One Is More Than Zero

It doesn’t take a leader to discover problems, it only takes a human who is willing to look.

The thrilling powers of observation were at work in Christ’s disciples. Sometimes it can be annoying when people point out obvious problems without presenting solutions. Jesus however, wasn’t annoyed when the disciples informed him that the coutryside-traipsing multitude of 5000 folk were now hungry. Duh guys. Duh.

A leader like me in Jesus’ position would panic. My mind would suddenly be filled with 10 ideas; 5 of them bad and 5 of them worse . And I would have to pick the best solution among the lineup of the awful and ugly. Like the disciples, I probably would have selected the best of the worst ideas: send them home.

Imagine the look on the disciples faces when Jesus happily replied to their observation, “You give them something to eat.” 

Is this not the challenge that now confronts us as leaders in the body of Christ? Jesus isn’t here bodily. In the disciples day they’d just go ask Him. But here we are, with the command, “YOU give the people something to eat.” Impossible! We check our pockets, nothing. We check our spiritual bank accounts, not much to withdraw (actually overdraft fees loom). The need FAR exceeds the resource. Or so we think…

Then, the most confusing and liberating words to any young leader: “What do you have?” Forget about what you don’t have, you can’t change that; at least, not right now. Let’s start at square one. For ONE isn’t much, but it’s something, and it might be all that God needs. Sometimes ONE is 5 loaves and 2 fish. Sometimes ONE is a prayer meeting with only 2 people in it. Sometimes ONE is just a willing heart with a freed up schedule.

Dear leader, when you feel anxious, worried, ambitious or unsettled, let these words pierce your heart, “What do you have?” Let them sink deep. Let them wash away worry. Let them wash away your ideas about how it should be done. Let them smack around our preconceived notions of leadership, ministry model and protocol.

Today, don’t worry about what do you don’t have. Ask yourself, “What do I have? And how, Oh God, will you multiply it for Your glory?”

Living to Christ

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. – Paul

I have been gripped with the truth that when I said yes to God I wasn’t saying yes to Christianity – I was saying yes to Christ. Christian culture in America is constantly searching for the formula. What is the formula to make my ministry work? What is the formula to make my marriage work? What is the formula for me to stop sinning? Millions of dollars are exchanged yearly in this country for the next formula to make us feel better. We’re spending money to change “emotions” but many times leaving our spirits untouched and unaffected. The truth is we’re not signed up for a method we’re signing up for a Man.

Paul says, “Christ lives in me.” I want to know what it means to live to Christ.

Ask yourself this question: “How much of my faith is cultural and formulaic?” E.g. based on spiritual discipline or acceptable outward action. Be honest with yourself. If we remove every aspect of our faith except Christ living in us and our relationship to Him, what are we left with?

Christianity isn’t simply a list of “do’s and don’ts“. Like a marriage wedding, salvation isn’t a one time event. Every day we must awake to the newness of life and seek to love more deeply and humbly. Christianity is a Man – Christ!

The believer must seek to fuel their life by developing and growing that relationship with the Man Jesus. At the core of a relationship is a “knowing”. A knowing that experiences the emotions and thoughts of another. For instance, a husband seeking to grow in relationship with his wife doesn’t simply find out more facts about her; he tenderly asks her, “What are you feeling? What is on your mind?”

Let us seek this kind of relationship with Christ. Ask Him, ask Him often, “What is on Your heart?”

Slaves to Joy

Emotions are from God. God is deeply emotional, and deeply invested in His creation. He is not however unstable. His emotions are subject to His nature – one of love and goodness. He is moved by His emotions, much like we are.

Emotions are powerful. It’s not easy to “talk” yourself out of them. Your emotions are subject to your nature. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. Out of human nature emotions spring. These emotions are both positive and negative.

Our culture tells us to disconnect from our emotions. Don’t cry. Don’t giggle. Suck it up. Get the job done without whining and don’t get too happy when it is.

Our emotions need to get saved. They lie, they cheat, they interrupt. They need to be plumb-lined to truth. Though God rejoices over us our emotions will tell us He’s angry. Though God is a good Father our emotions will tell us that we’re orphans. Though God is near our emotions will tell us that He’s distant. Though God says that He’s made us clean our emotions will tell us we’re dirty.

It’s time to put the smack down.

Look at what David says in Psalm 4: “You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.”

This means that David was glad even when the grain and wine were absent. His gladness wasn’t intrinsically knit to outward success. His emotions weren’t always based in the present circumstance. There was gladness in his heart before the increase of grain and before the increase of wine.

We don’t have to be slaves to our emotions. We are not slaves but sons. We are not orphans we are children. We are not condemned we are forgiven.

Today, let the gladness of a glad Father fill your heart!

Faith – Eyes Open or Closed?

Man was made for the ground. Why else to do we feel nauseous when we go zipping around in our uncle’s boat? We have feet not flippers; arms not wings; lungs not gills. We jump and expect to feel the jarring impact shoot up through our knees. We lay on the grass, avoid excessive air-travel, and kiss the ground when we get home.

I wince when I travel.

Ground is our home. It makes us feel secure. Ground comforts us, exemplified by the sighs of relief when an airline touches down; or when we come down the ladder propped on the side of the house. Solid equals condolence. Man was made for earth and earth for man. The two are joined. They are twins from the same parents but you can’t tell in a crowd.

What did Adam feel the first time he stood up from his dusty womb?

The issue of faith is an issue of truth. An issue of reality. Faith can’t be faked, just as truth can’t be faked. Either something is true or untrue; fabricated or evident. While the false may parade as the true, somewhere, somehow, we believe that there is a reckoning. Some gavel must slam down and the curtain must drop, and when it does we will all gasp.

I’d guess there are more agricultural major graduates than philosophy major graduates.

Faith. Ask anyone on the street about faith and I’d bet they’d give you some answer along the lines of religion, or an eyes-closed-leap, or country music. Humanity wants evidence to have faith. Is this real? Prove it.

What if I told you you’re walking on air? Ushers have bags for the sick. What is faith? We imagine that faith steps off the cliff and walks on gases. I beg to differ.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heb. 11:1

Invisible stuff right? Intangible. Read it again. This time time take off your glasses, your prescription renewal is overdue.

Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen.

Makes you wonder. Imagine the man plunging brashly off the cliff was actually plunging onto it the whole time. He floated around in gas until he stepped onto the precipice. Truth is solid. No one who has been to the moon debates the existence of it. No one thinks of faith as substance and evidence, but look for substance and evidence to substantiate faith.

We might have had it backwards.