From Passionate to Pitiful to Powerful

This is what happened in Moses’ life. Check out Exodus 3 and 4. Moses grew up the adopted Israelite son of an Egyptian. He was connected as an Egyptian but he was passionate as an Israelite. He knew what was right and wrong and he knew that God’s people were due more than they were getting in life. He was caught between two worlds and he had a tough time walking that life trail. Let’s break down the story and see what we can learn about what really happened at the burning bush.

1. Moses was always passionate about God’s people. Remember Moses murdered an Egyptian for beating an Israelite and tried to be a peacemaker among two Israelites. But his misplaced and misused passion sent him away to hide instead of pushing him to lead. We must not allow our passion to mislead us.

2. Moses’ sin made it difficult to impossible to operate in his passion. When we get selfish and sinful with our passions (even good passions) we lose the ability to truly operate in them for the glory of the Lord.

3. God forgave Moses for his sin and restored him to a place of serving in his passion. If we take hold of the grace of God in our lives he can still use us, but we have to be willing to be forgiven.

4. Moses had to face his fears, failures, and selfishness to give his life back over to his passion. We will examine the conversation at the bush to learn this truth. We will examine the things Moses has to say to the Lord.

a. Here I am. – I am comfortable here. I am no longer bothered by that situation.
b. Who am I? – I am no longer a person of importance. I am not usable for such a task.
c. Who are you? – I don’t even really know who you are. My identity problem is really about me having a problem with your identity. Our failures often reflect themselves more in what we think about God than what we think about ourselves.
d. What if people don’t listen or follow me? – People did not listen last time, why will they now?
e. I am not good enough. – I can’t talk, etc. How can you use me?
f. Send someone else. – Finally, honesty. Moses is saying I lost my passion. I don’t care enough to take and make the risk again. Send someone who cares.

God sent Moses. He gave him some help, but he sent the one he gave the passion. He did not change his plan to match Moses’ failures or fears or selfishness. He restored the man he created. Moses was no longer incapable to be the man God wanted him to be when he put that passion in his heart years earlier. He was now ready to be that man.

Don’t let passion be all you have. Passion is great, but displaced and misused passion will cause much heartache and failure. Give your passion to God and let him use you.

Hunter or Hunted

The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as a bold as a lion. Prov. 28:1

Today in one of my personal spiritual disciplines I read the Proverb of the day – there are 31 so I try to read the one corresponding with the day of the month every month. There is much wisdom for life in reading the wisdom writings of Scripture. Today, like many days one jumped off the page fresh, new, and powerful.

Is your spiritual life the life of predator or prey? Are you the hunter or the hunted? Many “Christians” live scared of failure and void of the victorious power that is theirs in Christ and never understand why. They never understand such promises as “we are more than conquerors in Christ.” They never experience the truth that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” They just never get it because they never get there.

I believe this verse gives some powerful insights into why. We have an enemy that is like a lion. He is waiting to devour us. The enemy came to kill, steal, and destroy. He is always at work. He is constantly tearing at our flesh and lives and our spirits. He reminds us of every wicked act. He causes one act of sin to become months of failure because we believe the lies of the Prince of Lies and believe that we are nothing more than sinners saved by grace.

So we live like wicked men and women who flee for no reason. We run although there really is no one or nothing chasing us. We flee although there is nothing to flee. We run in all kinds of ways. Some simply run away. They fail and without realizing it, they decide to seek a life of failure. They venture further and further in to a life and path of sin. Some flee by running hard after good things. Oddly enough they go after all the right things for the wrong reasons. They are still trying to earn their righteousness because of the guilt they feel over their wickedness.
They have not grasped the truth that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. They do not understand that they no longer have to live the life of prey. They have the privilege to be on the offensive. Lions do not walk around in fear, gazelles do. Why? Lions eat gazelles, but no matter how great a gazelle you are your only hope is to outrun the other gazelles when a lion shows up. That is not the life of a Christ-follower because greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.

The key to living a life on the offensive, to living a life of a hunter – perhaps a fisher of men, is to understand who you are in Christ and who you are not in Christ. You, in Christ are a sinner saved by grace, but that is not all you are. You are more than a conqueror. You are the salt of the Earth. You are the Light of the World. You are holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people set apart to God. You are not what the enemy says you are. You are not simply one who will enter into the presence of God as one escaping through the flames – or at least you don’t have to be.

So put on the full armor of God. Before you take up the Sword –the Word of God and your only offensive weapon – put on the breastplate of righteousness. Remember, though, that your righteousness is not your own – you were bought with a price. Your righteousness does not fade when you fail. Your righteousness is not defeated when you are. Your righteousness is not sold when you sin. Your righteousness is not yours. You couldn’t buy it, get it, bribe it, or gain it no matter what you do in life. It is given to you. Free from God. Your righteousness is grace, but it is a gift given you and it is yours.

When fail to see the truth about your righteousness, you take off your breastplate and you are vulnerable to attack, and so you flee. You run as if you are losing a battle. But the problem is that the battle is not your own. It is the Lord’s. It is those moments that you must walk by faith and not by sight. You must decide to stand firm and in the end just stand. Don’t back down. Don’t back away. Stand up and fight. Your righteousness is a done deal, paid in full at Calvary, and given completely from the tomb. You have no need to fear the one who roars like a lion because the Lion of Judah reigns. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and he is in you, with you, and for you.

So stand up, fight hard, run fast, and go after this world in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You have nothing to flee and nothing to fear. Live like you are paid for not like you are paying. Run like you are conqueror not like you are conquering. Fight like a predator not like the prey.

Today are you the hunter or the hunted?

Learning while in the Lead

Learning while in the lead is one of the toughest things to do in the world. I am called by God to be the man in the lead, yet I learn every day. Everyday I learn more about who I am supposed to be as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a friend, a boss, and a pastor.

Learning in the lead is difficult for several reasons…

· Everyone behind you can see that you’re learning.
· Some people behind you use your learning against you to say that you are not leading
correctly.
· Other lives are affected by what you are learning – both positively and negatively.
· Some people behind you do not love you enough to let you learn while in the lead.
· People “behind” you that are arrogant always think they know more because you are still
learning. But they fail to realize that the main reason they are not leading is because they
quit learning.
· People call learning instances failures and hold them against you.

How do you overcome the fear of learning while in the lead?

· You share what you learn and how you learn it and let God deal with the rest.
· You cultivate a culture where failure is not fatal. You teach people to fail forward.
· You speak clearly and confidently in to the lives that are behind with what you know and
you do not speak clearly and confidently about what you do not know.
· You listen to those who are behind you that do know, but not those who know-it-all. This
is simply the difference of pride and arrogance, not of knowledge. Often 2 people can
know the same thing and one person be useless with that information and the other a life-
changer.
· You pray and fast and then you pray and fast and then you pray and fast. And then you
get up and your run faster then anyone behind you.
· You never stop learning because you never stop running and because you never stop
running you will never stop falling. The goal is not to be failure free, it is to please God.
· When you fail – you fail forward. And when you fail again – you fail forward again. Then
you do not commit the same failure again. It does not mean you will not fail again, just not
that failure.

What I have recently learned from the lead.

· Leaders need information first, even if they have no vote in where you are going they
need to know where you are going so they can go with you and lead those they lead to
follow you. A leader can not lead if you do not give them the opportunity. All they can do
is be another follower.
· If you are a Spirit-led leader more people following you love you than do not love you and
will follow you than will not follow you. So lead without fear of learning as you lead.
· Leading is not for know-it-alls. Be careful that the way you present what you know does
not come across as knowing-it-all(especially when you know it is from the Lord).
· I am a better leader than I knew I was and at the same time not as good a leader as I
thought I was. Which probably means that God has me right where he wants me.
· Where you are leading is not negated by small mistakes in how you are leading.
· You will never please everyone, so quit trying. But don’t try to displease anyone.

So that’s where I am. I am in the lead. I am learning in the lead. Learning does not negate leading. It strengthens it. If you are in an organization that does not allow you to learn from the lead, leave. If you are, lead and learn as you do it and enjoy it, because I can testify that learning while you lead is a rare privilege granted to you only by those who truly love you and believe in you. And that is truly the privilege of leadership.

Some more great thoughts on these truths.
http://swerve.lifechurch.tv/2009/03/10/failing-forward/

Cyber Love

Today I feel very cyber-loved. See today is my birthday. Anyway, the reason I feel cyber-loved is because I have had many cyber-birthday wishes. They are great. I am on Facebook and I got Happy Birthdays from people I have not seen in years, but have reconnected with through this great medium.

Sending a cyber-happy birthday is a wonderful thing. But I must be honest, so far the best happy birthday wishes have been personally delivered. My wife was the first to tell my happy birthday. Then I got happy bdays from the kids. Melanie remembered and asked “Is today your birthday?” When I said yes she was not sure what to do next, so she just gave me a kiss. Now that is a happy birthday! They sang to me and gave me a present. My parents have called. One of my pals gave me a card reminding me I am still a baby. Stuff like that.

But by far the amount of happy birthdays I have gotten are mostly cyber-love. So I take that thought (which is actually a good thing) and connect it to another thought. One reason that cyber-birthday wishes are more numerous is that they are more convenient and there is a nifty birthday reminder on your home page in Facebook. In other words it is convenient and effective.

Often in our following Christ what is convenient and effective in our lives rob us of the ability to live out the Great Commission in our culture. At Fellowship Church we have a bold new vision to “Connect to Love, Grow, Serve, and Go.” This vision describes the chronological process of discipleship and our program and ministry process for doing discipleship. But it also and most importantly sets our priorities in Christ following.

Let me explain. Connecting to Love means to connect the lost to the love of Christ. We do this through lifting high the name of Jesus in our daily lives through influence and our corporate lives through our worship services and community service events. That is priority number one. That priority gets the most convenient location and time slot in our ministry. That priority gets the best out of our budget, most of our time, the focus of our creativity, etc…

Then we connect those who love Christ to growth in Christ. We do this through life groups. This priority gets seconds. It is not that it is not important, it is just second in priority. (If you are wondering where I got this priority list check out this passage. Matthew 28:18-20.) The meeting time might not be as convenient nor the location, but it is still very….very….very important. It is second.

Then we connect to serve through our place of service in our local church. You can not serve the Body of Christ outside of the Body of Christ. Why is this third? Those who do not keep growing stop serving. We have to stay connected to the vine to bear fruit. It is very….very…important. it is third.

Then we connect to go though living our lives of influence through the circles God has put us in. He put us where we are and when we are for his purposes. So we live out the truths of Christ and speak them in our daily lives. Our goal in that is to get people to Connect to the Love of Christ. It is circular and it is very important.

Why is this connected to cyber-love thoughts? The closer we are to God the less convenient it needs to be for us to do the will of God in our lives. The closer a person is to the birthday boy impacts the effort they make in wishing him happy birthday. (All of it is love, but there is simply levels of that.)

Lost people will not go out of their way to find Jesus. Jesus went out of his way to find lost people. We must do the same. Put away your convenience so you can live by conviction. If your life as a Christian is not challenging, it is not what God commanded!

By the way, thanks for the Happy Birthdays. I do feel very loved but even more challenged. Fellowship Church and its pastor will not be a church of convenient Christianity it will be a church where God does great things because His people will do whatever it takes to do them. Actually, the response I have gotten in my recent leadership says IT ALREADY IS.

NOW THAT IS A BIRTHDAY PRESENT!

FC I LOVE YOU and I THANK GOD FOR YOU!

Another guys thoughts on this. http://www.stevenfurtick.com/leadership/too-good-for-our-own-goodThis guy usually brings it. His is a great blog. The one before is pretty god too.

Vantage Point

We are in a new sermon series at FC titled Vantage Point. The goal of this series is to help people see the cross of Christ from the Vantage Point of those who were there. Then we take that vantage point and what the Bible has to teach us from that and learn how to apply that to our lives. We do this through someone sharing a testimony through interview each week and presenting the Biblical person’s life from starting point to vantage point.

The last two weeks have been very powerful at the church. I believe it is because people relate to people. It is easier to see the truth when someone who sees the truth shares how they began to see the truth. Truth is not always easy to see. It is seen more clearly seen when someone else helps us to clearly see it.

Who in your life (your circles of influence) needs to hear and see your vantage point of Christ? The people God has put around you in life are around you for His purposes. They need to see Jesus in you and through you. We often think that people see Jesus through us because we are good or do nice things, but that is still just seeing you. It is not until we share our vantage point with them that they can see Jesus in it.

I encourage you to work on how to share your vantage point by answering these two questions. 1. What was your life like before you came to know Jesus as your Savior and Lord?2. What caused you to accept Christ in your life and how has that changed who you are and your life?
There is a great tool out there to help you share your vantage point. It is www.whativaluemost.com. This website allows you to share your story on the web. You can then purchase (or make your own) cards that will allow you to hand out to others the web address and your name. They can then go to the website and read your Vantage Point.

I encourage you to check it out. We gave all of the people in our life groups at FC 10 vantage point cards this week. We gave them 10 because we do not really believe God only has one person in our lives that need to hear about Jesus. It is time we opened our eyes and realized that our world is in desperate need of seeing Jesus for who He is and what he has done. What better way to share that truth with them than from our Vantage Point.

Changelicious (Part Two)

· Godly leaders are not people pleasers. Galatians 1:10 is very clear about the exclusive nature of two goals. Pleasing people and serving Christ are mutually exclusive. You can not do both. You must choose which one you will do. Leaders must choose to serve Christ over pleasing people. This is much easier said than done. Often those you choose not to please for the sake of serving Christ will take it personal. Lead them personally as best you can. Love them, but do not compromise what God has told you to do to please them. The people you lead need a leader not a people pleaser – whether they realize it or not. This is often offensive to those you lead because they truly want to please Christ, too. The difference is not always about heart, it is about role and responsibility. So do not wear you non-people pleasing call as a badge of honor. Wear it as a humble mark of a humble leader. The goal of great leadership is not to displease people, it is to serve Christ. Leaders can often take great pride in the displeasure of people. That is not leadership; that is selfishness. What you have to say as a leader is often offensive (or at best hard to hear), but you don’t have to be offensive. Allow people to be displeased by your serving of Christ, but don’t make your goal in serving Christ the displeasure of people.

So in the end leading is difficult. Leading will often cause people to have a bad taste in their mouth and they will see that bad taste as you. Those who are with you will stick around long enough to acquire the taste. Many of them will learn that they love it. Others will leave and find a new flavor. Often they will stay there until there is a bad taste again and they will quickly move on to find another flavor.

The problem about leadership is that is most often it is not delicious it is changelicious. It has a bitter taste but it will grow on those you lead. Your goal is to make sure that you are flavored with Christ and not with self. The taste of a prideful leader will not just leave people with a bad taste in their mouth, it will leave people sick with leadership poisoning. We must remember that we are the “salt of the earth.” Leaders, we can not lose our saltiness or we will be useless and left to be trampled under the foot of men. If you want to be changelicious then make sure the flavor in you is not you.

Changelicous (Part One)

I would love to be able to come up with a recipe for “changelicious.” It would be my dish to serve people when I lead change that would make change delicious. But change is not delicious. Most people believe change is bitter and sour. The interesting thing about change is that it grows on you. Change is an acquired taste. Something that tasted sour the first time you tasted it often becomes one of your favorites in the future.

I want to share a few thoughts on leadership and change. I hope there are some leaders out there that will be encouraged by these thought and challenged by these thoughts. Leadership is not easy. It is actually very hard work. You have been entrusted with much, much is required of you.

· Leading carefully does not mean leading cautiously. In Matthew 10:5-24 Jesus sent his disciples out into the world. It was a change for them. They had never been sent; they had just followed to that point. They were put in harms way. They were told there would be those that would persecute them. Jesus gave careful instruction and invested in them, but he still sent them. Be careful but don’t be cautious. Leaders have to be willing to see those they lead take a risk.

· Leading change is lonely. Even when people say they are with you, and they are behind you, they are still behind you. Leading change means getting out in front and being in front is a lonely place. When Moses went to the mountain and spent time with God he came down to find the people had chosen to follow a new god and Aaron had done it with them. Moses had to stand in front and stand alone, but God was with him.

· Lead people not programs. I am still learning this one. People are who you lead. I am a shepherd not a business manager. Leading people is personal. After Peter denied Christ, Jesus led him personally. When Thomas doubted, Jesus response was personal. When Paul wrote corporate letters to the churches he often named leaders specifically. Why? Leading people is personal. You lead corporately better when you lead personally, too. It takes time.

· The goal of leadership is not martyrdom. Leading is often lonely but it does not have to be all lonely. Moses had some lonely moments but he also organized the entire nation into groups that were led by leaders and he entrusted the daily interactions with them. A great leader does not try to walk alone for the sake of personal glory, he just must be willing to get out in front and experience lonely moments for the benefit of those he leads and then allows the leaders he leads to lead with him. When you praise your place of loneliness it is pride, not passion. Jesus stepped out in front and led but he had a group of leaders that went with him everywhere he went.

· Leadership is a gift from God. When leaders think they are the gift from God they’re done. Your leadership is not because of you, it is because of God. Paul understood this as he told others to imitate him. He was not saying be like me because I am the greatest. He was willing to say be like me because God has done a great work in me. He said that because he believed things like he was a new creation, he was the chief of sinners, he was God’s workmanship…etc…

Expect another delicious helping of changelicious tomorrow!