Lamb Of God is a track from Emerald Hymns’ album Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs.
As we swelter away in Mount Gambier with the temperature making it to 41 degrees Celsius yesterday and it’s back up to 36 degrees today about midday, here’s a slightly surreal BBC video featuring the town of Ain Sefra, on the edge of the Sahara desert, where, as unlikely as it may seem, they had snow.
Snow and the Sahara.
Not usually thought of together.
The hopes of pastoral life can spill over into frustration with God’s people, often because the pastor longs to see people experience the freedom Christ gives.
But a focus on the wonder of what God is doing in the lives of his people brings perspective, joy, and hope.
Glenna Marshall writes about an experience of seeing the body being the body, and the beauty that there is to behold in that:
Church ministry is hard stuff, and it is easy to become embittered toward the people God has placed in your spiritual family. But that’s the heart of the issue: these are the people God has placed in your spiritual family. And the call in 1 Corinthians 13, after all the instructions about serving and using our gifts both individually and corporately, is to love the spiritual family serving with you. Love is patient and kind and forgetful when it comes to past wrongs. Love forgives quickly and seeks humility. Love endures. Love is the impetus for grieving with a sister, for washing dishes, for making sure the heat is working.
Beneath the practical outworking of our individual gifts is that enduring affection for the family of God. And when we get tired of serving or impatient with one another, we dig down a little deeper for the ultimate motivating factor: love for our Father, the One who is knitting us all together with His unfailing, unbreakable love.
The Church is broken because she is made of broken people. But she is also beautiful because she has been healed by a beautiful Savior. I find pieces of my sanctification in serving alongside the members of the broken and beautiful Bride of Christ. He will surely present her pure and spotless before the Father one bright, glorious day.
Read the whole post here.
Dan Rockwell provides some helpful insight about the qualities of leaders and managers.
Pastoral ministry isn’t either of these, but it does involve aspects of each.
An observation in general is that those who carry out management roles well can often find themselves in leadership roles without having the needed skills to do that role well.
An observation about churches is that people with leadership capacities can find themselves being expected to carry out management functions without having the aptitudes to perform that role well.
Personally I feel the management functions are more natural to me than the leadership functions.
It’s a constant struggle.
From Dan Rockwell:
Manager or leader:
John Kotter’s book, “That’s Not How We Do it Here!” is a fable that addresses tension between the divergent functions of management and leadership. The following lists are inspired by his work.
You’re managing when you:
- Plan and budget.
- Solve day-to-day problems.
- Track processes and measure results.
- Hire, fire, and concern yourself with job descriptions.
You’re leading when you:
- Set direction.
- Align people.
- Seize opportunities.
Insights from Warren Bennis:
“Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led.”
- You’re managing when you concern yourself with how and when questions.
- You’re leading when you concern yourself with what and why questions.
Over-led organizations end up chaotic.
Over-managed organizations end up bureaucratic.
Read more insights at Leadership Freak.
What would Mount Gambier’s Batcave Of Evangelicalism be without Batcow in residence?
Januarys being what they are pastors can find themselves looking at ourselves and others wondering if disciples of Jesus have made any progress during the previous twelve months.
That can be a very, very depressing activity if we don’t hold on to the fact that, unlike justification, that sanctification is a progressive work that is never complete in this life.
The notion (expectation) that while we don’t expect the people to whom we minister to be perfect, we’d just like them to be significantly problem free or significantly less problematic than last year (i.e. perfect, or becoming perfect) through our ministry is really a form of prosperity gospel.
Progress is progress. It may not even be measurable in a year.
If you were to ask most Christians, you’d find many consider the prosperity gospel to be an unbiblical teaching offered by religious hucksters. But there’s a subtle way in which a similar message creeps into our theologically sound churches—a back-door heresy perhaps more damaging than the promise of a bigger house or fatter bank account.
It is the prosperity gospel of instant life change. I often heard a version of this during testimony time in the otherwise fundamentalist church where I grew up. Some former alcoholic would stand up and say something like, “I was hungover on Saturday, and by Monday I had taken my last drink.”
I have to admit testimonies like this still move me emotionally. I’m stirred because I really do believe in the power of the gospel to regenerate a person’s life. Christ is in the business of changing us, but we too often communicate a message that sanctification happens instantaneously for everyone who truly believes.
The problem is, this is not only untrue for most of the people in our churches, but it’s also not a promise Jesus made. Instead, Jesus said we’d have to take up our cross of suffering and yield to the Spirit’s work of sanctification on a daily basis. Paul, who was certainly no hedonist, admitted his own death struggle with sin (Rom. 7:7-25). And what about the writer of Hebrews, who compares the Christian life to a marathon, a daily putting off of the “sin which so easily entangles us” ( 12:1)?
The gospel is the power to radically alter lives. Some of this change may be apparent immediately after conversion. But more often, it occurs over time. The greatest life change is the result of a hard, slow slog of sanctification—the work of the Spirit through the Word and other means of grace, such as the church, sacraments, and prayer. We should celebrate change, but we should also prepare ourselves—and those we disciple—for a lifetime of struggle against sin. What’s more, we must embed in hearts the theology of an already-but-not-yet eschatological view. What this means is, even as we experience Christ’s renewing and sanctifying power in the present, we understand that most things won’t be made new until He returns to consummate His kingdom. John expressed the idea this way: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be . . . when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Even our “best life now” as a Christian in a fallen world is light-years away from the perfected self we’ll see in glory.
At first glance, this seems hopeless because, in this life, we’ll never fully experience the change we want to see. And yet this expectation of future glory is powerfully hopeful because it releases us from an impossible standard and keeps us from offering the false promise of a flawless life. Instead, we can fix our gaze on Jesus, who is working to craft us into the people we will eventually be by His grace.
Imagine how this perspective might revolutionize discipleship. No longer would people be “projects” for us to reshape if only they’d follow our Bible-based growth plan. Instead, we’d see people as they are—entangled in the knotty effects of the fall, even as they cooperate with the Holy Spirit to grow into Christ’s likeness. Knowing that in due time this all will be reversed, we’d have greater patience for the process. We might encourage one another with this hope: Christ is renewing us daily, and a time is coming when the process will be complete. That is our ultimate deliverance.
So, for instance, the alcoholic won’t be offered a temptation-free life but, rather, a “way of escape” each day from the sin that so easily besets. The pornography-addicted teen won’t be told just to “get saved and your troubles will go away,” but will instead hear it’s possible to “repent and rest on Jesus, and you’ll find in Him the strength to fight for sanctification.” And rather than trying to have a new kid by Friday, parents will begin praying regularly for the Spirit to renew and regenerate their child.
We must reject the quick-fix gospel that makes promises in our fallen world which are possible only in a perfected one. What the Bible offers is not a five-step method or a plan for life change, but the good news of God’s salvation. For that reason, we can live in the present, trusting that God is forming us—slowly, methodically, permanently—into His new kingdom people.
Significant changes to eating (drinking), sleeping, and physical activity over the last eight or so months have had some noticeable effects on physical appearance, but they’ve also produced a more stable emotional and psychological state.
The black dog still comes sniffing, but I feel in a stronger place to deal with it.
This post by Amy Simpson provides a number of life-style changes that, while not being a cure-all for existing conditions or a replacement for other treatments, go some way towards building resilience that counter bouts of mental health problems
From her post:
…some of the things that can go wrong with our brains are outside our control—we can’t always do anything to prevent genetically inherited conditions, the consequences of trauma, or other forms of injury and disease.
At the same time, our mental health is not entirely outside our control. In fact, even when a genetic predisposition is present, or our circumstances are harmful, our lifestyle choices can prevent a disorder from developing, lessen its severity, or help us achieve better recovery. Regardless of our predispositions, experiences, or sense of health, it really doesn’t make sense for anyone to neglect the opportunity to protect and strengthen our mental health.
Making choices like these won’t guarantee you never experience a mental disorder or emotional struggle. And they probably won’t be enough to “cure” a challenge you’re already living with. But in either case, they will help. So as you’re thinking about your health, give some thought to that powerful organ that sits above your shoulders. Consider the all-important function of your mind. And do something good for yourself.
Go here to see her list of practical suggestions.