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TO BE OR NOT TO BE... A BLOG

Friday
Feb272015

Discover Your Spiritual Wiring 

Author, Speaker and leader in the Missional Movement Alan Hirsch developed an assesment based upon your spiriutal wiring.  The tool is based upon Ephesians 4:7,11-12 where the apostle Paul lays out five core way God gifts people to advance the Kingdom of God.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it...11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors (sheperds) and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up"

This tool helps you determine how God has wired you to be live out your purpose in Him.

I think it is a great tool and suggest everyone to take it!  Go to THE FORGOTTEN WAYS

HERE ARE MY RESULTS:

Apostolic + Evangelistic

The Apostle Evangelist’s impact on others comes through their expansive view of the Gospel message and it’s application individually and corporately. This is one of the tasks driven of the ministry styles. The AE has a great sense of urgency and sense of knowing what they must do. The AE seeks out committed individuals and recruits them into the movement. As a big risk-taker and innovator, the AE engages people by inspiring them to take relative risks for the cause. The ultimate motivation of the Apostle Evangelist is for individual commitments to spread the Kingdom of God.

 

Friday
Feb272015

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

 In the first thirteen verses of Luke 13 Jesus is tackling the age-old question, “When bad things happen is it because our Good God has to punish us for our bad past behaviors OR is God simply not good because he allowed bad things to happen?”

Think about how many times we tend to give up on God because we could not reconcile a negative experience. Other times we tend to judge others/ ourselves because surely God got fed up with him/her/me, surely the messy situation that came out of nowhere must have come from God.

Carrying this logic further, it is easy to assume that we will not receive God’s blessings because God knows you/ I don’t deserve God’s blessing.  Grace is a great philosophical concept, but it can’t apply to me because of my past.

Carry this logic further; if we get a lot of extra cash, we believe we have been blessed by God. Yet we look away from the reality that there are many wealthy amongst us who are far from Holy people. We believe that large numbers means that God is at work; in contrast the lonely missionary who is dealing with a tough region presumes he/she is a failure.  Ironically, while I am blessed to be a part of a healthy mega church, there are many mega churches in our country have some pretty screwed up theology.  Also when someone is healed we say, “This is evidence that God is good!” Yet what are the implications for the many that don’t have positive physical results?

 

Jesus dealt with these type assumptions in Luke 13

  •  Where was God when perfectly good religious people, in the middle of church service, were murdered and their blood was poured over everything sacred in the church?
  • A whole group of people, eighteen to be exact, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and skyscraper toppled and killed them all.  Is this evidence that that while all of us have issues, they must have been pretty messed up for God to have allowed this – right? Clearly God was punishing them for previous bad behavior?
  • Then a parable to ask: If you are not seeing the results out of someone you want to see fast enough, is it fair to assume they are useless for the Kingdom so prune them into good riddens?
  • Then there was the sick woman for eighteen years; surely she is someone God did not see worthy of His attention?
  • If someone who breaks out of our understanding of spiritualty, like Jesus was being accused for breaking the rules, is that someone you cant take seriously?

 Not all that different from many conversations I had this last week alone.  Here is a sampling:

  • Counseled a person in the witness protection program who had a brutal past.  (Keeping this very generic for this person protection).  Grew up with perfect church attendance and lived a better life then most. Got caught up in a bad situation, endured unimaginable acts and now has to live life far from home with an alias.  Did God abandon this person?
  • Buried a middle age man who died of a rare brain cancer. In his past there are some pretty bad things, yet for the last few years he we really turning his life around for God. Upon discovery of his disease there was miracle after miracle that blew away just about every doctor.  His new wife and himself were gladly and boldly giving God all of the credit.  Lined up to begin a highly successful world-renowned treatment, excitement was high and again God was getting all of the glory!  The night before something went terribly wrong on his hospital bed and he died.  Is he being punished?  Did God abandon them?
  • Worked with a group of lay church leaders who were firing on all four cylinders and was really doing a lot of things right.  Targeting a known need; prayerfully moved forward and used high level leadership skills.  Yet attendance was disappointingly low.   People trying hard to serve God well, yet it appears as if God did not show up.
  • A woman’s fiancé called me and he asked me to visit her in the hospital.  She went in for a basic hysterectomy and when the surgeon opened her up he discovers cancer all throughout her body.  Upon visiting her she ask me, “Am I that bad of a person?”
  • Something very painful that hurt my family very badly some year’s back was brought back to surface in some social media post, it appears that those who acted in such harmful ways still have not changed.  They even take on the role of victim, ignoring their bad behaviors.  Out of God’s grace my family have gone through much healing, restoration and renewal.  Yet when does God bring justice?

 

What Jesus Says:

The answer He gives then is the answer for today.  Ironically, he never really answers the questions.  He is God after all; He could have nailed the answer with pinpointed accuracy.   Instead, he answers a different question.  The clear implication is that when bad things happen we tend to ask bad questions. 

So, what was His reply to all of these difficult questions?  1) No to the bad assumptions, but 2) the right answer is yes to God.

Jesus could have answered the questions, but the implication would have been that God always owes us answers.  Like a child who is getting a sharp needle jammed in his arm by a complete stranger in a white outfit, while mom holds him down, seems like such a violation of trust and safety.  Mom could explain all day long about vaccinations and their health benefits, but in the end the child would not only not understand, he really wants to know, mom are you safe?  Tell me I can still absolutely trust you.      

 

What this means for us

Sometimes bad things that happen are allowed by God, other times they are just unimaginable acts that are the consequence of a free choice of a fallen world.  Either way, the answer is the same.  LEAN INTO GOD.  In the end, no matter what the question, this is the answer.  Have you ever gotten so caught up in the questions that you miss the answer? 

 

Tuesday
Jul162013

Refresh: Restoring The Soul Of A Leader - JOSHUA

Below is an outline of what i shared this past Sunday evening's Mezzo with the new series: Refresh: Restoring The Soul Of A Leader.  This week was a focus on Joshua.

It was not my plan to hand this out in written form, as it was written for notes to speak from.  Thus i hesitate to print it.  Yet I was asked by so many people if they could have a copy of the notes, hence here they are.

Therefore, offer me grace as you read below, I have not had time to do a rewrite on them.

Thank you for letting me journey with you.

Bruce

 

Refresh: Restoring The Soul Of A Leader - JOSHUA

Coffee Cup story - Old Professor

When you are trying to make big decision in your life how do you know the difference between reality and fantasy.  When do you pull the trigger.

What is true geographically is true spiritually

Younger Bruce had a special gift that the older Bruce no longer had: The gift of being naive.  The upside of being naive is that it is easer to trust people and yourself.  The downside is the you can be way to cocky.  

God in this passage was talking to the older Joshua

Joshua 1: 1-10

The Wilderness Was Necessary  (Exodus)

 

  • A place of healing
  • A place of readjusting
  • A place of rest
  • We always way underestimate how long we will be in the wilderness 
  • Just because you are in a desert experience does not mean you get to escape leadership…

 

Embrace Your Current Reality (2a)

  • Some your mentor died
  • Some you have had your dream die
  • Some of you are tired
  • Some have lost what they once had
  • For young leaders it might be experiencing - but learning to carry the weight of responsibility
  • Some have hit a plateau – time to lay the old you are on to road to rest
  • Some have had a major change and new world
  • You may be a place where no one knows your past accomplishment
  • Could be a good thing a job promotion – but now it is time to figure out where you are going with it
  • Guard against denial
  • Fight against doubt – our minds play tricks on us
  • Accept what needs to be left behind – you have to break free of where you are,-  to get where you want to go
  • You cant get to where you need to go if you don’t know where you are  - (mall map) 
  • Challenge – journal and meditate on that – you might be overwhelmed for that very reason

God Can Do More With Those Who Move Than Those That Wallow  (2b)

  • This is not to minimize the desert experience – but you still had to move

The God Who Has Done Miracles In Your Life In The Past Is Ready To Do Miracles In Your Future (3-4)

Because let me tell you something:

THE GOD WHO HAS DONE MIRACLES IN YOUR LIFE IN THE PAST IS READY TO DO MIRACLES IN YOUR FUTURE (3-4)

  • To believing leader – think back on cool stuff God has done in your life, and ways you have seen him work for your “Moses’s” – It is the same God

Don’t Let Fear Debilitate You (5)

  • Jesus spent a lot of time teaching about not worrying you
  • Chinese word for crisis. In the traditional Chinese characters the word crisis has the same meaning as opportunity; thus, how you view the situation will determine how you respond to it. Often times it’s the responsibility of the SPIRITUAL leader to give perspective to his or her followers so they assume the perspective of God.

Discover The Un-Anxious Confidence That God Offers (6)

  • Vrs 6, 7, 9, 18 all 4 verses say the same thing: BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS 
  • God says it one time –serious, 2xs very serious 3 xs he means business 4xs which is very rare – it is something you should memorize and reflect on for the rest of your life. In fact memorize this week and meditate on it
  • Being strong is a matter of who you are a matter who you are - character  - courage is a matter of what you do, a matter of responsibility – starts out as a deep belief…

What Success Looks Like (7-9ff)

  • Again, Place Your Confidence In God
  • Be Faithful To What You Know
  • Debilitations: Distractions, Anxiety And Discouragement
  • Maintain Intimacy With Jesus (everything points to the cross - hence the Jesus reference) (Be careful not to reduce intimacy with Jesus down to a just a Sunday morning shot - like drinking a Red Bull)
  • Live a life that: Anticipates God’s Blessings 9
  • Get Up And Go 10ff

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts" Winston Churchill

 

SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS

 

  • Name something positive that came from you previous (or current) wilderness experience
  • What fears/ distractions do you find that hold you back?
  • “Be Strong and Courageous”:
    • * What areas of character do you need to work on to build your strength in God?
    • * What risk of faith do you need to take to grow in courage?
  • Describe what your life would look like if you increased your intimacy with Jesus.  What specific action steps are you going to take?
  • What can this group be praying for, when it comes to refreshing your soul as a leader?

 

 

 

Thursday
Jan242013

Being Your Kid's Life Coach

This is a video i used in a teaching seminar I did at my church

 

Wednesday
Jan162013

No More Mr. Nice Group  

No More Mr. Nice Group

Five practices that take small groups beyond polite sharing

 to the disciplines that change lives.

by John Ortberg  in Leadership journal

(NOTE: Below is an article I edited down.  I thought it was an excellent article but suspected many people would find it too long.  Hopefully this will provide a powerful lesson at a quick glance)

God has entrusted us with his most precious treasure—people. He asks us to shepherd and mold them into strong disciples, with brave faith, and good character. I would not give my life to any church that was not serious about this calling—the transformation of human beings. God has decided, for his own good reasons, that people are not transformed outside of community…

When we are alone, it's easy to think, incorrectly, that we are spiritually advanced. I can watch a Hallmark commercial alone and find myself moved to tears. I tell myself that I am a very compassionate person. But when I spend time in community with a person who annoys me, it's amazing how quickly I experience "compassion fatigue."

In community we discover who we really are and how much transformation we still require. This is why I am irrevocably committed to small groups. Through them we can accomplish our God-entrusted work to transform human beings.

However, experience tells us that simply meeting with a small group does not automatically result in spiritual growth. There are certain practices that must be present, spiritual disciplines that must occur, to facilitate the transforming work of Christ in us. The presence of these things is what makes the difference between all-too-typical small groups, and life-transforming communities of spiritual formation.

Confession: remove the masks

We all wear masks. We hide from each other. It's part of our fallenness. That is why one of the most formative practices in a small group is confession. Confession is the appropriate disclosure of my brokenness, temptations, sin, and victories for the purpose of healing, forgiveness, and spiritual growth. Without confession we are a community hiding from the truth.

We need to avoid "confession killers" in our groups. These include the inappropriate use of humor. Some people are embarrassed by deep honesty, so they may mock the person confessing or diffuse the atmosphere with a joke. It sends a signal that this is not a safe place to confess, and the masks go back on.

Judgmental statements also shut down confession. I recall a small group where a man admitted his struggle with lust. That was a risk, and then someone else said, "I can't relate to that struggle at all." I wanted to say to that guy, What kind of hormonally challenged, repressed robot are you? His statement shut down an opportunity for new openness in the group.

To see real transformation, small groups must begin with reality. By removing our masks through the discipline of confession, we acknowledge the reality of who we are and open ourselves to God's transforming work.

Application: look in the mirror

James 1:23 says, "Those who listen to the word, but do not do what it says, are like people who look at their faces in the mirror, and after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like." A small group is a place for people to look into the mirror, discover who they are, and then ask, "How do I apply God's word to my life as it really is?"

As a teacher I am regularly astonished by people's ability to hear a sermon, nod at it, be moved by it, write it down, and then do precisely the opposite of what they heard. This frequent occurrence shows the extent to which people need painstaking, patient, and careful application of Scripture to their daily lives.

What we desperately need are small groups to be schools of life. Imagine someone has a problem with anger—a small group leader should ask them: "What kinds of situations tend to get you angry, and how do you respond?" Give them some alternatives to sinful patterns of anger. Roleplay these situations in the small group. Then next week ask, "How did it go?" If they got it right, celebrate it. If they didn't, investigate what happened, and encourage them to do it differently next time.

Accountability: stand on the scale

I have made certain commitments about food and exercise in my life, but how serious I am about those commitments is difficult to determine without measuring my progress. A scale serves as a tool of accountability for me. Am I achieving my goal, or am I missing it? Ultimately the scale reveals how effective I have been in living up to my commitment.

Small groups are the place for people to get on the scale and reveal how intentional they have been to pursue transformation into the image of Christ. William Paulson writes, "It is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in a casual or haphazard manner." I think he understates it. People do not drift into full devotion to Christ. People do not drift into becoming loving, joy-filled, patient, winsome, world changers. It requires intention and effort.

Guidance: follow the map

When people need directions to a place they have never been, they use a map. Too often when people have major life-forming decisions to make, they make them alone.

In every church there are people facing decisions about vocations, ministry involvement, finances, relocation, and relationships. How sad if they make these decisions without the benefit of community. Their decisions may be impulsive, emotional, based on too little information. The result is too many broken lives.

The small group is to be where we find guidance, where we help each other learn how to listen to God. Small groups who rely upon God's Spirit serve as a map for us when making important decisions.

Encouragement: embrace each other

A hug is a gesture of love and encouragement. An embrace represents what we all need from a community of transformation. We need to know that someone is committed to us and loves us. That cannot happen when we are alone, and it cannot happen in a large gathering. It's going to happen through smaller communities.

Today small groups have the privilege of loving and accepting human beings for whom Christ gave his life. In these groups we can supply the love, encouragement, and embrace people need to continue their journey of transformation.

Spiritual formation in community is mostly about loving people, and that is something we can do.

Thursday
Jan102013

Not Created To Be A Victim  

It’s time to quit living as a victim and to become the leader we were created to be.

This morning I was meeting with Pastor Dan who oversees Casa De Luz.  He was sharing with me a powerful story, which ended with how the Lord spoke to him in the middle of the night, and said, “Dan, quit seeing yourself as a victim and be the warrior I created you to be.”

So often we allow our past hurts, broken relationships, failures, circumstances, and insecurities (as Shane taught on last Sunday) define us.  We allow fear, anxiety and self-pity to justify holding us back. (The woman’s retreat coming next fall will be about living in courage)

If you are a follower of Christ, your identity is not defined by your limitations.  You are designed to make a difference in this world.  Joy and abundant living are His plan for the core of who you are. 

If you are a leader, you were not designed to lead from empty.  When we are in sync with what God is up to, we begin to operate out of the overflow.

Our lives are to be “a demonstration of the Spirit’s Power” (1 Corinthians 2:4 – Shane taught on this in staff meeting).  As a follower of Christ, my identity is in Christ.  When we live within our created intent, rather than self-pity, we begin to participate in transforming the world in the way God called us to.

For me in my life, my identity is in Christ.  If you are a follower of Christ, to build your identity as a victim, as one with limits or fear of defeat – you communicate more about your belief in Christ then you do about anything else.

If your self-pity and insecurities have you bound up: stop.  That is not who you are.  Your identity is in Christ, who is waiting on your belief in Him to be used to bring transformation into this world. 

Stop living as a victim, live as an expression of faith, where your identity is found in whom God created you to be.

Friday
Nov302012

BRICKS WITHOUT STRAW

Ex18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”

Life is full of twist and turns.  There are some seasons in which you can do no wrong, as if the very favor of God rest on whatever you pursue.  There are other seasons in which you are called upon to build without tools, to build even though no foundation is given or to have vision without resources.

The latter can be as a result of some form of waywardness on your part, but often it is simply a season God would have you go through.  They can be the most exciting of times where you can see God pull off some pretty cool stuff, or it can be some of the most lonely of times.  Often it is a season that is a mix of the two.  Often, while you might not have brought it upon yourself, it becomes your choice as to what you do with it.

In the 5th chapter of Exodus, we have a picture of every day life, while it may seem like worlds apart from what we experience today, it has amazing modern day application.

The Children of Israel were in bondage to Pharaoh, the cruel taskmaster, ruler of Egypt. They were kept in slavery, making bricks, and were hated and despised.

“Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go… That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people:  “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”

Moses did what God told him to do.  The people of God were already trying to do life against all odds. Then life got harder, do more with less resources.  They were accuses of stuff that was not true.  They were ask to accomplish things with their hands tied behind their back.

I was counseled a man who said that his boss expects him to move icebergs, with out a boat, without rope and no acknowledgement that 90% of the iceberg was beneath the water also had to be dealt with.

It was impossible to make bricks without straw. The Children of Israel were completely crushed by Pharaoh, they were beaten for not producing the bricks—Then came the message from Jehovah.

Moses was doing the right thing, yet he looked really badBy every sense of the word, he was set up for failure.  Yet, for those that know the rest of the story, when Moses was at this very low point, feeling quite abandoned God showed up and did some pretty cool stuff.

Of course, God has a timetable of his own and rarely do we feel it is quick enough.

It is hard to understand seasons like this. 

What is the solution?  I would simply say one word.  Tenacity.

God is calling you to a higher standard. Every part of you wants to whine, point fingers, fall into self pity, envy, resentment, and defeat.  What’s worse is that you are right, your arguments are sound, you are fully justified to lack hope in your current situation. 

There is only one problem.  A hopeless life is a miserable way to live.  It is not the life God has called you to.  You may be right, but it is not right.  Your circumstance or your environment may be holding you back, but you were called live a life that is apart of God’s amazing plan.

Take a lion whom was pinned down and shaved, robbed of his mane.  He can’t change that.  But his circumstances are not what gave him, or took away, his ability to lead. 

Tenacity it to say, my life is not defined by my circumstances.  Tenacity is to say my identity and ability is not wrapped up in the things that once gave me street cred.

Tenacity is to say, more bricks without straw is not something I can do, but I serve a God who can. 

Tenacity is to say, I will stand up.  I will lead.  I will be who I was created to be.

Thursday
Nov292012

Milk, Meat and the Malnourished Church

I did not write this article, but i thought it was so well done that i wanted to repost it.

Milk, Meat and the Malnourished Church

By Steven Furtick

Pastor of Elevation Church, Charlotte, North Carolina

 

One of the greatest critiques of the American Church today is it’s malnourished.

Some would even say it’s our most pressing problem.

When most people voice this complaint, the focus is on the worship experience. 

From people who leave these churches, you hear, “I wasn’t getting fed.”

Or, “I just want some deeper teaching.”

From people outside these churches you hear, “Too much milk, not enough meat.”

In some cases, I’m sure this is true. But I really don’t think that’s the real problem.

Yes, American Christians are malnourished. But I don’t believe it has anything to do with milk or meat.

Most American Christians aren’t malnourished because of what they’re getting fed on Sunday. They’re malnourished because they don’t feed themselves Monday through Saturday.

So you had filet mignon on Sunday and learned about the mystical union of Christ and the church as it relates to the rapture and the design of the tabernacle in relation to Levitical dietary laws as understood by the Council of Trent.

Good for you.

Have fun starving yourself the rest of the week and letting your pastor read the Bible so you don’t have to.

So you had some milk on Sunday and learned 37 ways to ________. Have fun having 37 new ways to not obey God during the coming week.

The crisis facing the church today isn’t what people are getting fed on Sundays.

It’s what they’re not feeding themselves the rest of the days.

Who really cares whether you consume meat or milk on Sunday if it’s the only meal you have all week?

I’m not saying this to get pastors and churches off the hook.

It is the shepherd’s job to feed the sheep (John 21). And feed them well based on their needs and faith development.

But it’s also the sheep’s job to eat:

“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:13-14).

Here’s the point. Churches: We have a responsibility.

We should serve up the Word, hot and fresh every single Sunday. As church leaders, it is our job to create and sustain processes and systems that responsibly enable people to grow in their faith after receiving Christ. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing our philosophy and approach of how we do that at Elevation.

People in our churches: You also have a responsibility.

If you refuse to study the Word, apply it, pray some during the week, join a small group and dig deeper with others, there’s not much we can do to help you. Your malnourishment won’t be cured by anything we give you on Sunday.

So are you an infant and need milk? Drink it for now, but the only way you’re getting more mature and will be ready for meat is by training yourself.

Constantly.

Do you want meat? From these verses, it seems like meat is doing the milk. On your own.

Constantly.

Not getting it served to you once a week.

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