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Posts tagged with: Holy Spirit

A follower of Jesus’s job description

 

Maturity in Jesus is best described as a joyful friendship with Him.

I am mature in Jesus. It’s my  job to make others want to become mature in Jesus. It is my job to remain mature in Jesus.

I must never stop continually maturing in Jesus.

It’s my job to keep the attitude that I am not the owner of anything, and simply a faithful steward of all things owned by God.

It’s my job to look after the church family and be the standard for obeying Jesus’s teachings and commands.  I pray others will see my example and be inspired to replicate it. 

It’s my  job to keep my act together.  

It’s my job to keep my faith like a child’s.

It’s my job to keep finding new ways of looking at the world, getting in the world, and helping others of the world want to experience the remarkable forgiveness of Jesus.

Even if all my friends believe they’ve arrived and it’s time for someone else to sacrifice. Even if all my friends have quit and left me. I will keep my job, my focus, my determination. 

I must never settle.  I will never retire from the work of changing the populations of heaven and hell. 

There are so many who will be separated from Jesus for eternity if I choose to ignore the above standard.

This is my Job.  It is my choice.

I am a Follower of Jesus.


The METHODS must always change…the MESSAGE must never change!

When I read a great post and I can’t make it any better…I just post it and give credit due to who wrote it.  Way to go Hugh McLeod!  If you’d like to check out more of his stuff…gapingvoid.com 

I love to read his material and reclaim it for the local Church.  I am honored to get to be a part of leading the local Church everyday.  It is not easy.  I must remain a learner the rest of my life if I intend to be effective.

The post that Hugh McLeod wrote below is incredible truth for what the Church needs to understand, develop, and while at it, never grow weary of doing it…unapologetically!

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“We’ve all heard the saying, “business is change” a million times before. We all get it.

But do we, really?

It used to be, you’d fight like hell to get to the top of this one hill, and once you made it, you’d spend the rest of your career, enjoying the view from the top.

That worked fine, back when the world wasn’t changing every 18 months.

18 months!

That’s how long it now takes the old rules to no longer apply.

So you need to be ready. More importantly, your people need to be ready.

That’s what being a leader means now. Making sure they’re ready. Rock on.”

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Let’s go Church!  Our message is always Jesus; crucified, risen from the dead, and returning again.  Let’s obey Him, all the while flexing everything else, so we can help as many unforgiven people truly experience forgiveness from their creator!

Trent


Sheep, Sheep Dogs, Shepherds, and Wolves…What the Church can learn from 9/11

This writing is a modification of segments of Dave Grossman’s book titled, “On Killing.”

I hope my bringing attention to his book, helps him sell a few more.  If you’d like to buy his book, “On Killing” just click this link, or click the picture to the right.  Anything in “italicized quotes” below will be direct quotes from the book.

If you’d prefer to simply watch me preach this exact post…just click on this link. Advance the video to the 7 minute mark to get right to this material.

This post is meant for the Church, aka… followers of Jesus. Its a direct look at the roles that are played under the umbrella of christendom.

Its important to start by saying…Holiness never grows old. Holiness makes the heart, soul, mind, and strength of a human…Whole.  There is nothing quite like the created, living as the Creator intended.  To be a follower of Jesus sometimes means social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or, in many parts of the world, the ultimate sacrifice of a martyrs death.

With a quarter century of Church leadership in my rearview mirror…I have learned to identify 4 types of people in and outside of the church body.

Most of the people in christendom are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive people who mostly only hurt one another by accident.  What this means is that the vast majority of Church-goers are not inclined to hurt one another.  I suppose, if you’ve listened to enough stories, one might think that Churches are full of hypocrites, hucksters, and hurtful people.  Its simply not true.  Those stories are just more fun to tell, because our human-ness, oddly, is magnetically attentive to the gore stories.

The stories of christian hypocrisy would have us believe that we may well be in the most dysfunctional times of Church history, but the facts are… Church harm is still remarkably rare. This is because most christians are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. The title is fitting…sheep. I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. The Bible calls them sheep, too. Sheep, after all, are wonderful creatures.

The other spectrum beholds the wolves.  Wolves feed on the sheep mercilessly. There are evil people in the Church, and in the world, and they are capable of evil deeds. Lucifer is undoubtably the leader of wolves.  The moment you forget there are wolves or pretend they don’t affect you, you become a sheep.

 

In the middle of this riddle, there is also the shepherd.

Jesus, while on earth as a man, was the Great Shepherd.  There are some in the Church that are shepherds as well.  These shepherds are wonderful people.  The shepherd is a protector-gatherer.  The shepherd uses voice to protect and gather, shepherds are willing to lay down their life for the sheep.  The shepherd is absolutely a wonderful person.

Then there are sheepdogs.  The sheepdog lives to protect the flock of sheep from harm of any kind…especially from the wolf.

If you have no capacity for violence and are a healthy contributing Church goer, then you are remarkably a sheep or a shepherd.

If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for people, then you are an aggressive or even a passive aggressive sociopath, a wolf.

But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for those inside and outside the body of Christ? What are you then? You are a sheepdog.  Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal realm of human dread, stare the wolf in the eyes and not look away, and end up walking out with scars of glory as evidence of being a sheepdog…you probably even walk with a limp, and some sheep, confuse it to be a strut. It is no strut…it is a limp. The greatest sheepdogs walk with a limp.

The sheep, shepherd, and the wolves are always alert as to the sheepdog’s location. The shepherd needs the sheepdog and the sheepdog needs the Great Shepherd.

We know that the sheep live in an innocent form of denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to face, or for some sheep, acknowledge, that there is real evil in the world. They can accept the fact that sin causes problems, which is why they want recovery groups for those people, youth Groups to save their kids, and secure Church buildings to gather as the flock, so they can be fed by a good shepherd.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. A sheepdog looks kinda like a wolf. The sheepdog has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not, and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The Church cannot work any other way and it is clear in 1 Corinthians 5.  It can be very easy for a sheepdog to turn into a wolf.  This is why the sheepdog needs The Great Shepherd in close proximity as all times.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep and makes the shepherd nervous. The sheepdog is a constant reminder that there are wolves nearby. The sheep would prefer that the sheepdog didn’t tell them where to go, or warn them of impending dangers, here, or in eternity. The sheep would prefer the sheepdog didn’t direct them towards obedience to the commands of The Great Shepherd.  The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog grind down his fangs, purchase a sheep costume at the local Goodwill, zip himself up in it, and make sounds of, “Baa,” and fit into the flock a little more submissively.

Until the wolf shows up.

Then the entire mob of sheep tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The local shepherds, typically are impactful at feeding the sheep.  The sheep under ordinary circumstances stay in the middle of the pasture and do their job as sheep. They are good sheep that feed the hungry, cloth the naked, love the orphan and widow, pay what is necessary to do more of such.  In their sheep-ness, they don’t have the time of day for the sheepdog.  Until the wolf pack comes within sight. The sheepdog nearly gets dog piled by the sheep as they seek to be safe.  This is how the sheep and the shepherd act towards the sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Please understand…there is nothing superior about the sheepdog; it is just what someone chooses to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a carefully distant creature.  The sheepdog is always looking at the edge of the woods, the horizon, just over the hill, out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, looking into the dark, staying on the edges, and always prepared for a righteous battle.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, they don’t plan for it, talk about it, or even like to think about it.  The sheepdog knows the wolf is close and has been prepared for an attack every since the day it decided to become a sheepdog. For a different perspective… “After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep and shepherds, that is, most citizens in America said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, said, “Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.”

Once you choose to become a sheepdog, you make a decision to truly invest yourself in all that a sheepdog is about.  You want to be there when the wolf shows up. You want to be able to make a difference.  After all, eternity is at stake, and heaven and hell are in the balance.

I repeat…there is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, but it does have one real advantage. Only one. The sheepdog is never attacked by the wolf.  Wolves target victims by their body language. slumped walk, passive nature, lack of awareness to surroundings…Sheep.  Sheepdogs stand tall, head up, shoulders back, aware, keen, sharp, armored up like Ephesians 6:10-18 demands!  Truly living under the shield of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

On a side note…some might think they remember seeing a sheepdog getting attacked by a wolf.  Nope! If you think this, you just didn’t notice the wolf was actually just a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Oh yes, you heard that right.   Wolves don’t attack the sheepdog.  Only sheep who pretending to be a wolf are dumb enough to attack a sheepdog. However… There’s really no such thing as a sheep in wolf’s clothing…there’s only wolves.

Some people may be naturally lured to be sheep and others might be environmentally conditioned to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m encouraged to say that more and more followers of Jesus are choosing to become sheepdogs like the forefathers of the faith…the ones referenced in the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews chapter 11 of the Holy Bible.

“Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, “Let’s roll,” which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers – athletes, business people and parents. — from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.”

A critical point to make is this… “In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you choose to be a sheep, shepherd, sheepdog, or a wolf. It is a conscious, moral decision.” 

“If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to resist you and make you continually flee with your tail tucked between your legs, you will have no safety, no trust and you will eternally hunger for love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip, and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door…you are always preparing for that moment! 

And so the sheepdog must strive to confront denial in all aspects of life, and prepare themselves for the day when evil comes. If you are sheepdog who is immersed in the Double Edged Sword called the Holy Bible, and you, for even a short moment, forget, ignore, and reject your weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the wolf will not come today. In this spiritual world we live in, there is no down time when it comes to carrying your weapon with you.  Even when you rest, you must rest on, in, and with, the Word of God, within your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  If you disagree with me about this, all I ask of you is tip your head back and say this…

“Baa.”

This business of being a sheep, a shepherd, or a sheepdog is not a yes-no ultimatum. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice.

It is a matter of degrees, a pendulum swinging. On one end is the head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate sheepdog. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between.  For instance…Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial.

Followers of Jesus have recently taken a step up too.  When the US government became so bold as to redefine what marriage is and redefine what your biological sex is, it woke the Church.  It woke even some sleeping sheepdogs.

These shifts in time caused the sheep to take a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their sheepdog warriors, and the sheepdogs started taking their job more seriously. The direction to which you swing in this pendulum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will thrive, spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, in your marriage, your parenting, and your finances.

What is it for you? It is your choice.

Sheep

Shepherd

Sheepdog

Wolf.

It is a choice with huge ramifications. Choose wisely…I remind us all….our choice on this influences the populations of heaven and hell for eternity.


Leadership as a Spiritual Gift — vs — Leadership as a Verb

EVERYBODY LEADS…

Leadership really seems to be a sensitive subject lately. I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere in the past decade, leadership and leaders have been under intense scrutiny.  There are many characteristics that come to mind when someone says the word, leader.  Is it just me, or in the past decade has something shifted in our culture that causes negative stereotypes to intrude our brains the instant we hear the word leader?

If you’d like to read a side post in regards to what are called the top 101 qualities of a leader, just click the picture below and enjoy

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 1.00.51 PM

My first sentence of this post simply states that everybody leads.  I think that most agree, leadership, in its truest definition, is simply influence.  So, in that sense, we all lead because we all influence something or someone.  With that, I want to bring about the fact that there is a difference between Leadership as a verb…which we all do, and Leadership as a Spiritual Gift, which has been given to some and not to others.  The Bible is clear about this in the letter to the Romans in chapter 12:3-8...

Many Gifts but One Body

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,
use it according to the standard of one’s[b] faith;
if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence;  (“Whoomp, there it is!”) 🙂 
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

I’m writing about this, because it has become personal to me.  By personal, I don’t mean in an offensive way, I mean in a way that has become personally obvious to me and has impacted me personally.  Since the merge of Parkway Christian Church with Christ’s Church of the Valley in 2011, I have been trying to get back into a Lead Pastor position with a local Church, anywhere in the USA, for the past 5 years and I have encountered a tragic phenomena.  I have encountered more than 30 different local churches across the country saying they are looking for their Church’s next leader/Lead Pastor to lead them into the next phases of their church life…and…as I have delved in with them, in regards to what they mean when they say LEADER, I have come to the conclusion that most really don’t want a leader, but a shepherd, or a manager, or worst case scenario, a hired hand that simply does what he is told…but in its spiritual definition…they actually do not want a leader.  They want a Leader as a Verb, but not a spiritually gifted leader.  The first is safe, the second is risky and dangerous.

Bill Hybels spoke up recently about leadership and the Church…here is a poster of what he said…

Now, please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying that people without the spiritual gift of leadership should not lead a church.  I am simply asking us all to consider the fact that a church lead by a Leader, gifted with the Romans 12:8 spiritual gift leadership, will be a very different church than one lead by a shepherd, Teacher, Evangelist, a manager, or any other gift mix.

It seems obvious that each gift type grows a different type of fruit, and, not always but most of the time, a different size of harvest. I think many people are afraid to talk about why some churches are smaller than others.  If I could miraculously remove political correctness, insecurities, all sensitivities, and simply speak with impersonal facts…then the answer of why some churches reach mega amounts of people in a very short time, and others stay under 200 for hundreds of years, are mostly simple.

Some answers are as simple as the population of the city the church is geographically located in.  Other answers are found in a lack of strategy.  Most answers, in my opinion, are simply found in the Leadership and how he/she is spiritually gifted.  (In this setting, it would be very easy to use the parable of the talents that Jesus teaches.  Have we considered whether or not that parable could have been titled, The parable of the spiritually gifted?”   If you have time for more reading…then read the parable here and transpose the word ‘talents‘ with ‘spiritual gifts‘ and see if it makes sense. (In fact…depending on the translation, some translations use the word servants instead of the word talents.)  Here is the passage… Matthew 25:14-30

A church that is lead by a group of Elders will have a certain kind and amount of results/harvest.

A church that is lead by a shepherding gifted leader is typically going to have a smaller, very loving, intimate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a manager-type gifted pastor will have a unique, often corporate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a group of 5-10 high financially giving members holding the power will have a specific end-result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a teaching-gifted pastor is going to have a specific result/harvest.

They are all different.  Better or worse?  That’s for the eye of the beholder and ultimately for God to decide.

One thing that is very clear…a Church that is lead by a Leader who has the Romans 12:8 gift of Leadership is very obvious. Like it, love it, or hate it, that fact cannot be denied.

I think the passage below from Proverbs sums it up pretty well…think about it.

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”  Proverbs 14:4

Our culture, for some safety reason, is afraid of strong leadership.  No doubt a strong leader will stir it up, break power controls, push us out of our comfort zones, and even sometimes make messes…but the fruit produced is tremendous.

Perry Noble said, “The size of the dream you have, is directly correlated with the amount of pain and suffering you are willing to endure.”  Solomon was right…the stable might get dirty, but wow…what a reward.

I know that we can agree that the Church is living in interesting times and facing difficult circumstances.  If Bill Hybels is right in his statement above, then there are some serious decisions that need to be made in The Church. If you are currently looking for a Lead Pastor, does your church have the courage to allow a leader, with the spiritual gift of leadership, lead you?  If so, get ready to begin an unforgettable adventure with a huge harvest of fruit on the way.


How do I know my name is written in The Book of Life?

There is this list.  This list hasn’t earned the superlative ranks we call Oscar’s, Santa’s, Schindler’s, Craig’s, America’s Most Wanted, or My Bucket…but the day will be upon us sooner or later where this list will be parallel to none.

In the Bible, specifically Luke 10:20, Jesus said to a group of His Disciples, “Rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.”  Specifically in the Book of Revelation chapter 3 verse 5, the list is mentioned again, “They who overcome will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase their name from the book of life, and I will confess their name before My Father and before His angels.”  

Book of Life

Every human being has been given a gift…our names have been written in THE Book of Life.  Every person that Jesus died for has their name written in this Book of Life.  What a gift! You didn’t earn having your name penciled in. You are not so outstanding that your name got written in, and other’s, who didn’t put in the work ethic like you, did not.

This is no human standard’s list.  No, this list has written on it every name that the Blood of Jesus was shed for.  This list contains every name that was ever knit together in a mother’s womb, plus Adam and Eve.  Every human, from the beginning of time, has their name written in this book. Jesus’s death, His obedience to the Father, secured your name being written on The List.  You weren’t asked, and you did not earn it. You aren’t capable of earning such an entry in The Book of Life.

But…

Be warned. Every name is written in pencil. Please note, in the Revelation passage above, the critical words, “overcome”, and  “not erase”.

To keep the free gift of having your name written in The Book of Life, the only thing required of you is to LOVE JESUS.  Jesus said, and it’s recorded in John 14:15, “If you love Me, obey Me.”

It’s a fair standard.  This standard is the exact same standard the Father requested of Jesus, as He was sent to become one of us, and live in obedience to the Father’s commands on earth.  Such a request to Jesus from the Father, killed Him.  He laid down His life.  He laid down His own desires. (Don’t forget Jesus asked the Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to find another way to pay for our sins.) God didn’t change his way, so… Jesus obeyed and laid down His own desires, to honor the Father’s desires.  Jesus, did all that was necessary to Love/Obey the Father, specifically this, “NOT MY WILL BE DONE, BUT YOUR’S”.

Jesus referred a lot to laying down your own life, picking up your cross, suffering for Him, etc. He earned the right to command such of us. Your life is not yours.  Your desires are not your God, Jesus is.

Keep your name written in the Book of Life.  Our life choices influence the great eraser mentioned in Revelation 3:5.

Speaking of lists…is the list below full of items that are worth doing so as to cause “The Great Eraser” to erase our name from The List?

Manipulation-Theft-Pride-Arrogance-Unforgiveness-Cheating-Dominance-Unfaithfulness-Disbelief-Disobedience-Apathy-Porn-Gluttony-Laziness…

My goodness…that list could go on for eternity. Did you read that list and think to yourself, “Impossible…My name is going to be erased…there is no way I can live my life free of those…”

First, let me challenge you with this.  Re-read that list again and ask yourself which ones on the list you HAVE to commit?  Which of the listed, or unlisted items, are you FORCED to do today or tomorrow, or the next?  Never forget the Bible verse that says, through Jesus, we can do all things. Never forget that those who confess Jesus as Lord of their lives, are titled OVERCOMERS, and CONQUERORS, and VICTORIOUS!

When Jesus said, “If you love me, obey me.”  Repenting and confessing your sins are things we do to obey Jesus.

My challenge is this…have your repented of your sins?  To repent doesn’t mean to simply say “sorry” like an apathetic child, who called his sister a bad name, and then was told by a parent to apologize.  No, to repent means to stop and go the opposite direction. 

The Bible says in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Receiving the Holy Spirit is what gives you the strength to witness your name NOT being ERASED from The Book of Life.  The Holy Spirit is what gives you the strength to be what I wrote above…overcomers, conquerors, and victorious ones.

Ultimately…you have a choice of what you want to be a slave to…Be a slave to the obedience/love of Jesus, not a slave to the sins of this world.  What sin is so fulfilling that if it ultimately means having your name erased from The Book of Life…you will say to yourself, “That was worth it!!”?

This post, should strike a little fear in our hearts and lives.  The Bible, written in Proverbs 9:10 says, “Fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.”  What do you need to repent and confess of? If you have been keeping secrets and living in sin…Get on your knees before God and stop the sin you are commiting, confess it all to Him, and work diligently the rest of your life to live a forgiven and free life!

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

It will be a very cool day, when you stand in line to meet The Creator of the Sun, Moon, and the Stars, receive a handshake and hug, watch The Book of Life be opened to where your name is written, and be told, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

There are two great eraser opportunities while our hearts still beat.

The first is to live our lives selfishly by ignoring the commands of Jesus, and thus erasing our names from the Book of Life.

The second and best opportunity is to dedicate our lives to the Teachings and Commands of Jesus, thus erasing the sins in our lives, through His blood sacrifice, so that we can be forgiven and remain in the Book of Life for all eternity.

If I can personally help you give your life to Jesus, please just ask in the comments section or email me and I’ll do all that I can to walk with you through such a life changing decision.


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