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It is common practice for a struggling company to call in a consultant – someone that can help the management team identify underlying problems and make improvement recommendations. While Senior Managers tend to focus on the standard financial reports (e.g., the balance sheet and income statement), the wise consultant knows that financial “struggling” is most often a symptom of poorly managed and measured activities further up the production lifecycle.

And so, they go looking. What they usually find are areas of the company that are trying to manage themselves using production and performance measurements that no longer match the vision and values of the company.

Take the church for example. I mean the church that Jesus Christ is building. That church has come upon hard times – particularly in North America and Europe. We have gotten to the point where measurements are no longer needed to recognize our struggles. The end product is certainly not up to the Master’s standards.

There are at least two reasons the Western church is struggling. First, we are measuring the wrong things. Secondly, we are not doing things God’s way. Put those together and we can say that the Western church is failing to measure itself in the way God has prescribed.

So, where do we start measuring in the right way? Scripture makes it clear that the shepherds will be held responsible for the health of their flocks (Hebrews 13:17). If I was the Master’s consultant, that is where I would begin.

Sometimes it is hard to point out the right way to do something without first identifying what’s being done wrong. In this case, I am relieved that such an approach is not necessary. Why is this? Because whatever way is not God’s way is the wrong way – and get this – no matter how successful that way may appear.

But who am I to judge? Exactly! Judgment is not my intent, nor is it my responsibility. I’m just the consultant. We are called to judge ourselves… and for good reasons.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 1Corinthians 11:31-32

If we will not judge ourselves, the Lord will judge us. In either case, the chastening and correction are for our good and the good of our ministries. No one is perfect. The wise leader makes an assessment on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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This article is a bit of a walkabout. It reminds me of a tourist group out for a sight-seeing adventure. Not every sight will be for everyone, but each one will find something here to encourage, edify and equip them for the good work we have all been created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

Every Jesus follower is responsible to be (or become) a faithful steward of God’s mysteries (1Corinthians 4:1-2). So why do we so often play the mystery card to avoid our responsibility as stewards? For example, the fact that we have been made one in Christ Jesus is a mystery (Galatians 3:28). We would rather keep it that way than commit to the hard work of agreeing with Jesus’s prayer for the manifestation of that reality (John 17:23). And another: The Bible suggests that church discipline is necessary for strong healthy fellowships. Rather than search out its proper application, most church leaders treat it as a mystery – avoiding it altogether for fear of running off the wrong people.

God’s expects us to steward His mysteries for the advancement of His kingdom. Playing the mystery card for our own motives (e.g., to avoid difficult responsibilities, or excuse error in our teaching) is rebellion; many times unintended, but nevertheless adversarial to the purposes of God.

We must search out the mysteries of God. To the best of our ability? Yes, and no. With the help of others? Again, yes and no. Under the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit? Yes and yes.

With the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we search out the mysteries of God with our whole heart and the help of others – the purpose of our search being His glory and the advancement of His kingdom.

Let’s practice our searching with Ephesians 6:10:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Paul is encouraging us to be strong in two distinct ways. We are to be strong in the Lord, and we are to be strong in the power of His might. In my humble opinion, this is the most power-filled verse in the entire Bible. Three of God’s “power” words are included:

  1. Be strong (endynamoō): The root is dynamis – the explosive power of God.
  2. Power (kratos): The dominion of God – the power of His authority to reign.
  3. Might (ischys): The ability and force of God – to accomplish what He intends.

This is what Paul is talking about when he goes on to encourage us to put on the whole armor of God. This is what it takes to stand against the wiles of the devil. Get your head around that!

As leaders in the Workplace – that includes all segments (business, religion, education, government, etc.) – we are responsible for leading others into this kind of radical life. Note carefully: This is the normal Christian life!

Read the rest of this entry »

The church in America desperately needs a reformation. Where do reformations begin? Romans 12:2 encourages us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Perhaps, in this Age of Reason, we need a reformation in the way we think.

We have gotten lazy with our thinking. We trust our thinking way too much. Those of us that teach trust the thinking of others more than we should.

I grew up in church hearing about “Jesus’ substitutionary death”.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For the longest time, I assumed this meant that He died so I wouldn’t have to. Fortunately, God encouraged me to ask someone to disciple me. He introduced me to Romans 6:8:

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…

And Luke 9:23.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

And Mark 8:35:

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Obviously, there is something more to His death than I – and many like me – were taught. Many have no clue that to live abundantly in Christ requires our own death. Tragically, there is no one discipling them. Read the rest of this entry »

Theological facts are like the altar of Elijah on Carmel before the fire came, correct, properly laid out, but altogether cold. When the heart makes the ultimate surrender, the fire falls and true facts are transmuted into spiritual truth that transforms, enlightens, sanctifies. The church or the individual that is Bible taught without being Spirit taught (and there are many of them) has simply failed to see that truth lies deeper than the theological statement of it. A.W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian

I believe it was Andrew Murray that confessed to teaching beyond personal practice. The same was true of Paul (Philippians 3:12); so, I am in good company in regard to the following.

God has used my study of microeconomics to shed some light on His economy. The truth can be both convicting and encouraging. I pray your consideration of the following will also make you free.

  1. If what we are doing has no current or future value to the kingdom of God, then we are devaluing the time and life we have been given.
  2. The way we invest what has been invested in us either adds to, or subtracts from, the value of it.
  3. The cost of time is the explicit time spent in the activity PLUS the implicit lost opportunity cost (i.e., what could have been earned doing a more profitable activity). Lost opportunity cost is many times greater, but often hidden from our consideration.
  4. The issues of cost/investment also apply to our talent, money, belongings, etc.

This kind of thinking raises the bar considerably. Is it too much to expect? Beware of your soulish reasoning. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you.

Most would agree that Jesus perfectly invested what the Father was investing in Him. This Son of Man, knowing what the Father was capable of, said a couple of interesting things.

Read the rest of this entry »

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will  ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:5-8

Most of my life, I have understood the fruit of the vine to be the good works we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). Recently, someone suggested that it is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). I am sure that both are true, as well as the interpretation I most recently heard.

Before I go there, I would like to recognize that an “either/or” perspective on Scripture limits our understanding. It also has a way of dividing the Body of Christ. I cannot tell you how many times a “both/and” approach has precipitated the Holy Spirit’s revelation and encouragement.

Now, let me direct your attention to the passage above. Read it carefully – particularly verses five and seven. Branches that bear fruit are those that abide in Christ. Those branches that thus abide, ask what they desire, and it is done for them. The fruit of the vine are the answers to our prayers.

Furthermore, we now understand that the measure of our abiding in Christ is answered prayer; and the fruit we bear are the answers to prayer that glorify the Father (v. 8). This leads us to two very important revelations. Read the rest of this entry »

istock_2880338large_governmentWith every passing election season, the American church reveals just how set its mind is on the things of this world. It is discouraging to watch; for we have been called to a greater mission than making America great again.

We have been called to hasten the day of the Lord’s return.

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Hebrews 13:12-14

Every moment and every bit of energy invested in this world is wasted to the kingdom of God. Jesus came to establish an order of an entirely different kind. It appears that we have lost sight of the difference.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are to be “in the world, but not of this world” (John 17:14-19). There is no fine line in this. Those who want to be friends with the world are at enmity with God.

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

Even the desire to be a friend with the world makes us an enemy of God. It is time for us in the church to beg God to search their hearts and minds. Who will lead us?

The problem with deception is its nature: Those who are being deceived do not know that they are deceived. Deception is such a danger, that the whole armor of God is needed to protect us from it.

 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

This deception is the primary weapon of our enemy, Satan – particularly at the end of the age.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2Thessalonians 2:9-10

Our salvation from the great deceptions of our day comes to us as we receive the love of the truth that God is offering. This includes the truth about the worldly things we have come to love.

We must receive God’s truth about America. Read the rest of this entry »

runner-stretchingA couple of weeks ago, I posted a poem – Sprint, Sprint, Sprint. Since then, I have had some additional thoughts about running the race to win; and I have received some great feedback. What follows is a mixture of those.

Most misunderstood the meaning of “sprint”. They thought it referred to the work of ministry – doing more of the good works we have been called to walk in. There is some of that in the meaning, but it is secondary. The primary meaning is “running after God”. This does not necessarily require additional work, but our being more intentional about the work we have been given.

It has also occurred to me that God may not be calling us to sprint all the time.  There are seasons for every purpose. Waiting on God and following after Him with intensity are both necessary for the one racing to win.

In any event, the question is still a good one: When did Paul start sprinting? Most of us (me included) have a mindset to run the race as if we are waiting for God to ring the bell for the last lap.  Our default intensity is jogging. It seems to me that Paul ran the race in a sprint; only easing up when instructed to do so.

Speaking of the bell for the last lap: How many of us have already heard the bell, only to dismiss it as coming from our TV or cell phone? Seriously, we are very distracted people. We would certainly be better racers if we removed a few distractions from our lives.

Finally, I wonder how many times Paul thought he just couldn’t sprint another second, only to find strength in his weakness. For what it’s worth, that is where I want to be; and God seems to be giving me the opportunity for it. I trust that He is working in me to will and do to His good pleasure.

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Psalms 37:5-6

Humbly yours and forever His,

Mountain Climbers_1The quality of our expectations determines the quality of our action.  A. Godin

Expectations are a reality of life; and everyone wants to know what is expected of them.

As children, we grow up with a deep-seeded desire to know the expectations of our parents; and to meet them. Parents, in turn, desire to know what is expected of them for their children to grow up physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy.

Employees want to know what is expected of them, to give structure to their daily work, and as a guide for future promotion and pay increase. To afford those pay increases, employers want to know what the client expects from the product or service they provide.

Granted, there are those who act as if they want nothing be expected of them. They are deceived in thinking this is possible. Expectations are a reality of life.

And everyone wants to know what is expected of them.

Society has a way of communicating expectations. Customers buy the products and services that meet their expectations. Employers establish standards and operating procedures for their employees. Good parents set the ground rules for their children; and – this is important – help their children understand and operate within the expectations of society.

Expectations are a reality of life; and they are good for us. Knowing them is critical.

It is, therefore, ironic that the human race has an ongoing battle with expectations. There is something about us that causes a discomfort with them. It’s like we want something else, but we don’t know what that something else is.

We need expectations, but we don’t want them – at least not the expectations that someone else would put on us. We prefer to find, or create, our own expectations.

We convince ourselves that what we want is something more; maybe something better. Attempting to put a positive spin on this condition, we use terms like “the human spirit” to describe our feigned desire for greater expectations.

This phrase – the human spirit – is not a bad description of our condition. In fact, it is the base condition of every human being. At its core is a desire to set our own expectations and have everyone else judge us by them.

The Bible calls it by another name: The spirit of rebellion.

Well now; at this point I feel the need to interject a warning and a request: This article is not headed where you are expecting. Please bear with me. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowOne of the coolest things about searching the Scriptures is finding passages that expand and/or connect some bit of truth that has been previously discovered. For your encouragement, I offer two examples. First, we have two very familiar passages:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 2:12

Most of you know that one of my favorite Greek words is metamorphoō; translated in these verses as “transformed”. The fact that metamorphoō is only used three times in the New Testament is enough to suggest that these passages are connected in their meaning. For example, transformation includes the renewal of our minds, and the Holy Spirit plays a part in that transformation. (BTW: The third use will blow your mind. I will let you search it out on your own.)

For now, take a look at this connecting passage:

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him… Colossians 3:10

Beholding the image of Him (His glory) we are renewed in knowledge (in our minds). How cool is that? Renewal of our minds and our transformation; both connected by our beholding Him. It begs the question, “How do we behold Him?” Read the rest of this entry »

A Storm is ComingFor most Christians, the Day of Pentecost was/is the day the Holy Spirit “came in power” upon those who were obediently waiting. This is true, but not the whole story. For many Christians today, Pentecost is about what we have been given. Again true, but limited… and a bit self-centered.

What if Pentecost is about something else; not something different, but something else important to the kingdom of God? Have you ever wondered why God chose the Festival of Weeks for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit? Have you ever considered His perspective of Pentecost? Have you ever considered what was in it for Him?

The Festival of Weeks was one of the three great celebrations of the Jewish year; given by God for “a new grain offering to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:15-21), “the firstfruits of wheat harvest” (Exodus 34:22). It was (is?) about the harvest. Is it possible that Pentecost is as much about the harvest of souls for God’s kingdom as it is about what we have been given (as great as that gift is)?

The Festival of Weeks was also the time of commemoration for the giving of the Law to Moses. In Jeremiah 31:33, we learn that God intends to write His law on our hearts. We know from John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. Is it possible that Pentecost, from God’s perspective, is as much about our “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:20) as what we personally receive from the Holy Spirit?

Many in the church are crying out for revival in America; for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Why? I can’t help but wonder if our subconscious hope is for the return of “the good old days”; a day when Christians were respected, protected and comfortable. Could it be that God is waiting for us to align our purpose with His perspective?

Just something to think about.

Humbly yours and forever His,

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