More More

Last week, I wrote an entry titled No More More that discussed our cultural obsession with more—more things, more variety, more experiences, more of just about everything. God has hit the pause button on all that and is about to reboot the world's economies, and the shake out and shake up will be significant. Yet there is a more that God does want and I thought I would discuss that this week under the title Screen Shot 2020-05-15 at 7.43.48 PM"More More." My thoughts on this began when I read 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 this morning:

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more . . .

There is a more that God is interested in but it isn't the abundance of possessions; it is more love practically expressed first to the household of God and then to the world. In our pursuit of the wrong more, we suddenly did not have much time for the more more that God desired and that more is service to others in the power of our purpose and with the flare of our creativity.

My study of more didn't stop there, for then I did a search of the word more in the gospels and I came across a promise that Jesus made: "Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them" (Matthew 13:12). This more is in the area of knowledge concerning the things of God, and it is interesting that this concept is mentioned in the three synoptic gospels—but is not limited to knowledge. Not to be left out, John describes his concept of more in John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." Define fruit however you wish, but however you do, be sure that God wants more of it.

I have counseled and talked with many people who are quite satisfied with no more. They are content with where they are, and are diligent to protect their privacy and way of life. God would have to break into their world with a spiritual crowbar before they would consider doing more for missions, being more creative, or being more involved. Yet notice the promises in Matthew and John. Jesus promised that those who have will get more; they have no choice in the matter. If they are fruitful, God will prune them so they will produce more fruit. You get the idea that God wants more more from you, for you, and through you, and there is no discussion about it. That's His will and plan.

When I have taught on the concept of organization, I have taught that we must organize our lives to handle more more. That isn't about stuff, for if anything we need to have less of that kind of more. Yet how can you organize your life and world to produce the more more that God intends for you? I have organized my life, my office, my schedule, my connections, and my entire world to produce more: more books, more insight, more service. When I had mastered the art of writing books, I started a publishing company. Why? To make more money? Hardly! It was to structure my life so I could produce more. I had a say in that, but my only say was yes or no. When I said yes, then I had to invest my finances, and position my life to receive and support the more more. 

What are your thoughts on more more? Do you think it's God's will for you? Do you think this season may have come to help you have less of the wrong more focus and more on the more more? I was so taken with this topic today that I decided that my next book after Proverbs 31 Men is done is going to be titled The Gospel of More, and it won't be about possessions. It will be about the right kind of more more. The sooner we can settle in our minds and hearts that God wants more and that more more is not an option, the sooner we can get about preparing and then realizing more. And if that is the result of this pandemic, it will have a redemptive harvest that was fertilized by the pain and suffering of people the world over as they embrace no more more and accept the fact that God wants more of the right kind of more.


Pandemic Pondering

It has been six weeks since we were directed to stay home and shelter in place due to the COVID-19 Screen Shot 2020-05-01 at 8.11.52 PMpandemic. These have been busy days for me since I took on a few new projects like a Facebook Live half hour session three times a week and an hour-long blog radio show Monday through Friday. That is on top of the coaching, publishing, and fundraising that has emerged as people have had more time to think, do some self-analysis, and create. The fundraising is for our partners in Kenya, who are going through their own pain as they stay indoors and trust the Lord for food and health.

Every morning when I get up (earlier than ever these days), I post my daily devotional on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Then I wait before the Lord and start to post short sayings meant to challenge the readers to be more purposeful, creative, and productive--and also less fearful. Those sayings have created a lot of "buzz" on social media, and the blog radio has been averaging 35 downloads every day (that's pretty good for the size of my audience and reach). 

I launched my free ministry mobile app for PurposeQuest International a few weeks ago. If you have not downloaded it, please do so now. It will help us stay connected and give you notices when I post or publish new resources. I have also updated my website and continued my weekly Purpose Study Bible Studies and the weekly Monday Memo.

My work in my publishing company is busier than ever. I counted 19 projects in various stages of development from the conceptualization phase to final proofing before publishing. Those are in addition to the three projects of my own I am working on. I also just finished teaching a class in the Gospels for Ottawa University in Kansas and posted the grades this past week. 

Why an I telling you all this? It is because I want to encourage and challenge you at the same time. Jesus told a parable in Luke 19 in which the master gave each servant one mina to work with until the master returned: "So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back'" (Luke 19:13). One servant earned ten minas, one five, but one did not increase at all. The master told the one who showed no increase,

“His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?" (Luke 19:22-23).

The lesson of the parable was and is that God expects increase from His Kingdom citizens. The absolute increase is not what's more important; it's just that God invests in us and wants to see a return on His investment. You don't have to write books or do anything like I do or in the quantities I do them, but you do have to take who you are and what you can do and see how you work them so you bear much fruit for His glory.

Where do you think your greatest opportunity for increase is? That is where you should put your emphasis, especially as we look to enter into a new normal as the world emerges from the pandemic. If I can help you discover those areas of strength and potential growth, please contact me. You know where I will be: sitting at my home desk broadcasting, writing, and helping others to create as I feel God wants me to do. 


A Spirit of Fear

If you are like me, you know 2 Timothy 1:7 by heart: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (NKJV). I use this verse often when I coach people to find purpose or to be creative, and I have felt free to use this truth in many other areas of life and ministry, including my own. Therefore I was surprised this week when I looked at this verse in the context where it is found, and discovered that I should not be as free to use this verse as I have been, for it seems to be  specific and focused in one and not all areas of life.

In the verse before seven, Paul wrote these words: "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God FanIntoFlamePicwhich is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV). Paul was urging Timothy to recognize the gift he had and instructed him to fan the gift into flames. When our homes had a fireplace, I would often have to employ this tactic. If I could get a small flame going, I would gently blow on it, giving it more oxygen so that it would spread. That is what Paul was telling Timothy to do: Take the smallest spark of his gift and do what he had to do to make it burn hotter and brighter.

So the context for not having a spirit of fear is not applied to all areas of life, but to the expression of our purpose and gifts. Paul would not tell us not to be afraid where our gift is concerned unless it was a common tendency for it to happen. We shrink back in fear when we have a chance to express who we are instead of taking every opportunity to do so and to learn how to do it more effectively.

Where are you afraid to express your gift? In fact, do you know what your gift is? Have others laid hands on you to confirm or release the gift? What can you do to fan it into flames, giving it the oxygen it needs to flourish and prosper. I have been on a search and destroy mission the last few years of my life to find and eradicate fear, and it's been a large task. I suspect this will continue for the rest of my life.

What are you doing to confront and neutralize the fear where your gift is concerned? I encourage you to read these verses and the others in 2 Timothy 1 and do what Paul was advising Timothy to do, which was to stop hiding behind his fears but to step out into the light of self-expression, which is the only way to honor God for making you who He made you to be.


W51D4 - Spirituality

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no
grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and
the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep
in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice
in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" - Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Every business, church, family, and organization will go through hard times from time to time. Life happens and when it does, it often brings with it the unexpected downturn, setback, loss, or failure. The role of leadership in those times is not to allow the down time to define the future by helping keep it in perspective, keeping hope alive and helping to address any proactive steps the entity can take to lessen or soften the hard time. In times of difficulty, leaders must be purveyors of hope, keeping the vision alive and reminding people of the good times past and the good times yet to come - and to keep their own eyes on the Lord who will sustain them.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine your spiritual resolve when tough times come. Do you panic or do you keep your hope and faith alive by reminding yourself that this is not permanent, that God is up to and after something? Do you keep an optimistic outlook when talking with others? Do you keep everyone involved informed of the current reality without hiding the facts? Do you pray more and with a listening ear? Do you seek the Lord for wisdom?


W46D4: Spiritual Growth

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all
the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it
to the right or to the left, that you may be successful
wherever you go" - Joshua 1:7.

Joshua was about to lead the people into the Promised Land, completing a journey that Moses had begun but could not finish due to his temper when he misrepresented the Lord (see Numbers 20:9-13). God gave Joshua five directives as he prepared to lead the people in: 1) be strong; 2) have courage; 3) be careful; 4) be obedient; and 5) walk in all the Law's commandments. Those five warnings are relevant for all leaders to heed, for there are times when their spirituality must translate into practical action that calls for obedient courage. Courage is never the absence of fear, but rather learning to function and act in the midst of or in spite of fear, as Joshua was to discover time and time again as they crossed the Jordan to enter God's inheritance.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to reflect on whether or not fear is hindering your walk with the Lord and your obedience to His commands as you lead. The challenge is that fear seldom identifies itself, but appears to be rational and reasonable. "We don't have the finances" can really mean "I am afraid we don't have them" or "I don't have time" is "I'm afraid I don't have time." Where is fear holding you back your journey into God's Promised Land for you?

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I am halfway to my matching $750 challenge grant toward my personal support. Your gifts are doubled if they are given by this coming Sunday at midnight. You can give through PayPal or by sending a check to PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you for your help.


W41D4 - Spiritual Growth

"And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe
that he exists and that he rewards those who
earnestly seek him"' - Hebrews 11:6.

If it is true that without faith it is impossible to please God, then it is also true that with faith it is possible to please Him. Faith is the currency with which transactions with God are made. Believers spend faith, receive the object of their faith and the Lord fills their pockets with more faith, thus creating a faith cycle and lifestyle of which God approves. While leaders are required to take a rational approach to life and business, they must also look for ways to express faith - faith that people can do the work, faith that risk and hard work will be rewarded, faith that people can change, faith that God is watching their efforts and will bless the work of their hands. Faith is not to be an event, but rather a lifestyle, even for leaders who are working in non-faith-based organizations.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine the role of faith in your work and leadership style. On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), rate your faith in the following areas: 1) delegating work to other people; 2) stepping out of your comfort zone to learn new things; 3) taking calculated risks; 4) investing money in people and new ventures; 5) hiring new people or promoting others; 6) allowing people to make and learn from mistakes; and 7) a succession plan for your role.


W36D4 - Spiritual Growth

"You, Lord, took up my case;
    you redeemed my life.
Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me.
    Uphold my cause!
You have seen the depth of their vengeance,
    all their plots against me" - Lamentations 3:58-60.

In this passage, the prophet Jeremiah is pleading his case to the Lord because of how his contemporaries have treated him. He was leading Judah as their prophet, but the people would not listen to him, even persecuting him for telling them the truth. It is only a matter of time before leaders encounter enemies, who for various reasons - jealousy, ambition, ignorance, greed, just to name a few - oppose, criticize, undermine, and even rebel against their leadership decisions or position. When this happens, godly leaders must learn to look to God for help and wisdom and not seek revenge, give in to hatred or carry a grudge.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Today's Step is to prepare for the day when your enemies come after you, just like they did Jeremiah and Jesus. First, don't be surprised when it happens - it is part of man's fallen nature to rebel and be ambitious. Second, don't be naive, for it may be someone close to you. Third, be open  that God may use your enemies to reposition you or teach you more about trusting Him. Finally, be prepared to use prayer as your primary means of defense.


W31D4 - Spiritual Growth

"Let us not become weary in doing
good, for at the proper time we will
reap a harvest if we do not give up" - Galatians 6:9.

Leaders must seize every opportunity to do good, no matter what business they are in. This includes not only their personal lives, but also their business or community lives as well. What's more, Paul encouraged the readers to endure in doing good, for there is always a season when it seems like the doing of good deeds receives no notice or has no reward. It may seem like God doesn't notice, but He has a big book and a sharp pencil, so to speak, and He never forgets or allows good deeds to go unrewarded.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Have you grown weary in doing good? Does it seem like your good deeds go unnoticed or unrequited? Your Step today is to encourage yourself and your organization (or your family) in your benevolent strategies. First of all, make sure your strategy is clear. Then, identify the causes to which you are committed to give time and resources. Finally, communicate your work not to trumpet your good deeds but to benefit your cause(s) even further.


W26D4 - Spiritual Growth

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows" - Galatians 6:7.

No matter how anointed or effective leaders are, they are not exempt from the laws of nature or of God. For example, if leaders step off a cliff, they are subject to the law of gravity and will plummet to the ground below, no matter how loved or successful those leaders are (or were, if they step off the cliff). Leaders are also subject to the law of reaping and sowing. If they sow kind words, they will reap encouragement. If they sow into others, they will reap followers. If they sow into the community, they will reap friends. If they sow negativity, they will reap suspicion and distrust. Leaders cannot ignore or circumvent the law of reaping and sowing without serious repercussions for their leadership fruit and effectiveness

LEADERSHIP STEP: Where in your leadership or your organization are you not reaping what you would like or hope to reap? Then perhaps you must examine your sowing habits. Today's Step is to examine your sowing strategy where others are concerned. Examine the time, effort, and money you are investing into others and see if they are sufficient to reap exceptional followers and results. If not, what more can you do to ensure that you will have an abundant crop of exceptional teammates and organizational results.


W21D4 - Spiritual Growth

"When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust" - Jonah 3:6.

The king of Nineveh was not part of the Jewish community but rather a worshiper of idols. Yet when the warning came from Jonah of impending doom, he humbled himself, fasted and prayed, and ordered his subjects to do the same. Leaders cannot ignore their own spiritual side, or look past the spiritual life of those who follow. Leaders should always consider the ethical implications of what they do and the decisions they make, and remember that they will answer to the Lord not only for what they do in their personal lives, but also what they do in their business lives. In other words, leaders need to keep in mind that God is watching them—all the time.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Are you paying attention to your spiritual being as you express your business side? Do you give people leeway to do the same? Today's Step is to find one thing you can do to raise the spiritual awareness of your team or company. That may be a seminar on values, a book on ethics, or a speaker for a staff meeting who will talk about creativity and the spiritual, invisible parts of people that are just as important as business knowledge and strategy.