November 2008


If I was to say that the past year has been easy, I’d be a complete and total liar. In truth, the past year has been one of the hardest of my life, especially in ministry. I/We have had to battle through more than I’d care to really reminisce about. 

Looking back, though, the words ‘I can’t do it’ have gone through my head quite a few times and several times they made it out of my mouth. These aren’t words I enjoy.

Perry Noble challenged me and encouraged me in his blog the other day when he linked to this scripture:

 

But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
      or speak in his name,
   his word burns in my heart like a fire.
      It’s like a fire in my bones!
   I am worn out trying to hold it in!
      I can’t do it!

-Jeremiah 20:9


As I said, I hate that phrase. This is one instance, though, where I hope that this phrase echoes out of my mouth! I hope that every day I get to say ‘I can’t do it!!!’ 

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When I was in elementary school I had this club. I think we called it the police club or something. We all had fanny packs (loaded with everything awesome), guns made from paper, police badges, and the authority to take down anyone breaking the law (which was basically whatever we deemed unlawful in order to take some people down).

Anyway, we didn’t do much. We made plans and had meetings on the playground that accomplished absolutely nothing. What started off with 2 of us very quickly became 40 or 50 and we are all VERY committed. It was the whole reason we came to school eager every day. We wanted a new police club adventure and we would somehow create it every day. I was the leader.

Now, I know, you’re waiting for the leadership lesson on growth and commitment and how we got there. Sorry, this isn’t one of those posts. This is more about how to kill that extremely fast.

One day one of the guys that was pretty low on the totem pole in our elite organization had an idea. Something so unprecedented had never happened. You don’t come up with ideas unless you’re the leader, the top dog, the head honcho. Who did this guy think he was???

I suddenly felt my leadership threatened and realized I must do something quick. So, I clamped down on my leadership and kicked the guy out of the police club. Not a good idea. I saw it happen in a flash. People suddenly felt threatened and insecure in their own membership status and a rebellion ensued. Within 1 week of that event the police club ceased to exist. Yeah, I killed it that fast (that may be a record for any organization, legit or not). 

Takeaway: As a leader, don’t hold on too tightly, that will cause insecurity and rebellion in ANY organization. Give people a voice and give them the value they truly have.

I had a disturbing experience the other day…

I met a guy and began a conversation. We talked for a while and it came about that he is a Christian. As we continued to talk about faith and God I realized that he had no concept of what sin really is. I asked a few probing questions that took the conversation a bit deeper. 

I ended up giving the gospel to this guy. Very simple, nothing over the top, no real preaching or anything, just a conversation about the gospel and what it really is. What our sin really is, what that means for us and the amazing fact that Jesus would pay the price for us. Pretty simple but profound stuff.

What disturbed me greatly was his response. He said, ‘I’ve sat through church my whole life and never heard this before.’ 

That literally stopped me in my tracks. What I had just told him was the foundation of the entire Christian faith and this guy has sat through CHURCH (Christian Church!) his whole life and never heard this. We’ve got a lot of work to do…

A few of the Georgia State guys and I headed out to campus today in black hoodies, a piece of tape across our chest reading ‘sayanythingatlanta.com’ and a sign that said ‘say anything to a Christian’. From there we invited people to write on white name tags what they would say if they could say anything they wanted to a Christian. Good, bad, and ugly. We then promised to wear what they wrote for the rest of the day.

We did this in an effort to create dialogue on campus and create a new way to connect with students that you wouldn’t normally connect with. The results were awesome!

I met so many great people on campus today that I’ve never met before that have viewpoints on life and the church that everyone should hear, especially those of us in the church.

Anyway, head on over to sayanythingatlanta.com and see the name tags from today.

(Warning: If you are offended by vulgarity [some pretty extreme] there is some on the page you’ll be directed to. You will see what people really had to say.)

edit: for the record, this is the brainchild of this guy and this guy. I’m just along for the ride… 🙂

I’m not asking that question with an arrogant ‘how the heck did he actually pull that off?’ I’m asking with a serious tone… ‘how did he do it?’

I’ve been asking that question to myself since last night. I’ve been thinking about Obama creating a tribe, or the fact that he masterfully created an unstoppable grassroots movement, or the incredible marketing campaign that swept the country. Or is he really just that amazing of a leader that he could carry not just our nation but the favor of other nations as well? Looking at it, though, I knew there was something or many things that we as Christians could take and run with to help us reach the world. 

I started to get some clues as we watched last night. NBC stated that the Obama campaign focused on reaching cities (I’ll be posting on this over the next few days) and urban centers. They had one of the largest volunteer forces that any president has ever had. He connected with a younger generation of voters (come on campus ministers!!!). All these things, valuable, but, still, how did he do those things???

The answer hit me in a heavy way as I was meeting with one of our students, William, earlier today. We were discussing this and talking about what Obama did and what kind of things we could do to take the gospel to a lost generation when William said it. William stated, “Obama talked about how everything was messed up. That’s what he did. That’s all he talked about. Our nation is messed up, it needs help. It’s all screwed up and needs to change.” I almost lost it right in the middle of the GT student center as the reality of what had just happened over the last few months hit me. Obama was preaching the gospel and an entire generation responded. He did our job.

The gospel states that we’re messed up and need help. We need a savior to come down out of heaven and rescue us from the hopeless mess that we’re in. I didn’t get it for months. How could people be falling for this stuff that Obama was saying??? Simple, he was preaching the gospel and when the gospel is preached, people listen.

For clarification: I know that Jesus is our savior and not Obama, but, the crux of the message is that we’re messed up and need a savior. Without that, we can’t truly repent.

So, how come Obama could say what he did, but, when the church says it, it falls on deaf ears? 

I’ve been guilty of talking about Obama’s arrogance over the past weeks and months, but what about the church? As the church we have lost our moral authority yet still preach about living a righteous life and the need to repent of our sins while we continue to live in sin and not set an example for the culture around us. Aren’t we just as arrogant if not more?!?!

We don’t have the moral clout as the church to talk about sin because we (the church) haven’t repented. Almost 40% of pastors have admitted to having an extramarital affair during some point in ministry. 1500 pastors A MONTH are leaving ministry due to moral failure, burnout, or conflict in their churches. Pastors have abused and molested children. Pastors fight with each other and slander their congregants. Pastors have been controlling and manipulative to serve their own best interests. Pastors don’t know the gospel and pastors haven’t sought God with all of their hearts. In short, PASTORS HAVEN’T REPENTED.

And if pastors haven’t repented then the congregants surely haven’t repented either. Pornography is running rampant in the church, people are getting divorced left and right. They’re letting their kids turn into thieves and rapers because they haven’t fathered and mothered their kids and have given their God given rights to the government and local schools.

Church, if we’re going to change the culture around us we have to get off our high horses and down on our faces before God and repent for the sins of past generations, but especially for our own! We have surrendered our moral authority to the culture for so long that we no longer have a voice left to give. 

Here’s my two cents:

1 – We have to repent to God. Sincerely and fervently and we have to be desperate. We HAVE to realize that we’re the problem and have been for a while. We must, we must, we must repent. There are no other options than this one. We’ll never reach the poor and destitute, we’ll never reach the widows and orphans, we’ll never reach druggies and prostitutes if we don’t repent and realize that we’re no different. We aren’t better, we aren’t more holy, we aren’t more righteous, and we don’t have an advantage. We need Jesus and we haven’t gone after him!

2 – Once we’ve accomplished #1 which will be evident by a completely ruined and broken people we can move onto #2. We must repent to the culture for being arrogant, rude, self-righteous, bigots, hypocrites, judgmental, and most of all, not following our God and the words he gave us. We need to openly and honestly confront our culture with humility and brokenness letting them know that we’ve failed them by living for years without truly believing who we are and living without a savior ourselves. 

3 – After 1 and 2 we come to 3, which, if we’ve done 1 and 2 with sincerity in our hearts shouldn’t be too hard. We have to live this thing. We have to be the glorious church that Jesus called us to be. We have to live free from sin under the power of the glorious cross of Jesus. We have hold high His banner of truth, righteousness and justice. We have to walk as Jesus walked that we may do greater things than He did. We must. There is no other option.

If we are to see our culture truly change we have no other option but to be the church and be it now. That’s it.

How did Obama do it? Whether he knows it or not, he identified a need in our culture that is paramount to humanity. Sin. Sin has come in and corrupted our society and that was the message that he preached. 

Christians, we missed it and we missed it big. We’ve been so concerned with our rights or ‘their’ sin that we forgot to look in the mirror in the mornings and see the sad and terrible thing that we’ve become. Are we the hope of the world? Are we the bride of Christ? Are we making a difference?

I want to be all of these things, but, if I’m going to be, I have to change and I suspect I’m not the only one.

Clayton Bell just layed it down in a blog that I think every Christian needs to read. 

In my opinion it’s the best blog I’ve read in this political season. Challenging.

Read his letter to Christians post election.

I know, I’m blowing up the blogosphere today…

This one was just too amazing to actually pass up.

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