Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Transformational Discipleship

I've just finished Transformational Discipleship by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley and Philip Nation.  I had been looking forward to reading it since I heard about it, and it didn't disappoint.  I would recommend it for pastors and leaders, as well as any Christian who is concerned with being a better disciple.  That pretty much should be all Christians, right?

Anyway, the authors start out by introducing us to the concept of transformational discipleship.  They point out that everyone is a disciple of something or someone, and that not all discipleship produces transformation.  It might change things on the outside, but inward transformation requires being a disciple of Jesus.  It isn't about knowledge, though that is important (and even part of the process of transformation), and it isn't about behavior modification, though our actions will change as we are transformed.

They have created an image they call the "transformational sweet spot", converging Truth, Posture and Leadership.  You should read the book and find out more.  How we discover and live in truth, grow with a proper understanding of who we are in Christ, and how we lead and are led are all things you'll find as you read through this book.

One of the areas I especially liked was when they reminded me of the importance of communicating that our discipleship is a result of our identity.  Who we are in Christ is why we love God, love people and reach out to the world.  While I certainly speak of this often, I don't know that I do it nearly often enough.

Another area I'll mention quickly has to do with the idea of creating leaders.  As a pastor, I'm not proactive enough in creating leaders.  Too often my temptation is to wait to see who reveals leadership tendencies, and help them become leaders.  I don't think this is good enough.

I will continue to process the book.  There is a lot there, and it has left me challenged.  As I prepare for leading the church I pastor into the future, there are a lot of these concepts I will be mulling over and applying to the way I lead.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

God in the Darkness

My wife and I have been going through some rough times lately.  Actually, we are still in the middle of some of that now.  She was pregnant, and we lost the baby.  It has caused some pretty serious pain, as both a husband and a father.  I know I'm not the only one to have gone through this; not by a long shot.  Actually, one of the things which has surprised me as we've gone through the grieving process is how many have approached us and said they have gone through the same thing.

So I'm not trying to herald myself as some sort of martyr.  It's just been hard.  If you've been there, you know.  If you haven't, there is likely some other tragedy which has happened in your life, and while you don't understand this particular pain, pain itself is not foreign to you.

As we've moved through this, we have discovered something wonderful; our faith in God has not shaken.  I have written on pain many times in the past, and how evil is not a reflection of God or His character.  One of those posts, with links to a couple more, is here, if you're interested.  What I have noticed is that the theology of God which I have held is no less true in the darkness than it is in the light.

Let me sum up a few thoughts on this.

First, evil, pain, death and darkness are not reflections of the character of God.  God is love.  He does not want these things.  They are a reflection of all that is ungodly in the world.

Secondly, God does not always get what He wants.  He does not want these things, but out of His love He created both men and angels with free will, and while we have a great deal of power we can use for good, God has seen fit to give us the freedom to use that same power for evil.  That is true free will.

Secondly, death is a result of sin in the world, and this will one day be put to an end.  This is a day I long for.    It is in this which I put my hope, even when things are going all haywire around me.

Thirdly, God is not distant in my pain, but is near.  He walks with me through the valley of the shadow of death, and while evil might be around me, I will not fear.

These things cause me to love God more, and to have even more faith in Him.  I'm glad, for the record, that God doesn't control all events.  I'm glad He didn't take my baby.

God is good, all the time.  For this, I'm thankful.