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Posts tagged with: Religion

Cut it out!

Have you ever been to someone’s yard and right there in the middle is a sickly tree?  Or been in a beautiful town and discover business’s dying?  Or in a beautiful town full of Churches that are on death’s edge because they are not seeking and saving the lost? Something needs cut, pruned, compeltely worked over! 

My experience is in Church-world. Pruning during stagnation is the most needed Christ-like practice for a church that is stuck in a rut.  (A rut and a grave are the same thing…just 6 feet apart.)

Think about it…when is the last time you saw a Church going through 40 days of pruning?  We have 40 days of prayer, fasting, evangelism, worship, Bible reading…but I’m not sure I’ve seen a Church have 40 days of pruning, when needed.  Jesus is a pruner!

All through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…(the 4 most critical chapters of the bible)…when Jesus saw the crowd, around Him, begin to lose His focus…He pruned the crowd.  He went so far, one time, to say to the huge crowd that had misunderstood His Mission,…“If you don’t eat my flesh and drink my blood, you can’t be my disciple.” (John 6:53) The whole crowd, of what had to be more than a thousand people, left Him.  There were only the 12 disciples left.  That’s pruning!

Jesus pruned the pharisees and religious leaders that only wanted to control the people and keep things the way they had always done it…Jesus called them, “White-Washed Tombs (Matthew 23:17), Blind Guides (Matthew 23:16) Hypocrites (Matthew 23:15), Children of Hell (Matthew 23:15), fools (Matthew 23:17), generation of serpents (Matthew 23:34), and murderers (Matthew 23:34).

So Jesus pruned regularly.  To be clear…when pruning, we can never react in anger out of control, or be evil in anyway. We cannot ever justify unholy behavior by saying Jesus did it.  He was perfect in His pruning.  However we can prune with holiness just like Jesus did.  It won’t make you popular, but it will make you like Jesus.

Why don’t more leaders prune when it is desperately obvious it is needed? I can only resort to a Bible verse to explain…

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

Pruning results in a vigorous burst of new growth in the future, and pruning is to be used to achieve the full growth that is necessary…especially in the Church.   More money thrown at the problem, or stored in the savings account won’t cause the Church to be healthy again. Just letting it continue as is, will not cause the Church to be fruitful again.  I can’t think of anything more tragic than a Church that is stuck and dying.  Pruning is what is needed.  Its not fun.  Its not easy, but it’s essential.  Pruning, in Church world, will remove the unfruitful and the spiritually dead.  The death that is about to overtake the whole “tree,” could be something as simple as the comfortable…but it’s especially the fakers, the slackers, hypocrites, the control mongers, or the powers that exist that actually have been lulled into the sleepy deception of thinking their tree is beautiful.  They are the blockers and death dealers.

The “tree” may “bleed” when the removal begins. It may look like…after the pruning…that the tree won’t survive…that is has been ruined.  But it’s exactly what it needed…it’ll survive because Jesus will know the motives of the pruning and bless it.  It only seems harmful at the cutting, and until it grows again..it’ll be a bit scary.  Those being pruned will not be cut quietly. They will gossip and spread false rumors and only verify the reality of the necessity of the pruning in the first place.  Prune anyway! And it will leaf out when its God’s time! It will grow into a full grown, strong, thriving life once again. Beautiful!  Jesus and any leadership that has the guts and perseverance to do the pruning will reap the rewards and once again see the Church be healthy and productive in the most important fruit production area…seeking and saving the lost.

The Kingdom of Jesus cannot and will not stop at anything that tries to prevent it’s growth. It cannot and should not ever be stunted.  Jesus did say about the Church…“I will build my Church and the gates of hades will not prevail!” (MT16:18) So…if the Church is dying…something is seriously wrong. Right!?  So, Jesus said it best…with crystal clarity…

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.”
John‬ ‭15:1-8‬ ‭

So, courageous people of God…prune away.  In Church world, the only thing that is preventing the pruning from happening is leadership.  Courageous leadership.  I love the local Church so much that I will prune anytime, anywhere, any way.  It is what Jesus demands of holy leadership.  If I don’t prune…I will stand in front of Jesus someday and be pruned for eternity.  I don’t want to go to hell. You don’t either.  Prune or Be Pruned!

We are mandated to produce fruit. It is a salvation issue and eternity is in the balance.

Don’t screw with Jesus’s mission.  There is no mercy in pruning…Just judgement.  The only way to avoid eternal judgement and pruning is to make sure you are producing fruit.  The most important fruit in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is seeking and saving the lost.  Every single member in the Church must be producing fruit.  It is Jesus’s mandate.

When is the last time you personally led somebody into Jesus’s forgiveness?

It is why you were born, and it is your life’s purpose… to be productive in the Kingdom of Jesus.

Last thing…what is the best strategy to begin pruning in a Church that has been in status quo mode…aka…death mode?  Cast a vision that leads the Church to get back into the mandates of Jesus.  Cast a vision to risk for Jesus in evangelism.  The pruning will happen naturally.

Strong Spiritual Leadership rarely has to strategically prune, because a fruitful-risk-taking-vision, cast with holy leadership strength, will naturally and steadily get rid of the wrong people.  Yes…I said it…get rid of the wrong people.  Hold on…You didn’t think pruning in the Church was about gardening did you?  Its about people.



Truth and Nonfiction versions of the Church…

The title seems redundant. It is not.

Truth is purely what Jesus says. Non-fiction simply means facts of a reality. nonfiction

My intention here is to simply describe the Church from Truth’s design, and pray that we all measure our reality, and reset our targets accordingly.

Here goes…

It doesn’t matter if you are The Lord Jesus, the Lead Pastor, an Elder, a Nursery Care Volunteer, or the Wednesday Night Janitor, your mindset in the Church is the same because everyone knows they must rely on one another.  This united mindset is that the whole body of Christ experiences operational excellence and consistent holiness effort with minimal error. Whether it’s preparing a message to preach, a song-set to be led, a business CEO strategically planning around the staff meeting table, a man sitting in his living room at home by himself with his computer, or the three ladies meeting for tea and coffee to talk…they all, always, strive for holiness and excellence, and rely on the entire body to do the same.  It is in every tribe, every nation, every tongue, and every household.  You do right for yourself, but more importantly, you do right for your fellow body members, and most importantly for The Lord and Savior.  It is in our blood and in our brains, and it takes all our brawn to live it minute by minute, day after day, until Jesus arrives to gather this united group and restore us all on a fully remade Heaven and Earth…simply called Heaven.

Thy Kingdom come on earth…as it is in Heaven.


2034….next Christmas Full Moon

Christmas is a wrap. Did you notice we had a cool full moon for Christmas? WEB-VERSION-Christmas-Day-Full-Moon-PNG 

A full moon on Christmas won’t happen again for 19 more years…2034.  19 years!  

We might not be DOing the same things 19 years from now, we might not HAVE the same things 19 years from now…the only thing we can control is WHO we are 19 years from now.  

Who we are is more important that what we do or what we have. 

Will you aim to be devoted fully to the Lord until the next Christmas full moon?  We can’t control anything but our hearts and minds (and that’s a challenge in and of itself), so, in the next 19 years, let’s not get too caught up in business results and stressed goals…may the next 19 years be fruitful spiritually in our walk with The Creator of the full moon.  May we be STEADY people of God. The rest of things in life will happen, whether we want them to or not. I dare you to be crazy committed to Jesus until the next Christmas full moon.  Do that and then we’ll look back as rich-rich people and recalibrate for another long run.  Lord willing…I’ll be 64 then…how old will you be?  Here comes 2016…let’s get started!

Action steps

Read the Word of God daily.

Get a Bible reading plan and stick to it.

When daily reading…remember that the Bible is a Library, not just a book.  When reading in your library always ask these two questions, and then obey what you find out.  1.  God, what are you trying to say to me?  2. God, what do you want me to do about it?  

Ready…Set…Go! 🙂


Thoughts – Decisions – Reputations…Oh my!

I recently tweeted out a thought that was inspired by a fiction book I’m reading called “The Noticer Returns” by Andy Andrews… “Your thinking leads to your decisions which leads to results.  These 3 work together to create your reputation.  Guard your thoughts. Phil4:8”

As I prepare to teach another year at Joy Christian High School, I will also be taking on the discipline of students as part of the administrative team.  I’m thinking that not one single student should have to be disciplined.  The choices of the student is what leads to discipline having to happen.  I say the same thing about the incarcerated.  Every prisoner made a choice that led them to be in prison. Our prisons should be empty.  What choice did that student or that prisoner have to make that landed them in prison?  They weren’t forced.  They didn’t have to make the decision that landed them in trouble.  They chose to make the decision.  They chose to be in trouble. They chose to be incarcerated.  Again, they were not forced to make a decision that resulted in trouble.

This has me thinking about why people do what they do.  

I think there are some key words we must fully define before we can implement into our lives this phrase I tweeted out, referenced above.  We must define words like Integrity, Morality, and Character.  At first glance, I think these three words all seem to be the same thing.  Below you will understand this to be quite untrue. integrity

I think Integrity at its foundation means to be capable of doing what you were created to do.  A bridge can have integrity.  A seat belt can have integrity.  The chair you sit on.  Integrity deals with trustworthiness and reliability.

morality-logoI think Morality, at its foundation, means to be a person who is doing no wrong.  A moral person will not cheat, or steal, or lie. This is a great trait, but in my striving to fully grasp my tweet, we must get very technical.  One can be a very moral person and do nothing.  I can stay in bed all day, doing nothing, and still be a moral person.

So…are you grasping with me that a person can have great integrity and morals and do nothing?   Integrity is capable. Morality is doing no wrong. Character is where the magic starts to happen.

I think Character is active.  Character is defined in action.  Character is doing the right thing.  We actively build character. Character-Building

A person of integrity can see an injustice, not get involved, and still be a moral person.

A person of morals will not do wrong.

A person of character cannot sit still and do nothing…ever. Character has a spine. Character has action.  Character will still experience fear, but pushes through it.  Character cannot sit still.

A person of character uses their capability (integrity) and righteousness (morality) to DO!

Doing what is right is a result.  Results create reputations.

I could take the negative route here and show that just because there are results doesn’t mean morality and character are present. ie…Adolf Hitler produced many results.  But…I want to focus on the positive results…aka…holiness.

Integrity = Capability.

Integrity + Morality = Capability.

Integrity + Morality – Character = Capability.

Integrity + Morality + Character = Results.

It is not a compliment to be told that I am a person of potential.  Potential means capable, but capable doesn’t equal results. A person of potential means they have integrity and morals, but lack character.  Lacking character means lacking action.

A lack of character/action, I believe, simply demonstrates how you think about yourself.

A person of great potential is a person of integrity and morals but not action.  This could mean the person thinks poorly of themselves or of their abilities.  This could mean the person has allowed the world or someone in it to influence their identity instead of Jesus.

Jesus is your identifier.  He is the one who died so you could live.  He is the one who tells you how capable you are.  He is the one who tells you how moral you can be.  He is the one who created you to be of great character, thus action.  He is the one who commanded you to “Go” & “Do”.

This is all about your thinking.

“Your thinking leads to your decisions, which leads to results.”  This all creates your reputation.

I can’t think of a more important passage to back this all up other than Philippians 4:4-8.

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Take a minute to double check the character that is splashed all over that passage.  Remember, character is action.  So look at the last four words of verse 9.  “Put it into practice.”

Put what into practice?  Your thinking…as long as that thinking is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy!

Put your thinking into character, is exactly the same as putting your thinking into action.  I suppose it could be strangely translated to say, “put your integrity and morality into character!”

Since we are in Philippians 4…I can’t help but point out verse 13…

“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

all things

Do you believe you have that much character?  Do you believe that you can do all things?  I believe you do.  Way better yet…Jesus knows you do.  He made you that way.

We all know Philippians 4:13…and it can be intimidating, because our stinking thinking many times will tell us that we cannot do all things.  The problem is that we read verse 13 and then stop.  We read it as if it says, “I can do all things.”  But it doesn’t say that!  The rest of verse 13 & 14 dilutes the individual factor.

13b “through Christ who gives me strength.” &

14 “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”

Please note…Nothing in that verse says “I” can do all things by myself.  It says “I can do all things with Christ.”

The Apostle Paul didn’t make it just a Jesus and “I” thing.  It is clear in verse 14 that Paul and Jesus shared in Paul’s troubles with the people of the Church in Philippi.  Paul didn’t do anything by himself.  Verse 14 basically says, “thank you for sharing my troubles with me.”

They did it together.  You were never created to go it alone…in anything.  Check your thinking on this.

Your thinking matters.  Your thinking is what creates your results/reputation.  Your thinking defines your integrity and your morals.  Thinking. Integrity. Morals. Character. They matter deeply because they create results. But…

When Jesus returns…I believe He will not judge us by our results…no…He will judge us by our thoughts.

How you think…is everything…It is your thinking that leads to the character you make everyday.

 


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