Stirrers

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We all know those people, though sometimes we may wish we didn’t. The ones that no matter what you do with them there is always “a break out of drama” that stirs up strife and causes division within the group you are with no matter how big or how small.

These experiences can be emotionally frustrating and though you have tried to understand and fix the situations that come up – you still wind up – scratching your head – wondering “how in the world did this happen. This is CRAZY.”

Some people just want you to bow down to them and they use drama to get you to do it.

For some of us its some people we go to church with who are constantly stirring up some issue about the church or the people in it.  For others of us it comes from a set of relatives and regardless of what you do with them something winds up going wrong.  Others hope that we do not have to endure our child being in a class with the kids of those parents who never seem to be happy with the school or the teacher… again this year.

So what is the answer to “how should we as believers handle these people?” Do we walk on eggshells and endure till the end?

No – Walking on egg shells is exhausting, and doesn’t work because they are not happy unless they are upset at something. Unless they are stirring something up.

Do we smack them?  I wish I could say yes… but the answer is no unfortunately.

Does God’s word say anything about this? – Yes it does.

 

Not too long ago I ran across a few verses in the Bible that gave me some much needed direction when it came to people who stir things up with their drama.

“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”  Titus 3:9-11

In short you do not have to be around them anymore.  Have nothing more to do with them.  Yes, you can forgive them without having to show that forgiveness by being around them.  You warn them and then if they do not stop you have nothing more to do with them.

You are free to avoid these types of toxic people.

So quit feeling guilty because you don’t want to be around them anymore… It’s Ok and God wants you to stay away from them.

Be Free!

Unmistakable Habits of Utterly Authentic People

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Wilde made it sound so simple, but living with authenticity is a real challenge.

To live authentically, you must own your actions and ensure that they align with your beliefs and needs. This can be a difficult thing to maintain when external forces pressure you to do something you’re not comfortable with or to be someone you’re not.

Most people have experienced the discomfort that comes with failing to behave authentically. Researchers from Harvard, Columbia, and Northwestern joined forces to measure this phenomenon scientifically. They found that when people failed to behave authentically, they experienced a heightened state of discomfort that’s usually associated with immorality. People who weren’t true to themselves were so distraught that they felt a strong desire to cleanse themselves physically.

It’s clear that our brains know when we’re living a lie, and like all lies, being inauthentic causes nothing but harm. But how do you start living authentically? That can be tough, especially if you’ve been playing a role for most of your adult life.

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” – Oprah Winfrey

Authentic people are deeply in tune with who they are and what they want. Their ability to live their life in harmony with their true selves comes from some clearly discernible habits that any of us can study and incorporate into our repertoire.

They help others to be their authentic selves. Authentic people don’t expect others to play a role either. They don’t make people feel as though they have to fit into a certain mold or to project a certain image to be a part of their lives. Their commitment to being authentic gives other people the freedom to live authentically too.

They let go of negative people. Authentic people have too much self-respect to put up with people who treat them badly or have ill will toward them, and they have too much respect for other people to try to change them. So they let go—not out of anger, but out of their need to be true to themselves.

They express their true feelings and opinions, even when they’re not popular. Authentic people don’t live a go-along-to-get-along lifestyle. They’re simply not capable of acting in a way that’s contrary to what their principles dictate, even if there are repercussions. They prefer not to lie to other people, and they especially can’t lie to themselves. This means that they’re willing to live with the repercussions of staying true to themselves.

They are confident. Much social anxiety stems from the fear we have of being “found out.” We’re afraid that somebody is going to discover that we’re not as smart, experienced, or well-connected as we pretend to be. Authentic people don’t have that fear. Their confidence comes from the fact that they have nothing to hide. Who they appear to be is who they really are.

They prefer deep conversations to meaningless chatter. Eleanor Roosevelt nailed this one. She once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” You won’t find authentic people gossiping about others or giving their opinions on the latest celebrity scandals. They know all of that stuff is nothing more than cultural trappings, and they choose to talk about things that matter.

They don’t take anyone’s advice without evaluating it carefully first. It’s not that authentic people aren’t willing to take advice; they are. But they don’t put that advice into action just because other people have. First, they’ll run it through the wringer from a critical perspective so that they can be sure it makes sense for them.

They don’t complain about their problems. Complaining is what you do when you think that the situation you’re in is someone else’s fault or that it’s someone else’s job to fix it. Authentic people, on the other hand, are accountable. They understand that they—and no one else—are responsible for their own lives, so there’s no point in complaining.

They’re internally motivated. Authentic people don’t sit at their desks thinking, “Well, if my boss would just make this job worthwhile, I’d do a better job.” The carrot-and-stick approach just isn’t relevant to them. They’re motivated from within.

They make the best out of any situation. Authentic people have a very firm grasp on reality. When things don’t go their way, they don’t get trapped in denial, and they don’t sit around whining about how things should be different. They simply take stock of the way things are and, if there’s nothing they can do to change the situation, they figure out a way to make the best of it.

They don’t get stressed or upset when someone doesn’t like them. It’s never fun accepting that someone doesn’t like you, but a lot of times that discomfort comes from trying to figure out what you did wrong or how you can fix it. Authentic people don’t have that anxiety because they would never try to change themselves to influence someone else’s opinion. They accept that other people have a right to be authentic about their own feelings, even if those feelings are negative toward them.

Bringing It All Together

Living authentically is a perpetual challenge that yields great rewards. It’s a noble path that you won’t regret following.

What are the benefits of living authentically? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

What do you care about?

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What do you care about?

I am sure every reader will answer this question differently and some will give the answer they perceive this blog is looking for.

Some people care about video games and how well they do at those.  They are attracted to them and play them every chance they get.

Some people care about having things and being able to be cool and in control.

Some people care about clothing and if their wearing the latest and greatest, while others reject anything cool intentionally to make a point.

What do you care about….

at church?

Some church goers care about the music, the style, the manner in which it is “performed”.

Some church goers care about what the church can do for them, wanting the church to revolve around their needs, their wants and their desires. They want church their way.

Some church goers care about being able to network in a church. Others want their church to be big while others want it to remain small.

What do you care about at church?

The answer?

It is the very thing that would make you want to leave. Not the thing you say made you leave but what really – deep inside – made you leave though you do not want to vocalize it. That is what you care about…

It’s the thing that makes you irritated or the reason behind your irritation.

But is it what Jesus cares about?

Way beyond the color of the carpet, the style of music, or all the other things we “want” in a church is what Jesus cares about…

He doesn’t expect perfection, he knows there isn’t a perfect church, he knows there will be struggles an issues in every “local gathering of believers” and he is ok with that.  He knows people will not always act right, he knows people will not always “do church His way” but he never gives up on the church because what Jesus cares about is…

Souls

and their salvation

and discipleship.

He cares about rescuing people who are lost.

And that is really what we should care about too.

And when we do have our eyes focused on that goal, all the other things we think are important “pale” in comparison.

Lessons an established church can learn from a church plant.

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There was a huge push when I was in seminary for those of us who were graduating to set out and plant a church in an area that needed something modern and relevant to reach a lost and dying world.  Many of my friends answered the call and went for it. Some were successful while others couldn’t seem to get one to either start or lead it to an established state. Regardless, none of my friends 20 years later are still with the church they started after they left seminary… they now have found “homes” in established churches.  Whether this is a sad commentary or not is irrelevant.  What is relevant however is many of the things that are true of a church plant should also be true of an established church. What is sad is somewhere along the way some (not all) established churches have lost some of the basic things a church needs to be doing regardless if it is new or old.

First there are very few (if any) pew sitters that go to a church plant.  If someone comes to church and is not involved in some form of that church’s ministry they are called – visitors or better yet “Guest”.  For some reason most established churches have plenty of members who just pew sit every Sunday and do not get involved in the ministry of the church.  There are various reasons for this but the point here is that there should never be a member of a church that isn’t involved in some type of church ministry, regardless if it is new or old.  Just think, if we could figure out how to mobilize the pew sitters in our congregations how powerful that would be not only for the life of the church but think of how impactful that would be for the community around the church.

Second, a church plant will except anyone that walks through their doors.  This acceptance isn’t in the sense of “accepting people’s sin”, but rather acceptance that comes from the understanding that church is a place you “come as you are” and is a place “sinners need to be at.”  One of the reasons people fear coming to an established church is the fear of rejection, of not being accepted.  A church plant is so hungry for people that they always accept any visitor and try to make them feel at home while they are there.  Some established churches struggle with those who have tattoos, piercings, dress differently or come from a different race or social standing than they are accustomed to at church.  I would argue that any church established or new should focus on making people far from God  (or close to God) feel welcome and loved.  This is how Christ reached people and so should we.

Third, in a church plant the members seem to bring visitors every week.  In most established churches people quit inviting people to church a long time ago.  The members of any church should be out promoting the church they are a member of by inviting their friends and neighbors to come and attend.  This is part of the great commission. One of the reasons established churches do not grow is because of this.

Fourth, the environment of a church plant oozes with change.  In fact ,change is expected.  Some established churches cringe at any change that might be made.  An environment of change however breaths life into the church body.  Yes, not all change is good, but that isn’t what this is about. If something remains the same and changing something becomes a thing to be feared, the life of the church will soon be choked and the life within it will  die. (In some churches you can smell the moth balls when you enter them.)  All churches should have an environment where change is expected instead of resisted.

Fifth, rules and policies are simple and not cumbersome. Most church plants haven’t had the time to create a bunch of policies to govern their church environment and because the policies they do have are not generally written down, the policies/rules have to be simple enough to remember. Simpleness breeds practicality.  Too many established churches have policies and rules that are way to complicated (probably because something bad has happened and they want to make sure it doesn’t happen again).  Maybe, it’s time for your church to ditch Roberts Rules of order and get rid of some of the committees it has so you can function a bit better and move a little bit faster on things. This would take a new way of thinking of course and the way to accomplish this would be to sit down with some church planters in your area and ask them how things operate at their churches.  Not so you can give them guidance, but so you can see clearly where your established church is bogged down with needles red tape.

So there you go….

…a few things we who have an established church can learn from a church plant that we need to be reminded of lest we forget some of the things that should be part of what we do.

Rain (Hebrews 6)

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I have grass this year in my yard.  This is an accomplishment but its not mine alone.  My good friend Josh Hill (who is now a pastor at The Summit church in Raleigh. NC)  has plugged and planted grass seed in the fall of each of the last 3 years.  The results have been very pleasing, we have gone from a yard of weeds to a yard that has mostly grass in it.  The transformation – especially this year – of my yard has been amazing…

but maybe it doesn’t take much to amaze me – Ok I might give you that…

Our neighbor who lives across the street however has nothing in their yard but weeds and trees.  The trees have weeds growing up and into them (its a vine like thing) at an alarming rate. In fact the weeds that are growing “up” the trees in their yard have killed several of the trees and are on their way to eliminate all of them.  They have tried several things in an attempt to rid themselves of these weeds but none of their strategies have worked so far.  They are coming to realize what I have known for a while.  The yard will have to have a major over hall before the problem is taken care of but even if they do that, they will have to fight to keep their yard free of weeds if they want the new grass to grow and remain.

So what does this have to do with rain?

I’m glad you asked…

It rained two weeks ago for 7 days in a row. I’m not talking about an occasional thunderstorm every day. I’m talking about rain, sometimes hard sometimes light but continual rain to the point you felt like looking for Noah.  The grass in my yard loved those seven days. It was almost like you could watch the grass grow right before your eyes.  My neighbor’s yard received the same rain.  The ground soaked it up and the weeds and trees drank it.  In their yard you could also seemingly watch the weeds come to life taking over areas that they had previously worked on to rid themselves of the weeds.  The same rain that blessed my yard allowing it to grow and live was the same rain that blessed their yard also allowing it to grow and prosper.

Hebrews 6:7-8 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.”

This comes at the end of a highly debated passage of scripture, but is often ignored when explanations are given for the previous verses.  I am not attempting to write this blog to solve the issues people have with those verses.  That is not my goal and I’m not really interested in getting involved in that discussion.  But, I will say this, these verses play a major role in what the previous verses actually mean.  There are a few things that are clear…

Rain falls on ground that will produce good things and ground that will produce bad things.

Both types of ground drink/soak up/taste the rain for their own benefit.  The ground then produces what is planted deep within it. Some ground produces very beneficial things while other types of ground only produces weeds,thorns, and thistles.  It is only ground that is cultivated to produce a crop that actually winds up producing that crop.  Land that remains uncultivated will not produce a crop of any value – only weeds.

Unless my neighbor cuts down all the tress in their yard and kills the rest of the weeds all the way to the roots and then plants some grass, it will be impossible for their yard to have anything in it other than weeds.  If they turn away from that path –  just choose to not pay the price to solve the problem – just let things be as they are – they will live in the arena of impossibility.  Yes doing nothing makes it impossible for them to ever have a yard that produces anything other than weeds.

Every time they visit my yard they taste and see what a “good looking” yard can be.  (Ok my yard isn’t a “Better Homes and Garden Yard” but that’s not the point) But if they aren’t willing to change in order to get the weeds out of their yard they will continue to live in the arena of hopelessness.  All the while God continues to bless them with the thing they can’t produce or make for themselves – RAIN.

So, I feel like this post is already too long so I’ll end with this.  Hebrews 5:11- 6:12 is about cultivation and believing in Jesus.  You need to make sure you have allowed Him to change you and that you are working everyday to cultivate and grow in the faith you have in Him.

He will provide the Rain and help you remove the weeds.