FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS THIS CHRISTMAS!

11 12 2017

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A coach without a team is just a glorified sports fan. A teacher lacking students is a master of soliloquies. A conductor without an orchestra is just a madman waving his hands in the air. A favorite leadership adage states, “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.” In other words, a tongue-in-cheek test of one’s leadership skills can be taken by a quick backward glance over the shoulder. Is anybody following? No? Then you’re not leading. What good are leaders if nobody follows them? And what good are so-called leadership skills if the people they’re called to inspire to action only exhibit indifference, apathy and resistance? Clearly, successful leadership depends on a responsive audience that is willing to forfeit their comfort so that they may become fully engaged to fulfill the purposes that they were created for.

  If all I do every weekend at The Lighthouse Church is preach sermons that do nothing more than inform, I am not being faithful to my calling from God. The people gathered out there in the sanctuary chairs need to receive the word, believe it, embrace it, live it out, and engage with it as they allow God to transform their daily lives. All of these and more are the key results that I constantly pray for God to do within us. Way too often we waste too much time asking God to just change our outer circumstances when what we really need to seek is for Him to strengthen us from the inside out. If the Lord can make us secure in whose we are, then it doesn’t much matter much what happens on the outside if the inside is handled with the extreme divine care.   

 If I have one insight to offer about our current culture is that we are not as tough as we claim to be. In our desperate attempts to try to fulfill every want and to do so in an instant manner, we might very well have created a monstrous self-centered society. If we always get whatever we want whenever we want it, how do we ever learn to patiently wait and provide perseverance and endurance? If we constantly come to the rescue of our children and those we love, how will they ever come to know that they have the potential to conquer their trials and tribulations? When I was young, I remember my Grandparents telling me the story of how they survived “The Great Depression.” They shared the joy they all still had on Christmas even though there was only an orange and apple in their Stockings. Can you imagine giving your kids or grandchildren an apple or an orange and not expect them to throw them back at you? It wasn’t the times that made them tougher. It was the inner tenacity being developed within them that made them courageous enough to come out victorious in the midst of the mess. They endured hardship, exhibiting works of faith, love, and hope in the midst of suffering and lean times! How easy it would have been simply to surrender under the pressure and pain.

 Suffering is one of the most difficult aspects of life that we can face, and its difficulty is not diminished if we are Christians. When we suffer, or when someone else suffers, we are often at a loss as to what to do or how to handle it, but the Bible says a great deal about suffering, and it provides a proper understanding of difficulties in the life of a believer.

If we are faithful in our following, God will use our pain for the purpose of our redemption, our growth in holiness, and for the insulation of our souls to create a character that nothing can hinder or destroy. So here’s my caution; don’t be so focused on getting out of difficult circumstances that you don’t get anything out of them. Sometimes the circumstances we’re trying to change are the very circumstances God is using to change us. So before you take a painkiller, listen carefully to what God is saying during the tough times.

 Let’s not pretend that pain doesn’t exist. Whatever you do, don’t fake it to make it.

That doesn’t do anybody any favors. It’s okay to not be okay! That admission is the first step in the healing process. Generally speaking, Americans aren’t good at sackcloth and ashes. When we fail to grieve, wounds remain open. Grieving is part of the healing process.

It’s an emotional antiseptic that cleans the wound. And different people grieve in different ways, so please give others a little latitude. Pain is part of the curse, but that doesn’t mean God can’t redeem it, recycle it, and speak through it.

 If we are still on this earth, then the work is not finished. God has committed to work with us in that journey until Christ returns. How I wish for a greater understanding of this in the body of Christ. Too often we judge, measure, condemn, and isolate. The gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to sit together in our rags under the wide-open sky of grace. Maybe our Christmas Wardrobe is more about allowing Jesus to choose what we put on so we can take the masks off! This is the truth I pray that you would discover this December!

Christmas was where the Gospel began: a Baby in a manger! Easter was when the Gospel broke through; a Sonrise for the ages!  As the Magi did before they knew where it all would end, we too need to follow the Lord. Follow the Lord, today, tomorrow


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