Pride is the first sin, the foundational rock of every wrong choice we will make today. Pride topples nations and leaders. Pride is my downfall and yours. Pride exalts what we do not need while at the same time attempting to cover over what we do. Pride says, “I don’t need God’s help. I don’t need your help. I must do this myself.”
So, before you begin building your week, whether for a heavenly kingdom or for a diabolical empire, walk your foundation with the Chief Inspector. Subject every stone to his watchful eye. Many a mighty wall will fall because it was built on pride.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation…Let each one take care how he builds upon it. I Corinthians 3:10
What do you do in the night, in the dark forest of “alone” and “stranded” and “uncertain”? If I believe that God loves me then I won’t do anything. I won’t take matters into my own hands and march off where I see no path. Then I will most likely walk right into a tree branch, trip and fall into a ravine. No, if I believe God loves me as his son then I will turn towards the east and wait for the dawn. God, who is love, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God does not fail. Yes, when the night is to end the Giver of the morning will light my path, glimmer upon glimmer and ray upon ray and step upon step.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright…his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. – Psalm 112:4,7
One of my great past times is working through great books. They don’t even need to be great. I love to read and I thank my father and mother for instilling this in me, even if it took bribing me with He-Man toys and Book-It pizzas. Leaders are readers- readers become leaders. However, nothing can be as daunting and disappointing as discovering a waste-filled piece of prose. Therefore Friday is for readers, my recommendations on books that will not waste your money, time, and their content might even help transform your life, like this book Renovation Of the Heart by Dallas Willard.
First, any book by Dallas Willard is worthy of your time. Now, it will take time. Dallas does not mince words and his ideas will work your mind. They are not leisure reads. They are learning reads.
Renovation strategically walks you through the actual process of spiritual transformation, how God changes us. Willard describes the interrelationships of our heart and will and body and soul and spirit. His arguments are biblical. His application is clear. Dallas writes in chapter 1, “A carefully cultivated heart will, assisted by the grace of God, forsee, forestall, or transform most of the painful situations before which others stand like helpless children saying ‘Why?’…the greatest need of collective humanity- is renovation of our heart.”
If you give it the time send on your thoughts. I would love to hear how God is using it in your spiritual transformation.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.. – Proverbs 4:23
The local church is the Carpenter’s shop. It is full of his masterpieces resting in various stages of restoration. He ever-so-gently works at the layers of grime and filth that cover his craftsmanship. Tender are his hands. Truth and trial are his tools of choice. Time is his friend. He works with precision to reveal the masterful form and original beauty and wonderful wood-grains latent and layered by years of bad belief, false narratives,and habitual sin. Oh, it hurts. The letting go and sanding away hurts.
The longer you lay on his worktable and sit under his gentle hands the more you see that everything he does is bathed in love and grace and perfection. You might not see it now. We shall marvel at it later.
The Lord is our ‘Carpenter’…He restores our soul. Psalm 23:3
Last March we made the call that I would go back to school and finish my Master of Divinity. I am a life long learner. I believe a large part of the Christian walk is learning the right things and unlearning the wrong things. But, this is what I have observed concerning formal education and the clergy- people like me. Possibly just me.
Education is like table salt. It can only season what is already there. By itself it leaves a dry taste in your soul. Education cannot compensate for a lack of calling, cover up a lack of gifting, nor atone for a lack of experience. It neither fosters faith, deepens divine dependence, nor instills humility. Yes, the man of God is to study to present himself approved, but first he needs be of God, for God, and from God.
Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and with virtue knowledge…. II Peter 1:5
The challenge is not to meet people’s needs but to fulfill your ministry. Chasing needs puts you at the will of others. Pursuing ministry makes you submissive to God. Meeting needs is the result of your availability. Ministry is the result of your spiritual gifts. Needs arise when someone calls. Ministry is birthed from your divine calling. Meeting needs often leads to exhaustion, but ministry ends in exhilaration. It isn’t that meeting needs is bad- fulfilling your ministry is best. Unfortunately, many will never experience what God has planned because someone asked them to do something else.
Are you just meeting needs? Have you found your calling?
The disciples found Jesus and said, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next town, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” – Mark 1:37-38
When we focus on purity in the church family it looks like this;
1) I do whatever I can to help you get closer to God. I gently walk along side you on your journey towards righteousness. Righteous living is where you will experience the greatest fulfillment. Purity is the shortest path to joy and surest path to divine success.
2) To help you I must die to myself. I have to sacrifice my ambition, arrogance, and agendas. I have to give my life so you can live yours. Notice, this, in turn, also moves me closer to God. Doing the loving thing for you is also doing the loving thing for myself.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… Hebrews 10:24
Saturday means Sabbath in our home. It is a time of rest and unplugging. I began working through Neil Anderson’s The Steps to Freedom In Christ. One of my mentors uses this guide, yearly, during personal retreats, and it is part of my current study on spiritual transformation. This one truth gripped me the most as I worked through Step 2 Deception vs Truth;
the truth is my Father God is committed to my growth and PROUD OF ME as His growing child.
I wept. Sobbed. I was wrapped in love and heavenly joy as my Heavenly Father spoke right into my soul, “Son, I am proud of who you are and who you are becoming. I will never let you go.”
…he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Deut 32:10
How are you leading your caravan?
Settlers focus on the short-term. Pioneers focus on legacy.
Settlers know what they have. Pioneers know what they have left behind.
Settlers build walls to protect. Pioneers break down walls to connect.
Settlers hold on to. Pioneers share.
Settlers build their empires. Pioneers advance God’s kingdom.
Both strive for happiness and fulfillment but only one will find it.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens… – Babel, Genesis 11:4
The money you hold is the money you keep, maybe. The more money you share the less money you will have. Faith is the opposite. The more faith you try to put away the less you have. But, the more faith you share the more your faith grows. Still, faith, like money, is a transferable commodity. What is mine can be yours. So, tell others your faith stories. It deposits your faith into their spiritual bank account. When they come up short they have something to draw on. Your faith can make up the difference.
Abraham answered Isaac, “God himself will provide….” Genesis 22:8