Being Human

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭AMP‬‬

This great verse speaks to my present day. One of my favorite Star Trek series is with Captain Jonathon Archer. It is set in the first days, when humans are able to zip through the universe meeting other cultures. They constantly are in conflict and grow and learn. Isn’t that just like us humans? We learn by trial and error and trail and success.

This particular excerpted verse from John’s writing to his sons and daughters speaks to that human quest. John has been through learning face to face with Jesus. He stood at the cross and watched the blood of his cousin and friend splatter to the ground. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was put in his lifelong care. The resurrection and ascension are real events to John witnessed with his own eyes. The early miracle breakout of the believers was personal experience. He participated in the expansion of the church into other countries and served a long life as a leader in the kingdom. Now, he writes a few notes of love and concern before he will be imprisoned for the last time and whisked off to the prison island of Patmos, where he will experience and record the Revelation. This is a man of intense faith based on the words of God and a lifelong walk with the Holy Spirit. Heed them.

If we freely admit that we have sinned.. What an opener for a sentence. Sin is anything done outside of faith. Worry is sin. Getting up in the morning to live our own way instead of His way is sin. Pushing a church agenda based on marketing and personal preference is sin. Building a financially prosperous business based on self fulfillment and wealth accumulation is sin. All of this is sin because it is not done in faith, trusting God and walking according to his plan and way.

If we freely admit that we have sinned… The definition I use for sin is mistaken living and imperfect obedience. We stretch out to do right and do wrong. We live our way and call it God’s way. We fall. We fail. Sometimes, we succeed in the eyes of the world and make God cry at our selfishness and greed mentality. Get all you can. Put it in a can. Sit on the can. That sentence might describe our 401k strategies and slithering sumptuous pride at high performing economic markets while ignoring the pain of those that have no means to participate. We should freely admit that we have sinned.

If we freely admit that we have sinned… Sin is rebellion. This is the one we think most about when we think sin. We like to ignore those other modes of sin and park here. Of course, we can avoid most blatant rebellion. After all, we did not murder or commit adultery or lie intentionally or worship an idol or even miss Sunday services without a big excuse. Or did we. Jesus deflates that aversion by picking adultery as a target example. He says if you let lust take you on a fantasy trip involving another, you have violated the heart problem of adultery. That could be 3 minutes of pornography. Right? Oops. The arrow to the liver brings us down.

If we freely admit that we have sinned…. Sin is aversion. God does have a plan for you life. God has a plan for every minute of your life. And then we run a different direction. We consume ourselves with books and pundits and memes to solidify our search in a different direction than His will for us. We master a trade for which we were never crafted and say, “Surely, I trust it to Him so He will bless me in my disobedience.” We are flawed and failed and that is what makes us human. The question is will we take the next step to grow. There is no condemnation in being a flawed and failed human. John lets us know that it is normal.

Confess our sins… Confession clears the path and sets the tone for growth. Get honest with another human and with God. Put down the pride and get real. This does not mean continue to live in the sin. That is not the intent. To be a Sunday Baptist that drinks to be drunk on Saturday and smiles all dressed up on Sunday is not the goal. To be a weekend Pentecostal that manipulates in the market all week and dances and shouts on Sunday is not the goal. To be a confessional Catholic that lives like hell to slide behind the shut door with the priest and get absolution and a penance is not the goal. The goal is an everyday acknowledgement of human frailty and a pursuit of getting stronger and stronger not hiding under the invisible cloak of grace and forgiveness. And that takes an honest life with others and our self.

Here we find a great definition of grace. He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. He sets us on the right course with no shame or condemnation. He strengthens with character the area in which we have continued to slip. He wipes off the after effect, the blood and mud and sand and gravel into which we have crashed, and stands us back up. As a child, I loved getting on the back of one of those old tricycles with a platform on the rear. They were the early day skateboard. And they were deadly, which is why you don’t see them anymore. One foot on the platform, hands on the bars, and use the other foot to push off and gain speed. What a ride! One day, I decided to take a ride down a steep hill. Somehow, I forgot about how to stop the ride and just plunged forward. The exhilarating ride was greater than any roller coaster. The rush of air across my face was great. And then the bottom of the hill that ended in an almost 90 degree turn to the right looked up at me an laughed. I tried to loose a foot from the platform and make the turn so I could gradually slowdown on the coming flat road. The force of my speed and weight prevailed and I flew tumbling over and over into the gravel and roadside brush. Man, that hurt. There were scratches and blood and bruises that could not be hidden from my mom when I went home for supper. The undeniable marks of my mistake had to be confessed. The gravel needed picked out of my elbows and knees and ointment applied for healing and avoiding infection.

Confession allows others to pick out the gravel and apply the ointment. We want to do it alone. But, we might not know which ointment to apply. We can get it wrong. A counselor who counsels himself has a fool for a client. We don’t need to hear, ”Don’t do that again.” But we need to hear, “Don’t do that again.” So the next time, I drug my foot a little during the ride down to decrease the speed and ensure a safe turn. Of course that was not so cool on my shoes and mom and I needed to have another talk. Gradual growth.

Summary: Admit your humanity and lack of faith. Confess your mistakes to others and God. Receive the correction and healing touch. Grow stronger in character. Be a human. God created you to grow in faith like one as you explore the universe.

Intercession: Living in the World

Intercession: This weekend in obedience in prayer, I call you to intercession for a specific cause. It is not a political cause though it involves politics. It is not a religious cause though it involves religion. It is not a governmental cause though it involves government. It is not an education or media cause though it involves both of them. Analyzing community, national, international, and personal interactions, I stepped back and asked the Holy Spirit, “What is it I am missing? What is it I am seeing? How do they intersect?” This Morning Moment Online Church is the one place I choose to express in faith unhindered. I call you to pray for God’s Glory to interrupt every aspect of personal and public life. He commands it in the Lord’s Prayer.

SOLUM CTI, where I work fixing fractured families is a faith work; however, walks in the courts of the world, the simple world, and comports as a non-profit inspired of faith and driven by research methodologies. There are right requirements of comportment working with government and we respect those boundaries while expressing our faith.

SOLUM Insurance and Benefits, where I work in the world of business to bring finances for the non-profit, the National Center for Fathering, and the National Association for Grandparenting is a profit based initiative in the simple world and comports as such. We have a huge vision that requires firm financial footing and people have retreated from giving in the faith community. What a tragedy, but it must be addressed. Families need healing. Faith in Jesus Christ is the current in all we do and will not be denied, but we must walk in the world yet not of the world and redeem our time as servants of God visible in our faith to all while giving respect to the faith of others.

And here at the Morning Moment, we wrestle in the unseen battle that does not respect the boundaries. The enemy does not respect the boundaries of government, education, business, media, and community that we place on ourselves. He strikes viciously and continually to destroy whatever is good and lovely and honest and excellent and of a good report. He dances with abandon in the media, growls in the courts of government, strikes with litigation in business, accuses in the education system, and lies in community. He uses Christian and non-Christian to do his work of undermining and attack and respects no boundaries. He uses us and our minds and emotions against ourselves. He slithers into church, congregation, gathering, and prayer closet and strikes at our very heal in our most intimate moment. He distorts our thinking and causes questions of right intention to spin us off course. He and his minions are good at what they do.

Jesus is our example here. In the great contest with Satan in the desert, Jesus was in an intimate place of prayer and fasting. That is where the enemy struck deepest. Jesus looks into the eyes of one created to be a blessing to mankind, who has turned from his Creator to be the thorn of mankind. He is a betrayer. He is disloyal. He is vicious. But, at one time he was a friend. At one time they walked together in the created order as comrades. And now the enemy strikes to undermine and destroy.

This is a good description of the battlefield of our mind and hearts. Our own thoughts betray us. Our own emotions, meant to build become a barrier to growth. The enemy plays not so much through the actions of others, but inside our thoughts and intents. It should not matter what others do, for that is not the battleground. It is what we make of it that matters. It is not the politicians, educators, courts, government leaders, media entertainers, or business competitors that attack us. It is our response in the deep items of the soul that can bring us down or lift us up. The battle is fought in the court of prayer. And prayer is both private and public.

Do not let the enemy convince you that while he and his run ruthlessly with abandon in government, business, media, religion, education, and community that you should be silent in your faith. Should he convince you of such, you and our families and our communities and our nation are doomed. You can no more separate your faith from your activities than you can walk down the street and leave your head in your bedroom. You must fight in the market with prayer. You must fight in the government with prayer. You must fight in the schools with prayer. You must fight at the sports event with prayer. You must fight with prayer and actions led of prayer. You must walk in all the courts of world as a victorious warrior of faith understanding “Listen carefully, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, so be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16.

And as we walk this way, we will be attacked, vilified, accused and castigated in the open because we walk in the open.

As a business manager, I was assigned to a hospital to overhaul a failed computer operation. It was a mess. For me, prayer was essential. The Bible has always been my source of wisdom for unraveling tough business messes. There is great wisdom there . Like every other assignment in my career, my personal bible sat on a shelf in my office ready at hand. One day as I was working with a supervisor, I reached with no thought at all to the Bible, opened it to a verse and said, “See, here is the principle we are using.” I closed it, set it back on the shelf and went on with the conversation. Later, it struck me that his eyes had bugged out at that moment. I do not apologize for that moment. To dig into an eternal source of wisdom for guidance in a hard moment is common sense and spiritual power. I was paid for who I am and what I know to get a hard, unsolved job completed. And that we did, using all the resources at my disposal including prayer and Biblical wisdom.

When I took that job, that same supervisor would cruise my neighborhood during my home Bible study and would tape record employee sessions to attempt to catch me crossing some invisible barrier. The enemy had no qualms about attacking me on a personal and spiritual basis in a religiously supported hospital. At one point, a senior executive chastised me for talking to the chaplain about helping other employees that were coming to me. “There is no place for prayer in the work place.”, he said while we worked at Baptist Medical Center and the front desk was staffed by volunteers from Baptist churches and we had six chaplains on staff. He himself was an ordained Baptist minister, who bought the enemy’s lie. What fool I was to believe that the corporate chaplains might help the staff not just the patients. The enemy has no problem using religion against you in government, education, media, business, and community. And you must have no problem with fighting with intense faith in this battle.

Through prayerful application of solid business and organizational principles, we saved the company millions of dollars, stabilized the computer operation to 99.9% reliability from a position of maybe 60% reliability, and established an environment of respect that was lacking. No awards or promotions were given for a job well done. No prayer meetings were held at work. No witnessing was done other than the witness of a normal life lived in Christ. God reigned. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬

Two great events followed on the heals of this work. Some years later, the manager I left in place, who was not the supervisor using devious tactic, took me to lunch. I was working for a mega church at the time. He told me they were still using the PAL method to manage the shop. They had taken principles of management that I had taught them and created a method of making decisions in operations using my initials. What an honor that God would be honored in such a way even though the enemy hated it. Again, an employee from the engineering department consulted in one of our other pastors at his gym. This was 10 years after I left the company. “Phil never witnessed to anyone at work, but every person who worked alongside him has now come to Christ. I don’t understand it.” What a testimony to God’s intervening grace when we allow Him to live visibly through us in our battle in business, government, community, education, media and more.

I adjure you, direct you, encourage you, and plead with you to fight with all your faith in Jesus Christ in private and public prayer that family, community, state, and nation conform to the will of Christ. His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Do not hesitate. There is no place or position or person or activity exempt from His rulership or influence. Do not buy that lie. In your gentleness, you will be viciously attacked. You will witness thrashings in the world that are direct result of community prayer in which you participate as one. Continue in prayer and good works and stand your ground. The Lord is your strong tower.

“According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:” Ephesians‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”. Ephesians‬ ‭6:3, 7, 10-18‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We are family.

You are loved.

He is our Strong Tower

Pastor Phil