Tag Archives: testimony

Prayer Prompts for Unity Between Generations

And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel…And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. Judges 2:7, 10

If I were to even begin a list of the men and women who poured into me spiritually as a child and as a teenager and as a college student and as a young adult, I would probably inadvertently leave out more names than the hundred or so that I can remember! It is one of the many blessings of having grown up in the church. I was given many, many stories and opportunities to learn about the work of God in the generation(s) before mine. Those stories have no doubt colored my understanding of and thirst for unity among God’s people.

Unity is all about relationships. And relationships are all about communication. And few obstacles to meaningful communication can be more perplexing than the very different cultural frameworks developed within generations. But doesn’t a Biblical worldview impose upon us a responsibility to communicate well across generational lines, so that God’s story is told seamlessly across time and His people continue to grow in their faith?

So, as I study and contemplate the plight of the nation of Israel in Judges 2, and then begin to draw applications to my own life, I am prompted to pray this way…

Lord, show me your ways and your hand in my life today, and then help me tell those stories to the next generation. Bolster my testimony of when I have seen you……

The Best Laid Plans

Thursday Re-mix:

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  1 Corinthians 15:37-38

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—  1 Corinthians 15:51

TransformationI am no visionary.  I am the first to admit it.  I am envious of those who are visionaries.  I’m pretty quick to admit that as well.  I am impressed with the leader who says, “This is what we will look like in 5 years.”  I very much believe there are people like that…leaders who know exactly what they want to achieve and who know how to cast a laser-like vision to make sure their people make it happen.  So when that leader gets to that 5-year mark and is able to look back and say, “This is exactly where I said we would be in five years, and lo and behold, we did it…” I am impressed and awed.  And if it is a spiritual venture, like a church, I am a little bit sad.

I am sad because that picture seems to leave little room for God’s transforming activity.  You see, there may be some things about the God of the Bible which are predictable, but there is very little about His creative side which lends itself to even the best plans of men.  When God gets involved in something, huge, unpredictable transformations occur…things that are not a part of anyone’s strategic plan.  If we are planning correctly in the church, all we are really doing is structuring so as to enable the organization to respond quickly and efficiently …

God Uses Our Silence

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.”  Luke 22:66-70

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

silenceWatching Jesus verbally spar with the teachers of the law all through the gospels just makes it harder for us to understand how he could be essentially silent during those last two days before Pilate and Herod and the chief priests.  There were so many things he could have said…so many ways he could have embarrassed them!

Doesn’t it seem to you that he had some moral and spiritual obligation to have said more to them?  Do you wonder whether any of his followers accused him of being ashamed of the gospel, because he wouldn’t speak up when he could have…when he should have?  I mean, he KNEW the truth! Is it ever wrong to just speak the truth?  Isn’t this the truth that sets men free?  These are the questions rattling around in my head as I read the accounts of Jesus in Court before his crucifixion.  And, of course, I ask them satirically, because these are all the same arguments I think we, the church, …

Churches: Don’t Let Your Lawyers Write Your Testimony

Tuesday Re-mix –

One of my kids attended a week-long camp last summer which happens to have been held on the campus of a prominent Baptist university.  The university doesn’t sponsor the camp.  They just contract with the sponsoring organization which actually operates the camp.  The university’s only part in the endeavor is to provide the facilities.  So, as I was filling out the paperwork for the camp,  there was a release which the university required to be signed by every participant.  No surprise there.  As an attorney who  makes a living representing corporations, churches and other organizations, I would recommend some type of release be obtained.  But here is some of the pertinent language in the release:

“I release [prominent Christian university]…from all claims…caused by the negligence of [prominent Christian university] [or] its regents, officers or employees…”

This is what we lawyers call an “express negligence” clause in the contract.  It is designed to escape liability even for your own negligent acts.  Allow me to translate this for you.  This says that, if a university employee assaults my daughter while that employee is on the job for the university, neither the university nor the employee will be responsible for it.  If the university’s administration is all aware of a building about to fall down on their campus and chooses to do nothing about it and it falls on my daughter, the university will not be responsible for it.  If the President of the university himself were to carelessly run over my daughter while driving across campus, neither the university nor their president will be responsible for it.  In other words, this university says, “You can send your kids to camp here if you want to, but don’t expect us to act like a responsible Christian institution.”

Couple of questions: …

‘Doubt’ and Its Lessons

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Last year, with its release of Doubt, Hollywood wandered not-so-innocently right into the middle of my world and, naturally, got my attention…and my $8 for a ticket.  Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning play, it tells the story of a young pastor (i.e., priest) trying to bring a warmer, more relevant leadership style to a church and falling prey to the distrust and manipulative ways of an established church leader.  Sound familiar, anyone?  I’ve seen this play out in hundreds of situations and I’m sure you have seen it before as well.  Sometimes there is moral failure involved (as alleged in this case), and sometimes not so much.  But there is always plenty at risk, including the fragile spirituality of innocent bystanders, the continued credibility of established leadership and the future ministry of one “called out” to shepherd God’s people.  I must say, this movie tells the story well.  You can find some clips from the movie here.

I recommend the movie, because it is an accurate and startling depiction of a truth every church leader needs to know: when it comes to ministry, your testimony is the only currency you have.  Once it is tarnished (i.e., once the people you “lead” no longer wish to be led by you), your leadership is done.  You can lead no more.  And by the way, it doesn’t take truth to tarnish your testimony…all it takes is credible allegations and a little persistence on the part of those who stand to benefit from your departure.  In short, all it takes is sustainable doubt…doubt about you, about your past, or about your motives.

So how does a church leader protect his/her testimony from these …

Forgiveness is Not Foregoing the Consequences

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

I once consulted with a church where a deacon was caught sexually molesting a little girl in the children’s department. He was the only adult (1st mistake) in a children’s Sunday School room with no windows (2nd mistake) and the church had never run any kind of background check on him (or any of their other volunteer workers…3rd mistake). The man fully confessed to the authorities and to the parents of the little girl, and then even more fully confessed to both a problem and a history in this area. He stood before his church and confessed as well. There was actually reconciliation between him and the injured family and there was spiritual restoration of this brother. It was a pretty extraordinary situation in that regard. All of this happened before the church ended up calling me for mediation.

Why then the need for mediation if there was reconciliation all the way around? It was because of what happened in his criminal prosecution and what happened in the church after his release from prison.

A dispute arose in the church about whether the injured family, who said they had fully forgiven him, should have nonetheless testified in the criminal prosecution. Another dispute arose after that, when the man asked to return to work in the children’s Sunday School department, but this time under strict supervision. There was a dispute about how to respond to this request. The argument in both instances centered around the meaning of forgiveness. “If we have forgiven him, shouldn’t we forego testifying at his trial and shouldn’t we trust him again with our children?” Eventually, the church concluded (rightly, I believe) that the correct answer to these …