This just highlights the deeper root of sin doesn't it... not just how we act but who we are. That's what makes the Gospel so life changing... it doesn't just change how we act, it changes who we are!The essence of sin is not wanting things that are bad but rather wanting things too badly.— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) August 22, 2016
Remember 'Remember the Titans'?
Culture change is tough - but it is worth it!!! I was reminded of this as I watched the movie Remember the Titans. A coach dropped into a chaotic situation must bring culture change for the team to survive... but he doesn't just want it to survive he wants it to succeed, and to dominate. In a way we want our ministries to do likewise so what ideas for culture change can we take from Coach Boon?
Thinking about sacrifice
If Jesus is King, what does that mean for what we want to do with out lives? [Image by Chris Bellerophon Dotson on flickr]
Back to the Mission
Reminded again and again about what we are created for. We are created for worship! But because there are some people who do not worship, we have been given a mission... to go and show people they were created to worship! - photo on Flickr by llamatofu
Appeasement verses Satisfaction
Do we look to appease our emotions, troubles, discomforts with earthy things that may provide some release temporarily, or do we look to God who is the source of complete satisfaction? [Image by donald_palansky_photography on flickr]
Prayer = Dependence
Even in the confidence I have in my own abilities - I am learning that I still need to be dependent on God if the outcome is going to be worthwhile for the Kingdom. Prayer is the key consideration in this! ~photo credit: wiedmaier on flickr
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Monday, 15 August 2016
Round two came as a surprise then as the Bombers put it all together to beat Melbourne. As a fan (and club member) a ray of sunshine shone over 2016 - maybe the young guys could pull it together... was this 1993 again and the Baby Bombers doing the impossible?
No... no it wasn't.
Loss after depressing loss was to follow - in round 8 I sat in the members section at Etihad Stadium as North Melbourne walked the Bombers over the park for the first half of the game (the score at half time was 54-4). There was a comradery among us members sitting in the top row of the stadium... united in our support for a team that had no hope. But the second half was so much better, the Bombers played well, they pulled the margin all the way back to almost winning, only to lose by 14. It felt like a win though and I even got a hug from some guy I'd never met just in that moment of celebration.
The season is still a right off - we'll be the wooden spooners for sure, but even in the small victories, there must be celebration, it wouldn't be worth it if you didn't. Even back in round 8, we lost by 14 but the way the team played was a victory, and as fans we celebrated what we could - and it felt great!
Celebrating the victories is so important. Especially when the tide is against you, and you're not in a place to even compete most of the time - like my team in 2016 - then enjoying the wins (even if technically on the scoreboard it may not look like a win) is key to pushing through to a better tomorrow.
In so many cases of ministries in church we are hard up against the world... how can small youth groups compete with the entertainment industry of a consumeristic world? How can your average church music band compare against the music and pop culture pretty much everyone is influenced by? Simply the challenge of calling people to something uncommon creates an environment in our world today that makes the tide feel very much against us.
But celebrating any victory is vital - because there is an element for the Church that is not found in the sporting world, and that is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. The victory is Jesus' - it always has been and always will be - and He puts the playing field in our favour, no matter how hard pressed we feel.
And so to celebrate the wins is to give Jesus the glory for his victory - and that lifts us. Sometimes we are so focused on our planning, on the next event, or simply on continuing Gospel work that we don't stop to celebrate when Jesus works. We need to stop, sing the team song, praise the One who is actually at work, and enjoy the moment where we see His hand acting in victory.
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
What is the deepest root of your joy? What God gives to you? Or what God is to you?— John Piper (@JohnPiper) May 26, 2014
Another good reminder that it is Jesus, and who He is as Lord and God and Saviour that gives us the foundation for our faith.
Our salvation is not secured in what we do, what we have, or even the amount of faith we have. It is secured in who Jesus is.
Theology is important to our faith, because it gives us knowledge about who it is we worship, submit to and serve.
And that security allows the deepest roots of our joy to be pure.
Tuesday, 9 August 2016
Coach Boon (Denzel Washington) is placed in a pretty rough spot... in 1971 the desegregation of schools in a town in Virginia creates a boiling pot of emotion... someone high up has decided race is no longer a boundary (which we all know is the right thing), but it hasn't been realised in the practical workings of society yet where ignorance continues to feed horrid racism. And here is Boon, a black man, given the role of head coach over the school's new mixed football team.
The whole scenario is complete chaos. yet Boon approaches the whole situation with a clear vision of what the team will be - and a unwavering resolve on what he expects his football team to be. No matter black or white... no matter the chaos race and racism has created... his team will reach the goal he has set from the vision he has of what his team can be. But in the middle of the chaos what does he need to do? Lay down his standard. It's no longer black and white... it's defence and offence (I love that scene where he makes them get off the bus and reorganise themselves). He makes them bunk with someone from the other race and get to know their all their teammates, not just those they want to hang out with. What he does is put them in uncomfortable positions to break the current culture and set the tide for the new better culture (and what we know today as the proper and right culture).
The first part of the movie depicts really well how tough culture change is - how chaos turns into unrest as order is forced upon it. How some people can't take the pressure of that unrest and walk away - both boys on the team and even some of Coach's own staff decide that they can't change to fit the new culture... and Boon let's them go - even when he's hurt that they are going and doesn't want them too. Some of the boys need to be benched and rested - taught to support the team and not be in the spot light for their own glory. Some need to learn that they need to sacrifice for the good of others... All of them need to learn that there is authority and order in the world and are the better for learning to come under Coach's authority as it teaches them something about the real world too.
And when it clicks... when that new culture takes shape and Boon's vision for the team comes to fruition then they are a mighty force to behold, and produce the perfect season.
At different times in our ministries culture needs to change. I'm dealing with that at multiple different levels over different ministries at the moment, some of them just growing and changing and some of them sitting in a space of chaos that needs to find order and restitution. Not that our ministries reflect the aims and goals of football - but if we consider that we are on a mission, that Jesus set us to, about going into the world and making disciples of all nations, and all that entails, then we have a distinct goal to reach - and that creates a vision of what we see God has planned for our ministries.
So when the culture of the ministry doesn't fit the vision of what it could be, then it needs to change. And change only happens if the leader holds unswervingly to the vision of what it can be. They lay down the structure and standard of what is needed, and they take their team along with them, guiding them to catch that vision too. Like in the movie, this can cause unrest - order to chaos always does - and it can even mean some people who can't catch the vision moving on...
But when it clicks... when the vision is grabbed and it surges forward to work in the way it is meant to, then it's a great place to be, it's effective, and in our circumstance... it is when God will be most glorified.
Tuesday, 2 August 2016
In his book Brothers We are not Professionals, John Piper has reminded me that, as always, the change needs to start in me. As pastor and shepherd if I am not willing to break my surface and let people see my deep emotions and passions then how can I expect to see others'? Piper uses Jeremiah's lament over the fall of Jerusalem as a brilliant example of this.
Lamentations is a deeply emotional book. Jeremiah writes about what means most to him, and he writes in agony. He feels all the upheaval of Jerusalem in ruins. There is weeping (1:2), desolation (1:4), mockery (1:7), groaning (1:8), hunger (1:11), grief (2:11), and the horrid loss of compassion as mothers boil their own children to eat them (2:20; 4:10). If there ever was intensity and fervor int the expression of passion from the heart, this is it...
After reading Lamentations, we can no longer believe that unpondered prayers are more powerful or real or passionate or heartfelt or genuine or alive than prayers that are thoughtfully and earnestly (and painfully?) poured out through a carefully crafted form. The anger of formalism is real. Prayers and sermons that are read from a manuscript are usually stiff and unnatural and artificial. But the danger of spontaneity is also great. If the heart is without passion, it will produce lifeless, jargon-laden spontaneity. And if the heart is aflame, no form will quench it...
Emotions are like a river flowing out of one's heart. Form is like the riverbanks. Without them the river runs shallow and dissipates on the plain. But banks make the river run deep. Why else have humans for centuries reached for poetry when we have deep affections to express? The creation of a form happens because someone feels a passion. How ironic, then, that we often fault form when the real evil is a dry spring... Many pastors are not known for expressing deep emotions. This seems to me especially true in relation to the profoundest theological realities. This is not good, because we ought to experience the deepest emotions about the deepest things. And we ought to speak often, and publically, about what means most to us, in a way that shows its value.And so it's not just about spontaneous, in the moment, passionate reactions... it is about diligently forming my emotions, passions and feelings into my sermons and prayers. Actively planning to share my personal life and reactions publically as part of what God has said to me about what God is wanting to say to the church through the preaching of His Word. This creates an environment where people will expect me to go deeper when they ask for help, because I have been going deeper publically already.
~John Piper - Brothers we are not Professionals - p146-149
Monday, 1 August 2016
"When it comes to helping people, we often address the surface level of the problem but never get down to the..." pic.twitter.com/sKDkl10tCs— Crazy Love (@crazylove) July 27, 2016
Our culture today is happy with the surface level, well actually I don't think it is - people are longing for intimate and deep relationships that truly connect at a heart level, but we seemingly have lost the ability to do so, so we settle with the surface level.
But when there is hurt, when people seek help, there is an ache to get to the heart of the matter. I'm not entirely sure how, but we as the Church need to get better and peeling back the surface and really helping.
I think this is my next little project in my ministry, how do I get to the heart, and really help people who are crying out for it.
Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Check it out.
Pastoring Worship Leaders in a Multi-Campus Model