Friday, December 31, 2010


Fifthly and finally all true disciples of Jesus Christ LEAVE. That’s right, they leave.

This is THE MOST poignant and acrid common denominator of them all. For in this denominator is couched the TIME TABLE OF GOD. In Genesis 6:3 the Lord declares; “My spirit shall not always strive with man…” For the arrogant you will simply pass over this point, but for the humble, you will take deep note of God’s sobriety.

God is very aware that His grace IS limited based upon the humanity of us all. In other words we have “X” amount of time to respond to His wooing and then the clock stops. Oh not because He is unwilling to continue, but because our days are numbered.

For instance, Jesus taught that when His disciples would enter a town and not be welcomed by their hearers, they were to turn and shake the dust (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5) off their feet (they actually did it as recorded in Acts 13:50-51).

The point was an open DECLARATION and DEMONSTRATION of their efforts to penetrate the hard hearts of their hearers. Never underestimate the damnation associated with a hard heart. Never!

So how does that touch us in the twenty-first-century? We must be very decisive and Spirit-led as to who, what and when we present and or retract the gospel opportunity. For true disciples of Jesus Christ are led by the Holy Spirit as to how much effort is merited for any one individual. In other words, if we’ve not struck oil stop drilling and move on.

Being led by the Spirit as to who is good soil and not, IS VERY CRITICAL. Because if we don’t listen to the Spirit’s leading, we can WASTE precious time. Or we can be trampled and bitten by the unwilling-pigs, even with our greatest efforts (Matthew 7:6).

Which leads to the second aspect of this Fifth Common denominator: we are leaving this planet soon. I’ll never forget my first exposure to a life-time-mortgage.

I was painting for a living while attending Bible College, and happened to get a job finishing a new home on the south side of Springfield, Missouri. It was an executive home that was very large. My client was an old friend’s brother from years passed. In speaking with my friend, he told me his brother’s mortgage was open-ended; in other words a life-time mortgage.

That simply meant that this guy would really only be “renting” this place until he sold it, because the cost was so huge that he could never really pay it off.

Here’s the point: WE DON’T HAVE an unlimited amount of time here on this earth. Period! Some generation will be the LAST generation. Some generation will actually witness the Parousia first hand.

For the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are left will be caught up in the air, to connect with Christ and live forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – take note of the comfort we are to have in this truth, verse 18)). Man that sounds like sci-fi; but IT’S NOT!!!

The end of all we know IS coming sometime and that should influence how we live here on this earth. Granted, no one knows that day or hour; but we must spiritually prepare as if THIS IS THE DAY!!!

I remember going to summer Bible camp at our Iowa District Camp Grounds (Storm Lake, Iowa). They would wake us with the revolutions of a crackling old LP that played: “This could be the dawning of that grand and glorious day…”

At fourteen that was very unsettling. At fifty it’s still unsettling, to the degree that no eschatological events are preventing the rapture of the church. That’s right, we could go at any minute and God would press on with His agenda.

That being said, disciples LEAVE. Whether it’s from the context of personal evangelism and people reject the message of LIFE, or the context of the rapture, this place IS NOT OUR HOME!!!

Circa 1978 Larry Norman pressed a record entitled: Only Visiting this Planet – Part 1 of the Trilogy. As I listened to this Message, I realized he was right. This place IS NOT my home; therefore I better not plant too deeply.

A life-time mortgage or even a 30 year mortgage seems totally unrealistic for the Disciple of Jesus Christ. Although there have been countless devotees of Christ who have believe the end was so near they sold all and sat on a mountain; I’m not one of them.

But I am constantly aware of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES that keep me looking up.

If you are NOT looking up on a daily basis, my guess is you are looking too deeply into the earth on which you were born for your comfort and confidence.

Ignoring the truth and even the facts WILL NOT CHANGE THEM!!! Disciples KNOW WHEN to leave according to the Spirit’s impetus or leading. They pay close attention to what the Spirit tells them; as to how much and when to stop scattering. And they pay close attention to what the Spirit tells them as to when to leave; because THAT DAY IS COMING SOON… like it or not.

So there it is: Five Common Denominators of all True Disciples of Jesus Christ. Fourteen hours from now we will clock out and clock in to 2011. Are YOU a True Disciple of Jesus Christ?


Fourthly all true disciples of Jesus Christ LEAD. For anyone to believe that they are not a leader of someone, they are mistaken. For all of us have someone watching us and looking to us to see how we live, react, behave, perform, etc. Oh not that they are all watching for us to mess up (although some are), but even if it’s the person taking your money at the convenience store, how we interact with and treat the world around us, speaks volumes as to how we take our leadership seriously.

In other words, we must be vigilant about our lives and behavior, because we INFLUENCE more than just ourselves. I believe it was John Maxwell who capitalized on the idea that leadership is influence. If that’s true, then we ALL influence someone, somehow, someway, sometime; therefore we’re all leaders from time to time. It’s inescapable.

Jesus was very serious about leading others. He was equally serious about leading others down the right or the wrong path. And one does not have to be pushing dope to be leading someone down the wrong path. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and you mistreat others, you may be causing them to go down a wrong path. Ever heard of the term “misleading”?

Most of the time that term is linked to spurious sales techniques and even to some televangelists, but think about that word; misleading. Or could we say leading-amiss?

Before we get too far into this thought on leadership, we need to delineate the two directions of leadership. That’s right, ultimately there are only two directions one can be led. Up or down, left or right, black or white, heaven or hell, the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of darkness.

Oh I know you may think that most of life is lived in the gray areas or the margins, but ultimately everything leads in one direction or another. Cosmos polarity IS a reality. And Jesus was very clear about the risks we all run when it comes to influencing others because of our magnetism one direction or another. And ambivalence to this divine polarity is ABSOLUTELY condemned (Revelation 3:15-16). So pick a side buddy!

In Matthew 5 and 18 Jesus teaches very plainly about offenses. But so often we miss the real crux of the matter, for the onus of offense is upon the one who should by now know better. What? That’s right, the one whose been exposed to and embraced the truth so as to taste a measure of life.

In other words: “Woe to you who should know better by now”. If we by our very example cause anyone (especially the weaker or younger in the faith) to digress, it would be better for us to be placed into cement overshoes and be tossed into the Des Moines River, than to have caused one of these little ones to stray from trust in Christ.

I have at least a dozen books on Leadership in my personal library. The authors are diverse, but the emphasis is the same. The question I have to ask myself is; does reading books on the subject of Leadership make me a better leader? And the answer IS NOT necessarily.

For leading is not so much about skills at using a “carrot on the end of a stick” as it is about the internal replication of truth. People are rarely (except in countries of tyranny) led by the stick. Most often people are led by a carrot.

The Bible is very clear that the “carrot on the end of a stick” IS NOT biblical in its approach as motivation. “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” (Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Timothy 5:18 – KJV)

Eventually the carrot must be received or the power of deception is the simple and only motivation to keep going. We keep reaching out to chomp the carrot but never get our teeth sunk in.

Leadership MUST be about what IS working for us, and if we EVER use false results or motivation to move anyone along our agendas – that IS sin. Grievous sin when it comes to God and us.

So what about your leadership? What IS your motivation in seeking to control or influence those around you? Is it selfish? (James 4:1-5) You’ve got to answer that question, because the Fourth Common Denominator of All True Disciples of Jesus Christ is Leadership. I’m not sure who coined the phrase; but it’s pretty good. “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!” Because ultimately YOU DO influence others… and you will be held accountable for the direction you lead them.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The Third Common Denominator of all True Disciples of Jesus Christ; LEARN.

Here’s where we might loose some slackers. I’m not talking about full blown academia requiring years of graduate school, although if that’s your thing go for it. But I’m talking about a daily assimilation of fresh revelation from God’s Word and Spirit. I’m talking about developing a greater relationship with Wisdom (Jesus Christ).

And this learning starts on the inside of each one of us. Learning about who we are and what makes us tick will lead to learning about others and things beyond ourselves. All of which is the true cure for prejudice and bigotry.

“I'm sure you've read this quote before: ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ Socrates said that at his trial for heresy. He was on trial for encouraging his students to challenge the accepted beliefs of the time and think for themselves. The sentence was death but Socrates had the option of suggesting an alternative punishment. He could have chosen life in prison or exile, and would likely have avoided death.”

“But Socrates believed that these alternatives would rob him of the only thing that made life useful: Examining the world around him and discussing how to make the world a better place. Without his "examined life" there was no point in living. So he suggested that Athens reward him for his service to society. The result, of course, is that they had no alternative and were forced to vote for a punishment of death.” (Karl W. Palachuk)

The above quotes are not mine, but they suggest a great deal. Are you growing? Are you learning about yourself, others, the world around you, God and the universe? Or are you stuck with Facebook, Twitter, Xbox Live, and satellite TV?

I’m not suggesting that we all become book worms, but we live in an information age and most people have stopped learning anything of real value. Check the statistics. Oh we’re kind of techno savvy, but true knowledge and wisdom? As a matter of fact, I think stupid is in vogue these days. That’s unfortunate.

Anyway, true disciples of Jesus Christ are learners, especially in the arena of the Bible and the Spirit, but also of life. Check out the definition of disciple, you might be surprised as to what you’re supposed to be doing with your call to follow Jesus.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

From Practical to Profane

I was just sitting here listening to some very absorbing worship music and these thoughts came into my head. How often do we gravitate to the practical side of Christianity, the stuff we can “do” that seems right unto us, yet ultimately leads us into the profane practice of ignoring the very presence of the One for which we should be doing all we do for (Revelation 2:1-5)? I mean really, can’t anyone do acts of kindness and compassion without knowing the One who actually originated and greatest act of cosmic compassion ever known (Romans 5:6; Revelation 13:8)?

What the Spirit means by these questions: doing is far less than being. That’s right; we are not called human-doings, but human-beings. For God is way more concerned with our being than our doing. Oh granted our faith is shown or proven by what we do as believers, but be very careful my friend. Because it can quickly become a competition as to how much and what we can do for Him in light of what others are doing and the direction Christian service is tracking.

If and when that level of Christian service flaunts its faux beauty, we can easily become enamored with our next conquest for Him, even without actually loving Him – thus turning the Practical to the Profane.

Be very careful my dear friends. May we NEVER EVER turn the Practical to the Profane. For the Father desires our love more than our acts of love. And sometimes that’s way harder to live than a works mentality. Because works of kindness and compassion – frankly any acts of service – almost always make us feel good about ourselves, for a season.

Can we, will we, return to our FIRST LOVE? May today be the first day of many on that return trip.