Tag Archives: support

Loving God’s People (When Killing them Would be Easier)

Tuesday Re-mix –

So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.  But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”  Exodus 32:31-32

Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.  Numbers 14:38

Thinking today about the twelve spies in Numbers who explored and investigated the promised land and reported back to the people.  Ten of the spies brought a discouraging report and two (Joshua and Caleb) brought a faith-filled report.  The people went with the majority report and cowered from the task to which God had called them.  All of them were cursed and sent to wander in the wilderness another forty years.  Caleb and Joshua had to go with them.

I’m wondering if Joshua and Caleb had a regular Tuesday night support group for each other during those forty years of living under the consequences of everyone else’s mistakes. Can you even imagine the frustration…the pain of giving up forty of their best years to pay the price for other people’s sin? Can you imagine the temptation of gathering the entire assembly of Israel together on the annual anniversary of their collective cowardice and, together, Joshua and Caleb yelling out “We told you so!”  But as far as we know, they did no such thing.  As far as we know, Joshua and Caleb bit their tongues and continued to lead well throughout those forty years in the wilderness.  That is what leadership sometimes calls us to do in the church…to suffer the consequences of other people’s mistakes.

But not only is it a call to suffer consequences, it is a call …

…So That We Can Comfort Those in Trouble

Tuesday Re-mix –

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we carry this message to other addicts and practice these principles in all our affairs.

[I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.]

There’s a story we tell in the support group ministry I help lead:

A guy is stuck in the bottom of a hole, with no hope of getting out on his own.  The hole is just too deep.  A businessman walks by and looks down in the hole.  From the bottom, the guy yells, “Can you help me out?  I’m stuck down here.”  The businessman reaches into his pocket and finds a couple of dollar bills and drops them down into the hole and walks off.  The guy in the hole just looks up, bewildered.  Then a minister walks by and looks down into the hole.  From the bottom, the guy yells up, “Can you help me?  I’m stuck!”  The minister yells back, “I’ll pray for you!” and walks off.  The guy in the hole is quickly losing hope.  Then another man walks up and looks down into the hole.  Growing desperate now, the guy in the hole yells up, “Please!  Don’t leave!  I’m stuck and need help.”  Upon hearing this, the guy up top puts down his things and jumps …

The Problem with “Letting Go and Letting God”

Tuesday Re-mix –

Step 3: We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

[I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.]

Applying step 3 to our particular addiction (the addiction to self-reliance), feels a little bit like comedian Steve Martin’s simple process for becoming a millionaire…Step 1: go and get a million dollars.

For those of us who are addicted to self-reliance and independence, “turning your life over to God” has always been a bit of a troublesome concept.  Oh, it’s easy enough to say…and it was easy enough to do when we were 7 years old at children’s camp and our “life” consisted of  a bike, a broken G.I. Joe and an annoying little brother, all of which we would gladly “turn over to God” in exchange for Heaven.  Moreover, even the concept of turning our “will” over to God seemed like a small price to pay at the time, given the reward of spending eternity in Heaven with all the donuts and sports we could ever want (what? you didn’t get that promise in your package?).

But it didn’t take long to start growing up and watching our “stuff” and our wills expand to cover a great deal more territory.  Then, the desire for the applause of men and the insecurities which were beginning to haunt us caused us to turn more and more inward and to take more short-cuts and to work harder to control the environment around us in order to survive.  The more we strove to control our environment, the harder it became and the deeper …

When I Am the Rich Young Ruler

Tuesday Re-mix –

Step 1: We admit we are powerless over our addiction and that our lives have become unmanageable.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”   When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  Luke 18:22-25

I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.

You want to know another reason why it is so difficult for me to admit that I am powerless over my addiction to self-reliance and that my life has become unmanageable because of it?  It is because I am an American Christian…in other words, I am the “rich young ruler” to whom Jesus says, “give it all up and just rely on me, then we can talk.”

We, the church in America, are SERIOUSLY wealthy, not only in material things but in human resources, giftedness, skills, abilities, ingenuity, innovation, strategic thinking, and in almost everything else one might imagine to be helpful in building any organization.  Moreover, we have virtually all the freedom in the world to build our churches and to thrive, free from government interference or persecution.  We have entire libraries full of books written by our pastors.  We can flip to any of hundreds of …

Leading Without a Net

Tuesday Re-mix –

The only people who should work without a net are people who have something to prove about themselves.  Honestly, but for the entertainment value, I cannot think of any good reason to do it.  Nonetheless, as I consult with churches and their leaders, I encounter leader after leader working without the safety net of an accountability group.  In most cases these are bright, well-meaning ministers with lots of good things going for them.  But they will fall at some point (we all do) and that deafening silence they experience just before the sharp pain of rock bottom will be the complete absence of any support structure in their ministry life…and it will be their own fault, because they never pulled any accountability around them.

More times than not, the reason we don’t subject ourselves to accountability is that we do not like being questioned.  This is perhaps even more true when we are following a calling God has placed on our lives.  In that case, depending on how comfortable we are in our own skin, we are capable of interpreting every question as opposition (rather than as a helpful thing).  And we all know that, when we are doing God’s work, we must either ignore the opposition or steamroll right over it.  There are no other options, right?

“I’m not accountable to anybody but God.” Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard this come out of the mouths of more than one pastor.  It is silly enough that any of us would think these words to ourselves, but to actually say them out loud demonstrates an entirely new level of both arrogance and ignorance.  It is arrogant because it implies that I, as pastor, am wired differently than everyone else–that I am NOT wired for community like …