The power of choice...
"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15)Life examples abound. The National Kidney Foundation in Singapore (NKFS) was expected to grow their financial base, with each successive record-breaking collection adding an additional layer of expectation. The Madoff scheme was dependent on increasing his investor portfolio. When the numbers rise each year, his scheme works like a champ. When it falls, the whole pyramid collapses, bringing everyone down with it. The higher one climbs, the greater the temptations. It is easy to live with more, but not so easy to climb down from a high portfolio pedestal, especially if it is tainted by scandals. Ask Ted Haggard or Jim Baker.
"Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. (1 Tim 6:17)Proverbs teach us to be careful of riches, something that threatens the rich more than the poor.
"A man’s riches may ransom his life,As Christians, our receipt of salvation is Jesus Christ. We cannot enter the kingdom on our own merit or possessions. Our desire to enter heaven is not merely to buy a membership fee in Christ. We want to enter heaven as joyous people, seeking to honour God and tell him how much we love God for all he has done. We give of our own possessions to all who have need. In doing so, when we present our receipts of goodness and charity, God will say to us,
but a poor man hears no threat." (Prov 13:8)
Let us not play the numbers game, lest the evil one deceives us. Let us not be distracted by numbers, for it is the Lord who gives the increase in his own quantity and according to his own perfect timing. Let us look beyond the numbers to hold on to the cross of Christ, recognizing that whether in good times or in bad, God still loves us. It does not matter if we are a 5-talent conglomerate, a 2-talent church or a 1-talent individual. All are called to be faithful according to what God has given. Much is given, much is also required.
"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"
In the epic Battle of Thermopylae in ancient Greece, a small rag-tag army of 300 Spartans was able to hold back a million soldiers of the great Persian army. In the Old Testament, a puny sized David was able to overcome the giant Goliath. If God is for us, who can be against us? Don't play the numbers game. Whether your church is small or large, all belong to Christ. One soul that comes to Christ is as important as hundreds who come to the faith. There is no reason to boast about numbers. Numbers are silly things to trumpet about. Not only will such actions annoy others, they invite temptations of the highest order. I used to ask the question: "How can anyone ever move Mount Everest? How is it humanly possible to build the Great Wall of China?" The answer: one bucket of sand at a time. One brick of the wall at a time. In the Name of the Kingdom of heaven, it is one soul at a time.
“There is no such thing as a little country. The greatness of a people is no more determined by their numbers than the greatness of a man is by his height”
“Sadly, spirituality is most commonly used by Christians to describe people who pray all day long, read their Bibles constantly, never get angry or rattled, possess special powers, and have the inside track to God. Spirituality for most, has an outerworldly ring to it, calling to mind eccentric saints who have forsaken the world, taken vows of poverty, and isolated themselves in cloisters.” (Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002, p12)‘Good’ People in the Bible
“Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness.” (13)If we were to recall the Scriptures, many biblical characters were not simply not perfect people. They do not have a clean-shaven spirituality. They come as they are, flaws and all.
- “The pastor must be correct. After all, he has years of theological training.”
- “I can never understand the Bible myself, unlike the theologians who are so skillful.”
- “How do you expect me to pray like how the elders prayed? That’s why I’m not an elder.”
“Messy Spirituality is the scandalous assertion that following Christ is anything but tidy and neat, balanced and orderly. Far from it. Spirituality is complex, complicated and perplexing – the disorderly, sloppy, chaotic look of authentic faith in the real world. Spirituality is anything but a straight line; it is a mixed-up, topsy-turvy, helter-skelter godliness that turns our lives into an upside-down toboggan ride full of unexpected turns, surprise bumps, and bone-shattering crashes.” (17)
"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." (Luke 10:2a)I am a student, serving in church, and also taking on a huge amount of household chores. If work is defined as paid-only, I guess I am not working at all, even though I have a small stipend. I study hard. I serve diligently. I prepare extensively for church work. I collect materials for a new book I am writing. I take on large errands at home. All these evaporate into non-work if we define work narrowly into dollars and cents. Having said that, I do not mean that paid-work is unimportant. What I am saying is that we need to have a bigger picture of work.
"If you want to build a ship, don´t drum up people to collect wood and don´t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."This statement points us to the importance of knowing the reasons for doing what we are doing. If one does not love the sea, one will fail to notice the different behaviour of waves and winds. When one fails to notice the unique features of the sea, one simply build according to schematics without relating to the practicalities of a seafarer's life. The word passion is relevant here. If one merely discharges his duties according to the tasks, one is simply doing his job. However, if one is passionate about his work, he finds ways to improve. He seeks better ways of efficiency and productivity. He teaches them to others, and tries to excite others about what he is doing. I will venture to say that if one is passionate about the sea, collecting wood, or building schematics takes on a whole new meaning altogether, beyond engineering, beyond design, beyond safety, toward love. Vocation. Bill Gates famously replied, when asked about why he puts in so much energy into Microsoft. He said: "It's fun."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget this errand."In one statement, we realize that anything we do, if it is simply an unrelated dot in our life, it remains an island by itself, disconnected from the world and everything else. There are books for little children for them to join up the dots on the page before seeing a full picture. What kind of dots are we joining? Are we joining the dots at all? Do we see the dots in the first place? Are we simply content in meaningless pokka dots, or are we living a life confident that we have God guiding our hands to join up the seemingly unrelated dots of our life, to form a picture of our vocation?
(Woodrow T Wilson)
“In vain you rise up early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat –The daily papers say it all. The old-age adage is true: No news is good news. People talk about it on the streets and the natural instinct during tough times is to cut back, save more and wait until the storms of uncertainty abate. Most of the Western society is now on a deep financial deficit. At the rate the bailouts are going, one begins to wonder where the money is all going to come from. If we were to graph our faith in human leaders, each bailout announcement together with an unanswered question: "What happened to all the previous money?” only goes to register another major dip of confidence mortal leadership. In the economics of fear and despair, the graph looks more or less the same. Charting downwards sharply and rapidly. In a chart by JP Koning (see below), which graphs all the significant depressions since the early 1929 to the present, we note that the Great Depression lasted for nearly 150 weeks and declined a whopping 90%. Anyone of us can easily become a Doomsday prophet by simply saying that this is only the beginning of the end. Our current economic fall began in 2007 (70 weeks), declining more than 50% with no end in sight! If there is one graph to decelerate confidence, this is it! Unfortunately, this hides a more serious problem: Disappearing emotional assurance.
for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (Ps 127:2)
"The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work." Robert FrostI like this statement by an unknown author:
"Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night." Author UnknownThis has biblical evidence. The Psalmist in the verse at the beginning of this article reminds us of the gift of sleep. Psalm 127 does not begin with contention with the enemies of the world. It begins with the Lord, that we need to recognize the source of all good work, otherwise no matter what good anybody tries to create, it is but in vain. No matter how much time and resources we pour in, without God’s blessings, they are usually not as significant as we think. In other words, any activity that is God-‘less’ is essentially HOPE-less. Take God out of any equation, and we are left on our own, an susceptible to all kinds of devices that will surely fail our deepest expectations.
"Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due." (William R. Inge)For the pessimist, the ground is one that is hard and anyone falling on it can hardly survive the impact. For the optimist, at the bottom, there will be a cushion with firemen and emergency crew holding up the edges of the safety platform to catch us when we fall. For the Christian, we know that at the end of the downward spiral, we need not panic about not having man-made cushion, nor worry about when we are going to die. Instead, we know that at some point of the seemingly endless tumble, we will be scooped up, and placed safe in the hands of our Loving Father. Even better, for the Christian, Jesus has promised never to leave nor forsake us. That means in all of our struggles, Jesus is with us, yesterday, today and forever. Do not be taken in by the economics of fear. Be received into the confidence of God, via the Hand of the loving Father in heaven.
|WRONG QUESTION||RIGHT QUESTION|
|1) How do we do church better?||[How do we Deconvert from churchianity to Christianity?]|
|2) How do we grow this Church?||[How do we transform our community?]|
|3) How do we turn members into ministers?||[How do we turn members into missionaries?]|
|4) How do we develop church members?||[How do we develop followers of Jesus?]|
|5) How do we plan for the future?||[How do we Prepare for the future?]|
|6) How do we develop leaders for Church work?||[How do we develop leaders for Christian movement?]|
The current church culture in North America is on life support. It is living off the work, money, and energy of previous generations from a previous world order. The plug will be pulled either when the money runs out (80 percent of money given to congregations comes from people aged fifty-five and older) or when the remaining three-fourths of a generation who are institutional loyalists die off or both.McNeal argues that this first point about moving back to 'biblical Christianity' from church-based ones is 'foundational' to the next five.