Seeing the awesomeness of God is the beginning of wisdom…

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When was the last time you were “awestruck”… you saw something or experienced something that could only be described as AWESOME?!?

I remember looking at the night sky near the Equator in Kenya for the first time… I could literally see galaxies! It’s as if Someone had smeared the pitch black sky with stardust; there were more stars than black space! I stared at it for hours… It was AWESOME!

Growing up in Michigan I always loved seeing mountains in other parts of the country and world. I called them “eye candy.” But nothing prepared me for my first visit to the Grand Canyon.

I almost didn’t go because in my mind, “Who wants to go and stare at a hole in the earth?” But I went.

It was overwhelming! My mind couldn’t comprehend the vastness of what my eyes saw. Then there was the raw beauty of colors, shapes, shadows and depth. It was AWESOME!

The Hebrew word we translate as “awe” is yirah, which also means “respect, reverence, and worship.” Yirah also means “fear.” For a long time I thought to “fear the Lord” meant to be afraid of Him, but as I thought about this facet of the word “yirah,” with those earthly images in my mind, the first thoughts of how it applied to God were not fearful. I felt awe and reverence. I felt awestruck by Him!

Having the type of awe and reverence for God that motivates us to do His will is the beginning of wisdom. Do you yirah the Lord today?

“The ‘yirah’ of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭

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Like Saving a Drowning Man

Drowning BusinessmanMany times making disciples is like trying to save a drowning person…they call for you. They ask for your help; sometimes begging. They seem willing to do anything to change their current situation. But once you get involved… get close to them, they scratch and claw and attack you. Many times trying to drown you to save themselves.

Like saving a drowning person, it’s a thankless job. You risk more than they do and most times they either take it for granted or attack you for caring enough to help.

But if we have one clear cut mandate from Jesus, it’s to make disciples. It doesn’t matter if it’s appreciated. It doesn’t matter what the cost. We are to use our time, gifts and talents to lovingly make disciples.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” Matthew‬ ‭28:19-20‬

The most important law of ecology is this: Learning ≥ Change.

For an organism to survive, the rate of learning must be equal to or greater than the rate of change happening around them. With the rate of change escalating, we must learn faster, learn better, and learn more.

The word disciple comes from the Greek word mathétés. The root word means “the mental effort needed to think something through.” So by definition, a disciple is someone who never stops learning.

Are you?

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Communitas in a Zombie Nation

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Have you ever wondered  how people could live together again like they did in the second chapter of the Book of Acts in the Bible?

Not only were they aware of each other’s needs, no one claimed that any of their possessions were their own, but they shared everything they had. People were even selling their homes and property to make sure that OTHERS had what they needed!?

People living like that aren’t a simple community, that’s a group of people living in “communitas.”

Like sports teams that endure long difficult seasons, or soldiers who share a foxhole, communitas refers to that bond that comes from being in a place where you have no choice but to depend on those around you. A place where people have your back and you have theirs!

A zombie movie might seem like a strange place to find communitas, yet it is there for everyone to plainly see EVERY TIME!

If you’re not familiar with the genre, let me tell you what happens in EVERY zombie movie. (For the record, I’m not a big zombie movie fan. But I have gotten hooked watching a few zombie television programs- The Walking Dead and Z Nation. Although I have to be in the right mood.) Inevitably, most of the human race is wiped out by a catastrophic event and only a small group of people survive and are pitted against an overwhelming number of flesh eating zombies who have nothing to do but try to eat you, the living. (if you get bit by a zombie, you become one, sometimes if you die naturally, you become one too!)

Again, like clockwork, a small group of people of varying backgrounds are thrown together for a common mission- to stay alive and find a safe place to live (there is usually an ultimate location to get to where other living are successfully surviving).

Not only are these people fighting for their lives against the zombies, but there are internal conflicts within the surviving group. Some are criminals. Others are cowards. There is greed and selfishness. Betrayal. Lust. And murder. But despite these obstacles a core group of people begin to coexist-many times against their will ON A MISSION…TOGETHER.

It isn’t long before food and water supplies dwindle, yet they find it and SHARE it.

When the zombie hoards overwhelm their current safe haven, they FIGHT TOGETHER to escape.

On the road they encounter more life threatening situations which DRAW THEM TOGETHER once again to stay on mission.

On and on it goes…day after day… they pull together, one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Oops! That is EXACTLY what Acts 2:32 says!?!  At least in the New International Version. Your Bible might say it a bit differently, but the idea is the same.

It seems to me that the early church was aware of a catastrophic event that left a small group of people on a mission together and who are now pitted against an overwhelming number of “enemies.”

The analogy actually doesn’t break down from there…it actually strengthens! The main difference is that we can LOVE our “enemies” back to Life!

The Message Version of the Bible does a good job of describing how that battle is fought:

“The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”    2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:3-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

So, how is communitas created? The simple answer is to have a group of people dedicated to working together in a seemingly impossible mission against an overwhelming enemy.

Hmmmm….sounds eerily familiar!

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Our daily bread…challenged my thinking!

I recently posted a meme that said, “If you want to see the truth you must be brave enough to look.” The quote I was originally looking for said, “If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.” Both quotes came together today and challenged me!

In my book, One Language, I take a great deal of time discussing the concept of the Lord’s prayer that deals with “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” And while it is connected to what I was challenged about today, more specifically it’s when Jesus tells us to pray for our “daily bread.”

I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. And I have probably said the Lord’s Prayer more times than I can count. But I just said it as a religious exercise; never really understanding what I was saying or taking the time to think it through. It would be many years before I would do that.

To be totally transparent, as a kid I did try to understand what it meant, but the deeper meaning simply alluded me.

For those of you who are not familiar with the “Lord’s Prayer” as it is referred to by many, here it is:

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say:

‘Father, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us each day our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. 

And lead us not into temptation.”

 There is a lot in there, especially when you are asking God to bring His kingdom down here on earth and have His will done like it is done in heaven. But today, my “ah-ha” moment was with the “daily bread” part.

 I don’t know why, but when I pray for my daily bread, I am pretty much thinking of having enough for the day kind of thing- you know…one loaf, maybe two; don’t want to be greedy! But WHY? 

 Why do I think and pray like that? Is that what Jesus is telling us to do?

 Perhaps it was my upbringing that ingrained in me that we shouldn’t ask too much from God- you don’t want to upset Him…or bother Him. Maybe it was that time in my life when I was taught that poverty was more holy than being wealthy. It could be a combination, right?

 But today I was reminded of the way that Jesus looks at “daily bread.” And I wonder if His disciples thought back on this when they started to think about how Jesus was teaching them to pray.

 There was a time when Jesus was faced with thousands and thousands of people who had come out to hear Him teach and there was no way for them to get food. Seeing them hungry moved Him to do something- feed all of them. Just one problem… they only had a couple fish and five loaves of bread.

 That’s when Jesus prayed for “daily bread.”

 “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

It’s possible that the few fish and loaves of bread could have feed Jesus and His disciples, but Jesus needed much more than that for what He intended to do. He needed more than His daily bread; He needed enough bread for Him, his disciples, 5,000 men, and the women and children with them. That’s a LOT of “daily bread!”

And as miraculous as it was for Jesus to multiply that little bit of food to feed all of those people, there was an additional lesson to be learned- there were 12 baskets full of leftovers!

The way that Jesus views “daily bread” is to have enough for everything that you are doing in cooperation with God plus more to spare!

So where did I get the idea that God wanted to supply only MY daily needs and then just the bare minimum?!?

To be honest… I don’t care! I’m not praying like that anymore.

I’m going to look at what God is asking me to do. Assess what I need to accomplish that task. And to ask Him for the provision (daily bread) to accomplish that task at hand, with some to spare!

Are you going to pray differently now too?

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One of a Kind Creation!

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“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.” ~Film Director, Robert Bresson

Your fingerprints are UNIQUE! Not a single person in the world has a set like yours. Your DNA is like NO OTHER in the world. The same is true for the retinal patterns in your eyes- as is your iris. Did you know that your ears have unique curves and ridges not found in anyone else. Even the way you walk, your gait, is UNIQUE to you alone!

Starting to feel special? You should be…you are a ONE OF A KIND creation!

And if you have physical attributes that only you possess, why wouldn’t there be other things that are UNIQUE TO YOU?

Think about the unique mix of your personality, gifts, talents, and passions-coupled with your nearly limitless imagination… Can you see how YOU might have a UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION to make in the world?!

It’s vitally important for each and everyone of us to SLOW DOWN to UNDERSTAND what unique things we bring to the banquet table of life. To truly grasp the importance of doing something with our unique blend of gifts, talents, and abilities. And to begin to pursue our PASSION as well as we do our obligations!

What “invisible thing” is going to be seen that ONLY YOU can create or do?

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It’s a Dirty, Rotten Shame!

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Shame is actually counterfeit “conviction”…. Shame eventually will drive you to the repeat the very behavior you’re trying to avoid!

Conviction should cause us to explore, question and discuss a matter…leading to redemption, healing, and restoration.

Shame on the other hand drives us to cover, hide and even deny the issue. Since the issue isn’t dealt with properly, we’re more likely to do it again. And the next time we’ll do it in a way that won’t be discovered-we learn better ways to hide and not get caught; instead of dealing with the problem.

Conviction, especially when initiated by the Holy Spirit, is always for the purpose of  re-establishing RELATIONSHIP!  The best relationships are intimate ones. And intimacy only comes from vulnerability.

There is no room for shame in an intimate relationship. There is, however, every opportunity to admit our weaknesses… without excuse or defense…and begin the healing process. When should we do that? NOW!!!

“Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior].”
‭‭ROMANS‬ ‭8:1‬ ‭Amplified Version

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Why Is Magic No Longer Done in England?

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“To a simple question, sir. In the past, magic was done as a matter of course. It… it was as much a part of this country as the rain. Then 300 years ago it died, seemingly overnight. We wish to know… why magic has fallen from its once great state. We wish to know why is there no more magic done in England?”

I don’t know why, but for as long as I can remember I have really enjoyed Charles Dickens-like stories set in old England; Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Christmas Story,etc… I’m also a sucker for Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim’s Progress and Gulliver’s Travels .

I recently stumbled across a BBC miniseries aired on Netflix. It’s based on a best-selling novel by Susanna Clark- “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.”

The story opens where the book does: in the fall of 1806 on a meeting of the men of the Learned Society of York Magicians. They have gathered as they do on the third Wednesday of every month “to read each other long dull papers about the history of English magic” (Note it is a discussion about magic, not practicing magic!).

But a Mr. Segundus, much younger and more earnest than the rest, interrupts. He has recently begun to wonder, he questions, “Why the great feats of magic that I read about remain in the pages of my books and are not seen on the street or on the battlefield… In short, gentlemen, I wish to know: Why is magic no longer done in England?”

(Derisive laughter erupts from the other attendees)

“It is a long question, Mr… Segundus.

Magicians study magic, the history of magic. We do not perform it. You don’t expect an astronomer to create stars, eh?

(They all chuckle)

Or a botanist to invent new flowers, eh?

(They all laugh)

It is a child’s question, I appreciate, but no-one else… Classical magic, sir, is not a thing for the gentlemen of this society. Nor any… gentleman. I do hope that you have not been trying to cast spells, sir.”

(They all laugh)

As I was watching this conversation unfold, it seemed as if God was stirring in my heart that the same things could be said about the church today!

What Does Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Say About the Church?

I couldn’t help but think of the “conversations” (more arguments actually) currently going on in the church…

* Miraculous spiritual gifts TODAY for every believer vs cessation of same (They have gathered as they do on the third Wednesday of every month “to read each other long dull papers about the history of English magic” (Note it is a discussion about magic, not practicing magic!).        It’s actually a PROMISE that Jesus made. John 14:12-14

 
* Resistance to the 7 Mountain Maindate (spheres of cultural influence) and bringing the Kingdom of God into the marketplace (Why do the great feats of magic that I read about remain in the pages of my books and are not seen on the street or on the battlefield?)

 
* The requirement to be “apprenticed” by so-called “experts”…when the apprentice may have greater gifts than the “teacher;” and without biases and ulterior motives that “experts” have (In the story, Mr. Gilbert Norrell is a self-proclaimed “practising magician” …”The greatest magician of the age” and owner of the most extensive library on the subject. While Jonathan Strange naturally practices magic, both in greater degree and in the battlefield to help England’s war effort; without “knowing” how he’s doing it!?)

 
* Opposition of the current established leadership to new ways, ideas and leaders- to extent of being enemies of the new move of God. Gilbert Norrell desires to make himself the judge, jury, and executioner of any kind of magic that he disagrees or disapproves of- under the guise that he wishes to make magic “respectable.” ”Sometimes the greatest opposition to what God wants to do next comes from those who were on the cutting edge of what God did last.” R.T. Kendall

In the story of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, amidst the chaos and destruction that he himself instigated, Mr. Norrell sees the error of his ways and helps Jonathan Strange; even embracing the new found ways. Let us hope that the same will be true for the church- that the “old guard” will not not only help the new leaders, but also embrace the new move of God…glorifying Him TOGETHER!

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