people

He is a dabbler at best: When I'm proven to be wrong

I try not to be a judgmental person. Sometimes it seems impossible to view someone without some level of bias however. When my son started playing the guitar back in September, I didn't think anything of it. After a few months of lessons, I heard him play and thought he was decent, but still a dabbler at best.

And when he was asked to be part of the worship team, my inclination was to try and talk him out of it, because there was no way he could hold his own with the band.

Not only did he hold his own, my son is now part of the worship team.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Judgmental. Artificial.

It happened again this morning—its actually happened more than once in my life...

This morning's keynote speaker was not something to look at in appearance. In fact, when we passed each other in the hallway before the main session, I wouldn't have given him a second thought if it weren't for the microphone attached to the side of his head.

And when he stepped on the stage I thought to myself that I should have skipped the morning main session and slept in.

It's not like he looked messy or geeky. He just had an unassuming appearance to him—almost homey or outdated. I mean the guy had a comb-over going on.

But.

When he started to speak.

He was powerfully bold and his message was clear.

Power. Boldness. Clarity.

I was deeply moved by his message. His message was one of the best of the conference.

It was a pleasant surprise.

I hope I keep getting pleasantly surprised in this life.

 

Joe

People and Dignity

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Here is something I have been thinking about lately. As it pertains to my own life and how I interact with people and how I treat people...

I want to make a statement. A statement that I truly believe in. One that every Christian needs to identify with and live out.

 

"Before anything, the church should be a place where dignity is given to all people, through grace, in the name of Jesus."

 

This is isn't something that we do for the social good of society, although society does benefit from it, or because we earn kudos points from God. We give dignity to people because Jesus did this and told us to do what he does (John 14:12, 15, 21, & 23).

I like how Jonathan Williams  says it, " The Bible continues to amaze because it is the only book that continually legitimates the people on the bottom."

Seriously, think about all the people Jesus interacted with. He walked and talked with people from all levels of life. Jesus was even accused by the religious leaders/police of hanging out with people who were low on the status poll.

 

"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." (Luke 7:34)

 

When I come to God I have nothing to offer him. I don't have hands full ready to help him with whatever he needs help with. Think about it! What can I offer and infinite God who created all things, who created me? When I come to God, I come with empty hands, ready to receive all the fullness he has to offer me.

God wants us find my value and worthy in him. Our dignity is found in a risen savior who created and redeemed us. Our significance isn't based on what we do or what others think of us. We are significant because God says we are and demonstrated this when he sent his son into the world.

Which is why as Christians we should relentlessly be committed to ensuring we do the best we can with the mission with which we’ve been entrusted. We are not sent to show and tell people we are right and they are wrong.

We are sent to show and tell people that they are more than they think they are - they are loved, forgiven, and welcomed into the family of God... They belong no matter who they are.

 

Inspire people to be more than they are.

 

Joe

5th wheel trailer, the open road, and community...

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So it happened. Someone is living the dream I want to live, and now I am jealous. I overheard a conversation the other day where someone said their daughter and son-in-law is buying a 5th wheel trailer and hitting the open road; living, working, schooling, playing, parenting, and exploring life without the constraints that typical young families are bound by, all in a 5th wheel trailer on the open road. Mmm hmm, that sounds like the life for me...

Picture this: A young couple and their little niños exploring national parks, seeing new cities, discovering open country, being able to visit family and friends when they want to or NOT want to, and living in different spots throughout the United States... I don't know the reason why this family is doing this, but I know why I want to do it.

The thought of not being shackled by what is deemed the American dream seems so freeing to me... No, it seems so simplistic and minimalist, and so refreshing in every way imaginable.

I guess a lot of us deep down would desire to live like this wouldn't we... I mean I get overwhelmed sometimes with stuff, task lists, bills, appointments, work, attitudes, and PEOPLE... For me I sometimes feel so overly connected to everything and by everything, that I just want to disconnect from it all. I want to hit the open road and explore, be free...

The reason that so many of us want to be disconnected is not that we are overly connected, but it's because we are connecting in community in the wrong way... For many of us we seek to find our identity in the people we hangout with, in the work that we do, and in the stuff that we have. Many of us bring to the table what I like to call U.L.'s (Unidentified Life). An unidentified life is someone who doesn't know who they are, they don't know where they are going, they don't know their purpose and value, and they don't know who they belong to.

  • I suppose for a lot of us, we don't know who we are. We don't understand that we are a unique creation. An intimately involved God formed us and breathed life into us. When the Creator, after speaking into existence this place called planet earth and everything in it and formed the first first humans; He saw all that He had made and deemed everything "very good" (Genesis 1:31). We are loved by a creator, who was willing to give everything up so that we can be in a relationship with Him. Galatians 4:5-7, says that we can be adopted sons and daughters, and heirs of God the Father through the redemption that comes through Jesus. We are his best of creation and his children.

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  • Many of us don't know where we are going. We don't know that the places we travel to and experience now, the jobs we have, the playing that we do, the people we meet, and the families we create all along the way are only little pit-stops to our final and eternal destination. Many times our vision for where we are heading is very short-sight. It's kinda like driving through the Tule fog in Central California. There are times when you can't see your hand if you were to put it in front of the windshield glass. Also, visibility can vary rapidly from place to place. Very quickly; visibility in only a few feet, can change from 10 feet to near zero visibility. It's easy to get lost or worse get into an accident. Life can be like that; during times of unclarity and uncertainty we need to be continuously and carefully aware of our immediate surroundings, and be reminded of where our ultimate destination is going to be (Philippians 3:20-21; Ephesians 5:15-16; Hebrews 11:1-40 & Revelation 21:1-7). This earthly place is not our home, we are travelers on an open road heading to a better place.

 

  • For about half my life I lived with little to no purpose. I couldn't see how I might fit into the world or what it was I brought to the table. This is true for a lot of us I suppose. For many of us we can't see our unique value and worth. No one else can contribute to the aspects of life what we uniquely can as an individual to the collective whole or the community of people we belong to. You are unique! The Creator has gifted each of us with uniqueness to add value to the whole community of people in which we belong too. "We are His workmanship create in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - (Ephesians 2:8-10). No one can do what only you can do. You are necessary and needed by the people in your community.

 

  • For many of us we don't know who we belong too. This one is a toughie in this country at least. We're Americans (insert #Merica), and we don't belong to no one. We are free, we are our own people, we are independent, we have no king... I totally get this mindset, but if we would only look at it from a different way. Instead, look at it from this point of view: God has brought us back from the dead. We are no longer identified by the things that we are not or by the things that we do, but we are identified by being made fully alive in Jesus. We have been filled in Him in which the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. Jesus is before all things and in him all things hold together. Jesus is the image of the invisible God and by him all things we created - all things were created by him and for him (Colossians 2:9-10 & 1:15-20). We are no longer our own, but we have been bought with a price, because of this we are no longer dead, we have been raised with Jesus and now our lives are hidden with Christ in God. We are not slaves, but to be God's chosen ones, holy and beloved (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 & Colossians 3:1-3; 3:12).

I like how Colossians 1:13 reads,

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son." 

We have been transferred from darkness to a beloved Son's kingdom, in which we too are also beloved

When we begin to learn and embrace these four realities about identity, then will seek to be connected not disconnected. Living an unidentified life is exhausting and can burnout a person, but living a life that has correctly found it's identity is invigorating and long-lasting. We are called to live in community and that community can take many shapes and forms; it can be on the open road in a 5th wheel trailer or it can be in an apartment building. It's not where you live, but how you live and who you live it for.

A little something for Saturday night...

http://youtu.be/JRvmAY-AhU8 I'm a dreamer. And I'm always dreaming about what could be and what has been. There is nothing like dreaming about the people, places, and things that have left a lasting impact or impression on our lives. You know those situations or moments that you just can't get out of your mind and wish your were experiencing it all over again!

If you find yourself for some reason sitting at home on this Saturday night with your mind stuck on your current situation of doing nothing; then sit back and watch this video by BMW. Think on those memories and dream. The Feeling Remains...

People > Programs

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"Be the prepared to be the answer to someone's prayer." - Ramin Razavi

I heard this quote from one of my coworkers a little while back, and it sent off a flood of thoughts about neighboring centric ministry vs programming centric ministry... People > Programs.

The reality is people seek connections and relationships not programs. Programs are tools that help facilitate these connections, and programs can be an answer to someone's prayers, but the purpose is to connect people to people who are made in the image of God. People are the purpose (and in someways the mission = Church) and people make the mission happen. Programs can connect people and programs can meet tangible needs, but programs don't love, programs don't cry, laugh, or show compassion. Ramin mentioned that we must follow Jesus' example and words of "Seeing the people around us..." Really seeing them not just noticing them, but look deeply into the people around us and compassionately move beyond our programs and be able to adapt what we are doing to adequately meet people where they are at. Many times we move people to our programs when we need to relocate ourselves to where the people are - we need to be in their dirt and messiness not the other way around... People > Programs.

Jesus was so good at this. He took every moment to look and see the people around him. In Matthew 9:35-38 we get a glimpse of this when he saw the people around him and he had compassion on them... He stopped and in the moment he saw the people deeply and had an emotional and intellectual reaction to them. He was moved to do something about the people around him and he lead his followers to do the same. In order to do what Jesus demonstrated and instructed us to do, to love God, love our neighbors, and to love one another, we must be in the moment and embrace the relationships around us. Once we do this hen move to bless them in the ways the Holy Spirit instructs us to do.

As leaders, we see our programs connect people, but so often because of this *success* our programs become our mission, NOT the people we are trying to reach and connect to Jesus. In order to prevent our programs from becoming our mission we need to become more people centric and less program centric. In a sense, our programs can become a burden to people, because inadvertnetly there are times we make people feel guilty for choosing our programs over being in their neighborhood and hangingout with their neighbors. This is unfortunate. It can cause people to operate freely uder the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and miss the ministry that God has for them. We take them out of their neighborhoods and distract them with participating in our events and programming…

2987611025_b9a279bba1I must state here, that I am not against programming, because programming helps us meet the felt needs of people (See Acts chapter 6). What I am saying is that our programming needs to be more than just purposeful, it needs to be focused and strategic - moving people to love God, love their neighbor, and love one another. It must free God’s people to be in their neighborhoods to connect and minister the gospel to those that live around them. Can the Church stop trying to be a buffet restaurant and distract God’s people from getting a clear picture of the mission He has purposed us to do? We must free God's people and give them the ability to love the people around them... People > Programs.

*Post adapted from a March 2011 blog post I wrote about neighboring*