Jesus instructed His disciples, “allow the little children to come unto me for such is the kingdom of God.” The capacity of a child to have and exercise faith is just amazing!
Just experienced a 4 year old St. Lucian girl singing a praise song in a church service that was a huge blessing and moved all to tears. Why? We could see within her the wonder and awe of God. We could feel within her what we desire to feel in terms of expectant faith that whatever the scenario God can and God will! And finally that we could sense within her the presence of Jesus that really reveals the immense transforming value of having a personal relationship with God.
Stop for just a moment as you read this and simply ask God to help you return to a child-like faith. Be a 4 year old for a change.The awe and wonder of God anew and afresh could very well be the beginning of a day that might be your very best yet. Thank you Jesus for this promise!
I can’t remember who I heard say it last but it resounds with every emerging story of the decline of Christianity in the west, “The same strategies that created the problems will not produce solutions to solve such.” Seems like Lewis Grizzard first penned a version of that about 40 years ago as a sports columnist for the Atlanta newspaper when Atlanta’s professional sports teams earned us the moniker, “Losers Ville”.
Anyway, obvious to all is the need for some kind of leadership overhaul in protestant Christianity in North America and Europe in order to produce different results. Dr. Gary Maxey, President of the West Africa Theological Seminary in Lagos, Nigeria, recently shared with me some of his research which showed that in 1800 some 87% of global Christianity was located in Europe and North America. Projections show that in 2025 some 31% of global Christianity in North America and Europe. That’s not a paradigm shift, that is a paradigm earthquake! Praise God for what is happening in China, Africa, and some other parts of the world where people are on fire with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, how can we who are now facing more church closures than plants explain the fire that once was in Europe and North America that has become a mobile torch in the name of Jesus to carry the very light of Christ to places like Africa and China?
Everyone from highly respected scholars to shade tree sociologists has opined on the cause/effect of that transition of the global Christian population, but the postulates are varied in accordance with the theological or social bent of the cause trying to be justified in undertaking such studies. Not to be out voiced, let me suggest two things: 1) when Christianity began to transition from a lay-centric movement to a clergy-centric movement in Europe and North America the evangelistic and missional landscape began to change. We moved from a primary goal of making disciples to other goals that became like counterfeit Gods as the western man began to fashion God in his own image rather than vice-versa and the biblically traditional potter/clay model; and 2) the morphing definition of Leadership post WW2, especially in spiritual and theological arenas, has been an interesting thing to behold, but more confusing than interesting. From the Dalai Lama, to Farrakhan, to John Maxwell and Rick Warren is a pretty wide circle, wouldn’t you agree? My fear is that we have so diluted the biblical definition of leadership by developing our own personal definitions that not only we are confused, but the emerging generations are beyond confused, they are more like speechless. Speechless in describing the great legacy of leadership that is theirs to follow and redefine.
Twenty years ago I was thinking that leadership needed a facelift; kind of like a Peter Drucker squared or a Billy Graham Third Day remix. Ten years ago I decided that a facelift was too shallow to produce lasting results and we needed spiritually surgical enhancement to regain leadership forms with a biblical worldview and today I am thinking organ transplant. Remaking the external just isn’t going to do it. We need the gut wrenching blessing of being made new inside and out if we are to cast an inspirational shadow to those who look to us to lead.
Is there any good news? By all means! God is in the business of raising the dead, healing the sick, giving grace to the downcast, and shepherding back to wholeness those who have wandered a pig trail to near demise. That we might pray fervently live as Paul described in 2 Cor. 3 that we would again be God’s people who are both hopeful and bold in our leadership as we, “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.” (v. 18, NIV)
May the Lord bless and keep you all and give you the great desire to follow Him and thus begin to lead like Jesus in all that you say and do. Amen.
Got up this morning with a renewed hope that the 5th would be as great, if not greater, than the 4th! How about you? Jesus told his disciples in the gospel of John on 3 different occasions that they would see a greater day in the eternal shock and awe campaign of the glory of God!
Man, I want to live in that expectation today. Yesterday’s worship service was off the chain at Mount Pisgah and the still image above is just a visibile reminder that those who wear the uniform of the American Armed Forces are very much our heroes and heroes are still welcome here!
So make the 5th and even great things than this day with God and respond to God’s call to action. have a hero, be a hero, and Love God, Love people!
The Wesleyan Renewal Movement is growing and spreading in significant ways and I am very excited to be a part of that movement. (Facebook and WRMNG.ORG) There is an escalating and growing awareness of the need to reclaim our doctrinal heritage not only just here in North Georgia but all across the US and in several areas of the world where the United Methodist Church is growing by leaps and bounds.
In the early 80’s I was impassioned to learn all I could about the Wesley’s and with great fascination I discovered how they moved from the fortress mindset of the Anglican church to a movement of force by taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people at their point of need. The very roots of our heritage are both evangelistic and social in terms of a real connect that produces real transformation in the hearts, lives, and circumstances of people as they grow in a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ through worship and all the spiritual disciplines given us for unbroken fellowship with God.
I have long since been troubled by John Wesley’s stated fear of the future, “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.” Troubled simply because in my almost 30 years of living by faith in Christ and living in answer to God’s call of the ordained ministry I have felt like I was swimming upstream at times in terms of the cultural interpretation of orthodoxy and sensing somehow a devaluation of doctrine in the life of both the disciple and in the collective church.
Paul instructed Timothy well and often in the absolute necessity of building the ministry of Christ from the ground up utilizing sound doctrine as the bedrock of the work of the church in the world (1 Timothy 4, 6; 2 Timothy 4:3-4), and we are no doubt grateful to all who have stayed that course despite the temptation to join a wave of cultural pluralism and individualism that has redefined experience in such a way that personal experience and preference is used as a lens to interpret scripture, life, and most anything else needing customization to better fit the emerging lifestyle.
However, lately I have seen the beginnings of a move of God that goes way beyond a human renewal movement in its breadth and depth taking shape in Methodism. Last August I spent several weeks in Nigeria and taught at the West Africa Theological Seminary in Lagos and then travelled on to Jalingo for the training of 60 UMC pastors in the three annual conferences under the direction of Bishop Arthur Kulah and what I witnesses there was amazing. A church that has grown from 16,000 members to 800,000 members in 10 years simply by preaching, teaching, and living sound doctrine and doing the work of the church in name of Christ and with the power of Scriptural Authority.
What’s more is that we are hearing of the same kind of move of God and growth in all of West Africa, in Central and South America, and even in Europe and the Middle East of all places!!! O God, that the fires of renewal and revival that are sweeping there would ignite the churches in America to blaze again for you!
Maybe I am too optimistic too early, but I can’t help but sense that this is the kind of move many of us have been praying for all of our life and ministry and we need to load wood to this fire that is grounded in Christian Orthodoxy. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Wendy Deichman who is the President of United Theological Seminary in Ohio, and Dr. Jason Vickers (who grew up right here in North Georgia) who is a Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies as well as the Director for the Center for EUB Heritage and was astounded to hear from them what is happening in terms of a grassroots movement in academic circles.
They shared that the entire faculty of United had felt compelled to come together and together embrace the Nicene Creed as their collective and common statement of faith on which all of the rest of the academic work and teaching would be built upon. To verify that I understood correctly I asked if everyone had signed on to such a covenant and they replied yes and it had ignited their entire faculty! Wow! In fact, Dr. Vickers went on to share that there is a movement among many of our younger Wesleyan Theologians (including several who did their PHD work under the guidance of Dr. Bill Abraham who were excited and working together to continue to flesh out what this embrace of our most basic and trusted creedal confession of the Christian Faith could spawn in excellent and well thought out papers and publications.
I am more excited about what is happening by God’s hand in Methodism than I have ever been despite the fact that we are in our 45th consecutive year of membership decline. Thanks for being a part of the Wesleyan Renewal Movement and thanks for staying the course to the biblical charge of teaching and preaching sound doctrine! Look forward to seeing you at Annual Conference and being in conversation together with Bishop Scott Jones as we holy conference and do our best to join God where God is moving as we seek with passion the renewal of our great church.
Blessings and Peace,