Why Good People Don’t Get The Goodies

Have you ever wondered why ‘good’ people don’t get what they deserve? Have you ever wondered why you don’t get what you deserve – especially when others who work less than you seem to be rewarded with more? Have you ever wondered why ‘bad’ people don’t get what they deserve either?

You reap what you sow

[So, brace yourself for a long one today – this is a sermon for believers and unbelievers alike who would like to create wealth and a life to the full. If you prefer Audio, then follow this link to Soundcloud.]


 

Sowing, Reaping, and the Law of Karma

Many of the World’s Great Religions preach a message of balance and fairness.

  • You will get what you deserve, they say.
  • You will reap what you sow, they assert.
  • What goes around comes around, they preach.

Except it doesn’t work, does it?

The trouble with this doctrine is that it then begins to spawn very bad beliefs around the sick, the needy, and the disadvantaged. In a ‘Fair Universe’ – religious thinking suggests that somehow these folks deserve what they are getting. I don’t like that.

And Jesus doesn’t like that way of thinking.

Bad Theology

Jesus’ own disciples got in on that act too. Encountering a man born blind, they asked the theological question, “Who sinned that this man would be born blind? The man or his parents?” (John chapter 9). Jesus’ answer was unambiguous, “Neither!” Well there goes that horrible theology that suggests innocents get what they deserve. Doh!

Better Theology

Ultimately, all will be revealed and life will be seen to be fair – this is our hope. So let’s lay aside the issue of why the baddies don’t get what they deserve straight way. Instead, let’s turn our attention to those of us who mean well and yet still struggle.

90% of people don’t reap what they sow and here’s why…

Fruits Come from Roots – and roots take time to put down

In the parable that explains exactly why some seed sown never makes it to fruition, it begins with showing us that, sometimes, the seed doesn’t have a chance. It can’t even get started. All that potential but the wrong soil spells disaster.

The first problem, Jesus says, is that the devil comes and snatches the potential away from those who are like seed sown on the path. There’s nothing wrong with the seed – every seed has the potential to bear fruit. Instead, the context, the environment, is at odds with the possibility for growth.

In this scenario, the ground is hard – there’s no opportunity for the message to take root. Laying the issue of the devil aside for a moment – we’ve all met these people (and perhaps have even been them?) This is the situation where the heart and mind just aren’t ready, willing or able to receive.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear… but sometimes the student just isn’t ready!

This is the ‘Richard Dawkins’ of anti-potential. The mocker. The cynic. The sceptic. And sceptics are septic if you really want to change. They spread a poison of despair.

They have a veneer of credibility but it is really a veneerial disease. Dis-ease.

Now before you get offended, I’m happy for the Richard-Dawkins-types to have their questions (provided it’s a proper intellectual and scientific debate and not merely a cover for emotional or emotive invective.) What I’m not happy about is them spreading their herbicide in my garden and trampling on the soil of my heart until it is hardened.

Our first ‘cure’ then is to guard our hearts and minds from septic scepticism, and to deepen and enrich the soil of our hearts and minds with openness and a willingness to change.

It’s so simple:

Watch what you watch!

Be on your guard what you listen to.

  • Does it empower?
  • Does it energise?
  • Does it set you free?

OK, what’s the second challenge we must face?

Jesus says that some seed is like that sown on rocky soil – no root.

When trouble comes because of what you are hoping for and believe, the crop fails

I do not assign special significance to the King James Version of the Bible, but here it offers an additional insight. It says that when trouble comes in direct opposition to what you believe, those of us who haven’t established a decent root system…

become offended!

This was my life story. I received each hopeful possibility with gladness, with joy. Each glimmer of hope was embraced happily and whole-heartedly. Then I would endure and persevere for a while, but when circumstances pointed long enough in the opposite direction, I would get offended and give up. I would allow doubt in.

Have you been there too?

Are you there now?

Well the good news is that there is a cure for this too.

Our second cure is to realise that it is the nature of things for the opposite to happen to what we are hoping for.

We must take the time required to put down stronger roots of hope if we are to bear the fruits of faith.

Even stony soil can bear fruit if it is fertilised and watered. And it doesn’t hurt to improve the quality of the soil by throwing out some of those stones, does it? Stones have names: bitterness, unforgiveness, jealously, resentment, malice, greed, lack of generosity – and their buddies. Whenever your heart feels hard or heavy, trust me, there’s a stone to remove. We understand the danger of kidney stones and gallstones, but few people realise there are heart stones too. Like kidney stones and gallstones, they appear and develop over time. There’s even a NT phrase: “the gall of bitterness.” Get rid of these poisonous stones and go free.

Living in the Truth makes you feel free.

Attend to the roots and the fruits will take care of themselves.

Your roots are your values and your attitudes and your expectations. If Jesus knew what He was talking about, His message is clear on this: part of your journey is to get the opposite of what you want, desire and expect. Isn’t this “The Heroes Journey” that we find in Literature. Every hero suffers a reversal of fortune.

You & I have to stand firm and put down deeper roots – that’s our job. Knowing this, we can take adversity and opposition as a sign that we’re heading in the right direction.

The Age of Distraction

The next challenge is particularly pertinent to the 21st Century: distraction, and thus lack of focus. It is possible to choke all the potential out of all the possibilities you receive in this abundant universe.

Every idea you have is a seed – a seed that has the potential to bring you a harvest

But it is equally possible for your better life to be choked by a trinity of foes:

  • Worries about this World
  • Deceitfulness of pursuing wealth and riches
  • Lust for ‘other things’.

How do you spend your time? Is your very time focused on developing your roots? Are your hours invested in improving your soil, in preparing your soil, and in opening your soil to good seed?

Or have you been distracted by Sky, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Facebook and other Social Media? Am I ‘down’ on these things? No! My question is one of proportionality. What proportion of your time are you giving to these things?

An Entrepreneur is someone who will invest the focused time now to buy time freedom …later

And if you want to worry about this World – just make sure you get three square meals a day of News updates. That’ll fill you with fear, dread and disgust! Flee to South America for the West is falling! (Or is it Westeros?)

What about the deceitfulness of wealth and riches? That’s a potential embarrassment for me as the WealthCoach, isn’t it? Well, the key is in the ‘deceitfulness’. True wealth is never about the money or the pursuit of it. It’s about the mission, the vision, the values and adding value. And it’s about fair exchange in return for value rendered.

Jesus is clear on this too. If your financial ambition is to build bigger barns, store up riches for yourself, and take it easy, He’s got one word to describe you: fool!

Luke 12:15-21

‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’ And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”

‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”

‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

That’s an easy third cure then, isn’t it? It’s OK to be wealthy and to have an abundant harvest as long as we are rich towards God in our times of plenty (and, I would argue, in our times of hardship too. Being faithful and generous with small wealth is the best indicator of what we will do with abundant wealth.)

Bluntly, this means being rich towards the poor and needy. It means putting a roof over the heads of those who don’t have shelter. It means feeding those who don’t have food, and getting fresh water to those who need it. It does not mean giving tax breaks to the wealthy and to corporations. Any political party that does this is not following God.

Lovely, lovely ‘Lust’!

‘Lust’ is one of my favourite words! I have a ‘lust’ for Life – I really do. One of the Greek words used for ‘lust’ means ‘a strong desire’. No harm in that. The issue is the target of those desires! What is it you truly desire? What is the object of your desires?

In the parable, the target is beautifully ambiguous: ‘other things’. Luke’s version of the parable is even more alarming:

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

Or in the King James Version:

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

‘Mature’ and ‘Perfection’ of our fruits are possible. But there are pests, and these pesky pests are pretty attractive – well, at least two of them are: riches and pleasures!!

Does this mean it’s back to beige for me and thee? Is it time for Camel-hair underwear? Is it the season to wear a face that’s got stuck sucking sour lemons?

No! No!! No!!!

It’s OK for your life to be filled with joy. It’s OK to receive possibilities with gladness. It’s OK to be rich (if you are rich towards God). It’s OK to wear a coat of many colours. It’s OK to have such good underwear that people cast lots for it when you are promoted to the next life. You have the spark of life in you – divine life – it’s OK to fan that spark into a flame that burns brightly – it’s OK to set your light on a lamp-stand so that it brings brightness wherever you go. It’s OK to be open about your success – like a city on a hill – plain for all to see.

Our fourth cure is to focus.

When worries arise, realise that they are a result of our focus.

When wealth distracts, realise we have shifted our focus onto the wrong matters.

When pleasures take up so much time that no fruit is coming to mature perfection, realise that it is time to shift focus.

You get more of what you focus on.

I am an Entrepreneur – with a Wealth-Mindset. My mission is to add value to everything and everyone I engage with. That’s my focus.

It’s not about what I can ‘get’. And, surprisingly, it is not just about what I can ‘give’. There must be an exchange of value. God expects fruit and who am I to argue against God? However, He looks after the fruit – my job is to mind the soil, receive the seed, and nurture my roots.

Surely, this is enough?

Almost.

Perfection and maturity are bound to the time-line. They come only with perseverance, with patience. Fruit is seasonal. There is no fruit in Spring, Summer or Winter.

I’ll let Luke say if for me:

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Have patience till your personal Autumn comes.

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

The conclusion of the matter

May your honest and good heart be on guard against:

  • The Sepsis of Scepticism
  • Distraction – lack of focus
  • Offence at direct opposition – the opposite happening to what you hope for
  • Worries of the World – the anxieties of this age
  • Deceitfulness of riches and wealth
  • Desires for other things – including too much pleasure!

Instead, I wish you:

  • Clear focus
  • Deep roots – rooted in beautiful values
  • A generous heart towards others and God
  • An open heart – with deep joy and effervescent appreciation
  • And the gift of patient perseverance that brings perfect fruit to maturity!

…Amen…

[Neil ‘Lex’ McKee is a paradoxical preacher. A Theologian who teaches believers and unbelievers alike how to create, nurture and bring forth Wealth to perfection! If you’d like to build wealth with a spiritual core, you can join his WealthClub by subscribing here.

If you join soon, you have just enough time to get on board with our 2020 Vision – to be focused on financial freedom by 2020. Why ‘just enough time’? Well, because we believe it takes 3 years to become financially free.]

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Unconditionally Yours

Yours, Unconditionally

People speak of “Unconditional Love” – an attractive concept that seems far from my grasp.

Or is it?

 

The ideal is for Mum and Dad to love us unconditionally in those first few months.  We don’t all get that, but that’s the plan!

Eventually, however, conditions begin to be applied.  Rules are laid down.  Rules are broken.  Consequences emerge!

“Be quiet in the restaurant!”  “Don’t run!”  “Hold Mummy’s hand!”  “Stop showing off!”  “Be brave!”

 

Little by little the vital ‘Rules of the Game’ are taught to us so that we can become valuable members of Society.  I get that.  It’s good.  It’s important.  And yet it’s very harmful.  Life can become too conditional.

 

I am a human being, not a human doing.

 

One day, I will reach a point where I can no longer contribute ‘value’ to Society.  My ‘doing’ will cease to be useful.  But my being will endure – and hold enduring value.  That’s unconditional – it has to be.

 

Whilst I may feel Unconditional Love is an experience far away, Unconditional Living is within my grasp.

 

I can choose to tip the waitress or the waiter in the restaurant – not in line with the service they’ve given, nor even in line with the service I’d like to get.  That’s way too conditional.  I can choose to tip them as a fellow human being – someone I value unconditionally.

I can choose to let people out in traffic whether or not they thank me.  My gift of an opportunity to them doesn’t have to be conditional on any reciprocal action whatsoever.

In fact, I can choose to thank people in general – unconditionally.

I can choose to hold open doors for people – regardless of age, gender or gratitude!

I can choose to phone those friends who forget to phone me.

I can choose to work without seeking financial reward – it’s my choice.  It’s my art.

I can choose peace when others choose conflict.

I can choose hope when others opt for despair… and I can do this unconditionally – based on no evidence for hope whatsoever.

I can choose faith – to believe the best of others – even in spite of the evidence to the contrary.

I can choose love, even where others have decided to pull away, pull back, or put up barriers.

I am.

I am free.

I am, unconditionally yours.

Critical Condition

Critical Condition – or the Sad Tale of Plank-Eye, the Pirate.

I have lived my life in a Critical Condition.

I have criticized people’s driving, others’ dress sense, individual’s use of grammar – you name it, if it didn’t meet my expectations or measure up to my exalted standards, I would give away a piece of my mind. You can lose your mind if you keep giving others a piece of it. Being critical is most definitely a Critical Condition. It is a mental and moral deficiency.

This is not to make light of a physical critical condition. I’ve just lost one of my dearest friends. His loss has made me re-evaluate what I do with my thinking. My thinking was in a dangerous, critical state. It was not pleasing to God.

I would like to think of myself as ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’. As such, I like spiritual teachings though not the systems that humans wrap around them. Jesus is my Hero. He says to me, “Why do you seek to take the speck of dust out of your neighbour’s eye when you’ve got a massive plank sticking out of your own eye?” It’s pretty funny when you think about it.

“Plank-Eye, the Pirate!” would have been a great name for me!

That’s my life story. But it’s just changed. In a twinkling of my little old Plank Eye! You see, I can’t think of anyone who’s ever been ‘fit’ to judge me. They all have had planks protruding from their own eyes. Jesus, my hero put it even more succinctly: do not judge.

He added an “…or else…”

Here’s the full passage from Matthew 7.

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

The root of the word “Criticism” comes from the idea of being able to make distinctions and separate items. It’s a good word with a good intent, but it’s become corrupt. We all need to make judgements to survive and to make decisions. But we don’t need to judge others. In fact, we cannot afford to.

We can judge situations as potentially dangerous – I understand that. But we don’t have to judge the other people involved. Except when it comes to sharing spiritual truth with those who aren’t ready. Then we must make a distinction. This is covered in the very next verse in Matthew 7:

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

This is not an excuse to hold back from evangelizing. I’ve met dogs and pigs who attend Church. Like all Scripture, there is a balance here… but, but, but if you find yourself judging or criticizing anything other than someone’s readiness for the Divine Word, you are criticizing!

So, my assertion today is, “There is no such thing as ‘constructive criticism’!”

Criticism is a Critical Condition, and I would want us all to be healed from this and out of danger.

Making this distinction (a kind of criticism of criticism) has freed me.

You’re OK.

And so is everyone else.

Jesus paid the highest price to make sure we’re all OK.

I am OK too, so I won’t even criticize myself.

Let me finish by talking about my favourite Spirit – The Holy Spirit.

He is not called a critical spirit. He is called The Comforter.

To work with The Holy Spirit is to work within the bounds of the Realm of Encouragement – The Kingdom of Heaven. As it says in Hebrews 3:13,

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Encouragement 1; Deceitfulness 0.

Are You Moonlighting for the Devil?

Moonlighting-for-the-Devil

Moonlighting for the Devil

“Why should the Devil have all the good music?” So said Larry Norman.

But I say to you,

“Why should the Devil have all the good Christians?”

“What?!!!” I hear you say!

My point is that way too many good Christians are what I call, “Moonlighting for the Devil”!

“Moonlighting” is taking a clandestine job for a pay off. It’s often done in the darkness of night – hence “Moonlighting” – and moonlighters attempt to conceal this other work from their legitimate employer.

So let’s look at two job descriptions.

Firstly, as a Christian, the only legitimate way to employ your time is in the employment of the “Good News” – the Gospel. This means walking in love. A step out of love is a step out of your job description.

In fact there are nine indicators that your time is being employed well in the service of God:

  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Patience
  5. Kindness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faith
  8. Gentleness, and
  9. Self-Control.

Secondly, Satan is recruiting now. The job description is far more straight-forward and the work is easy. All you have to do is bad-mouth anybody else on the Planet. There is vast opportunity for rapid career development. Just apply to “The Accuser”!  He offers a great pay-off too – you’ll feel better about yourself as you feel superior to, or more righteous than the person you have accused.  This is a ‘feel good’ opportunity open to all!

Revelations – the last book of the Bible – the book that Reveals all, calls Satan by his Job Description. Just like we may have names like “Butcher” or “Baker”, “Smith” or “Cooper” – sometimes our role in life can become part of our defining name.

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

Satan is well practised in this art of accusation – he’s been doing it day and night for what seems like Eternity. One could argue he doesn’t need help, but he loves the company of fellow accusers.

So, go on, be a devil.

Or, keep your trap shut, lest it become a trap!

Escaping this snare of the Devil

“Lex, I want to escape this trap; how can I do this?”

Sometimes Christians need to make a point.

Sometimes Christians need to correct one another.

This is healthy. This is good. This is loving. This is part of your Job Description.

But there are rules.

  1. You ALWAYS go directly to the person who needs feedback
  2. You NEVER go behind their back and tell someone else – this is gossip, this is accusation, this working for the Devil – there are NO exceptions.
  3. You ALWAYS do this in PRIVATE first.
  4. And don’t even start the process unless there are two or three other people who you know think the same way as you.

Need more convincing? Here are the very words of Jesus Himself from Matthew Chapter 18:15-20

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Please also notice that this is in the context of the Power of Agreement. This is why Satan is so keen to recruit you and me as Deputy-Accusers. He knows that if we are out of agreement with one another, we have no power to bind or loose.

In pre-regenerate days, God had to disrupt work on the Tower of Babel. Why? He tells us directly:

The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Genesis 11:6.

Ever wondered why there are so many denominations? Ever wondered why the Body of Christ has multiple fractures through factions? Now you know. It’s all a part of Satan’s great plan for the Church. He knows that if we unite with one heart to love God and with one mind to see God’s will done on Earth as it already is in Heaven, and if we speak with one voice – nothing shall be impossible for us, including smashing down the very gates of Hell.

In conclusion then, a word to the wise…

If you ever criticize my kids, you will experience my wrath. You will be cast down as the accuser of my children. If I, an ineffective father in comparison with God, would defend my children in this way, how much more will our Heavenly Father defend us against accusation, whether from Satan himself, or on the lips of otherwise well-meaning Christians? In a word, “Repent”.

In private, I will correct my children if they need correction – in private. In the same way, God will deal lovingly with His Children.

Remember, the Devil criticized Job. Don’t give the Devil any ground to criticize your job.

Amen!


Picture credits:
“Blake, William (English, 1757–1827), ‘Satan Watching the Caresses of Adam and Eve’ (Illustration to ‘Paradise Lost’), 1808, pen; watercolor on paper, 50.5 x 38 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, US” by William Blake – “Paradise lost” ed. 1808. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org

And I’ve superimposed a NASA image of the full moon over Blake’s original work.

 

 

Hope on a Rope!

The Resurrection of Jesus means that He was able to return to Heaven, go through the veil in the Temple (the real one, not the model that was here on Earth), and attach, metaphorically, the anchor of our hope to the future.  Now there is a rope stretching back through time to where we are – a rope we can pull ourselves along even when we cannot see God’s plan for the present.

This forms the basis of today’s message of hope… [Broadcast on Hope FM, 3rd August 2015].

There’s a Problem with Hope

There’s a problem with how we understand “Hope”. In English, the word conveys a sense of wishful thinking. It’s kind of dreamy. “I hope I win the Lottery,” couldn’t be further from the New Testament meaning of a “confident expectation”. In fact the New Testament uses it in the way that most of us understand having faith in something or someone. It would be like saying, “I am utterly certain that I am going to win the Lottery!” That sounds more like faith, doesn’t it?

We can be more specific. New Testament hope is in the ‘unseen’ – as it says in Romans 8:24 “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” [NIV] This also means it is focused on the future.

Hope, then, is a confident expectation in the yet unseen future. It might be better understood in English as a firm belief in the future and the unseen.

All the more fascinating to me is the fact that the word is not used at all in the Gospels, when Jesus was yet present with us. Its use kicks in after the resurrection. The theological use after the gospels often refers to our resurrection hope, our hope of resurrection and the return of the Lord Jesus.

This kind of hope acts as an “anchor for the soul” – holding us firm, sure and steady when battered by the storms of life and all that would challenge our sincere belief.

Check out Hebrews 6…

“…so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Our confident expectation in Jesus lays hold of future realities and creates a sure time-line to our future. I imagine this being like both the anchor and the anchor rope that I can lay hold of and pull myself along into the positive future, even when I cannot easily see what God is doing in the present.

And the result of this confident expectation in an amazing future, the result of our hope? Well the result is that it transforms our behaviour in the present, motivating us and inspiring us to live a godly life in the here and now.

Then we are ready to act on Peter’s encouragement to, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” [1 Peter 3:15]

Understanding the importance of the Resurrection is central to our hope… but I hope to save that vital message for another day!

I hope, in a New Testament kind-of-way, that you have a great day!

 

A Triple-Braided Cord

CD-Braid-of-Three-Strands

The Morning Message: The message of hope

A Cord of Three Strands

New Living Translation
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12.

There’s an organisation called What3Words. http://what3words.com/

App: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/what3words/id657878530?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

This is used to find your location accurately anywhere on Earth. It helps you communicate where you are… precisely. The developers claim that, “75% of the World has poor or no addressing.” I wonder if this is true in terms of a sense of who we are and what we are here for?

Where are you in Life? Jesus’ Mission was crystal clear: that you might have life and have it to the full. So what do you want to fill your life with in His service?

If I was to ask you, “If you were to summarise what you stand for in three words, what would those words be?” you might be momentarily lost for words. So let me put it another way, “I know you don’t know yet what three words best summarise who you are, or what you stand for, but if you did know what those three words were, what would they be?”

Three is a stable and powerful principle to build upon. A chair needs at least three legs. The tripod and the triangle is the most effective shape to create strength in a building with the minimum of materials. Think Buckminster Fuller and the Geodesic Dome – like the Eden Project.

In the Scripture from Ecclesiastes it makes it clear that three people working together can be as strong as a braided cord. Think, “The Three Musketeers” (even if there were four of them!) Three wise men. Even the Trinity. Jesus New Living Translation
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18.20.

So, you can be stronger today if you have two other people supporting you. Jesus has even promised to be amongst us if we are believers gathered in His Name… in harmony and agreement. One mind, one heart, one purpose. Hey, we’re even encouraged to love God with all our heart, and soul and strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5.)

You can also be stronger and more focused today if you concentrate on the three words you want to be known for, remembered for, associated with.

My Three Words

Kindness, Joy, Compassion.

The Word In Context

Ecclesiastes Chapter 4

Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

There was a man all alone;

he had neither son nor brother.

There was no end to his toil,

yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.

“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,

“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”

This too is meaningless—

a miserable business!

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their labour:

If either of them falls down,

one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

These Three Remain

CD-These-Three-Remain

 

“The Message of Hope”

These Three Remain

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13.)

It’s fashionable now, and it’s a good fashion, to think about life as being something to be filled with love, light and laughter… Going deeper, many gurus recommend thinking about the legacy we’d like to leave too.

I’m up for a life of love, light and laughter. But what could I, or even should I, leave as a legacy?

This is where this verse helps me. It seems that only three things remain or abide:

faith, hope and love.

I recently heard Andy Haynes present on the need to stop making excuses and take action. At the age of 6, he was listening to Radio 2 with his Dad. He boldly declared, “Dad, that’s what I’m going to do!” His Dad said, “I know son, I know.” True to his commitment, Andy became a Breakfast Show presenter and producer for BBC Hereford and Worcester. Andy then went on to explain that at the age of 6 he had the worst stammer he’d ever heard. A lad with a speech impediment became a celebrated presenter!

What struck me about this was the power of Andy’s Dad’s words to create faith. So, goal one for us today might be to speak encouragement into someone’s life so that they might grow their faith in what is possible for them in the here and now. To help someone believe in themselves is a worthwhile achievement.

Hope is to do with the future and the unseen. Our words have power to bring hope too. We can capture someone’s imagination with a vision of a better future, yet unseen. Sometimes our friends can be cast down by their circumstances. It can take our bolder vision to lift their eyes to see that better future in the distance. As the Psalmist said,

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

[Psalm 121 NIV]

Then there’s love.

Love is a funny word. I prefer kindness as this, for me, brings to my mind “acts of kindness”. There’s a wonderful old-fashioned word called “loving-kindness” – a phrase that fills my heart with ‘warm-fuzzies’!

I would consider today a day well spent if my words and my deeds could bring hope, faith and a sense of being loved into the lives of others. And my creative self loves this challenge.

“Now these three remain…”

 

The Word in Context

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)

 

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

To Err is Human, To Empower is Divine

in the BeginningTo Err is Human, To Empower is Divine

In Job 38:2, God says,

“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?”

This is after Job’s worldly counsellors had shared a great deal of ‘wisdom’ with him to explain why he had been afflicted. They were all wrong.

Jesus put it more eloquently, ““You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29. This was to the religious professionals of the day. Those who had given their lives to study the Scriptures. They were all wrong.

God is not interested in man’s theology.

So what should we do?

Well the first part we can begin doing – we can begin ‘knowing the Scriptures’ – in an intimate sense where He opens them to us to the point that our ‘hearts burn within us’.

Again, this too is a working of the Holy Spirit. Yahweh, may our hearts burn within us as we read your word. Open the Scriptures to us as you did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Secondly, we should obey. We should ‘wait’ until we are clothed with power from on high. Of course, He has been poured out, so I suspect we should wait until we are clothed with power from within.

Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says Yahweh. Zechariah 4:6

Immerse yourself in the Scriptures, and seek to be clothed with power. This is your birthright.

 

Charity Begins

Unplug

Charity Begins…

For me Charity Begins where your heart is moved.  Many of you know my theological background, and will know that what I say next is because of my fascination with wisdom literature rather than any religious intent…

I am deeply touched by the way my hero, Jesus, in the New Testament, is “moved by compassion” when triggered by the sight of an individual’s personal grief or the need of the vast multitudes.  If was Jesus, I would be totally overwhelmed by the scale of the needs on Earth.  Interestingly, He addressed the present and presenting need – what He saw, what was before Him.  In fact, after giving out, He would often withdraw alone to recharge.  That, for me as an Introvert, is fascinating too.

I’ve shared someone else’s poster on Facebook recently because it captured my imagination.  It says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you!”  [Anne Lamotte]

Weaving these two threads together, I have my recipe for compassion:

1.       Address the opportunity that presents itself (and let go of the rest of the World’s problems for now)

2.       Remember that charity begins at home – closer to home than most people realise – with you!  You must recharge before giving out, and after giving out, or else you will give out!!

Would it be better not to be compassionate?  I hear people saying, “Isn’t Nature wonderful?” but I see very little compassion in Nature.  There are strong parental bonds, to be sure, but very little compassion outside close family groups of animals.  Humans have risen to something higher (and horses, dogs and dolphins… do add to the list!)  We can choose to help other species and one another, even when there is nothing in this for us.  That, for me, is the meaning of life.  Yes, we do well to be compassionate alongside makes sure we have the resources to continue to be so.

The Vowels of Life Currencies

Today, I changed some British Stirling into Euros for a business trip. It got me thinking about life currencies again. In fact I’m more a fan of simple pleasures ‘purchased’ with these five currencies.

My currencies begin with vowel letters: A, E, I, O and U. I intend to invest these currencies and trade with them more vigorously.

“A” is for that highly valued currency of “Attention”. I’ve just seen the most amazing video of a monkey rescue a fellow monkey shocked unconscious by electricity on an Indian railway. This macaque continued giving relentless attention until the other monkey revived. It saved the other primate’s life – a true prime mate. I regret that I sometimes fail to give the attention to others that would lift them too. Henceforth, I will invest and exchange more Attention, for Attention profits us all.

“E” is for that most golden of currencies: “Encouragement”. I will seek to encourage others on a daily basis, so that no heart I encounter need be hardened and closed for lack of it. A kind and honest compliment costs little to invest, and reaps great dividends.

“I” is for “Inspiration”. How grateful I am to those writers, presenters, teachers, friends and strangers who are a source of Inspiration to me. “I”, of course, is also for “Ideas” – part of the currency of Inspiration. Let us celebrate creativity and innovation – hope for all Nations.

“O” is for “Openness” – becoming open-minded to change, to surprise, and to new ideas. Without this currency, the World will soon become bankrupt and will fall into corruption. A mind opened and thus expanded by a new idea will never return to its former dimensions. A Nation whose heart is opened to another’s can never willingly again embrace the folly of hatred.

“U” is for the “Unusual” – the novel – for without this the mind and intellect perishes. I will seek the currency of the unusual. I know that my pre-frontal cortex craves the unusual!

My hope is that this short blog will encourage you to think about fresh forms of foreign exchange! You too can choose to invest or exchange these five currencies in return for ever more of a life to the full.

Bless you and may you be a blessing!

Lex