Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Names for a "Worship Center"

When it comes to thinking of names for a Worship Center, it sounds easier than it is.

Do you define it by purpose?  By historical coinage of terms, chapel, cathedral, etc, etc?  By denomination, like house of worship, house of prayer type names?  By region, just think Northeast versus mid-South?  Secular type names to appeal to anyone, such as auditorium?

Something that sounds so simple actually can have impact various ways.

A simple search yields some intriguing but not helpful ideas for your typical evangelical church:

For instance, some synonyms aren't the best:

And there's the connotation that the sanctuary is somehow more holy than other parts of a church or one's life outside of it, which is a dubious claim. The only thing that makes that so is that the Word of God is sung and preached in a sanctuary verbally and in hearts.  But if you consider the place, what does it mean to call it sanctified, aka sanctuary, what does that end up saying?  Does it convey what we want in a more evangelical world of churches?  We do not buy into any kind of innate holiness to it, and it is not the old Temple of Israel.  It's interesting.

Here are more ideas related to it connotation in today's culture, which give us pause mostly, though not everything in the definition:

Then there's a lot of clutter from outmoded religious terms from the past that people will not get today, such as at this architecture site:  http://www.kencollins.com/glossary/architecture.htm

Other names are simply off limits, because they imply cult stuff, like the name "hall" is a no go, since a very active false religious group uses that for their buildings in every decent village town and city of size.

Assemble is good, and very biblical as far as theology of the New Testament, and yet it would to the person on the street imply like a high school or football or work assembly, unfortunately.  It would take work to fill it with new meanings.

Maybe worship center is still the reigning champ then of names for where we assemble.

Thoughts welcome, God bless!

Worship Center/Sanctuary Size in Churches

What are your thoughts on this as a person attending or helping lead in your church?

http://thomrainer.com/2015/06/six-reasons-why-church-worship-centers-will-get-smaller/

My thoughts are that Thom is spot on.  He is exactly right that worship centers will get smaller over time.  Perhaps the biggest reasons are desire for multiple services and stewardship.  The desire for a more close feel among friends is also a strong contender.

God bless!

Friday, October 2, 2015

3 Things God Doesn't Call You or I To Believe...

When we are trying to follow Jesus sometimes a person will say something that sounds good, but is not God's will for us.  We go along because we feel they are spiritually mature, or out of peer pressure, or driven by fear.  But those are not reasons to do anything.

Consider a few examples of being misled as a Christian person:

1.) The statement "I prayed about it and got a feeling to do --fill in the blank--."  

While this sounds very spiritual, you do not see a single example of someone in the Bible making any decision, let alone a major decision, based on how they felt in a prayer.  This alone ought to eliminate this as a real contender, because there is no positive foundation to use it to decide anything.  Christians ought to be very skeptical of the human heart too, for God's Word declares boldly: 'the heart is deceitful above all things, and hopelessly sick.' (Jeremiah chapter 17)  King David speaking prophetically said that he was born with a sin tendency.  And Paul a major teacher and evangelist in the early church taught often that we all fall short of the glory of God and that we do what we do not want to do.  Any person then thinking a feeling in a prayer is God's will is reading WAY too much into it.  God gave us a mind to use.  The word spiritual actually means reasonable.  We need to decide based on the Bible, not how a prayer time or two felt this week or next week.

2.) The statement "God wants me to be happy, so he wouldn't deny me --fill in the blank--."

I've actually had people use this statement to justify relationships with unbelievers, to justify bitterness towards another, and to take something that is not theirs.  It's unfortunate that people make a 'god' in their image and declare that this 'god' approves of anything that makes them "happy."  Part of the problem is what is "happiness?"  You see, happiness in life comes from God's truth as you follow (not just claim to follow) the living Jesus by faith.  Happiness is fleeting or in fact an outright lie if it is counter God's truth.  Often this statement comes from biblical disinterest (on the part of person saying), resulting in ignorance of God's will as revealed and is combined with a passing passion (after a person, a thing, a philosophy, etc).  That's a dangerous intersection.  While not a big Pastor/Teacher John Piper fan, I do appreciate much of his emphasis in saying God does want us to be happy but true happiness comes he says when we find our greatest happiness in God.  In other words, the stuff of earth isn't going to give you happiness, or that elusive perfect relationships, or some set of friends.  At the end of the day, people will let you down if you hope in them, and stuff wears out, rusts or cracks in the sun til it's gone.  What's left then?  Now you see why that statement is misleading in people's decision process.

3.) The statement "God wants me to befriend everyone."

The biggest problem here is no one did that.  Jesus had many an issue with Pharisees and Sadducees.  Few were friends.  Large majorities disliked the Jesus they heard and saw.  He didn't compromise God's truth to befriend them.  But Jesus did reach out to people genuinely seeking God's will.  Ah, a big difference.  Paul likewise warns Christ followers against Alexander the Metal Worker who did great harm to him.  John cautions a church to not follow an angry vision hijacker person trying to takeover their church who claimed to be a 'Christian.'  So while we should try to be at peace or reach out to as many as we can, we should not believe that God wants us to befriend everyone to be a good Christ follower.  Beyond just the Scriptural example, there are many who are Narcissists and Predators who creep into churches and into your life in relationships that probably should not be your friend.  So really consider yourself set free from the false gospel of we must befriend everyone.

Blessings to you.

The Lord is Mighty in Wisdom

When you think about your work, your family situation, or your relationships, it is best to remember that God's truth makes one blessed.  Sometimes we forget this and imagine our life outside of church as a big "neutral" zone where we just operate by the world's advice.  But consider this, when Solomon assumed the throne of a kingship after his father David in Israel, he asked God for wisdom to lead.  And God heard the prayer.   One of the wisest people in history, due to God's blessing, Solomon lead a large and diverse (including parts of modern Syria, Jordan, Iraq) country.

Recorded in 1st Kings the country thrived and had security due to godly wisdom in action.

And yet God's wisdom extended to the practical.  He had a wise set of friends, who were in different roles, so there was balance.  These were also advisers with different backgrounds.  We read in the Bible that he had 12 directors over national provision who operated in turn, so that no area was exhausted.  We find that he had rotation teams in building the Temple in Jerusalem as well.  So often we forget that God's wisdom gives great peace, honor, and hope.

Here's God's plan for you:  Take a moment to ask God today to give you wisdom to do His will, not the worldly thing, in your life.  Pray he gives you godly wisdom and then act on it instead of what you might initially think to do (or feel to do).

Saturday, July 18, 2015

5 Things Pastors Should Never Say

If you've been in church for even a short time, there's a chance you've heard some of these.  Without further ado, 5 things pastors should never say:

1.) "As I start this sermon today, I have to apologize."  This isn't about a wrong done here, but rather:  when you get up to preach pastors people need a word from God, not an excuse on preparation being lacking.  Many pastors routinely apologize for not being prepared or for their getting nervous as the sermon starts.  If you have a short time to connect with the congregation to bring a Word from God, leave your self-doubt out, it's not about you pastors anyhow, but God's truth.  It is always a bad idea to start out saying things like this.  First of all, how you feel is totally irrelevant.  God's Word is powerful and it will work if you declare it honestly to people to help them.  So how you feel should not factor in.  Then there's this, speaking as an honest audience member tired of hearing the phrase from places I get to hear preaching (varied churches):  immediately about half the group either says get on with it or just bring it.  They won't want to sit through a pity party, of "well, I'm so sorry" too often before getting frustrated.  Focus instead on the glory of what Jesus has done for us pastor.

2.) "Bless your heart."  This has become a condescending comment to most people, but some pastors treat it like it's a way to build someone up spiritually.  This stock phrase needs to go out of stock.  It just conjures up the very reasons most Gen X and Millennials want to totally avoid church to hear the phrase.  When I hear it I feel like I've been transported back to the worst place of 1962.  That perception just isn't helpful to the church in the contemporary setting.

3.) "Style of worship doesn't matter."  Only someone trying to cover up the inadequacies of their current church as a pastor would really say this.  Would you tell someone who is from another continent to get with your style of worship because it doesn't matter?  It does matter.  Within the US there are also styles of worship music and service that connect better to a generation.  Isn't it odd when we are so into missional awareness of other cultures that we drop this idea entirely when thinking of worship music at home?  Only speaking personally, I've found people who deny worship style matters are most of the time (not all the time) trying to convince others their worship style is the best/only valid one.  Also, if you're interested in reaching people where they are, it does matter.

4.) "Give back to God of your finances whatever God leads you."  Now, if we are talking a free will offering for the poor (2 Cor. 9) then there is biblical precedent.  And if we are talking unbelievers in Jesus, then of course, why would we expect them to give to God's cause?  But:  if we are talking regular giving to God's kingdom in our time for Christ followers (note Jesus talks more about money than many things), then there is no verse supporting that 'whatever you feel' in the Bible.  So don't take a verse out of context from a special poor relief offering (equivalent to a world hunger day offering or etc today) in order to help justify people's greed in not giving back generously.  I think most pastors early on in ministry feel like they want to avoid being associated with negative stereotype pastors.  But as you mature as a pastor you begin to realize that how generous someone is back towards God tells you exactly where they are spiritually.  It's not about the size of the gift at all back to God's kingdom.  It's about the regular generous amount.  That takes coaching and being taught on to be more generous.  God pleasing giving doesn't come from a vacuum.  As an aside, and I've found it to be true, the least likely group to give generously are the well-paid at work church attenders.  This is according to statistics.  They might give 1% and it would look nice, but they don't have to sacrifice much to give 1% either.  Never assume either a gift's size reflects one's maturity in Jesus who gives it.  You cannot serve God and money applies not just to pastors from cynical skeptics, but also to God's people as a whole.

5.) "Everyone is welcome here."  If that's true, go ahead.  But is it?  Honestly, are you wanting someone under church discipline step III, who has refused again and again and again to repent (turn) from sin even before the congregation (Matthew 18, Jesus)?  Or, are you ignoring the biblical command to drive out the mocker (assuming this means one who will not change)?  And then answer this:  what about Alexander the Metalworker types (II Tim. 4)?  What about unrepentant slanderers who've been properly confronted but refused change?  Even this, what about the two guys at 24 Hour Fitness who are coming to church to seduce women to sleep with them in a one night stand at your singles group (Jude)?  So:  it is better to work on a culture where those pursuing God wherever they are are welcome, than one which refuses to discern who is there.  There are more creative phrases than everyone is welcome here to use pastor friends.

And for these, we would all be better off to see such phrases gone.  It'll make you a more effective communicator to abandon such phrases.  Grace and peace.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Is All Prayer the Same?

As National Day of Prayer approaches this week, we need to remember that not all prayer is godly.

That sounds obvious right?  But it isn't.  Even in legitimate churches full of mainly genuine Christ followers, prayer can be off course, not directed to God but our own selves accidentally.  Our sinful tendency can make us think we are praying and doing God's will.

What we really need is prayer rooted in a desire to see God's character in real life.

Two illustrations this week reminded me that God looks at the heart.  A heart that is right with God must be right with Jesus Christ His Son.  This is more than a one time profession of faith when you were eight years old as we so often portray it.  Yes, there is a time you come to know Jesus as your own Savior, realizing he forgave your sins, and you personally trust Him (John 10:1-18).  But we must fight inside our heart for holy character.  These illustrations are of people in two different situations.  One is of a person who is not a believer in Jesus, and another of some others who at least claim to be, and maybe are, but miss what prayer means.

1.) A man was praising God this week for finding some expensive lumber by a side road.  Only problem is the wood came out of my truck.  They saw this.  And I was turning around to get it, and he saw this, but then took the lumber and drove off trying to get away.  This man was clearly self-identifying with a certain religion from symbols he had on him.  But he was stealing from me, something prohibited in his religion.  A false religion cannot give someone a reason to do something for the right reason.  A person in a false religion may due to a conscience do the right thing.  But since our hearts are bent towards sin, all humanity except Jesus, is a slave to sin (Romans 3, Romans 6, Psalm 51).  So they will unless the Spirit restrains wickedness in them do what is wrong.  This man could be from any false religion and the case would be the same.  The main problem with a false religion, it denies the true God His place, and thus lacks power to really change in a person's life.

2.) Another man and his wife called me up to pick up a large item our church was giving away.  They kept talking about their love for God and what First Church they went to in the area.  They kept saying prayers, and thanking God for this large item they were picking up.  They told other people who wanted it they could not have it because they were first in line and proceeded to get the item.  You would think, man, if anyone is saved from their talk, it's these people, and surely they will keep their word to get the item and use it.  But then given a small bit of unsupervised time, they damaged the item trying to move it beyond repair, trashed the area right around it, and claimed they were all along still innocent.  I honestly felt embarrassed for God's kingdom that such people are out there praising Jesus loudly and offering up prayers and then doing what is wrong so flagrantly.  What kind of witness is that?  Ignore for a moment it was a church giving something away.  What if it were a Buddhist who did not know eternal life from Jesus, and these people show up and trash his property and don't deliver on their promise.  But hey they were offering up spiritual prayers, claiming to go to First Methodist or First Baptist.  This group lied several times about a couple things in the process.  They even claimed to give a donation to the church (not asked for at all), and there was no such thing left.  Now if you go to a supposedly wonderful, God honoring church, shouldn't you at least think about at least matching the righteousness of a Boy Scout and leaving things as good or better than you found them?  Should you at least attempt to keep your word, especially if you offer things no one asked for and then don't deliver.  No wonder Jesus was so frustrated with spiritual darkness in religious robes when he pointed out some people honored God with their lips but their hearts are far from God.  There are consequences to a sloppy witness.  Those people destroyed something someone else could have had through sloppy work and then after making a mess didn't even clean it up.

These are just two minor examples of how our hearts can be far from God.  We can either not know God personally or be walking in sin and need to wake up.  Prayer is a matter of a changed heart, not a perfect one, but one that is willing to do the right thing even if there was a mistake or sin.  So on National Day of Prayer, I imagine millions of prayers will go up in our country alone.  Some because it's that day, others just because.  But realize that God honors those who seek after His own heart, not just anyone who says they praise and pray to God.  "Father, teach us all who know you to both desire and to courageously seek a pure heart to honor your Great Name.  Teach those who do not know you who you are, how only Jesus could pay the debt of our sins and make us new people.  In Jesus' name, Amen."

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Importance of a Day Off

So often in our busy lives we neglect to take a day off.  We wear not taking a day off as a badge of pride.  Many of us or our friends work two or three jobs.  One of these might be a small business on the side, and nearly any small business takes additional time to manage and grow.

What then is the value in having a day off to rest?

First, the Lord commands it.  God created you, He knows you need rest.

Scripture says, before the Law of Moses, "on the seventh day God rested from all his work."  As shocking as it may sound, the example of taking a 7th day off to rest is in the first few chapters of the Bible as a pattern.  We're not stronger than God, so we should take it seriously.  Later, this was codified into the Law for Israel to use.  But the idea of a day of transcends the Law of Moses.

Scripture also relays to us, we look forward to a Sabbath rest, aka, a time of stopping.  Hebrews 4:9-10 hints at its value.  It's brought up because we should use it, the day off that is, and such a day off serves as a type of a future rest to talk of for Paul or Barnabas there.

Second, you need to catch up.  If you are always going, you are going to forget things.  It may be taking time for friends or family.  Your parents or good friends may never hear from you.  A day off gives your brain rest to figure out things you may have missed in other busy days.  You'll benefit.

Third, your physical body and mind need a routine break.  It's best not to do the same thing each day of the week, especially for your job.  There's wisdom in this.

Fourth, a day off is a time to worship.  You will be able to make special time to worship the Lord.  That is worth it as you walk as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Blessings to you!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Best Evangelical Seminaries

When it comes to a good choice for digging deeper to study there are many excellent choices in the US. If you feel called to full time ministry in its old sense, this will help. Not in any particular order, ones to go to:

1.) Dallas Theological Seminary.  Known for strong language and theology classes. International reputation. Great student services. Excellent profs, overall. Great alumni for chapel. Weaknesses are high cost, an overwhelming bias to only dispensational views, and less denominational connections for post grad job opportunities. Still would recommend.

2.) Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  Top notch scholars who influence entire evangelical world. Strong belief in Scripture's trustworthiness.  Lots of programs. In an area with need for new churches. Weaknesses though are limits of its smaller pool of connections around country in actual churches, very high cost, less well known than 15 years ago. Still would recommend.

3.) Criswell College/Seminary. It just seems like every up and coming evangelical professor teaches there, so the future connections you have are great. Large expansion plans in the works, including on campus housing. Well known chapel speakers. Weaknesses are smaller size, lots of administration changes, and less well known nationally than others.  Would tell a friend to go still, with promise of a good education at fair price.

4.) Southern Seminary. About half the faculty are top notch nationally.  Historic greatness. Al Mohler, need we say more? Ok, yes, fairly inexpensive.  And love for true Bible teaching.  Weaknesses are City of Louisville ( it threatens seminary on occasion, is anti Christian often) and there is an 'you're an insider or you're an outsider' system that rewards yes people, and an assumption that if you are traditional in music/dress you're just better.  Not all but some profs in apologetics department only tolerate certain types of apologetic methods or you're on their bad side indefinitely. Worthy choice for preaching and doctrine though overall would definitely recommend.

5.) Southwestern Seminary. Top notch evangelical figures also, a large open campus, lots of newer housing, missions focus, and students who actually serve in churches.  Students who actually serve in churches is a sign of spiritually mature men and women.  Good education at low price.  Solid counseling degrees. Great chapel speakers. Good library.  Weaknesses are a preference for traditional music to a high level, not every professor but many are died in wool one theological system on a pet doctrine. Still would definitely recommend for knowing how to actually do church.

6.) Gordon-Conwell. This is a school with a rich past and some great professors near retirement, however, it has taken a hard left in it's views in evangelical circles.  While it has alumni one might respect, serious Bible students would not attend there today.  There are just better choices.  One tact may be to go and try to sit under only certain professors, but your degree would set off alarms of doctrinal liberalism in evangelical circles.  It has high name recognition from the past, not present.  Current younger faculty are also not widely referenced.

7.) Golden Gate Seminary. A president whose actually done real pastoral work and church planting, and well known. Very international.  Lots of exciting changes with new campus.  People seem to just like everyone there. Formerly it was persecuted by City of San Fran, so they've moved. This is a wise choice for practicality.

8.) Midwestern Seminary.  Up and coming with lots of prime location and solid teachers.  Has Charles Spurgeons collection.  New chapel.  Pretty area. Good price.  President almost all can get along with, who does care. My only concern is kind of a colder feel from students, but that may be regional culture thing.

9.) Fuller. Historically famous. Name is widely known, but not favored.  Recently seems to lean too far toward Bible doubter professors and super wide ecumenical ties and charismatic bent in some classes. People in the know know this.  Not best choice.  Semi costly too.

10.) Masters. Well, if you're a John MacArthur type, it's all you. What more is there to say?  You may be able though to get a job upon graduating at a Bible or Baptist type church, so that's lots of real life options. 

11.) Denver Seminary. Less on the rise than 10 years ago. Known only in theology circles. Some different kinds of views among faculty, as in ... Different.....  Yeah that kind.  Near great ministries to work at though. Lots of room to church plant nearby in need. An ok choice only if you get right professors. This is really hard to do though.  Not sure could say it's best choice.

12.) RTS. I'm not an expert on it, I'll let you research, but it's noteworthy. Big names on staff.  Scripture minded, not theory. An up and comer nationally. Limits include small denomination affiliations.

13.) Westminster. Historical greatness, Machen, Van Til, Jay Adams, etc.=Major evangelical influence. However, it's expensive and tied to a Presbyterian reputation mainly. Also, recent controversy but I'm no expert on that.

14.) Southern Evangelical Seminary. Not to be confused with Southern Seminary. SES is big on Norm Geisler loyalists.  Had a pet doctrine it favored big time on salvation. New president though with serious credentials.  May be a new day. At least get the catalogue!

15.) Wheaton. History is rich. It's been of late ... falling out of favor for good reason unfortunately. It pains me to say that too.  But has big names on staff. Popular with northerners.  Somewhat pricey, but not as bad as some. Would not recommend at all since last year approved of staff living in open sins, refused to address biblically.  Off times at Wheaton, let's pray together it changes soon.

16.) Truett. Beautiful campus.  Support of a major university.  But: Don't go there. Bad choice theologically.  Teachings encouraged at school include open theism, denial of the word for word trustworthiness of the original Scriptures as God handed them down by many professors, and a penchant for whatever is the newest neo-liberal imagination.  In other words, you will simply gets lots of doctrinal error in most classes.  So why would someone who believes Scripture go there?  I would not personally recommend it to a friend of mine.  Plus when you get out, you are labeled as believing what most of their professors do, which means you probably will not get ministry opportunities you want.  Those are two powerful reasons against going.

17.) Western Seminary. So ... it's an interesting place. Has ups and downs on why to go or not. Has some well known alum. Good perhaps if on West coast.

18.) Southwestern Assembly. This is only for signs-wonders type charismatics, which isn't me. But if that's your thing, it's in DFW. There are lots of grad opportunities in the area.  Personally I'm not convinced of the signs and wonders movement.  To me it seems like a cultural thing within their churches, rather than a changes in covenant continuing thing from the New Testament.  But I have friends who disagree and I respect that.  So if you're into signs and wonders this is a popular choice.

19.) Covenant St Louis. Small but good.  Well known faculty.  Great preaching department.  Often associated with Presbyterians though.  So you might have job finding problems unless you are seeking a Presbyterian pulpit.  On flip side, Covenant is well known enough perhaps you could overcome this by explaining.  There are some great doctrines well covered in this school though.  Might recommend.

20.) Asbury Theological Seminary.  If you are Methodist this might be your thing.  The truth about most American Methodist seminaries are they are rotting spiritually.  This is not true of their churches.  But a UMC seminary more often than not is just a near exact replica of modern liberalism.  If some topic is hot with culture, a UMC seminary will run with it.  Unfortunately, the views popular in our culture also contradict the revealed Scripture we have throughout our Bible.  Only someone who thinks they are a heavy weight and God's Word is not all that important would seriously go to Asbury -- if they examined its background.  A better choice now if you are Methodist would be Dallas Theological Seminary or Gordon-Conwell.  I would not ever recommend Asbury to a friend out of concern for their spiritual well-being.

21.) Perkins in Dallas.  Perkins is much like Asbury, but less conservative.  I would not ever tell a friend to attend Perkins, out of concern for doctrinal error and a seeming endorsement there of belief in other religions as valid ways to God.  Clearly Jesus teaches He is the only way to God.  People in the know have seen Perkins moving away from Scripture for decades.  So it is operating as a standard practice with wrong teachings and approvals of certain things contradictory to God's Word.

22.) Liberty University Grad School / Seminary.  I'm not the best person to recommend this school or not.  It is worth your looking into its programs.  Obviously the school is large, but the seminary grad material I'm just not  certain on.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Food for thought

The 19th century famous preacher and pastor of London, Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said:  "If I wish to be a man of learning, I cannot get it simply by praying for it; I must study, even to the weariness of the flesh."

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Happy Wife

Tomorrow in worship @ The Lakes Church we will have a day exploring God's Word for women seeking to be married or who are married.  As we kick off a new series, Staying in Love, there are some great truths in this message.  One thing to share that is a minor point in the whole sermon, but could be expanded for your use is this:

Genesis 2:24 says this:  "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."

When a man and a woman marry they are one flesh.  This is not just a random point.  This word for "one" was used of the fact that God is one.  See the main tagline for Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Same word.  There is unity.  There is staying power.  Even in God's purpose and commitments, it is ongoing, so Israel should strive to stay faithful.  This is counter-cultural.

We know too from Paul later in the Bible that marriage is a picture of the gospel, as Jesus loves the church, his bride.  There is staying power.

We know that when God gives his word, it is irrevocable.  God's Word accomplishes His purposes effectively.  We are called not to add words to our "yes" or "no" for this reason, to reflect our Lord who keeps His Word, even when we speak our limited imperfect words.

Staying power for a wife, is a God thing, tied to residing in Christ (John 15) by faith.

Staying power also for a wife/future wife, is in seeing that her commitment is a lifetime.  Now there are times when one's spouse will not keep a commitment, but if you make a commitment, you keep it. Why?  It is a new life.  A life that is one.  There is to be unity sought, not just for convenience.  This challenges our time.  It speaks to all of us in Christ, to not see our life as ours, but as the Lord's and thus as a commitment that matters.

Reflect on God's unchanging nature as a believer and this habit/practice will empower you wives to stay committed for the long term.

Staying Power.

Blessings in Christ to you!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Five Reasons You Cannot Please Everyone

A Christian leadership book mentions an example worth following in life or work:  the author of that book and his leadership team long ago set down and wrote out their core calling (or mission) as an organization.

They try new things as long as they fit in that core competency of helping people with biblical principles through their business, but they never get involved in things that do not match that their specific call.  This makes it easy to say "no" to what may be good things for some to try, but not a good fit for them.

The fact is in your life and work, you too cannot please everyone.

You must work and live with integrity and hope and kindness and faith, but that does not mean living to be beat up by people who will cause you trouble if you try to work with them.

You have to work on and have a set calling, and pursue it with passion, which both attracts people to you and also repels some others (if their passion differs).

If some things can be tried that are new or suggestions that fit into your calling, try them incrementally.  If they do not fit, it's an easy "no."

Here's five reasons you cannot please everyone:

1.) No matter your business or your work, your call is to please (or glorify) God first (see Colgate or KFC founding).  You might be an accountant, small business owner, or homemaker, but your call is first to honor God, with integrity, excellence, and purity in what you do.  Many (not all) people just will not jive with that putting God first.  They are not committed to honoring God first.  In church life, as one example, pastors see this with someone who shows up to glorify their favorite Bible study author.  If you don't use their American Bible study idol, you're not going to please them.  For that person, it's all about a person (fill in blank author) besides The Person (God) who really matters as the heavy weight.  We also as pastors in churches often share with each other how some will say they just like this music style or that, so everyone has to love their style.  Some time ago at a meeting of business leaders I met two men who I respect and know from meetings like this.  Something a church posted somewhere included a style of worship they didn't like and they wanted to tell the token pastor at the business meeting.  They could not wrap around their minds how God could be worshiped unless it was their "style."  They said at first, churches should not make it about music style, ironically.  But as the mouth speaks out of the heart, they then turned around and verbally dogged on several styles out there for worship at large in the US which were not theirs as not real worship.  They actually said God could not be worshiped in those music styles, including a comment that such music was "soul-less."  Why would someone feel in a position to judge a whole worship style?  It's about their preferences above all else.  It's because God is not first for them.  Doesn't mean they are unbelievers, in fact at least one of those mentioned is very likely a Christ follower from all indicators.  Just means they put their preferences high enough (to an idolatry level; i.e. are devoted to it above what God might be doing in some other lives for Christ) to judge others on preferences as being not true worshipers of God.  Little do they reflect that even our old styles today were once considered new soul-less forms (this cycle repeats itself, in fact, one wonders when CCM will become the old school format, what decade that will turn over).  Upon further questions just to clarify, the two men said this was their view even if that other style was done with glory of God in mind on matters of integrity or excellence or worship.  The same happens in life and work elsewhere.  Be a God pleaser not a people pleaser.  Everything else falls into place.

2.) People are just different.  On a lesser scale, even if someone affirms the way others model or strategize or sing or mix concrete, they may have a lower level preference that is just different.  Something like this is no "idol" others cling to.  At a normal preference level (not a devoted to it as God's only will level) it's just different and the mature Christian has that humility about it (or a non-Christian or seeker whom the Holy Spirit is restraining a desire to make something everything like a preference).  It is ok, for example, to build steel piers for soil one way if you honestly think and have shown it works best for foundations near your soil types, and then someone else builds them differently in Florida's sandy soil.  If you tried to make piers for everyone, you would maybe run out of money or not have a good market share trying to be everywhere.  So specializing in a preference or what works locally may bother some.  So be it, people have varied callings.  To do well you must live your calling.

3.) Some are just set in their ways.  This is not in the historical sense, but in the life of a person sense today.  The set in ways person has perpetually done the same thing in shopping, business, and choices so long that they cannot have a vision -or- do not care to have a vision, to see things differently or do differently.  In ten thousands of churches, just as an example, the way they have done it for several decades is so set, that a person will be totally ostracized and ignored if they suggest even a vision of doing things slightly differently.  Sometimes it takes a near death experience for a church (not reaching anyone, declining) or a larger removal of its set in a way core group to get a church leadership (not just pastors, oftentimes stuck in ways churches are lay-committee led) direction change.  If someone will not keep reading, keep evaluating what are ways to do what they are called to do better, keep improving, there's not much to help them in trying to please them.  In business, there are businesses that are just managed, and have no real vision or mission.  They just exist as walking shells.  It will not be nimble because people in it are not motivated either.  Now true, a few very wise organizations change the way they do things (methods), while keeping their calling through a leadership that is willing to be coached or taught.  Still, some people, some organizations, and some businesses will refuse to see reality out of fear, selfish longings, or laziness.  This very reasons is largely why there is any need for a new company or a new organization (non profit or profit) to get a vision alive again.  Many lives, or organizations, simply exist, with no clear reason except they've always done things a way and just keep managing that old way today.

4.) Some people just do not intend others moral good.  They are essentially so evil in intent (even if they smile a lot) and so generally in life and also business deals, they do not intend others well.  We need not go into reasons, but jealousy, fear, and selfish ambition are big reasons some do not intend others good.  You know who these are if you think on it in your life.  They all act the same.  This situation could be their psychological state -or- an actual evil bent of their heart.  Both do exist.  Many, many people have mental and/or sin problems that make them guided by wrong attitudes in how they interact with others.  You just muddy the waters the Bible says if you give way to such a person with bad intent and go on with them in trying to please them.  I heard a small, almost medium-sized business owner remark that he tells his employees who are all about customer service to pass up on a client who from the beginning of their dealings blames his employees for a small thing, or mentions how they have given another company a hard time.  Oh how wisdom cries out from the city walls as the Proverbs say in the Scripture.  The same can go with 100 areas of life and work about such persons.  The same certainly goes for church just as one example.  When someone visits just because they had a "beef" with a previous church or pastor or church group, that's not someone you want to trust with any role or leadership whatsoever.  They can come worship and that might be ok.  But best to encourage them to find somewhere else to go, as you will otherwise just become their newest "target" and they will keep that cycle going.  Enabling them only makes the problems an evil-hearted person intends have more effect in a group or organization later down the road.  True repentance shows up in someone who is humble and kind.  If someone is saying crazy things or being hostile from the get go or tells you about how they just did that to your neighbor, it's best to not make any attempt to please them and move on and encourage them you're not a best fit.  Someone who genuinely talks like "everyone's wrong but me" is not worth getting into any contractual or obligation agreement with no matter where, just move on so you don't feel a need to appease them to not rock the boat.  If there was genuine change in them that's another story, but most often such people just use false change as a way to manipulate the next time.  So watch out in life.

5.) God's command is to love everyone, not to please everyone.  This one is about you not having a false expectation that you need to relate to everyone.  Now you can reach out to others in ways that are not appeasement but communication of your calling.  Consider a Scriptural example of the Apostle Paul, for instance.  Paul tried to become like others only to the extent that culture would help build a bridge to his calling ( to share the good news of Jesus Christ ).  Paul remained the same person, did not compromise his passion or call, and did not compromise the gospel message.  This is equivalent to today in your company translating your content/calling into forms that are not opposed to it.  Such as translating a book into another language, taking the core competency you have to another culture for business despite different ways of greeting or hours of need or in their kind of jokes in your ads.  It's ok to reach out to people for communication without fundamentally altering who you are.  It can be loving to reach out to others, in fact.  If you truly do something that is good and moral in life or work, bringing it to others is a good thing.  (Tom's Shoes one example One for One program).  That does not mean you become someone else in order to appease someone or some group.  This is perhaps the most radical point, in that today we are asked in many cultural settings to not just accept others, but to affirm their passion or beliefs or call is our belief or way too.  But their calling might differ, and it would hijack yours into uselessness.  That's not what it means to love someone else.  What if Tom's Shoes stopped helping give a pair of shoes to poor kids because their investors wanted another nickle off every dollar, and you have to please everyone.  They would be changed in a truly negative appeasement way.  Or maybe you are in education, but someone wants you to also be an accounting firm since that would please some people who carry some weight.  No, stick with your call.  The way to love others is to do what you do best, even if in other forms.  It is not to change your passion, purpose and calling.

God bless!

An encouragement to you

Billy Graham put it this way:  "Don't forget:  without fuel, a fire grows cold--and without the "fuel" of the Bible, prayer and Christian fellowship, our faith grows cold."  Wise words.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

God cares deeply for you...

As Christ followers who have faith that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Lord, that his death on the cross was in our place as a substitute for our just penalty for sins, we have entered a covenant with God.  It's not so much like Israel's covenant where they were setting it up.  Rather the New Covenant in Christ (Hebrews 8) hardly was something we had a big gathering and agreed to.  It was God's sovereign and prophesied plan coming to pass in Jesus' life, death, and raising again.

The thing is we sometimes operate in our Christian walks like we are dependent on stipulations to have God's love.  Of course, this is not true, because Jesus does not change.  His work does not change.  God the Father does not change in accepting the cross as sufficient to forgive any believer's sins.

So you come to a verse like Malachi 3:6 "For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed."

We should learn to rest in that truth Malachi the prophet relayed to you and me.

We should learn in 2015 to agree with the statement of the Westminster "divines [who] concluded, he is "infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.""

God loves you consistently through it all in 2015, and is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.

So in your current situations or doubts or tough times, or even just in plain old uncertainty of the future when things are going well, learn to rest in God's unchangeable character in that He loves those who have faith in Jesus Christ.

God bless you!