All posts by Larry Rascon

The 80/20 Rule

80-20 rule

 

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”  Winston Churchill

The mission was clear.  The objectives were met.  SPY OUT THE LAND!

The Lord said to Moses, “Send men to explore Canaan, which I’m giving to the Israelites.  Send one leader from each of their ancestors’ tribes.” Numbers 13:1-2

You know the rest of the story:  Only 24% (two out of twelve) of the reconnaissance  team responded in faith to God’s promise and were willing to fight for it.

Later, 40 years later, they led and reaped the rewards. Trust me, this time it was not put up for another vote!

Have you seen this at your workplace or in your life?  A small few carry out the mission, while the rest argue about why it can’t be done.  Then when its completed; they say: “That’s what I was thinking.”  Just to be clear, I have been one of those guys!

Focus on your Mission.  Use God’s gifting.  Trust in his promises. Keep the faith and be part of the twenty percent that carry out God’s calling.  Matthew 28:19-20

You can read more about the 80/20 Rule, also known as The Pareto Principle below.

Lost in Wonder

lost-in-wonderLost in Wonder-Psalm 92

Let me start out with admitting this is all stolen borrowed from Pastor Randy’s sermon this past Sunday.  It is well worth listening to if you missed it.

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I love this quote from Temple who was Archbishop of Canterbury (1942-44).

To worship is:
to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God,
to feed the mind with the truth of God,
to purge the imagination by the beauty of God,
to open the heart to the love of God,
to devote the will to the purpose of God.

Do you regularly spend time with God in worshipping, praying, praising and thanking God, reading the Bible, etc.?  Is that comfortable for you or does it sound foreign? Do you have a desire for those activities – or others – that would bring you into a deeper relationship with God?

Experts say it takes 21 repetitions to create a habit. Men will you take a 21-day praise challenge? For the next three weeks – 21 days – select one thing you will do to make praise a part of your life.  Here are some thoughts:

  • Read one praise psalm each morning. (Suggestion: focus on Psalms 146-150; either read a different one each day or pick one and read it every day.)  Read slowly and reflectively.  Reread it.  Spend at least five minutes with the psalm.
  • Praise God for who he is. Make a list of God’s attributes (see #6, above), and spend at least five minutes praising God for who he is because of those attributes.  You could focus on one attribute each day, one letter of the alphabet each day, or praise through your whole list each day.
  • Read a devotional book. There are many books and booklets available that can point your thoughts toward God and his Word: My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers; Our Daily Bread (a booklet published quarterly or available online at www.odb.org); Here and Now or other books by Henri Nouwen. Many resources are available electronically; check out www.ebible.com (available directly and on The City).
  • Discover your worship personality.* Where and how do you best find God? Do you find him in nature? Then find a spot to soak in his creation and praise him for what you see there.

Brother in Arms

Born Supremacy

Bourne-SupremacyThe Bourne Supremacy; what a great sequel that was. The edge of your seat action, music, and suspense were phenomenal.  The original movie, “Bourne Identity,” now upgraded and the title says it all, Supremacy.   This is one bad dude!

Merriam-Webster definition of SEPREMACY: the quality or state of being supreme; also:  supreme authority or power.    

That got me to thinking about “Born Supremacy,” the Original, not a remake.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 1 Colossians 1:15-20 (NIV, emphasis mine)

After reading and pondering on that, Mr. Bourne’s supremacy looks a bit less supreme. Compared to “all things created, before all things, and in him all things hold together, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things.”

That’s SUPREMACY worth our worship!

Who is this Guy?

Who is this guy?

On the way home from services last Sunday, we stopped at the store for some groceries.  As we exited the car Lurene commented, “Isn’t that your old truck?  I had a red Ford Ranger for years and hadn’t seen it since I sold it over seven years ago.  Keep in mind, it had over 190K miles on it then, but it was still running.

I recognized the license plate number, as they don’t change when cars are sold.  But what threw me was the number of stickers on the truck.  Seriously, it looked like the picture above.  One of the front bumper stickers declared:

“10 out of 10 terrorists vote Democratic.”

Wow, who is this guy?

As I continued reading the stickers “NRA, “I love a woman with $%^#$,” Lurene said “look your ARC college parking sticker and Patricia’s (our older daughter) UCSB license plate are still on.”  Through the open window we could see loads of trash on the floor board and the passenger side seat.  I wanted to look in and see the mileage, but Lurene declared “you wanna get shot.?”  I thought it was worth the risk and quickly peeked in.

Who is this guy?

As I was reading and asking this question, Pastor David’s sermon came to mind “Is Jesus A Republican, Democrat, OR….?”  Great sermon that can be seen here!

Am I first a Christian, and secondly a person who expresses my feelings/opinions of others through stickers and labels?  Or am I a person who expresses my feelings/opinions through stickers and labels, and second a Christian?  Does my life look like that truck, filled with stickers and labels?

Who is this guy?

We waited for ten minutes; he never came out, maybe for the best.  I was already labeling him!

Brother in Arms…

 

Great Starts-Poor Finishes

Great Starts-Poor Finishes

Have you ever committed to a project, and it ended badly.   I have.  I started out excited, but with the passing of time I gave into other less important distractions, or ran out of the financial wherewith-all and finished-unfinished poorly.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Luke 14:28-30

God has been speaking to me on following through, especially in the area of His ministry.  To follow through, stay excited, finish well.  Brothers, I am easily distracted!

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24-(emphasis mine)

On reading what Paul was facing, my reasons seem quite petty-

And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.  Acts 20:22-23

Wow-

Lord help me to stay focused and complete the missions you have given me.  Let my Yes be Yes on commitments to You.   Help me to finish well!

Brother in Arms…

 

To Forgive or not Forgive?

To Forgive or not Forgive-that is the question?

 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death.  And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.  Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:32-34

This is a difficult area for me.  Recently, our pastor talked about this in his series “Smart People, Dumb Beliefs”.  He spoke about the folly of (Forgiveness=Forgetting).  You can listen to Pastor Dave’s Sermon here.  You know, I put it away and it goes away. I can attest to struggling with this belief.  Yea, until the person’s name is mentioned, then it all comes flooding back.  And the cycle continues.

I remember dealing with such a situation. A fellow employee/supervisor/worst of all leader had “wronged me” along with casting untold havoc within my Department.  Just the mention of his name brought thoughts of hate, disgust, and a few choice words.  For me, forgiveness was not an option, forgetting will solve this problem-because that’s like forgiving. Not!

It was during a morning men’s study that I heard about a pastor who has struggled with similar belief. You can listen Chip Ingram’s teaching- “Overcoming the evil aimed at you” below.   It’s less than 15 minutes. and here is the group study guide “Overcoming the Evil Aimed at You!

During the group study I realized that forgiveness is part of the sanctification process.  And any process may take some time.  Only through the release of my will and faith in the power of His Spirit released through the Cross, could this be fully accomplished.  Not just forgetting and hoping it would go away.

It is by forgiving that one is forgiven- Mother Teresa

Have you struggled with forgiveness?
Have you put that situation into the “forgiveness=forgetting” spot?
I know many times I have.

Comment, invite, and encourage!

Brother in Arms….

Men’s Night Out!

On Tuesday, July 3rd, there was a great turn out for the bonfire at Men’s Night Out.  It included a hot dog roast and Jim led a discussion on “Why Satan Attacks Men.”

Below are a few pictures of the event!

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God also provides us with encouragement in the context of meaningful relationships. God uses regular people like you and me to be agents of encouragement. He comforts us through other people who are willing to come along side us and encourage when we’re weak. In the same way, each of us are called to be comforters and agents of God’s love to those around us who are weak and afflicted.

Here’s why we’re called to encourage:

  • God commands it. God did not design us to make it here on this earth alone.  We were designed to have authentic, caring relationships. God also promises to comfort us when we’re facing difficult circumstances “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor. 1:4)
  • Sin is deceitful. If left to ourselves, we will start going into denial and begin compromising what we believe. All of us need encouragement to guard against a growing complacency in our walks with God.
  • Spiritual growth requires it. In 1 Thessalonians 3:2 Paul tells the persecuted church in Thessalonica that he is sending them Timothy, who will strengthen and encourage them in their faith. In a similar way, we are instructed to help ignite the faith of others who are feeling discouraged. This means we’re to provoke each other to grow spiritually.
  • We lose perspective so easily. In 2 Corinthians 7:3-7 we read how even the Apostle Paul was faced with so much discouragement that he lost his perspective and was ready to quit his ministry. But God comforted him by restoring his spiritual perspective of the situation. As believers, we are also called to motivate others to righteousness and holy living, and to help restore their perspective by giving them God’s truth.

From Chip Ingram  http://livingontheedge.org/blog/?p=2205

The Flowing River!

The Flowing River!

As believers we need to be in touch with the Living God on a daily basis. We will not make it in this life unless we dwell in Psalm 91’s Secret Place of the Most High. Jesus wants to “know” us intimately. The Holy Spirit has been poured out so that Jesus would be real to us believers; more than a doctrine, belief system or a denomination. We need to contact God daily and hear from Him.

The Flowing River is an Old Testament pattern for doing just that. Many people have discovered the marvelous glory of intimacy with God through this teaching. Whatever your affliction, Jesus’ finished work on the Cross is sufficient. Our problem is believing that. When we enter His presence, we can believe it all!  (Larry Chkoreff; The Flowing River)

“There will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony (Exodus 25:22).

A quote from Watchman Nee from his book A Table in the Wilderness. “What is the basis of our communion with God?  It is His glory.  At the mercy seat with its shadowing cherubim we have fellowship with-God, and they are “cherubim of glory.”  It is in the place where God’s glory is manifested, with its implied judgment upon man, that we find mercy there and they’re alone.  Cannot God, being God, show mercy where he will?  No, he can only show mercy where his moral glory is also maintained.  He does not divorce the mercy seat from the cherubim.

It is the shed blood that makes communion possible for sinful man.  Because of it God can show mercy without violating his glory; he can commune with man without denying himself.  Thus the blood of Christ is essential to fellowship, absolutely essential.  Nevertheless it is not the basis of fellowship.  When I commune with blood at his mercy seat it is not on the precious blood I gaze, but on the glory.  The veil is taken away, and with unveiled face we all behold the glory of God.”

God help us to enter into your presence today!

Where Wisdom Begins

A Quote from “Walk with God,” by Chris Tiegreen

Where Wisdom Begins.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. PROVERBS 9:10

We’re uncomfortable with the idea of fearing God. We defend Him as One whose love is so great He needs not be feared. As 1 John 4:18 says: “Perfect love drives out fear.” So we redefine fear as “awe” and “reverence.” Yet the Scriptures use the term “fear of God” frequently enough to give us the impression that something more than awe is appropriate. It is the kind of fear that terrified the disciples when they heard God’s voice at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:6); that overwhelmed Isaiah when he cried out: “Woe to me! … I am ruined!” in God’s presence (Isaiah 6:5); and that drove John facedown at the sight of the glorified Son (Revelation 1:17).

Why does a God of love tell us that wisdom begins when we fear Him? Because when we approach the Holy One with a casual familiarity, we are not living in reality. We do not take Him as seriously as we ought, and we do not take our sin as seriously as we ought. Fear – not of punishment but of the overwhelming greatness of God – sees Him correctly. When we stand on the edge of the vast, bottomless chasm that separates us from Him, and we behold the immeasurable expense He paid to bridge that chasm, we experience fear.

Fear of what would have been if we had never known the gospel. Fear of our own unworthiness. Fear of the absolute dedication to Him that is now required of us. When this fear grips us, we begin to understand the enormity of the gospel and of our God. That understanding begins to rearrange our lives. And that is what wisdom is all about.

It is vital that we know God’s love and rest comfortably in it. But a true understanding of God’s love begins with an overwhelming awareness of His greatness, holiness, and power as they contrast our own sinful nature. There is nothing more fear-inducing than that. But this is where we must begin. This will shape our self-awareness, our relationships, our work, our prayers – everything we think and do. It will make us wise.

What is my Identity?

 

What is my Identity?

Why is this important?

What do you identify with?

Maybe you identify with your dress which is reflected by your current situation, occupation, or role. Your “uniform for the day.” For example in a jail situation for the most part you are either dressed in orange and jeans (prisoner) or sheriff’s uniform (guard). Is this your identity? Who you are?

Maybe you identify with your sin or your weaknesses. Is that who you are?

As I look at ‘Good Friday,” I am reminded of Peter who dealt with identity issues.  He identified with Christ as a strong Jewish leader to be protected at all costs.

Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,” that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.”

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. John 18:8-10

But he was not quite ready to identify with Christ’s sufferings.

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Luke 22:61

Paul had much to say about identity. For example in Romans:

What shall we say then?   Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:1-11 (emphasis mine)

In Philippians Paul writes:

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11(emphasis mine)

Pressing Toward the Goal:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Your identity is in Jesus-not your job; dress; or your sin!

Remember that, and then be who you already are.