What Our Church Really Needs

There is a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is an accurate understanding of truth. Wisdom is understanding and living in the light of how that truth applies to the situations and relationships of our daily lives. Knowledge is an exercise of your brain. Wisdom is the commitment of your heart that leads to transformation in your life.

Simplicity at its best

LTRfront1Leadership Training Residency is a class that our church offers for Overseers, Worship Leaders and Youth Ministry Leaders.  I am taking this with some other brothers that I walk with and am in ministry with.  There was some concern on my scheduling (my involvement), but after talking with some accountability partners (my wife and brothers that I am being held accountable with), we decided that this would be a good discipline in my life to get my spiritual life back into focus. One of the books that were assigned to us is by Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline, where he talks about outward disciplines and in his words, "After all, the writers of Scripture constantly took that risk. And so I follow their lead and suggest ten controlling disciplines for outward expression of simplicity:

  1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status (want versus need, practicality versus status, simplicity versus idolatry)
  2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you (if the object, item or possession causes you to put that before everything else, especially God, then release it and let it go)
  3. Develop a habit of giving things away (don't let the left hand see what the right hand is doing and your Father, who is in Heaven, is watching you and seeing you lay treasures up in heaven instead of materialism on earth.   The more stuff the more complicated life becomes)
  4. Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry (things that promise to save time usually breakdown and don't really have Kingdom value and in some cases become idolatry:  Case in point - your smart phones)
  5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them (share the beach - don't try to own a piece of it; visit parks and libraries)
  6. Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation (walk and hike wherever you can and listen to God's creation)
  7. Look with a healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes (this is usury and in its very nature tells us to accumulate debt instead of being debt free and honor God)
  8. Obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech (Let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no.  Follow through on your own integrity, honesty and truthfulness in all that you do)
  9. Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others (live in a way that does not oppress others - if what you eat, drink and wear and own causes others to be oppressed than change your habits)
  10. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the Kingdom of God (if it is an idol and gets in the relationship between you and God then remove that idol.  For some this could be sports (or our kids sports that takes our time and talent and treasure away from building God's Kingdom; for others it could be laziness; for others it could be putting everything else in our life before God's will.  Some of you may be asking what is God's will for our life - my question back to you is are you in prayer daily, God's word daily and serving God's Kingdom instead of your own kingdom?)

One of our Worship Leaders, Vinnie Adams, just finished an album that you can download (and even purchase) and I think it is very fitting to ask yourself where you life is leaning on these 10 disciplines above.  Take a listen to his album (read about Tesoros De Dios and if you feel compelled to donate - please do) and asks yourself these questions:

  1. Are you seeking God for direction
  2. Whose is it anyway
  3. Will God be faithful in my life (if I trust him in everything)
  4. Am I laying everything down before God (Jesus paid it all)
  5. How Great is our God
  6. Be still in life (in trial and tribulation and seasons that are stretching our walks)
  7. Do you love Jesus
  8. Rock of my Salvation

Blessings, Dante

Watch yourself

There are two poems that mean a lot to me and my walk.  I like them both because they impact my life in the way that I walk and the way I want to share my life with others.  This past weekend I lead our men's group and we talked about discipleship.  I asked three of my leaders to come up to the front with me and to share what discipleship means to them.  Along with that, I asked them so questions like why do they do what they do?  Why do they stand in the gap?  In God's math, do they feel like they get more than they give? discipledock

One of the poems that I really like (and quote often) is the 5 watches:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”  - Frank Outlaw

W - watch your words - Matthew 12:37  (NIV) 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Psalm 141:3 (NIV) 3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;  keep watch over the door of my lips.  Scripture says what needs to be said here.

A - watch your actions -  1 Peter 2:12 (NIV) 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

T - watch your thoughts - Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Why are we, as disciples, called to renew our minds?  Simply put, we were once lost but now are found.  For those of us that bear the Fruit of the Spirit, we know that there is a war that goes on from our old selves to our new selves (in Christ) and we have to put that old self (and its thoughts) to death daily.

C -  watch your character - 1 Timothy 4:16 (NIV) 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

H - watch your habits - Psalm 119:56 (NIV) 56 This has been my practice: I obey your precepts (a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought).

We are called to go and make disciples.  We are called to renew our minds.  We are called to love our brothers.

As striving to be the disciples that Jesus wants us to be, then we have to understand that nothing we can do can ever erase the debt or earn our way into heaven - Jesus paid it all.  Jesus is the answer.  Therefore, as disciples, what are we called to do:

  • to be pure (God is Holy)
  • to stewardship (of our time, of our talent and of our treasure) - It's all God's.  What we do with it will either give him all the honor and glory or it will give it to the world.  Whom will you serve?
  • to discipleship - how we live, even without words, should imitate Jesus and our lives should point others to Jesus.

I will even challenge you on this.  If we look at our walks in 3 steps:  Biblical purity, biblical stewardship and then discipleship, then I want to challenge you on this question:  How can we be an effective disciple (being more Christ-like) if we do not hone in on purity and stewardship (of a time, talent and treasure) before we can become a serious disciple.  Acts 11:26b (NIV)  says this: "So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch."  Did you catch that?  When they first became born-again (profess and confess and transformed) their lives a new in Jesus Christ they were known as Christians.  As they walked with Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for a whole year they were then known as disciples.  A Sensei literally means one who has gone before.  Both Barnabas and Paul were sinners, saved by grace, and went before the others as Apostles.  They met men and women where they were and did life with them together in relationship.  They taught them, shared with them and prayed with them.  They were in Scripture together and talking about real life issues and providing for one another.  They were first called Christians and then, after a year, they were known as disciples of Jesus Christ.

If the world is watching us (and they are), is our life pointing them to our old self (our old sin nature) or our new self in Jesus Christ.  Is our life pointing them to the Savior?  If they look at our purity (are we striving toward holiness as we are commanded?)  If they look at our stewardship (investment, giving, serving, and so on) does that point them to Jesus?  If we have purity and stewardship (this does not mean that we have it altogether and we live perfect sinless lives - of course we cannot), but it does mean that the Spirit and His Fruit is present in our lives.  We show humility and love in all circumstances.  Do you think that would be an effective disciple?  I most certainly do!  Challenge - look at Scripture and tell me whether or not you agree with me?

Watch your thoughts, they do become words.

Watch your words, they do become actions.

Watch your actions, they do become habits.

Watch your habits, they do become your character.

Watch your character, it does become your destiny.