Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Identity Statements

I'm 2 weeks into teaching through the sermon on the mount at Colossae.  We just covered Matthew 5:13-16 and walked through a few things that seemed to really stand out to people in these verses.  I know they did to me as well.  Here are a two very brief points I think changes the way we view this passage as well as ourselves:

  1. These are not commands.  We often think we need to try and be salt and light in the world.  But that's not what Jesus is saying here.
  2. This is an identity statement.  We don't need to try and be salt and light, because Jesus says his disciples ARE salt and light.  Jesus says, "You are salt..." and he says "You are the light..."

So, the question isn't whether or not we are these things.   The question is whether or not we are identifying ourselves as Jesus identifies us and living authentic to who he's made us to be.  It's an issue of identity.  How we identify ourselves will drive every aspect of our lives.  The truth is most of us don't view ourselves as being salt and light and so we don't live as that daily.  We identify ourselves in all sorts of other things and being salt and light is just something we think we should do because we are Christian.

If we viewed ourselves as Jesus identifies his disciples, our lives would look much different.  It would look much more like, well, salt and light.

So, here are 3 things I find helpful in embracing who we are:

  1. Recognize inauthenticity.  If we are not being salt and light, we need to repent and pray for God to give us the desire to be who He has made us to be.  We may even get very pointed in our prayers by saying something like, "God, make my desire to be who I am greater than my desire to be selfish."
  2. Digest scripture.  Scripture is God-breathed and is a means God uses to renew our minds.  If we desire to be who we are then we must be in scripture which constantly reminds of our identity and how to be authentic to that.
  3. Community.  To be who we are requires living among other disciples who are trying to figure all this stuff out.  We can't just show up on a Sunday morning and then go back to our life until Wednesday's small group - which we just go to and then go back to our life.  Our life must also be entangled outside of any organized circles with the lives of others who have are also salt and light.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Better Off Without Jesus Giveaway

Okay, just for fun I've decided to give away copies of my latest book, Better Off Without Jesus.  So, here's how it will work...

I will send out tweets that say, "RT for a chance to win a free copy of Better Off Without Jesus" and I will also be posting on Facebook, "Like for chance to win a free copy of Better Off Without Jesus."

I will give it a few hours and then my two oldest daughters will be choosing the winners - one for Facebook and one for Twitter.  To keep this fair (because my daughters will always pick a girl!) I will assign a number to each person that either RT's or Likes the post.  I will ask my girls to pick a number and if your number is picked, I will contact you for your address...and then I will mail you the book.

BUT here's the best part about it...whichever daughter picks your number will also write you a little note.  It's a way they feel a part of my ministry and a way that you can have a smile put on your face.

Sound good?

Keep your eyes out...I hope you win!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Note to Leaders: Expectations

My wife recently took my daughters to the Nutcracker play.  It’s become a tradition in our family...for the girls, that is.  They get dressed up, go out to dinner with some friends and then enjoy the play.  It’s something they really look forward to.

My wife was telling me about how much fun they had and then told me something my five year old daughter, Karis, said to her about a half-hour into the play.  It blew my mind.

Karis said, “Mommy, I have to go potty.  Can you pause it?”

What?  Pause the play?  Wow.  She had no idea if she was watching a screen or a play or live television.  She’s always been able to pause live television so, I guess, who could blame her.  This has been a luxury she didn’t know how to operate without in her life.  She expected to be able to pause it, go to the bathroom and not miss a beat.

This is cute for a five year old, but these changed expectations is a reality for all of us and especially younger generations.  I enjoy technology as a 38 year old man and in many ways my life can’t operate without it.  But technology didn’t shape my thinking the way it has younger generations.

I’ve found that technology has shaped college aged people in some ways that should drastically change how we approach relationship with them.  If we don’t take these to heart and adjust how we approach them, we’re in big big big big trouble.  Perhaps the biggest area we must take notice of is how technology has changed their expectations.

Sure, it’s changed their expectations with how fast they obtain information and technology has certainly made the world smaller.  But, in my opinion, the thing we really need to take notice of is how much they expect to have a voice into things.

Think about it.  They have never not had a voice.  They have always posted comments on blogs or articles when they had an opinion.  If they saw something that interested them, they write about it on their personal blog or post links on Facebook or post a video explaining their views.  They have always had a voice and therefore they expect to have a voice in just about everything.  And, truthfully, who can blame them?  It’s all they’ve known.  

It’s hard for older generations to grasp this idea as being appropriate, but it’s reality in our world today.  We must give younger people a voice in our ministries.  If we don’t, we will lose them.  We lose trust.  We are viewed as controlling.  We are seen as people stifling them.  So, here are 2 quick ideas of how to go about that:

  1. Cut off your toes.  What I mean by this is, make sure people know they’re not going to “step on your toes” by sharing their honest opinions.  Continue asking what people think about your ministry.  Let them know there are no sacred cows.  Ask them to tell you what they would do differently if they were you.  Ask them what they think you should be doing next.  Ask them to tell you what they think is not working.
  2. Open your ears.  The truth is the more we open our ears and listen to them, the more they ask for us to open our mouths to share our perspective.  If we want to have a voice in their lives, we must first listen to theirs.