Honor: The Third Pillar

What is Honor? Why is honor important? Is it something to be earned or bestowed or both?

IN the series of the Seven Pillars, Humility is strategically placed before honor.

Proverbs 15:33 “Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.”

Honor therefore is placed upon someone when that person has walked through the pillar of humility. There is no other way to truly be honored.

Some people try and earn honor or even take honor because of a position they hold. They cannot receive real honor because they have taken the short cut to honor.

Honor is Forged in Secret. 

Honor never has to blow it’s own whistle, it is forged in secret, when no one knows, and when no one is looking. It shapes men and women when they are alone, and when no one knows they exist. The person who is usually touting their own successes never really receive true honor.  They have their reward in their own mouths.

You Know People You Honor

Honor isn’t demanded, it’s bestowed upon the one’s who have walked in the way of brokenness and humility. It is the badge worn by those who have spent time in battle; for those with scars and those who walk with a limp. No one has to demand honor of this kind of person. There is a simple humility about them. They never have to tout their accomplishments or be the “one upper” kind of person. That person is really just insecure.

Honor isn’t Demanded, it is Quietly Earned

I have met many people who, because of the position they hold, automatically think because that position is held or has been given (and in some cases taken) they demand honor to be given to them, however they have never been forged in secret. I can tell you that it is very difficult to honor someone that hasn’t walked through the halls of humility and the liminality of obscurity. The Hebrew word for Honor means Heavy or Weighty. It is defined as a responsibility, and it requires the shoulders of one who has been tested through the fires of humility.  So should we honor those who obviously haven’t walked the way of humility? It has always been said that we should honor the position that one holds, but not necessarily honor the person that holds it. I am not sure how to make that distinction. If we honor the position and not the person, are we then being hypocritical or do we simply go through the motions of honor, when we really know the person hasn’t really earned it? Again, it’s like the elephant in the room. Everyone seems to know that honor hasn’t been bestowed on such a one, but we seem to continue to go through the motions anyway. I am reminded of the show “Band of Brothers” The initial leader of Easy Company was an idiot and everyone knew it, they followed him to some places that put their lives in jeopardy, but it was because of the position that he held. However, honor and respect was really given the soft spoken Major Winters, and in time, he proved to be the real leader, and the men honored him. It didn’t mean he was perfect or didn’t make mistakes, it simply meant that he walked with a certain robe of humility, knowing who he truly was.

It seems the theme of honor is always in the context of what has been given,

Proverbs 29:23 “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.”

Never taken…

1 Peter 5:6 “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.”

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

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Humility: The Second Pillar

As we begin the New Year, I was reflecting on all the things that we have learned together as a small church plant at KeyStone. One of the hardest lessons I believe is the Lesson of Humility.

Humility, contrary to what many think, is not the living a life like Eeyore the donkey on Winnie the Pooh, wandering around with a down in the dumps attitude looking for his tail. But rather true humility is understanding and knowing your true identity in Jesus. 

This is tough for us as recovering Pharisees, we were always taught that, “…no one should think of themselves more highly than they ought…” yes this is true, however, in context, Paul is really saying that we shouldn’t want to be something that we are not! True humility is being exactly who God created us to be. In contrast, Pride is trying to be someone that we are not created to be. Think about it, Satan said he was going to ascend to the throne that was not his, do a job that wasn’t his, and be someone that he couldn’t be. Pride is what got him kicked out of heaven. Pride is being something you are not created to be! And Pride always comes before a fall.

Here are a couple of truths from our teaching in the context of humility being the second Pillar of Wisdom:

“True Humility is knowing what you do not know, its a true genius that admits he knows nothing”~Albert Einstein

“True Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less”~ C.S. Lewis

“True Humility does not know that it is humble. If it did, it would be proud from the contemplation of so fine a virtue”~ Martin Luther

“Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in due season he will lift you up in honor”~ 1 Peter 5:6

1.We always think that humility is some act of self deprivation. In reality humility is understanding our correct position in God:

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6

When we understand that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, then we can have a handle on what true humility means. Jesus became sin for us so that we no longer are bound to sin, but can now operate in the freedom that His salvation brings.

2. We have a self-responsibility to be humble: 

1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves...” 

James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” 

It is our responsibility to stay in a place of humility. We can’t by some means of osmosis lay our heads on the Bible and expect it to transform our lives, no more than we can expect to be people of humility by not practicing it every day. It is a discipline that requires us to constantly be reminded of who we are in Christ Jesus. Remember what Jesus said,

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” John 15:15

Being people of Christ is more than a label, it is an identity. Being part of the family of God is more that being a number or a member at a church, it is literally being the Church wherever we go. It is recognizing Whose we are, and where our true identity lies.

How do we Humble ourselves then?

1. I know this is redundant but: Recognize your real identity in Jesus

A person of true humility doesn’t have to be someone they are not

Pride is False Identity

False Humility is trying to imitate someone else’s identity, it is trying to bring unwarranted attention to yourself because of your lack of knowledge of who you really are

2. Take Responsibility

Stop blaming others for our own lack of identity. Forgive those that have wounded you, it sets you free!

3. Pray

I know this seems simple, but the best way to stay humble is to constantly admit our need on our Savior. Prayer reminds us of this. Since God already knows what we need before we pray it, why would He tell us to pray without ceasing? It is to constantly remind us of our absolute need for Him.

This is getting a little long, so I will wrap it up with some benefits of living a humble life:

1.Grace

Proverbs 3:34 “The Lord mocks the mockers, but gives grace to the humble”

2. Riches, honor, and a long life

Proverbs 22:4 “True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.”

3. The enemy must flee

James 4:10“Humble yourselves before God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” 

Humility: Knowing who you really are in Christ!

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Integrity: The First Pillar of Wisdom

Having finished our series on The Seven Pillars of wisdom, I thought I would unpack them in a blog so we can be reminded of their importance.

Last blog was on the foundation of the Fear of the Lord, this is the beginning of wisdom, everything is built on living a life in absolute awe and amazement of God.

Integrity is the first pillar. It is being who you say you are and doing what you say you will do, it is The State of being Whole and Undivided. It is not being double minded, it is being confident and sure of what you believe, and why you believe it.

St. James said. “When you ask you must believe and not doubt….such a man [that doubts] is unstable in all his ways.” A person of Integrity is whole and undivided.

Zig Ziglar said,“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.”

The ancient philosopher Hericlitus said it this way,

“Your integrity is your destiny – it is the light that guides your way.”

In our study of the seven pillars, it just made perfect sense that Integrity be the first pillar. Nothing else really matters without integrity. We can call ourselves believers, Christians, church goers, or whatever the correct word is for today, but without integrity with have nothing.

Some of the best advice I ever received was from my father-in-law, to summarize he said, “It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what kind of house you live in, or what kind of car you drive, your word is your life, once you have violated your word, you have discredited your character. Your integrity is everything, you are only as good as your word.”

These are words that ring in my head, if I say that I am going to do something I am going to do it. To be fair to my self and many others, there was a time of learning this. I know like so many, I have said things that I couldn’t follow through on, and because of that, people couldn’t trust what I was saying. If I showed up, it was a bonus, if not then that’s probably what they expected anyway.

I see this a lot today. People say they are going to do something, and then without any regard to their word, they simply don’t follow through. It can be frustrating running a business and planting a church, but it’s something that our society seems to accept.
Our word is everything, and it is the first pillar of wisdom.

We show we lack wisdom when we don’t follow through with what we say we are going to do. 

Here are three simple benefits from being a person of integrity:

1. People of Integrity are Protected by the Lord:

He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. Proverbs 2:7

2. Those Who Walk in Integrity are Blessed:

For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it. Proverbs 2:21

3. The Lord Delights in People of Integrity:

The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity. Proverbs 11:20

It may seem fundamental to some, but I can tell you that there are many today that have no idea the benefits of living a life of integrity. In today’s relativistic culture, it has become a word that is foreign.

It’s as simple as being who you say you are, and doing what you say you are going to do.

“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.” Abraham Lincoln

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The Fear of the Lord: The Foundation

As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished a series at KeyStone Church about the 7 Pillars of Wisdom, based on the verse Proverbs 9:1, “Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her 7 pillars.” 

A few years ago, I went on a journey trying to discover what the 7 pillars were. I simply went through the book of Proverbs asking the Great Teacher to reveal to me what they were. I didn’t read any other material other than the Proverbs and other books in the Bible. I truly wanted “fresh bread”, and didn’t want to be skewed by other writings (there is nothing wrong with reading other writers, I do it all the time) but in this case, I just wanted to hear what the Lord wanted to say from this adventure.

Over the next few blogs, I will be sharing what I felt like the Lord revealed as the 7 pillars of Wisdom. Of course this is not an exhaustive list. Nor is it the absolute 7 Pillars, this is just what I have discovered by reading and studying Proverbs.

Before anything can be built, it must have a sure foundation, I learned this first hand when my wife and I built our first home. We had used a less than reputable firm to lay our foundation, and within the first year of our home being built, the main beam began to sag because the foundation wasn’t poured correctly. Because of this, the drywall began to crack and separate from the celling…it was a mess, and it couldn’t be corrected from the top, it had to be corrected from the foundation.

Proverbs 9:10 says that “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom…” This is where I started. If the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom then it only makes sense to understand what the Fear of the Lord is. It is the Foundation on which the Pillars are built!

The Hebrew language uses pictures and images to tell a story about the words they are expressing. In the case of the Fear of the Lord, it is the Hebrew word YIRAH. It simply means “living a life in awe of God.” So every pillar is built on the premise of the awesomeness of God. Some people believe the God is up in heaven waiting to strike us down when we mess up. Grant it, God will correct and discipline those He loves, this is a good thing, but it is not in the way of hate or impatience. The Fear of the Lord is recognizing that He is absolutely Awesome, and He operates out of absolute Love. 

My wife and I took our kids to the Grand Canyon last summer. It was my first time seeing this amazing Wonder. When we drove up to it from the South, it didn’t look real, and when we got close to it and walked around the perimeter, it made us stop in astonishment and awe. This is the life we should be living about God; in wonder and awe. Our only response to this was worship. There were no words to express other than, “Oh, my God”, the best form of worship, expressing His name in absolute wonder and amazement.

When we talk about the 7 Pillars, we must understand that each one is built on the premise of the absolute wonder of God. Living a life of wisdom is living a life of worship. It is the foundation that wisdom is built on. 

“The Fear of the Lord (Living a Life in Awe of God) is the beginning of Wisdom”

How are you living your life? Is it in correct alignment with how He has called us to live, or are you living in a false fear of hate and anger, or do you understand the real meaning of the Fear of the Lord?

I hope you enjoy the next 7 blogs as we unpack the 7 Pillars of Wisdom!

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The Seven Pillars: An Adventure in the Book of Proverbs

Several years ago my friend Steve Johnson and I were contemplating the mystery of Proverbs 9:1 “Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven Pillars” and we decided to go on a quest of sorts to find out what the seven pillars were. Without looking at what other’s had discovered, we wanted to explore the book of Proverbs and see what the Holy Spirit would reveal to us. We came up with different ideas and principals that we thought could be these pillars. Steve came up with his list, and I came up with mine. Many of them were the same, some were quite different, but nevertheless it was a blast going through Proverbs and just “discovering” the pillars.

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Just this past month, I launched a new series at KeyStone Church, simply put, “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: An Adventure in the Book of Proverbs” I have never taught what I had discovered many years ago. I felt the time was right, and so we embarked on the journey.

The feedback from our church has been amazing. There have been so many fun discoveries about the pillars, that have surprised us, and have taught us how to be people of wisdom.

One of our Prophetic voices in the church came up to me when we started the series and said, “Wisdom is needed in the church, especially the Western United States Church.” It affirmed what we were supposed to do.

I thought I would blog about the Seven Pillars and share our adventure with as many people that were interested. Again, I know there have been books, teachings, and lessons taught on the seven pillars for ages, and I am under no mis-conception that this is an exhaustive list. That is the beauty of the Word, some may see a different point of view than others. It’s like looking at a diamond, as the light shines through, the spectrum reveals so many different colors and shapes. But it is still a diamond. So, my revelation of the pillars may be different than what other’s have shared, but it is still wisdom, and still the Word.

Over the next few months, I’d like to share with you my adventure in the Book of Proverbs as we unwrap the mystery of the Seven Pillars. Like many others, I have read a chapter of Proverbs a day for many years, and always discovered new principals and truths that I had not seen before. I believe as we share what the Lord is placing in our hearts, we can all benefit and learn from it! My hope is that as the body of Christ we become people of wisdom, and not just carnal knowledge.

Anytime you build something, you need to have a solid foundation. My next blog will be on the “Foundation of Wisdom: The Fear of the Lord.” We will unwrap what the Fear of the Lord is, and how to live a life in the Fear of the Lord…

Stay Connected!

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Finding Hurt. Finding Healing.

I just finished up a series at KeyStone Church called Finding Your Why. (Props to Simon Sinek.) In the context of our small church, I just related our why to the three simple statements that sum us up. Connect to the Creator, Connect to Community, and Connect to the Culture. It’s not rocket science and I am under no illusion that this is some new concept for church. It’s simply an Up, In, and Out approach with a little different lingo.

While I was writing the notes for the Connect to Community section, a revelation hit me. I said, “Community is where you get hurt, and community is where you get healed.” 

When Teresa and I came to Colorado to plant KeyStone Church, we heard the statement, “We just need real Community.” ALOT! Listening to the hearts and needs of the people were paramount to me, and so we shifted our model a bit, and began this adventure in Community.

Funny thing about community, as much as people say they want it, many of the same run from it! It took me a while to simply try and understand the absolute irony of community as it related to the body of Christ. You see, Community is a place of healing, and community is a place of wounding.

I didn’t think we needed both, but in fact we do. Then I thought about the community that Jesus surrounded himself with…yeah, if you know anything about the scrambled bunch of eggs that Jesus chose, then you’ll appreciate my point of view. 
Jesus never surrounded himself with guys with the “same DNA”.  He diversified the group just about as much as a leader can. And then made some pretty amazing disciples out of them.

This community that we strive to have in the church could use a little more diversity. I have heard it said that leaders should just put people around them that think like they do, or that want to see their vision come to life. Well, Jesus didn’t get that memo. He surrounded himself with men from all kinds of backgrounds, and using their own experiences and difference brought about such unity and love, that He actually wrote that this was the way people could tell that they were his disciples, not by the way they loved Jesus, but by the way they loved each other!

I have always thought that a great church would look something like Jesus’ band of misfits and dropouts. Unity in Diversity. Not Conformity. 

So, you want real community? Welcome, I can assure you of a few things:

You will be Wounded

You will be Healed

You will be Offended

You will Offend

You will be Corrected

You will be Taught

You will be Enlightened

You will be brought to Life.

You will learn to Love

You will Fight

You will Lose

You will Suffer

You will Gain

You will LIVE!

Community will change you life if you will let it. But it’s like anything. It takes time. Stick it out. Many people run from community just when they are about to enter the fun stage of healing, or teaching, or transformation. Remember the book, “Three Feet from Gold”?

News flash, in order to be healed, you have to first recognize you are sick. Community has a great way of bringing our shortcomings and sicknesses to the fore front. And it has a great way of bringing our healing to the same.

So look at the community you find yourself in. Listen, if you are hiding in a pew somewhere, then you are already decaying. Decay happens when something is left alone. There is no maintenance and change…it’s dead.

If you are willing to take the risk and get back into a community, then you are about to come back to life. I don’t know why Jesus set it up this way, he just did. You can’t grow alone.

C’mon, jump back in. Go get wounded, so you can be healed! Face your fears so you can come alive!

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Riding with Brock Meyer

IN my last blog I told you all that one of my favorite things to do is ride my bike. I guess it comes from the sweet memories of freedom as a kid when I rode from morning until I heard my mom whistle for me to come home (She could whistle really loud). We lived in a typical midwestern blue collar neighborhood where the homes were neatly positioned on roads named for states, with gravel covered alleys splitting the blocks in half. My territory was a 4 block radius which my dad called “the neighborhood”. My imagination would run wild on my little red bike with a banana seat and oversized handle bars. I jumped ramps, made “skid marks”, and raced my friends for bragging rights. I would imagine my bike was a rocket ship, a race car, a submarine, or just about anything that would move. 

AS  I grew older, and like many things do, the love of riding was replaced with basketball, girls, working, and school. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I had the desire to get back to riding. 

Fast forward to my early 40’s. I had mountain biked in Indiana, or as people who live in the mountains say, “You trail rode in Indiana”, but my desire was shifting to a roadie. I had my eye on a Trek Madone. Every holiday, birthday, or special occasion I asked for gift cards to the Trek Store, and after about 2 years I was able to purchase a Trek Madone. It was gorgeous and I couldn’t wait to take it out on my favorite black top run. It didn’t disappoint.  

I said all of that to set the stage of how much I enjoy riding, and nothing for me compares to a great ride, except one thing…riding with a great friend.

Enter Brock Meyer.

This past summer, my children had the opportunity to visit their grandparents who live in NW Indiana, and I took the occasion to visit and set a ride up with Brock.

I couldn’t wait to see him and his beautiful family. He lives in a small farming community in Eastern Indiana where the roads are nice and flat and the corn never ceases to end. He pastors a small Quaker church in town, which by the way has doubled since he has been there. 

I’ve never met anyone who loves Indiana more than Brock. He has a love affair with anything Hoosier. But it’s more than Indiana, he loves life like that. He loves with everything. He lives fully alive! He and his wife teach their children to love and live the same way. 

I arrive at the Meyer home in the early afternoon, as I pull up, Brock is filming the encounter on his phone. This is just how he lives! We share some long deep hugs and soon were chatting like we hadn’t missed a beat. 

After showing me around the “manse”, we were getting excited about the ride. Changing quickly into our riding garb, and sucking down the protein shakes,  the butterflies began to flutter in my stomach, I was anxious to test my “Colorado lungs” out in the barely above sea level altitude of eastern Indiana. 

Brock showed me the route, and we were off. The pace was quick. about 18-19 mph, but I felt really good. We rode side by side for the first few miles, chatting, laughing, and loving the summer breeze pelting our faces. There is always a refreshing spirit when I am with him. I never feel like I have to be someone I’m not or pretend that I have it all together, I can be vulnerable and real and raw; never fearing of judgement or accusation. 

WE came to a busy highway where we began to “draft” one another. Each country mile we would switch places, he would take the lead, whereas I could coast and rest in the draft, and then I would do the same. Mile after mile, switching, drafting, laughing, and talking. The air was heavy, and typical for Indiana, but overall it was a pleasant summer evening. 

Our route was taking us down the neatly planted rows of corn, mile after mile was a sea of green, something that I miss seeing in Colorado. Corn, winter wheat, soybeans and alfalfa fields were our landscape.  A distant farm with the typical Indiana barns and silos, the smell of manure freshly spread on a field, the whip of a horses tail, and the constant  buzz of the cicadas remind me that I am in the heartland. 

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There were miles of silence as well, this is what makes riding with Brock priceless. As we listened to the serenades of the countryside, pleasantly mixed in with our cadence and breathing, time didn’t matter. My worries didn’t matter. The stress of pastoring was placed on hold, the worry of life dissipated into the horizon. This is what riding does for me, and it only multiplies when riding with a great friend.

Then he hit me with it. Brock is always good at asking questions, he always has great inquiries about life, ministry, fortune, love, and family. “Is your Joy level at 10 right now?” I thought about it, and yes of course it was, I was doing what I love to do with someone I love to be with. But I said, “True joy is being where I hate to be, sick, and with people I don’t want to be with, and the level still being at 10!”

I can’t be with Brock and his family and ride every day. I suppose like most things, we would take our rides for granted if we got to do it everyday. This is what makes it so special. It’s something to look forward to. It’s something I remember with great fondness and affection. 

Our ride was coming to a close. We were scheduled to meet his family at a well earned Italian dinner. As we finished our ride, there was a kind of silence. I was excited that I was able to spend the last few hours with him on our bikes, and yet there was sadness knowing that this could only happen about once a year. I’ll never forget what he said when we finally rode into the parking lot… 
“OH man! We averaged 17.8mph! I was really hoping to do 18!” That’s Brock Meyer. Living Fully Alive.

The conversation lingered long into the night. We laughed, talked, debated, and loved each moment. This is what riding with Brock Meyer is like. 

If you are ever in eastern Indiana, in a little town called Fairmont, look up Brock Meyer. Rent a bike and ride the country roads with one of the few people I’ve met with a true and pure lust for life. Let him ask you questions, and don’t answer too quickly, that’s not what he is looking for. He is deep, drink in every moment with him. Listen to his heart and the way his head whips back when he is enjoying a deep laugh. Watch the way he interacts with his wife and children, learn from the way he eats a meal. Everything he does is with passion. 

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Perhaps you’ll have the privilege of Riding with Brock Meyer.

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