Monday, December 17, 2018

Is there Significance There Were 2 Men Crucified with Jesus?

When it comes to reading the Bible there are some things to bear in mind. First, if it is IN the Bible it is there for a reason. Second, sometimes what is NOT said or written is equally as important.

Recently our pastor delivered a profoundly deep message on the first Easter Sunday with Mary's encounter of the angels in the tomb and with a newly resurrected Jesus outside the tomb.  We have all heard sermons in which we receive a powerful message with an in-depth analysis of the word, or, the exigy of the Bible; That is, the extracting of information from the Bible.

The crucifixion then came to my mind and I wondered WHAT the significance was of there having been 3 men crucified on Calvary that Good Friday.
Certainly we all understand the import and seemingly innumerable instances in which the Word gives us a reference to 3, but I felt there was more to this than that.  I reached out to my friend a Baptist minister and in a few brief messages attempted to expound on what I felt was significance to get his insight. Failing miserably, I then turned to the Holy Spirit and the good book.

Jesus demonstrates perfect love
The greatest commandment is to love our Lord with our whole heart. IF we could do that then we would also love all his children as we love ourselves, but alas, our sinful nature leaves us short every time. We see a couple instances in the story of the crucifixion in which Jesus provides a model of how we are to love others.

First, John 19:11 we see Jesus telling Pilate the power He claims to have is from above (so he is NOT challenging an earthly position of power) but also tells him his sin is not as  egregious as Judas': “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” (NLT) In other words, you are being used by the Almighty- this is not on you.

The next instance is from Luke 23:28-31  28But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the days are coming when they will say, ‘Fortunate indeed are the women who are childless, the wombs that have not borne a child and the breasts that have never nursed.’ 30People will beg the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and plead with the hills, ‘Bury us.’ 31For if these things are done when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?

I take this as a word to the people- this? this is fleeting. My physical death will be over quickly but you are going to be left here to your own devices, relying on pastors not using the Gospel but rather a worldly spin on the Word.

Perhaps the most obvious and significant example is John 23:34  where Jesus is pleading for our mercy (the crowd jeering him) at the foot of the cross saying: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”  Though I am not always successful, I try to remember this when I feel I have been "wronged" and hang on to anger or hurt feelings longer than I should.

He took my place on the cross
While many of us may have heard the analogy that Jesus took our place on the cross, there may not be a more obvious example other than his sentencing in front of Pilate and the crowd. Pilate, caught between his misgivings, a premonition from his wife and a precarious position between what he knows and the Roman emperor, is clearly looking for a way out. In fact, as we see in Luke 23:7, he gives Herod jurisdiction on this matter since Herod is over Galilee.

He is not convinced Jesus is what the Pharisees are portraying him to be and matter of factly proclaims "I have found no fault in this man." (Luke 23:14)  It was customary to release one of the accused during a feast for mercy's sake apparently, so again, Pilate attempting to extricate himself by admonishing Jesus and releasing him to his people, but the crowd demanded the release of Barabbas (a robber, not a thief so this is a really bad guy) and for Jesus to be crucified with the other criminals. As we now know the Pharisees got the crowd riled up to demand Jesus' blood instead.

Pilate asks a third time what wrong this man had done and then washes his hands of the situation, effectively and almost prophetically, putting the blood of Jesus on the Jewish people. So here is, what I believe, the first demonstration of Jesus laying down his life for our sins. If that is not enough to give you goosebumps or get you choked up a bit...

He preceded us in death
Then his time of the cross seems to be a bit of a conundrum. He was crucified in the auspices he was an enemy of the state. Romans were expert merchants of death and routinely used crucifixion as a warning to all non-Romans who broke the law, and in the case of insurgents would ensure their existence on the cross would not only last for days of indescribable agony, but then left the bodies on display. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of this was the final disposition of Spartacus's revolt  and his fellow gladiators in France in 73 B.C. Once Crassus had defeated the revolting gladiator-slaves, he lined the road to Damascus with 6,000 crosses and put one of the insurgents on each cross. This was a grisly and clear reminder to all who travelled the road between Rome and Damascus what penalty they would face if they chose not to live under Roman rule.

So here we see an accused protagonist of the state hung on a cross to die an insurgent's death but he does not linger there like those who preceded him. It was almost as if the scourging he received inflicted enough harm to hasten his death. Centurions would routinely break the legs of the condemned if they were not enemies of the state. Again, we see a misstep in tradition of the Roman army when the guards approached Jesus' cross and found he was already dead and were instructed to thrust a spear into his thorax, rather than desecrate the body. If he were not already dead a hasty end was imminent.

However, as we know from the Gospels, He had already given his last breath and gave up the spirit.  The criminals on either side had not yet succumbed and consequently, had their tibias broken by an iron rod to speed their death.

Salvation is yours for the asking
During the crucifixion, we are given the details of a conversation between the 3 men on the cross when one thief challenges Jesus to rescue them all "If you are the Christ save Yourself and us." (Luke 23:39) while the other, with a repentant heart, asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into his Kingdom. Jesus so lovingly and warmly consoles him with the assurance that "... today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43) This also shows the two human hearts: the repentant heart and the heart that is not truly repentant but instead is asking for grace to get out of his situation because he is only sorry he has been caught. But the real power of this example is nothing more needed be done on the thief's part!  Too often today we rationalize how salvation can't be that easy. It has to be. We are called "sheep" more than once and that is not because they are cute but because they are defenseless and rather dumb. Remember, we only had ONE rule in the Garden and we screwed that up. How is it we think, through our works, we can please a God who offered his only Son to forgive us?

Besides, if there is something on my end to do I could brag about, as Paul points out, it and it would be a direct contradiction with Jesus' last statement before death.

One will be taken, one will be left
As we read of Jesus' warnings of the future after He is gone, we realize He is talking about a time in the future in which the green wood (indicative of a living tree with water- Psalm 1:3 a tree planted by a river) dries up, what then? It seems to me He may be referring to the end times and how we will rely on our own knowledge from a worldly church. While the tree symbolizes a church, it is clear the "green wood" is one with the Living Water we can only get from Jesus, while the dry wood is one where we no longer get sustaining life-giving water from the LORD. I feel his example here, between the two criminals, one who received him as Lord and the other defiant in his sin to the end, are so powerfully symbolic of what Jesus shared in Matthew 24:40-42 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. 42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 

Being called may be risky and uncomfortable
Finally we close the scene with Joseph of Arimethea in the uncomfortable situation of having to jeopardize his position and approach Pilate for the body of a man executed for treason. As a Sanhedrin, he had spent his life building a reputation so the potentiality of him losing it all for a momentary calling out of his norm must have been daunting. Unlike the wealthy young man from Mark 10:17 Joseph undertakes the calling of the Lord and gets Jesus' body from the Roman authority for burial.

Time was of the essence since Jewish law stipulated a body be cared for before sundown and to not work on the Sabbath which commenced at sundown that evening. His request was granted, seemingly without much to-do and apparently some grace, thus setting the stage for the greatest come-back ever recorded.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Behind the Scenes of Resurrection Sunday

Most everyone in the U.S. is more or less familiar with John 3:16, perhaps the most famous verse of all the Bible, and rightfully so. It is so full of love and gives us a hint to the abundance of love the Father has for us.  However, I think Hebrews 9:11 & 12 is even more significant:
"But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once and for all, having obtained (for us) eternal redemption." (NKJV)
Imagine you receive a notice in your mail your mortgage has been paid in full; that you no longer must pay for the roof over your head or maybe your car is paid off. Wow- what a wonderful gift someone gave you today and you feel blessed.  Can you imagine?  What would you do? Pay it forward? Keep quiet about it so people wouldn't think you were crazy? That is for another conversation. However, unlike this clumsy analogy, Jesus' gift is for "WHOMSOEVER shall believe", not just a select recipient or lucky few:
                                              It is, thankfully, for all of us!

This past week our Pastor delivered a powerful message on the Resurrection of Jesus from the tomb and what caught my attention and demanded I share it was how once again, the simple prose of the Bible is so heavily filled with deeper lying messages and insight.  We can read a verse many times and get different thoughts from time to time which is unlike any other book. Most you read, and that is it.

It also demands us to read it and know it because the stories contained therein are all so intertwined.

This message was a perfect example.  Following our celebration of Easter, we heard the story, again, of the story of the resurrection, but as Pastor built the story, it is clear something extraordinary happened that Sunday morning, the 3rd day. Something more substantial even, I dare say, than Jesus' resurrection.

We will start with Mary's encounter at the tomb in the 20th Chapter of John, for example.

When Mary arrived Sunday morning to care for Jesus' body, she found the tomb open with the stone rolled back. Peering in (John 20: 12), she saw an angel at what would have been the head and the foot of Jesus.  This is symbolic of the Ark of the Covenant; an angel on either side with God in the middle.   

Wow- I had read this many times and never caught that.

As she turned to leave she saw another figure who, like the angels, asked her why she was crying.  Despite having travelled with Jesus for nearly 3 1/2 years, she did not recognize him, and thought him to be a gardener. (John 20: 14-15)

Now I remember thinking to myself, "a gardener?"  That seemed odd but I never gave it much more thought. Until this message. So the fundamental question of course is why would she think him to be a gardener?

Plainly put, gardeners are dirty from working in dirt and filth.  Jesus had just left the tomb and was filthy, covered in sin, I presume. Still not recognizing him, Jesus called her by name "Mary" and she instantly cried out "Rabboni" or Teacher. She now saw her beloved teacher standing there with her so naturally she started to approach to touch him.

Jesus warned her to not touch him (he was unclean and per Jewish law, she would then be unclean) and said he had not yet ascended to the father. Rather, He directs her to find His brothers and tell them I am ascending to my Father and your Father. (John 20:17)

Mary found the disciples and gave them His message and proclaimed "I have seen the Lord!" (John 20: 18)  I find this verse extremely interesting because just a few moments earlier in v 16 she calls Jesus Rabboni.  Mary, it appears, was quick on the uptake and realized the truth Jesus had been telling His followers was now coming true.

The story goes on:
"That evening, the disciples were behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there with them saying "Peace be unto you." 
Showing them his wounds they were understandably joyful to see him again.
We get more detail from Luke 24:39:

"Look at my hands. Look at my feet. Touch me and be sure I am not a ghost because ghosts do not have a body as I do." 

Stepping back and analyzing these perspectives it is now very apparent something happened between His meeting with Mary around dawn that morning and that evening in the room with the disciples.  In fact, He even tells us when we more closely examine John 20:17 again:
"Don't cling (touch) to me for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them 'I am ascending' to my father and your father, to my God and your God."
Did you get it?  I have not yet ascended...(but) I AM ascending.  In other words, go round up my followers and when you see me again, this evening, I will be coming from the Father!

So we now see there was a lot more going on that Sunday morning, much more than most ever thought I daresay! Jesus, ascended to the Holiest Tabernacle to commune with the Father, carrying all our sins with Him, and offered His own blood to the Father to atone for our sins and remove out guilt so as to restore our relationship with God, once and for all.  Thus, as we have so many times before heard, He defeated death and the grave, forever and ever amen!

When we follow the story through the eyes of the disciples and weave in the reference from Hebrews we get a glimpse into the magnificent word God has given us, and providing one more bit of proof the Bible was not "written" by man but simply penned once God gave that penman HIS words.

To hear this amazing story behind the story, please listen to this powerful sermon from Robert Morris:

Friday, December 22, 2017

Why is God blamed for so much?

Sadly we have witnessed a pronounced rise in hatred and violence not only around the world but right here in the United States of America. We have witnessed a pronounced spike in wanton waste of life by shooting innocent people for incomprehensible reasons along with a rise in racial tension and strife not seen since MLK's march to Selma.

From the Columbine shootings in 1999 to the UCC shooting in my hometown of Roseburg, OR, to the Las Vegas shooting earlier this year, and most recently the church massacre in Sutherland, TX,
outside of San Antonio, certainly raised the same question we always seem to ask in the wake of a tragedy like a shooting or a child having cancer: IF there is a God, why did he allow this to happen?

It certainly seems a fair question given how much we believers tell everyone we worship a LOVING God who wants the best for us. So how can we reconcile that belief with the pain with a senseless shooting or a loss of a loved one, any time of year, but especially around the holidays?

Simply put, in my opinion, THIS is not the world God created. What God created for us in Eden was perfection, harmony and life in a balance with nature. He gave us but one rule, to not eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. Sadly, we know we failed to follow that one rule and were thus banned from the garden and condemned to farm soil with rocks and thorns and women to suffer terrible birth pains.

First, I am personally tired of my God first being attacked then removed more and more from our society and then being blamed for the mess WE create in his absence. Sounds a lot like most people today when trying to coach or correct them, I have found most people are not comfortable handling blame in the workplace so it is not a surprise this trend transcends to the spiritual realm.

On that note, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest once wrote we are "Spritiual beings on a human journey". In other words, when God created us in their image, we were made into a human form for our time on Earth but will receive a new body in the coming Kingdom. As a spirit, we were not meant to die so for us this is a new and painful lesson each must learn to process on their own in their own way.

In that light, we realize a significant part of life is death. That is what makes life so valuable- it is fleeting and we never know the hour at which we will be called back to God.

Another consideration to keep in mind when someone leaves the Earth, assuming they are a believer, is they are then entered into God's presence. Many witnesses who have purportedly died and then come back to life tell a similar story in which they have felt such warmth and comfort they have not wanted to return. Colors so vibrant, sounds so pure, feelings and sensations which cannot be adequately explained in words await us once we leave this existence. That is a welcome promise of things to come and what we will be awaiting us.

Next, I submit this pain we feel, when considered in terms of infinity is akin to a scraped knee when I was a child riding a bike. My parents loved me, and protected me, but to experience life and LIVE, I was going to be hurt a few times. In the big picture, this temporary pain will subside and ultimately be completely removed, not in this life but in the next. WE just need to have the faith the LORD will see us through. 
 It has been my experience since I became a believer I am not afraid of death per se', but it has also created a sense of urgency for me since I believe in an after life of either Heaven or Hell, I feel a lot is at stake and too many people are comfortable where they are or listening to Satan that they are "a good person". The path of Righteousness is a narrow path, but the road to destruction is wide.

Lastly, I like to think when a loved one is taken suddenly or when a child succumbs to an illness, God is simply wanting that angel back with Him. Knowing we will again be united with that loved one gives us hope, something to be thankful for and to look forward to. For that and my salvation, I am thankful all I had to do is accept the gift Jesus gave me.  How about you? 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

But WHY did Jesus die for our sins?

Jesus's sacrifice on the cross was just the beginning of a spiritual journey

It's been far too long for me since my last post. Many distractions including business travel and life have interfered.

Not an excuse, just reality for me.  In the time since my last post I have had many words given me from God, but one that hit me square between the eyes a few months ago while I was in service at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX.

Over the years, I have spoken to many people on faith and have had many discussions about salvation, even taught a few Sunday School classes about the cleansing and salvation of Christ's sacrifice for us to wash us of our sins so we can enter Heaven.

One's salvation is of utmost importance in the long-run of course, but I feel it is a bit myopic, particularly when you consider the gravity of our society's degradation and moral collapse.

Everywhere we look we see "intellectuals" lean on their own understanding and worldly wisdom as they conjure up policies and legislation concerning Americans. 10 years ago if you were to ask the average American we would have a need for transgender bathrooms and most would not have known what was being asked. What are we to do in the mean time as a world hell-bent on running from the Bible rather than to-it?

A few months ago it became crystal clear to me what our faith in Jesus was all about:


Pastor Robert Morris was talking about having a personal relationship with God and the importance of it in his life and how important it is for each of us. expecting God to come looking for him. God communed with them each and every day since their creation. Now we don't know how long that period was, and it doesn't matter. Once man ate of the fruit we could no longer be in God's presence so we were banished from the garden to the fallen world.

Suddenly I recalled Genesis 3:10 when God came looking for Adam & Eve in the cool of the evening. God revealed to me this was a recurring event since Adam went to hide, he was obviously expecting the visit. He gave us but ONE law and we failed that.

God then gave us the law which we tried to live under for centuries but failed miserably with only 10 simple commandments. True to our nature of worrying about EVERYONE else and seeking greater restrictions, we inundated society with overly-pious rules. You know, the ones the Pharisees created to justify their positions in ancient Judea?

In those days, only a high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies to commune with God one on one, which is not what God wanted for us. We all seek to replace Him, but sadly many turn to materials to do so and are never satiated.

In the Gospels we see Jesus explain this to Satan who is tempting Him with material things and comfort (food, perhaps most notably), His response is succinct and clear to us today:
 "it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  - Matthew 4:4

What this simply means is wordly sustenance is not enough for us. It sustains the physical body, which is important of course, but this body is only temporary. A popular secular thought seems to have some sage insight: Where the mind goes, the body will follow." In other words, if we think low, we act low. Expect the most from your subordinates at work or your family and they will grow. Think poorly of them and they will prove you right. That's the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Knowing this, we can easily understand what was being said at our creation.  Genesis 1:26 reads "Let us make man in our image" which, when you read it in perspective, means we are actually spiritual beings in an earthly body. 

God is triune, our families are supposed to be triune, and to take it a step further, even Jesus had 2-3 people He relied upon during His ministries, but that is a topic for another article. So important is the relationship with the Father in fact, I believe it was this impending separation from the Father which caused Jesus to suffer from hematohidrosis, or sweating blood, on the night of his betrayal. THAT is how profound and vital to Jesus a direct and daily communion with our Father was to him.

We are social creatures and need to be poured into as we pour into others. Whom better to pour into you than your heavenly Father?  He is waiting. Talk to Him right now!  You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ben Franklin Rebukes the Constitutional Convention

As an historian and a Christian, I am dumbfounded when I hear the founding fathers were NOT Christians, men of faith or that the United States were not founded on Judaeo-Christian values. People will go to any length to hide from the truth.  As Winston Churchill once quipped "Truth is so powerful, it is surrounded by a bodyguard of lies."  How prescient and wise that comment was in his time and still is today.

However, I wanted to write today, June 28, as it was on this day in 1787 when Ben Franklin delivered the longest speech he gave to the Constitutional Convention.

Since 1754 when he was the first person to utter "United States" he had a dream of UNITING the colonies into a single, harmonious nation. No small feat at the time when we were but fledgling colonies and still had a royal yoke upon us and a revolutionary war to fight against the mightiest Army and Navy at the time.

Fast forward to June 28, 1787. The Constitutional Convention was starting to fall apart as each colony had their own vision of what we should be and how to effect those ends (none felt uniting was the smart plan). After days of bickering, the common thread started to unravel and the hopes of a United States of America began to dim in the eyes of a seasoned and very mature Ben Franklin. At 81, he was easily the oldest, and you might argue the wisest, among a crowd of very smart and focused leaders. Which may explain why the his "long" speech was so concise yet so compelling and rooted in the Word.

Mr Franklin rose from his chair and and delivered the following speech to his colleagues:

"In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights, to illuminate our understanding?

"In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers were heard, and they were graciously answered.

"All of us engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending power Providence in our favor. And have we now forgotten this powerful Friend?  Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that 'except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it'. I firmly believe this; and I also believe without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel, and we shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages.
Franklin is seen here in grey seated center, with a cane.

"I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business."

14 sentences quoting 14 Biblical verses.

Considering Franklin was not one of the most spiritual of the founding fathers, I find it rather amazing that HE would invoke the Almighty to call the delegates to stop acting like idiots, remind them WHO got them to where they were in the first place, and seek His guidance in following the advice given in the Bible to have a republican form of government. (Exodus 18:21)

The Constitutional Convention suspended deliberation for 3 days of prayer and reflection. When they reconvened, egos and myopic agenda were left in the street and what was previously hailed as preposterous was now greeted with eager embracement by all delegates. Thus, the birth of our Constitutional Republic as we know it today.

The danger we as a nation face today, is as we allow egg-head academicians and people wise only in the world tell us how history "really" was when they have been educated with revisionist history, we move further and further from truth.  Our children are inheriting a nation of liberty we are not able to adequately explain to them without the Bible and consequently have to apologize for.

As we permit this to happen, we fail to grasp the rarity and how unique our nation's foundation and the longevity of our Constitution is as we have celebrated 200+ years of a Constitutional Republic. We forget how this nation grew from a rag-tag group of farmers and business people to a super-power defeating foe in two consecutive world wars in only 150 years. Today, there are many people, even many proclaiming to be Christians, who decry the moniker of the U.S. being an exceptional nation for their understanding of the term has been grotesquely misconstrued and history taught to them with half-truths in the hopes of establishing social justice.

Ironically the Bible itself tells us about being servants to others, having social justice and how to run a nation all in the same pages.

*This article was inspired by David Barton, Founder of Wallbuilders, an organization dedicated to presenting America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Are we on a path for a reason?

Friday is my favorite day of the week.

Not for the reasons most would think though, the end of the work week. Rather, it is the day I get to dig into the Word with some genuine people in my men's Bible study group. We read a chapter a day in a specific book, looking for promises God has already granted us, for which we give thanks, and for other promises yet to be fulfilled for which we praise God for this gift and to keep us our eyes open for the time that those promises are fulfilled. It is an amazing frame of reference in which to read the Bible with a context and find just how much God must love us! There are an mazing amount gifts and promises He has given us!

This past Friday we were reading Romans 14. Paul writes to us commenting on the legalism which catches people up in judging others based on what, in this case, they eat or don't eat out of their religious beliefs. Paul asks "who are we to judge" and the answer is no one! We cannot judge, should not judge nor should we talk down to someone because they have specific dietary values for their faith.

As we were wrapping up, Mike Brown mentioned verse 23 caught his attention for personal reasons and explained to us that it meant to him we are each on our own path given some people have dietary needs due to health conditions and how some people choose to follow that path (and follow the Doctor's directives in this example and avoid foods they shouldn't eat) while others decide to not take their path.

The Holy Spirit then spoke to me very clearly how this is analagous to our journey as a believer. So many times we have heard how God has made us uniquely US, we should not try to be someone we are not. Our DNA is unique, our strengths and weakenesses are unique, even our fingerprints are unique. We are unique spiritual beings on a human journey while we are on earth, and we are each on our own, unique path, experiencing chance encounters of various situations and people meant to impact us or we are to impact them. When we refuse to follow that path, we are not only denying God, we are cheating other people with regards to the experience God would have had for them.

Not only that, but we are also cheating ourselves of eternal gifts from God for our obedience and spreading His Word as a disciple, and the sense of peace that only comes from being in the step with your Lord.

Each has a path, allegorically speaking, but that "path" has several areas we need to focus on- personal, professional and spiritual. The key is communicating with God on a daily basis to better ascertain what He is saying to you through the Holy Spirit and to consult Him when you make key decisions. By doing so, you will innately know where you are supposed to be, what you are supposed to do, and perhaps most importantly, what you are supposed to say during your journey.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Just how unique are each of us made in the image of God?

For the last dozen years I have been a disciple of strengths-based work and understanding what I am called to do. Chances are you have not heard of strengths-based work or, at best, you are not familiar with it.  

For the uninitiated, simply put, strengths-based work means I focus on what I AM GOOD AT, not what I am poorly fit to do.

This past weekend I attended a seminar at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX, to get a better handle on my Christian identity and to my surprise, they embraced the Gallup Strengths Finder and a spiritual gifts finder hand in hand to help plot my course. 

During my time in sales with Johnson & Johnson EVERY field ride was the same- NEGATIVE. I would hear things like “You know anatomy & procedure very well,  you know instrumentation, you are very good with your customers, BUT we wish you were better at this or that.” These items on their wish list were invariably clerical in nature- minutiae if you will, that did not enhance my relationship, sales or customer service. Just one area to work on to make me a more-rounded employee. It frustrated me and my colleagues no end because at the time, no one knew any better. Today, many are still laboring under these arcane ideas. 

The Gallup organization breaks strengths into 35 areas or terms. For me, my top 5 are Context (understanding the intent), Responsibility, Belief (I HAVE to believe to move forward), Includer (I ensure others are included in discussions), WOO (Winning Others Over or persuasion). Few people have the same strengths as me in the same order. So few in fact, if we extend the list to my top 6 and looked at the nearly 7 billion people on earth, we might find 220 people with the very same strengths in the same descending order. 

Let’s look at the top 8- there would be approximately .0026 people in the entire world with the same top 8 strengths, in the same descending order as me. Statistically speaking, not even ONE person alive today!

Now, extrapolate that out to all 35 strengths….   

In case you are wondering how to figure that out, it is simple multiplication with the possible remaining variables. In other words, 35x34x33x32x31…. all the way down to 1. Does that give you a sense to the size of that number? HUGE. In astronomical terms, it would probably be measured in light years! In human terms, it is likely no one has ever existed with the exact same gifts in the exact same order. NO ONE in all of humanity's existence.

Well, that’s all well and good- so what?

Take another look at the rankings of YOUR strengths. Since there are so many variables and combinations, can you not see how unique YOU are? How amazingly designed YOU are?

Can you now see the tragedy the business world has perpetrated against us and perpetuated in trying to help us with our “weaknesses” and not focusing on the strengths God gave each of us? And what about the recent "equality" push where we seem to be eliminating gender from the equation in the hopes of making everyone equal. The paradigm is revolutionary and breathtaking. 

Rather than continually striving to be something you can NEVER BE, God has intended us to find work and even ministry using that which we are already anointed with and in which we will find fulfillment, and thus peace and a restful heart.

The other thing I found fascinating about this class was how we can use science to confirm God's Intelligent Design! Too many people have failed to understand the argument and have learned they have to choose BETWEEN God and science, but that is a topic for another conversation.

What are you waiting for? Find your strengths and change your life today!