Building Our Own Stairway to Heaven

When the time came for the critical transition from talk to real action…to implementation of much needed beneficial reforms…the owners of the housing construction company failed to realize they themselves were the primary bottleneck to company growth…requiring radical organizational and managerial reform.

Through delegation of authority, through the management style of pushing power downward within the company, and through a radical, 180-degree turn-about in leadership style, employees would be empowered to autonomously shoulder some of the decision-making that would bring out their best self-motivated performance and enthusiastic commitment to their work.

Ironically and unfortunately, however, the company owners became the single major source of resistance and pushback to these proposed beneficial changes…that they themselves originally commissioned and endorsed.

The human tendency to take reform concepts, and partially set them aside or shave them down to conveniently fit within our already established program, is partly what Paul is talking about in Romans 10:3…”For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

We cannot take preferred bits and pieces of the precepts of God to suit ourselves, and then attempt to build our own stairway to heaven using partially selected components (see Mk 7:9).

Each and every piece must be included and be in the right place to produce a functional staircase.  Partial construction according to our own short-sighted program will not work.

A biblical-quality, God-composed journey of faith life-script is a larger, expansive business plan by God’s intentional and purposeful design.

Venturing with God out into the larger scope of the new territory of godliness in action, a territory by definition completely unfamiliar to us, requires a fundamental change in our discipleship outlook in the all-important areas of who is in control of our lives, who has the power as the new general manager, and who maintains sovereignty over the new expanded program (Isa. 55:8-9; Prov. 3:5-6; Mt. 16:24-25).

There is a night-and-day difference, in practical application and concrete outcomes, between changing a reform program to fit neatly within our settled ways of doing things, versus allowing the reform program to instead radically change us.

This is the essence of the reform program contained within the saying of Jesus regarding “new covenant” discipleship: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mk 8:34-35).

If the stagnation of the status quo wins-out…because people pushback against beneficial change…then nothing will improve and things will stay the same.

The analogy to a rapidly growing housing construction company applies here to all Spirit-born Christians today.  If we continue to do things the same way then we will simply get more of the same results.  God has to displace our ways…with His higher life-script for us…if anything meaningful is to happen.

The importance of a changed program within the biblical narrative stories of faith is a concept that all humans have difficulty seeing and understanding, as evidenced in the construction company owner’s eventual negative response of pushback to the need for change in their company, preferring to stay within the comfortable mindset of their established, small-business routines.

If we decide to take up our cross and to follow Jesus, he then says: “Come.”  God will then insert a divinely crafted life-script into our lives that contains everything of value…purpose, direction, love, support, inspiration in time of need, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, service to others, inner peace, order, organization, hope…and character growth obtained through a singular, challenging mission that we could never dream up on our own.

And God can do this starting in the exact place we currently find ourselves.  Our part is to surrender, pray, listen for instructions, and be patient.

In business, sometimes cheap isn’t always the most economical.  We have to spend money to make money.

The gain we make through an investment in God’s eternal business plan far outweighs our initial cost in picking up our cross and following the resurrected Jesus.

Paul instructs the Christian: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

The Holy Spirit Will Guide You into All Truth 2

If all of God’s communications with the people of faith in the Bible were verbal only, then these communications would dissipate into the atmosphere after they were spoken, and we would be left only with oral legends of the mighty works of God and of the life-stories of the people of faith in the distant past.

Equally important, if all of God’s communications with the people of faith in the Bible were verbal only…but also only applied specifically to each life-script storyline without having universally timeless relevance and application beyond the life-scripts of Abraham, David, or Paul…for example…then recording the themes and life-lessons of these divinely composed life-scripts would have little value other than as interesting reading.

By committing journeys of faith into written form, with all of the relevant backstory details and character growth issues, God lays everything out on the table for believers newly embarking on their own journeys of faith…and in doing so confirms the high value of their timeless relevance for Christians today.

Without the Bible, we would have no written record with which to gage the correctness of our own Christian journeys of faith, especially when we are at the beginning, training phase of taking up our cross to follow Jesus.

Without a standard to go by, the newness of surrendering our own will-and-way to God’s higher ways would and usually does generate doubts and questions…compared to our comfortable familiarity with expected worldly conventional norms.

In Luke 24:13-32, the story is told of Jesus on Resurrection Day overtaking two of the disciples as they walked towards a nearby village from Jerusalem called Emmaus.

The identity of Jesus is miraculously hidden as He enters into their conversation about the recent events of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth who was “a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Lk. 24:19).

The two men say: “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done” (Lk. 24:21), and then go on to state that women they knew went to the sepulcher early and “found not his body,” had a vision of angels, and that other men then went to the sepulcher and confirmed that the tomb was empty.

While still not recognizing Him, Jesus alleviated their doubts and confusion by using the scriptures to validate and clarify the rightness of His life-script and the totally unconventional “way of the cross.”

Jesus appealed to the written record: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27).

Jesus explained Himself, His actions, and the perplexing events of the previous three days, out of the scriptures.

Even though He told the disciples in advance that He would suffer, be killed, and rise the third day, they were too stuck in the expectant mindset of a triumphant Son of David messiah ruling and reigning in Jerusalem to see a different, better scenario.

God’s “business plan” for growth featured redemptive salvation and a new covenant relationship with believers on a universal basis, extending and ongoing now for two thousand years.

The confusion these two disciples expressed on the road to Emmaus, about the ways of God at this very beginning of the new covenant age, epitomizes and accents the novelty of the danger zone of a walk of faith that rises far above worldly conventional normalcy.

The way of the cross was…and still is…not fully understood because it is so contrary to worldly conventional thinking.

Cleopas and his friend, on their way to Emmaus, were basically saying: “we are sincerely confounded and discouraged by the cross.”

They didn’t say: “Of course we understand all this…the ancient tradition of the Passover sacrifice is a preview through all of the preceding centuries of the recent sacrifice of Jesus only a few days ago for the sins of the entire world…past, present, and future…and we expect Him to resurface any time now because He said ‘destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up’…also, we have Psalm 22 and Proverbs 3:5-6 memorized.”

Cleopas and his friend did not understand the concept of the way of the cross even on the day of the resurrection.

This is why we need the Bible as the written record of the higher ways of God, and why Jesus as the living “Word of God” (Jn. 1:1), appealed to the scriptures in validating and clarifying His own experience of the way of the cross to these two disciples on the very day of His resurrection.

Luke 24:32 summarizes the value of the Bible in written form as the guiding standard and confirmation of the novelty of the way of the cross in the lives of Christians today:

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

The Holy Spirit Will Guide You into All Truth 1

If we, as born-again Christians, are walking in the Spirit, are in the place where God wants us to be, and have our spiritual eyes and ears open, then the Holy Spirit can lead us into “all truth” (Jn 16:13) in any environment…at our widely differing secular workplaces, in our homes and social lives, and in our unique and singular Christian ministries.

The Holy Spirit can divide and separate out for us the subtle and nuanced differences between right and wrong, between good and evil, and between best practices and poor practices in every imaginable environment.

When translated into spiritual and moral application…when we take personal ownership of divinely inspired moral strategies for life through the discovery and practical use of  truths regarding the knowledge of good and evil…this will set us free for all eternity according to the scriptures (Jn 8:32-36).

The concept of the Holy Spirit leading us into all truth…with our feet firmly grounded in reality through the most rational of divinely guided, down-to-earth, real-life events and circumstances…is a central motive force within every narrative story of faith recorded in the Bible…and every contemporary Christian adventure of faith today.

It is one of the components in a biblical walk of faith that authenticates the God of the Bible as the one, true, living God intimately at work in our present broken world, on a one-to-one, personal basis (Jer. 31:31-34).

It is the concrete, rational element to our supernatural relationship with Jesus Christ that connects God to people through the authority of lived-experience.

The Holy Spirit leading people into all truth is above and beyond anything we could invent or procure on our own, which the skeptical world of unbelief looking on in ignorance from a safe distance labels as “subjective” and “relative.”

What I learned over time through the experience of trying to reform this company’s field operations…opened up for me  a better understanding of a common theme regarding discipleship shared by all of the people of faith recorded in the Bible.

What these construction company owners were unknowingly saying and thus not clearly articulating was: “create for us the new, required management control tools, for our expanded business operations, so we can take them over and implement them ourselves in a way that does not interfere with our current established routines.”

What was never openly considered or plainly spoken during my initial job interview, or during several subsequent strategy meetings over time…and thus difficult to uncover until using after-the-fact hindsight much later…was that subconsciously the construction company owners never intended to delegate power, broaden authority, or give up control.

Absent a definitive business plan for growth upfront, spelling out in detail specific areas needing change from top to bottom including their own routines and practices, they were then free to assume that the current status quo power structure would continue to be “more of the same” but on a bigger scale.

This is where the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible shed much needed light on our individual callings as Spirit-led Christians today.

The Small-Business Mindset

In a small but successfully growing business, where the company owners are accustomed to doing everything themselves through multi-tasking, the idea that they are the only people who can do things right…has a measure of validity.

If the small company owner is doing everything through multi-tasking and they are doing it well enough to produce business growth, then it can be said that they are in-fact doing things right.

But successful hands-on performance by the company owners has practical limits.  It only works as long as the enterprise remains manageably small.

The owners of the single flower shop on the street corner, the small town bookstore, or the specialty butcher shop in the downtown section of a city, can successfully remain in business for decades as long as the owners are directly participating, are personally likeable, and their products are high-quality and reasonably priced.

The commendable attitude of the small company owner who correctly says: “I can do everything because I am doing everything” can slowly morph into the business management stifling attitude of: “I have to do everything myself because I am the only one who can do things right.”

This mindset will hold back the growing company.

The successful company owner’s philosophy for growth is: “other people can be trained to perform as well as, or even better than I can currently do things.”

The living God of the Bible is the penultimate leader.  His aim is to download His considerable expertise through the lived-experience of brilliantly crafted journeys of faith, while establishing a close relationship of loving camaraderie with His followers that brings out the best in commitment and dedication to the inspired tasks at hand.

This is a novel, ahead-of-its-time leadership and management concept embedded within the ancient biblical narrative stories of faith.

It is a very sophisticated concept even for today.

God-composed journeys of faith recorded in the Bible encapsulate the very real contemporary management challenge that confronts every small-business owner as a normal part of the process of growth…the challenge of changing from a solitary, capable doer of the work…to a leader of the larger organization who can inspire other people to willingly and cooperatively assume some or all of the workload at their highest performance level.

This is precisely what God does in the large and complex enterprise of the unfolding saga of human redemptive history.

When Jesus calls Peter to leave his familiar Sea of Galilee surroundings and occupation as a fisherman to become a “fisher of men” (Mk. 1:16-18), Peter had no idea then that this new expanded adventure of faith would someday lead to Peter standing before the intimidating Jerusalem governing body called the Sanhedrin council, boldly speaking in self-abandoned courage and in the divine liberation of Holy Ghost fire…at the risk of his life…that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Similarly, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Daniel, and Jeremiah had no complete idea how the precise mechanism of their journeys of faith following God…would lead them through their individual, called-out missions.

This is by God’s purposeful design.  It reveals an architect of immense skill and foresight, providing all of the required information upfront in the blueprint plans that will be needed as each phase of the construction proceeds, as each page of our lives is turned.

The biblical narrative stories of faith reveal a leader and a manager with such an enlightened business model for growth that every conceivable contingency has been planned-for ahead-of-time…through a proactive, far-sighted vision of incredible insight and accuracy.

Going Our Own Way

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.                                                                                                                             (Isa. 53:6)

I once worked as a project manager for a homebuilder that asked for help to organize their field operations, admitting they knew they were disorganized, having rapidly grown in recent business volume.

For whatever reason, this company had not previously recognized the need or carved-out the time to document their field construction policies-and-procedures into formalized, written construction schedules, checklists of problems to avoid, and spreadsheet analytical tools to coordinate homebuyer selections with the construction…until this accelerated upshot in business growth forced this need for change upon them.

Up until this recent time of rapid growth they had relied upon the typical standard-of-the-industry information contained within the architectural drawings, similar house designs used over and over again, and repeat subcontractors to sustain the bulk of the know-how to construct their houses.

An improvisational, think-on-your-feet approach in the reactive mode…of personally answering questions and resolving problems individually from memory as they arose out in the field… provided the additional fill-in information needed to close the remaining gaps, as conditions and questions unique to each project surfaced during the course of the construction.

This in-the-moment, think-on-your-feet, reactive mode field management worked reasonably well for a small number of houses in progress, before the business volume grew.

But above a certain number of houses under construction, the previously adequate company culture of centralized power, personally delivering verbal communication in the field of some of the needed information, and management by multi-tasking…was stretched beyond its practical capacity.

Enlightened and broad-minded management, involving in-house training, delegation of decision-making, and specialization of tasks was needed from the top to the bottom of the company structure if it was to successfully handle the increased workload.

In short, this company needed a comprehensive business plan for growth, above and beyond their current approach.

Successful business origination had added a level of volume and complexity that simply outpaced the company’s developing strategy to manage the new increased workload.  A retroactive condition of managed chaos was the result, with people continuingly catching up to their ever expanding number of tasks while trying to devise and implement a program for growth, which ideally should have been “all-ready” in place prior to business expansion.

The concept of the need for an expanded “business model” for growth, fully in-place and functional before growth actually occurs, is a confirmation through business management theory of the pattern formed that we see in the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible…inaugurated way back in the time of Abraham.

The reality-changing response by Jesus to Nicodemus in John chapter three is that we must spiritually be born again…implying the need for a new enhanced personal capacity transcending our current reality.

This seemingly new…yet anciently old (Mt. 5:17)…opening message of Jesus to religiously observant and committed first-century Jews is surprisingly to repent and believe the gospel (Mk 1:15), even though at the time many of these Jews thought they were doing everything right and fulfilling the extent of their religious experience (Mt. 9:13).

The Christian life in the danger zone of faith begins with a massive internal expansion and reorganization of our enterprise…a spiritual rebirth…a new heart…a radical personal change which can only be successfully utilized for life-growth within the guiding “business plan” of a God-composed, fully developed,  proactively conceived journey of faith life-script.

The field management approach for this housing construction company of verbally providing some of the needed information on the construction sites produced a recurring, reinvent-the-wheel syndrome of improvised, in-the-moment problem-solving on every project that proved to be overwhelming as the number of houses under construction passed beyond a certain number.

Verbal communication often requires the physical presence on the construction jobsite of the communicator.  The answer to a question or the resolution of a problem does then integrate internally into the construction of each individual house “in-the-moment,” but if not recorded in writing with an accompanying sketch or digital photograph for future use, unfortunately each successive resolution of a question or a problem then evaporates into the atmosphere…only to resurface sometimes only weeks or a few months later again on another similar project.

By translating verbally communicated information into written form it can then be applied across the board to answer the exact same questions as they arise on other projects by simply handing out the paperwork (detail sheets or sketches) prior to the start of the work.

An even better, long-range approach is to backfill corrective information generated in the field into a systematic feedback loop of this information to the design phase…architects, engineers, and interior designers…thus benefitting the blueprint plans sheets for all future projects.

The point here is that for a larger, complex enterprise, the in-the-moment, think-on-your-feet approach does not work…it falls short of being functionally adequate.

A complete, whole, strategic program is needed…having pre-planned, fully premeditated foresight covering all of the required information.

A helpful analogy might be to visualize a seasoned and savvy traffic-cop blowing his whistle and waving his arms to direct traffic while standing in the middle of a four-way street intersection, for a few hours during rush-hour traffic each weekday.

This approach will work for a small town having only one such main street intersection.  But no matter how experienced and proficient the traffic-cop is, based on working this same street intersection for years, as the small town grows in both size and population it will need to stretch its system for traffic management to include new streets, stop signs, and traffic signals.

For a small to medium sized city, stop signs and coordinated traffic lights are a must.

A larger enterprise needs a larger business model.  For this particular homebuilder caught unprepared in the middle of rapid growth, the old adage applied: “nothing fails like success.”

Spirit-born Christians today…having new spiritual hearts and walking within journeys of faith…enter into a larger enterprise…in fact one of the oldest and largest enterprises in existence…the “general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” and to “an innumerable company of angels” (Heb. 12:23-22).

Accepting Jesus Christ into our hearts by faith…inaugurates a new business model into our lives…in that God has a pre-written business plan…in the form of a God-composed journey of faith life-script for every believer…ready to implement as our calling and mission in life expands and grows.

This is another way of describing the Christian danger zone of faith.

A Message Within a Message 2

One definition of a pioneer frontiersman is someone who gets shot in the back with arrows.  The message of the cross is certainly not new, but for some people this book is too radical…is too Christian…compared to what we hear every Sunday in many Christian churches.

I would counter by saying that radically extreme Christianity produces the most balanced, healthy, and sane lives when lived in harmony with the highest levels of the natural moral law contained within a God-composed journey of faith.

The four gospels, the books of Acts, the letters to the churches, and the book of Revelation define Christianity.

The words of the New Testament define Christian principles and practices (Jn. 10:35).

It is certainly understandable that as the gospel message in the first-century went out from Jerusalem to the pagan, polytheistic, idol-worshipping cultures of the Greco-Roman world, that the purity of the message would become diluted, garbled, and challenged through this enormously complex synthesis between the higher ways of God and the worldly mindset of established conventional normalcy.

Christians sharing their testimony and the gospel message with family and friends today confront this same universal difficulty.

Romans chapter 16 gives us a window into the close personal friendships that Paul was able to form over his career as a missionary evangelist, which I think could also have been similar full closing chapters to each of the other epistles to the various churches founded by Paul with the help and companionship of Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, and others.

If we could personally meet and talk with Abraham, Moses, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Esther, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, Peter, John, Philip, James, and Paul…to name only a few…we would probably discover each of them to be among the most interesting, engaging, and balanced personalities in history.

Jesus said in John 14:12…”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.”

The reality of this statement seems unachievable according to the limits of horizontally conventional thinking.

But in a God-composed adventure of faith, angels are sent to open prison doors in the middle of the night (Acts 5:19; 12:7), we can be relocated in a moment of time (Acts 8:39-40), and God can use us to raise the dead (Acts 9:39-41).

If anything, within the current context of our limited and constrained Christian expression of the miraculous, the message of this book is tempered and understated in its call to committed discipleship in relation to the “latter rain” works of the early first-century church (Acts 2:15-21)…that we may see start to come to life in the end-times.

One of the most important things in our Christian lives is to discover that God is faithful.  The means that the method God has chosen and creatively invented…to do this… is through a biblical-quality journey of faith for each one of us.

But there are some things even God cannot do.  God cannot make square circles.  God cannot make two plus two equal five.  God cannot make married bachelors.  God cannot draw with a pencil-and- paper a one-ended stick.

In a world with people having free-will choice to follow God or to push Him aside and follow our own way, God cannot overcome willful unbelief and our determination to place faith in ourselves alone.

To create an environment where people willingly follow God through a walk of faith that matures into a personal relationship, the direct opposite reality of going our own way in self-reliance must be fully in-play.

The delicate balance between belief and unbelief in our complex world is a spiritual engineering feat of incredible skill requiring the clearest proactive foresight and the most brilliant advance planning.

The pitfall of going our own way…in business and in life…is the subject of the next chapter.

A Message Within a Message

God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah at the dawn of biblical journeys of faith, not because God has any real intention of having Abraham actually follow through with this action.

God is revealing to us in this narrative story of faith a message within a message…a secondary tier of information embedded in the story that tells us that God is actively participating in a way that validates the divine authorship of the story.

“My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering…” (Gen. 22:8) is a top-down, front-loaded, informational foreglimpse of what God plans to do 2,000 years later at the cross on Calvary Hill.

In this ancient narrative story of faith, of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah, God is revealing prophetically in the realm of true religious experience the same top-down arrangement of information we now discover in the nested, overlapping, encrypted genetic code of information found in the DNA of living cells, and in the first complex forms of living creatures exploding on the scene during the Cambrian geological period…without any transitional intermediate precursors found in either living cells or in the Precambrian rocks.

This secondary tier of messianic prophecy embedded within this Mount Moriah story is sophisticated, complex, and specified information (to borrow terms from the intelligent design debate) at the initial outset of adventures of faith recorded in the Bible.

The cross of Jesus Christ contained within every narrative story of faith in the Bible confirms their divine origin…because the only known source of information in the form of an overlapping message, nested within a larger message, is intelligent agency…and because these stories are beyond human literary invention…this leaves only God as their source.

Bottom-up information derived through gradual evolutionary development from the simple to the complex will never explain “the way of the cross” that asks us to allow God to displace our worldly normative plans for the higher way of brilliantly imaginative adventures of faith leading to the discovery of “all truth” (Jn. 16:13).

Through the biblical narrative stories of faith, starting as early as Abraham, God is letting us know that as the Intelligent Designer, He is on board and functioning in this area of human redemptive salvation at the outset…by introducing complex, specified, creative information at the very beginning of the biblical record.

We can now articulate this concept using the borrowed terminology of science and information theory just when we need it the most…to persuasively rebut the postmodern relativism of our current skeptical culture.

God cannot morally ask us to do something He is not willing to do Himself.

“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42), is in essence saying: “if there is another way”…but there is no other way of rescuing mankind from sin in accordance with honor, courage, and fidelity…the highest standards of the natural moral law.

Giving up of oneself to the larger plan will produce the inspiring and moving musical performance of the piano concerto, the perfect play in sports, the singular way of salvation for mankind, and the perfecting of our journeys of faith through God-composed life-scripts.

Following God into the danger zone of a journey of faith is an information-rich enterprise that validates the divine inspiration of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible, and that opens up for us a better understanding of what we as Christians should be doing today as we approach the end-times last days.

The Natural Moral Law 2

The natural moral law contains a vast amount of complex, specified, functionally coherent information…like we find in the DNA in living cells.  It contains a coordinated program of information like we find in the precise integration of the various forces that manage our local solar system, that define the Milky Way Galaxy, and that illuminate the larger universe.

The natural moral law is a top-down, front-loaded, ready-to-use, right-out-of-the-box body of functioning information that performs perfectly in the area of human relationships, without any prior input or editing from us.

The point here is that a God-composed journey of faith life-script that takes us into the danger zone of taking up our cross and following Jesus Christ…is in harmony with and operating at the highest level of the natural moral law at all times.

Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6), that if we follow Him the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth (Jn. 16:13), and that if we know the truth it will set us free (Jn. 8:32).

The most liberatingly safe and secure place in all of human experience in terms of eternal destiny and purpose, ironically is right in the middle of the danger zone of God-composed adventures of faith (Acts 5:20).

The Christian life in the danger zone of faith is a pre-scripted plan composed by God in perfect harmony with the program of information contained within the natural moral law, even when it prescribes unwavering courage and steadfastness in the face of mortal danger defending our faith, in honor at the risk of our lives (2 Cor. 1:8-9).

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible tell us honestly and forthrightly that the giving up of ourselves to the higher ways of God, expressed through a journey of faith, is not just a temporary setback to our self-assertive claim to the presumed right to worldly conventional normalcy.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible tell us plainly that there is an absolute and permanent break to all such claims to worldly conventional aspirations, when we are “called-out” into an adventure of faith that God uses to displace our otherwise normative life-plans.

This is the exceptional heritage of all Spirit-born Christians today.

A biblical-quality adventure of faith is an ascent up into the heights of the natural moral law, whether we are called to be a successful and effective small town mayor, an appellate court judge, a housewife home-schooling three children, or a medical missionary doctor to native peoples living in the deepest regions of the Amazon rainforest.

Holy Spirit led adventures of faith will guide us into all truth no matter what is the direction or the route taken in a God-composed life-script.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script in harmony with the natural moral law demolishes the worldview of philosophical naturalism that permeates our modern culture.

Jesus says to the woman at the well: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jn. 4:23).

By contrast the philosophy of naturalism theorizes that our mental capacities are merely the product of material particles having no correspondence to any system of absolute truth or purpose other than the momentary competitive survival of the fittest, ending eventually in meaningless existence and utter oblivion.

No two worldview realities for living could be more different.

When we surrender our will-and-way to Jesus Christ, we surrender our lives not only to a divine Being who is in perfect harmony with the natural moral law, but also to a Person of independent creative imagination who can craft journeys of faith that are unique, innovative, original, and indeterminate.

This is a harmony of two perfect domains of information and reality that is an unbeatable combination.

The Natural Moral Law 1

There is a concept in the performance of classical music involving an orchestra and a soloist…called a concerto…which says that the best performance occurs when each participant loses some of their own individuality to the higher vision of the composer’s musical score.

The piano soloist may want to go faster or slower at certain points, the flute, piccolo, and clarinet players may all want to play louder when their parts come along in the concerto, and everyone from the conductor to the percussionist has their own ideas of how the musical piece should be played.

But the musical score itself, although open to individual artistic interpretation and expression, sets out in detail when to play loud or soft, fast or slow, and which notes to accent to bring out the melody.

The worst performance would have everyone doing their own thing in a confusion of varying tempos and all playing louder than the next person in order to be heard.  The best performance occurs when each orchestra musician, the soloist, and the conductor all lose some of themselves for the sake of the musical idea as conceived within the musical score.

A higher good is achieved…in this case a cohesive, disciplined, and entertaining rendition of a piano concerto, for example…by giving up something of our own individual interests in collaboration towards a higher common goal or standard for musical performance…as articulated within the artistic inspiration recorded in the written musical score.

The world of sports offers several analogies to this concept.

In college football, the playcall on offense called the “student-body left” has the entire offensive blocking linemen and the fullback all moving to the left after the football is hiked, with the running halfback carrying the ball looking for the small, momentary opening gap in the defense to run through.  All of the offensive linemen and the blocking fullback lose themselves to the coordinated effort of the play scheme, hoping that the swift running halfback will find the elusive hole in the defense to run through for a sizable yardage gain.

In baseball, the “sacrifice fly” hit deep enough to the outfield to get the runner safely home from third base to score a run, is an “out” for the batter but a positive for the team.

In basketball, the “assist” of a well-executed pass that sets-up an easy “layup” basket for another player is a statistic that recognizes the positive sacrifice of one player’s potential, game-end scoring total by giving up the ball to another player in a better positon on the court to score for the team.

These examples and numerous others embedded within the normal course of life that we take wholly for granted, recognize a reality of best practices that are subservient to distinct sets of principles or programs that are themselves all subservient to a higher, unifying standard of honorably good, right, and fair attitudes that should guide our actions towards the best achievable outcomes.

Whether it is how best to perform the third piano concerto of Rachmaninoff, or the best ways to play the games of football, baseball, or basketball, our best and most inspired outcomes are achieved when we understand the value of the giving up of ourselves to these higher programs or principles unique to each endeavor.

This approach of the one, true, right way to do something is then harmoniously in-line with the one, unifying higher standard that governs all right behavior.

Some have called this higher standard…the moral law.  Others have called it the natural law.  I like to call it the natural moral law.

Before I-Phones and the internet social media, C. S. Lewis described it briefly this way:

If you wrote me a letter a month ago, and I did not respond with a return letter yet, and I bump into you at the grocery store, I will come up with all sorts of expedient excuses for why I have not thoughtfully and courteously made the effort to write a return letter to you.  I will say that I hurt my wrist, I ran out of my favorite personal stationary, I have a special project at work that has taken all of my time, or my wife has kept me busy painting the exterior of our house.

I come up with a quickly fabricated excuse to explain my poor social etiquette in this matter of failing to courteously reply to a friend’s letter…because I automatically and independently know what the right course of action should have been.

This is not merely a result of social reactive conditioning.  My friend and I are both instantly and naturally appealing to an independent standard for right behavior that we each subconsciously subscribe to.

Another better response would simply be to apologize to my friend, admit that I had “dropped the ball” and that I would reply to his letter soon.

But the one thing I will not flatly say, if I want to keep our friendship intact, is to protest that I am not duty bound to return his letter…and that I am surprised by his inquiry about my alleged oversight.

This flat rejection of an accepted social norm for courtesy in timely replying to personal letters from friends…would violate the higher standards of the natural moral law, universally underlying right behavior in all human relationships.

This is a reality of right and virtuous conduct completely self-existent and independent of whether or not we consciously recognize this high standard called the natural moral law.

Pride

One encouraging and hopeful conclusion we can draw from scripture is that pride is not a problem for God.

God does not struggle with the character flaw of a swelled head.  God’s sense of self-worth is so finely balanced and His perspective is so true in its outward looking viewpoint that He can rise above the destructive elements of pride.

For God, puffed-up pride is an impediment…an unproductive distraction…that stands in the way of continuously active, creative thought.

But in our current fallen condition, swelled-headed pride is one of our biggest enemies.  We think we know best.  We want to do things our way.  The central theme in the biblical narrative stories of faith is that God displaces our way with His way.

No one likes the cross.  Jesus did not enjoy the experience of the crucifixion.

But through the cross of Christ both the Father and the Son are glorified.  Self-sacrificing love is devoid of the negative aspects of pride such as described in 1 Cor. 13:4-5: ”love…vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up…seeketh not her own.”

God displacing our way with His way through the totally unconventional vehicle of a God-composed adventure of faith… fundamentally cuts across the grain of our thinking that we know best.

When our cross gets heaviest, we are troubled.  We get upset and complain to God.  We want explanations and answers.  A grain of wheat dying to produce much fruit is not a part of our presumed expectation for worldly conventional normalcy.

It takes prayer, patience, and hope on our part for God to lovingly show us through the playing-out of life events what still needs to be fixed in our lives in order to bring forth much fruit.

Only the living God knows how to do the cross properly.

The cross in our lives has pinpoint accuracy.  For Jesus, the way of the cross eventually actualizes into a Roman cross on Calvary Hill.  Our crosses are something unique and individually tailored to each of us.  If the cross and the resurrection glorified Jesus and the Father (Jn. 13:31), our cross and resurrection as godly transformed new people in Christ will glorify both ourselves and God.

As Spirit-born Christians, if we are following Jesus down the road toward Calvary…if we are walking in the Spirit and God is on our side…there is nothing in all of existence that can defeat us no matter how daunting are the outward circumstances or the negative appearances of temporary failure.

This is the liberating broadness of the reality of a journey of faith that is one of the priceless things Jesus purchased for us through the cross and the resurrection (Rom. 8:31).

One of the great ironies in all of human experience is that the way of the cross actually opens up a pathway to a breadth and a quality of freedom that is completely unknown to worldly conventional thinking (1 Cor. 1:18).

This is what we see in all of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible.

By an incredible show of courage, character, and grit…God earns our respect and gratitude by personally stepping into this broken world and participating alongside us, through a divinely composed, daring and risk-filled strategy that against all worldly conventional odds procures for us an honorable exit out of the bondage to sin.

Like the serpent on a pole raised up in the Exodus wilderness (Num. 21:8-9), Jesus Christ amazingly became a “curse on a tree” for us that we might be delivered from the curse of sin.

If we as Spirit-born Christians are likewise to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29), then some portion of this reality must be a part of the danger zone of picking up our own cross and following after Jesus down the road toward Calvary Hill.

The question God asks each of us as we enter into the upcoming last days is: “will you go out on the edge for Me and for the sake of the gospel, through a daring, challenging, and risk-filled life-script I have individually composed just for you?  If I give you My Spirit and the grace you will need, will you allow Me to live My plans through you to fulfill your highest purpose and to be a blessing to others?”

Isn’t this what is portrayed in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible (Rom. 4:18-25)…sacrificing some portion of conventional normalcy for the sake of a cause larger than ourselves, even when this results in a misunderstood and worldly unpopular journey of faith following God?