Simplify

I just finished up a series called “The Hard Things” in our church. We tackled the issues that we as believers wrestle with, and cause tension in our lives like Jesus and politics, miracles, prayer and other things… Through the journey of this series, we discovered that a lot of what we have been taught collides with what we believe and what we have actually experienced.

“When you sit in tension, beautiful things happen.” Donovan Steinberg

For all the efforts that we spend in trying to get out of tension, the best things happen when you sit in them and try not to escape… beautiful.

“No stringed instrument can be played correctly unless the strings are under tension.” Kevin Rose

Simplify

I just launched a new series is called, “Simplify: Living in the Rhythms of Jesus”. Of course, the night I was going to introduce this series we had to cancel service due to a quick winter storm that blew through…hmm…probably a good sign.

I thought this would be an appropriate message for this time of year, when we are scrambling to buy the perfect gift, making sure we spend enough money on each person, and worrying if they like our gift or not. The stress around the holiday season is multiplied exponentially, when in actuality it should be about family, time, adventure, and living a better story. Remember what Jesus said, “Take my yoke (Hebrew for lifestyle) upon you, and learn of me….and you will find rest for your souls”  Jesus

What are the things in our lives that are causing more stress than they are worth?

My cousin Josh just did something that I am so proud of. He traded his high tech smart phone in for a simple flip phone…his reasoning? The “Smart Phone” was taking up too much of his time. He found himself on it all the time, checking FaceBook and other social statuses, playing games, and surfing the web. This left little room for the things that really mattered to him: Family, Life, and real productivity.

I wonder how many languages I could have mastered by now if I were to take all the time that I’ve invested in conquering levels on “Angry Birds” or “Candy Crush” and spent them on things that really mattered?

“Do our kids really need another plastic race car, fake toy dinosaur, or video game? What they really need is culture, travel, adventure, and a better life story.” Brock Meyer

Can you take a look at the things in your life that are supposed to make it easier, and it reality it steals more time than it’s worth?

If you think this is about tech bashing, or living a life without technology, then you are missing the point. Technology is inevitable, that box has been opened, and it will increase as we roll along. The true message in this is “Can we manage our time, resources, and families in balance? Can we live simple lives and in reality live freer?”

“Instead of piling on more stuff this Christmas, we want to invest in experiences. so our kids have  adventures, stories.” Brock Meyer

I’ll be honest with you, this is going to be a challenge to speak on. I am plugged in to the “grid” just about as much as one can be. Ironically, the message of simplicity is being blasted all over our church FB page…which is connected to just about every other social website out there…weird.

As a pastor, I have asked God to always give me “fresh ideas and messages” to give to His people. He pretty good about fulfilling this request. But in doing so, I have to be taught, challenged, and changed by the very messages that I bring…I’ll be honest. It sucks sometimes…

I’ll keep you all posted on the progress of our simplicity. There’s really nothing new under the sun. People were busy with the “stuff” of life in Jesus’ time just as they are now. the key to true life fulfillment, is to live in the rhythms and patterns of Jesus.

“It’s all about freeing yourself to live the purpose of why you are here!”            Brock Meyer

 

I’d love to hear the ways that you are simplifying your life…Please feel free to leave comments!

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Prudence: The Fourth Pillar

I’m trying to space these thoughts out a little, seems like it gives us time to digest and really take to heart this journey to discover the 7 pillars of wisdom. If you have been reading these, then you know by know that this has been a holy crusade, if you will, through the book of Proverbs to discover what Solomon meant when he said, “Wisdom has… hewn out her seven pillars…”

To” hewn out” is to carve out of something…something strong enough to sustain the building of the pillars.

“The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom” This is the foundation on which everything is built…Fear of the Lord: “To live a life in awe of God”

This is the beginning. When we can live a life in the utmost awe and glory and happy of God, then we can begin to understand the true heart of God, (Yes, I said Happy of God!)

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Here’s a quick review:

Integrity: It is the future of who you are, do what you say and say what you do!

Humility: Walking in True Identity

Honor: Value Relationships over Title or Position

Prudence: To possess insight and sound judgment, to be able to discern the entire scope of a thing.

It’s not a surprise that Prudence is the “middle” pillar. The Fourth of Seven. It sees what has been and what will be.

“I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence {sound judgment, insight}; I possess knowledge and discretion” Proverbs 8:12

St. Ignatius said this,

“Prudence has two eyes, One that foresees what one has to do, the Other that examines afterward what one has done.”

It sees what needs to be done, and it sees what that deed has accomplished. Prudence can also be compared to being shrewd or witty in any given situation. It’s being able to see what others cannot about a certain thing.

Have you ever known someone like this? Someone that could see what was and then see what is coming because of a certain action? Perhaps we can see this in the life of Joseph. His ability and gifts brought the greatest nation on the earth at the time to be prepared for something that could have been incredibly catastrophic. We need the gift of prudence, certainly in our lives today.

We live as if we can do anything we want, without considering the repercussions of our actions. We can take any number of issues today that are plaguing our world today. “Do not move the ancient boundaries” Proverbs 22:28 In other words, when we start messing with things that have been written on the hearts of men by the Creator, we have no clue what will happen to culture or society when these things are tampered with. It’s like removing the rudder from a ship and expecting to be able to navigate treacherous seas. It cannot be done. “You are meddling with powers you cannot possibly comprehend!” ~Marcus Brody from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Prudence sees this. It can detect what will happen when we start messing with boundaries, things set in place by the ancients. There is a reason that these things are in place. The key is not to simply move them, but to find out why they are there in the first place. 

We could make a laundry list of these boundaries.Killing the Unborn, Marriage, Sex, Drunkenness, Gluttony, Not having sex with your step mom…(Yeah it’s in there). We have spent a lot of time lately telling the american people and the church for that matter that these things are wrong and shouldn’t mess with the boundaries that God has set for His people, But what we haven’t spent a lot of time on is the reasons why…God wants the Best Life for His people. These boundaries aren’t meant to bind us, but rather set us completely free! Prudence sees this.

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God is giving us more than a long list of DO NOTS. Since He is our Creator, He knows how we should live. Why would the creation shake it’s fist at the creator? Prudence understands that “for every action there is a reaction” I think Einstein must have had the fingerprints of the creator on his heart to be able to come up with that statement.

“The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.” Proverbs 14:5

Most of our Prophetic voices today seem to carry the gift of Prudence. They can see what must be done, and the results of what has been done. We can look to the history of any nation and see that sometimes the prophets were adhered to, and the results were amazing. Then other times, nations would not heed the word, and were punished and sometimes even completely destroyed.

Make no mistake, we are not immune to the same justice that ancient nations have experienced. Most of you who know me know that I believe that there is always hope. There is always the promise of redemption and restoration. But lately I fear as though we have completely lost the gift of Prudence. To be sure, America is not immune to the judgement of God. Most of the loudest voices seem to think that Government is the answer. Yes, I get it, trust me. I know that good government is healthy for the people. But this is about 4th in the list of priorities that we need to be focusing on. God is always teaching us to build a colony of heaven on earth, That’s really what the nation of Israel was supposed to be. A mirror of how God wanted his “own special people” to live. While I believe that government is essential and established by God (I mean he is carrying it upon his shoulders) this is not the ultimate answer. Unless we learn to govern ourselves, we can vote D or R or I or the whig party, it won’t change anything!

Prudence…is isn’t talked a lot about today, but so needed. Pray for the gift of Prudence, “for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young”

“The path of life leads upward for the prudent to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.” Proverbs 15:24

Here are some closing thoughts:

Without Prudence we cannot see what must be done.

Without Prudence we cannot see what has been done.

Don’t move the ancient boundaries, we don’t know the repercussions if we do.

Culture and society are built on fundamental truths by God, govern yourself first.

Two-faced head fire and ice statue

Prudence: Be able to see the whole scope of a thing!

The Fourth Pillar

 

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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…

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