Heaven

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Heaven, a place so grand,

No eye or mind can see,

A chorus of angels always singing,

Glory, honor, praise unto Thee.

Angels of light all around,

Our loved ones already there,

Fond memories in our heart,

A little bit of heaven, everywhere.

Heaven Copyright 2016, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the poem, Heaven, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Personal Declaration Of Empowerment

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To my beloved children:

From the time you began walking to the time of your 18th birthday, your mom and I have done our best to prepare you for being a responsible empowered adult. However, in order to actually be a responsible empowered adult upon reaching the age of 18, each of you must personally embrace what it truly means to be a responsible empowered adult and then live your life in such a manner. To help you do this, I have written the following personal declaration of empowerment that can and will inspire you to live your life each day as a responsible empowered adult if you make this personal declaration of empowerment your own and live it each day. I know you’ve got this and you can do it! And because I desire to live my life as a responsible empowered adult as well, I declare the same.

Your imperfect loving,

Dad

Personal Declaration of Empowerment

As a responsible empowered adult, aged 18 or older, I declare this day to embrace personal responsibility and empowerment and I choose this day to reject any entitlement thinking that demands from others the provision of personal benefits that have not been duly earned through my own hard work, study, and achievement. As a human being made in the image of my Creator, I am only entitled to the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that all people created equal have been given by their Creator.  Therefore, as a responsible empowered adult, my entitled right to pursue happiness does not give me the right to expect others to provide for my happiness without my personal responsibility to do whatever it takes to secure my happiness through my own hard work, study, and achievement.  This means that I must work hard for anything and everything that may or may not provide personal happiness in my life regardless of my race, creed, gender, family, occupation, or station in life. I accept the definition of hard work as the highest personal contribution that I can give in making my environment and the environments around me better as a result of my personal efforts.

Because I am a responsible empowered adult, I will not expect anyone else to do for me what I can and should do for myself. However, I realize that all people need help at times in life; therefore, when I personally need help from others, I will humbly ask for such help and I will graciously receive that help in my time of personal need. And when people give me help or anything else through their personal generosity, I will gratefully receive their help and their generosity as a great blessing in my life.

Furthermore, I recognize that every day I am alive is a precious gift from my Creator. With the gift of each new day, I choose to take full responsibility for my daily decisions as well as the resulting consequences of those decisions knowing that every decision determines a path and every path leads to a destination. Because each destination in my life is determined greatly by my personal life choices rather than my personal life circumstances, I will do everything in my power to respond to my life circumstances in a way that will ultimately determine the best possible outcomes in my life regardless of the circumstances.

And lastly, I recognize that my life can only be lived by me and I promise myself that I will put forth the diligent effort to intentionally live my life in a manner that honors my Creator for giving me life and blesses others for being in my life.  All of this personal declaration of empowerment is what it means to be a responsible empowered adult.

 

Personal Declaration of Empowerment Copyright 2016, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the letter, Personal Declaration of Empowerment, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Quiet Cry

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Stormy sea, meant to be;

Special grace, appear to thee.

Smooth sailing, tumultuous sky;

Greater love, quiet cry.

 

To truly see, could it be,

Bright lights, dark nights.

Valleys low, mountains high,

Redemption reign, quiet cry.

 

Fractured soul, despairing hole;

Foolish pride, truth collide.

Hopeless place, demons lie;

Mercies new, quiet cry.

 

Oceans blue, tried and true;

Delicate dashes, beauty from ashes.

Through the battle, arms held high;

Forever Faithful, quiet cry.

 

Quiet Cry Copyright 2016, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the poem, Quiet Cry, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Love And Grow Like Christ In An Increasingly Dark World

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Love from roses

With this post, I am excited to share some reflections from my recent devotions and book readings over the past month. I’ve been reading the book titled, Quiet, written by Susan Cain which is about introversion. And I’ve also recently finished reading the book titled, Tortured For Christ, written by Reverend Richard Wurmbrand which is about the persecution of the Underground Church in countries closed to the gospel. Additionally, my Pastor’s current message series titled, Culture Shift, is very timely to my recent introspections. The message content in all three has seriously challenged my thoughts and hopefully my growth as a mature Christ-follower in this tumultuous day and age. With that said, my heart in this post is to share some spiritual leadership takeaways that can help you and I to love and grow like Christ in an increasingly dark world.

To begin, I’d like to go through a brief overview of the cultural climate of America from the 19th Century to the cultural climate that we now find ourselves in the 21st Century. I believe it has significant relevance for how we can love and grow as mature believers in Christ during these times and how we can have the greatest influence for God’s kingdom on earth.

The Cultural Climate Of 19th Century America – A Culture Of Character

In the 19th Century, the strength of American society rested primarily on a culture of social character. A person’s strength of character is what primarily influenced other people in society. 19th Century America was characterized by the Agricultural age, people working on farms, representatives being statesmen, popular sermons being truth-based like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards, and popular books affirming the culture of character like Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.

In Susan Cain’s, Quiet, she communicates that a culture of internal character in the 19th Century could be described with words like citizenship, duty, work, golden deeds, honor, reputation, morals, manners, and integrity. As I further study the 19th Century period, I think the primary domestic spiritual emphasis in America was a pious devotion and the major foreign spiritual antagonism to America was state religion.

The Cultural Climate Of 20th Century America – A Culture Of Personality

Contrastingly, in the 20th Century era, the strengths of internal character in the 19th century society shifted to strengths of external personality. Inner virtue of character was no longer the strength that primarily influenced people in the 20th Century, but rather the effective outer charm of personality. In the 20th Century, America was characterized by the Industrial age, people working in factories, representatives being politicians, popular sermons being prosperity-based like “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen, and popular books affirming the culture of personality like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

In her book, Susan Cain communicates that a culture of external personality could be described with words like charisma, magnetism, fascination, stunning, attractiveness, glowing, dominance, and energy. As I further study the 20th Century period, I think the primary domestic spiritual emphasis in America was the gifts of the Holy Spirit as awakened by the Azusa Street Revival and the major foreign spiritual antagonism to America was social fascism and atheistic communism.

The Cultural Climate Of 21st Century America – A Culture Of Self-Love

Unfortunately, in the 21st Century, I believe another shift in our American society is taking place and it is a shift from a culture of external personality to a culture of self-love. In the 21st Century, America will be characterized by the Information age, people working on computers, representatives becoming autocrats, popular sermons “itching the ears” of hearers, and popular books affirming a culture of self-love.

This 21st Century culture of self-love can be described with words like selfie, proud, boastful, radical, fanatical, hoarder, heretical, terror, hater, and survivalist. As I further ponder the implications of the 21st Century society, I believe the primary domestic spiritual emphasis in America will be the fruits of the Holy Spirit developed through heightened persecution.  For the Christ-follower, our response to any form of personal persecution provides a litmus test for distinguishing between selfless love for others and selfish love for oneself. In a dark and depraved society, having the genuine fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) will be the only way to effectively live as a Christ-follower in the 21st Century when the major foreign and domestic spiritual antagonism to America will be religious fascism and increasing social depravity.

If we dare to objectively survey the current cultural landscape in 21st Century America, we can clearly see the culture of external personality giving way to a culture of self-love which has significant implications for you and I living as Christians in this day and age. Facebook, LinkedIn, SnapChat, InstaGram, iPods, iPads, and iPhones have given everyone the opportunity to share their iThoughts, iBeliefs, and iOpinions with the whole world. In this type of iFocused culture, the spiritual stakes are high because everyone has an easy and free platform to propagate their individual agendas with their only governor being the mental, emotional, and spiritual state of the individual person. On top of that, the rapid advancement of religious fascism overseas and within America along with the advancement of depraved social lifestyles pose major foreign and domestic spiritual antagonisms that seriously impact the fabric of our society – making it an extremely dark and wicked culture such as it was in the days of Noah. Isn’t it interesting that Hollywood produced a major feature film this year titled Noah?

Spiritual Implications For Christ-followers Living In 21st Century America

In this wicked and depraved culture, the people who will have the greatest influence during these perilous times will be genuine followers of Christ who are baptized and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Personality alone won’t cut it in the dark places of 21st Century society where we are now finding ourselves in America, and neither will character for that matter. Personality power and character power can be self-generated; however, anything of self-generated power will not last in the days ahead. The only power that will have any enduring strength in a very dark and wicked culture will be true spiritual power grounded in a genuine faith in Christ. True spiritual power is far different and superior to personality power and character power because it can never be self-generated. It can only be generated through a genuine faith in Christ that is fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit regardless of the personal cost.

Unfortunately though, for many sons and daughters of the Most High King, particularly in our highly blessed nation of America, we mistakenly think that having a genuine faith in Christ and true spiritual power from the Holy Spirit means that we get a chalice of glory, but not a cup of shame, we get a robe of many colors, but not a mantle of mockery, we get the role of leader, but not the role of foot washer, we get the crown of life, but not the cross of death.

The Paradox Of True Spiritual Power In Christ

To think this way is truly unfortunate because the life of a genuine Christ-follower empowered by the Holy Spirit with true spiritual power on earth is characterized by the same spiritual paradox of Christ’s own life while He lived on earth. When Jesus walked the earth, He was indeed our Sovereign King, but He was also our Suffering Savior. As Christ- followers, our lives on earth gain true spiritual power as we are shaped and molded into Christ-likeness by sharing in His reign as a child of our Most High King, but by also sharing in His obedience as a follower of our Suffering Savior. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus tells His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny Himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Christians in other countries where the gospel is illegal have a keen understanding for what it means to take up their cross and follow Jesus, even unto death if it be in His will. As a result, they gain true spiritual power by serving Jesus as their Sovereign King and their Suffering Savior through the daily persecution they experience.

Two Spiritual Principles That Shape The Life Of Every Genuine Christ-follower

In his book, Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders teaches that there are two spiritual principles in the kingdom of God that shape the life of every genuine Christ-follower: the Sovereign principle and the Suffering principle. To be a genuine Christ follower, there is no way around these two spiritual principles. James and John, the apostles of Jesus, learned this directly from Jesus.

In Mark 10:35-45, the bible tells us, “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.’  36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  37 They said to Him, ‘Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.’

38 But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’

The New Living Translation reads like this: “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”

The Suffering Principle In The Kingdom Of God

39 “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” Then Jesus told them, ‘You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering.”

The Sovereign Principle In The Kingdom Of God

“But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones He has chosen.”

James and John wanted the glory of Christ – sitting at His right and left – but not the suffering of Christ. They wanted the power of Christ – do for us whatever we ask – but not the shame of Christ – nail scarred hands. At that moment, they wanted their will to be done in their life, but not His will to be done in their life. How often do you and I approach God in the same manner as James and John did in that moment? Like James and John, we want Jesus to make us happy, make us important, and give us whatever we ask for; however, Jesus will have nothing of this form of Christianity because He is more concerned with developing our personal Christ-likeness rather than our personal comforts.

The Sovereign Principle And The Suffering Principle Are A Holy Combination

The holy combination of the Sovereign principle and the Suffering principle forms the foundation for how Jesus develops His followers into His likeness so that we can have true spiritual power that loves others selflessly and rocks our dark world for Him. These two principles are further highlighted in the scripture verses of John 15:16 and 1 Peter 4:12-18.

In John 15:16, Jesus says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

We don’t get to choose our assignments. We don’t get to pick our roles. We don’t get to say who sits on the right and the left in the kingdom of God. These matters of choice are left solely to the sovereign will of Almighty God the Father. He alone chooses, He alone qualifies, and He alone empowers each person with true spiritual power that bears lasting fruit.

And 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.

No Genuine Christ-follower Is Exempt From Growth Through Suffering

By highlighting these verses and also speaking of the sufferings experienced by persecuted Christians, I am not implying that we will all experience the same kind of physical sufferings as our brothers and sisters in the Underground Church. However, I am implying that none of us are exempt from being developed into Christ-likeness through suffering. While it’s not likely in America that we will suffer physical crucifixion like Christ did and many modern day martyrs of our faith in the Underground Church around the world, it is certain that we will all learn obedience by the things we suffer just as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane – the crucifixion of our will to His will through yieldedness and submission to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.

Romans 8:17-18 states, “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share His suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.”

The good news is this: there is nothing we can give, no cost to great, and no suffering too painful that can compare to the glory that will be revealed in us and through us as children of our Most High Reigning King and obedient followers of our All-Loving Suffering Savior.

Crushed Christians Reward Others With The Love Of Christ   

In the book, Tortured For Christ, Reverend Richard Wurmbrand writes that “when you crush a flower, it rewards you with the pleasant smell of its aroma.” And he further shares that likewise, when we are crushed as Christians, our lives should reward others with the love of Christ. As we desire to be used greatly by God, my prayer is that we can embrace the great crushing of our wills to His will so that we can be His noble vessels to share His great love and compassion to a lost and hurting world around us.

To God’s glory, have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

Love And Grow Like Christ In An Increasingly Dark World Copyright 2014, The Make It Happen Learning Institute. You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Love And Grow Like Christ In An Increasingly Dark World, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission. All other rights reserved.

Birth Of A Dream

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Scripture

1 Samuel 1:20 “So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.” NKJV

Observation

In this verse, the Bible tells the story of Hannah’s dream. The dream to have a child was alive in her heart, but was barren in reality. However, during that time, even though she was mocked and scorned in her barren state, she did not abort her dream or become bitter in her heart. Instead, Hannah wisely and humbly took her complaint to the Lord. Because of her humility and trust in God, in the process of time, God birthed her dream into reality with the birth of her son whom she named Samuel.

Application

There are times in life when dreams may seem to be barren. Additionally, during the barren state, there may be times when others may mock and scorn the dreams that God has put in my heart. However, like Hannah, I must place my trust in God, humbly submit my complaints to Him in the privacy of my prayer time, never become bitter, and never ever abort the dreams that He has put in my heart. As I yield to the Lord’s will for my life, in the process of time, barrenness will yield to faithfulness as God births my dreams into reality.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise You for You are El Elyon, God Most High, Creator and Possessor of Everything In Heaven and on Earth! Thank You for the dreams that You have placed in my heart to help leaders build organizations to Your glory and for the benefit of others. I put my trust in You and believe that in the process of time, my dreams to bless and equip leaders in Your kingdom will become reality in the marketplace. I love You Jesus! Amen!

Birth Of A Dream Copyright 2008, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the personal devotion, Birth Of A Dream, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Ministry Heart And Mind

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Scripture

2 Timothy 4:5 “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” NLT

Observation

In this verse, the Apostle Paul is encouraging his son in the Lord, Timothy, to carry out the work of the ministry that God had given him. As an uncommon mentor, Paul knew that fulfilling the work of the ministry would include days of suffering for the Lord; therefore, he wanted to make sure that Timothy, his uncommon protégé, was appropriately prepared in his heart and properly focused in his mind for the challenges he would face in the ministry.

Application

To carry out the ministry that God has given me is not easy because it includes the baptism of suffering that all spiritual leaders must go through to become like Jesus and it requires me to keep a focused mind in every situation I encounter on the ministry journey. Loving God with my whole heart, mind, soul, and strength helps me embrace the fellowship of Christ’s suffering as a minister of the Gospel. Loving others as myself helps me keep a clear ministry mind in every situation. In doing this with the help and grace of the Lord, I plan to effectively carry out the ministry God has given me in telling others about the Good News of the Gospel.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise You for You are gracious, merciful, compassionate, and faithful! You know every detail of my life and ministry to others. As You lead me and guide me on every step of the ministry journey, I place my complete trust in You to mold me, shape me, teach me, and keep me as an effective minister of Your grace, truth, and love! Help strengthen my faith in all sufferings and focus my mind in every situation. I love You Jesus! Amen!

Ministry Heart And Mind Copyright 2013, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the personal devotion, Ministry Heart And Mind, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Small Beginnings

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Scripture

Matthew 13:32 “It is the smallest of all seeds [the mustard seed], but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” NLT

Observation

In this verse, Jesus uses a parable about the mustard seed to illustrate the growth of a flourishing life in His Kingdom. Although the mustard seed starts out as the smallest of all seeds, when it is planted in good soil, it becomes the largest of all plants and further grows into a tree that provides a protective home for birds that come to it for safety and security. The mustard seed that seems so small and insignificant actually has the potential to become a strong, powerful, and life-giving tree in God’s kingdom when it is planted in good soil, stewarded well, and healthy.

Application

The work of my hands and the impact of my life can at times seem small and insignificant, like a tiny mustard seed, especially in the beginning stages of a new work, a changing season, a fresh dream in my life. However, like a tiny mustard seed, my life has the potential to grow, be fruitful, and make a significant impact in the kingdom of God when I am firmly planted in the good soil of the house of God, regardless of how small and insignificant my beginning may seem. Of the godly man, the Bible says in Psalms 1:3, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” The Bible further encourages me in Zechariah 4:10 stating, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Through faithfulness to the work God has assigned me to do in His kingdom, along with steady plodding day after day in His good plan for my life, my day of small beginnings will grow into a life of significant impact and large endings.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise You for You are Large and Magnificent in every way! Thank You for caring about the smallest details of my life including the number of hairs on my head and the number of days You have written for me in Your book. As I trust You with my life, give me the grace, strength, and wisdom to remain faithful to the work You have assigned me to do in Your kingdom so that my life will grow from small beginnings to large endings of multiplied fruitfulness and significant impact in You. I love You Jesus! Amen!

Small Beginnings Copyright 2013, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the personal devotion, Small Beginnings, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

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