Monthly Archives: November 2018

If we don’t, they will!

In Jesus final week, he was riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and the Bible says:  the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  (Luke 19:37-38)

This outburst of joy caused the religious leaders to say to Jesus,“Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”(v.39). To which Jesus replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (v.40)

You know the story, we call it Palm Sunday. Before you say, “wrong holiday, this is thanksgiving week.” Hear me out: What if the disciples had listened to the hushing Pharisees and quieted down, so that the stones were forced to vocally take their place? I never had a pet rock (back when that was a thing). I’ve skipped stones, but never talked to one. I’ve listen to the Rolling Stones from time to time, but I get no satisfaction (pun intended) from their songs. I don’t think that Jesus was referring to Mick Jagger and the boys anyway. So, in spite of those disclaimers, here is my best guess as to what the stones might have cried out:

Grateful Granite: Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. (Psalm 95:1)

Singing Sandstone: The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! (Psalm 18:46)

Shouting Slate: “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)

Faithful Flint: The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone!(Psalm 118:22)

Crying out Quartz:  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:4)

Rocks quoting scripture? Why not? Jesus said it, “If we don’t, they will!”  This Thanksgiving week, don’t let sedimentary, metamorphic, or igneous rocks (that’s your geology lesson for the day) take our job. Instead, let’s continuously offer our rock rattling, stones quieting praise and thanks to the Lord, our Salvation and Solid Rock!

Have a great thanksgiving!

What Every Church Leader Must Know about Change

People don’t hate change. You read the sentence correctly. Before rattling off a hundred examples of why “everyone knows that people hate change.” Hear me out:

If I were to give you $10,000, would you hate that?  No, you would say, “Thanks, buddy.” I have changed your financial situation, but you didn’t hate it. You welcomed the change. But if you gave me your bank account information and I took $10,000, would you like that? Duh! Again, I have changed your financial situation. One change you liked. One change you didn’t. What’s the difference? What you didn’t like was loss not change.

A woman in abusive relationship refuses to leave, why? Is it because she hates change? No. If her husband began to treat her with respect and love, she would be thrilled (assuming not too much damage has already been done). A positive change would be very welcomed. But she doesn’t leave the abusive spouse because of uncertainty in finances or living arrangements, or how the revealing of the abuser might split other relationships. She doesn’t want the loss. She would welcome change.

Churches have split over changes in worship styles, Sunday School emphasis and even carpet. But is it change that folks hate or might it be the loss of singing familiar hymns, the loss of relationships within the church, or the loss of their personal influence in making church decisions?  If a church was told, 200 new believers will be in church next Sunday, would they welcome that change? Most would. If they were told to keep the 200 believers coming, some folks might lose some responsibilities, some familiar songs might be lost, some sense of knowing everyone’s name and business will be lost.  Would they still welcome the 200 new folks? Not as gung-ho, if at all. It’s loss not change that’s the problem.

If change must happen (and clearly it does– every major faith group is in decline), then the gifted leader/board will discern how to make change without focusing on the losses but the gains.  It’s creating an environment where those who have invested their lives in a church will not feel like an outsider or that they have lost the church they love. It is challenging to make changes without suffering some loss, but the wise pastor/board will empathize with those who are struggling, focus on what is gained not on what is lost, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill any voids that may be expressed as changes occur. This last point about the Holy Spirit’s involvement is not simply tossing the “God card” into the discussion. Some folks are resistant to change not because of loss or change per se, but because of carnality.  Hence, the Holy Spirit must invade, drive and go before any change can occur in the church.

“Change” isn’t a four-letter word, but “loss” is. When making changes be mindful of what is being lost, then challenge and focus on what can be gained for the Kingdom sake!

When Facebook makes me Bitter not Better

I have been sick the last couple of days, so I have probably been on Facebook a little more than normal and I have a confession. I don’t like it when people who have hurt me put happy smiling pictures on social media. When they fill my timeline with happy times, it’s like I swallow a giant gulp of bitterness with each picture and post. I’m not proud to admit this, but I also don’t think I’m the only one.  When an ex-spouse or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend is posting Facebook pictures of their new love interest; or when the bully in school has pictures on Instagram surrounded by the cool kids; or when a lazy, coworker brags on Twitter of his/her job promotion; or (for pastor types) when former members who loudly, stormed off post pictures of their new church family—it hurts and we want to shout into our phones or computer screens, “It’s not fair! They shouldn’t be so happy!”

Those people who have hurt us in many ways have moved on with their lives and may never think of how they have hurt us. In some cases, the knife in our back was placed there years ago. These people have families and friends, so of course they will post smiling pictures of happy times. Still there seems to be a part of me that wants them to be perpetually unhappy. I know this is petty of me to feel rotten when a nemesis posts happy pictures, but I’m just being honest. I’m also in good company, David was brutally honest in the Psalms regarding his foes:

Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.” (Psalm 3:7).  Yeah David! God should smack them upside their heads. Or…

In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.(Psalm 143:12). My thoughts exactly David! God should shut them up or at least make them stop posting happy pictures on Facebook.

While I can relate with David’s emotions, I don’t want to stay in the cave with him. I’m not sure what good comes of me dreaming of a holy beat down that the Lord might dish out. Do I really want God to go all Sodom-and-Gomorrah on them?  No.

The Holy Spirit reminds me of Jesus words in my times of bitterness and jealousy: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:43). I want to shout at my Bible or to God, “Impossible! I can’t do it. Maybe I could pray, “Lord, send the fleas of a thousand camels to infest their armpits,” but I can’t pray nice prayers for them every time I see a smiling picture on Instagram. To which Jesus responds, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”(Matthew 19:26).  Deep down, I know the Holy Spirit is right.

Social media has added to our society’s discontentment which, in turn, adds to our angst and ever-increasing gloom. In many ways, instead of connecting us, social media has further divided us. Here’s what I am trying to learn when I see the smiling pictures from people who have hurt me:

1) The person posting (just like me) has good and bad times. (Like me, they just don’t post to social media all of their bad news)

2) Jesus died for them (just like me).

3) Jesus loves them (just like me).

3) Even if they never acknowledge the pain they’ve caused, I need to look to Jesus who forgives all (even them and even me).

4) Bitterness, envy and jealousy are joy killers. I refuse to be controlled by them

5). I can’t let his/her attitude control my altitude.  Instead, with the Lord’s help, I can rise up and get over the pain! And finally, four sentences in eight words

6): Relax. Be faithful. Trust God. Let it go.  Easier said than done?  Most definitely. But life is too short to allow someone’s social media posting to determine your happiness and contentment.