Last week I highlighted the book The Ten Dumbest Things Christians Do, by Pastor Mark Atteberry where he presents the case that as Christians, we sure can find ourselves involved in the dumbest activity which hurts people and lessens the impact of the true Gospel.
This week we'll look together at the ANTIDOTE for each 'Dumb Thing' together. There is hope to turning it around.
Let's dig in:
#1 Sling mud on the Bride of Christ - As men build men's ministries one problem we face is slinging mud on the bride of Christ when things don't go our way. [We're adults, we'd never do that, right?] Practical advice #1 - As you build, always remember, 'Things NEVER go as planned'. Biblical Advice #1 - Take a minute and read the account o Paul's conversion [Acts 9:1-9] and see the murderous plans he had for the Christians and how God radically altered his plans and changed his heart. Do you need a conversion on some scale?
#2 Win people to the church vs. to Christ - Winning people to ourselves comes form the wound of the orphan heart. An orphan heart seeks man's approval and praise desperately. Practical advice #2 Read Jack Frost's book titled From Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship and learn the process of exchanging the orphan heart for a heart of the Son of the King. Biblical Advice #2 - Take a good long hard look at Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23. What's the key word? What do you have to deny and what do you have to take up?
#3 Living below our level of beliefs - A serious ministry killer is living below the level of your beliefs. Practical advice #3 To know God and to experience God are two different things. Many people know God but have never experienced Him. Why not learn first hand how to experience God through Henry Blackaby's study, Experiencing God study? Biblical Advice #3 Take some time and marinate on Thomas' encounter with Jesus [John 20:24-29], upon his return and look at Thomas' skepticism closely. Was it that he knew He was Jesus - or that he experienced Jesus - that changed Thomas?
#4 Speaking above the level of our knowledge - Ouch, this has been my 'dumb thing' for years in ministry. Practical advice #4 As my bride always tells me, it's alright to say, "I don't know" followed up by, "However, since I don't know, I am more than willing to find out with you." to let whomever you're speaking with know that you're real. Biblical advice #4 take a good long look at the times Peter put his foot in his mouth and how many time the Lord had to smack him down. Case in point - Matthew 17:1-6 - See Peter get bonked by Abba Father with "LISTEN TO HIM"…
#5 Hopping from church to church - Where as men we don't hop from church to church we do, on the other hand, hop from ministry to ministry. Our hopping comes from impatience and our inability to seriously wait upon the Lord revealing himself to us. Practical advice #5 Simply remember a time in which your friends quit on you. Reflect back upon the wound it left and contrast that to the wound you'd be making on your friends and Savior by quitting and hopping today. Biblical advice #5 take time to read the account of Jesus and the disciples in the garden with Jesus praying Matthew 26:36-45. Specifically notice Jesus' response. Wanna be that guy or not?
#6 Fighting among ourselves - Many of us guys like to 'duke' it out in many ways and many forms. Deep down we're sinning and we know it. Practical advice #6 - Ask yourself "Why am I fighting this guy/s?" Then ask the question again three more times within a full day. If you're honest, the results will astonish you. Biblical advice #6 - Take time to read James 4:1-11 and ask the big question, "Whom do I submit to usually?"
#7 Missing Golden Opportunities - Many guys are legitimately busy these days while others overcommit. Regardless, we know deep down there are several opportunities to love and serve, and we miss them. Practical advice #7 - Using a scratch piece of paper take an inventory of the things/activities you have committed to. Which ones do you have to say "NO" to in order to get to a deeper "YES"? Biblical advice #7 - I'd be lying if I did not confess that I have suffered too from the 'Martha-Martha' disease. Take a good long look at Luke 10:38-42 to see what I mean. Jesus even drills down that it's more about doing 'one' thing well than many…
#8 Settling for mediocrity - Piggybacking #7 in being too busy is the result of settling for mediocrity. Practical advice #8 - Try this: Next time you go to a nice sit-down restaurant and order a meal and tell the waiter/waitress to have the chef do a mediocre job on your steak/fish/chicken. I wonder what you'd get? Fact is you don't expect a mediocre dinner each time you dine; why then are you 'giving' mediocre spiritual meals to those you serve? Biblical advice #8 - First take a look at Titus 3:1-9 and examine the grace you've been given and your full inheritance, as well view Philippians 4:7-9 in light of your inheritance seeing your mind is guarded what you're to think about.
#9 Allowing wolves to live among the sheep - It's tough to be the guy/s who has to remove the wolf from amongst the sheep. So many of us don't want to get bitten. Practical advice #9 - Instead of going head to head with a wolf use the power of triangulation. Instead of two points, head to head, [you and the wolf] enter a third point to the conversation. It can be a standard which was agreed to at the beginning of your relationship/program/service [some come in the form of a contract/covenant/code of conduct]. Instead of going toe-to-toe with the wolf let the wolf see he is alone by you and the other men standing in unity with the contract/covenant/code of conduct you all agreed to and when the wolf sees he's outnumbered, he will flee. Biblical advice #9 - Following the biblical advice in point #8, Settling for mediocrity, we'd do well to continue reading in Titus 3 verses 10-11 on how to specifically remove the wolf.
#10 Accepting the unacceptable - Guess what? We've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However, our own sins do not prevent us from confronting others in theirs. Practical advice #10 - Read the last chapter of Mark Atteberry's book, The Ten Dumbest Things Christians Do for his advice on how to 'not' accept the unacceptable, it's paramount. Also realize there are a minimum of 1-3 things you're doing or partaking in today that are completely unacceptable to being an heir of God your Father - seek help in pushing them out - TODAY. Biblical advice #10 - Read this one liner with me and marinate - "If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work." 2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT)
Reading this list we can continually tell ourselves it is not easy very hard to do these things. I'll concede with you that you're right; that it isn't easy and hard to do these things on one key point: "It's not easy and hard to do these things IF we're trying to be Jesus." IF we're unbalanced and IF we don't have a proper view on these ten dumb things, then 'YES' it's not going to be easy and very hard to do them.
However, if you and I take a minute to really, and I mean really look closely at God's word as our closing thought, the whole thing should become crystal clear:
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30 (NIV)
Let Him do the work IN you and THROUGH you and I promise - this stuff will be easy as pie...
Till next week.