A Living Dog is Better than a Dead Lion (Ec. 9:4)

The spiritual landscape in the United States and around the world continues to undergo rapid, intense change. A major focus of debate is the nature of spiritual leadership.

For several decades there has been an intense emphasis on the person at the top of an organization. In fact, leadership has been defined almost exclusively as the person at the top. This is reflected in the controversy over disproportionate CEO pay.

Most leadership models tend to focus on the energy, visibility and will of the person at the top, but a change seems to be underway. A complementary discussion of the importance of the entire team—indeed, the entire congregation as mobilized and engaged followers/leaders—is gaining attention.

We tend to fixate on “lion leaders” who are charismatic and powerful. Strong leadership at the top is very important, but we need strong leadership throughout our ranks. Unless this becomes a primary goal of leadership, the potential and beauty of the church will be compromised.

Recently, Stephen Hacker and Marvin Washington did an interesting study of the hunting and social habits of wild dogs in Africa (New Directions in Team Effectiveness, presented at the University of Nebraska and Gallup Research Institute, June 2004, by Marvin Washington, Stephen Hacker and John Chuka). The researchers compared the hunting styles of zebras, cheetahs, lions and wild dogs. Contrary to what many people would expect, the kill rate is highest for wild dogs by a significant margin.

Lions are ferocious hunters, but they are fiercely competitive within their group. The adult males eat first and fend off the younger leaders, who are often left to forage on their own because they threaten the dominant male.

Wild dogs, on the other hand, are known as “communal predators.” They share the kill evenly among the entire pack and share leadership of the group. All adult members are called on to lead the hunt at one time or another. They have learned the lesson that you cannot make sound decisions unless you are at the point of attack. Because they rotate leadership, all the members of the pack are highly skilled.

Of course, we need designated leaders and structure, but we also need strong leadership throughout structure. Genuine spiritual leadership should be less celebrity-oriented and more focused on a culture of discipleship. The original “Jesus Movement” pivoted on a leader who commissioned a small group of friends to change the world, while He provided indirect guidance. And He is the Messiah!

The point is not that we need weaker leaders. We need strong leaders who are secure enough to multiply leadership by developing it and releasing it. “Pack leadership” from a spiritual perspective demands a renewal of the old-fashioned idea that a good leader must first be a good follower. Beware the leader who cannot follow but must always lead.

Please pray with me that the Lord will extend His grace and power in us as we share and multiply leadership.

– Gateway District Foursquare Supervisor Sam Rockwell (A friend of Pastor Todd’s)

Be Kind or Nice?

Early this week, I attended a training for Foursquare pastors, and an interesting subject matter was brought up.  The subject in question addressed the difference between being “nice” and being “kind.”  We often hear the instruction to “be nice” but, rarely do we hear the instruction to “be kind.”  The difference in the spirit and meaning of the two words surprised me.  Being nice primarily means being agreeable and having a skill to make others like you and accept you.  Ultimately, when I am being nice, it means I want something from you, even if that thing I want is merely that you would like me.  Being kind means I am looking out for your interests.  I want to do and say what will be helpful or beneficial to you and your life.  Being kind means I will be this way and treat you in this manner whether you like and accept me, or not.

In the American church, we have become nicer, but much less kind.  We do and say more things trying to be nice and desiring people to accept and like us, while Jesus is wanting us to be kind in order to teach and say the truth that people so desperately need to hear.  We need to stop being so agreeable and stand up for what we truly believe from God’s word.  It may not make you as acceptable or liked, but you will be releasing the very power of God.  Paul said it well when he declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation.”  The Gospel still is the only hope for mankind today.  Please do not take away from this that I am saying to be mean or unloving to anyone.  What I am saying is that it is time that we as American Christians decide which one that we are going to be – a “nice” Christian or a “kind” one.  I choose to be kind and to care enough for people to share the truth.

Pursuing Jesus,

Pastor Todd

A Life without Suffering

I have a great friend that I haven’t seen in many years named David.  Nicole and I had the privilege of having dinner with him and his wife this week as they were passing through the Treasure Valley.  David is always a joy for me to talk to because of his unique perspective and life experiences.  David grew up as a pastor’s son and went on to become youth pastor, occupational therapist, worship leader, missionary to South Africa, and presently lives in Texas working in the healthcare field.  He is well-educated, a husband, a father, and most importantly, a lover of Jesus.

In our time together this week, we began to talk about, of all things, the issues of suffering and pain.  This led to talk of how American culture does not like to talk about pain and tries to deny pain, avoid pain, and do everything possible to cover pain up.  While much of the 7.2 billion people around the world suffer every day in ways we cannot even comprehend, the US makes up less than 4.4% of the world’s population, but consumes over 70% of the world’s narcotics.  Sadly, this cultural philosophy has spilled over into so many areas of our lives.

As Christians, we often avoid anything that costs us, that requires sacrifice, that makes us uncomfortable, that is inconvenient, that causes any pain, or that does not bring immediate gratification.  This has made discipleship in our western culture very difficult.  Parts of American Christianity are removing even the thought of suffering, which is a part of the human experience and a foretold Biblical truth in this life (John 16:33).  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to suffer any more than anyone else wants to suffer.  And when I am in a place of suffering, you can bet I am going to cry out to God and ask for His power to intervene.  What I am saying is that I am not going to avoid everything that will cause me pain or discomfort because often that pain or discomfort is between me and obtaining my goal or God’s promises.  Also, I am not going to allow pain to make me feel like God doesn’t love me, has forgotten me, or thinks less of me than He thinks of others.  Remember what God’s word says: Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (NAS)

Let us be true disciples that are willing to pay a price to obtain His glory in our lives.

Pursuing Him,

Pastor Todd

Becoming a Disciple

We live in a culture where many claim to be Christians, but few describe themselves as disciples.  Matthew 27:57 talks about a man “named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.”  Joseph was not part of Jesus’ original “Twelve.”  Even so, Joseph made the conscious decision to become a disciple of Christ, knowing that what Jesus said was true, and desiring to live his life in support of that truth.

The question we need to ask ourselves from time to time is not,

“Are we Christians?”

But rather,

“Have we become disciples of Jesus?”

A disciple must be a follower of Jesus.  “Disciple” comes from the Latin “discipulus,” meaning “pupil.”  A disciple learns how to live his life according to the way of Jesus.  This means that he does not only acknowledge Jesus as Lord of his life, but lives his life in a manner that proves that He actually is.

In addition, the word “disciple” encompasses the idea of discipline – a concept which is foreign to much of our culture.  Perhaps today would be a great time to reexamine our lives and ask the big question:

Do we just go through the motions?  Or…

Are we truly disciples of Jesus?

 

-Pastor Todd Syruws

Truth in Love

As a result of some recent questions and conversations, I realize that some of our members really want me to share my perspective on the issue of homosexuality in our current culture. Well, here is my best attempt to communicate my heart:

First, we must be equipped with an unwavering love for all people, attempting to treat all like Jesus would, with love and grace and not with rejection and anger.
But at the same time, we must hold to biblical truth and have no fear in discipling others in that truth. The Bible must always be our guide and authority, not political correctness or societal pressures.

The Bible requires us to speak truth, but it must be done in love (Eph.4:15). Currently, what I often see in the Church in America is that we fail in either the truth part or the love part. We either speak truth filled with anger, hatred, and judgment, or we avoid or deny truth in order to appease a culture that doesn’t acknowledge God’s Word. The art of merging truth and love in this day is definitely going to require the Holy Spirit in our lives. The great thing is — we already have Him, so let Him teach you how to live, how to speak truth, and most important, how to love.

 Truth and Love, Pastor Todd Syruws

Expect Great Things!

Pastor Todd encouraged us yesterday to begin looking for, and expecting, good things from our Father God.  As part of our new year of Great Expectation, he encouraged the church to participate in prayer and fasting for the next seven days — from today, the 6th, throughnext Sunday, the 12th.

 

You may choose what you are fasting from.  It could be all solid food-taking in only a liquid diet.  It might be a fast of avoiding sugars and meats.  If media is your weakness, you may choose to avoid radio and television for the next week.  Maybe it is social media — facebook, twitter, etc.  You choose what the Lord is leading you to give up for the week.

 

PT also encouraged us to read our Bibles daily, to pray daily for Grace Foursquare, and to journal daily what the Lord is revealing to us (even if it is only a few lines).  He said the verses from the sermon were a good place to start our reading this week, so for those of us who didn’t have a pen and paper handy, the verses are included here:

Psalm 33:5 (NKJV)

– THE EARTH IS FULL OF THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD.

Proverbs 13:12 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Zechariah 9:5 (NKJV)

Ashkelon shall see it and fear; Gaza also shall be very sorrowful;

And Ekron, for He dried up her expectation. The king shall perish from Gaza,

And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.

Luke 21:26 (NASB)

. . . men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Psalm 27:13-14

I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Acts 12:11

And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”

1 Peter 1:3 (NLT)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.

Colossians 1:5(NLT)

You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

Philippians 1:20 (NKJV)

according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

Romans 8:19 (NKJV)

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

Psalms 62:5 (KJV)

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

On Saturday, January 11, at 6:00 pm, we will be meeting at the church for a special evening of worship and prayer.  Come join us as we celebrate the Holy Spirit in our lives, and what He has shown us this week!

Prayer and Declaration

Lord, forgive me for allowing the pains of life and the lies of Satan to rob me of my expectation of GOOD!

Lord, heal my heart from the places that I have lost hope, and let Your promises come alive in me again!

Lord, where the expectation of good has dried up in my heart, By Your Holy Spirit let a flood of hope come into my heart like a mighty river!

Lord, I declare that I will not put my expectations in the things or people around me, but my expectation is in You, my King, my Lord, my Savior!

1 Peter 1:3 (NLT)

It is by Your great mercy and grace that I have been born again, because you raised Jesus from the dead.

    

Now I live with GREAT EXPECTATION!!!!!

We declare, as the GRACE CHAPEL family, that we do not expect the same old-same old for the year 2014!
But Lord, we have an earnest expectation of GOOD from You!
We expect miracles, we expect restoration, we expect favor,we expect provision, we expect salvations, and. . . most of all. . . we expect Your Presence to increase in 2014!

In Jesus Mighty Name!!! Amen!

Passion Week 2013

Greetings Grace Chapel Family and friends.

During this special week of celebrating our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, most of you know we are focusing on a week of fasting, prayer, daily bible reading, and daily journaling.  We do not want to only give thanks for all that He has done, but we also want the power of the resurrected Lord to come to our lives, families, and church.  Let us, together, declare His kingdom on earth this week.

Pursuing the Resurrected One,

Pastor Todd