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Stormy WeatherThe following are my (rather raw) notes from a meeting that was organized to hear from God on the question, “How do we spiritually prepare for the coming storm?” I strongly encourage you to read them prayerfully; with spiritual determination and discipline to hear what God would say to you (not every word is for every person). Remember, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; but faith without works is dead. You are responsible for your response to what you hear the Lord say in this exercise. Please let me know what you are hearing; it may be something that we all need to hear. Read the rest of this entry »

The LORD's FoundationThe church in America is in a mess. I don’t mean to judge. I am not qualified. But I know I am not the only one that feels this way. It’s very frustrating. Honestly, I feel like a victim. However, having been positioned by God to lead (some), I have stronger feelings about my responsibility to be His instrument for transformation.

Admittedly, the church in America is doing a lot of good things: Establishing houses of prayer; addressing slave trafficking; writing great books; creating wonderful videos; running effective ministries and churches; etc. It is easy to hold these things up as evidence of health and growth. For those walking in God’s good works, I am sure joyful, Spirit-filled ministry is a regular experience.

So why am I, and many I know, frustrated and concerned about the health of the church in America? The Scriptures are clear that few will find the narrow way, and few of those will enter in. Few of the few; how many is that? How many in my spheres of influence will endure to the end? How many will fall away? What am I to do for those whom I have been given some responsibility; that they would strive to enter through the narrow gate  (Luke 13:24)? Read the rest of this entry »

Old Watch MechanismThose that find the will of God in good works walk in the empowering grace of God – the supernatural power and resources of the kingdom of heaven. They experience the God glorifying work of Matthew 5:16; and the “more than” works of John 14:12. In good works, the signs and wonders of the kingdom bear witness to the gospel of His grace (Acts 14:3).

This is the normal Christian life; for every child of God, and for those called to lead them. It is a tragedy that so many have chosen to settle for less. The purpose of this series is to encourage, edify and equip Marketplace Leaders (and those in their spheres of influence) to search out, discover and walk in such an adventure.

In Part 1, we learned that the “good” of good works is far more important that the “works” themselves. In Part 2, we began searching out the Scriptures that describe good works and the challenges we face in our attempts to walk in them. Here in Part 3, we will conclude with an exploration of God’s provision, our preparation, and His ultimate intention for good works.

God’s Provision for Good Works

Have you ever considered that Jesus could have died, been buried and rose again in less than a week? That is all the time it would have taken for Him to accomplish what many believe to be His only mission. So why was He about the Father’s business for more than three years? It is simple: Because death, burial and resurrection was not His only mission. Read the rest of this entry »

CompassDoes the grace of God empower any activity or endeavor that is not His will?

Does His will ever lack the grace to accomplish what He intends?

As leaders in the Marketplace, it is important to determine, resolve and reckon what you believe about these two questions. Access to His grace for your next endeavor depends on it.  It is a matter of success or failure – even glorious victory or eternal destruction.

Let’s start with the first. If a person is self determined in what He does – including what He does “for God” – then that person’s answer is “yes, God does empower activity outside His will.” More likely, that person is not concerned with God empowering the work they have set out to accomplish. This sounds quite foolish, particularly when we consider the potential outcome.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

Only those that do the Father’s will shall enter the kingdom of heaven! Wow!! We can do any number of wonderful things in Jesus’ name and still be labeled, by Him, as practitioners of lawlessness. What a tragic surprise awaits those that pursue supernatural work outside of the Father’s will!!

This begs another question: Where did these lawless ones get the power to prophesy, cast out demons and do many wonders?

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work… 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 2:7, 9-10

Whoa! Even though the lawless one has not been revealed, “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work”. There is a grave warning here: It possible to do supernatural work outside of the Father’s will because there is another (i.e., Satan) willing to give us power; for the work in His power will lead to the destruction of many.

Let me ask you again: Is this possible for those that call Jesus, “Lord, Lord”? Could we be so deceived? Read the rest of this entry »

Partnership and team workI recently read an article suggesting that America’s problem is the lack of leadership; that our culture has generally turned from leadership to management (to our peril). It used the following comparisons to make its case:

The leader innovates; the manager administers

The leader is an original; the manager is a copy

The leader develops; the manager maintains

The leader focuses on people; the manager focuses on systems and structure

The leader inspires trust; the manager relies on control

The leader has a long-range perspective; the manager has a short-range view

The leader asks what and why; the manager asks how and when

The leader’s eye is on the horizon; the manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line

The leader originates; the manager imitates

The leader challenges the status quo; the manager accepts it

The leader is his or her own person; the manager is the classic good soldier

The leader does the right thing; the manager does things right

At the time, I was so impressed with the article that I shared it with my connections; and I determined to write my own take on the subject; namely, why we need more leadership in the church.

Then I hit a snag. Perhaps you see it, too. More than a few of the manager characteristics are encouraged for those in the Body of Christ: Administers, is a copy, has a short-range view, imitates, is the classic good soldier. See what I mean. Well, it got me to thinking… and searching.

In the NKJV, “leadership” does not appear, at all. “Leader” can be found 164 times; but only 4 are found in the New Testament, and they all relate to the leaders of the Jews. The terms “leadership” and “leader” are not used by the Holy Spirit to describe the followers of Jesus Christ!

Furthermore, “lead” and “leads” appear 95 times; 32 are in the New Testament, where there is only one verse used to imply action by members of the church: Romans 12:8. Even here (one time in thirty-two uses), it is mistranslated. The Greek word means “to be over” and “to give aid”; not exactly the “leadership” that is encouraged in the Marketplace.

So, there you have it: As astounding as it may seem, the notion of Christians being “leaders” is noticeably missing from the Holy Bible. Instead, we see Christians in “leadership” positions described as stewards; managing the affairs of their master. Is God trying to tell us something in this?

I am still working through the implications of this discovery, and hope to share more in the near future. It would be helpful to hear from you. For now, let me leave with this summarizing thought:

Leadership in the Marketplace is not the same as leadership in the kingdom of God. We must be cautious in our adoption of the world’s ways and thoughts about leadership. They may be contrary to the ways and thoughts of God.

For more on this subject, check out Back to Basics – Leaders in the Marketplace.

Humbly your and forever His,

Military Salute from iStockBefore we jump into this short article, I would like to remind you of a few key truths: If you are a Christian leader in the Marketplace, you are not in your position by accident. God has His eye on you; and His heart’s desires are for you. The church is as much – if not more – in your sphere of influence as it is in the place you attend on Sunday morning.

It is also no coincidence that you are reading this article at this time in the history of the church. The Sermon on the Mount, recorded primarily by Matthew and Luke, is the foundational teaching on the normal Christian life. Consequently, it is the most challenging; and that is where you come in.

God has put it in your nature to courageously face challenges. He has put it in your nature to lead others into challenges. Who do you know that is better encouraged, edified and equipped to lead the transformation that is necessary in the church today? Who is the most influential person in your sphere of influence?

Radical is the Old Normal

Our normal is so subnormal that normal seems radical. To the first century disciples, normal and radical were synonyms. We’ve turned them in antonyms. (from All In, by Mark Batterson)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus threw down the gauntlet with His disciples: Turn the other cheek, bless your enemies, go the extra mile. He wanted to see who was in and who was out. He did this multiple times during His sojourn here on earth. Many left Him; but there were a few… that grew to thousands, and turned the world upside down.

It seems to me that we have reached a point of crisis in the church. Henry Blackaby called it “the crisis of faith”. As Marketplace Leaders, it is our responsibility to deal with the crisis in God’s way. I would like to offer you a couple of truths to help you embrace the challenge of our crisis; and embrace it in a radical way. Read the rest of this entry »

Man Lifting Arms to SunsetToday begins a very important year in the life of the Jewish people. From www.chabad.org:

Like the seventh day of the week, every seventh year is holy. The Shemittah (Sabbatical) year is a year devoted to strengthening our bond with God — specifically, honing our faith in His omnipotence and our trust in His kindness. This year, 5775 since creation (Sept. 25, 2014–Sept. 13, 2015), is a Shemittah year.

Keep this in mind as we search out the matter of the Shemittah and its importance for the church today – particularly the church in America. Read the rest of this entry »

FallingOver the years, I have been involved in a number of ministries and programs that used some form of accountability component to ensure the participants progressed in a generally positive direction. These well-intentioned efforts were effective for a time, but they were not life sustaining. I did not think much of it at the time. I simply moved on, with some measure of guilt for not being disciplined enough, or serious enough about my faith, etc.

Recently, the accountability approach to Christian growth has come back into my ministry life. In fact, I have been partnering for almost two years with another ministry to deliver a program that leans heavily on accountability. I assumed my discomfort had something to do with me; perhaps my flesh raising its rebellious head. But, as hard as I have tried, I simply have not been able to shake a growing uneasiness regarding the accountability approach to group ministry.

So, I have been asking God for grace to understand this from His perspective. He has answered that prayer. Here is what I have come to understand about accountability, as it should be used in the kingdom of God. Read the rest of this entry »

Multi-ethnic pile of handsMarketplace Ministry is ministry in the marketplace. Simple enough, right? Let’s be sure; for to understand the full breadth of Marketplace Ministry, and impact a leader there can have, we must have God’s perspective on ministry.

If you asked ten people, “What is ‘ministry’?”, you would likely get ten different answers. Most would focus on the religion field (e.g., pastor, evangelist, elder, deacon); and most would assume some type of religious degree. Not surprising, given the world’s definitions; like this one:

Ministry: The service, functions, or profession of a minister of religion; the body or class of ministers of religion, clergy (http://www.dictionary.com).

This definition is not wrong; it’s just not complete. More importantly, it’s confining; just what our greatest enemy would have us believe. Could it be that we have fallen for the same deception – that “Marketplace” and “Ministry” don’t mix? I think we are smarter than that, so let’s look a bit further.  Read the rest of this entry »

A GiftIf you are a Christian with a sphere of influence, then you have been commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples. This has been true for over 2000 years, but it has never been more important than it is today. Chaos and lawlessness are increasing at an accelerating pace. The days are swiftly approaching when the church will need a foundation in the truth that is deeper than the truth our teachers left with us.

In God’s providence, this chaos can actually be a good thing. America became a superpower after the chaos of WWII. Persecution dispersed Christians from Israel in the 1st Century, spreading the gospel to the entire known world. Persecution continues to be a catalyst for the gospel of the Kingdom in many parts of the world. By God’s mercy, the chaos of our day will turn many from their idols.  But to whom will they turn?

They will turn to the Christian Leaders that have armed themselves with the truth that will make men free – saving them from the deception of our day, to the way, truth and life of Jesus Christ. God has given us a way for this. Be encouraged to search it out… and share the whole truth with others. Read the rest of this entry »

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