Posts Tagged ‘change’

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In three short years Jesus gathered, trained and empowered a group of people who would stand the world on its ear and engender a spiritual revolution that would encompass the globe. It was a development program unequaled in history. I would also suggest that it is a program that not only can be repeated but one that we are called to repeat both as leaders seeking to develop those around us and as seekers looking to have the greatest impact for the Kingdom that we can.  Let’s take a look at four points of  Jesus’ development program.

  1. Lead in God’s timing

I think that in modern western society we are much too often guilty of leading in our timing. We think, “I have got this. After all, I have done this before.” The people of Israel certainly thought so as they eyed up the city of Ai (Joshua 7). The classic financial disclaimer comes to mind, “Past performance may not be indicative of future results”. In this particular case it got a bunch of people killed and what should have been an easy success (and was later) became a morale crushing defeat.

Jesus is the eternal son of God. He was the son God throughout his time on earth and continues to be the son of God for eternity. Yet He waited 33 years before he started His earthly ministry and before he started the development process that would forever change the world. He repeatedly deferred to the Father’s timing and in doing so taught His disciples to do the same. This obedience to the Holy Spirit empowered the New Testament church to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6)

2. Lead in lifestyle

The Bible tells us very little about His childhood, but I think we can reasonably look at his lifestyle habits throughout his ministry and extrapolate that they did not arise in a vacuum. I believe that Jesus spent that 33 years carefully establishing an earthly lifestyle that maximized his relationship with the Father and prepared him for the empowering of the Holy Spirit that would be the highlight of his ministry and the sacrifice that would be the fulfillment of His purpose on earth. The blend of Holy Spirit inspired action with times of solitude and prayer are the result of careful personal cultivation. Lifestyle is street level development. This was the purpose of the 33 years. Jesus developed the lifestyle so that he could impart it to his followers. This is an area so severely lacking in today’s leadership.  Lifestyle leadership is rarely discussed and often dismissed. The personal life of our leaders is too often considered irrelevant or simply ignored .  Paul spends considerable time in his letters both to churches and leaders talking about the necessity of lifestyle leadership.

3. Lead in the small things

John tells us the story of Christ’s first miracle. It was not an incredible life changing healing. He did not raise someone from the dead or cast out a demon. Jesus fulfilled a simple (for him) request from his mother. Actually, it wasn’t even really a request. She (as mothers will do) simply pointed out the situation. “They have no wine” (John 2:3) and then set the stage for obedience. This was the first recorded lesson for Jesus’ new followers and here is the kicker, Jesus wasn’t the teacher, Mary was. We too often view development as telling people what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Mary does none of these things. She simply puts truth on the table and then sets up the mode for obedience. “Whatever he says to you, do it.” We too often want to raise the dead and heal the sick when there is a wedding that needs saving. We can put the event even more in perspective when we look at the end of the story. “the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, ‘ Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now'” Jesus did not even get the credit. It is likely that Peter was there for this event. I can only imagine his reaction to this lack of recognition for his rabbi.  I am not sure that this was a lesson learned.  However, it would be repeated.

4.  Lead in the big things

In chapter 8 of his Gospel, the Apostle John tells us the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Jesus took a night of respite after a particularly acrimonious round of dispute with the Temple authorities, retreating to the Mount of Olives for the night.  However in the morning he again appeared in the Temple courts and as usual the people gathered around this man who spoke with such authority.  This morning the Pharisees and teachers in the Temple space laid a trap for him involving a woman they had caught in adultery.  This was a life and death matter under the Law.  This was a big thing. 

They had failed to trap Jesus with a web of little things in their disputes, so they brought out the big gun.  The fact that John notes that it was in fact a trap may well indicate that there was something going on here not readily apparent to you and me.  Jesus’ response also probably has significance beyond what the text states as he quietly drew in the sand.  I have heard many sermons on different theories about what Jesus drew but that is neither here nor there for our discussion. 

When faced with the big trap, Jesus led in a big way.  “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  I imagine she quickly scanned the crowd wondering if any of them had the hubris to heft a stone.  “At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.”  Jesus had a big answer for the Pharisee’s big trap.  While it saved one woman’s life it taught an even bigger lesson to his followers.  When the law meets grace, grace wins. “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you.” Jesus declared, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John quotes Jesus later in this chapter, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  While Jesus did not need this assurance we have it. Lead in the big things and guess what if you screw up, its ok because when the law meets grace, grace wins.

Timing, lifestyle, small things, big things, when the people of God follow Jesus the world turns upside down and grace wins.

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Today is an anniversary of sorts. We signed the lease on the home that we now live in six years ago. That might not seem super unusual but let me share the story.

We spent the majority of 2013 in the hospital going through Allana’s treatment for Leukemia (chemotherapy) and then a bone marrow transplant. We were separated from our 5 children, from our ministry and basically from our lives, first at Flower Hospital in Sylvania Ohio and then at The Cleveland Clinic. A more detailed account of this is available in other blog posts and “The Nineteen Days” chapter of The Hupomone Principle. Though she was cancer free, Allana remained fairly ill, really for almost two years, as she recovered not only from the impact of the Leukemia but also from the harsh treatment protocols. We began to get our lives back together and move the ministry (which my Mother-in-Law had unselfishly maintained while we were gone) forward again. Then in April of 2014 the executive directors called us for a meeting and let us know that the decision had been made to close the ministry which included our home. They graciously allowed us to stay in the ministry house until November. So, the search began. We initially looked at purchasing the ministry house but that was not feasible. Then we looked at other properties in and around our neighborhood hoping to continue the ministry on our own, but the doors did not open.

We were blessed by the outpouring of support that had begun with Allana’s diagnosis and continued through this time, but we still could not find anything that suited the needs of our family and our finances. It was during this time that I found employment at Cherry Street Mission Ministries.

Then one day Allana was perusing Craigs List ads for rental homes. She found one and showed it to me. It was all the way on the other side of town. I did not understand why she was even looking at it but I have learned when she has these moments to listen to her listening to the Holy Spirit. This is a key to Hupomone living. I called the number and a very nice lady said she would be happy to show us the home and could do it right then.

When we arrived she gave us the tour. It was not really a good fit for us, but as we spoke, I let her know that I was employed at Cherry Street and a little of our story to explain our current finances. To our surprise she said, “Then you must know my daughter…”. I did indeed, she worked in the office next to mine. As we continued looking at the property the owner stopped and said, ” This isn’t the home for you but I know what is.” She took us to different property and we immediately knew this was it.

We were incredibly blessed as the landlord made the rent work for us and just asked that we purchase the home as soon as we were able as her intent was not to rent this property but to flip it. I told her we would and on November 6th of 2014 we signed our lease to buy agreement with a five year term which was my best guess at how long it would take. However, God had different plans and we purchased the house 18 months later.

Disruption, patience, trust, listening, believing, pursuing, receiving, these are attributes of the Hupomone Principle. This is not to say that there was not a lot of grief, fear, concern and doubt along the way (hence my initial reaction to a property on the other side of town) but God is so faithful even in the midst our instability. There were many moments in this story when I could not see or even conceive of the outcome, but that is ok because God loves me anyways! Just like he loves you where-ever you are at.

If you are interested in an easy to read and concise look at The Hupomone Principle, it is available in paperback and on Kindle.

HERE.

It doesn’t always feel like Hupomone, sometimes it just feels like life….

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Here is another in the series of Blog Posts started and never finished.  This one was begun on my birthday in 2014.  The same day that I penned (typed?) An Introduction to Hupomone. I did not know that we were about to weather another unexpected storm of circumstance in our lives.  Honestly we did not do a great job of hupomone living as we walked through the situation, but God is faithful and we grew (and are still growing) by the power of His Spirit.  Thank you for joining me for another piece of my Hupomone journey.

“Remember those who led you, who spoke  the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings “

Hebrews 13:7-9

 

Perseverance is not a trait of the human condition.  While mankind toys with the concept and we are able to point to individuals who in limited circumstances demonstrate a form of perseverance, they do not rise to the standard of Biblical perseverance.  It is for this reason that true perseverance only comes as a direct gift of God.  This gift rises from His very nature.  Our title verse today expresses that nature, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Being as we are forever changing, it is hard for us to conceive of an unchanging God.  We do in fact attribute change to Him as often as we can.  We seize on biblical narrative that “demonstrate” how God has changed the way that he deals with men, losing the thread of the redemptive plan set before the creation of the world.  It is perhaps the only way that finite creations can conceive of an infinite creator without child-like faith.  We unwittingly demonstrate Jesus’ assertion.

And He called a child to Himself and set him before * them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless * you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:3-4

God proclaimed his divine perseverance when He declared to Moses,

“Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.  Exodus 3:14-15

The Eternal I am announcing His perseverance to all generations.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way:

God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

While not Scripture, I love the simplicity of its treatment of the divine, perhaps the child-like way it approaches the question of his nature.  Yet still for all its simplicity, the nature of God is incredibly complex in its interaction with the human condition.  It is this complexity that smells of change to the inquiring (but limited) mind.  The complexity of the infinite as it intertwines with the finite takes on the appearance of instability,  even chaos when observed from the finite perspective. However there is in fact a singularity of purpose and intent in every nuance of the relationship.  This purpose is wrapped up in another concept that struggle with.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

It is this eternal purpose that removes the onus of circumstance from our lives when we accept the Hupomone aspect of God’s nature with childlike faith.  It frees us from the whirlwind of circumstances and allows us to see the straight line of God’s intent within the chaos of finite existence.

because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2

The Holy Spirit has freed us from the law of sin and death, the law of circumstance. Hupomone living is choosing to operate in the eternal through the power of the Holy Spirit, pursuing our ongoing transformation into the image of Jesus Christ.

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JosiahUS2

I still remember clearly. Particularly vivid are those moments before even the OB office’s technologist realized there was a problem.  As she continued to move the probe looking for a heart beat I watched the realization dawn on her face.  I looked to my beautiful bride my heart aching, knowing it would be only moments before the joy of motherhood would be replaced with the pain of loss.  What was supposed to be, was not.  There had been miscarriages before, but this was different.  We had seen him, watched him move.  She had been sick for 3 months.  This was all supposed to end with a baby in our arms.  The grief and anger was a dull roar in my ears.  As the tech put down the probe and said, “I am going to get the doctor”, Allana looked at me and saw the tears welling in my eyes and her world crashed down.

Twelve years later, 7 more losses, a move into full-time ministry, a miraculous birth and walk through cancer, and I still remember those moments.  I remember the silent heartbeat.  2000ish years ago a group of men scattered through Jerusalem.  What was supposed to be, was not.  A few stayed close, one failing (as foretold by Jesus) in his grief and despair as he realized the likely outcome of events.  Another clung to caring for a shattered mother, bringing her to the base of the cross to bid farewell to her son.  I can imagine the dull roar of grief and anger echoing in their ears.  The end of the messiah, was not as it should be.  The heartbeat of the savior of the world was silent.

The days that followed the shattering moment, the silent heartbeat, are taken up with the business of death.  Preparation for burial and burial.  The well-meaning words of friends and family, some kind some judgmental.  The Monday morning quarterbacks try to parse what went wrong.  We cloister ourselves, not wanting to be pointed out as that couple, not wanting to be pointed out as the followers of that man.  Even now the silent heartbeat is loud in our ears.

Then everything changes.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.  John 20:11-18

Here is where our stories converge.  The truth of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ brought a new ending both to those shattered followers 2000 hears ago and to grieving parents just 12 years ago.  The reality of a living savior and the guidance of the Holy Spirit set a group of men and women on a path to what was always to be as defined by an omniscient, almighty God.  The same savior, the same Spirit and the same God brought truth and light to the silent heartbeat for Allana and I, setting us on a path to healing and to service.  The way continued to be full of pitfalls, disappointments and most importantly maturing faith. The silent heartbeat will be with us forever, however now even in the remembered grief and pain it is a sound full of hope and promise.

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Why

The question was actually posed to me some time ago by a young German woman. I had befriended her and her husband in an online game that I was playing. She quickly became aware of my faith and one day as we chatted about life she abruptly posed this question.

Why do you serve God? What does he do for you?

My mind quickly went to all the theologically correct answers that I had learned over the years but quickly discarded them. First of all I don’t think her English was up to taking in a bunch of “Christianese” (and my German was certainly not up to conveying anything other than hello and thank you). Secondly my guess is that perhaps somewhere she had already heard the platitudes. She was looking for something more intimate, more personal. She really wanted to know , why did Sam Guidry (or Flamefanner as my gaming friends know me) choose to serve this god. I gave her an answer. I do not even recall what it was, however it set me to thinking and so I give you:

Five Reasons that I serve God

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Reason #2: God has engaged me without condition

In a world that is conditional, God is unconditional.  We often talk of God’s unconditional love but I think that sometimes we envision a schizophrenic god who has many aspects and that he changes from aspect to aspect based on what we do. I serve God because he exists unconditionally. What I mean by that is that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to change the way that God is or the way that God interacts with creation. This means that no matter how screwed up I got or acted, no matter how fast I ran from Him, He still is God. I cannot manipulate a single change in His being through prayer, through sin or any other behavior or attitude that I can conceive of. Uh oh, does that mean it is useless for me to pray or that it doesn’t matter what I do? With Paul I say “May it never be!” (Romans 6:2) Paul continues on to say, “How shall we who die to sin live in it”. Of course this is Paul’s answer to the questions, “Should we sin more that grace may increase?”, however the real question being asked is can we manipulate God by our behavior? How does Paul answer it? It is not about God, it is about us!

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask.  Matthew 7:11

God provides for His children not because we ask, he does so because it is in His unconditional nature to do so.  The barrier to receiving good gifts is not that we need to manipulate God into giving them, it is that we need to position ourselves to receive them.  When we allow the Great Unconditional to impact the conditional  we move into a relationship that opens us up to what God has for us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:23

For this reason we can say with Jeremiah and Thomas Chisholm, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23, Great is thy Faithfulness. 1923)  No matter what circumstances I encounter, no matter what I do  God is my rock that I can count on to remain my heavenly Father.  It is with this great comfort that I can turn from trying to manipulate Him to maturing myself in the Faith.

For this reason also, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father… Colossians 1:9-12

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19

Good Morning.

This is just a little note to say that I will be posting the entire “Nineteen Days” series today.  It was 5 years ago that we were rejoicing over the birth of our Nisa Faith.  19 days later the world would come crashing down on us, changing our lives forever.

The Nineteen Days posts are reflections on this time in our lives.

Sam

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“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”

Hebrews 13:8

 

The fancy word for today’s topic is “Immutability”.  That is the last time you will see it in this post.  However the bible tells us that in a world of change biblical perseverance calls for a unique constancy from Christ Followers.  God declares his own character when he tells Moses that “I am that I am”.  This Hebrew word, which became the very name of God to Israel, declares His eternal constancy.  It is here that we find one of the prime qualities of biblical perseverance for the believer.

29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren ; Romans 8:29

It is only by this miraculous transformation process and the submission of our will to His will that we begin our journey to biblical perseverance.  So then do we  live in the same place, do the same things, never change what we eat or do for the rest of our live?  Clearly not.  We do not even have that kind of control on the circumstances of our lives.  Change is introduced to our existence every day, every hour and every minute of our lives here on earth.  This is where we see that biblical perseverance is a spiritual gift not a physical effort.  It cannot be faked or practiced by human effort.  It is manifested in the lives of those who serve and have a personal relationship with God.

Consider Daniel.

3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles,…6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. Daniel 1:3,6

Talk about change.  As a young man Daniel was ripped from his home, dragged half way across the known world and even had his name taken away.  This Babylonian tactic was specifically designed to destroy perseverance.  Do not be deceived the Enemy is out to destroy your perseverance.  He wants you to come out from under the covering of Christ where he can have a clear and open shot at you.  The Babylonians did everything they could to shake Daniel’s identity as a child of God. But what happened.

8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank ; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.  Daniel 1:8

In the midst of all of this change Daniel did not change.  It is important to note that Daniel remained under Jesus Christ in every aspect of his behavior.  This brings us to another important aspect of biblical perseverance.  It expresses at all times the character of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control ; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.  Galatians 5:22-26

Biblical perseverance is never rude or arrogant.  Perseverance that does not fall in line with His Word is not biblical and is not godly.  When we truly walk in biblical perseverance we are like a lighthouse in the storm.  We go on to read:

9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials,…17 As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom ; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams  Daniel 1:9, 17

But let there be no mistake.  Satan HATES biblical perseverance and he believes that he can destroy it.  Daniel continued to face opposition throughout his lifetime.  Many other saints both biblical and historical persevered to martyrdom.  Regardless of the physical outcome the Spiritual truth remains the same and the lighthouse of faithfulness shines in the darkness.

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Here is the link to The Morning Mayhem page with the Morning Munch Podcasts.  I spoke on change this week!

http://www.yeshome.com/TPage646.aspx

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