Sunday, March 29, 2009

Beware of Grammatolatry by Robert Ricciardelli

"Again, let us beware of interpreting these commands rabbinically, that is, in chief concern for the letter, to the missing of the Spirit. The cheek, the coat, the mile, the borrowing---- these are but the costume. Look within the costume for the body, or rather within the body for the Spirit. Having mastered the words as words, let us throw away our lexicons and grammars. For the letter, if alone kills; it is the Spirit within the letter which alone gives life.”
(George Dana Boardman- The Kingdom -1899)

Grammatolatry: Idolatry of the letter that gets in the way of Spirit led life… hmmm?
Have you ever wondered why there are approximately 30,000 Christian denominations? It seems that every organization claims to have some distinctive that makes them different than the rest, and therefore finding it necessary to separate from the whole. We even assess and prejudge one another in like fashion with our presuppositions and various worldviews. When we ask the question, “What church do you go to?” What we sometimes really want to know is “what is it that you believe, or do you believe like me? “

Last time I checked, there is only one Church, one Body of Christ. The Lord does not mind the variety of cultures, expressions, etc; especially if they are following Him. Why is it that we often see it as a wall towards relationships and working together for His Kingdom within our communities? We are missing the beauty of our uniqueness, and the ability to challenge, correct, and love through our differences.

I need you, you need me, we are one big family… hah!

We often read the Word of God and each other based on our self-bias, culture, experience, etc. We read and interpret out of context, and instead of unity we continue to build walls between us that diffuse the power of God in our lives and how we engage with a world that needs Him. And we are the ones that are supposed to represent Him as ambassadors of His eternal Kingdom.

Is it possible that our grammatolatry, or in other words our preference, and interpretation of His written word have caused us to miss the big picture? Is it possible that all enemies of the Divine, including self has even used Scripture to divide rather than bring us together? What will it take to get beyond the divisions and factions that remain in the Body of Christ?

We continue to hear the word unity quite often these days in the body of Christ. We have many leaders of the church who have it as a goal in their life, and preach it as a goal of their church organization. I do not want keep hearing about unity as a goal, or something that we preach; I want to see unity as a reality and something we live. Jesus prayed for unity and it is the heart of the Father for His people to live in the harmony of Himself towards one another. Let’s reflect on the Lord’s Prayer for all of us in John 17;

John 17:20-23
20“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. 22“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me, and that you love them as much as you love me.

Jesus desired that believers from every generation would be one just as He and the Father are one. This is a powerful prayer from our Lord for us to fulfill in Him. It is also a prayer that has yet to be realized fully in the Body of Christ. He has given us new life, He has given us His Holy Spirit, He has passed His glory on to us, and yet we have moved slowly into this powerful reality.

Jesus said that in perfect unity, the world would see that He was sent from the Father, and that the world will see that the Father loves the world much as He loves Jesus. We should all pursue this type of unity, because our lives should be about obediently impacting others to bring glory and much joy to our Heavenly Father. The power of God can flourish through the fruits of our unity, and His glory in us will overwhelm nations for Christ and His Kingdom.

I believe it is going to take a reformation. A reformation of what we have erected in our minds, our lives, our organizations, and a reformed outlook on what we call relationship and community. Basically it is time for us to get real, get authentic, repent, and get on with living lives that glorify Him. Two major ways to get there, Love, and get intimate with our Father, and love and serve others with no agenda but to love and serve. I am longing to see an influx of leaders who do not even think about what they can get, but what they can give.

And finally, can we try and move towards the things of Jesus the person, our Savior, our Brother, our Coach, our Model, our Life? Can we exchange our life for His? Can we all move to the center, which is Him and His Kingdom? In order to do this, we must stop creating and existing in the false centers of religion. We must begin to establish relational communities that are authentic, have no agenda, and establish a safe place where expressions or preferences take a back seat to love and serving one another.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Whose Business Is This? By Robert Ricciardelli

Whose Business Is This? By Robert Ricciardelli

A friend sent me this the other day. It is part Hobby Lobby’s Mission Statement.

" Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles. Offering our customers an exceptional selection and value. Serving our employees and their families by establishing a work environment and company policies that build character, strengthen individuals, and nurture families. Providing a return on the owners' investment, sharing the Lord's blessings with our employees, and investing in our community. We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future."

One of the things Joyce and I do is help leaders understand Fathers desire that they live every moment of life recognizing His eternal presence within them, and His desire and interest to engage in “total life” with them. This includes family, and business, and not just the times of prayer, or worship at some specific gathering. Our lives, every minute of our lives, is to give Him glory, as we live as worship to Him.

Let’s consider and expand some of these values from the mission statement above.

• Honoring the Lord in all we do! That means everything. Are we doing business God’s way with integrity, or a way that makes only dollar sense? How are we treating our employees, our vendors, our customers? Do we look at them as a commodity or with the eyes of the Lord who cares for them more than any business transaction or earthly agenda. How do we glorify God in our processes? Our planning? Are we measuring such things by His Word?

• Exceptional selection and value! What are we bringing in products and services to serve those who Father has called us to serve? Are we maximizing our value proposition in God glorifying ways?

• Strengthen individuals, and nurture families! What may the Lord have us do to create an atmosphere of trust, character development, and nurturing those we work closely with. This does not mean compromising standards of excellence for the employees, but what can we do to bring His presence towards those who are serving the vision? How can we make investors, and employees feel more a part of the blessings that God will bring upon a company He is leading?

• Investing in your community and the nations! It must be very clear that Father did not only put you in business to make money and take care of yourself and immediate family. God is always a God who extends His goodness as far reaching as possible through His servants. As ambassadors of the Living God in your community, have you asked the Father for the ways you can influence and impact your community and the nations for His glory?

We work with several companies that have received the revelation of how their company is to advance the Kingdom of God in their community and beyond their community. They now see their business as a mission in being able to influence God’s goodness to those the Lord allows them to reach. Some are reaching the globe with the resources the Lord has given them. Thank God they did not just see their business as a way to get bigger and better stuff, but as a tool for the King, the Kingdom, and His glory.

One of the businesses we partner with are an evolving testimony of God’s desire to go beyond doing business the usual way. These friends have become family and by the grace of God the Lord will continue to increase in their lives because their increase continues to be poured out to others. I cannot share all of their testimony, but here is a link to some of it. South Africa - Business As Missions.

We are thankful for all of the business partners and families that have allowed us to go where the Father has directed us to go. We continue to encourage and impart the good news of the Kingdom of God in everyday practical living. We all participate as ambassadors of His glorious Kingdom by being obedient to His moment to moment leading in every jurisdiction of life. We do the practical, while He brings His Supernatural presence and influence into every personal or business situation.

It is so important to understand that every aspect of our lives is worship, and every aspect of our lives is spiritual, because The Spirit of Truth Himself is in us, with us, and in every realm we step into. We must realize that His presence is with us in that interview, and that He desires to give us wisdom for that business meeting. As we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, watch the impact He will make that only He can get the credit for. It is not about chapter and verse as much it is about Jesus Himself living through us.

When I was in corporate sales, people did always make a purchase because I had the best product or the best price. But what I did have, I could not get credit for. Here are a few things that the Lord blessed me with in my 25-year career in sales:

• Favor – People would often comment that they could not explain it, but they had a lot of trust and “feel good” about me, even from my first visit or call. This was clearly the favor of God that continues with me in my life.

• Wisdom – Father would give me the strategy as to what would best serve the client.

• Discernment – There were times when the still small voice of the Lord would give me insight into issues or potential problems before they were magnified, and times when the Lord would give me a word fitly spoken to bring trust to a person who had not trusted in a very long time.

• Love – It is His love and His compassion for people that the Lord put into me even in childhood. I cared much more about the person than the “sale”. I cared more about serving the interests of the client than any gain for my company or myself. The client felt this tangibly when I came to serve them, and they knew that I cared about their “total life”.

• Trust – In any relationship, including business, people need to be moved to trust you, that you are a “safe place”, that you are in it for them and not for self. They knew that the company needed to make a profit, same as theirs, so price was not as significant as the “trust factor”. They also saw that I would often negotiate on their behalf to change company policies or forgo them, when it did not serve the needs of the client.

• Presence – All the above and more are included in His presence. When we understand that His presence desires to impact us and influence others for the the good in "real time", life becomes and awesome journey. It is not about us any longer, it is not about our perceived idea of success, but it is all about His supernatural presence Having His will and way through our lives. He wants to do good, and He wants to do it with you...

These are a few examples of God’s presence in the marketplace, and in my life that I could never take credit for. He made me this way, and by His grace I was in top 2% nationally in sales for 25 years to the glory of my Father.

Next time you are preparing for a client, or to bring vision to your employees, ask the Father for His Wisdom and His Words that will make a difference. He cares about stewardship of your; family, resources, time, business, Profits and Loss, relationships, and especially His love, grace, and truth expressed through you to others.

Lord break us away from dualistic mindsets that highlight organized church meetings while minimizing your Spirit led influence in the marketplace. Father help us to realize that you are the same transforming God in our gatherings, in our homes, and in our work.

We welcome the opportunity to serve you, your business, and/or your community or church. We all must ask the Father to illuminate practical ways in our personal and business environments that is conducive for His transformational presence to change lives to the glory of God.