The Internet is all abuzz in the Christian world today over what one leader has recently done. Rob Bell is releasing a new book which apparently states that no one is going to hell. Rob is a very well known and influential pastor and author. His Nooma video series has been very popular. I guess his opinion is that if God is as good as we think He is, there is no way that He would send anyone to hell.
Different voice, same old argument.
I have no desire to jump on a bandwagon and bash Rob. I completely disagree with his opinion but that is not the point of this post.
I wish we could get beyond our need for fodder. Fodder is “coarse food for livestock, composed of entire plants, including leaves, stalks, and grain, of such forages as corn and sorghum.” (dictionary.com) We like it when someone says or does something that we can chew on, talk about and banter back and forth on. About ¾ of the people I follow on Twitter are talking today about Rob Bell.
I say, let the man believe what he wants to believe. Know what the Bible says, believe it and stand up for it. Rest assured, he is being called out by those to whom he is accountable. That should be enough for us.
But let’s find something better to talk about than the latest departure from the faith.
The Bible tells us two things:
These things will happen. (II Timothy 4:3)
And we are all vulnerable to failure. (I Corinthians 10:12)
I think we should pray for Rob, speak the truth and love each other. That’s enough to keep me busy for the time being.
Life may be getting you down today. You may be tired and run down from hard work or stress. You may feel weak right now.
I have good news – there is a source of strength that is available to you right now:
The Joy of the Lord!
We have access to His joy whenever and wherever we need it. At our lowest and weakest point, He comes to provide the strength we need to not only survive, but thrive!
This whole idea comes from one great verse in the Bible:
Nehemiah 8:10b “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (NLT)
So let me encourage you – or much better yet – let God encourage you. Allow the joy that comes from Him to fill your life. No matter what is happening around you, His joy is bigger.
I was really stoked to hear my friend Rob Kirk teach on Biblical leadership principles on Sunday evening. Among the 50 or so great things he said was something like this: “Lots of leaders surround themselves with people who are good at things that the leader is not good at. While this is normal, it sometimes results in a lack of growth and development on the part of the leader. If other people are doing the stuff we are not good at, we never learn to be good at those things.” That is not a direct quote, he was way more articulate than that – but you get the idea.
Rob agrees that we should spend the bulk of our time operating within our gifts but he thinks we miss out on some very important growth processes if we never engage our weaknesses.
So it looks like I had better start thinking about and working on some things that I am not good at, things that just maybe I have been ignoring. Maybe there is some room for growth for me.
Where to begin… let’s see… things that I am not good at…
Liking disloyal people
Overcoming my insecurities
Controlling my tongue
and so on…
Looks like I’m going to be busy for a while.
I’ve been complaining more than normal recently, looking for some indicators that we are accomplishing something in our work in ministry. Specifically, I’ve been looking for life-change in some kind of a measurable sense. I have been concerned about the lack of apparent fruit-bearing that we are experiencing.
In the last few days, I have gotten an ear and eye full:
One young couple has been impassioned by a recent missions trip. They are burning with a desire to do more.
One guy stepped up and did a phenomenal job in fulfilling a responsibility at church that, honestly, I was wondering if anyone would do.
Another guy shared with me some specific and sizable changes that he and his family are experiencing regarding their commitment to God, and he credits the ministry of the church for the progress.
One guy told me on Sunday that, less than 24 hours after he and I prayed together for work for him, he received a brand new contract.
I also had younger guy remind me that whether or not we can see and measure the results of ministry, if we are faithful in the process of the work (plowing, planting, fertilizing or harvesting), we would be participants in the fruit-bearing.
This is the life-change, the evidence I’ve been jonesin’ for. Thanks, God!
Any other stories you want to add to help stop my whining?
Sometimes I don’t know how to pray. There are times that I try, but I run out of adequate words. Sometimes, I don’t even know what I should be praying for.
That’s when my secret language can kick in. My language is based on a Bible verse that says, “…when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. 27All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God’s people.” (Romans 8:26b-27 CEV)
That’s right – I’m a tongue-talker. I don’t run around all the time speaking in an unknown language but often I pray in a language that I don’t understand. It’s kind of a secret language between me and God.
So, how can I know what I am saying to God if I don’t understand the words? That’s kind of the point. I may not understand it but God does. And the prayer is much more effective than when I use my words because my words are so limited in scope. God’s language knows no limits.
I’m thankful for my secret language.
3 years ago, Letha and I made a financial pledge to our church for a specific project. The amount God directed us to give wasn’t reasonable. It was way more than we could afford. It wouldn’t be responsible to make such a commitment, and it would impossible to fulfill it. And besides, with the horrible economy, it was no time to be obligating ourselves financially.
At least that’s what we thought.
We prayed hard before making the promise. We reminded ourselves of the scripture that says, “Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up.” (Ecclesiastes 5:5 MSG).
And then we did the right thing: We made the pledge.
On Sunday, we completed our pledge. With God’s help we were able to, week by week, fulfill our obligation. You know the old adage that says: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” Finishing this thing is a huge relief. But more than that, it is a huge lesson. God told us how much to give. We thought it was too much. We were wrong, He was right.
Here are 3 things (among many other things) that I picked up from God through this experience:
–Life is about steps. We like events, but God generally prefers processes. All you have to do is take today’s step.
–Obedience is key. If we trust God enough to actually do what He says, He will take care of the rest.
–God can do cool stuff we can’t do. This one was not possible without God’s help. Some minor miracles happened that enabled us to fulfill our word.
I learned these things on a deeper level than ever, all because of this experience.
What might God want to teach you?