Daily Riches: Ministry and Contentment (Pete Scazzero, John Calvin)

“Looking over our shoulder to more ‘successful’ ministries is one of the most frequent sources of pain for leaders.  …We can learn a lot from the pattern of John the Baptist’s leadership as he responded to the news that he was losing people to the ‘new, big thing’ happening around him (John 3:26-30): (1) I am content. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. “A person can receive only what is given him from heaven.” Yes, God gives gifts and abilities that we want to steward well. But each place of service, employment, success, or failure (a lot of God’s closest servants seem to suffer martyrdom) is under God’s sovereignty. It is tempting to strive, manipulate, and anxiously toil to push doors open that God does not have for us. But we want to receive as a gift each task given to us by God regardless of the where it leads. … (2) I am second. “I am not the Messiah…I am a friend of the Bridegroom, who stands and hears him.” John’s self-knowledge enabled him to escape the deadly trap of envy. …May we never lose sight of the pure happiness found in listening to the lovely voice of Jesus in Scripture, as well as the privilege given to us to speak His words to the world. (3) I am disappearing. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John is happy to decrease, even to disappear. Are we? Calvin said it well: ‘Those who win the church over to themselves rather than to Christ faithlessly violate the marriage they ought to honor.’ You and I will disappear some day and God will continue to build his kingdom. May we too rejoice in that process whenever God opens doors for us to disappear.” Pete Scazzero

“A person can receive only what is given him from heaven.” John 3:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you live by the numbers, you’ll die by the numbers. Do you measure ministry success by numbers? Is your identity based on competition and out-doing others?
  • Many leaders are tempted “to strive, manipulate, and anxiously toil to push doors open” that God has closed. When doors close, what’s your response?
  • Your ego has a plan for you as a pastor – and it’s not “disappearing.” Are you aware of it? prepared to handle it?

Abba, give our leaders great contentment serving you.

For More: Open Secrets by Richard Lischer

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: You Are God’s Plan for Justice (Gary Haugen)

“Our engagement with the work of justice is no more and no less than an extension of our desire to follow our God and Savior. …if our leaders … teach us about the God of justice, we can, and will follow him in the struggle against injustice…. They will lead us in the authority of the Word of God to know God’s passion for justice, Christ’s compassion for the oppressed, God’s holy condemnation of the sinful abuse of power and his deep desire to rescue the vulnerable. … [they] will show us that God’s plan for seeking justice in the world is to use his people to work acts of love and rescue. …equip us with a hope that will withstand the inevitable trials and suffering that accompany obedience to Christ. [and] …prepare us to be witnesses for Christ’s love and holiness in a hurting world of oppression. Or – they won’t. Some teachers will be so shocked by the unfamiliarity of this God of justice, that they will, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, return to … worship of a different God – their familiar God of tithes and sacrifices – and neglect the God of the Bible, the God of justice…. Jesus call the teachers and guides of his own people back to their Scriptures, to rediscover this God who had become unknown to them. At least one teacher came secretly to Jesus in the night to learn more (John 3:1-17), but most teachers simply grew angry at the suggestion that they had veered from the God of the Scriptures. They closed their ears to the voice of Christ.” Gary Haugen

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter –
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Isaiah 58:6,7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • It’s possible to be very religious and “close your ears to the voice of Christ.” Could you be missing that voice? Could your pastor?
  • Is Isaiah’s theme familiar to you? …in your church?
  • Do you believe God wants you to “work acts of love and rescue?”

Abba, help me see you as you really are.

For More: Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Religion of Women, Children and Slaves (Kathleen Norris)

“Political power seems to corrupt religions, corroding them from within. It may be that as they age, and gain respectability in the social sphere, religions need to be brought back to the essentials of their faith and practice. It may even be that religions are at their best when they are being oppressed, or when their followers are marginalized in the culture. A new book Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt, provides a glimpse into the history of the Baptist and Methodist churches at a critical time when a choice was made between marginalization and acceptance into the mainstream. The rabble-rousing Baptist and Methodist preachers who roamed the American south in the eighteenth century were radical … [in that they had] a vision of the church as a place where the distinctions of race, gender, and class were all but obliterated by the Holy Spirit. Many prevailed upon slave owners to free their slaves, and they defended the right of any person, black or white, male or female, educated or illiterate, to give public witness to their faith by speaking in church. By the early nineteenth century, however, these socially unpopular positions had provoked considerable tension and even scandal within Southern culture, and the churches faced a drop in membership. One churchman of the era is quoted by Christine Heyrman, the book’s author, as saying that ‘they could not rest content with a religion that was the faith of women, children, and slaves.” Kathleen Norris

“Preach the word … correct, rebuke and encourage –
with great patience and careful instruction.”
2 Timothy 4:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your church take positions that are “socially unpopular?” If so, is it in a “radical” sense, insisting on Biblical values in spite of popular political or sacred religious convictions to the contrary?
  • Does a desire to be “respectable” prevent this? Can your church be “marginalized” and still effective for God?
  • Would church leadership speak out in this way even if it might mean “a drop in membership?” …or some form of “oppression?” Would the people tolerate it? Would you?
  • In many ways the church of Jesus is one of “women, children, and slaves.” Can you “rest content” with this, not only in theory, but as it manifests itself in your church?

Jesus, deliver us from the need for respectability.

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”