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

Assignment One: Read "A Christian Manifesto" by Francis Schaeffer

Our first step in our six week journey will be to read the book “A Christian Manifesto”

Please order it this week so we can begin reading next Friday, September 11th. If you prefer, the audiobook version is very well done.

Link to Amazon to purchase book

Subscribe to my blog to join us on this journey. You’ll get content delivered to your inbox as I post.

I chose this particular book because although it was written nearly 40 years ago, it is more relevant than ever today. Francis Schaeffer had an acute awareness of the coming cultural milieu that we find ourselves in as Christians in America. In this cultural moment, we are facing a competing worldview that is completely antithetical to the biblical Christian worldview.

We must keep in mind that there is only one worldview that has the philosophical and theological equipment to birth a nation with the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” No other worldview or philosophy could have made such a claim.

Since Schaeffer accurately diagnosed the problem decades prior to it emerging in culture. I think it is worth understanding the issues from Schaeffer’s perspective and solutions he offered.

Deep in the soil of our nation, there are the remnants of a good, beautiful and true Christian heritage. But, we find ourselves in a drought in this present darkness. It is time for the Church to dig deep and cultivate the Christian worldview artifacts that remain before they are lost forever. As we follow Christ as our first love, our lives redeem and restore the culture around us as a secondary effect.

“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” Revelation 3:2

Beginning on September 11, 2020, we will be reading our Bibles, praying, exploring and discussing Schaeffer’s “A Christian Manifesto.” I will introduce articles, podcasts, videos and even music along the way.

I look forward to sojourning with you for a season.

Assignment: September 11 – 17

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

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What if you woke up one day and the sun didn’t rise?

What if you woke up one day and the sun didn’t rise?

I was looking out my window toward the east this morning.

I could scarcely see the first shades of deep purple with a hint of orange stretching across the expanse of the horizon. It is still. Not even a breeze stirs the leaves. The scene is both delicate and overpowering.

An interesting question entered my mind as a gazed upon the vista pictured above.

What if you woke up one day and the sun didn’t rise?

Think deeply about that question for a few moments.
What if one day, the sun just didn’t rise.
What would you think?
How would you react?

What if the day the sun didn’t rise began an unending night? It wouldn’t be long before a coldness would grip the earth.

If we’re honest, I think you and I would be deeply unsettled and struck with a fear we’ve never experienced before. What about hope? Could there be any hope without a rising sun?

God superintends with power over the sun. Each morning, He says, “again!” and the sun rises again. The next day, He says, “again!” So it is with God’s providence. And so it is with man’s ungratefulness. Man is but a mist. Our sojourn on this planet is but a hairsbreadth.

Every day we take for granted the rising sun, our beating hearts, eyes that see, hands that hold and others to love. We arise under the providential rising sun and go about our days ignoring the gift-nature of God (even for those who don’t believe in Him).

Every day that the sun rises, the heavenly event speaks to our hearts and minds. We can gaze upon it and ignore it or we can gain wisdom. Either way we will give an account one day when we’ve seen our last sunrise.

Tomorrow, set your alarm a little earlier and look toward the eastern horizon and ask yourself the question; “What if the sun doesn’t rise today?” When it does rise, you will filled with joy and gratitude – and the fear of the Lord will set your heart right.

Meditate on the following passages: 

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day…” – Genesis 1:3-5

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20

“Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it…” – Isaiah 42:5

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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.


Read previous post: “The Hand that Holds the Rod – God’s Discipline
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The Hand that Holds the Rod – God’s Discipline

The Hand that Holds the Rod – God’s Discipline

Dearest Christian,

The same God who created all things and made you in His image…

Is the same God who delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt.
Is the same God who exiled His people in judgement.
Is the same God spectacularly described in Ezekiel 1.
Is the same God who looked upon the water and made it blush at a wedding feast in Cana.
Is the same God spoke red hot scorching words to the Pharisees.
Is the same God who touched the hand of the leper.
Is the same God who created the waves then walked upon them like a road.
Is the same God who wept at the death of His good friend and then called him back to life.
Is the same God who drank the full measure of His Father’s wrath for our sin.
Is the same God who died and defied the shackles of death.
Is the same God who now rules and reigns in the Heavenlies.
Is the same God who will return to reclaim and restore what is rightfully His.
The Alpha and Omega – The Beginning and the End.

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

This morning I was reading from the Puritan prayer and devotion book, “Valley of Vision.” I came across a prayer that was very unsettling. It brought great injury to my flesh and greater fear to my heart. I warn you, dear pilgrim, do not casually passover this admonishment and don’t read it unless you are willing to be antiquated with it. You must be willing to accept the heavy strike of the rod.

“Let me lament for forgetting daily to come to thee,
and cleanse me from the deceit of bringing
my heart to a duty –
because the act pleased me or appealed to reason.
Grant that I may be salted with suffering,
with every exactment tempered to my soul,
every rod excellently fitted to my back,
to chastise, humble, break me.
Let me not overlook the hand that holds the rod,
as thou didst not let me forget the rod that fell
on Christ, and drew me to him.”

I read this prayer over and over. It was terrifying.  Through it, the mighty blow of conviction was brought upon my back. My heart was purged of my sinful pride and slammed to the ground and crushed like a stone. The void left in my heart was filled with the fear of the Lord – the same God of Ezekiel’s vision.

In my fear of the Lord, my heart is so deceitful that I was tempted to turn to the flesh as Adam fled to cover himself after he fell. We fear and flee discipline. Then as I continued this devotion, I read two passages:

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18)

“Do not be idolaters a some of them were … We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did.” (1 Cor. 10:7a-8a)

Again, “the rod excellently fitted to my back, to chastise, humble, break me” fell upon me. This time it was not a blow of conviction because there was no sin… yet. It was a blow of correction to keep me from being lured off the path by temptation of the flesh – Divine protection.

Having done His mighty work, the Spirit of that same God lovingly whispered to my soul;

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

“Let me not overlook the hand that holds the rod,as thou didst not let me forget the rod that fell on Christ, and drew me to him.” The hand that holds the rod is the loving hand of a good Father, “for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, as does a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:12)

If Christ did not accept the rod for our sin, there would be no hope. All would be darkness and chaos. But he did, and the grace of God poured forth from His wounds to redeem and restore that which was lost. If only we would believe in that same God.

Lord, fill me with the light of your truth found in your Word every morning and again before I rest. The darkness and lures of the world will lie to me all day. Sanctify my mind in your truth. That I may be filled with light and walk by grace through faith in the only Savior who saves.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

In Jesus’ Name
Amen


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Why we need beauty

Why we need beauty

Do you ever wonder why humans need beauty?

“The acute experience of great beauty readily evokes a nameless yearning for something more than earth can offer. Elegant splendor reawakens our spirit’s aching need for the infinite, a hunger for more than matter can provide.”Thomas Dubay

We’ve been in self-quarantine / lockdown for over a month. Each day I’m asking myself questions about what I’m learning. I’m looking for lessons, both big and small. Some days, I come up short and can’t seem to find the lesson.

This morning I was reflecting on some interesting aspects of my life. There are themes that seem to rise to the surface now and then. One of those themes is beauty.

The further down the path of life I wander, the more important beauty and wonder become. The more of the hurt and pain I see and experience in the world, the more I find myself searching for that which is beautiful. Beauty is a salve for the human soul.

When I was younger, I was an artist of sorts. From an early age, I had a keen interest in music and visual art. I started drawing and painting at a very young age, I got my first  drum set at 3 or 4 years old and my first tape recorder when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. I would listen to the radio and record my favorite songs. It wouldn’t be long (7th grade) before I would get my first turntables and mixer. My first DJ gig was at the end of 7th grade – a birthday party for a classmate. I have tinkered with various instruments my entire life. As an introvert and only child, I would sit in my room for hours drawing and building things both real and imagined.

I was a poor student in school, but I always excelled in art and writing. In fact, I was nearly headed to art school for college. I had my eyes set on Parson’s School of Design or Rhode Island School of Design. I had a great art instructor at my boarding school in Connecticut. Over 4 years, she showed me different ways to see the world. However, the rigid demands of creating a portfolio in Advanced Placement art class to submit to colleges proved to be too rigid. Add on top of that a growing interest in social activities and sports – and I walked away from ‘art school’ but not art or beauty.

Some of my fondest memories; are of exploring the woods around Avon Old Farms School (CT), wandering down to Bondi Beach (outside Sydney) to watch the surf, sitting on the top of a truck staring at the expanse of sky with friends at midnight in the middle of the Australian outback, relaxing on a balcony in Costa Rica with my wife watching birds circling in flight over the ocean and beholding a Texas sunset in the country with my family. These are just a few memories off the top of my mind. I have hundreds more.

Some of my best friends are extraordinary artists. To be able to see and hear the beautiful artifacts that emerge from them is a privilege and joy of the highest order.

A shift occurred

When I reflect back to why I loved beauty and art when I was younger vs. today, I learn that a major shift has taken place. When I was younger, I loved beauty and art mainly because it was an escape from reality. I wanted and needed to find a way out of the chaos and brokenness of my life. Beauty and art brought a kind of order and control. As I’ve gotten older and matured, I have learned that beauty is rooted in ultimate reality and an artist’s personality is the prism through which we see that reality. It is colored and shaped by the artist’s perceptions and expression outward.

So, why do we need beauty?

I have concluded that beauty points to an ultimate reality that remains thinly veiled in this life. From a Christian understanding, we live in a broken world that is slavishly chained to time. Everything, and I mean everything we see, hear and create will eventually decay or be destroyed. On the surface, this is kind of sad. But, if we consider ‘why’ beauty exists in the first place and ‘why’ we humans seem to need beauty – we begin to understand that the beauty we enjoy points to something else.

Beauty points to an ultimate reality and truth rooted in God’s character and expressed through his created order. Before the ‘fall’ of man into brokenness, God called His creation ‘good’. Since the fall, man has attempted to get back to that original state of goodness. Because we are all created in the image of God (Imago DeÍ), humans, like prisms reflect, refract and shape expressions of our creator’s beauty and goodness.

When we experience or express something beautiful, we’re getting a glimpse of an ultimate reality that is purely beautiful. We are seeing but shadows of that original ‘goodness’ cast onto the paths of this short life. When you see or hear something astoundingly beautiful, know that the reason why you love it and want it to last forever is because, beauty, goodness and truth are eternal. In this life, we merely perceive and enjoy dim glimpses of what was originally intended and what ultimately will come.

And so, if the world is slavish, harsh and cold, beauty is the warm inviting fire emanating a kindly light. We need beauty because, whether you believe it or not, beauty is a way that a good God reminds us that he love’s us.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart …” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)


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