We need leaders, not just followers

sheepThere’s been a bit of pushback in recent years to the concept of Christian leadership. Some have even gone so far as to deny that the church needs any leaders at all. That doesn’t fit with what I see in the Bible.

We do well to note that Jesus spent a lot more time talking about the characteristics of followers than he did of the characteristics of leaders. And what is said of leaders doesn’t sound much like what the world tends to think of in a leader.

But God has called certain Christians to tasks of leadership, specifically to the job of equipping the church for ministry. These people are to be respected and emulated. They are to be listened to. When they need correction, such correction should be done gently.

Christians need to learn to be good followers. And we need good leaders.

A few verses on leaders and leadership:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

(Matthew 20:25–28)


“Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers.”

(Acts 15:22)


“If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

(Romans 12:7–8)


“You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.”

(1 Corinthians 16:15–16)


“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:12–13)


“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

(Hebrews 13:7)


“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

(Hebrews 13:17)


Links To Go (February 4, 2015)

Slander in the Camp

Gossip and slander are different. The difference between gossip and slander, though, is that slander is much more intentional. Slander is out to ruin the person or drive their reputation into the ground. Listen to the way Paul situates slander in his catalogue of sins of speech in Ephesians 4:31-32. He clearly places slander in the anger family. Notice that it is driven by the opposite of forgiveness and reconciliation:


Damaged Goods

We, the majority non-virgins in the myopic purity conversations, feel like the dirty little secret, the not-as-goods, the easily judged example. In this clouded swirl of shame, our sexual choices are the barometer of our righteousness and worth. We can’t let any one know, so we keep it quiet, lest any one discover we were not virgins on some mythic wedding night. We don’t want to be the object of disgust or pity or gossip or judgement. And in the silence, our shame – and the lies of the enemy – grow.


Disciple-Making on Their Turf

However, in the twenty-first century, the rules of the game are changing drastically, and fast. Increasingly, if we are to find the lost and win them to everlasting joy in Jesus, we must go find them where they are and engage them with “not only the gospel of God but also our own selves” (1 Thess. 2:8). No longer is it enough to man the church, put out an inviting sign, and wait for the lost to come streaming in. We must go meet them on their turf, out there in the world, and minister there—making, maturing, and multiplying disciples.


World has not woken up to water crisis caused by climate change

Water scarcity could lead to conflict between communities and nations as the world is still not fully aware of the water crisis many countries face as a result of climate change, the head of the U.N. panel of climate scientists warned on Tuesday.


Texas boy suspended for saying he could make classmate ‘disappear’ with ‘Lord of the Rings’ sorcery

Tolkien lore led a Texas boy to suspension after he brought his “one ring” to school.
Kermit Elementary School officials called it a threat when the 9-year-old boy, Aiden Steward, in a playful act of make-believe, told a classmate he could make him disappear with a ring forged in fictional Middle Earth’s Mount Doom.


80 Monopoly sets made with real money inside

It’s been 80 years since Monopoly first made its way to France, and to celebrate, manufacturers are hiding 80 games with real money in a new printing of 30,000 sets. While 69 of the 80 will have five 10-euro notes and five 20-euro notes, and another 10 will have five real 20-euro notes, two 50-euro notes, and one 100-euro note, the jackpot game replaces every game note with the real thing—a windfall that totals $23,268.


Links To Go (February 3, 2015)

5 Lies American Culture Feeds Us Every Day

  1. You Can Be Anything You Want to Be.
  2. Your Actions Have No Bearing on Anybody Else.
  3. There is Only One Road You Can Take.
  4. Individualism is a Noble Pursuit.
  5. If You are not Busy, You are Lazy.

Slippery Words— Tolerance, Respect, Welcoming, Affirming, Freedom

My point in this discussion is threefold: 1) to point out how slippery some of the most used and cherished terms are in Western society; 2) to point out that no one modern Western value should be absolutized, rather it must be normed against the other values in the value system it is a part of; and 3) even on the basis of some kind of modern concept of respect and tolerance, satire can go too far and violate other modern values. Freedom of speech cannot be absolutized as the norm of all other norms.


I was an American sniper, and Chris Kyle’s war was not my war

The responsibility to make a picture that takes into account all of the political and social dynamics might not rest on any individual filmmaker. After all, it is just a movie. But that means the public should treat it like that, and educate themselves before jumping to a conclusion that the whole war was just like that. Especially if they support the democratic ideals that Chis Kyle, me and every veteran who put on a uniform swore an oath to defend with our lives.
If you really want to be a patriotic American, keep both eyes open and maintain 360 degrees of awareness. Don’t simply watch “American Sniper.” Read other sources, watch other films about the conflict. Talk to as many veterans as you can, get a full perspective on the war experience and the consequences. Ensure the perceived enemy in your vision is what it seems.


Christianity Is More Than Just Being a Good Person

What we really need to do is emulate Jesus. A faith in Christ surely requires love, peace and the fruits of the Spirit. But it also demands that we promote Christ’s existence with others through gracefully sharing our testimonies and being willing to intentionally communicate the love of God.


Some Thoughts for Those Who Are Considering Divorce

  1. Trust the Lord, don’t trust yourself. Relationships can cause hurt, and hurt people find it hard to think straight. God knows all, sees all, and works everything together for your good. Trust in the Lord and what He says in his Word.
  2. Realize that the answer to suffering is not always to move away from it. God sometimes calls us to follow Him by walking into or remaining under suffering.
  3. Contemplate that God is accomplishing a purpose in your sufferings.
  4. Wait on the Lord. Don’t act hastily. Keep doors open. Only close the doors that you are certain God says you should close.
  5. >Don’t just trust that God can change someone else’s heart. Trust that He can change and renew your heart. 
  6. Meditate on Scripture related to the issue of marriage, separation and divorce.

A Discredited Vaccine Study’s Continuing Impact on Public Health

Typically, the M.M.R. shot is given to infants at about 12 months and again at age 5 or 6. This doctor, Andrew Wakefield, wrote that his study of 12 children showed that the three vaccines taken together could alter immune systems, causing intestinal woes that then reach, and damage, the brain. In fairly short order, his findings were widely rejected as — not to put too fine a point on it — bunk. Dozens of epidemiological studies found no merit to his work, which was based on a tiny sample. The British Medical Journal went so far as to call his research “fraudulent.” The British journal Lancet, which originally published Dr. Wakefield’s paper, retracted it. The British medical authorities stripped him of his license.
Nonetheless, despite his being held in disgrace, the vaccine-autism link has continued to be accepted on faith by some.


Free American travel puts the burden of opening up on the Cuban government

Most of the Miami congressional delegation will dutifully object to the free-travel bill on grounds that most of the money Americans spend goes to state coffers. There’s no getting around that now and maybe not ever: Although there are small numbers of cuentapropistas — self-employed entrepreneurs — practically every business, facility, or attraction in Cuba is state-owned.
But the opponents of free travel are missing the larger picture — not only that a democratic government shouldn’t be in the business of prohibiting its citizens’ travel, but also that there are unquantifiable benefits to engagement.


Science vs. religion? There’s actually more of a three-way split

They’re more strongly religious than most “Traditionals” (43 percent of Americans), and more scientifically knowledgeable than “Moderns” (36 percent) who stand on science alone, according to two sociologists’ findings in a new study.
“We were surprised to find this pretty big group (21 percent) who are pretty knowledgeable and appreciative about science and technology but who are also very religious and who reject certain scientific theories,” said Timothy O’Brien, co-author of the research study, released Thursday (Jan. 29) in the American Sociological Review.
Put another way, there’s a sizable chunk of Americans out there who are both religious and scientifically minded but who break with both packs when faith and science collide.


And So We Meet, Again: Why The Workday Is So Filled With Meetings

The average American office worker spends more than nine hours of every week preparing for, or attending, project update meetings, according to the results of a survey released last week by the software firm Clarizen and Harris Poll. That’s up nearly 14 percent from the last survey four years ago.


Why your doctor always keeps you waiting

Who is at fault here? Is it Dr. Tardy? Is she too accommodating? Could she have ignored that “By the way, I have chest pain” comment at the end of the visit with Ms. Diabetes? Could she have ignored that financial hardship plea? Should she have ignored the urgent patient lab values or that abnormal EKG reading that could have potentially placed those patient lives in jeopardy?
Should she have allowed the suicidal patient to simply walk out of the clinic?
If not, then do we fault the current health care system model in the United States which underpays primary care doctors for each visit so that they are required to see more and more patients in a shorter amount of time? Do we blame the medical practice that requires 20-minute appointment slots for each patient in order to survive? Should they stop allowing patients to be 15 minutes late in order to maintain good business practices?


The Priesthood of All Believers

clergyI love 1 Peter 2:9-12. Lots of neat concepts there. One of the ones that has jumped out to many Protestants is Peter’s statement that we are a royal priesthood. The idea of “the priesthood of all believers” has been important in the last few centuries, especially among those who would see no difference between “clergy” and “laity.”

Here’s what’s bugging me. What Peter says in 1 Peter 2 had previously been said to the assembled nation of Israel at Mount Sinai:

“Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5–6)

Then, just a few chapters later, God establishes the Aaronic priesthood, the line of priests that began with Aaron and included his descendants.

So this concept of all of us being priests wasn’t new to Christianity. It was basic to Judaism. And… it didn’t preclude some being named priests to the exclusion of others.

How should we look at “priesthood”? Should there be a group of people called to special status (“clergy”) or are we all the same in Christ?

I’m offering questions today, not answers. What are your thoughts?

Links To Go (February 2, 2015)

Religious decline in America? The answer depends on your timeframe

The research methodology for both graphs was the same. What changed was periodization. Start the clock at 1945 instead of 1952, and the line changes dramatically. In fact, the whole narrative changes. A decline becomes a rise and fall, with the uptick at the beginning begging interpretation as much as the slide at the end.


15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret

  1. Dividing congregations along age and affinity lines.
  2. Eliminating choral expressions in worship.
  3. Worship leader ageism.
  4. Elevating music above Scripture, Prayer and the Lord’s Supper.
  5. Making worship and music exclusively synonymous.
  6. Trying to recreate worship with each new generation.
  7. Ignoring the Christian Calendar and adopting the Hallmark Calendar.
  8. Worshiping like inspiration stopped with the hymnal.
  9. Worshiping like inspiration started with modern worship songs.
  10. Not providing a venue for creatives to express their art as worship.
  11. Allowing songs about God to supersede the Word of God.
  12. Elevating gathered worship above dispersed worship.
  13. Setting aside traditionalism around the world but not across the aisle.
  14. Worshiping out of Nostalgia or Novelty.
  15. Worship services at the expense of worship service.

The Gospel in Three Directions

  • The gospel points UPWARD, redirecting our worship.
  • The gospel points BACKWARD, restoring our gratefulness.
  • The gospel points FORWARD, raising our expectations.
  • In contrast, religion points INWARD, toward our failures.

The Lie About Falling in Love

As much as I appreciate the romantic story described by the author of The New York Times post “To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This,” I think it’s terribly misleading, because it offers a formula for falling in love, without an accurate definition of what it really means to fall in love.
Love is so much more than chemistry exchanged between two people at a bar.
Love is deep. Love is commitment. Love is selfless. Love is costly. Love is life-giving. And ultimately, love is a choice. Because maybe anyone can “fall in love,” but more meaningful then that is when we choose to stay in love.


A Different Invitation to Baptism

But instead of traditionally asking people to respond by coming to the front pew before everyone present, I asked them to do something different. I encouraged them to go home, eat lunch, meditate on what we had studied, and pray about their decision to be baptized. I told them I would be at the church building at 2:00 p.m., the doors would be open, and I would be sitting on the front pew praying as I waited on anyone who wished to be baptized for the remission of their sins.


Eight Reasons Why Some Full-time Pastors and Staff Should Go Bivocational

  1. A secular or marketplace job will put you in the middle of culture on a regular basis.
  2. Full-time pastors and church staff often get missionally stale in their “holy huddles.”
  3. Smaller churches are increasingly unable to afford full-time pastors or staff.
  4. The digital world is offering more opportunities for flexible secular jobs than ever.
  5. More churches are moving toward multiple teaching/preaching pastors.
  6. More churches would like to expand staff, but don’t have the resources to do so.
  7. A bivocational pastor or church staff can have greater freedom than a person in a full-time role.
  8. A bivocational pastor or staff person has transferrable skills.

Scrambled Fighters: The American Jets Sent Off to Fight World War III

Unfortunately, things went wrong. At Volk Field in Wisconsin, something was amiss with the alarm wiring. The alarm that sounded wasn’t the one signaling a possible saboteur. Instead, it was the one telling nuclear-armed jet fighters to take to the skies. This wasn’t a drill, either—the policies at the time did not allow for such practice runs when on such high alert, as to avoid ambiguity. As far as Volk Field’s personnel believed, World War III had begun. To make matters worse, because of the activity in Cuba, the military had sent nuclear bombers into patrol, some near Volk Field. Had the interceptors ever taken flight, there’s a good chance the American fighters would have shot down their own nuke-laden bombers— and above U.S. soil.


‘What we get from a good night’s hustle': Texas crooks film themselves and video goes to victim’s iCloud account

“My friends car got broken into earlier this week,” the YouTube poster wrote. “But the thieves ended up going to Burger King and took selfies of themselves not understanding how the Cloud works. After I posted the photos on reddit someone who went to high school linked me to ‘Dorian’s’ Facebook where he had posted this video to his timeline on January 8th. We alerted the investigators and also decided to save this video in case something ‘happen’ to the one on Facebook.”