Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Faith that works!

We typically like to blog about leadership ideas we're learning and how they're lived out in a church context.  But today, we want to share a spiritual insight we're processing.

I (Dan) think my approach to walking and living by faith has been incomplete or slightly skewed.  Some define faith as simply being a believer or doing things from the basis of one's beliefs .  Like, "A person of faith" or a "faith-based initiative."  I've personally approached faith as a tool that God has designed for me to use to receive things from Him or to accomplish the impossible. for salvation, healing, provision, or a miracle.  If I can just build my faith enough, I'll finally get what God promised.  Not necessarily wrong, just possibly incomplete.

What if faith is more than some tool or spiritual gift, that if we can just figure out how to use, we'll be able to get anything we want?  Like rubbing the Genie's lamp, and poof...unlimited wishes granted.

What if our approach to faith is off?  What if there's a better way that changes everything?  

I saw something while I was SOAPing recently that shifted my thinking and approach to faith that I think will be helpful to you, too.

Romans 4:3 NKJV "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
Romans 4:9 NKJV "Faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness."
Romans 8:15-17 NKJV "You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba Father' (Daddy God).  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ."

A Couple Thoughts...
1. It was faith that established Abraham's relationship with God.
Yes, faith made it possible for Abraham to receive the promise of a son at 100 years old, but that was after he was considered righteous.  Righteous = right standing with God.  Meaning, Abraham received the promise because God considered him a son.  And, because Abraham knew he was God's son, he was able to trust that God would come through on His promise.

? Are you striving for the promise or the for the One who promised?

2.  Reminding me that God is my loving Father is the Holy Spirit's job.
If I'm listening to the Holy Spirit, I will hear His encouraging whispers confirming my position in God and Christ.  The Apostle Paul says we need to see God as a loving daddy, not a tired and angry disciplinarian.  And, Jesus as a protective big brother, not a bullying prankster.

* You're not hearing the Holy Spirit accurately if you see God as withholding and against you.

? Do you trust God to come through on His promises like a loving daddy?
? Could this be where you need to build up your faith more?

I'm going to develop my faith to live more from my position as the son of a loving daddy, Who just happens to be the Creator of the universe.


Monday, July 7, 2014

This is going to hurt...

I was asked a couple weeks ago to encourage some young leaders concerning how to handle correction.  Here's what I shared.

We need to increase our pain threshold.  We think if it hurts, its bad.  We think if it hurts, we have permission to quit and leave.  We'd never make it on Jesus' staff or team.

One time, "Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, 'Get behind Me, Satan!'" (Mark 8:33)  Imagine how you would respond if your pastor or leader brought it to your attention that you might be listening to the devil?

Then, in John 21:17, Peter was hurt that Jesus asked him the same question 3 times.  I find it interesting that Jesus didn't stop at Peter's quick, surface, off the cuff response.  Jesus followed up on Peter and pressed in until it hurt.  Jesus asked questions that were annoying and off-putting to Peter.

A Couple Thoughts...
1. Growth comes in the pain.

We'll only grow to the level of the pain we're willing to endure.  A leader must press into the pain and have necessary hard conversations with team members.  A subordinate must be ready and willing to receive those hard conversations.  Don't run from it, run to it.

Proverbs 27:5 says, "Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed."
If we love them, and want them to grow, we'll hold them accountable, and lovingly correct.

2. Those hungry to grow take correction as sweet.

"A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet." (Proverbs 27:7 NKJV)

To those who are satisfied, thinking they're doing a great job and are settled into their role as a leader, even the good things they experience are like trying to eat "just one more bite" at the buffet.  But for those who are hungry for more, even correction (bitter thing) seems sweet, because they're desperate for growth.

Are you satisfied or hungry?
How do you respond to correction and accountability?