504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
Two of my favorite things

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On putting our “ORs” in the water.

A boat with no motor and no sail will not move until the oars go in the water. Oars are important—they are small in relation to the size of the boat, but they can make all the difference. The small word “or” is the same. It can make all the difference.

Visitors or Guests

This past Sunday we had multiple guests in the morning worship services. If they are visitors, they come and check us out—maybe they will be welcomed and maybe they will not. If they are a guest (thanks to Disney) we view them in a different way. We acknowledge that we exist at least in part for them. We try to make it easy for them to understand what we do and how we do it. We anticipate their questions and we are quick to tell them other aspects of UBC that might allow them to get involved and experience the comfort of community and the grace of God. What would it be like if every new person at UBC was treated as a guest instead of a visitor?

Tourists or Pilgrims

Tourists come to see what they can see, buy a few souvenirs, take some pictures and go back home. Pilgrims are on a quest. They come looking for something of significance that cannot be reduced to a postcard or a trinket from the gift shop. Tourists compare everything in the place they travel to things back home. Pilgrims are in wonder of a land not their own, seeking an experience, a story, a memory or a revelation. What would it be like if we came to worship and Bible study as pilgrims instead of tourists?

Attenders or Members

A member has to invest something. An attender shows up. A member might pay dues or be assessed fees or have to take a turn on a work group. A member takes it for granted that they are needed, that they are in their place when the lights go on. An attender makes the decision to come based on convenience. A member makes the decision to come based on commitment. A member contributes time, resources, energy and passion to an organization, a cause—a Savior. What would it be like if attenders couldn’t wait to become members?

Members or Disciples

A disciple is even a step beyond a member. A member is loyal to an organization. A disciple is loyal to a person. A member names a place or an institution as the place of their membership. A disciple names a Teacher and goes where the Teacher goes. To be a disciple of Jesus is to organize time, resources, desires, and discipline around the priorities of the Savior. Where members go to a building or institution, a disciple takes the teachings of the Master wherever they go. Vocation is before Occupation—a disciple is a follower of Christ who happens to make a living doing something fun and productive. What if University Baptist Church became known as a place where disciples gathered on Sunday and scattered to be Salt and Light to a culture that desperately needs it?

Let’s put our “ors” in the water and row.

Monday, January 10, 2011

On Choices and Consequences

New Year’s confession to a congregation from your Pastor. My wife and I watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune when we happen to be at home. During the week leading up to Christmas, I stumbled on a new game show. It’s called, “Million Dollar Money Drop. The subtitle is “Seven Questions, Giant Pile of Cash” and it is a bit different from other game shows in that the prize money is physically in play. In other game shows, the cash prize is usually a number on a screen.

In “Money Drop” two people are given a million dollars in cash and are set the task of answering seven multiple choice questions in an effort to keep the money. It sounds easy enough, but the pressure of making the right choice seems to override common sense. The contestants, usually friends or spouses working as a team, are actually holding the money and where they set it down determines whether or not they’ll get to keep it. They put it on a panel which represents the possible answer to a question and if it is not the correct answer, the panel opens and their cash disappears down a chute.

On one show I watched a wrong choice cost a couple $800,000.

To my knowledge, none of my choices have cost me quite that amount of money, but it is easy to translate the principle that choices have consequences. Eleanor Roosevelt said that, “One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes ... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” Maybe the hardest thing about parenting (and youth ministry) is to communicate that choices have consequences, even if the consequence is delayed. If I am driving and make a wrong turn, it may be some time before we know we are off course, but every mile we drive takes us farther away from where we need to be.

Read that last sentence again and substitute the words “doing life” for the “driving” and you can see where I am going.

Early on, when the world was new, a biblical family was faced with a series of choices. Lot and his wife both made a choice Perhaps known for her choice to looking back when God said not to, thus becoming the original Morton’s salt girl. Ask somebody older if you don’t understand that reference. Before his wife made her fatal choice, Lot put her in a place where she had to make it when he settled in a place where the grass was green, but the sin was abundant.

This Sunday, I will speak on “Be Careful Where You Settle” from Genesis 13. The topic and text coincide with the Disciple Now weekend that the UBC youth are studying choices through their theme, “Wise or Otherwise.” I hope to reinforce their weekend with the message on Sunday morning. Pray for Mikel and his team for this important time. Pray for the students who will take part. Pray for all of us that God fertilizes our hearts for this important text.

Friday, January 7, 2011

On Lateral Discipleship

This week, I am shepherding our annual "big event" youth ministry class/conference called Youth Ministry Institute in January. Think Youth Camp for Youth Ministers. Our theme is "The Dance of Discipleship" with the idea that dancing (so the Presbyterians tell me) is an intimate moment between two people in which one partner leads and the other follows. I couldn't imagine a better description of discipleship, so we went with it as a theme. We bring in lots of guest presenters and it is always a great way to start the year.

As we have contemplated discipleship, it hit me this morning that discipleship may be more of a line dance than a couples dance. There are lots of people who are instrumental in the choreography we call discipleship. Even with the twelve men who followed Jesus, I imagine that there were some lessons shared between the disciples as well as the lessons learned from following Jesus.

Maybe Peter looked at Matthew and speaking of a person who began to follow Jesus said, "I am glad we reeled in that one." Maybe Matthew, talking about another new follower said, "I am glad that he settled his accounts with God." They had to learn from each other.

I am blessed. This week I learned from my fellow disciples. Dennis Rogers has been my mentor for more than 30 years. Chuck Gartman has been a colleague and friend for more than 25 years. Jim Graham was the co-creator of YMI. We have bounced off ideas for over ten years. Paul Turner has become an accountability partner as we have shared life as parents of our own kids. Kevin Boles is "that student" who has surpassed his professor.

Add the other presenters who have all impacted my life in some way or other--Mark Matlock is so gracious with his time and his amazing intellect; Jake Gulledge has become such a model for authentic worship; Alicia Claxton Kathy Frady and Robby Gallaty make me confident that a new generation of Christ followers are being pointed in the right direction; Barry Sneed is a valuable friend and resource. Through MissionLab New Orleans, Sarah Barnett models what it means to be a servant-missionary.

My assistant, Paige Kirby demonstrates what it means to disciple from the background through her remarkable gifts of administration. Other students volunteered their time.

I don't list all these names just for a "shout out" to the folks who have helped out. I am newly aware of the concept that "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Prov 27:17).

I have been sharpened this week. I have learned from Jesus and Paul as I have studied passages which deal with discipleship. I have learned from John Stott as I have read his remarkable book, "Radical Discipleship." I have learned from God through Moses as I have prepared a message entitled, "Brotherly Keeping" for Sunday morning from Genesis 4.

But I have learned from every conversation, every prayer, every resource referral, every shared idea from my "lateral disciples." We need each other in this thing called discipleship. Maybe it is a good idea for you to make a list of all of the people who are speaking truth, instruction, and accountability in your life. Take a minute to thank God for Lateral Discipleship.