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Mountain Climbers_1Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

The Western church is in desperate need of saints that will run with endurance. A cloud of witnesses is looking on; waiting with anticipation for the end of the race. Will they see us finish well?

Here on earth, people need more than instruction in running. They need more than stories about those that are running well. They need to see those in positions of influence running with endurance, as the followers of Jesus Christ. So:

“Let us lay aside every weight”. God’s people are to be hastening the coming of the day of God (2Peter 3:12)! What is slowing you down? What is slowing down those in your spheres of influence? I confess that for me it is the world’s entertainment. However harmless it seems, the world’s entertainment distracts us from things above (Colossians 3:2).

“… and the sin which so easily ensnares us.” Did you know that there is a narrow gate through which we must strive to enter the kingdom of heaven (Luke 13:24)? Jesus spoke of this as a matter of our salvation. What is preventing you from entering through the narrow gate? Ask the Sovereign Judge to search you (Psalms 139:23-24); then, exercise 1John 1:9 for your deliverance. Read the rest of this entry »

Vine and Branch“I thought abiding meant to abide by the rules.”

“Our abiding in Jesus Christ is best measured by the frequency with which God gives us the desires of our heart. The fruit produced in our abiding are those answers.”

God has used these two comments – both heard in the last couple of weeks – to encourage me. First, I believe He would have me introduce you to “The Power of Abiding” (Map 22 of The Map Maker).  That comes later.

Secondly (but first), there is the reason my mind has been so captivated by the comments.

The first comment was offered, in all sincerity, by a brother that has been in church for quite some time. As you can see from the definition below (sorry, you will have to click the “read more” link), his understanding is nowhere close to the truth.

However you look at it, this follower of Christ had no idea that abiding meant “to be held, kept”; or “to continue to be”.

How many more have missed the basic meaning of such an important Biblical word and context; not to mention the mystery that lies beyond it? How far has this skewed the understanding, faith – even the very life – of Christians?

Praise God; He is gracious! If you had been there, you would have literally seen, on the face of this brother, the impact “abide” was beginning to have on his understanding as a branch. The Holy Spirit was using the simple definition of a word to transform him by the renewing of his mind!

It was exciting to see! This is the power of searching out the matter and sharing what you find with others!

The second comment (above) had much the same effect on me. The Holy Spirit has been using it to completely redefined my understanding of “bearing much fruit”; and to renew my passion to abide in Jesus Christ more and more each day.

While I knew what “abiding” meant, I did not understand what it meant to abide.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1John 14-15

As I see it, abiding is being so “in Christ” that I know the Father’s will before I ask for anything; AND only asking for the things He wills. Easier said than done? Absolutely! Possible? With God, all things are possible!

So, why is this worth our pursuit? By this our Father is glorified, that we bear much fruit; so we will become disciples of Jesus Christ. What could be more important?

As you are considering that question, here is “The Power of Abiding” – in its entirety: Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowBut I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. Romans 15:29

Imagine someone shows up at your door, with a message in their hand. You can tell they have a message because you are watching them from an upstairs window. Considering the look on their face, you suspect they have some good news to share. It also helps that the package they’ve brought with them has “GOOD NEWS” stamped right on the top.

Trouble is: you are very busy. Things to do, people to see, etc. Perhaps the news isn’t worth your time anyway; perhaps it’s just a scam. You could ignore them until they go away.

So, what do you do? Step out onto the porch; give them five minutes – and a stern warning not to waste your time? Encourage them to get to the point? Or, do you invite them in, ask them to sit down and offer them some tea?

It would help to know the nature of the good news; right? But how will you know, if you don’t take the time?

What if you knew the good news was from the king; and it was news that dramatically affected your life? How much time and consideration would you give for that good news? Would you, perhaps, invite the messenger to stay for dinner?

I believe you would.

So let me ask you: What is the “good news” of the Bible to you? What is the gospel? Is it “Jesus died for me, so I could go to heaven”? If so, what have you made of His burial and resurrection? Read the rest of this entry »

Multi-ethnic pile of handsEvery organization has a structure. That structure tends to be hierarchical and based on worldly principles. Its primary purpose is to support organizational governance. We are all very familiar with these structures. I want you to ignore them for a moment.

Instead, I am encouraging you to consider a different structure – a structure that also exists in the place where you work. I am encouraging you to consider the spiritual structure that God intends to establish in your workplace.

Depending on the workplace, spiritual structures can be very hard to see; but, make no mistake about it: They are real. Spiritual structures do not readily align with hierarchical structures; primarily because they are organic in nature (think vine and branches). Spiritual structures do have an authority component, but the manifestation of that authority seldom looks like a worldly hierarchy (e.g., the greatest must be servant of all).

Point: Jesus is building His church outside the boundaries of meeting time and place. In fact, there is growing proof that He has turned His attention to the place where most of His followers spend most of their waking hours – in the workplace.

Point: Jesus gave gifts to the church; that we might grow up into the vision of the church He is building (Ephesians 4:11-16). Whether these gifts are real people or people that have these gifts, Jesus is working through designated individuals in the workplace.

Point: God is a careful orchestrator. There are no coincidences for His children. He has positioned leaders in the workplace to help assemble and supply a platoon there.

Question: What is your role in this movement of God? How has God defined and described your role? Are you an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher? Are you an elder; or a deacon? Is your role something more supportive; like watchman, or prayer warrior? Read the rest of this entry »

Business Man with TabletFor by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16

Sometimes the smallest words carry incredible meaning. Take the word “all” for example. All things were created through Him and for Him. Not some things, or even most things. ALL THINGS!!

All things include the place where we spend most of our waking hours – the workplace. Whether you are a pastor, business owner, executive, or professional, God has very carefully created the environment where you have authority and influence. This is most encouraging; so don’t forget it.

With that encouragement, let’s talk about why He created your workplace. Ultimately, it is “for Him”. What does that mean? It means that for Him to be active in your work, He must be the Boss. Be careful: Boss does not mean partner. There is only one Boss.

If you have settled that transaction with God – surrendering your ownership over to Him – then you are in a most advantageous position; for your success as the steward of His resources has now become a matter of personal interest to Him.

Now, imagine your boss offered to meet with you every morning. What would you do? If you were smart, you would block out time on your calendar; and you would not allow anyone, or anything, to interrupt that appointment.

God’s thoughts and ways are above our own. Doesn’t it make good ministry/business sense to talk to Him daily? How about before every major decision?

Our calendar says a lot about what is important to us. That is true for all workplace leaders – pastors included. Meeting with God, our new Boss, has got to be the most important meeting we have every day.

Consider this: First, put the meeting on your calendar (recurring, daily). Second, as the leader of leaders in your fellowship, determine how you can communicate and demonstrate this foundational principle of ministry/business success.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Double Chaos 3But 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

If your organization is not currently in chaos, then it certainly will be in the future. Chaos is normal for the Christian organization that is committed to the spiritual maturity of the fellowship and its individuals.

God allows, or introduces, chaos for two purposes:

  1. To move us off our current level of glory. Most people are best motivated by discomfort and pain.
  2. Once we are moving, chaos becomes the agent of our transformation – preparing us for the next level of glory. This includes working out the bad (e.g., impatience, self-sufficiency); and working in the good (e.g., faith, gentleness).

Jesus promised tribulation (John 16:33), and it comes from all quarters. This is important: Overcoming tribulation does not mean avoiding it, ignoring it, or working around it. Chaos is to be welcomed as an agent of God to mature us, and our organization.

BTW: This applies to all forms of organization – religious and secular. As a leader of Workplace Leaders, you have an opportunity to disciple others through chaos in two ways: as an example of one who handles chaos well, and as one who walks with others through their chaos. Read the rest of this entry »

Multi-ethnic pile of handsLet me begin by stating the obvious: God has a way for everything. Read that again: God has a way for everything. Now you say it. Seriously, you say it – out loud. Now that you have heard yourself say it, reckon it to be so. Let the Holy Spirit use it – God has a way for everything – to renew your mind.

While you are at it, consider the intentionally dynamic way God does things. For example, the path God engineered for you – to your current position of influence – is like no other. There are no coincidences for God’s children, He works all things to good, and He is the Great Orchestrator of billions of lives and events. He has brought you this far; and He intends to carry you the rest of the way.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

God’s ways are 30+ billion light years above our own. As impossible as it may seem, He has given us the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:16); that we might be faithful stewards of His ways (1Corinthians 4:1-2). He wants us to know and operate in all His ways. And – now get this – He expects us to invest our knowing into others.

The world has many ways for managing people. Some are closer to the ways of God than others. Most of my corporate career was spent suffering under the ways of intimidation and competitive divisiveness. I envied those that enjoyed environments where teamwork and servant leadership were rewarded. But, even those environments – though a close imitation – were not God’s way for managing people.

God’s way for managing people is called making disciples. Now, I want you to recognize what I am trying to do here. I am purposefully expanding the concept of disciple making as far as I possibly can. Disciple making is more than preaching, teaching and evangelism.

How much more? Disciple making is all that Jesus Christ humbled Himself to accomplish while on this earth; and all that He is accomplishing through His disciples. I don’t have the space here to express that fully. I simply encourage you to give it some thought.

Lastly, I am also suggesting that making disciples – and all that means – is the best way for every organization to manage its people (not just the local church). It is the way that supersedes the most sophisticated and celebrated management philosophies of this world.

Consider this: Managing your organization God’s way is one of the best ways to disciple the workplace leaders in your fellowship. Whether it is the CPA serving as your Finance Secretary, or the Corporate President chairing your Administrative Board, you will be discipling them in the ways of God.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Bible with Cross ShadowI will never forget that meeting. The lesson that day was being taught by a gifted teacher. He had been teaching from Romans for several months; and had come to Romans 6. For some reason, he felt it necessary to warn everyone that he would be discussing “baptism”.

Almost immediately, at least half the men in the room moved to the edge of their seats; leaning forward in anticipation of what the teacher would say next. You could feel the tension in the room intensify. I wasn’t the only one that noticed: The teacher tentatively covered the topic – like someone walking through a mine field.

Let’s face it, right here at the beginning: “Baptism” has become one of the most polarizing – dare we say, divisive – doctrines in the church. Whole denominations are at odds with one another over what they believe the other believes about baptism. How could a sacrament of God – a sacred God moment – become such a destructive force?

How can there be so many doctrines of baptism? Surely, I am not the only one that sees the irony in our “doctrines of baptism” – that the word of God has the opposite singular and plural context:

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. Hebrews 6:1-3

There is only one doctrine; and it is the doctrine of many baptisms.

Let me be clear: I am not proposing to be an authority on the doctrine of baptisms. I would much rather find the truth than claim to have it. I believe the Holy Spirit speaks in community; in response to Jesus’ prayer for our unity (John 17:20-23).

Honestly, I am hoping for the attitude of another meeting. The question of communion came up (from John 6): What does it mean to eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood? Everyone in the room offered their opinion on the meaning of the passage.  Amazingly, no one said anyone else was wrong. There was a supernatural attitude of humility and respect.

More importantly, there was a genuine desire to discover the meaning of a mystery. The Holy Spirit taught me something about communion that day; and He taught me something about community – God speaks in it, when people desire to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Yes, there is an understanding that I currently hold – and am even confident in – in regards to the doctrine of baptisms. However, I have been wrong before, and I just might be wrong again. As a good friend of mine likes to say, “It may not mean what I think it means, but it must mean something.” My hope is that there is something here that encourages, edifies and equips you in your search for the lost foundations.

Furthermore, Read the rest of this entry »

Multi-ethnic pile of handsAs a consultant and minister to Workplace Leaders, I have notice an unfortunate disconnect; a self-imposed separation between church leadership and leaders in other areas of society. Business, government and education leaders see Senior Pastors as, well, pastors. Most of the Senior Pastors I know struggle with the same identity limitations.

I would like to offer a renewed perspective on the role of Senior Pastor as a Workplace Leader. Let’s start with a couple of definitions. First, the workplace is the place where most people spend most of their waking hours – as employees, customers, suppliers, partners, etc. Clearly, church organizations – with employees, suppliers, partners and the people they are trying to serve – are a significant sector of the workplace.

Second, a leader is anyone in a position to influence others. When we consider God’s way for influence – making disciples – we quickly see that the Senior Pastor has the greatest potential for influence in his community. In God’s kingdom, the Senior Pastor is at the top of the influence pyramid.

There was a time when the Senior Pastor of a church was recognized by the community as the senior leader in the workplace. Sadly, much of that influence has been lost. The encouraging news here is that God is in the restoration business; and He has not given up on the workplace – particularly that part which is closest to His heart.

Let me be clear about something: I am not proposing that a church be run like a worldly business. In fact, I believe we have too much of that in the church already. God has a way for everything – including running a business. His way is above, more than, even supernatural. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowAs we come to the end of Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, we find ourselves back to the place where this series began – with a few challenging questions: If you don’t know the sayings of Jesus, how can you hear them? If you cannot hear them, how can you do them? If you do not do them, what will be the state of your house?

The desire of my heart is to give you a reference point for the hearing. I think I have done that. The rest is up to you, and the Lord. I hope you will receive the grace and faith He offers; that your house might stand in the storms of this life.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. Matthew 7:24-27

I have already shared my perspective on this passage in a previous article. So let me address a couple of related topics. First, while the subject of this saying is the “wise man”, we would be foolish to attempt to do it as individuals. There are no lone rangers in the body of Christ. Perhaps it would help to think of our houses as brownstones – tightly pressed together, helping each other to stand.

My second point is related to the first. This passage is not much different than the portion of Jesus’ commission that commands us to teach them to observe (or obey) all that He has commanded us – to do what He has said. Therefore, we understand that the Sermon on the Mount is critical to our making disciples.

Furthermore, the Greek for observe/obey means to “attend to carefully, take care of”. We are called to be faithful stewards of the sayings of Jesus. We are called to search out their mystery, and to share that mystery with others. In doing so, we strengthen our house and those houses around us; both now and forever more. The Sermon on the Mount is an inheritance we are to leave for our spiritual children.

The importance of these two points – our unity and our making disciples – cannot be overstated.  Our failure in these two critical areas is the failure of the Bride to make herself ready.  How could we neglect so great a salvation?

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

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