Building A Jesus-centric Team (Audio)

Recently I had an opportunity to speak to a few leaders at our annual worship conference. I spoke on the need to create teams centered around Jesus and how to practically do that, whether they are ministry teams or a few Christians in a local business together.

You can find my notes for the talk here.

The Difference Between Holiness & Legalism

I believe one of the things the church will see the closer we get to Jesus’ second coming is the authentic church growing in holiness. I know the Bible promises a great “falling away” of unbelievers but the book of Revelation promises us that the church will be presented before the Lord “pure and spotless” and “without wrinkle”. Because the Word of God is sure and true, this will happen. The church will become holy and a bright glorious model of Jesus to the world.

Yesterday, I started pondering the word “holiness”. I have been raised (supposedly) seeing and hearing about holiness and what it is, yet there has been great debate and contention in the church about what is holiness and what is legalism.

I have been studying the Sermon on the Mount a lot recently and these two thoughts jumped into my heart and mind while I was thinking about holiness and legalism.

  1. Holiness is what God calls you to live while legalism is what you call yourself to live.
    Jesus talks about the “blind leading the blind”, and I feel sometimes that I am leading myself straight into a pit. I’ll realize my sinful condition (which is good) but instead of realizing I can do nothing in my strength to fix the problem (that realization is called “poor in spirit”), I develop this “plan” to save myself and to make myself holy. The problem is I’m blind. I have no clue what holiness is. It is God who leads me along the highway/path of holiness. I think many times we suffer burnout and feel dejected simply because we put unreachable standards on our own life. It is God who calls us upward and it is He who will give us the grace to accomplish anything that He has called us to. He doesn’t give us grace to the unneccesary things we call ourselves to do.
  2. Holiness is about God’s convictions concerning you while legalism is putting your convictions on others.
    This point is the one I see at the forefront of all the debates and contentions in the church and world  (while I think the first point is the true root of the matter). I want to make this very clear — holiness is a corporate work but done in the midst of individual believers’ hearts. The result of multiple believers walking down the path of holiness with God in their personal lives is a holy church. Corporate holiness cannot be done by instituting laws and standards. Corporate holiness can only be as great as each individual’s pursuit of holiness in their personal walk with God. Jesus has already given us the one two threes of becoming holy…it’s called the Sermon on the Mount. We don’t need leaders and churches giving more rules and regulations trying to make the church holy and righteous, we need leaders and churches preaching and teaching the Sermon on the Mount (and other passages in the same flow of thought) which all go back to point one — we are blind and only God can show us each (individually) the way up the mountain of the Lord.

These two points in no way mean that holiness is all up to what we feel it should be. I am not talking about a liberal holiness in that we neglect the clear teachings of the Bible. We are to follow what the Lord has clearly shown as sin (if you want a good list, see Galatians 5:19-22), but since we are blind, there are things that are unknown to us that are unpleasing to the Lord. Jesus promised us that the Holy Spirit would come and convict us of sin and lead us into all righteousness.

Let’s let Him lead us. I’m over falling into my own pits.

Wisdom That Comes From Above

i have been in an inward struggle in my conversations with people for the past few weeks. at times, i have been frustrated, bitter, angry, confused, concerned and even offended. i have tried to battle against all those ungodly emotions, but i haven’t got far. i am constantly remembering the scripture in james 1:20 where it says “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness God requires”. but how does this apply when you feel your opinion is “from God” or is divine insight? i am realizing that many times, my anger is just frustrated pride (cause i think i now what’s right or i think i know what needs to be done).

recently another scripture in james has been resounding in my head:

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (james 3:13-18)

i long for divine wisdom (the “wisdom that comes from above”). james lists eight things that divine wisdom is:

  1. pure
    james starts off saying that divine wisdom doesn’t have secret motives. it is “FIRST pure” and innocent. many times i find that my “wisdom” is rooted in bitterness or “selfish ambition” (from the verse before) instead of being caring and compassionate.
  2. peaceable
    i am so glad that james puts “peaceable” near the top to the list! he combines “pure” with “peaceable” (“but the wisdom that comes from above is first pure, THEN peaceable…”). i realized that no matter how God-inspired my thoughts or opinions are, if they do not bring or keep the peace, then they are not totally pure and therefore it’s not true “divine wisdom”
  3. gentle
    this is such a tendency in an conversation to make little “stabs” against one another. if someone disagrees with you it’s easy to start making slightly rude remarks or start talking harshly. but divine wisdom always is “as wise as a serpent BUT as harmless as a dove”. it remains like Jesus…gentle as a lamb.
  4. open to reason
    even when God gives us divine wisdom concerning a situation, it does not mean the answer will solve the entirety of the situation. just because God says to be generous with your finances, it does not mean you should give away all your money. there are parts of the solution God gives to many people for a collective purpose (that is why there is “wisdom in a multitude of counselors”). we must remember that our “insight” is not the end all. we must be open to reason and allow others to bring their divine solutions into the conversation to join ours.
  5. full of mercy
    this is where humility is proven. when people resist you or are temporary blinded to the truth, divine wisdom’s response is mercy. it does not lash out. neither does it look at those temporarily blinded any different from those who understand. divine wisdom remembers that without divine revelation, we are all blinded and that there will be times that we will unknowingly be blinded by error until God opens our eyes. the merciful will receive mercy (matthew 5:7).
  6. full of good fruits
    i love this point. james states that divine wisdom bears good fruit. that is in all matter of time, both past, present and future. divine wisdom can be PROVEN as wisdom from glancing at history and one’s present life/example. it can be TRUSTED (because of the past and present) as wisdom in the future.
  7. impartial
    in chapter two, james talks about the evil of showing partiality. this is an important, but overlooked point many times. divine wisdom is impartial. if it applies to the situation or another person, it can be applied to any like situation and most importantly IT APPLIES TO YOU. many times we give others “divine wisdom” with taking it for ourselves. it must strike our hearts as well.
  8. sincere
    i have to admit that this is a hard one for me. i can be very sarcastic and cynical, but james says that divine wisdom is sincere. it’s heartfelt. it’s true to the nature of God. we must remember that God does not take sharing revelation lightly or as a joke. we are told in scripture that we will be held accountable for all we know and for all that has been told to us. divine wisdom realizes that there is a cost to hearing and sharing this wisdom with others (to both parties…the hearer and the speaker) and does not take it lightly.

i am setting my heart in the place of prayer for this “wisdom that comes from above”. i want these things birthed in me, starting with purity and peacefulness. i pray that God gives you (as well as myself) a “spirit (something deeper than carnal mind) of wisdom and revelation” (ephesians 1:17) that we can have, understand and speak forth the wisdom that truly “comes from above”.

what attribute of divine wisdom do you struggle with most? are the attributes of divine wisdom a progression, or are they individual traits that can be obtained separately? what areas do you need divine wisdom in? what keeps us from partaking in divine wisdom?