Several years ago, Bruce Larson wrote in his book Wind and Fire about the interesting life of sandhill cranes. And since I know your week would not be complete without hearing some fascinating information about sandhill cranes, I thought I’d share it with you.
These large birds, which fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership. No one bird stays out front all the time. Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence. And then, all during the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation.
Last Sunday, we affirmed new elders for our church, praying for them and “setting them apart” for the ministry of shepherding the flock we call Shelby Crossings. As we look forward to the next three years as they serve our body–alongside the others who continue to serve–the sandhill cranes provide a good model for us to follow as we rally behind our elders who have been led by the Lord to provide spiritual leadership for our congregation.
Like our feathered friends, we need leaders who can handle turbulence. This is especially important as we seek to be a church that truly makes an impact on our community in an increasingly hostile world. More and more these days, our culture is antagonistic against the truths of our faith, and it requires an inner resolve and a backbone of conviction to stand firm amidst the turbulent winds that blow against us. I hope you’ll pray for elders, as well as all of our leadership, that we might stand strong and stand firm.
We can also learn from the sandhill cranes that we need leaders who understand that leadership is to be shared, “team players” who understand what it means to serve one another. Jesus told his disciples that they were not to “lord it over” others like the world does, but to serve them. And then he showed them what that looked like, all the way to the cross. That kind of shared servant leadership is rare in our world today, but it is the secret to greatness in his kingdom, as Jesus taught. And it’s the model that He provided as he came not to be served, but to serve.
But most of all, we need to be a church that knows how to get behind our leaders and honk our encouragement. That’s a key ingredient in helping our flock continue to fly high. I hope you’ll make the effort to intentionally encourage those whom the Lord has provided in leadership at Shelby Crossings. Pray for them–and let them know that you are. And don’t forget to “honk…if you love Jesus!”
What a privilege it is to serve such a wonderful church. I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
Back in the day when I worked in college athletics, I knew a guy named Oscar Combs who published a weekly magazine devoted to University of Kentucky athletics called Cats’ Pause. Of course, in these parts football is king, but as we all know basketball gets most of the attention in the bluegrass state, and the magazine mostly featured Wildcat basketball.
You could pretty much count on Kentucky battling it out with Vanderbilt for the bottom of the SEC football standings, but Wildcat fans still held out hope each fall that this would be the season that they would turn it around and start winning on the gridiron as well.
As I recall, one season in the early to mid-1980’s the fans were particularly optimistic as the season opener approached against a pretty bad non-conference opponent that promised an easy win. Instead, Kentucky laid an egg and turned in another embarrassing performance, losing the game and setting the stage for another disappointing season.
Combs, who had written several positive articles in his preseason outlooks anticipating a good season, made a memorable statement on the front cover of that week’s Cats’ Paws following the game. Underneath the masthead and dateline at the top of the cover page, he wrote one simple statement in what would have been the opening paragraph. It went something like this:
“My mother always taught me that if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”
The rest of the front page of the magazine was completely blank. He said everything, by saying nothing.
That’s what came to mind this week as a few people have asked me my views on the transgender issues that are swirling around, especially as they relate to “civil rights” and public bathrooms and gender identity and even Target. The fact that we are even having this discussion is a sign of the times, and an indicator that our culture has lost its collective mind. There’s plenty of things to say, and no shortage of people saying them, but I am inclined to go with Mr. Combs on this one.
I won’t delve into the confusion and sin of transgenderism–for I have nothing good to say–but I will happily speak about the possibility of transformation that comes in Christ, not just for the sexually confused but for all of us sinners of every stripe. We as the Church have the answer for society’s ills, and quite simply it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ONLY hope for our messed-up society is not politics nor political correctness, but Jesus.
And to borrow from Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Please join me in praying for our upside-down world, and pray also that we as the church would have the boldness, coupled with compassion, to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) to a lost and confused culture. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
Two friends–one an optimist and the other a pessimist–could never quite agree on any topic of discussion. One day the optimist decided he had found a good way to pull his friend out of his continually pessimistic way of thinking.
The optimist owned a hunting dog that could walk on water. His plan? Take the pessimist and the dog out duck hunting in a boat. They got out into the middle of the lake, and the optimist shot down a duck. The dog immediately walked across the water, retrieved the duck, and walked back to the boat.
The optimist looked at his pessimistic friend and said, “What do you think about that?” The pessimist replied, “That dog can’t swim, can he?”
Some people are like that, you know. The glass is always half empty to them. They always see the down side of things, and they have a way of bringing everybody else down with them. What’s even worse, many of those people are Christians, which is almost a contradiction in terms.
If there’s anybody on the planet who should have a hope-filled, positive perspective, it’s believers. We who are saved by our faith should live by it, and faith, by definition, believes in the possibilities of what God can and will do.
So, how about you? Are your words filled with promise and possibility, or with negativism and frustration? Do you rejoice in all that is good, or complain about what’s not? Do you see water-walkers or non-swimmers? Half full, of half empty? The choice, quite frankly, is up to you.
Here’s hoping you experience the God of peace in all that you do this week, and that those around you notice His hope oozing out of your life on every side, no matter the circumstances. I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
You have probably heard of Hippocrates, usually credited as being the father of modern medicine. “Modern” may be up for debate, since he lived and practiced medicine in the 4th century B.C. Still, most physicians and healthcare professionals today take the Hippocratic Oath as they commit themselves to the ethical practice of medicine.
I have never been there, but I have read that you can visit Hippocrates’ home in the Greek Islands. At the home there is an olive tree, supposedly dating back to the time he was alive. The trunk of the tree is very large but completely hollow; it is little more than thick bark. There are a few long, straggling branches, but sturdy wooden poles have been positioned every few feet to support them. The tree has an occasional leaf here and there and might even produce a scrawny olive or two each year.
In the nearby fields, however, there are olive groves in many directions. These are strong, healthy trees with narrow trunks and a thick canopy of leaves, under which many olives can be found each year. They are, as their names would suggest, produce-producing trees.
The tree of Hippocrates can still be called an olive tree by nature, but it has long since ceased to fulfill the function of an olive tree. It is like the other trees only in name, since there is no place in botany for a tree to change its designation to become a non-olive tree. It just no longer bears fruit.
I’ve known a few churches like that, and a few Christians too. The form is there, but the function is not. They have stopped reproducing and are satisfied with their size, or their history, or their previous seasons of fruit-bearing. They are “Christian” in name only, hollow trunks and all, and are now just going through the motions.
I can find no place in Scripture where Christ-followers are given permission to stop bearing fruit and just exist. Likewise, the most basic principles of science suggest that plants and trees are either living and growing (and reproducing after their kind) or dying. So if we are truly alive, our fruit will show it.
“I am the vine, you are the branches,” Jesus said. “If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” He continued, “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” (John 15:5, 8)
My prayer for each of us is that we would be connected to the vine so that we would bear much fruit, and prove by our fruit whose disciple we really are (Matt. 7:20).
I look forward to seeing you Sunday for a great day at Shelby Crossings.