Archive for: November, 2013

Porn Addicts, God Haters, and Gossips

Nov 25 2013 Published by under Church, Leadership, Life, Ministry

By Dan Rockwell

dan3The need for fairness destroys thankfulness.

Life isn’t fair and, more importantly, grace isn’t fair. Grace has nothing to do with fairness. The most unworthy, from a human point of view, receive just as much in grace as the “worthy.” What if Hitler trusted Jesus in his last breath and ended up in the same heaven you enjoy? The thought offends our fairness gene.

Fairness:

Fairness is about comparison. Is everybody being treated the same?

Suppose your employer hires a less experienced employee, who does what you do, but makes more money. You aren’t grateful for your job. You hate it.

1.   Superiority ends gratitude.

2.   A sense of worthiness ends gratitude.

3.   Comparing ourselves with others ends gratitude.

Categories:

Grace has nothing to do with comparison, worthiness, or superiority. Grace humbles the righteous and the unrighteous.

There are no categories in grace. Grace does the same for a gossip as a drug addict.

Who’s in your “bad” category?

1.    Adulterers

2.   Alcoholics

3.   Abortionists

4.   Transvestites

5.   Porn addicts

Surprisingly, gossips are in the same list as God haters in Romans chapter one. You say, “It’s just not fair.” And that’s the point!

Superiority:

Recently, someone asked one of our leaders if a lesbian could come to our Church. Here’s our six word response. “We don’t put people in categories.”

One reason Christians put people in categories is it makes us feel superior.

The only thing that makes a believer different from anyone else is Jesus, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Humbling isn’t it?

Gratitude emerges when you realize the only difference between you and a God hater is Jesus. You don’t really believe God is impressed with you, do you?

Everyone is in the same category so
that everyone can enjoy the same grace.

Your choice is to be self-righteous and thank God you aren’t like “those sinful people.” Or, you can humbly receive grace like the rest of us.

Gratitude bubbles up when grace is humbly received.

 

Dan Rockwell is the author of the Leadership Freak blog, recognized as the most socially shared leadership blog of 2012, in addition to authoring the Grace Freak blog. Currently, Dan coaches leaders, consults with organizations, and delivers corporate and community presentations. You can follow his blogs at www.leadershipfreak.wordpress.com and www.gracefreakdan.wordpress.com.

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My Pastor Told Me He Wanted Me to Fail!

Nov 18 2013 Published by under Church, Leadership, Ministry

By Rev. Dennis Franck

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI remember the day well! It was my first church staff position at First Assembly in Huron, SD as a youth and music pastor. My senior pastor had asked me to come to his office, sit down, and talk with him for a while. Being new to the ministry (my first few months), and eager to please, I welcomed the opportunity to sit and chat with him. We talked about how things were going for me in my ministry. He asked questions – I gave him excited answers.

Whether he thought I didn’t understand the need to take risks, or didn’t think I completely understood his style of leadership, I am not sure. One thing I do know, however, is that I will never forget what he told me and how I felt as a result of it.

Pastor looked straight at me with an intense, firm, yet compassionate gaze and said, “Dennis, I want you to make three big mistakes every month you are here.”

At first I thought I misunderstood him and asked, “What did you say?”

He repeated his words again, this time with a smile upon his face.  “I want you to make three mistakes every month.”

I couldn’t believe it! “You want me to make three mistakes every month?!” I asked. “I thought you brought me here to be successful, to be effective at reaching youth and helping them to grow in their relationship with the Lord and each other,” I responded.

“I did,” he retorted. “I DO want you to be effective in your ministry!”

“Then why do you want me to make mistakes?” I quickly responded.

I will never forget his answer. It was one that has helped me throughout my 36 years of ministry.

“I want you to be successful in ministry,” he said.  “To do that, though, you will have to stretch yourself by dreaming new dreams, thinking new ideas and trying new things. SOME of those new dreams and ideas will work. SOME of them will not. I want you to have the freedom to fail, Dennis!”

“You mean it’s okay to fail at some things?” I asked.

“Yes,” he confidently exclaimed! “I have, and you will too!”

I can’t describe the feeling of relief that came over me! I could fail and my pastor would not be upset with me!  From that day on, until years later when God moved me to another ministry location, I not only felt his support of me and my ministry, I felt I had a pastor who understood my desire to succeed, and also my fear of failure. He gave me permission to fail, so that I could learn to succeed!

 

I began to realize that failure does not mean I am a failure. I began to understand that to be effective in ministry didn’t mean everything I did had to be a big hit. Failure just helped me see that the idea, plan, or way I was doing it was not the best way, and inspired me to find a way that was effective.

I don’t know of anyone in ministry who wants to fail at what they believe God has given them to do. I know of no one who desires to be known as a failure! All of us desire to be successful in fulfilling our ministry pursuits. What I didn’t know years ago, until Pastor helped me understand, was that we all need the freedom to fail to learn to be successful in what God has called us to be and do.

As a leader, ask yourself these simple questions.

  • Do you give your staff the freedom to fail?
  • How do you react when someone under you does fail?
  • Do they know they have permission from you to make mistakes and not experience your wrath or extreme disappointment?
  • Do you realize if they don’t hear “permission to fail” from you, their mistakes may cause them to distance themselves from you, or even squash their desire to try again?

Failure…it’s not something we all want, but something we all need the freedom to experience.

Rev. Dennis Franck serves as the National Director of Single Adult/Young Adult Ministries for the Assemblies of God. Dennis also authored the 2012 Global University course ‘Introduction to Single Adult Ministry’, the first course of its kind in the Assemblies of God. Dennis can be reached at dfranck@ag.org.

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“Metamorphosized”

Nov 11 2013 Published by under Life

By Rev. Michael Goldsmith

photo 1Let’s go back to 1964.  The “epic” movie of that year was My Fair Lady starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn.  My Fair Lady received 12 Oscar nominations and took home 8 of the 12.  The story is that of Professor Henry Higgins who, on a bet, decides to take a flower-selling, street dwelling, cockney accented girl named Liza Doolittle and transform her into a lady of beauty and elegance.  He teaches her how to walk, talk, dress, and act.  She learns how to carry herself as a lady, to enter a room with grace and poise, the value of etiquette and composure, and an incredible transformation takes place on the big screen.  The street clothes are changed into beautiful gowns.  The barely understandable accent is raised to a comfortable and soothing level of verbal communication.  The lifestyle of survival is altered into a lifestyle portraying real elegance.  It’s a great movie.

 

But now, travel with me, thousands of years into the past to another great transformation.  It’s the transformation of you and I into the people of God.  Ephesians 2 records the event.  “Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins.  You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin… All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature.  We were born with an evil nature… But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead…. For He raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms, all because we are one with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:1-6, New Living Translation).  Think of that.  God looked down on us, the street people of the world, living in a pool of sin, surviving life by selfish means, talking the language and expressing the behavior of this world, and He lifted us up (by our calling on Jesus), and transformed our life into something better.  That kind of real life transformation is far greater than a movie version.

 

Yet, we find ourselves often drifting from the transformed life back to “the way it used to be”.  Romans 12:2 compels us to not “be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”  Those are highly intriguing words – “conformed” and “transformed”.  The word conformed also carries the idea of being squeezed or pushed into a mold.  We are not to “be squeezed or pushed into the mold of this world”.  The world system is always attempting to squeeze us back into what we came out of.  But don’t do it. Resist it.  Refuse to return back to the streets of sin, the life of survival, the behavior of selfishness.  But be transformed.  That word means to change or create.  We derive our English word metamorphosis from it.  A metamorphosis is a permanent change.  A caterpillar is transformed through metamorphosis into a butterfly. And so a tadpole changes into a frog.  They are not the same old creature.  They are new creatures, with new patterns of behavior, a new lifestyle, a better and different way of living.

 

If you are truly “metamorphosized” (it should be a word) by God’s Spirit, then it becomes impossible to squeeze you back into what you were.  It’s just as impossible as it is to squeeze the butterfly back into a cocoon and demand a caterpillar.  The butterfly cannot and will not go back.  It’s found life and “life more abundantly”.

 

That’s where the parallel between our life as Christians and Liza Doolittle ends and the contrast begins.  In the movie, Professor Higgins can’t stop treating Liza as more than the street girl that he found even though she is now different.  For us, God has no problem accepting the change that He offers.  It’s us – just a new and improved version.  We are the ones that run away from Him and back to our old living.  He is the one who pursues us to convince us that we do not belong in that kind of life any longer.

 

So, like the butterfly, don’t return from where you came but keep your eye on God, focusing on the future, progressing toward His better way of life for you.

 

Rev. Michael Goldsmith serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country.  You can reach him at mgoldsmith@globaluniversity.edu.

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The Power of the Resurrection

Nov 04 2013 Published by under Church, Evangelism, Life, Ministry, Missions

By Kevin Folk

IMG_1703“If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” And, thus, begins the story of San Manuel Bueno, the martyr, by the Spanish writer, Miguel de Unamuno. The story centers upon a priest, Manuel, who serves the poor and marginalized in an outlying village in Spain. He is renowned for his good deeds and for inspiring faith in the common people. The problem, we later find out, is that he does not believe what he teaches, especially as it relates to the resurrection. He continues for the sake of the people, but doubt eats away at his body and soul until he dies in the middle of the village one day.

We often talk about and sing of the hope of heaven, emphasizing it, as if that is our final destination. However, the hope that truly moves us is the hope of bodily resurrection. The hope that we find only in Christ Jesus – and that, only by faith. Resurrection is still as absurd today as it was to the Greek audience in the world of Paul and the other apostles. Afterlife? Sure. Heaven. Most would agree. But bodily resurrection? That is where your sanity will begin to be questioned in our day, as in any day and age.

Paul himself made quite a big deal out of resurrection in his first letter to the Corinthians. Notice that in the quote above from chapter fifteen he is not referring to non-body soul existence in heaven. But as we see in the context he is talking about the next life, the renewal of all things in heaven and on earth. If there were no bodily resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah, and “the dead are not raised” Paul says that we are completely wasting our time – “let’s eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

Now, listen to his conversation with the Philippian believers, who seemed to be suffering severely for their faith in Christ. Paul’s hope and faith was rooted firmly in Christ and His gospel – so much so that he considered that the choice between living for Christ and dying for Him was a win-win. Why? Because, as he unfolds in chapter three, the goal is to attain the resurrection of the dead which is only in and through Christ. That is the final stage of our glorious salvation in Christ Jesus – the transformation of this body “of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.”

This hope in the resurrection of Christ and the guarantee of our bodily resurrection through Him is the power through the Spirit of Jesus Christ that presses us on in this life. We faithfully serve him in body and soul, through good times and persecution, trusting him to bring all things subject to himself, including the last dreaded enemy of humanity – death. Whether in death or life, we glory in Him. Whether in riches or poverty, we glory in Him and find our strength in Him and His Spirit, hoping to attain the resurrection of the dead, as Paul says.

Today, no matter what you are facing, no matter how many answers you have or lack, how much difficulty you have faced, how much success you may have stumbled upon, put your faith and hope in Christ, his life, death and resurrection! In this world where the powers still reign and wreak havoc, there is nothing that will shame the powers and remind them of their public humiliation by the cross of Christ and His resurrection like our hope in the resurrection from the dead through Christ. Be a true witness, a good martyr, and may your hope in the power of the resurrection keep you “steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord.”

 

Kevin Folk serves as the Associate Dean of Global University’s Undergraduate School of Bible and Theology and as an Assemblies of God World Missions International Missionary.

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