The Theology of Thought Leadership

Read Time: 2 minutes

There are many types of thought leaders in the world.

…Oprah

…Deepak Chopra

…the guy at the gym who just discovered plant-based protein.

Just to name a few.

And no matter your knowledge niche, there is always someone ready to give you their two cents, regardless of whether it pays to heed it.

Which leaves us with a question: In all of the noise, how do you sift out the good advice from the bad?

For leaders, this is an especially important question. Namely because whatever we consume, we clone in others.

Hebrews, the Bible’s big book on faith, gets us started. The crux of the principle we’ll look at is in verse twenty-four:

and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:24

It’s a bit of an odd verse. But here’s the meat (without the Matt Redman):

Two men died.

And both in a similiar way.

Violently. Unjustly.

The difference, however, between these two men, was in their nature.

Abel’s death, as tragic as it was, could only speak to humanity’s fallen nature. There was nothing redeemable about him dying. It was evidence of eternity without God. But that’s about it.

Christ’s death, on the other hand, proclaimed the power of God. His blood (Jesus’), had better things to say about life (spoiler alert).

His blood backed him up. It gave His words weight.

Once, before his crucifixion, Jesus had this to say about it:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Up until His resurrection, people had to take this kind of statement on faith. It was an extension of experiencing Him in the streets and synagogues. After the grave, however, His blood spoke a better word.

In other words, His resurrection had rhetoric. Because He spoke to what He knew.

This is important. People speak to what they know.

A person may be a bright speaker, and educated on many things, but if they don’t have or know the nature of Christ, they can only speak from a human hope. Nothing else.

You cannot speak to that which you do not know. You cannot guide where you have not gone.

In life, there will be many thought leaders, videos, and podcasts…a plethora of all kinds of content available for you to consume. Many of which are worldy, wise and well-meaning. But if their nature is that of a dead man, be prudent. They may be an expert on every kind of “dead work” under the sun…their advice will not benefit a man in the land of the living.

There is a better word. But you can work on yours here.

Did you enjoy this post? Learn more about what it means to live with Power, Love and Soundness of Mind by getting this once-per-week devotional study:

do who christians commit suicide go to hell?

Do Christians who commit suicide go to hell?

Read Time: 7 minutes

I hadn’t planned on writing about suicide this week. There are a number of things on my heart and mind that I would like to take priority. But because of the heightened reality of it in the news, and some not too distance Christian examples, I wanted to spend some time on the topic. If only because it’s good for us to understand what the Bible says about the subject. “Study to show yourself approved” as we’re told.

The Bible sets a bar:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

That bar, for everyone, is high.

This is true in the past. This is true in the future. Even a virtuous man, by virtue of not being God, would fall short of God’s glory. He’s not God. How could he share in something that doesn’t belong to him?

Which is where the concept of sin comes from.

Sin, in shorthand, is anything that cools the kiss of freedom in our lives. The size of the sin is not significant. Each one separates us from our Maker in similar ways.

So a gift was given to mend separated souls. And it’s free. It always has been. It always will be.

Most of the time, we call it Salvation. It’s the name given to God’s good gift, through his son, Jesus.

We could talk a lot about how wonderful it is. But the heart of it is “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.”

Full Verse Here

Some things simply can’t be earned by a Human. We call one of those things “Grace.” It’s one of the favorable conditions of Christ’s contract with us. “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” as the Good Book says.

But let’s be clear…

If I never got frustrated in traffic again. If I never lied again. If I never did another bad thing. Again. It would remove no less doubt in God’s mind about the lack of His glory I possess.

At best, I’m drowning in my own dogma.

But to God’s credit, we’ve been given a life raft called “Love.”

“God is Love” as scripture says. Subject and verb.

Dog paddling in an ocean is only impressive if it gets me to shore. In the same way, I don’t argue my goodness with God based on my ability to swim around sin. I enjoy the raft for what it is. Love.

In the same way, we don’t measure sin.

We’re awash in it without Him.

We could. We could say that one bad thing is worse than another. But what good would that do? If we do believe the Genesis story, then we know that eating the wrong fruit was enough to condemn a man and wife to hell. So if we do want to compare apples to oranges, it’s best not measure the fruit of our own lives.

The bar, my friend, is high. Most High.

So on to the subject of Suicide.

There is one sin that the Bible says is different. Just one.

Not murder. Not sex. Not stealing.

Jesus tells us about it in the books of Mathew, Mark and Luke.

We’ll stick with Matthew for now.

For sure, I tell you, all sins will be forgiven people, and bad things they speak against God. But if anyone speaks bad things against the Holy Spirit, he will never be forgiven. He is guilty of a sin that lasts forever.” Jesus told them this because they said, “He has a demon.”

Mathew 3:28-30

If I’m in the raft, there is only one thing that pokes a hole in it.

But let’s say, as some do, that suicide is murder. And that you can’t say “I’m sorry.” in the act of doing it (since no one ever has mixed emotions about things).

Which by the way, is saying that correlation is causation. Which we would never say. But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the cause is correlated correctly.

It’s a jump. But who doesn’t like a trampoline?

Moving on.

What then, is the biblical definition of murder?

Jesus had some thoughts:

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 3:15

I’m no gymnast, but that bar seems really high.

Does that mean that gossip is attempted murder?

By His measurement, I’d say so. But I’m not a Levitical-law-lawyer. That’s a different bar exam.

Someone who was, however, is King David. David “a man after God’s own heart,” who gave Christ the honorary name Son of David, killed a man in order to sleep with his wife. And he lied about it. But we’ll just ignore this elephant in the room.

No wait. Let’s go a step further.

Let’s say that two people, in full knowledge and belief of the gospel, died. One committed murdercide. The other gossiped, and was hit by a bus. Neither one had a chance to apologize for their actions. Is Saint Peter turning both of them away at heaven’s gates? (Since when is Peter a lobby boy anyway?)

Since we aren’t measuring the amount of wild oats someone sowed, I’ll let you answer the question for yourself.

New question.

Which verses say that I have to name every sin before I die in order to be saved? Which amendment to the Christ-constitution do I need to be aware of? Also, what does it imply for people who died in a coma, or who were medically sedated when they passed? Is Alzheimer’s capable of undoing the Almighty’s work? Does being scared while I drown mean I’m without faith?

Should we write new sin rules for every edge case? There are…lots of them.

Where then, do we draw the line? Jesus, if you’re interested, did draw a few in this account.

But I digress…

We are told God never “leaves us or forsakes us” here. And here. I don’t think we need a verse to know that, but it’s nice of scripture to say so nonetheless. Is there another lost gospel where I can find an exception? Perhaps the Q Document or some lost Dead Sea Scroll?

We could just take this from an entirely different angle too and look at the verses that cover the sin of suicide. But…there are….zero.

Zero verses on the topic.

Zero ancient laws for it.

Zero Sermon-on-the-Mounts about the magnitude of the subject.
Which is probably by design.

In fairness, the Bible does tell us a few stories where suicide is mentioned.

One with a King named Saul. One with Judas Iscariot. The Bible never positions their behavior though.

Saul killed himself because he was about to be killed. Judas, after he realized what he had done to Jesus, gave back his blood money and killed himself in sorrow. Which no one would ever say is appropriate except for the fact that some do because of what he did.

So. That’s awkward.

Last, but certainly not least, we have Samson. Samson killed himself.

He intentionally made a building fall as a last-ditch effort to settle the score with some Pagans. He killed himself on purpose – with the purpose of killing other people. We could argue that he was forcibly blind and imprisoned so it was justified- but we won’t. We could also say he was a kamikaze. But we won’t say that either.

Hebrews 11, The famous Hall of Faith chapter of the Bible, mentions Samson as one of the great people who model faith in action. Because he was. Also awkward. When Romans says that “neither life nor death” can separate us from the love of God I guess it applies to him too.

So where does this idea that suicide is the Chutes-and-Ladders of Hell (horrible game idea) come from?

Since it’s not in the Bible, we have to look somewhere else.

Specifically, Augustinian and medieval theology. Which is a mix of superstition, Greek and Roman ideas neatly packaged into something we call cultural bias.

But there is one thing we know about it. Suicide is a tragedy. A tragedy that happens to 34,000 people a year. *Nearly* once every 15 minutes.

Like you, I would forgive my friends of any tragedy – whether they caused it or not. I’m sure I speak for most when I say that you would likely do the same. So then, are we more forgiving than God? Or is God a calculator – continually moving numbers to settle our balance sheet? If God is a calculator, then so is Salvation. And everything is a game to get on God’s good side.

Which as we know, is the opposite of what scripture says:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

So how should Christian’s approach suicide, and it’s predecessor, depression?

Julie Cerel, a board chair of the American Association of Suicidology and a psychologist told USA today:

“Having depression and being in a suicidal state twists reality. It doesn’t matter if someone has a wife or is well loved, they get so consumed by the depression and by the feelings of not being worthy that they forget all the wonderful things in their lives.”

The Bible has two thoughts regarding how we should act. One in the New Testament. One in the Old.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15

You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

​Leviticus, if you’re curious, is not being literal. Israel didn’t have a problem with people cursing other people who had Otosclerosis. They also didn’t put Stumble BlocksTM in front of the blind. The Bible does, however, ask us to have a practical empathy for each other; to make an effort to understand the pain and depression others feel.

For the person who struggles with severe depression, they are in many ways blinded by the way they feel. They are also, in many ways, lied to by the enemy. It is not something they move away from on their own.

The position of the Christian, is always to try and be the hands and feet of Jesus. This doesn’t change, if heaven forbid, someone passes from this life by their own hand. At the very least, we don’t speak ill of them. At best, we pray for and support their families in the wake of their absence. Mourning with those who mourn.

The Almighty knows those who know Him. If ever there was a time when someone needed a loving God, you can imagine it would be in their darkest moment. Much like many of us.

If you or someone you know struggles with thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

what is christian masculinity?

Christian Masculinity and David’s Mighty Men

Read Time: 4 minutes

Masculinity is the possession of qualities traditionally associated with men. Which begs the question, what qualities should a Christian man consider?

I remember the first time I read about David’s mighty men. One killed a lion with his bare hands; in a pit, in the snow. Another killed a giant. Another killed 800 men with one spear. Another fought so hard, his sword became glued to his hand.

Regular guys. Typical nine-to-five stuff.

Out of the 30-plus mighty men that King David did employ, the Bible never mentioned an accountant or architect. Not even a middle-manager. Although Abishai, his commander, may have come close.
Some answers…..only Jesus knows.

As fun as these stories are, scripture makes the actions of these men seem kind of commonplace. Sure, it mentions the men are “mighty” but when everyone is slaying giants and lions and bears, Oh my! (JK… no bears), it can set the bar pretty high for anyone who is trying to understand what biblical, and dare I say “Christian” masculinity should look like.

It also doesn’t help that every other definition tends to come from advertising. So, we have our options to look up to: Advertising, advent calendars or “Other.” Check.

For my part, I’d like to propose one trait that makes a man genuinely masculine. It starts in Solomon’s book of Proverbs. Chapter 22.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
Proverbs 22:1

A good name.

If you could afford it, it couldn’t be bought.

Your reputation cannot be purchased. It is earned with every “next” action. This is good news. You don’t have to have an excellent name to start working towards one. Each step you take towards integrity is a step in the right direction.

Jesus expands on this idea, by telling us where to start:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Matthew 5:33-37

 

James, Jesus’ earthly brother, seconded his sovereign bro:

 

Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

James 5:12

 

“Anything more than this comes from evil.” Wow.

That’s heavy stuff.

Let’s start with the “Yes.”

More specifically, what you say “Yes” to. Your reputation and the integrity it’s known for is a string of yes’s on which you’ve followed through. The opposite is also true. Every time you refrain your “yes,” you make a statement about what you’ve said yes to as well. Confused yet?

The best way to keep your word is to know what it stands for. Ahead of time.

So, here’s a question:

Do you know where you stand on hard issues? Do you know what you’d do if you were alone in the room?

Do you even know if you’ll go to that party next Thursday?

Yes or no.

Life is full of follow-through.

The decisions we make, make us; so we owe it to ourselves to be self-aware of our choices. Fun fact: putting off a decision is still a decision by omission.

So here’s a good principal you can follow. You can call it a barometer of masculinity (or don’t).

Your knee-jerk responses should be pre-meditated. Made on your knees.

Put another way:

If prayer makes the person, meditation makes the man.
(No, not yoga. ……but no judgment. Nameste, bro.)

Prayer and meditation on the Word are how we understand our position to Christ, and in direct correlation, our position(s) towards other people. It’s how our go-to-responses are made. So we study to “show ourselves approved” as Timothy says. If you know someone that has a reputation for good decisions you can guarantee they’ve spent time pre-mediating those choices. More than likely, they’ve studied scripture too.

Other than knowing where you stand on issues, there are other benefits as well.

When a name has a reputation, it also has influence. In my opinion, it’s the only way to gain influence in the long run. But many men would try other ways…the world is full of guys that lift weights till the cows come home, who try and manipulate women or earn more at any cost. Men who lie to get what they want. Men that…you get the picture.

Guys who are true to themselves, but not true to their word.

So let’s be clear, getting what you want in life does not earn you a Man Card. And if you’re religious, there is no credit score for Christendom either. “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” a wise Rabbi once said.

You could have everything, and have nothing to lean on. Which, by the way, is what happens when we don’t have a reputation for keeping our word.

You could be the poorest man on the planet, but if people count on you, you'd have more influence than most. Click to Tweet

So let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No,” be “No.”
And know what your “No” stands for.

It’s how mighty men are made.

King Solomon on mens leadership

What was Solomon’s smartest decision?

Read Time: 3 minutes

Solomon was a smart guy. He built Jerusalem’s first temple. He wrote three books of the Bible (this one, this one, and this one). He was also the wisest and wealthiest (up to $2.1 trillion) King in the Old Testament. Solomon, by all accounts, was a capable decision maker. He was a guy who knew how to get things done.

But he didn’t start out that way. He was a man that grew like the rest of us. He had to lean on the Lord and others throughout his life in order to be effective.

Which is why I like him.

I’m a big believer in stewarding the small stuff. Sweeping the edges of the floor as much as the center. If I can’t be accountable to myself for small things, then the big dreams are just that. Dreams.

Solomon started with a similar posture. At the beginning of his king-career, he asked the Lord for wisdom instead of wealth. He stewarded a “step-one” decision.

“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” said Solomon.

His request set him up for a lot of success in life – and some very surprising decisions too.

One we’ll look at now.

As wise as Solomon was, there is one particular trait of his that outshone the rest. If you were to ask me, it held all the rest of His wisdom together. A “one ring to rule them all” situation.

It starts in the Sheba story – when a foreign Queen decides to see for herself just how smart of a guy Solomon actually is. A fair question between royalty, I’m sure you’d agree.

Let’s start here:

“And when queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her.”

1 Kings 10:4-5

We could spend hours talking about someone’s breath being taken away based on food and clothing. I was at Walmart the other day and I had a similar reaction. The jury is out on whether it was the Holy Spirit.

But let’s focus on the list. The Queen of Sheba, “Shelby” for short, was most affected by the way he managed his house. Out of all the ways he did this, the most surprising one was that he had officials.

Question. Why does the smartest, wealthiest, wisest man in the world need advice?

He was literally the “smartest guy in the room.”

It’s fascinating. But there is a very good and profound reason.

Regardless of our role, we are all in need of good counsel. It’s true whether we are owners of a business, entry-level employees or executives in ivory towers. Placing ourselves under authority, under someone’s else’s oversight, is the quickest way to promotion, protection, and long-term success.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” Proverbs tell us. These could very well be the words of Solomon – echoing his life to us in the pages of his personal experience.

Solomon’s posture towards people and the authority they could lend him was what made him wise. He knew what he didn’t know. Not only that, he also had the humility to let others inform his ignorance.

His posture towards authority is what made him the wisest man on earth.

There is a myth that promotion equals less oversight – that the higher we go up a ladder, the more decisions we can make in isolation.

This is how great men fall.

If you’re a manager, if you own your means of income, or if you oversee a venture of any size, you must seek out authority. Even if you simply lead yourself – a profound urgency should rest in you until you’ve found the right counsel to place yourself under.

If you haven’t yet, start building a master list now – an inner circle of confidants that can support you spiritually and practically.

Find other men that can Father you and inform your decisions making process. Ideally, find one man for each type of authority you have over others. If you shepherd people, find someone to shepherd you. If you lead in business, place yourself under the counsel of someone that knows the market better than you do. It doesn’t matter what you do…

Do not rest until you find good counsel.

It’s the reason some men’s blessings become Basheba’s. Case and point.

We all need someone who can tell us “no.” A person who can call our bluff and inform our ignorance. This side of heaven, no one outgrows the need for it. It’s truer the more successful we become.

The ability to accomplish a job is not the same as walking in humility. But the inverse is true. Walking in humility is what makes us capable of capacity.

The more we understand, and the better we are at what we do, the lower we must become.

Make a list of men you can trust today.

Why the bible doesn't talk about politics

Why the Bible is silent on social issues

Read Time: 3 minutes

Assualt Weapons, Women’s Rights, Genocide and Illegal immigration. Take your pick. They were all social issues during the late A.D. just like they are today. If not more. And the Bible, oddly, was just as silent then on ways to approach the world’s political problems. If it is so enlightened, why did it never speak to the moment? Could it not have a chapter or two devoted to the abolition of slavery? Or sexual equality? Perhaps it could simply start with no state-appointed murder (e.g. crosses). Seems like a reasonable place to begin.

It can leave a Christian without answers for the times they are in.

The Word didn’t leave us any verses on Walls, Taxes or Marriage(unless you read The Messaaage). So, we are left to squirm. Or argue. Or vote.

For the record, those all have their place. But it’s better to be honest.

The jury is out on the details a lot of the time. And holy hand-grenades(hermeneutics) only do so much damage to a culture wall.

If someone did ask you why the Bible didn’t challenge the status quo of hot topics(or Hot Topic for that matter), what would you say? You could debate context. You could point to cultural differences between ancient Mesopotamia, Roman aristocracy or Jewish culture. You could even say the old ways were the right ways.

But which old ways are right ways? Hammurabi, the “Babylonian 10 Commandments” is 300 years older than the 10 Commandments. It had amendments for minimum wage, the presumption of innocence and social class. What gives Moses? It seems like a missed opportunity.

Which is why the Bible is so profound.

The Bible doesn’t have a goal towards government. So, we should stop apologizing for or appending to its main message. Christ. It doesn’t tackle social issues head-on because it doesn’t want us to turn The Lamb into levitical law. It delivered us from that once already.

We don’t need a new Exodus – or an 11th commandment to judge against.

Jesus, for that matter, does not need social justice warriors. This is, in part, where early Israel got the Messiah wrong. They preferred a President to a Priest. They expected a political outcome to a prophetic promise. The whole point of Christ’s life on earth was that you can’t legislate a loving relationship (without a prenup. <- that’s a joke.)

The Bible doesn’t come up short on social issues. Social issues come up short on people. Christ leaves the ninety-nine to find the one. He expects the same attitude from us. “Regard no one according to the flesh.” Scripture says. The entire goal of scripture is to point us to him. No apology needs to be made for the Bible’s silence on things that the Bible, and for that matter, God, don’t value.

Back to that 11th commandment – Jesus had one thing to say when he was asked about the Law, and you could some up all of it (all 613 commandments) in one phrase:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Which, by the way, is harder than memorizing 613 commandments. Without the Holy Spirit, of course.

Every time we take up a social cause without Christ, we become an Israelite in the wilderness. We might as well sacrifice a goat for the sins of a constitutional amendment…or jay-walking. It’s just as effective.

For that matter, there is a reason the commandments are summed up in love. God is love. And loving well only comes from knowing Him. Social justice, social engineering, the common good, are all plugging a burst dam with pipe cleaners and putty(Just so long as the labor is legal.#drumroll). I digress. The Bible knows this. It doesn’t want us to get sidetracked on things that don’t bring change.

When we turn “Christ the Man” into “Christ the System”, we crucify Him again, and remove the good news from the gospel.

Be understanding towards the person who cuts you off before you care about an abuse of capitalism. Buy the person that used hate speech a gift card to their favorite restaurant instead of trying to legislate their silence. Pay it forward in the parking lot before you “pay someone a visit.” Love your enemies, as Jesus once said. Pray for your persecutor.

Free yourself from awkward answers. You don’t need to give an answer(except this one) for what is in the Bible. Christ is its constitution.

God himself does not give answers. He gives himself. – Frederick Buechner

Not convinced? Don’t take my word for it.

Take a look at the early life of Saul. Verses 6-9 are the milk to my Cheerios.

I don't like "pop ups" without a purpose.

But this has a great one!

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