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Archive for February, 2011

Simple Beginnings

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

What would it be like if life were still simple? Isn’t that a question we all ask? Things would be different, no stress, no breaking sweats in mid day, no worrying about what is next. It would be easy. I think that might have been what it was like for the early church. When I read through the gospels and through the book of Acts, I feel as though Christ himself alongside with the early apostles were preparing us for something not necessarily big, but simple.

The early church didn’t make themselves so busy they could barely get a decent nights sleep, they organized their life around the church and made sure their priorities were straight. I feel as though we too easily fall into the trap of organizing our life around things that don’t last. We organize our lives around the kids basketball and volleyball games, we organize around the overtime we need to make the next round of bills.

The life that Jesus taught to His followers was a simple life. Put God first and his purposes to follow. The early church filled their schedule not with busy activities, but with opportunities to worship. They met together daily to break bread, fellowship, and worship. They spread the message of the gospel to others out of worship. They met met daily giving up of themselves and their possessions to glorify God with their whole being. They weren’t stressed about this, they did what they did becuase that was all they needed to do.

What would it be like if we could get back to that place of simplicity when all that mattered in our week was how we would worship God? If Jesus were to look at your calendar for this week, what would he say? Would he say that you are worshiping him or something else?

Take some time to think about the simple beginnings the church had and how every need was met. Wouldn’t it be nice if our every need was met?

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Toxicity in a Small Group

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, its not good. Every once in a while, groups will form or take on a member who is toxic to the group. To alleviate this problem, I recommend to new groups to start out in a 6 week test run. It’s an opportunity for you to get to know people, and learn whether or not you will be safe in a group. Safe is being in an environment where you will be challenged to grown spiritually and encouraged along in that path. It is a place where relationships can grow and you feel comfortable sharing about yourself.

What happens when a member slips by this filter and begins break the bond of peace in your group? It’s tragic when it happens, and none of us hope for it, but what do we do? Is it OK to kick someone out of a small group? Do we keep them and try to work out these issues? What is the solution? This is a very real scenario. Unfortunately its the elephant in the room that know one likes to talk about or rather is just afraid to bring up.

The reality of this type of situation is toxic to the group and the growth of the individuals in the group. You spend your precious time worrying about what this person will say and how they will react as opposed to investing in something good and real.

Let’s look at the possible solutions. What happens when this member stays apart of the group. More than likely, this person will become transient, both physically, emotionally and spiritually. There time in the room with others would be more about what they can disagree with or what kind of arguments they can begin about various topics, its the type of person who knows everything and their way is always right. To show that they are wrong could be world war 3, and everyone knows it too. So in light of this fact, they leave it alone and just let them be.

What happens when we kick them out? Let me preface this by saying “kicking out” sounds a little harsher than I mean it to say. A leader of a group has the great job of protecting the group. They pray over the group, pray for the individuals, and when toxicity enters, they need to be able to see it and stop it. How does one ask an individual to leave? Great question. This may be one of the hardest things you would have to do in a group setting.

First of all, we as Christ followers were called to love. Jesus himself says this is one of the most important commandments. If we are not loving, its going to be real hard to do anything else. When you lovingly ask someone to leave it can be difficult, but necessary. Mind you, this does not happen without a lot of prayer and guidance.

Every follower of Christ deserves a place where they can grow, where they can be challenged, where they can love and be loved. Normally the toxic member will not be experiencing any one of these. The conversation begins out of love saying, we want you to have somewhere you can be growing. Somewhere that you will love and loved freely. If this is not happening in the group, it is clear this person is in the wrong place.

The key ingredient here is that as a group you are growing together, you are growing toward Christ. Life change occurs in groups like these. Don’t let a toxic member hold you back from this. They need life change too, but when there are clear examples of adversity amongst the group members, there is a real issue.

Let me share with you how Christ handled those who brought adversity into a group. In John 13, Jesus loves on every one of His disciples. He gathers a cloth and water basin and washed the feet of each of them. Then in Matthew 26, we see the that Jesus calls out Judas on his betrayal. He calls out the one who is toxic to the group. In this case, the toxic member would betray and turn Christ over to His captors. In your situation, your toxic member maybe upset and just leave, but enabling someone to carry on unhealthy behavior in a group will not help them either.

I want to hear your thoughts on this. It’s a really tough subject to deal with, but I think a very important one to be discussed. Tell me what your thoughts are.

 

Free Marriage Resource

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment

What kind of animal are you? A Lion, An Otter, a Golden Retriever or maybe a Beaver? This was the question I was faced with when I first came across this personality test several years ago, I began learning a lot about myself and how I communicate with my spouse.

Dr. Gary Smalley, author of many marriage and parenting material like I Promise, From Anger to Intimacy and many more has provided this great resource to discover your “inner animal”. Whether its just you and your spouse or its for you LIFE group, check out this great resource.

The sooner we understand who we are, the sooner we can begin to relate better with our spouse.

A boxing match of Biblical proportion

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, my Sunday morning men’s group began reading through the book of Galatians. Honestly for as short as it is, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time with it. I typically will be drawn to the other Epistles.  As we opened up, I realized I was missing a real treasure.

I have never been too much of a boxing fan, but when I came across Galatians 2:11-21, I couldn’t help myself. Images started flashing in my mind…The Title Round. In the Blue corner, weighing in at 165lbs, hailing from Rome…Paul!!! In the Red corner, weighing in at 190lbs, hailing from the Province of Galilee…Peter!

Can you see it? Just look at the 12 rounds that they go through.  Verse 11 says, Paul opposed him face to face, because he was clearly wrong! It’s a grudge match! Paul was calling Peter out. He didn’t leave anything back. In verse 14 Paul asks, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”

Peter is feeling the heat. How will he last this beating? Paul continues in verse 15, almost mocking him, “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”

Can you believe that Peter is still trying to get away with teaching the law. Paul is outraged. He goes in for one final blow saying in verse 19, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…I do not set aside the grace of God, for is righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”

We have a clear winner. Paul has called out Peter. Paul takes the Title, clearly not for himself, but for Christ.

It’s passages like this that really do make me feel better about where the church is at today. It’s too easy to think that ministry is clean and everyone is happy and agreeable. This shows us it is clearly not. These two giant men of faith go head to head and battle. Not for themselves, but to show that Christ is Lord.

I think the most amazing thing about this is that they didn’t throw in the towel. They didn’t quit and decide this faith thing isn’t for them. It made them stronger and bolder. Both these men would be defined by their ministry, and would be remembered for a very long time for the impact they had on this world.