Reformation Series: Does God Honor Our Holidays?

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Have you ever wondered if God accepted your worship? Have you ever thought if perhaps there was a preferred way that He wants to be praised? After-all when we bring the Lord an offering it really is just that – an offer.  Abel’s offer was received as acceptable worship but Cain’s offer was denied. What made Cain’s worship unsavory in the eyes of God was his decision to ignore what God wanted and to do it “his way”. Today on this Reformation Series we’re going to be addressing the Cain spirit to see if it has infiltrated our way of thinking and thus our way of life. WARNING – The smell of sizzling, sacred cow will be wafting our way soon so grab a bottle of steak sauce and put on your Berean sunglasses; it’s cookout time!

So the first and main question about the Cain spirit is have we lost reverence for God’s opinion? If God cares about how we should live our lives and bring Him praise then have we ignored it?

The beginning of this problem is that an all too large number of Christians today don’t really pay attention to the front of the Bible. This is like starting 3/4ths of the way into the greatest novel ever written and thinking we can understand what is going on. Then on top of that we try to read Paul’s epic scholarly dissertations with about a 3rd grade education in the very thing he mastered in…actually a double doctorate would be the modern equivalent.

So what happens if we don’t start from the beginning? Often times it ends up creating a belief system that kinda sorta maybe requires God to change His mind about some things in order for it to fit into our theology. Well you have a problem if that happens. If you can change what is perfect, then it wasn’t perfect to begin with because perfect can’t change. This is why God said multiple times that He does not change. The Word also states that He is thrice holy (Is 6:3). That’s Hebrew for “you better listen up because this isn’t to be forgotten”.

So now we know that God didn’t change His opinion about what He considers holy and unholy after the cross. What’s that mean for our evaluation of the culture we are in? Well we know that anything that isn’t of the Kingdom of God finds its root in the Babylonian system which is also where the root of all paganism came from after the flood by way of Nimrod and the tower of Babel. Let’s see what God says about Christians and Babylon in Rev 18:4,5-

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. NASB

So apparently it is possible to participate in the allotted plagues or judgments unless we come out of Babylon. All throughout the Bible God shows a theme of how if we allow ourselves to be snared by Egypt, Canaan, Babylon, and so on, that it can cause us to lose our birthright or inheritance. Let’s see what Duet 7:25,26 says –

The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. 26 You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned. NASB

Now remember that because God didn’t change at the cross and because He is in eternity and outside of time, He does not look at this as an antiquated thing. In fact if a thousand years is as a day to the Lord then to Him it hasn’t been a week since he said it. This is about the place where that sinking feeling in the stomach comes. If it hasn’t then we should probably assess our level of the fear of God. This is the same One that struck down Ananias and Sapphira… under the new covenant. Thought I’d throw that in there.

Speaking of the fear of God let’s see what has happened through the Bible when God’s people wanted to carry on the Cain spirit –

Lev 10:1 -3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying,

‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.’”  NASB

Jesus said that if we love Him, then do His commandments. Therefore we walk out our love for God by obeying His commandments. Wherever you have a kingdom you also have its rules and regulations. Jesus’ main passion during His Earthly ministry was the Kingdom of God and thus God’s statutes and precepts.

Okay the next one is 1 Sam 15:22 –

22 Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams. NASB

The context of this story is well known. King Saul feared the acceptance of the people instead of the command of God. He disobeyed God by sparing the best of the enemy to give as a “gift” to God. Obviously God didn’t care about his opinion. That brings us to a biggie about whether God cares about our opinion on how we choose to worship Him. Let’s head to the story of the golden calf in Exod 32…

He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. NASB

A couple of points of interest here – The word “Lord” in verse 5 isn’t a general term, it’s actually God’s name (Yahweh) in the Hebrew. The most common assumption is that they immediately went to serving some foreign god of Egypt but that doesn’t really pan out logically. First of all they had just seen all the gods of Egypt become insulted and defeated through the ten plagues. They knew very well Who brought them up from the land of Egypt. His pillar of fire and smoke was standing right there while they were making the calf. In fact the Paleo-Hebraic word picture for Elohim was a bull (which represented strength) and a Shepherd’s staff. The people simply lost patience with their mediator Moses, who was a type and shadow of Jesus, and decided that they were going to revert to the practices of the cultures around them and put their God into physical form, thus nullifying Who He was. (The misuse of the calf symbol for God is seen with Jeroboam’s golden calves as well.) Then they decided to make up their own holiday in this brash initiative and celebrate God their own way.  The end of the story isn’t pretty; 3,000 people died for worshiping their way even though they meant well.  And so in like fashion when Moses burned the golden calf with fire we come to the BBQ …

After this long-winded preamble the question must be asked. Does God honor the holidays we celebrate in His name? Well I believe that if God has not ordained the practices and those said practices are pagan in nature then according to everything we’ve seen so far the answer should be a resounding “No”. Now I anticipate the rebuttal that some will say that we just need to redeem the pagan practices and then that makes it better. The problem with that idea is that the word redeem has to do with returning or restoring something that originally belonged to God or was originally holy.

I would offer that the first reason someone would play the “redeem” card would be that they don’t want to give up something that has emotional attachment. In other words as you read through this make sure your feelings aren’t in the driver’s seat instead of the Word of God. After all Isaiah 5:20 states  –

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

If God calls something unholy then it will be classified as unholy forever unless you can cover it in the blood of Jesus. If sin is covered in the blood though it must be followed with repentance; not as an excuse for continued violation. It’s time to start getting into the specific practices of our holidays. Let’s see if we can find anything redeemable in here…

EasterEnglish form of the female god Ishtar.

First of all I want to give a quick math quiz. How in the world do you get 3 days in the grave from Friday to Sunday? Last I checked Friday night to Saturday night is one day, Saturday night to Sunday night is 2 days. Hmm…Something’s off here…Wait a minute didn’t Jesus die on Passover as the final sacrifice? Easter must just be a western Passover right? Well not really. Easter was commandeered by the Holy Roman Empire and basically turned into the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection because all the Romans were used to worshiping on that day. The problem is that over time the fertility and sun god worship aspects of the former holiday never left. God gives specific instructions in the Bible that we are not to learn the ways that the pagans worshiped their gods so that we won’t be snared by it.

Easter or Ishtar was known by many names. If you keep going back in time you will eventually land on a real woman named Semiramis. She happened to be Nimrod’s wife…and sister….and mother (Legend goes that Nimrod’s dad had a daughter and he married the daughter and had Nimrod with her. Then after the dad dies Nimrod marries his mom.) She was known as the original true whore of Babylon. After the dispersal from the tower of Babel you had all these different people groups that deified Nimrod, his wife and their son and included them into their pantheon of gods. The mythology believed that Ishtar had come back down to Earth in an egg and when she landed she turned a bird into an egg laying rabbit. Right…Anyway the pagans would sacrifice their children and paint eggs with their blood as an offering for prosperity. Nothing says family time with the kids like honoring abortion.

Demons have been around a long time. They look at ancient practices and remember the original like it was yesterday. If we won’t bring a pentagram or a voodoo doll into our house because we know it attracts demons then why in the world would we participate in these practices? Because they have sparkles and look pretty? The witches rejoice when Christians join in on their holidays. According to the occultic community it’s one of the few times in the year that the hedge opens up and allows curses to land.

We can’t plead the blood of Jesus over something we won’t repent from. The lukewarm Christian can generally get away with these practices but not those who want to move higher. Satan will use these breaches of covenant as a get-out-of-jail free card that he holds in reserve if you ever decide to be dangerous. One of the greatest weapons the enemy has is hiding cause-and-effect from the eyes of the believer.

Halloween – This one is obvious. We should be in constant prayer and vigilance to bind the wicked practices of witchcraft in our area on this day. If you knew the exact day out of the whole year that your house was going to be robbed you wouldn’t go out to a party. You’d stay home and rack the shotgun.

Christmas – Anything but that one!

If you’re still reading this then you knew this would be coming. Quick question for you — as a Christian how many times have you heard that you shouldn’t want any spirit but the Holy Spirit? Probably a lot if you’re well churched. It’s in our songs and our prayers. Well, except for Christmas time. For some reason as soon as it’s December all of us want the Christmas spirit. I don’t know what or who that is but I’m pretty sure we should be careful how we word our wishes. After all warm fuzzies can only come from God right? The Bible states that we are to test the spirits; even the ones that look bright and cheery. Just something to ponder.

Let’s get into the nasty bits —

December 25th is not the Lord’s birthday. Before the Julian calendar was switched to the Gregorian calendar the 25th was the winter solstice. On that day the pagans would celebrate a resurrection of the sun god. In Rome the celebration was called Saturnalia. On that day they would fill their houses with holly which they held as a sacred plant. In fact one of the ways that they could tell if a family was Christian is if they refused to deck their halls with boughs of holly on December 25th. There’s no record but still a big chance we have brothers and sisters that were burned or crucified because of their solidarity. Holly isn’t as touchy a topic today but it was still used in worship practices of the day.

Speaking of sacred plants, the mistletoe comes from Druidic worship which is where Wicca and a lot of the new age magic derives its roots. In fact, they considered it so holy that they harvested it with a golden sickle. The kiss under the mistletoe came from 2 gods supposedly declaring a truce under the plant. It’s a parasite by the way. It doesn’t grow on its own accord so it has to leech the life from another tree in the forest to live. Sounds like prime material for the occult to me. If you’d have a problem hanging crystals in your house that were bought at a new age shop then there really isn’t a difference. It’s still inviting spirits that are familiar with its use into the house.

At the source of most sun god worship you will usually find fertility cultism. In other words the people would usually worship sexuality for the promise of a fruitful year. The wreath represents the female side of the worship of fertility. The evergreen branches were used for the wreaths because it represented longevity and eternity. The Christmas tree represents the male side. Did you know that Christmas trees used to be illegal in America? The Puritans who had come from Europe knew where they came from and knew that they were so overtly pagan that they refused to permit their use and deemed them blasphemous to the Lord. The last regulations prohibiting their use weren’t removed until the 1840’s.

When you trace the origin of the Christmas tree back you will find that it is a European version of an Ashera pole. Each version was used for the same type of sun god worship. The Bible actually has a whole lot to say about an Ashera pole…

2 Kings 23:6-7…  6 He brought out the Asherah from the house of the Lord outside Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and ground it to dust, and threw its dust on the graves of the common people. 7 He also broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the Lord, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah.NASB

Deut 7:5-6… But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. NASB

1 Kings 14:15…  “For the Lord will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they have made their Asherim, provoking the Lord to anger. NASB

Deut 16:21-22… “You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God, which you shall make for yourself. 22 You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the Lord your God hates. NASB

And that’s just the beginning. My final comment on these things is this…

Are we instructed to redeem pagan things or destroy them? In our endeavor to come out of Babylon should we also see if Babylon needs to come out of us? Does God redeem paganism or does He redeem pagan people? Has America become like Jeroboam’s northern kingdom? Are our two golden calves (Christmas and Easter) replacing God’s intended way of worship? Finally, what in the world does any of these practices have to do with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Merry birth of our Lord Jesus Christ celebration Christmas everyone!

 

 

Bearing Arms in the Bible

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Whether bearing arms is a hot topic in our politics or not, the subject isn’t just in our news headlines; it’s actually found in a number of places in the Bible. For this reason I wanted to write about it so that when we are discipling the nations we can take God’s stance and not just human opinion.

So where exactly does God stand on someone’s right to defend themselves and does He have anything to say about the type of defense we are to have? Let’s go to the scriptures starting in Nehemiah:

13 then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows...16 From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah. 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me…21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared...23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water. NASB

Here we have an example of regular citizens (note the “people in families” in v13) that are taking up arms against the threat of having their lives taken from them. As far as what they are specifically defending, In verse 14 the man of God tells the people to “fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses”. Now what were these regular citizens using to defend themselves with? It says swords, spears and bows. When you look at these implements you can see three different ranges of engagement represented. The sword was close range followed by the spear and then the bow being the longest ranged tool in their arsenal. If we bring these into the technology of today we can see short, medium, and long ranged weaponry as well. These people were using the handguns, shotguns and rifles of their age to defend themselves.

Unfortunately this wasn’t always the case though. Let’s look at another time in Israel’s history when the people weren’t able to defend themselves…

19 Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. 21 The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. 22 So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan. NASB

So let’s think about this. God decided to put this little fact into the living Word. The Word that shall never pass away even though the heavens and the Earth will. Apparently this point was worth showing! If a nation is disarmed then it can be controlled.

You may be wondering if any of this is relevant in the New Testament so let’s move on to what Jesus said in Luke:

35 And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” 36 And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. NASB

I can see a lot of folks saying that the Lord was using the sword as a representation of the Word but contextually this wouldn’t make sense. In verse 35 he is referencing when he had originally sent out the 70 to evangelize with the orders to do so with no physical goods. He did this to teach them trust but now right before His death He knew that the times and seasons were changing. So much so that Jesus now showed that a weapon would be more valuable than clothing.

Now that we see that God shows that weaponry is a good thing to have on hand let’s turn toward our responsibilities with them. Starting in Ezekiel 33…

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’ NASB

This shows that we have a responsibility to defend the defenseless and warn people of coming danger. I really like how Psalm 82 puts it…

2-4 “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
    you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,
    to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
    and prosecute all those who exploit them.” MSG

Think of it this way – In John 10 it says that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Through this look into the enemy’s strategy we can know the natural progression that he takes against you. If someone breaks into your home to steal, know that they are under a demonic influence. If they are under such a thing then the temptation and the drive from Satan is to elevate it to killing you. Then, once they have killed they will be driven to utterly destroy you.

Thus I believe (to the extent that the law allows) that it is required of every guardian of every Christian household to be prepared to defend themselves in the same manner that Nehemiah and the Israelites had to. Once the invader has crossed the boundary of the inheritance, the season to give charity and be at peace has ended and now it is time to defend just as Eccl 3:8 states.

Some will say though that the angels of the Lord protect them and that defending themselves isn’t their responsibility. Yes, the angelic armies of the Lord of Hosts are encamped around and about those who fear God, but often in scripture it is shown that they aren’t involved with all of the fighting. With Joshua and the Israelites more fell by the hail of the Lord than the sword, but many still fell by the sword. God sent forth an angel before Joshua to cut off the mighty men of the enemy but not the rest. It is also said that the glory of the Lord shall be our rear guard. So who then is the front guard? Did the angels inherit your home? Are their names on the title and were they given dominion over the Earth?

Here’s how I look at it – The Lord strengthens my hands for battle and my fingers for war (Psalm 144:1) and I am to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9) but for anything that I can’t handle I have the backup of Heaven for ultimately the battle is the Lord’s!

The Life of the Mountain Path

692860_35521712There’s two paths that lay before us; one that goes through a plain and one that goes through the mountains. The former is a single level of existence and the latter a consistent inclination (with lots of huffing and nerdy wheezing of course).

We know that we are offered the scenic route when we come to the Lord. His character shaping challenges us to move higher as the clutches of the world’s way of thinking begin to burn off.

What’s holding us back though? What is it exactly that lock us into the pathway of the plain? I believe that when you are able to name something you are then able to better deal with it in prayer.

Let’s look here in Genesis 11…

It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” – NASB

In verse 3 we see that they had to use substituted materials for building their city — brick for stone and tar for mortar. Why? They decided to settle for a one-level lifestyle and compromise their call to pioneer the world. Their supplies were cheaper in quality because they were made out of what their path was made out of. Their trust in mankind instead of God’s provision caused them to self destruct and the driving factor behind all of this was fear. Where God isn’t, there is no peace.

There’s good news for those who believe in Jesus though. The Word says that perfect love casts out all fear. Jesus said that the man who builds his house on the rock won’t have it sink on him. There is provision in the call even into the unknown. You know what’s out in the unknown though? Adventure! (and ice cream…I think). I know there’s at least adventure. Oh, and a whole lot of joy and fullness of days too.

So whatchya waitin’ for? There’s a nice mountain path out there with a bunch of people on the other side that are connected to your breakthrough. History isn’t changed by the mediocre — It’s changed by the mountain walkers.

 

What are 2 ways you can start up the mountain path right where you’re at today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Successful Passage Through Change Initiatives

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If we were just simple software programs then change would be an easy, logical step. All you’d have to do is input the direction and poof! Instant change. Isn’t it funny though that sometimes we think that’s all we need to do to change others; change whole organizations even?

We are dealing with people here though who actually happen to be human. I know! It was hard for me to get this at first too but I’ll give you a sec…

Anywho – here’s the deal: Change is the basic facts that need to be applied for there to be growth. Transition however is the human element that leaves your accountants quivering with night-sweats.

So how do you grow your organization while dealing with the human element? That’s where a lifestyle of learning Christ-centered leadership comes in. An entire lifestyle probably cannot fit into a single blog post though so I’ll give three steps here that should help along the way.

1. Empower the resisters. Yep, that’s right! Now don’t get me wrong… You’ll want your “champion” to be trumpeting forth glorious praise for the change but we don’t want to isolate the resister. Why on God’s green Earth do you say? Well, people usually resist because they don’t feel like they are in control (We are dealing with creatures of habit after all). When we include them in the planning and decision making phase of an initiative it’s like handing them that safety blanket. When they are able to add input and talk about what is changing then they don’t feel invisible. Invisibility leads to isolation and isolation can end up with disengagement. It doesn’t mean that you have to have their approval; it just means that you are showing them that they are heard.

2. Tend to the power of habit. So we just talked about dealing with creatures of habit. I know that there are many bad habits out there for the catching but that doesn’t mean we should call it all evil and drag it to the stake for burning. Good habits have powerful affect on change. Let’s use them! I’ve even heard of people holding a miniature funeral service for an old habit that had to go. If you have to make an official observation to detach emotionally then go for it. When we focus on adding good habits though (however small they may be) good change is going to be inevitable. Keep swinging the axe and the tree will eventually fall.

The quicker we can attach to new habits the quicker we can get over the bell curve on that messy transitiony-human-element part. Yea I think that’s a word.

3. Build and maintain trust. Wow I think this has to be the most important. Every leader is imperfect except for Jesus. This means that we leak trust if we don’t “add to the pot”. Integrity is what keeps the trust meter full even when we make mistakes. When someone can be clear on your intentions and your character then they can endure the changes along the way.

Now go change somethin! Jesus loves ya!

6 Ideas For A More Creative Leader – Part 2

1433983_61997011Hey all! It’s time to finish up the Creative Leader post with Part 2 here. Let’s get right into it with our next point…

4. A Creative Working Environment

Let’s talk more about that lightning rod that catches inspiration from a previous point in Part 1. First off –

What environment can you establish that will generate creative thoughts for you and/or your organization?

If it’s possible; use nature! A lot of people find that when they are able to see nature then they are able to get the light bulb to turn on. It’s no wonder that God’s creation has the ability to spark imagination within those who are made in His image. So can you get to a window? Maybe you can take a quick walk through a park. If all else fails you can even put up pictures of God’s creation that may move you.

As far as layout goes there are actually some companies that will design their buildings to help their people generate ideas. I know this may not be possible for most to do but hey, it’s still really cool to dream! Here’s some ideas if you happen to have access to this possibility…

– There are some software companies that actually design a “hive” workspace where everyone works together in one large room so that they have instant collaboration. Then there are small private areas where they can go to get alone for focus time.

– Other companies will actually design their conference rooms like a residential living room so that it takes on a more family oriented atmosphere. This way it breaks up whatever may be the norm.

– There are even businesses that will design the hallway to the bathroom to be extra long so that employees will be forced to talk to others while they are walking!

– Some places have small out of the way areas where people can go to just allow their mind to wander so that they can recharge. I’ve actually heard of one that puts out a couple chairs and a table with PlayDoh on it so that their people aren’t stuck creating only one type of thing throughout the day. Along these lines if you’ve never seen pictures of Google’s workspace then I really encourage you to check them out. Be warned though; you will never be the same.

5. Balancing Leadership and Management

Okay so let’s say you have this vision. This vision is awesome and wow you really want to make this happen, right? All of a sudden this annoying “management” stuff starts getting in the way though. What? Can’t we just dream and it just works or something? Gosh!

Right…back to reality. Management is needed but if it’s not balanced it can suffocate our ability to dream. If we stop dreaming then we stop creating and that’s why this point has to be here for a more creative leader.

The disconnect can happen easily. The main thing to remember is that management only maintains but only leadership can bring change. As you go higher in rank the leadership needs to raise and the management needs to lower. The problem of dream suffocation happens a lot to people at the top because they haven’t delegated enough management to others so that they can lead. As an example, when Steve Jobs was around at Apple he passed a large amount of management off to his second in charge so that he could keep being the creative entrepreneur for the company.

It’s like taking your vitamins. Don’t forget to delegate!

6. Finally – Culture, Culture and some more Culture!

What are people doing when the boss isn’t looking? That’s what defines culture in a workplace. Is your creativity flowing down the ladder?

You already have a culture where you are so why not shape it to be awesome? When we combine all these things we’ve been talking about we arrive at a place where we actually become a culture bomb that ignites people around us. When it’s “just what we do” it becomes electric. People like being a part of something that sets them on fire. Do you want a great platform to be able to talk about the Lord? Be a creator like your Father and the people He wants to hook up to your work will come running. Be a culture bomb for the Kingdom of God!

In closing I just want to mention something here… If someone comes by and wrecks your sand castle it may hurt but hey; it’s okay. It’s sand. You’ll just build a new one! Here’s the thing – Jesus sees the heart and He can restore what the locust has eaten. He can also protect what’s in your heart. Remember through these type of times what Phil. 1:6 says: 

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. NASB

I love you guys and gals! Now go make something.

 

Question time! What is one simple change to your workspace that can help generate creative ideas?

6 Ideas For A More Creative Leader – Part 1

Garden Design Blueprint SketchingDo you consider yourself creative? Where would you rate your creativity at? How about compared to others? There’s probably someone you know that you can think of right now that can just blow your mind away when it comes to creativity, isn’t there? So what makes them special? What makes creative people so creative?

Here’s the thing… I don’t like when I hear folks say that they aren’t creative. Ya know why? Because we are made in the image of God! Therefore, we all have ridiculously, amazing, powerful, stupendous, where-in-the-world-did-that-come-from creativity prowess! I mean… let’s not forget where we come from aye?

There can be a number of disconnects that cause us to not see ourselves as creative. Maybe a person hasn’t found their calling yet. Maybe they stopped dreaming a while ago because of a dark moment or their hope being deferred. Whatever the cause; Jesus restores all.

Having said that, I want to bring some ideas that I’ve learned to help leaders (and those who think they aren’t leaders!) generate creativity within themselves as well as in their organizations. I believe that the Lord wants to connect His children to His creative power. He is the light of the world and we can stand to get some of His creativity in us to change this place for the better!

1. Mastery and Discipline Expertise

You know I have to start out at the stewardship level, right? Obviously we have to start from a place where we are dedicated and focused on being our best. We can’t just be our best anywhere though. We need to know where to put all this focus on! Because we are created, we don’t get to choose where our talents are; we get to discover where our talents are. On the individual level this requires research, soul search, and God search.

As far as choosing the right people for the right job though, that’s going to require a more focused hiring process than the norm. Many Fortune 500 companies know this and have made their hiring process to have multiple steps for admittance. In short – hire the best.

When people fit where they are supposed to they learn fast, act fast and adopt fast. They also mesh well with each other and it helps generate excellence within the team. Ask yourself how they will fit into the culture of the organization. The hiring process should be lengthy and deliberate. It isn’t enough to work hard. If you’ve hired a hard-working accountant who is actually an architect on the inside, then you won’t get the full talent that’s needed. God’s gift achieves more than man’s sweat.

2. Reach Outside of the Discipline for Ideas

Bridge Fields – Connecting different fields can give insight! Go look at a completely different industry and see how they deal with what you’re dealing with. Perhaps they’ve found a way to accomplish about the same thing that you are.

Blend Fields – Is there something that you can create that is a hybrid of different fields? Think about how Apple blended tech and artful design together.

3. Expect and Schedule Creativity

There’s this thought that creativity is like lightning striking and you can’t choose when or where. Well that doesn’t mean you can’t hold up a lightning rod in the middle of a field on a stormy day! We can create environments that “catch” creativity. All kinds of people have great inventions in their head. Most of them don’t get them to market though because they aren’t ready for it. Here’s some steps to make creation a routine –

1. Review what’s been done – If change is going to happen then we need a starting point to know if that change is doing us any good. Save the good parts and move on. Be careful not to get stuck on a method! Every organization needs to be reborn at some point.

2. Generate New Ideas – Instill habits within your organization to spend time on creative ideas. Schedule brainstorming! I know this sounds like a no-brainer but sometimes you will hear that there’s “just no time”. Even worse is when no one cares about what the folks down in the trenches are thinking.

3. Test Ideas – Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t let others be afraid to fail! Learn to fail fast and then move on.

4. Use the Best Ideas – In other words; do it right. When you find a good idea take the time to make it really work. One polished idea is better than the clutter of many “ok” ideas.

Part 2 to come…

Question: What is one simple habit that you can establish that will schedule an opportunity for creative ideas?

Becoming Efficient with Time

Time seems to be that one thing folks just can’t get enough of. The interesting thing about it though is that no matter where or to whom we were born we all get 24 hours a day to accomplish life. What we focus that time on is what we become or what we continue to linger as. There are many successful people in this world that even started with nothing that have the same amount of hours as the rest of us. So what’s the difference?

I wanted to bring some tips that I’ve learned from my own fevered searches for understanding on this topic so that time doesn’t remain elusive. I hope it will bring peace to your day and hey…remember that Jesus is the Lord of time and the Restorer of what the locust has eaten!

The 80/20 Rule

Many have probably heard of the 80/20 rule because it’s used in just about every subject. Basically, usually twenty percent of the work that you do is more important than the rest (the 80%). Most of the time you will have twenty percent of your customers responsible for the brunt of your work and/or pay. In the same light, during twenty percent of your workday, you will be at your highest energy level.

Everyone has a peak energy “window” of time in the day where they are able to be the most efficient. It varies from person to person but we definitely want to figure out when that is for us. A lot of times this can coincide with optimal glucose levels in the body as well. In other words, the time of the day where you’ve been without food the longest is probably not the best time to make your most important decisions.

Once you are aware of this you’ll start to see when that time is. From there just start asking “is this an 80 or 20 project?” The key is to do your “20% work” during the time that you are at your peak. When this gets lined up the time starts freeing up more.

Another thing about that window…Protect it! Don’t let people steal your peak time with menial tasks. Broadcast your availability to others so that they know when they shouldn’t interrupt you. If you need to and are able to then get away from the distractions. For instance maturity is paramount with technology at this time. If you have Twitter buzzing your phone clear off the desk then turn it off. Uncle Frank’s post about his new Bassdestroyer 2000 can be liked during the eighty percent time. Unless of course you don’t like the Bassdestroyer 2000…but who wouldn’t?

If a large amount of your time is still being spent on the eighty percent even after you’ve dealt with the twenty percent in your peak time, then the next step comes which is to –

Delegate – Automate – Outsource

If you don’t have to micromanage something and you still are…I wish I had your energy. Leaders lift others up to their own level. The whole purpose of leading is to create other leaders. If you aren’t developing others around you then you aren’t passing the baton. When you stop passing the baton your destiny becomes stagnated because you’ve stopped work on your next promotion.

Here’s something that I try to live by as a general rule for delegation – If it can be done by someone else…it should be done by someone else. Now, that’s not an excuse to become lazy so it has to be said with balance. I’m saying it here because there’s some that need to balance doing everything on their own with this statement. Remember Jesus said you have to love me. :)

What can you delegate, automate, or outsource? Yes maybe you can fix the car for cheaper. How much is your time worth though? After five trips to the store, three YouTube videos watching professionals make it look easy and 6 hours of work did you really get your money back? How much work could you have done focusing on your strengths that God gave you to make a profit faster?

God made you specifically a certain way to answer a problem that the world has. When you find out what that is, you can focus on that strength and then use the success from that to pay others to do what they were created to do. Isn’t it so relieving that you don’t have to be good at everything?

Sleep and Have Fun!

The traditional thought about work is that it should be categorized apart from fun. The problem with that is that God created work and He’s the funnest person you’ll ever meet so somewhere there’s been a disconnect. The mindset is what I’m going after with this. The thought that we are going to just go full crazy for eight or more hours straight almost every day of the week just isn’t within the confines of our design. Our brain needs a break and our body does too. God doesn’t want us sedentary in body or in mind.

There are plenty of studies out there that say taking quick naps or just taking a break to play a game or create something small can reset the brain and make us more efficient. I want to challenge you to sharpen the axe throughout the day and see how much of a difference it can make! Eccl. 10:10

 

What are some ways that you break up the day to stay efficient? Leave a comment!