Monthly Archives: June 2016
Mistin was chatting with a business minded non-religious friend in the neighbourhood
“Is there such a thing as a five year funk in business?”
“Absolutely, it’s about the time you start asking the question, ‘Am I going to be doing this forever?’”
“Well my husband and I talked about it, and we feel like there isn’t anything else we’d rather do with our lives, it’s just that we feel like we are in a bit of a funk, maybe because we don’t feel very successful with our church.”
“Well, how do you define success for your church? How do you measure it?”
“I suppose one way we would measure it, would be to help people love and follow Jesus to such a point that they are willing to be publicly baptized.”
“Ok, well then, we need to figure out a workable pipeline that leads people from attending your mothers day parties to becoming devoted enough to Jesus that they want to be baptized.”
“Business works like this, you do free stuff at the beginning, people get interested, then you call people to sign on for small packages, then medium packages, then the large package which in your case is fully devoted followers of Jesus who want to be baptized. It seems to me that you and Dennis are excellent at giving away the free stuff — you are good at the entry level, your mothers day parties and BBQ’s are tremendous, everybody loves them, but then where do you take the people from there?”
“Well, we just kind of wait, and pray, we believe the Spirit of God works in people to where they will start asking questions, and when they do we are ready to talk about Jesus with them.”
“Hmm, yeah, the spirit thing, I suppose that’s important, but what about small and medium packages? Take me for example, I don’t know enough about Jesus and baptism to know if I want the big package, but, knowing you guys, I’d probably be interested in a small or medium package, well anyway, happy to talk more about this if you like, we really want to help you.”
Thus concluded business 101 for the Wilkinsons. Does she have a point? What small and medium packages could we as a church offer? Is the church like Costco? Experience free samples of sausages, so that you can buy a package of sausages, so that you will eventually buy a pallet of them? Is the flow of Christian discipleship about smooth up-sell? I don’t think so.
Even still at what point does the walk of faith meet with a business model that works? Are there strategies that can be employed to help along the process of discipleship? The great evangelist Billy Sunday of the late 19th century bragged that he could personally guarantee a soul for every dollar donated to his business model of evangelism. Does success really come down to business models and marketing?
The only pipeline I know of is love. We must love people well, that means being present and available, that means being generous and hospitable. That means being a good friend and one who sees the needs of a neighbourhood and meet’s them. The Spirit of God acts through these tangible expressions of love, this inevitably creates conversations, which create opportunities for people to grow in their knowledge and love for the Lord and for the Lord’s people. If every Christian practiced the above as their pipeline towards success. I suspect there would be a lot more baptisms.
I confided to Jane that another person in my life had been extremely mean to me and I kept playing in my mind how I would talk to her if I ever got the chance. Jane told me I absolutely must “take those thoughts captive”. Don’t allow the mind to run like that. Simply stop it! Let it go. Move on. Yea, yea, I got the message. . . and it felt rather unsympathetic.
The next week I was vacuuming my floor and playing my favourite “tell-her-off-in-my-mind” game when the vacuum cord popped up out of no where and smacked me in the face! No kidding! I stopped, looked up to the heavens and said, “I get it!! I’ll stop it! I’ll let it go!”
And I’ve tried. But more people keep being mean to me. (Can you hear the childish whine in my voice?) They say harsh things that are unfounded. I don’t get the chance to clarify what is truth. They just tell me off and walk away and I’m too shocked to answer in the moment so I keep answering in my head over and over again for months!
What does this do for my mental state? Everything opposite of my favourite Bible verse. . . “He has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind”. I’m the one becoming mentally unstable!!!!! Where’s the justice in this? Those people were mean to me! They falsely accused me out loud to many other people!! This is not fair! I need to let them know. . . some day! I better keep preparing my speeches.
I’ve begun to notice when I work on my speeches interesting things happen. Mighty rushing winds while running, sudden cloud bursts of rain, stubbing my toe, forgetting something on the stove, random door-knocker, large truck interrupts train of thought, phone dings. . . etc. It’s almost as if something is trying to stop my internal rants. . . . nah – that’s just too supernatural and spooky. . . .
And besides these people who’ve hurt my feelings so badly and then just gone on w their lives really need to know the damage they’ve done! They’ve ripped out bits of my heart, my will, my stamina, my joy. They’ve stolen whole weeks worth of sleep from me!! They’ve altered my enthusiasm and even my personality! They’ve taken an upbeat extrovert and made me into a hiding hermit! If I could only tell them how they’ve wounded me so deeply, perhaps then I could get back to my old happy self!
At this point in a conversation I would naturally say, “What do you think?” to get some affirmation. But I’m not asking this time. I don’t want to know what you think or anyone else. I’m busy ranting. Don’t interrupt.
Then this week I woke up with the following thought.
I keep waiting for sincere apologies and I keep planning my responses and people keep saying and doing “mean things” to me so how long will this cycle continue? I need to figure out how to “let it go” for my own sake! The book of Hebrews mentions a root of bitterness that can spring up in the heart and destroy us. I need to not let that happen! If I continue on this path, I could let my own thoughts destroy me!
These offenders have likely forgotten their offences and moved on with their lives (maybe even to go on offending others or repeat offending me)! They never knew and likely never will understand the depth of the wounds they have inflicted on my heart.
I need to release them.
When I release them, the natural consequence will be that I cut my own bonds of bitterness and free myself.
So today I attempt to release them to the hands of the Almighty God who desperately loves them and wants to restore them. He loves them in equal measure to His love for me. How I must come to grips w the Father’s love for all humans!
Father God, I ask for your blessing on my offenders. I ask you for my release from the grip bitterness has gained on my heart. Please free me from the memories of their harsh words and actions. Help me to treat them as forgiven by YOU and loved images of your divine presence in our world!
A child of mine and I were walking the sea wall. Talk shifted to swear words.
“Do you know any?” I asked
“Yes I think so” she said.
“Which swear word do you know?”
“You know the F-Bomb? What is it, tell me?”
“Yes, go ahead tell me”
Haltingly, with a rather British tone she says to me
I correct her pronunciation and remind her that the F-word is not an appropriate word choice for her.
As I finish coaching her up, I notice a wave of relief washing over her face.
“What?” I ask.
“Whew” she says “There is a place on the map called the Falkland Islands and all this time I thought they were really really bad islands.