Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pastor Tim Ross - Are You Worth Following?

Now that I got that suffering stuff out (by the way, that is not the last post on suffering or brokenness. There is so much more to it, but that’s many other blogs.), I want to focus on some of the leadership stuff from RightNow ’09. Pastor Tim Ross, The Potter’s House, spoke a few times at the general sessions and I went to a couple of his break-out sessions. Pastor Ross had some great words from God about leadership. The first topic he spoke on focused on Philippians 3:17-19 and was titled, “Are You Worth Following?” Pastor Ross had so many important points; I’m just going to list them in a bullet format. Here’s the verse:

17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.

- Paul is a confident leader. He tells others to follow him (imitate him). He’s telling them that if they want to be like Christ, then do what he (Paul) does.

-- This begs the question: If you told people to follow you, would they get to Jesus or something else?

- Unfortunately, there are people in the church that call themselves leaders, but their actions don’t match what they’re saying.

- Paul was unarguably a great leader and man of Christ. But what about his past? His past was horrible. It was riddled with bad stuff, stuff that was specifically directed at persecuting Christ.

- So what made him a good leader? What was different about Paul? Paul was different because his past propelled him forward. It didn’t hold him down or back.

- Paul was very honest about his past, he hid nothing. This drew people to him because they knew he was genuine and they could relate to him (and vice versa).

- What does that mean for leaders in the church today? It means we need HOT leaders!

-- Leaders that are Honest – Open – Transparent.
-- The truth is, whatever you are hiding, your followers can handle it. They are not fragile and they won’t be surprised at you past.

- How can we, in good conscious, pick up the Bible and find weakness in any of those leaders, but not see ours?

- Leadership is a calling!

-- If you are not called to it, it will kill you.
-- If you are called to it, it will kill you (it will kill who you thought you were).

- Being a leader in the church means you have to be an ally of the cross. Paul was an ally of the cross regardless of his past. Paul allowed the cross to transform his life.

- Part of having a transformed life does NOT mean omitting that you have wounds.

- When your followers see that God used you in spite of your wounds that gives them hope that He can use them.

- It’s an upside down kingdom. People don’t want to follow someone that they think can’t relate to them. Your followers want to know you’re wounded too, so they know you can relate to them.

Pastor Ross led a great discussion. There is absolutely nothing I could even feebly attempt to add. I’ll leave it with this, God became a man and suffered and was wounded. He didn’t need to go through everything He did. He’s God, He could have done it anyway He wanted to. But He chose that way. He did it so we could know that He could relate to us. He did it out in the open, for all to see, so we could know that He understands what we go through. He did it so we would know that our King can relate to us and us to Him. What makes any church leader today different?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Suffering for Fellowship

This will probably be one of a couple postings prompted from the RightNow '09 conference at Irving Bible Church in Irving, TX. There were a bunch of great speakers, but I think the topic that resonated with me the most was Pastor Francis Chan speaking about suffering. The verse that was the focus of his discussion was 1 Peter 4:12, which reads:

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Peter said to expect suffering, so we should be surprised if you are not suffering. Knowing that suffering will come is important, but it’s also important to know that we have an enemy that desires us to quit. Satan will use your suffering as a means to frustrate you and get you off your game. Moses became frustrated and instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it, against what God commanded. This act of disobedience, birthed out of frustration, prevented him from entering the Promised Land. Pastor Chan made the point that we may not see the reward on earth, nor can we expect that. But the God of all Grace will restore you. You have to expect, accept and maybe like some of the suffering, knowing that it will be a little while, but God will restore you. Suffering and brokenness is the place God grows you (but that’s another post).

That growth comes from the fellowship you experience in suffering. Pastor Chan spoke about suffering as a means of fellowship with Christ. Shared suffering provides the most honest and intimate form of fellowship. He said consider what it would actually look like if you really, truly shared in Christ’s suffering. Imagine being chained to the same piece of wood, staring into the eyes of your Savior as the roman soldiers laid devastating blows to both of your backsides. There is not another moment that two people could be closer. In those moments, you look into your King’s eyes and know exactly what he is going through for you and you see the love, mercy and grace as He looks at you. That is fellowship; that is connection. In that moment, just briefly, you know God. You at the least know a little more than before. The point is, we are going to suffer and that’s a good thing. Without suffering, there is no comfort. Why would we experience the comforter (the Holy Spirit), when we’re comfortable? We don’t need Him then. God said He’ll be there in the Suffering. We should love Jesus so much that we can accept the suffering as a chance for fellowship with Him (this was probably one of my favorite quotes). When we’re able to do that, the suffering becomes ok, because we want to experience Jesus so much that the suffering isn’t important.

I think this lecture got to me the most because my view of suffering has changed quite drastically over the past year. No longer do I equate suffering with bad things outside of me happening TO me. Instead suffering has become this unexplainable feeling inside me that is almost a constant drawing to God. Of course there is physical suffering, but I’m talking about spiritual suffering, suffering of the heart. I always feel like there is more of God that I long for, that I am constantly aware that I am not good enough to approach Him yet He still invites me to Him (all I need is but to ask), and that no matter how much time I devote to Him, it’s not enough and He expects more from me. As scary and as hard as it sounds, I want to fellowship with my Messiah in that way.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Update - Kind of...

Wow has it been a long time since I've written anything. I've almost forgot what it was like. I've had a ridiculous amount of stuff happen since my last post. So there should be multiple posts in the few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Probably nothing any good, but I'm still still gonna write it.