Simple Wisdom Works Wonders

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.”

Proverbs 9:6, 11 NLT

https://www.bible.com/116/pro.9.6,11.nlt

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.”

Proverbs 28:2 NLT

https://www.bible.com/116/pro.28.2.nlt

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.”

Proverbs 28:1-7 NLT

https://www.bible.com/116/pro.28.1-7.nlt

DEVELOP WISDOM EARLY AND CONSISTENTLY. WHAT WORKED FOR GRANDMA MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU BUT THE PRINCIPLES OF WISDOM ARE ETERNAL AND APPLY TO ALL TIMES AND CIRCUMSTANCES.

“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty. The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.”

Proverbs 28:19-20 NLT

https://www.bible.com/116/pro.28.19-20.nlt

There is an old proverb that says. “Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.””

Psalms 32:9 NLT

https://www.bible.com/116/psa.32.9.nlt

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

Revivals?  No

Sunday morning? No

Televangelism? 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.

GET BUSY DOING WHAT THE LORD HAS TOLD YOU TO DO.

God has a plan…

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.

We are family
You are loved
Jesus has a Plan

Phil, ttd

Romans : Letter of Answers

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.

GRACIOUS

The word of the Lord for the moment is GRACIOUS

“Then the LORD passed by in front of him, and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness);”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭34:6‬ ‭AMP‬‬

The Lord is gracious.
He is gracious with healing.
He is gracious with supply.
He is gracious with support.
He is gracious with encouragement.
He is gracious.

His gracious nature pours into us when we spend time with Him.

There have been many gracious men and women that have walked alongside in this life. Riding an elevator up with a young worker, she appeared impressed with one of our executives. It was a good moment for a lesson. The executive got off on one floor after he and I had a conversation and the young woman, who worked for me, continued on the elevator with me. I turned to her and noted.
“People don’t become gracious when they rise in position and stature. Gracious people rise in position and stature.” Many rise through greed and polititics and they never become gracious. Gracious people tend to rise even through environments of greed and politics.

His gracious nature pours into us when we spend time with Him.

Meeting with the CFO of a retail chain, we had a few moments waiting for the next member of the group. The CFO’s secretary came in with coffee. As she exited, the CFO thanked her and turned to me. “If people just said thank you more often, the workplace would be so much nicer.” He is right. Here is a gracious man in a position of power and he stays gracious.

God is gracious. So can we be in Him.

We are family
You are loved
Jesus is Our Strong Tower

Phil Larson ttd

Action

The word of the Lord for the Moment is ACTION

Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. We are behind you, so be strong and take action.” Ezra 10:4 NLT

When a leader has a faithful following he/she is empowered to take action. Straight or crooked, it is time to act. A leader reaches the point a decision must be made and action taken.

Parents, teachers, pastors, business owners, and government officials need to take action.  Extra had been in prayer over a disturbing situation. There was great disagreement. Any action would be painful. He assessed, prayed, wept, mourned and waited. There was no clear word from the Lord. People were waiting. Families were on hold. The people came to him and demanded a decision.

The decision wa as hard. Many disagreed. But the decision was carried out. It split families and focused the people. Any decision would be tough and have similar results. Ezra stepped out I. Confidence that he committed his path and the path of the people to the Lord. Enough prayer. Time to act.

This verse jumped at me in my morning prayers. When I came across it, it seemed to be on fire. Get up and take action.

In a few minutes I am walking out an action for which I will be cursed and blessed. There is no word from the Lord, but a decision must be made and it has been made. It is committed into His hands and He will bless it not because it is straight or crooked, clear or complicated, but because it is committed in prayer and wise counsel. Many avoid weighing in on the decision because they are not given the authority. Others are fearful. Others have self serving interests.But it is in my court and commission of the Lord and therefore it is in my scope to decide.

What lies in front of you that needs a decison and action? Maybe today is the day to cease waiting.

1. Pray and study until you have sufficient information. Notice I did not say full information. Sufficient.
2. If the Lord speaks clearly, great. If He doesn’t, great. Go with Him either way. Be confident He is with you.
3. Get ready to be misunderstood. Communicate, communicate, communicate. And be ready to be misunderstood. Listen. Apply adjustments if appropriate. Stand tall.
4. Get ready to be praised. Ignore it. You did not make the decision for goosebumps but because it needed made and action taken. Listen. Apply adjustments if appropriate. Stand tall.
5. Set a course. Make a plan. Walk it out to completion. Do the tough stuff first and fast.

So this morning, I am doing the toughest part of my decision. No one will be there for this Moment. Sometimes you walk alone while others watch to see if you are serious. Walk it out. You are not doing it for their love and appreciation but for their good and your obedience to the call and commission.

Do you have a decision? A hard one? It might be time to leave the prayer room and get cracking. You have sufficient information and prayer. Do it.

We are family
You are loved
Jesus is Our Strong Tower

Phil Larson, thethinkdr

Target

The word of the Lord for the moment is: Target

“Among Benjamin’s elite troops, 700 were left-handed, and each of them could sling a rock and hit a target within a hairsbreadth without missing.”

Judges 20:16 NLT

Consider a fighting force with 700 hyper accurate, trained, focused soldiers on target.  Now, consider that they are only 10% of the soldiers as left handed are only 10% of the population.  A fighting force of 7000 spot on soldiers good at what they do because they are targeted and trained.  What can you do if you are on target?

““For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.”

Isaiah 50:7 NKJV

The aspect of being set on a task, a skill, a direction and not being easily swayed is called targeted.  Jesus was like that.  He set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem and the cross of sacrifice that we all might be accepted.  Paul was like that.  He set his target on the Gentiles whether it meant prison or persecution.  Moses was like that.  He set his target on the land on the other side of the Jordan and pursued through pain and problems for 40 years to see it done.  David was like that.  Determined to build a temple, he insured the finances and plans were ready for his son, Solomon, to carry through.  Get a target.

“All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do. ” —Norman Vincent Peale

A goal is a target.  A worthy goal is worth honing a skill, stepping away from distractions, sacrificing to become excellent not just good, and developing the value out of the pursuit.  Good is the worst enemy of great.  Yet, it does not take great to be great.  A good goal with a good pursuit with a good energy with a good skill produces a great result.  Every piece does not need to be great, but the focus and the targeted character through persistence produces great. The word is target.

Countless calls for prayer and counsel come to me for jobs.  When I ask what type of job, the answer is usually in terms of money, prestige, or anything that pays well.  That is a useless pursuit and a useless prayer.  Why spend a major portion of life with no goal in mind? 

My career has taken many twists, but the goal has always been the same.  My career target is to support my family and have enough to be generous to help others.  My target has been to do that in a way that develops others and gives value back to a company for which I work.  And throughout my career in management, I have done that. 

My life target is to worship the Lord with all my heart and all my soul and all my might and be a faithful disciple.  And throughout my life in Christ, I have done that.  Every time I am discontent, I find someone has added to my goals and disguised the target for their own benefit so that I sway off target.

In my latter years, my sight on the target sharpens and others want to use my skill but not assist the call and character of the Lord in my life.  It is not that they are wrong or selfish as much as they do not wish to support the target the Lord has given me.

Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him while he is right and PART with him when he goes wrong.  Abraham Lincoln

When Lincoln spoke those words, I believe he looked to his target and found others had distracted him to a different path.  It is time to get back to the path the Lord sent you to walk.  Walk with good partners.  But, If they veer to the right or the left too long and keep you off the Lord’s path, you must get back on target.  They might have good intentions and a good path, but is it your path in the Lord and the Lord’s intentions?

Lifelong Dads. Forever families. Kids Need ‘em.  Delivering Solid Life Foundations. Developing Healthy and Safe Relationships. Distinguishing Generations of Greatness.

There it is in a short, sweet nutshell.  If it builds that, then that is what I do.  If one more family moves in that direction, my target will be achieved.  I hear my Father say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master’s joy.” Every day that I work on the target that affirmation of my Father is mine.  If I am doing something that isn’t working to achieve that target, then I need to part with it as soon as I see that it goes wrong.  Good counsel, Abe.

What is your target?  Can you state it in simple format? 

These last weeks have been wonderful.  For months, I have labored to cut away distractions to get down to the essentials my Father wants for me.  I’ve allowed too many good-hearted voices to distract.  Constant pain and problems lessen my grasp on the target.  My throws seem a little off.  My strength is tested.  That is the time to begin cutting away and honing skill to get to the target.  With the slowing of the economy there has been a slowing of voices distracting.   Target.

The target seems more in view than at any time.  My obstinate pursuit takes me into hours of prayer a day.  I’ve thrown out four large trash bags from my office this week and carted out boxes of books no longer needed.  The target is tightly in view.  I called my marketing group and told them to cancel distractions.  I called support groups that have similar targets and made new agreements that fit.  All of this happens as the world spins off target, the economy crashes, disease explodes, and people weep.  Target.

Target is a verb. It means get focused and pointed toward the goal.

Target is a noun. It means the item to which you are pointed.

Are you targeted? That is where God wants you. Some are targeted early in life like Solomon. He was targeted to wisdom as a young man. Some take decades like Moses, who only understood the target being the nation free beyond the Jordan after 80 years of processing. Some get the fine points of the target like Elijah, spending a life as a prophet, to become targeted to train other prophets not just be one in his last years. Elijah was mostly a loner until the Lord targeted him in his last years. Paul was a murderer until the Lord targeted him at the peak of his life to be a disciple maker. Are you really targeted? Maybe you are just now getting to be targeted. Maybe all the years you have had bring you to a sharpened focus. Target.

Jesus’ core ministry on earth was less than four years.  In those years, He built a team, died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit.  Thirty years were taken to get ready for the Target.  He is still working on the Target, the Church, 2000 years later.  Targeted. Immovable. Unshakeable. Targeted.

The Lord wants us targeted. 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

James 1:5-8 NKJV

There is no value in having a good target. There is value in having a God target. My mind goes to a friend, who has built a solid business producing significant profit. The profit is buried back in the business to build capital. He smiles and claims no profit and gives no honor through tithe or offering to the Lord. Why? Well there is no profit. Bigger and bigger barns are built that one day will have achieved nothing of value. The Lord will call for his life and the barns will be given to others. It is a good thing. It is not a God thing.

Another friend takes of his meager earnings and gives back to God.  He will never amass millions of dollars, but he stacks memorials in heaven that will stand for eternity in changed lives.  One lives the letter of the law and profits himself.  The other lives the life and spirit of the law and profits all.  Get a good target that is also a God target.

In the end there are no moving vans in the grave yard. But there is great treasure laid up in heaven. Targeted.

Choices

The word of the Lord for the moment is : CHOICES

“Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

Exodus 17:9-13 NIV

Every decision in business right now is critical.  Every choice has a direction and an outcome.  People’s financial futures are at stake.  People’s health futures are at stake.  Fear and aversion to battle can engage us in wrong choices.  Entering into a battle without proper support structure and leadership in place can engage us in wrong choices that lead to disastrous outcomes.

The people had just tested the Lord and pushed Moses into a corner.  Complaints rang out concerning water.  Complaints were not the problem.  The problem is the attitude and the unbelief.  The people as a whole were disbelieving that the Lord and Moses as His chosen leader were committed. Moses, under the Lord’s direction, struck a rock and out came all the water needed.   A miracle of great proportion showed the people how committed God was to them.  Now there was an additional challenge.  A local tribe threatened to kill them.

In this moment Moses had to make choices.  Who could he trust to follow through and fight?  The Lord had specifically taken them to this place and settled them there for a time.  Now the challenge came. Joshua had the right heart and Moses trusted his leadership and decisions.  It was a choice.  Moses trusted the Lord that they were in the right place and needed to make a stand.  It was a choice.  Moses surrounded himself with Aaron and Hur for support.  It was a choice.

All of us make choices. In these days, I pray for choices. I pray that I make right choices and listen to right voices. Those that surround us and support us sustain us. It is important they be the right people fit for the task ahead of us. Leaders learn from trusting and being betrayed or bolstered. It is the risk. It is the challenge. Some choices will turn out not so well, but that does not mean they are the wrong choice. Choices reveal what we need to see and who will walk with us and who will walk apart. Each choice steps us closer to our goals.

At my lake lot, I have a few prayer patios constructed of native stone. Walkways connect the cabin to a patio to a fire pit across a half acre. Each stone was found, carted, and laid by hand. They represent a journey of prayer and choices. May our choices be guided in prayer founded on the Lord’s direction.

Mose’s battle turned out okay. It seems Joshua and Aaron and Hur were all good choices. His dependence on God was a good choice. His standing and fighting was a good choice.

As you make choices, may the Lord of all power and wisdom guide.

We are family

You are loved

Jesus is Our Strong Tower

Phil, the think doctor

The Challenge of Change

“Fill your sphere, brother, and be content with it. If God shall move you to another, be glad to be moved; if he move you to a smaller, be as willing to go to a less prominent place as to one that is more so. Have no will about it.” (Spurgeon)

“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭131:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What amazing changes press against our businesses! The interruption of a pandemic is something no normal business conceives. Plans are made for interruptions by fire, storm, or even a loss of market position. Yet, who would plan for a total disruption of the economic engine?

As part of my responsibilities for many years, I was involved in disaster planning. At one point, I even spoke at conferences concerning such. In the middle of the night, I’ve climbed a ladder with an open container of diesel to keep a shop running because of an ice storm. In another situation, we ran operations out of a warehouse while waiting for reconstruction due to a bombing. One hospital electrical fire put us out of commission for hours as we shifted and shuffled operations. A retail operation entered bankruptcy and all systems had to be reengineered. But never have I had to respond to an entire economy in disarray.

These moments turn me deep into territory unknown and my dependence on God’s word and Spirit are tested. What about you?

A few years ago, all of my solid foundations quaked. A successful career overturned in a flash. The Lord had prepared me and a new career birthed. The journey has been amazing and fraught with invention and innovation. Some bread crumbs have helped me maintain and move forward.

David was surely in such a moment when he wrote this Psalm. He left us a path. He must have been in one of those moments that defy logic. For years, he lived in seclusion. His faithfulness was rewarded with persecution. He served the king and the king chased him out and wanted to kill him. Another time, his son attacked. Yet, another time he and his men returned to their home city to find all their families and possessions taken by an opponent. David was acquainted with great success interrupted with great loss.

1. Stay humble. Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal. When we find ourselves outside of all we have planned and believed, it is easy to get prideful and say, “Well I am better than this.” That is a dangerous position. Take the day as it is. Take the assignment of the Father to function in disaster as honorably as to function in great prosperity. Be contented in change.

2. Stay focused. Don’t get balled up in the problems. Be able to be content with a lesser income and profit position during rebuilding. Get focused on the most important items in life, which are not financial. Build family and friendships. Build relationships. Build a new world birthed of the change. Be contented in change.

3. Get quiet and calm. Concern, worry, and anxiety lead us into wrong choices and wrong voices. Many come up with instant answers and quick solutions that have not been tested under such circumstances. Dependence on old ways that worked in a different economy can get you into a position of no retreat. Get quiet. Get calm. Talk to the Lord a lot. Listen. Take secure steps and don’t rush. Be contented in change.

4. Get disciplined in faith. Faith is meant for challenging days of change. Really turn to the Lord and take the time to shore up core discipleship. Prayer, praise, serving, thanksgiving, witnessing, study, meditation, and fellowship keep us going through every situation. The Lord outlined these for disciples, followers. In the tough spot do a spot check. Where are you in each area? Strengthen the weak spots. Good counsel is to play to your strengths, cover your weaknesses, and develop your disciplines. Disciplines of faith hold you in place and move you forward when all else is crashing. Be contented in change.

Your world might be upside down and standing on the secure is needed. My home has been turned into a training center for both my wife and me. Workshops for struggling families and tumultuous teens sometimes are ongoing one upstairs and one down. She has mastered new skills and this week taught 8 workshops for teens online with tools she had never seen up until two weeks ago. I coach her in these modes and modify adult workshops to be online interactive with live sessions. Nothing is normal. Not one hour of one day is the same. Except.

Except my early morning disciplines are the same and more. I spend more time on the disciplines of prayer and study and meditation and serving and thanksgiving and witnessing and fellowship and praise. Depend on what works in any waters.

The challenge of change is to not go back to the way you were. If we go back to where we were we come back to where we are. I say that phrase over and over to struggling men and women. Everyone is struggling right now. The ground is level. Go forward in faith.

By faith, we prevail. The Lord is not surprised. This is not the end of progress. Through these pains we become stronger men and women. We learn lessons that prosper us and our children and our children’s children. A few notes scribble in a Psalm by David, who surely walked through greater challenges, serve us well. You can do this. The Lord is on your side.

The Think Doctor, Phil

Ascend

The word of the Lord for today is ASCEND

Pride Ascends

“For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north.”

Isaiah 14:13 NLT

https://www.bible.com/116/isa.14.13.nlt

Don’t let your accomplishments be the ascent that leads to descent. Lucifer learned hard.  The angels that became demons learned hard.  Those that follow the same path learn hard. Money, power, and fame are fashions for a season that lead to a descent.

Prayer Ascends

“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.”

2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT

https://www.bible.com/116/2co.1.20.nlt

When Jesus was headed to Jerusalem for His finale at the cross, the Samaritans spurned Him.  This area had been reached through the woman at the well and Jesus honored the Samaritans for eternity with His parable of the Good Samaritan.  Yet, they spurned Him at a critical point.  He purposely wanted to bless them and they rejected Him.  Join with Jesus.  Don’t get caught up in your own agendas.  Find the place to say, “Amen, I agree, so be it”.  There is power in His promises when we agree and connect and disregard our own agenda.

Power Ascends

“He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.”

Acts of the Apostles 1:7-9 NLT

https://www.bible.com/116/act.1.7-9.nlt

At the point of ascending into heaven, Jesus promised power.  In the good news of Matthew, He tells us He has all authority and we are to go with it and get the kingdom expanded.  Luke quotes Jesus on the power of the Holy Spirit.  Mark quotes Jesus on the explosion of miracles.  John quotes Jesus on the acceptance of love and forgiveness and unity.  All of these are on the road to His ascension. He delegates and empowers so that we will lift Him up for all to see.

This week has been good as the Holy Spirit prepares us for the next steps in His agenda.  It is not about our agenda or our ascend.  It is about His ascend.  He wants to lift Jesus higher than any time in our history.  Every step of the Holy Spirit from the ascension of Jesus into heaven to this moment is a crescendo building.  He has been ascending in history to yet another high point in the kingdom.

Ascend with Him in prayer and action.

We are family

You are loved

Jesus is Our Strong Tower

Spring is on the way

This morning as I look out the kitchen window cooking bacon and eggs and tortillas, my mind goes back to 1994.  Snow is falling here in Oklahoma City in April. That is rare and comforting.  And it takes me back three decades and even four.729894Z

It was May and my family camped in the mountains of Hesperus, Colorado.  That morning, I rose around 5am. One of the families had set up a cook tent and had fresh tortillas, beans, and pork chops. The smell stimulated. My wife and kids were solid asleep as I joined the others in some early morning laughs.  I had not laughed in a while.  Snow still slept in the shadows high in the mountains where we camped and snow still slept in the shadows of disappointments in my life.  Rain took the weekend by surprise and we were constricted to the tents.  It felt good to get outside.

Spring was on the way, but not quite here.  That weekend I was leading a family camp for a congregation located in the four corners area in Farmington, New Mexico.  Friends pastored there.  These friends stood with us. We shared life as we trained together at the Christian Outreach School of Ministries in 1980-1982. We shared life again.  We graduated together and here we were together again.  Many seasons had come and gone.  Spring was on the way, but winter grabbed.

From 1982 to 1990, ministry and family and job intertwined.  There were many miracles.  A church had grown out of small groups.  A church had crashed and gone. Four children grew our family.  Companies folded and disappointed in the days of the oil busts.  In 1994, it was Winter, but Spring was on the way.

For a few years, I retreated from ministry outreach in the community.  It was strange to respond to great success with great disappointment.  But that is where I was.  The mix of family and work and ministry just pushed me beyond my strength.  Ground recovers in Winter.  My soul recovered in Winter.

After great harvest comes time for fallow land. Our hearts need rest.  Spring comes.

Cooking bacon and eggs and tortillas in my kitchen another Spring comes.  This COVID comes on top of many crashes.  Children are grown and have children of their own.  My wife and I work with struggling families teaching life and relationship skills.  The business career days are over. The community campaign days are back.  We are fully engaged some 4 decades later in similar pursuits to when we started.  My knees are weak. My heart is strong.  Companies have come and gone.  Many seasons of ministry have come and gone.  We have had a great life and more is coming. Springs and Summers and Falls and Winters come and go.  Spring is on the way.  Winter still has a grasp from the last crashes of the prior years. Spring is on the way.

Spring is on the way. Over all the ups and downs, the triumphs and tragedies, I’ve learned. Spring is always on the way.  Great harvests require the soul to lie fallow for a season.  Winter is my friend. Spring is on the way.  I’m only 64.  There is snow on my roof and Spring is on the way.  There is a lot of new life ahead of me.

Phil Larson serves as the SW Director of Benefits and Conferences for GrandKidsMatter.org and GrandParentBenefits.org.  He and his wife, Dian, have four children of their own and many that call them mom and dad from the community. Three of those children are married giving them a mix of six grandchildren of multi-racial background by both birth and adoption.  You can contact him at 405.494.0637 or phil@grandparentbenefits.org