Is the Bible a Start or an End?

I read this quote somewhere, but I can’t find the link. However, it’s so good that I wanted to share it with you.

The Bible in Jesus world was a scroll that you saw someone reading in the center of the room, in the midst of community.

And then you all discussed it. You surrounded the words…you encircled them literally, physically…and then you engaged with them. Together.

It was a communal experience.

Picture all that energy swirling around the room, picture all those opinions, picture really wise people saying interesting and profound things, picture that crazy uncle rambling on and on and making no sense.

And then you’d come back next week and do it all over again.

The Torah started the discussion.

For many in our world, the Bible ends the discussion.

Age Effectiveness in the Local Church

I’ve been thinking about the effectiveness that age brings to the local church. It seems to me, that as leaders in the church, we fall into three separate age groups of effectiveness.

Ages 20 to 35
From age 20 to 35 – you’re learning and establishing what kind of pastor you will be – education, influence, success and failures. Lots of rebellion, lots of hard times, lots of growing. You can fight with older pastors/churches – but you aren’t going to win.

Ages 35 to 55
From age 35 to 55 – you are building the culture of the church. The culture is established by what you determine is important, how well you lead your church, how well you disciple the people in your church, etc. You are trying to recruit people younger then you and learn from people older than you while creating the church that God has placed in your heart.

Ages 55 and beyond
From age 55 and beyond – you are simply a caretaker for the next generation. They aren’t going to do church the way you want them to. It’s going to look different. It’s going to feel different. They are going to treat the church differently then you would. And you can fight it or you can trust that God knows what He’s doing by putting these people in charge. The worst thing you can do is complain about the younger generation.

How do you see age effectiveness in the local church?

Did God Abandon Jesus?

Sometimes I read scripture and and struggle with understanding it fully. A great example can be found in Matthew 27:46 where he calls out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have forsaken/abandoned me?”

Here’s the question that I have – is Jesus symbolically quoting Psalm 22:1 as a way of expressing human emotion or is Jesus actually stating that in this moment, He has literally been abandoned by God?

I would contend that Jesus, despite his obvious pain and suffering, maintained a high degree lucidity throughout the crucifixion experience and in this moment, quoted David in order to accurately convey the distinctive human emotion of feeling/sensing separation and distance from God. I would contend that Jesus cognitively recognized that God had not abandoned Him, but rather choose to quote David as a way of conveying to future generations the necessity of turning to scripture in those times of great need and stress when it appears that God has abandoned them.

However, there seems to be a popular belief that God actually turned his back and literally abandoned Jesus during this time. Proponents of this belief seem to argue that because Jesus took on the sins of all mankind and that God cannot stand the sight of evil (Habakkuk 1:13) and cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked (Psalm 5:4-8) that God abandoned Jesus because of this sin (Romans 1:28).

That seems inaccurate in light of Jeremiah 16:17 where God clearly says that He sees every sin and does not turn His back on the those in need (Psalm 22:24). 2 Corinthians 4:9 clearly tells us that we are never abandoned by God and John 3:16 would support the theory that because God saw the world and all of it’s sinfulness, that He gave Jesus in order to give us eternal life.

Here’s the dilemma I find myself facing.

I cannot find any scriptures that state that Jesus was abandoned on the cross by God.

I cannot find any scriptures that state that Jesus was not abandoned on the cross by God. 

What I can find is that God does not abandon man simply because man has sin in his life. God sees that sin, He hates it and cannot tolerate the sin, but he still loves the man enough to pay the price to cover the sin in order to restore the relationship between God and man.

I can find a primary supporting argument in Hebrews 2:14-18 which reinforces the fullness of Christ’s humanity. From this perspective, Jesus had to be made like his brothers, like man, in every respect so that he might become the high priest in order to make the sacrifice for the since of the people. This would seem to eliminate the argument that God would not abandon man, but would abandon Jesus simply because Jesus was God’s son. Or that Jesus had some supernatural strength of some sort that allowed God to abandon Jesus, but not man. In order to make the sacrifice for our sins, Jesus had to be made like man in every respect.

I can also find a primary supporting argument in Hebrews 4:14-16 which reinforces the affirmation that because of the fullness of His humanity, Jesus has experienced every temptation that we have, including the temptation of believing that God has abandoned Him in his time of need, but that He experienced these temptations and did not sin. 

A secondary supporting argument to this can be found in Romans 14:23 arguing that temptation to lose faith in God is akin to sin and because Jesus didn’t sin, Jesus could not have actually believed that God had abandoned Him otherwise that would have meant that He had sinned.

Therefore, based on on the primary and secondary supporting arguments, I believe that I can say with confidence that God did not abandon Jesus on the cross, but that Jesus, in the fullness of His humanity, experienced the very same emotional response that every human being does in times of high emotional and physical stress. And that as a result of that stress, the words that people heard was that Jesus felt as if God had abandoned Him in His time of need. However, the truth of this phrase is that in this time of crisis, Jesus turned to scripture in order to give Him the strength to continue on.

So, that said, I’d be interested in some scripturally-based feedback on this topic.

The Entrepreneurial Pastor

Entrepreneurship and the Christian faith go hand in hand. You cannot separate the two because for over 2,000 years, God has used entrepreneurial pastors to reach the lost, to equip the saints, and to forge new kingdom ground. 

Need some examples? Here you go:

The disciples were commercial fishing entrepreneurs.

Paul was a tent making entrepreneur. 

Spyridon of Cyrus (ca. 270–348) served as bishop of Trimythous and as a shepherd.

Zeno (d. ca. 400), bishop of Maïouma, whose church in Gaza was quite large, was a linen weaver.

Pachomius of Egypt (ca. 292–348) and Benedict of Nursia (480–547), included in their monastic rules the practice of work, in addition to prayer and study.

Martin Luther (1483–1546), held that all of life, including daily work, could be understood as a calling from God.

As America has become increasingly post-Christian, entrepreneurial ministry is again a viable means to proclaim the gospel, offering it free of charge (1 Corinthians 9:18).

Entrepreneurship and Christianity go hand in hand.

Do you have any research to back your claim up? Probably not because I suspect you’re basing your claim off your opinion/bias/preference rather then how God has worked and is currently working.

Bivocational or entrepreneurial ministry as a means for Christian leaders to finance their mission and ministry has been part of the church since it started.

In fact – the full-time, fully funded pastor is the EXCEPTION and bivocational/entreprenurial ministry is the norm.

Let me be crystal clear – the time has come for the clergy to return to their roots, to take their collars off and get their hands dirty, and to embrace the relational aspect of being the church rather then simply expecting people to come to church.

In the next 10 -20 years, the pastor who is paid by entirely by the church will become a distant memory and the pastors who are make a difference will be the ones who embrace the entrepreneurial spirit that is indicative of the Christian faith.

Creating a sense of Urgency

I often run into individuals who have incredible dreams and passion but no sense of urgency. They love to talk about things, but the actual doing of said things is a foreign concept. They have no urgency and as a result often end up being complacent.

Here’s the thing – having a sense of urgency is not normal – it must be created and recreated. The problem comes when we create a sense of false urgency out of anxiety or frustration that manifests itself in a flurry of unproductive behavior.

When urgency is understood both intellectually and emotionally, it always results in productive, daily behaviors that move us closer to our target.

There’s a couple of things we can do to move towards creating a mindset of urgency

  1. We can look outside of what we are currently doing.
    If we want to change something, then we have to move from an internal perspective to an external perspective.
  2. We have to act like we have a sense of urgency every day.
    This means we are ruthless in removing obstacles and challenges that keep us from our mission. This means we speak passionately about what we are working towards. This means we walk the talk at all times.
  3. We have to find opportunities in the midst of the chaos and crisis.
    When we have a sense of urgency, we can’t focus on damage control. We recognize there are going to be some casualties along the way, but the greater purpose is what drives us. Sometimes damage control makes us cautious and complacent and as individuals driven by a sense of urgency, we cannot afford to be cautious or complacent because there’s too much at stake.
  4. We have to eliminate the idea that things are fine.
    If you look at a situation and think to yourself, “It’s fine as it is”, chances are you are not looking at that situation with a sense of urgency. That means you’re not seeing all the problems or challenges associated with that situation. What follows is the inability to know when to act.

Bottom line is that we have to act with a sense of urgency if we want to achieve what God has placed in our hearts. Acting urgently is the what allows us to move through complacency.

Credentials or Character?

The Raiders/Antonio Brown drama is a perfect example of an organization hiring someone who had the credentials to perform, but not the character.

I see this as a significant reminder for anyone who is hiring for a position – you have to know that whoever you are hiring can be trusted – and trust only comes from character, not competency.

If you don’t hire for character, then the individual’s competency doesn’t matter. They might be a perfect fit from their resume, but if you can’t trust their character, you should walk away. You can always train and develop an individual’s competency, but rewiring their character is an almost impossible task.

You have to hire with this criteria and in this order:
Character – Can you trust the individual?
Competency – Do they have the skills or do they have a history of being able to learn the skills necessary for the position?
Culture – Do they fit in the organizational culture?

IF they have the Character, and IF they have the competency potential, and IF they can connect with the culture – that’s who you hire for the position.