sent men and women—sent out in the same work of world evangelism to which the Lord was sent, and for which he gave his life. Evangelism is not an optional accessory to our life. It is the heartbeat of all that we are called to be and do. It is the commission of the church that gives meaning to all else that is undertaken in the name of Christ. With this purpose clearly in focus, everything that is done and said has glorious fulfillment of God’s redemptive purpose—educational institutions, social programs, hospitals, church meetings of any kind—everything done in the name of Christ has its justification in fulfilling this mission.”
He sees our obligation as what should propel us to share Christ. And not just share it, but share it with EVERYONE!
Paul was highly intelligent. He was studied in numerous ways—just like the Greeks. But, there is also a barbarian in Paul. Don’t forget that he is the one who plotted the deaths of inumerous Christians when the church first got started. He had barbarian ways. When he says that he is obligated to Greeks and barbarians, he is seeing himself in them and saying “If God can save me, He can save you!” When we reflect on who we were before we were saved, or who we could have become, we should be motivated to reach out to those like us who need Christ. We should be asking ourselves “Who are my Greeks and barbarians”, “who are the people who don’t know Christ that I see in myself”?
Paul knew what his Obligation Objective was. He knew what he was saved from, and who he needed to help save. Do I?
Every Sunday morning, on my way to my office in preparation for another great Sunday at Westwind Church, I spend time praying for every pastor I can think of (or that God brings to mind) whether I know who they are or not. Sometimes it is just praying for the person who leads the church I pass by in my car. I do this because it helps me understand the daunting task of bringing the Gospel to the twenty-first century.
What do I pray? Here is the prayer that I say in my mind for all who bring the message of Jesus each week:
“God, I pray that you would speak through the pastor of this church as they bring your Word to a searching generation. I pray that you would protect them from any attack from the Evil One, and allow them to lead with a servants heart in the church that you have given.”
We should all be praying for the pastors in the country and around the world.