Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Happy New Year

I know that New Years day was nearly two weeks ago, but better late than never.

I can remember my pastor asking me if I knew what the most religious day of the year was? At the time I thought it was a no brainer, has to be Christmas, possibly Thanksgiving. He said no, the most religious time of year is New Years day. Even the pagans become religious with there resolutions for the New Year. Well since then I have had a completely new outlook on new years and religious resolutions and have pretty much written them off.

It is interesting though, how the New Year has changed many things for my family. Probably the biggest change has been a new resolution to get on with life. It doesn't mean that the grieving has stopped, it just means that the grieving is no longer stopping life. Slowly, little by little we are finding that new normal.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Our Need for ‘Symbiotic Accountability’

By Kenny Luck

Spiritual independence is an oxymoron. The key word here is moron.

"My relationship with God is personal," is a common refrain. I hear this from men who either don't have the spine to accept responsibility or to admit a fault—or both. As a men's pastor, it is the verbal equivalent of a skunk facing south with its tail raised. It's code for, "Get out of my space or else." There are lots of reasons why men respond this way.

Shame, selfishness, ignorance, wounds and defects produced by a sinful nature are the major culprits. But for the man who has experienced the slimy pits of self sufficiency, been broken by his sin, been awakened by grace and tasted God's goodness, this reaction is more than counterproductive. It invites God's discipline. God's man is designed to live interdependently with another brother.

This accountability is a locking of arms that grows stronger over time. The myth is that deep spiritual maturity should require less accountability over time. It certainly sounds good. But any pastor would probably tell you the opposite is true.

This "symbiotic accountability" is highlighted in Paul's exhortation to the Thessalonian church. Reconnaissance by Paul's protégé Timothy showed good spiritual progress, and his reports were off the charts.

Their report card according to 1 Thessalonians 3:6-9 was FAITH: A+, LOVE: A+ and COMMITMENT: A+. What do you say to disciples like this? Listen closely to how Paul manages the news and responds to the men in Thessalonica who may have been feeling like they had the Jesus thing down.

"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told and warned you" (1 Thessalonians 4:1-6, NIV).

Red alert! Warning! Personal space being invaded!

The message from Paul to the men of Thessalonica was unmistakable: "I affirm you and your progress to this point"; "I am not letting you stay comfortable"; "I am focused on the next area of spiritual integrity"; "I am in your spiritual life to stretch you"; "I am going to invade your space in Jesus' name"; "I am asking and urging you to keep stretching spiritually"; "I see an area you need to work on—keep your togas down"; "I am going to call it like I see it"; and "I do not need an invitation or a crisis to speak up."

If I were a Thessalonian believer, I might push back and get in Paul's face. "What authority do you have to get into my business? Isn't that between me and the Lord?" Paul knows this and that is why he says, "I ask you, I urge you 'in the Lord Jesus … by the authority of the Lord Jesus.' " In other words, he's saying, "In the Lord Jesus, your business is my business and my business is your business."

Brother to brother, believer to believer, we are deputized by Jesus and given the authority in Him to firmly and gently encourage a brother to line his life up with his identity and responsibility as God's man. It's not about the messenger, his character or even his delivery. It's about who he represents, the truthfulness of his observation and his faithfulness to God's purpose for the relationship.

What's actually at stake if you don't enter into that kind of spiritual relationship with another man or two? The less accountable God's men are, the sicker that body becomes because it has unchecked cancers of character growing.

The more accountable we are as God's men, the healthier we are as individuals and, consequently, the healthier our body of believers becomes. That's why more of God's men need to have a Jonathan and David moment.

One God's man simply commits the following to the other: "The Lord is witness between you and me" (1 Samuel 20:42, NIV). In other words, we are each other's spiritual space invaders, and we won't let each other fail spiritually.

Kenny Luck is a men’s pastor at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and founder and president of Every Man Ministries, an organization that helps churches worldwide develop and grow healthy men's communities. He is the author or co-author of 16 books, including Risk (WaterBrook Press). Learn more at

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Will they ever get it?

I ponder often about a situation that came up in our church body. Without getting into the details, it was a situation where two people had gotten up to their eyeballs in sin. And though the church offered and did what they could to help them see their sin and get out of it, the sin itself blinded them. And rather than see the error of their ways, they decided to take offence and walk away.

This reminds me of a situation where a brother pointed out some sin in my life. Because I knew that the sin was sin, I could say nothing about it. So I did what any rebellious Christian would do, I decided to take offence to the way that he approached me, and I severed my relationship with him. Well that festered under the surface and produced all kinds of grossness in my life. The day I repented in tears to him was the day I was really set free.

I have never been in a church where somebody would actually be asked to leave. Would I be able to love somebody that much that I would be willing to face rejection myself so that this person might somehow be set free from their sin? I know that the natural me would want to smooth things over, make excuses for them and just say that the love of Jesus is enough. What kind of love is that?

The situation brought out issues that I have with people involved, and how I need to forgive even though there is no repentance only selfishness. My heart aches for the people that got hurt in the process, for them there can be no repentance that could ever heal their pain.

So will they ever get it? I hope so, otherwise we will be just one of the many obstacles they view in their rear view mirror of life. As they careen from place to place hoping that somehow the next church may have the answer as to how stop the hurt of a life of sin and a lack of repentance.

Unqualified To Drive\Live

Were you driving today? Try and think of your drive to work or wherever you were going and ask yourself how aware were you of your driv...