Thursday, April 5, 2012
I spent many years learning about Jesus, about who He is and what He said...but I seem to remember more about obeying a bunch of rules that showed people I knew Him/loved Him.
You know, checking things off the list of do's:
-go to church every Sunday
-read the Bible and memorize a lot of Scriptures
-have my quiet time every morning
And then the list of don'ts:
-don't smoke or drink
It seems everyone had their top five to six favorite defining rules...
And then the rules were passed on to others through our religious statements. ”Well, if he were a real Christian, he wouldn’t do that,” or "You can tell she loves Jesus by what she wears." Really?
Religion measures "knowing Jesus" by following the rules, not by forming a relationship.
If we learn more about Jesus, learn more about the Word, gain more knowledge of Him-and it's not changing the way we love God completely, ourselves correctly, and others compassionately-we're just gaining more knowledge.
Knowing more about Jesus-information without transformation-is just religion and pride.
According to the Great Commission, everything we read in the Bible should lead us to, "...love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind", and to "love our neighbor as ourselves."
That means that knowledge should cause us to love God completely (Upward), ourselves correctly (Inward), and our neighbors compassionately (Outward). It's about relationships, not rules and religion.
And the more we know Him, the more we become like Him and allow Him to live in and through us...
we realize all of life is worship;
we connect with others because we realize how much He loves us and we want others to experience that love;
we serve one another, not expecting others to serve us;
we live lives of generosity; and
we live a life that invites others to experience His love.
Let's not be known for how much we know about Him, but for how much we reflect Christ through the way we love God completely, ourselves correctly, and our neighbors compassionately.
Monday, August 30, 2010
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (NIV)
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (ESV)
"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd." (the Message)
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (KJV)
Wow, no matter how it's said, it stays the same...faith means believing God even when we don't see it. But do we live rally live that way? Really?
Think about it...do we live our lives in a way that we are looking for "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen?" Or do we order, plan, prepare, figure out our lives in such a way that we really don't have to trust God for anything?
Over the last few months we've been challenged to live lives that give God an opportunity to show up with the "things not seen"...and it's been challenging. But as we look over these last few months, we wouldn't live it any other way. God and His overwhelming love takes our breath away every time.
So what do you say? Is there something in your life God's calling you to do but you're waiting until you have it all figured out and planned? Or are you living in a way that "the fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see."
If not now...when?
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Check out our values at Transformation Church...
A High and Lofty View of God:
We are committed, through the Spirit’s enabling power, to teach a high and lofty view of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All our actions, teaching, prayer, mission, and spiritual transformation will be driven by our view of God.
The Transformative Gospel of Grace:
We are committed, through the Spirit’s enabling power, to be a community that invites and seeks out the wounded, the broken-hearted and marginalized so that they can be transformed by the Gospel of grace into the image of Jesus joining Him in His mission to transform the world.
We are committed, through the Spirit’s enabling power, to the belief that Grace is Jesus Himself coming to live in and through His people. Life in the Kingdom is empowered by the King of Kings, not human effort.
We are committed, through the Spirit’s enabling power, to partner with other churches that desire to advance the Kingdom. We will not compete with other churches.
Multi-ethnic & Multi-generational Diversity:
We are committed, through the Spirit’s enabling power, to multi-ethnic and multi-generational diversity.
We are committed, through the Spirit’s enabling power, to ministry excellence. Ministry excellence is worship! Our systems and structures must function with excellence in order to steward the people of Transformation Church.
We are committed, through the Spirit’s enabling Power, to leadership development. The Church rises or falls on the shoulders of Her leaders; therefore, every member must be seen as a “royal priest” and a leader.
People over Production:
We are committed, by the Spirit’s enabling power, to value people for more than what they can produce. We will not prostitute people over and against their spiritual health and transformation.
We are committed, by the Spirit’s enabling power, to develop a biblical, servant-hearted community, in which we serve each other through our grace-gifts as we serve in our spheres of influence by being the heart, hands, and feet of Jesus.
We are committed, by the Spirit’s enabling power, to be a missionary community. Therefore, we will present the timeless truth in a relevant way.
We are committed, by the Spirit’s enabling power, to financial generosity. We cannot out give our God; therefore, we will teach and live biblical financial stewardship. One day we hope to give away 30% of our income.
Friday, August 13, 2010
1 Samuel 12:16 ESV
Just over six months ago, on February 7th, Transformation Church (www.tc521.org) had it's first service.
From that very first service, our vision of being a "multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community that loves God completely (Upward), ourselves correctly (Inward), and our neighbors compassionately (Outward)" has been evident. And God has been faithful...
- In the last two weekends, over 1000 folks have attended each weekend.
- At least 127 people have committed their lives to Christ through the ministry of TC.
- Twenty three people were baptized on Easter Sunday.
- TC partnered with a ministry called "Feed the Need" along with ten other churches and collected over three tons of food and gave them $5000 for their ministry.
- Every weekend, an average of 112 Transformers serve at TC.
- On Mother's Day, TC gave $5000 to two women's shelters that house homeless women and their children.
- We partnered with the Fort Mill Care Center in providing 150 backpacks filled with school supplies for kids who otherwise wouldn't have any.
- We leased more space in the warehouse to accommodate the growing number of folks attending.
- People at TC continue to reflect our "multi-ethnic, multi-generational" vision.
- Transformers are becoming "mission-shaped" in the way they live God's Upward, Inward, and Outward love at home, at work, and at school.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me."
I've been amazed thinking that the God of the universe is so connected with us that He wants to not only begin a good work in us...but complete it as well...without our help. And don't forget the last part..."all of you share in God's grace with me."
That's the part that I've been thinking about...He begins and wants to complete a good work in us (salvation and beyond) and in spite of what we do, His grace is there all the time. It's not about what we can do...it's all about Him.
We can be confident when we realize that it's all about Him...He does it all, we don't have to do anything but walk in His grace...live in His grace...rest in His grace...operate in His grace...love in His grace...give His grace to others...you get the picture.
We don't have to be confident in our own strength or abilities. As I've thought about it today, I've walked a little more in freedom...freedom from myself and from my self-inflicted expectations. I've realized that the good work God has begun in me (and He wants to complete) is done by Him...not me. Quite a different view of life than what we're taught over and over again--it's all about what we do. Hmmm.
Crazy...we become more confident in His work in our lives the more we let go and let God live through us.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
If you’re like many churches, you and your leadership team have developed a vision statement that defines who you are—or who you want to be—as a church community. And perhaps, like many churches, it’s displayed on your website, written on your printed materials, and even routinely shared within your congregation.
However, is your vision evident in every aspect of your ministry? Do your policies, procedures and budget reflect your vision? On occasion, I’ve asked pastors to not send me their vision statement but allow me to look at their job descriptions, policies, budget and staff handbook to see if their vision rises from the pages. Sometimes the differences are astounding.
From your handbook to your financial planning, if the vision doesn’t permeate all your printed materials, human resources, finances and administrative areas, then it’s, well…just words.
What can you do to make sure your vision is the foundation of your ministry? Take your team through a simple exercise. Write your vision on a white board and identify the key points. Once identified, use those points as filters for your policies, procedures and budget. Don’t overwhelm everyone. Prioritize the areas you want to examine and take them one at a time.
For instance, if your vision includes reaching pre-believers as well as seasoned Christ-followers, does your budget express that in your expenditures? Where are you spending your monies? If you believe your vision is true, steward your finances in order to make it a reality. Perhaps it means reallocating money to different ministries.
If a key belief is that community plays an integral role, is your organizational chart created with community in mind? Are your ministries organized in a way that they express community as a major part of your vision? If you believe small groups are important to spiritual formation and most of your ministry is done in a large group or mid-size group setting, you either need to transition your vision or your organization.
Have you hired your staff or identified lay leaders that reflect the key directions of your vision? What about their job descriptions or annual goals? Are you measuring expectations from your team that reflect the vision? Or are you placing expectations on them that deal more with numbers alone or peripherals? You and your team should never be exempt from living the vision of your church. If serving is an integral part of your vision, be a servant leader. Don’t be a leader who feels entitled to live outside the vision that you expect your congregants to live.
Whether your church is well established, transitioning or just starting, intentionally breathing your vision into every aspect of your ministry will infuse new life. Using your vision as a filter for everything you do—from ministry to policies—allows you and your team to stay laser-focused on what God has called you to do.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law." NIV
"If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed." The Message
"Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law." ESV
"When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful." NLT
For some reason, I was intrigued by the fact that even though I've read and said this verse many times over the years, it was impressed on me more clearly this time that vision living comes about when we keep the law...obey the law...God's Word. We tend to emphasize the vision piece and talk about what happens if we don't have one.
But where does it come from in the first place? Scripture...God's written communication to us. And not only that, but God's divine direction to us that he speaks so clearly as we read the Scriptures.
Over the years, I've seen both leaders and individuals who "run wild...cast off restraint...stumble over themselves" because they don't stay on course with the vision God has given them...personally, professionally, and corporately. And sometimes it even feels like we're doing good and meaningful things...but for some reason it feels busy, disjointed, crazy. Could it be that in doing the good things we lose sight of the God things we should be doing?
I have to admit, I've found myself in that place.
So my challenge for us is to live out Proverbs 29:18 by following what it says:
1. Get back to or discover the vision God has revealed to you,
2. Stay with it,
3. Stay in or get back into God's Word on a consistent basis, and
4. Be blessed...be happy...be joyful because you know you're in the middle of God's vision for you.
It's better to live with a God vision than a good vision.