Friday, July 13, 2012

The Fellowship of Shamed

Dear friend,

What happened? I saw you the other day and your eyes darted away from mine in shame. You have separated yourself from people who care about you (however imperfectly) and find yourself cut off from God, his people, and most tragically his grace. You have joined the fellowship of the shamed.

It probably started with a compromise, it almost always does. Maybe you felt slighted, hurt or wounded and you could justify your compromise with sin. Now, many small compromises later you are walking in shame. Your friends and family members are concerned. They see your anger and your sin because you have changed. You probably don't think you have, but it is true. I was looking through a stack of photos and found a picture of you when you walked with the "unashamed". You had that radiant joy! You had such a beautiful hope and sense of promise.

I am praying that God will bring you back. Restoration is preferable to destruction. And make no mistake, destruction is on the horizon. That is the way it is when we walk away from truth. Please, please consider your life...the step back is hard, I know. But it is altogether simple. Repent. Earnestly ask for God's forgiveness. He can restore the broken. A bruised reed he will not break.

I write this not to further shame have enough of that already. I write to remind you of the way back home to Father's house.

We miss you,


Friday, July 06, 2012

Epic Failure

When ever a pastor, a minister, or a ministry leader fails it can come down to a single issue. We have seen over the years great men and women of God have failures. Often they are moral failures. Occasionally they are financial failures.  Frequently there are failures to honor the vision God deposited in their hearts. And less often they are failures to launch into ministries that God has called them to. The ultimate cause is a failure to believe the gospel of Jesus.

I know that seems too sweeping a judgment but I have found it to be true in my 3 decades of ministry. At the very core of the gospel we know that we are charged with one work. Jesus said that our work was to believe on the Son. That means to believe what he says about us, to believe what he says about our purpose in life and ministry, and to believe (and practice!) what he says about others. I cannot think of a single failure in ministry that doesn't spring from this failure to believe.

For instance, when a church planter hears the call of God to launch a church in some locality that God has chosen he or she must launch into a faith walk. 2 years later, having encountered severe headwinds, and being buffeted by life, Satan, and countless other resistences... they suddenly "hear a call" to leave this calling. Failing to endure has little to do with the strength of purpose... It, more often than not, reveals a loss of trust in God for the fruit. Or when a ministry flounders from vision whiplash it is usually a sign of deserting the vision that God put in the heart of the ministry leader.

This tells us that every ministry leader needs to examine his heart to find out if he or she is still in the faith. This internal examination is biblical and necessary if we are to have healthy business. A significant portion (THE significant portion?) of ministry is the examination of my inner world, looking at my heart to ask myself significant questions about my faith.

Do I still believe that God will provide?
Do I still believe the vision that God has deposited in my heart?
Am I still trusting that I am destined for failure if I rely upon my flesh?
Do I still believe that God can truly redeem the lives of others around me?

The answers to these and deeper soul searching questions require outward manifestations in my behavior. I must demonstrate that confidence, kindness, and compassion toward others. I must arise from the prayer closet with an answer rather than a list of more questions. I must take the next step in ministry with absolute trust. These externals are reflective of faith on the inside.

If I fail to live with introspection, I will fail. So guard your hearts, saints...