Thursday, February 12, 2009

Functional Atheism

Just a quick thought for you.

How does your life differ from that of an atheists? Some might point to beliefs or perhaps (mistakenly) to some level of goodness. But really...how does your life truly differ?
I am convinced that many Christians are living lives that are in effect lives that are indistinguishable in any kind of meaningful way from an atheist. Is it simply our belief system that separates?
In our constant pursuit of safety and security, we stop living by faith. Have you been able to say any of these lately?

"I have followed God to this point, and if He doesn't come through, I'm dead."
"I believe God told me to do 'this,' and I have positioned myself to obey. If I'm wrong my family and I are in trouble."

Is your journey one of belief; or one of faith? Atheists have a belief system and they navigate life by it. Christians have a belief system, but many do not find the intersect point within their life. It is their "spiritual side." Really? What is that? You see faith takes what we believe and (hopefully) what the Living God is saying to us and steps out of the boat.

Live the distinction. Let people see Jesus in your life, they don't care about your beliefs.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Where is God When...?

We started a new series last week "Where is God when..." answering some of the tough questions that come up in people's faith journey.

Last week we looked at Where is God when I'm suffering? It is a horrible thing to feel alone when you are suffering through something in life. It can feel like God is distant at times when you need Him the most. listen, download or subscribe to our podcast through iTunes at our site www.westshorechurch.info/html/media.html

This weekend we are looking at "Where is God When...He's LATE!!??" Ever been looking to God for direction, only to feel like He is silent or that He is just saying "wait. trust Me." Meanwhile you have deadlines demanding your attention.

Come be a part of our service this weekend and get the full experience!

Blessings,

PE

Monday, February 2, 2009

Kingdom Leadership

You know what I am about to say may be the most important thing some leaders in the Kingdom will ever read, it also may be the most irrelevant and unwanted thing for them to read as well.

I have taught leadership in the Kingdom for over a decade. I have seen passionate young men and women raised up and equipped under my ministry. I have taught them all the principles I can about service, relevance, integrity, faithfulness, vision, etc. Like me most of them had the attitude of being willing to "Go anywhere and do anything for Jesus."

About four years ago now the Lord led me out of my place of full time pastoral ministry into an unexpected time of wilderness for a period of two years. I felt betrayed by God because He didn't meet my expectations of what should have been next for my life and that of my family. I was expecting "the next level", the Promised Land of ministry that I had fought and prayed for for so long. What I found was a barren wasteland where God seemed distant and His voice was silent. What do you do leader, when there is no one left to lead?

As I said I was willing to go anywhere and do anything for the Lord...except when He asked me to do nothing. Do nothing and just trust Him. The days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months. Seasons came and went and still He was silent.

Slowly I began to see in His Word how this is actually a common experience in the people that God graciously decides to call to His service. We read the story of Abraham and just read verse to verse, chapter to chapter and it's no big deal. But what about for him? 25 years of waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. What would you do?

A few years back I discovered something. There is a pattern of priority that I see in Scripture. This is not a formula, because God is God and there will be exceptions, but I believe it is a strong Biblical principle.

First God calls you to Himself, then to His people, then to a task.

These principles are not independent of each other. They build on one another. God always primarily calls you into relationship with Himself, from that comes His direction to serve the Christians around you with humility where His character is formed. After that (and perhaps through that) comes calling and burden for something specific.

Our culture is a task-oriented culture and we are driven by ambition. Therefore people tend to skip to the last task. They immediately want to experience a calling, receive responsibility, etc.

I say this with all affection, but Leader you must remember that you are not special. You exist today because of an unbroken chain of faithfulness through the centuries of Christians who have followed the path that God laid out before them. Your circumstance is not special. There is no loop hole to catapult you ahead regarding the formation of Christ within you. If the great heroes of the faith had to experience wilderness times, times of testing, times of great trail and disillusionment...then so will you. You must put that in your leadership formula.

God calls you to live in the now with Him. His name is "I AM" He is sufficient for you right now. The future is in the sovereignty of His hands, and that is where it will always stay. Trust Him in the now. Trust in His goodness towards you. Trust that His thoughts for you are for good and not for evil. Don't let your dreams and expectations of God eclipse your view of His face. Your life is in His hands in the valley, just as surely as it was on the mountaintop.

God bless you!