Wednesday, August 30, 2017

As Often as You Eat and Drink... Remember Me

The ritualism of evangelical Christianity puzzles me. Many evangelical churches when celebrating "The Lord's Supper" will have men who usually wear Hawaiian shirts on Sunday morning dress in suits and ties when they serve the bread and the juice. Evangelical pastors will often give solemn warnings about sin and appeal for folks to come to "the altar" to confess their sins lest they eat the wafer and drink the juice unworthily and receive the just punishment of their sins (death).

Many of us have been members of churches where if the youth group ever attempted to have "The Lord's Supper" without ordained men serving the elements (God forbid!), there would be holy war. And, if anything other than a flat, unleavened wafer and a small cup of something other than Welch's grape juice was to be served ("Hold on Martha, here comes the big one!"), the entire church would be in an uproar.

The formalism and traditionalism surrounding the Lord's Supper comes from the mistaken notion (in my opinion) that Jesus ate the Seder or "Passover Meal" with his disciples the night before He was crucified. The Hebrew Passover meal of the Old Covenant had specific requirements, including the use of "unleavened bread." For this reason, some evangelicals are offended if anything other than "unleavened wafers" are used in the Lord's Supper. They hold to a mystical, ritualistic view of the Lord's Supper. They ordain "authorized" men with "spiritual authority" to guard the Eucharist from corruption, and they caution commoners to ne'er "eat nor drink unworthily" lest they be damned. 

In the Baptist circles in which I grew up, the altar call before the Lord's Supper was the time people really thought about their sins. Usually, it was once a quarter (every three months). In very circumspect congregations, weekly review of one's sins occurred for the Lord's Supper was solemnly served every Sunday.

I aim to show in this post that the Lord's Supper that Jesus ate with His disciples was NOT the Passover Meal (e.g. the "Seder") but was actually a normal meal of everyday bread and wine that the disciples ate and drank daily.

If I'm correct, then the injunction that Jesus gives His followers - "every time you eat or drink, remember Me" - means if you argue with your spouse on Monday morning and you happen to go get a drink of water at the office water fountain later that same morning, pause and "remember Jesus." Or if you go to the cafeteria to eat something for lunch, don't take a bite until you pause and "remember Jesus." 

In other words, don't let any drink pass your lips or any food enter your mouth without REMEMBERING JESUS and what He did for you. Eating and drinking become the actions that trigger the remembrance of Christ. You use the act of consuming your daily food and drink to prod you to "focus on Christ," to remember His authority in your life, and to recall everything HE teaches about how you are to live. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

If you think of Jesus and what He teaches you before you eat or drink something, He'll bring to your mind those harsh words you said to your spouse earlier in the morning, and remind you of HIs Royal Law which is "to love one another as I have loved you!". You'll then go and make it right iwith the person you've not loved like Jesus before you eat or drink. 

If I'm right, the Lord's Supper doesn't mean you examine yourself and "remember Jesus" quarterly - or even weekly - but every time you put food or drink to your lips.

Jesus and His Disciples Ate Real Bread (Leavened Bread) and Drank Regular Wine at the Last Supper

The meal we call "The Lord's Supper" occurred on WEDNESDAY NIGHT during the week Jesus died. The meal was not "The Passover (Seder)" meal, which always occurred after sunset of  "Passover Preparation Day" (Thursday, Nisan 14), a meal that could only be eaten AFTER the lambs were killed and roasted and the unleavened bread had been baked on Preparation Day (the day Jesus died). You can't have a Passover meal prior to the Passover lamb being killed.

Jesus died on THURSDAY AFTERNOON (Nisan 14), the day after He ate a normal, regular dinner with His disciples in the room they reserved to "prepare for the Passover."

Nisan 14  - Preparation Day - is the day on the Jewish Calendar which begins the eight days of Passover. It is called "Preparation Day" or "Passover Day" because at 3:00 pm on that day (Nisan 14) the Jews would "slay the lambs" that they would eat THAT NIGHT as their Passover meal. After the lambs were slain, the Jews roasted the lambs and served roasted lamb with bitter herbs and UNLEAVENED BREAD for the "Passover Meal (Seder)," which - again - ALWAYS occurred AFTER the lambs had been killed earlier in the day (Nisan 14).

During the day when Jesus died (Nisan 14), the Jewish women would have been "sweeping out the leaven" from their houses, and would have been cooking "unleavened bread," PREPARING for the PASSOVER MEAL that they would eat that night (Thursday), after sunset of the day when Jesus ("Our Passover Lamb") and the other Jewish lambs had been slain.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER, that on the Jewish Calendar, unlike our western calendars,  a new day begins at 6:00 pm in the evening. So the Jewish Passover Meal was always eaten by the Jews on THE SECOND DAY of Passover Week (NISAN 15), which would have been THURSDAY night in our western mind, but the beginning of a NEW DAY in the Jewish mind (Nisan 15). This day, Nisan 15, was always a high and holy day (e.g. a High Sabbath) on the Jewish calendar. It was on this day (Nisan 15) that the Jews observed "The Feast of UNLEAVENED BREAD." It was at THIS MEAL that unleavened bread was first consumed during Passover Week.

Jesus couldn't have eaten this meal (the Passover) with His disciples. because He had died for our sins on Preparation Day (Nisan 14). By nightfall, Jesus was already in the tomb "sweeping away our sins" when the Jewish Passover meal was being observed by the Jews.

So Jesus ate a regular meal of leavened bread and wine - daily staples for His disciples - on Wednesday night, hours before He died on Thursday afternoon, Nisan 14, at 3:00 pm.

According to Exodus 12:1, the Passover lamb was to be chosen on the 10th day of Aviv (Nisan). The Hebrew month of Aviv was later given the name Nisan (during the Jewish captivity). Both Aviv and Nisan mean "Spring," but Aviv is a Hebrew word, and Nisan is a Syriac or Assyrian word that the Jews later adopted as their own.  After the Passover lamb had been chosen on the Nisan 10, the people would inspect the lamb to make sure there were no spots or blemishes. The lamb could not have any broken bones or be defective in any way. Four days after the lamb was chosen, the lamb was slain. Don't forget, Jesus entered Jerusalem on Sunday, Nisan 10, during what we call "Palm Sunday" and for "four days" He was examined, and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate eventually declared to the people, "I find no fault in Him!" (Luke 23:4). Likewise, the Jewish people during crucifixion week would have chosen their "lambs" on Sunday, Nisan 10, examined them to ensure there were "no blemishes" for four days, and then sacrifice their lambs on Thursday afternoon, Nisan 14, the same day Jesus died. Jesus died Thursday afternoon of Nisan 14 at 3:00 pm.

The lambs were all killed on Nisan 14 because Nisan 14 was "Preparation Day" for the Passover meal that would occur after sunset. Thus, the Bible calls Nisan 14  "the day of Preparation for Passover" (see John 19:14) . The Jews would also use this Day of Preparation (Nisan 14) to sweep away any leaven in their houses in preparation for The Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread would begin after the sunset of Thursday, Nisan 14, around 6:00 pm which in the Jewish mind would be "the next day," Nisan 15. The actual Passover Festival (also called "The Days of Unleavened Bread) would last seven days beginning with the Passover meal, but if you count Preparation Day (Nisan 14) the entire Passover Festival is eight days long.

However, only beginning with the Passover Meal (Nisan 15) is unleavened bread eaten. Every other day of the year, including Nisan 14 (Preparation Day), regular, leavened bread was eaten by the Jews.  That's why Jesus ate normal, daily bread and consumed the normal, regular drink during Wednesday night's "Lord's Supper" or "Last Supper," just hours before He died on the afternoon of Jewish Preparation Day (Nisan 14).

So the actual Festival of Unleavened Bread began with the Passover Meal in the early hours of the Nisan 15 (from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Thursday night), when the Jews ate the meal they'd "prepared" earlier in the afternoon (Nisan 14). The lambs that had been sacrificed earlier in the day were roasted and eaten at the Passover meals in Jewish homes at the beginning of the NEW DAY Nisan 15 which began with nightfall (Thursday night).

Leaven in Scripture is a picture of sin or evil. After the Passover lamb died the leaven was gone. All sin and evil disappeared in the Jewish homes (symbolically) as they brought the Paschal lamb into their homes and celebrated Jewish redemption from Egyptian bondage during the days of Moses.

It was impossible for Jesus to have eaten the Passover Meal (Seder) with His disciples because He had already died and was in the tomb (sweeping away our sins).

Again, the Passover lamb ALWAYS died on Nisan 14, and leaven was ALWAYS swept away from Jewish homes during daylight hours of Nisan 14. The actual Passover Meal was eaten after sunset, in the early hours of Nisan 15, which began the week-long Festival of Unleavened Bread.

You must get this fixed in your mind: The Passover meal that the Jews ate during the week of Jesus' crucifixion would have been eaten  on Thursday evening as we westerners reckon it, for it was after sunset of Nisan 14, the day that Jesus died. However, the Jews considered that evening when the Passover meal was eaten (6:00 pm to 10:00 pm) to be the NEXT DAY, Nisan 15.

This day, Nisan 15, was an extremely important holy day on the Jewish Calendar. The Jews observed on this day (Nisan 15) "The Feast of Unleavened Bread" (e.g. "The Passover " or Seder) - and NO CRIMINAL could hang on the cross on this day by Jewish law.

The Feast Day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) was considered a High Sabbath for the Jews. 

The High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15)  was not the regular Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) for the Jews, but a special annual High Sabbath, similar to the way Americans celebrate Independence Day.

In America,  Independence Day (July 4) can fall on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc... depending on the year. So too, in the Jewish Calendar, the Festival of Unleavened Bread on Nisan 15 can fall on any day of the week. HOWEVER, in the year Jesus died (A.D. 30), Nisan 15 fell on a FRIDAY. That means that Friday, Nisan 15 was a High Sabbath and Saturday, Nisan 16 was a regular Sabbath.

This would mean that the resurrection of Christ occurred on Sunday, Nisan 17, AFTER TWO SABBATHS, back to back. 

This is precisely what the New Testament teaches. The gospel writer Matthew describes the time when the disciples came to the empty tomb of Christ on Sunday morning by writing, “After the Sabbath(s), at dawn on the first day of the week...” (Matthew 28:1a). The Greek word translated Sabbath in Mark 28:1 is “Shabbaton” (plural) not “Shabbat” (singular). Any English translation that does not use "Sabbaths" has mistranslated the Greek text. Jesus' crucifixion week had the High Sabbath on Friday plus the weekly,, regular Sabbath on Saturday. He rose "after the Sabbaths."

The Romans went to "break Jesus' legs" Thursday afternoon, Nisan 14, while Jesus hung on the cross "to speed up His death" in order to have Him removed from the cross before "The Sabbath began" - NOT the normal, weekly Saturday Jewish Sabbath, but the special HIGH SABBATH of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) which just so happened to fall on FRIDAY of crucifixion week, the day before the regular Sabbath. Of course, when they came to Jesus with clubs to break His legs to speed up His death, they discovered He was already dead, fulfilling the Law that the Passover lamb must have no broken bones and the Messianic psalms that "Not one of His bones will be broken" (Psalm 34:20).

Jesus died on Preparation Day of Passover (Thursday) and went into the tomb before sundown on Thursday, which was the evening of the Passover meal and the High and Holy Sabbath (Friday) of Unleavened Bread.

In Summary:

Jesus entered Jerusalem as "The Chosen Lamb" on Sunday, Nisan 10.

Jesus died on the day of Passover Preparation Day, Thursday, Nisan 14.

The next day, Friday, Nisan 15, was the First Day of Unleavened Bread and a special High Sabbath for the Jews, when no leaven could be in the homes. Jesus was in the tomb this day.

The following day, Saturday, Nisan 16 was the normal, weekly Sabbath for the Jews, and Jesus remained in the tomb.

On Sunday, Nisan 17, Jesus rose from the dead.

This day (Nisan 17) was another important holy day to the Jews during Passover. "The day after the regular Sabbath" (during Passover week) was always observed with "The Waving of the Sheaves of First Fruits" (Leviticus 23:15). The Jewish farmers would enter the Temple courtyard "on the morrow after the regular Sabbath" (e.g. Sunday morning) during Passover Week, and wave a handful of grain to the Lord and pray, "as you have blessed the first fruits of this harvest, please bless the rest of the harvest." This is the morning (Sunday, Nisan 17) that Jesus rose from the grave.

Jesus is "the first fruits of resurrection," and it is a guarantee that you and all others in Christ will be blessed with resurrection (e.g. "the full harvest of resurrection"), as Christ our First Fruits was raised from the grave.  Paul teaches us about the resurrection in I Corinthians 15 and he uses the language of "first fruits" when speaking of Christ's resurrection, and "full harvest" when writing of the general resurrection of Christ followers. Paul knew the day Jesus rose from the grave was the Jewish festival of "Waving the Sheaves of First Fruits."

So since Jesus died at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nisan 14, at the very time the national Passover lamb was being sacrificed in the temple and individual families were sacrificing their family lambs, Jesus would spend 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb prior to His resurrection, just as He said He would! Jesus was placed in the tomb on Thursday (Nisan 14) before sunset, remained in the tomb all night/day Friday (Nisan 15)  all night/day Saturday (Nisan 16), and through night (6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. of Sunday, (Nisan 17). Three days and three nights. If He died on Friday, as most wrongly say, you might be able to get "three days" (Friday, Saturday and Sunday - even though He arose before daylight on Sunday), but there is NO WAY you can get "three nights." No way. I believe Jesus when He said He would spend three days AND three nights in the tomb.

Jesus rose from the grave sometime between the sunset following Saturday (Aviv 16) and sunrise of the first day of the week (Mark 16:9), which was Sunday (Nisan 17) for the Scripture says it was still night when Jesus rose. The time Jesus spent in the grave fulfills the prophecy Jesus said about His own death and resurrection: 
"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).
Therefore, the Meal Jesus Ate with His Disciples on Wednesday Night Was a Regular Meal, Not Passover.

What are the implications? 

It means that in the New Covenant, the Lord's Supper is nothing more, nothing less than remembering the Lord Jesus Christ every time you eat or drink.

This is consistent with the teaching of the New Testament.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).

How can you get drunk if every time  you drink, you think of Christ? How can you sleep with your stepmother (as was the sin of a Corinthian Christian in I Corinthians) if every time you eat you think of Christ? How can you speak poorly to your spouse in the morning and not make it right by lunch if you "think of Christ every time you eat or drink." How can you continue in idolatry of anything if you take every opportunity in eating and drinking to think of Jesus Christ? Your LIFE is in HIM!

Jesus is "your Bread of Life."

Jesus is "your Water of Life." 

Jesus is your LIFE.

As often as you eat or drink, remember Jesus Christ.

This is the practice of New Covenant Christianity. It is living every moment of your life for Jesus Christ. 

Not waiting for a quarterly ritual called the Lord's Supper.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Pitcher Reminds Us of the Strength of Women

Buried at the Carlisle Cemetery near the headquarters of the United States Army War College is a woman named Mary Hayes, otherwise known as "Molly Pitcher." Molly died January 22, 1822, and where her body now rests stands a cannon, a United States flag flying on a tall mast, and a statue commemorating Molly's heroism during the Revolutionary War.  Molly Pitcher is indeed a Revolutionary War hero. I am always captivated by stories of strength, bravery and heroism by American women, particularly since some Christian men seem to think women are not equal to men in these attributes. Molly's story reminds us that women are as capable as men, and once you hear her story, every time you see a pitcher on the kitchen table, maybe you'll be reminded of the strength of women. Some believe Molly's story is so incredible, so heroic that it must be a "fable" or the convergence of many stories. But if you are to believe the U.S. Army historians who give tribute to Molly Pitcher in the 1777 Hessian Powder Magazine Museum (and I do believe them), then this story is fact, not fiction.

Mary "Molly" Hays spent the winter of 1777 with George Washington and the American troops at Valley Forge, troops which included her husband William Hayes. Molly had married William, a Carlisle, Pennsylvania barber, in 1776. She had come to the battlefield to help Martha Washington and other army followers who washed blankets and clothes, nursed the sick and wounded, and provided other support for the American soldiers who were fighting the British for Independence. Surviving the brutal winter, the Americans fought a fierce battle against the British in June 1778 called the Battle of Monmouth. This is the battle where Mary "Molly" Hayes became Molly Pitcher.

June 28, 1778 was as in Monmouth as it had been cold in Valley Forge. Someone, according to the Army historians, had to bring water to cool the hot guns and quench the thirst in the parched throats of the American soldiers. Across the bullet-sprayed grounds, Mary Hayes began bringing pitchers of water to the solders from a nearby spring she had discovered. The cool spring water seemed to revive the men, and time after time, Mary brought pitchers of water, only stopping momentarily to care for the injured and wounded around her. On one particular occasion, she picked up a wounded American, put him on her shoulders, and carried him to the safety of the spring, far from the front. On one particular water pitcher trip, Mary watched as her husband replaced a fallen soldier as "the rammer" on a Patriot cannon near the front lines. Just as she noticed her husband working the cannon, William Hays also fell to the ground, having been shot by the British. Horrified, Mary treated her husband's wounds, while being under fire herself. Then she heard the order to withdraw the cannon because "there is no one left to operate it." After making sure William would survive, Molly stood and became the cannon rammer to insure the Patriot position would remain firm and the Americans would not withdraw. The woman that the American men had been calling for earlier in the battle by shouting "Molly! Pitcher!" - now became the woman leading the Battle of Monmouth at the fore cannon.

In the diary of one of the American patriots who marveled at Molly's courage, he records that a British cannon shot "tore the skirt" of Molly as she stood behind her cannon. Looking down and seeing the fabric damage, she calmly said, "Well, that could have been worse." Molly Pitcher stayed with her cannon until darkness and the British withdrew from battle. After the battle was over, George Washington encquired, "Who was that woman I saw operating the cannon today." Upon learning of Molly's heroism, George Washington, gave her a warrant for a noncommissioned officer. From that day until her death, Molly Pitcher was called Sergeant Molly by those who knew her.

If you ever find yourself near Carlisle, Pennsylvania and the Army War College (as I was yesterday), it would be well worthy your time to learn the story of Molly Pitcher and visit her grave. The flag, the cannon, and the bronze statue remind all Americans that the character and courage of patriots reside within both men and women. But if you are unable to visit Carlisle, just think of Molly Pitcher every time you see a pitcher of water on a table. It's symbol of the strength of American women.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What Is Truth? Is Truth Objective or Subjective?

The video below is the testimony of a 52-year-old man who "identifies" as a six-year-old girl. He first declared to his family his identity as a female, but in time, he came to "identify" himself as a six-year-old girl, seeking adoption by parents so he could live with sibling sisters who were actually 8 and 9 years old.

You can't make this up. It's the culture in which we now live.

In the You Tube comment stream of this video a person sarcastically asked, "I'm a 16-year-old who identifies as a 65-year-old man. Can I get my Social Security check now?"

We laugh, but if truth is what we imagine in our minds, or "identify" with in life - whether it be gender, age, race, or any host of other measurements - then there is no truth but that which floats in the minds of those who speak.

Of course, in a society where truth is subjective and not objective, chaos ultimately reigns. I call it the tyranny of truthlessness.

America has now reached this type of tyranny.

You are what you imagine. You identify with what you envision. Truth is within you, never an objective standard from without.

That's why people can say racism is "evil and immoral" (which it is according to the Bible), but call "hateful" those who say "transgenderism, homosexuality and pedophilia" is also evil and immoral (which it is according to the Bible).

Why is racism evil but not homosexuality?

Who decides?

When Pilate stood before Jesus he asked the question, "What is truth?" (John 18:38).

I propose until a person answers that question satisfactorily, he or she will simply be living a lie.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Principles of Grace and Effective Leadership

Maybe you've heard the phrase, "Don't be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good." I understand the sentiment behind that aphorism, but the longer I live, the more I believe that earthly good only comes from people who are heavenly minded.

Let me illustrate.

Some wrongly think that the principles of God's grace to sinners in Jesus Christ are truths for another world, another time. The world's best leaders, they say, have no need for understanding what it means to be completely forgiven, totally accepted, unconditionally blessed, and eternally loved by their Creator. 

This kind of thinking is wrong.

The most effectual leadership in the world today - whether it be in politics, business, the church, or the home - is leadership exhibited by those who understand their identity is derived from God's grace to them and not from peoples' perceptions of them.

Recently a pastor friend of mine (let's call him Jake), sent to his church trustees an email. It seems the trustees wanted the church to go a particular direction in ministry, a direction with which Pastor Jake disagreed. He sent me a copy of his email "to ask my opinion" of what he'd written to the trustees.

Rather than replicate the entire email (and thus disclose the persons and church involved), I want to only focus on the first sentence and the last sentence of Jake's email to the church trustees to demonstrate Jake's poor leadership.

Jake began by writing:
"I don't want you to feel like I..." 
And Jake ended his email by writing.
"I'm afraid that you will think ..." 
So I responded to Jake and gave him my thoughts. 

I told Jake that his opening and closing sentences contained language that would be helpful for him to lose if he wished to be an effective leader.

To say or write I don’t want you to feel like I” or "I'm afraid that you will think" is an attempt to control what other people feel or think. This is not good leadership. It displays a very self-absorbed focus. Leaders lead. Leaders do what needs done - whether people feel favorable towards them or not - because that which needs done is right and good. In other words, principles are always more important to leaders than perception. A leader will always desire to know what others feel or think, but an effective leader is never threatened by what others feel or think. 

In order for Jake not to write about his "fear" or "worry" over what others think or feel, Jake has to come to the place where he lets people think or feel whatever they wish.  Only a secure person can let go of controlling the thoughts and feelings of other people. Words are conduits to one's thoughts. Jake's writing indicates he is more focused on peoples' perception of him than he is God's grace to him. He's not leading others effectively.

Whenever Pastor Jake vocalizes his concern and worry over how others perceive him, or what others feel or think, he's not living by the foundational principles of grace.  People should always be free to feel or think for themselves. A good leader is never threatened by the thoughts or feelings others. I’m not saying Jake isn't a leader;  I’m saying Jake needs to learn how to lead more effectively.

We are not in control of how others feel about us or what others think about us. Ever.

You and I may do everything “just right.” We may bend over backwards, jump through hoops, say it “just right,” do it “just right” (or at least the way we think others would have us do it), and those we desire to “feel” something good about us,  or “feel” comfortable with us, or “feel” like we’ve done an amazing job, may actually “feel," "think" or "perceive" us in a manner differently than we would like.

Since you are not in control of how other people feel about you – your spouse, your parents, your children, your friends, your boss, etc… - then the only true anchor in life is to rest in what the Bible says God thinks about those who embrace His Son.

God's approval is all that matters. In Christ you have all the forgiveness, all the acceptance, all the approval, all the love, all the guidance, all the blessing, all the purpose, all the identity your life will ever need. Believing that will "cut the cord" of dependence on other's approval.

Resting in God's grace to you in Jesus Christ leads to effective leadership because you come to trust and rest in what He feels, thinks and perceives about you. And what God thinks of you is "all good and favorable" because of His grace and love to you in the gift of His Son. Therefore, when you rest in God's grace, you can come to the place where you say to yourself:
“I cannot orchestrate the feelings of others; I am only in charge of what I feel. I cannot seek to control what others think; I can only order my thoughts. I cannot organize events in order for people to like or accept me; I can only come to a place of inner contentment and acceptance within me, regardless of what others think, feel or believe about me.”
I told Jake when he can start applying the principles of grace in his life rather than just preaching grace from the pulpit, he will come to the place where what he writes and what he says to his lay leadership is different. For example, he would open his email 

I do not desire to ... " rather than "I don’t want you to feel "

Do you see the difference? In the first sentence his is telling others what he desires. In the second sentence he is telling others what he wants them to feel. Effective leaders never try to control what others feel, but will always clearly state what he or she (the leader) feels and thinks, while at the same time allowing others to feel or think differently, even if those feelings or thoughts are "disappointment in," "disapproval of" or "disapprobation for" the leader.

I also told Jake how to effectively close his email. 

Jake should write, "It’s not my desire to be a negative person instead of “I'm afraid that you will think this email is negative in tone.”

Again, an effective leader learns to communicate by telling others what he thinks, what he feels, what he perceives, and learns to listen to what others think, what others feel, and what others perceive without trying to control without trying to manipulate, manage or control what others think, feel, or perceive.

An effective leader will gather data and do what is right because the leader believes what needs to be done is best on the basis of principle. 

When Jake stops thinking or worrying about what others feel; what others think; and what others perceive and simply lives his life by doing what he does because it’s the right and good thing to do – regardless of what others say or believe about him doing it, - he will become a superbly effective leader.

Those are the kind of leaders we need in politics, business, the church, and the home.

So only when we focus on heaven and understand who we are by the grace of God will we be of any earthly good. 

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Henry Stanley's Life of Idealism and Self-Sacrifice

I have recently become infatuated with the story of Henry Morton Stanley, the reporter who searched the heart of Africa and found the long-lost African missionary David Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone on November 10, 1871, Stanley allegedly uttered the immortal words, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

I've written on Henry Stanley before, and I am currently reading everything Stanley wrote and every book I can get my hands on that has been written about him

One of the things that strikes me about Henry Stanley is his willingness to live a sacrificial and idealistic life, laying aside temporal pleasures for what he believed to be a greater good. Stanley biographer Tim Jeal, in his superb Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer, tells how Livingstone's desire to remain in Africa after being found by Stanley, in order to finish his lifelong missionary work - instead of leaving the continent for personal fame and fortune - had a profound influence on Stanley.
Livingstone’s belief that he had been called to serve Africa made a lifelong impression on Stanley, influencing his own behavior and attitudes. When Livingstone told him, ‘I have lost a great deal of happiness I know by these wanderings. It is as if I had been born to exile,’ Henry felt a bond of fellow feeling. He too believed he had been born to labor and achieve rather than to enjoy his life. In January 1870, Stanley had discussed the purpose of human life with the rich and sybaritic American consul in Cairo, Mr G.C. Taylor. Taylor had argued that, since man was fated to be ‘dust like the beasts’, a life of idealism and self-sacrifice made less sense than a life of pleasure-seeking. Stanley had disagreed. Even if life could be proved to be purposeless, he told Taylor, it would still matter to him personally: ‘for my own spirit’s satisfaction … It is in my nature to toil, as it is in the other’s nature to enjoy.
I had to look up the word sybaritic. It means "loving luxury or sensuous pleasure." People remember the names of Livingstone and Stanley, but few have heard of G.C. Taylor.

It seems to me that a life of idealism and self-sacrifice ultimately is the greatest pleasure of all, but it is only borne from a spirit born-again by the grace of God.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Best Police Officers Are In Fact Peace Officers

Throughout the 1800's all the way into the decade of the 1960's, "peace officer" was the term most often in America to refer to sheriffs, constables, troopers, marshals and any officer of the state or nation responsible for upholding the law. Today the old moniker of "peace officer" has been almost eliminated in popular usage, replaced by “police officer” or even “law enforcement officer.”

Sheriff Andy Taylor of the Andy Griffith Show is perhaps the best  example of what it once meant, at least to most Americans, to be a peace officer. Of course the Andy Griffith show was fictional, but it was based on the reality of how Americans viewed officials tasked with enforcing the law within a community. They kept "the peace" by being a "peacemaker." Just a few decades ago, most Americans would point to the character of Sheriff Taylor as the ideal for a "law enforcement official." 

Now, we have police in riot gear, heavy weaponry, masks, and bullet proof vests, often forcing submission on citizens rather than upholding peace in communities. I'm not saying the militarization of law enforcement officials is all the the fault of law enforcement agencies. Not at all. Culture has indeed changed. 

But America would be a better country if our police officers saw themselves as peace officers. 

There are still a few individual models of what a peace officer should like in America, peace officers that work in America's major metropolitan cities in 2017.

My Facebook friend Kiki Cherry introduces us to one via her Facebook post. She shared the story of what happened Friday night, July 28, 2017 when Kiki met Fort Worth Peace Officer Sergeant B. Halford. This encounter with Sergeant Halford beautifully demonstrates for us all the best qualities in a local peace officer. 
We had a very cool encounter last night with one of our Fort Worth police officers.
Doug and I were down on Magnolia street, meeting with one of my awesome young Compassion volunteers at a coffee shop there.
 Afterwards we were loitering in the parking lot and saying our goodbyes when we were approached by a panhandler.
She began telling us a woeful story about being homeless, and sounded truly pitiful and distraught. Just then a police officer walked up.
 He greeted us, then turned to the woman and asked if she needed a ride down to the shelter or help getting some food.
Suddenly her whole demeanor....and even her voice....changed, and she abruptly walked away.
He then turned and explained to us that she is an addict and was looking for money to go get her next fix.
 He spent the next ten minutes sharing with us the plight of the homeless in that area, and how we could engage them in a way that would be genuinely helpful but still compassionate.
I was impressed with his servant heart. He knew each of them by name, and seemed to be well acquainted with their stories. Yet he cared enough to not want to enable them in their addictions. He explained to us how giving money can be one of the worst responses to have and can hurt more than help. He also encouraged us that the best thing to do is to volunteer and invest in local churches and organizations that minister to the homeless.
We found out that when he was off-duty he routinely volunteered, even picking up food to take where there was a need and giving rides to shelters. He also owned a small construction company, and would often hire people he encountered and actively assist them to get back on their feet.
We asked him to tell us some practical ways that we could help. I had one of my Compassion business cards on me, and gave it to him so he could send us some information.
By the time we got home, there was already an email in my inbox....with attachments listing organizations that helped the homeless, and practical tips for how to engage in our community.
Thank you, Sergeant Halford, for your service to our city, and for giving of your time to educate us last night. You are definitely one of Fort Worth's finest!
Well done, Sergeant Halford. May your tribe of Peace Officers increase!