In prayer for you this morning. The impact of second chapter of Ephesians covers many areas. One of those is grace. Grace is greatly misunderstood among legalistic Christians. That results in many unanswered prayers and many illicit assumptions of others. The one who lives by grace has opportunities to love and enjoy.
In the book, BY GRACE: Passion for People in Community, we explore the varieties in the kingdom through stories based on experiences in outreach and fellowship. Kingdom living includes pain and progress and problems and power. All of that and all the types of people are for our joy. Only by grace do we enjoy them.
What does grace do? . Brings us the love of God . Raises us together . Seats us in the heavenlies alongside Jesus . Provides a future of hope and power . Overwhelms us with kindness . Rescues us from ourselves . Crafts us for usefulness in the kingdom . Makes us family And grace does all this through no earnings. We do not earn any of this. Our actions are useless in acquiring any of this.
Let’s list the things that are useless in the economy of grace . Church attendance out of duty and habit . Tithing because of the regulations . Serving in front of others for approval . Positions of power such as pastor, bishop, deacon, elder, apostle, prophet
Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch! Really. Are not those the focus of the church? No, they are the focus of the flesh.
Let’s list the things that are wonderful in the economy of grace . Speaking words of encouragement to the downhearted . Visiting the sick and imprisoned and probationer with compassion . Church attendance for fellowship and sharing love and worship . Giving out of a heart of joy and thankfulness . Serving as a normal part of being in the family and loving others . The least of these . A life of Christian discipleship following Christ . Prayers that get answered and those that don’t . Fellowship with the Holy Spirit
Today, I speak GRACE over you. I remember when I failed another and failed offer grace. I remember the Lord continued to love and build me and so He does you.
Let’s Pray: Father, we come as sinners saved by grace. We are not ashamed. We are completed in Christ. We are competent in Christ. We are crowned in Christ. All by grace. Our money means nothing. Our position means nothing. Our accomplishments mean nothing. You have bestowed on us goodness and glory simply out of Your motivation of love. Thank you. Father, let us extend grace to others. Help us to see the one that is struggling and come alongside. Help us to extend forgiveness and trust and reconciliation to another that has no hope and no expectation of good. Help us remember we have earned nothing, will earn nothing, and have no value outside of Your grace. Help us remember our failure to live up to Your holiness when the one beside us falls and fails. Let us come alongside like You in the days of destruction and be instruments of grace.
We are family You are loved Jesus is Our Grace Giver
Pastor Phil Larson
“among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:3-4, 6-8, 10 NKJV
What is the difference between using sage in prayer or other sources of incense? Why would it make a difference?
Many religions use incense in prayer. In God’s dealings with establishing traditions with the Israeli people, incense is crucial. Working with Moses and Aaron and crafters of perfumes and incense was exact for God. He is most particular in the beginnings of establishing rituals of worship in the wilderness to distinguish His people and their practices from the practices of other religions in the area. The smell of worship is important to God as much as the color and surroundings. So, is there a difference in using incense in prayer to the Creator from prayers to other deities?
A popular practice today is to use sage, a Native American practice, for removing evil influence from a location. Sage is readily available in the plains nations and has a distinctive aroma. Some might posit that this is the same as the distinctive use of perfumed incense of the Hebrew and today the Catholic Churches of Orthodox and Roman and Anglican. Even the full gospel or Pentecostals use perfumed oils in prayer if not incense. So, is there a difference in using sage or perfumed incense or perfumed oil in prayer?
Another practice with Biblical roots is anointing oil. James instructs us to pray the prayer of faith and anoint with oil. Jesus and His disciples lay hands on the sick and use oil. These practices are common today and many miracles, signs, and wonders occur. Some years ago, when holding a small group meeting in a motel meeting room, we used oil to pray for the sick and anoint for service. After a meeting one night, a group was gathered at the adjacent restaurant. One of the women held the oil bottle with a look of wonderment. Apparently, I had left it behind and she in helping made sure it was retrieved. It intrigued me, so I asked about her fascination. It is important to not focus on any instrument of practice and keep our faith in Christ, our Lord, not an amulet or object. She handed the bottle to me and told me that is was warm and had been warm all the time. Indeed it was almost hot. Certainly, this was a sign for the moment and a touch point for faith though not the object of faith. So, is there a difference in what touch points we use in prayer and why would there be?
“And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil.” Exodus 30:25 NKJV https://www.bible.com/114/exo.30.25.
“For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” Exodus 40:38 NKJV https://www.bible.com/114/exo.40.38.
In these defining verses in the Old Testament, the Lord, Creator, makes a distinction for Himself among His people. The focus is to remind Israel that they did not serve the gods (little g) of the area, but THE GOD of all heaven and earth. The cloud, the fire, the perfume, the oil, the incense, the altar, and more put their focus to Him and away from other influences. It also let the other nations know that the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY lived with His people and protected them.
In this time of the the New Testament in Jesus, the Christ, the focus is taken away from the ritual and the Holy Spirit of God lives inside of each believer not the building or tent.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” I Corinthians 6:19 NKJV https://www.bible.com/114/1co.6.19.
Yes, we still use altars and buildings and incense and oil in our prayers. The focus is on the one to whom we pray. That is the difference.
It is not the sage or the consecrated water or oil or incense, but the object of our faith. The object of our faith should be THE FATHER. The Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, is the object of our faith. These items are helps, but not the object. The give us tangible connection points, but they of themselves contain no power to help us.
There is a big difference in sage prayer practices and Christian prayer. It is not the sage, but the object of faith. In New Age and Native religious practice, sage is a form of prayer to a demonic entity not the FATHER GOD. That is the difference. Yes, our Bible is clear. When we make prayer to some other god (little g), we are praying to the demonic. And when we pray to the demonic, we invite their power and their influence into the situation. Jesus was most clear. You do not drive out evil with evil or demonic with demonic. It is through the GOOD GOD that evil is removed and His presence is invited. That is the whole of the book of Exodus. It is about inviting the presence of the GOOD GOD.
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Acts 10:38 NKJV https://www.bible.com/114/act.10.38.
Don’t get incensed about incense. Do teach. Jesus directed us to lead people to Him and then teach them. We need to teach the consecrated life in Christ. That means understanding what is happening in our world and approaching it with wisdom that is from above that is open and instructive. So the next time you see someone using sage or they ask about using it to clear their mind or home or a location, teach with wisdom. Direct them to solid faith in Christ that is more powerful than any instrument of prayer, though incense and oil are certainly Christian practices of value, it is faith in Christ that does the trick. It is better to chase out evil than to invite more.
We are family
I love you. Jesus loves you.
The Holy Spirit is a Great Guide and Wisdom in All Things.
In my cup collection is one of annual cups for AFPRESS, a concept company extension of a larger insurance corporation. The cup and the year were titled Breaking Barriers. Other executives mocked us openly. The venture was not popular because it challenged the norm, it threatened mediocrity. And of course, because it worked. A small group of staff written off as failures went on to grow from falling to $4.5mm worth of retail digital print publishing in a falling industry. Indeed, they broke many barriers of customer service, production, quality, and quantity. Barriers mostly are mental impositions created by small vision. They can be broken.
Oh, the reason I wrote this article? I’ve been working with some pastors on getting that plateau busting in motion. As part of that, I put together a quick starter that takes about 30 minutes MINISTRY METRIC MATRIX OF GROWTH. The MMM is FREEEE. I like pastors. I like local churches.
Throughout my menagerie room are similar cups and momentos. Consider the “Year of The Plan” for C.R. Anthony corporation where we shocked the courts and pulled a company out of chapter 11 bankruptcy in 18 months and became profitable and lithe. That was a fun set of barriers to break. Then there is the “Best Place to Work in IT” award from ComputerWorld, where our director team led in outstanding recognition. A great memory was leading alongside others in a pastoral team to see a plateued non-profit move from 1500 membership to 5500 membership and move from being 99% white to completely multi-cultural where no one racial heritage was 51%.
That non-profit/church breakthrough took 3 years. In fact most breakthroughs in which I’ve participated took about 3 years. Whether it was retail, insurance, non-profit, or healthcare, the breakthroughs have a pattern. My fourth major book, STUMBLING INTO MIRACLES outlines personal progressions involved in those breakthroughs. It will take you to see many individual barrier breakthroughs that we see today in SOLUM working with folks struggling through the I’ve HAAAAD It! Hopelessness, anger, addiction, abuse, anxiety, and depression are horried barriers. Developing a systematic workshop to apply to those has been a great and fulfilling journey. It isn’t a book, but a personnally mentored workshop. But then the other three, TIME TO LEAD (community and culture), BY GRACE (churches) , and MANAGE WELL (corporate departments and entrepreneurial efforts) all have similar themes. Breaking barriers is not easy, but it has some commonalities in personal life and business and community endeavors. And if you are a person of prayer TRANSFORMER’S PRAYER is a good quick place to start.
So, why write so much about barrier breaking transformation? Why help others? Why take on giants instead of just living mundane? Because it can be done and you can do it. We are working on a huge barrier now that we have broken in one place and want to extend to many. It only took a few years to break the barrier, but now we are looking to break nationwide. SOLUM is the flagship of that breakthrough.
Are you ready for the commonalities? No matter the industry or endeavor, I’ve found a few.
Inventory What Is. Too often we apply change before we apply understanding. Covey tells us, “Seek first to understand before you seek to be understood.” Yes. Even better seek first to understand before you seek to pose a solution. You may be totally off base in what you know. A production group was off target by 14 hours a day. They were supposed to hit target at 7am daily and were hitting at 9pm. What a mess. Inventory and a little sorting and structuring took out the excess and put production on target consistently.
Determine the objective in measureable terms. How often I ‘ve gone into a corporate fix to find out the owners did not have a clear objective for the team attempting to perform the impossible task of hitting an invisible and moving target. Pshaw! Quit treating people that way. Get deep. Figure out the target and make it clear to everyone involved. Even in church work, we figured out the key metrics both tangible and intangible and watched them as they helped us reach our greater goal.
Inspect what you expect. Expect what you inspect. As you apply small changes implement tracking tools that require little effort. People spending time on tracking tools are not spending time on what they are attempting to accomplish. One team set impossible objectives for production and celebrated as percentages were clicked off on the way to the top goal that they did reach.
Enjoy the journey. Celebrate milestones. A team of printers had a great time when a customer, who had expressed disdain openly, awarded them a big party when they reached 100% of the customer’s business with joy. Cool, huh! My wife bought me a white cap with 100 on it. The naysayers just grumbled, but we celebrated.
That’s it. You can go read a book full of other markers and information by selecting any of those referenced or change your life by following the I’ve HAAAAD It! link. But working on these four major attention items will get you in quick and reliable motion.
Keep your eye peeled as we break through national barriers. Better than that, break through your own. If you’d like, I’d be happy to do a one-one coaching session with you for personal barrier breaking. I’m not free. But I’m good. No brag. Just fact.
Oh, the reason I wrote this article? I’ve been working with some pastors on getting that plateau busting in motion. As part of that, I put together a quick starter that takes about 30 minutes MINISTRY METRIC MATRIX OF GROWTH. The MMM is FREEEE. I like pastors. I like local churches.
For some odd reason for the last week, I have been carrying a wooden turtle given to me by Van, a coworker. Van immigrated from Vietnam and found it hard to get a job due to his struggling English. I gave Van a job in our digital print shop with the challenge to him and the team to find a way to work it out. He worked hard to adapt and became a stellar performer and team member. In his birth culture, the turtle is a sign of wisdom. I cherish the gift. Van merged and so did the team.
Finding joy can be one of the most frustrating journeys for any of us. Joy is not happiness. Joy is an abiding sense of security based on our condition of humanity. Yes, being human predisposes us to joy. Well then what happens?
What happens is the accumulation of negative influences in our environment coupled with our choices to participate in pain and angst. Our genetic predisposition to negative or positive plays a role. The examples from our core family and friends plays a role. Ultimately, with all of that together, we still own the final choice of joy or junk thinking and feeling and acting.
In Conquer Your Anger Take Back Control of Your Future, this week, our current team is studying CORE VALUE. Dr. Steven Stosney has done tremendous work with thousands of participants reversing incredible levels of unjoy and violence. The elements of CORE VALUE that are inherent in our creation as humans and distinguish us from every other animal sometimes get covered with dust and shadows and we forget of what we are made. Bring those to the front of your conscience and improve, appreciate, protect, and nurture them and you find an abiding joy has been there all along. From where does it come?
It comes from your DNA. You are designed for joy. Life gets in the way, but you were designed for joy. You are designed to press through hardship and discover that joy deep in the wells of life and in your spiritual quest. The balance of mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and physical brings you to discover joy. That spiritual quest is one we tend to ignore until we can no longer find solace in any other solution.
The other solution is spiritual. Some choose to engage in spiritual quests in nature, the cosmos, various religions, and even humanism or worship of self. A spiritual quest happens outside of us. It is acknowledging that we are only a small part of this created order and the immensity beyond us.
“To move from one unselfish action to another with god in mind. Only there, delight and stillness.” (Marcus Aurelius)
Aurelius did not mean God in the sense that I mean God. His quest was spiritual. But he looked to an amorphous god with a little g that meant all that is in the universe compiled to give us sense and purpose and order. I look to the Creator of all that sense and purpose and order. Others have a different sense of spirituality. Nonetheless, modern psychology tells us you will be hard pressed to find any lasting joy with a spiritual quest. It will attach and detach based on circumstance instead of a solid foundation.
So the following is a part of my spiritual quest this morning. These quotes span a course of 3000 years of success in spiritual significance. Take it or leave it. Our condition of joy comes from what Dr. Ruby Payne points to the studies of Dr. Bandura, noted social psychologist, that our core internal cognitions (thinking) stem from a mix of the demands of environment, relationships and knowlege, and resources. And yes, she and those working with her point back to a need for the spiritual quest to become a part of that triad of influence to reach joy and fulfillment.
Joy is not some fleeting fleck of fickled fate feature. Joy is eternal. Joy is a deep and abiding substance that sustains surviving storms. You have joy. If you have Christ, you have joy. You have joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Let the words of those who have gone before in spirited by the Holy Spirit inspire joy to bubble up from within the well of salvation.
“Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation.”
Certainly, the sun that warms and feeds life to plant and animal along with the shield of grace belong to us. In days of depression, let the light of joy shine through the dark shroud of deceit and denial.
“Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.”
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. These words were added to the core Serenity Prayer handed down through the ages in many forms until Reinhold Niebuhr placed them in legacy order. There is nothing new under the sun, but a crafting in a manner that touches us is wonderful. Take it to heart to give glory to God’s name and watch Him do the wonderful with the life in front of you so filled with pain and problems.
Excited to join wth you.. here is an invitation you can send to a friend also..Your mission – is to engage in a 12 week study of the job description of the Holy Spirit in order that you will get closer to God, hear the voice of the Holy Spirit with clarity for your life and ministry, and refresh your experience as a living temple of His power and grace The Job Description of the Holy Spirit – course has started and is open… Register and get started http://bit.ly/2021SpringHolySpirit The next zoom will be April 6th at 6pm CST… At that zoom we’ll discuss the first four week’s of study with each other. Rev Phil.. this is my digtial cell/text line
When I was a kid, I drank Clorox straight from the bottle. Yes, I did. Here I am alive to tell you. The fiery bleach seared my throat and left me mute. How did it happen?
Watching my older brothers in the back bedroom, I thought I saw them drinking from the bottle of Clorox on the counter. Everyone wants to be like the older brother, right? That is not always a good thing, but we do what we see and think we know.
So, I snuck into the room alone and drank the Clorox. Immediately, I knew I was in big trouble. I could not speak and wondered how long I would live. I took a full glass down. I swigged it.
All I could do was stand at the window, tears streaming, gasping to breath and make frantic motions to my family all gathered out back of the house outside. It took a few minutes of hand signs to explain what I had done and I was rushed to the hospital in our small rural town.
The doctor had me drinking milk. That was it. Drink milk. Counter the poison. Put out the fire of mistaken living.
There is a moral in this story. One: We do what we think we know by observation. Just because you think it doesn’t mean it is true. Two: Redemption is available with counter agents if we don’t die first. Three: Alone we are doomed.
What would have happened if my family responded the way counter culture and tech bullying and hard core nationalism responds today? I would have died. Simple. “Well, stupid, why did you think that? We are turning our backs on you and locking you out of our lives.”
And that is where we are in our human family today. We turn our backs, label, define life in black and white, either or, right and wrong, my way or the highway, and leave our neighbor to die.
Dr. Daniel Amen has done phenomenal work in identifying ANTs, automatic negative thoughts, and ways to stomp them. Thanks, Dr. You provide milk for the Clorox drinkers, love for hate, recovery for mistaken living and imperfect obedience. Check his approach out.
You see, I was just obeying the example observed and receiving of the cure provided. I think my higher than usual voice octaves date to that day. I can sing some pretty high notes. Maybe the Clorox helped me in my growth and abilities.
When one of my kids ate a poisonous toadstool from the backyard, the answer was charcoal not milk. When my granddaughter ate her wood popsicle stick, it took a wait and see solution. Every poison needs a different response, but ignoring and punishing for a simple mistake is insane. I like my kids. I want them to live and learn.
We are explorers. We test ideas and actions against our environment. Sometimes those tests are injurious to ourselves and others and need correction. I doubt if a doctor today would prescribe milk for Clorox, or maybe the solution still stands. But he or she would give a counter agent.
Some folks drank the Clorox and never got the milk. Pouring more Clorox down their throat with cancel culture, tech bullying, and hard core nationalism won’t help anyone. Some folks are still drinking Clorox and think that if they kill 99.9% of what they don’t like it will somehow make life sweeter. It will just make life less appealing to our children’s children and kill us in the process. We need a little milk of human kindness.
This morning I read from the notes of Reinhold Niebuhr, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus. For Jesus, I read Matthew 5. A strange realization hit me when I read in this context of Niebuhr in the 1920s looking into the face of industrialization and war’s aftermath and the poverty of our souls. At the same time reading King in the 1950s and the face of a wealthy nation and war’s aftermath and a new war on the horizon. At the same time reading Jesus in the 0000s looking into the face of the prosperous Roman Empire brought on by war and rancid religion that ignored the plight of the people. All three seemed to face the same factors and proposed similar solutions.
What is evident in all three is their consistent demand that in confrontation with evils of injustice and unnecessary poverty they demand we love our enemies into redemption and never settle for status quo. Justice is an eternal pursuit that must be engaged with passion.
For decades I read Matthew chapter five with the filtered glasses of evangelical gospel expansion. This morning the pundits plaster on social media, “The nation needs God. That is the only answer.” Yet, they claim they have God and it is providing no answer. Ouch. No one is more convinced that our answer lies in God’s grace extended through us into the world. But finger pointing people to a godless God, a vacuous entity is not an answer, but a fund raising technique. God gets involved. God requires justice. God looks the hoarding rich politicians with their burgeoning incomes and lifelong pensions and healthcare and large business owners receiving 500 times the remuneration of a worker and says, “You are out of line. You pursue sinfulness and greed and gain and power and leave the lonely and the lost and the languishing in the street.” He isn’t happy with all this mess. Do we really want Him to step into it and sort it out? Maybe not.
But for Niebuhr and King and Jesus, they want God to step into us and sort it out. Yes, they want God to step into us and act out through us. You see in Matthew 5 Jesus was a drill sergeant at boot camp not a glassy eyed pacifist. His instructions set the tone for these two others to come along later and put it into 1920s and 1950s context. What Jesus is saying is “Get out there and resist the hell that lives in your streets. Demand right treatment of all in the name of the Father. Don’t force it on others, but never relax your demand. When you are persecuted, and you will be persecuted, then fight back with love that so wants the enemy to become a friend, he is thwarted in his hate.” Go and read it and let me know if that is not what He is saying. He is preparing a team that will later stand in the streets empowered by His Holy Spirit and take beatings while demanding justice with a clear light shining in darkness.
Our world is dark. We need a Niebuhr, a King, a Jesus follower to give clarity. We are far from it. The pontificating religious voice reeks of let me keep my money and power and you can have yours when I am gone. It does not speak of serving or sacrificing as is commanded by the life of Christ. It speaks of hoarding and rightness and pride. The protesting voice speaks of taking and stealing from others with anger and aggression. It does not serve its way into change. The political voice slithers and stacks up power and money while throwing out high sounding changes that have little to no effect on the disenfranchised and downcast. The prosperous business capital voice speaks of freedom for itself but an unjust and unrighteous distribution of benefit from enterprise. And God would love to do some sorting if we let Him. But He will do it through us. That is the message of Jesus. God came down in man and said, “Go get it done. My kingdom come. My will be done. On earth through you as it is in heaven through the angels.”
So, yes, we need God. We need to live His life into our streets. We need to sacrifice and serve against the force of evil greed and gain and glory. We need to overcome evil with good. We need to love the enemies of justice and mercy into lives of justice and mercy. It is just treatment of our brothers and sisters we seek. It is merciful attention of our brothers and sisters we seek. And that means resistance to unjust and unmerciful systems, while loving the ones that hold the reins.
That is a tall order, Jesus. Martin and Reinhold, do you really think it can work to the next level? We are further in the journey, but mankind has a sinful and immoral heart that keeps coming back to the same stuff over and over.
We clamor with climate change while drug addictions plague a more heinous future impact. We banter over schools while the family front is torn with tension and violence and desperation and lack of attention. We promise payments when meaningful work and a respectful environment of fair remuneration is avoided and leaves dignity in the ditch. We hoard great wealth into the accounts of protest and rights organization while payday loans strip the meat off the bones of the poor and anxiety and depression escalate to epidemic. We wail over walls while imprisoning our sons and daughters for generations in the most incarcerated nation on the planet for no more than a bad Friday night of escape.
What will we do? How will we serve and sacrifice our way into a more just and merciful community?
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus was not calling for us to sit on the sidelines and pray for those that live injustice and an onerous overlording of the people. He was calling us to confront with a deep concern for their souls. For if they do not come to a knowledge of truth, they damn their own souls. He is calling for us to come together in community with all concerned for all.
“To the degree I harm my brother, no matter what he is doing to me, to that extent I harm myself.” Martin Luther King, Jr 1958
“The church does not seem to realize how unethical a conventionally respectable life may be.” Reinhold Niebuhr 1926
“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus, the Christ 0032
In this message of the moment, I make a series of points that guide in leadership and family stability. Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to learn simple principles that when applied regularly will advance your life purpose and bring peace to your family, business, and community.
1. Find reputable leaders and follow
2. Pray according to the Bible
3. Develop wisdom consistently
4. Get busy living your purpose
Every morning I rise to two activities. Devotional prayer and study and exercise. Those two regimens have guided my day for decades. One was taught to me as a beginning disciple in Christ at 20 years old. The other was taught to me as a beginning ministry student at 26 years old. Both were taught to me as a child growing up in school. What has been taught to you? What have you retained? What have you lost?
Over life, we are taught many wisdoms. I’ve worked to commit a few of these to books. Maybe more for my own trail than others. Time to Lead outlines principles of cultural change. Manage Well outlines principles of people management and business management. By Grace outlines the outreach of the gospel. Stumbling into Miracles outlines personal discipleship. Each has a purpose and a focus. Each is personal and practical. Each is designed to capture wisdom in story form. Each helps me remember what God has done in my life.
Paul encourages us to find faithful men and women and entrust to them wisdom. Do we capture it? Does it capture us?
“Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment.”
Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life.”
I am certainly not a wise man. But I seek wisdom. I yearn for wisdom. In every decision, I seek the mind of the Holy Spirit for the path in front of me. Whether the door is closed or open is meaningless? The question is what does the Holy Spirit want me to do with the situation? Kick down the door? Open it with a key? Walk away to another door? What is my wisdom for the moment?
Wisdom seeks us out. Yet, it is our freedom to accept or reject the path of wisdom.
After many years, our nation as a majority seeks out foolishness. It seeks out a rejection of good principles of living. Here are a few notes of wisdom from proverbs. That is how we are as humans. Over time and mistakes and failures we forget the good roads that brought us forward. Wisdom remembers. Wisdom builds her house on solid pillars.
Diligence – the had of the diligent should rule in a wise and just society not the hand of the entitled
Respect for authority – solid patriotism.. respect for ownership and property
Prudence – thought out action the benefits all
Privacy of self and others – love covers a multitude of mistakes
Honest communication – no false witness, no shaded and jaded political pandering
Consider the good of others – this is compassion.. to want the good of the other
Shut out gossip and slander – negative speak and finger pointing reduce healing
Live in the present – this is the day the Lord has made, rejoice, be glad
Plan for prosperity but do not brag – the wise look out and see danger and prepare and set aside
Heartfelt counsel – don’t sit in the seat of the scornful and acidic, stay away from the resentful
Faithfulness – be loyal, not to excess and abuse, but to friends and family and congregation and community
Avoid anger, wrath, and jealousy – deal with it. Don’t let it fester. Forgive and work on the inner man
Forsee danger and take precautions – yes, that is part of prudence and caution not care or anxiety or conspiracy
Secure debts – don’t be the fool. Don’t fall for scams. Be alert and vigilant
Never abandon a friend – stay close and listen to the heart
Sharpen life against the steel of friendship – get out there and be sharpened. Be in fellowship
Manage your business well – pay attention to build for tomorrow. Even if you are selling, sell a great business
FIND REPUTABLE LEADERS OF CHARACTER AND WISDOM AND ALIGN WITH THEM
As I search through the wisdom writings this one jumps out at me for our present situation. Whether a government leader is affiliated with the Democrat or Republican or Libertarian or Solidarity party or is independent is not my question. My question is will they submit to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in all they do.
Listen to Democrat Senator Joe Manchin… “Whatever the message was, it was wrong for this many people to be split, for us not to be able to have a mess that didn’t scare the bejeezus out of people and when you’re talking about basically the Green New Deal and all this socialism, that’s not who we are as a Democratic Party.”. Whether I agree or disagree with him, I agree with his approach to wisdom. Instead of just going with the flow, he is taking a stand for his principles. We need leaders to stand for principles.
“When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.”
Pray for wise and knowledgeable leaders in all stations of our nation. From neighborhood associations to businesses to cities and counties and states and federal positions of power and decision, we need God to grant wisdom and knowledge that brings stability. The pettiness and pursuit of individual agendas must be squashed and the strength of men and women committed to character and competency and compassion be advanced. Advance the cause of moral courage and boldness in our leaders and our families.
PRAY DILIGENTLY ACCORDING TO THE WORDS OF WISDOM
More wisdom from principles of leadership and families that please the Lord and heal the land
“The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.
Integrity guards the inner most being. Integrity guards the soul, the emotions, the mind, the heart, the feelings, and the private places of a person. When we lack integrity, we are always afraid of what we do not know about ourselves and what we do not know about others.
The principle is not just about integrity. It is about living by a moral code handed to us by God. We know what to do when we have committed God’s moral code to our heart and our intent. When a situation comes up, we have a barrier, a border, a structure for making a competent decision in which we can trust good will result. When we have no moral code, we are afraid. When I follow my own code or the code of self fulfillment, I am never sure of the results of my decisions. Will they come to good or will they fail?
Like leaves falling in the last months of the year, our life will fall away when we live according to self fulfillment. We will reach an autumn of loss and maybe never get to have another spring.
When I live with the moral code of God written in my heart and guiding my decisions, I am confident that seeds of good are always going to come up in the Spring. When I have a hard time and make mistakes in living my moral code, then I understand forgiveness and mercy wait for me and I understand that I have also planted good seed along with the bad. The good seed will overcome. The good seed will prevail. It has the life of God in it and will prevail over the bad seed.
I don’t have to run from myself. I don’t have to run from my future. I can face it with confidence that the Lord is on my side because I have set my heart in Him. Perfection is not my goal. Walking alongside is my goal. Tripping and being caught and stood back up in my goal. Getting stronger and more consistent is my goal.
When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability. A poor person who oppresses the poor is like a pounding rain that destroys the crops. To reject the law is to praise the wicked; to obey the law is to fight them. Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the Lord understand completely. Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich. Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents.”
Get wisdom and follow it. Learn how to share the word and lead people to Christ. Learn how to lead a Bible study that is meaningful to the community. Learn how to be friendly with the salvation you have in Christ and give it away.
Many of us have learned the wisdom of operating our farms and families and businesses and endeavors. Yet, we are demanded of the Lord to be as wise in the spreading of the gospel as the spreading of our money. Yes, there are missions near and far. I am a missionary to fractured families; however, I would rather have a man or a woman in every county reaching out with wisdom than do it myself. I would rather see the kingdom established with neighbors than through facebook or linkedin or Parker or me we or twitter or tik tok or anything else. It is our personal expression of the call of God in our lives that lives loudest and makes the most impact.
Do you know what causes more people to come into the kingdom than any other activity?
Door knocking? No
Sunday morning? No
What causes more real kingdom growth with new believers is the launch of a new ministry. That’s right. You get a fresh attitude in what you do or start something new and people will come and join for Christ.
The outcome of elections…. and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!” Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died. Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers. Acts of the Apostles 12:21-24 NLT
God has a plan. The obvious is not always obvious. Joseph goes to jail in order to rule the nations. Moses heards sheep in order to deliver a nation of slaves into strength. David runs to hiding in order to become a great king. Each had positions of authority before seemingly deserted and then risen into powerful results. God’s plan.
God has a plan. Kingdoms are crushed that refuse His love. Pharoah is defeated though he was the most powerful single man in the world. Neb was sent to mental depravity from the top position of power. Lightening from heaven broke the power of Jezebel and took 400 of her prophets in a day. A single angel took out 285000 of the enemy leaders in an evening and delivered the nation. Hid has a plan.
Don’t mess with the God with a plan. It can get messy. Do submit. Do walk the desert, the mountain pass, the seeming aloneness, the captured years. God has a plan.
Father, help us to walk in Your plan. It can be dark even though You are here. Our eyes can be clouded even though You are clear. Our hearing is distorted even in our fear. But You give us power. You give us love. You give us a sound mind. And we walk anticipating in faith over fear that no plague, promise of man, promotion of an enemy, or position of the moment will prevail. You prevail. And we are in Yoi and You are in us. Emmanuel, walk with us this trail. Your rod and your staff accompany and protect and prevail.
God calls for leaders. God calls for men and women who will father this generation into greatness and glory. The clarion sounds loudly. It is a necessity.
Elisha examples the kind of father for whom the Lord seeks.
“So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.”
2 Kings 5:9 KJV
Consider yourself in this situation. Naaman, a powerful man, hears that Elisha has power to heal. The entire nation and nations around have heard of them miracles surrounding Elisha. The king depends on him. The people depend on him. Other nations depend on him. They depend on him to intercede with God and bring solutions. This is the kind of father leaders God seeks. Men and women to whom others will come for leadership. God is looking for spiritual fathers connected into His power and grace.
Elisha meets this day with exact solution. His instructions to Naaman result in a full healing. But that is not our story.
“So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.”
2 Kings 5:9 KJV
The world comes with its horses and chariot and stands at the door of the spiritually equipped father leader. Protests erupt in our streets over the right to keep our rights and live with them. Riots erupt seeking an anarchist destruction of peacefulness. Black lives matter. They do. A cancer lives in our nation that just does not seem to ever be resolved in racism, bigotry, and control. It infects Black lives, Indigenous lives, and Latinx lives in ways no governmental interruption can resolve. People call for a reordering of our systems of help in the community with less force and more compassion. Prostitution and human trafficking abound. Anger, abuse, alcoholism, and addiction rule our homes. Petty failures become prison sentences and our prisons are holding cells for the mentally ill beset with a plague of depression, anxiety, and addiction. Naaman stands at our door with all his horses and chariot and looks for a solution.
And the church hides. We hide behind worldly solutions. We cower like the servant of Elisha. In another situation, when Elisha was beset with an army all around, the servant cowered. Elisha prayed and the servant saw what Elisha saw. Angel armies surrounded and protected. Elisha walked into the enemy and took them captive. When Naaman came with an unsolvable issue, all the politicians failed and Elisha and the Lord prevailed. But, the church cowers behind solutions that do not work. We look to politicians to solve moral failures and it will not work. Moral failures need moral solutions. Elisha, the father leader, must come out with solutions that work.
Let this admonition be the opening to our study of the letter of Romans. Paul addressed a similar situation in the early church. The world desperately needed then and needs now, clear call to a life before the Lord. Over and over, we become consumed with ourselves and our ideas and believe that we can solve every problem with our logic and tenacity. So far, we are doing an abysmal job of it. Our solutions just don’t work. An the world stands at our door and knocks. It seeks answers.
Romans is a letter of answers. Paul had seen much of the Greek world seeded with Christianity. He would not rest. In this letter, he reveals that he wants to use Rome as a launch pad to take Christ further into the regions of Spain. This man is a missionary. He has no thought of rest from the work of the gospel other than to gain strength for the next steps. That is passion. That passion is a base commodity we need today. That power of the Holy Spirit that keeps us in motion is something we cannot afford to lose in any circumstance. Remember that as we study this letter. It is this passion and influence of the Holy Spirit that lives inside him and brings life to the message. The message of this letter to the Romans and to us is brought to life with the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He brings it clear. He makes it alive. He shows us the finger of Christ that guides the words and the thoughts.
There are answers here for our days. There are answers for every day. This is a timeless tome. It is given to us to show us a better life forward. It is written to bring us out of darkness of religion and ritual and legalism and into the light of faith and empowerment in Christ. Here we find the Kingdom of God full of righteousness, peace, and joy empowered by the Holy Spirit. Here we find the Kingdom of God that includes all of mankind in one family in Christ. Here we find power to overcome our mistaken living and imperfect obedience. Here we find faith that receives the gift of God into our lives with full forgiveness and assurance of a better life now and into the eternal future.