ALLIES (Part 1): A Pastors Perspective on Relationships in the Church

One of the values in our new church is Allies: Align your life with God and allies who want you to win.  This is a critical value that will make us stronger or drag us under. When we get relationships right it's a beautiful thing. 

For years I underestimated just how critical relationships are in taking hold of God's promises. If you surround yourself with people who can strengthen you when you're down and cheer with you when you're winning you have a true comrade in Christ.

This is touchy to discuss but even in the church there are people who are not spiritually healthy. This doesn't mean that we discard them at all. But it also doesn't mean that we have to share the deepest part of our lives with them. Being selective with those we share our deepest thoughts, our sin, our shame, and even our victories, is a selection process that God calls us to be mindful of. Consider Psalm 1, the first three verses:

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

The clear implication is that we're better off walking alone with God and his word than to surround ourselves with the wrong people. There are unwise people both outside and even inside the church who we should not sit with, stand with, or walk with. 

The church is the greatest possible institution on earth, but not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is able to help us grow up in Christ. We can't have a spirit of judgement, but we must ask the Holy Spirit to help us exercise judgement for those we should share our lives with. 

Getting our life aligned with God and finding allies who will exhort us, cry with us, and even cheer for us when we get a win, is critical to our spiritual prosperity. 


Hope for the Disillusioned

The Church has an opportunity like never before in our nation. We have millions of people who are grasping for answers to life. People are longing for more and they have yet to hear and see that Jesus is the more they're looking for. 

Change can happen. The world has yet to feel the full force of God's power. But with a shift in our thinking and a fresh commitment to loving, we can touch the lives of people who long to feel the transcendent love of God – even if they can't put words to it.

A Church that is organically committed to loving people as they are and courageous enough to share God's vision for where he wants them to be, will be a church who reaches the lost and expands the kingdom of God.

Jeff Vanderstelt has some great thoughts on why people are disillusioned with the church. Enjoy this short video.

Personal Note: I'm following God's calling on my life. On February 5th I'll begin leading a core group of a new church in downtown Chicago. It's called 180 Chicago. I invite you to prayerfully consider joining us if you see your need for God and want to part of a church that organically reaches out to people with the love of our Father and courageously offers God's greater vision for every area of life. Our next orientation is February 4th. Click here to get signed up. See you then.

Chivalry: Part 14 - First Touch

“…his right hand embraces me."

Love is more than a fleeting emotion, it’s an investment that touches the soul of a woman, and oftentimes a gentle touch is very thing that’s most needed. When a man takes the initiative to love his wife, hang on, the fireworks of love will be on full display. But the goal here is more than just “good sex” as our culture is prone to call it. It’s intimacy that produces depth in relationship and great sex is the result. And intimacy keeps on giving if we make a consistent investment into it on an ongoing basis. Love is both incredibly strong and tremendously fragile. But here’s the promise: If we invest the time and initiate love toward the woman we love, the strands of love will grow so strong over time, that no challenge or even tragedy can threaten that union–that's why chivalrous men offer the first touch. 

When a man loves a woman and initiates with that first touch, it sends a message to his wife of affection. But when a man moves toward his wife with touch that’s not intended to close a deal, it sends a message that says, “You are secure with me. I’m your man and no one else has my heart but you”. The touch of a man who has no expectations is like pouring confidence and security into the soul of his wife. A woman can feel deep affirmation without a single word spoken. There are many gifts most men can’t afford for their wives. But the language of love is priceless, and touch is the currency of love. 

When a man learns to touch his wife it shakes the gates of hell. While evil tries to isolate and discourage our wives, one well-timed hug can make everything different. Pain becomes manageable, challenges look crossable, and garden variety discouragement begins to disappear. So a commitment to love our bride as Christ loved the church, means that men will live to offer the first touch.

There are several ways to touch that matches the moment. Each of them hold a unique power.

Sensual Touch - Even this is not what we learned in a locker room or bragged about with the guys. Sensual touch is aimed at communicating love and commitment for our wife and not ourself. It says, “I love you for who you are and the gift you are in my life”.

Consoling Touch - Our wife is no different than us. Some days are just plain lousy. But rather than talking our wife out of what she’s feeling, we can take a moment to meet her there. When we wrap an arm around our wife and linger there for some time, nothing more needs to be said.

Affirming Touch - There’s nothing quite like cheering for our woman. When we throw a little passion into our affirmation we can warm her heart. Find creative ways to catch your wife winning in life and make it a habit of trying to pick her feet off the floor at least once a month. She’ll love to see you coming home. 

Chivalry knows that touch isn’t about us closing a deal, it’s about making a big deal of our wife. Go ahead, offer the first touch.

Chivalry: Part 12 - First Hope

“All things are possible…"

"Keep looking up.” “It’s not over till it’s over.” “All things are possible…” These aren’t empty words, these are the mantra’s of people who believe in a gracious and good God–a God of hope and possibility. And what a gift to give away, the gift of seeing the God of hope who greets us with new mercy each new day. This world is starving for hope and there's no better person to offer trays of hope, than to our wife. When a man initiates hope into his marriage, it can dramatically change things. When a husband looks at his wife while they both face a crisis and says, “honey, we serve a God who is bigger than our impossibilities”, hope begins to grow. Chivalry speaks into his wife’s heart the very words Jesus spoke to a person who was struggling with belief, “all things are possible”. Real men look to be the one who offers "first hope”.

Jesus made a habit of breathing words of hope into people with questions or despair. He gave courage and confidence to the disenfranchised, the discouraged, and the displaced. Jesus is our model, men. It’s the life of Christ that is our template for how to love our wife, and Jesus constantly served up hope. We can do this, men. And when our focus is on what’s possible rather than what seems impossible, we join Christ in a message of redemption, hope and real change. One closely held secret of great marriages is that they offer each other more encouragement than correction. Our bride lives in a world that drips with negativity, comparison, and judgment. We can be for our wife a voice that is the first to offer hope.

Now, we don’t need to be a type “A” personality or change a thing about how God designed us. But all of us can choose to offer hope. And there are specific areas that we can speak hope into, that even her best friends can’t touch.

How She Sees Herself - Even the most confident women are bombarded with false accusations and shame. There’re recordings and images running through our wife’s mind that must be sliced up, beaten down and kicked out. When we take the time to speak truth, hope and possibility into our bride’s heart and mind, we’re in our finest warrior posture.  

How Others See Her - This battle never goes away because people are here to stay. We tend to bump into each other and splash stuff that needs to be cleaned up. Often times relational challenges can push our woman, just like us, into a hole. But we have the privilege to “hope” her out. Yes, hope, truth and simple words of encouragement can help our wife from getting eaten alive.

How we see her -  Men, we’re our wife's backstop. I’ve come to believe that God hard wired women for multiple tasks because they have multiple tasks. When life is coming at her a few things can slip past. This is when we step in. When a man rehearses for his wife all the things he sees that didn’t get dropped and all the ways she’s kicking proverbial tail, it brings light and life into her heart. 

Chivalry is still all the rage. And a man who offers first hope is first among equals.