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Tuesday
Oct032017

Where You See “Sin City”… (a response to the tragedy in Vegas)

 “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” certainly lost its meaning this week, as we were all deeply affected by another senseless act of violence.   Although, truth be known, that saying lost its meaning to me a long time ago.  When you move to Vegas, what happens and what stays in Vegas takes on a whole new meaning.  In 2012, I joined the staff at The Crossing Las Vegas as one of the pastors.  I must admit, when my wife and I were talking about moving there, we were a bit hesitant.  Why would we want to move to Sin City?  Part of my rationale was, “Who would ever question the need for another pastor in such a city?” I rolled up my sleeves and was ready to fight the good fight.

It didn’t take long for me to change my perspective and begin viewing Vegas with a different lens.  Yes, there are things that happen on the strip that should not happen. However, I also saw something very different.  I saw soccer moms, dads who were trying to be good husbands and fathers. The churches there are jam-packed with people who long for what is good.  We even met prostitutes that wanted to get out of the lifestyle but discovered that the answer of “just stop” was not a straightforward solution.  We met pit bosses, waitresses, military personnel, computer geeks, bankers, travel agents, and all sorts of other interesting people.  We got to know their story, we got to really know them.  Good people who are really no different than the people of any other city.

Before long, “Sin City” became my city.  My wife and I fell deeply in love with the people of Vegas.  Did we compromise?  Not at all; we saw past the veneer of glitz and glamour and saw the hearts and souls of many beautiful and wonderful people.  I have had people raise an eyebrow when they hear me say how much I love Vegas, probably making an assumption or two about me in the process.  It’s true though; my wife and I really do love the people of Vegas.

I now live in Orlando, where a senseless act of violence made national news not that long ago.

As I watch such horrific and heinous violence occur in cities I grew to love, amongst people I grew to love, I began to see something else.  People long for love.  I think Jesus has something to say about this. The Christians I know in Vegas have rolled up their sleeves this week to love on the hurting.  This is very similar as what I saw happen here in Orlando.

It’s funny how much of our time can be caught up in the petty details on social media.  We make bold statements that have little consequence.  We become argumentative without taking time to listen to the heart of the concern.  Don’t get me wrong, some are called to a prophetic voice. We need that.  Want to know what we need more of, though? Followers of Christ who are intimate with Jesus and love their neighbor as themselves.

So how do we respond in a time like this? I hope we are reminded and inspired to do what we have already been taught, to love our neighbor and bear one another’s burdens. 

Perhaps when you thought of Vegas before, all sorts of judgements and categorizations came to mind.  Perhaps when you drive past a gay nightclub, such as the Pulse in Orlando, you identified them in a certain way.  Perhaps there are groups of people in our world or even in your neighborhood, that you have put in a box and have made your mind up about.  I hope that these events inspire you to begin to look at people differently. 

I don’t just see a mass tragedy; I see individual stories.  My heart is heavy for the young lady who was involved in our church’s youth group and is now in the hospital. Her spine still has bullet fragments lodged against her L3/L4 vertebrae. As well as other fragments in vital areas, one fragment is currently inoperable due to it being lodged in the spinal canal.  My heart is also heavy for the young mom of a 2-month-old who lost her life. I think about the police officer who lost his life that night, and my good friend who serves as a police officer there who is mourning the loss, all the while serving 12 hour shifts to support the community.

 I also see churches that I am proud of, just like I saw in Orlando, who are coming alongside the hurting and loving on their neighbor like they have never been loved on before.

My prayer is that when you hear stories like this, something very foundational and beautiful rises up within you.  This is the greatest thing Jesus said you could do on this earth.  As you are loving on God, look into the eyes of the hurting with great compassion and help them encounter the love of the Heavenly Father, even through their pain. 

Get to know their story.  Don’t wait for a tragedy to occur in your city.  If you call yourself a follower of Christ, loving your neighbor is what you do. 

Yes, please pray for Vegas.  Please also prayerfully ask Jesus what He was once asked 2000 years ago, “Who is my neighbor?” Be warned though, you may not like Jesus’s answer, and you may not like what He tells you to do about it!  In the short run, anyway; in the long run, you might actually become the person you have been praying to be.

Monday
Sep252017

Know your Audience (Funding Your Vision #4)

I went to a seminar last year let by a pastor who leads a Millennial church.   He made an interesting remark.  He said that their weekly offering was far higher on Monday morning than on Sunday morning.  He went on to say that no one in his congregation carries checks or cash.  While they do still pass the plate, the givers simply ask, “What’s in my wallet, and how much do I need to keep back for lunch?”.  Heck, I’m considered an older Gen-Xer and I myself haven’t carried a checkbook in over 20 years!  This church has done an extraordinary job in building a quality APP.  Every Monday morning, they send out a notification that lets its attenders be reminded of announcements, with a link to the message, small group questions, “and by the way, if you forgot to give yesterday, no problem! You can do so right now.”  As the recipient is sitting at her desk, she says “Oh that’s right!” and 2 minutes later, she has given and then goes back to work.

What do you really know about your people?  Do they carry a heavy debt load? Do they understand how to live on a budget?  Do they understand the theology of generosity? Are they more likely to give to specific items over a general budget?  How much information do they want to have?  How much is too much?

Below are a few generosity principles when it comes to Knowing Your Audience.  If this is your first time to this Funding Your Vision series, begin with Funding Your Vision Part 1

  1. Generosity is the New Sexy.  I believe it is harder to lead a church now than ever in American history.  I also believe the church is better off for it.  It used to be far easier to be competitive and self-centric.  I think it was easier to run a church service before now, without having to cry out to God that the people would show up and engage.  Heck, the church had its traditions down pat that they didn’t even need God to show up to have a great service!  I believe that the changing trends will force the church to go back and look at what is really biblical and necessary.  The irony is that there is far greater of a demand from our weekly guest that we really are what we claim to believe.  One of those demands is that the church is not all about themselves, but truly loves the community and investing in true transformation and reconciliation.  Call me crazy, but I think Jesus might agree with this idea; in fact I think He even has something to say about this concept. Your first-time guest wants a church that is generous and they actually want to be taught how to be generous.  They want to be a part of something greater than themselves.
  2. There Are Apps For That.  When I planted my church in the mid 90’s, any technology you could bring into your worship service was cool and attractive.  Now less is more, but what makes sense better be there.  To not have a strong website, giving kiosk, well laid out apps, and other smart ways to engage with your community is no longer about being uncool; it is like the equivalent of finding out the contractor you hired showed up to the job site without any tools.  It just doesn’t make sense and causes a lack of confidence. 
  3. Know Your Audience’s Heartstrings.  Please hear me, I am not suggesting that a church should bend the Gospel, quite the opposite!  As noted in Funding Your Vision #2 you can’t do it all, so it is critical to clearly understand what makes your community unique.  Sounds obvious?  Maybe.  You would be surprised though how many “do church”, with the expectation that newcomers adjust to their culture, rather than the church have great sensitivity to the local community God has caused them to reach.  Here’s a litmus test: can you name one or more things that makes your church unique compared to most churches you know?  If so are those things reaching people to Christ?  If not, you probably have not done the hard work of really understanding how God has called you to reach your neighborhood. 
  4. Help The Givers Out of Their Own Financial Crisis. To teach generosity and not give them clear pathways to financial freedom is a guaranteed formula for guilt and shame.  That is not the goal obviously. There are tons of programs out there. I have personally had success running Financial Peace University in my Church.  A word of warning though:  a good biblical financial program will teach godly principles.  The upside is that you will see tithing increase.  The downside is if you are not running your church budget according biblical principles, you will be called out on it.  I’ve seen on more than one occasion church leaders move from excitement to disillusionment, when they discover that the very church that recommended the financial freedom program is not operating on what was taught.   I am not saying this is a bad thing, I am just giving you fair warning!

Next Post: How to Lead in Funding The Vision.

Sunday
Sep242017

Teaching Theology of Generosity - Funding Your Vision #3

A Converge church that I call my home church does a masterful job of teaching on the theology of generosity.  Every Sunday before the offering, a staff person does a 2-3 minute biblical teaching on generosity, and then finds a way to tie it into the vision of the church.  More often than not, the staff person studies the passage that the pastor is preaching on that day and looks for a biblical principle that applies to giving.  It can cover an array of themes: how God is generous to us, why generosity is critical to our spiritual growth, the benefits of being a generous person, why tithing is biblical, pointing out a principle in scripture that the church is striving towards and how their generosity makes that possible, and how a life was changed in that church and their gifts helped make that happen. The possibility of themes are endless. 

This week I was asked to give the generosity teaching.  As I mentioned in Part 1, I have been impressed with how so many people stepped up in generosity for hurricane victims.  It also struck me that the average local church is not seeing such outpouring of generosity.  Why is that?  The Lord brought me to Matthew 9: 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  We learned in the book of John that Jesus does nothing apart from the Heavenly Father.  In other words, He sees what the Father sees.  We just see a crowd of people.  Jesus had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Seeing what the Father sees causes him towards action, engagement, sacrifice, generosity.  It is awesome that we stand up and become generous with those in need, because we know that could have been us.  Jesus is not asking us to give of ourselves blindly, it’s ok to give when you have been moved to great compassion for the hurting and helpless.   We are simply being challenged to see what the Father sees.  When we see the crowds that don’t know Jesus, that could have been us.  When we see children trying to navigate life without spiritual instruction, that could have been our children, and when so many adults live in a vacuum without biblical community, that could also be us.  Please don’t give blindly, see what the Father sees and know that your generosity not only helps you and your family, but the many families yet to come. 

Below is Part 3 an extensive series on funding a vision.  If this is your first time to this series, begin with Funding Your Vision Part 1

Two Generosity Principles:

  1. Teach Stewardship, Tie it Into The Vision.  Generosity is woven into the core of the Gospel, as Jesus was generous with giving his life, sacrificing his life and to become Christ-like. We have the opportunity to do the same.  That means everything you do in your church points back to generosity.  Every activity should point back to the mission and vision as to why your church exists.  Every moment is a teachable moment about the core values of the church and biblical principles found in the scriptures.  Your youth worker, your children’s worker, your greeters, your men’s ministry – every area of the church can point back the biblical principle of stewardship and generosity.  When coaching church leaders, I help them develop a habit of leading every leader to take every opportunity to turn every activity into an opportunity to teach generosity principles. 
  2. You Preach The Tithing Principle, now Live The Tithing Principle.  The Gospel is often counterintuitive.  You want your life, give it away.  You want to be first, step to the back of the line.  Tithing is no different, God will do more with your 90% (10% tithe) than he will do with your 110% (spend it all plus 10% on credit cards).  What dumbfounds me is that churches preach this, but don’t live with the same generosity principle themselves.  “I expect you parishioners to tithe but as a church, that does not apply to us.”  Seriously?  That’s shameful!  If you really believe in generosity, then I believe the church budget should reflect a minimum of 10% given away to church planting, local missions, international missions and/or citywide movements.  “Can I count the music concert we did that we opened up to the public?  After all, that was not cheap!”  NO, simply no.  I would define it this way: to give away to biblical causes that you yourself anticipate no tangible benefit from.  God may, and often will, choose to bless you, but you don’t give with the hopes it will increase your bottom line (I.e. – will bring us more church attenders)  It should be sacrificial and unselfish.  I think that kind of generosity God gets excited about.  

The next post on Funding Your Vision is be about knowing your audience, it really makes a big difference. 

Saturday
Sep232017

Lesson From Monkeys in Funding Your Vision (part 2)

Do you know how to catch a monkey?  West Africans have discovered that if you drill a hole into a coconut shell, barely big enough for a monkey to slide his hand in, and fill it with the kind of berries and treats that the monkey likes, he is easy to catch. How? When the monkey slips his hand into the hole and grab the treats, his hands naturally make a fist.  Now his hand is too big to pull back out of the hole.  When the monkey is approached by his captors, logic would be that he should simply release the treats, pull his hand out, and climb a tree to safety.  The problem is that the monkey is too greedy and refuses to let go, which, by default, restricts his ability to escape into the trees, thus becoming easy prey.  Greed is the downfall of a monkey!

Churches can be the same way.  They don’t think of themselves as greedy, but every time God gives them a fresh vision, the church's refusal to let go of the many programs they cherish hampers their ability to move forward. In the case of the monkey, it’s laughable as to how silly he is for not letting go, yet the monkey is so blinded by greed, it doesn’t seem logical at all for him to let go.  Similarly, any organizational strategist would chuckle at a church’s inability to let go of Aunt Mary’s ministry that is badly out of date, out of touch, and does nothing to further the gospel; however, to the local church, it often doesn’t feel quite so logical. 

Below is Part 2 an extensive series on funding a vision.  If this is your first time to this series, begin with Funding Your Vision Part 1

  1. Design a Vision Budget.  When I was a senior pastor, I required every ministry to come up with an annual plan based upon our strategic mission. We then made our annual budget. Of course, not everyone got what they dreamed for, but we began there.  I work from time to time with churches in helping them design an annual strategic plan that is tied to their vision.  It’s a sad state to see how many churches simply tweak last year's budget (or don’t even have one!) and then react by going into crisis mode every time the numbers get tight.  That is not only good stewardship of any budget, much less a church one!
  2. Partnerships Over Programs.  There is a new trend that, if we can get over ourselves, you’re gonna love.  We actually owe Millennials a debt of gratitude for this one.  Millennials want to see that we are in positive partnership with other organizations.  For example, rather than having a food pantry, they want to see a church have a partnership with a local homeless shelter.  Rather than being a church that does it all, they want the church to partner with other churches and play to each other’s strengths. Rather than coming up with community projects, call the mayor and ask her how we can serve her.  Now, this means we don’t get to have our name on everything, and we don’t have full control, hence having to get over ourselves.  This is ultimately more efficient, and contrary to popular belief, partnerships command more respect than when we try to accomplish everything in a vacuum. 
  3. Know Your Yeses, Know Your No’s.   There are a million things you can do.  There are a thousand things that you “ought to do”, there are two dozen things you really really should do.  There is only a few things that you actually can do, and do well.  Until you identify those few things, and they become your absolute “yeses”, you will never know what you should be saying no to.  I’ve seen way too many churches who don’t have a compelling reason to say no to the many bad ideas that they have heard because they have not identified their yeses. Clarity is one of the greatest pathways to effectiveness and freedom.
  4. Live in Faith, Be Wise Stewards.  There is a tension that churches have to manage: the tension between stepping out in faith and being a wise steward.   In fact, most leaders tend to default to one or the other.  Those who overdo playing it safe are operating out of fear or comfort.  Those who dive into risk are either projecting their own will onto God’s or have unrealistic expectations of what their leadership and enjoinment can handle.   Since no one individual, other than Jesus, is perfect, the importance of self-awareness and community is essential.  Know yourself, surround yourself with those who still believe in the vision but are wired differently than you.

In the next blog post we will focus on helping your congregation understand the theology of generosity. 

NEXT GO TO PART 3

 

Friday
Sep222017

Funding Your Vision (Part 1)

As I am writing this, I’m awaiting an insurance adjuster to assess the damages to my home from Hurricane Irma. Moving to central Florida has allowed me to avoid shoveling snow and a fear of earthquakes, but hurricane season is my new reality (well, that and humidity).  We are blessed here in central Florida as I have watched what hurricanes have done in Houston, the Caribbean, and in South Florida, so I cannot complain.

What has been fascinating to watch is all of the fundraisers popping up everywhere.  My grocery store, my motorcycle repair shop, my friends, my church, my newsfeed on Facebook with GoFundMe links, my favorite charities, my least favorite charities… the list is never-ending. 

Ironically, churches are constantly banging their heads against the wall trying to get their faithful attenders to give towards God’s great calling for them, when seemingly stingy people suddenly become quite generous during tragic times.  Moreover, God forbid if a church has to cancel services one Sunday; it can take months to financially recover from that unfortunate reality!  Yes, church leaders hate to miss a week of worship, but the dirty little secret is that the financial devastation from a missed Sunday is likely what is really keeping them up at night. 

Don’t get me wrong: please contribute towards tragic needs! The question I am asking here though: How does a church get out of desperation into a healthily financial standing so they can actually fund the vision they believe God has given them?  How do they get out of crisis mode and in growth mode? 

This is the first of several posts about funding the unique vision God has given you.  Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to talk deeper on this topic.

Overall Principles of Generosity

  1. Create a Compelling Vision Worth Giving To.  I tend to see churches fall into two categories.  The first is the desperate plea.  These churches constantly cry out in crisis mode about how they are behind on their budget.  This crisis plea works, but only a few times. After a while, it just becomes white noise; that is, if the attenders stick around long enough to hear it a second time.  The other category is the pastor who gets real excited about an idea and gives quite a compelling emotional heartfelt plea.  Again, this can work a few times, but then the pastor starts wondering why it is falls flat every time after.  Believe it or not, your attendees are not as stingy as you think they are.  Even low-income congregations will give generously to a compelling vision.  They long to be a part of something bigger than themselves!  It’s time to stop blaming the people and do some ruthless self-assessment.  What is it about our vision that is not compelling enough that congregants will not invest their hard-earned cash into? We will talk more about this in future posts, but out the gate, this question has to be asked.
  2. Ask the Right Questions. President of Converge Scott Ridout gave me 5 great questions to ask when a congregation begins addressing the generosity challenge of the church: 1) Why can't we stay here? 2) Why should we go there? 3) Why now? (what’s the urgency?) 4) How are we going to get there? 5) What is expected of me?  Again, future posts will dive deeper into these questions, but they are worth it for you to start pondering. 
  3. Be Unafraid of the Ask.  Most pastors are tormented when it comes to asking for money.  Contrary to how media likes to portray clergy, pastors tend to avoid the money topic.  The irony is that they think it will come across as self-serving, but in reality their apprehension is really making it all about themselves.  They fear about what people will think about them, which by very nature is self-centric!  If you really believe God is leading in this movement, to not ask is robbing the average Joe from participating in God’s great plan!  If you are afraid to challenge folks to be generous, then all of the strategies, seminars, and blog posts in the world will not do you a bit of good.  Before we move onto the next blog post, you need to go before the Lord and wrestle with this spiritual issue.

The next blog post will dive into deeper principles.  For now, I just laid out three principles that can be a bit brutal if you do some honest self-assessment.  Take some time in prayer and ask the Lord to reveal to you what some of your challenges might be

Go to PART 2

 

Sunday
Jul232017

So Close to a Really Bad Decision

It was Monday morning and the pastor was dusting off his resume.  It was Friday night and she began rationalizing one drink too many.  It was Wednesday afternoon and he was getting ready to yell at his admin for a mistake he thought she made. It was after midnight Tuesday and she was ready to send a group email to her staff to give them a piece of her mind.

SOOO CLOSE!

Each of these leaders are just one step away from making a life changing decision, that he or she probably ought not to make.  We have all been there, probably more often then we care to admit. 

The life of a leader has to make tough calls almost daily, and will most likely offend people along the way.  It’s just part of the high calling of leadership.  Yet how does a leader avoid making really bad decisions?

There are no full proof methods to be certain, but there are safe guards that you can put into place.  In short, never make a big decision when in the valley.  During those seasons simply commit to climbing out one step at a time.

I learned a method that I learned years ago proved to be a failsafe for me time after time.  I repeat it often when I am in the valley: H.A.L.T.S.! When you are about to make a bad decision, even though at the time is seems oh so logical, HALT!

  • HUNGRY –  It is really not a good idea to make major decisions when you are hungry.  Heck, I can’t even be trusted to make wise choices in the grocery store when I am hungry!  Weather it is because you are dieting, fasting or your eating rhythm is out of whack, if you are hungry, you should push the pause button on that decision.
  • ANGRY – I have written so many emails that seemed to me brilliant at the time.  I knew I was in the right and I was ready to pull the trigger to let my recipients know!  Most of them were written at 3 in the morning.  I have learned to build people in my life to pre-read my strong emails.  Almost never have they given me thumbs up of the unleashing of my “wisdom”.  In fact, when I calm down I often discover that all of my facts were not as accurate as I thought, and I was taking a cowardly way out of avoiding simply calling the person up.
  • LONELY – Most people’s secret sins point back to loneliness.  You ever wonder how a good person winds up on the headlines because they made a series of bad decisions?  If you are a leader, you know a thing or two about loneliness.  The old adage is true, it is lonely at the top. 
  • TIRED – If you are a leader, you push yourself hard.  Exhaustion is way too common in your world.  There is only one solution for weariness, simply get rest.  A leader who builds in the discipline of rest is always a better decision maker.
  • STRESSED -  Money pressures, unrealistic job expectations, unclear job roles, unmet expectations, someone just unleashed their ugly on you, the list goes on.  If you are under tremendous stress, walk away and clear your head.  Process your decisions with trusted friends or colleagues.  Whatever works for you, think twice during these seasons.

Bad decisions usually feel fantastic, in the moment.  You have not even begun to know stress until you have to clean up the aftermath of unwise decisions.  If a decision you are about to make is one your gut is telling crying red-alert, the first thing you do is step back and ask am I hungry, angry, lonely, tired, stresses, or some combination of two or more?  If so, your gut is trying to do you a favor.

Friday
Jul082016

Talking Points for the White Pastor 

“But pastor, I’m not a racist.  I have never used the “N” word and certainly have never owned slaves.  I’m not sure there is a problem, since the civil rights movement has long past, but if there is one, its certainly not my problem!  After all, don’t all lives matter?  Again pastor, I’m not a racist, therefore I’m not sure what this has to do with me.” 

If you are a white pastor and have not heard this already this week, you very likely will this Sunday.  Some pastors will be tempted not to discuss this week’s tragic events at all from the stage, but it is my personal opinion that would be a huge miss.

I have found that well meaning pastors have a difficult time finding the right language for such times as this.  While by no means comprehensive, below is a quick guide to help ensure healthy conversation during this season.

Talking Points for the White Pastor +

Racist VS Racialist* - One of the biggest missteps amongst the white community is a misunderstanding of what is being communicated.  Often the same words are being used, but without the realization that two different languages are being spoken.  When a white person talks about racism, most often what he or she is saying is, “I don’t personally harbor any negative feelings, therefore I don’t see the problem.”  When an African American is talking about racism, most often he or she is referring to what is sometimes called Racialist.  Here, racism is referring to less about an individual emotions and opinions, but rather a systemic issue.  The system at large is poised against minorities, a reality that is a constant tension in their day to day lives.  For example, if my son were to be pulled over for a routine traffic violation, the last thought that comes to my mind is about law enforcements guns being drawn on him.  To my African American friends, it is a reality all too common, regardless of their economic status.  I have an African American friend who lives in a predominately Anglo community who takes her sons to the local police station about twice a year to introduce them around.  Even though these young men are very polite and well educated, this mother lives with the constant fear that they will be falsely accused of trespassing when simply walking home from school.  Another example is what happened in Baltimore last year.  I was familiar with the neighborhoods that the riots broke out in.  These neighborhoods were filled with generational poverty. The young men initiating the riots grew up with fathers who could not break out of the economic poverty system, and they themselves seeing no hope of breaking out of the economic and educational barriers they grew up in.  This hopelessness was a major fuel that had been burning within for years, long before the death of Freddie Gray.  What Anglos see on the news from time to time is the heavy weight that African American fathers and mothers carry over fear for their children everyday.  Even if, as an Anglo, you determine that you don’t really understand this, compassion demands, as followers of Christ, to seek to understand, rather than channeling our energy over defensiveness because it is not understandable to him or her.

Historical Context VS Isolated Context – Anglos have a tendency to look at each incident as an isolated event.  African Americans see each event as evidence of a long term systemic problem that shows very minimal progress.  What happened in Minnesota, for example, is not a shooting that just randomly happened to a black male by a white police officer. Rather, for the African American community, it is an actualization of their daily fears for their friends and family.

Black Lives Matter VS Blue Lives Matter – In every movement there are extremists.  If you agree not to equate me with Westboro Baptist Church as an Anglo Baptist pastor, I need to agree not to hold anyone else to the beliefs of the extremists that look like them.  Black lives and Blue lives have been devalued and feel violated.  Each are simply validating that their lives matter as well.  One is not mutually exclusive of the other.  Of course it is true that all lives matter.  The irony is that this truth is often used to demean the outcry of our brothers and sisters when we get defensive and cry out, “Oh no, not just black lives!  All lives matter!”.  Instead, how about we empathize with them and say, “I hear you, your life matters to me.”

Responding VS Reaction – Dr. Phil Philips, a Haitian American pastor in Ft Myers FL, recently challenged that all races need to think towards responding over reaction. Let’s not be obsessed over our rights, but rather have compassion over the pain felt by our brothers and sisters.  Let’s not take to social media with our nose in the air.  Hear the cries of others and let them know you care.

Silence VS Violence VS Solution – Anglo churches have a long history of remaining silent until there is minimal controversy to do so.  Yes, violence is wrong.  Riots are not of God.  Let’s at least acknowledge and confess that silence is just as evil. Dr. Michael Henderson, an African American pastor in Charlotte NC, challenged a multi cultural Converge pastors group that we should work together towards a solution.

Seek to understand VS Thinking it is understood. – Regardless of the color of your skin, diversity is not about losing our culture or identity, but rather celebrating our uniqueness, all the while seeking to understand and appreciate those who are different than us.  It is incredibly arrogant to make broad statements, particularly disparaging ones, because we think our own cultural perspectives is the norm. 

Folks, as President Scott Ridout of Converge is known to say frequently, “We are better together.”  We are the body of Christ.  Let’s not take the position that the rest of the world is quick to take.  Instead, lets take the job description the apostle Paul gave us in 2 Corinthians 5 very seriously.  Because we have been reconciled in Christ, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation. 

 

+ Before posting, this article was reviewed by Dr. Michael Henderson, a prominent megachurch African American pastor in Charlotte NC, as well as VP of National Ministries of Converge.

* Term coined by Michael Emerson

Monday
May092016

THE BUSY SLOTH!

 

Around 300 A.D. the Desert Fathers began coming up with a list that we now call The Seven Deadly Sins: pride, envy, sloth, greed, anger, lust, and gluttony.  All of us wrestle with at least two or more of these at a time, sometimes all seven!

If there is one, though, that we tend to feel the freest in is sloth!  Who has time to be lazy!  Our modern technology has not made our life easier, instead it has raised the expectation to accomplish more in less time.  In todays modern world, for all of our vices, we can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to sloth, right?  In fact, it is the most insulting of them all, call me lustful, call me prideful and even call me greedy, but I will be extra offended if you call me a sloth!  I am a busy man, I’m always working, always checking my email, so the last thing you can call any of us is a sloth, right?

 

SLOTH: the failure to take full responsibility of my life.   

When I fail to take proper rest, I am a sloth.  When I fail to take care of my body, I am a sloth.  When I procrastinate important things, I am a sloth.  When I offer excuses and explanations, I am a sloth.  When I fall into self-pity, I am a sloth.  When I ignore the needs of my neighbor even though I could do something, I am a sloth.  When I choose my will over God’s will, I am a sloth.  When I am too busy to incorporate spiritual disciplines in my life, I am a sloth.  When I am apathetic, I am a sloth. When I allow my busyness of today keep me from incorporating habits that will better prepare me tomorrow, I am a sloth.

Being a sloth is simply not taking seriously the things we should take more seriously in life.  Those who live under the tyranny of the urgent are often the guiltiest of sloth.

So I ask again, is being a sloth a problem for you?