Thursday, December 22, 2011

“A ‘Bass-Ackwards' Approach to Ministry” by Garris Elkins

As a young boy during the summer break from school my dad used to take me along to help out on his construction sites. Dad built houses and he also owned a house moving company. I was always working each summer.

Dad would assign a project to me and then go elsewhere on the job site. Upon his return there would be times dad would say, “Son, you got that one ‘bass-ackwards’.” That famous line meant I was doing something in the reverse order of how it should be done. He would show me my mistake and then share the remedy. He wouldn’t do the work, he simply showed me how to undo the “bass-ackwards” nature of my first attempt.

If dad were here today he would look at how some of us pastors do the ministry and he would say we are turned around. He would say to return to Ephesians and read chapter four again and recognize that our job is to “equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church…”

In fact, dad would go on to say that the growth of the Church is never the pastors responsibility. God grows things that really last. The people you have equipped and built up are the ones who will share their faith and help lead others into a living relationship with God. They will be the ones who invite people to a community of faith to experience spiritual growth and maturity.

I think dad’s view about the “bass-ackwardness” of a young boy’s construction jobs applies to church leadership today. Do your best to equip and build up God’s people. When we make this decision to reorder how we see the ministry, our levels of stress and performance will diminish greatly. The things of life and ministry will then naturally reposition themselves in a healthy God-order that won’t be so “bass-ackward.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“The Desires and Dreams of the Heart” by Garris Elkins

When God created us in His image He did not create us to look like Him physically. The Genesis account was the creation of a people crafted from the very nature and attributes of God. God’s “DNA pool” became our source of life.

When the image of that original work of creation was deformed through sin, the Father sent His Son, Jesus, to birth again His nature and attributes in a people who would eventually become the Church.

God is fully sufficient in Himself.  When God created humanity, He did not create us because He needed us - we were created because He desired us.  Need is a lesser reality than desire because need is defined from a perceived lack.  God created His children with no need or lack in mind.  He created us from His sufficiency.  His creation flowed from His perfect and pure desire.

For us to be truly human and to have a healthy relationship with God and others, we will have to walk in the higher virtue of humility.  In this humility we acknowledge that our sufficiency can only be found in Jesus, the only One who is complete and self-sustaining.  With this understanding our identity begins to take shape around the Person of Jesus Christ.

As a child of God, our greatest discovery will be our true identity in Jesus.  We will always need the companionship and friendship of Jesus who sticks closer than a brother.  This relationship with Christ is the only need of the Church. The Holy Spirit comes alongside this relationship and mentors us and brings us the love and comfort we so desperately need.  Having been made complete in Jesus, we begin to reflect God’s nature by having our needs met only in Him.

Jesus said in Matthew 6 to not worry about our everyday needs like food, drink or clothing. Jesus said in verses 31-33,

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

When our focus is on meeting our needs, or the demand that others meet our needs, we will build a vocabulary and a life of worry in response to our perceived lack.  Jesus said that if we lived this way we would appear like unbelievers.
Belief cannot be limited to a set of doctrines and theologies about God.  There is a deeper form of belief.  This deeper understanding of belief will reveal what we understand or don’t understand about God’s love. Belief can be translated to mean, “entrust”. When we believe in God we are entrusting ourselves to Him. 

What makes focusing on our needs so devastating is that it kills our potential to dream. If we continually worry about the provision of our basic needs, we will never move our focus beyond need into the realm of dreaming with God about those things that seem impossible in the natural. Dreams die when our lives are consumed with the worry that comes from trying to live only within our human potential, instead of God’s supernatural provision.

When we were made one with God, through Jesus Christ, the very desires of our heart had the potential to reflect the same desires that reside in God’s heart. This is possible because the Holy Spirit – God – lives within us.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

Psalm 37:4 says that once our focus is on the Lord – delighting in Him – then our heart is in a place to actually desire the same things God desires. We must “take” our delight and deposit it in God.  If our delight is placed elsewhere, then our desires will be birthed from the limitations of our own self-provision or from a kingdom that stands in direct opposition to God.  In the end, we will begin to worry like an unbeliever because we have disconnected ourselves from a place of trust.

Matthew wrote in 6:21, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Verse 21, speaks of a heavenly storehouse that is not vulnerable to what is taking place on earth. Recessions and Depressions cannot touch God’s goods. I used to think this only meant we are making deposits that will be withdrawn in eternity. In the last few years I have come to realize that when Jesus asked us to pray that His will be done “on earth as it is in heaven,” He was saying that what is stored up in heaven will also begin to rain down upon us in this life when we pray in faith. Heaven will come to earth.

This kind of prayer draws upon the desires of God’s heart. The only things that will fall to earth from heaven when we pray are the desires of God’s heart, because the only things resident in heaven are His desires. This is what a miracle is – a desire of God’s heart falling from heaven to earth. When we delight in the Lord and His goodness, God will give us the desires of His heart.

Our goal is that each of us would begin to hunger for the very desires within God’s heart. This kind of life is surrounded by a peace that is beyond our ability to fully comprehend because it finds its delight and dreams in the heart of God.