Tag Archives: Jesus

Healing Our Racial Division with the Fiery Passion of Pentecostal Love

As our American friends are in the midst of their 2016 presidential election, politicians are on the campaign trail explaining the reason to be voted as a president. The country is divided in many ways where activists ranging from race, to gender, to class and to religion are all crying out to be heard. When it comes to race, the division is much more sharp and piercing. Both Democratic and Republic politicians are professing to be the glue to unify their nation and mend the divide between Black, White, and Brown people.

Canadians may laugh at the made-for-t.v., political circus and comic show down South. Yet there are challenges of division with racism as deals with Afro-Canadians/Caribbean and First Nations and its offshoot religious racism with Muslims/Syrians/Middle East migrants and residents. It seems that both nations are having a difficult time closing the divide and opening our hearts. Americans are more blatant in their vitriol whereas Canadians are subtler. Either way – both are dehumanizing! I believe the Pentecostal Church could provide a road map for unity and reconciliation where both countries could learn from.

The Pentecostal/Charismatic Church is the fastest growing church in the world and approaching the size of the Roman Catholic Church as the largest Church family. The phenomenal growth and size is not by fluke. It is intentionally based on an open door and outreach position for diverse cultures and nations to embrace the message of Gospel love. Where did this attitude of passion fiery love come from for Pentecostals/Charismatics to reach out to Russians, Brazilians, Filipinos, Nigerians, Chinese etc.?

On April 1906, in a rundown church in Los Angeles, a passionate Black preacher William Seymour with a loyal group of Black Christians who prayed for racial unity and Christian unity. What made this prayer and fervor unique was in the midst of Jim Crow laws that these brave Christians were extending themselves to hug racist White Christians. God rewarded their desires by a phenomenal event where those Black Christians miraculously spoke in a different language never taught to them. This documented event echoed biblical times just after Jesus’ death and resurrection where the Early Church spoke miraculously through God’s Spirit in a different language to share the good news of Jesus to a diverse yet divided crowd in Jerusalem. What happened in Los Angeles 1900 years later known as the Azusa Street Revival had the similar effective power where it drew different races. Many of them experienced this miracle of speaking in a different language (called tongues speaking) and other miracles like healing. But the biggest miracle was the beginning to heal the divide of racism (and sexism) between people and their segregated churches. The reason being the experience was bigger than any race or culture (or gender). This Déjà vu moment was God pouring his love on all people, which humanized and humbled racist and sexist people to see each other with dignity and equality.

Although the Pentecostal Church is a human organization, not perfect and still struggles with racism and sexism like other organizations, but they have learned principles and practices to overcome the sin by God’s love. And the people are their fruit. This compassionate experience plus a compelling story is what our respective countries need to hear – especially our politicians. And quite possibly, they can feel the fire of unity that these men and women felt at Azusa Street. We can only pray in tongues for that miracle to happen.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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Head with the Heart…Not with the Head

Roman statesmen and orator Cicero once said “If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words”. Believe it or not, as people, we feel much more than we think. Duh… news flash you may say sarcastically. True. But let’s slow down and ‘think’ about the implications. Cicero didn’t say that we can persuade him by proving him deathly wrong by using undeniable facts or by some amazing logic. We can persuade him by simply identifying with him, and feelings are critical element.

When we provide advice and feedback to family and friends, the answers many times they are seeking is not logical per se but more relational. There is an immense feeling component that must be embedded with our advice. We have to meet them at the heart level as well as the head level.  Our answer must be empathetic or else we don’t identify. We move on feelings and not on the other’s facts.

I share an example of death. When someone passes away, we wouldn’t want to say to a grieving person “Oh buck up! I lost someone close to me too you know. You can make it if you do step 1, 2 and 3 of my plan.” Sounds pretty crass right? The best solution for that moment is a hug and a look of sympathy. We know reasonably that the grieving person will eventually move on with life if they take care of themselves. However, a rational answer is not the answer they are looking for at this time. They want a relational answer. Yet we are ever – so – tempted to want to hear ourselves talk and pontificate an answer. This is where we shoot ourselves in the foot and do more damage than good. The grieving may wish we were in the coffin too at that point!

Now the death scenario may not be a routine thing. So let’s make it more practical. Think about the tasks we do at home or at work. I think there is nothing worst when someone comes into my personal space at home or at work and tell me how to do my task better. Granted, they are probably right. I may be doing the tasks ineffectively or at least inefficiently for how many years. However, the fact you criticize my routine leads to my mulish resistance. (The criticism may not be truly critical but that’s how I perceive and feel!) The relational answer is to praise my routine and ask if you can offer suggestion for improvement. I’ll go on to further to say that I prioritize tasks that I feel it’s easier to do. This does not mean it makes sense to do it first. Hardly! But it feels as such, so I do as such. I could care less of the logic but more so the feeling of freedom that I chose the course of travel.

Now I know I’m in good company saying that. (Don’t leave me hanging on this reader.) When I offer my tried-and-true method to some struggling sap (as I think during my regrettable moment of pride), she looks at me as if I have two heads. Dare I tell her how to do her work better she says inwardly! She rather you offer a solution that makes her feel good about herself and not belittle her expertise. This is why in a disagreement or fight, it is not enough to win an argument; but you must win a friendship. The issue is rarely a head but a heart matter.

The late author and personal development coach, Stephen Covey talked about seek first to understand than to be understood.  The classic guru on understanding people, Dale Carnegie mentioned sympathy is what every person desires and needs. Similarly Jesus of Nazareth taught his followers the timeless truth of considering first the feelings of others as a way to love our neighbors. Covey and Carnegie (both influenced by Jesus’ teachings in this area) clearly indicated that the logical answer was not enough. Our advice must be relational. It must be emotional.

Think about all people challenges at home or at work. Think about the issues encountered which seems to persist and possibly getting worse with mom, dad, sister, brother, best friend, boss, coworker or worse everyone. Think about why we are always spinning our wheels and not getting anywhere in many of our relationships. Could it be we have been brainwashed by culture and upbringing to think in terms of arguments and not affection? Could it be that we are bypassing the heart to get to the head? Could it be we are ignoring the true secret to influence? With persuasion, the head follows the heart and not the other way around; I believe this is the essence Cicero was saying.

Remember, people are not just looking for the right answer when we interact with them. They are looking for the right feelings as well. We are not human doings but human beings.  And feelings make up our inner being from that perspective. We indeed move on feelings and not just on facts. If we head in that direction, we will always reach the heart of the matter!  

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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Judges in High Chairs: Assessing Our Critique of the Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Altercation

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I was sitting at the kitchen table feeding my 9-month old son some yummy homemade apple-pear sauce, as he sat in his high chair.  Prior, we had an entertaining food fight with the squash I fed him that he promptly spat on me when he decided he had had enough of the stuff in the green bowl.  He started to get restless, voicing his democratic right to reject the food that was painstakingly prepared for him. As he played out his version of the Hunger Games, I recognized this war of food was not going to get me anywhere, so I replaced his squash with apple-pear sauce in his green bowl. As I started to feed him the apple-sauce, which he usually enjoys, he contorted and dodged the spoon with his desert. With much tactical precision, I finally cajoled him to take his desert. While I was feeding him with a mixture relief and agitation, I pondered why he rejected the food he loved so much. Then, it donned on me. He saw the green bowl and jumped to judgment that I was coming back to feed him some more squash.  My son was making a snap judgment on the basis of seeing the bowl instead trusting his all-wise dad.

 My son is not the only one who make snap judgments, but many well educated adults take posture of my son sitting in his high chair, making critical, unwise judgments and spitting ‘squash’ on the accused. We act in many times as a judge in a high chair.  

The simple (and amusing) scenario with my son communicates a very profound truth. When we make snap judgments, we show our immaturity and yes, childishness in not getting essential facts. We act like judges in high chairs. We see the color of the bowl and jump to an erroneous conclusion. The color of the bowl is not a metaphor on race but it includes it. The color of the bowl represents the fact that our perception can be skewed on the content of the situation.  Just because we have ‘seen it before’, it does not mean we have seen it before. I think that is one of the lessons that are emerging for us analyzing and critiquing the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman deadly altercation. Many of us are not checking our Mr. and Ms. False Perception before they walk in the door with their baggage of lies. The typical outcome is that we clothe ourselves with these lies and maltreat people accordingly to match the wardrobe of the day.

Malformed judgments were not something new. I was reminded when Jesus of Nazareth encountered many judgmental people who jumped on every opportunity to disrespect and condemn flawed people for their errors and/or crimes. Irrespective of circumstances, including racial disputes, Jesus spoke out and warned judgmental people need to temper their attitude even if they had “all the facts.” They must not set themselves up as a judge but a friend of humanity.  Was Jesus overlooking crime or injustice? No! We ought to pursue justice, not as avengers – but as peacemakers as He would exhort. This role viewed and still views justice as a means to bring peace, as best possible, to all parties, which includes victim and victimizer. (The victim’s family stands in the place of the victim if they are deceased.)

 It appears that peacemaking seems to be a far cry to the commentaries (and commentators) that we hear and see on the various forms of media. Why? Because we have the tendency to “call it the way it is” based on our own opinions absent facts. Who does not want to play the role of Judge Judy or Joe Brown? In all honesty, it is fun capitalizing on human frailty in others and exercising it in ourselves.

So how do we avoid judging or drawing poor conclusions about others? I acknowledge that it is hard but if I will offer an acronym to help us in this matter. The acronym is J.U.D.G.E.  Something that I wish Piers Morgan and Touré were able to consider in averting the messy verbal tussle on air via Piers Morgan Tonight.1  

JJump back. Whenever we hear a case, we should be aware that our tendency is to form an opinion as a reflex. We should restrain ourselves from doing so and take a mental jump back from false conclusions. This is the first and critical step. If this is not done, there is no way that we will make it to the last of letter/step in J.U.D.G.E. dealing with the right behavior.

UUnderstand. This implies searching for the facts and listening with an open mind. Many people were calling Mr. Zimmerman a racist, which may not be so. One can demonstrate racist behavior or prejudice but does not mean one’s a racist. We should endeavor to understand the situation as completely as possible.

DDeliberate. A sincere intent to reason and reflect on the facts to discover truth is crucial. This reasoning cannot be done in a vacuum but through informed dialogue and reading credible sources. As we reason through the facts and arrive at cul-de-sac in our thinking, we can let our biases fill in the gaps or become the bridge toward an end, which is only a dead end.  Indeed, our biases are usually a ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’

G – Guard against. This reminds us that our opinions are not gospel and subject to change. Also, we recognize that we cannot demean people who are clearly in the wrong.  We must recognize hatred, bitterness, and malice seeps out and shows the world our toxicity and ugliness, which ‘make-up’ cannot cover. We must guard against the attitude of condemnation for no one wins.

 E – Express respectfully. After all the inner wrestling to determine wheat from chaff, truth from fiction, we are communicating our conclusions in a fair and courteous manner especially to those who disagree with our views. We do this always with a posture of a student who is willing to still listen and learn at the feet of truth. We desire to express our best side and not the ugly within. Our behavior leads to justice and peace as the transcendent goal.  

Saying all this, am I negating the possibility of discrimination or everyday racism? Nope, it was clear listening to the 911 tape of Mr. Zimmerman speaking that bias was present. Am I denying there was a possibility institutional or organizational racism? Nope, it was clear that the Sanford Police force has a track record for unjust treatment of Black offenders compared to other races. Am I tempted to label and malign George Zimmerman as such a vile human being? Yep, the urge is there. However, I was reminded that what goes around comes around. Or as Jesus would put it, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 2 Thus, I am compelled to restrain my rabid tongue and malignant attitude toward him as best as I can for the Lord’s sake.

There may be some who feel that I am not supporting Trayvon Martin. I hope my readers are not ‘jumping’ to that conclusion. Like many other Black men, I have experienced racial profiling. Saying that, if we are going to be a judge, let us J.U.D.G.E. properly and accurately, unlike my baby boy. We can at least advance the cause for social change in a meaningful and open way – without the high chair.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

 

Sources:

  1. Piers Morgan & Toure Debate – http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/headlines/video-piers-morgan-toure-argue-trayvon-martin-killing
  2. Gospel of St. Matthew 7:2

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The Church…The Ultimate High Performing Team

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When you think about high performing teams, what comes to your mind: sports, business, maybe even entertainment? How about religion specifically churches? I can hear the choruses of “Yeah Right!” But wait – what if this is true? In fact, I argue that it can be true. Jesus expects a high performing team within His Church, which can mobilize to demonstrate compassion, justice, truth and wisdom in any society.1 I know the question on the lips of those who are committed or casual church-goers and may only know churches that are anaemic, scandalous, hypocritical or greedy: how is this possible? Let us think about this empirically.

A high performing team is defined as an organized group of people who work together to exceeded expectations in meeting goals or results. We have the examples of Apple thriving in the Great Recession, or the New York Giants that rose from a mediocre season to win Super Bowl XLVI. Christ followers, the Church, are God’s team who are called to work in unity and harmony to deliver on the goal of serving a hurting world. Many times, this is in the midst of great persecution within many parts of the world.

Meeting a hurting world is a profound goal, which can be only exceeded by high performance – when women and men follow Jesus’ leadership. In fact, there is no more critical service that can be offered than the Church who delivers on this heavenly service to its customer base, because of its enduring qualities. From delivering services like diversity training to building parenting skills, it is all part of the package that Jesus would require as CEO, whom Christians would refer to him as Lord. Being a Christ follower is having the opportunity to mutually develop a high performing team through focusing on their values and mission, being flexible and enjoying synergy. Let us see the parallel more closely.

High performing teams are value/mission driven  

In order for businesses to have ongoing success, executives require their employees to not only know their mission and values – but breathe it. The mission must move from the top floor of the head to the ground floor of the heart. It has to be lived, which is then imputed into company’s products and services. These team members are like migrating geese, which have an inner sense of direction of where the company is going. They always fly instinctively in an alignment.

Similarly, Christ followers are called to know the value and mission of Jesus’ enterprise. Loving God and all of humanity is the value. Bringing people to know Jesus as God and Saviour is the mission. This mindset is fundamental in the effort to deliver services or ministries that God requires the Church to do. The good the church has done like creating schools/universities, orphanages, relief organizations, and hospitals (not always mentioned in the Media) in times past and now, is a result of men and women whom are aligned with their values and mission.

High performing teams are highly flexible

In this age of being lean and mean, employees must not only have depth of knowledge and skill, they must have breadth. These workers must be competent in more than one role. They must be able to stop on a dime and switch hats as congruent with their natural abilities. The team, the business comes first, and employees do what they can to fill in the gaps (hopefully in their area of strengths). Remember the migrating geese example. Geese always rotate among one another with ease as they lead each other. What a picture of flexibility!

Like geese, Christ followers must not wear their roles within their church with arrogance and disdain, but allow God to shift their roles as needed to meet the need of their customer base – congregants and community. This means unique ministries being created to serve their respective society. From addiction ministries to career-counselling ministries, it requires team members within the Church to be knowledgeable and skilled, so they can shift with God’s leading. Christ followers are called to work toward the good of our society. Flexibility has allowed Christ followers to continue to do this.

High performing teams are strongly synergistic.  

Synergy means 1 + 1 = 3 or 4 or 5 etc. It also shows chemistry among team members, which cannot be easily quantified or explained. I would say, at this level, the team members share a common feeling and intuition that synergy provides. Synergy is critical for teams to have extraordinary success. It is the glue that takes peoples and groups who are different and make them stick in effective manner. In fact, the literal meaning for synergy is together-work. When a group has synergy, it is like watching an extraordinary dance group or synchronized swimmers. There is a beauty and fluidity of the whole, which comes from the layers of individual interactions.

Jesus describes his Church as his physical body. More than a metaphor, Christ followers are the example of synergy with a cause. They are a unit of empathy. Where else will you find rich and poor working together, Black and White working together, or men and women working together? Or even better, where else would you find a mixture of all these groups working together? The Church embodies synergy, which demonstrates their high performance toward impacting communities for the good all over the globe.

People may dispute the correlation and say it is a stretch. So let me indulge the naysayers with this. Jesus took a group of lowly and obscure men and groomed, trained and discipled them, so they could lead a revolution in their day that is unparalleled even today: Men and Women who embraced the values and mission of service that were counter cultural; Rich and Poor who were flexible with their roles of service; and Jews and Gentiles who united synergistically to see each other as family. As a team, without weaponry and most without education and money, they turned the 1st Century Rome on its head – transforming the culture with their service to humanity. More, they created franchises, which are accurately referred to as churches all over the world and still expanding. No company, not even McDonald’s had duplicated that feat.

YFGC – a high performance church

Saying all of that begs this question. Beyond Western Churches (Europe and North America) who may not always live up to that charge, is there an example today of a high performing church? How about in the East? There is one prime example: Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC) led by Pastor David Yongii Cho in Seoul South Korea. This church is known to be the largest church in the world approaching 1,000,000 church/team members. The extraordinary thing about this church, YFGC is located in one of the most unlikely place for its success. It is in a country, South Korea, that borders the communist nation of North Korea, which is aggressively anti-Christian.

More, South Korea had a history of being strongly antagonistic to the gospel message within the 19th century. The antagonism was demonstrated by persecution of Christians to the point of death. Yet, almost 50 years in existence, the church had been able to grow in considerable size. The growth was not simply coincidental but intentional, because they focused on being a high performing church.

YFGC is value/mission driven

Right from the start Pastor Cho focused on having his team know the value and mission of Jesus and applied it in the South Korean context. YFGC had strong focus on both physical and spiritual healing. A focus aligned with Pastor Cho’s passion and personal experience of healing near the cusp of death from tuberculosis.2 He endeavoured to have healing realized among his flourishing church. Of course, the mission was to share the message of salvation or deliverance from sin and sickness, which was never forgotten. Moreover, YFGC would lead South Koreans to have an ever-increasing joyous relationship with Christ. When church/team members of YFGC experience this truth, with as much excitement and passion as Pastor Cho, these lay women and men would act on the values and mission to change South Korea and the world.

YFGC is flexible

YFGC’s growth was contributed by their cell group strategy. Cell group was a method of empowerment by decentralizing authority and responsibility to smaller groups within their local setting. It was a bottom-up form of leadership and management as oppose to top-down. (This would be analogous to the term of Kaizen in the domain of continuous improvement within business operations.) YFGC used small group who are well trained and discipled to impact their immediate community and find better ways of meeting their needs. They groomed future leaders in every cell group.  As they anticipated growth, the cell groups would split to be led by the leader-in-training.  YFGC flexibility was further enhanced by fostering an egalitarian environment. Pastor Cho utilized the gifting of women in roles that were traditionally available to only men. Pastor Cho’s cell groups were akin to an agile organization.

YFGC is synergistic

In 1958, the YFCF began in Seoul with 5 people: Pastor Cho, Choi Ja-shil and her 3 children. These were not wealthy or highly influential individuals. However, they were committed Christ followers who had an amazing chemistry to grow their church exponentially through simple door knocking of homes, committed service to the poor and heartfelt prayer for the sick. YFGC grew to 3,000 by 1964, 8,000 by 1968, 100,000 by 1979, 400,000 by 1984, and 700,000 by 1992.3 The exponential growth was a by-product of team members working synergistically. These members were not coerced into Pastor Cho’s church but loved to becoming a high performing church. The ministries established to meet education, poverty, and homelessness were a result of their synergistic efforts.

Final thoughts on the high performing church

Within 50 years, South Korea has evolved from anti-Christian nation to nearly half of its population becoming Christ followers who are experiencing the benefits of pursuing the values and mission of Jesus. (In fact, the movement elevated the status of Korean women who were treated as second-class individuals in the culture.4) Indeed these qualities of a high performing team are applicable to the Church as Pastor Cho has shown. Having opportunities to touch lives in every sphere of their existence has driven YFGC’s growth and has been the catalyst for the resurgence of other church affiliations i.e. Charismatic Catholics. To maximize those opportunities which Pastor Cho can attest, a high performing church requires Christ and His Spirit to be involved within the plan and execution. It is assumed that prayer and reflection is subsumed within any direction chosen. When that is done, great results is a natural by-product. Although there is no guarantee that our bosses or managers will recognize our high performance but we know that Jesus always will:

“Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” 5

Is the Church perfect? Of course not – but are YOU able to “cast the first stone”? If hatred, jealousy, pride or un-forgiveness, have NOT coursed through your veins at anytime, then you are welcome to throw. Otherwise, how have you helped the church become all it can be? Or are you too preoccupied denigrating the team Jesus is continuing to build? What is the call to action for YOU and not the so-called hypocritical person you are thinking about? Let Jesus deal with them…but now He is talking to you, “follow me!”6

So if you are looking for a high performing team to join without barriers for admission, (re)consider the Church. Jesus is still recruiting. Give it a shot. It will change your performance and more importantly – your purpose in this world.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

Sources:

  1. Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of St. Matthew 10:15-17
  2. The Yoido Full Gospel Church, Dr. H Vinson Hynan, http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj2/synan.html
  3. Yoido Full Gospel Church page, David Cho Evangelistic Ministry site, http://www.davidcho.com/NewEng/bd-1.asp
  4. Young-hoon Lee, The Life and Ministry of David Yonggi Cho and The Yoido Full Gospel Church, http://www.apts.edu/aeimages/File/AJPS_PDF/04-1-YHLee.pdf
  5. Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of St. Mark 9:42
  6. Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of St. John 21:19

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