21st Century Leadership


Determined Discipleship
Mark David Ribbins

The Death of Lazarus

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you,and yet you are going back?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

 

It’s easy to follow Jesus, as long as He’s popular in the places where you’re following
— a lesson His disciples learned while watching the course of His ministry.

“ Called to be fishers of men? How cool to hang with Jesus!
Watching a temple crowd pick up rocks to stone Him, not so great.
Helping to feed 5000 with a bag lunch? Amazing experience!
Castigated by Pharisees for picking grain on the Sabbath, what a royal pain!”

(more…)

Public Sees Religion’s Influence Waning

Posted: 26 Mar 2015 05:52 AM PDT

Nearly three-quarters of the public (72 percent) now thinks religion is losing influence in American life, up 5 percentage points from 2010 to the highest level in Pew Research polling over the past decade. And most people who say religion’s influence is waning see this as a bad thing.

http://factsandtrends.net/2015/03/26/public-sees-religions-influence-waning/#.VRRAS8so5Fs

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AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCH PLANTING AND MULTIPLYING: THE NEXT GENERATION

Expo 2015 Spark Booklet Path 1

Mon, April 27 | 1pm – 5pm
Idlewild Baptist Church | Tampa, FL
Attend this Free Bonus Session by Registering for a Pre-Con Forum or Lab as part of Exponential East for only +$59

Hosted by Path 1 and AACPI facilitated by Dr. Candace Lewis and Rev. William T. Chaney Jr. 
Featuring Olu Brown, Lia McIntosh, George Ashford and Alex Shipman

Connect with successful African American Church planters and receive insights on planting and multiplying Ministries in a new church reaching African Americans as next generation leaders!

Our forum includes planters leading new churches of various sizes! What they have in common is a calling from God to share the gospel, impact their community, and multiply ministries. Come hear succinct Ted Talk style presentations w Q & A and receive cutting edge research & resourcing in African American Church planting.

In this session you will experience:* The importance of Vision & Momentum as you Plant & Multiply

* Connecting w your community & creating successful partnerships
* The Heart & Soul of an African American Church Planter
* Making Disciples & Multiplying Leaders
* The mindset and essentials of a multiplying movement
* The Emerging Black Church & The Next Generation

Refocus

Then Jesus explained, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work… wake up look around, the fields are already ripe for harvest.”  John 4:34 & 35b

Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the real task at hand.  I get caught up in visiting sick folks, preparing sermons and teaching Bible studies… attending meetings and organizing teams.  Important stuff for a Pastor!  The days tick by and we lose momentum as our focus is decidedly internalized.  We miss that sense of satisfaction in ministry and we miss God’s goal for the community.

If we were to REFOCUS and concentrate with equal intensity on what is happening out in the fields/neighborhoods (like the Samaritan village that was converted after one woman’s encounter with Jesus), maybe we would better understand what God is doing and would find greater satisfaction in ministry.  Jesus found fulfillment and satisfaction from doing his father’s work, which was all about the mission field and the harvest.  Jesus knew what was really important and didn’t get lost in expectations of people or job descriptions.  His focus was always and only on the task God was leading him to.

I want that kind of confidence and courage.  To just go and do the thing I think God is calling me to.  Even if no one goes with me… even if it has nothing to do with my “day job”… even if it is hard or scary or messy… to do God’s will and finish God’s work in the field… not in my office.

Prayer for the Day:  Dear God, we are so glad that Jesus came to teach us about your will for the world.  We know that the fields are still ripe for harvest, but we don’t venture out into the fields as much as we should.  Give us the confidence and courage to spend some time in our fields, at the well, in the jail or at the coffee shop… wherever your spirit leads us.  Help me to REFOCUS on the world outside of the church and do what you call me to do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Rev. Angy Trimmer
Craft UMC
Columbia TN

Still wrestling with a lot of emotions but today I am clear about my role in this discussion.  I am first a faith leader who is a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ.  As a public theologian I have the responsibility to interpret the present news through the lens of the Scriptures. I am an African American male who lives with the oppression and disorientation of subtle racism daily.  I have developed coping skills so this does not control me but it does affect me almost daily.  I am a leader in the African American community with a responsibility to address the presenting symptoms and the underlying causes of the current situation in Ferguson.

My current observations have been informed by countless new sources, countless conversations with colleagues and listening to various observations from random people at Starbucks.  Yes I bought them coffee but they were no shy to share their opinions with or without coffee.

Dr. Robert Franklin wrote an short insightful article that began with his reading of the book of Lamentations.  https://www.facebook.com/robert.franklin.50/posts/10152518452870949?pnref=story

“Yes… America, the crown has fallen”  says Dr. Robert Franklin. This the line that summarizes the exasperation of a country built on ideals of equality, liberty and freedom.

This is juxtaposed against this line-
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass

WEB DuBois then continues this though by stating that “Most men today cannot conceive freedom that does not involve somebody’s slavery”

America’s ideal of freedom and justice comes directly from the preamble of our Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The ideals are not antiquated, out dated or out of touch with modern culture.  They are actually the foundation of our society in which the rest of the world aspires to attain.  This is the crown that Dr. Franklin refers to that has fallen in the wake of the injustice of systematic oppression within our land. Democratically elected leaders who fight for the people and uphold the ideals  of our Constitution. The mistake that many make is to make this about race or to believe that this one decision is the impetus for the current unrest and violence.

Its not about one indictment, one moment, or one death. It is about the decades of systematic oppression and racial injustice that is bound up and embodied in that one indictment, one moment, one death. Dr. Robert Brewer

The challenge is introduced with Frederick Douglass’ comments.  Whether we agree with the decision in Ferguson or not years of injustice have disproportionally affected poor people of color through out America.  Dr. Michelle Alexander’s work on the Mass Incarceration in her book, The New Jim Crow, super illuminates the history of systematic incarceration of African American men by the very system designed on the ideals of “forming a more perfect Union”.

Those who are Bible reading folk will quickly quote John 12:8 or Deuteronomy 15:11.  The Poor will always be with us but those who love  God are called in the sacred text to care for, reach out to, do life with the poor.  This is different than the current modern culture of the politically conservative which seems to be “We do what is necessary to put up with the poor but not to change the system of poverty and oppression”. The liberal political culture says to “give the poor food, housing and medical care” without giving support to empower them to change their situations.

Wouldn’t it be amazing that the elected officials from both sides Love your neighborof the spectrum align themselves with the scripture found in Matthew .  Loving your neighbor as yourself is a direct challenge to provide the same comfort, life sustaining for all who are neighbors. This is usually beyond our comfort zone if it is really going to impact their way of life. The agencies that maintain the systems that ensure poverty many times are self preserving to provide individual services rather than solving challenges and empowering the poor to change their conditions. Public education in poor communities are failing across the nation and yet charter schools in the same neighborhoods have new ways of teaching that empower the children to learn, thrive and change their situations and conditions. Many school systems have the right to veto these charter schools who are making an impact because the tenured school union teachers may loose their jobs even though they don’t want to change their teaching strategies. This is just one example of how the “agency” galvanizes it’s power that maintains the system of poverty.  Education, Economy Development, Healthcare and Justice/Criminal systems can be addressed to change the situation of the poor.  The church must learn to do ministry with the poor not to the poor. This will include moving ministries into the city rather than retreating to the suburbs.

 “…a grand jury decided Monday not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the news triggered fresh confrontations between protesters and police in the tense Missouri city.” CNN

My reflections this morning begin with this excerpt from a CNN new article.  There are so many emotions right now that this is not a definitive response but an attempt to organize all of the thoughts.

  1. I pray for the Brown family because they are reliving the grief of losing their son. “Earth has no sorry that heaven cannot heal” is true but when you repeatedly tear the scab off the healing is delayed.  I pray that the family can experience peace.
  2. The brokenness of humanity is evident in every aspect of this situation. As a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ I am fully persuaded that as believers we have failed Michael Brown, Officer Darren Wilson, Jay Nixon, Benjamin Crump the violent rioters, the grand jury and the people live in the area. Too many churches are not teaching that we live by God’s grace, we are saved by God’s Grace and we move toward sanctification by Grace which begins with following Jesus.
  3. Everyone’s life matters. This situation highlights and promotes the systematic devaluation of the lives of young poor black men in the justice system in America. From Florida to Cleveland to Baltimore to Missouri there is no accountability for the killing of young poor black men. There are also is no major movements of men mentoring poor young boys, teaching entrepreneurship, championing academic achievement and involving ourselves in such a way that the masses of poor youth experience the world beyond their community in a significant way.
  4. I am in support of an economic boycott. It must be focused on companies with significant influence and power within the St. Louis area.
  • Emerson Electric
  • Express Scripts
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Walmart
  • Monsanto
  • Charter Communications
  • A..G. Edwards
  • Boeing
  • Build –a- Bear

Walmart, Monsanto, A.G. Edwards and Charter Communications can be targeted nationwide but will require unbelievable numbers of people to participate to make a difference.

I am angry at the failure of our justice system and the racism that is still evident in America. I am profoundly frustrated with the violence perpetrated by a few as a result of the decision. I am disappointed that the African American community is more reactive than proactive at addressing the conditions of the poor.  I read somewhere (and I don’t have the reference this morning) that for every middle class AA there are five still living below the poverty line.  With this being said our middle class, educated, socially upwardly mobile, DuBois framed talented tenth have fallen short and ignored their responsibility to empower the poor.

As I said this is not the definitive response but an opportunity for me to organize my thoughts for an appropriate response.

Psalm 136

God’s Work in Creation and in History

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who spread out the earth on the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

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