Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Thoughts on ACU, Christianity, and Patriotism...

My Alma mater, Abilene Christian University, had opening day Chapel yesterday. It was well attended. It was broadcast on the web so lots of alumni and friends could watch. And it was different than in the past few years. Evidently, the unfurling of the giant American flag and the singing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic were omitted this year. It has been interesting to see the various reactions to this. Some decry the "lack and/or loss" of patriotism. Others applaud the decision to separate Christianity from nationalism.

So I have a few random thoughts.

I do not see ACU as the church. There were many non Christians in attendance as students and/or guests. For those that think patriotism and nationalism have no place in a Christian assembly -- and I am one of those -- I still do not see how ACU chapel is to be equated with the assembled church. If it is, I would submit that there are much greater issues to address than this one.

If the issue is about offending some who are not citizens here... what do they expect to happen at an assembly of an American university? And if the concern is over offending people, I would think many more people would be offended by the worship than by patriotism. But what a non believer to expect to happen at a University with Christian in its name?

If the issue is about presenting Jesus in an evangelistic context to non-believers, then there certainly is no place for any national pride or honor. The kingdom of Jesus does not have political borders or allegiance.

If the concern is about Christian worship, then the Battle Hymn of the Republic (connected to America) is weak theology and wrong. The army of the Lord is certainly not to be confused with the United States military.

And of course, if offending people is the concern, this cannot be resolved. Christians who pledge allegiance only to the kingdom of God will be offended by patriotic displays. Christians who are very patriotic will be offended by the omission of activities honoring America.

Next thing you know, there will discussion about women leading worship, or instrumental music, or... oh, never mind.

I think ACU is a place where Christians find ways to serve God. It is a place that may have much to do with kingdom business. But it not a kingdom business. It is not ordained of God. It is not the people of God. It is an educational institution in the United States that tries to adhere to Christian principles. And the leaders of ACU will decide what they believe to be appropriate within those guidelines.

Sometimes they have thought patriotism is appropriate. Yesterday they did not. As for me, if the intent was to more accurately reflect kingdom principles... then I think they got it right. But some will disagree. That's OK. We do not have to agree on everything. I don't think this is a salvation issue... or even a fellowship test. But then again, I didn't even care enough to attend, or even watch it.

Just my thoughts.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Do you know what you are good for...

It is helpful periodically to reflect on the things you are good at... your talents. I believe each Christian has a unique set of skills and gifts to contribute to the community of believers and to be used in this world to bring glory to God. These gifts and talents may be something you were born with, or something you received training or education to do. They may be something you learned thru life-- the school of hard knocks. It be something you learned from a mentor or parent. If you are going to be used by God in powerful ways -- and you can be -- you need to know what you are good at doing.

In my case, my personality, natural gifts, education, and life experience has equipped me to be a "go to guy" for spiritual seekers/searchers and spiritual strugglers. I love to talk with those who are seeking to figure out the whole God thing, those who are trying to decide what to do about Jesus, and those who are trying to fit their life into God's call and purpose for them.

And I love to heal the broken. I am a specialist in spiritual triage. Wrecked lives, marriages in crisis, Christians ashamed of their addictions, and believers who have betrayed their Lord... these are my people. I can help them let God put their lives back together.

I work for a ministry that is about connecting non-believers to Jesus all over this world. Most of my local preaching is at a Praise service for a university crowd (and college students are always in full blown search and/or struggle mode). And as an elder, my greatest strength is shepherding the broken.

Maybe that's why I really am always so happy. I am doing what God made me to do. My gifts, my experiences (even the painful ones) have equipped me to do what I love and am passionate about. I am not a great theologian, or an incredible speaker, or even a charismatic personality. But I have figured out what God made me good at, and I let Him shape me and mold me (and yes it took some time and I had to be broken first), and then I gave myself over to Him to use... So none of what I do is because of me. It is because of Him and everything is to His glory.

So do you want to find joy and purpose? Find what you're good at and put it to use in God's service. Then you will know what you are good for. It sure has worked for me.

So how about it? Let me hear how God is using your skills to serve His purposes in this world.

Monday, August 17, 2009


More on Leadership...

So some of you got me to thinking some more about leadership. So I started working on why it is that leaders get frustrated when the flock, family, or team will not "buy in" to their vision. We talk about the need for new leadership, but worry that no one will let them lead. I would suggest that if no one is following you... you are not a leader. You may want to be -- but you are not. I would think the prime definition of a leader is that someone follows them.

So what keeps people from following you.

It could be you have the wrong vision. No one wants to hear this, but it may be true. When the rest of your leadership team (elders, spouse, staff, committee) will not follow you, it may be because you are wrong.

It could be that you do not have the credibility to sell your vision. Spiritual credibility comes from two primary avenues. One is the Word. But as a leader, I better be clear on this appeal. Everyone may not agree with my interpretation of what a text means. For example, refusal to adopt a certain model for missions does not mean a rejection of the Great Commission. So be careful when you appeal to what God says.

Or it could be that your personal credibility is lacking. Obviously your life should reflect you visions as a leader. But it takes time to develop credibility in the life of a church. It takes a lot of baptisms, weddings, burials, hospital visits, counseling, and fellowship to build leadership credibility.

Or it may be that you have not communicated your vision clearly. People will not follow what they do not understand.

Or it may be a combination of things. So when you are frustrated that no one is following your leadership, ask these questions. Am I right? Do I have the credibility to ask people to follow? Have I clearly communicated the vision and/or direction?

Well, just my thoughts. What about yours?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Leadership: Man or method

It seems as if I have spent quite a bit of time lately discussing the subject of leadership, especially in the area of church leadership. I have really been struck by the intense desire to focus on the right methodology to insure good leadership. It seems that many people believe that there is a "magic bullet" out there that will facilitate effective leadership. If there has been a failure of leadership, there is often an assumption that we must be usinig the wrong model or method. It is as if finding the right method, model, or techmique will solve all our issues with leadership.

Yet, when I read thru Scripture, it seems that God's answer to leadership was to raise up people, not methods. In fact, it is amazing how little is said in Scripture about methods, models, or techniques.

So I have become convinced that great leadership starts with Godly men and women who lead more by example than anything else. I would go so far as to say that model and method are not the issue. If there is a failure of leadership, let's call for a revival among our leaders. Stop blaming the model. Stop looking for the trendy techniques. Commit to following God. People will follow a man who knows where he is going.

So I have about decided not to expend much energy on the method and the model. I am not so sure that just about any structure will work if the right people are leading. And if the right people are not in place, then no model will work.

One more thing. God has always raised up leaders when His people need them. He still does.

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