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How do you Identify yourself?

The strongest worldly force in the human design, is the need to remain consistent with how you define yourself.  In other words, your identity. One of the most powerful statements someone can make, is this; “I am a ____________.”  What did you put in that blank? That identity is the very thing that causes you to order your life the way you do. It’s what motivates you, even subconsciously.

The greatest day of a person’s life is when they fully come to realize that life is not a comfort-centric experience, but a growth-centric experience.

When we come to terms with where we realistically and currently are, with no blaming of others, no victimization, no woulda-shoulda-coulda thoughts, realization of the fact that our environment doesn’t define us, but gives us the opportunity to define ourselves, only then can we be free.  You may not have liberty, but you most definitely can have freedom. Freedom is the ability to know who/what defines you and that definition can never be taken from you.  Others can steal your liberty, but never your freedom. We can only relinquish our freedom, it cannot be taken. With that understanding, our behavior then, is best ordered, and self-controlled. Too many allow their skillset to define them. Education teaches this destructive mentality, and teaches us to be good at a skillset that ends up forcing a defining identity upon us, and that false identity keeps us in ‘their’ box. A box like a coffin. Freedom is attained, and is self-controlled, when we fully understand that our identity must be concreted in the fact that we are God’s masterpiece, His most prized in all creation. So much so, that Jesus sacrificed His life to try to get you back as a personal friend. Anything else that we allow to define us, can be lost instantly. Being God’s masterpiece, His most prized in all creation, lasts for eternity, no matter what circumstances we ever encounter. I pray you will accept this freedom-giving identity before your body becomes a box of bones. Talk about identity…The Great I Am, cherishes you, loves you, and calls you His favorite in all creation!


Is it okay to be passionate about politics?

As a pastor, I’ve noticed a lot of the following discussion…

Christian Trent says to Christian Ben–

“You sure talk and post alot about this election stuff, Ben. You clearly are idolizing politics above the Lord. You are more focused on a wordly empire than the Kindom of Heaven. You should repent.”

Then Christian Trent turns to Christian John and says–

“Hey John, did you see that Kyler Murray has thrown for 5000+ yards with 30+ TDs while rushing for 1000+ yards with 10+ TDs…all in his first 24 career starts? Man, I cant wait for Church to end, Im ready for football all afternoon!”

Whats my point?

Kingdom prioritizing should not be understood as a priority list from 1 – 10 with Jesus at the top. i.e. (In a linear priority of Jesus #1, your spouse #2, and your daughter #3…what happens to your priorities when, while reading your Bible and praying to Jesus, your daughter is injured and you must leave your Bible time with #1 Jesus to take your daighter #3 to the ER? In a linear priority list…You made priority #3 more important than #1…and if your spouse #2 stayed home, your #3 took priority of #2 as well.

So is there a better way to live? This all might be better understood and lived as what I call Circular Prioritizing…like a wheel of priorities with Jesus as the hub. (In this instance, its honoring to Jesus to stop your Bible Time to run your daughter to the ER as it is an act of worship to steward the things Jesus has given you.) And your act is honoring to your spouse too.

The goal is for Jesus to remain as your center AND live life stewarding and enjoying all good things around Him that He has blessed you with.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” Praying and never stopping is impossible to do in a linear priority scale, but it is easy to pray continually in a circular priority scale.

Jesus talked about Pharisees all the time, but that doesnt mean He idolized them or that He had his Kingdom priorities out of order. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 Jesus teaching on this would be best understood and lived when it is not taught from a linear perspective…and is best understood and lived circularly with Jesus as THE center.


Church/State Compliance due to Covid-19 in America…

The Apostle Paul, under the teaching of Jesus, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wrote in Romans 12:21, “Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.”  

There’s a lot of talk lately about doing good through compliance, respect, courtesy, and obedience to the Gov, and respect for our fellow citizens. This fact is a good thing. There is and has been a tremendous amount of compliance from Churches and Christians over the past 6 months. One would think this would be respected and appreciated by non believers and government officials. One might think it would win them over. Time will tell.

My gut…not always accurate…tells me the opposite is happening. The rest of this post is simply my opinion. As I often say, and already repeat in this post…Time Tells All things. My personal gut tells me that the American Church…which does have more freedom than any other Church group around the world. (America is very good in that respect) So…it is an unarguable fact that we as the Church, that live in America, have done a lot of good, as Romans 12:21 states, through compliance and obedience to the Government’s wishes and laws. Is it too pushy of me to be concerned that the Church need be reminded of the other half of God’s mandate found in Romans 12:21? Conquer evil.

I’ve witnessed Christians across the USA, bend over backwards to do the compliance part. In America we have the God given freedom to use the law to do the other half of Scripture’s command too…to Conquer, using good.  

The Law is Good. It can be used by the Christian to accomplish much.

Christianity in America will not retain freedom through compliance, passivity, and courtesy only. I am convinced there are some who would prefer we all simply lay our heads on the chopping block and allow the world to dominate us, end our lives, and send us into eternity. That was Jesus’s role. He came to earth for the propitiation sacrifice required to pay for our sin. Our mission while we are on earth, is not exactly the same as Jesus’s mission while He was here on earth. We are mandated to behave like Jesus, but we are not mandated to have the exact same mission as Jesus. Jesus’s mission was full submission to God and Man. He could not defy, as that would prevent him from dying. He came here to die. Along the way, He did a lot of good, that we also are to do…but His first part of coming to die…is His mission…and His alone. There is only one Lord and Savior, and we are not Him and our mission is different than His.  So, I ask…where is the Christian and the Church that is honoring both sides of the command to Conquer and do Good?

Strength and defiance can be done while also honoring Scripture’s command of remaining good.  The Bible tells us to obey the law of the land. America has been fortunate to have been founded on “We The People” are the law makers…and We The People are the Government of the land. Yes…even Christians living in America.

I copied an article today I found in the News….check it out below…

Pay special attention to the 2nd paragraph below…I capitalized it for easy reference. The full article can be found in The Christian Post Sunday Edition August 30, 2020.

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The four-page letter posted on the front door of the church accused North Valley Baptist of “failing to prevent those attending, performing and speaking at North Valley Baptist’s services from singing.” 

IN THE LETTER, COUNTY OFFICIALS REVEALED THEY HAD BEEN SENDING AGENTS INTO THE CHURCH TO SPY ON THE CONGREGATION DURING WORSHIP SERVICES. 

“This activity is unlawful,” the notice stated. “The county understands that singing is an intimate and meaningful component of religious worship. However, public health experts have also determined that singing together in close proximity and without face coverings transmits virus particles further in the air than breathing or speaking quietly.” The county demanded that North Valley Baptist “immediately cease” their activities, warning that “failure to do so will result in enforcement action by the county.”

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There are no easy answers in regards to how to conquer and do good in regards to this topic of Government control and Church Worship Services. We will have to continue to talk it out.

I’m convinced the world will only like Christianity when it fully submits to them.

You will go to hell if you fully submit to the world. The Scripture tells us that we cannot be friends with the world and friends with Jesus at the same time. (James 4:4)

Who are we trying to appease?


Is our USA falling apart?…

Imagine you were born in America and the year is 1900.

When you’re age 14, World War I begins and ends by the time you’re age 18… there are 22 million dead.

Soon after a global pandemic, the Spanish Flu, appears, infecting 500 Million–(1/3 of the world’s population) and killing 50 million people. And you’re alive at the age of 20 years old.

When you’re age 29 you survive the global economic crisis that started with the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange, causing inflation, unemployment and famine. This era also gets nicknamed the Dirty Thirties.

When you’re age 33 years old the nazis come into power.

When you’re age 39, World War II begins and ends when you’re age 45 years old with a 60 million dead. 6 Million dead Jewish People from the Holocaust.

When you’re age 52, the Korean War begins.
When you’re age 64, the Vietnam War begins and ends when you’re age 75.

If you were fortunate enough to live to 2001, at the age of 101, you witnessed 3000 people die when the twin towers were destroyed by a terrorist attack.

Most Children born in the late 1900’s naturally think their grandparents have no idea how difficult life is. They naturally think their current era, and their world is falling apart more than ever.

Well…is our world falling apart more than ever? I answer no. I think there is more good happening than bad. The problem might be, we all have our iPhone’s out and use social media to overly populate the bad news views. Life is hard. Choose to focus on the millions of good that happens everyday.

In America Today we have all the comforts of a new world, even amid a new pandemic. What are your current complaints? Pause and imagine all the things we have that allow us to be described as fortunate. WiFi, Running Water, Electricity, Netflix, Insta, Coffee Shops on every corner, Sports, Great Schools, Equal Opportunity for Every American, Laptops, Cool Cars, iPhones, Air Conditioning, and Freedom. … keep the list going.

A small change in our perspective can generate entirely different outlooks. This change in perspective could change your outlook in nearly miraculous ways. We could be thankful that we are alive and thriving today. We could do everything we need to do to protect and help each other. Life is hard. It will remain difficult for the rest of our lives…for everybody. I pray we don’t actually think we have it worse than ever before. We don’t. It’s all about our perspective.

I end with a Holy Bible Scripture Verse found in Philippians 4:4-8.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”


The Dark Side Of A Long-Term Pastorate

Last week I shared a story from Bob Iger’s book The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, today I’d like to share one statement that Iger makes that has been following me around ever since I first read it. As Iger is contemplating his coming retirement, he says this:

I’m comforted by something I’ve come to believe more and more in recent years—that it’s not always good for one person to have too much power for too long. Even when a CEO is working productively and effectively, it’s important for a company to have change at the top. I don’t know if other CEOs agree with this, but I’ve noticed that you can accumulate so much power in a job that it becomes harder to keep a check on how you wield it. Little things can start to shift. Your confidence can easily tip over into overconfidence and become a liability. You can start to feel that you’ve heard every idea, and so you become impatient and dismissive of others’ opinions. It’s not intentional, it just comes with the territory. You have to make a conscious effort to listen, to pay attention to the multitude of opinions.

One of Chemistry’s core beliefs is that we need to extend the average tenure of ministry staff from the current average of 3.5 years to 5 years. Our entire team is convinced that this will help create healthy, thriving churches. We are committed to creating a healthy, long-term fit between pastors and churches. That said, I think Iger is onto something when he suggests that there is a danger in being somewhere for too long.

Several years ago I sat with a small group of church planters listening to a well-known pastor share his thoughts on leading the church. The man had brought a group of interns from his church and as he shared his opinions on the right and wrong methodologies of leading a church he would make cutting, borderline inappropriate, comments about those who he felt were doing it wrong. As these comments were made, his interns would chuckle and egg him on. I remember walking away from that gathering feeling conflicted: there was a wisdom to some of the man’s thinking, but the arrogance and meanness left me questioning his fitness for the pastorate. It was obvious to me that there was no one around him who could pull him aside and challenge him to reconsider his actions.

The biggest danger of spiritual leadership is that we play a significant role in the development of the people that we lead. Because of this, we can be revered by those who surround us and inadvertently placed on a pedestal. The likelihood of this happening only increases the longer that we are in place. As this happens, people grow less and less likely to challenge our thinking, to suggest alternative courses of action, or to call us on our bad behavior. When this happens, the end of our church’s productive ministry begins.

The onus is on us, as ministry leaders, to surround ourselves with people who will push on us, challenge us, and take us to the woodshed from time to time. I am not suggesting that we surround ourselves with jerks, but with people who love us and the church that we lead and want nothing but the best for both. The courage and self-awareness that it takes to do this are rare, but are incredibly important for our health, and the health of the churches we lead.

Who do you have in your life that has the permission to challenge your thinking and call you on bad behavior?

matt

Matt Steen
Co-Founder | Chemistry Staffing
Matt.Steen@ChemistryStaffing.com


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