Saturday, March 25, 2017

Kingdom Aligned: Why the Unshakable Church Builds on Unbreakable Family





In Hebrews 12:27-28 we read, "This phrase, 'Yet once more,' indicates the removal of things that are shaken-that is, things that have been made-in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken..."  

In light of so much shaking in the world, it's fair to wonder where and how the church must better align to the kingdom.

While the answers are many, I believe the church’s approach to apologetics and family discipleship is key to her unshakability. As culture continues to redefine identity and blur the line between love and tolerance, many believers are struggling to combat new deceptions and make a case for their faith.

This leads me to two important questions:

1. While the church may be conveying truth, is she allowing it to be tasted and seen?

2. Is the church delighting and trusting what she's demonstrating? If not, how can we expect those outside the church to do the same?

Again, this can’t be addressed in so few words (barring a new series, cough); for now, I submit part of the solution lies in how the church develops discipleship and facilities it within the family dynamic.

For instance, in most liturgical structures, discipleship is perceived as in-house mentoring with evangelism serving as the faith vehicle into the ‘real’ world. Yet, if the church truly desires to be a more kingdom-aligned community, then it must be willing not only to merge the two, but to prioritize them in the home.  

Granted, easier said than done. Yet, once the church broadens her definition of evangelism to include one-on-one discipleship and her definition of discipleship to include in-house in-reach (i.e. spiritual development in the home), not only will the door for relationship among deceived believers and non-believers widen, but believers will be better equipped to model authentic love in a 1 Peter 3:15 context. 

So in short, I believe if the church wants to mature in her unshakability, she must better manage her ‘open door’ policy by branching out to other open doors from the home and place of influence to the unexpected divine appointment.

‘Cause bottom line: Before the church can equip love to a deceived generation, she must already be doing so to the next generation. Thus, if the church wants to be more effective in culture and marketplace, if she truly wants to be unshakable, it must build upon the unbreakable family.

*Question presented/answers inspired at Messenger Fellowship Summit 2017. Response intended to be at or below 350 words.

Photo creds: refocusministry.files.wordpress.com

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Monday, March 13, 2017

3 Things Leaders Know That Everyone Should



It’s been said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” (John Maxwell). 
But let’s be honest: How well do we live all three together?   

I know for me, there are times I neglect to model what I know and others I forget to seek what I don’t. 

Yet, when I consider Maxwell's words, I'm reminded how what I know as a Christian leader must ultimately inspire others to become more
So for the next couple months, I want us to focus on practical and powerful ways we can better demonstrate the qualities that make us who are...where we are.
In the meantime, let's start off with three things leaders know that everyone should…
1) Be Stubborn to Love

Whether we’re serving in marketplace, ministry, or extra-curricular roles, it’s important we see what we do as an extension of God’s love in motion. But perhaps you’re like me having wondered how to do this consistently in the face of busyness, prejudice, distraction, etc.? 

If so, I submit to step up our love, we must step up our stubbornness to show it. 

Now I know what you’re thinking: stubbornness is evil. I get it. However, if it’s rooted in goodness and godliness, can we honestly say it’s a bad thing1?

For instance, when we look at Jesus’ ministry, not only do we find an unconditional love steadfast in circumstance, but committed in referencing where it came from (i.e. his Father).

This leads me to an important realization: if we’re stubborn to love at all times, then we’ll see love as a visional reality rather than a missional priority.

Not to suggest programs and projects aren’t from God. I’m just saying if we make love the lens by which we see as opposed a means to an end, then we’ll mature in our ability to continually navigate people to the source of what we reflect2.

Bottom line: If you want to better showcase God’s love, then center your leadership on pointing people to Jesus. Love always cites its sources (Luke 3, John 1).

2) Be Apparently Transparent

Recently, I heard word of a senior pastor who encouraged his staff to suppress their struggles for “congressional appearance” purposes. 

At first I figured he was stirring reproach; however, the more I pondered, the more I wondered if the motivation was rooted in fear above anything else. Granted, I can appreciate contrarian strategy assuming it’s Spirit-led in love; however, when a root motivation lies in self-preservation as opposed to life change, one must question.

This leads me to a second realization: While there’s a time to listen and a time to share, if we’re not honest about the realities of leadership or vulnerable about our cracks and scars, then we disallow God the chance to operate in and through them. 

Again, I’m not saying we make testimony an agenda item. I’m just saying wherever we find ourselves, we must understand there are people in our path wrestling with something we’re struggling with or have struggled with. Thus, it makes no sense to pretend struggles, temptations, and failures aren’t bearable realities when truth is: faith is a journey inseparable from the ups and downs of life.
Bottom line: If we want to better reach people, we must recognize apparent transparency of past and present testimony as a key component in supporting one other (Ephesians 4, 5).

3) Don’t Just Find a Way…Make a Way

When it comes to the bivocational life, it doesn’t take a rocket science to know there’s not a one-size, fit-all way to live it. While it’s true the best way is often the most efficient way, whatever ‘way’ we choose, it’s paramount we not just find it, but make it.

For example, early in my youth pastor tenure, I realized while there wasn’t anything I could do to fix our mid-week attendance problem, there was something I could do to help youth stay on the same page when referencing content. The solve was simple: record the audio, edit it with the visual content applied, and distribute via social media. 

Sure, the idea required extra work, but in the end, it provided a trackable short-term solution and an accessible, long-term resource. Now anytime I cite a past message, there’s at least a chance the youth will not only know what I’m talking about, but also have heard what I’m talking about.

Bottom line: Dreams can’t be realized until they’re developed. Therefore, don’t just consider what’s most important; focus on how you can better make it known with what you’ve been given (Matthew 25, 1 Peter 4).

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 6.05.26 PM

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Stay tuned next time when I’ll unveil my next three leadership tips; in the meantime, if you have questions or comments on the content, feel free to drop them below. 

Footnotes
  1. Actually there’s a name for that (good stubbornness = determination)
  2. Note: This has tremendous implications in marriage as well (more on this in a later post)
Photo creds: http://www.ryanweimer.com

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leader

Sunday, March 5, 2017

LEGACYouth: Increasing our Decrease



Going off the ‘D’ statement, we find four components in motion:
  • Increase my love for your supremacy (God’s power/authority)
  • Increase my trust in your wise purposes (includes God’s perfect timing)
  • Decrease my personal influence 
  • Increase my joyful faith
However, before we can break these ingredients down,  we must first define “decrease”...

Decrease: Dying to self in a way that allows God’s kingdom¹ to come into greater view.

With that said, we can better understand how this "D" applies in John 3, where our two mortal protagonists, Nicodemus and John the Baptist, are coming to terms with their “decrease”.

For Nicodemus, Jesus is challenging him to see the kingdom of God as separate from any earthly kingdom and to know Christ as the only way to that kingdom; however, for John, Jesus is essentially inspiring him to do what he had been doing (i.e. to make a way for him baptizing in his name )... a different way

This leads me to an important realization: though seasons may change, though the ‘how to’ of our calling may alter, our identity, our ‘who we are’, never does. 

We this contrast clearly in John 3. For John, there was a time when he was the CBO (Commanding Baptizer Officer), the "go-to" for people to get spiritually purified; however, because John remained in the Spirit, because he recognized Christ as infinitely greater than he, when the time came for him to 'decrease', he was able to do so joyfully in a way that literally pointed people to Jesus. 

This leads me to a second important takeaway: it’s impossible to point people to Jesus if we’re not filled with the Spirit. 

Why? ‘Cause if we’re not filled with the Spirit, then we can’t preview heaven or demonstrate what a relationship with God looks like.

But Cam! I still don’t get how ‘stepping back’ can be good things? It just doesn’t make any sense!

In the flesh, yes! Yet, when we go back to our earlier definition of ‘decrease’, dying to self in a way that allows God’s kingdom to come into greater view, and consider its truth in light of our original design (i.e. we are who we were divinely created to be), we can see how his is the Spirit-filled prescription to seeing how Jesus sees ‘decrease’.



Bottom line: When we talk about increasing in decrease,  we're talking about dying to what we think is best by trusting God who knows what's best. Granted, there will be times we struggle to understand God's purposes; however, if we're truly committed to Christ increasing (i.e. the Spirit-filled life), then we'll better see the way this is to happen regardless of our circumstances. 

Footnotes

1) As mentioned on Sunday, though there’s no biblical definition of the kingdom of God, we’re given bountiful evidence as to what it’s like (i.e. a place where goodness, joy, and peace abound, a place where we’re filled with the Spirit and remain in the Spirit
2) John not only accepted Jesus as the new head of his role, but he went the next step in pointing people in his direction
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Photo creds: Pinterest
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