Greed Sucks, but sex, success and stuff doesn’t have too.

Kingdom Principle: Greed sucks the life out of you, thanksgiving sustains your abundance.

Hosea 11:1-11 Psalm 107:1-9, 43 Colossians 3:1-11 Luke 12:13-21

By its nature, greed will never stop sucking… it is like a black-hole. Greed sucks everything unto itself until it eventually consumes itself.  While I am not an expert on space, gravity or science in general, I have heard that you cannot escape a black hole either by feeding it or running away from it….  It is like trying to control our flesh/earthly nature – it cannot be done; the flesh must be crucified (Gal. 5:24)– totally destroyed or else its roots will again bear the fruit of this world.

Thanksgiving is counter-balance to Greed, where both seek abundance!

  • Greed consumes possessions and passions.
  • Thanksgiving confesses grace and truth.

But you don’t simply wake up and start to be thankful one day when you have led a life of greed. Let us first discover how deep the roots of greed reach, then how to foster a life of thanksgiving so that we don’t fall into the never satisfied gravity of greed. Contrast the roots of the Spirit with the shoots of rebellion which are the 7 deadly sins.)

Greed is never satisfied – it just keeps accumulating.  There are many expressions of greed. Greed is closely associated with idolatry, because greed places you as the god at the center of all things. The 10 Commandments bookend with revoking idolatry and greed: Thou shall have no other god’s before me and Thou shall not covet. (Exodus 20:3,17Greed is a root that thrives in the soil of a wicked heart, where greed is allowed to continue the heart become more wicked. Greed is a sin of excess. Greed is expressed outwardly in many forms….

One shoot of rebellion in the body is sexual immorality. (Gluttony & Lust) Sexual immorality includes anything that “feeds” the desires of the body including but not limited to adultery and homosexuality, pornography to prostitution

One shoot of rebellion in the soul is impurity of mind and emotion. (Wrath & Envy) Impurity includes anything that “feeds” the desires of the soul this is often expressed as lustful passion and evil desires

One shoot of rebellion in the spirit is arrogance and self-righteousness. (Pride & Sloth/Acadia) Self-Righteousness justifies one’s actions or avoidance of actions as superior in comparison to another.

Beware any prideful stance to speak of sexual immorality or impurity as detestable things that others do (as opposed to you) for this road is paved by generations of individuals who are arrogant, overfed and unconcerned with the needs of the poor. (Ezekiel 16:49) It is for this reason that Sodom was destroy and we find the focus of the Hosea passage resolving the issues of Israel’s greed..  It is for this reason that the love of money is declared to be the roots of all kinds of evil. (1 Tim. 6:10) This is the focus of the Luke passage.

  • Greed is always accumulating, Thanksgiving is always appreciating.

To appreciate is the increased value and awareness of an asset as unpacked in 2LAF with regards to listening and relationships. Since greed is taking more than you need or require, the way to eradicate greed is by re-establishing what your needs are. This is captured in Col. 3 as by being raised with Christ and setting you hearts on things above. In this our old ways (flesh or sin nature) is taken off, and the new self is renewed in the righteous image of Christ. The LORD satisfies and fills the one who is wise and ponders the loving deeds of the God. (Ps. 107:8-9, 43)

The Church in Acts understood the solution to being overcome with greed, the tangible outcome was they sold their possession and gave to those who had a need and were filled with thanksgiving. (Acts 2:42-46) The rich man whom Jesus spoke of in the parable today completely missed it. He obsessed in his abundance, and attempted to store it away for later, yet he never saw  the purpose of his labor or his life. How far have most people come from this today?

The Problem is ownership by possessions not ownership of possessions.

When your possessions and passions own you, your flesh is your master.  Therefore, if you can’t tithe for fear of the bills that will come, or when you are working so hard to make the money you need, that you have no time to talk with a neighbor  or care for others you have succumbed to ownership by possessions. Your stuff owns you, not the other way around….

Take 10 minutes and walk around your house, look at what you own, as well as what emotionally or financially owns you. (Anything that you are in debt with on/to owns you, as well as possessions that you can’t bear to part with from a certain outfit to heirlooms) And since no one can serve two masters (Luke 16:13) we must declare to the world in whom do we trust.

There is no real security in wealth, but there is wealth in real security.

Trusting in the provision of the LORD is the only true security. Real security is discovered by being satisfied in God’s deliverance.  If you read all of Psalm 107 you discover the pattern, either you are thankful for what you have in God, or you are focused on what you want, which leads to rebellion and suffering. To which God will intervene for His love endures forever, and he will reject his promises.  Yet this intervention is not always pleasant, and often it is a painful reminder of the selfish coveting/greedy choices you have made and the consequences that follow. Discovering that the Lord has not left you but delivered you always bring an expression of thanksgiving.

Stewardship and Generosity increase our Thanksgiving which overcome Greed…

Stewardship is the call to manage, invest and leverage all that God has made you a steward (manager) of…. In this a true steward knows and declares, none of “this” is mine – there is no possession for a steward. (this includes your children, your work, your success or your failure) Stewards have been entrusted to care and maximize all they have been entrusted with.

Generosity is the call to give, distribute and bless using all that God has place at your disposal. In this God is the giver and you are the steward, and you must constantly check-in with the Holy Spirit to know how much and to whom to give, but your call is not to first meet your own needs, but rather trust in God to be your shepherd and care taker.  And in the same way God calls you to do the same for your brother or sister.

May Stewardship and Generosity become your redeemed story to tell.

 

 

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Relationships Redefined

Kingdom Principle: The Kingdom yields rights not rules in our relationships.

Hosea 1:2-10 Psalm 85 Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19) Luke 11:1-13

This is not about being able to define relationships, rather this is expressing the reality that God redefines our relationship with everything else when we are in relationship with Him.

  • The relationship between Hosea & Gomer is not as it as it seems…
  • The relationship between Israel & the Land is not as it seems…
  • The relationship between God & the disciples is not as it seems…
  • The relationship between Christ and the church is not as it seems…
    • Each relationship has been redefined.

This redefinition is the core of transformation. In this way all the rules that were applied before the relationship are no longer applicable. In this way there are no longer rules that govern the relationship, rather there are new rights. In the Kingdom of God – freedom is a right, Grace is a right, forgiveness is a right, Mercy is a right. These are declarations of truth that are fully given to you on the path of life in the Kingdom. In this realm of relationship, it is yours to explore rather than having rules to follow.  When Jesus says “Follow Me” this is not followed by rules or guidelines, it is followed by a journey across the land.

When we follow the rules expecting to be rewarded, the rule is a means to an end. In the Kingdom the King rules. This rule is not a means to an end, rather it is the end and the reward rolled into one thing – A Relationship. When we follow Jesus, the reward is not in the completion it is in the transformation. Hosea is transformed in his obedience, yet to be obedient to God as King, he must deviate from the rules and expectations that had been set before him. This is a mark of surrender.  In this way he is transferred into a new “land” and transformed in his obedience. When you read Hosea and wonder – WHY?, HOW? Or any others state of perplexed wonder – the reality must set in that this is exactly what Jesus has done for us.

In Christ, we have been transferred from the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. This new land is only accepted through the covering of Christ’s blood – the forgiveness of sin. In this land, sin no longer rules  – therefore it matters not what you eat or drink or if you observe religious services. It is the FREEDOM which is a right, yet in this right, we are subject to the rule of the King which guides and speaks to our heart and conscience. In this way we are slaves to righteousness rather than to the law.

Therefore: Does your relationship with the King yield more rights or rules in your life. In the Kingdom of Christ as King – it is rights. (If it feels like rules, seek forgiveness and embrace grace. What are the right you declare based on your relationship of the King. If you do not know the answer to this – Check out www.athoe.org go to I am renewed to discover prayers, declarations and commands of the Kingdom.

 

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SHUT UP -to- listen!

Kingdom Principle: Leading with your ears is often thwarted by your mouth

Amos 8:1-12 Psalm 52 Colossians 1:15-28 Luke 10:38-42

James 1:19 says that we are to be quick to listen and slow to speak…. The last two weeks we have focused our efforts on being quick to listen, this week we focus on being slow to speak.

In the Gospels, Jesus told many of those he healed and his disciples not to tell others what he had done or that he was as the messiah.  (Mark 3:12, 5:43, 8:30; Luke 8:56, 9:21, Matt 8:1-4, 16:20, John 7:1-5) There are many who try hard as they may to understand the reason for this caution and call not to spread the good news. I am proposing here, that Jesus may be known a thing or two about who to spread the Gospel, and sometimes it is best to lead with your ears and not your mouth. Meaning – don’t say anything – you must learn 2LAF rather than trying to convince others of your own experience. There are various others explanations as to why Jesus says, “Don’t say anything. The most erroneous explanation came early in the 1900’s called the Messianic Secret stating that Jesus himself did not know that he was in fact “The Messiah” (anointed and chosen of God – savior of the world”) and therefore he wanted to keep his “power” or messiah features a secret. The more common and contemporary explanations range from theological explanations of God’s desire to conceal the truth from the “wise” not wanting the plans of God to be revealed before their time, -to- the need for Jesus to conceal his power so that people did not rush to him for healing, or for political revolution. This verbal concealment does not announce the good news, because of fear, and there is no fear in love – therefore I throw them out. Jesus is the very image of the invisible God… in His coming to earth there is no act of concealing, rather the act is revealing. It is for this revelation that Jesus was sent to dwell on earth with humanity.  The reasons for concealment given above are selfish and fearful, neither of which are in line with the Character of God. Two weeks ago it was established that leading with your ears is an act of love.  Therefore, Jesus is telling his disciples and those he healed to lead with their ears… telling them to close their mouths.

The “thing” prevents you from leading with your ears is your mouth.

Abraham Lincoln said it well, “It is better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”  Keeping your mouth shut, gives you a fighting chance to win over those who seek to destroy you.  Those who are rooted in the Spirit will use the power of the tongue to proclaim hope, but as we, this week we see in Amos that Israel brought about their own judgment by saying….  “We do not care for the poor and needy, nor do we care for the feasts and festivals of God.” God reminds them of their frailty and desire to be in control while they refuse to listen to God. Therefore, God declares, I will speak to you no longer, “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” will come because you do not listen to me. In a real sense, God is demonstrating that sometime the best way to get people to listen, is by ceasing to talk. Israel is quick with their mouths and slow with their ears – the exact opposite of what James calls us to be.  The Psalm is more direct, with regards the tongue, saying those who plot destruction and do not turn to God as their stronghold seek to destroy others with their tongues (the same root word is in verse 2 &7). Finally this week we encounter another passage that is as often misunderstood or misdirected as that of the call to “not tell others about healing or good news” the story of Martha and Mary.  Some have made this a passage about the elevation of the role of women as disciples, saying Mary sat at his feet, a place reserved for men. Others profess that this is a passage to highlight our need to “be” and not “do”, saying Mary choose what is better  – to sit and not be busy like Martha. The list goes and there is potential and real truth in all the above… But (I propose) that what is being revealed through the lectionary this week is that when Martha “opens her mouth” she fails to lead with her ears, in fact, she goes so far as to become the rebuke and instructor of the Lord, telling him what to do and say.  If Martha never opens her mouth, (but continues to do her work) how does the story unfold, we will never know – This is not to say that we are to simply “shut up and stuff our frustrations” rather we  are to “SHUT UP!” to LISTEN.

When your mouth open, your ears are closed.

 Martha may very well have been listening to the message of Jesus, look back as last week’s post I gave common errors in listening. Martha made them all. Each of Martha’s errors line up with the errors of listing with one’s mind, emotion or will, rather than being rooted or anchored and listening in the Spirit.

  • Distraction is revealed when listening with your mind.  (Luke 10:40a)
  • Irritation or Upset is revealed when listening with your will. (Luke 10:40b)
  • Worry or Anxiety is revealed when listening with your emotions. (Luke 10:41)

(A Bonus Scripture note – read the story of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) and “Mary & Martha” (Luke 10:38-41) as ONE UNITED story of example of how to be on mission (Luke 10:1-24) and the role of prayer in the mission. (Luke 11:1-13)

Saint Francis of Assisi has another quote that is not as well know –  “It is no use walking anywhere to preach, unless your walking is our preaching.” (the other paraphrased is “preach the gospel always, use words when necessary”) Let us have no need to proclaim the flesh, rather let it be crucified, let us walk in the power of the Spirit. Might the healed leper lead with their ears, rather than being rejected with their mouth.  Let our walking be our preaching, know that this does not silence us, rather it empowers us to lead with our ears and respond with our heart. WE are called to do act and do the Samaritan did (last week) as well as this week  to choose as Mary does to sit and listen at the feet of Jesus.

One moved in action & One moved in contemplation,

One male & One female,

One a Gentile & One a Jew,

Both leading with their ears…..

Jesus is revealing the reconciliation of all things, and these two are leading the way. Paul declares that it is God who has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery. Might we live more fully to move as the nameless man who acted quickly, as well as Mary who was quick to listen, in this we will lead others to be mature in Christ. Let it begin in us as we learn close our mouths and opening our ears – so that our walking is our preaching.

This week when you have the desire to tell someone something that you know to be true, or good advice, seek to lead with your ears rather than your mouth.

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Do you have lobes of love?

Kingdom Principle: Leading with your Ears is act of Love

Amos 7:7-17 Psalm 82 Colossians 1:1-14 Luke 10:25-37

While your brain is divided into four lobes and your heart has four chambers… the true lobes of love are those of your ears. Last week we spelled out the first three steps of 2LAF (Listen, Accept, Forgiven)…. When you do not engage in that act of listening to the Spirit then when it comes to engaging with others, it is as if your ears are filled with mountains of ear wax.  The LORD can melt that mountain, (Ps. 97:5) But this post is not about having lovely lobes, it is how we use those lobes to love others. We are called to Love with our ears.

Last week we focused on the anchor of the Holy Spirit and our listening to God. (Our own acceptance and forgiveness takes root in us here.) This week we will see that in listening to God, we will better be able to Love, Appreciate and Forgive others as the LORD leads.  This may be look like the work of the Good Samaritan or the bold Proclamation of Amos. To Love, To Accept and To Forgive cannot truly be done from a pedestal or prideful stance, rather it returns us to the acts of a Kingdom ServantLeader.  It is our calling and anchoring of the Spirit of God which motivates love to be a gift given away. We are confronted this week with texts of Judgment. This post is from the perspective that in order for the one being judged to hear the words spoken to them, there must be a relationship established.

The Lord tells Amos… “these are my people, yet I will spare them no longer”. The reality is that before the of the words judgement can be delivered… the giver must learn to 2LAF before they seek to speak. This again is why we must first lead with our ears.   In this way we are able to listen to the thoughts and questions behind the spoken question and we remain anchored when someone does something that we presume is stupid or ridiculous – when what you (in your flesh) really want to do is blast them with your opinion, rather than giving them the message of the Lord. As my listening coach (and author of the book recommended last week) says, “listening creates a bridge – that enables the other person to hear you at the “right” times. That right time is when you have earned the “right” to speak as the Lord leads you, not simply as you see it fit.” When we answer another’s problem or give the solution to their situation – it often makes us feel powerful. This power makes it all that much harder for us to die to self.

Here’s our problem – Jesus was fully anchored – this is our call in John 15 to abide and remain…. I (and maybe you too) however need some work in this area. Listening as an act of Love is the work we need.  As the Expert/Teacher of the Law asked Jesus a question, Jesus replies with a question to clarify what is being asked. This is further developed as Jesus appreciates the exchange and the answer that the expert gives. There is no offense or call for the other to defend their question. To this then Jesus teaches by telling a story- again letting the Spirit bring the revelation and truth rather than Jesus needing to show His wisdom or power. With Amos, twice previous to this week’s text, the Scriptures point out that Amos wants God to relent on the judgment against Israel, but here in the third vision, Amos learns 2LAF.  But rather than blasting Israel in Judgment, Amos listens to what Amaziah says and summarizes his words and clarifies the thought so that Amaziah might hear the word of the LORD. This effort of listening creates the bridge so that the intended message is received rather than reacting to Amos as the messenger. This act of listening seeks to appreciate the person and the perspective from which they are coming from.

The act of leading with your ears is only possible if “I” decrease and the presence of Jesus increases. Yet how often do we get caught up in trying to say the right words and thinking that we must demonstrate God’s truth. This is overcome in us as we focus on the “roots” rather than the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit. Let us have lovely lobes and lead with our ears.

2 LAF (listen, accept, forgiven, LOVE, APPRECIATE, FORGIVE) is the act of leading with your ears. Unfortunately, we misplace the emphasis of leading as an act of our mouth and saying the right things. Paul spells out in Colossians the results rootedness of the Spirit; Bear Fruit of Spirit, Growth in Knowledge, Strengthen in power, Increased endurance & patience, thankful living. These results will be markers by which the world around us will be able to know what it “sounds” like 2LAF. But they are not dependent on our words. As St. Francis Assisi is often quoted, “preach the gospel at all times, using words when necessary.”

Listening is the Key to Relationships: 2LAF is the means to enjoying Relationships. Below is an outline helping you to see common errors in listening with your mind, will or emotions rather than with your spirit.

Listening with your mind – reveals you are distracted

Our Error is to:
__Think__    of your response while they speak

__Assume_    you know what they mean

__React__    to one thing you heard them say

__Pretend_    you care or have time if you don’t

Listening with your will – leaves you irritated

Our Error is to:
__Solve____   the other person’s problems

__Share____   similar experiences to empathize

__Minimizing_   their problems for the positive

__Attempt_   to will them to do anything

Listen with your emotion  – increases your anxiety

Our Error is to :
__Express_   your personal concerns, wants and outcome

__Miss__   their non-verbal’s  and history

__Exaggerate__   emotion and emphasis of words

__Fear _   that acceptance of the person equals agreement

Listen with your spirit–  be slow to speak (see next week’s post)

Our Goals are to:
_Acknowledge_   another person  (Rooted with the Spirit)

__Accept__   another person    (Receive with Respect)

__Appreciate__   another person   (Recognize with Gratitude. )

__Affirm___   another person  (Release with Blessings)

 

Listen – we are sent into the world as listeners, because the Lord has listened to us

Accept – we are sent into the world to accept, because the Lord has accepted us

Forgiven – we are sent into the world as forgiven, because the Lord as forgiven us

Love – we are sent into the world to love, because the Lord loves the world

Appreciate – we are sent into the world to appreciate, because the Lord appreciates the world

Forgive – we are sent into the world to forgive, because the Lord forgives the world

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learn to laf

Kingdom Principle:  You must be anchored in the Spirit or you will be blown by the world.

2 Kings 5:1-14 Psalm 30 Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16 Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

How often have you heard something only to have to ask, “what did you say?” because you truly were not listening. In this week’s text, Naaman says to Elisha, “I heard you, but I’m not listening”, or more accurately, “I’m not listening because you are not saying what I was wanting to hear from you”. Elisha can say to Naaman, “I hear you as I hear the LORD, and may you be blessed by what you hear from me.” The passages this week draw to the surface the power of listening.  This post and next week will bring to light the power of listening and the key element of a prophet to hear to God.  The Goal of the next two weeks is that we will learn 2LAF. (pronounced “to laugh”) This teaching was given to me by a mentor, Chuck Miller and covers only 2 pages of his wonderful comprehensive (350 pages) study of spiritual leadership and discipleship. A much different and new & fresh look at communication is call INTRIGUE by Sam Horn. Her book “Got your attention?” is not about our spirituality, but one of greatest tools I have found on connecting with other in a very practical manner.

Who has accepted you? Who has listened to you? Who has forgiven you? The person who has fulfilled these three roles in your life has given you a great gift. This lays the foundation of a relationship with you. If you will not listen to someone, that relationship will struggle to grow. We must connect with others to experience change in ourselves. Yet all too often our focus is how can we change others rather than looking at our own lives. In that we are living in judgment over them rather than acceptance of, this relationship will never be one of intimacy and joy. While relationships are initiated by listening, there must a two way engagement of the information. This exchange in healthy relationships will be in an acceptance of each others identity.  However, acceptance is not the same as approval. This acceptance is to embrace one’s reality with respect, not to judge or to evaluate.. This is not “to hate the sin, but love the sinner”, rather is to see the person regardless of sin or label and know that not one of us is perfect. To declare approval or potentially dis-approval is to have completed the judgement. Elisha does not judge the King, he hears his distress. Paul counsels us to listen with gentleness not judgement, Jesus’ instruction to the 70 are built on establishing relationships with those to whom they hope to reach, even to listen to others rejecting, and accept them as people, proclaiming the truth of the kingdom, rather judgment of their state. This is vulnerability is only possible for those who themselves have accepted their imperfections. What must follow in this relationship is the freedom of forgiveness.

Has God listened to you? Accepted you? Forgiven you? If so you are in relationship with Him. God hears my cry and he covers my sin and shame and pronounces me forgiven. (Romans 5:8-11) In this God accepts me for who I am and the sin which once separated us, now catapults me into a relationship. It is through the act of being forgiven that all barriers are removed. What is more is that God has fully offered this forgiveness prior to my even asking. So the key to this relationship is my acceptance of my need (see ATHOE), and the receiving of the gift that God has given me.  This is where the listening must begin, and when we see the beauty of this relationship we can’t help but 2LAF.

LISTEN, ACCEPT, FORGIVEN  – are the first three steps L.A.F.

The first three steps in the relationship are about one’s awareness of themselves. First, I open my ears to listen, then, I open my arms to accept and finally I open my eyes to forgiveness.

To open one’s ears, a person must be grounded and anchored in the truth of the Holy Spirit. When I am dependent on the other person’s approval or my need to be loved, then my listening will be corrupted. When we open our arms to receive another (in the form of a hug or handshake, or simply unfold our arms of judgment, to an open posture of acceptance), you expose yourself and become vulnerable. When I am hiding or covering up my true feelings and fears, then I cannot open myself to another person. Finally, I need to open my eyes to my own need of forgiveness. This final step brings us all to level ground. Relationships are complicated, and even more so when people see themselves as standing on unequal ground.  The first 3 steps to LAF are in our own self-discovery.  The ground at the foot of the cross is level.  To open my arms to a loving Savior reminds us just how much we have been forgiven.

Yet this is just the first step… We all need more joy in our lives and “laf” is a good start to a relationship, but we must L.A.F 2x as much. Our second step to “laf” more is

LOVE, APPRECIATE, FORGIVE  (we will look at these next week)

Now to review step 1:

Listen – we are sent into the world as listeners, because the Lord has listened to us

Accept – we are sent into the world to accept, because the Lord has accepted us

Forgiven – we are sent into the world as forgiven, because the Lord as forgiven us

How to take action:

  1. Set to Pray, (then do it) with the expectation that you will listen as much as you talk…. Prayer is communication with God, not simply to God…  so spend as much time listening in prayer as you do speaking.
  2. Hear the Truth! There is more than one spirit, and you want to make sure you are hearing the Spirit of Truth. The best way to do this is through the Scriptures.  Read these Scriptures out loud, and everywhere there is an underlined word or space – read your name there.
  3. Practice. This means actually listening – which is hard work.  If you don’t know where to start, read this book that outlines the process….
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Be the Giving Tree

Kingdom Principle: The Spirit of God flows from the “root” to the “fruit” by means of “gifts”.

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 Galatians 5:1, 13-25 Luke 9:51-62

To be a giving tree, we must: tend to the roots, live into the gifts and give the fruit away.

Unfortunately, most Christians tend to the fruit, give the roots away (which isn’t ours to give), and wonder why we are not living in to the gifts.

When the roots are tended to and nourished the tree shall not be shaken. (Hebrews 12:28) However, just because the roots are set, does not mean fruit will be produced. Since God is doing the “work” when it comes the roots, it is our “job” to respond to this work, and focus our efforts elsewhere.  When we place our focus on the fruit, we are hijacking the process of our development. The fruit will be a by-product of a flourishing tree.  This flourishing is marked by the flow of that which the roots produce having a way to become expressed as fruit, this flow and movement is established by the Gifts of the Spirit. Therefore, our focus is to be the body of Christ living into the gifts of the Spirit. Most Christians strive for the Fruit of the Spirit while being complacent or even avoiding of the Gifts of the Spirit. Below we will address the roots, you can read this post about the gifts, and a couple of quick points on the fruit are:

  1. God is love. God is Spirit. Love is the fruit of God’s Spirit fully flowing through us and love is expressed in our joy, peace, patience….
  2. Believers either have all of the Spirit in the roots, or they have none…. If you lack fruit, it is not a lack of the Spirit. It can be said that it is not a that you don’t have all the Spirit, rather it is that the Spirit does not have all of you.
  3. The fruit is expressed in our whole being – our body, soul and spirit. The 9 expressions of fruit can be seen distinctly as they correspond to each aspect of our life. The spirit expresses love, joy and peace, the soul expresses patience, kindness, goodness, and the body expresses faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The roots of the Spirit grow out of the deposit or seed of the Spirit. This deposit is a work of God as an act of Grace. The quality of the soil (our hearts), the environment and the nourishment the seed all impact the health of the roots. (Matt 13:1-23) Meaning – we can and must take care of the roots of the Spirit.  Here are the roots:

To focus on the roots, we must give energy to the soil of our hearts through:

  • Exposure to the Son – Spending time in relationship with Jesus.
  • The right nutrients –  Feeding your heart the truth of the Scriptures and life giving worship.
  • The right environment – Fellowship with people of encouragement and edification.

The link between the Roots and the Fruit of the Spirit is created by the expression of the Gifts of the Spirit in our lives. Where we have the roots, but no expression of Gifts, we are required to wear the mask control verses expressing self-control as an expression of the Spirit. This mask is what often produces the hypocritical label from non-believers when they look beneath the surface of our lives.

What does all this have to do with the Scriptures this week:

  1. Elisha tended to the roots of the Spirit learning from Elijah, which gave him a hunger for the spiritual gifts.
  2. In the Psalm we see the work of God, and leading to deposit the roots.
  3. In Galatians we learn the expression of the fruit of the Spirit, which is contrasted with being a slave to the law. We must move in Freedom to express such fruit. This freedom is a work of the Spirit – which leads us back the roots and the gifts.
  4. In Luke we see the impact of our choices and our investments. Fruit of the Spirit is not a given in our lives, just because we know Jesus. Our Faith will be the measure by which we live into the gifts, which will increase the flow of the fruit.

Anything that leads to good other than following Jesus is a burden and a yoke of slavery, this is why His burden is easy and His yoke is light (Matt 11:29-30)

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Thy Kingdom Come

Kingdom Principle: The transformative work of the Spirit in us is the Kingdom coming here on earth.

Our “work” is expressed in our Prayers, Declarations, & Commands.

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a Psalm 42 and 43 Galatians 3:23-29 Luke 8:26-39

 

I thankful for a guest post here by Kimberly Harp –

About a year ago, I read I John 4:4 for the first time (not literally as I had heard it many times before but this time in its fullest of meaning)-

“You dear children are from God, and you have overcome them,because the one who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Can you just sit with that for a second? I mean, really, this reality is life-changing. The fullness of this Scripture implicates us to live and love differently. We are not to live timidly. We are not to live with our heads down, denying the power of the Spirit within us. We are not to ignore what we have been given through Christ. We are being called children of God, temples of the Holy Spirit who have a greater power in them than that of this world! And yet, just yet, we often mimic the Psalmist who asks, “Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” Or we find ourselves like Elijah, fleeing for our lives, not usually literally but more often figuratively as we hide from our fears and insecurities. I guess I am asking us today to think about how we might claim I John 4:4 more often. How might we step into the transforming work of the Spirit that it not only changes us but the world around us?

I think it starts by us praying more. Pray, believing that God has the power to do the impossible. You know where I start here…in my disbelief. Disbelief floods my mind and then I pray the opposite back to God. I love that Elijah is standing on a mountain waiting for the Lord to pass by and he does not see Him in the ways He expects but in the “sound of sheer silence.” God’s ways are above our ways. Pray for the impossible. The ways that are not even shown to you yet.

Then, declare hope. Declare confidently in the hope of the fulfillment of the promises of God. You know where I start here…with the Word of God, the living and breathing Word of God. The Psalmist in chapter 42 declares, “These things I remember….” What promises of God do you remember and know to be true? Those are to be your declarations. In Luke, we find Jesus sending the man who He just delivered from a legion of demons- to “return home and declare how much God has done for you.” What great things can you point to and declare?  We find the truth in Galatians that we are heirs with Christ, can we sit with that one too? I mean, really sit with it. “Heirs according to the promise” – wow, what an identity shift. What would it look like for you and me to live as heirs to Christ? How would that change how you declare the promises of God?

Lastly, we need to command love. Command, claiming the power of love to be the only rule of your life. Oh, this is hard for me as I don’t want to throw out all the “rules”. I don’t want to do something “wrong”. So, I have to push all that aside and set into love… God is love… Perfect love casts out all fear…For God so loved the world. Commanding is claiming God’s power over us. It goes back to the truth of I John 4:4 that there is a power that is available to me and is in me! Am I accessing it for love? The Psalmist commands his soul to hope in God. The angel commands Elijah to eat and go- both commands of love from God to take care of his earthly body and to protect himself. It’s not easy to step aside from ourselves but when we do the Kingdom takes reign and it is beautiful.

These- specifically praying, declaring and commanding-are still being worked out in me. It’s called the transforming work of the Spirit and it is a process. A journey. The development of me decreasing and the Spirit in me increasing. I hope that you are on a journey too.

To learn more about Prayer, Declare and Command in order to live on Earth as it is in Heaven – go to www.ATHOE.org

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Broken-hearted or heart for brokenness

Kingdom Principle: The heart of worship does not take offense or give defense.

1 Kings 18:20-21,(22-29), 30-39 Psalm 96:1-9 Galatians 1:1-12 Luke 7:1-10

In the stance of worship – the rest of the world (or all of reality, beyond what I worship) is removed from my focus.

Imagine being in drawn so deeply to what you love that your expression of passion and intimacy create an unbreakable force field around you, such that nothing can distract or bother you. Some might call this a trance like state  of paradise others will claim it a euphoria, I call it worship. Regardless of the object of your worship, the reality is that to engage worship you must have a single focus. To whom or what do you give yourself to?  Worship is given often in our culture– heads are bowed constantly in every room as people stare into their phones, shouts of joy and celebration fill entire stadiums as sport teams score, parents sacrifice everything even their own will, in order to ensure that their child is never denied an opportunity (this in unhealthy ways) – each of these is an act of worship. It is not hard to worship, because we have been designed to worship. Our heart is designed to give itself to others. In this giving we will either end up let down and broken-hearted (due of loss) or we will have a heart of brokenness (for we have been filled  and overwhelmed). In true brokenness we are not defensive nor do we take offense as others break. In this post I will look at worship as an undivided focus given to God as praise, adoration, submission and sacrifice.

There is much to enjoy in expressing worship, here are a few essential posts:

Worshiping in the Kingdom  – we experience the heart of Eternity.

Worshiping 24/7  – we make a choice.

Worshiping in the midst of pain & chaos – we express resiliency and know our purpose.

Worshiping in the midst of success & stardom – we express intimacy & identity of Christ.

This post states the ultimate test of our depth of worship. (Not how to, or to whom or why we worship) The depth of our worship can be measured by the degree to which you do not take offense or need to give defense – otherwise known as being distracted. As I worship what has the power to break my focus? To worship the King  “24/7” as an act of labor and love, whether you are in pain & chaos or success and stardom  you must allow nothing to offend and nothing make you defensive.  This is possible only as you have a single focus and that focus is God. (This also can lead you to ask yourself – Have I ever truly worshiped God?)

First, let me draw to light that taking offense is a choice. Just like what or whom you worship is a choice. When you allow another to offend you, you are giving your focus to them – which makes them the object of your focus (worship). Most have learned to blame offense on the other person’s actions, but the reality is that you are choosing to take offense. The same concept holds true for defensiveness. As we choose to defend ourselves and take offense based on our wounding, expectations and lies which we choose to cling to we are anchoring in Pride and Idolatry. (which is the worship of self and false gods)

The reality of being offended or defensive (which we have all experienced) are chosen by us. Worship is also a choice to be given to something greater than that which is “offensive or defensive”.  The Psalm this week invites the world to worship, and just clearly states that God will come as judge. This is an invitation to choose not to take offense or give defense, rather let us choose to allow our heart to be given to God and others. Elijah demonstrates that in worship nothing else (obstacle, offense, defense, challenge or chaos) exists. (Keep reading 1 Kings and be reminded how quickly we can fall out of the place of worship) Paul declares to Galatia – there is a choice to be made – in making it God removes the doubt and fear in your lives – allowing the single passion of your life to be your God-given worship as a life purpose.  The Faith of the Centurion demonstrates how we are to “come” before God. – in Humility and with reverence. God has all authority and power, this reality draws us to worship him as the one true KING!

In general do you find yourself more inclined to be a person who takes offense or gives defense?

  • Taking offense pushes others away so that you can control (embarrass/ridicule) them.
  • Giving defense draws others close so that you can control (impress/convince) them.

Control gives us comfort and in a sense removes the triggers. When in reality what we need are the triggers so that we can embrace brokenness and have a contrite heart before God.

What triggers (you to take) offense in you?  First – Release it/them to God. That is the easy part – NOW –as you release the object of offense to God, allow God to show you where that offense lives in you. (What you released was the trigger) This offense which lives in you has been covered to protect you from pain. Allow God to heal the pain, God can handle your wound – release it to God as well.

What causes (you to give) defensiveness? First – Hold your tongue, and allow God to come near to you – Let God be your defense. Even if you are right, release your rights to discover resiliency.  As you hold your tongue, open your ears  to others and allow God to show you what you are defending.  This place which you are protecting is a place of pain and as with offense, this has been triggered and lives in you as well. Allow God to heal the pain.

The call of this post is to become aware of that which has the power to object (thwart) to your worship. When we leave pain uncheck and un-redeemed it drives us to worship that which covers our pain, rather than the only ONE who can heal our pain. In discovering this trigger as a distraction you will have identified whom or what is truly the object of your worship.  We are to worship God, and to have no other idols before Him. Let us move to live our lives as an expression of worship through the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:2)

In taking offense or giving defense you are placing yourself in the position to be the object of worship.

  • The person who is apt to take offense – I encourage you to seek Mercy.
  • To the person who is apt to give defense – I encourage you to seek Grace.

The power of mercy shall melt the walls of false identity, and the power of grace will invite true intimacy. We can not enter worship without being willing to embrace our identity of Christ and share in the intimacy of the Trinity.

Here are a few extra verses to consider on the road to living without offense or defense.

Romans 12:14-21 (ESV)

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[a] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[b] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Proverbs speaks directly to the concept of taking offense.

Proverbs 17:9 (ESV)

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

Proverbs 18:19 (ESV)

A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.

Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 (ESV)

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

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Hierarchy vs. Anarchy

Kingdom Principle: Order and Hierarchy bring Movement and Mystery

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 Psalm 8 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:12-15

What actually makes a game fun is the rules which define the game. Take away the rules and you no longer have a game. When you don’t have to run to first base, before you go to second base, and around third to get to home – then hitting a home run is no longer a reason to celebrate. When you are playing a card game and you have to match the suit played before you – and a person plays a wild card – the game is fun because you established what constitutes a wild card, and then the fact that it is rare and powerful – is what makes the game fun. Relationships require these same rules for life to be fun. When people break the rules or someone imposes rules that you did not agree too or understand – most people simply quit. God has established the rules of relationships in the eternal expression of the Trinity. The Trinity displays order and hierarchy (rules) in order to bring movement and mystery (fun) to the world (game).  The opposite of this is anarchy which leads to lawlessness and chaos. Therefore, let the games begin!

This post is not about explaining the Trinity (God as being 3 “persons” in one)  it is about experiencing the Trinity.  There is a huge difference between taking a bite of a perfectly grilled, seasoned to perfection, mouthwatering cheeseburger AND understanding the slaughtering process of cattle in order to produce ground beef.  One is about experience the other about explaining. Both experience and explaining are important, but I will say – one does not require understanding of an explanation in order to have an enjoyable experience. And– it is very possible to have complete understanding without knowing or having an enjoyable experience.  Most of the efforts of the church in reference to the Trinity are with regards to increasing one’s understanding and trying to explain something which is better left as mystery. This post will attempt to increase your hunger for the experience.

Rather than explaining the what, why or how of the Trinity, I will ask you to simply pause that expectation and embrace how beautiful it is. A perfect unending relationship that is defined by love, expressed through action and demonstrates complete honor and respect for uniqueness and purpose. The Bible does not define or defend the Trinity. It is written as if the relationship between God as Father, God as Son, and God as Spirit is there to be embraced and experienced. The experience is not one of the mind alone, nor is it of the heart alone, rather it is a union of the mind, heart and our body as well. It is a 3 in 1 experience.

I am completely resisting the strong temptation in me to say more about the Trinity – which in reality is just to feed my desire to help you understand… so rather – continue on here to Experience the Trinity.

  • Experience the Trinity in your mind.  Invite God to renew your mind as you release all your anxiety and fear to God. Meditate on these Scriptures and picture the exchange and dance of the Father, Son and Spirit.
  • Experience the Trinity in your heart. Invite God to circumcise your heart as you boast of your need for God and the cleansing power of forgiveness. Ponder the honor and respect that each “person” of the Trinity has for one another. Think of your most intimate and dear relationships, in what ways does honor and respect fill that space. What will it look like for honor and respect to move beyond and increase in this relationship? Reach out to these people today (not by texting) to connect with them to tell them “the bond of love between us – is important to me”.
  • Experience the Trinity in your body. Invite God to resurrect your body as you command darkness away and you enjoy the light of Christ within you. Lay on your back on the floor. Quiet your mind by releasing all thoughts (continually pushing them back out as they come in). Place your hand on your heart and feel it beat.  Now release your heart beat to God and placing our hands by your side and speak “out loud” to your body. Say, “Body, I give voice to you, speak to me” sense and feel what your body “says” to you. Be still and allow your body to communicate to you through tingles, tremors, aches and pains.  Take those feelings to God and seek to hear back from God with regard to what it means. (More than simply that you are getting old)

To further increase your experience of the Trinity.

  1. Follow the rules. God’s movement and mystery is not random nor is it chaos. I am not saying be legalistic, or look to doctrine to experience God. But what I am saying is that God has brought order and flows through hierarchy not anarchy.
  2. Follow the leader. This is tricky, because really what I am saying is – be a leader. As you lead, others have the opportunity to follow, in this you will look to God more and more to show you where to go. Jesus is the leader, Father is the leader, and Spirit is the leader. In what ways have you experienced the Trinity in leadership. What about in your followership.
  3. Follow the Sun. Yes I mean sun as in fiery ball of gas in the sky. Look to creation to demonstrate order and hierarchy. In this you will discover greater movement and mystery happening constantly around you.

Religion is often thought of a way for humans to discover more about God or spirituality – like explaining the Trinity. The call here is to experience and I appreciate how Richard Rohr speaks to the reality that religion can best lead us to discover  and experience our humanity. The fullness of the Trinity is already fully in you, and for many of us it is our humanity that has yet to be discovered.

If you have not read or heard of a book called The Shack, by William P. Young. I suggest you read it. The Shack is not a theological explanation, nor an attempt to solve the ontological aspects of the Trinity… (if you care  about the meaning of ontological then you may not like the book.) The Shack invites us to experience the Trinity. The quest of the Shack (in my opinion) is to answer the question:

  • “How do I move in the direction of a God that is already moving in my direction?”

How is the Father moving in your direction? How is the Son moving in your direction? How is the Spirit moving in your direction? Listen to a short interview (7 min) with William P. Young as he explains what is behind the book.  God’s movement toward him was not an explaining key understanding rather it took Williams 38 years to find his Shack and 11 years to fully experience it.  That’s 49 years where suffering produced perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. There is no short-cut to character in this life, and yet without character you will never truly enjoy hope.

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Caution – I am full of IT!

Kingdom Principle: The Church is full of the Spirit, or it’s not the body of Christ.

The church is not to be full of themselves.

Genesis 11:1-9 Psalm 104:24-34, 35b Romans 8:14-17
Acts 2:1-21
John 14:8-17, (25-27)

When I am not full of “it” – it being the Spirit of God – then I am full of it – it being $#it. I profess that the Spirit of God has been poured out upon the church, and I have full and constant access to this filling. How, I wish I could say that I constantly felt filled with the Spirit of God. Yet, the truth of the Scriptures this week is that I am full of the Spirit. (How then can there are days and weeks that I feel full of something else) Paul very clearly states in 2 Cor. 2:16, that to some being full of it is to smell like roses and to others “it” smells like death.  Therefore, may I not let the response of others, even my own feelings dictate what I am full of – I must return to the promise of Christ, I have been given the fullness of the God and transferred into the Kingdom of light. (Col. 1:9-14, 2:6-12).

The last part of that Colosians passage says, “I have been buried with him and raise with him (Jesus) through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead.” It is the Spirit of God that has raised me and all those who call on the name of Jesus from the dead.  This raising and filling experience of the Spirit is an on-going and present reality all the day of our lives.

Much has been written in this blog on the “work of the Spirit”:

This post does not teach new content, rather it invites you to deepen the context by which you are seeing the movement of the Spirit in your life. You too are full of “it” but what is “it” for you?

Does your life look more like Babel or Pentecost?

  • At Babel (Gen. 11) the devout labored to build a city with a tower to heaven, their end goal was to get to God. This daily labor was of good intention, and in “unity” the people surrounded themselves with like-minded doers.  The work began with clarity, yet the story ends with confusion.
  • At Pentecost (Acts 2) the devout waited and wondered when God would show up next. Their labor looked more like drunkenness than directed-ness and “unity” was experienced as an embrace of diversity. The work began with confusion, yet the story ends with clarity.

This story of the tower of Babel shows us that the directional flow of God is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately most churches are modeled “their work” after Babel and not Pentecost. This is not about “moving in the gifts, it is about understanding the flow and movement of God. At Babel humanity’s effort was accomplished in unity, and it produced a (self-prescribed) glorious result, yet this led to their destruction. The irony and connection to the modern church is found in building a building to get help people get to the heavens, while God is walking amongst you on earth. How have we (the church) today fallen into the same pattern of trying to reach God, while God is dwelling within us.  The words of Jesus in John 14 and the conviction of Paul in Romans 8 call us to confront this confusion.

Fear Not – Life is not supposed to look like the progressive build of an ivory tower to heaven. In Fact – the story says, you can only get there if you come to your knees here on earth.

Pentecost redeems the Babel narrative – bringing all that was lost and dead, back to life. The greatest paradox of the Kingdom dwells in the fact that you can’t earn or attain God-like status; rather it is given freely to all who ask. This is never based on what is deserved – for clearly that s where we begin. In the wages of sin. (Romans 3:21-26, 6:19-23) Redemption is God’s greatest act. For in redemption God takes what has lost all value and redeems it with His value. Pentecost is the celebration for the church being filled with life and hope. God gave the greatest of gifts to the church in Pentecost, the out pouring of the Holy Spirit. This is the day that life entered its body (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, & Ephesians 5) and it became of source of life for all to come.

             Babel                                     is redeemed through                      Pentecost
Confusion

Clarify

Movement from Earth to Heaven

       Movement from Heaven to Earth

One common Language separated into many

Many languages united and heard as one

God prevents humanity from doing the impossible

God gives power that nothing shall be impossible

The work is done by the effort of man’s labor

           The work is done by no effort of man

The motivation is based in pride

           The motivation is based in prayer

Through Pentecost all which is the church is baptized in the Spirit. To be full is to state a reality, a complete picture. Fruit is seasonal, and developed over time. Roots are hidden and anchor us in the storm. Let us be full of “it” as in SpirIT and experience to the fullness of life uniting the roots to the fruit by a movement of the gifts. May the church be full, ready, able and equipped to do all that God has called us to… This fullness of the church comes through the waters of baptism, is sustained through the communion of the saints and culminates in our daily act of living in worship. (we will look at each of these over the next three weeks) Therefore Let the Church:

  1. Drink of the waters of our Spiritual baptism, affirming our identity as found in Christ.
  2. Be the body of Christ. Equipped with the gifts to move without offense or defense.
  3. Live in this everyday hope to be poured out, so that we shall be refilled doing the work of the Kingdom.

The waters of baptism are not simply or even a confessional belief or conviction to follow Jesus – rather they invite you to profess an identity that is found in Christ. This identity is that which is from God and can not in any way be taken from you in this world. Much of what we consider our identity are mere labels and roles we have accumulated, choice and put on in this world.    Therefore no matter how, or where or with whom things in your life progress or regress – only that which can not be shaken is anchored in the Kingdom. (Hebrews 12:28) This anchor of identity is deeply rooted in the gift of the Spirit and whispers of the Father upon you’re your heart.

Baptism is a death and resurrection experience. This act of the Spirit is not dependent on when (infant or adult), how (immersion or sprinkle) or by whom (pastor, priest, church or denomination etc..) you were baptized. It is either by the Spirit which rose Jesus from the dead, and fell afresh on the church on Pentecost – or your baptism simply leaves you wet and soggy.

The celebration of our baptism is one of movement and that movement is God coming to us. While our response is a movement towards God, this is not what baptism is all about – that is the communion of the saints. (next week) Unfortunately, baptism has come to celebrate our coming to God. (It is for this reason that infant baptism is often misunderstood and rejected –so sad)  When we misplace this emphasis we are setting ourselves up to function like a church which is building a tower to heaven. It sets us up to believe that our lives are to be ever-improving and progressing toward heaven, rather than celebrating that heaven has already come to earth. Dallas Willard has stated that the Church is in error when it preaches the message that you need to accept Jesus to get into heaven when you die – his hope for the gospel of Jesus is in leading people to get into heaven BEFORE you Die.

The fact is that baptism saves us from this show. You may think I’m full of it and to that I say – YES I am. No matter what happens in my life – my identity is secured and establish, and for this reason, I am full.  To be full:

  1. Remember your Baptism…  What memories and confirmation of the work the Spirit can you point to?
  2. Make a list of who you define your identity. Think of that which cannot be taken from you. As you think of your identity – do you think of yourself as a sinner or a saint?
  3. Reclaim your Baptism…  In your life where can you trace the roots of the Spriit, express the gifts of the Spirit, and give away the fruit of the Spirit.
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