Posts tagged CRM

Which Will? (part six)

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In many quarters of the Church, the contemporary understanding is that Christianity is lived in the passive voice. 47 waitingWikipedia says: “the passive voice denotes the recipient of the action (the patient) rather than the performer (the agent).”

The assumption is that the Christ-follower empties herself of all ambition and self-determination and simply waits, patiently, for God to move gloriously upon her life.

Problem is, it’s not biblical. It’s Buddhism.

Paul said: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…” [Phil 3:12-14 NIV]47 agonize

How much ‘straining’ and ‘pressing on’ do you see in the Church today?

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door...” [Lk 13:24 NIV] In the Greek “make every effort” is agonizomai.  Sounds a lot like “agonize” doesn’t it?

Consider Mt 11:12 “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of Heaven has been taken by storm and eager men are forcing their way into it.” [Philips New Testament]

Are these texts familiar to you?

The assumption that Christianity is lived in passive reflection—and our preoccupation with what we’re against—may have contributed mightily to the historic decline in Christian adherence in the West.

Especially among those under 35.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. 47 djangoThe credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who … if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

How well Terry Roosevelt’s words describe the noble and rigorous Christian life!

Around the US, pastors are breaking out of the “please-the-parishioner” mold, and are leading members into their cities, daring valiantly to minister regularly and unconditionally to those outside. Though they make mistakes, the sincerity of their motive procures a response of surprise and gratitude from those outside… and eventually, an openness to the claims of Christ.

And, in their churches some oppose and criticize, hoping to undermine these risky and selfless ministry endeavors.

Cold and timid souls.

 

Coaching distinctions #47.doc

Which Will? (part five)

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You don’t hear much about one’s will in preaching these days.  There’s plenty about God’s love, God’s mercy, and how God thinks each of us is so very wonderful. There’s lots about our allowing God to do this or that— be the center, be in charge, be on the throne, take my life, let it be this or that for Thee.

46 waitingListening to all of this, it’s easy to get the idea that the Christian life is lived passively. The inference is that you just sit and wait, yielded and surrendered until God decides to act upon your life … then suddenly, you do great things for God.

In my observation, people pretty much do what they’ve trained themselves to do. If you’ve trained yourself to live your faith passively, you’re not likely to spring into action when God makes an opening that requires fast obedience and involves risk.

When we sing “Lord take my life and let it be fully pleasing unto thee” I imagine God asking us: “Well, what do you want?

Do you want your life to please God?

Then, tell your boyfriend you’ll sleep with him when he marries you. Not again ‘till then.

Insist that your employer pays you “above the table”.

Gather some friends and help someone who’s needy.  Keep doing it until they ask you why.

Each is an action.

It requires your will to do it.

To drift through the years, living an indistinctive life also takes your will. The will to live like everyone else.

Your friends.

Your comfort.

Your routine.

Your stuff is paramount.

All this, Martin Buber calls our “little will”. He says it’s “ruled by things and drives”. Like our emotions and preferences. The little will never accomplishes anything great.

46 sandAnd, in the US in this hour, so pitifully little seems to be getting done that honors Christ and blesses those outside the Church, that we’d be wise to engage our “great wills” and get after it.

If not, I fear Christianity could be within a few decades of extinction.

Recently I heard an interview with the founder of a Freedom from Religion group. Their purpose is to educate the United States in “nontheism” –ridding society of all worship. 46 GodlessHe relished the amazing progress of their cause in the US and points to Scandinavia where he said fewer than 4% have any religious faith.

A secular utopia.

You can bet this man’s will is fully engaged in its pursuit.

Where’s yours?

Coaching distinctions #46.doc

Which Will? (part four)

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In I and Thou Martin Buber writes of the freedom each of us has to pursue our destiny.

If you’re paying attention, the longer you live the better you understand the unique contribution you are. I say, “if you’re paying attention” because God is communicating. Those endeavors where you’ve had success, failure, frustration, satisfaction, the aspirations that ignite your passion, the injustices that make your blood boil, the people you’re drawn to, and those you find repellant. All these point to the unique ways you get to contribute to advance God’s agenda.

God’s agenda?

Jesus did it pretty well.  “He did good and healed all who were oppressed…”.

So, do good.

Just start there. Do good, lots and lots of good. If you’re not sure what constitutes “good”, avoid the fringes and lock-in to what almost every moral person will agree is good.

45 homerIn the war between your great will and little will, how do you determine which wins?

The one you feed.

So, feed your great will.  Give yourself permission to dream. Big, huge, God-honoring dreams.

Imagine that your life’s been set up. That God’s been preparing you to impact people in clearly beneficial ways. Consider this: you live where you do, have the occupation you’re in, and are connected to the people you are because God set it up this way. It’s all been set up for you to bring good to. Your unique brand of good.

45 mandelaEphesians 2:10 calls them “good works”.  You are God’s masterpiece, God’s “poema”, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God prepared in advance for you. For this to be true, it’s not just the “works” that’ve been prepared.

You have, too.

All your life, God’s been shaping, crafting, honing, and refining the masterpiece God calls ‘you’. And, God’s placed you in a setting that needs the good you bring.

Watch some people and you might think God’s done all this just so they can be enslaved by their puny, obnoxious, comfort-obsessed, self-serving ‘little will’.

Uh, NO!

So, let’s experiment. For the next month, live as if you’ve been prepared to bring good to those within reach. Try “doing good and healing all who are oppressed…”

Drop the lawsuit.

Do good.

Quit stonewalling your mom.

Do good.

Forgive the jerk who betrayed you.

Do good.

Spend a couple hours with that lonely person you barely know.

45 goodDo good.

Help somebody.

Do good.

Offer to pray for the next sick person you see… and five more after that.

Do good.

Get a freakin’ job and quit filching off your family members.

Do good.

Stop feeding your ‘little will’ and its insatiable entitlements.

Then, in a month, decide if you want to ‘re-up’.

I bet you will.

Coaching distinctions #45.doc

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