Wednesday, November 26, 2014

America's Mustard Seed

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which although it is the smallest seed in the garden, it grows into a tree. Matt 13:32

The enduring strength of America is the tree that has grown from a seed.  The seed?  It is is found in the initial declarations of the founders- the Pilgrims in the Mayflower Compact, the authors of the Declaration of Independence- these founders carried with them a powerful seed, born of the kingdom of God.  

That seed was the knowledge that mankind is loved and valued by God- that each man is given value by God.  And if that was true, then it would look like something- first of all, like freedom to worship God according to each man's conscience.  This led to freedom from the oppressive English monarchy.  And having won the freedom that was held, deeply, as having been given by God, the same men went on to define how free men, valued men, would live.   

Men valued by God would be honored individually by their government. And that government would be subject to those free men.  The governors would be subject to the consent of the governed.  The free men of the land would further be valued by having property rights, access to finances without usury, and many other fine inventions of the new world.  The Christian World.*

The seed, nurtured in the hearts of men who received the idea that human value is from their Maker, has grown into the largest tree in the garden.  What a powerful seed. Perhaps it will find fertile soil in my own heart.

Happy Thanksgiving Day America!  It's God who values you!

*This view went on to lead the world in the ending of slavery.  The seed of God - expressing His value of individuals - still leads the world into understanding His design and intention - that the destiny of all is freedom.  Slavery continues horribly today in regions where there is no seed of the kingdom of God.  Regret not that America once had slaves. Thank God for the seed He spoke into hearts- the seed of human value- that ended slavery in America and wherever God is loved.  

Monday, June 30, 2014

How to Fail Miserably and Wonderfully

So, I started a company.  One based on my Christian faith.  Wanna know how that went?  

Thought I'd give you the backstory on this ongoing startup.  

Step one was to ask this: 
What would my company look like- in its practices- if everything I did was an expression of what my faith is? 

I'd have to ask what do I actually believe about God, and man, and everything, and process through that, to come up with business practices that have a direct connection to what I believe.

This is different from living from your "heart".  It's living from an assessment of your actual faith. That's a challenging exercise in itself!  I have to tell you it was fun and enlightening to actively look at what I believe, with the purpose of making an implementation of that as a business plan.  I have a pretty high view of who God is and what he wants to do in the world, and as the Director of this company's practices.  

I can say that the result was crushing.  I immediately found that there is a massive gap between what I actually believe and what I'm capable of living out.  I've been brought to tears over this- crying, "I'm not that man!"  

This was a difficult thing to realize about myself.  But here's an amazing reality.  There is a lot in the bible about faith and perseverance together.  

The bouy to all my grief over my shortfalls was when someone said "this just proves you have something worth persevering for."  Huh?!  I can honestly say that I've never had that before!  But the business model I came up with from that assessment is nothing less than my highest aspiration and faith; and from what little I've done so far, I'm convinced this is what the world needs.  It's worth persevering for.

The fact that I fall far short of being able to deliver that is just the truth about what God made when He made man- the weakest and most dependent of all creatures he's ever made!  Of course I'm weak!   

Working through that, and delivering the goodness of God in spite of it, is the exercise of the life of faith!  I believe in demonstrating the righteousness of God on earth- His compassion, His courage, His generosity, His deliverance... Realizing the failings of myself as a man to deliver that, well that is a call of God to me to find HIS ability to make Himself known, even through my weakness... and possibly, especially in my weakness!  

Well, that's just the bible in real life!  I've come to accept my inability to be that guy, and really ask God to somehow use this mess to bring His kingdom wherever I set my feet.  It's gloriously ridiculous and laughable and wonderful!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Social Responsibility

I'm finally reading a book on the subject of "corporate social responsibility" - it's a really big deal in business.  Corporate giving back.  Well, I'm just not impressed.  And besides, it already has a name.

I call it the Love of God.

Chapters and volumes are spent describing and defining this revolutionary practice of Corporate Social Responsibility.  It just falls short with me.  It's like putting Josh Hamilton to the plate and telling him to bunt. It's just such a waste of horsepower, and not what he could accomplish at all.

Here's my version of corporate social responsibility, set free:

Get radicalized for Jesus and then go demonstrate the righteousness of God in the marketplace.  Spend your life and your means and your business goals on showing the world what the Love of God looks like.  In fact, use every resource and every tool devised by man, and demonstrate every aspect of the true nature of God.  And if there is not a business practice, or technical achievement, or invention, or a form of government adequate to fully express everything that you have to say about what God looks like, then invent a new one.  The world will benefit.

Somehow, hearing God's own vast answers to my biggest questions, has radicalized my life.

I don't have it all verbalized yet, but I can feel a sufficiency inside me now for every challenge.  I'm not looking for a fight, though it feels like that. Like a kid who is pretty sure he can hit the ball out of the park if he had to.  I was like that when I came to bat. The coach would say "just singles" but when I went for just singles I'd fly out.  I knew I could hit that ball far.  It took a while but I finally stopped listening to the coach and did what I felt I could do.  I turned out to be a pretty good power hitter.  I caused outfielders to do exploits to run down my hits.   My gospel says be released into the display of God's joy that He made you to display on the earth.

That's what I'm trying to say here, and it's just one of so many ways I am hearing the same message from God.  You were made for things as vast as Heaven, made to manifest them on the earth.   So go after it, son!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Proving What's Possible

And looking at them Jesus said to them, 
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  
Matthew 19:26

At one point I felt compelled to make the move, meaning that there was no way I could NOT do it.  I was meant for more.  I pulled the plug, and jumped.

If I hadn't made the jump out of my meaningful, but soul-numbing career path, and into the purpose-filled vision I held of my future:

I'd never have seen myself as someone who could actually have impact
I'd never have given meaningful work to people with special needs
I'd never have given opportunities to homeless men
I'd never have funded an orphanage and medical clinic in Guatemala
I'd never have proven that it's possible for business to be a powerful mechanism for expressing compassion in a community
I'd never have my own platform upon which to play out the substance of my faith and the desires of my heart
I'd never have seen how good I am, and how bad I am
I'd never have stared my naked failures in the face, and gone forward anyway
I'd never have something worth persevering for
I'd never have set an unattainable goal, and surpassed it
I'd never have known how far I could go
I'd never have a tool to embody every noble aspiration of mankind: to earnestly reflect the image of God on earth.

I can't tell you how stinking empowering this is.

I've started something.  These are all things I've begun in my first 9 months after leaving my career, and launching out into the life of applied faith and self-determination.  You can't say you're not a person of faith, either.  Maybe you believe in yourself.  Maybe you don't believe in yourself.  I believe in God, and that He made me for this.

The rest of my life will now be a grand experiment in whether my faith is meaningful in the world.  Because if it is, it will result in exceeding goodness for others.  

Here are some things I believe the world will see because I have jumped:

  • Compassionate employment for people with special needs and for the hurting and broken (read: homeless). Development of new models for this.
  • Recidivism among felons in Raleigh replaced by envisioned men owning businesses and leading their communities out of hopelessness
  • Real reduction in infant mortality in Guatemala (the country with the highest infant mortality rate in Central America- but not for long.)

And here is something that is completely out of reach for me to accomplish, but I cannot help but lay it out here: 
To start a movement.
To go first, prove what's possible, and encourage anyone who will listen, to lay hold of that for which they were laid hold of.

This is for people with faith in God. Who believe that God has a purpose for them, and who would race to that purpose if they knew what in the world that looked like.  I believe it looks like this. Like what I've done. Like what I'm doing.  What I'm doing is everything that comes into my path to do, and do it with a bare conscience before God.  Doing everything that is in my heart to do- all of it.  It looks like seeing with eyes of faith who God made you to be, and racing to become that with acts of that faith.  Risky, jumping from the nest, acts of faith.  

I define faith as believing in the goodness and trustworthiness of God's nature- that he is mighty to save those who jump from the nest and look to Him to bear them up.  Not for their own purposes, but for His.  A person of faith lives not for himself, but for God.  And God is Love.  What does that look like?  This is what it looks like to me.  How you have come to see that, and display it, is your calling in this life.  So join this movement, jump from the nest, and cast yourself upon the faithfulness and promises and nature of God.  You will never be the same.