Today I harvested olives for the first time in my life. On a hillside in Marcellina, Italy. Some might romanticize the idea of picking olives in Italy. There was nothing romantic about the experience, it was hard work. Let me first say that an experience doesn’t need to be romantic to be fun. This was not a light day of picking olives, but a harvest. And I am going to do it again tomorrow, because it beats walking around looking at monuments in Rome. While I was harvesting today these thoughts came to my mind. As christians we tend to separate our lives into terms of seasons. “I’m in a planting season right now.” or “This is my season of pruning.” (which is actually during or after harvest BTW) But as we all know when we say those things, we are longing to be in our harvest season. To which we think will be our season of rest and receiving. We fail to realize that that harvest season is one of the busiest times. And a good harvest requires hard work, even sometimes specialized equipment. In my work the passage in Matthew 9 came to mind.
Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.”
Matt 9:35-38 NLT
I thought to myself, why would someone not want to be a part of this great harvest? The reality is we don’t want to be a part of the harvest, but we do want the fruit from it. We want to sit back drink our cappuccino and post cool photos with the perfect scripture. All in hopes that someone’s life will be changed from it. Let me be clear that I am not saying to neglect your social media influence for the cause. What I am saying is, that’s not enough. Jesus said we will do greater works than He had done. If Jesus had social media, first of all He’d have so many followers that Socality would manage his account. Secondly, His ministry would not depend solely on it. Why then would yours? You can’t plant seeds, expect them to bear fruit and expect the fruit to simply appear in your hands one day. When fruit falls off the tree on its own, it has ripened beyond its peak flavor. Social media is a great seed planter, but a bad harvester. You know when a post is planting a seed or sharing bad fruit. A harvest requires workers. All the testimonies I have seen and been a part of from social media went far beyond the reach of post. The harvest of the seed can only be reached face to face. Be the worker that answers the prayer that Jesus prayed in this passage. Go into the fields announce the Good News, heal the sick, teach the confused and helpless. These are His fields and knows which fruit is ready for harvest. Will Jesus be your foreman?
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” John 13:6-8 NLT
Here is a phrase that will go against the grain of cultural Christianity. One of the greatest ways you can honor your leader is to allow yourself to be served by them. The only way you will gain a sense of belonging is to be served. Until you belong you’re not serving, but striving. If you want those you are leading to be servants, then you need to serve them. Service upward is easily turned to brown nosing. While service to the least of these will never turn to that. Until you can receive without obligation, you will not be able to give without it. As a leader my greatest desire is not that those under me serve me, but they serve those under them. If we are only in leadership to receive from those under us, then we are not leading. Serve to create a place of belonging, belonging creates ownership, and ownership breeds a servants heart. We all know that servants make the greatest leaders. Great leaders have nothing to gain, but to benefit those they are leading. Serve your leaders in this way, by serving those below you.
Okay ladies, take a load off. You’re worth it. Here is why I write today. I’ve heard girls say they desire to be loved as Christ loves the church. They want to be a woman worthy of that kind of love. Do you realize what you’re asking of me as a man? And what your are requiring of yourself? Christ died for His love. That’s a tough one to chew on. From both the male and female perspective. It is a far to easy for the enemy to twist this.
For the women. You put this mantle on yourself that you have to be worthy of someone giving up their life for you. Now your worth is determined by what someone is willing to give, rather than what has already been given. Your worth is not determined by the value of a man’s sacrifice. You have to understand this. Christ came when we were still sinners. He chose the unworthy to be His only love. We are made worthy because of His love, not loved because we are worthy. So what happens when your man decides to be selfish? If your worth is tied up in his sacrifice, your going to have a bad day. You’ll be in constant need of sacrifice. Needy people aren’t fun to love. This is why Jesus was sent in the first place. God knew the daily sacrifices of Israel would never satisfy Him. And also why Israel turned away so much, they grew weary of sacrifice. But God, in the greatness of His love did not ask a sacrifice of us. Instead He gave Himself out of His love. Now we give ourselves freely to Him out of love through faith.
For the men. “Is she worth me giving my life up for?” Now we’ve put a standard on women that they feel they have to live up to. No wonder women have a tendency to have self worthy issues. We are on the lookout for the perfect Spirit filled Christian women, that is worthy our life. Is your life worth her perfection? Does your life satisfy the perfection of Christ? Lets say you find the perfect girl, and you give your life to her. What happens when you see her flaws? Now you’ve given your life to imperfection. What does that say about you? This girl you thought was worthy of your life is flawed, what worth does your life have now? Here the question we should ask. “Am I willing to give my life for this girl, flaws and all?” Our sacrifice should be out of love for the girl, not for what she brings to us. To give our life freely with no obligation. That is the goal.
Women, find your value in who you are not what a man gives you. Until you can receive without owing you’re not receiving, but in debt.
Men, find your value in who you are not what you can offer women. Until you can give something without obligation you’re not giving, but lending.
Every step you take is a step into power. Can this be true? Can I really step out in faith and there be power behind it? The biggest deterrent to stepping out in faith is the doubt that it will even make a difference. The second step may be harder than the first. Every step you take in faith changes you and changes the world around you. We sometimes forget that we stepped out in faith, that is when our feet fail us. When Peter walked on water every step he took literally changed the physics of the world around him. We see Jesus out in a storm and everything in us says get out to where Jesus is. But we forget that Jesus is standing in the midst of a storm. We head His way and all is good, then we look around and think well….this is a storm. We expect Jesus to stop the storm before we make it out him, but He didn’t calm the storm until He was back at the boat. He took Peter through the storm before He calmed the storm. I hate that. I want to walk on water, but calm water. No one wants to walk through a storm. We often mistake the demeanor of Jesus as the condition of the call. In the same respect we should not let the condition of the call determine our own demeanor. We want our step to be what changes the conditions. Peace is the condition of your heart, a raging sea is only a condition of your circumstance. Jesus walked in peace, with every step He took He created peace. But walking in peace is different than walking through a peaceful place. You can walk in peace and be walking through a storm. Two interesting things about peace. One, you can’t walk in peace until you’ve walked through a storm. Two, peace cannot be walked through. Peace is a strong tower. Peace is authority. Peace cannot be shaken. Peace is a position we, as Christians, are entitled to. We are adopted into the inheritance of Christ, and He is the Prince of Peace. He has mastered peace, therefore we also should master peace amidst the storm.
I’ve had a few things come up recently that got me thinking. One was an interview of a guy, who had a popular show that I personally didn’t care for. In the interview I discovered that this guy has a tremendous Spirit filled relationship with Jesus. Instantly I became more interested in the show. Another was a TED talk from a guy who has a very different belief system than I do. He started his talk stating some parts of his belief system and how it pertained to his talk. I was very interested in his talk and it was very insightful. But I was tempted to dismiss what he had to say because of his first stated beliefs. Holy Spirit urged me not to dismiss or devalue what he had to say simply for believing differently. I observed these two instances in the midst of the @socalitybarbie increase of popularity. Authenticity and real community have quickly become the height of most conversations, and very much a part of my internal conversation. I viewed my interaction with these two guys in a very unique way.
In our nature we have the proclivity to judge people in one of two ways. We either judge them by their performance or persona, by the image they put out there. The other way we judge is by their beliefs. A persons performance is not necessarily a bad thing. It simply may be the image that the character they are playing has. Someone my host a show as a character and be a totally different person in reality. We see actors do it all the time, they play the role of the protagonist and we don’t hold it against them. The second is a bit more dangerous. We know their belief system and we judge everything they do or say through that lens. Whether or not what they have to say has value, we blow it off because what they believe goes against our beliefs. We let what we disagree with become the thing that comes between what we do agree on. As a follower of Christ, I believe certain things are sin that a non believer will not count as sin. Until they become a follower as well, I cannot hold them the standard I hold myself to. Are they still in sin, yes. Are they acting against their beliefs, no. My job is not to point out how bad their sin is, it is be kind and lead them to the Christ I follow. When someone begins to act against their belief, that is when we can call people out. Jesus didn’t go through a casino and turn over the tables, He went into the church where they were using religion to steal money. Stealing is wrong in both places, but one is structured around taking people’s money. Until the casino believes that taking people’s money is wrong it will continue to take it. Let’s be honest though, if a casino gets your money it’s your own fault. We’re getting into legal vs. moral issues now. The reverse is also true. Someone may present something we wholeheartedly believe in, but at the core you have very different beliefs. My warning is to not let the fact that someone is presenting a single mutual ideal lead you to believe that you are kinsmen. See people in their wholeness and their hurt. The masks that people hide behind are only a reflection of their pain. Whether you believe the same thing or not, don’t let it get in the way of enjoying each others company. Live by your convictions and lead your friends to Christ through your love for them.
This is where @socalitybarbie comes in. Her account is based on the following. Instagammers are posting photos that are or seem to be staged with tags such as #liveauthentic or #adventure. Her frustration, some of these grams are not authentic and staged. Her solution, call out the inauthentic by making fun of it and being exaggeratedly inauthentic. She now has the popularity of all the accounts she makes fun of thru this exaggerated inauthenticity. I ask this of @socalitybarbie, to steward her influence well. She is now heard, and what she has to say can either keep people in check or simply become inauthentic. She must remember her beliefs and why she started. She got me thinking about the point of all the social platforms. It reminded what exactly they are, social platforms. In the same way someone can have their own show or share a TED talk, social media is your platform to share your beliefs and your persona. The original intent of social media was to keep people connected, but is has become so much more than that. My human brain can only keep a handful of healthy relationship before some begin to fall off. No computer program can help me with that. No matter how much of someone’s status I see, our relationship is my responsibility. Relationships are maintained through communication not status updates. Social platforms really have very little to do with real relationships. They are the platform for which people watch their friend’s personas. If you stage a photo, this doesn’t mean your whole life is staged. This is the way you choose to use your platform. If you don’t share all your darkest moments, this doesn’t mean all your days have to be primrose and daisies. The greater your platform the more cherished your privacy. You’re not going to tell the world what you tell your closest friends. That comes against the intimacy needed for healthy relationships. Don’t let the fear of being inauthentic keep you from expression. Don’t live life through your platform, live life through real relationships. Use your platform to share what you love. Whether that’s pictures of your kids or of your Kinfolk magazine. Remember this, everything you do sends a message whether you share it or not. If you have 100 or 100k, people are listening to you. Jesus only sought to influence 12 men, yet He changed the world.
Maturity has nothing to do with age. It has nothing to with how much you can handle. It has everything to do with how much you have to offer. Being able to offer strength without taking weight. Being able to lighten a load without adding yours. Maturity is not being able to carry someone else’s load, it is helping take that load to the cross. Maturity has nothing to do with the amount you can intake, but the strength of your output. Carrying the load doesn’t qualify you to handle the material. If a guy drives an armored truck full of money, does that make him an accountant? You can trust him to move your money from one place to another, but would you trust him with managing 401k? You can carry your bible around and have all your Sunday school verses memorized, but can you wield the sword? Intake of the word is good. But until you take action on it, it has no power in your life. Until it comes alive in you it will never work through you.
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’ “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
Matthew 25:14-30 NLT
The silver in this parable can likened to our growth and maturity. They where all given a measure of growth, insight, some wisdom and understanding. The first two took what they had and invested it. They discipled someone or gave counsel. What we have is doubled by giving what you know to another, not by keeping it to ourselves. The second servant didn’t allow the fact that the first had more deter him from his investment. He gave all he had. So what if someone is smarter than you, that should not keep you from giving what you have. We get so caught up in the return that we forget to invest. The first servant didn’t invest more that the second, they both gave 100% and had a 200% return. Don’t let the fact that someone is giving more keep you from giving anything. The master said well done to both of them. Your faithfulness is not determined by the amount you produce, but by making the investment. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Those who do nothing, not those who have nothing. Often we think we have nothing, because someone else has more. You get your salvation and forget to invest it. God gave you a gift He intends for you to share, and you bury it. You look at the person next to you and say, “They’re a better communicator than me, I have nothing to offer.” Because you can’t offer someone else’s gift, shouldn’t keep you from offering yours. Even if God only gives you one talent use it. Burying your gift because you won’t have the same return as the next guy is foolishness. At the very least share it with those close to you. The return does not solely rest on your investment. The Master will have returns on investments He didn’t make. Don’t neglect the church, your community, or family because of your perceived lack. Get involved with the body, and gain the interest of being a part of the whole.
When you have nothing to give, give all of it.
Often we try to avoid the juggling act. We want to keep everything up in the air and balanced. But we miss understand juggling. It’s not an act of keeping things in the air, but throwing things up and letting them fall. It’s the rise and the fall that gives the illusion of things suspended in the air. We expect everything to stay up, that is why we fumble. We want it all to stay up, we throw it all in the air expecting it to stay. When it falls we frantically try to pick it up and in that process everything else falls. Then we say, let it all fall and God will take care of it. I just won’t even try to juggle. Stop, just stop. Letting things fall apart is not trusting God. Trusting God is being unafraid to catch what is coming your way and unafraid to let go of what needs to be tossed to God. Juggling is misunderstood because we think we have to keep our eyes on our hands to be successful. In actuality you have to keep your eyes up to juggle well. Knowing where your hands are you see the ball at it’s peak and you know where it will land. An awareness of where everything is. If we were to translate this into our lives. One hand would be you and the other God. The ball would be trials, opportunity, or blessings. Know where you are and know where God is, and keep your eyes on eternity. See what God is tossing your way and how it affects eternity then catch it. The most important part of catching is having an open hand to do so. To have an open hand you have to release what you’re holding on to now. Toss it up, watch as it arcs across your eternal perspective. But when it leaves your line of sight, trust that God is going to catch. So often we perceive God through our mistakes, if I fumble the ball surely God will fumble it too. We have it backwards, we are made in His image not He in ours. We need to perceive ourselves through His perfection, He doesn’t fumble the ball so I am capable of not fumbling it. We try to watch it all the way into God’s hand to see what He does with it and we lose perspective. When we lose perspective, things seem as though they fall apart.
So much I’ve tried to figure out. How will this journey end what will it look like? What am I missing trying figure out the future? We often step out in faith with this big picture in mind of what God is going to do with this step. Mid way through it the questions begin. If we were to put a twist in the juggling analogy for a bit, and say that the ball is our perspective. We are nestled in God’s hand and He whispers, “Hey I want you to do something great.” Then we step out in faith, He tosses up. At the peak of the arc we see the big picture and become filled Joy for what He is going to do. Then we catch the ball, we are walking out what was asked of us. But where is God, what is He doing? We want God to be doing the big picture things right now, right in front of us. Well He is doing those things, maybe not right in front of us. This is where Joy comes in. Being able to trust what God is doing with what you have let go of. Remembering the elation of being in His hand. Avoid being caught up with the results or the stats. So often we search for the results of the promise given and we forget the one who gave the promise. Even the greatest examples of faith didn’t hold onto what was promised, but who promised. All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. Hebrew 11:13 Long for heaven but don’t long for the end. Welcome the promise, don’t worship the promise. Want for God, not what He can provide.
Will we be like Abram and try to conceive the promise through his doubt. Which has caused much turmoil for many generations. The size of the promise will be the size of the problem if we try to conceive it in our own time. Or will we be like Joseph and trust the promise is coming, outside of his timing inside a prison. I’m sure Joseph had his doubts, the difference is he never acted on those doubts. Rest assured that no matter how we wait on the promise or what doubts we act on, God always comes through. God gave Abram a new name and followed through with the promise.
He’s preparing us for the promise: Joseph learned the Egyptian language and how to manage both a household and a prison.
He’s putting purpose to the promise: Joseph came to terms and forgave his brothers, and saved his nation.
Let’s get back to tee ball. Your Father wants to see you on the field. Whether you hit a home run or strike out, He is there to cheer you on. Your performance doesn’t change the outcome of the game. We are playing in a game that has already been won. How much we win by is up to us.
So you want to go out and change the world? Have you changed the place you’re leaving? We want to go on great adventures and make an impact on the people we come in contact with. We want to give prophetic words and heal people. But have you loved? Can those you’re in touch with now say they’ve been loved by you? We think healing and prophesy is hard when it’s not. When you love, those come easy. It’s loving that is hard. To love someone is to give yourself to that person. To love God is to give your life up to Him, and to love another is to give what He has given you. We love only because He first loved us. We expect there to be a change when we leave one place for another. But unless we are first changed we are never really leave a place. And places where you experienced change never really leave you. Two things that travel with you, your pain and your love. The key is to choose what to do with them. We have to carry one and face the other. The one we face causes us to carry the other. What you carry is what you offer. Until we carry Love we cannot face the pain of others. Are you offering them pain or Love? When we face our pain, Love is placed upon us. When we carry our pain, Love gets in our face. Love will not let you carry your pain, for Love desires to be carried. Every place you go, Love wants to go with you. Until you come face to face with your pain, no matter where you go you will experience it there. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love goes with you where you carry your pain. Staring you in the face not with shame or guilt, but with the desire to see your pain healed. Love wants to see your pain, and turn it into compassion. Where you’ve experienced healing, take it to the hurting. Dive into the adventure that is Love. Adventure is all around, not just around the globe. Don’t miss out on the adventure of who is in front of you. The where of adventure will always be there, but the who of adventure may not be. See the sights, but neglect to give sight to the blind. Desire to prophesy, but first love. Change the world one heart at a time.