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November 2006 Archives

November 2, 2006

One or the other

Acts 15:37-40
Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed...

I think it was earlier this week that Joyce Meyer was talkng about times when conflicts that cause seperations actually multiply ministry. In hindsight, we see how this conflict did just that. Still, the nature of conflict in relationships is painful. I want to put down my own thoughts on the dynamics of this relationship between Paul and Barnabas and see if there are some lessons for me.

I've always tended to group Barnabas primarly with Paul because of thier invlovement together. I've been looking at Barnabas for a message I'm doing and beginning to see how closly aligned he is with the other apostles. He first appears in Acts giving offerings (4:36-37). Next he appears before the apostles to validate Paul's ministry. He must have had some influence with them to convince them that this former persecutor of "the Way" was now a follower of Jesus. Barnabas is eventually sent out from Jerusalem to represent the apostles back to his home of Cyprus, then to meet up with Paul in Tarsus before heading down to Antioch. Upon returing to Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul pick up Mark for thier next journey. These are the facts. Now here are my conclusions.

First, Barnabas' primary relational connection was with the apostles (and my assumption, Peter foremost) more than Paul. They had invested in his life, recognized his gifting and developed him as a leader (remember Barnabas already knew how to serve having been a levite), and entrusted him with responsibility. His loyalty was with the apostles.

Second, I know if I was in Barnabas' position it would have been very easy to overlook the anointing that was on Paul's life, or at least minimize it. After all, wasn't Paul's acceptance by the apostles based on Barnabas' recommendation? Wasn't it Barnabas who was comissioned to supervise these outlying churches? Wasn't it his choice to invite Paul along for the journey? I know I'm imposing a level of arrogance to him that may not have existed, but I know how I would have been thinking. Which brings me to my conclusion about the conflict over Mark.

I don't know what Mark did to frustrate Paul so much. Nevertheless, it caused such contention to force this seperation. But who was Mark that Barnabas chose him over Paul? Let me suggest that Mark was to Peter as Timothy became to Paul - a son in the faith. And since I assume Barnabas' loyalty to the apostles, he probably had shared some life with Mark and felt responsibility or even desire to continue to share his own process with Mark rather than Paul based on his sense of relational assignment.

Lessons for me:
1. I don't want my opinion of myself to keep from recognizing the anointing on someone else's life, even to come under someone whom I once "led." (That's going to be a hard one.)
2. I need to learn that seperations don't have to be destructive, even if they may be painful.
3. Loyalty is the interest on the investment of relationship.

In the end, we all have to choose relationships not knowing what the future holds. We can also trust God that if we walk them out the best we can with integrity, God's purposes will still be accomplished in all of our lives.

God, let me choose the relationships you have assigned to me, even if causes challenging seasons

November 7, 2006

A self-fulfilling prophecy

John 11:47-53
47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish." 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

There are times in our lives when were so conusumed by our current circumstances that we speak words that become self-fulfiling prophecies. This was the case in this passage. The background for this story reaches all the way back into ch 9, when Jesus heals a blind man on the sabbath (ironic that it happens during the Feast of Dedication - 10:22, which I know as Hannukah - the festival of lights. This feast commorates the liberation and redeication of the temple. Interesting...a blind man recieves his sight during the festival of lights, and the Pharisees now afraid to lose thier polical power with the Romans and thier temple now want to kill Jesus - 9:48. But all this info requires it's own reflection).

There's a part of me that doubts that Caiaphas understood the ramifications of his comment in v 50. Yet there's another part that makes me think he'd have to be completely clueless to miss what he could have been implying. 11:55 places this comment near the time of Passover (Hannukah in Dec, Passover in April - about a 3 1/2 time span); the time when a lamb would be sacrificed for the sins of the nation. With all the preparations required for an event of this magnitude, the activities of Passover would be at the center of the attention of the members of this "council." Yet they could not make the connection that Jesus would become "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?" These words are a quote from John the Baptist (1:29) and had been a source of frustration for the Pharisees for almost 3 years now. Now they are creating the the circumstances that would allow these words to be fulfilled. The writer of this memoir, John, recognized this and commented on it - v 51-52.

These men were so comsumed by maintaing thier positions and sence of self-significance that they didn't even see how they were orchestrating thier own demise. Many well-intentioned people don't consider the total consequences of thier decisions. Even when they have the different pieces of the puzzle, they don't put the picture together. This "Pharisee" thinking is really a kind of "blindness" - the very issue that became the tipping point for thier fatal attraction with Jesus. Now they planned to put him to death because he had raised someone from the dead (Lazarus). This show how illogical we can be when our security is threatened.

I don't have the time to really think all this through today. But it is something I'm going to chew on for a while. Lord, heal me from blindness in my own life. Help me to see beyond my own short-sightedness and discover what your big-picture plan is.

November 14, 2006

Popular Opinion

Acts: 14:18-19 (NKJV)
18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.

19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

People are funny. One minute you're loved, and the next they're ready to kill you. What is it about human nature that makes us so fickle? In this passage, the Lord uses Paul to heal a crippled man. The "multitude" is amazed and want to "worship" Paul and Barnabus. Because of the reference to "the Jews" who came to Lystra from Antioch and Iconium, I'm going to assume that the crowd here included Jews and Gentiles. If that's correct, my question would be why are Jews involved in pagan worship pracices? (see v. 11-13)

This is probably one of the things that the orthodox Jews from these other cities used to turn the "multitude" in Lystra against Paul. Could they have been convinced that the message of hope that Paul and Barnabus presented was another deviation from Judiasm, the only true religion?

The immediate question still remains...how does one go from being sacrificed to, to being sacrificed? I think it has to do with mankinds inheirant need to be in the majority,with the ruling class. Instead of thinking for ourselves and making a stand, we give into the covictions of others, just so we don't have to be different.

Following Jesus calls us to be seperate. Following Jesus requires us to know what we believe and why we believe it. We need to guard against allowing the culture or popular opinion to influence who, what, or how we worship.

Pastors' "Top Ten" Lists

Fight Club, A River Runs Through It, The Shawshank Redemption, The Matrix...

What does it say about us as leaders, pastors > 40 (alright, close to 40) that all of us have these films among our favorite movies of all time? Some of the common themes in these films are relationships, violence, inner conflict, spirituality...does anybody else have any inights to why this generation of leaders feel a connection to these films?

BTW, I'm hoping to get another page up to list all my favs and reviews, another blog page for thoughts like this...

The Neighborhood Church

JR Woodward (lead pastor at Kairos LA) expresses what I've always thought about how the church should function in a healthy structure...

I sense that providing public weekly gatherings of worship alongside of home groups or house churches enables greater transformation as well as builds richer community. This combination creates opportunity for God to work in each of these various spaces. It is probably one reason that the early church gathered at the temple grounds and from house to house. I often wonder if the house church "only" movement is primarily a reaction to the mega-church and those who have become disillusioned.

Read more here...

November 15, 2006

What Causes Me To Stumble

James 3:1-2 (ESV)
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

Reading this passage this morning, the events of two weeks ago immediately came to mind. These events prove was James syas earlier in his letter about about the process of sin ... "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." (1:14-15). My point is not to discect this tragic event. Instead it really is to examine my own life - what is it that trips me up?

Today's passage notes that there are many ways we stumble. It's like an infant learning how to walk. And even after learning how to walk, who hasn't tripped over something they haven't seen, or lost thier balance for some inexplecibale reason (both of which are useually harmless and is cause for laughter and a little humility). But it is our words, especially that of a pastor/teacher that if we're not careful, really set us up for a fall.

How many times have I expressed my "intentions" that others have heard as a commitment. When it doesn't come to pass (which is most often the case with my intentions,much to my regret) I've dissaponted the listener and left them with unmet expectations. As a husband, a dad, and a pastor, the most important thing I can do is to be a man of my word. In order to do this, I must consider carefully what I say. I'm not talking about less transpanrency for my own protection. I am talking about the appropriate judgement of my character by those I'm responsible for if I don't follow through on the words that I speak. For mew this has less to do with what I teach in the pulpit, and more with the conversations I have in my day to day life. I want my "yes" to be "yes." Lord, help me to set a watch over my words. I desire for Your Word to perfect me,and my words to reflect what You are doing in me.

November 20, 2006


Joel 2:19-27 (NIV)
19 The LORD will reply to them:
"I am sending you grain, new wine and oil,
enough to satisfy you fully;
never again will I make you
an object of scorn to the nations.

20 "I will drive the northern army far from you,
pushing it into a parched and barren land,
with its front columns going into the eastern sea
and those in the rear into the western sea.
And its stench will go up;
its smell will rise."
Surely he has done great things.

21 Be not afraid, O land;
be glad and rejoice.
Surely the LORD has done great things.

22 Be not afraid, O wild animals,
for the open pastures are becoming green.
The trees are bearing their fruit;
the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.

23 Be glad, O people of Zion,
rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains in righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.

24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

25 "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm —
my great army that I sent among you.

26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.

27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the LORD your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.

Since this is the journal of my life, it exists to document what God is doing and speaking in my life. I definitely wanted to document the events of the past couple of days for myself and register my praise to God for His faithfulness.

Last Wednesday (11.15), Jayme and I received the proverbial "check in the mail." Let me give some of the back story. When we moved back to CA in '99, we had sold our house in TN and the only money we had was what we made on the sale. We used that money to invest in the launch of New Horizons, believing that God would give it back one day. Over the 7 years of the church, we acquired a lot of personal debt, occasionally using our credit cards to pay bills (yeah, I know better). God has been faithful thought this time, but the financial pressure we've been under has been heavy.

In August '04, the above passage was a part of our daily reading. At that time, we felt that this was a "word" for us - a promise from God about our circumstances. God would repay what has been taken and would remove from us the shame we felt not only from our financial situation, but even from the lack of "success" of our church plant. This passage became something we held in our hearts, not anticipating how or when God would bring this to pass.

2006 has been a personal year of milestones; Jayme and I both turned 40 and we have enjoyed 14 years of marriage. Yet all these significant moments went uncelebrated. It was weird; on the birthdays we were busy with church responsibilities and even on our anniversary we had a couple we were doing was marriage counseling session for. Subconsciously, we didn't celebrate them because, to be honest, we felt a little awkward about were we found ourselves at this stage of life. Yet on our anniversary (11.7), we felt God speak to us each that this year was a year of the "double-portion" and new beginnings. Little did we know that just a week later, we would experience the first taste of it.

Upon coming home following Bible study, Jayme checked the mail box. In that day's mail was a letter from a friend. Included in this letter was a check. We were floored! Without creating speculation about whom the check was from or revealing the amount, let me express it this way; after tithing and paying off all our debt, we are left with an amount that would be 2X the amount we came to CA with 7 years ago.

We are in awe. There really aren't any words to describe how we feel. Grateful, thankful, peaceful, humbled - these words come close, but still fall short. We have been dependant upon God's faithfulness all these years. Each day He has proven Himself over and over. This is just another example of it. And God is faithful to His word. He has restored and repaid. He has removed our shame. Surely the LORD has done great things.

November 28, 2006

The Monday Morning Church (presented by TARGET)

Tim, a member of my blogsphere, is doing a series of posts on his blog he's calling "Preaching 2.0." It's about more effective communication from the pulpit. But after reading this online article from the Wharton School, maybe there's a better way...

It's about how mega-churches are now being targeted by micro-marketers. Consider this quote from Scott Thumma of Hartford Seminary, who's book of research on the impact of mega-churches is soon to be published:

"If nearly 50% of people who attend church go to 10% of the churches, then marketers (“secular advertisers”) have not given that phenomenon nearly enough attention."

How does this affect preaching? Well, I was thinking...if during the broadcast of the football game I'm watching has certain statistical information underwitten by sponsors, maybe I could find some business to sponsor each week's sermon - "Tide presents 'Washed Clean'", "'The Road To Damascus', sponsored by Avis". We recently finished a series called "The Monday Morning Church" here at Cornerstone. I thought that Target would make the perfect tie in since that's where my wife is usually found on Monday mornings. :-)

About November 2006

This page contains all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in November 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2006 is the previous archive.

December 2006 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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