Treasure Excellence

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I am a firm believer that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). To me, that means that He is intimately involved in my greatest joys and my deepest struggles. Indeed, I couldn’t escape His love even if I tried. David once declared,

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.”
Psalm 139:7-10

Here’s the secret I’ve discovered over the years. The more we practice an awareness of His presence as we move throughout our days, the more we will see His hand moving in ourselves and those He’s placed around us. I’ve watched Him stand as Maestro over the brilliant cacophony of my life and continually bring order out of chaos.

Once developed, our abiding awareness of Him brings with it a richness of spirit and a depth of soul that serves us and those around us with excellence. Once our eyes are clear and our hearts perceive the great good He is actively doing around us we’ll begin uncovering hidden treasure.

Treasure Hidden in Secret Places 

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,’
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
Psalm 139:11-12

Years ago I was being still before the Lord and He took me to an underwater grotto. It was very dark as we dove down into the depths of the sea but we soon popped up into a cave. As we climbed out of the water our clothing instantly dried. It fascinated me. As I looked at the Lord I could see Him glowing and as He drew near to the walls of this underwater cave I could see jewels sparkling all around Him – thousands and thousands of jewels of varying sizes. I was amazed as it had originally appeared to me to be like any other cave wall – dark, cold and drab. He laughed at the expression on my face and said, “Look at yourself!” I looked at my hands and discovered I was glowing too. I reached my hand out toward the cave wall, and I, too, could see the hidden treasure all around me.

“I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:3

I’ve pondered this vision for years. I’ve discovered that as I take the time to nurture my relationship with the Lord I have all the light I need to see situations and people more clearly. He enables me to point to the treasure instead of the chaos and speak to those points of brilliance in the people He’s placed around me. Seeing the morass of humanity is the easiest thing in the world. Seeing the treasure is much more difficult, but infinitely more rewarding.

This is something that has to happen first with our own hearts and with the identity and vision we have of ourselves. If we don’t have a clear estimation of the treasure He’s placed within us, how could we possibly see the treasure He’s placed in others? How often do we forget that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made?” (Psalm 139:14)

The easiest path along this journey of walking in excellence is simply spending time with Him. Dig into His word. Let Him love you. Let Him take you on adventures. Allow Him to tell you and show you and shout about how He feels about you. Let Him sing and dance over you. Let Him show you where the secret treasures lie. You’ll discover, just as I have, that He IS the greatest Treasure ever known and He joyfully lives and moves within us.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; He wants to speak to us more than what we care to listen. He is a good Father, and will move heaven and earth to get His message across to those who are seeking His face. What fills our eyes will fill our hearts as well.

Excellence as a Lifestyle 

Pursuing excellence boils down to one simple thing – intimately knowing God and His ways. Can we honestly say that we “count all things loss for the sake of knowing Christ” as Paul once declared? As we push away our pride, our distractions, our agendas and our kingdoms and simply come, we’ll find a better way to live as we sit at His feet. His yoke is e-a-s-y, and His burden is light. Let Him fill you with the light of His love so you can not only walk in the excellence He has called you to as a child of the King, but uncover the buried treasure He’s waiting to be revealed.

Father, I lift up all my precious brothers and sisters in Christ who have taken the time out of their busy days to read this blog and I release Your joy over them. Give them a divine hunger to know You more. Set their eyes on You, first and most of all. Tell them what YOU think about them. Tell them how loved and cherished and treasured they really are. As much as You are our Treasure, we know that we are Yours. You gave the life of Your Son so that we could run to You, and You could live in us. Let us not take spending time with You for granted. Open our eyes so we can have a clear vision of who we are in You. Open our eyes to see the treasure in others and help us to call out the light while crushing the darkness. Dark is as light to You. May it also be for Your children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Would you like to dig a bit deeper this week? Check out the book, “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. He joyfully discovered the art of “practicing the presence of God in one single act that does not end.” His journey will inspire you!

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Lori Anderson-Bowen is the Charleston SC-C3 Intercessory Prayer Coordinator. She is passionate about hearing the voice of God and seeing people walk in freedom daily through the ministry of prayer. Lori is also a business partner with SC-C3 and the proud owner of Andowen Photography. You can contact her directly at lori@andowenphotography.com.

Walk the Talk

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WAS JESUS EXCELLENT?

An important focus for many within the modern day Body of Christ is around the concept of being “excellent”.  In fact, for us (C3), “excellence” is one of the six official values that we set to guide our efforts to foster unity.  I personally find myself regularly asking the Lord for His perspective on being “excellent” with each situation I encounter, both personally and professionally: Lord, what does excellence look like to you in this particular matter?

Excellent [ek-suh-luh nt] : adj. 1. very good of its kind. Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

If each of us who have a relationship with Jesus Christ were asked the question “was Jesus excellent?” (referring to His life and ministry on earth in the flesh), it is likely that most of us would say yes, He was excellent.  My answer would also be yes as I believe Jesus lived His life and walked out His ministry with excellence. That is to say that He was “very good of His kind”.

But why?  What was it about the way He lived that made Him “very good of His kind”?

Jesus once asked a young rich ruler “why do you call me good, there is no one good but God” after being addressed by the man as “good teacher” (Matthew 19:17).  In a manner of speaking, it was the God-ness of our Savior that made His Goodness. He was by nature (and supernaturally) good by the “kind” that He was, as God made manifest.

EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE

When we think of being excellent we tend to think of performance; and certainly how well we perform has an impact on the results we experience. Even more, performance levels serve to determine the value we elicit.  In every way performance plays into the equation of excellence. In some cases the words are even interchangeable.

Performance [per-fawr-muh ns]: noun 7. the manner in which or the efficiency with which something reacts or fulfills its intended purpose. Dictionary.com.

For the first 12 years of my relationship with God, the emphasis of my life in Christ was focused on what you could call “religious” performance.  Whether it was about reading/memorizing more scripture, spending more time in prayer, or how well I managed my interactions with others, it was a matter of my personal effort.  But then, during a season of deep transition, I perceived the Lord highlighting the following verse of scripture to me over and over again…

He who says he abides in Him ought Himself also to walk just the way he walked.
– 1 John 2:6

In that season of transition, it was like this verse pursued me for months.  What first stood out is the word “abides.” I had invested years prior to that point seeking to understand and live out an “abiding” lifestyle.  Chapters like John 14 and 15 were foundational in my pursuit to abide. During those days, it was on a walk with the Lord early one morning that I perceived a key to abiding that I hadn’t recognized before…

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?  The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells (abides) in Me does the works.  – John 14:10

Talk about performance.  If God was actually the one “performing” the works, how excellent could that be?  I don’t imagine it could be any more excellent. The more I pondered the Truth of the functionality of Jesus and His Father in that level of collaboration, the clearer it became to me that all the works of God were created beforehand that we (as with Jesus) were to walk in them…

For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

TALK THE TALK, WALK THE WALK

Jesus was actually the Word of God made manifest on the earth (John 1).  So when He walked out His days of ministry, He was actually the walking Word of God.  He walked into the words and works that had been pre-established for Him. This, I believe, is a key understanding how to walk in the Excellence of Christ. A key to daily living from the Rest the Lord has promised us that, itself, fulfills the Works prepared for us (see Hebrews 3 & 4).  This, I believe, is living in “excellence.”

Remember the definition of “excellent” is “very good of its kind”?  If in truth, we are of His kind, the way to be “very good” is to walk out the life we have been given as Jesus walked out His…by speaking words of the Father’s authority and letting Him do the works.

This is the ultimate expression of phrase “Walk the Talk.”  Let us now learn the abiding nature of Christ in all our work, that His works may fulfill His purposes in, through and around us.  To God be the Glory.

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Matthew Fleming is the State Director for the North Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce (NC-C3). Matthew has a strong vision for the functionality of the Christian community as believers endeavor to operate in unison.  He believes alignment and co-laboring from a united reality will be the catalyst for sustained Restoration in our world. Matthew can be reached at Matthew@nc-c3.org.

The Excellent Team

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Teams are the fuel that the world-engine runs on. In each sphere of culture (business, education, entertainment, media, family, religion, and government) individuals may be the face of an organization, but behind that face are teams. In the marketplace there are infinite kinds of teams: sales teams, committees, boards, departments, task-force teams, strategy teams, training teams, virtual teams, and the list goes on… As we consider the pursuit of excellence (this month’s theme), what better application for excellence than teams. Afterall, in the beginning, Genesis reminds us that, “ It is not good for the man to live alone.”   Yet, in the Kingdom, no matter what the function, believers are called to be on one kind of team: The Excellent Team.

Last week I was telling my husband that outside of a few tennis lessons, I’ve only ever played team sports (softball, volleyball, and soccer). The excellence of the sports teams I was part of was measured by performance driven statistics such as wins vs. losses. I’ve also been part of professional teams (Board of Advisors, Culture Development task-force, hiring committees, etc.). The excellence of those teams was measured by profit margins, survey results, and completed objectives. There is one more category of teams I will refer to as life-teams (for example, GriefShare, community volunteering, or bible study groups). The excellence of these teams are measured by less quantitative metrics such as emotional healing, relational impact, or character development. In the scope of each kind of team, excellence (or execution) became the ultimate goal. In the Kingdom, excellence is not just a goal or characteristic, it is an identity.

EXCELLENT GOALS

When thinking about excellence as the driving goal of a team, this popular quote comes to mind:

Teamwork makes the dream work. -John C. Maxwell

There are countless examples that show when people work together, dreams come to life. Some of mankind’s greatest accomplishments include the building of the pyramids, travelling to the moon, and mapping the human genome. These dreams came to life when teams of architects, laborers, astronomers, or scientists worked together. Yet, while the wonders stand, the teams that built the pyramids died long ago. Likewise, teams that put man on the moon are passing away and the teams that mapped the human genome will pass away. How then does the excellence of teams live beyond its members or reaching a goal?

EXCELLENT CHARACTERISTICS

Excellence can be a characteristic of just about anything…people, food, places, books, art… For teams, the characteristic of excellence is most aptly found relationally. Consider this well known quote:  

All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.
-Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

Or, think about it this way:

To me, teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one. You become selfless. -Mike Krzyzewski, Coach, USA Men’s Basketball

These ideas center around unity and interdependence which become characteristics of The Excellent Team. Yet, in and of themselves, characteristics of excellence or excellent characteristics aren’t the whole picture.

EXCELLENT IDENTITY

The only example of excellent identity is Christ and the only example of The Excellent Team is Yahweh (God the Father), Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus), and Ruach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit). The goals, characteristics, and identity of the Trinity are always and undeniably excellent. As believers, this excellent identity is within us. As such, it testifies to the true nature of The Excellent Team we were made for.  

The testimony of the Excellence found in the Godhead is indivisible, perfected, eternal Love. In other words, when we come together in any team under the banner of excellence…

We have access to complete unity…

For by one Spirit we all were immersed and mingled into one single body.
-1 Corinthians 12:13

We are designed for flawlessness…

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1:4

We were meant to live forever…

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
– Revelation 21:6

And, we were made for Love…

For his “body” has been formed in his image and is closely joined together and constantly connected as one. And every member has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love. -Ephesians 4:16

EMBODYING EXCELLENCE

We have the opportunity to embody the identity of the The Excellent Team by carrying on the characteristics of the Trinity. If teams in our home, work, or church are not acting in unity, becoming perfected, keeping an eternal mindset, and/or turning into Love, then our pursuit of excellence can be enhanced.

Take inventory today of the teams you are a part of or the teams you oversee. Are team members working together in harmony? Are they aligned by a common vision? Are they inspired to continually improve through refinement and innovation? Are they thinking long-term? Are they giving and receiving love? If not, start to strategize on how to instill the identity of The Excellent Team in your business or ministry. I have no doubt that in that pursuit of excellence, God will presently respond!

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Lindsay Fleming is the State Administrator for the North Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce (NC-C3). At heart, she is a God-inspired expressionist. Her driving passion is expressing revelations of God through prayer, writing, and design. Lindsay’s work can be found at PropheticGrounds.com.  Lindsay can be reached at office@NC-C3.org.

Imperfect Excellence

2018.04.03 Imperfect Excellence

The C3 theme for April is the pursuit of excellence, which is a journey many organizations and individuals aspire to, whether Christian or non-Christian.  As Christians, are we called to follow Jesus and develop an intimate relationship with Him.  Through this relationship, we develop the character of Jesus, which reflects His excellence. The Apostle Paul stated it this way in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This passage is a great reminder of the content we should allow to enter our minds and the focus of our lives, but how do imperfect people reflect excellence?

Excellence vs. Perfection

Many people confuse excellence with perfection and we must realize it is impossible for human beings to be perfect.  Seeking perfection can be frustrating and creates unreal expectations.  The word “Perfect” means without fault or flawless, whereas “Excellence” means the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.  We can and should pursue excellence, but we need to realize we are not perfect. There was only one perfect man who came to earth in the person of Jesus, so as imperfect people we pursue excellence by following the example of Christ and the command Paul gave us in Philippians 4:8 of seeking the right things.

Imagine Excellence 

Imagine the impact the Christian community could have if we walked out our calling with excellence and we had a reputation for doing so as a Christian community.  What if Christian business owners, alliances (non-profits), churches, and individuals were known for excellence in the areas of solving problems, innovation, integrity, working hard, great service, quality products, exceptional value, paying our bills on time, and our generosity?  People would be seeking to be equipped by our churches that reflect this standard of excellence, employers would desire to hire Christians, buy products and services from Christian companies, and seek to support Christian organizations that serve our communities. This may seem like an impossible dream, but there is a story in the Bible that provides an outstanding example of excellence. 

Biblical Example of Excellence 

King Solomon had built a thriving kingdom and the story in 2 Chronicles 9:1-8 reflects a notable example of excellence: 

When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Arriving with a very great caravan–with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones–she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed. She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne as king to rule for the LORD your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and his desire to uphold them forever, he has made you king over them, to maintain justice and righteousness.”

Queen Sheba had heard of the reputation of Solomon and tested him, then experienced for herself the environment, culture, order and service, all reflecting excellence. The experience was so great that she was overwhelmed, and God was glorified through this expression of excellence.

Our Challenge 

We may not be called to run a government like King Solomon, but each of us are God’s unique workmanship, created to great things according to Ephesians 2:10 and we should do them with excellence. No matter where we are on the spectrum of life, whether struggling or striving, we can make a conscience choice to understand the calling on our life and elevate it to the highest level for His glory.  Thank you for taking this journey with us and may you be blessed as you pursue His best for your life!

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Jamie Jordan is the State Director for the South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce (SC-C3). His passion is to see unity and excellence exhibited within the Christian community.  Jamie can be reached at jjordan@Stravicom.com.

The Heart of a Leader

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While traveling between cities where Jesus and the disciples were ministering, Jesus saw that His disciples were arguing about who was the greatest. In response, He tells them “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). In other words, the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven would have a heart to serve, not to rule.

Leadership (greatness) had certainly been deformed by the Fall of Man. The evidence saturates our history and documents the failure of kings, rulers and empires who ruled oppressively over their people, creating horror, havoc and hardship throughout their kingdoms (including at times Israel, God’s people). The “greatness” (empirical leadership) mindset dominated the times of antiquity and was especially present during Jesus’ ministry. Jesus reminded the disciples of this worldly mindset in Matthew 20:25, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them.”

And yet it was not just the Gentiles who were operating in rulership rather than leadership. Jesus rebuked the scribes and pharisees in Matthew 23 for placing heavy burdens on their followers that not even they would require of themselves. Sin’s fracture of the world had certainly not left leadership untouched, but Jesus was in the midst of reprogramming the world with the culture of Heaven. Continuing in Matthew 20, Jesus lays down a foundational stone (reference point) for Kingdom living:

It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28

Translation? There’s a new way to be a leader and it has nothing to do with your position, but everything to do with your heart.

The word “servant” refers to a waiter or attendant. Jesus was giving honor to those of lowly position (something He was familiar with) but also saying that you don’t have to be in a lowly position just to be a servant. Rather, He was saying that there will be those who are great in the Kingdom that will be in all types of positions and places, and you will know them because they will be marked with a genuine and sacrificial care for others.

Leadership Redeemed

The ministry of Jesus was primarily about releasing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It was His divine assignment to begin changing the culture of earth by teaching His disciples to release the culture of Heaven. When He said the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, it was because He had extended His. The offer? Forgiveness of your rebellion from God’s good ways and an invitation to live life in the fullest most beautiful way that God intended (John 10:10).

As many of us who are followers of Jesus know, the path to living in the fullness of this abundant life comes only as we take steps into deeper alignment with Jesus. As this happens we become more like Him. As we become more like Him, we continue to release the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and experience more of Jesus’ divine nature, of which Peter tell us we are partakers (2 Peter 1:4).

I love the fact that Jesus never rebuked the disciples for their desire to be great in the Kingdom. Instead, He showed them the true pathway to greatness requires a heart to serve, not to rule. This lesson was so important Jesus repeated it in multiple places in the Gospels (Matthew 23:11, 20:28, Mark 10:43, Luke 22:26). He was training the future leaders of the church who would soon be given the responsibility to build and establish the structures of the church throughout the world. They had to learn the difference between worldly leadership (desire to rule) and Kingdom leadership (heart of a servant).

The Secret Ingredient

A closer look at Jesus’ life shows us the secret ingredient necessary to operate with the heart of  servant – humility. In humility, Jesus left his place of honor in Heaven to become like man (you and me), knowing that He would be born in the ghetto, grow up poor, spend three years training knuckle-heads, be rejected by those He came to save, be flogged, be beaten near to death and of course crucified on the Roman cross. He carried with Him the reign and rule of Heaven and yet He washed the feet of the twelve – – – including Judas, who He knew would betray Him. There is no greater example of humility than Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Humility Is In You

How do you grow in servant leadership? By growing in humility (James 4:10). How do you grow in humility? You go to the source. Humility finds its source in Jesus and if you are a follower of His then all you must do is let Him live through you. This is the path we must take if we want to grow as leaders. It sounds easy doesn’t it? I am not telling you it isn’t easy, but it typically doesn’t start that way. My experience has shown that we have the opportunity to grow in humility as we grow in our leadership.

During seasons of growth, we may find ourselves in difficult situations. In challenging times, responding in humility can seem so far from what is appropriate or expected. But, I believe this is what Jesus was trying to show his disciples when He said those who wanted to be first will be “last of all”. That word “last” in the original language means farthest. It’s like Jesus was saying that those who lead with the heart of a servant will do, at times, what seems farthest from worldly expectations. I think this is why so many of the religious leaders were not convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. They were looking for the Messiah to be a political leader who would destroy the oppressive rule of the Roman kingdom in the natural realm. Instead, Jesus came as a servant leader who destroyed the oppressive rule of the devil’s kingdom in the supernatural realm.

What kind of leader are you? What kind of leader/s do you spend time with at work, at home, or at church? If we allow the humility of Jesus – – – present only in us through our salvation and recreation – – – to live through us as we lead, we will see Him bring the transforming culture of Heaven into our businesses, our ministries and our homes. To walk in greater humility, consider praying this prayer:

Heavenly Father, great is your name! You’ve given me new life through Jesus and I want to let Jesus live fully through me, especially in the area of humility. I confess my selfish desires that prevent me from living with the heart of a servant. Holy Spirit help me to walk in humility today and every day as I seek to bless and serve those around me for the glory of God. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Travis Mincey is the Director of Ministry and Operations at Mission Community Church in Charlotte, NC. His passion is to see the presence of God bring miraculous transformation to all people in all places. Travis can be reached at travis.mincey@missioncommunity.cc.