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One of my fears in life and ministry is that I don’t want to be bothered by God; I want things to come easy for me, for the dots to always connect and for the story to always have a happy ending. Am I alone in this?
The problem I have is as I read the Scriptures the more I see that the visions that resulted in the biggest impact were the ones that were the most disturbing to the people who received them. They pushed them WAY outside of their comfort zones, placed them in situations that were not favorable, asked much more than they could have imagined…
- Moses was shown that a nation was enslaved and for 40 years he dedicated himself to God’s vision.
- Nehemiah was broken that the walls had been torn down in Jerusalem and he established a plan and relentlessly followed through on all that God had put in his heart.
- Esther was burdened that her people were going to be destroyed and she placed personal preference and comfort aside and risked her life in order to do what was right.
- The prophets in the OT were crushed that people were living in rebellion against the voice of the Lord and were willing to be unpopular so that His truth could be proclaimed.
- Paul was troubled that religion was trumping a relationship with God…and ultimately gave his life for the spreading of the message that Jesus, not religion, saves.
Great servant-leaders are the ones who are willing to allow God to break them, to bother them to make His vision so personal that they don’t just think about it, they live it and feel it. We are not called to seek comfort, affirmation from others, convenience, popularity, personal preferences or safety. I am beginning to praying that God will help me to continue to shepherd out of a burden the He places rather than boredom or obligation. I’m called to be broken over the things that break HIS heart and I wonder how much I actually am. What about you?
In 2011 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life polled church leaders from around the world. Evangelical ministers from the United States reported a greater loss of influence than church leaders from any other country — with some 82 percent indicating that their movement was losing ground. This is a trend that has been happening for a while but most Christians were either to scared to admit it or had their heads in the sand. With the abuses in the church, the lack of constancy in our application of the Bible (i.e. Homosexuality greater sin than other sexual sins), and much more our culture has summarily dismissed the truths out of God’s word by looking at the people who claim to follow it.
How can we right ourselves? Honestly, I don’t believe we can but we can, however, use the economic, social and spiritual crises facing America to refashion ourselves into a more sensitive, spiritual and humble movement and a main part of this is something I call “Relational Capitol”
Years ago as I sat across from my mentor I first heard the term that would describe shape my ministry and relationships moving forward. That phrase was “relational capitol”. This is one of the strongest bond we have with those around us. Honestly the concept is rather simple, the greater the capitol you have put into the relationship (pouring into those in your sphere of influence) the greater the trust and influence, the lower the capitol the less the trust and influence you will have. This something that is carefully cultivated and preserved by those who desire to influence others. It is an intentional investment in relationships over time that causes others to trust, count on, value, and appreciate our relationship – whether it is a close one or from a distance. This investment, much like a regular monetary one, is not built quickly.
What are the factors in building this?
- First it is built over time because time validates our intentions and builds trust. It took years to get to this point and it will take some time to get back.
- Second, it is clear to others that we have their best interests in mind – all the time by our actions and service to them.
- Third, we have not stepped over appropriate boundaries in the relationship or taken advantage of others.
- Fourth, our interactions are respectful, honoring and have the effect of building others up.
- Fifth, we can be counted on, are faithful friends and show up when needed. All of these qualities over time build significant equity in the relationship. When any of them are violated we lose equity.
There are no investments more worthwhile or important than relational ones. Those investments are the currency of influence and growth as we interact with people with whom we have mutual trust. They are to be guarded carefully because once violated, they can be hard to rebuild and if you do not believe me you should look at the current state of Christianity in America today.
A year or 2 back I remember reading an article that said something to the sort of Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion. This began a disturbing trend that came next to the Dr. Kermit Gosnell arrest and subsequent conviction but no real news of the horrors of this man. Next, I had the privileged of listening to Lila Grace Rose at a local banquet and her inspiring ministry for the unborn nationwide. Next, I watched as Rep. Wendy Davis (D) from Texas filibustered a bill, in some spiffy shoes I might add, that would have severely reduced and restricted access to abortions in Texas thus she became a quick celebrity on Pro-Choice circles.
As I have been on this journey from hardcore pro-choice to hardcore pro-life I have tried wrestled with my level of participation in this conversation. No matter where I seem to hide, this subject seems to follow me, and now this week a new controversial pro-life documentary came out that examines the truth about abortion and the single biggest failure of the pro-life movement, not calling abortion what it really is…Murder.
Please [actually] watch this movie and then tell me where you stand on this subject.
Like most people I was taken y surprise when I heard the news Madiba’s passing. I understand he was 95, but death always seems to take us by surprise. As I watched the coverage my mind quickly began to think of all the history that this man had seen and been apart of. Additionally, I began to wonder what I have not been told about Madiba. The first thing I always wonder when someone passes is about their life in relationship with Christ. I always found the level and [seeming] completeness of Madiba’s forgiveness to be unique to Christ but I never heard of his spiritual life outside of a baptism when he was in primary school.
Ultimately here is what is most puzzling to me is the change that happened while in prison, from a Malcolm X figure to a Martin Luther King type figure. Mandela was arrested, tried, pleaded guilty to on 150 counts of terrorism and ultimately sentenced to Life in prison between ’62 and ’64. This is the same time in our nations history that the Civil rights movement was running its course in our country. Yet our two context have had completely different, though parallel paths. We were both dealing with entrenched racism which broke the back of our countries, yet our laws and forced integration have not solved the problem. Simultaneously, South Africa’s apartheid became even deeper entrenched and without hope for change. In February of 1990 Mandela was freed and the fate. Of a whole nation began to change in seemingly and instant. Over the next 4 years he led them from apartheid to a new constitution and a republic not all that dissimilar to ours. The difference is that what it took our country over a generation to accomplish was done, in a more hostile environment, in about 4 years.
This brings up a couple of questions:
- Whats the difference between the 2 countries?
- Which model should we follow in the church?
You see the American church in the 21st century is still dealing with 20th century problems and race is a huge dividing one. Honestly, I am not too worried about our country of South Africa’s but I am concerned about the issues surrounding the Kingdom of God.
So I would love to hear you thoughts, which model do we follow to solve this HUGE problem within the church? U.S. desegregation, Mandela’s or something else?
I have to admit that when it comes to the conflicts over seas I am tired. Tired of being the “police of the world”, tired of “spreading peace” and tired of fighting for the wrong kingdom . Yet over the last week I’ve wondered “What should we [as Christ followers] do in this world”?
Right now it seems like it is open season on our Christian brothers around the world.
- Seventy-eight Christians were slaughtered Sunday by twin suicide bombers at a historic church in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
- Less than 24 hours earlier a group of militants (some allegedly from the U.S,) murdered at least 68 workers and shoppers at a mall in Kenya, allegedly shouting for Muslims to get out of the way so they could specifically kill Christians.
- Coptic Christians in Egypt also have been targeted recently by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Christians in large numbers have left their ancient enclaves in Iraq and the West Bank after churches there were attacked or Christians were threatened.
- In late May, International Christian Concern, an evangelical ministry to the persecuted church, released to Christianity Today an anonymous open letter from a “trusted Syrian source” that explains why many Syrian Christians support Assad’s regime.
Many Middle eastern Christians feel that the government was bad [under the former regime], but they were at least safe. After researching what has happened in historic churches in places like Aleppo and Homs I know that we must do something but the question in my mind is what? Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of the Syrian Catholic church in Damascus said in May that Christians are so frustrated with Western policy, which he believes is fomenting Islamic radicalism and anti-Christian hatred, that they may give up on the West altogether.
“I believe there will be a time coming when Christians of the Middle East will no longer look to the West for support and perhaps to better strengthen their roots with the Eastern culture and civilization … [to] Russia, to India, to China,” he said.
So in light of this [and many other things] I wonder, [as Western Christians] what do we do?
I’m really looking forward to your comments and ideas.