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The church once owned the concept of servant leadership. When I say owned, I mean the church defined and demonstrated what it meant to be a servant leader. Throughout its history, the church transformed societies by leading as servants. We are now witnessing a reversal of this trend.

For its part, the world has done what the world does. As it has with so many Christian concepts, it has pirated and twisted the meaning and application of servant leadership. Make no mistake about it, the world’s definition and demonstration differ greatly from that of the Bible.

The purpose of this article is not to prove that point, but I will offer one example. In the kingdom of God, the ultimate leader genuinely humbled Himself unto death (Philippians 2:8). He subsequently commanded His followers to do the same (John 20:21). In the world, all things are ultimately motivated and constrained by the potential for greater profit.

The contrast between the world’s ways and those of God’s kingdom should not surprise us. Jesus came to establish a kingdom contrary to the world in every way. He is building His church as a counter-culture (i.e., not sub-culture) to the kingdoms of this world. Jesus Christ’s church is His catalyst for transformation.

So, what has happened to us?

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I don’t know who first said, “The Bible is the LORD’s manual for life,” but it is surely as true now as it was then. The LORD has a way for everything. We ignore His ways at our peril.

Most would readily agree that the Bible contains prescribed ways for salvation, sanctification, and all the other big Kingdom processes. Some have recognized His prescription for building the church (Ephesians 4:11-16) and evangelizing the world (John 17:21-23). When we follow the LORD’s ways, He gets involved – sometimes just to show that His ways are the best ways.

The Process

As important as success is to the LORD and man, it should not surprise us to discover that the LORD has prescribed a way of finding and securing success. He has revealed it in Psalm 37. Let’s take a look at it.

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

Step 1: Taking our eyes off the world and focusing them on Jesus. Beholding His glory, we will be transformed into the same likeness, by the Holy Spirit (2Corinthians 3:18). Furthermore, knowing the fate of the worldly, we should fear the desire to become like them (James 4:4).

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Step 2: The LORD desires and has commanded us to trust Him. To trust in anything or anyone else is idolatry.

Step 3: The LORD has created us to walk in good works (Ephesians 2:10). It is there that we find Him. Those works are determined by Him, and He is glorified in them (Matthew 5:16).

Step 4: The LORD promised “the land” to the Israelites. He has promised something much greater to the followers of Jesus Christ. He has promised us abundant life in His kingdom. We must dwell in Christ and learn to live in the kingdom of heaven. “The kingdom of heaven is like…” It is important to recognize this kingdom is here now.

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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.

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In Process for Planning, we discovered that God does not have an x-step plan for guaranteed success. His plans for His children are dynamic, and unpredictable. There are two ways to learn this.

The first way to respond to God’s dynamic nature in planning is to resist, self-manage and control. My experience tells me that He allows us to pursue this approach; knowing, one day, that we will get tired, look up, and realize we are not making much progress.

The second response is to trust and follow. As we recognized in our last article on this subject, Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you…”. That is what we are here for: To be made fit for God’s call to more. As so, we come to the matter of our transformation.

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

You can find a number of articles on this subject by searching for “transform” on the inLight Adventure blog site. It is my favorite topic. Metamorphoo is my favorite Greek word!

For now, let me highlight a few key points, regarding Jesus’ method for our making, which will help you cooperate in the work.

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With the world around us accelerating toward darkness and confusion, we – God’s vessels of light and instruments of righteousness – need only be ourselves. We do not need great arguments and proofs. We do not need to have our rights recognized. If we would simply stop living like the world, they would not be able to ignore – nor deny – the witness of Jesus Christ’s life in us.

Faith without works is dead. There is a lack of doing what we believe and say. This is a truth that has been encouraged here many times. It is a truth we must pursue.

However, there is another issue in the church; one that has diseased every stream:

We cannot get our minds off of the things of this world!

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:2-3

This is more at the root of our failed witness; for, as Jesus instructed, you must forsake before you can follow.

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God has blessed me with the desire and health to ride a bicycle. Cycling is not only a great way to stay healthy; it is also a fantastic way to meet with God. Exercise, being outdoors and communing with the Creator – what better way to spend a couple of hours?

Cycling is a joy to me. So, when I get the chance, I like to share that joy with others – helping them learn to ride. In the process, I have learned that learning to ride is a transformative experience.

  1. You must get over your fear of riding. Whether you are just learning, or venturing out on more trafficked roadways, fear will take the fun out of cycling. In fact, fear is a distraction that can make your ride less safe.
  2. You must learn, not only how the bike works, but how it works for you. Get caught in the wrong gear while climbing a steep hill will leave you walking. Shifting in anticipation of a change in terrain will become natural over time – but only with practice.
  3. You must trust your bike to get you home. A bicycle is meant to take you places – new places. Time spent on the bike builds trust in its dependability.
  4. Going with others is more fun; and it is safer. Finding a good riding partner – or better yet, a group – simply makes cycling a more enjoyable experience. As it is with most activities, there is safety in numbers.
  5. The more you ride, the stronger you will be; and the farther you will be able to venture out. The only way to get cycling strong is to cycle. The reward is an expansion of adventure possibilities.

I think it is fair to say that the kingdom of God is like learning to ride a bicycle. When God calls us to a new assignment (and He does so more often than we realize), the Holy Spirit commits Himself to our transformation. He becomes our cycling coach.

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The discovery that God is a process-oriented problem solver can be an empowering revelation. To know God is up to something – in both His story and in the seasons of our lives – gives us hope and understanding. It is not a small thing to stop looking at the work of God in terms of events that are haphazardly strung together.

God is a very careful and deliberate orchestrator!!

This discovery is particularly helpful for those in transition. It stretches our perspective, helping us to see the connection of what He has done, and what He will do, to what He is doing right now. It gives value to every moment; and helps us to follow along.

Because we are “in process”, examining the past and the future often sheds light on the purpose God has for our next season.

Let me stop here and remind everyone that every bit of examination, consideration, exploration, etc. is to be done in conversation with God. If we are not positioned to hear what He has to say, we will undoubtedly miss something – potentially something very important.

It is good to know that the Father loves talking to His children.

Now, with that reminder, let’s look at the way God brings the past into our conversation about the His call to more. Read the rest of this entry »

As I mentioned in my previous article, God prepared my wife and I for His call to more – what we call “our house fire adventure” – with a few encouraging words. The last, and the one I want to focus on here, was, “You need to grieve”.

Of all He had to say to us, this is the word we would not have thought of ourselves; nor would we have imagined the impact it would have on our journey. We didn’t understand it at the time, but we chose to be obedient.

Once it was safe, my wife and I went into the house and assessed the damage. Every picture on every wall was destroyed. Smoke had found its way into every closet and drawer. It is absolutely amazing what high temperature smoke can do to treasured items.

So, we held each other and cried. Later, I led our children (individually) into their rooms. One of them grieved; the other got mad. One was able to move on from the tragedy; the other suffered for years.

Most only think of grieving in relation to the death of a loved one. It is the process we must go through to “get on with our lives”. In our tragedy, my wife and I learned that grieving is a grace of God for more.

Our response to God’s call to more requires our leaving something behind. Many times, it is security, long held beliefs, even people and places we have grown to love. Rarely does this call not involve a dying to ourselves.

So, there is grieving.

God’s call to more is His invitation to a higher level of glory.  Responding positively, we soon experience the process of transformation (2Corinthians 3:18). The Greek word for “transformed” is metamorphoo: the death of a caterpillar, that a butterfly might emerge.

Grieving is not something most people readily embrace, because we associate it with negative events. I am encouraging you to see grieving as the grace God has provided for all His children. Knowing our weaknesses, He has given us grief that we might more easily and productively walk through His transformation. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Heavenly Father desires nothing more for His children than for them to become fruitful citizens of His kingdom. Our contribution is ultimately for His glory; for His name’s sake. However, He loves us with a father’s love; a love that desires the best for His children.

When God calls us to more, it is important to consider how we are thinking about the call. Is it a burden to us, or a privilege? An obligation, or an opportunity? Are we dreading the journey, or looking forward to the adventure?

On April 18, 2009, my wife and I watched helplessly as firefighters did all they could to save the house we had lived in for most of our marriage – the home where we had raised our children. The fire, smoke and water destroyed practically everything. It could have been the beginnings of a burdensome tragedy.

As we stood watching this tragedy-in-progress, God whispered three things into our hearts,

“I am sovereign. Nothing happens outside of my will.”

“I am a good God, I love you, and I have a plan for you.”

“Reckon these things to be true.”

And so began God’s call to more. As we settled into our first temporary quarters (the Holiday Inn Express), we turned to our Heavenly Father. Beth began, “Father God, whatever you have for us in this, we receive it.”

Praise God for His encouragement, in the prayers of a godly wife!

This was the surrender our Father was looking for; and it opened the storehouse of Heaven. With one word (our “whatever”), we had entered into the purpose of Almighty God. Our tragedy immediately became an adventure. Read the rest of this entry »

Warning: This article took a bit of a weird twist. It begins with a realization about teaching: That sharing isolated truth can be confusing – even injurious – to the body of Christ. Here are a few examples:

 

  1. Teaching the importance of good works without first establishing its relationship to the hearing of faith and the appropriation of grace for good works (by that faith), creates an environment where the probability for religious and soulish work is extremely high. The same is true when we fail to first develop the congregant’s relationship with the One “working in us to will and do to His good pleasure”.
  2. Teaching that God desires to show Himself strong on our behalf, without first establishing what it means to be loyal to Him, results in an attitude of passivity and entitlement.
  3. Inviting someone to enter the kingdom of God, without first instructing them about the costs of that commitment, the necessary striving to enter and the diligence required to make their election sure, will leave many falsely secure (and later wondering why He never knew them).

Then there’s the twist: Many will read this and think the problem here is about truth, and how effectively we share it. Yes, it is important that we share the whole truth (and nothing but the truth, so help us God). However, this article is going somewhere else – to a deeper issue.

My fear is that the leader reading this will be moved to try harder; to be more excellent; to hire more and/or new staff; and keep doing what they are doing. Please hear this: Better, smarter and more inspired people will not solve this problem. It is not a people problem. It is a process problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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