Monday, March 26, 2012

"A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On"

In 1957 a song came out by the artist Jerry Lee Lewis entitled, A Whole Lotta Shakin Going On,  and although it's related to dancing, in many ways it was a prophetic song about an era that was just beginning in the United States.  An era that would experience the shaking of the current status quo within the culture and society where civil rights, new freedoms and old paradigms were being confronted. 

I think we are in a similar time in the Church right now where paradigms, structures, and value systems that have produced little or no fruit are being shaken and pruned. That means that we as individuals are being shaken and pruned also, since we make up the Church.  This experience is not easy for anyone, and being shaken can be very disorienting and even frightening.  However, we are told in the Scriptures that God will shake things that need to be shaken to accomplish His plans and purposes in us.  In Hebrews 12:27 it says, referring to this shaking that God would, "once more (do the) removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." We have certainly allowed many"created" things into our paradigms and practice of church, and this is being shaken.  Of course this is uncomfortable, disorienting, and even frightening - but it is necessary if we are to have more of the Presence of Jesus in our lives and in our expression of fellowship and mission. Most of us have cried out in recent years; "we want MORE of you Lord!" because in our hearts we innately know there is more intimacy, power and fruitfulness than we have thus far experienced - but we have obstacles, hindrances and dead areas  that keep this from happening. We need a shaking. A shaking that is achieving a purpose.  A shaking that is from God.

 The only way to MORE is through LESS. It is one of those spiritual dichotomies of a Kingdom not of this world.

 The only way to less is through pruning and shaking.  In John 15:2 Jesus speaks of this issue where he says, "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit."

In gardening terms, the suckers are being removed.  A sucker is the term given to a stem which arises from the underground part of the plant, but is not part of the main plant. Or it can be stems which will never bear any fruit, but act as inhibitors to the the real stem of it getting all the nutrients it needs to bear MUCH fruit. This extra stem may even be more vigorous and dominating over the true stem stealing the nutrients that gardeners want to be available for the main plant and stems. Suckers are therefore removed as soon as they are seen by gardeners.

In the journey of simple, organic and missional life and expression of fellowship in Christ, you can expect everything that can be shaken, will be shaken, if it has become an created encumbrance that keeps you from a deeper intimacy with God, richer fellowship in our relationship with others, and a natural expression of bringing the realities of Christ to those who don't know Jesus. 

You can also expect to be pruned and have some of the suckers removed which have stolen from you the nutrients you need from God that will cause you to bear much fruit. The Bible tells us that it is His will that we bear much fruit and prove to be His disciples. John 15 :8

When I am coaching someone in simple, organic and missional life,  we spend much of our time in understanding the dynamics of being shaken and pruned, and coaching can be a great asset for you in this time because it helps you identify what is going on, offers encouragement to submit to God in the process, and helps you to discover how this shaking and pruning achieves good fruit. 

So as a coach in simple, organic and missional life and church, I'll use the words of Jerry Lee Lewis in his 1957 song......."shake baby shake"!!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Coaching To Ignite Dreams and Passions

A few years ago I was working with refugee populations as a support person to help them learn the English language, find employment, navigate our system of banking, schools, insurance, and all the things we take for granted in our everyday lives.  For those who are new to our country, these things are overwhelming and they need some help in figuring them out.

One of the families I worked and developed a close relationship with was from Uzbekistan, where they had lived under Soviet rule and communism for all of their lives.  As Christians, they had encountered persecution and therefore they were granted refugee status to immigrate to the United States.  I had been working with them for a few months and our English conversations had advanced to the level where we could begin to discuss their future aspirations and job possibilities.  You know the type of conversation because we have it with children all the time.

 It goes something like this; "so, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Implicit in the question is the assumption that each person has a uniqueness about them and a special destiny, purpose, and passion that will be propelled by their own intrinsic motivation - as I wrote about in the previous blog post.

 We get familiar and common responses from children when asked this question like, "a doctor", "a fireman", "a basketball player in the NBA", "a horse trainer" (okay, that's not usual, but that one was mine...).

So, here I am one evening with the Uzbek family all sitting around their dining room table, where I asked the question, "okay, now that you've acquired some English and can move forward, what do you want to do?  Go to college?  Work as a ........?"(as I listed off a few possibilities.) I expected to hear a few good possibilities that indicated their interests, passions and goals for the future.

The response I got back from the six of them was only a blank stare.  A complete poker face.

Well, I did what anyone would do thinking they didn't understand my question, so I repeated myself a few times, rearranging the question thinking that would illicit a response.  Very quickly it became apparent to me that they didn't have a clue how to answer my question.  In that moment I had an epiphany and realized they didn't answer because they had lived in a communist system that assigned them jobs with no interest whatsoever in what they wanted. 
Why have dreams and passions if they could never be sought out and realized?  In "the system" you did what they told you that you could, or couldn't do.  The decision was made for them.  Their uniqueness was of no consequence.  They were there to serve the system.

In that moment of my realization, the Lord spoke to me and said, "they are like my people (the Body of Christ).  They also don't know the dreams and passions within them anymore either, because they too have been in a system that didn't encourage having them, and they too have been told what they can and can't do."

This needs to change my friends.  For us in the Body of Christ, we each need to be living and moving in our unique design that God has purposed in us.  Everything in creation is about a unique and integrated contribution that ultimately points to the Creator, the Author, the Perfector.  It is His Way.

In encouraging people over the years in the simple, organic and missional life and expression in Christ, this is a key element to be coached.  As a parent, I have seen the unique make-up of each of my children, and it is one of the roles of a parent to encourage and strengthen the gifts, talents, abilities and passions of our children so they can walk in their unique and special design.  This glorifies Christ.  This also relates to the scripture verse in Ephesians 4 :16, "from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."
 And in 1 Corinthians 12, we see Paul make a number of points regarding the need and validity of "each part" of the Body having significant contributions to the whole Body. Even those parts we would deem "unseemly".

We need each person living in their strategic place, moving in their unique purpose in Christ for us to be a healthy and functioning Body.

This is not a time to sit on the sidelines.   Get out there and play your part in the purposes of Christ for you to be His Witness, His Ambassador, and His Bride. If you don't know what that is, check into receiving some coaching from someone who will help you unlock what God has put inside you.
 Coaching is a way to encourage the dreams and passions that have lain dormant or under the pile of years of abandonment and neglect.  Coaching helps to ignite each person to take his part in the Body of Christ.

Ready, set, ignition!