November 24, 2014
by Floyd
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Why Jesus Said “No”

Matt 4:1-11  –  Jesus said no to leadership power, position and prestige

Matt 5:31-32  –  Jesus says no to divorce for any reason except breaking one’s marriage vows

Matt 5:33-37  –  Jesus said no to making superficial oaths

Matt 6:25  –  Jesus said no to worry

Matt 10:34  –  Jesus said no to false unity

Matt 11:20-24  –  Jesus said no to impenitent cities

Matt 12:1-14  –  Jesus said no to religious legalists

Matt 12:32-42  –  Jesus said no to doing miraculous signs

Matt 12:46-50  –  Jesus said no to his mother and brothers

Matt 16:23  –  Jesus said no to a key leader

Matt 17:1-10  –  Jesus said no to staying in God’s glory

Matt 17:9  –  Jesus said no to speaking the vision too soon

Matt 17:24-27  –  Jesus said no to disregarding an oppressive government

Matt 21:12-13  –  Jesus said no to exploitation and injustice of the poor

Matt 26:39  –  Jesus said no to taking the easy way out

November 21, 2014
by Floyd
2 Comments

15 Things To Say “No” To

  1. Say no to negative chatter about others
  2. Say no to emotional entanglement in relationships
  3. Say no to life without margins
  4. Say no to compromising your values
  5. Say no to pleasing people
  6. Say no to being made responsible for the choices of others
  7. Say no if you can’t follow through
  8. Say no to the destructive thoughts of your inner-voice against your own self
  9. Say no to people who are not good for you
  10. Say no to jealousy
  11. Say no to being a slave
  12. Say no to bad eating habits
  13. Say no to self-absorption
  14. Say no to lack of accountability in your life
  15. Say no to “great opportunities” – to stay true to family and calling

November 17, 2014
by Floyd
1 Comment

The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You – Part Three

Jesus had fruit that followed him because he lived a determined life.  He cultivated the heart of a warrior and the lifestyle of a lover. He was fiery, he was focused, he was secure. Everything he did flowed out of a secure, love relationship with the Father.

This kind of love is warfare… not necessarily an aggressive, frontal attack kind of warfare, but warfare born of love. Having spiritual fruit that follows us to heaven is the result of fighting for what we love and believe in on earth.

To attack a baby with it’s mother nearby is an invitation to a fight. A mother defends her children to the death because of love. She conceived them in intimacy, birthed them in pain, and nursed them with tender care. They are hers. They belong to her and she to them.

Whether male or female, extrovert or introvert, we are all called to warfare. Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan.” Paul said, “I have fought the good fight.”  These words speak of facing trials, tests and being overcomers by fighting for what is ours.

Having fruit that follows us is the result of living a well-directioned life. We face forward, toward the prize. We look forward to hearing “well done.” We know the direction God has called us to face and we face it…not to the right, not the left, but straight ahead.

God determines forward for you. It may not be my forward, but it is your forward. It is the right direction.

We each are assigned a destiny in life… God shapes us and lays sovereign foundations in our lives:  our race, our culture, our ancestry, our personalities and gifts… these are His gifts to us.  It is up to us to receive these “gifts” and develop them for the specific purpose he has for our lives.

If we are to take hold of our destiny, it will be the result of fierce focus on the main thing, that one thing, the purpose and calling of God for our lives. Those who give in to difficult circumstances and challenges in life, those who lose sight of God’s direction for them, lose out.

Having fruit that follows us is the result of living a well-disciplined life. Jesus refused to compromise the truth. He spent time with the Father on a regular basis. He said “no” to lesser passions. He cultivated a life of fasting, prayer, scripture reading and speaking about the Father.

When some of his disciples fell away, Jesus stayed true to the Father. When he faced suffering and death, Jesus said to the Father, “Let this cup pass from me…but never-the-less, your will not mine be done.”

This is not a popular Twitter topic. It’s not news-feed you read much about on FB. There is a well-deserved reaction to religion versus relationship amongst young evangelicals, I agree, but with that reaction we must not throw out the good with the bad. Don’t throw out spiritual disciplines to avoid un-spiritual religion.

By-all-means enjoy life. Life is God’s gift to us to be celebrated. Laugh, play, watch a good movie, exercise, enjoy your friends. Healthy spirituality includes rhythms in life of play, pray and obey.

But as you play, don’t leave out pray and obey. Don’t let God’s grace in your life be in vain. Lay hold of that for which God has laid hold of you. He has a plan for you, he has a destiny for you… don’t lost sight of it and don’t lose hope for it. It is from God and therefore it is worth fighting for!

It is written of Jesus, “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross.” Some things are to be endured faithfully so we can rejoice fiercely!

 

November 14, 2014
by Floyd
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The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You – Part Two

At a very young age, seeking to recruit a friend to join him in China, Robert Morrison wrote these words,

“I wish I could persuade you to accompany me. Take into account the 350 million souls in China who have not the means of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior…”

The year was 1806. At this time, except for the purpose of trade, foreigners were forbidden entrance into China. Every foreigner, on landing, was strictly interrogated as to what his business might be. If he did not have a reasonable answer to give, he was sent back on the next sailing vessel. Morrison was aware of the dangers but was still willing to go in faith, believing Jesus would open a door for him to stay in China.

Reading about the life of Robert Morrison, I am reminded of the fierce focus of Paul the apostle:

“I consider my life worth nothing to me…if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me” (Acts 20:24)

At about the same time these words were spoken to the Ephesian elders, Paul also wrote to his young disciple Timothy and said,

“…the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (II Timothy 4:6-8).

Paul lived with the expectation that there was a reward awaiting him. He pictured Jesus awarding him on “that day.” It was the vision of Jesus in the future that kept him going in the present. It was the pure picture of pleasing Jesus that ensured the fruit of his labors would follow him.

I too, look forward to that day, don’t you? Can you picture it in your minds eye?

Take a moment and imagine it… you are kneeling before Jesus. As you are bowed in worship, He gently reaches out to you, puts His hand under your chin and lifts your gaze to look into His eyes, He astonishes you by placing a crown on your head. It is the reward given to the faithful who have stayed focused on Jesus.

In response, you take off the crown Jesus gave you and cast it at His feet, acknowledging that your greatest reward is the reward He receives from those who are gathered to worship Him. It is the fruit of your labors on earth that will follow you into heaven.

It is this vision of the future that sustains us in the present.

November 12, 2014
by Floyd
0 comments

The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You – Part One

RobertMorrison

Robert Morrison’s Tombstone

My wife, Sally, and I visited the cemetery in Macau, China, where Robert Morrison and his first wife, Mary, are buried. Robert Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to China. He lived 52 short years and died in Canton in 1834.

During his twenty-five years of work as a missionary he translated the whole Bible into the Chinese language and baptized ten Chinese believers. Today there are an estimated 180 million Chinese followers of Jesus Christ – amazing fruit for a man who only baptized 10 converts in his lifetime.

Robert Morrison focused on Jesus his whole life. Just Jesus. During the 27 years he served in China he kept his focus on Jesus. He went home on furlough only once in all those years.

When Robert Morrison was asked, shortly after his arrival in China, if he expected to have any spiritual impact on the Chinese… his answer was:  “No sir, but I expect God will!”

He did what he did for Jesus. He knew there was no other cause worthy of the sacrifices he was to make – and he made some big ones.

Part of the inscription on his tombstone reads,  “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…that they may rest from their labors and their works shall follow them.”

Robert Morrison’s works followed him – 180 million people in China are following him to heaven. It all began with him going to China as an act of devotion to Jesus.

Suppose it was your tombstone in that cemetery in Macau. How would you want it to be inscribed?

I have often pictured myself watching my own funeral service, wondering what I would like people to say about me after I am gone. Sometimes I even write my own epitaph. This is not morbid preoccupation with myself, as strange as it sounds, but rather a way to stay focused on what is most important to live for while I’m still here. It is my way of finding focus in the midst of many competing passions.

We were created to live for something greater than ourselves, and only in Jesus will we find that “something.”  Only by focusing on Jesus will our works follow us to heaven.

Take time now… choose a few phrases you want spoken about you when your family and friends gather to celebrate your life.  Write them down. Reflect on them. Now, with this fresh focus, go back into the race of life and give your heart to that which you want to follow you when you die.

November 3, 2014
by floyd
0 comments

Contentment Does Not Mean Happiness

This is an excerpt from a letter by my wife Sally who is going through chemotherapy – some profound thoughts about contentment:

“…A friend of mine is going through a hard time. She asked if I had any thoughts to share about contentment……so it got me thinking. The Bible exhorts us to be content in whatever situation we’re in. (Philippians 4:11) I asked myself what that meant for me right now……am I “content” with cancer? Can we as believers be content about something so awful?

I realized I can be content without being happy about the cancer!! Contentment has to do with peace. I have felt completely surrounded with peace from the Lord in these months that I’ve been battling cancer……right from the first moment the doctor told me I had a large tumor. The Bible talks about the peace “that passes understanding” that can only come from God. It’s not a human emotion, feeling, experience…..it’s a gift and blessing from Him. I know no one could be happy about having cancer, but I’m at peace. I am content but praying for healing. Contentment is a spiritual weapon right up there with faith.

The pain, injustices, and hardships of life are only for a little while. Perfect health, fairness, and lack of difficulties will be ours to enjoy in heaven forever. God has my times and seasons on this earth in His control. Contentment in my situation is a spiritual weapon against the enemy and any of his plans. I’m not happy I have cancer, but, thanks to God’s help, I think I am content in Christ. I’m grateful for that. It’s definitely a gift from Him.

October 27, 2014
by Floyd
2 Comments

Helping People Respond to a Fallen Leader

It is shattering for people to put their trust in a leader and then discover that leader has betrayed their trust. When a leader sins, not only is their life and the lives of their family devastated, but the lives of those who follow them are also deeply impacted.

Below are a few things to keep in mind when helping a church or ministry to recover after the fall of their leader.

• It is important for people to forgive as often as they think about the leader. Lead them in praying for this person. Encourage them to speak out their forgiveness. Speak it out in prayer. Gently guide them so that cynicism and mistrust may not be allowed to find a hiding place in their hearts. Remember, they have been sinned against. They need time to work through the emotions of what has happened to them.

• Help people to recognize the difference between forgiveness and restoration. Even if the leader has repented, there is a necessary season of restoration for them to go through. The greater the sin the longer the period of restoration will be. The character weakness that led to the sin needs to be repaired and made right. If the sin was hidden over a long period of time and was not voluntarily disclosed, the greater the consequences.

• God is more jealous and concerned about the fallen leader’s character than anything that he/she has done for the Kingdom. God will sacrifice a person’s public ministry to regain right relationship with them.

• God will allow His own reputation to be hurt for the sake of bringing a leader to repentance. God will endure being mocked from outsiders in order to bring loving correction to our lives. How does He do that? He will expose a leaders sin publicly if that’s what it takes in order to restore them.

• “Anointing”, “fruit” or effectiveness in ministry does not equal God’s stamp of approval on any man or woman. God has allowed many a leader to experience His blessing while striving at the same time to bring the person to a place of repentance. Why does God allow that to happen? Because of His mercy. Because biblical truth will bear fruit even when the one speaking the truth may be living in sin. Eventually, a man’s sins will find him out and he will reap what he has sown.

• There are many ways people grieve the loss of a leader. When a leader falls, people go through the normal stages of grief: denial (shock), anger, bargaining, blame and acceptance of what happened. Each stage of grief is valid and we need to make room for people to grieve in their own way while helping them through the process.

• Followers are not responsible for their leader’s sin. Some people will blame themselves. Guide them away from that response. Their responsibility is their reaction to their leader’s sin. It may take some time for them to come to a place of Godly forgiveness and then acceptance that the church may need to move on without their former leader.

• Allow the church family to be a safe place for people to express their emotions, including anger, forgiveness, blame, etc. Some people may react for a period of time by closing down their hearts completely, or just giving lip service to the right action. Guide people to a place of forgiveness and healing and then on to restoration of the church. Counsel them about the importance of choosing to fear God so they can see how sin impacts God’s heart most of all.

• Establish a restoration team for the fallen leader. Give them clear guidelines as to how the restoration should take place and to whom they are accountable. Decide if the leader should be restored to their role within the church or to go elsewhere for restoration.

• Provide regular pastoral oversight and care for the church in the weeks and months after events have taken place. The church also needs a “restoration team” of godly leaders. Sometimes it is beneficial to have people from outside the congregation, help them to a place of complete restoration.

October 24, 2014
by Floyd
0 comments

Catalyzing a Movement of Leaders

The best leaders are the ones that reproduce themselves. They don’t just have a succession plan, they create an atmosphere of multiplication many times over.

These are the leaders that make themselves dispensable. The men and women who function out of a deep level of personal security. They strive not only to do a great job themselves, but they love to see others excel as well.

Because they enjoy seeing others succeed people want to be around them. This type of leader selflessly helps others acquire skills needed for the work, thus freeing themselves to move on to other projects.

Over the years, I have worked hard at being a leader who catalyzes a movement of leaders. Along the way though, I have hit some personal roadblocks to being that type of leader. In that process I have identified seven qualities that I believe are essential to being that ‘multiplication’ leader.

Here they are… easy to write about but it has taken a lifetime to live them out:

  1. Identify your identity. Decide, do you want to be the “main man,” or do you want to be the one who raises up and empowers others? How you see yourself is what you will reproduce.
  1. Start with the end in sight. Is the main goal just getting the job done, or is it reproducing more leaders, who can also get the job done, in the process? The end goal will determine the path you take to achieve it.
  1. Decide if you want a big movement or a big meeting. In the church world it’s a choice between big meetings or a big movement. In the corporate world you need to decide, will you build vertical or horizontal? If your dream is to build a big corporation (church, organization, company) the drive to accomplish your dream will send a message to other leaders that they must “fit-in” or move on.
  1. Lead by not leading. Multiplication leaders figure out how to lead from behind. They are willing to take the risk of letting go of the reins in order to empower others. They can live with and function in chaos and uncertainty in order to create momentum.
  1. Dream big but build small. A movement that attracts lots of leaders needs a big dream. Visionary leaders are not attracted to small vision. How you build the big vision needs to be in small increments… small groups, small endeavors, small obedience’s. Some of those “small” things you build will grow and even out-strip what you do… that is a compliment to you!
  1. Look for opportunities for others, not yourself. Leaders of leaders are not focused on themselves, but on others. They are constantly on the lookout for potential leaders. They see beyond weakness to potential. They are positive by nature. They are optimists about people.
  1. Invest in people not buildings. We need buildings to get the job done but every far reaching movement must decide which takes priority:  people or property?

 

 

 

 

 

October 22, 2014
by Floyd
4 Comments

The Five Leadership Functions of Jesus

In their outstanding book, The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes & Barry Posner build their case that leaders are made, more than born. They describe five functions ordinary people use when they bring forth their best efforts in challenging circumstances.

I have adapted the five essential functions presented in their book to show how Jesus first modeled them. The source of all great, enduring leadership practices is always God himself. In this case, Jesus models these practices in His last days and nights with the disciples before His crucifixion, as recorded in John 13-17.

  • Jesus Encouraged the Heart 

Jesus connected directly to the soul of His closest followers. He discerned their fear, their bewilderment, and their unspoken questions. They knew something big was up, but they weren’t sure what it was, so He said: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me…I go to prepare a place for you…I will come again to receive you to myself, that where I am, you may be also…” (John 14:1-3).

Jesus encouraged His disciples to do extraordinary things by speaking to their felt need, to what was happening below the surface, at the heart level. He demonstrated that the way to reach people’s wills and minds is through their hearts.

Jesus knew the task He gave His disciples to go, teach, baptize and make disciples would not be accomplished if their hearts were overcome with discouragement. He saw the need to keep hope and determination alive in them. He encouraged them by speaking hope to their hearts, not presenting facts to their minds. He reassured them. He listened to them. He recognized the contributions they had already made and affirmed them for it.

The twelve apostles were men who had already left their families for Jesus. They risked everything for their faith in Him. He did what great leaders do; He celebrated their dedication and sacrifice. Others had left Him, but not these men. He knew Judas would betray Him and Peter would deny Him, but as discouraging as that could be, Jesus still reached out to His disciples with words of comfort and assurance.

Jesus’ words “Let not your hearts be troubled…” have given hope and comfort to multiple generations of disciples the world over since that night when He first spoke them. This is inspirational leadership at its best! Jesus openly disclosed what was before the disciples (14:29-30), yet motivated them onward with a vision for the future.

  • Jesus Inspired a Shared Vision 

Jesus told His disciples He was leaving and going to the Father, but He promised a heaven-sent mentor was coming to help them. He enabled His disciples to see the future possibilities He had in store for them (John 14:1-3, 23-24).

The function of inspirational leadership is to inspire hope. Jesus declared with great passion how His disciples could make a difference after He departed. He envisioned the future for them, creating a unique image of what the future was to become. He told them they would do even greater works than the great works that He had done.

Through His strong appeal and quiet persuasion, He enlisted His disciples in the dream He had for them, and then commissioned them to do the same for others (14:31).

  • Jesus Challenged the Status Quo

Jesus declared to His disciples that He is the way to the Father (14:7-14). Jesus built on the truth embedded in the faith covenant made with Abraham, but avoided the man made structures built around the covenant. He pointed to Himself as the revelation of the Father (14:7-11), and in so doing, He undercut the priestly system that had disempowered the Jewish people from direct access to the Father.

Jesus searched for opportunities to challenge and change the status quo. The Jewish faith-system had become a weight on the shoulders of the people. He didn’t just innovate within the existing way of doing things; He replaced it with something new and fresh. He took enormous risks. Since risk taking involves the potential for mistakes and failure, Jesus gave his disciples freedom to learn from their mistakes.

  • Jesus Empowered Others to Act 

He fostered collaboration among His disciples by sending them out in twos and threes, working as a spiritual family. He knew He was building them together, not just as individuals. Jesus was building them into His people. The carriers of His ongoing presence on earth. His church! In doing so, He gave them authority and power to act. He delegated to them the mission the Father had given to him.

Jesus actively involved the disciples as the founders of His church – and made it clear that they should disciple many others also. He didn’t want to build an exclusive sect but a worldwide movement of people from every tribe and tongue. Jesus came to start a movement that was inclusive to the poor, to women, to the young, and to the marginalized and the broken.

Jesus understood that mutual respect between His followers is what would sustain His extraordinary efforts through them, so He taught them about the value of love, forgiveness and unconditional acceptance.

Jesus modeled for His disciples how to create an atmosphere of trust and dignity among people. He confronted competitiveness in His disciples. He taught them to love each other as He loved them. He strengthened His disciples by sharing inside information with them – information that empowered them to leave Him if they chose to do so. Jesus gave His own power away, making each disciple feel capable and powerful. And then told them that this is how they are to lead the movement He began, “in the same way the father sent me, I am sending you…” (John 20:21-23).

  • Jesus Modeled the Way to Lead Others

Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus gave power away (14:16-21).  He was not concerned with status but with serving. He promised Holy Spirit was coming to them so they would do even greater works than He had done. Jesus broke the poverty of spirit that hierarchy produces in people by giving His disciples a vision for a movement where every person has a valuable role and contribution. Jesus modeled that every person in His movement was a priest, not just an elite few.

This fostered collaboration among the disciples and provided an alternative to the Pharisees model of rigidly tiered leadership. It built spiritual competencies in them: they could talk directly to God, they could hear His voice, they could ask for help, they could pray for the sick, they could seek for the people of peace and announce the kingdom had come. They could cast out demons and heal the sick. They could disciple and send others. They could build spiritual families that multiplied and grew among theirs as well as other cultures and peoples.

Jesus created standards of holiness by setting a personal example for His disciples. He imparted kingdom values about how people should be treated, co-workers should be respected, and broken people should be respected.

Jesus encouraged “small obedience’s” not just spectacular acts because He knew that was the way to enlist many ordinary people in His movement, and it was the best way to spread the good news and build commitment. Jesus set the example each day by behaving in ways that were consistent with the values He taught the disciples.

Summary and Application

Take a few minutes to review the five leadership strengths of Jesus:

  1. Encourage people’s hearts
  2. Inspire people with shared vision
  3. Challenge the status quo
  4. Empower others to act
  5. Model how you want others to live

Take time to evaluate your leadership in light of the five Jesus-style functions of leadership. Perhaps you want to grade yourself from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score, in each of the five functions.

Now, ask your spouse and then your fellow leaders to do the same for each other. Talk about these five functions of leadership in your team, church, department or ministry. As a follow up, develop a plan to build on your strengths while giving special attention to improving your weaknesses.

This assessment will give you a practical set of leadership goals to work on. Invite Holy Spirit to lead you in the process, encouraging, challenging, enabling, modeling and inspiring you each step of the journey!

 

October 15, 2014
by floyd
3 Comments

A Thoughtful Christ-Centered Response to ISIS

NOTE FROM FLOYD: This article by friend Carl Medearis is from his website and used by permission. Though it was posted a little while ago, it is very relevant today.

by CARL MEDEARIS

Obama admits to not having a strategy. Duck Dynasty Godfather, Phil Robertson, wants to “Convert ‘em or kill ‘em.”

So what is a thoughtful honest strategy for confronting a terrorist group like ISIS?

ISIS doesn’t need any more explanation. We know what it is – evil personified. They have morphed out of Al Qaeda who were ironically too liberal for their most radical Islamic interpretations, namely that there should be a new national Muslim identity – a Caliphate. They have chosen Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant) as the territory from which this new “state” will emerge.

ISIS has brutally killed 1000’s, mostly non-Sunnis, in this quest for power. Ethnic Christians and a small people-group called Yazidis have found themselves in evil’s path, but so have the armies of Syria (both the national army and the various rebel groups), Iraq and even Lebanon. It seems anyone who isn’t willing to lay down their “flag” and join the newly self-appointed ISIS Caliphate is deemed a traitor and deserves to die. The execution of two American hostages by beheading has horrified the West and captured our daily imaginations – mostly how we can “demoralize and destroy” to use our President’s words, this new evil encroaching on our freedoms and international interests.

But I’m not a politician, I’m a private citizen and a follower of Jesus. But I’ve spent 32 years in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I’ve been many times to Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and around the Middle East. I’ve met personally with the leaders of Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Bin Laden family. And the politics of this are complicated to be sure. To bomb or not to bomb? Boots on the ground? It would seem that any attempt at a real diplomatic solution would be ridiculous with such a group.

Then what should the attitude be of folowers of Jesus in the West? How should we talk about ISIS amongst ourselves and if we had the chance to speak to one of our Congressional representatives, what might we encourage them to do? As “people of the book” (the name Muslims give to Christ-followers), what is our posture?

Unlike President Obama or the Duck guy, Jesus had a strategy. Believe it or not, he was smart. He lived under an occupying force and dealt with zealots (men who would have been considered “terrorists”) and lest we forget – he was killed. So Jesus knew pain, suffering, persecution and terrorism first hand.

And he had a strategy for dealing with such enemies. Here are five:

1. “Take the log out of our eyes, before we help get the speck out of someone else’s eye.” Are there logs in the eyes of the West, America specifically, that we need to first recognize? Where did ISIS get its weapons, for instance? And are there logs in the eyes of those of us who claim the way of Jesus as the way for the whole world? If the church had done its job of sharing Jesus in the Arab world in years past, would we have this issue? If the boys who are now men in ISIS, ten years ago, had heard and received the good news of Jesus – would they be doing what they are now?

2. “Blessed are the eyes that see and the ears that hear.” We need to see, hear and understand – it’s the parable of the Sower. There are reasons ISIS exists. We may not like them, and we might not want to understand them, but a mature and wise person will seek to know. Ask the question “Why?” Why is there an ISIS? If you were in their shoes would you be tempted to do something similar? If you grew up in a country with no power at your disposal, no outlet for travel, economic opportunity or education – and someone handed you a gun and said “We can take what should have been ours anyway” would you be tempted? It’s easy to say “No.” But….Are you sure?

3. “The harvest is ripe.” Who has attempted to bring them good news? Saul was a terrorist before he became Paul – killing Christians just like ISIS is doing. There’s always hope. The good news is the Power of God for salvation. Do we believe that? Who’s willing to go? Now.

4. “Turn the other cheek, carry the pack an extra mile and give them the coat off your back.” Jesus was rooted in Middle Eastern culture. He understood the power of shame and employs it brilliantly in these three simple strategies in these words from Matthew chapter 5 – the Sermon on the Mount. Each are used by Jesus to show that the one who is being abused can take power back from the abuser by taking charge of the situation. “Turning the cheek” wasn’t being passive – but a way to force the man who struck first to think about what he was doing before striking again. Forcing a civilian to carry a pack an “extra mile” was actually illegal – so the Roman soldier would be in big trouble for his superiors if someone saw what was happening. Taking of your “outer cloak” and showing your nakedness would have been a huge shame on the one who saw – not the one who took it off – but the one who saw. Shaming is Jesus’ clever way of granting power to the powerless.

What if we spent a billion dollars on creative ways of shaming ISIS – what might we come up with?

5. “Love your enemy, bless them and loan without expecting return.” Develop a long-term strategy for confronting evil. These injunctions of Christ – to love, bless and give to our enemies – are long- term strategies. They may not work right now within the current situation, but we have to be asking about the next generation. Who are the kids playing soccer in the dirty streets of Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan who could become successful businessmen and women, OR the next ISIS? We never heard of ISIS just one year ago. We didn’t know about Al Qaeda before 9/11. Who is the next ___________? And how do we move beyond our short-sighted 4-year-at-a-time policies to a more enlightened policy of generations?
To love, bless and give to your enemy speaks of development and opportunity. Are we taking economic and educational reform seriously enough in countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan? If not, why not?

Of course, there is a legitimate argument to be made, that when people such as those within ISIS submit themselves fully to evil, war is our last option. Christians and those committed to the ways of Jesus have argued that position through the lens of “Just War Theory” since the days of St. Augustine. However, I believe we are too quick to employ that as a strategy when Jesus gave us some clear methods for confronting our enemies. His way is not passive. The way of the cross is perhaps the most aggressive stance towards evil ever taken. The love that God offers the world, in Christ, is not wimpy – it is a robust affront to the systems of our day that cry out for blood and revenge. The way of Jesus is the hard way. Forgiveness, love, choosing to lay down our lives is the most difficult path in the face of real enemies. Evil is real. But love is far more powerful.

Ironically the Phil Robertson’s of the world use the exact same language as ISIS – “convert or die.” There is another Way!

Paul summarized this way of Jesus well when he said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” ISIS is evil, but they can ultimately be overcome by good.

Carl Medearis is an international expert on Muslims/Christian relations and Arab/American relations. You can learn more about him on his website:

www.carlmedearis.com

Follow Carl on Twitter.

Find Carl on Facebook.