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What happens on the Inside when it blows up on the Outside? Part I

David experienced outside blow ups through life and learned to navigate his insides by leaning into God. When he lost his country, job, reputation, wife, mentor, friend and sanity he learned some life lessons that we would do well to learn ourselves as we lead the International Church I Sam 18-21.

When God calls you He equips you.

I once asked a 27 year tenured International Church Pastor, “How has God equipped you to lead the International Church?” He said, “God is still equipping me.” Do you ever feel like God is still equipping you? David was anointed to be king and God equipped him to do so through some difficult circumstances that lasted a long time. Hard times can produce strong people if we learn to lean into God and exchange our struggles for his strength. When Paul was explaining how God uses difficulty he wrote in 2 Cor 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” The life lesson here is to realize that God is equipping you because he called you. He will not call you to a task without providing a tailor made education and a plan for you to accomplish that very specific International Church task. Let him have His way with you. David did and he became “a man with a heart after God.”

When God calls you He may allow conflict.

Conflict in the International Church can be complex and hard to understand, especially because cross cultural communication is challenging. I’m sure David felt  similar misunderstandings when he was called to be king and then called to endure conflict. International Church leadership is not easy and you can expect conflict with your calling. Often in the beginning of our faith journey God will bless us with his glorious presence almost tangibly in repeated ways and means. As time goes on, God will hold us to our original commitment by allowing us to strengthen through conflict. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane there was so much conflict he perspired with blood and sweat. He prayed “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” The life lesson here is to live by your spirit depending on His Spirit and not fight conflict in the flesh. Though easier said than done, this is the way of the cross.

When conflict comes the price is high and we need each other.

David appropriately sought out life giving people when faced with severe conflict with his father-in-law King Saul. Your emotional bank account is not big enough to pay the price of conflict alone. Long after David had endured the price of conflict his own son Solomon wrote in Ecc 4:10 “If one falls down his friend can help him up. Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up … A cord of three is not quickly broken.” The life lesson here is simple, do life together, don’t do it alone. Over the years I have often heard that MICN “is a lifeline” for International Church Pastors and Leaders. MICN has prioritized this lifeline need. We say it this way.  We challenge and equip International Church Leaders to effectively engage with God in His Global Kingdom restoration movement. Lets draw strength from each other as we lift each other up.

Practice these three life lessons from David. Lead your International Church toward health and wholeness because where the leaders goes, so goes the people.

What happens on the Inside when it blows up on the Outside? Part II

The International Church can be challenged by all kinds of authority inside and outside. David faced the same. Like some of us he had a crazy boss for an employer 1 Sam 19:1-22. King Saul had pledged “as surely as the LORD lives, David will not be put to death” after David’s best friend Jonathon convinced the King that David was fighting for him and not against. Saul broke his promise and pursued David to kill him. David’s life was blowing up on the outside and he was forced to deal with his inside response that eventually caused him to be a man with a heart after God.

What International Church conflict are you facing today? Local government? Culture clashes? Terrorism? War?

What sheep is seemingly obstructing your goal? A difficult elder?A leader with longer tenure than you?

What leadership situation to do you need intervention for? Beyond your pay grade? You have never seen this kind of conflict before?

To live in freedom while conflict abounds we must learn to replace the enemies lies with God’s truth. 

Throughout our lives the enemy wants to plant lies in our hearts so that although saved by Jesus we do not live in the freedom of Jesus. Often the enemy plants these lies when it is blowing up on the outside. That is why it is so important to pay attention to the inside. It is necessary to replace these lies with the truth because Jesus said “the truth will set you free.” God is love and he does not initiate nor repeat the lies. When we still our souls long enough and listen to God, He will express truth in ways that are often more emotional than intellectual, more spiritual than rational. It is the difference between God’s word in our heads and God’s tailor message to our hearts. Once God’s tailor made message to our hearts is heard and received that truth gives freedom that lasts. It is truth first grasped emotionally and then comprehended intellectually lodged in the heart once and for all. God will often deliver heart messages like the following in direct opposition to the lies the enemy plants in our hearts.

TRUTH replacing lies like the following:

1. “You are my success.” THE TRUTH FROM GOD. “I am a failure.” A lie from the enemy.
2. “You are wonderfully made and beautiful in my sight.” THE TRUTH FROM GOD. “I am ugly.” A lie from the enemy.

  1. “You are loved by me and that is all that matters.” THE TRUTH FROM GOD. “They hate me, so I hate me, I’m not good enough for God.” A lie from the enemy.

Learn the lessons from your mistakes to move you from recovery to restarting.

Too often International Church leaders simply don’t recover on the inside when it blows up on the outside. Why? Because the soul has not been repaired. After learning to replace truth for lies the practical implementation for full recovery means we have to change past negative behaviour in order to move toward a healthy re-start. There are a hundred possible adjustments you may need to make: from procrastination to punctuality, from negative attitude to a positive attitude, from critical mindset to an encouraging outlook, from no training to acquired training. You can add your own adjustment and all the more in an International Church setting. The important question here is an honest look at yourself without defensiveness. This is how I move from recovery to restart.

Suffer Well

The Bible says: “Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking in anything” Jam 1:2-4. What is the shape of maturity God wants to make you into? What does complete really look like from God’s perspective for you in your context? God wants to finish his work in you, are you willing to let him help you grow up? The International Church is a complex furnace of development. God called you into His cross cultural leadership accelerated growth plan inside the International Church. Allow God to have his way with you.

Struggling through outside blow ups through dysfunctional authority figures demands that we live in Jesus freedom, learn from our mistakes and suffer well. This is not a popular message but part of picking up our cross and following our Master.

What happens on the Inside when it blows up on the Outside? Part III

We go through International Church challenges of all kinds. David’s life is a guide for us towards a biblical response when times are tough. From 1 Sam 18-21 David lost his country, reputation, job, wife, mentor, best friend and sanity! When David dealt with the inside issues of outside blow ups he became a man with a heart after God. We can also become people with hearts after God. 

Look up not in.  All of us are called by God to find our identity in Christ. We are also called to tasks. The International Church calling is a unique multi-cultural, wide theological, unity building, catalytic call to ministry with many more descriptions including your own. When problems happen in the International Church context God wants us to look to Him and not in. Paul said in Acts 20:24 “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Paul looked up not in when evaluating his task before God. Where are you looking?

Trust the mystery of God.  Generally the sheep within the International Church regularly attend thirsty and want to drink. When Isaiah was writing to spiritually thirsty people he said in Isaiah 55: 8-9 “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” There are times when it blows up on the outside and we simply cannot rationally explain what is going on. During times like this we are summoned to quench our thirst for answers by trusting in the mystery of God and not enter the never ending search attempting to answer why, why, why? Quenching our thirst by modeling what it means to trust the mystery of God will help the sheep follow with better resolve.

Act when He directs. The scriptures are timeless, perpetual and ever instructing. When John was describing the dynamic between the vine and the branches he said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” John 15:4. When it blows up on the outside we must exercise much more effort to intentionally “remain in Christ.” In fact, that is why the question, “what happens on the inside” is so important. When you are faced with challenges outside your ability to control, “remain in Christ?” After pondering this Jesus instruction again I have am challenged to “remain in Christ” through outside testing. At MICN we intentionally equip International Church leaders to effectively engage with God. That means acting when He directs.

Practice these life lessons from David’s life raising the bar in your life and leadership within the International Church.

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