American Merged Heritage – self identify

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 – Goodness Most Evident

Finding Joy – Goodness Most Evident

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.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭12:3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/114/isa.12.3.nkjv

Yes, salvation is a water well of joy supplied. It is supplied. It is ready. It is available. It is in you. The fruit of the Spirit contains joy.

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/114/psa.84.11.nkjv

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.”

‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

https://www.bible.com/116/1ti.4.16.nlt

While the Lord will expose His glory into our lives, it is our responsibility to guard what has been entrusted from the shambles of self serving.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

https://www.bible.com/116/jas.1.2.nlt

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.

We are family

You are loved

Jesus is Our Strong and Joyful Tower of Healing 

Pastor Phil LarsonREGISTER NOW FOR CONQUER YOUR ANGER April 5th 8pm 12 WEEK WORKSHOP

REGISTER NOW FOR THE JOB DESCRIPTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ONGOING WORKSHOP (JOIN NOW AND JOIN THE CURRENT STUDY GROUP IN MOTION).

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

Clorox and Color

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.

Think!

Honoring Resistance

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

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.