Five Enemies of Unity

Five Enemies of Unity - What are you doing to protect unity?

In 2009, Kathryn and I had the privilege to spend a week with Dave Ramsey and his team in Cancun Mexico.

We joined about a couple dozen business leaders and their spouses. All of us were striving to grow and/or improve our organizations by developing our personal leadership. Today this program is called “EntreLeadership” (Master Series) and thousands attend every year. Dave’s book by the same name has sold millions of copies and the podcast has gained a massive following (shout out to my pal Dan Tardy).

It is cool to look back and see that we got to participate in a small but powerful begining. Today EntreLeadership has grown as a brand in its own right and continues to have an impact on businesses, nonprofits and churches.

It’s been over 10 years since we were in Cancun with Dave and team. I think it’s time to revisit lessons learned, how I applied them and test their relevance today.

Unity is always on the forefront of good leadership.

Let’s talk about what Dave Ramsey refers to as the “Five Enemies of Unity”. Every organization has a culture. The culture can be healthy and life-giving or toxic and deadly. A good leader will strive to create and cultivate the former and defend against the latter.

Anyone who has a lawn or a garden knows that it requires watering, weeding and maintenance. Left unattended, a beautiful lawn or garden will become overgrown with weeds and overrun with pests in no time.  The same goes for the culture in an organization; be it a company, church, nonprofit or your family. A leader must be vigilant in building and maintaining unity.  A leader must wake up and fight the enemies of unity like a gardener fights weeds and pests – all the while cultivating unity.  It’s a big job!  I’d argue that its the most important job of the leader.

Unity is powerful. Unity is biblical.

Christian unity is good, beautiful and true as it demonstrates the fullness of the body working together.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” – Ephesians 4:1-6

A football team does not win the Super Bowl by accident. Individuals may stand out, but ultimately unity is behind the victory.

You may know there are some things you can do to create unity. There are thousands of ‘team building’ programs that can help establish unity. But, what are you doing to protect your organization’s unity?

What about unity in the church?

What about unity in your family?

Below are the Five Enemies of Unity.

1. Gossip
2. Poor communications
3. Unresolved conflict (disagreements)
4. Lack of shared purpose
5. Sanctioned incompetence

Read Dave Ramsey’s quick explanations for each of the 5 Enemies of Unity

Below Dave talks bluntly about gossip… Enjoy!

Assignment: September 11 – 17

6 Week Journey assignment one: A Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer

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Are you ready for the next six weeks?

Are you ready for the next six weeks?

For all my readers and subscribers.

Ready to take the next step in our journey?

Over the next 6 weeks, I’ll be sharing a series of posts, book reviews & other resources to help you develop a distinctly Christian vision for life, culture, relationships and service. If you are interested in a deeper understanding of the Christian worldview without being overly academic, I promise you will enjoy growing with me and others on this journey.

I will also be tackling some of the biggest issues in this cultural moment. We will help each other become men and women who understand the times and respond from the a biblical foundation.  Ready?  Let’s go!

1. Read my recently completed Critical Response and Worldview Analysis of the book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo.

This is a sneak peek of the two part series that will be published next week.

Part 1: A Critical Response – White Fragility (Robin DiAngelo)

Part 2: A World View Analysis – White Fragility (Robin DiAngelo)

2. Recommended Resources to get us rolling:

Book: A Christian Manifesto by is A. Schaeffer
If you have not read this book yet or its been a few years, its time! Written in 1981, this volume was prophetic in that we’re seeing what Schaeffer was describing 40 years ago.

Podcast: Theology Pugcast – A Tale of Two Revolutions (July 27, 2020)
In this episode, Glenn contrasts the secular, Enlightenment-inspired French Revolution with the spiritual revolution that transformed England at roughly the same time. The French Enlightenment was an anti-Christian project that provided a radical critique of society and theorized about how to fix it. Once the French internalized Enlightenment ideas, the Revolution became inevitable, though it took a government debt crisis to trigger it. The elite’s theories didn’t solve the problem, resulting in chaos and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of French citizens. In contrast, the spiritual revolution in England from the Evangelical Revivals reached deep into the lower classes and prevented England from degenerating into the violence of the French Revolution. It also led to Wilberforce and the Clapham sect and the spiritual and moral transformation of English society. Chris and Tom chime in about the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment and the parallels with America today.
Link:  Theology Pugcast – A Tale of Two Revolutions

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Restorative Justice – Justice That Restores

Restorative Justice – Justice That Restores

Charles ‘Chuck’ Colson, served as Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1970.

Once known as President Nixon’s “hatchet man”, Colson gained notoriety at the height of the Watergate scandal.”(1) He was known for being ruthless.

On March 1, 1974, Charles Colson was indicted for his role in a massive White House cover-up. After initially pleading the Fifth Amendment in order to avoid conviction, his conscience would not let him rest. Colson changed his plea to guilty. On June 21, 1974, Chuck Colson was sentenced to prison for obstruction of justice.

Why would the ruthless ‘hatchet man’ who could have walked away a free man decide to go to prison?

You see, Colson became a Christian in 1973 and his life changed. For his part in the Watergate Scandal, he willingly went to prison. Little did Colson know that God would use prison to give him a vision. That vision would reshape the justice system and transform lives of hundreds of thousands of prisoners and their families worldwide.

No one has done more to reform the prison systems and justice systems in the US and around the world than the late Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship.

“But all at once I realized that it was not my success God had used to enable me to help those in this prison, or in hundreds of others just like it. My life of success was not what made this morning so glorious — all my achievements meant nothing in God’s economy. “No, the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure — that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation — being sent to prison — was the beginning of God’s greatest use of my life; He chose the one thing in which I could not glory for His glory.” (Chuck Colson)

Today, everywhere we turn people are crying out for justice. As I pointed out a few weeks ago in my post about our justice impulse, we all have an innate sense of justice. When we see injustice, we have a deep desire to see things made right.

As Christians, we must think deeply about justice and how to best understand it from a biblical foundation. Being emotional creatures, we must not let emotions or feelings cloud our understanding of justice. When we encounter injustice, how then should we respond as Christians?

Restorative Justice – Justice that Restores

While there are secular and pagan definitions, I believe that the Bible offers a better vision of Restorative Justice. Typically, I refrain from placing adjectives before biblical terms. For the sake of not being overly discursive, I’ll use ‘Restorative Justice’.

First, God’s justice is impartial. We are called to be impartial. To the extent that we are partial, we are distorting justice.
The Bible says, “For God shows no partiality.” [Romans 2:11] and “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” [Lev. 19:15]

Second, drawing on a biblical worldview, I put forth my working definition of ‘Restorative Justice’:

Restorative Justice is a distinctly biblical vision of (impartial) justice that seeks to uphold what is righteous and good, contribute what is missing, stop what is sinful and restore what is broken. It reflects the Christian belief in the God-given dignity, value, and potential of every human being (2). Restorative Justice offers a better vision (of justice) – bringing Biblical truth to bear in the larger society (3).

Colson Fellow and Vice President of Church Mobilization for Prison Fellowship Heather Rice-Minus says, “Restorative Justice recognizes that crime is not just an offense against a government. Crime damages the security and well-being of the victim and the entire community.”

Isaiah 32:16-18: “Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”

Rice-Minus says, “This passage gives us glimpse of the ancient (Jewish) concept of Shalom – peace that encompasses tranquility, wholeness, safety, prosperity, and relational harmony. Crime impairs our ability to experience shalom.”

In the book, ‘Restoring All Things’, authors Warren Cole Smith and John Stonestreet develop the concept further;

“Restorative Justice prioritizes participation of those who are harmed by crime, promotes accountability of those who are responsible, and cultivates community engagement.

The government becomes a facilitator of justice where the person harmed and the person responsible for the harm become the direct parties involved in the justice process… This allows for individualized restitution that personalizes the harm and illuminates human dignity and value.

Restorative justice repairs the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.” (4)

Restorative Justice – The Church That Restores

The quiet work of the church raises awareness, influences local and state laws, brings criminals to justice, restores victims’ lives and works to bring justice and peace (shalom) into our community.

Jim Liske (former President of Prison Fellowship) said, “Why should justice be restorative? At its heart, crime isn’t about law-breaking; it’s about violating the peace and wholeness of the entire community.”

As Christians, we know that our sin is a crime against a good, loving and just God. Our crimes against God violate peace and wholeness in our families and communities as well. But, Jesus died on the cross on our behalf so we can be restored to Him. God’s justice is restorative in Christ Jesus. Don’t you think we should base our concepts of justice on that?

As God is redeeming and restoring brokenness in our community, we join Him in his work as a Church that Restores.

Resources:

Notations:
1. Wikipedia – Charles Colson
2. Jim Liske – Fox News article 2015
3. Ibid.
4. Restoring All Things (Smith/Stonestreet) – Heather Rice-Minus interview


Read previous post: “Developing a Distinct Christian Vision for Service
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Developing a Distinct Christian Vision for Service

Developing a Distinct Christian Vision for Service

Over the last twelve months, I have undergone the rigors of the Colson Fellows Program Residency. The mission of this master’s level course equips Christians with a robust Christian worldview so they can thoughtfully engage with post-Christian culture, inspire reflection in others, and work effectively toward re-shaping the world in the light of God’s kingdom.

I have been developing a bigger vision for my life’s work and calling.

I’m bringing this vision to bear in my role as a Local Missions pastor at Christ Chapel Bible Church. My role is to help our church engage in service in our communities.  My broader mission is to help my brothers and sisters develop a “distinctly Christian vision for life, culture, relationships and service.” In today’s post, I’m going to focus on service and what that means.

As I have reimagined and prayed about a ‘bigger vision’, I have realized my goal is not just to get people to serve but to understand the “Gospel of the Kingdom” – a truly Kingdom vision.  Serving is just one expression of this comprehensive view of reality. Jesus spoke of the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” We need to ask, ‘What does He mean by ‘Kingdom?’ (Luke 4:43, Luke 8:1, Luke 10:9, John 18:36).  I’ve found that the Kingdom sometimes gets lost in the noise of everyday life and even ministry.

When Jesus redeems and saves, He invites us to join him in Kingdom work of redeeming and restoring the world and culture (all things). My good friend and pastor Dr. Doug Cecil likes to say, “The Gospel is enshrined in our hearts and proclaimed with our lips.” I would also add that “the Gospel is also seen in our lives and felt through our hands and feet.”

Our witness is often seen before our words are heard. The Christian witness is often the window through which the unbelieving world sees the light of Christ. As Pastor Alistair Begg likes to say, “People often learn the melody of the Gospel before they learn the words.”

The church evangelizes the lost and calls redeemed people to play their role on the grand stage of God’s redemptive story (Acts 17:26, Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:12). In doing so, we demonstrate that the Gospel not only saves but infuses and empowers every aspect of the follower’s life. Through the power of the Holy Spirt, we bring forth  elements of Christ’s Kingdom into this broken world. Therefore, we should call our brothers and sisters from their inner-self focus to live the same way they were saved – by grace through faith. In reality, we are calling to that which God has already placed in the heart of the Christ-follower.

We have a purpose in this life.

We are saved “for” something.
We must answer the question, “How then shall we live?”

We’re not calling our people to “do” something, we are calling them to “be” something. Their “doing” (actions) will flow from a distinct vision of who they are and their identity in Christ.

Are you a ‘Check the box’ Christian?

In other words, do you fall into the habit of ‘checking boxes’ for going to church, attending a bible study and serving occasionally?  Would you say your Christian life is vibrant and joy-filled?  If not, why?

This call to develop a distinct Christian vision for service completely removes “check box” from the available options. It challenges the believer to step through the beautiful threshold of Salvation into the Kingdom – where Jesus beckons, “follow me.” In following, we are abiding. And in abiding, we are bearing much fruit – proving that we are His disciples. In this, there is fulness of joy.

The life of the follower of Christ teaches and sanctifies the world around them by how they reflect the One whom they follow (Matthew 5:16). Developing a distinct Christian vision for service enables the us to use our gifts, talents, passions and abilities to bring God’s redemptive and restorative power into a dark and broken world.

“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.” (Mt. 5:16)

How then shall we serve?

 


Devotional Resource: From Ken Boa’s “Handbook of Wisdom” 

Whatever I do, I should do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Whatever I do, whether in word or in deed,
I will do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)

Prayer:
Father, I want to dedicate all that I do this very day to Your glory and honor. There is no component of life that cannot be lived for You, no task so small and mundane that it is unworthy of being offered to Your service. Whether in my speech or in my actions, I will do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to You. Amen.


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Thank You Ravi – A Story

Thank You Ravi – A Story

News: Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has been battling a rare form of bone cancer since March and was recently informed by doctors that his cancer has spread and there’s nothing more they can do medically. He has ceased seeking treatment at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas and has returned home to Atlanta, Georgia to be with family and friends.

Thank you to Dr. Ravi Zacharias and a story…

In early February of 2014, I heard that world renown preacher, philosopher, author and Christian apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias would be coming to a church in Fort Worth to speak. I’ll refer to him as ‘Ravi’ because his ministry has been a part of my life since around 2009 – He’s almost like family! Although, we only know him through radio, books, videos and podcasts. He is a very familiar voice around our home and God has used him to shape my life and ministry.

About a week prior to his scheduled appearance in Fort Worth, I decided to send him an email. Below this post is that email. I wanted to personally thank him for the impact he has on my life, shake his hand and introduce him to my wife Kathryn. That’s it. Just an good ole Texan, “Howdy and thanks for everything!”

On February 16, 2014 Kat and I showed up at Bethesda Church a little early because I figured there would be a pretty good turnout to hear Ravi. The sanctuary was packed.  We took our seats 20 minutes before the service began.

As Ravi preached, he covered a lot of ground – constantly contextualizing the texts from which he was speaking. He unpacked the story of the Prodigal Son, where the father runs out to meet his disobedient wayward lost son. Ravi noted that it was “counter-cultural” to the way middle-eastern fathers would have treated their disgraced sons. The boy would have been expected to crawl back to the father begging for mercy. But, in Jesus’ story, this father is DIFFERENT! This father runs to meet his hurting boy.

Then Ravi said, “Christ met me on a bed of suicide. I never went in pursuit after him, He pursued me… The Hound of Heaven.”

This is where my story with Ravi began many years prior to Bethesda in 2014. This is where his ministry was legitimized in my mind and where he threw an anchor into my heart. I had been there too, having suffered with depression many years prior (my story here). When someone you don’t know can bear witness to your suffering because they have been there too, there is a deep connection. I knew from 2009 on that Ravi would be able to minister to me and teach me in ways others could not. From then until now, Ravi has never let me down. Sure, he is human and a sinner. I do not put him on any pedestal but, he demonstrated to me how I could walk a similar path – a fearless abiding walk with Jesus Christ. The key word being “Fearless”.

Ravi’s sermon ended and the host pastor closed out the event and dismissed everyone. As expected, a massive crowd flocked to the front of the sanctuary to meet Ravi. I was one of hundreds. With my wife (who HATES crowds) in tow, I made my way up to the front to shake his hand and thank him. This was the first time that it occurred to me that Ravi had become an unknowing mentor of mine.

As soon as we got to the front of the stage, crowds were pressing in on all sides – shoulder to shoulder. Kat pealed off to the stage steps to get away, telling me to go ahead with out her. It was gridlock. Several minutes past and I could see Ravi about twenty feet away. It made me very glad that he was spending a few moments with each person whom he met. Several more minutes past and I was not any closer. I saw a security person flash the 2 minute sign to Ravi’s assistant. I was no closer than when I had set out on my endeavor. In my mind, I decided that it was not meant to be. I resigned to that – albeit a little bristled by being so close but unable to reach my objective.

After looking at my watch, I saw that two minutes has quickly flown by. The crowd had me hemmed in from the front and sides. I lost sight of Ravi, turned around to leave and get out of the crowd. I looked up, scanned the stage steps for my wife, locked eyes with her and started walking toward her in disappointment.

Then, Kathryn’s expression changed and she pointed past me. Her eyes grew bigger and she mouthed the word, “LOOK!” I stopped. You know when your wife gives you a look that tells you everything you need to know. It was like she was saying, “Turn around, silly, you are missing something!”

So, I slowly turned around and I was nearly face to face with Ravi. It was like the crowd parted like Moses parted the Red Sea and I found myself on the other side. No telling what kind of expression was on my face.  My prepared remarks went out the window and I babbled a few words that included my name, “Thank you, sir” and something about an email I had sent a few days prior. Ravi looked at me for a moment as if to check his mental Rolodex (Contact Management System for you younger folks).  His face softened. He reached out his hand, returned the pleasantries and said, “I read your email. Thank you for sending it along.” I was struck by the fact that he actually took time to read it much less remember it. The man must receive a couple hundred emails a day. I had just randomly found an @rzim.org address and hoped it would get to him. It did. I turned around to try to find Kat to introduce her to him but she was far away and just waved at us and smiled. She was there for me more than anything else. But, she did ask a young man with a camera to run up and take a photo of me and Ravi. He did.

Our visit was less than a minute in a half. We took a photo and I thanked him again. As I turned and walked away, I heard my name uttered by a strangely familiar voice behind me.

“Lance!” the voice said. I turned around. Ravi said, “Keep up the good work.”

An encouragement from a gentlemen and leader I greatly respect. “Yes sir, I will.”

As I reflect over the years that have passed since that day and this moment, my response is the same today as it was then, “Yes sir, I will.”

I hope and pray that will continue to be my response until I meet my Savior.

Brother Ravi, our days will continue afresh in the celestial Kingdom with Christ. May God Bless you and keep you and your family in these days. May God grant RZIM a double portion of impact in the decades to come. Whatever time God has ahead of you, “Keep up the good work!”  Fright the good fight.  And may goodness and mercy follow you all your days until you step foot into the everlasting.

I leave with you what you have left with me and so many. Distilled truth bathed in Grace and Goodness from the lips of our Savior … “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19)

Thank you sir.


Feb 2014 Email to Ravi Zacharias

Dear  RZIM Team,

Hope this email finds you well.  My wife, Kathryn and I will be at Bethesda this Sunday.  If you could pass a message along to Ravi, I would appreciated it very much. 

Dr. Zacharias,

You and RZIM have been a part of my life for about 5 years through radio out-reach, podcast, books, videos and Slice of Infinity.  The topics, questions and sermons have driven me deeper into God’s Word and equipped me to engage the world with truth in love.  I feel like I’ve been taking an extended course in apologetics with a touch of pastoral ministry.  You have had a profound effect on my life and my personal ministry.  God has Blessed me and those I reach through you all.  Thank you.

We share something in common, sir.  I too nearly ended my own life about 11 years ago (I’m 39 now).
In 8th grade, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and was Baptized. By the end of college, I had become the worst of sinners as Paul in 1 Timothy 1:13-16.

My girlfriend became pregnant and we had an abortion. I gave my approval and sanctioned the death of the innocent.

I came to the end of myself on an early morning in 2003. All of the sin in my life weighed on me and the fact that I had murdered my own child put me over the edge. It was darkness and Satan was whispering lies for me to end my own life. At that moment, the Lord reminded me that I belonged to Him. A glimmer of hope entered the darkness.

It was not an immediate transformation. However, Jesus began drawing me to Himself and gave me Hope in my heart. My journey with Jesus is nothing short of miraculous. I’ve gone from being the worst of sinners to an abiding faith in Christ. I serve as the spiritual head of my loving family.

About three months ago my mother revealed a dark secret she had been hiding since before I was born. When she was pregnant with me, her marriage to my father was falling apart. She went to her doctor and asked about an abortion. He told her that he did not perform abortions. So, this lonely, angry, frightened young mother chose life.

Even while I was in my mother’s womb, God’s sovereign hand protected my tiny life. Even as He knew the choices I would make later in life, He protected me. I live Jeremiah 29:11-12

I currently serve as Chairman and Director of the ForLife Initiative at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth. I have experienced healing and forgiveness the same way I was saved, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. On SOHL Sunday 2014, I told my story to our church family (7000 people). I went ‘all-in’ with Christ in order that he may reach those walking wounded among us and encourage men to step forward, get healed and join me on the battled field.

The years of ministry/training/encouragement from you and RZIM played a huge part in demonstrating the boldness and abiding faith I would need to step into such a hostile battle ground. I thank you for being obedient to your calling and God for calling you.

I hope to personally shake your hand and thank you this Sunday at Bethesda. Most importantly, introduce you to my wonderful wife, Kat. Obviously, if that doesn’t occur, please know that you, your family and team are in my prayers.

May the Lord go before you and prepare hearts to receive the Gospel of Grace through you.

My deepest thanks,

2Tim2:4
Lance

ps. Sorry this was so long.


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Worldview: What does it mean to be a man?

Worldview: What does it mean to be a man?

What does it mean to be a man in this cultural moment?

This all boils down to answering the question, “what does it mean to be human?”
This is a worldview question and depending on one’s worldview, will render different answers.

Worldview answers these questions:

  • Metaphysical – what is real?
  • Epistemology – what is true?
  • Origin – where did I come from?
  • Meaning – does life have meaning?
  • Morality – what is right or wrong (good / evil)?
  • Destiny – what happens when I die?
  • Identity – who am I and does my life have purpose?

Every worldview must answer those questions in ways that correspond to reality and have coherence.

A secularist-atheist, Muslim, pantheist, Christian, etc will all answer these questions differently. Worldview drives behavior and how we see ourselves in our place in the world. What I believe about being a man in this cultural moment is shaped by my worldview. In the west, The contours of our body ethic are rooted in a worldview and philosophies emerging from Rome and Greece – that were both reshaped and reformed by Christian worldview.

As the Christian ethic is jettisoned for a more naturalistic / materialistic worldview, we don’t actually move toward something new, we move back to something old – Rome.

Therefore, this shift will change how we define our place and purpose in the world, man and woman.

I believe the definition of a man is rooted in biology, theology and character.

What does it mean to be a man?

He does not give in to passivity
He takes responsibility
He leads sacrificially
He defends the weak
He is a voice for the voiceless and a father to the fatherless.
He is faithful
He loves mercy and does justice
He loves well and leads well.
(Notice none of these attributes have anything to do with a man’s physical strength, violence or abilities).

“So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28)

Note: The content above was taken from a reply I wrote to a friend’s post on Facebook. This is an extension of my recent work in the Colson Fellows residency has helped me crystalize and communicate the contours of what shapes our worldview particularly in America today and our definition of man.

Resources:


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