Monthly Archives: July 2014

Fail

We have all failed.

God’s Grace is greater than all my sin.

Sometimes we remember the former and forget the latter. When we forget Grace, our heads and hearts get all tied up with that failure. Fail is a book that is intended to help us get untied.

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I am always looking for resources to read and discuss with the leaders I am privileged to work with. I’m picky as to what I want to invest time reading, I’m not looking for is the next “hot item.” Often, I’ll let a book sit out there for a long while before I get it. Let the other guys do the “weeding” is my method. When Fail came out, that was my plan.

But I got a direct tweet from a brother who I greatly respect (and you should, by the way, follow on Twitter @MattSmethurst) linking me to TGC’s review. It was by Scotty Smith and was helpful. Some train rides had allowed me to get caught up on some reading and on Thursday Matt’s message caught my eye again. Somewhere between Kyiv and Vinnitsya I downloaded J.R.Brigg’s book and began reading. On Sunday as I returned to Kyiv on the train, I finished it.

As I see it, this book is J.R.’s story of dealing with failure and how he took a very difficult ministry experience and, facing his insecurities, sometimes head on, sometimes not, he found the Grace of God to press on through the hurt and through the tears. There is a lot of hurt and tears out there in the ministry world and that is certainly reflected on the pages of this book.

Through his conferences ( http://www.epicfailevents.com/ ) J.R. Briggs has been used by God to facilitate a lot of healing of Christian leaders. This book seems to be an attempt to take that teaching and make it more readily available.

If you read this book and score high on the Myers-Briggs “feeling” temperament, you will love it. If, on the other hand you score high on the “thinking” end of the spectrum, you may wrestle with some of the stories and the tears. Too bad. Read the book.

If you read this book and think, “Huh, he talks about pastors all the time, this must not be for me.” No. It is for all of us. Read the book.

If you read the book and wonder if the implied goal of a “robust theology of failure” was actually acomplished. I did too. Doesn’t matter. Read the book.

If you heard that there need to be more stories of reconciliation with the people who hurt us, that’s a fair critique. I don’t care. Read the book.

Are you a follower of Jesus who fails? Read the book.

But here is what really stands out to me, EVERY elder, deacon, vestryman or whatever you are called in every church should read this book. If that would happen, lay leaders of local churches could get a window of how HARD ministry is and support their pastors better.

I’m especially grateful for J.R.’s take on the idol (my word) of success in USA churches (we have, sadly, successfully exported this idol to much of the world). He is spot on regarding “success.”

His “Recommended Resources” is especially helpful as well “Guiding Questions for Pastors and Leaders.” These may very well be worth the price of the book.

But the main reason I want you to buy Fail is the clear, concise (there’s a little meandering, but not too much) system of laying out the case for spiritual development and coaching within it. If you (whether pastor, ministry leader or lay leader or simply a follower of Jesus) will begin using the tools Briggs gives you, you will grow through the crap of life and be better equipped so that God can use you to help others who are hurting. Read the book.

The one area I wish was expanded was sabbath. But no worries, read
Dan Allender’s Sabbath AFTER you read Fail. Upon further reflection and review of my highlights, this is a very important read, make the time and read the book!

Got it?

Get it. click here and buy it and put it on TOP of your reading pile.

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Filed under being a disciple, culture, disciple making, seeking understanding, spiritual questions/musings/wonderings

Still weeping #pray for Ukraine

In the midst of a war memorial park in Kyiv there are a couple of bridge like structures worked into the park to give you the impression that you are underground. On either side of the sort-of tunnel that is created are bronze (?) statuary that, if it were painting, would be a mural. These are scenes from WW2. In the midst of the soldiers and partisans, the workers and farmers (this was the Soviet Union after all) is a lone figure.

I’ve seen her several times over the years, she always caught my eye, this matriarchal figure, but recent events made me realize that her heart is breaking again. She is still weeping.

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Hostages: Ukraine part 3b

Even though other news events have shifted USA attention from what’s going on here in Ukraine, the crisis continues to develop.

EuroNews video on the flight from Donesk: click here

Part of the reason is an intensifying of the fighting. Yesterday either Russia or pro-Russian insurgents fired a battery of short range missiles at Ukrainian army positions and killed 19 soldiers. Ukrainian TV reported that military sources said the trajectory of the missiles may have been from across the border.

Meanwhile in Kyiv, military officials displayed an enormous quantity of Russian munitions captured from insurgents. These munitions included everything from AK-47s to large multi rocket launching systems.

I’ve heard stories that if people try to drive west out of Donesk they have to pay the pro-Russian insurgents to let them through. On friend told me of a cousin who was beaten and his car taken by these thugs.

Then there are the soldiers and journalists who were captured and are held for ransom. I’m told that teens from group home are being used as human shields.

Now we’re hearing that shots are being traded across the border. Meanwhile Merkel and Putin talk cease fire in Ukraine while Putin cheers for GER. If Putin wants a cease fire, why doesn’t he stop the incursion of his people. Merkel seems to be putting German industry and Russian trade over Ukrainian sovereignty.

Please pray for Ukraine.

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Surprise!

Weeks ago when I was planning this trip there was discussion about dates and the the places I would preach.

Originally, I was to have been here a week earlier but as the plan developed and today was the Sunday I would be serving with the brothers.

As it turns out this was a baptism Sunday. Here are the 124 candidates for baptism who have had basic Christian training and have been examined as to the sincerity of their faith:

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The Pentecostal church buildings in town were empty today because this is the Sunday when they all come together at the lake for singing, preaching and the baptisms. I am told there are several thousand on the hillside:

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As I was saying hello to one of the pastors it hit me that had my schedule not changed I would have missed preaching at this event. I’m so glad that God is orchestrating my itinerary.

I’m told this is a bit of a higher number of baptisms and it was hypothesized that recent events are causing people to realize their need for a relationship with God.

The newly baptized believers then received a Bible that I urged them to read daily.

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What will it take for us to realize and act on that need for God?

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Filed under being a disciple, Eastern Europe, experience, photos along the way, travel notes

Hostages: Ukraine part 3

Even though other news events have shifted USA attention from what’s going on here in Ukraine, the crisis continues to develop.

EuroNews video on the flight from Donesk: click here

Part of the reason is an intensifying of the fighting. Yesterday either Russia or pro-Russian insurgents fired a battery of short range missiles at Ukrainian army positions and killed 19 soldiers. Ukrainian TV reported that military sources said the trajectory of the missiles may have been from across the border.

Meanwhile in Kyiv, military officials displayed an enormous quantity of Russian munitions captured from insurgents. These munitions included everything from AK-47s to large multi rocket launching systems.

I’ve heard stories that if people try to drive west out of Donesk they have to pay the pro-Russian insurgents to let them through. On friend told me of a cousin who was beaten and his car taken by these thugs.

Then there are the soldiers and journalists who were captured and are held for ransom. I’m told that teens from group home are being used as human shields.

Please pray for Ukraine.

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Filed under Eastern Europe, shifts, travel notes

Refugees: Ukraine part 2

Updated 2145 on 12th

In part 1 I mentioned that a woman was moving to the western Ukrainian city I’m visiting to flee the fighting in Luhansk. Today I learned that there are many thousands like her.

In conversations here, I’ve heard that the “official” number of displaced persons in western Ukraine tops 30,000. These are people who have reported to officials that they have fled the violence and are seeking the Ukrainian government’s help in getting resettled. But, I’m told there are many more. (Last I heard, there are over 95000 (correction) who fled east to Russia and are in tents just across the border, Russia reports 500,000 but this is likely part of the Russian info war.)

However, if you have family or friends in western Ukraine, you just go. Some estimate that there are well over 100,000 people waiting out the violence here in the western part of the country.

I’ve learned that there are other atrocities not being reported. Protestants (any group that is non Orthodox) are being persecuted by the pro-Russian extremists. I was told of a Pentecostal bishop who was kidnapped, and then escaped a week later. I was surprised to learn that three Charismatic churches were seriously damaged by pro-Russian insurgents and are now in a state of disuse in one large eastern city.

Church leaders here in western Ukraine get calls almost daily from leaders in the east who are looking for accommodation for people who wish to flee the violence. One former shelter for abandoned children is housing 28 refugees.

When I asked another leader how the church was impacted by these events, he echoed the first, it has made us more fervent prayers. “But”, he continued, we are opening our towns, facilities and homes to these refugees.” This is what Jesus told us.

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