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Archive for July, 2014

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 162

162. “He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:4).

Can we hear the shepherd’s voice? In this statement, Jesus implies that there are sheep who do not belong to the shepherd, and even though they may physically hear his voice, they do not follow Him because He is not their shepherd. That’s a fascinating fact about sheep. As is the truth that those who do belong to Him can discern their shepherd’s voice from a myriad of others. That’s the question for us. Can we still hear Him? Do we move when He calls? Do we want to follow Him or are we as prone to respond to other shepherds?

 

The Brotherhood – Part 154

 

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

 

What if your best isn’t good enough?In our Brotherhood, the fourth and final commitment we make is to EXCELLENCE for ourselves. While we commit to PURITY, SELF-SACRIFICE, and LOYALTY for others in our lives, only we hold ourselves accountable for this final choice. We want to be our best in every thing we do so that we can live with the satisfaction that only a pursuit of such effort can bring.

But what if it’s not enough?

Truth is, there are many moments that exceed our capacity. We don’t have answers, we lack the strength, we can’t solve the problem no matter how hard we try. That’s why a real man knows He needs the One who is always greater than the task. A strong man knows He needs God to guide and strengthen His life and to step into moments that are too large to conquer alone.

Such need produces both humility and worship. When you know your life requires God, there is little room to claim top spot on the mountain. That place belongs solely to One who is worthy of worship and immense gratitude for the many ways He steps into our lives to add His strength to our challenges.

Real men know they aren’t self-made. While they can take pride in the work of their hands and the love of their hearts, they are clearly aware that only God can truly take on all challengers. He is the Source of real strength. He is the One who has put power in purity. He is the true Great One, and we are at our best when worshipping Him with lives of service.

Our strength is not solely found in ourselves, nor is it discovered in the numbers of our bond as brothers. For the life power that never runs dry resides in the One who formed us from the dust and launched us into a journey of demonstrating His goodness and glory.

Real men know this…

 

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 161

161. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep (John 10:2).

We can only come to God through Jesus, but the point here is that God has only come to us through Jesus. He alone is the one who came through the gate. In fact, He will soon say that He is the Gate itself. This is the plan of God–to come to us, to enter the sheep pen with us, to lead us to green grass and the still waters we crave. We can only come to God through faith in the revelation of His Son, and God has only come to us through the One called the Son of Man. The gate swings both ways, but it is the only gate.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Subject to Change – Part 12

July 28, 2014 1 comment

Welcome back to our ongoing discussion of the things people wish their pastor knew before leading them in a journey of change.

Remember my friend Bill? He was the fella struggling to see a future for his church because the past tended to demand his undivided attention. Like a driver with an 18-wheeler bearing down on him, he was struggling to give any focus to the windshield. Sometimes the monsters in the rearview mirror really are closer than they appear to be.

Bill’s story is sadly far more common than most of us realize. When you become the pastor of a local congregation, there are many stories you don’t know and haven’t been a part of. And, a lot of them aren’t good stories. In fact, people don’t talk about them, and if they do, they only whisper.

To effectively lead many established churches into the future, a pastor has to have a grasp of the past. You see, the past has shaped the present and it has molded some of its participants too.

Over the years, several people have told me that I tend to walk too fast. For whatever reason, my approach to getting where I’m going occurs at a pace that’s uncomfortable for many of those who walk with me. So, I’ve been known to escape the sight of those following me through airports or traipsing toward the work site on a church missions trips. “Can we slow down a bit,” they ask politely, though I’m guessing they may be mumbling other things.

I admit that I walk fast. The “too fast” part is the opinion of others. And, chief among them is my wife, who frequently reminds me that we’re not in the hurry my legs seem to believe in. Now, my wife is an aggressive high-achiever who, like me, packs more into her calendar than some find realistic. She’s not slow by any definition. My guess is that the difference in our paces relates to leg length and one other major factor—shoes.

I’m no expert on women’s shoes, and I tread cautiously here so as to avoid losing what could be more than half of my readers. But it seems to me that in women’s shoes, there is often an inverse relationship between attractiveness and functionality. When Nancy Sinatra originally sang, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” she probably had a specific set of footwear in mind. So did Jessica Simpson when she more recently recorded the same tune, though I’m guessing that her closet offers a variety to choose from. The song suggests that each woman had other options in their closets, but they weren’t made for “walkin’.”

I’ve never worn women’s shoes and have no plans to do so. But I have become convinced that should I ever don a high heel, the speed of my gait would surely be affected. Simply put, if I walked in my wife’s shoes, I wouldn’t walk faster than she can.

The idea of walking “in someone else’s shoes” implies understanding where they’ve been and what they’re dealing with from an insider’s perspective. It means exploring what we feel about the journeys we’ve faced and how those journeys may currently be killing our feet or even hurting our hearts. A leader who ignores the impact of where we’ve been will never understand us enough to effectively lead us in a new direction, no matter how wonderful the waters of your Promised Land might be for soaking our feet. You need to take a few steps in our shoes.

That’s what we’re asking you to do, Pastor.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 160

160. “…the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate…” (John 10:1).

There is only one plan. There is only one shepherd. There is only one gate. Saving faith is more than the choice to believe in Jesus. It also requires the choice to believe in no other. Throughout human history, mankind has sought to keep his options open, to worship whatever might be as though it is rather than to worship what is and that alone. The Lord is One, One God, one faith, one baptism–this is the math that leads to eternal life. Any who would enter the true Gate will see it is a narrow Gate–too narrow to bring other options inside.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 153

 

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching an extended series describing the events of WWII. Battle by battle, hero by hero, I have been immersed in the dramatic conflict that sought to remove fascism from Europe, the Pacific, and beyond. Now that the men and women who engaged this brave battle are in their final days, I know that the rest of us will desperately miss their character, their bravery, and their willing sacrifice for the good of our national ideals.
What do we show that kind of loyalty to? Are we committed to the same ideals of freedom? Would we willingly storm Normandy beaches amidst the hail of machine gun fire? Would we slog through the ankle deep mire of islands like Iwo Jima or Luzon? Would we run up barren hills and risk our lives for an acre of land whose only value can be found on a military map?
First, let me affirm my confidence that the men and women of our current military would say a resounding “Yes” and I fully believe them. In no way do my concerns about the rest of us reflect on their determination and bravery. I am completely convinced that they would receive such orders and act on them out of their amazing sense of duty. Heroes remain among us in this generation.
But, among the rest of us, modern ideals have shifted to individual rights rather than a sense of sacrifice for cause. Yes, when tragedies like 9-11 strike, we band together in remarkable ways, but when war rages on and losses of life mount, recent generations have been quick to withdraw support for our continued actions.
What made, and can still make, America great is that the people whom democracy allows to govern themselves willingly give themselves for the agenda of that democracy. There’s no king or tyrant at the top of our food chain forcing us to stand for his kingdom. Instead, we stand for our own, the “our” meaning all of us and not just my little slice of the American dream.
Such loyalty makes and will continue to make us great. When we live for ourselves, we create our own tyranny, placing ourselves on impenetrable thrones. But when we live for others, we prove perhaps the greatest expression of the human spirit.
So my hat is off and my head is bowed in respect to what some have called our greatest generation and to their descendants in uniform around our globe. But my heart is that each of us might reach for that same purposeful existence that elevates us to lives of meaning and good. May we treasure what they died for and give ourselves to its care, regardless of its personal cost.

 

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 159

159. “For judgment I have come into the world” (John 9:39).

Those who would use Jesus’ teaching on love to imply there is no room for judgment miss the point of His coming altogether. He has come for judgment–just not the kind of judgment we often imagine. Jesus has come to reveal the heart of man, to uncover faith and pride and reveal their opposite destinations. He has come to judge the paths we take and prove them flawed. He has come to judge the heart, even when the actions seem to imply something else. He has come for judgment–but He has come to judge what only love can truly reveal.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys