The Occupy Wall Street protests have made popular the phrase “the 1%”, referring to the richest 1% of the U.S. population. Who are they? Households with an annual income of $345,000 or more.
Ask the question globally; who are the richest 1% of the world’s population? Answer: Those with a household annual income of about $50,000 per year or more. (If you want to find out exactly where you rank globally, insert your income into the tool at www.globalrichlist.com)
If you are not in the 1%, you are probably in the top 5-10%. That means we are rich compared to the 7 billion people on the planet, 80% of whom live on less than $10 per day. (And not because the essentials cost less.)
In light of this, it is worth asking the question: what is God saying to me about how He wants me to celebrate Christmas this year?
Recently I had the chance to spend time with several pastors from around the world who are seeing God work in remarkable ways. These pastors have churches numbering in the tens of thousands and have seen amazing miracles happen in their midst.
When the opportunity arose I asked several to pray for me. One African pastor leading a church of 200,000 prayed over me asking God to meet some specific needs in my life that he had no way of knowing. A couple of others laid hands on me and prayed some powerful things for me. I was very encouraged and even wrote down what they prayed so I could review it later and see how it unfolds.
Yet, as meaningful as the experience was for me, I sensed God telling me that the key to me living out His plan and purpose for me was not that moment in which I was prayed for, it will be in my daily obedience.
I would like for God to transform me with a “zap” — so that in an instant I would have no more anxieties or doubts, and be filled only with love and victory. But most of time it doesn’t happen that way. Yes, meeting God in special moments can propel us forward, but most of the time our lives change when we practice claiming our identity and promise in Jesus; by making the choice to listen for God, risking obedience and loving persistently.
I will always treasure the memory of being prayed over by those great servants of God, but I know it is no short-cut to transformation. That happens one day at a time. And thanks to that experience I am all the more confident it will indeed happen.
It has been painful for me to watch the legacy Joe Paterno has built over 61 years get trashed in one week. After 409 wins (the most ever for a Division I college coach) and positively influencing thousands of young lives over decades, he has been fired by the University he loves and become the subject of scathing remarks in the national media. His brilliant career has ended in a terrible way.
We are mostly remembered for how we finish, and it is hard to finish well. As followers of Jesus, as leaders, we can never coast. It is always vital to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit and pay attention to the direction we are drifting.
Like you, I want to finish well. To do so we need to pay attention to the little things, watch for passion drift, and keep our thirst and and sense of need for God at a high level.
Fortunately we have access to God’s mercy and grace, and he can help us finish strong even if we stumble.
Hebrews 2:1 – “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”
Last week I caught a glimpse of what God is doing around the world, and it is awe-inspiring!
I was at a small gathering of church planters featuring 13 pastors from all over the globe. These pastors, only a few of which I knew, have been used by God in truly remarkable ways. They have started churches which have grown to 20,000 and beyond; one pastor leads a church of 200,000 people which is impacting his nation! What kind of person is used of God like this? Here is what I saw:
1. They are are humble. I spoke with several of them one on one, and they are unassuming, down-to-earth, and lacking in self-importance. There was not a trace of arrogance or pride in any of them, which cannot be an accident. God seems to look for those who are humble to pour his life through.
2. They rely on the Holy Spirit. They have seen God do supernatural things, and teach that we must be filled with the Spirit of God in order to live and minister for him. While most could be considered “charismatic” in practice, they do not use labels or get hung up on specific doctrines of the Holy Spirit, They simply read the Bible and believe all the gifts of the Spirit are available today; they depend on His power to minister.
3. They are men of prayer. They seek God in prayer in order to know him, get guidance, find strength, and see results. It’s not a duty, it’s a life.
4. They love. They have a deep love for the people they are trying to reach and for their church. It results in serving.
5. They die to self. Many have been threatened with death, some still are. Some have been in prison and bear the scars of severe beatings. They do what they do not as a career or for recognition, they serve out of a call from God and nothing else.
We can learn a lot from these pastors. I believe God is looking for leaders here in the US who embody these same traits. As more and more believers seek God for these qualities, I believe we will see God work in greater and greater ways.
Which one of these traits is God challenging you to demonstrate?
Steve Cordle is the founding and lead pastor of Crossroads Church, a small group-based congregation with five locations in the Pittsburgh metro area. He also leads a18movement, a non-profit dedicated catalyzing church plants globally. Steve is the author of three books: A Jesus-Shaped Life, Hear it, See it, Risk it, and The Church in Many Houses. He coaches pastors and church planters in the United States and Western Europe. He enjoys running, playing classical piano, and all Pittsburgh sports. Steve is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary (M. Div) and United Theological Seminary (D. Min). Steve and his wife, Linda, have three grown sons, three daughters-in-love, and three grandchildren.
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