Archive for June, 2010
The word Pentecost simply means “fiftieth day.” It was that day that the Holy Spirit was bestowed on the people of God. I think it’s important to understand that the Holy Spirit did not come into existence on the Day of Pentecost. Like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit has eternally pre-existed. Genesis 1:2 tells us that during the creation the Holy Spirit was hovering over the face of the deep. So the Spirit wasn’t invented at Pentecost. So what’s the difference? A simple way to think about it is that in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit worked with the people of God, energizing them to do God’s will. People like David and Samson experienced the Spirit this way. But from the Day of Pentecost on the Spirit began to dwell in the people of God. From “with” to “in.” See the difference?
So Pentecost means that the Spirit of God baptized believers into the body of Christ, and to dwell in every believer. John 14.16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” Do you see the difference? Before Pentecost, He dwelt with His people; after Pentecost He dwells in His people.
What is the meaning of Pentecost? Pentecost simply means that now every born again believer, at the moment of salvation, is baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ and is indwelled by the Spirit. The Spirit energizes and empowers the people of God to fulfill God’s mission for the world (Acts 1:8).
Henry Cloud may be best known for his series of works co-authored by John Townsend on the subject of Boundaries. But his most helpful contribution to my life has been his book titled Integrity. It was recommended to me about a year ago by a friend, and when I saw it at a local bookstore I picked it up and read it. I am not sorry!
Without going into tremendous detail, Cloud defines integrity as “the courage to meet the demands of reality.” That alone should pique your interest. From that starting point Cloud presents the case for integrity as the unifying ordering of one’s character which allows the leader to meet the demands of reality. The book is organized around six aspects of character, which I list as follows.
1. The ability to connect authentically which leads to trust.
2. The ability to be oriented toward the truth which leads to finding and operating in reality.
3. The ability to work in a way that gets results and finishes well which leads to reaching goals, profits, or the mission.
4. The ability to embrace, engage, and deal with the negative which leads to ending problems, resolving them, or transforming them.
5. The ability to be oriented toward growth which leads to increase.
6. The ability to be transcendent which leads to enlargement of the bigger picture and oneself.
I think this book would be helpful to any leader, manager, or person who desires to do some genuine “heart work.” You will find the benefits to be enriching.
Recent releases on the Missional Church fall into two categories. First, there is the theological reflection category replete with information on what the Scripture says about embracing our sentness into the world around us. The other category of books on the Missional Church are the ones that focus on the tactical and the practical.
Introducing the Missional Church by Roxburgh and Boren does a nice job of accomplishing both tasks. Because of its newness, defining the Missional Church is a work in progress. But the authors do an exceptional job of explaining what the missional church is and what she is to be about in the Kingdom landscape.
Beyond the definition, the authors provide some helpful materials for established churches that are considering transitioning from their attractional model to a more missional minded model of ministry.
The book is a simple read and is well written. If you’re just tuning in to the missional church, I encourage you to pick up a copy. It is well worth the simple investment.
One of the blogs I frequent is The Resurgence, the blogsite of Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Today I came across this video clip that I thought was very helpful on Six Kinds of Critics. Good counsel!
It’s not to late to join the Summer of Love! For more information or to sign up visit http://www.arbcsummeroflove.com! To view the full screen version, just click inside the video window after the video begins.
There’s something about food that brings the people of God together. Baptists are notorious for using (and maybe abusing) food at gatherings. Do you have something to celebrate? Let’s eat! A new baby? A wedding? A promotion? A good dental check up? By all means, let’s eat! But we also eat during times of sadness. When word circulates that an illness or hospitalization has been incurred, Baptists come to the rescue armed with casserole dishes. Should someone from the church family pass away, one of the first questions asked is, “Who will serve the meal?” I think Baptists believe they have cornered the market on food. But I am aware of kindred denominations that perform the same regiment with equal discipline.
Interestingly enough, we didn’t invent this phenomenon in the last few decades. God is big on food and has been for thousands of years. In fact, God was the first to suggest that his people use food during times of teaching, celebration, sadness, and memory. The Old Testament explains seven feasts that the people of God were to conduct during the year. Each one of them was with purpose. Each one of them was God’s idea.
Three of the seven feasts were pilgrimage feasts. That means that the people of God were required to return to Jerusalem to observe them. The first one was the feast of shelters (or booths). This feast was given to remind the people of God of God’s great protection during the wilderness wanderings. As they lay in their booths at night they were to look up to the stars and remember that God is their protector. The second major pilgrimage feast was Passover. Passover is probably the most familiar of the Old Testament feasts, and was instituted on the night the death angel passed over the land of Egypt and the Israelites were freed from slavery and bondage. Jesus was crucified during Passover, a celebration at which scholars estimate 120,000 lambs were sacrificed in Jerusalem.
Fifty days following the Passover was the Feast of First Fruits. This harvest celebration commemorated the first portion of the harvest and dedicated it to God in anticipation of the remainder of the harvest that would soon be gathered. On God’s calendar, Jesus was crucified on Passover and the Spirit was given fifty days later on the Day of Pentecost…during the Feast of First Fruits. Interesting, isn’t it? Someone has said that the average Christian and the average church are somewhere bogged down between Calvary and Pentecost. They have been to Calvary for pardon, but they have not been to Pentecost for power. I think all of us agree that we need to recapture that power that was manifest in that upper room on the day of Pentecost so that we can be the church Jesus desires us to be and do the work Jesus desires us to do. Tomorrow I’ll get into the thicket of last weekend’s message from Acts 2:1-21. In the meantime, have something to eat.
Sometimes I hear that church is like a business and should be run by CEOs. Others suggest church is like an athletic team that should be run by coaches. Others still compare the church to the military (think “Onward Christian Soldiers”) which is led by generals. I’ve even heard that church is like the government, and should be led as a democracy in which the will of the majority prevails. While each of these proposed models were part of first century culture, Paul did not look to business, sports, the military or the government as a model for church leadership. He looked to the family, and observed that families are led by parents. That’s the model he chose.
What does this say about how churches should operate? What does this say about how churches should be led? Those are good questions. But maybe we’re missing a more basic question: what kind of organization is the church? Maybe the nature of the organization determines the nature of leadership for the organization. It all depends on what you’re after.
The centurion explained to Jesus why it was not necessary for him to go. He said, “I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves ‘do this,” they do it” (Matthew 8:9, NLT). Did you catch it? Because the centurion was “under” authority, he was placed in a position “over” his subordinates. Interestingly enough, this Roman made the same observation about Jesus.
Those under God’s authority will be effective when the opportunity arises to be in positions of authority. Spiritual leadership works that way. It’s always more concerned with being under God’s authority than being in positions of authority. Many books are being written on how to “Lead from the Second Chair.” In the church of Jesus Christ, we’re all always in “the second chair.” It’s not our church, for it rightfully belongs to Jesus Christ. When we are rightly related to the head of the church, many leadership “issues” may become resolved. It begins with recognition that Jesus is in charge.