Christian Living

Deliver us from evil

If you hang out in Churchland you’ll almost never hear of evil in the church. We cover it up with elder approved statements, letters, forced resignations, cheesy happy, clappy worship songs, smiling sermons, and a heavy dose of denial.

I didn’t have to search very hard for those headlines above. All I did was search the term youth pastor” on Google News; these were on the first page of results.

Evil exists everywhere, of course. Just because people are Christians doesn’t mean they are absent of sin in their lives. But it boils my blood that the profession I love leads headlines with evil instead of the good that we do.

My point isn’t that youth pastors are evil. Far from it. My point is that we can’t live in denial that there is evil. 

People in your ministry deal with real evil every day. There is real evil in your life. There are people who are out to destroy you. There are forces at work through the tides of relationships that can elevate or destroy you. There are real temptations and moments of failure which can lead your life into horrible directions.

Life is full of temptresses and tempests.

And we need deliverance from this evil every day. And we need to lead people in a way that seeks deliverance from evil, real evil in their lives.

Because at the end of the day– living a happy, clappy, smiley, existence of denial may just be enabling evil. 

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. 
Thy will be done in earth, 
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
But deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.


Church Leadership

Competitive Advantage

This clip from Tin Cup highlights the differences between an amateur and a tour professional. 

Whether you are a casual golfer or a week-to-week preacher in a church. You and the guy on tour are fundamentally different in how you approach your craft.

What you do is similar! But how you approach it and how it’s carried out are completely different.

As the movie shows, the tour pro takes calculated risks, repeating the same simple winning swing over and over again, week-to-week, tour stop to tour stop.

Whereas the casual golfer, even the aspiring professional, has to take greater risks to see lesser rewards, often swinging wildly and taking big risks in hopes that it’ll pay off.

Having been around PGA and Champions Tour players as a tour volunteer I know that there are a lot of differences between their game and your game. 

  • They will hit +/- 1000 practice balls per day. (Driving range, sand, putting green, chipping)
  • They are surrounded by people who advise them on their game all the time. (People who know what they’re talking about, too.)
  • They only play on courses at the top of their condition. The greenskeeper at a Tour stop builds his whole growth cycle around that week.
  • They have a caddy with them who does all of the math and can tell them exact distances and best approaches to every shot on the golf course.
  • The TV cameras only show the best players on shots that have been edited. Each minute during a tournament 40-50 players take a swing, you only see the best of the best.

I’m a 12 handicapper on my own. But I guarantee you that if you put me on that stage, in those conditions, with that practice… I’d look a whole lot better than I do normally. Give me a week with those set of circumstances and I’d break 80.

It’s not that they don’t have skill or talent. It’s that their skill has been put on display in the best possible conditions for them to look good. (They would argue that they rose to this spot just like everyone else. Sure, they take advantage today. But they got to that point with nothing but hard work and rising through the amateur, college, and mini-tour ranks. Fair enough.)

It’s that the game they play is similar, but completely different from the game I play with my friends. It’s set up for them to look good.

What’s my point?

A lot of times we go to a conference, camp, retreat, or a convention and we see a tour pro on their best day, in the best conditions, absolutely NAIL a talk. And we walk away thinking… “Why do I even bother?!? I’ll never be that good. Why not just buy that dude’s DVDs and play them at my church each week?

But before you get upset or lament realize this: The talk you’ve just heard has likely been delivered dozens of times. It’s been critically reviewed by an inner circle. It’s been refined, they know when to drop what line, they know how to adapt it to your setting. They have only booked themselves at events they know they’ll play well to. The lighting, sound, and environmental conditions are tailored to their strengths and weaknesses. A professional band set them up. Someone else introduced them. At best, their talk has 1-2 calculated moments of risk.

It’s not that they are better than you. It’s that given the conditions their talents are amplified and you’re able to see them at their absolute best.

In the end… the act of speaking at a conference is similar to what you do on a week-to-week basis, but completely different at the same time. They are only thinking about that talk. They didn’t drive the van to the retreat. They don’t have to give a new talk each week. On and on. It’s completely different from what you or I do on a week-to-week basis in our ministry.

Here’s the fun part: Just like in the movie– you could tell that the tour pros got a kick out of the caddy hitting the big shot on the big stage. There’s a little glimmer in their eye when you take a big risk. They kind of wish they could do it, too. 

Christian Living Culture

Lord, change me first

What motivates people to change?

Here’s a list of things that I’m coming to terms with…

Things that I see which don’t change people or organizations but should: (Generally speaking)

  • Biblical truth
  • Their current reality, state, or condition
  • Current position, authority and/or aspirations of
  • Scientific research or law
  • Reading books about other organizations or people who change the world
  • Inspirational stories on the internet, television, or radio of success and/or failure
  • A new program at their school, work, or place of worship

Now, if you are part of an organization, think about the amount of money you spend on the list above. Probably most of it.

Chew on this…

Things that I see which do help people and organizations change behavior: (Generally speaking)

  • Selfish ambition, money
  • Accessibility to something which feeds their ambition, money
  • Fear of losing their family, friends, position, income
  • Losing family, friends, position, income
  • Fear of being discovered
  • Being discovered
  • Peer pressure, positive or negative
  • Cultures laws, mores, and taboos

Thought #1: Behavior change isn’t the point of the Gospel.

Thought #2: Behavior change can be a manifestation of the Gospel in an individual or organizations life.

Thought #3: The majority of  my time/my resources/my energy is invested in things that should change behavior but don’t. There’s a gulf between “ought to affect change” and “does affect change” that people I need to wrestle through.

Thought #4: When I stop trying to be the answer for the top list and start building community where the bottom list is shared openly, then I see the Gospel go places I never thought it would.

Thought #5: As a believer, according to Scripture, I am the answer to the change the people in my life so desperately search for. The question for me to wrestle with is this, “Do I want to be the person people expect me to be and focus on the things that ‘ought to affect change’ or do I want to look in the mirror, deal with my own mess, and help people exchange solutions that don’t fix a thing for solutions that are really hard but affect long-term change.”