Easter - 2018

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Persistent Endurance ... the lessons of water.

Ravi B - Flowing (Vibezy Riddim) "2015 Trinidad Soca". - https://penitent.deviantart.com/art/Water-Flowing-22215255
Persistence is defined as continuance till the end. And endurance is defined as using strength to continue despite pain and fatigue. The difference between the two is that persistence is remaining steady in hopes to finish while endurance is bearing pain so that you can finish. Yet, great power emerges when we combine the two elements. The successful possess a persistent endurance against the hardest situations.

I am always amazed at water. The combination of two hydrogen and one oxygen creat a powerful force. It is the model of persistence endurance. Water has a way of pushing through amazing obstacles, one drip at a time. There have been many instances where what seemed to be an insignificant drip was really a tiny part of a larger body of water pushing through a little at a time. Water is also very adaptable to what it wants to accomplish. Water can be calm and peaceful, but become raging and destructive. A lake can rise inch by inch and suddenly become a flood. A bay can combine with wind to be an agitator and bulldozer.

Imagine our lives as if it were more like water. We could be determined to push through our obstacles to serve whether by peace or by force. Water can trickle along gently, flowing across pebbles and shaping them as we move over them. Water changes things...persistent endurance changes things. It exerts gentle pressure over time and softens hard rocks into rounded pebbles. Water combines with others to gain power. A stream joins with other streams to make a river. A river combines with other rivers to make its way to an ocean. Water is not satisfied with being a mere drop, but makes its way drop by drop to being a grand ocean.We are best when we work together as one.

Water carries things. It carries life along its banks. It carries progress from place to place. Water moves people and things from where they are to where they need to be. The persistence of successful people ... serve others ... Serving with persistence is not about the “me,” serving with persistence is about clinging to the hope of our dream by serving the “THEM.” Much like water as it flows carving out landscapes and bring vital hydration to the land.

Water is a change agent. It changes barren lands to fertile grounds. It can cut off or it can bring together. Water changes the power balance. Water rises to the occasion. When life pours too much in it, it just finds new paths for it to flourish. When life tries to contain it, water pushes through to where it wants to go.

Successful people ... become more like water. Water is persistent. Successful people are persistent as well. Those who desire success can learn from water and move towards goals, one step at a time. Goals will not be reached overnight, but through the diligence of continued steps. The combine strengths with others forms alliances which propels the successful to where we want to go.

Indulge me while I suggest: When we add and multiply our strengths, we will eventually overflow our present boundaries and flow out into our full destiny. We need to carry ourselves from dream to reality to prosperity by flowing in persistent endurance in our daily living. We should not be satisfied with stagnancy, but keep current flowing and keep moving toward a life full of productivity and creativity and fruitfulness.

Most of all, we should be full of life. Full of life-giving nourishment. Full of life-giving hydration. We should add to, not take away from. We should rejuvenate, not suck the life out of others’ dreams. We should bring forth creativity, not stifle. We should saturate life with details while living in appreciation of distance gained in flexibility.

If ever we need encouragement, we should think about a drop of water and ponder about how water gets where it wants to, drop by drop, building pressure that eventually results in a breakthrough. There is so much power in a drop of water. It is just the beginning. It is only the promise of what is yet to come. You are a only at your beginning and the promise of what is yet to come is achieved in persistent endurance toward your goal.

If a drop of water can move a mountain through persistent endurance, then surely we can serve through the method of persistence and move the mountains on our journey.
You know I love ya, Don

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Leading with Honor and Integrity

"The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” – Dwight D Eisenhower

“Honesty and integrity are by far the most important assets of an entrepreneur.”
                                                                                                 – Zig Ziglar

When I think of honor and integrity as valued personality and character traits of a leader, I do not simply refer to sincerity or honesty. Integrity’s essence is derived from the root definitions: entireness, wholeness, soundness. Honor as it is added to integrity extends through the inner core and wholeness of the character of the individual and the organization. It is found in small matters as well as great; for the allegiance of the soul to truth is tested by small things rather than by those which are more important. These are the building stones to which a person rises out of mediocre living to mighty influence throughout the world.

We think that we hate the lack of honor and integrity when we are only hating the consequences resulting in the absence of honor and integrity. We resent hypocrisy, negligent ethics, treachery and deception, not because they are untrue, but because they harm us and harm the culture around us. We hate the falseness of fake integrity, but we are half pleased with the false praise. It is evidently not the element of untruth here that is displeasing, but the element of harmfulness. Thus, the only genuine response is a deep commitment to honor, integrity and higher standards which are often the harder road and more often underappreciated, but the consequential outcome rises to greatness.

Diligence and hard work in maintaining honor and integrity as it relates to our personal lives, as well as to the organizations we serve, produces great success to which every participant gains a proud legacy. These personality traits find root with the leader. It is essential for leaders of our homes, organizations, and corporations to frame honor and integrity around every endeavor of life. These individuals produce a dynamic culture which anticipates honor and integrity in everyone. I agree with Amy Lyman when she writes: “When a trustworthy leader acts with humility, is respectful of others and uses the power of his position and his personal power to benefit others, then he is honorable. And his integrity to those qualities is admirable.”[1] The perception is paradoxical, but the reality is everyone benefits and the person leading the charge establishes a “wholeness” and “completeness” legacy.

Within a world where compromise is the norm, fake news is in many conversations, social media produces one-line rants, and families are seeking genuine authenticity; the world is also passionately pleading for honor and integrity. We must recoil from the deceptions of sensational and easy paths. It is our task to strive for greatness as leaders who fight vigorously for honor and integrity while rejecting untruth as untruth: who resents the smooth and polished falsehood of society which does no immediate harm, but deceives the excellence of life. We must respond to the plea with credibility, respect, and fairness. It is then we will be known as leaders who possessed the valued personality traits of honor and integrity. 

You know I love ya, Don

[1]. Amy Lyman, PhD. “Leading with Honor and Integrity.” The Trustworthy Leader, 12 Nov. 2012, http://www.trustworthyleader.org/eng/Blog/8_Leading-with-Honor-and-Integrity.html.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Prioritizing Priorities

We are all challenged with prioritizing our priorities. A priority is “A Valuable”  which is regarded as more important than another “Valuable.” So, how are you are putting the most valuable thing at the top are your list?

Let me illustrate ... Many years ago, two River paddle boats left Memphis about the same time. They traveled down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side-by-side, sailors from one ship taunted the sailors of the other about their snail’s pace. Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South. One boat began falling behind because the boat did not posses enough fuel. There had plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As one boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor began to take the ship’s cargo and toss it into the boiler. The sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal. So, they fueled their boat with the material they’d been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, by destroying their cargo.

My friends, we can never forget God is our first-priority as it relates to the closeness of God. It is easy to step into the social relevance of Christianity as it relates to the needy world around us…only to make our social, benevolent, and mission work our priority and also…our god. Our allegiance is to God and God alone … all other priorities must serve our first-priority. Any other choice is burning the cargo to win the race…only to loose the purpose of the journey.
John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them."

Matthew 6:33, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  

Always working to keep the priorities in focus ... you know I love ya, Don 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

We have an ego ... how do you use it!

If you don’t think you are conscience of your ego, you are mistaken. Everyone is predisposed to ego and vanity and pride. Yes, everyone!!!!

If you don’t think your ego is selfish…take a group picture and who is the first person you look for? YOU!!! The picture could be a perfect group photo of everyone else…but your eyes are closed or you did not smile…and it is a terrible picture.

The opposite is true as well … If you are the only one in the picture smiling, everyone else is frowning, eyes are closed, and someone could be having a heart attack over on the side, but you look great… and you say, “Oh wow! That is a great picture. Send me a copy of that, lets post that picture on Facebook!!!”

Human beings are driven by our egos and God followers use their ego to reach out for humility. 1 Peter 5:5 quotes Proverbs with “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Our self awareness is an opportunity to demonstrate a greater existence by thinking of others before ourselves. 

You know I love ya, Don

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Is the Entire Bible Inspired?

Marshall (See below for reference) explains the inspiration of the scriptures as a statement of encouragement for those struggling and searching for hope in the final days. He states: "Here the reference is to the appropriate passages in the Old Testament, whose reliability rests on the fact that they were not written by persons following their own ideas but by people who were inspired by the Spirit to a correct understanding of what God was saying to them" (pp. 672–673).

 Does Marshall think there is a limit to this text as it relates to the inspiration of the scriptures? After reading Marshall, I do not think he would limit the work of or the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to a specific text or to just the OT. It is critical to remember the audience of 2 Peter would not have possessed the NT Canon. The question arises; does the inspiration apply to all 66 books of the Bible?

To answer the question, the 21st century reader must not neglect 2 Pet 1.19: "And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts ..." (ESV) The inspiration of the scriptures, both OT and NT, serve the purpose of a lamp shining in a dark place so that the morning star might rise in our hearts. Remaining faithful in the final days is the specific application of 2 Peter. Yet, this same principle can apply throughout the Bible.

The rule for a reader 2000 year later is to avoid reading into the text more than it says while finding inspiration for application to our modern culture. May we never neglect the reading of the word and application to our hearts. You know I love ya, Don

Marshall, I. H. (2004). New Testament theology: many witnesses, one Gospel (p. 672). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Faith and Works : living in Spirit and Truth

Faith and works are united in the heart of the believer. Faith is more then simply believing. Works or deeds is more then being a good person. When we read Paul's teaching concerning salvation through faith and not works, Paul is often referencing the "works of the law." In other words, the Apostle Paul is refuting a trust in the Law as a means of salvation. There is nothing the individual can do to find salvation on their own ... salvation is through faith in Jesus. Paul is not teaching the believer to have faith and go in their merry way. The truth of faith results in the hope found in Jesus. The only response is works of love, sacrifice, and goodness.

I think of Gal 5.6, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love" (ESV). Paul is refuting a faith in doing an act as a means of salvation. In this instance the act is circumcision, which the law required. Paul continues by encouraging his readers to respond and act in love. The "act of love" is the point James is making in his letter. To have faith in Jesus is not enough, a believer demonstrates the truth of God's love in the way they conduct their life.

Another passage of Paul's which speaks to doing faith is Rom 12.1, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (ESV). The believer is doing works when "offering" themselves as living sacrifices which is acceptable to God.

Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4, God is seeking worshipers who worship in spirit and truth. The two fold response to God is to have faith (the spirit) and to show it is our actions (the truth). The truth of our faith is seen in the way in which we conduct our love.

You know I love ya, Don

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What is the standard of the follower of Jesus?

One of the things which cause doubt in Paul's ministry was the amount of suffering Paul endured for the faith. In other words, people began to ask how can God be with the Apostle, if he is forced to endure such hardships and suffering? The modern culture remains just as doubtful. Shouldn't the follower of God possess a special dispensation of grace which empowers the believer to avoid such pitfalls?

Paul responds to such accusations by turning the worldly view on it side and pointing to a crucified Jesus. It is through suffering which prove Paul's service. It is through surrender to the suffering Messiah comes the discovery of the power of God and the consequential conquering of death. Paul writes: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." (NASB 2 Co 4:7–10). Paul's suffering is the mark of Jesus on his life.

Those who follow Jesus in a vocational work or in a volunteer work can relate to Paul's words. It is the believers mantra to agree with Paul in 2 Cor. 12.10: "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (NASB 2 Co 12:10). In my weakness, I learn to trust in God's abilities to work on behalf.

God is not about to stop being God. I am glad and praise him for carrying us through each and every struggle. You know I love ya, Don

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Tanacity to face trials, rejection, and persecution!

As we read through Galatians, it is 1.15-2.3 in which Paul addresses his Apostleship to the Gentiles. Paul outlines his early years with: He makes a trip Arabia. He then returns to Damascus. Three years later he visits Cephas and remained with him for a few weeks. Fourteen years later, Paul and Barnabus take Tutus (apparently a Gentile) to Jerusalem to seek confirmation that their message to the Gentiles was not misguided.

Although, I believe there are several reasons which make Paul uniquely qualified to take the message to the Gentiles. The one which stands out to me as most prevalent is the verse in Acts (8.1) where he is giving approval over the death of Stephen. He also mentions the people were aware of his previous treatment of the believers in Gal. He had the credentials to speak the Jewish faith and education on the scriptures to realize the truth of Jesus.

Why would this be a helpful quality? Because everyone new and feared Paul. As he mentions in other letters, he was a Jew of Jews, highly educated, connected with all the influential people, and was zealous for the cause. Paul possessed drive and tenacity because of the fool he had been in the past. Taking the message to the Gentiles would take a person with the educated ability to examine the scriptures and debate with tradition. He would also need to have tenacity to endure the trials, rejection, and persecution on the journey. Paul's past flamed his present which uniquely qualified him for the task at hand.

Aren't we glad he did? You know I love ya, Don