You are worthy and valuable

The truth is the truth regardless if you believe it or not. You are very valuable! You have so many fine qualities. You are made in the image of God. Therefore, you have intrinsic value and worth. No one, not even you can change that reality. The truth is the truth regardless if you believe it or not.

The Lord put a word on my heart that I must share with you. Not sharing would be to deny water to the thirsty.

Someone needs to hear this today…

Several years ago, I’ll never forget I heard Pastor Dr. Greg Cook talk about how we’re all “self-deceived deceivers.” Spot on!

Since I was a small child, I struggled with a deep-seated sense of worthlessness. Perhaps it was my upbringing or a traumatic event I can’t remember. It was a lie I believed about myself and that lie shaped my life in many ways for many years. It led to chaos, destruction, and casualties in the lives of others. But, over the years, Christ delivered victory. To God be the Glory!

To a greater or lesser extent, we all believe lies about ourselves and our value as a human beings. We believe a deception, then we deceive ourselves, then we deceive others by putting up a facade. Finally, we believe the facade is the real us – forgetting who we are. The false notion becomes so real that our lives can be built on a lie we believed long ago. Many times, we’re not aware that we’re acting on a false belief about ourselves.

Maybe someone made you feel worthless at some point in your life. The devil got a foothold in your mind and breathed out lies that you believe to this day.

Dear Christ-follower,

DO NOT believe lies the devil or the world have told you to believe about yourself!

The TRUTH is, you are so very valuable! You have many fine qualities. You are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, you have intrinsic value and worth. No one, not even you, can change that reality. The truth is the truth regardless if you believe it or not. Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead for you. He took your sin and worthlessness upon himself. He gave you the crown of life and the keys to his Kingdom.

Ask the Lord to reveal to you the lies you believe about yourself. Ask him to use other Christian brothers and sisters who love you to help you see clearly and believe the truth. Repent of believing a lie and believe the Gospel. Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to yourself each day and believe it!

Here are some truths to believe:

– In Christ, you are WORTHY because He is WORTHY! (Roman 8:17, Rev. 5:12) That is TRUTH!

– You have so many fine qualities, talents, gifts and beauty in who God made you to be. There is only one you! This is TRUTH!

– You are loved by the creator of the universe, who knitted you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139). This is TRUTH!

– You did not choose the circumstances of your birth but, God ordained them in His providence (Acts 17:26). This is TRUTH!

– Before the foundations of the world, the Lamb was slain for you (Rev. 13:8). This is TRUTH!

– Therefore, you were, you are and you always will be part of God’s Story (Eph. 2:8-10). This is TRUTH!

– It is NO accident you are on this earth. Today was and is in God’s plan for you. This is TRUTH!

If you have experienced victory in Christ over deep-seated feelings of worthlessness, praise Him afresh today! Now, help someone else experience that same victory. Encourage someone, tell someone they are valuable and they have many fine qualities.

You have the power to influence conversations tonight by how you serve and treat people in your life today. What is the story you want told this evening? …. Begin by telling it now.

Someone once said, “All of Christ for all of life!” Make it so, Lord!

Conquering the Madness of the Moment with God’s Story

God structured reality in such a way and embedded reality in his creation so that His image-bearers (humans) can apprehend it, albeit imperfectly. For sure, the fallen world, sin and broken lives distort and dim the good world God created. But, that is not the end of the story. It’s just a moment.

We live in an ever expanding crisis-centered culture.

Stress at home and at work, and free-floating anxiety are in the air. It seems like you can almost touch it. The world says, “just deal with it” as moments like waves pound you like an ocean storm. Some deal with stress and anxiety by indulging in excesses like drinking, eating, drugs, video games, social media scrolling, pornography, or other unhealthy activities. Some will fall into a pit of despair, depression, or apathy. Many barely make it through the day. It’s a chore to sleep at night. The alarm goes off in the morning shouting, “Wake up! Another crisis ensues!” It can be maddening.

I hear it and see it in the faces of people everywhere. It’s a problem.

The “Out of Control vs. Control” Problem

Most situations we face are completely out of our control. You can only control yourself and your responses – which is extremely difficult.

Out of My Control:

Are you helpless to do anything about a world on fire?

School shootings, natural disasters, wars, a traffic jam on the way to work, a serious health diagnosis, a family member making destructive decisions, an abusive boss, a flat tire, or the dying garden caused by the relentless Texas heat are examples of our limited control.

Don’t confuse the madness of the moment with the bigger story. Remember, we live in moments within a bigger story.

Open your newspaper or newsfeed. You come face to face with empirical evidence of evil, brokenness, and pain. Deep down you know what you’re seeing and experiencing is bad, it’s wrong, it’s cruel, it’s unjust! The madness of the moment militates against a deeper notion that the world is not supposed to be this way. Something is wrong.

Where did the notion that “the world and life are not supposed to be this way” come from?

C.S. Lewis said about his conversion from atheism to Christianity the following, “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” (Lewis’s full quote below this post)

In other words, although we live in a world of brokenness and sin, God did not obliterate goodness, truth and beauty embedded in creation. In a fallen world things are disjointed, distorted and decaying. However, God structured reality in his creation so that His image-bearers (humans) can apprehend it, albeit imperfectly. The fallen world, sin, and broken lives distort and dim God’s good creation. But, that is not the end of the story. It’s just a moment.

By God’s mercy that we have “some idea of a straight line.” The “straight line” is God’s Story.

Within My Control:

Presuppositional truths of the Christian worldview – God’s Story:

1. God is… (God exists, whether one believes or not does not change reality of God’s existence)
2. God is the source of all goodness, truth and beauty…
3. God created all things…
4. God created all things good… (God is the source of good).
5. Sin entered creation because man chose to “be like God” and rebel against his creator…
6. Creation fell into the curse of brokenness, pain, decay and death…
7. But, God sent Jesus Christ to redeem people from sin and His creation from the curse…
8. God is setting right what sin sets wrong…
9. God is currently redeeming and will restore all things in the future…

How to Conquer the Madness of the Moment

Remember The Story
So, when you find yourself caught up in the madness of the moment, remember The Story. Out-narrate the moment with God’s bigger unstoppable redemptive story. It is The Story we inhabit. The Story can be described in four chapters; creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. The story of the Bible contains all other stories.

Did you choose the circumstances of your birth?

Of course not, we did not decide where, when, and to whom we were born. We were born into a cultural moment within God’s bigger Story.

Discover or Rediscover Your Calling
Every man or woman’s life mission is to seek out their unique role in The Story. Merely existing is NOT what life is all about. Escaping life’s troubles and pain through pleasure or distraction leads to meaninglessness, madness, and self-destruction.

God created you for this place and time to serve His purposes in this generation.

Those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” (Roman 10:13) Those who God saves He calls into the biggest, truest and most beautiful Story ever told. God writes His Story with the lives of ordinary people just like you and me – moment by moment, one life at a time.

Reflect on the following:

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
– Isaiah 26:3

“Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to his summons and service.” – Os Guinness

Note: Join me as I interview Os Guinness on August 8, 2022 at 7pmCT via live Zoom (ask your questions). Link…

“For the secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky

C.S. Lewis’s full quote from above:
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such a violent reaction against it?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if i did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

Escapism vs. Reality – Comfort vs. Growth

The comfort zone is the enemy of growth. The butterfly can fly because she built the necessary strength by breaking though her cocoon.

Nothing is more thrilling than reality.

That includes experiencing pain and discomfort. Human beings don’t grow by pursuing pleasure and comfort. Humans grow strong and resilient in the soils of pain and discomfort. In order to recover what it means to be human, we must ground our experience in reality as it is. In the midst of everyday life, we can explore that which is good, true and beautiful.

Real reality is far richer and meaningful than anything man can contrive. Therefore, escapism in all its various forms is our attempt to safely reside within our comfort zones to avoid reality.

The comfort zone is the enemy of growth.
Only when we push outside our little cocoons do we experience growth and a fuller vision of life and reality as God created it.

Meaning in life is found in travails and pain, not comfort and pleasure. An eagle’s muscular strength to soar through the heavens began with the struggle of breaking through the shell of safety and comfort of his egg. The butterfly can fly because she built the necessary strength by breaking though her cocoon.

Humans can’t grow or gain anything valuable in life by attempting to escape. Reality is far more fulfilling, meaningful and deep when we embrace the reality of life as God intended it to be.

Only then, can we understand that ultimate reality is eternal reality in knowing Him.

You can try to fool yourself by pitting escapism against reality, but you will discover reality will win every time. So get comfortable being uncomfortable outside your comfort zone. That’s where the growth and joy are to be found.

For Such A Time As This

“Trying Times call for tough leaders. In God’s providence, you and I were put in this moment in time and this place to live for him.”

Don’t miss the moment. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.

You are called to a Savior, a Kingdom, and a moment. What are you going to do in this moment?

For such a moment, you must lead. And lead you must. Nowhere in the Bible is cowardice or apathy rewarded. In fact, cowardice is punished (Numbers 14). Moral courage is always rewarded and blessed. Standing up for righteousness is an act of obedience.

We must recover and embrace God’s definition of ‘leadership.’

“Biblically, leadership is not someone at the top or someone out front. (A leader) is a person who takes the initiative and takes responsibility for either the opportunity or the crisis right in front of them…. That is what we must recover.”
– Os Guiness

Trying times call for tough leaders. In God’s providence, you and I were put in this moment in time and this place to live for Him. For God’s sake lead! Whether it is your family, your community, your workplace, or your church, you are called to take initiative and responsibility for the opportunity or crisis you are facing right now. If God placed the crisis or opportunity in front of you, don’t be fearful – Be faithful!

“It is going to take an enormous amount of biblical commitment, theological clarity, and individual and congregational courage to stand against the tide of the moral and ideological revolution of the culture.”
– Albert Mohler

Do not miss the moment. It has arrived.

The question is, “What are you going to do in the moment?

Reflect and meditate on the following scriptures that will challenge, equip and encourage you to lead!

“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation….” Acts 13:36

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place…” Acts 17:26

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…” Galatians 4:4a

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

“Those who know God’s plans are responsible to live courageously for Him.” – Dr. Bill Egner

Calling the Church to Courage

Christian courage emanates from the heart of Christ who faced the cross for our sakes and His Glory. As long as we have breath in our lungs, we must continue to call the church to courage.

Fear of anything but God is sinful unbelief. “Fear naturally produces cowardice in people… wherever it (fear) prevails, it extinguishes Christian courage and strength.” – John Flavel

As I wrote in December of last year in a post entitled “Deposing the Tyranny of Fear“, fear is a tyrant – a slave-driver’s whip that drives men into traps and bondage. A spirit of fear has enveloped the world (including the church). The church has been slow to awaken to this reality. We are witnessing a growing number pastors and church leaders stand up. But, we must continue to exhort and call the church to courage.

Sirens from the Spirit of the Age have bewitched and lured the captains of the Church into their snares with their beautiful songs. The mighty ships of Christ’s Church have sailed dangerously close to the rocky shores where the Siren’s call. The irresistible melody makes the Christian forget his first love (Christ) and fall in love with the Spirit of the Age (the world). Only when his ship sweeps close to the rocks and his eyes see the terror, will he awaken to his folly. But, fear grips him. Is it too late?

By no means! As long as breath reaches our lungs, we call the church to courage. And this is not just calling to the captains, our dear pastors at the helm. We call each other to greater courage. In order to break through the fog and run-through the spirit of fear with the sword of the spirit, it will require ‘all hands on deck.’ The Church is one body with many parts. Therefore, it will take the full force of the saints in one accord to crush the spirit of fear with robust biblical faith!

If our souls are committed to the care of God, then Christians laugh at threats, cruelties and the spirit of fear and only grows more resolute by them (to paraphrase a witness of the torture of Marcus, bishop of Arethusa).

The Puritan, John Flavel reminds us that over the centuries, “Christians have put their enemies to shame by smiling at their cruelties and threatenings… (this courage is not particular to an age long past) but the same spirit of courage is found among Christians in all ages.” That means, today! S.M. Huchens diagnoses our malady of timidity;

“But the world has turned and a new age is upon us. Anyone who is paying attention to its movements knows that Christians are going to have to decide to think and act like Christians or not—to cause offense by it or not—and to pay what it costs.

 

It is time for those who are called to be pastors in the Church of the next age (for God will not stop calling them) to gird up their loins and put an end to the cowardly dalliances of so many of their predecessors in my generation and the one preceding it, owning the Christian faith to be what it is and no longer advancing the bastard offspring of the Spirit of this Age and those who are afraid to trust God by doing battle with it. The seminaries are by and large emasculating theaters full of large smiles and hollow chests, and there is a terrible dearth of orthodox, learned, and courageous shepherds—men who carry and know how to wield their staffs—but there seems to be no lack of hirelings who run when the wolves appear, making wolf-noises as they leave their flocks in the twilight.

 

Nor do I see how the fight can be fought apart from a new asceticism among all believers, which needs to be intelligently planned—something like what Rod Dreher calls for in The Benedict Option. Not many of the churches of any denomination, as currently constituted, full of the spreading rot, unwilling or unable to fight it, can be expected to cooperate, nor can they be expected as a matter of course to give livings to ministers of a boldly scriptural faith in the face of its enemies. But there are still brethren in the weak and fallen churches—even those that have a name for “orthodoxy,” and ways must be found to not abandon them, but feed and strengthen them for the Last Days.”
S. M. Hutchens

Remember, sinful fear is rooted in unbelief. The remedy is faith and fear of the Lord. “To the extent that our souls are empty of faith, they are filled with fear… The weaker the faith, the greater the fear; unbelief generates fear and fear strengthens unbelief.” – John Flavel

Fear is not the fruit of the spirit.

Christian courage emanates from the heart of Christ who faced the cross for our sake and His Glory.

We dare not fear the death he died for us. Otherwise, the cross is emptied of its power. We dare not commit the sin of fear that drove Adam and Eve into the shrubs of shame. Either we accept Christ’s words as true, “Fear not, for I am with you (until the end of the age)” or we trade the truth for a lie and worship the creature over the Creator. Remember, we worship what we fear. We should fear God only and take courage. Faithful courage in the face of fear glorifies God and courage is contagious!

God Commands and Commends Courage

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

1 Corinthians 16:13
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

Proverbs 28:1
The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Psalm 27:14
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18

How can you call your fellow Christians to courage today?

How The Mighty Fall – A Primer for Successful Leadership

“Every institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline.” – Jim Collins
As leaders of families, teams, companies, platoons, churches or any organization, learning what NOT to do is just as important as learning what to do.

“Every institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline”

– Jim Collins

In 2009, Dave Ramsey and his team gifted me with a small library of leadership books. One stood out from the rest. If you walk into my home office or my office at the church or search my backpack, there is a high probability you’ll find a Bible and this one small book.

Fast forward to 2016.

I was in a conference room in Dallas with Dave Ramsey, Patrick Lencioni, Seth Godin, George W. Bush, and Jim Collins. I put a question to Jim Collins (bestselling author and speaker). “Jim, what is the best book you have written to date?” I fully expected him to reply, “Built to Last” or “Good to Great.” Both are excellent books. However, I was surprised by his answer. He replied without hesitation, “The best book I’ve written is a little book entitled “How the Mighty Fall” (2009).” Jim went on to explain that if we don’t know why and how great organizations fall, we won’t know how to make a good organization into a great organization.

As leaders of families, teams, companies, platoons, churches or any organization, learning what NOT to do is just as important as learning what to do.

Failure as a Favorite Teacher
I have a long list of failures and mistakes I’ve made in business, ministry and leadership. I call them my “playbook of what NOT to do’s.” I joke with people and say, “If you learn from all of MY mistakes and failures, you will be successful!” Failure is a better teacher than success. Just as pain is a better teacher than pleasure.

“How The Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In” is a primer to understanding how to be a good leader of any group of people, whether a Fortune 100 Company or your family. Even when we read our Bibles, it is replete with stories of failure. Each with its own lesson to teach us in our own historical moment.
Click on chart images in this post to open in a new window and enlarge and/or download if you wish.

Pride (hubris) always marks the beginning of the fall
Proverbs 16:18 clearly states, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” This is true of individuals and organizations. Arrogance in the face of problems is incapable of seeing them in the first place. Pride blinds us to the truth. Past success does not promise future success. Failure to cultivate and renew the soils of traditions, values and competencies that led to initial success will create conditions for failure. When leaders replace “why” with “what” questions, they miss the opportunity for deeper reflection and basic understanding of why the organization was successful in the first place.

Most important of all is what Collins calls a “decline in learning orientation.”

Leaders lose the inquisitiveness and learning orientation that mark those truly great individuals who, no matter how successful they become, maintain a learning curve as steep as when they first began their careers.” (Jim Collins, p. 43).

I would add that leaders must “read widely”, not just sticking to their side on a topic or their area of expertise. Read to understand counter or competing positions. Read and learn outside your career domain. When we are lifelong learners, we understand that we never completely arrive. The more we learn the more we understand our own inadequacies and limitations – allowing humility to invade our lives.

Are you on your way up or on your way down? The dynamics of Leadership-Team bahavior chart below is a helpful tool for determining where you are headed.

In conclusion, understanding a situation is a precondition to responding appropriately to a situation. As a leader, if you misdiagnose a problem, the solutions you create will harm the organization you are leading. The Bible tells us to “know the state of our flocks.” (Proverbs 27:23)

“Every institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline… By understanding the stages of decline, leaders can substantially reduce their chances of falling all the way to the bottom.” – Jim Collins

Every once in a while, I put “How the Mighty Fall” back on my bookshelf. Somehow, it makes its way back on my desk or in my backpack. I’m thankful Jim Collins wrote this little book.

Here is a link to a summary by Jim Collins….

*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.