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Christians, You Can Save Illinois

Hands to Heaven

Christians, You Can Save Illinois

A Biblical recipe for fighting violence and corruption

The news in Illinois resounds with chaos and calamity; murders, shootings, muggings, violence against women and children, government corruption, high unemployment, high taxation, it makes me think of Nineveh and other Old Testament cities where evil reigned and godless leaders ruled.

Living in Illinois and watching the whirlwind of violence makes me either want to move away or close my eyes and shelter myself against the reign of terror besieging our cities and state. But there is hope.

In 2 Chronicles 15 the land of Judah found itself in a similar situation.

In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil……God was troubling them with every kind of distress.“

 But God called on His people and gave them hope.

“7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

God also gave them instructions:

“ 1 The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa (the king) and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law….

When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of[a] Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the portico of the Lord’s temple.

Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

10 They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign’….

Verses 11-13 tell of the ancient means of reconciliation with God and cleansing the land of thugs; today we don’t need animal sacrifices because Jesus became the One sacrifice for all times. We don’t kill corrupt people or unbelieving souls, we seek justice and pray for those who persecute us.

Then notice what they did….14 They took an oath to the Lord with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. 15 All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.”

The final verses of this chapter share how the king personally cleaned his own house and rid the land of evil and committed himself to God.

Let me repeat: So the Lord gave them rest on every side.   Sounds pretty nice… peace….as in no violence, no murder, no corruption, lower unemployment.   Sounds impossible! But nothing is impossible with God.

Let me summarize and update the recipe of bringing peace to the land for our time.

  1. God-fearing people gather and clean up their own lives, homes and territories of godless activities; a personal repentance.
  2. Christians repent on behalf of the nation, state and leaders and call on God to draw near to them and their cities and state and nation.
  3. Christians take an oath to live holy lives, surrender to Jesus, seeking Him and His presence.
  4. Politicians follow the faithful and take personal oaths to eagerly seek God and rid the government of godless men and women.

Is it so hard to believe that amidst the corruption and violence of Chicago and the State of Illinois that God would not answer Christian’s heartfelt and sincere cries for help? Do we not believe that our land and our children are worth saving by humbly leading a movement of repentance? The programs and policies of the government have failed us in Illinois. Its time to call for the power of the Almighty to reverse the violence and corruption tide and bring peace and prosperity back to our land. A time to watch the All-Powerful do what politicians cannot do.

Christian leaders will you rise up? Will you lead the repentance revolution?

Send this to your Pastor and Christian leaders you know, let them lead a revolution of drawing closer to God, so He can draw near to us.

Your comments, forwards, likes, tweets, and suggestions are helpful and encouraged.   Please share your thoughts below.

4 Steps To Engaging High-Capacity Volunteers

One the most challenging aspects of running a ministry is utilizing high-capacity volunteers effectively. We have heard stories of the corporate CEO who volunteers only to be stuck stuffing envelopes. That is a terrible and discouraging use of time and talent. How do we place motivated volunteers in the right place, doing the right things, so they are inspired by their service and involvement with our ministry?

Here are four steps I use:

1. Qualify the person: I like to have a one-on-one meeting with every high-capacity volunteer to ask a few key questions and to assess their fit for ministry:
• When in your faith journey did you become passionate about helping the extreme poor (our mission)?
• What is your occupation?
• What talents and expertise will you bring for the ministry?

I am looking for synergies and opportunities for alignment between their spiritual and workplace experience and our volunteer needs.

2. Explain the mission and needs. Many volunteers know far less about our mission than we think they do. I spend 30 minutes or more explaining our mission, vision and transformational model. I want to find out what part of our ministry resonates with them and connect them as close to those aspects that excite them most.

3. Present the SHAPE Model to help volunteers identify their talents and gifts. Part of the problem with placing high capacity volunteers in the right places is that sometimes they don’t always know what they want to do. For the last six months, I have been using the SHAPE Model and I’ve seen some amazing results. This model helps people self identify which role they might want to explore.

SHAPE 5 types of people BH is looking forThe SHAPE Model is made up of 5 categories of volunteers.
S: Sage. A sage is someone who brings wisdom or years of expertise to the organization. As I am describing the SHAPE Model to the prospective volunteer, I usually say: “I would consider you a Sage because of your expertise in Peru or your understanding of non-profit finances.”
H: Helper. These are people who want to get their hands dirty. They’ll do just about any work a leader asks them to do.
A: Ambassador. An Ambassador excels as a resource for connection. They know a lot of people and know people we need to know.
P: Philanthropist. Do I need to say anything about this category? Tap into their unique enthusiasm to contribute for priceless results.
E: Executive Leader. An executive leader is someone who demonstrates an understanding of servant-style leadership of a team or a committee.

Most importantly, we have to ask the potential volunteer, “Which one(s) of these do you think best represents your giftedness. If they say,” I am a P.” I know they have just given me permission to ask them for a contribution. If they say “A”, then I’ll ask them to throw a party and invite their friends and colleagues, and I’ll take a few minutes at the party to explain what and how we do our mission.

4. Ask for and give grace.
Finally, I ask the high-capacity volunteer for grace. I say, “It’s my desire to enable you to have the greatest impact possible on helping the extreme poor. I want you to feel the pleasure of serving the poor while using the talents and gifts God has given you. But the process is not a science, it’s an art. If I put you in the wrong place the first time, please let me know. The next ask will be more on target. If you’ll give me a little time, and some grace, I’ll do my best to connect you for maximum joy and effectiveness. ”

For one of our most valuable volunteers, it took three different roles before he was fully engaged. Now he saves our organization thousands of dollars in doing meaning work that blesses him and blesses the poor.

Today we are lot better at connecting people to our vision and mission. How have you learned to better engage volunteers? Share your stories and comments below.

Frequent flying: Making the Mundane Interesting

Anyone who has flown on an airplane has seen the safety video or live presentation at the beginning of the flight.  Usually the captive audience doesn’t pay much attention, and the presentations are mundane and ordinary.   Well, Air New Zealand has taken the mundane to a new level and made a safety video worth paying attention too.  Check it out.

What mundane or ordinary messages are you sending out that could use a creative spark to recapture interest?

Hotel Light Switch

I woke in the middle of the night, still jet lagged from my long journey overseas. I was in an unfamiliar strange hotel room.   I had to use the washroom but the darkness hid everything in shades of black.

Confusion set in as I got to the light switch panel.  I tried more than eight different switches but none turned on the light I needed.  After trying each one in various combinations I felt like giving up and going back to bed.  However, my body shouted to me that this would not be a good idea, so I continued my quest. Finally, I found another switch, on the other side of the wall, that when combined with the first delivered the magical outcome.  I had light.

This encounter reminded me of a rule I hold as true, but often forget to follow, “keep it simple stupid”.

When people have a desire to make a gift, buy a product, or just want more information I must make the barriers to engagement low and easily crossed.  Otherwise I risk frustrating them and testing their resolve.  Simplicity is hard work.  Being direct, clear and concise leads to many happy supporters and that’s what I want.

10 Things Every Pastor Needs to Know about Helping the Extreme Poor.

This is a copy of a popular post from 2011.

 

1.       Partner with a local indigenous church.

2.       Partnerships should impact the poor and marginalized; the orphan, widow, refugee, disabled, and disenfranchised.

3.       Partnerships should be holistic:  impacting the physical (food, clothing, medicine, shelter, water, education) economic (jobs, micro-loans, training) and spiritual (evangelism, discipleship, church development) well-being of the poor.

4.       Don’t send teams from your church until your relationship with the indigenous leadership is solid, the vision is cast, and it’s determined how progress will be measured and celebrated.

5.       Crawl before you walk, walk before you run.

6.       If you don’t recognize the American cultural mindset your church brings to the partnering relationship, sooner or later this will derail the partnership.

7.       An experienced Christian ministry can help overcome cultural differences, be the peacemaker when difficulties arise, help keep the partnership focused and away from rabbit trails.

8.       An experienced Christian ministry can also help you broaden the impact of the partnership in your own congregation on all levels, not just the “missions” groupies.

9.       Your partnership should impact every person in the partner’s church as well as in your own.

10.   Helping those living on less than $1.00 a day will powerful challenge and spiritually grow your church members unlike any other activity they will experience.

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