Your Choice: An Open Rebuke or a Hidden Love

An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Proverbs 27:5

I was talking to one friend recently who made a very pointed criticism of another mutual friend. It was obvious he has a sincere concern about our other friend, but instead of addressing it with him, he decided to mention it to me. Honestly I wondered how many other “friends” with whom he has had this same conversation. I simply told him I thought he should speak with our friend directly about his concerns.

This is such a difficult verse for some people…especially people pleasers…maybe even some pastors…because we are afraid to offend people, but the principle is that we must be willing to help those we love, even when it is uncomfortable.

Proverbs are principles. They aren’t promises from God as much as the are pieces of wisdom from God to help us live life better. The are commands as much as they are guidelines. You can live a very principled life and not be guaranteed success, but in the majority of circumstances, these principles work best. In this specific proverb, you are not guaranteed to be received well when you offer “an open rebuke”, but it is “better than hidden love”.  We shouldn’t be constantly looking for flaws in other people and we should look at our own faults first, but when a friend is obviously making bad choices in life that will eventually cause them or others harm, when everyone else is already talking about the issue with everyone except the friend, the loving thing to do is to offer correction.

I believe the principle behind this proverb is simply that if you love someone…truly care for others…then you should be willing to confront the issues you see in their life. Sometimes others can see things in us that we can’t see in ourselves. If a friend or loved one is making bad decisions, as awkward and uncomfortable as it may be, it’s better to bring it to their attention than to ignore it in the name of love. I hear people say, “I don’t want to offend them” or “It’s none of my business”, but the idea here is that if you love someone enough, you’ll be willing to help them realize where they are making mistakes.

Is this tough for you? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment here?

If you are the one who needs rebuking, would you rather hear it from a friend, a stranger, or not at all?

Now the harder question, who in your life needs your “open rebuke” more than they need your “hidden love”?

Help me out with this post by adding your thoughts.

A Special Message to Stressed Out Church Planters (and others)

Dear church planter (and others)…

In the growth phase, everything is changing, life moves at rocket pace…

Somedays you don’t know whether you are coming or going…

It’s a bit overwhelming, stressful, even a bit scary at times…

I hear this often from new church plants and fast growing churches…

I feel (and identify with) your pain…

I see part of my calling to help church leaders during this time…

I pray you protect your heart and your family…

But…

Let’s hope things never change…

Oh, don’t misunderstand, I hope you get better…

I hope you increase structure as needed…

I hope you can soon afford more staff…

I hope more volunteers are recruited…

I hope more people start financially contributing to the vision…

I hope you gain wisdom from others who have gone before you…

But I hope you never stop feeling somewhat overwhelmed…

I hope that the sense of facing the unknown never completely leaves you…

You see…

If you ever get to the point where you always know what to do next…

You’ve probably reached your threshold for growth…

You’ll no longer need to walk by faith…

You’ll soon become bored, perhaps even complacent…

And, that’s not the dream God called you to…

Growth and change is always uncomfortable, because it’s taking you into the unknown…

Dear church planter (and others), if the stress is from things going right…God is bringing new people…He’s stretching your leadership skills…He’s allowing you to encounter the messiness of extending love and grace to hurting people…He’s accomplishing His will through you…

Praise God…stay on your knees…and rejoice that He is displaying His glory!

Do you need to be reminded to enjoy the journey today?

 

3 Places to Find New Leaders

I was working with a church recently that is facing a growth barrier. They have experienced rapid growth and now the staff is stretched beyond what they can do. There are holes of responsibilities not being filled. My opinion…and they agree…is that they can’t continue growing unless something changes.

The “genius” suggestion I gave them is that they must rise up new leaders, empower them with authority, and spread the load of responsibility. The obvious question: Where do we find these people?

Great question!

I suggested they look for three types of people:

People who are currently “doing” who need to be leading. These are people who are consistently serving. They are the reliable ones you couldn’t do without. They have been given responsibility, but never been tapped for authority. Not all “doers” have the capability of being leaders, but many do if given the opportunity.

People serving in one area, who could lead in another area. These are people who are serving in the children’s ministry, for example, who could be leading in the parking ministry…or vice-versa. Many times people are serving in one area, because there is a need, but they could easily be stellar leaders in another area.

People leading outside the church. There are often people in the church who are tremendous leaders in the secular world, but they’ve never been given an opportunity to lead in the church.

People come to your church and see things working. They don’t know you need help, because everything appears to be working. There doesn’t seem to be a place for them. In my experience, you’ll have to ask the best leaders to join your team.

How do you find new leaders?  What would you add to my list?

4 Things I like and 4 Things I Don’t like about Facebook

Like many of you, I use my Facebook account every day. There are some things I like and some things I don’t like about this means of social media.

Let me share first what I like:

It’s the easiest and most used way my church connects with me.  I get 3 to 1 the number of emails from Facebook as I get from my church email address from people inside the church.

Facebook makes me appear real, which I am by the way. I probably use Twitter more, but I don’t put everything I Tweet on Facebook. (I know that surprises some…but I really don’t.) I put things that help people connect with me. Sometimes that’s serious, sometimes funny, sometimes even a bit weird, but who you see on Facebook really is who I am.

It makes us seem more of a community. We are a large church. Someone recently called us a “mega church”. I guess technically we are, but our intent is to feel otherwise. Facebook helps us connect throughout the week as a church.

I get to connect with new friends and reconnect with old friends. I have met so many people through Facebook.  I’ve also reconnected with dozens of friends from high school and college. It’s great to see their families and catch up with where life has taken them.

The top news feature is helpful. I really don’t have a ton of time to spend on Facebook.  I’ve tried to automate enough things and use Twitter features where it looks as if I’m online more. Having the top status updates shows me the ones people are talking about most recently and most frequently.

Now, here is what I don’t like:

Having to go to Facebook to reply to emails. I get emails on my phone at my regular email address, but I have to login to Facebook to answer them. This is an extra step that seems unnecessary for me.  I realize Facebook wants me to return frequently in hopes I’ll see an advertiser, but to respond to emails I only want to respond to emails…so that reasoning doesn’t work for me.

Facebook apps are unreliable. I’ve been told Facebook doesn’t even like apps, possibly for the reason I just mentioned…advertising, but I wish they would work on their application functions.  It’s the world in which we live.  My Facebook app crashes often. It doesn’t do certain things. It’s cumbersome. (Does anyone else agree?)

The number of “friends” I can have is limited. I know…I know…there is no way I can “know” all of them, but I am responsive and hate the idea of turning people away. I’m nearing the 5,000 mark soon and that means I have to consider changes. Uggh!

The mindless activity apps…such as Farmville and Give a Hug (or whatever it’s called). I’ve tried to block as many of those type things as I can from receiving them or posting on my wall, but I haven’t figured out how to stop them all together.  I realize some must enjoy them, but not me.

Facebook serves a strategic purpose in my line of work. I’m in the people business and Facebook gives me a great resource to connect with people. I have heard of churches limiting their staffs use of Facebook, Twitter and blogging during the work day, but in my opinion, those three, including Facebook ARE a part of my work day. It’s where a bulk of the people are.

What do you like or not like about Facebook?

Jesus Paid it All

There are some songs that stick with you forever. Music has a way of speaking to our hearts and minds in ways the purely spoken word can’t seem to penetrate. I’m so thankful God gave us the enjoyment of music.

Recently I was listening to Fernando Ortega sing “Jesus Paid it All”. Instantly, there was an equally powerful emotion. It was as if I’d never heard it before and as if I’d written the song. The truth, the comfort, the confirmation, and the joy of this song flooded my heart.

In case it’s been a while since you considered these words written by Elvina Hall (1822-1889) in 1865, spend a few minutes reading them now. Let the words sink deep into your heart and mind. It’s even okay if you sing them aloud…I don’t care.

I hear the Savior say
Thy strength indeed is small!
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

For nothing good have I
Where-by Thy grace to claim
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calvary’s Lamb

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete
Jesus died my soul to save
My lips shall still repeat

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

BTW, what’s your favorite hymn? Share it with me here.

God is Bigger

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6;16 NIV

God is bigger than any obstacle in your way today!

There, I have said my point for the this post.

Small children put great faith in their fathers (and mothers). When my youngest son was only a few years old, I remember hearing him brag to one of his friends about what I could do. I didn’t correct him, but he was far over-selling my abilities. He believed, however, that I was fully capable of handling all of his problems.(He’s since learned how limited I am!)

Jesus said we are to come to Him with the mind of a child. The good news here is that you can brag about the abilities of your Heavenly Father. He is God! What more needs to be said? He created the tallest mountain, the fluffiest cloud, the sweetest apple, the highest wave, the fastest horses…and He created you! He shaped the trunk of an elephant and painted the spots on a ladybug. He is the designer and orchestrator of everything in the Universe! He has more power in a single word, than a 10,000 armies have in all their armaments.

Let me ask you a very serious question today? Can He take care of your needs today? Is there anything for which you could use His help?

Call on Him, right now!

And, feel free to brag on your Daddy today! He’s bigger! He’s stronger!

He’s God! And He’s the best!

(Bonus to this post: Name one pare of God’s creation that causes you to gasp! Don’t be afraid to think small.)

How to Know When to Say No to Seemingly Good Things

Age and maturity has helped me improve at discerning what I can do and should do based on my strengths, weaknesses, passions and dreams.  It’s freeing when we become more certain in who God has wired us to be and who He has not.

Still, I’ve learned (through many different seasons) that there are often more opportunities than time in life…even God-honoring, seemingly good opportunities. Recently, I have had to say no to some great opportunities. These were things that I would have clearly thought had to be “God appointed”, but as much as they line with my strengths, passions, and dreams I have for my life, I said “no” to them.

How do you know when to say no to what looks like a good thing…perhaps initially even like a “God thing”?

Here are four things I look for in examining my heart before responding. I say no when:

The decision conflicts with the personal vision God has placed on my heart during this season of my life. I do not believe I’m called to a place as much as I’m called to a Person…through my relationship with Jesus Christ. There are seasons of life, however, where I know He has positioned me in a place “for such a time as this”.  I’m in that place now.

My heart doesn’t line up with this decision…I can get no “peace” about saying “yes”. This requires consistent prayer and wrestling with the decision, but the more I practice this discipline the more confident I become in sensing God’s specific will for my life.

When the calling of God on my life says no. This is the overall call on my life rather than a situational decision.  For example, I recently had an opportunity presented which would have taken me completely away from church planting, but I know that God has a call on my life to be involved in planting churches at some level.

When my personal strengths and interests don’t match the opportunity and I don’t sense an urgency from God. I have learned that situational or physical limitations aren’t a factor if God is in the mix. He can part waters if they are in the way, so I can do things outside of my strengths, but in my life God does seem to usually work within the experiences and gifting He has granted me. Why would He waste the investments He has made in me? Therefore, apart from a sense that God is challenging me in a direction outside my gifting, I can rest within the place where He has been preparing me.

Notice all of these have to do with the heart. Discerning the heart of the decision is critical and requires a consistent, close, seeking the heart of God relationship with the Father. I realize it’s much easier to write this post than to live this post, but hopefully this will help you as you too wrestle with the seemingly good, even sometimes seemingly God opportunities.

I wish I had used this paradigm earlier in life, because it would have saved me some heartache.

Do you need to think through this issue today?

What “good thing/s” do you need to say “no” to during this season of your life?

Make this post better.  Share your stories of wrestling through a decision that seemed like a good thing at the time.

For further thought, consider this post I wrote on 5 Ways to Help Determine if Your Plans are God’s Plans.

That Inner Nervous Energy…Some of Us Thrive On It

Do you know that nervous energy you get when you face the uncertainty of life?

You feel it when you assume a overwhelming risk…

It’s that emotion…that adrenaline rush…almost an inner fear…

Yet something inside prompts you to proceed in spite of the nervousness…

You feel it deep in your gut…

Ever felt it?

Well here’s the reality…

Some of us…as awkward, difficult, stressful, and even painful as it can be…

Live for that emotion…

You’ll find it in entrepreneurs…
You’ll find it in church planters…
You’ll find it among risk-takers…
You’ll find it in extreme sports enthusiasts…

I think the Apostle Paul must have had it…

It’s an inner drive to achieve, to accomplish, to pursue big dreams, conquer huge obstacles…

And achieve what others will not attempt…

I think it can be a God-given emotion…

It can be abused…

It must be used carefully…

But it shouldn’t be wasted…

Can anyone identify with that emotion I’m describing?

When’s the last time you felt that nervous energy?

(Share other examples of people who seem to enjoy this emotion.)

Silence Can Be Deadly

You’ve heard silence is golden…and that’s true…

…but sometimes silence can also be deadly…

Especially in a team environment…organizational structure…relationship setting…

When working on a project, implementing change, planning for the future…

Keep people updated with what you know…

Even if you don’t have all the answers…

When people don’t have information, they tend to invent their own scenarios…

Silence can fuel rumors…

Fear, tension, and frustrations rise…

Those invested often become discouraged…

Morale is injured and enthusiasm wanes…

All emotionally driven reactions fueled by the unknown…

People will be more patient if they receive adequate communication while they wait for the final details…

If you want to keep progress moving forward…

Break the silence and share information, as you know it…

Have you experienced the pain of silence in a team, organizational, or relationship setting?

Share your story to improve this post.

3 Things that Make a Christian Unhappy

Whenever I see people (or myself) in a pity-party because of the situations or circumstances around them, I’ve learned it’s often because of one of three things. I’m sure there are many other reasons, but these three tend to pop up the most:

Living by the law – The fact is that I see people put unbearable standards on themselves and when they don’t measure up to them, they feel defeated, like a failure, unworthy, or even unloved. The law sets us up for failure. The primary purpose of the law was to show us that we couldn’t live up to God’s standard on our own and point out for us why we needed a Savior. Living by the law keeps us from the freedom, joy and peace Christ died for us to have.

Not realizing truth - The truth is that “if the Son has set you free you are free indeed”. The truth is that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world”. The truth is He has numbered the hairs on my head. The truth is we live by faith, not by sight. The truth is He will never leave us or forsake us. The truth is “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive” what God has planned for His children. (And, so much more.) When we fail to realize the truths of God’s Word it keeps us from living in the freedom, joy and peace God intends for us to have.

Refusing to forgive – Every time I speak about forgiveness people rise up with stories of abuse, neglect, hurt and pain. There are some wounded people in the world. While I am sensitive to the injuries, I’m reminded that as forgiven people we are to be people who forgive. That is not granting people a license to injure us more, but it is freeing our hearts from the bondage of an unforgiving spirit. Whether we are angry at God, at others, or at ourselves, extending forgiveness frees us to live the peaceful, joyful, unbridled life God intended for His children. When we hold onto pain instead of forgiveness, we block the freedom, peace and joy a believer is designed to experience.

I believe that working through these three issues can help us live with freedom, joy and peace, and even live happily, all while residing in a very mixed up world.  I realize using a term such as “unhappy” creates immediate tension for some. You don’t have to be “happy” when life falls apart around you, you see friends or family suffering, or at the tragedies of the day. Those don’t have to make you happy, but for the believer, there is always a reason to work through those negative emotions that naturally come and remind ourselves of the state of freedom, joy and peace that God provides…in the midst of suffering. I don’t know about you…but when I do that process…it makes me very happy!

Which of these is keeping you from experiencing all God has for you?

(Feel free to debate with me the difference in joy and happiness on this post. While not the purpose of this post, I welcome the discussion.)