Because of my position, as a pastor, it seems like alot of time is spent dealing with Conflict resolution between church members, friends, families, co-workers, and churches, etc.....
Conflict in life is unavoidable. You are going to have it. Why? The diversity of people, cultures, philosophies, beliefs, ideas, etc... Good night, people are always going to be people.
Anyway, I hate it. Most of the things that cause "conflict" in peoples lives are actually petty, ignorant, stupid and has no eternal value. Now let me say that there are some conflicts that are ligit. Conflict because of sin, violations of scripture, harm, etc... But the majority are usually based upon opinion, philosophy, or someone saying something stupid.
I am a pretty reasonable person, very friendly, and have a lot of friends, but over the last 2 years I have dealt with much conflict, especially in church. When you get out of the "christian/church bubble" you actually look at how ridiculas such conflict in church can be. It got so goofy, there ended up being divisions, strife, bitterness, and much hurt. People were even told to stay away from me. Amazing.
The answer is simple: Isaiah 1:18 - "Come let us reason together...." Why is this so difficult. It is amazing how families, friends, church members, coworkers, and neighbors will go through life upset, bitter, full of unforgiveness because of conflict.
I don't claim to have all the answers and I may be ranting, but the end result of any conflict should simply be reasoning, forgiveness, and reconciliation. God forgave us, and reconciled us to himself, why should there be divided families, churches, and friendships.
Good Golly, life is too short to dance with ugly women. So say your sorry, ask for forgiveness, be reconciled and live a better life. Refuse to allow the thief to steal , kill, and destroy your life, friendships, family, and church.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Shifting from ‘Professional’ to ‘Relational’ Christianity
In many ways the American church has become more like a business. We must shift from power suits and CEOs to wet feet and holy kisses.
Last month during a luncheon for pastors and church leaders in suburban Baltimore I called five people to the front of the room and asked them to sit in chairs facing the group. Then I called some other leaders to kneel in front of them and wash their feet.
The five people represented five groups that have been overlooked and underserved in the American church: women, African-Americans, immigrants, businesspeople and the younger generation. As their shoes came off, tears began to flow freely. Words were not necessary.
I washed the last pair of feet, which belonged to a young pastor named Danny. He is just getting started in his ministry. He was crying by the time I dried his toes with a dishtowel from the church’s kitchen.
"Many of our churches have evolved into mega-corporations—with our own CEOs, controllers, administrators, tax codes, dress codes, answering machines, office hours and policy manuals."
It was one of those fidgety, uncomfortable moments when no one knows exactly how to act. After all, in the corporate world we don’t take off our shoes in front of our co-workers. We don’t expose our weaknesses or make ourselves vulnerable. We keep our ties straight and we shake hands to close deals. We stay in control.
And we make sure to maintain a proper, professional distance between one another. That’s the American way. Stiff, cold, dignified and detached.
Yet Jesus modeled something different. When He washed His disciples’ feet on the night He was betrayed, He used the imagery of that awkward moment to teach volumes about the values of the kingdom of God. By stripping Himself of His rabbinical robes and donning the garments of a slave, He called each of us to shed the religious pride that keeps us arms’ distance from each other.
By assuming the role of a household servant, Jesus drastically redefined leadership. It was no longer about being over people, but under them. And by taking those smelly feet in His hands and washing off the dust, grime and dung of Jerusalem, He called leaders to engage people on an intimate and transparent level that no rabbi in Israel’s history had ever demonstrated.
There was nothing formal or ceremonial about the first foot washing. Jesus was calling us all to a place of raw authenticity. He was saying, in effect, that true leaders must shed their power suits and clerical collars if they truly intend to impact people on a deep level.
That same genuine, unpretentious attitude marked the ministry of the apostle Paul. He told the Thessalonians: “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8 NASB). Paul often gushed to his followers about his feelings for them; and he wasn’t afraid to show his love in “unprofessional” ways.
Paul was not aloof. Like Jesus, he lived among the people. He didn’t wait until praise and worship was over to enter the meeting. He didn’t get whisked away to a special parlor after the service. He poured his life into his followers by eating with them, laughing with them and sharing their burdens.
And he often urged the saints to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (Rom. 16:16). When he said goodbye to his followers in Ephesus, the Bible says he gave a heartfelt farewell speech that ended with hugs, kisses and a lot of sobbing (see Acts 20:36-37). For Paul, Christian love was not a lofty doctrine or a stuffy principle; it was wet, slobbery and extravagantly affectionate.
Why don’t many of us experience this level of Christian affection today? Why has our love been reduced to stiff handshakes, nonchalant pats on the back and insincere flattery? Perhaps in this overly sexualized age we are afraid affection will lead to something inappropriate. Maybe we figure that kisses can no longer be holy, or that they will lead to frivolous lawsuits.
I think there is a deeper cause. Perhaps we have allowed the sophisticated culture of the business world to invade God’s house. After all, many of our churches have evolved into mega-corporations—with our own CEOs, controllers, administrators, tax codes, dress codes, office hours and private jets—and even bodyguards! In such a stuffy atmosphere, genuine love can turn lukewarm.
How desperately we need to strip off our sophisticated religious garb and get real. People are aching to see a demonstration of God’s honest-to-goodness love, and the only place they will ultimately find it is among the followers of the “Foot Washer.”
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. His previous columns are archived at www.fireinmybones.com.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Everyone who knows me knows that I am an avid reader. I love books. I enjoy spending time at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Half Price Books, Lifeway, etc....I have an account with Amazon.com that is used quite often. David Finch had this link on his blog and I wanted to forward it to you all.
How to Read 70+ Books a Year: Isn't it everyone's goal to read and learn more. Here are some great tips.