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The Monkey and the Fish, by Dave Gibbons, is a good read for those looking to refocus and realign their priorities on impacting culture. Dave takes a non-linear approach to leadership and changing culture. His premise is that we need to live in 3rd Culture.

He starts the book off about a cute story of a monkey and a fish, hence the title. Here are some highlights from this read:

The Monkey and the Fish

by Dave Gibbons

A proper perspective is worth 50 IQ points (12)

Current One: Liquid

Third Culture: The mindset and will to live, learn, and serve in any culture, even in the midst of pain and discomfort. (38)

Current Two: Wardrobe

Don’t put on clothes that fit someone else. David didn’t wear Sauls armour, he fought in his own way and with his own weapons.

Questions should lead us. Not answers. (70)

Current Three: Neighbor

Jesus asks a man what is the greatest commandment and follows the question with the story of he good Samaratin. A story where the neighbor wasn’t a person like himself, but the neighbor was someone who was unloveable according to the culture.

Current Four: Liquid Bruce Lee

It’s critical for us to grasp the need for change and act on it. It isn’t just about whether we can maintain our numbers. It’s about maintaining our identity and our ability to influence the world in this new era.

You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes a teapot. The water can flow. The water can crash. Be water, my friend. – Bruce Lee

Our conflicks shouldn’t be about forms.

Shifts that mark Third-Culture Churches

1. From consumerism to cause-ism.
2. From Pastor/Teacher to Pastor/Social Entrepenuer
3. From Linear Pathway to Third Culture Rhythms

Current Five: Three Questions that Become the Answers

The answer finds residence in the question. Questions guide us to the answers of all kinds of situations. (113)

Questions to point you to make a difference:
1. Where is Nazareth? Who are the marginalized, weakest, and outsiders near you? 1 Cor 1:26-29 (116)
2. What is my pain? 1 Cor 1:19 (118)
3. What is in my hand? Exodus 4:1-5 (120)

Current Six: cWoWs- Everyone Plays

Artists are the prophets innovators, and conversationalists that are leading us. (141)

Businesspersons are the fuel for our movement. They often have the mix of creativity, sustainable management skills, and systems knowledge that keep any organization and mission. (142)

Community-Development Secialists are the machinery, the builders, implemented, and directors of the ideas and enterprises dreamed up by the artists and entrepenuers.

Current Seven: Ripples

If you look at history, it’s undeniable that diversity, especially cultural and ethnic diversity, is a huge asset when it comes to innovation, creatiity, and problem-solving. It brings forth fresh viewpoints, approaches, perspectives, learnings, ideas, insights, and sensibilities, and these in turn lead to breakthroughs, whether it’s an opportunity we’re trying to take advantage of or a proble. Or crisis we’re trying to address. (151)

The greatest single cause of Atheism in the world today are Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyles. – Brennan Manning (151)

While on vacation I was able to read “How the Mighty Fall” by New York Times Best Selling Author, Jim Collins. This is a follow-up to his “Good to Great” as he studied companies that had been “great” but have since ceased to exist. He notes 5 stages of decline that he saw in these organizations who fell.

Here are some highlights from the book:

:::: Stage One: Hubris Born of Success :::::

Hubris is the excessive price that brings down a hero, or alternatively, outrageous arrogance that that inflicts suffering upon the innocent.

Companies that change but without any consistent rationale will collapse just as sureley as those that change not at all. You have to comprehend the underlying “why” behind those practices, and thereby see when to keep them and when to change them. (38)

Be a student of your work relentlessy asking “why.” being a “knowing person” (“I already know everything about why this works, and let me tell you”) differs fundamentally from being a learning person. The “Knowing People” can set companies on the path to decline. (39)

Markers for Stage One:

:: Success Entitlement, Arrogance
:: Neglect of Primary Flywheel
:: “What” replaces “Why”
:: Decline in Learning Orientation
:: Discounting the Role of Luck (I would put in the role of Holy Spirit)

::::: Stage Two: Ubdisciplimed Pursuit of More :::::

Innovation can fuel growth, but frenectic innovation – growth that erodes consistent tactical excellence – can just as easily send a company cascading through stages of decline. (49)

What are the key seats in your organization? What percentage ofthose seats can youbsaybwith confidence are filled with the right people? What are your plans for increasing that percentage? What are your backup plans in the event that a right person leaves a key seat? (57)

The right people see themselves having a responsibility and not a job.

Leaders who fail the process of succession set their enterprises on a path to decline.(60)

While no leader can single-handedly build an enduring great company, the wrong leader vested with power can almost single-handedly bring a company down. (62)

Markers for Stage Two

:: Unsustainable quest for growth, confusing big with great
:: Undisciplined discontinuous leaps
:: Declining proportion of rightpeople in key seats
:: Easy cash erodes cost discipline
:: Bureaucracy subverts discipline
:: Problematic succession of power
:: Personal interests placed above organizational interests

::::: Stage Three: Denial and Risk of Peril :::::

When facing irreversible decisions that have significant, negative consequenses if they go awry, the case for launch should require a preponderance of empirical evidence that it’s safe to do so. (74)

Avoid taking big chances on ideas that could blow a hole below the “waterline” (below the waterline could sink the ship, above it can be patched)

A common behavior of late stage three is when those in power blame other people or external factors – or otherwise explain away the data – rather than confront the frightening reality that the enterprise may be in serious trouble. (78)

Reorganizations and restructurings can create a false sense that you are actually doing something productive. When you begin to respond to data and warning signs with reorganization as the primary strategy, you may well be in denial. (80)

Markers for Stage Three:

:: Amplify the positive, discount the negative
:: Big bets and bold goals without emperocal validation
:: Incurring huge downside risk based on ambiguous data
:: Erosion of healthy team dynamics
:: Externalizing blame
:: Obsessive reorganizations
:: Imperious detachment

::::: Stage Four: Grasping for Salvation :::::

The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature to mediocrity is chronic inconsistency. (92)

Rebuilding greatness requires a series of intelligent, well-executed actions that add up one on top of another. Some decisions are bigger than others, but eventhe biggest decisions account for only a small fraction of the total outcome tha makes a great company. Most overnight successes are about twenty years in the making. (94)

Markers for Stage Four

:: A series of silver bullets
:: Grasping for a Leader-as-Savior
::Panic and haste
:: Radical change and “revolution” with fanfare
:: Hype precedes results
:: Initial upswing followed by dissapointments
:: Confusion and cynicism
:: Chronic restructuring and erosion of financial strength

::::: Stage Five: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death :::::

When you begin abandoning hope, you should begin preparing for the end. (107)

::::: Well Founded Hope :::::

The right leaders feel a sense of urgency in good times and bad, whether facing a threat or an opportunity. (117)

Winsylton Churchill: “This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

What makes for the right people in the key seats?
1) The right people fit with the companies core values. (hire people who already have a predisposition to your core values, and hang on to them)
2) The right people don’t need to be tightly managed.
3) The right people understand that they do not have jobs; they have “Responsibilities.”
4) The right people fulfill their commitments.
5) The right people are passionate about the company and it’s work.
6) The right people display “Window and Mirror” Maturity. When things go well, they point out the window, giving credit to factors other than themselves. When things go awry, they do not blame circumstances or other people for setbacks and failures; they point to the mirror and say “I’m responsible.”

I just finished Scot McKnight’s book, “The Jesus Creed.” It was a transformational read.

A lot of times we read for information, but this read became transformational for me. I hope to live up to this Creed.

Here are some highlights from the book.

The Jesus Creed

The Jesus Creed
By Scot McKnight

The Jesus Creed
Hear o Israel, the Lord our God is one.
Live the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul,
With all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.

Shema- Jewish Creed for spiritual transformation. To love God by living the Torah.

jesus First Amendment: love God, now Love Others

Jesus Second Amendment: Lords Prayer
Lord to Abba/Father
Bread, Forgiveness, Temptation

4 lessons from the Lord’s Prayer
– we learn to approach God as Abba
– ewe learn what God really wants
– we learn to think of others
– we learn what everyone needs

Knowing God’s love begins when we open our hearts to Abba’s love.

Tables create and divide societies.

A life of sacred love: (Hosea)
– sacred live transforms our speech. Jew don’t say God they say G-d
– sacred love converts our acts. (Zacchaeus)
– sacred love inspires our worship.

Sometimes we need to get caught in order to learn.

Not the live of Torah but the Torah of love.

Look to the aide to see your neighbor: (good Samaritan)
– neighborly live begins in the home.
– neighborly love is whenever and wbereever love.
– neighborly live is moral love.

Jesus repents for us at the Jordan River. He loves God faithfully in the wilderness when tempted. He transfigures earthly treagedy into eternal realities on the Mountain bhe transforms the Passover lamb into His own death for us at the Last Supper.

Like the Passover Lamb, Jesus claims that his death is vicarious as he represents us and substitutes for us. He experiences for us what we do not want but deserve (slavery and death), and provides for us what we do want but don’t deserve (a life of freedom). By participating in His death, we are set free by his death.

Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance). As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both “I did it, my sins sent him there.,” and ” he did it, his love took him there.” – John Stott

22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, `May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. 24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.* 

Mark 11:22

“The power to believe a promise depends entirely on faith in the Promiser.” (Andrew Murray, “With Christ in the School of Prayer,” p.66)

At the core of any promise is “Trust.” The promise is only as valid as the trust one can put in the person that delivered the promise.  To believe that God can truly deliver on what He promises is faith. To trust that God is true to His Word is the only thing we need to receive what we ask for.

When we pray with faith, we are telling God that we believe He is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do. 

It’s simple. Believe He is and that He can do!

There is a catch to this. A loop-hole of sorts. It’s the clause of unforgiveness. If we are keeping ourselves from forgiving someone, then God will hold back His forgiveness on us. When we hold grudges against someone, God holds back His grace from us. 

So when you pray, forgive. Remove the grudges from your heart. It doesn’t mean that you need to pick up the phone and tell that person you forgive them. It does mean treating them as if they never wronged you. That’s the way Jesus forgave us. He treats us as if we have no sin. 

 


 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
  “My rabbi,* ” the blind man said, “I want to see!”

Mark 10:51

This is a complex teaching: Tell God what you want Him to do for you.

God does know what we need before we ask for it, however, as displayed in this story with the blind man, He wants to hear us voice those requests to Him.

What requests have you not audibly voiced to God because you know He already knows about it?

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 `A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, `Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

Luke 11:5-8

This is a short parable showing us that the persistence in our prayers moves the hand of God. This doesn’t need much elaboration.  It is simple – if you keep it up, God will show up

This enters into the type of prayer that we call intercession. It is the act of intervening on behalf of someone else. In this parable the friend was asking for bread for a friend of his. He was requesting help for someone close to him.

Intercession is bridging the Gap to God for another person’s need. 

If you are praying for someone. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Because if you don’t give up, God will show up.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Matthew 7:9-11

As I read the Sermon on the Mount there are several main things I see Jesus trying to point out. One is the connection of a relationship.

I could go over to my neighbor’s house, whom I seldom see, and ask him fire up his grill and cook me a hamburger because I’m hungry. Yeah, I could do that, and I would love to see him look at me and tell me I’m crazy. However, if I went upstairs and asked my wife to make me a hamburger because I was hungry, she would put down her book and do it for me.

What’s the difference in the two questions? It’s the relationship I have with the two parties. I’m not that close with my neighbor, but with my wife, we have a very close relationship.

Andrew Murray comments that Jesus is telling us the prayer of a child owes its influence entirely to the relation in which he stands to the parent.

Earlier when Jesus begins His message to those gathered on this mountainside, He tells everyone:
“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth noting again that in the Old Testament God was the God of our Fathers, but in the New Testament, Jesus reveals God as a Father. He begins this imagery here in this beatitude. If I am a child of God, then that makes Him my Father.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are put in a right relationship with God the Father, and the favor that God the Father shows Jesus, His Son, He now sends our way. This allows us to ask the Father for the things we need.

I can only think of the popular tv commercial: I don’t want to grow up, I’m a …. kid. You know. I don’t want to grow up and lose the simple faith of a child who is in awe of everything his parent does.

Could it be that the effectiveness of our prayers is found in the relationship that we have with our Heavenly Father?

How is your relationship with God the Father? Is there something separating you and God?

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7,8

“And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:3

This is the second time Jesus addresses prayer. The first time, He revealed that God is not the God of our Fathers, as much as He can be God our Father and that when we pray in secret, He will reward us openly. Now Jesus comes saying that we can be assured that our prayers are heard and they will be answered.

There is no words that say “we might get it answered.” Or most likely “it won’t happen.” This is tough for me because I have prayed many times and have many unanswered prayers. I remember praying day and night for my Grandpa who was dying of Parkinson’s disease and as I would help take care of him, begging God to heal his body here on earth. That never came. Harvey McDonald did receive his healing several years ago when he went to his Heavenly home.

Jesus tells us to do three things:
ASK,
SEEK,
KNOCK.

According to James (seen above) we must ask with the right motives. Ill motives keep prayers unanswered. But, still it amazes me that in this passage, Jesus says this with an “unconditional” context. No small print or asterisks or footnotes to be seen.

Asking implies that we need something. So we are to ask God for what we need.

Seek… What or whom are we seeking. Could this be seeking for answers? Or even God Himself? Or by finding God do we find the answers we are seeking?

Knock. I see a room with a door and God is in this room. When we knock, He lets us in to be with Him. Simple stuff. But yet complex. Or do we make it complex… I’m going to try to keep this simple. It seems that’s the way God wants it to be.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.”

Simple.

Are you making your prayers too complicated?

“You should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your name”
Matthew 6:9

Jesus gives us a great model to prayer in Matthew 6. Here Jesus says that our prayers should be like this. Remember that Jesus is the first person in history to reveal Jesus as a Father. In the Old Testament, it was the God of our Fathers and Jesus brings a new insight that God is our Father.

We need to start off our prayers talking about God to Him, instead of hitting the timer and then starting at the top of our list and off we go. The order is reversed here. Instead of starting with us and our needs, we start off focusing on the Father and honoring His name.

“Come and set up your kingdom, so that everyone on earth will obey you, as you are obeyed in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

God is a King. After all, he has a kingdom, and if we are to pray to Him as a Father, then that makes us King’s kids. If we are His kids then part of this kingdom is ours. The irony is that even though we are King’s kids, we live in a world dominated by sin. So our prayers should be for God’s love to be made known in those we meet everyday so that God’s kingdom can grow.

“Give us our food for today.” Matthew 6:11

Simple truth that we should ask for what we need today. Don’t worry about tomorrow. It’s okay to pray for what we need. Notice that this is the shortest part of this prayer. Ironic isn’t it? If you’re like me, it’s what I spend the most time on.

“Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others.”Matthew 6:12

We need to remember that we are only forgiven as we forgive. We must never lose the art of asking for forgiveness.

“Keep us from being tempted and protect us from evil.”Matthew 6:13

We might be kids of a sinless God, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t sin again. Here we see the need to pray that we are kept from sinning. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Summing it up:
Focus on God and who He is and What He is. Then, ask God for what we need today, for His forgiveness, and for His protection from sin.

K… I can do that.

When you pray, what do you spend most of your time asking God for?

We’re on Day three of “With Christ in the School of Prayer,” by Andrew Murray.

“6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you”
Matthew 6:6

Yesterday’s lesson taught that we don’t need to go to a specific place to worship. John 4:19-24

Today, we see, ironically, that Jesus tells where we are to pray. In secret. Not where everyone else is so we can be seen, but in the place where only we know that it’s done.

Why does God want us alone? Well, why does my wife want me alone? For undivided attention. This is hard! Really hard! Sometime I feel on the verge of ADD. Other times I am so driven to check something off a list and get to the next thing that to “get alone with God” is the hardest thing to do.

I struggle with this. But, I’m challenging this process. I’m finding my “closet.” Could it be that in the hidden places God reveals himself? Is it in the place of secrecy that a revelation is revealed?

Finding the place of secrecy is fulfilling in that God promises that it will be rewarded. How? Don’t really know, but He says it. What kind of blessing or reward does He bring? I think that this is only up to Him. After all, “He rewards those who sincerely seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6

So get somewhere quiet. Your drive to work. While in the shower. First thing when you wake up or before you go to bed. It’s hard to find time in a world where our schedules are so jammed pack, put we must make it happen somehow. Smith Wigglesworth said that he never prayed more than 15 min, but he never went 15 min without praying.

Where can you go to be quiet every day? Find that place.