Category Archives: LEADERSHIP

Whose Life is In Your Words?

From the lips of Jesus’ mouth, we have the compelling command to “go and make disciples”. This is the focal point of what we are to DO. This command is not about the BEING part of us. A lover of God is who we’re supposed to BE, as Jesus stated in the Great Commandment. That’s a whole concept of its own.

Let’s get back to the DOING thing… This making-disciples-thing is really about evangelism more than anything else. According to the New Testament, a disciple was a follower of Jesus, whether for thirty seconds or thirty years. So when Jesus tells us to make disciples, He’s telling us to help people become born again! Of course we’re supposed to grow them up in the faith…especially since Jesus said we are to “teach them everything I have commanded you”. But disciple-making is first about outreach, evangelism, extending the Kingdom to others, friendship influence, and bringing others to repentance.

The Old Testament has a sobering statement that emphasizes the same thing. In Ezekiel 33:7-9, God declares,

7 “Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. 8 If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 9But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself.

The above statement was made to the prophet Ezekiel. This called man of God had a heavy responsibility. When God revealed His wrath on a person or people group, the prophet was compelled to tell them THE TRUTH and let them deal with it. If Ezekiel did not tell them, like a watchman on the wall of an ancient city, he would be held responsible for their lostness. BUT–if Ezekiel simply told, he was released from responsibility. He had carried out his part.

For today, Jesus tells us ALL to be His witnesses. TELL. It is a sobering responsibility, but a critically important one. That’s why you’re here! That’s why, when you gave your life to Jesus, He didn’t immediately take you up to glory. YOU HAVE WORK TO DO!!!! You can’t reach everybody, but you can reach somebody.

Who?

Who has God placed in your life that needs a witness? To whom have you been made a watch-person? Whose life is in the power of YOUR words???

Crazy Faith! (continued)

All of the heroes of faith, honored in Hebrews 11, staked their lives on the word and character of God, no matter what the results of their faith acts might be. And not every faithful person was rewarded with a storybook ending. Listen to verses 35b – 38:

“But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half,[d] and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.”

Key phrase in there: “They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.” Yep! That’s right! Because an awful lot of them bit the dust placing their faith in God. They believed that whether they lived or died, as long as they followed hard after God, they would also be safe, whether in life or death. The three young mavericks in Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said it so well when facing certain death by fire. Refusing to worship the king’s gold idol in a foreign land, the godly rebels declared, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Biblical faith is only faith when it presses through fear. The fear of failure, fear that God’s way won’t be as good as yours, fear that something tragic will happen, fear that God won’t come through like He says He will, fear that God won’t provide, fear of pain,  fear of what others think…. Our fears are endless! Authentic faith is what enables us to overcome fear.

Fear paralyzes us from significantly following after God. Fear is the number one thing that keeps us from being and becoming everything that God has in mind for you. We have a nation filled with Christians who are living an acceptable lifestyle, according to the church’s standards today. We measure our Christianity according to the expectations of our Christian culture and fellow believer-friends. Many of us measure up quite well.

How does God see you? Are you living a lifestyle of risk-taking faith? Are you crazy for God?

Would others say you are?

Crazy Faith!

Christ followers have a Hall of Faith! Similar to the Hall of Fame for football in Canton, Ohio, or the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, the Christians’ Hall of Faith is located in Hebrews 11. Residing there is an amazing assortment of unique and high-achieving individuals. All of them have exhibited a degree of startling and rare faith. Beginning with Abel, the son of Adam and Eve, to Zechariah the prophet, we are reminded of heroes to admire from A to Z! And we can learn from them too.

The common element of faith demonstrated by all in The Hall is that they were crazy! Really. At least they were from our human perception.

  • Imagine being in the heat of battle so much so that you get rid of 30,000 soldiers in order to fight with only 300! And you do that with only a few clay pots, some ram horns and ancient torches! And then you win! Meet Gideon.
  • Consider a prostitute in Jericho, a city about to be annihilated by the Jews crossing the Jordon River into their Promised Land. Rather than living out her days in hopelessness and despair, she heard of the God of Israel that performed the impossible on behalf of His people. She simply believed, even though her life was twisted, ugly, and godless. Her unlikely faith and life-saving actions on behalf of Israel’s spies secured her place in The Hall. She even became an ancestor of Jesus! Meet Rahab.
  • Daniel (one of the prophets alluded to in verse 32) shut the mouths of lions!…and also of a few pagan enemies of God too. Even though Daniel was a man of eighty years old at the time (ancient for sure in those days of old), he was arrested for praying to the God of Israel. He didn’t wane in His devotion for God, nor shrink in the face of certain death. He totally entrusted His life into the hands of Yahweh who he knew so well. (He had spent lots of time talking with Him.) By faith, He never stopped being on task for God, entrusting Him to take care of all the details…even when he was dropped into a pit of blood thirsty ravaging lions. The beasts enjoyed a Persian meal the next morning after Daniel was surprisingly protected.

 

Fairly crazy people, don’t you think?

Every person in the Hall of Faith pushed through their fear. I’m sure they were often terrified to the core, but they refused to let fear win the day, even when their actions seemed ludicrous. They staked their lives on the word and character of God, no matter what the results of their faith acts might be.

There!

There.

It’s where we need to go as a church. But what is it like and what does it mean for us?

Let me give you a few snapshots that God has given me about There…

1. We are an Acts 2-type church. We are unified, passionate, courageous, risky, a little insane (for Christ’s sake), and totally in love with Jesus.

2. We are seeing people from our community come to personal faith in Jesus every week. This happens in two primary ways — by Edinbrook individuals sharing life with others outside of the faith and by Edinbrook people inviting people to come and experience our weekend worship services, KIDS, youth events, and other special outreach endeavors.

3. We are innovative and fresh for the sake of making meaningful connections with those coming in from a culture very different from the one we Christians are familiar with in the church.

4. We pursue excellence (not perfection) in everything we do SINCE we are representing Jesus.

5. We have at least three packed worship services on the weekend, along with several satellite sites, house churches, and maybe even a church plant or two.

6. We are totally biblical proclaiming the full truth of the scriptures while being passionately contextual to our changing culture.

7. We are increasingly becoming a highly valued presence in our community as we practice Jesus-style love through proclamation and demonstration.

8. We are strategically engaged in world missions through gospel proclamation, church planting, and extending compassion to the needy.

God wants us to get There. I can hardly wait!

Here or There?

Our Edinbrook leadership team met last night. I was reminded again of what godly and committed people we have leading our church. I left with a new gratitude for their partnership, encouragement, and critical help in getting where God wants us to go.

Where does God want us to go as a church?

We need to get from “here” to “there”. That’s what leadership is all about. “There” is the preferable future that God has planned for Edinbrook Church.  The movement into our place of vision is difficult, painful, challenging, but also invigorating, life-giving, and hopefilled.

“Here” is where we are now…maybe. In fact, as we discussed our current status as a church, we decided we’re not “here” nor “there”! We’re in the land between. This, of course, is a difficult place to be. It is an experience riddled with uncertainty, confusion, misunderstandings, personal opinions, grumblings, and leadership meltdowns. The land between is also where we throw out our easy and theoretical Christianity and truly learn to trust God.

The question was asked, “Do we ever get there?” Great question! It seems that once we get there, God often gives us time to gain our equilibrium and then…He calls us to another “destination”.

So here we are — on a the journey of a lifetime as a church. We get one shot at it. Let’s do it right.

May we never settle for “here” since God wants to bring us to new places to experience new things to reach new people with the Message in order to engage thousands of others into the GREAT CAUSE.

Let’s give this journey everything we’ve got for the benefit of those who need Jesus — all for the glory of God!

I will work harder at bringing the picture of “there” into clearer focus so we can all see it better and enjoy the journey more. Let’s go!

Deute’

Jesus offers a welcomed invitation to a weary and worn audience in Matthew 11:28-30.

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I don’t know about you, but I find myself getting pretty weary at times. The fast-pace life of the 21st century can become overwhelming. There are great benefits to technology, but it also makes “escapes” a little more difficult. The wi-fi connections, cell phones, and hip-side computers bring the work-a-day world with you wherever you go. The intrigue of a consumer-based society, the assault of a sensual sex-crazed culture, and the tantalizing array of modern pleasures can consume our attention at the expense of sinking our roots deep in the person of God. Of course, there are trials that people have faced since Eden…sinful choices made out of foolishness rather than faith, sickness and disease, broken relationships, living with the destructive choices of others, the baggage of shame, guilt, and remorse. Weariness and heavy burdens may describe our lives quite well these days. It’s a broken world we live in and it gets mighty tiring as we try to hold it all together.

So Jesus says, “Come.” The Greek word for come is deute’ and is used thirteen times in the New Testament. It is an imperative invitation, meaning, God is insisting that you accept His offer. With strong urging, he is inviting you to take what He is proposing…He knows the benefits He can deliver for you if you’ll only receive it.

This same word is used in Matthew 4:19 when “Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” The “come, follow me” is only one Greek word (made of two parts) simply meaning “follow behind me”. This invitation was given to Peter and Andrew as they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee. These simple fishermen were given an invitation to join up with Jesus and become immersed in a much greater cause than catching fish. They would become fishers of people!

Whenever Jesus invites us to come, there is something great on the other side of that invitation. Each time Jesus used that imperative plea in scripture, He backed it with a promise and a plan that was stunning. Peter and Andrew became spirit empowered world-changers—something they could have never imagined while casting nets, yet possible through the doorway of Jesus’ invitation. But also notice that Jesus doesn’t offer us our plan, but His.

Accepting His invitation means you will be leaving something else behind.

LEADERSHIP Stimulants

The Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit is always a highlight for me. We try to bring our lead staff members every year, as well as our Board of Directors. It has become our annual leadership infusion! Here are a few highlights for me:

  • Bill Hybels: Leadership is moving people for here to there. We can often emphasize “there” so well, giving everyone a clear picture of our preferred future. We cannot imagine why people would not want to go there…. And then we here people say, “But I like it here!” We need to give people as many reasons as we can find to help them see why staying “here” would be terrible. When we help people understand why “here” is NOT a good place to stay, they will begin considering the “there” we’re trying to get to.
  • Andy Stanley: There are some tensions and conflicts that cannot be solved. We need to create a third category (not just win or lose) that enables us to continue the process of wrestling with certain issues that will never go away. A couple we face at Edinbrook right now are 1) Do we do church to feed the believer or reach the lost?  2) Do we worship with familiarity or freshness?  The ANSWER to both of these is BOTH! We need to live in the tension that will accomplish both as best we can.
  • Jim Collins: To keep our church (and other organizations) from dying a long painful death, we must do a number of important things that keep us alive. #9 was “Reach the young by changing practices without changing the core values.” In other words, stimulate progress but preserve the core. YES, YES, YES!!!
  • Tony Dungy: Quoting his mentor, “Stubbornness is a virtue as long as you’re right.”
  • Jeff Manion: The “Land Between” is what Israel experienced between Egypt and Canaan. It is fertile soil for complaints, leadership melt-downs, God’s provision, and rejecting God. But it is also the only place we learn to trust God, thereby being transformed from being slaves to being the people of God. VERY COOL!
  • Jack Welsh: “Non-profit should never mean non-performance.”
  • And FINALLY, a great quote from T.D. Jakes on our need for encouragement: “I am so wonderful and so good, I wish I had a me!”