Friday, July 31, 2009

Sunday Night Bible Study Notes

This Sunday I invite you to join us at the church at 6 pm for Bible Study, prayer and fellowship. This week's study topic is on "Fear." In preparation for the study I would like for you to read Luke 12:32, I John 4:18, Matthew 6:31-33, and Philippians 4:6-7.

Fear controls many people's lives today. Even when they are not conscious of it. Others try to organized their entire lives around maintaining enough control so they do not feel afraid.

The problem often begins in childhood. Many of us were taught as kids that with hard work, careful planning, the right education, job or spouse, etc., we can determine our own destiny and have peace of mind. NOT!

Man's attempt to be free of fear always falls short. Despite our best efforts, it seems that we are always just one unexpected turn of events away from disaster. Jesus outlines an antidote for experiencing freedom from fear.

What do you think the antidote for fear is from the above passages? I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Sunday night. See you then and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday Fight Club

Hey men ...
This Saturday we will gather in the Church Cafe for Fight Club at 7:30 am. We will continue our discussion of "The Core Truths about Jesus." We are on number nine this week. The topic is: Jesus defines How we are to Love and Worship God. Please pre-read Matthew 21 and John 4.

See you Saturday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is it different?

In the kingdom of God things are different. Christ's kingdom is not like this world (John 18:36). The things we do is rooted in our being as Christ followers.

Who we are as Christ followers is more fundamental than what we do. Our character is more basic than our action. In God's economy, being mastered by the Holy Spirit is more important than knowing how to manage the rigors of the Church.

In the world's economy personal value and success is often derived from action. You must earn the right to be somebody. But in Christ's kingdom, letting God control one's life is foundational to being, thinking and doing. This can often be hard to grasp in a culture like ours.

Results is what matters in our society. Even in the Church critical thinking, seeking God out and serious evaluation of His will can be pushed to the side as irrelevant if something has proven to be successful elsewhere. Some would say, "What more needs to be thought about if the program or action has already validated itself elsewhere? If it's working elsewhere we can make it happen here!" We can often become preoccupied with the anticipate results and not focus on the leading of the Holy Spirit.

In the Church success is granted through relationship. Relationship with God. The power and provision of God comes as a result of dependence upon Him. The result of our obedience to His leading and not our own. The best business and organizational practices relevant to today's culture will not bring success in the Church. Rather it will come as a result of our full consecration and dependence upon Him and heart-felt obedience to His will. What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 27, 2009

What will it take?

Have you ever read a passage of scripture and asked yourself, "What would it take for that to happen again?" I do. One that I chew over periodically is Acts 2:47. It reads, "...And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."

Oh how I long for the day when the percentage of people coming to Jesus rivals or exceeds that of the early days of the Church. What will it take? What will we need to do to make it happen? Can we do anything at all? I do not have the answer to these questions but I do have a hypothesis to put forth. It came to me while reading First Thessalonians. In chapter one it tells how the Thessalonians turned from their idols and come to follow Christ. Because those who ministered to them did so "through the power of the Holy Spirit" (1:5-6).

So often it seems like something is missing in the work of the Church. We use our very best resources and yet the results simply are not there. Everything can seems to come off without a hitch and yet little impact was gained. It's as if God's blessing was not included in the mix.

Oh the blessing of God. How sweet it is! People will turn from their idols and come unto Jesus when the Holy Spirit is present. Even the littlest of effort will reap large results if the Holy Spirit is on board. The prophet Zechariah said it best ... "It is not by our might or our power; but by the Spirit of God" 4:6).

The contemporaries of early Friends called it the "Quaker Spirit." The presence and power of God upon early Friends often distinguished them from other religious orders. Through their humble ministry great works of God occurred. What made the difference? The blessing of God.

My hypothesis is: we need the blessing of God that comes through the fullness of the Holy Spirit. A fullness that is the result of people's full surrender to Christ and His ways. A condition that is the result of stillness before the Lord in prayer that includes a passionate, heartfelt plea for His power power to be displayed and glory to be seen. A power and anointing that is only seen when full dependence upon Christ is manifest.

I wonder: do we understand what it means to humble ourselves before God and forsake the self-sufficiency that is so natural ans seems so sensible to us as individuals or as a church? Have I as a minister in Christ's church modeled this life for others to see? Have I effectively taught it from the pulpit and lectern so others would know of this truth? So the Lord can add His blessing to our life, work and numbers to His kingdom?

Hmmmm ... sounds like more soul searching is needed on my part. What about you? Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sunday Night Bible Study

This Sunday night at 6 pm we will gather in room 227 for Bible Study. We will continue our series on "Celebrating Pentecost." The focus will be on God's intent for our restoration and wholeness through the Holy Spirit. The title of this week's study is "Life Giving Water."

Please read the following passages in preparation for the study. Ezekiel 36:22-28; Ezekiel 37; Zechariah 13; John 4:10; 7:37-39; Isaiah 49:8-10. Anyone thirsty?

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday Men's Fight Club

Once again men will gather this Saturday in the church Cafe for Fight Club. We will drink coffee, eat food, laugh at silly things, share life together, pray and study the Bible. Come and join us at 7:30 am.

This week our study will focus once again on the "Core Truths about Jesus found in the Gospels." We are on number eight and the topic is: "Jesus Christ is the Standard for Holiness." Please take time to pre-read the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-8. The key questions for discussion are: What does this core truth mean for you? What does it mean for the Church?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Family of God # 8

I just returned last evening from attending our annual conference. This morning I am singing "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God, we're joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, for I'm part of the family, the family of God." Too bad you can't hear me ... Lisa can hardly contain herself with the angelic serenade :-).

This year I was impressed with the maturity displayed among the delegate body. The manner they conducted themselves on the floor was articulate and respectful. The care and encouragement they shared in the down time exemplified what the scriptures describe as a Spirit filled Christ follower. Again I am reminded of the importance for growth and maturity in our local churches. We live in an emotionally, relationally damaged world which often times plays out through unhealthy expressions in the local church. We must face the problem and include a strategy in our discipleship matrix.

In the original context of discipleship it refers to an individual who follows and emulates the life and teaching of a rabbi (teacher). They often left family and job to live with the rabbi knowing that some things must be caught rather than just taught. They became one with the rabbi.

Today discipleship has been defined by many as Bible study, church attendance and adherence to a slate of doctrine. But the infusion of life with Jesus Christ through the fullness of the Holy Spirit into the inner recesses of our personal brokenness and sin nature is missing. This is the rich affective message of holiness. That we can invite the power of Christ's presence into the brokenness of life and correct what the nature of sin and human error has caused. That we can emulate the life of Christ, not because of book learning and the doctrine man but because we have become the embodiment of Christ through full consecration and the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

The only way to raise the emotional, social, relational IQ of the church today is through the impartation of Christ's life into ours. All other strategy will fall short. We must ask God to become Jesus. Not as a member of the Trinity but through the impartation of His life into ours. This requires full surrender of self to Christ so that His nature become ours, so His mind controls our action, so His resurrection power can transform us from broken vessels of sin into people who display His life and glory. Are we ready the grow up?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yearly Meeting Sessions

I just returned home from Canton on my Yamaha. I cannot remember ever riding in a more severe thunderstorm like the one I just experienced. I am thankful for a heavy bike, good tires, and a dry rain suit.

I chose to commute Monday and Tuesday as opposed to staying over in Canton for Yearly Meeting. This morning was an early start. I had a 7 am meeting which put me on the road around 5:30 am.. What a beautiful morning to ride!

So what's Yearly Meeting? In the Friend's tradition local churches gather once a year to worship, fellowship and conduct the business of our denomination. I can vaguely remember the days when it ran for two solid weeks. Now we are down to two days of actual business sessions. My how times have changed.

However, there are a few things that remain constant. One is the excitement and joy people have in coming together each year and two, is the unity we experience during our business sessions. Unity is no small feat in the body of Christ you know. It requires a humble spirit on the part of all in attendance and a willingness to center one's will and desire beyond self interest. May this same spirit carry forth into all of our churches and families in the coming months. We could all use a little more righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost ... Amen?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Redemptive Story in Ruth

Last evening in our Sunday evening Bible study we looked at the plan of redemption as it is symbolized through the story and personalities found in the book of Ruth. Let me summarize our discussion for your consideration and input.

The story line is: Naomi, her husband and two sons move from Bethlehem to Moab because of a famine. Her two sons marry Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. In Moab Naomi's husband and two sons die. In desperation she moves back to Bethlehem and encourages her two daughter-in-laws to return to their Moabite families. Orpah does but Ruth chooses to stay with Naomi.

While in Bethlehem Ruth is encouraged to glean grain in a field owned by Boaz. Through a series of events Boaz becomes the kinsman redeemer for Naomi and Ruth. He becomes their provider and redeems their family position and name. The story ends with the marriage of Boaz and Ruth. What a wonderful story! So who do the personalities in the book of Ruth symbolize?

Ruth represents us (lost humanity) in the story. An outcast, a foreigner in a strange land. She had no hope. Much the same as our situation because of sin.

Boaz is a "type" of Jesus Christ in the story. He paid the price and redeemed Ruth and Naomi to a right standing. Rescuing them from their lost state.

Naomi symbolizes the Holy Spirit in the book of Ruth. She was the one who brought Ruth to Boaz. Without Naomi, Ruth would not have made her way back to Bethlehem, not been encouraged to glean in Boaz's field or understood the custom(s) that led to her redemption and matrimony. Thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit who is actively engaging us, wooing us to our Kinsman Redeemer - Jesus Christ.

The country of Moab represents our lost estate, a foreign land and false gods. Bethlehem symbolizes the "promised land" of Christ's salvation. The name Bethlehem means, "House of Bread." Through the leading of the Holy Spirit and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ we are able to dwell in the grace and mercy of God and feast upon the Bread of Life.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! The story of redemption is one we should never tire of hearing. Give God praise this day for Jesus and the sweet sweet Holy Spirit!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sunday Night Bible Study

This Sunday night we will continue with our series titled: "Celebrating Pentecost." This week's topic is: The Holy Spirit in the Book of Ruth. Ruth is a book rich in symbolism. Some say it accurately displays and foretells the plan of salvation. I encourage all to pre-read the story of Ruth and try to figure out who/what each of the following represent.

One, who does Ruth symbolize in the story of redemption?

Two, who does Boaz represent?

Three, Naomi was a type or likeness of who in the Gospel message?

Four, what does the country of Moab represent in the salvation message?

Five, Bethlehem is a symbol of what?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject. Come prepared to share! Also, I plan to have birthday cake for Lisa to share with all in attendance during the study time. Don't tell her ... it's a surprise!

I hope to see you Sunday night! Thanks for stopping by!

Attention Men!

This Saturday morning the Men's Fight Club will meet for prayer, fellowship and Bible study in the church Cafe. All men are welcome to attend. The meeting will begin at 7:30 am. Breakfast will follow. Here's our study notes for this week.

Series: Core Truth Taught about Jesus Christ in the Gospels

Topic: Core Truth # 7 - Jesus Calls People to Follow and Imitate Him

Key Scriptures for discussion:
> Matthew 4:19
> Matthew 8:22

Question # 1:
What are the implications of this Truth for the Christ followers today?

Question # 2:
What are the implications for the Church?

Question # 3:
What are the examples of how this Core Truth could be lived out in your life?

Question # 4:
What examples are there for our church to put into practice?

I hope you can join us! Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

Family of God # 7

Are you in your right mind?

Interesting question eh? In the field of conflict management we use three words to describe the way in which people process anxiety based upon their behavior. Each word is used to describe one of the three parts of the human brain. They are reptilian, limbic, and cerebral.

Reptilian or "R complex" refers to the lowest part of the human brain and is responsible for basic survival and repetitive behaviors in people and animals. The limbic section of the human brain is similar to that found in most primates which causes parenting, communication among species, and play to occur.

What really separates humans from all the rest of creation (in terms of brain function) is the part known as the cerebral cortex. It is far greater in size and complexity than that of animals which enables humans to think ahead, think abstractly and symbolically, write, create, plan, etc. And, like a muscle, the cerebral cortex can be developed, trained and empowered for greater use.

Studies in family systems theory show the more we develop our cerebral cortex the less we react to life from the limbic and reptilian centers of our brain. Maybe that is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he instructed Timothy to "study to show thyself approved..." (2 Timothy 2:15) or when he referenced how the transformation in life comes through "the renewing of our mind" (Romans 12:1-2).

As church people submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and intentionally, purposefully develop their knowledge of the life and teachings of Jesus found in the Bible, and if they have acquired and act upon a life long passion for learning they will in time have a greater skill set to use in decision making. Those who do are often referred to as high functioning people. However, the lower the level of brain function people have the more emotionally reactive they become to the issues of life and the more anxiety they take on from others. Low functioning people tend to have little to no energy to contribute to their relationships or to use in meeting the needs of others as mandated in the kingdom of God.

In the family of God we need every person assuming personal responsibility for their growth. The more we do the healthier our fellowship will become relationally and spiritually. So, are you in your right mind?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Family of God # 6

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:1-2).

The passage speaks of the need for every believer to take personal responsibility for their growth in Christ for many reasons. Most definitely it is required for the social/relational health of the church. In family systems theory we refer to this level of responsibility as "individuality force." Emotionally healthy individuals normally can resist the immaturity of becoming emotionally attached to the anxiety or problems of others.

The individuality force enables us to adapt in life, to set and fulfill goals, to live out an orderly life course and make healthy contributions to families, church and society. People of individuality usually experience a happy life and are a blessing to all who know them through satisfying and stable relationships.

So, according to Paul we must "present" self to God (verse 1) and "be transformed by the renewing of our mind" (verse 2). Otherwise we will continue to conform to the unhealthy pattern of the world. Continuing to live day to day from one problem to the next, usually on the brink, and barely making it at all. Choosing to live as hermits, angry, rebels, relational nomads unable to attach to God and others in meaningful ways. Unable to delight in the ways of Jesus through giving and serving others in healthy ways.

So, how is mind renewal achieved? I would like to hear your take. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Family of God # 5

How relevant is Church?

Pat Pope sent me this survey today from Chris Ediger's blog "In The Thin Places". It's part four of a series titled "The Unchurched." All of the information is timely and I encourage you to read through all five parts of the series if you get a free moment.

The survey's focus is on the relevance of the traditional church model for people today and presents some interesting results for consideration. Please read it over and comment on whether the findings are true to your experience or not. To view the actual survey and summary you will need to go to the following link.

I look forward to hearing your comments. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Family of God # 4

A lot of conflict in the local church congregation is caused by hierarchy. It is a phenomenon often seen in humans as well as other parts of God's creation. Anyone in church leadership must give it consideration because generally every grouping of people organize around it. Hierarchy means a ranking of all the individuals within the group from highest to lowest according to social status. It is a way to organize complex groups of people. It is most clearly seen during times of high anxiety. There is often a price to pay for hierarchy.

When consensus is used and power is distributed among many, people feel engaged, valued and "heard." However, when hierarchy rules subordinates often feel dominated and devalued as a person and will become emotionally depressed and disenchanted with the group. As Bowen pointed out in his work titled Family Theory, "as people loose the ability to function and make decisions in a group it takes less and less anxiety to trigger dysfunctional or irresponsible behavior or to cause physical, emotional or social illness (drinking, smoking overeating, acting out, etc.) to occur." (page 385)

As a Friends Church we are organized under a congregational system. Simply stated, the power of our church resides with the individual member. Members appoint leaders to govern the affairs of the organization. Leaders are accountable to the membership.

In a congregational lead structure like the Friends Church it is imperative for leaders to keep the Proforma of the organization clearly in focus for all to see. By consensus decisions must be made for the good of the vision, mission and objectives of the organization and not to cater to the will or preferences of the individual.

Hierarchy exists in the Friends Church. It is seen through our elected leaders and the non-official structuring of our church community. We trust in the maturity of people to use their influence to help us fulfill the ministry Proforma of our organization and not to use their platform of influence over others to push their own agenda.

Through mature people the Holy Spirit can lead a church through consensus for the glory of God. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5, "we are to be mutually submission unto one another as unto the Lord." This principle works at home too. As we submit ourselves to the good of our family mission the more available we become to the Holy Spirit's leading and power working in our life and in the ones we love. Seeking selfish interest is always a stopper for the miracle working power of God. Whether in the home or at church.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sunday Night Bible Study

This Sunday night at 6 pm we will gather at the Meeting house in room 227 for a time of singing, testimonies, prayer and Bible study. Our study will continue to focus on "Celebrating Pentecost." Pentecost speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church (Acts 2).

The key text we will explore is Mark 6:1-6. From this text and others we will see how the Spirit ministers to us during times of rejection. One of the names for the Holy Spirit in the Greek means "the One who stands beside us." When we feel rejected and all alone as a Christian the Holy Spirit will come beside us and hold us up.

Sunday night we will note:
I. The Context leading up to the Mark 6 passage.
II. The Circumstances Christ faced.
III. How Christ's circumstances Connect with our life.
IV. Christ's Commission to us in times of rejection.

Please read ahead and provide questions for discussion. I hope to see you Sunday at 6 PM. I'm thinking ice cream after our study this week ... what say you?

Weekend Men's Activities at WHFC

Wow, we have a lot going on this weekend at the Meetinghouse! Friday 90+ men will be leaving town for a weekend of camping in southern Ohio at the anual Father & Son Campout. We are hoping for dry weather and good food!

On Saturday at 7:30 am, the Men's Fight Club will meet in the Friendly Grounds Cafe for Bible study and fellowship. Men, come and grow with us as we seek to know Jesus fully and live responsibly as men. Breakfast will follow at a local restrauant.


Family of God # 3

The emotional process of congregations tends to press people into a position in a similar way the nuclear family does. It may be positive in assisting people in doing/living their best in life or it may compress them into chronic anxiety and reactive behaviors that can be professionally and relationally devastating. Our relational systems either bring out the best in people or the worst at times.

The local church is made up of many relational systems/units. The people in each unit is interconnected with each other emotionally. During times of high anxiety it will pass from person to person and nearly always end up resting on the most immature member of the group. In family systems theory we refer to this as "the family projection process." Through this process we understand how people from the same group can act so differently at times to the same set of circumstances. Some are able to adjust and others are not.

Generally speaking, in a church situation we tend not to just look at the person "acting out" as the problem but assume they are the "identity person" for their relational group or projecting pain from their childhood. Sometimes the anxiety of their group is more than they are able to contain so it spills out. The anxiety can be associated with either their nuclear family, life in general or triggered by the group they are association with at church.

There are eight common ways in which emotionally immature people act out at home or church (these 8 are taken from Gilbert's book, The Eight Concepts of the Bowen Theory, page 85ff).
1. The good person - They usually are not a problem for the church but wear themselves out emotionally/physically trying to please everyone.

2. The rebel - Also known as the black sheep. Their preferred pattern for life is conflict. Trouble usually appears wherever the rebel is.

3. The sick one - Often times this person absorbed and deferred the dysfunction in their family of origin through symptoms of chronic illness. Through sickness they got attention and felt safe. They will often do the same in church.

4. The caretaker - This position is usually assumed in a home where parents are absent or unavailable emotionally. Many children of alcoholics assume this role because they had to care for younger siblings due to mom and dad's drinking. In the church they tend to dominate others and tell them what they should or shouldn't do.

5. The family therapist - They go thorough life trying to have all the answers and solve every one's problems.

6. The star - The star is the over-achiever in the family and is the favored one of their siblings. They tend to not do well in adult relationship because they often have unrealistic expectations for others (and self).

7. The comic - They often learn how to be a clown while growing up as way to cut the family tension. Unfortunately they often never learn how to take life/relationships seriously however.

8. The favored child - Usually very congenial and "blessed" by the family. However often times they become untouchable and intimacy avoidant in their relationships.

In the church these eight common behaviors will present through the "family projection process" during times of anxiety. Most of the time it is a symptom of a much deeper problem stemming from a person's childhood and being triggered by life's pressure-cooker or through their relational system at church. If its the group at church causing the person to "act out" then church leaders must work within the system to relieve the anxiety and foster healing and emotional maturity in the group member.

What should the goal of church relationship be? To be made whole and conformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29) and to spur one another on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). What's your take on all of this? Thanks for stopping by today!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Family of God # 2

My post a few days ago was about how the church is like a family in many ways. We know from past experience in the church, as well as studies in family systems theory, that the best leaders are generally the ones who have healthy family relationships. Bowen, the founder of family systems theory found that the therapists he was training who took the ideas "home" with them made superior professional progress over their peers who did not (Bowen. Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 533.)

We all have automatic behaviors and patterns that stem from our childhood. They are usually counterproductive and get triggered from time to time. The best place to work on them is at home with the people we live with. Home is our primary emotional field and it can be an extremely effective place to deal with "our stuff." If we have immature ways of relating from time to time a spouse will tell us and children will draw it out of us.

The goal is to become relationally healthy and not dump negative emotional energy in the family unit. As we succeed in this area there is really a twofold benefit. One family life becomes more healthier and satisfying, and two, we carry less emotional baggage around with us to unpack in others relationships like church and work.

The leader who is succeeding relationally at home is generally more accessible, emotionally balanced, and less reactive at church. If leadership relationships improve there will be less anxiety in the congregation and they will model relational/emotional health for others to see. Maybe this is what Paul had in mind when laying out the prerequisites for church leaders in First Timothy 3. He said, a leader must be "gentle and not quarrelsome; one who rules his children and own house well" (verses 2, 3-4, 12).

Please pray for our leaders in this area. Ask God to give our Nominating Committee discernment and wisdom as they appoint leaders each year. Because as it is at home ... so shall it be at church!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Family of God

The Church is known as a family ... the Family of God. Why? Well because Bill and Gloria Gaither sang so in their famous hit song "The Family of God." So there you have it ... any other questions?

Actually there are some who feel strongly that congregations are not families and should not be referred to as such (M.Bowen. Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 462). Bowen thought that in using the word "family" for organizations only encourages those who are trying to get their emotional needs met there inappropriately. I guess in some ways I agree with Bowen's theory but probably not for the same rationale. I believe Christians should have their emotional needs addressed first and foremost, through the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Beyond that however, I see the Church functioning very much like a family unit.

In my 29 years of church work I have observed time and again where congregations show the same characteristics as emotional systems as do families. When enough anxiety is dumped into the church system they exhibit conflict, distance themselves from one another, shun and cut people off relationally, practice codependency through either over/under functioning, and by all means ... the church will triangulate (talk about people rather than to the one they have an issue with) just like a dysfunctional nuclear family unit.

How does the Church become familial (family like)? Simply by spending time together. Just rub shoulders long enough with someone and emotional patterns/systems form. Also, by spending time together hierarchy develops in the group. Leaders and followers naturally appear and lines of loyalty are drawn.

The church is different than a family unit in that she is much more complex. She is made up of individual family units (nuclear), committees, boards, staff, ministry teams, Bible studies and education classes, and old school -vs.- contemporary preferences, etc. Whether we are referencing a large or small church there are numerous emotional units intertwined within a local congregation. As long as a local fellowship keeps their hearts humble and Christ central, the whole unit will function for the glory of God and the good of people.

So what does a healthy congregation look like? She probably resembles a pot of spaghetti. Each one intermingled with different groups with Chef Jesus stirring the pot often. As long as we remain in the Water of the Word, allowing Him to keep our hearts pure and humble, and stirred up (changing), we'll be okay. What's your take on the Family of God?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Relationship # 5

Do you have a book or two in your library that you read and re-read because they help maintain some level of senility in your life? I do. Of course the Bible is one (you can't top sacred literature for soothing the savage beast). Another one that is near and dear to my heart is titled, "Never Call Them Jerks: Healthy Responses to Difficult Behavior" by Arthur Paul Boers. It's a great read for any church leader, for sure!

No church is immune to the problems that can arise when attendees behave in selfish or difficult ways. I have found that responding to such situations with some level of understanding as to why people "act out" in a relational system, incorporated with self-awareness regarding my role and means to affect/effect the system can make the difference between peace and disaster. Books like Boers helps me to keep my mind in perspective and my tongue in check. Paul admonition to the saints was "to let "no" unwholesome word come out of your mouth except that that which is edifying to your brother" (Ephesians 4:29).

The emotional state of the leader has a tremendous effect upon any group. So when a leader can make contact with with the "more anxious ones" (notice I did not use the "J" word) , bringing his/her best thinking to bear, hearing the concerns, validating people, communicating and demonstrating that relationship is primary over the issues present at the time, that the anxiety will dissipate and the group will be more apt to find common ground, seek out solutions and work them, and move forward with one another for the glory of God.

Some times it only takes one to change the unhealthy patterns in a relational system like home, church or work. Will you be that one? That would make at least two of us!

Now I've got a hankering for beef jerky ... got to go! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Relationship # 4

"Self management puts us in a position to choose how to use the thoughts and feeling constantly swirling within us rather than to be used by them" (Sellon & Smith. Practicing Right Relationship, page 31).

During times of conflict most people choose to not take responsibility for self. In our Life Training Workshop we teach the 100% rule: "You are 100% responsible for your thoughts, words, and actions - 100% of the time." We also say "that if you cannot maintain peace and calm around the woundedness, brokenness, mistakes and preferences of others then you have a problem that must be addressed by the Lord Jesus." The scriptural basis for this is James 4:1, "Where do quarrels and fights come from? Do they not come from the things that war and rage within you?"

Conflict always occurs when we see the other person as the problem. Dr. Terry Wise, the chair of my dissertation committee said once that "conflict is like two cars trying to occupy the same parking space at the same time." When we view the differences, preferences, opinions or needs of others as an attempt to occupy "our space" then the sparks of conflict begin to fly. Before long we then begin labeling people as instigators, malcontents, troublemaker, nonspiritual and sometimes even sinners.

It's virtually impossible to solve problems and resolve issues when people act in this manner. The best place to begin is by holding a mirror up to ourselves and examining our attitudes, thoughts and actions. Then we should ask God, "I'm pretty stirred up in this moment. It there something You want to tell me or show me about myself?"

Keep in mind we are all part of an emotional system that is uniquely interconnected with others... whether we are talking about a marriage, family unit, work or our church. The way to influence "our" system is to change self because no matter how hard we try we cannot change another person. We can only contribute good and positively influence the systems of our lives by maintaining our peace and calm, talking to people and not about them, and by inviting God to lead the process of self examination.

A little self management can go a long way to promoting peace and calm. The next time someone attempts to "get into your space" so-to-speak, assess what's happening, ask God to review your heart/motives; define what role you have played and how to modify that role so that it brings about a better relationship and is solution focused. Thanks for stopping by!

Relationship # 3

My friend Pat Pope sent this to me yesterday. It is worthy of your consideration. You can adapt it to your setting whether it be work, home or church. I look forward to your feedback.

"Seven Questions Leadership Teams Should Wrestle With"
Copied from Perry Noble - Leadership, Vision & Creativty
June 29, 2009

#1 – Has everyone in the room kept short accounts…or is there any unresolved personal tension that needs to be dealt with?

#2 – Is there anything that we are doing as a church that we would not be excited about if we were not on staff?

#3 – Would we even attend this church if we were not on staff?

#4 – Is our goal to really focus on what needs to be done…or to get the meeting over with as soon as possible so we can get on with our individual agenda?

#5 – Are we resisting anything that God is leading us towards because it puts us in a very uncomfortable place?

#6 – Are we moving towards complexity or simplicity?

#7 – Is there anything that is obvious to everyone else but we are choosing to deny it because dealing with it would force us to change things up?

Good questions! Thanks for stopping by!