Morning Moment: Return The word for today is RETURN.
“You welcomed him back with success and prosperity. You placed a crown of finest gold on his head.” Psalms 21:3 NLT
The Seclusion 2020 is in full mode in many places. Workplaces are shuttered. At 7-11, people silently stood six feet apart even as they moved through the store. At the park, people wave with a quietness and a respect and a look that says, “I want to say more. I want to come closer. But, I am doing my part to help stop this evil.” And I call you to Return.
It has been my discipline since 1997 to pray seriously every day. Sometimes that is 30 minutes and sometimes 3 hours. It has been my discipline since 1976 to read my Bible and meditate on the words every day. Starting in 1997, I began praying with the book of Ephesians daily. That lasted three years. Three years. One hour a day. I kept handwritten notes that I still have. My life changed. At the time, I was full time in ministry as the Director of Operations of a large multi-cultural church. At the time, I was suffering the greatest challenge of my life with my hormonal system completely out of wack causing emotional roller coaster. At the time, I made many mistakes and did many things right. Every day was chaos and adventure. Return.
The result of the discipline was success. Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal. Those three years led me into a life change. The ministry went from one church ministering across the city to many churches and ministering across the United States. The ministry went from being my full time to being my parttime. The impact is still changing families. Return.
In this chaos of the Seclusion 2020, I took time to examine. In the 1970’s my personal relationship with Jesus taught me basic Christian disciplines of study, prayer, reading, devotion, giving, serving, fellowship, witnessing, and worship. In the 1980’s the Holy Spirit became a great friend and spoke many specific foundational visions into my life. In the 1990’s, the Lord stretched me to see the fullness of the gospel and His intensity for all peoples. In the 2000’s, the Father walked me into places in the community that had been segregated and expanded the reach of family fixing. In the 2010’s, missions to Mexico and to state legislators consumed my life and the Lord stretched me into the struggling and broken on a full time basis. In the 2020’s, we shall see. What a start to this decade! Return.
Like many of you, I ask the question, “What will we look like when we come through this, Lord? What’s next?”
So yesterday I made decisions on what I will not be doing and listening for His voice for the next stage of the journey. Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before. Fills my heart with longing. I love Him more and more. And today He says, “Return.”
Return to His beautiful disciplines of study, prayer, reading the Bible, devotional time, memorization, meditation, serving, giving, singing praises to His name, witnessing, fellowship, and worship. Return to Him.
Desire becomes determination becomes discipline becomes delight becomes desire becomes destiny. Our desire to growth leads us in Christ to a changed desire that matches His destiny for us. Return
Return to giving Him the first hour of the day. Return to what you know works.
In the Seclusion of 2020, domestic violence and child abuse are rising. Loss of connection to support groups will see a rise in slippage backwards into alcoholism and other drugs. Suicide most likely will rise. Social anxiety will heighten. Except for the ones who return. Return to Him and daily disciplines that help you hear His voice.
When this is over, He has a plan to restore prosperity and success. It will happen in the quiet hours we spend returning to Him.
So, I started by dusting off my prayer notes from Ephesians. I created a prayer outline for intercession during that time and keep printed copies so I can take more notes. Yesterday, I returned to allowing Him to change my direction and shutdown the voices of so many that want me to do something for them versus what the Lord wants done. In the 2020’s, the Father says, “Return”.
Return to the basics. Let Him take you on an incredible journey that shadows all your prior life. This is the hour of destiny, when He prunes what is not needed, quiets your mind and heart to listen, and puts a crown on your head for the future. Return.
Oh, the picture. I took it 10 years ago when I was in another period of change. The Lord blessed my family with a lake lot and I built a stone patio for prayer under the trees. On that patio, I spent many hours returning and I do not regret any decisions. I left the corporate hustle and dedicated my remaining years to face to face intervention in the family struggle. I became a full time missionary to fractured families. It happened on that patio in return.
We are Family. You are Loved. Jesus is Our Strong Tower.
Morning Moment : Welcome Back The word for today is WELCOME BACK In Psalm 21, the king is welcomed back into the good graces of the Lord. He and the nation are restored to prosperity. It is time we begin to prepare for our comeback
Comeback power is an awesome commodity. In Christ it is always available. Do not get accustomed to this land of fear and financial loss. Do not get comfortable in chaos or down in death. Take a stand against the wiles of the enemy and the conditions of a cursed world separated from His redemption. Speak back to it. WELCOME BACK.
Begin to apply wisdoms learned in the pressure. Don’t go back to the way you were but build a new way, a way of rest in Him and prayerful days. Do not forget the fear but leverage it to produce a more fulfilling life.
When I was 26, Dian and I and our newborn daughter returned to Oklahoma City. For two years, I prepared for ministry at Christian Outreach School of Ministry. The Lord prospered us financially and spiritually.
It was 1982. The oil bust hit. In a matter of a few months we lost everything. The job promised disappeared in the wake of economic downturn. We had no healthcare but we had a newborn infant. The partner in ministry that I returned to work alongside, left his family and the ministry. I went to work at a temp agency changing jobs each week. One week filing. One week stacking newspapers. One week delivering furniture. Whatever I was assigned.
At the point our bank account was emptied a bottom rung job opened. I took it with joy. It took three years to rebuild. It took night shifts. It took starting at the bottom and working my way back up.
During this season, I joined two other men in prison ministry. My finances were gone, but I could share faith, hope, and love. For the season as my prosperity was restored, i continued to share the gospel every week. Miracles were common.
Don’t give up whose you are in days of downturn. Days of WELCOME BACK are waiting.
Welcome is a great word. It is German in root. It means “Come and be well.” In Spanish the word for welcome, Bienvenidos, means the same Come and be well. So I say to you and the Lord says to you, Welcome Back, come and be well, prosperous, satisfied.
Today, I pray for restoration of the economic engine of the world. That the Lord would welcome back the economy. That we would return to productivity and enjoyment of life. That we would wisely enjoy our families and not get caught up in the rush of hedonism. That we would be gracious to each other. That His will be done in our cities through a spirit of gratefulness and generosity and gospel.
“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 https://www.bible.com/1588/1jn.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: 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
Trouble is what you make of it. Like a group of ants crawling in your food at a picnic, you can sit or move. Our home at times of Spring rains can get tiny ants. On a dry day, I will spray along the foundation walls where the brick has weep holes and we will put out deterrent to send them back to the wild. But they come back the next year and we do it again. ANTs need maintenance.
My high cedar trees are beautiful. Each year the bugs would cover them. We would pick them off. That is what I had been taught. Then one died from the attack. A yard company told me they could save the dead tree. A tree removal company said they could remove it. We gambled with the first option. The workers explained the bugs were nesting in the bark and would hatch each year. We need to kill them out at the bark, not pick them after they hatched. With right application of deterrent and fertilizer the dead tree came full and doubled in size. When they appear now, we immediately apply deterrent. Wisdom finds the right path not just a path.
Seek the path. Find the way that works. Deal with the ANTs. Study them and defeat them with alternative wisdom from His heart. Find someone who has walked this path and has a God-given solution and apply it as many times as necessary. Those buggy thoughts have a way of returning and need fresh application of deterrent.
The result is His presence and a place at His right hand. Those two results bring joy and pleasure that never ends. Joy and pleasure are pretty good ANTs deterrent. Not self pleasure, but deep and abiding confidence in persistent right action and right results.
Father, lead us. Show a path of joy and pleasure. Let us live in Your presence. Let us put You in front and us behind. Teach us to make trouble an ounce.
It becomes time for me to share moments of the ministry that others might follow. As a minister of prophetic prayer, many wonder what goes on in spirit and mind during times of ministry. It tickles me to think of the time when I laid my notebook down in church. You see, I take notes during praise and worship singing and dancing to record what God reveals. A friend saw the book fall to the floor and picked it up for me.
“Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”” John 4:10 NLT
Looking into my eyes he asked, “What is in this? I was tempted to peak.”
Rarely have I allowed others to peak behind the scenes into how the Holy Spirit operates in such ministry. Such things are only Spiritually discerned. I can tell a story, but your heart must be attuned to His to understand and apply to your own life. All of these things are shown through the stories of the ministry of Jesus. We only participate a little in His lot.
Here is a story
This happened while ministering in a church in Matamoros, Mexico.
Speaking to Be Understood
Suddenly, the Lord spoke to lead me to pray for a woman. Her demeanor was sad and she was in prayer seeking answers. She spoke no English. My Spanish is small. In the Spirit praying in tongues with the presence of the Lord descending on both of us. Her life appeared in pictures on my praying mind. Visions of her freedom and release sparked for her future. I prayed more earnestly and listened more closely to the Spirit. She swooned in the presence and power of the Lord.
Later, she came to me with an interpreter. I rested from days of ministry in the sweltering heat. She spoke. The friend interpreted into English. I listened.
The woman asked, “How did you know my life?”
During the season of prayer, the Lord had spoken to her heart and mind in Spanish what I prayed in tongues. He was the interpreter. He communicated all she needed to know. Her brightened face told the story.
Earlier in the ministry at this location, mid course in the message, the interpreter simply stopped speaking. At once, I realized this. I realized he had stopped five minutes before. I always listen in to the interpreter checking my pace and rhythm and flow. It was hot. It was smothering hot. The room was packed to the max of children and adults with people outside also. Each person was attentive and receiving the message. The understood in Spanish what I spoke in English. The Holy Spirit took over the job of interpreting instantly to their minds. He is kind like that. He shortened the service through His compassion.
I laughed out loud when I realized. Turning to the one interpreting, who thought I was preaching in Spanish, I said, “Okay, you can resume interpreting.” What a joy is the Lord.
Maybe this short story of how the Holy Spirit works in prophetic prayer may encourage you. The Holy Spirit is compassionate, humorous, concerned, and attentive. Get to know Him and He may use you in many ways.
Over the last week, I am reading a series of books reflecting current social/psychology/philosophy, positive psychology, Biblical worldview, physiology of the brain and the affect of all the mix on mind/body/soul/spirit/relationships/culture. Each of these books is based on competent research and evidence based exploration over the last 40 years. There is a common thread to which they point – a balanced person, healthy, finding happiness/joy requires a disciplined attention to correcting dysfunctional thinking, right nutrition, spiritual regimen, and healthy-supportive relationships. Correction takes a target, a set of truths to which you correct your focus and basis of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. Correction takes lifetime discovery.
Of course, each has a different slant on the truth to which we need correcting. The purpose of most of these tomes is not to purport the truth to which we correct but the biological, psychological, spiritual, social, and cultural reasons we need to do it to be healthy. A couple have a portion of truth base they are proposing. Both of these are Biblical. One explores truth in relation to cultural improvement and the other to personal and intra-personal relations.
The slide of Christianity to send people to the “licensed counselor”, who is required by the state to have no truth is interesting. The slide was to give up having answers and give in to the culture of no answers. It was not just Christianity, but the state, the education system, media, and the arts. This slide that started strong in the 1960’s has resulted in a culture with no boundaries and no target besides self fulfillment and material abundance. We have reached that target as a culture with the strongest economy registered, the undeniable military top position, and bigger houses, cars, televisions, and techno gadgets.
“The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever.” Psalms 119:160 NLT
Simultaneously, we have reached an epidemic level of depression, anxiety, violence, anger, abuse, addiction, and suicide. We have more and yet we have nothing because nothing is our target. We are vacant and self centered. Our leaders are vacant and self-centered. The golden rule of do unto others what you would have done unto you does not apply anymore. It has been replaced with do what you can get away with and acquire what is theirs.
Islam is the fastest growing religion because they have a target and are unashamed to publish it. They are focused. People are looking for focus onto which they can build happiness.
The problem is not culture. The problem is that Christianity needs to believe it’s own truth, live it, and promote it with compassion and graduated understanding. It needs to engage with truth and live it. First, it needs to clean house. It needs to believe and live the truth. The disgusting proliferation of abuse and vitriolic judgement in Christianity is a violation of truth. Christianity does not believe in truth anymore and it shows. It has slid to “come and stay as you are” and “come and treat God like a sugar daddy”. That is not His designed and created truth. He calls us to come to Him and conform to Him.
Every one of the writer/researchers points to a need for spiritual truth as a balanced approach to reaching a settled heart and mind. They approach from a mix physiological, psychological, sociological, philosophical, cultural-political, or theological viewpoint. All render the judgement that a disciplined correction of dysfunctional thinking to truth and a spiritual base and positive supportive relationships is paramount. And these are the major items we have given away in our culture.
Truth is relevant. Maybe we want it to be relative. But it is relevant and necessary. None of us understand it all. But the core is discoverable and meaningful. We may disagree on the truth and need to respectfully examine the disagreements and establish our boundaries and focus based on the truth we understand. We will be the better for it.
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
A friend brought me a book this week by Dr. Amen. His groundbreaking research in neurophysiology is incredible. One of his recommendations for repairing physiological brain issues? Gratitude and Spiritual Connection
This is a common theme in positive psychology and in the Bible. An attitude of gratitude to the Creator God is powerful, restorative, and health inducing.
Some of our key presidents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and others understood this and promoted it.
Personally, I think the “pardoning of the turkey” is a lame wandering away from one of the most powerful helps we can give our nation. It is fun, but it is not helpful.
In a time when depression, anxiety, violence, and alcohol and drug usage are epidemic, we need real solutions that bring joy. Money does not bring joy. Houses and cars and things do not bring joy. We need them, but that are not sources of mental and emotional wellbeing from which we have a good life. The U.S. is at an all time economic engine euphoric high and people are suffering an epidemic loss of joy.
So get some Thanksgiving to God generated this week. Take a few moments to list what has gone well this year and thank Him, the Creator God and Father of our Lord, Jesus, the Christ.
Here is George Washington’s take on the concept of Thanksgiving Day. He did not make it a national holiday, that happened later. From wikipedia
The First Presidential National Day of Thanksgiving
In Congress,Elias Boudinotintroduced a resolution to create ajoint committeeto “wait on the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people a day of public prayer and thanksgiving,”
The resolution was opposed byAnti-Federalists, who opposed increased power of the central government. Chief among the opposition wereAedanus Burke, andThomas Tudor Tucker. Burke was of the opinion that the holiday was too “European.” He “did not like this mimicking of European customs, where they made a mere mockery of thanksgivings.” Burke was referencing the fact that at thanksgivings, both sides of a war often sangTe Deum, a hymn of praise. He was objecting that both the winners and losers in a war gave thanksgiving. Tucker however, felt that the federal government did not have the power to propose a day of thanksgiving. He was of the opinion that “If a day of thanksgiving must take place, let it be done by the authority of the States.” Tucker also worried about theseparation of church and state, as in his opinion, proclaiming a day of thanksgiving was a religious matter.
In the end, the resolution passed the House and the Senate, and a committee of Elias Boudinot,Roger Sherman,Peter Silvester,William Samuel Johnson, andRalph Izarddelivered the message to Washington on or before September 28, 1789.President Washington noted that “both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested [him] ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer.'” It was formally declared on November 26 to “be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”PresidentGeorge Washingtonmade this proclamation on October 3, 1789 inNew York City.
On the day of thanksgiving, Washington attended services atSt. Paul’s Chapelin New York City, and donated beer and food to imprisoned debtors in the city.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV
The conversation became tense once unity entered. At a leadership conference a few younger men and I discussed discipleship and Biblical expression of faith. One asked me what projects busied me. I spoke of an upcoming gathering of four varied congregations for worship. Two of the men looked at me disgusted. Both told me they thought unity was not needed in the kingdom. It was shocking to me to hear such an attitude at a Christian conference on leadership. Many others at the table shook their heads in agreement with the two. For a moment I thought I had been beamed into another dimension. In fact, I had. The dimension of selfish Christianity, which is not a Christian value.
Where does selfish Christianity live? It lives in denominational and independent isolation chambers. And it violates the heart of Christ. Earlier in Ephesians 4 we are told to pursue the spirit of unity in the bond of peace. Pursue means chase. It is not something we wait to happen. It is something we pursue to make happen.
Some people believe that Jesus will automatically return to earth once every language and people group has heard the gospel. Let’s consider something much more significant. What? That is right. There is more.
The job of the Holy Spirit is two fold. One to draw all men to Christ. Second to bring them together as one, as a bride. Who wants a bride with a leg in one room and a head in another room and a body in a third room? Really? That is what we look like many times. The Kingdom is to be brought together as one. It is Jesus’ primary prayer in John 17. That they may be one even as the Father and the Son are one.
Get it? Unity is not optional. It is the preparation of the Bride (us) for Christ.
Unity events develop strength in the Body, the Bride.
For years, I have worked on unity events. That conversation at the table did not deter me at all. Well, I have never gone back to that leadership gathering. There were several other indicators of selfish Christianity that permeated the group. It is hard enough to work on a tough area without being surrounded by violent ignorance of the Bible posing as Biblical scholarship. I pray for those trapped, but I don’t embed myself in it.
Yesterday was a great unity event in North Texas. Several churches of unlike disposition worshipped together. They shared styles of praise and enjoyed each other. I am proud of the many who came and participated with worship led by groups unlike themselves. That is pursuit of unity. That is the Christian mandate of Jesus in John 17 and throughout the letters of the New Testament. Not all could stay the entire time, but what a joy for those who stayed as long as they could and the ones that could stay the entire time. These are the seeds of unity planted across the county. It only takes a few seeds to produce great crops.
There is no way to describe the closing worship time as we praised in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. More so, we praised from across many expressions of the Kingdom as one in Christ. That is power. That unleashes the Holy Spirit to do His awesome work.
We can’t develop unity every day. We must each as members of local congregations pursue the vision and commission of Christ for us. Yet, we must find time to develop unity in our prayers, study, and fellowship. It is not an option. It is a mandate of Christ as strong as baptism and being filled with the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s Supper and a life of holiness. If He is Lord, then He is Lord of all.
If you believe in missions and evangelism, then you must believe in unity. The work of the Holy Spirit to draw people to Christ moves to the work to develop us into a life of dedication and separation and unity. In many ways, unity is a work of sanctification. We are separated to be joined in family under one Father, one Lord, and one Holy Spirit and one Body.
In the words of the old hymn, “Bind us together, Lord, bind us together. Bind us together as one.” It isn’t just about our home group or local congregation, it is about the Body. The BIG C church that is bigger than our denominational group, independent spirit, or local church. It is about JESUS, who is bigger than us all.
Then God said, “Shall I keep back from Abraham what I’m about to do? Abraham is going to become a large and strong nation; all the nations of the world are going to find themselves blessed through him. Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God ’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him.”
Genesis 18:17-19 MSG https://bible.com/bible/97/gen.18.17-19.MSG
When God chose you to be His and your responded, it is settled. Get that! It is settled. He selected and settled on you. There is no more decison to be made. Walk it out and enjoy the settledness.