Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Fishy Story: Lesson About Competition

When my wife Pam and I lived in South Carolina, our home was near Lake Murray. This was a huge lake where one could fish, swim, ski and boating. Often the two of us would go out to the lake which was behind our house and fish.

Being the typical male, I was often competitive with Pam over who would catch the most fish. This one afternoon I had found a spot on the bank where a tree had fallen in the water. This was a great spot because every time I cast my line in the water, I caught a fish.

Not wanting to be outdone, Pam moved from her spot on the bank to right by me and my spot (she said that she wanted to be close to me, HA!). Soon, she was casting her line in the water and catching fish. At first, I was a little upset. She was in my spot and catching my fish. Then I started to realize that she was not my competition but my wife. Whatever she caught or I caught, they all were going on my table. A matter of fact, because she was fishing next to me, she was causing more fish to be lured to that spot because they knew there was food there.

It is the same with churches. I often have pastors and church members get upset when a new church plant starts or a church moves near them. They seem to say “Stay out of my fishing spot.” This is especially funny considering that here in the Nashville area there is 850,000 unchurched persons and we are considered "The Bible Belt!"

It seems that we all often forget that we all are “fishers of men”. We are not working on getting more “fish” for ourselves or our churches, but rather reaching more people for the KINGDOM of GOD! We are working together to see people become fully devoted followers of Christ.

This lesson is especially true because the spirit of competition in the church is not over souls but rather people and their pocketbooks. We often compete in our churches, conventions and denominations not for the souls of the lost but rather for the money and bragging rights of having large crowds.When this happens then we have quit doing ministry for the God's Kingdom and started doing ministry for our kingdom.
I believe that a lot of this mentality happens when a church, denomination or convention loses sight of their original mission: Making Disciples! Mission becomes survival and perpetuation of the organization. When Christ called us to His mission, He promised to provide for us to do that mission. Our focus should move from survival to the harvest field. The harvest is plentyful and there is no need for competition. To quote an old saying "There are plenty of fish in the sea."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Warrior

When I served as a chaplain assigned to the 53rd Infantry Brigade and the Company C 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion, I learned very quickly the Army values system (me being an Air Force guy) along with “The Warriors Ethos or Creed”. As a matter of fact I still carry with me the dog tag that I was given with that creed.  It goes like this:

I will always place the mission first
I will never accept defeat
I will never quit
I will never leave a fallen comrade

In the military everything centers on the mission. It is the essence of why everything is done from training to maintenance. Whatever the mission is, it will be carried out to its fullest. Not to do so is failure or defeat.

This got me thinking “What is our mission as Christians?” Very simply put: “To make disciples for Jesus here on earth?” Everything that we do centers on this simple mission. We are here to fulfill the Great “CO” MISSION of Christ.

There are three other statements in the ETHOS that relate back to the mission. “I will never accept defeat; I will never quit and I will never leave a fallen comrade.” We as Christians must remember that we are engaged in a Spiritual Battle. Satan wants us to admit defeat and quit. He wants us to focus on survival!

It is so easy to focus on our little corner of the mission field or our little corner of the church field that we forget to work together or support one another. This is Satan’s greatest deception and trick. Just like the military, if we do not partner together by helping and supporting one another then we will soon be over run by the enemy. In the last few weeks I have already seen some very good friends who have fallen under attack and have even fallen because of Satan’s attack.

As I served with the military I learned that all who served considered each other’s Brothers and Sisters in arms. If one was in trouble, we all were. It should be the same as we serve in Christ mission. We should help one another, pray for one another, encourage one another and most of all love one another. In essence, we are all Brothers and Sisters on a mission and in a battle until Christ returns. To shrink from that mission and from working with others is to be a coward.

Here is a Christian version of that ethos that I developed.

Christian Warrior

I will always place Christ Great Commission first and foremost

I will never accept defeat or an attitude of defeat for in Christ I have the victory

I will never quit for through Christ I can do all things for Him
I will never leave a fallen comrade to be destroyed by Satan, I will support my fellow Christians and churches always!