Identity from March 9, 2022

We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!”  Ephesians 2:10 TPT

This week I was reminded that we will be most satisfied and fulfilled when we operate out of our identity, not our need. This was a revealing moment for me as I had been looking to the near future with some uncertainty and a few disappointments that brought on low levels of anxiety… How am I going to pay the bills this summer if that plan doesn’t come through… what can I do to plan for that…

We all have needs. The enemy of our heart constantly hovers nearby telling us we had better find a way to provide… God helps those who help themselves you know…. He encourages us to make our own plans. God cares about the big things, but you have to figure out how to pay the bills, and get through your day-to-day.

Sadly, though this SOUNDS responsible, it distracts us from walking in our created purpose. Of course we are to work, plan, and do our best to make responsible choices- however if we swing this too far it can preclude engaging in the things God is setting before us. 

Your purpose is not your job. Your purpose is not your hobby. You don’t get your purpose from where you decide to live or if you get married or have a family or not. Your purpose is not (as Lisa Van Den Berg says) what you do, but it is who you be. 

God created each one of us as a totally unique masterpiece. There is not one other person with exactly the same temperament, personality, giftings, talents, sense of humor, color of hair, energy level, strengths, weaknesses, and passions. There is a groove in this world that only you can fill. It is in who you are, your true identity. For many years of my life I tried to follow the world’s advice to define myself, I only put on false layers of make up and facades. It was only in returning to the one who made me that he began to walk with me to uncover who I was created and designed to be- gently removing all those outer masks that were wearing me out in truth. 

When I learn who I am to be, then I can truly operated from purpose and allow God to provide the provision and the opportunities and the life I was created for. And that creates a life that reverberates into eternity.

In the book Undistracted, Bob Goff writes:

  • Most people don’t want better careers they really want more purpose. People who are focused on their purpose don’t want to rule the hive- they want to put their quarter inch of honey on top of everyone else’s to participate in making something lasting. Even the honey buried with the pharaohs is still sweet- that’s the kind of shelf life I want to see.

No wonder the enemy wants to distract you with all the “needs” you think you have to get addressed. Because if you begin to rest in the one who made you and make decisions out of who you be instead of what you think you need, you walk in a power and an authority that brings life, love and a new hope to the world. 

Bonus- it’s also more fun!

Father in heaven, thank you for your steadfast love for us! Your workmanship, your poetry and your masterpieces! Thank you that you have given unique and special vision, dreams and assignments to each of us- so that we never have to dwell in the unhappiness of comparison with one another! There is a special place for each person reading this in your kingdom, a special place only we can fill, no one else is equipped to walk out the dreams you have for me, to engage the places you have set before me with a unique key to unlock the doors and dreams you planned before the foundation of the earth for me. Father, speak into our lives today and remind us that it isn’t only a future and a hope you have given us, but that even right now today our destinies unfold. Give us your eyes to see the world around us and uncover the treasures you have for us in those around us right now. Teach us to love like you when it’s hard, and when it’s easy and full of joy. Thank you that you say the boundary lines are in pleasant places- that we have a beautiful inheritance; one that is totally singular to each of us, and all our own! Amen

Yada from 12/11/22

I have become more aware in 2022 the weight of the need for connection to the human soul.

There is a reason solitary confinement is one of the most damaging and difficult punishments we can inflict on someone. It is not good for man (human) to be alone. (Genesis 2:18)

At the very deepest part of our created make up is not an accidental freak of nature and biology… it is the need for connection. To survive and especially to thrive, humans must have at least another. We cannot replicate ourselves (at least not yet thank God) without “another” and once that connection is formed and new life created, we know in our deepest level that we will always long to be seen. The need to “know”, to be “known”, and in that vulnerable place, to be loved.

Yada.

Yada is the Hebrew word meaning “to know” and is used to describe deep intimacy- specifically the deep intimacy God the Father longs to have with his children.

It is not then surprising that the deepest, often hidden, fear that drives most of humankind is the potential loss of Yada. Disconnection. Alone. Not the alone that many of us long for on occasion to have the quiet to recharge and think, not even the solo-life that many people find a comfortable existence with friends and family a layer out in our contented circle. The alone of having no one who “knows” us and in that knowing accepts us for who we are. The sense that we are safe to be real, vulnerable and occasionally weak. Human flesh in all our imperfections and yet still with facets to some extent that reflect the glory of the creator- more each year as we grow.

Fear drives us to strange things. In our fear of losing connection, everywhere I look (especially in my own life) there is the dysfunction of actions that destroy the very thing we want most.

Recently a close friend grew distant for a variety of reasons. Though I knew our friendship was at the core secure, the distance at the time felt painful. This gave me the opportunity to dissect and study the connection-disconnection cycle in real time. I began the case study as I found myself considering ways to punish my friend.

Of course I didn’t think of it at first in those terms. It all sounded very reasonable… Well when she does finally come around and respond, I won’t be sitting by the phone waiting… I’ll make her wait and squirm a few days… maybe she’ll think I’ve moved on and don’t care what she thinks anymore… that will make her think twice before getting too busy with her life and family in the future if she still wants to be my friend…

These are paraphrases and when they are said out loud they are revealed for the ridiculous thoughts they are- the problem was they ruminated in a deeper place without language for a few days first polluting the murky waters insisting they were reasonable reactions to a wound. I know those are not the ways to encourage a strong friendship and they certainly aren’t grace-filled! None of those thoughts when brought to light describe a way I want to think or act. 

Yet if I wouldn’t have started with admitting they were there I would have been stuck never getting to the starting line. Step one is always be honest first with ourselves. Denial only feeds the dark things. When I did pull them out and turn them around in the light I laughed at them, and myself. So these are the lies that create more disconnection. 

What is the truth? 

The truth always sets us free.

The truth is my close friend is an intimate connection in my life which makes me vulnerable to being hurt. The closest friendship and relationships have the greatest power to hurt us deeply. The recent distance left me feeling isolated and hurt. The realization I was feeling hurt led me to the next step in healing which was a decision to forgive my friend for that wound.

[NOTE!! I do not believe this hurt was intentional. My friend had her own plate and her own things that kept her at a distance for this time, one of the most valuable things I have learned in 2022 is that I can forgive someone when I’ve been hurt- even if the hurt was unintentional or even mostly unavoidable. We live in a broken world where many things are not ideal. I could choose to forgive her even before she realized that my feelings were hurt. I could forgive her if she never realized the depth of the pain that came from what on her end might have seemed like a much smaller oversight. I could even forgive her and never mention it again. The truth could be that the pain was magnified by a weakness in my own heart, a nerve that was unusually sensitive. Forgiveness is to set me free and hopefully to dig out and heal the nerve as well.]

Once I admitted to myself behind the anger was that I felt hurt (its way easier to get protective and defensive), and began to talk to God about how I didn’t feel like forgiving, but knew it was the better choice — so please help walk me to that place… I saw that what had been polluting the water was my desire to protect myself from future pain by trying to control my friend through punishment.

This process is the highway to DISCONNECTION and isolation. Because as soon as I begin to punish my friend- she is hurt. Then she will likely continue the cycle by protecting herself and probably punish me with more disconnection. No Yada.

What I wanted with restoration to Yada with my friend. I wanted her to come back into a close connection. I missed her. I was sad. And yet I also knew that by continuing a close deep friendship with her I was risking going through this exact same pain again.

What is even more fascinating is within a few minutes of this conversation I had with God, my friend resurfaced with a note. I’m glad I had already done some heart work so I could walk back into connection with her more easily than if I was still oozing pussy poison from the hurt place. She knew she had been distant for various reasons and wanted to talk about them. I was able to hear her and care about her own burdens and also share that vulnerable truth that she is such a valued friend that her absence does hurt me because I miss her.

Reconnection.

Having a pure heart is being willing to Yada with those in our inner circles knowing fully that it will mean being hurt again because we are here in the broken world where nothing is ideal. Even if my friend never grew distant or distracted again… one of us could be removed by circumstances beyond our control. Someday we all leave…

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul mind and strength; and the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22: 37, 39)

The order matters. If we don’t Yada with our father first, we are too wounded to Yada with our earthly family and loved ones without sustaining and creating damage. And we certainly don’t have the wholeness to love our neighbors well, forget the real test of a child of the Creator King: love your enemies and bless those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). [We are not called to an intimate connection with our neighbors and enemies- but to love them]. I have come to a place in my own life where one of the gates to my inner circle is that those who come that deep in need to have Yada with the father. If they don’t, it’s not likely they are safe enough to honor that close a connection. I can love them, but they aren’t invited in that very small inner circle.

It is my father who heals my broken heart… every time. Peter wondered how many times we must forgive the same offense? I think he was feeling quite generous when he said how about seven times (Matthew 18:21)? I can hear the culture of today echoing: After then I need to cut them off and punish them with distance and disconnection right? That is the wise thing to do.

But we are meant for connection… and Jesus takes Peter’s big number and basically says: how about that times infinity? (Matthew 18:22)

The only way we can continue to seek connection when we are vulnerable or wounded is if we are connected deeply and intimately to the one who can raise the dead. If you think your heart is hurt beyond repair, Jesus let us see that nothing is impossible for God (Matthew 19:26), forgiveness of sins and raising the dead- dead bodies and dead hearts. 

We are called to take up the yoke of Jesus. (Matthew 11:28-30) Yes, it’s lighter than the ones we were trying to carry before, but it is still a yoke. If we accept his yoke we have to get in step with him, we agree to learn his ways and walk with him, as he walks in connection to the Father, and in connection to each other. 

This season people are busier than ever. They are stretched thin on every side. They are battling exhaustion and sickness. They are burdened by generations of family wounds and failures. They carry the weight great expectations often of things that aren’t what really matters. In the midst of this setting we have gatherings and parties and family dinners fraught with dangers in beautiful settings of lighted decorations and happy music. 

Notice when the wounds come- light scrapes or blunt force trauma, secretly hidden or in the open for all to see. Boundaries are vital, I want to be clear. Yet in the wounding, see if you can slow down, notice the cycle of violence and decide to be the one where it ends. Instead of self-protection and punishment, begin with forgiveness and then take the wound to the Father who longs for Yada with you. Allow him to speak truth into the broken place and reveal weakness and hurt that he wants to make right. Allow him to create a strength from the broken place that can withstand the forces of darkness and that begins to emanate love instead of oozing poison. 

Look for the things that bring back connection to what level is appropriate to the relationship. Forgiveness and connection do not always mean an invitation into the deepest places. That is what boundaries mean- be aware when the word “boundaries” are a cover-up for punishment. We are never allowed to withhold love and call it a boundary. Trust does need to be built, but love can flow even where trust has not yet bridged. The spirit gives us wisdom in all things- relationships especially. Start with an open heart to the Father and ask him how to love the people around you. He knows.

This Christmas as we celebrate that while we were all in deep darkness, God came himself to be light that now shines through us, I pray for wholeness of your own heart. I pray for healing of deep places long since forgotten. I long for Yada with the creator and connections and restoration of relationships in every family. I pray for a gentle strength, patience and wisdom. 

Shalom, peace and wholeness to you. 

EXCHANGE from 11/28/22

I heard the news of the extent of the repairs needed to get my truck running again with a sinking feeling. Not only was I unsure of how I would pay for them (is anyone else having a particularly financially draining year?), the bigger question was: how long?

[Tomorrow is the appointment for my horse’s new shoes. I need the truck to haul her there. Could I put off the shoes and do them closer to the event?]

Well… it will take me days to get the parts assembled for sure…

[The last ride of the season is in two weeks.]

What about by the 24th? Could we be back on the road by the 24th?

I doubt it. If I can get the parts that’s one thing, but we have a few big jobs in the queu and with the holiday coming, I don’t think that’s possible… I could get it drivable in the short term for you, but this problem will happen again if it’s not fixed, I’d hate for you to get to South Carolina and not be able to get back.

[Yeah, I won’t take that risk hauling a horse.]

So there it was as I hung up the phone. I sat down and reflected for a moment. Something I’ve been looking forward to for months, preparing for since September, not only the event itself, but a plan to see two different friends on each end of the trip as well. Multiple layers of disappointment washed over me as I took in what it meant. 

There have been times my scheduled plans have been resisted and I’ve had to push through some obstacles, but somehow I knew this one more. Let it go, I have something else in mind. This was a roadblock. It was clarity.   

Will you let it go?

Yes. I will let it go.

As I drove to the barn in my car for morning chores, I was disappointed but I shifted gears quickly. 

Lord, if you don’t want me at the race, I trust you. What do you have for me instead?

I know the character of the father today more than I did a few years ago. A few years ago I might have wondered what horrible fate I was being saved from? A devastating wreck on the highway? An injury in the ride? Today – and actually I mean today, as in Wednesday, November 9, 2022… I smiled as I thought back over my reading and journaling of that morning.

I have been reading through Genesis. Today I was reflecting on the chapters around Joseph reuniting with his brothers— specifically how Israel (Jacob) handled things from home. I had noted that he held back his next favorite son Benjamin when he sent the other grown sons to buy grain and food from Egypt. When Joseph wanted to test the brothers he held back Simeon and asked they come back with Benjamin. Yes, it tested the brothers, but it really tested their father, Israel.

Benjamin was the remaining son of beloved Rachel who had died in childbirth. A favorite. Joesph had been the favorite (Rachel’s first son) but that favoritism conspired to remove him from the dysfunctional family (telling their father he was killed by a wild animal) landing him as a slave, then a prisoner, then something like Prime Minister in Egypt. Now Israel was holding onto Benjamin for dear life. When the sons returned to him and said they need to bring Ben to free Simeon, Isreal refused. He held on.

He didn’t realize that this test was letting go. He said already he lost beloved Joseph, Simeon was taken, and if he lost Benjamin as well it would take him to hell in sorrow. No. He refused. 

On that side of the test he couldn’t see that letting go of Benjamin actually meant an exchange that would bring back his “dead” son, reunite his family, and bring them in a time of famine to a place where they would never lack any good thing. 

He stalled as long as he could, but when the food ran out and the entire family could starve…. He relented. If they were all going to die what good is it to hold onto a dying favorite son? 

He finally let go.

I noted in my journal that in letting go of the thing he held on to for joy and life- which actually cost him his joy because he lived in fear of losing it every day… He did a great exchange. He let go of Benjamin, and was returned not only two “lost” sons but wealth and comfort and even some peace in his family.

What he was given was infinitely greater and beyond what he could have dreamed. He never considered he would be reunited with the son he thought had died those years ago.

I remembered months ago at a women’s retreat in worship, sensing an intense presence of the Holy Spirit, on day one, the worship leader suggested we bring something to the altar and give it to Jesus. I told him I was ready to give him my hopes and dreams. Later I thought how strange… to be without hopes and dreams? But it seemed right. 

This retreat was a two-day event and in worship the next day, quietly on my own in the back of the room I had a vision in my mind of a glass ball, like a small globe, very dense, and as you looked into it, infinite layers of what appeared to be galaxies and stars it was beautiful, dark and dense yet colorful and bright. 

I asked Jesus… what is it?

It’s what I have for you- in exchange for your hopes and dreams. These are my hopes and dreams.

Infinitely more than I had given up. My own small thinking and plastic trinkets for the dreams of the one who created all things. What a thing to be trusted with the hopes and dreams of heaven on earth.

I want to be quick to give things up that Jesus asks me for. To do so I have to believe he is good, and he is for me. He wants more fullness and joy for me than I want for myself. Sometimes he returns things to me, he won’t keep something I need to walk in my purpose. When he returns a thing, it’s always better somehow than when I gave it. Sometimes it’s true he does not give it back, I imagine a child who finds something poisonous or dangerous and in curiosity offers it to dad. Dad says thank you and disposes of the dangerous item. That is love. 

Yet our perfect father always gives us something in return for what we give and if he doesn’t give back the thing itself, his exchange is always for something bigger and better, and more eternal.

I don’t know what the exchange is for the disappointment of being grounded, giving up going to an event I’ve been looking forward to, and a large repair bill for my truck. But I trust that it will be good. 

Broken Things from 7/30/33

Recently I found myself discouraged. I have a horse in my herd that’s been increasingly sick since I rescued her 18 months ago. She’s recently had treatment for a few issues, but the recovery process has been slow and indirect. On a day she seemed to regress significantly, I began with those few niggling questions (should I have taken her on? After all this will she really die?) and then allowed a landslide to build that ended asking: will I always be surrounded by broken and wounded things the rest of my life?

Sounds a bit dramatic I suppose looking back.

And yet as I reflect on this cycle of emotion, I see the crack in my “all is well and God is good” exterior that began with a sick horse having a bad day revealed some deeper things I think God wanted to reveal in me. 

I just finished a great book by Jamie Winship “Living Fearless” where he describes the process of identity exchange and why it’s so valuable. Winship is a champion for naked honesty with the creator and going beneath the surface emotions to find out why. 

Why am I sad? Why am I angry? What am I believing that has me so afraid?

Inspired by this reminder I took these feelings of discouragement and dropped them at the throne: 

Father, I feel overwhelmed and discouraged. 

About what?

I’m surrounded by broken things! [I gave him a list off the top of my head of the broken things around me]

Ok, so why are you so discouraged? What do you fear?

As I considered it came to me: I think I’ll always be surrounded by broken things and my life will be defined by brokenness, and nothing will ever change.

I understand. Do you want to know how I see it?

Yes. Please.

Do you remember how I have called you to build?

Yes.

Do you remember that I have spoken to you about RESTORING, and about REBUILDING and REPAIRING?

Yes.

How can you repair or rebuild if you have nothing broken around you?

Oh.

You have been looking around at the broken things and wanting someone else to fix them. Either you want me to zap them into shape miraculously, or you want me to send someone to look around and fix things, or even to bestow a cash flow so you can simply hire that out.

Well. Yes actually, what’s wrong with that?

Nothing. Except you are called to repair and restore- so you have all these wonderful opportunities to start repairing and restoring everywhere around you, to create beauty from ashes, and walk in the blessings of Isaiah 58, and instead of living out that identity and calling, you keep asking me to quit sending you things that allow you to walk in your gifts. If you have a calling to rebuild and restore, you are going to have to understand that broken things are going to show up. 

I feel like I don’t know how to rebuild the things at my house that need attention, and I don’t think I’m doing a very good job restoring this little horse back to health. I feel unqualified and a little overwhelmed with it all.

That’s ok. Everyone is unqualified on their own you know. I will help you. This is an important conversation we are having. You are going to need my vision to see what is around you, you see brokenness and I see opportunity. When you begin to walk more fully in this more and more and more broken things will find their way to you. You will need my vision even more then because it would overtake you if you couldn’t see what I have sent to you and what is not yours to restore.

Wow. I am starting to understand. Can we talk about Isaiah 58?

“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.”

Isaiah 58:11-12 ESV

And so I began to shift from desolate and discouraged to curious and thoughtful. I still have a sick horse and lots of things around me that feel in chaos or various states of broken but I started to see it from fresh eyes.

Then this morning as I was journaling some thoughts and questions I realized that God spoke to my heart about building, but today I realized it wasn’t just building. It was REBUILDING. It was starting with ruins and making them into something new. This process of RESTORATION is unique. Maybe some builders are called to start with “nothing” and create from “scratch” or to do “new construction” but God spoke so gently to me that if I look more closely at this life verse I’ve carried for at least a year now, REPAIR and RESTORE and REBUILDING is a different take on building. It is about healing and bringing back something that has had the life drain out, been wounded, or gone through trauma. It is a different skillset actually than one who does new construction.

These words came to me:

REPURPOSE

RESTORE

REBUILD

REDSICOVER

RENOVATE

REGENERATE

REPAIR

Each has a beautiful sense of bringing new life. What a wonderful calling to walk in. As I wrote I heard another layer: 

Do this every day.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the amount of need around me, find as many places to walk out my identity each day even with one small action. Change out the lawnmower batter (repair), give Hope her morning medicines (restore to health), stop to chat with an old friend at the grocery store (rediscover). 

There are so many more!

REUNION (I just did this last weekend with my family)

RECONNECT (send a card in the mail to encourage someone)

REHABILITATE (what I can do with horses)

REVIVE (this is pretty limitless)

REINVESTIGATE (I do this all the time as I dig deeper into God’s word)

REORGANIZE (laundry!)

REORCHESTRATE (I do this when a client wants a song I don’t already have)

Instead of looking around and wondering when I will see restoration, I begin to walk from the place of being one who restores, and walking in the purpose for my life. Instead of being overwhelmed wondering how I will survive beneath the weight of brokenness, I see that living in my calling brings energy and life and is not exhausting but life and energy giving. Instead of seeing broken things as a curse I appear to be living under, I see God’s kindness in offering me a plethora of variety for playing in the great sandbox of my skillset and learning new tools to expand my abilities. From horses, to hot water heaters to lawnmowers.

In just a few days of being willing to face what was deeply troubling to me (instead of push it down farther), in taking my heartfelt fears and grief to the creator, he actually turned mourning into joy. The very thing that had me discouraged and ready to quit became gifts of love and life around me. And also a way forward when I had been feeling very stuck recently.

I am astounded and the goodness.

So today I ask you:

Do you know what purpose you are called to walk in? 

Is it possible one of your greatest frustrations is centered in this calling?

Do you see opportunities each day to walk out this calling and make it alive in your own life?

Now about that miraculous healing of this little horse……

Elutheria from 7/4/22

I love freedom.

One of the key elements of discerning light and darkness is to consider if the core is of control (manipulation, force, dishonesty) or of freedom (transparency, love). 

In 2 Corinthians 3:7 Paul writes:

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

One of the attributes of those who walk with Jesus is increasing self-control along with the ability to love others even those who hurt you. 

Sometimes it seems we humans have this twisted up, and it brings us much pain. We try to control (or bemoan that we can’t) everything and everyone around us and we only love the people who are like us, easy to love, or love us back. 

I think that’s why we live in a culture so full of anxiety and depression… mental illnesses. 

We were made for freedom. 

The beauty of what we are given if we accept Christ’s offer of it, is not to live in fear, but the power of love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Control is sneaky. The test of how you are doing with release of control of others and living in freedom comes when you are let down, hurt, or don’t get your way. When you find yourself in what seems to you an unfair situation, how do you react? 

  • Do you have peace regardless and can you navigate the situation with a sound mind? 
  • Are you OK with someone you care about being not OK? 
  • Can you create healthy boundaries out of love and not of self-protection? 
  • Do you find it easy to put yourself in the other shoes and see their perspective though it is different from your own? 
  • Do you have anxiety in your relationships? 

If instead of peace you have anxiety or fears (often expressed as anger) you might need to ask Jesus for help managing your need to control the lives around you. 

On this day we celebrate freedom in our nation, I challenge you to dig deeper. If there is freedom where Christ is, could you walk in freedom of your spirit even if you are in a situation you are not free in other ways? Could your heart be free while navigating a broken relationship? In a prison? In a country you are not free?

I think the center of this like most everything else that is good, is love. 

As I dug deeper into the language of freedom, the Greek word Paul used is Elutheria. Simply it means freedom. 

But I was delighted to read this on ellipos.net regarding the roots of the word:

Eleutheria seems to come from arriving (eleu) to where one loves (eran). This way eleutheria radically means the fulfillment of one’s love as an end of a trip. There is included here also the meaning of growing and rising, advancing to a higher state of being.”

Freedom is about arriving at the fulfillment of love. 

This I hope for us all. 

A New Take on David and Goliath from 4/7/22

I recently heard Ed Silvoso speak on transformation and the eradication of systemic poverty. If you aren’t familiar with Silvoso, he is from Argentina and has worked in the private business world and as a pastor and has a fascinating take on how vital the marketplace is to bringing God’s kingdom here on earth. This is part of our everyday lives as inspired by Jesus who prayed: Father in heaven…. Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. I have read Ed Silvoso’s books Ekklesia and Anointed For Business and they are paradigm shifting as well as thought provoking. I highly recommend them and any of his other books are probably worth the time as well.

What I find the most inspiring is the concept that we have forgotten the marketplace (not the “church” system) is the center for transformation of any culture, city or nation. Over time many Christians have placed barriers between “secular” and “sacred” that gives us church life and “quiet times” in one basket and going to work and doing our every day lives in the other. Living this way creates disintegrated people who are missing an integral part of the point woven throughout the Bible that God so loves “the world” and “everything in the world he has made and belongs to him,” and Jesus came to “seek and save that which has been lost.” Sin didn’t only destroy our relationship to God creating lost-ness, but it brought a curse on work which was purposeful, fulfilling and good in the garden. Work, creation, and the land went under a curse that turned fruitful work into toil that often produced briars instead of harvest. 

Silvoso makes the point that poverty is an evil system that can flourish even when there are resources and wealth available. Some countries with the most poverty also have access to much wealth. He suggests that true revival only comes when it gets all the way into the systems (markets, education, government…) reducing poverty one changed life at a time and in the end will result in healing the land. 

These one changed lives can seem like a slow process. I think people see the need and operate of out that need trying to create programs that will address larger numbers all at once, but when the one on one transformation creates more transformers, and these transformers have ownership of their home territory the multiplication expansion is limitless and the transformation is deeper- more long lasting. He has amazing stories of where these transformations have been taking place in areas of great poverty, corruption, violence and crime. These are stories where “ordinary” people have seen their entire “integrated” lives as a form of worship and decided to live out their identity as citizens of the kingdom of heaven and see their work as a ministry to serve and be a channel for God’s blessing to the whole world starting with their cubicle, their small business, or their government office. These people have lives of true “integrity” because they are living as members of the body (the true church) in all aspects of their lives. 

Often this integrated work is happening in places where the “christianease” language most people associate with “ministry work” is unwelcome. The call to not be ashamed of the gospel does not mean one has to always speak the name of Jesus in order to walk with him. The saying preach the gospel wherever you go and when necessary use words comes to mind. In fact our words themselves are the smallest percentage of whole communication with our tone, body language, and contextual actions speaking louder than the words we use. We can live out the gospel that transforms for the kingdom of God louder than any sermon we speak. God comes with us wherever we go regardless if we tell everyone he is there. Truth, integrity, kindness, love and compassion are God’s ways no matter where they are done and over time bring light to dark places in ways that cannot be missed.

Silvoso does a great job of bringing to new life the many places through the Bible where we see God honoring and working through marketplaces, business people and encourages people not to shrink away from their strengths in the marketplace. He reminds us not to fear success and wealth, but not to love it for its own sake or to be controlled by it. I love his take on David and Goliath.

You can read the story for yourself in 1 Samuel 17.

First we can see that David in this situation was part of a small family business working most of the time as the shepherd. There was a battle against the Philistine enemy going on, so during this time of war in between his animal husbandry role, he put on his catering hat and was delivering food to some of the troops. He also delivered messages as he came and went.

There was an impressive professional soldier – giant who was taunting the army of God under the leadership of King Saul and saying disrespectful things again God and God’s people. David was incensed and as he saw it, a Godly man himself, there was no question God would be with someone who went out to fight against the enemy of the Lord’s people. There was a rumor going around that the King would reward whomever stood up as Israel’s champion… so he asked a very practical question: “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine? Who is he that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

As I pondered this, it occurred to me I’ve never heard this story taught with a focus on the first question that David asked and that it seemed pretty business minded. Most Christians would be considered “carnal” or “unspiritual” if they started with… What’s the payout?

Of course David loved God, and he was deeply angered that this enemy was unopposed to defy and speak blasphemy toward God and his people, but an often overlooked point is he wanted to know before he made his offer to go fight for his people and his God… he wanted to know what the benefits package was.

Apparently the package included: wealth and riches, a place in the royal family by marriage of the King’s daughter, and tax free status for his family for life. Seems like a good deal for the youngest son working for the family business. This would be a great promotion opportunity and it would help the family business as well.

David told Saul he was in. “Let me go and fight with this Philistine.”

Next Saul countered with a sound business question: You have no war experience. You are a kid, and small for your age at that. This giant has been trained since his youth to be a killing machine. If I send you in and you lose, the deal is we become slaves and my entire kingdom goes to the enemy kingdom. Why on earth would I trust you with this job?

Did David answer how much he loves God? Or that he has an amazing prayer life? Or even that he had actually been anointed king at one point so he was totally spiritually qualified?

No. He explained that in his prior line of work he had to fend off wild beasts sometimes with the sheep already in their mouth- up close and personal. His courage had him face to face with lions who are also trained from a young age to kill. He led with his practical skillset.

He did add- considering Saul knew the living God and they were not in a totally secular conversation, that if God could deliver him from a lion to save a sheep, probably God can deliver me from this evil giant to save his people. This point is also key to us today: God is willing to do the heavy lifting, he’s just looking for someone willing to take him to the fight.

David was a man after God’s own heart, but he also was a smart business guy. He relied on natural laws of best practice, he followed biblical guidelines, and when those went as far as they could he relied on the supernatural hand of God to intervene… not just for David’s success, but for God’s glory and purposes. 

The message I took away from this view of David and others like Moses taking leadership strategy from his pagan father-in-law, and Paul during his tent making period bringing revival to a region, is that the beautiful and gratifying work is done when we partner with God to transform staring in our own neighborhood, business, non-profit or home and we allow him to dream for us. It’s likely and it’s good that we should have success too! But the dreams of transformation are much bigger when God’s plans are allowed to lead. We usually think too small. 

We are invited to become a channel of transformation and blessing to the world around us- and when we agree, we take part in reclaiming what Jesus already redeemed! The marketplace is largely still a place held in systems of darkness where we find greed, corruption, alongside lack and poverty. Why are these areas of Business, Education and Government neglected as viable places of great revival and redemption. These are clearly places Jesus wants to see transformed into places of light, integrity, blessing and abundance. 

An integrated life is one where we don’t only go to church but we live as if we are the church. The church isn’t the building or the thing we do on Sundays or other special occasions. Jesus clearly said that HE would build the church, so we get to enjoy beingthe church and welcoming others alongside us as HE does the work. As Lisa Van Den Berg says: it’s less about what we do and more about who we be. Indeed. 

This transformation when it comes in power is so real and so invigorating it cannot help but bring people to want to know the one who is behind it. It becomes an organic way of an integrated life to bring this power, peace, abundance and joy into every room or meeting we enter.

The great news is we can start- or restart- today. As we begin in our own homes, our own bedroom each morning with a reminder of who we be today in our own identity as a beloved son or daughter of the King of a great eternal kingdom of righteousness (think of this as making wrong things right!), we can live out of that identity and allow God to work through us and become a channel of blessing into the world HE loves. 

That sounds like a life worth living! Maybe even a danger to the gates of hell.