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The cynicism and critical attitude startled me. It certainly did not feel like the “I love the church” that had come from the man at the end of the table. Something had happened to me.

Who am I to judge the bride chosen by my King? Well, I am an elder; there is some responsibility there. But it is surprising how genuine concern can morph into something genuinely unacceptable.

Yes, she has become sickly. She has infected herself with worldly diseases from which her Bridegroom died and lives to make her free. And yes, even her healthier members continue to fight with one another over seemingly limited resources, when her Betrothed has access to supernatural riches. There is much to be concerned about.

Still, the cynicism and critical attitude surprised me; and it shouldn’t have. The critical spirit I allowed and nurtured for so many years, though exposed and deconstructed, has been lurking about in my subconscious, waiting for any opportunity to feed itself. I have seen it before. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

As best as I can discern, here is what happened to me. I love my King, and I want Him to have the bride He desires and deserves. Her behavior bothers me. I know – we all know – she can and will be better. But when? Why has she neglected her preparation? Why has she allowed herself to be distracted and drawn away?

My carnal mind – that sneaky little trickster – stirred up the critical spirit in me, focusing my attention on the ugliness. Loving concern turned to cynicism, and I lost the Lover’s perspective. Now, do not misunderstand me; I am not making excuses. The new man that I am in Jesus Christ is responsible for recognizing and overcoming my flesh and its mind. Diligence is required, and I let my guard down.

The enemy that lies within is too easily underestimated. Without the grace of God, we are all dangerously exposed. His grace brought me out of this deception. It is important to note that His grace came in fellowship, at a meeting I was not that excited about attending. His grace got me there, and His grace exposed my cynicism and critical attitude. By His grace, I now enjoy an attitude adjustment. I am grateful.

Is the bride sick? Yes, that is certainly a fair assessment in this part of the world. I was not the only one at the meeting that expressed concern. But, and this is the point, their concerns were wrapped in love – their love and the King’s love for the bride.

I love the church. That is my renewed profession. By God’s grace, she will be stunningly beautiful. The King will have the one He desires and deserves. Loving judgment is a part of her preparation. Always loving.

God bless you with love for your King, and loving concern for His bride.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

It is common practice for a struggling company to call in a consultant – someone that can help the management team identify underlying problems and make improvement recommendations. While Senior Managers tend to focus on the standard financial reports (e.g., the balance sheet and income statement), the wise consultant knows that financial “struggling” is most often a symptom of poorly managed and measured activities further up the production lifecycle.

And so, they go looking. What they usually find are areas of the company that are trying to manage themselves using production and performance measurements that no longer match the vision and values of the company.

Take the church for example. I mean the church that Jesus Christ is building. That church has come upon hard times – particularly in North America and Europe. We have gotten to the point where measurements are no longer needed to recognize our struggles. The end product is certainly not up to the Master’s standards.

There are at least two reasons the Western church is struggling. First, we are measuring the wrong things. Secondly, we are not doing things God’s way. Put those together and we can say that the Western church is failing to measure itself in the way God has prescribed.

So, where do we start measuring in the right way? Scripture makes it clear that the shepherds will be held responsible for the health of their flocks (Hebrews 13:17). If I was the Master’s consultant, that is where I would begin.

Sometimes it is hard to point out the right way to do something without first identifying what’s being done wrong. In this case, I am relieved that such an approach is not necessary. Why is this? Because whatever way is not God’s way is the wrong way – and get this – no matter how successful that way may appear.

But who am I to judge? Exactly! Judgment is not my intent, nor is it my responsibility. I’m just the consultant. We are called to judge ourselves… and for good reasons.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 1Corinthians 11:31-32

If we will not judge ourselves, the Lord will judge us. In either case, the chastening and correction are for our good and the good of our ministries. No one is perfect. The wise leader makes an assessment on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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