Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lesson’s From Camping’s Judgment Day

By now, everyone knows that Harold Camping was wrong and the world did not end on May 21, 2011. Many had a good laugh. I saw Facebook posts about people being in heaven and heard people talking about leaving clothes out so it appeared they were raptured. While there is nothing wrong with having a little fun, I think we can learn some lessons from this event.

Primarily, I think most people, including Christians who believe Christ will return, did not really want the rapture to occur on May 21st. I heard people say, "I am glad we are all still here." Most are glad it did not occur because no one wanted Camping to be right and believed that Christ would not return on the predicted date because "No one knows." Matthew 24:36.

But, it goes much deeper. Most of us, me included, enjoy our life on earth and did not really want the rapture to take place. We claim the rapture could take place at any time (except on May 21, 2011, because Camping said so), but, inwardly, we really are not looking forward to it. Even with the ups and downs of life, most of us still like our lives. We really are not looking forward to going to heaven.

Paul's view of life stands in contrast to ours. In Philippians 1:21-23, Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. . . . My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better." Paul knows that the next life is "far better". He desires to be in heaven and with Christ. Just think about it. If Christ raptures us, we will immediately be with Him. We will be with Christ. What an incredible moment. Mercy Me, in their song "I Can Only Imagine", captures some of the awesome anticipation of being with Christ. The best of this life pales in comparison to being with Christ. When we consider our life on earth with being in the presence of Christ, the preference is simple; we should all choose the presence of Christ. But, deep down inside, we don't get that excited because we enjoy our life too much. I think we need to reassess our perspective and have a greater anticipation of Christ's return.

In addition, we need to truly anticipate Christ's imminent return. Let me ask you a question, "If you truly believed that Camping was right and the world was ending on May 21, 2011, what would you have done on May 20th?" I heard that some of Camping's followers enjoyed what they thought were life's final moments; they bought cars they could not afford or took final, extravagant vacations. However, most of Camping's ardent followers made every effort to help people get right with God. Some spent their life savings on advertisements; others even sold their homes to raise money for the effort. These followers made incredible sacrifices because they believe the world was ending. If you truly believe Christ could return at any moment, what are you doing? Are your efforts to save people commensurate with a belief that Christ really could come at any minute? Probably not. Paul, in that same passage, wrote, "If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me." (Philippians 1:22). Is your life in the flesh fruitful? On one hand, we need to be prudent and make future plans on earth in case Christ does not return tomorrow. On the other hand, if we truly believe Christ could return at any moment, we probably need to make more of an effort to bring people to Christ.

Unfortunately, the Camping fiasco damaged the reputation of Christ around the world. To many, Camping and the Bible are a joke. How do you explain the Bible's plan for salvation when Camping claimed the same Bible said the world would end on May 21st? For many, the Bible lost all credibility. Let's overcome some of the negative by learning some lessons from this fiasco. Let's look forward to Christ's return and try to take some people with us.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lessons Learned From Boston Rob


Boston Rob, on his 4th attempt, won Survivor. In order to win, he played, according to Jeff Probst, a nearly perfect game. He created and maintained the strongest alliance ever seen on Survivor. Julie, a contestant that was not in his alliance, was amazed at the control he had of his alliance. According to her, his alliance would not even talk to other contestants. They would continually checked in with Rob and told him everything that was happening. Even Rob remarked that no one should have this much power. Jeff Probst called his alliance "almost cult-like".

The obvious question during the reunion show was, "How did you do it?" As the show progressed, keys to his strategy were revealed. In simple terms, he developed great relationships. To begin with, Rob knew that, as a returning player, he would be a target for early elimination. He felt that if he could build some relationships and show people that he could help them, such as building shelter, then he had a chance to stick around. The key was building the relationships. Andrea, a member of his alliance, said that he built individual relationships with each of them, he had a different relationship with each person, and he spent time with her for no reason.

Another member of the alliance, Philip, was one of the strangest contestants to ever be on the show. He was very difficult to get along with and nearly every person could not wait to vote him out. However, Rob befriended Philip, kept him around, voted out other people, and eventually used Philip to win $1 million. Jeff asked Rob what he saw in Philip. Rob said that Philip is a lovable guy; you just have to listen to him and his story. According to Rob, Philip is one of twelve children, so he has spent his whole life trying to get attention. You need to imagine his story and understand where he is coming from. Rob summarized his strategy with Philip by explaining that if he just showed Philip love, Philip will be loyal.

These lessons should be applied to everyday life. We need to show love and develop relationships with people. Do we treat each person special, like we really care about them? Do we spend time with them? You cannot develop relationships without spending time together. We should serve people and help them. We need to choose to love even unlovable people. We need to understand their story and show them love.

While I wish Boston Rob would get rid of his Red Sox hat, he is a likeable guy who saw the importance of relationships, won Survivor, and taught us some life lessons in the process.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership


On May 6, 2011, I had the privilege of attending the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast, which is an annual event where some of the world's best writers and speakers present a daylong seminar on leadership. The event is presented live in Atlanta and is carried throughout the world via webcast. I attended the event through the Kingdom Chamber of Commerce at Burlington County College.


The first speaker, John Maxwell spoke on the five levels of leadership, which is the subject of his next book. Initially, he taught that leadership is influence. Ultimately, a leader influences people. In the past, I have heard him say that if you think you are a leader and no is following you, then you are just on a walk.


According to Maxwell, the first level, and the lowest level, of leadership is the "Position Level". At this level, people follow because a person holds a title. This does not make the person a good leader. Instead, people follow because of obligation or authority. Under this type of leadership, the followers generally give the least amount of effort. They do not necessarily believe in the leader or the leadership, so they are not motivated to give their best. They tend to do the bare minimum.


"Permission" is the second level. At this level, people want to follow and generally like the leader. Relationships are the key to this level. Such leaders listen to their followers, observe their followers, learn from their followers, and have an attitude of service. Because people have given the leader permission to lead, they give more effort in their work.


"Production" is the third level. At this level, the leader is able to produce significantly more than at prior levels. The key is results. This leader produces more because he is a producer and better workers are attracted to, and want to produce more for, this leader. Followers see this leader producing, so they imitate him and produce more. At this point, momentum is created, which gets people excited and they do more. This momentum and excite can even salve problems that cannot be solved at lower levels. In explaining the importance of leadership, Maxwell explained that a train parked with a brick under its wheel will not be able to move past the brick. However, that same train, moving full speed, can crash through a brick wall.


"People Development" is the fourth level. This leader grows his organization by growing his people. He makes his people better. Then he puts his "better" people in positions where they are most effective. The steps for this level are (a) recruiting well, (b) positioning well, (c) equipping well, (d) the people produce, and (e) the people build other people (multiplication). Simply, you need to get the best people, put them in the right position, and equip them. Then they will do the work and multiply. This level is similar to some of the concepts taught by Jim Collins in Good To Great, where he talks about getting the right people on the bus and putting them in the right seat. Essentially, better people create a better organization.


"Pinnacle" is the fifth, and final, level. At this point, follow out of respect. The leader leads so well, for so long, that people want to follow the leader. This level takes years to obtain. I saw it as almost a legacy or a life-time achievement.


In evaluating your leadership level, Maxwell explained that you can be at different levels with different people. Someone may follow you because of your position or title; another person may give permission, while another follows as a result of people development.


It is good to hear these leadership principles and apply them to my work, family, and church. I need to remember that relationships are important and I need to help develop the people around me. I will be successful, as a business man, husband, father, and Christian, when the people around me become better.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Initial Thoughts on Don't Call It a Comeback by Kevin DeYoung

I just started reading Don’t Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith For A New Day edited by Kevin DeYoung. Having read one previous book by DeYoung, Why We Are Not Emergent by Two Guys Who Should Be and enjoying it, I am interested in reading another book by him. Regarding the subject, it seems that many young adults are very attracted to the “emergent church” with, what I believe is, long-standing liberal teaching led by teachers such as Rob Bell and Brian McClaren. The praise for Rob Bell’s Love Wins solidifies my concerns over “emergent teaching”. On the other hand, I have heard many young adults are attracted to a conservative, fundamental faith with substantive biblical teaching. From what I hear, it seems that many young adults are attracted to the teachings of people like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and teaching from Sovereign Grace churches. The thousands who attend “Passions Conferences” are attracted to substantive teaching. From my personal experience of teaching young adults, I found that many are simply not interested in substantive biblical teaching, but others hunger for God’s truth, study diligently, and want to apply biblical teaching to their lives. In light of this division amount young adults, I am interested in read DeYoung’s view.

In the Introduction, DeYoung explains that he grew up in church but, as a freshman in college, discovered he could not articulate “what I believe and why I believe it” and did not have a good grasp of some of the most foundational doctrines in Christian faith. He wishes he had been challenged more as a teenager. Based upon his background, he has two goals for this book. First, to introduce young and underdiscipled Christians to the most important articles of faith and what it looks like to live out this faith in real life. Second, to reassert the theological nature of evangelicalism. The book is divided into three sections. Part one is a brief, and I emphasize brief, history of evangelicalism. Part two is a survey of theology. Part three is applying theology to life by looking at specific issues such as social justice, homosexuality, abortion, gender confusion, the local church, worship, and missions.

The first chapter, written by DeYoung, is entitled “The Secret to Reaching the Next Generation”. Since I spent years teaching young adults, I was very interested in how to reach young adults. Also, I am interested in how to reach my children as they become young adults. According to DeYoung, many churches try to reach young adults by keeping up with the latest trends such as music, fashion, using their language, watching the right television shows, and looking like them. However, he believes this is not how to reach young adults; rather, he stresses five keys, which are (1) grabbing them with passion, (2) winning them with love, (3) holding them with holiness, (4) challenging them with truth, and (5) amazing them with God. He explains his meaning of these in the rest of the chapter.

I agree with his assessment and like it because it stresses substance rather than superficial feelings and passing trends. Regarding passion, young adults want to believe that something is real. If it is real, then a person will have passion about it. The reason that many people are not attracted to Christ is because many Christians are just going through the motions, have no convictions, live apathetically, and have no passion. Specifically, young adults see no passion in their parents, so they reject a superficial faith held by their parents. If we really believe in Christ, then we should be passionate about Him. As stated before, DeYoung emphasizes substance, which is seen when he stresses holiness and truth. He wants young adults to know substantive biblical truth, which leads to living holy lives. This is a high standard and very challenging. Finally, he talks about being amazed by God. I think this is somewhat related to passion. If we are amazed by God, then we will be passionate. I also think this results in worship. When we see God for who He is, then our natural reaction should be amazement. Just read the first few verses of Isaiah 6 or Revelation 4; you have to be amazed and just say “Wow! He is AWESOME!” Warren Wiersbe, in Real Worship, explains that when people truly worship God, then they start living godly lives. Godly lives are a natural result of people who know God and realize how great He is.

I find these five keys to be personally challenging. I need to have passion in my life; passion that demonstrates the true substance of my faith. I need to love people. No one will care what I believe if I do not show love to them. When people see my love, then I earn a license to tell them about Christ. I need to live holy. I need to be continually learning God’s truth. I need to be truly worshiping God. Then, I need to pass these along to my wife, children, and people I minister to in my life.

At one point, DeYoung talks about teens leaving the church. He refers to a youth leader who explained that attendance at youth events (including Sunday School and discipleship groups) is not a good predictor of which teens would, and would not, grow toward Christian adulthood. Instead, “almost without exception, those young people who are growing in their faith as adults were teenagers who fit into one of two categories: either (1) they came from families where Christian growth was modeled in at least one of their parents, or (2) they had developed such significant connections with adults in the church that it had become an extended family for them.” Similarly, he refers to a Christian sociologist who says, “a lot of research in the sociology of religion suggests that the most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives is the religious life modeled and taught to them by their parents.” This should challenge every parent so that we can see our children grow up to be adults who passionately love and serve God.