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Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability…

I was watching the news over a lunch break just a few moments ago and couldn’t help but notice, through sheer repetition, Jay Carney, President Obama’s Press Secretary saying, “The President believes that the Press should have unfettered & balanced freedom to information so as to honor the first amendment rights of the Constitution, anything else would be inappropriate.”

I’m grateful to know that our constitutional rights are being protected and valued by our leaders of this great country. I do worry about its validity though. Why? Not because I may or may not be a fan of this administration…I pray for it daily, but because I believe deeply, that if you or myself have to keep repeating something publicly, the only persons we may be trying to convince is ourselves.

Does Martha Stewart have to publicly say that she is a great cook?
Does Michael Jordan have to publicly say that he is a great basketball player?
Does Billy Graham have to publicly say that he is a great evangelist?
Does Mother Theresa have to publicly say that she is compassionate?
Does the Miami Heat have to say that they will win the 2013 NBA Championship?

The answer is no, to all the questions above. Why? Because it is obvious. Actions speak louder than words.

In the past I have encountered individuals and groups of people who hungered for their personal agendas to be protected. I have worked through forgiveness for these tragic situations and now have the privilege to be able to write about lessons learned and observations made as I look back now with 20/20 hindsight. I am grateful for you, as you read this, for you have granted me such a privilege of writing, because—well, you are reading this. 🙂

In the multiple accounts I am referring to, I have noticed a similar pattern in each. First, an unspoken and obvious desire to have no accountability or responsibility when something goes wrong. Second, a hunger for power. And third, a hunger to pursue selfish ambition. By the way, ambition is not a sin. The Bible doesn’t warn us against ambition. Jesus was ambitious. What the Bible warns us of, is selfish ambition. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.” What is the difference between ambition and selfish ambition? One promotes the progress of self at the apathy towards others. Personal agendas are very dangerous. I might add, personal agendas without accountability grow into forms of devastating evil.

Do a self check right now. This is hard to do when you think you do no wrong. I confess that I have had times in my life where I felt I could do no wrong. The ability to confess that fact is the very act that cleanses that sin. So, I say all that to say, those who need to do a self check the most, won’t…because they don’t think they need it.

Self-Check Time. Is there something in your life that you keep telling yourself or publicly declaring? You will notice it by its sheer repetition. I have repeated to myself in the past, “These people will like me”…and I had to keep telling myself such. Why? Because I really didn’t think people would like me for who I was. It was just a deep insecurity that I grew up thinking. I played on a basketball team in college that was lead by a coach who kept saying that we were a united team, while allowing a couple of players to travel on their own on B-ball trips in their own vehicle. (Not coach Rupe…in case some are wondering) It was clear we had unity problems on and off the court. Yet, the coach kept saying we were a united team? He was only trying to convince himself, we all knew better. I have encountered people who believed the best thing that could happen to their company was simply making sure their presence remained in the company for as long as possible. Who were they trying to convince? I have encountered a group of people who kept telling themselves and me, that they had to have the power. Who were they trying to convince and what was their agenda?

When you hear a preacher, continually harp on an issue…it’s is likely that he/she is struggling with it him/herself.
When you hear a Press Secretary repeat something over and over, it is likely that he is trying to convince himself and/or protect a personal agenda.
When you hear a group of people continually debate about who is in charge, it is likely that they are trying to self-preserve.
I am a student of Church world and have noticed some churches keep repeating how they are the biggest church in their town.(I’m not referring to CCV) Why are they repeating that? When you hear a professional athlete repeat how dominant he is, who is he trying to convince and who is he trying to protect?

What is it in your life that you have been vocally repeating? Who are you trying to convince? You don’t have to convince the people who are watching you. We know you by your actions. Jesus said in Matthew 7:16 (NASB), “You will know them by their fruit.” When my words do not back up my actions, everybody knows it but me, and how I look foolish. When your words do not back up your actions, everybody knows it and how foolish you look. Once, there was an elder who told me in front of a bunch of other people that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. That reason is to talk less and listen more. That was great advice that cut to my core. I learned from that elder. I appreciated the accountability, even though it hurt at the time, it made me sit back and shut up and listen. I am still working on getting better at such. What shocked me, is that specific elder was one who wouldn’t shut up in our private meetings. LOL. Crazy isn’t it? We are imperfect people and the only time that gets us in trouble is when we actually try to make other people live better than we do ourselves. I call that behavioral modification and control. It’s everywhere, but it is at its stinkiest in the church. It is crazy how Christians get very angry at other people for sinning differently than they do themselves.

Bottom line…We all need accountability. We need it of any kind. If someone tells you they don’t need accountability…that is the very person who needs it most. Why? Because they said it! Who are they trying to convince?

As far as the Top of the News is going right now….

We are seeing what happens when power seeking more power goes “unfettered” by a lack of accountability through biased-non-reporting from the press. The press is crying foul at something they actually empowered to happen. I pray it is a lesson learned. This lesson should soak into every fragment of our individual lives, corporate lives, committee lives, elder’s in church’s lives, marriage lives, and friendship lives. Hunger for power and living for self leads to secrecy, and secrecy is the beginning of sin/evil…let it go unchecked by covering up the truth and the truth will build such power that it will eventually blow forth in such a mighty way that it will reveal the culprit in a very naked way.

If you are a Christian and in a healthy Church, you should be able to come forward, confess your sin and be embraced by the loving arms of the body of Jesus Christ. There will still be consequences to covering up the truth and sin, but you will be loved not judged. That is the Church behaving its best.

If you are not in the Church, and are, like in today’s top news stories, the U.S. Government…well… your role, and the hot water that seems to be coming to a boil. I’m afraid more judgment is coming than love. The Government is not like the Church. The Government works for the people, and hell hath no fury than a people scorned, lied to and tricked. Its different for the Church, nobody answers to people, we answer to Jesus. There’s a big difference. I would rather answer to Jesus than to people. People are scary. Jesus is not. People are unpredictable, Jesus is not.

I like to say, “Time tells all things.”
Jesus said it better. “You will be known by your fruit.”
Jesus said it best, when He said, “The truth shall set you free.”
Be truthful now and there is nothing to hide and nothing to blow up in our face and leave us naked before our judges.

Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability are very dangerous things.
I’ve never seen a single soul, in all of world history, be able to safely play with power, secrecy, lack of accountability, and not get burnt and thus be left naked and exposed before the whole world.
If you hunger for power, have secrets and a lack of accountability I’ll bet you keep secretly telling yourself that it will all be okay.
Who are you trying to convince?
My advice, if you will accept it, is to take up 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

God is the Power. God knows all secrets. God is the ultimate accountability. AND…God is love. That makes me stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. He is the one and only true King.

In 1905, Charles Gabriel wrote a great Hymn called ‘I stand Amazed in the Presence.” It’s one of my favorite songs. I think when you read the lyrics below, the notes will play in your head. I dare you sing it right from where you sit…who cares who hears you…sing it! 🙂

I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.

How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior’s love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.

Hydrate — Winning from the inside 35 (Matthew 7:6) Pearls, Pigs & Dogs

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6

Jesus used some crazy illustrations. I imagine He fascinated His listener of His day. I’m fascinated by what He says just by reading it. This Bible passage has been used to teach many personal agendas. The passage is vague enough that I believe its okay to use this passage to make all kinds of conclusions. I intend, before this post is over, to make a specific point using this passage to teach about dogs and pigs in the form of people. Before I write my intended point, I think it would be healthy to take a quick shot at what Jesus literally meant when He taught this passage referenced.

In passages throughout the Bible about judging, we can read that we aren’t to judge unbelievers…and “dogs” was a slang term for unbelievers, in Jesus’s time. I think that Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t try to use Biblical ideas/principles/wisdom to try to help or teach unbelievers through their problems because they do not even believe the Bible to be true at this point in their life. I have tried this. I have tried to talk to unbelievers about their problems and have quoted parts of the Bible to them. I found it thrown back in my face. Almost with hostility. (Have you ever purchased a Bible and gave it as a gift to a non-believer? It has a tendency to turn the stomach of the recipient. It seems to backfire.) It is giving something sacred to a “dog” or a “pig”. When its all said and done, the sacred gets defiled and the pig just stays muddy. I think that’s what Jesus literally means. The solution is to love unbelievers as they are and when they start believing, they will open themselves up to the “pearls.” Its better to wait than to try to force feed the Bible to someone who isn’t ready for such a huge meal.

The rest of this blog is biased by what I want to write about. I want to write about “CHANGE” as the sacred pearls and the dog and/or pig could be anyone of us at any given time in our life.

I grew up on a large farm in the NW corner of Kansas. (Oakley KS) My parents still live there and it is now quite fun to take my wife and 4 children there to experience farm life. At the Renner Farm we have always had a dog and have had significant periods of time where we owned hundreds of pigs. I think that most people believe that dogs, overall, are very intelligent. I’m guessing that most people, however, are not aware that pigs are just as, if not more intelligent than a dog. I know for a fact that most people do not think that pigs are animals of cleanliness. No doubt, every pig likes its mud, but most people do not know that mud is a pigs air conditioner. A pig does not like to get dirty as much as it likes to stay cool. A pig can only sweat through its pores on its nose, which means it can’t sweat much to cool off. It has to use external resources to cool off. A water puddle and mud is to a pig, as a swimming pool is to a kid on a hot summer day! It cools.

There is a point to this lesson about dogs and pigs. Keep reading.

A dog, as it ages and gets accustomed to its comforts and patterns of habit, doesn’t like to change. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” A sweaty pig ends up in cardiac arrest due to heat stroke. “You are sweating like a pig” If a pig can’t sweat enough to cool itself off, then it just sits in the mud with very little movement in the heat of the moment.

Using this beastly illustration is my attempt to teach on change or the ability to change. Are there moments in my life where I act like a dog? Are there moments in my life where I act like a pig? My answer to those questions is yes. Sadly we all can act like dogs and pigs when it comes to needing change. The remaining post below is an all out assault on the human pigs and dogs that exist today. On rare occasions I personally need the following assault.

**WARNING** If you are offended by the remainder of this post you are most definitely resisting learning a new trick or you are willfully stuck in the mud. Or, to say it succinctly, you are a dog or you are a pig. Hopefully not both…I’m not sure what that would even look like.

How do we know if we are morphing into a dog or a pig?

Its simple…I am becoming a pig or a dog if I am resistant to change something that needs to change.

The piggly or doggedly things in us start to surface when someone else suggests the need for change in our lives. I have realized, through a couple of surprise life altering encounters in my recent past, that there are some underlying issues that cause us to not want to change. Show me where legitimate change is needed but is not happening and we will also find the underlying reasons as to why those who need to change are not. The number of things I am going to list is not complete. You may be able to think of some other reasons. If you can think of others, please share them with me in the comment section as I want to continue to be a learner and change agent.

Below are the main reasons why people don’t like to change. Or…below are the things that Jesus says causes Christians to become “Dogs” or “Pigs.”

SELF PRESERVATION – You want what you want! Its pretty simple really. A pig and a dog have a narrow focus. They think about their immediate desires and they pursue it. Anything that gets in the way of their selfish desire…well…have you ever experienced an attack from a dog? Have you ever listened to a hunter talk about being attacked by a wild pig? Encountering an angry dog or pig is terrifying. These creatures only think about their immediate desires and when those desires are being threatened, the fight or flight method kicks in. In the Church world, if pigs and/or dogs don’t get what they want, their fight or flight method kicks in. The fight method causes for long meetings and then extra special meetings after THE original meeting. The fight method in the church reveals who is really in charge. The fight method brings the worst out of people and reveals what is settled in their heart. If the fight method doesn’t surface, then that leaves the flight method. Its hard to say this, but it’s spoken in love. When pigs and/or dogs don’t get what they want in the Church and they don’t want to fight, then they just leave until they find what they desire. Churches that are dying, are really just hospices for the pigs and the dogs. I don’t mean that in a mean spirited way, I say it in total love and truth telling. If I refuse to change in areas that change is required, so success and fruitfulness can happen again, then bottom line, I am selfish. I am acting like a dog or a pig and I don’t deserve the pearls that God would have me manage. Self-Preservation is a sin that morphs christians into pigs and dogs.

EGO – “I like what I like and I think my ways are the best ways.” That sentence, which is a thought and very rarely spoken, is riddled with ego. Let me be clear about something. Ego in itself, is not a bad thing. Ego, in its simplest form, is confidence. As long as someone’s ego doesn’t rise higher than their ability or integrity, then that ego is a okay…it is confidence. Was it not ego for Jesus to say, “I am the way, the truth and the life”? The Apostle Paul had ego. David had ego. Goliath had ego. Jezebel had ego. The instant their ego level went higher than their integrity, they were disciplined by God. (Pride comes before the fall.) How they responded to their discipline determined if God allowed them to reestablish their influence or not. Repentance is huge! A dog and a pig are both confident that their way is the right way. The dog likes the tricks he is able to perform. The pig loves the cool comforts of its stagnant mud hole. The dog has learned to selfishly entertain itself with its old tricks and only gathers with other dogs and pigs that like those same old tricks. The pig has been laying in its mud hole for so long it doesn’t smell the stench anymore. Understanding this helps us realize how easy it is to become a dog and a pig. The dog and the pig see no need to change. Change would make them uncomfortable. To learn new tricks would require sacrifice as they worked through a new learning curve and would require admitting that their old trick used to be good. The pig would have to risk getting out of the mud, which takes a lot of effort, and could cause over heating issues as they stepped into the light. The dog’s ego prevents it from experiencing the thrill of new tricks. The pig’s ego prevents it from experiencing fresh mud holes down the road.

A typical pig or dog, at this point, would ask, “who gets to determine what tricks or mud holes are the right ones or not? They would ask, what makes you think your mud pit and your tricks are the right way? The answer to that question is, I don’t know if my idea is the right idea, but what I do know is that your old tricks and your mud pit are not effective anymore. I have found that pigs and dogs are confident of the way they think is right. Christians who are NOT pigs or dogs don’t know what method will work best, they only recognize when a way that used to be the right way no longer is. People who are not pigs or dogs want to leave the old tricks and want to get out of the stagnant mud hole. People who are not dogs or pigs are willing to try something new and they won’t have any of the reasons listed in this post that hold them back.
Pigs and Dogs, due to Self Preservation, are sub-conscienly driven by their own desires. This fact is an integrity problem due to selfishness. This integrity problem begins to rise. The person’s integrity now begins to drop under their ego and now they begin morphing into a pig or a dog. Unknowingly the dog and the pig enjoy being stuck in the mud of old tricks. Worst case scenario is that this reality is the beginning of a slow and safe death. If the worst case scenario doesn’t happen then the pig and the dog quietly slip into the village of average. Some might say that average isn’t so bad. I say that average is invisible. I would prefer death to invisibility. Eventually they end up in the same place. Ineffectiveness. Isn’t that the same as death?

CONTROL – When a person is committed to self preservation, which naturally leads to their integrity level to drop below their ego level, it will progress into the desire to control. Self Preservation + Low Integrity/High Ego = Control. Controlling people are dogs and pigs that will not receive the pearls that God would have them manage. People who refuse to change, keep everything under their control. A good illustration would be like a ship’s captain who refused to listen to the navigator as he warned him of a huge coral reef just ahead. The controlling captain, with all his/her ego and self preservation abounding…controls the ship right into death for all.
Pearls to swine…so tragic and devastating.

AFRAID – Change is suffocated by fearfulness on a daily basis. It is scary to get out of the comfortable smelly mud hole. The possibility of looking stupid as the dog tries a new trick is debilitating. People who refuse to change are really just people overwhelmed by fear. These reasons for not changing feed off of each other. Controlling people are in full tilt self preservation mode because they are afraid of something. Fear could be accused as being the king motivator as to why the pig and the dog even exist in church world. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of failure. Fear of losing a position of power. Share your thoughts with me about this in the comments section.

LAZINESS– Bottom line, its hard work to change. Lazy people hate change. We are busy, stressed, and don’t need more pressure. The pig and the dog lie to themselves, thinking that everything is fine and they don’t want to fix it, if it ain’t broke. The problem is that out of control ego and self preservation have blinded them to the fact that when something isn’t growing it is actually dying. When newcomers enter the old tricks mud pit, he/she notices the tricks are ineffective and the mud is stagnant. The new comer naturally, and even kindly, will mention the smell and age of the tricks, but the pig and the dog are overcome by fear which causes them to resort to control which causes them to fight or flight. Bottom line Pigs and Dogs struggle with being lazy. The pearl is hidden in the new trick and just outside the reach of a mud hole. Its hard work to get to get the new pearls. Jesus is warning us not to throw pearls to swine or give sacred things to dogs. Jesus knows the underlying reasons that are being listed in this post.
My hope in this post is revelation and awareness, not condemnation. I hope the pig and the dog, reading this, don’t see this as condemnation. I hope the pig and the dog realize they aren’t meant to be a pig or a dog, but a New Creation in Jesus Christ that is bent on completing the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do you kill the Pig or the Dog within you?

Kill SELF PRESERVATION by promoting the progress and purpose of other people, more so than your own… Matthew 20:28, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Stop trying to make Church what you think it should be and make it such that people who are far from Jesus want to come and give their life to Him. Be willing to sacrifice your wants for others. Jesus did. As a Christian you can get what you want on your own outside the walls of church. You can fill your desire for your favorite worship music at home. You can fill your desire for your style of Bible study on your own study time. You can self feed. You are the Christian. Sacrifice your desires for those who are still searching for Christ. Paul said, I become all things to all people so that some may be saved! What a great attitude. Paul was not a pig or a dog.

Kill EGO by considering others as better than yourself. The following passage is adequate for Ego and Self Preservation. Philippians 2:3, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Kill CONTROL by giving it back to God. When you try to control anything, its like you getting in the face of God and screaming at Him, “I can do it better than you, God!” That’s eternally devastating. Romans 8:9 says, But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.”
Kill FEARFULNESS by trusting God at His word. Don’t forget that God wants what is best for you! He doesn’t promise safety, but He promises eternal good to those who live for Him. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Kill LAZINESS by knowing that you work for God, not yourself and certainly not for your selfish desires. Romans 12:11 says, Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”

For God’s sake, be willing to change.
Gor the sake of the World, Change.
For the Church’s sake, keep changing the methods, but keep the message the same.

There are pearls/blessings/thrills/adventures/challenges/fruitfulness to be harvested!
Jesus says never give pearls to a dog or a pig.
Don’t be a dog.
Don’t be a pig.

THE THREE _______________ ? (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

I love that Bible passage. I have seen it spiritually lived out in so many different ways. I’ve seen it work for good and I’ve seen it work for evil.

I haven’t posted in awhile, so before I get a new routine going again with some blogging about the Teachings and Commands of Jesus, I want to blog about and epidemic crisis going on throughout out too many churches around the world. If what I’m about to write is offensive then I would suggest that “the shoe is fitting you” and God might be using this post as a way to ask you to change.

A triple braided cord is not easily broken. Obviously true or it wouldn’t be in the Holy Bible. If you want to physically experiment the truth of this statement then go grab some dental floss. Take one strand of it and wrap it around a finger on each of your hands and pull and break it. Did you notice how hard you had to pull to break the strand? Now, take 2 strands of similar length and twist them together and repeat. You had to pull much harder to break it…some might not have even been able to break the two strands. Now repeat it, but use three strands that you have actually braided together. Its incredibly hard to break them, nearly impossible!

I have enough of a personal ministry network across the USA that allows me to hear and see many circumstances play out in the every day life of the local church. I hear stories that make me want to fall to my knees and thank God for such incredible news. I hear stories that make my heart ache for the pastor who is having to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I have personally walked through both scenarios. I’ve been around long enough to personally experience both scenarios and seen enough scenarios play out in other places that I have been able to see and link patterns. Its quite fascinating, actually.

The pattern deals with people and leadership.

The stories of triumph are preceded by a church that has a pastor that is connected with his elder board through honoring each other’s strengths and having intense team and trust. I love that kind of triumph.

The stories of walking through the valley of the shadow of death are typically preceded by a gathering of a pastor with a board. Usually the lack of team and trust and the lack of acknowledging each members strengths, this board typically and eventually dwindles to three. I don’t know why three, but I think somehow, someway this Ecclesiastes 4:12 passage ungirds it all.

I don’t need to go into too much detail about the Leadership Board built around strengths and team and trust. You can call the circle of people anything you want because when you boil it all down it’s the same thing. Elders, Deacons, Administrative Team, Corporate officers, Trustees, committees. ITS ALL THE SAME. People with positions of power. When this team of people come together and honor each other’s strengths and rely on each other’s team and trust, this team can accomplish nearly anything. This group of people live the Holy Scriptures in their personal lives. This group knows how to laugh and most definitely do not take themselves too seriously. This group is a group of people that are inspiring to be around. When this group comes together, success happens naturally through organized thinking, holiness, planning, prayer, and vision that is united in what Jesus wants. Period! This group naturally and without resistance rotates its leadership because not one single individual in the circle needs to have the position. Each individual in this group has developed their identity in who Christ says they are, instead of needing the position so they can have an identity. There is a lot of depth in that last sentence. If you pause for even 30 seconds you will be able to think of people in your life that fit both those descriptions. Which person are you? Which person would you rather spend time with…especially in a meeting?

This group of people very rarely, if ever, has the problem of the group shrinking to just 3 people. This group is of such that its actually fun to attend meetings and as birds of a feather flock together, this type of group attracts more people just like them. There’s never a shortage of people to ask to be a part of this type of rich environment. So cool when this happens.

So, there is a flip side to this environment. Again, call the group whatever you want, its all the same. However, this type of group usually has such an environment that it typically ends up only having 3 people who are left in it. Its hard to find new people to fill the absence of those who just couldn’t survive the walk through the valley of death type meetings. Death by meetings. What’s the difference from the description above? Why is there typically just three people left? The difference is simply the opposite of my first description. The Valley of Death environment is lead by a group of people who create their identities based off their position. This position puts them in such a spot that it allows them to pursue their personal interests. When you have a group of people in a meeting where three or more in the group are always vying for their personal preferences, you have, eventually, just three that are left and you end up with an organization that is full of things that these three people wanted. Everybody else in the group just shriveled and then disappeared. There voice wasn’t heard, because the big three continually cut them off and ignore their suggestions. The three people that typically remain are of two different types of people. The first type of three that might remain are the three that are very out-spoken, tend to be a bit arrogant and have a bully type personality about them. They control the meetings. They fight, endlessly, for their personal preferences. This type of person will say that they know what they are doing and that their ideas are God directed. The problem with this, is that they use God as the excuse to pursue their personal interests. The real problem is that each of these bully types will argue for their personal preferences and say that God has given them this position of authority to pursue their idea. Many times they will say that God gave them the idea. Then the next guy will say that God told them something different and has given them the position of authority to make the idea come to fruition. What you have is a meeting where God seems to be schizophrenic and can’t make up His mind, telling one person one thing and the next person something else. These meetings are maddening. They are made up of a few people all fighting for their personal preferences. There is a serious lack of Christ-likeness in these meetings and in a matter of time, there usually are only three left. If its not the 3 bullies that are left, then it usually means that even the bullies got impatient and left, leaving the very kind and gentle people sitting around the table wondering what to do next. This group will be too nice to make any tough decisions so the meetings usually last for hours while the group simply talks about ideas and never activating any of them. This last group of three remaining is very rare… most of the time all you have left in these leadership meetings are the three bullies. They love their position. They get their identity from their position. They individually try to win more followers over so they can get popular vote and power. These kind of people have a lot of meetings before and after the “official” meeting. I call this group of three, “The 3 Kings.” Self-appointed of course. The very kind and soft spoken group of three that rarely remain, we can call them “The 3 Stooges.” Kind of mean, but you get the point.

What the Church needs is a group of men that is described in the first group I wrote about above who all bow down to the real and mighty three. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. That is the ultimate group of three that can’t be broken. If every Church/Org/Corporation/Gov./etc. were lead by such a group, wow…the world would be better.

Be careful what you think the role of a leadership group is. (Call the group what you want, its all the same.) Be careful if it seems the group that is leading your church carries a heavy stick. Jesus didn’t carry a heavy stick…except to the bullies. Jesus kicked the bullies butts all the time. They eventually killed Him, but then He kicked the bullies butts again 3 days later. What is it with the number 3! Be careful relying on a group of people to give you directions of how you should live your life. You have a Bible for that. I suggest we all follow the great 3.

The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. When those three are leading, incredible things take place, no matter the personalities of the others sitting around the leadership table. Take a look at your organization, your Church, your Government, your personal family. If there is dysfunction of any kind it can be traced, more often than not, to a group of three who are not listening to The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, but are listening first to their personal preferences, which are being swayed by a group of people they are trying to please.

We as God’s creation are better than this. The solution to the problem of ending up with the 3 leftovers, is for everybody to follow the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When you have a group of three left over that aren’t doing this…look out! Danger and Death with hovering everywhere. In the Church world, God nor the Devil is present in this kind of setting. The great 3 show the Lord that they don’t need Him and they lead on. This also dismisses the devil’s need to be present, for when people are in control, the devil doesn’t need to be around to cause chaos, it will be prevalent without him around.

What do you do?
Figure out a way to get the 3 removed. If that is impossible, then remove yourself from the organization and the dysfunction. Life is too short and…there are enough exciting and dynamic organizations/churches/families out there, that you don’t have to be trapped in one that is lead by the 3 Kings or the 3 Stooges.

Choose THE FATHER, THE SON and THE HOLY SPIRIT! It won’t be easy, but its what’s best!

A triple braided cord is not easily broken. This is true if the braid is holy or evil.
Don’t forget that the devil disguises himself as an angel of light.

So, I recommend that you check the fruit. A good tree produces good fruit. While checking, if you find a group of 3 people who say that they know what they are doing and that you just need to trust their leadership…well…choose wisely, your choice will have consequences. Remember that life is challenging enough as it stands and I would recommend that find a group of people who fully submit to only the will of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

They are truly the Great Three.
Keep their desires at the very center of your life.
It won’t be easy, but it will be right!


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Matthew 5:9

If you have children, what would you actually do for them in a time of crisis? If you are like me, then you would do anything to protect them, help them, encourage them, shape them. I think its instinctual. If God created the bear and the lion and He also created you. He’s only one artist. He created you with some similarities as the bear and the lion. Have you ever heard any stories about a person coming across a momma bear or lioness when their “kids” are around? They mean business. Its the same for you. You could be one of the most gentle and quiet people on the planet. But put your kids around you and then introduce a little danger in the form of other people or a criminal and its like you jumped into a phone booth, stripped off your regular clothes to expose a super hero ready to do some serious damage in the name of protecting your children.

God is a parent. If God made you in His image to be like Him, then you and God have similar qualities. God designed it that way. I think that God is willing to do just about anything to honor, and do what is very best for His children.

So, the question is; Are you a son or daughter of God?

Some may say, “yes, Trent…I prayed a prayer back when I was in Jr. High and gave my life to God.” My reply to that is, show me in the Bible where someone prayed a prayer and then, from that point on, is considered a child of God. I don’t want to be to cynical here, but please let me save you some time by telling you that, such a Bible verse/story is not in the Bible.

How do I know I am a son or daughter of God?

According to Jesus in this fist sermon He ever preached, He says that you need to be a PEACEMAKER to be considered a son or daughter of God. How serious is this? This is what is called a “salvation issue.” You have to agree with me that in order to go to Heaven you have to be a son or daughter of God. Agree? Jesus then says, that in order to be s son or daughter of God, you have to be a peacemaker. Agree? Then to summarize this line of thinking, we must be peacemakers in order to go to Heaven. You must be a peacemaker to be saved. Agree?

Jesus’ brother has something to say about this. James wrote, in James 3:18, “And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”

I want to be more of a peacemaker. I have found this to be a personal challenge that is difficult. I am an intense person of passion and I most definitely don’t like the status quo. I like to get to the underlying issue of things instead of talk about the surface level of life. So many people, when I speak with them, feel that I am prying a little to hard into their lives. This causes walls to go up. It doesn’t help that I’m 6′ 3″ and 220 pounds. I do boxing workouts. I run 5 miles every other day. I speak the truth and like to be direct. I enjoy making the bully “sweat.” Does that make me a bully to the bullies? Does this disqualify me from being a peacemaker? What a dangerous situation. I must guard all this more carefully. I wish Jesus would have never said this thing about peacemaking. But He did.

So, what about you? Are you a peacemaker? Before we get too discouraged at our answers, let’s make sure we are defining peace the right way. Jesus says that there are different kinds of peace. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

But hold on! Jesus also said in Matthew 10:34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”

Is Jesus arguing with Himself? Is this what some call a “biblical contradiction?” The answer is a very clear, “No.” The answer is that there are different kinds of PEACE. As I write this, last Sunday was the Superbowl. We watched the underdog New York Giants beat the New England Patriots. At Half time of the Superbowl, Madonna performed and at the very end of a pretty good performance she had the floor light up with a great big flash of production and it said, “WORLD PEACE.”

Is this what Jesus is talking about when he says, ‘Blessed are the Peace Makers?” It would be impossible for Him to mean this. Because he also said that He did not come to the world to bring Peace but a sword. And I would say…”He did a good job of that.” Every since Jesus arrived and left this planet, there has been division and chaos. Want proof…march into your local public school and start talking about Jesus to the students. I’ll bet your circumstances won’t end in what could be called a peaceful ending. As Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 10:35-36, “I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be in your own household.” Jesus meant it, didn’t he?

How can Jesus say, “Blessed are the Peace-Makers,” when He says He didn’t even come to bring Peace, but a sword?”

He can only say that if there are two kinds of peace. 1. What Madonna calls “World-Peace.” 2. What Jesus calls, “Peace of Heart.”

I think, according to Jesus’ personality and style, the peace He refers to has nothing to do with tranquility, as in no war because every human being just loves one another. That is the dream of mankind. Its a worthy dream. Michael Jackson rounded up pretty much every music celebrity back in his day and they performed a song together that went like this. (I’ll be you can’t read it without singing it in your head!) “We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all. But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall, Let us realize that a change can only come, When we stand together as one” (You started singing it didn’t you!?) In order for this kind of peace to become a reality in the world…then evil would have to be completely removed from the planet. As long as evil is real there will never be the kind of Peace that Madonna or Michael was hoping for.

So, that leaves us the kind of Peace that Jesus gives. Simply put, His kind of peace is best defined this way. “The ability to be calm and confident because you trust that God is in control even in the middle of total chaos.”

We, on occasion come across people like this. We see them in the news. They have stories of Heroism and selflessness. In the middle of absolute chaos they somehow remained strong and confident and calm. Now…I don’t know if Jesus is the one that provided them with this kind of confidence or not. Jesus is not the only one who can provide this kind of peace. You can train for it and not include Jesus in it. You could be naturally confident and ready for action in any situation and be seen as a peaceful person, without Jesus. You could be missing some common sense in your life and therefore not naturally think about dangerous consequences and thus seem to be able to stay calm in scary situations. None of those have anything to do with Jesus, yet you are a person of “peace.”

What I’m trying to say here is that there are all kinds of people who have the Peace that Jesus is referring to and many of them do not have it because of a relationship with Jesus. What I’m saying here is that if you want to be considered a son or daughter of God then you have to let Jesus live inside of your heart and mind and when chaos is ripping all around you, you rely on His peace and calm that He provides because you know He is in control.

When you let Jesus have total control over every detail of your life, then whatever you encounter that isn’t peaceful, that is dangerous, that is scary, you have the ability to remain at peace and in self-control. You are at peace even in the middle of tragedy and chaos. You are able to stay “peaceful” even when your own death might be staring you in the face. Because God is in control. You don’t let the fears of the world control you. God controls you. In the face of insecurity, when someone is verbally attacking you or mistreating you, you don’t have to lash back, because your security is in God and what God says about you.

Peace…Jesus’ style…is the ability to remain calm and collected in the middle of Chaos because you acknowledge that Jesus is in control, no matter the results of the situation. Peace…Jesus’ style…doesn’t mean you just lay over and never challenge back or stand up for what is right. Don’t forget that Jesus is a peacemaker and yet He made a whip and whipped people out of the temple, and He called the Pharisees horrible names. Being a peacemaker…Jesus style…doesn’t mean that you have to be a wimp. It means there is a steadfast strength about you. Being a peacemaker means you are a well-rounded balanced person. Just like Jesus. Strong and gentle. Tough and kind. Offensive and defensive. Sly and innocent. Aggressive and peaceful. Truth and Love. Justice and Mercy. Get it? If you still want a strong picture of the kind of peace that I’m referring to here, then read the Bible story of the crucifixion of Jesus. I can’t think of a more horrible thing to go through than a Roman Crucifixion. So, read the Bible’s account and pay special attention to the attitude and demeanor of Jesus while this horrible thing is being done to him. You will see a man at peace with WHO is in control.

There are stories of women who have been raped and abused over and over but they survived it all and have been saved from that situation and they talk about the peace they were able to have in the middle of all the horrific things that were happening to them. They give credit to Jesus and the Bible. One lady tells the story of how she wrote a powerful Bible verse on her ceiling above the bed. And day after day, she would read the Bible verse above her bed while being raped and trusted that God was real and that she would be okay through all this. What a story of strength and victory. This lady tells of her story, as a story of victory today and about the goodness of God compared to the evil of mankind. There are stories of “tragedy” all over the world where Christians had unbelievable atrocities happen to them, yet they tell the stories as if they are stories of victory! How inspiring! What a witness to the power of God. What a witness to the PEACE of Jesus Christ being lived out by His sons and daughters.

What’s your worst nightmare? What could happen to you that makes you think you couldn’t handle it? I encourage you to think about it and prepare for it to happen in your mind and determine that you would be okay through it all. What is the alternative here? Worry, Stress, Fear, Doubt, Control problems, Nervousness, Anger, Hurtful reactions, etc.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you must be prepared for anything and therefore never be caught off guard. If you are caught off guard and in a moment of weakness do something really stupid, then you harm the witness of Jesus Christ. The Bible is full of teachings about the sons and daughters of God needing to always have their wits about them. We are always one decision or one reaction away from blowing our credibility with God and with other people. Every decision we make…matters. So…

Be prepared.
Be a Peace-Maker.
You will be considered a son or daughter of God.
There is no greater title.

“Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS for they will be sons/daughters of God.”