Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.

Do you know your role in the story of which you inhabit?

We live in an extraordinary moment in history.

Do you know your role in this world?

What are your responsibilities and opportunities in this cultural moment?

Where do I start in the square inch God has placed me?

If you are redeemed in Christ, then you inhabit the greatest story ever told. The Gospel is not limited to the way of salvation. It is bigger than that. Yes, your faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life is important. But, the Gospel I believe is not the Gospel of Lance. It’s not about me. Neither is the Gospel about you. Our salvation is not the end game nor is it the over-arching theme of the Bible. Jesus Christ proclaimed the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom.’

Michael Craven said, “The Gospel is so much larger than the personal plan for salvation. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the in-breaking rule and reign of Jesus Christ as King over all creation – redeeming and restoring all things. Through Him, the Kingdom of God has come into this world. Jesus has completed the atonement (payment) for our sin on the cross. By his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father, He is presently ruling and reigning over creation. Christ is reinstating his righteousness on the earth.”

J.I. Packer said, “The Gospel starts by teaching us that we, as creatures, are absolutely dependent on God, and that he, as Creator, has an absolute claim on us… Only when we have learned this can we see what sin is and understand the salvation from sin.”

The bad news is that our modern American gospel is man-centered not a God-centered Gospel. A God-centered Gospel is indeed Good News. There are two competing gospels, the gospel of the world vs the Gospel of the Kingdom. The former leads to death and destruction the latter leads to eternal life and human flourishing.

“Calling is at the heart of scripture.” – Os Guiness

God calls us, moreover, God invites us to inhabit His story. “When Christians see everything as calling from the Lord, we realize the dynamism of our faith” (Os Guiness). As we respond and enter into the overarching story of all of history, we go about setting things right in the world. In other words, we bring order to the disorder we find in our time and place.

“The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.” – The Colson Center

A Unifying Vision:
As Christians, we must cultivate a unifying vision of the Lordship of Christ over the domain of our individual and collective lives as the local church. We shall live lives that are holy and pleasing to the Lord as we exercise dominion over that which God has placed in our care. The hallmarks of Christian maturity are; holy living, the ability to articulate a Christian vision of total reality, and a zeal to bring ALL things under the Lordship of Christ as co-reagents of His Kingdom – redeeming and restoring that which is lost and dying in the place and time in which we live.

We are witnesses to the ‘in-breaking’ rule and reign of Jesus Christ into history as we redeem and restore that which God has placed in our care. We beseech the lost world to be “reconciled to God” in Christ Jesus as we take our place in His great story.

As Christians, we are transformed through Christ. We are commanded to share the Gospel of the Kingdom with a lost world. We are also given another command called the Cultural Mandate or Dominion Mandate. “The cultural mandate is the command to exercise dominion over the earth, subdue it, and develop its latent potential (Gen. 1:26-28; cf. Gen. 2:15).” (9Marks) We create good, true and beautiful culture that transforms the world and the story we inhabit.

The late Chuck Colson said,Transformed lives transform lives – transformed lives transform culture.

We live in an extraordinary moment in history. We have an extraordinary God. We inhabit an extraordinary story. You Were Made For This Time and Place.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Author’s note: The piece I’ve written above are deeper reflections of my experience and what I’ve learned through the Colson Fellows program over the last two years. “Gain wisdom, live faithfully and act courageously.”

 

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Race Redeemed – We Are One

Race Redeemed - We Are One

Recovering biblical anthropology and the true meaning of race

The word and concept of ‘race’ has been distorted over the last 150 years.

Christians have adopted a concept of race that is completely antithetical to God’s definition in Scripture.

The consequences of this redefinition have been devastating to our societies, culture and Christian witness. When those who claim to uphold biblical truths and live by them adopt foreign man-centered definitions and concepts and then import them into their theology, massive worldview implications ensue. Ideas always have consequences and bad ideas have victims.

The Bible is clear, there is only ONE race – the human race.

Race, Not Races:
The Bible is also clear that the one human race takes on a variety of beautiful physical features and expressions. The Bible speaks of tongues, tribes, peoples and nations. It speaks to the prismatic qualities of the individual and the diverse qualities of different people from different places. Like fields of flowers or oceans of fish, the world is full of the human race in all its fullness, variety, and beauty.

Nations – Ethnos:
Recovering the language and meaning of the truths rooted in scripture is extremely important. Words and meaning form and shape how we understand and interact with reality. The word ’Nations’ in the Bible comes from the Greek, “Ethnos” which is where we get the word ‘ethnicity’ and ‘ethnicities’. We are ONE race but many nations or ethnicities. That is the language of the Bible!

The Christian must understand that the modern concept of race does not find any foundational support in the Bible. ‘Race’ does not mean different ’nations’ or ‘ethnicities’ as modern Christians might assume. It actually is rooted in the (bad) idea that the human race is made up of many species of humans. We must ask, is that true? And what are the ramifications of a false premise or presupposition? How do meanings of words impact reality and our lives?

The language of the Bible is clear and unifying all humans are of one race. To argue otherwise is to introduce foreign secular sociological and anthropological concepts into biblical theology, sociology, and biblical anthropology. The consequence is that this importation of foreign concepts distort the meaning of the Bible and our worldview. This bad idea ends up creating moral confusion and division among people. We are witnessing this in this cultural moment.

Races – Samuel Morton, Scientific Racism and Craniometry:

“Samuel George Morton is often thought of as the originator of “American School” ethnography, a school of thought in antebellum American science that claimed the difference between humans was one of species rather than variety and is seen by some as the origin of scientific racism.

Morton argued against the single creation story of the Bible (monogenism) and instead supported a theory of multiple racial creations (polygenism). Morton claimed the Bible supported polygenism, and within working in a biblical framework his theory held that each race had been created separately and each was given specific, irrevocable characteristics.

Morton claimed that he could define the intellectual ability of a race by the skull capacity. A large volume meant a large brain and high intellectual capacity, and a small skull indicated a small brain and decreased intellectual capacity. He was reputed to hold the largest collection of skulls, on which he based his research. He claimed that each race had a separate origin, and that a descending order of intelligence could be discerned that placed Caucasians at the pinnacle and Negroes at the lowest point, with various other race groups in between.” (source)

 

“Morton was heavily influenced in his thinking by the 19th century practice of phrenology (the now abandoned field of study which used the shape of the skull to determine personality traits) and the theories of hereditarianism (a school of thought that saw heredity playing a major role in determining traits such as intelligence and personality) and polygenism (a school of thought that saw human races as created separately and unequal).” (source)

Morton’s theory had an influence on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution in “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Darwin bought into Morton’s presupposition that some species of humans were superior to others. The ramifications of this type of thinking continues to be seen in our current day.

In the final analysis, the modern concept of ‘race (races)’ is divisive at its root. Even when people of goodwill speak of ‘races’ in a positive light, the term is divisive. Why? Because the modern concept of race was created to divide humans based on physical qualitative attributes. Everything that flows from the presupposition made by Morton and Darwin divides and destroys the unifying vision of one race established by God. Therefore, terms like racism, racist, etc. divide even when used to call out evil. Modern science has proven that there is NO scientific / genetic basis for different races (see National Geographic Article here)

Biblical Words – A Better Way:
In order to clear up confusion and bring unity, we must recover the language of the Bible. Words matter. Words and language are important to God so they must be important to us. After all, God’s primary revelation is His Word (the Bible). By design, human culture and society is structured around language. When language is confused or the meaning of words are distorted, chaos ensues.

Meaning Matters – What do you mean by that?
If by ‘racism’ you mean ‘ethnic hatred’ or ‘ethnic prejudice’ then the Christian can ground a distorted concept of race in truth and bring it into the full light of God’s word. The Bible states, hatred of any kind is a sin equivalent to murder. We must understand that ‘racism’ as a modern concept is foreign to the Bible. The Christian must recover and redeem words – grounding them in the Christian worldview.

Moving Forward – Reordering Disorder
I’ve been attempting to use the language of the Bible to clarify conversations and public discourse. This is not been without difficultly because I have imbibed the language of modern culture as well. However, I have found that using biblical language like ‘ethnicity’, help people think clearly and move dialog into a unifying direction. The implication of biblical language clarifies things like ‘ethnic superiority’, ‘ethnic prejudice’, ‘ethnic bias’ and ‘ethnic hatred’ as all forms of the sin of hatred.  I stay away from using modern sociological constructs and language like ‘races’, ‘racial superiority’ and ‘racism’ because those words and concepts obscure the full meaning of what people are trying to communicate. Based on my background in anthropology, study of sociology and my analysis of culture, it is clear that many academic activists intentionally obscure meaning and redefine words. So, beware and be discerning.

The thinking Christian must understand that the fall and sin have disordered the world and culture. Then, we must reorder things back to God’s original vision (recovering and restoring)

Recovering A Biblical Anthropology and Meaning:
The Christian vision begins with a Biblical Anthropology of what it means to be human – what it means to be created in the image of God (image bearer) – what it means to be male and female – what it means to be a fallen (sinful) image bearer in a broken (sinful) world – what does it mean for every human being to have dignity and value. What would this world be like if every human looked the same – if no ethnicities existed?

By design, human beings search for meaning in life. When we attempt to create our own meaning or identity outside of God’s vision of human life, we end up creating massive problems individually and culturally. However, when we ground our identity in God’s design as His image-bearers, we see human flourishing. We experience unity in the diversity of individual image-bearers as one race – the human race.

Again, the Bible speaks to the prismatic qualities of the individual and the diverse qualities of different people from different places ALL made in His image. Though we live in a broken world, we see God’s goodness and glory through frosted glass but we see it nonetheless reflected in the multifaceted human race of image-bearers.

Race is a unifying vision of all human beings – wrought by God and born of one womb.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

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

The Bible declares that all people of all ethnicities (nations) in all of history in every place on earth bear the image of God.

We are ONE race – the human race. That is the truth.

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What is the First Responsibility of a Leader?

What is the First Responsibility of a Leader?

The number one thing missing in our culture is LEADERSHIP. What should a leader do first?

In a cultural moment where leadership is lacking, good leaders must do this one thing first.

When we discuss great leaders who did great things, we tend to focus on the character qualities and accomplishments of great leaders without noticing the first duty of a leader.

While it is good to cultivate good character qualities of great leaders, I think we must focus on first principles.

Take a moment to answer this question, “What is the first duty of a leader?

Vision-casting and accomplishments along with humility, courage, creativity, integrity, wisdom, and intelligence are good things but they are NOT the first duty of a leader.

Max Dupree stated, “The first responsibility (duty) of a leader is to define reality.”

This simple statement is true.

What does it mean for a leader ‘to define reality?’

First, a leader must ground themselves in reality by seeing the world as it is in its current state. This is what Francis Schaefer would call “real reality.” If a leader does not see things as they really are, that leader’s vision for what can be will be distorted. Second, a leader must define reality for those he leads. Only then can the leader cast a vision for the future.

When God created the world and everything in it, He defined reality. When man fell into sin, that reality was distorted. The redemption we have in Christ grounds us in reality anew and orients us toward God. One day, He will restore all things – including a restored final reality.

Your first duty is a leader – your first responsibility is to see things as they truly are. That includes the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. You must accept present reality as it is. Then, you must define reality for your people. After grounding yourself and your people in reality, you can cast a vision and develop a mission for the future.

Defining reality is a discipline and skill that must be learned and actuated by every leader who desires to lead well.

Dupree states, “We must teach ourselves to see things the way they ARE.”
Only then can we “cast a vision for what CAN BE” Dupree concludes.

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Recovering GRIT in the Church

Recovering GRIT in the Church

While the secular world has its own vision of GRIT, I think True GRIT is rooted in who we are called to be as Christians.

There is something missing in the church today.

When I read my Bible and the biographies of good Christians of history, I notice that the modern church is missing something. The First Testament prophets and Second Testament disciples had character traits that we moderns seem to be lacking, particularly in the west. Given, there are exceptions but for the most part – something is missing. And when something is missing, the void is inevitably filled by something else.

I have been pondering the question, “what is missing?” for a couple years. It goes without saying that the church in the West is lacking in several areas. I am lacking in several areas. But, I keep landing on the same thing – the same answer to the question of what is missing.

G.R.I.T. is missing from the church both corporately and in the lives of individual Christ-followers. Of course, if you know me very well you are asking one of my favorite questions, “what do you mean by that?”

GRIT is an acronym for Guts, Resilience, Integrity and Tenacity. While the secular world has its own vision of GRIT, I think True GRIT is rooted in who we are called to be as Christians. I decided to provide my own simple definitions to help me remember what GRIT means and provide a few characters in the Bible who demonstrate some of those traits.

Guts:

Courage in the face of adversity, moral fortitude and fearlessness (David, Noah, Moses, Gideon, Esther, Stephen, Paul)

Resilience:

Ability to bounce back from failure, loss and/or setbacks. (David, Joseph, Mary Magdalene, Peter)

Integrity:

Consistent and uncompromising commitment to moral convictions and principles in private and public life – inner consistency. (Enoch, Joshua, Esther, Ruth, Nehemiah, Paul)

Tenacity:

Perseverance over time, determination – will-power. Never giving in. (Noah, Nehemiah, Elijah, David, Job, Daniel, Paul)

Throughout Christian history, we see people who demonstrated GRIT. Martin Luther, John Knox, William Wilberforce, Mother Theresa, Jackie Robinson, Joni Erickson-Tada, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Frederick Douglass and Elisabeth Elliot are just a handful of names that come to mind when I think about good old-fashioned Christian GRIT.

We saw the Clapham Sect in England and the Abolitionists in the States work to end slavery. The White Rose Resistance defied Hitler and the Nazis. In Roman times, Christians rescued unwanted Roman female infants thrown into dumps because girls were seen as worthless. During the Plague, Christians ran to the bedsides of the sick and dying. GRIT is a part of our Christian heritage!

Today, I see fear masquerading as courage and the pride-filled cowardice of online virtue-signaling. The pulse of popularity polls have overtaken the powerful pulse of Christ’s call to His church. The winds of culture are driving the church rather than the winds of God’s spirit. The result of the lack of Christian GRIT over the last 100 years has devastated our witness and contributed to the decay of culture.

The Great Recovery

Every great awakening and revival begins with a series of cultural convulsions. The Church is shaken out of its slumber by some great series of tribulations. Then a recovery begins. It begins with recovering God’s truth and renewing a commitment to follow Christ. This means we will come in direct conflict with the world and culture. We come to understand the sharp words of Christ when he says, “The world will hate you, because it hated me first.” To be Christian is be to a counter-cultural force of light and truth in the midst of darkness and lies.

I’m calling this the “Great Recovery”. I don’t know where or with whom this idea originated. However, the more I read my Bible, pray, talk with other committed Christians and attempt to “understand the times” (like the men of Issachar), I am convinced we must embark on a “Great Recovery”. While, I’ll discuss more in the future, let us begin with GRIT.

Whatever the committed Christ-follower who has counted the cost of discipleship and taken up his/her cross to follow Him may be, they must have GRIT. The days of microwave entertainment-based emotionally-driven cultural Christianity are over. Pastor Douglas Wilson said, “The church has gone from feeding the sheep to entertaining the goats.” Those words sting because they are true in a general sense. Not all churches are guilty but a good many are. We must repent of that and move on to walk with obedience and courage.

Every one of us will pay a price in the face of the zeitgeist (the spirit of the age). We need to pray and encourage each other in the faith and ask God for spirit-filled GRIT as we create Christian friction with a dark culture that hates the light.

We need to recover GRIT.

“Choose this day whom you will serve…” Christ or the zeitgeist.

There is no middle-ground. Christ does not allow for it. He spits from His mouth the lukewarm water of the Church in Laodicea. He separates the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the tares.

To truly proclaim, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” will require Godly GRIT rooted in Christ’s power undergirded by Biblical truth.

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Are ‘Woke’ Christians Breaking the 9th Commandment or Worse?

Are Woke Christians Breaking the 9th Commandment or Worse?

“The Ninth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Bible is clear that lying is a sin. What does this have to do with “woke” Christians?

Note to reader: There are those who serve as ‘tone police’ who will accuse me of being ‘mean’ or ‘not nice’ because a subjective view of my tone. I’m being terse in regard to this topic because someone must point out that sheep (Christians) are abusing other sheep. What is worse, some shepherds (leaders / pastors) are abusing their own sheep.

My point is, this ‘woke’ nonsense is trash. It has no place in the church – it’s time to put a stop to it. Christ did not spill his blood and lay down his life for his bride (church) to stand in the mirror (social media) and slap herself in the face. We have enough sin in our own lives and in our culture without intentionally creating more. I’m seeing longstanding relationships between Christians be destroyed by this divisive foolishness. I will confront and attack the ideas – not the individual. I humbly submit the following discourse to you for consideration. Come let us reason together and preserve the bond of peace.

Register for live Zoominar – Tues Feb. 2nd 2021 at 7pm CT “Critical Race Theory & the Christian Vision

The one who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 2:10–11

Introduction:

Scriptural Foundation for Me and You

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

There is a powerful movement within the church in America that has taken captive many well-meaning Christians. Under the banners of Social Justice, Racial Justice, Anti-racism and a handful of other names a certain enclave within Western Christianity have taken upon themselves the roles of accuser, judge, jury and punisher for all of Christendom. I’ve written about this extensively here…

To be ‘woke’ and to ‘stay woke’ is to be ‘with it’ or ‘in the know’ and ‘on the right side of history’ in regard to certain current social issues – particularly related to ethnicity and sexual identity. In other words, being ‘woke’ is to reside on the moral high-ground on a popular social issue. Having attained moral superiority through a kind of social enlightenment, the woke Christian’s ‘ministry’ (or service) to other Christians is to publicly castigate and berate their brothers and sisters – usually on social media. This is coupled with a heavy dose of virtue-signaling. Imagine the Roman Colosseum but online and to top it off, Christians are essentially persecuting other Christians.

The Social Justician’s Ministry of Wokeness

The goal of woke ministry is to pound other Christians into submission for the hidden sin of being ‘un-woke’ which is code for racist, homophobic, white supremacist, etc. When challenged, woke leaders tell their victims (brothers and sisters in Christ), that “this is a Gospel issue that only REAL Christians understand.” When someone questions, challenges or refuses to submit to woke demands, they are typically purged, given the mark of racist or white supremacist or some other label – then exiled to purgatory. Excommunication is accomplished through de-friending on social media or ‘canceling.’ Salvation is found in continuous public penitence, self-flagellation and virtue-signaling in order meet the approval of the woke crowd that includes non-Christians who hate Christianity (ironic).

Little covens of ethnic gnostics meet together and engage in woke worship marked by churlish preaching, muckraking, struggle sessions and voyeuristic prayer. Of course, in the context of in-person interactions their behavior is replaced with a kindly smile and the good ole ‘How can I pray for you?’ After all, no one wants to lose their paycheck over this or appear to be ‘mean’, right?

Worshipping the Zeitgeist

Let’s get serious for a moment. All of this wokeness is nothing more than bowing to the spirit of the age (idolatry). Moreover, through deception, coercion, complicity, bad theology, false teaching or a combination of all of the above, some Christians have unintentionally replaced the God of the Bible with the god of the age – the Gospel of the Kingdom with the gospel of culture. Sadly some Christians have completely given themselves over to the woke orthodoxy and completely decimated relationships and destroyed their public witness. Due to the prevalence of social media, this backsliding has become high drama for everyone to see – including the unbelieving world. This should saddens us.

Moral Arrogance, Selective Outrage and Creating an Offense

The moral arrogance of some “Christians” who see fit to label their un-woke brothers and sisters in Christ as racists or white-supremacists or otherwise is staggering. Furthermore, it creates moral confusion in an already confusing cultural moment. Public shaming and virtue-signaling have become a past time for some and doctrine for others. In addition, this movement is marked by selective outrage. Meaning, you must express public moral outrage (emotion) about certain social issues sanctioned by woke orthodoxy. This behavior has the effect of binding the conscience of other Christians.

All of this is rooted in moral arrogance and takes shape in the expression of moralism (not to be confused with morality). What should grieve the community of all Christ-followers is that woke Christians create an offense where one does NOT exist. Then they publicly accuse their brethren of this newly created offense of public sin that requires public repentance. If the accused questions or does not meet the expectations of the woke Christian mob, everything attaches to the contrived offense. In other words, everything you do or say reinforces the offense – guilt is piled on to guilt. As a result, you will be shamed, guilted, cancelled, slandered and eventually purged.

It’s reminiscent of the cliquey “cool kids” or the “in-crowd” in middle school where the “not-so-cool” kids were purged from the lunch table or not invited to the cool kid parties. This is happening within the Church in America but it’s way more destructive and harmful.

If you try to discuss or debate, woke Christians typically assume the position of moral high ground above the particulars of the issues involved. They speak in high-minded sweeping generalities followed by a barrage of ad hominem attacks (name-calling) but refuse to engage the abstract or particulars. And they are never wrong on the issue. It’s repackaged Critical Theory that takes the form of legalism. I digress…

I will not slander other believers. . . . There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy. Who am I to judge my neighbor?

James 4:11–12

[paraphrased]

Are Woke Christians Bearing False Witness or Worse?

Note: I am aware that I am a lowly sinner capable of great evil and I have broken God’s commands. So, I am not accusing others of committing sin that I have not committed my self. The posture of my heart is to look at this issue not from above or below others but on the level.

The Ninth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Bible is clear that lying is a sin. The 9th Commandment expands on this and forbids lying about another image-bearer. What does this have to do with woke Christians?

Let me explain. If I label and/or accuse entire groups of people or individuals I don’t know as racists or white supremacists, I am accusing them of ethnic hatred (dubiously called racism). Jesus places hatred on equal ground as murder (Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3:15). According to God, by pronouncing sweeping judgements of ethnic hatred on the brethren, I am accusing them of MURDER.

If you don’t recognize this dangerously thin spiritual ice, you need to think again my friend.

The Sixth Commandment says, “You shall not murder.” The Bible is clear that murder is a sin. What does this have to do with woke Christians?

Let me explain. In accusing people of ethnic hatred, I am judging them to be murderers. If I accuse people of implicit ethnic hatred based on their God-given ethnicity (skin color) or some other superficial or immutable factor without actual evidence of sin as defined by the Bible, I am guilty of lying (bearing false witness) against another image-bearer. Lying about someone can be my expression of hatred toward them. Therefore, I am potentially guilty of murder because (again) Jesus places hatred and murder in the same category.

Furthermore, when a Christian uses a public forum to infer or accuse someone of sin (ethic hatred), that Christian is guilty of slander. The Bible provides a prescription for dealing with public sin (Matthew 18:15-17)… it does not include social media.

Additionally, to the extent Christians are talking behind the backs of other image-bearers and making accusations, they are guilty of gossip. Gossip destroys unity and the Church ought to have zero tolerance policy. The most insidious example I’ve seen is what I call “gossip prayer.” This is where one Christian targets another Christian within the context of group prayer in order to slander them behind their backs. In doing this, the gossiper is dragging the rest of the group into sin by disguising his/her intersession as an address to the Heavenly Father. In a real spiritual sense, the gossiper is bringing a falsehood and slander of a spiritual sibling into the heavenly realms in the name of Jesus. Lest we forget God is Holy and dangerous – it says a lot about a lot about one’s condition if he/she believes God overlook a slanderous prayer. The Bible warns against making weaker believers stumble into sin AND throwing in our lot with those who would entice us to waylay someone else (Mark 9:42, Proverbs 1:10-18)

Finally, Jesus states that the Greatest Commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38). Biblically speaking, there is NO WAY a Christian can claim to keep and follow the Greatest Commandment while breaking the 9th and 6th Commandments.

“Woke Christianity” is a religion unto itself – rooted in pride and moral arrogance. It’s completely antithetical to Biblical faith and the Gospel of the Kingdom. It draws unknowing or weak Christians into a man-centered ‘reconciliation’ and false redemptive vision (social justice).

In conclusion, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This should be a ‘shot across the bow’ of our pride – a warning to be seriously heeded.

“He (Jesus) knew that a bundle of inflamed and virulent pride might as easily be garbed in rags and tatter as in ermine robes, and that haughtiness may as often be seen in a thatched cottage as in a turreted castle… It is possible for the poor to be proud of his poverty, for the devout to be proud of his piety, for the prayerful to be proud of his supplications, for the idolater to be proud of his obeisance, for the fasting to be proud of his fasts, for the donor to be proud of his gifts, the penitent to be proud of his penitence, for the lowly to be proud of his lowliness.

“The devil did grin, for his darling sin. Is the pride that apes humanity.”” (Coleridge)
FW. Boreham (The Heavenly Octaves)

“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel that can succeed against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30)

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5)

“And a second (commandment) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

(Comment and share your thoughts below)

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Detachment and Reflection to gain Perspective – what have you learned?

Detachment and Reflection to Gain Perspective

What have you learned in the past 12 months?

Two of the best disciplines we can adopt are detachment and reflection in order to gain perspective and make plans going forward.

Yesterday the church cabinet staff had our regular meeting. Our cabinet is comprised of pastors and ministry leaders representing about two dozen ministry areas of the church. We were asked a reflective question that can help shape the future of our ministries. I think this question is applicable life, family and business as well as ministry.

Here’s the question:

What have you learned in the past 12 months?

My process for answering the question…

So much has changed in the last year. I invested more time reflecting and praying than planning. Some would argue that focusing on the future and moving ahead are more important than reflection. I am a contrarian and argue that detaching in order to assess events, changes in the ministry environment and taking an honest look at the good and bad are keys to planning. I’d say that the more complex the issues and events of the past, the more important reflection becomes.

I intentionally employ a slowed-down version of the OODA Loop.

The OODA Loop is an acronym that stands for:

Observe
Orient
Decide
Act

The OODA Loop concept was put forth by the great military strategist Colonel John Richard Boyd, United States Air Force. Simply put, it is the decision-making that occurs in a recurring cycle of observe – orient – decide – act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can thereby “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage.

To put it another way, “(The OODA Loop) explains how individuals and organizations can win in uncertain and chaotic environments.” – Tyler Pearson

You and I run through the OODA loop thousands of times per day. Next time you are driving somewhere, you’ll stop at a red traffic light (hopefully). Your act of stopping at that light was acheived by the process of the OODA Loop. You observed an intersection ahead and saw a red light. You oriented yourself in proximity to the intersection and the vehicles around you. You decided that you were going to stop at the red light (smart move). Finally, you took action and applied the brakes and stopped your car at the intersection. You just experienced the OODA Loop. When the traffic light turns green, your loop begins all over again. Check out the video below this post to learn more…

Observe Slowly:
In my reflection, I take time to observe what has happened and how all that has happened is effecting current conditions and how past decisions (good and bad) have shaped current conditions. This must be an honest assessment of self and my decision-making. Honest feedback must be gathered from trusted partners. This is where the organizational hierarchy is allowed to be flattened where all team members are on the same level with the leaders and everyone has a seat at the table to provide input.

Orient Carefully:
I take in information I have observed and start to carefully orient myself and get my bearings. I’ve had some experience and training in land navigation (Land Nav). “Land navigation is the discipline of following a route through unfamiliar terrain on foot or by vehicle, using maps with reference to terrain, a compass, and other navigational tools” (Wiki). Honestly, I am terrible at it. However, I understand the most important exercise in Land Nav is ascertaining my current position on a map. If I don’t know where I am on a map, there is no way I’m going to reach my destination. The same goes for orientating myself in the current moment in time in order to decide or plan for the future.

I learned two major lessons in the last 12 months in ministry. It struck my how these lessons apply to life, family and business.

1. BE FLEXIBLE: There is a great line from Gunny Highway (Clint Eastwood) from the film “Heartbreak Ridge” where Highway is addressing his platoon of misfit Marines. He said that in facing adversity on the battlefield a good Marine will, “improvise, adapt and overcome.” In other words, we must be flexible. In the last year of ministry, I had to learn to be flexible due to changing conditions and challenging situations in ministry. Our 2019 pre-COVID plans were often set aside, particularly in regard to events. Therefore, we had to improvise and adapt ministry operations in order to overcome obstacles and accomplish our mission. COVID never changed our mission but our means of achieving our mission changed dramatically.

2. BE DEPENDENT ON GOD: Another lesson I learned was not to hang on to anything too tightly. Due to challenging circumstances and changing conditions, I learned a deeper dependence on God. He reminded me that He is in ultimate control and He would see to it that His purposes would reach completion. Sometimes God puts us in a place of desperation where we come to realize that He is the only one who can make things happen. And sometimes God accomplishes this in surprising ways. Therefore, I learned to be open-handed with my plans and projects knowing that God could step in at any moment and change things. There is a kind of freedom in that experience.

What does all this mean for you?

I believe that if you take time to detach, reflect and observe how things have unfolded and decisions you made (good and bad) in the last 12 months, you can orient yourself. Then, you can make plans and decide how to best move forward. Finally, you can act (completing the OODA Loop).

Remember, being flexible is key to success in an ever-changing environment in ministry, business and in the home. At the end of the day, remember that God is in charge. Your responsibility is to pray, plan and walk in obedience to His Word and purposes. Leave the results to Him. His plans and ways are higher than yours. Be open-handed with your plans and projects knowing that God owns it all and loves you. He will surprise you beyond your understanding.

(Comment and share your thoughts below)

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*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.
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