Wednesday, January 27, 2016

TRAVERSING THROUGH THE COSTING

We all know how to shout, cry and experience loneliness at times. A good leader is one who manages these same times to influence others toward the passion he/she has for a mission. The leader shouts, but raises his/her voice positively. The leader cries, but anguishes in a productive manner. The leader, when faced with being alone with his/her dream and passion, can weather the challenges with a great attitude by themselves.

“A leader who is not passionately committed to the cause will not draw much commitment from others. The world will make way for someone who knows what he or she wants, …” (p.51, Jesus, CEO, Laurie Jones)

“Jesus said, ‘It is better to be hot as fire or cold as ice, because if you are lukewarm I will spit you out.’” (p.51, Jesus, CEO, Laurie Jones)

“Jesus asked His staff members, ‘Can you really follow me?’ As it is with so many leaders, everyone wanted to sit next to Him at the banquet, but nobody wanted to help Him clean out the basement. Everybody was euphoric at the Palm Sunday celebration when they were laying palm leaves before His feet, but nobody wanted to walk with Him when He made His final ascent up a hill that was so ugly and lonely its very name means ‘The Skull’.

"Leaders must be willing to walk up the hill alone. They must have a passionate commitment.” (p.54, Jesus CEO, Laurie Jones)

Michael English performed a song some time ago called “There’s Not A Crown Without A Cross”. True statement and applicable here. If you have been given a “crown” and did not pay for it personally, someone did – there is always a cost. Looked at another way – if a goal or mission in life is costing you something, the “crown” or reward may be substantial. However, a good leader is formed when one traverses through the “costing”.

Monday, January 25, 2016

WHAT A GOOD SHEPHERD

Over the course of history, many people have sacrificed their lives for others because of their deep care, dare I say love, for others. Whether the sacrifice manifested in the form of patriotism (saving someone in war), humanitarianism (saving someone out of common, negative experiences), or heroism (saving someone in the heat of an emergency) – the life of the sacrificed did not return.

Believers in Christ Jesus have a unique hero. Jesus Christ died for our fatal flaw and three days later arose from death and the grave with the keys to Hades promising a return to rule and reign this earth. Jesus’ superhero name in this instance is The Good Shepherd.

 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:14-18)

Jesus knew the situation. Sin and its nature had infected humanity and creation. The unstoppable, freight train of God’s Wrath was sent to judge everything infected. But Father God sent us a hero, a Savior, in the form of The Good Shepherd. He would step in front of this “freight train of God’s Wrath”, not just for His chosen people, the Jews (“the sheep”), but for everyone else who would believe in His sacrifice and resurrection (“other sheep that are not of this sheep pen”).


The unique thing about this hero is that He had the power and authority (right) to take back His life, live again or be resurrected. No other self-proclaimed savior or prophet has done that. Of all the faiths in the world, this one, belief in Christ, is a belief of God reaching down in love to humanity. All other faiths require a reaching up to God through works/deeds. Where all other faiths pass or fail you with your performance to their deity, Christ took care of what alienates all between God and humanity. He then invites us to simply accept or believe in His sacrifice and victorious resurrection then live a Christ-like life. What a Savior! What a Hero! What a Good Shepherd!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

JESUS, THE PARTY GOD


Isaiah 53:3 says, Jesus would be "despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain." Yet in addition to this description of Christ Jesus we can find celebration surrounding Him in many instances of His life.

Right off the bat, we can observe a celebratory atmosphere at the birth of Christ. An angel appears to declare the good news to shepherds near-by and then the excitement is so great, more of the angelic host split the night sky to sing and/or holler God’s Good News! Wise men show up bearing gifts. A star stops overhead for a supernatural lightshow. The birth might have been humble, in a manger, but it did not go unnoticed by earth or Heaven – there was a party.

As a young adult, do you remember what Jesus’ first miracle was? He mastered the elements, because He is Master of the Elements and turned water into wine. Do you remember where He was? At a wedding party! And Jesus’ life would flow like that – invitations from one household to another – first a visit and party at Zacchaeus’s and the next He is at Peter’s establishment fellowshipping.

Talk about a party, imagine a small stadium of people showing up on a grassy hillside desiring to hear the awesome teaching coming from The Messiah when Jesus realizes 5,000+ people have probably missed a couple of meals to listen to Him today. He then proceeds to create, probably the biggest Fish Fry the world has ever seen from just two fish and some bread. Everybody was fed with some left over! Great teaching. Great fellowship. Great food! What a party!

I love Jesus! He was and is about some food, family and fellowship! In Luke 22:15 Jesus says, “And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’” This particular meal and fellowship time could be looked upon as a more somber gathering, but for what it symbolized to the disciples and us - our salvation – what a meeting!

Christ has even created emotions within angels so that at the repentance of one person, the angels throw a praise party. In Luke 15:7, 10 we can observe Heaven rejoicing in verse 7 and angels rejoicing in verse 10.

There is one more party that Jesus Himself is making preparations for that will trump all parties before it – The Heavenly Party. In John 14:2-3, Jesus promised, “There are many homes up there where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am. If this weren’t so, I would tell you plainly.” (Living Bible Translation) What a guarantee! And that is some kind of prep time! It has been 2,000+ years since Jesus said these words. I don’t know if I can imagine my dwelling place, but it sure is a joy trying. You add to this a Heavenly Banquet for the Bride of Christ, Jesus and His invited guests and once again you have a party! (Revelation 19:6-9) You have the best party yet. A Divine party with perfect food, perfect fellowship and perfect family relations. All this and an awesome future ahead with probably more celebrations because of knowing our Savior, Jesus, The Party God.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A PRAYER FOR IMPROVEMENT

God knows what you and I need to grow and mature in our relationship with Him, but do you? Much of my time I execute Paul’s Dilemma. To the believers in Rome he communicated, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” (Romans 7:15) This is why one of the prayers God put on my heart to pray at the beginning of this year (2016) was and is – “Lord, help me be a better husband, son to you and my parents, brother to my brother and my Christian family, brother-n-law, co-worker and all-around person.”

Wrapped up and included in this personal prayer is Scripture that God gave me to pray. When you start asking God for improvements to be applied in your life, look-out God will assist you in the next heartbeat. For me, He gave me two passages out of Psalms added-on to my original prayer – Psalm 51:10 and Psalm 139:23-24.

Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” The word “create” gives me the impression that I either did not have it before or God is going to have to develop this in me or both. The word “renew” is encouraging. It means to me that the “steadfast spirit” spoken of was once there but needs reviving or renewing. In any case, purity and steadfastness are some focus areas God has pin-pointed (just being real with you). And what an awesome thing to ponder that my God loves me enough to work with me on these things.

In Psalm 139:23-24 it says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This whole Psalm is one of my favorite Scripture passages of the whole Bible. This part speaks to God wanting me and everyone else praying every microscopic area of our lives surrendered to Him. There are many words of observation in this verse – “search me”, “know my heart”, “test me”, “know my anxious thoughts”, “see…”, and “lead me…”. If we don’t feel like we are under the microscope after this verse, something is wrong. So, even though God knows everything about us, He still desires for us to surrender every aspect to Him – no matter how insignificant you think it is. I love that side of my God! It makes me even more willing to go under the microscope and pray this Psalm with passion so that He will “lead me in the way everlasting”.

One thing is for sure, self-improvement had better include consultation with The Book, also known as Life’s Manual or The Bible. Because within The Book lies God’s words that we can pray back over the lives of others and our lives so that we can grow, mature and improve in our relationship with Him.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Better Place To Be

I admit – I like to be patted-on-the-back once-in-a-while. Truthfully, more often than not I like for this to occur. However, I like to think I am reasonable about it. If I do not deserve praise, then I should not receive any. But if I should deserve praise and not receive any, a part of my ego feels slighted. It makes me second guess my work, talent, or skill whether I am on the job, at play, or serving The Lord. God is addressing this issue with me.

There was a poster I read just recently on Facebook that prompted this lesson from the Holy Spirit. The poster read:  “Stop waiting for people to recognize how hard you work, God sees the sacrifices you make and will bless you accordingly.”

In order for this to work, I have got to put forth more of an effort in making people my work-field with a harvest for The Lord in mind. The idea is that my audience is only One – God. The Holy Spirit taught me that if I keep God as my Audience of One, not humanity (non-believers and believers alike), then He will take care of me. My popularity will be in His hands, my personal marketing will be under His direction, my time, treasure and talent will be under His watchful eyes and control. All these things and more are best in His care, not mine.

I believe a healthy lifestyle consists of seeking to please and be at peace with one’s superiors. However, I do not believe that this same healthy lifestyle can be healthy if it is consumed by this one goal. This is because our friends, co-workers, supervisors, bosses, CEOs and the like are all human……. flawed. I need a supernatural audience, a Heavenly rewarder. I need someone I can aim to please and be at peace with while knowing the benefits are far greater than anything anyone could ever imagine. I find this in Christ Jesus. Paul tells us in the Book of Hebrews “…He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) This mentality, this Audience-of-God focus instead of a people-pleasing focus is The Better Place To Be.