Archive | April 2011

DIVERSITY…You’re Thoughts

I am currently reading “Church Diversity: Sunday the most segregated day of the week” by @ScottWilliams (if you don’t follow him on twitter you can here). I am also a part of his “Blog Tour” – I will be writing some blogs reviewing and discussing this new book of his…to say I am excited to do so is an understatement. I do not personally know Scott…we have never met face to face…however, his blog www.bigisthenewsmall.com has been a huge influence! I appreciate his leadership.

To start – I would like you to watch this video on Scott’s thoughts…and then SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS here on this blog.

Now that you watched the video…WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

What is your personal history as it relates to issues of race and ethnicity?

How have your experiences shaped your belief as it relates to diversity?

Are you willing to be a part of the solution to affect positive change?

Please comment below!

God Bless!

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#Church Diversity – “Shoe Shine”

Here is a teaser to my next blog series…#ChurchDiversity
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CON*VEN*IENT CLOSING

The reality is…this subject is somewhat unlimited. You can take all things good and turn them into a “Convenient” situation.  If you haven’t read them already…I wrote three blogs on this idea…you can read them here, here, and here.

The hope of writing this series was to get people thinking about the things that are important but that are often times taken for granted. Friendships, Theology, Integrity…you could add to the list: Loyalty, Leadership, Parenting (natural and spiritual), Christianity, Giving, Love…insert what ever you feel you might take for granted here _________.

Whatever you don’t respect or honor will leave your life. Take some time today to align yourself again with pure motives…pure intents…a pure heart. Leave the dark shadows of Convenience and walk in the light of commitment. Commitment…no matter the cost!

God Bless!

Fall in this Place

Love this song!
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CON*VEN*IENT INTEGRITY

“Integrity has no need of rules.” Albert Camus

“A little integrity is better than any career.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Integrity has become a long-lost art. We see its antithesis, dishonesty, running rampant in all arenas of life…media, politics, families, and yes the church.

Integrity is simply defined as: adherence to moral principles; honesty.

Integrity or the lack of integrity will have impact on every aspect of your life. You will ultimately be known by your integrity. I’ve heard it said that integrity is what you do when no one is looking…I believe it’s true.

Too often people operate in Convenient Integrity…simply put, they have integrity when it costs them nothing but abandon it when it may be costly. I try to live by and teach the principle that; Leaders (Christians) do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing…that is integrity! No need for “rules” – just a strong moral compass whose true north is the word of God. Integrity is not integrity if it is abandoned in difficult situations.

Recently, my integrity was put to the test. A situation was handled incorrectly (biblically speaking) which ended up costing me and my family a great deal of resources. Everything about the situation seemed so strange and surreal. Contracts were broken and I was left with a decision. Would I allow someone else’s lack of integrity redefine my integrity? I decided that I would uphold my end of the contract even though the organization didn’t hold up theirs. Convenient Integrity would have justified a response in which integrity was abandoned all together. I’m not saying that I didn’t think about it…I did…but I refused to act on it. My integrity is not defined by what happens to me but rather by how I respond to what happens to me. The reality is, authentic integrity is only demonstrated when it costs you something. Someone can say they have integrity all day…put them in a pressure situation and see their response…what do they do when they are cheated…then you will know their integrity.

Let me be clear…Integrity is not about living perfect. People with integrity make mistakes. The difference is when they recognize they have made a mistake they do whatever they can to right the wrong. If you have integrity you will live your life continually doing these two things: doing the right thing…or making the thing you did right.

Psalms 25:21 states; “May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in You.”  David understood the need for integrity…even when everything around seemed to be falling apart. When our trust is placed firmly in God there is no need to abandon our integrity.

One key to strong integrity is good counsel. The bible says; “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14 When I am facing difficult situations I turn to my “counsel”…these are men of God who have seen much and are not afraid to be honest with me. They have nothing to gain or lose by being brutally honest with me…I appreciate their counsel. Find good counsel and allow them to speak in your life!

Is your integrity a matter of convenience? Take steps today to repair your integrity…if you have done wrong, simply make it right. Let integrity define your character and life…after all, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1

God Bless!

CON*VEN*IENT THEOLOGY

This one might ruffle some feathers!

I have been saved now for 20+ years and I continue to be amazed at the depth of some people’s theology…or should I say, the lack thereof.

This part of the CON*VEN*IENT series was inspired by the latest theological debate over Universalism. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let me fill you in. Recently, pop culture pastor of Mars Hill, Rob Bell, released a book titled “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” (it’s a long title I know). It has stirred some serious conversations about the concept of Universalism which is simply defined as; a system of religious beliefs maintaining that all men are predestined for salvation. In essence, no eternal suffering (hell) for humanity.

Now, I have not read the book but I did watch his video and his interview which you can see here and here. However, that’s not important…because this isn’t about Rob Bell or whether he is a Universalist…that is only what stirred my thoughts (for the record…I believe he is…based on his own words).

The reality is there are lots of debates about theology, which is defined as; a systematic study of the existence and nature of the Divine. I am not here to add to the debate. I am here to challenge your position within the debate.

What do I mean? Everyone has a stance…a position when it comes to God, the Bible, and the role they play in our lives. And truthfully…everyone should. The question is; How do you take your stance? What are the determining factors for your position?

Enter Convenient Theology. It’s a theology based on what’s opportune or needed at the time. It’s a theology which is based more upon opinion and experience rather than truth and revelation. I recently tweeted (if you don’t follow me on twitter you can here);

“Be careful to never allow your trauma or triumph shape your theology…the Word alone should shape it!”

This resonates so much with me. My ideas about God and life need to be shaped by the Word of God…not by my feelings, my faults, my failings, or my favor. His word alone.

God’s word reveals the very nature and character of God…if you want to know God…know His word.

Here are some scriptures to meditate on:

“For the word of the LORD is right, And all His work is done in truth.” Ps. 33:4

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” Ps. 119:11

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Ps. 119:105

“The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” Ps. 119:160

“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” Prov. 30:5

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1,14

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Col. 3:16

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb. 4:12

“Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2Tim. 2:15

Challenge your theology today…Let God’s word shape your belief system. Don’t let your convenience dictate His Character.

God Bless!

CON*VEN*IENT FRIENDSHIP

The idea for this particular post came as I read a tweet from Elevation Church Pastor, Steven Furtick. It read:

“If you only stand beside your friends when they’re winning…you’re a loser.”

I instantly retweeted…with the added comment that I loved the statement.

It got me thinking. I began to think of the friends of mine who have been friends through thick and thin. I have a friend on the Left Coast who has been a friend for 20 years plus now. We have experienced a lot of our grown up, adult lives together. We have shared in experiences like: birthdays, our high school graduations, our weddings, our ministries, the birth of our children (we each have 2), our struggles, our hardships, our losses. We have had seasons where our communication was not as frequent (life has a way of getting busy) but when we connected it was as if we had never been a part. We are friends…no doubt…best of friends. I hope you have friends like this.

I have more friends like that…I love them…they live all over the US…but this post is not about that.

This post is “Convenient Friendship”…as much as the afore-mentioned tweet made me think about the great friends I have, it also made me think of the friends I have lost. I will admit, I have not been the best of friends to everyone that I called a friend. I began to wonder…who did I walk out on that needed me?

Let me define this idea of Convenient Friendship…the word Convenient is defined as; suitable for ones purpose or needs, opportune. Convenient Friendship then, is when someone is in a friendly relationship simply because that friendship is meeting their personal need or its opportune in the moment. In essence, it is only a friendship as long as it remains opportune…add some distress…or some relational mess…and the friendship is no more. I have experienced this…I am sure you have too. I have caused this as well…how about you?

The problem is that we love our comfort and our walls of security…anything that inconveniences us or challenges those comforts tends to really irritate us. So we abandon.

When I was younger, like pre-teen, I had a friend. We hung out together often. We walked to and from school together…hung out…went to the movies. You know all the stuff kids do. One day, as he was at my house hanging out, his mother knocked on the front door. I opened the door…she looked like a ghost…I have never seen someone whose color and life was absent from their skin like that day. She simply said, voice trembling, that my friends little brother was dead. It was intense…more intense than I can explain. A tragic accident had taken his little brothers life. I remember him leaving, running out the door screaming, NO. That was the last time we were friends. I didn’t know how to deal with the reality of life and death…the situation was too difficult to comprehend and therefore I abandoned the ship. Nothing I am proud of but we were only grade-schoolers.

Too often that is what happens in adult life. The difference is, now we are equipped and able to comprehend but its a matter of convenience…or lack there of. When we abandon friends that need us most because we don’t want to get messy…we demonstrate that the friendship is a matter of convenience…not commitment.

I want to be a friend that is committed…not convenient. I hope you do too. The best picture of this kind of friendship is David and Jonathan in the Bible. Talk about friendship…talk about inconvenient. Jonathan’s father, Saul, was trying to kill David…Jonathan’s inheritance and future as king was in jeopardy by David’s existence…thru it all they remained friends. 1 Samuel 18:1-4 tells of the beginning of their covenant friendship; “Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.” Wow…that is a powerful picture. I would encourage you to read the rest of their story.

I have said all of that to say this…what kind of friend are you? What friendships do you need to repair? What friendships do you need to strengthen?

I hope you, like me, are stirred to be a better friend…one who is committed to the friendship and not just in it cause it’s convenient.

Let me know your thoughts! Be Blessed!