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It seems a bit late in coming, but I finally understand why a song, sermon, act of service, etc. can be humbling to the singer, preacher, etc. It is because these acts of worship are God’s grace and, consequently, greater than the person being used to deliver them. These blest individuals experience God using them as His instruments. His presence and power help them recognize their lack of sufficiency in the good work He is doing.

Oh, if we could only humble ourselves to recognize this about everything we are used to do for God’s kingdom. It is humbling to be His pen. It should be humbling to share a kind word with someone else. I confess: there is too much of me in too much of my life’s work.

Thank God, humility begets humility. There is hope for all of us.

Humility before God is surrender to His reign and control. It is “not I, but Christ who lives in me”. It is denying myself, taking up my cross and following after Christ in sacrificial love.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

The chief requirement for Matthew 5:16 is humility and surrender. Surrender is so much the starting point for every assignment. In most cases, we don’t know the assignment without first surrendering. Read the rest of this entry »

I began writing this series for those in my spheres of influence who expressed a feeling of transition in their lives; that God was up to something. Over the years, I have recognized this as God’s call to a new kingdom assignment – His call to more of the good work that brings Him glory.

The question in these situations is always, “What does He want me to do?” While the question is reasonable, our expectations for the answer are often misguided. In our get-it-done, “what have you done for me lately?” world, we fall into the trap of, well, just getting it done; so we can move onto the next thing.

Execution without planning is foolish. Planning without first understanding the purpose for the plan, even more so. This is particularly true when our “company” is going through transition. As hard and contrary to our nature as it may be, we must step back and slow down. That has been the message and purpose of this series.

It all boils down to two questions: Who is the Boss? Will I trust Him?

Admittedly, this series is longer than I expected (congratulations to those who have hung in there). At this point, we have journeyed through two of the three phases God encouraged me to cover. The first, positioning ourselves, prepares us for the second, discovering His purpose.

It is important that these phases be completed in sequence. There is more going on here than the collection of information. God always uses these opportunities to draw us to Himself; and He will not continue to participate in the process until His intentions are accomplished.

Read the rest of this entry »

Navigating God’s call to more based on the trajectory of our past, is profitable and encouraging; but it is a limited perspective. To understand and follow God’s purpose for the next season, we must also look to the future.

You may be tempted to balk at this. The future is unknown. It can be an uncomfortable consideration for many; and our subconscious minds seem to always be playing tricks. Resist the temptation. Be suspicious of your mind. Embrace the mind of Christ; and the heart of God.

Here’s a good word: God’s call to more is an adventure. There’s just no getting around it. Adventures are a mix of excitement and fear. Deal with the fear, and it is all excitement. Behind every fear is a lie. Deal with the lie, and the fear will fly.

Welcome to the most exciting adventure of your life!!!

Now, back to the heart of God. That’s where we will find the light we need to discern the purpose God has for our next season, and the transition that will guide us into it. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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,

Man in Anguish“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

My first foreign mission trip was the longest and most intense experience of the Lord’s presence that I have ever enjoyed. It was frustrating to get back to the “normal” of corporate American life. I had a mission in the workplace, but it just wasn’t the same.

What was the difference? How could I have that experience here at home? Was it even possible?

After much searching, in prayer and conversation with fellow missionaries, I came to a very simple conclusion: The primary difference was “control”. At home, I had it. On the mission field, I did not.

On the mission field, I did not get to decide what I would eat, where I would sleep, nor where I would go to minister each day. It was the first time in my adult life that I was completely out of control.

It was an exhilarating adventure – excitement and fear in just the right measures.

God used that experience to teach me a valuable lesson about myself; and about the life I was choosing to live. Letting go of control has been a long and challenging process. The battle is still going on. I am grateful for His patience and persistence.

Of course, being “out of control” is counter-intuitive. The world tells us it is counter-productive. The risks of losing control are presented – by our flesh and the world – as far greater than anyone would dare assume.

So, let’s stop right here and face one very important fact: Most of God ways are counter-productive in worldly terms, and therefore counter-intuitive to our carnal minds. This issue of control is as old as man’s rebellion in the Garden; it is the decision to be our own king.

Leaders in the workplace – pastors included – are expected (by some very important people) to keep their environments “under control”. For the Christian in these situations, the best question to ask ourselves is, “Whose control?”

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my first foreign mission trip was under God’s control. My inability to control allowed Him to will and do to His good pleasure. His good pleasure was to give me a taste of His kingdom. My experience was an “eternal life knowing” of Him and His Son.

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. Mark 8:35

Consider this: Losing control is not something you do (at least not at first). Losing control begins with a desire – a desire that God has put in your heart. Ask Him to stir up that desire; and – here’s the risky part – give you opportunities to be out of control. He will use these to encourage, edify and equip you for joyful, Spirit-filled ministry.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Roughly ten years ago, God pushed me out of the corporate workplace; and stirred a desire in my heart to help Christian leaders find joyful, Spirit-filled ministry. Of course, I wanted to know how He expected that to happen. He told me:

Surrender to My purpose;

Sacrifice for My plan; and,

Submit to My power.

I did not realize it at the time, but later discovered that this process is found in Psalm 37.

Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

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.
Psalm 37:4-6

God has placed a desire for joyful, Spirit-filled ministry in the heart of every Christian. That ministry may manifest through a pastor, business owner, elected official, teacher, homemaker, etc. It may look as expected (e.g., leading a church, running a business); and it may include rescuing unborn children, feeding the homeless, taking the gospel to the nations, etc. The common denominators are: God’s promise to give us these desires; and – now this is important – our being soft in the LORD (the literal meaning of “delight”). In other words, we must surrender to His purpose in the desires of our heart.

Furthermore, for God to give us the desires of our heart, we must turn over our plans (i.e., way) to Him; trusting Him to do what He desires with them. As followers of Jesus Christ, we can expect to encounter sacrifice – even suffering (Philippians 2:5-8); for His plan is as much about our transformation as it is about our desires (2Corinthians 3:18). Trusting Him in this way marks us as His heir (Romans 8:17). Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowAs we have discovered, the sayings of Jesus are impossible to do without the life of Jesus in us to do them. This is the meaning of “in Christ”. Then there are the sayings that are very difficult to hear. They challenge what we want to believe about God. They highlight what we want to ignore.

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

This may be the hardest saying to hear in the entire Sermon on the Mount. Many have gone to great lengths to explain away its meaning. Why? Because it reveals a facet of God’s character that many would prefer not to consider: His severity. We do so at our own peril.

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. Romans 11:22

Our God is a just God (Psalm 7:11). This is one of the things we like about God – when He is just on our behalf, or just against the wicked. What we don’t like to consider – nor communicate – is the just rebuke, chastening and scourging of our loving Father and Savior (Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelations 3:19).

Considering such things make us uncomfortable and concerned about our relationship with God. It may even cause us work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Imagine that! Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowJesus certainly realized that His sayings would be a challenge to His followers – even to those with the strongest faith. He knew it would be hard for us to see beyond this world and this life; that our paradigms are insidiously constrained by our current realities. Knowing our frailties, He encourages us to think beyond even the best we have to offer.

Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:9-11

I am convinced that the Sermon on the Mount has been given to us early in the Gospels to help us realize that we cannot live the normal Christian life. Only one person can. His name is Jesus Christ. Only the Son of God, who became the Son of Man, can live this “more than” life.

And so, as He comes near to the end of His sermon, Jesus reminds us that the benefits of His life are beyond what we ourselves can measure by the physical limitations of evil man (yes, He calls us evil). It is interesting that Jesus does not define “how much more will your Father…”. He seems to leave the answer to our imagination; but, even our imagination is incapable of measuring the goodness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think… Ephesians 3:20

The goodness of God is beyond all that we can ask or think. It is beyond our imagination. It is truly limitless… and surprising. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowGive to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. Matthew 5:42

Honestly, I have had more questions than answers about this verse. Does this include every person on every corner that is holding up a “please help” sign? What about the professional panhandlers I come across in downtown Atlanta? What if they are going to use it for drugs or some other addiction?

Do I donate every time every organization sends a request? Does this include candidates for political office, or just people in need? What if I run out of money; won’t I become a part of the problem? Is there not some other way to understand this saying of Jesus Christ? Did He really mean what He is saying here?

I have an opinion about the meaning of this saying; but does my opinion matter? Perhaps more important is what all these questions reveal. Am I looking for understanding; or for an excuse to move this verse to the “consider later” basket; and move on to something else?

It seems this verse is pivotal in our discussion and obedience to “these sayings of mine” in the Sermon on the Mount and beyond. There is this option of moving on to “easier” sayings, but if we start now, I guarantee most of the rest will go in the same direction; and habits are hard to break. Perhaps now is the time to face our fears and deal with the reality of our commitment to faith and obedience. Read the rest of this entry »

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