Be Blessed

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. (Hebrews 13:20,21)

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Fearing Enemies

Your enemies are afraid of you. Who are you afraid of?

When the ten spies Moses sent to Canaan gave their evil reports, they lied about the nations’ opinions of them.  “We are like grasshoppers in their eyes…” (Numbers 13:33).

When Rahab the Jericho dweller told Joshua’s spies what the nations thought of them, she told the truth – “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you…” (Joshua 2:9).

When Saul began to attack David, it was because he was afraid of him (1 Samuel 18:12).

Whoever is attacking you is probably afraid of you. Yahweh is your Father. You have His nature. Stand with confidence and peace.

Pleasure, Sorrow & Value

I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne’er a word said she;
But the things I learned from her
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me.

“Along the Road” by Robert Browning Hamilton

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4, NKJV

To Whom the Kingdom?

If you have read what I wrote about the Bible last year (Using the Bible), you know that I am convinced that everything written in the Bible is not a promise to you. If it were true, you would need to be running most of the time to escape all of the promised curses that can be found there.

If the Spirit of God quickens (gives life to) some passage of Scripture, and speaks it to you, or affirms it as a word to you, then it is a sure word spoken by the same voice that spoke the stars into being. You can run with that, instead of from it!

Luke (12:22-34) recorded some of Jesus’ words to His disciples about living as citizens of His nation, no longer having to chase the things that the nations around them had to. They didn’t need retirement plans or extra clothing for use on the earth, but should instead be investing in the more important future they would experience in heaven after their time in the earth was done.

The process of converting their valuables to the currency of home, where they would be moving to at some point, was to give it away. Their treasures and their hearts would always be in the same place. Look through chapter 12 of Luke’s good news, thinking of your relationship to the nation of God. Ask Him how much of the list of instructions and promises you find there apply to your life. Write down what He says so you don’t lose it or forget it.

Go be awesome. Live the Abundant Life.

Kingdom Gifts

You enjoy membership in at least one tribe. Some people have several memberships. One of your tribes may sit at your dinner table. Another may sit around your board room table. Soccer moms can get tribal over their sons’ & daughters’ teams.

Tribes have something in common that makes working together and identifying with each other increase their safety or income or some other rewards. What kind of car do you drive? When someone shows up with exactly the same model, a tribal connection is easy to make if you want it. People who attend their favorite band’s concerts are tribal, at least at the show.

Some of the values of investing in tribal membership are increased information among the members, increased access to fellowship, sometimes even at the family level, and – gifts. Its supposed to be less likely that a member of your tribe will charge you for a small favor, or that you will have to pay full price for a big one.

Exchanges can be imbalanced, and people don’t feel cheated. In exchanges with non-tribe members, you want to get what you pay for. A deal needs to leave everything even. In your tribe, you get stuff and give stuff that leaves the bottom line uneven, though. You might help clean up after dinner at a friend’s, but you don’t go in the kitchen to help after you pay $60 for a meal at Red Lobster.

We are invading the tribes around us and bringing the Kingdom and Culture of Heaven. Generosity that is outside our tribe is normal for us. And when they see how genuine our love for each other is, they will be even more open to our love for them.

Prodigal means something like “insanely, lavishly generous.” In the Kingdom, you don’t waste your inheritance by prodigal living if it is given away in the name of Jesus. You increase your inheritance by giving it away to bring increase to the Kingdom (Luke 19:1-10).

Black Swans

Black swans have always been around. Because Europeans (who have always thought they knew everything) had never seen one, they didn’t think they existed. They had a popular proverb that had variations like, “As unlikely as a black swan,” or facetiously, “As rare as a black swan.”

In 1697, Dutch explorers to Western Australia became the first Europeans to see that black swans had long been living happily there. The new proverb regarding black swans refers to them as knowledge or information that is hidden. Something that you don’t know you don’t know.

When Yahweh’s 40 year old nation was finally entering land Canaan’s descendants were occupying, they got very clear instructions from Him about how to take the city of Jericho. From that victory, they marched toward the next town on the map, Ai. When they attacked the town, the inhabitants drove them back out of the valley and killed Israelis in the process.

Deciding that there was something they didn’t know they didn’t know, Israel inquired of the Lord and were informed that He was not fighting with them until they dealt with Achan for stealing some of the items that should have been devoted to Yahweh as offering from the possessions of deceased citizens of Jericho.

They took the revelation and acted on it, killing Achan and his household. Then, before approaching Ai again, asked Yahweh for His strategy for the attack. He gave it to them and they prevailed.

Its always possible, and usually likely, that there is something we don’t know that we don’t know. Always being attentive instead of presumptive, always being humble and able to be informed and empowered by the Spirit when He knows something we don’t will make us successful more often at fulfilling His desires. Presuming that there are hidden things that He wants to tell us about will make it more likely we get the revelation from Him.


A New Thought

I was trained by Campus Crusade and Navigators (two highly respected evangelical campus ministries that are both effectively teaching and equipping believers to serve) that “repent” means “a 180° change in behavior.” Today this astonishes me. Partly because they have so much of what they each do so very correct, but partly because this misinformation is so off target.

The word that is being translated as “repent,” though, (metanoeo) means “a change in thought or change of mind.” It means that I believed something or thought a certain way, then something happened, and now I think differently. It doesn’t mean changed behavior, or John’s statement in Matthew 3:8, instructing Pharisees and Sadducees to bear fruits worthy of repentance, doesn’t make sense.

Changed behavior follows changed minds. Changed behavior is not repentance, though. It is the result of repentance. And having a changed mind is complicated. I can change my mind about something and have it be a settled issue as long as I don’t have to sustain the new mindset when I am fearful. Or when I am angry. Or when I first wake up in the morning. Or when my Ativan hasn’t kicked in yet. I need to make the new decision in each one of those places in my life in order for my resulting behavior to completely change. I need to be able to remember why I decided to think differently so that in each tempting moment I can make the decision again to stay in or return to that changed mind.

It is easy to be discouraged when I find myself back in the same place of submitting to fear or pride or whatever the change of mind is that I am trying to make. It can be discouraging when I don’t seem to be changing at the behavior level. I just need to keep adding more truth to support the decision. Keep putting sticky notes everywhere I need one to remind myself why the change is important or why the old way is deceptive. Keep standing back up when I slip down.

Every moment you can see the new thought as truth, you are standing in victory. He is looking for a walk, not just a step. Keep making every good step you can make.

Preparation and What’s Next

I haven’t seen in Scripture that David, at the campfire on the end of the day on which he survived fighting a bear with no weapon in hand, thanked Yahweh for preparing him for a future fight against an asinine giant. I don’t think he recognized the value of the fight beyond that of the lives of the sheep who also lived through it.

In Acts 16, Paul encountered a jailer who was an unbeliever. He was accustomed to taking care of people in jail. It is easy to guess in the culture that he served, that some of his “care” for his prisoners was brutal or merciless. When he encountered the power of the Spirit of God, and then the invitation of Jesus to come to Him through Paul’s answer to his famous question, “What must I do to be saved?”, he immediately began to serve Paul and Silas by cleaning the wounds they had received when they were stripped and beaten with rods. Then he fed them in his home.

I see the gift and the work of pastor budding in the heart of the jailer in this part of his story. Perhaps some of what you went through as a child or young adult seems to be valueless or even costly pain. Some of your life may have been spent abusing someone else or being negligent toward others’ needs around you.  How much of what you have been prepared for will be proven to make you more fruitful today?

How much of what seems to “go wrong” today will be preparation for tomorrow’s asinine giant, behind whom is hidden your real work – your real purpose?

Discerning His Presence

Our considerations of each other can exceed the considerations we would give ourselves or demand of others for ourselves. Sometimes they should.

The more I extend provision and promotion and encouragement to the other parts of the body of Jesus, though, the more I empower them and encourage them to be the support I need to advance in my own calling.

The better I become at discerning His presence and influence and gifts in others, the more I am accessing Him – the more I am, by faith, opening up the eternal doors to the realm where I have influence, and inviting the King of glory to come in. The more He can access my realm, the more it will become His realm – His Kingdom realm.

Bless your neighbors. Bless the Lord. Be blessed by doing these things.

Getting Engaged

Engagement levels for your work include physical, mental, and emotional. Physical labor doesn’t have to be taxing. It could be simply typing or talking. Mental levels of labor require having to think about what you’re doing, making decisions instead of simply pulling a lever or pressing a button on cue with a prompt.

Emotional labor is what it costs to care. If my work isn’t done with excellence, does that matter? Does that bother me? When I have to interact with people who are difficult or who are insulting me, am I willing to do my best for them? If you don’t value or appreciate my sacrifice, does that change the likelihood of whether I will continue to work hard emotionally?

The reward for my emotional labor is not going to appear on my paystub as a line item if my employer doesn’t value it. It is the most valuable thing I bring to work, but that doesn’t mean that my employer knows or cares.

A business or organization that is staffed by people who bring emotional labor to the table will benefit from the work their workers invest. A business or organization that only has machine parts as workers, who don’t care about anything but the pay, or who are easily offended and respond with slackness or fear or stinginess, will not prosper without controlling their workers with intimidation or constant supervision and beatings.

The responses I offer to challenges and opportunities in my work environment will be what I possess at the end of the day and week and career. If I respond with generosity and blessing and peace, those will be what I hold in my hands after the transactions. If I respond with paranoia, bitterness, anger and stinginess, my hands will be filled with thorns and stones and dust when I’m done.

The source of strength to make me able to bring emotional value to my encounters is the fruit of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22,23). It is His strength at work in me that makes me able to respond to a doubtful situation with faith, or a fearful encounter with peace and patience and love, .

Emotional labor looks like “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing,” on days (Luke 23:34). It looks like praising Jesus loudly at midnight some times (Acts 16:25). Sometimes it is simply doing work I know I won’t get paid for.

Your emotional labor helps create an environment that is part of your coworkers’ reward for their emotional labor. The people around you who bring their emotional engagement to work are helping reward you for yours.

Do everything as unto the Lord. Let the costliness of your work be a sacrifice to Him. The altar on which you offer it can never be covered with enough to be an appropriate offering to Him.

Go be awesome.