Don’t Get The Story Twisted

Love RevolutionEvery year, at this time, pastors, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, etc are preparing to share the Easter message. What a message it is! It is the single most monumental event in history. But I want you to see it from a different perspective.

The story culminates on Easter Sunday morning as we celebrate death’s defeat through the most powerful, life-giving moment of Christ’s resurrection. What a moment that had to be, as everything relating to death, destruction, decay, sickness and weakness, etc, literally shook with fear as a massive stone drew back its curtain and the heaven’s announced the greatest encore there’ll ever be. But that moment was never a possibility without the cross. There will be crosses hung, lit, elevated and celebrated all over the world over the next few days.

With the image of these crosses will be taught a murder story; graphic and gory in nature. Hateful, bitter and evil will be adjectives used to describe Roman officials and Jewish leaders; they’ll be slammed and slandered, put on trial, in the words of many believers across the world and held accused in the hearts of men and women for the cold-blooded killing of Jesus. There’s no doubt, that it’s the most brutal death anyone has ever suffered. But it didn’t happen the way that you think.

I want to point out 3 decision moments in scripture that bring focus to this Easter story. Without going into great detail concerning each, they are as follows:

  1. The Garden Decision ( Luke 22:42 “Father, if it is Your will take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done”
  2. The Arrest Decision (John 18:4-8 “Jesus…went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ …..’I am He’ ….’I am He’….’I have told you that I am He.’”
  3. The Death Decision (John 19:10-11 “Then Pilate said to Him….’Do you not know that I have power to take your life and power to release you?’ Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you…”

These three critical moments give an understanding that at any time, Jesus had the power and the authority by decision, to abort what was about to transpire. He could have made a decision in the garden to bypass the will of God and not accept the task at hand. He could have made a decision, as Judas conspired against Him with a mountainside of soldiers, not to allow these men to arrest Him, yet He willfully gave Himself up. He could have made a decision to walk away from Pilate, who had no ability to stop Him, yet He stood His place and gave His life up. All because of you.

Be careful of the mental picture and the emotions you allow yourself to develop against those involved in this historical event. This was no murder, it was a sacrifice. It has been typed, many times, as a tragic crime story, when it fact, it’s a passionate, love story. Jesus was no victim to the plots of evil leaders, He was a radical, leading a love revolution, one that He chose.

For Jesus loved the world so much, that He gave Himself as a sacrifice, that whosoever would believe in Him, would not be overcome by death and destruction but have resurrection life, eternally. Be a part of the revolution this Easter!

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Unimpressed

Leaders often live a life of unknown loneliness. While to the outsider, they appear to be surrounded by people, connections and scores of friends, it is often a false positive to the reality of how things are on the inside of the person. Because of this, so many crumble under the pressure. There are scores of great articles/helps available dealing with leadership burnout, but I would like to address something that often goes unmentioned yet carries extreme weight; leaders need a friend.

It can seem to be a trivial need, as I’m sure that most would say they have friends, great friends even, yet leaders/pastors are at a great disadvantage in connecting with people on a core level for a few reasons: 1. Leaders are givers, people of service and are constantly looking for ways to pour into others rather than drawing from the ways that the relationship can benefit them. 2. Because of their people nature and the desire to love and serve, they are often surrounded and connected to people that constantly draw out of their giving. 3. Because of the position of influence and the accomplishments that the leader has experienced, many connect because of what they are and have done, not who they are. Let me dig a little deeper.

Our human nature relishes praise and adoration. We all love to have pats on the back, encouragement and recognition for what we’ve done. For leaders, this often becomes the common characteristic for the people that are closest to them. You connect to the folks that have become your back patters, sing your praises and tell you how great you’re doing. This is dangerous and gives a false perception of support. More often than not, these people draw closer to you for a reason other than desiring to love you and push your vision. They’re there because you’ve become their wellspring. Rather than learning to draw from the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives, as you’ve attempted to lead them to do, you’ve become what they draw from and they’re running you dry with a smile on their face and a pat on your back. Their intentions may be sincere, but the truth is, they have nothing to add back to the relationship. The other common connection possesses a motive that is a little less sincere and a little better disguised. These are the people that are connected to you because of how it elevates their status. Simply being seen in circles with you and having you on text message and speed dial, gives them access and credibility. They feed off of your influence with others to gain greater influence and opportunity for themselves, but after padding your ego and gaining whatever they can gain, will be the quickest to leave you.

Both types of relationships above are connected to you because of what you are, not who you are. My challenge to you is to go beyond your need to fuel your ego, feel great about what you’re doing and build a true bond with someone who is unimpressed. It is vital to your health, your growth and your leadership ability that you connect with someone that cares about you and only you. You need someone who respects who you are and what you’ve done, but that’s unimpressed by your accomplishments, your position, your authority, etc.; they have a true desire to love the personal you, not the positional you. These friendships, will remain in spite of the failures that you expose (which would drive the others away) and actually give you the ability to be completely transparent and vulnerable. These friendships aren’t afraid to challenge your weak spots out of fear of your authority, but cause you to confront the things in you that need to shift and change. They are able to see you cry and it doesn’t change their perception of you; they are able to see you laugh, have fun (which others can’t picture) and it doesn’t change their perception of you; they are able to watch you fail and soar to new heights and continue to be the same person, standing by you regardless. For many, it’s a person that you don’t have, but it’s somebody that you need. 

I challenge you to pray for and seek out that relationship. If you are a pastor or business leader, it is likely not someone in your congregation or your company; it will rarely be someone you lead. You will have to go beyond your normal circles to find them, but they are worth having, so they’re worth pursuing. You need them. Find that person that’s unimpressed.

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Uncommon Connections

“So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. 2And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.” 3So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.” 4Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” 6(But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)” – Joshua 2:1-6
God has a crazy way of doing things. You never know the pockets of people and places that He hides the keys to your destiny. In our common way of living we tend to hang on to the people we like and agree with and discard the ones that live adversely to us and hold different attitudes and opinions than what we possess. Sometimes we call those people, enemies.
The problem is that God doesn’t see people as enemies, the way we do, therefore the people and situations He chooses to use are hand-picked by an unbiased selection. When we make the decision to see others a little more through His perspective, it opens up another dimension of possibilities for our own lives. More keys to unlock doors of purpose become available.
Rahab, a prostitute, who not only was an enemy to Israel as a Gentile woman, whose people stood in the way of their dreams, but her lifestyle was, also,  adverse to that of the Israelites, was the central figure in providing God’s people with a vital connection to their destiny. She held a key to their promised land.
If you have a dream that’s anything worth dreaming about; an uncommon dream, you’re going to have to begin to realize that your key connections to those dreams becoming reality, can often come from uncommon places.
Don’t count anyone out. Love your enemies. Never burn bridges. Value connections. The people you put off, many times, may be the people you can never replace. Lost keys to doors of dreams. Pray for wisdom, discernment, clarity to see through the mess of people that you would and have generally discarded and take advantage of every connection that God provides you.
Wake up tomorrow with a new perspective and a renewed focus to find those hidden keys of opportunity that have been disguised as enemies.
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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

What I’m about to post will challenge some people, especially those tied to a system, a program or a tradition. I want to challenge you to do something simple, yet necessary; reevaluate your house of worship and it’s leader/s. We will often spend hours and days evaluating purchases, insurance providers, business decisions, doctors offices, etc etc, but it’s never even crossed our minds to evaluate our church body with the same diligence and with the expectation that if it’s not matching the biblical charge of a church, we make a change. Why? You have a right and a responsibility to ensure that your church body and it’s leaders are operating, not as you desire, but by the direction of God.

I want to peek at a passage of scripture that’s used quite frequently by the avid churchgoer and pulpiteer, alike, when referencing the command to attend church.  Hebrews 10:25 says, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, as is the manner of some.” It is, of course, saying that we have a responsiblity, as believers and followers of Christ the head, to not forsake the gathering of the church which is called the body.  This verse, while very true, has been used in countless tactics of manipulation to coerse the non-believer or non-attender into getting in church. This passage makes something very clear in it’s meaning; we need each other. But what do we need each other for? This is where I believe your evaluation needs to come in.

When that scripture has been mentioned, never have I heard anyone finish what the scripture says or even quote the verse before, when commanding people to not forget to attend church. The continuation of verse 24 says, “but exhorting one another;” The word exhort means to strongly encourage or urge to do something.  Verse 24 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” This brings me to a very brief but distinct point and challenge.

The body of believers that you are assembling with and the leader/s that you are assembling under are important; attending church regularly is important, but that assembly is necessary to encourage you and challenge you to become something more in Christ, on your way to pursuing God’s vision for you as a Kingdom citizen.  Take this quick litmus test:

  • Does your pastor and the circle of people you are closely connected to in your church, urge and excite you to become more than you are?
  • Is it a place that your gifts are being discovered and stirred?
  • Do they refuse to allow you to sit, comfortably, in a church service each week without falling prey to mediocrity and just being a part of the crowd?
  • Are your leaders and church partners a regular source of joy and encouragement, stirring up love and support as you grow and develop?
  • Are you challenged to become more because of the body you’re connected to?

My suggestion is that you reevaluate; make yourself answer these questions and be honest with the results. Dissension, division, pain, aggravation and insecurity unfortunately, find their way in many of our churches and leaders, and if we’re not careful we’ll subtly find ourselves dying in their influence because we remain connected out of our loyalty or comfortability, but God has an incredible plan for you and wants to connect you with the right people that can shape you to achieve these dreams. If you’re not being encouraged and challenged to grow, maybe it’s time to rethink what you’re connected to!

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Big Daddy

As I sit and reflect on my daughter starting K-5, it’s very bittersweet. Though I’m so proud of her and excited for her, the realization of her inevitable growth, right before my eyes, can be painful. The things I’ll miss are the things I know…the need for me to hold her, feed her, clothe her, change her, care for her, the things that made her totally dependent on me. There’s the learning to talk, the learning to walk, holding her hand, picking her up, carrying her when she needed to be carried. But the more she grows, the more she develops, the more independent she becomes, I become less of a daddy and more of a father… and sometimes those daddy moments are hard to move past.

My pain in her growth has allowed God to teach me a lesson about Him, His plan and His wisdom. The very thing God desires from us as believers, is the very thing we often resist because there are moments it can be painful…..growth. For my daughter to become everything God designed her to become, I can’t always be daddy, I have to become more father. Daddy moments will always be necessary at times, but being a father makes it’s impact forever. Anybody can be a daddy, but it takes something special to be a father. Daddy comes around to make things better….father teaches, through daily example, how to live to make each day better.

There are moments in our early life as a believer that we fall, make mistakes, have boo-boos, get things tangled and we run to daddy to make things better; and while God appreciates those moments that you run to Him in time of need and distress, He celebrates when you put off the childish ways and you grow to become more like the “father.” We often try to avoid growth because it involves change, increased responsibility and sometimes pain. Our nature, as parents and as people, is to, often, hold something so close, for our selfish reasons, that we smother it’s ability to grow and we talk ourselves into the idea that if it stays small and close to us, it’s for the better. This challenges all of Kingdom thinking.  It’s a natural thought process but it subconsciously creates a need for dependency, control and kingship over our subjects, when by God’s design instead of “ruling” over His children, He desires to rule WITH them.

We can see the detriment of this type of “daddy” thinking, by the state of our government and nation. Our leadership (we’ll call them Big Daddy DC), continues to create more of this “don’t grow up” mentality; fancying and fueling their own selfish desires of greater control, subject dependency and a solid “God-complex”. The “children” are not encouraged to grow up, become free-thinking, prosperous individuals that increase and share in the liberty and success of the nation, rather life-infants with a need of constant pacifying. It embraces the idea of “running to Big Daddy” to fix things and make them better, when it’s “children” fall, make mistakes, and have boo-boos. Rather than educating, providing resources/opportunity and encouraging strength and independence by it’s subjects, Big Daddy DC desires to increase in it’s own growth while smothering and discouraging it’s “children” from becoming anything responsible, bright and successful.  When you stunt growth, you slow success.

My greatest desire for my children, while I so much enjoy them now (and really want these young days to go SLOW), is for them to grow to become an incredible Kingdom success.  The true testament to my fatherhood, is not how long and how much I can keep them close and needy, but how close I get them to becoming everything God designed for their lives. I wasn’t given the opportunity to be daddy to my children to hoard over them forever, rather given responsibility to steward them to become heirs to the throne; sharing with them the love, teaching and experiences that the true Father shares with me. 

My challenge to you whether you’re a parent, teacher, leader or even on a personal level, is to not be afraid of growth. Rather than being afraid of what you or your subjects will become, celebrate what you or your subjects are becoming! Change can be tough sometimes, but with each change comes new opportunities to succeed. Meet challenges, responsbility and growth head on…realizing that each time you do, you’re growing closer to the king in you. Don’t be a part of inhibiting someone else’s growth, be a part of their growth; create opportunities, encourage their steps and celebrate each graduation of accomplishment. You’re not a better leader, shepherd or parent by how close to your ground you can keep them, but by how high you enable them to fly.

Take the opportunity today to grow or be apart of someone’s growth.

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My Quick Thought That’s Too Long For Social Media Platforms..

Just a quick note; not even really length worthy to be deemed a “blog,” but sometimes I get a little too long worded for 140 characters of Twitter, so I move to the freedoms of WordPress.

I was reading in 1 Corinthians, chapter 4 verse 1, to be exact, and a portion of this verse really jumped out at me.  “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”

Stewards of the mysteries of God….

It’s such a shame for us to have access into something so powerful and priceless as the mysteries of God and do one of two things; fail to take care, embrace and implement the revelations we’ve been given and/or fail to realize the stockpile of revelation that’s waiting, available to us, that we never care to pursue God for.  God’s revelations, mysteries, are not just for us to have a little better understanding of life, a better historical perspective of the Bible or a better understanding of the point God wants to make, they are keys to the Kingdom.  Each bit of information that God entrusts you with, are strategic nuggets for you to make your environment look more like His.

You are an agent of change. You may not realize it and you may not embrace it, but God has created and placed you, strategically, to be an agent of change; changing the perfect world that was corrupted and weakened, back into the created environment that He originally intended. This is an impossible task without pursuing God and grabbing onto His mysteries.

Don’t waste what you have VIP access to.  It’s a Biblical fact that God will bless and create opportunities for those that are good stewards.  Stop to listen to God, look for where God’s working, moving and if you’re having trouble hearing or seeing…get closer.

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When God Speaks

When God speaks to us, He speaks to our “real” person, not the person others see or how we see ourselves. He’s talking to that Kingdom man or woman inside of you; the original intent of our being. That’s why when God speaks, tells you to do something or drops dreams and vision into your spirit, and it seems foreign, crazy or impossible to you, you’re trying to process in the natural what you first need to grasp in the Kingdom.

When you transition your thinking to Kingdom first, you’ll be a large part of making things happen “on earth as it is in heaven.”

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I’m Not In The Army Of The Lord!

Lol, I just threw you a curve ball didn’t I? As a matter of fact, some of you are probably ready to war against me now; and this is the problem with our religious upbringing. 

It’s no wonder why we struggle to grasp Kingdom concepts and understand the authority that we possess in the Kingdom; we’ve been conditioned since we were kids (in the church at least) with some pretty horrendous, “sounds right but not Bible” teaching.  I remembered a Sunday school song today…sing it with me…

                I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery

                I may never fly over the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s army, YES SIR!

                I’m in the Lord’s army, yes sir! I’m in the Lord’s army, yes sir!……yada yada yada

Do you have any idea how Kingdom-ly wrong this song is? It sounds good and it’s catchy for the kids, but why not teach them the truth?

Truth is, in a kingdom the citizens do not fight in the army, but enjoy the privileges of the protection of the army. The Bible clearly identifies the angels as the military component of the Kingdom of heaven, yet we teach others that there’s still something to fight for.  We don’t fight our battles, we are to enjoy the protection of the angels and the victory afforded to us by Jesus Christ.

Have you ever considered that this is why you’re still in your struggle, because you’ve involved yourself in a fight that wasn’t yours? Your job is to pursue and fulfill purpose and it’s impossible for this to happen if you’re constantly at war!

The Bible often refers to a band of angels as a “host.” When you understand the meaning of this word, you see that it means “an army.”  In Luke 2:13, when the Messiah has been sent to earth to reestablish Kingdom principles, even the armies of heaven pause from war long enough to give praise and honor. “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’

Isn’t it interesting that as Kingdom authority was being restored to mankind, the host (armies) of Heaven were proclaiming peace on earth to those that were in the adopted lineage of God? A reassuring statement that, as long as you are connected to the King and a citizen of the Kingdom, there’s not a battle that you will need to fight, we fight the Kingdom battles; we speak peace over you…enjoy the protection that is a benefit to our citizens!

I know I’ve wrecked your whole doctrine to this point, but in order for you to maximize who you are built to be and what you are appointed to walk in, you need to begin to understand the truths of the King! Instead of sweating and dealing with stress, worry, fear and anxiousness of battle, next time pray and thank God for the protection and benefits of the Kingdom and grant He and the host (army) of Heaven access to get involved in your situation.  You stay out of it, stay confident and pursue what you were built to do!

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Not Sure How To Pray? Simple Guidelines For Prayer

Many of us through the years have taught or been taught that the best way to pray when we’re not sure how, is to just “talk to God like you would anyone else, and just tell Him what’s on your heart!”  I’ve been guilty of this at some point, I know and while telling God what’s on our heart isn’t wrong, it’s not what’s effective. The Bible teaches us that He knows our thoughts, needs, and desires before we even speak, so why just tell Him what’s on our heart?

Prayer is the most effective and forceful tool a Kingdom citizen has, when used effectively. Jesus, modeled this in the sense that He often prayed for hours and performed powerful miracles in minutes. Why just tell God what’s on your heart, when you can be effective and powerful with your prayers?

I’m going to share just a few guidelines for how to pray. The measure that it’s proof positive can be found in Matthew 6:9-13.

  1. Recognize the Source (Abba; Father); you are approaching the Source for all your answers; all your needs; Recognize He’s your all in all.
  2. Worship Him; Adore Him; Magnify Him; Exalt Him; Glorify Him
  3. Be committed to God’s Kingdom and what He wants to accomplish; ask God to fulfill his desires before your own.
  4. Minister to others’ needs. Pray for others. Ask God to protect and bless what’s needed for every part of the process of daily living, for others, as well as, for you.
  5. Consider those you’re in relationship with. Forgive. Don’t allow the sun to set on your anger. Repair broken relationships. When you forgive, you open the endless possibilities for your prayers to be answered.
  6. Ask for wisdom that you don’t put yourself in situations to compromise your relationship with God.
  7. Worship again; give thanks, with confidence, that your prayers will be answered, giving God all the glory.

 

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Turning Bad Habits Into Excellent Habits

Just a short note. Turning bad habits into excellent habits can happen much faster than you think.  Bad habits do not equal bad people, bad habits only equal bad choices that are made consistently over a period of time, creating a cycle of belief that you can’t escape the bad habits, which creates a negative reinforcement for you to continue to make the bad choices that created the habits! Did you catch all of that?

Great people with great abilities, purpose and intentions, can still make bad choices. The deception in the habit is that it gives the illusion that you’ve done them so long and so often, that it’s really who you are and there is no escaping that. Very wrong! While our choices do tend to shape our character image in the eyes of others and even ourself, it is God that determines who we are and even in our broken and crazy lives, He still had a plan of turning things around; redemption!

If your soul can have redemption, then your choices can have redemption. While the choices that you made yesterday, made need some cleaning up today, they do not have to determine the choices you make today, today’s decisions are brand new! What manual told you that just because you drove this route yesterday, you have to go the same route today? Not the case. At some point you’re going to come to a fork in that route that requires you to make a choice. You may have turned left yesterday, but today, right may be the best option. Beginning to make excellent choices today, takes the same amount of energy that making bad choices yesterday took…..with a lot less cleanup! Life’s always better when there’s less cleanup!

I’m confident that your next decision will be excellent!

 

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