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God’s Community

  • Is up close and personal with all types of people–not just those we prefer, but every person in the room
  • Shoulder to shoulder walking, sometimes running, sometimes picking up those who have fallen
  • God’s love is felt in the atmosphere
  • It is loving and accepting and warm
  • People are secure because they are freely themselves
  • There is no condemnation, no fear
  • Shame is never a tool used to motivate, neither is punishment, intimidation, manipulation, religious bullying…
  • It is transparent and honest and vulnerable and open
  • It is willing to grow together and sometimes fight together–together, not against each other
  • It is so close people call each other brother and sister–even the most unlikely are joined together in this family
  • There is no favoritism, God is not partial, neither is His family
  • Unity permeates every relationship because of the extreme level of commitment to one another; extreme!
  • The central focus of all activity within the community is unmistakably JESUS
  • Everyone and everything points to JESUS
  • Everything in the community gets it’s purpose from JESUS
  • The community lives and breathes and does everything with eternal purpose
  • Sacrifice is understood as Jesus’ example for us to follow
  • Willingness to get down in the dirt and wash people’s feet permeates the culture.
  • There is deep respect and honor for everyone in the community–and it’s tangible.

Is this an illusory ideal? Nope! This is the community we read about in the New Testament. This is the family God is wanting to build us into. When we are allowing God to transform our hearts and our churches, we will look more and more like this. But, if there is distance in our relationship with Jesus and we are not allowing His life to affect ours, there will be distance in our relationships with people.

Allowing Jesus to transform our lives, transforms our churches. Seeking to live up close and personal with Jesus, will make us want to live up close and personal with His–our–family.

Wells of Revival

God calls Himself “the Spring of living water” (Jeremiah 2:13). He is saying, “I am the Source of Life.”

Jesus said, “if anyone thirsts let Him come to Me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water…” (John 7:37-38)

And He said, “…the water I give will become in them a spring of living water continually welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

It’s the Holy Spirit in our spirit, continually flowing in and through our lives. Holy Spirit dwells IN us.

Digging our well is complete surrender to Holy Spirit, responding to His every word. This makes more and more room for Him in our lives. When we allow Him to remove all the clutter that pollutes and muddies our well: negative emotions, past hurt, unforgiveness, wrong thinking, doubt, fear… He replaces it with more of Himself and our well will be clean and clear and pure and refreshing and life-giving… A source of life not only for ourselves, but for everyone else who comes into our world.

Perfect Obedience to the Father

Jesus lived in perfect obedience to the will of the Father. He said, “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught Me. The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:28a-29.

Imagine, the One Man who had the right to His own opinion, He lived in perfect obedience.

His desire was to live in perfect obedience and model this as the way we should live: perfect obedience to the will of the Father is the way Jesus wants us to live. 

Some may say (or even scoff pridefully), “This is impossible! This is Jesus. He is perfect. He is God!” You are right. But when has our impossibility ever stopped God asking us to do the impossible? It’s humility that accepts God’s impossible ask.

Jesus, while being fully God, took on human form and emptied Himself, Philippians 2:7, of His own divine power so He could model for us a human life fully yielded to, empowered and led by Holy Spirit. And just as Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught Me… for I always do what pleases Him…” He wants us to be able to say the same.

I am not confident in my own ability to live in perfect obedience. I cannot. My own efforts are filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10. I cannot work, sweat, give, or strive enough to perfect me. So I must stop looking at me, stop all the self-evaluation and self-improvement pep talks, and turn my full attention to the perfect One, Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, we… beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same (perfect) image… this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Holy Spirit transforms us into the very image of Jesus. Holy Spirit empowers and leads us into perfect obedience to the will of the Father as we continue to behold Jesus: when we turn our full attention to Him.

I cannot perfect me, but He is (fully) able… and His power is at work within (me) us, Ephesians 3:20.

In John 8:29, Jesus says, the One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, this continual awareness of God’s presence only happens through intimacy. Never presumption. Only intimacy.

God longs for intimacy with us. There are no shortcuts to intimacy. It is through our daily commitment to this relationship that we hear His voice, yield to His will, and respond with confident obedience. This is the how Holy Spirit leads us to obedience, and we can say, I always do what pleases Him, John 8:29, just as Jesus did.

When Jesus said, I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave Me to do, John 17:4, He was saying, success in God is complete obedience to God, alone. Nothing more, but definitely nothing less.

It’s no small thing that God asks us to live the same way Jesus did. We cannot do this in the flesh, but by living empowered and led by Holy Spirit we can. God never asks us to do something that He doesn’t also supply the strength we need to do it.

God wants us to confidently say, “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught Me. The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him,” John 8:28a-29.

Yield to Him today, stop striving, and ask for His great help. He gives it generously…

Our lives bring glory to God by living in perfect obedience to the will of the Father.


What is trust?

Very simply, trust is a reliance or a confidence in the integrity, strength and ability of someone or something. There is a confident expectation or a certainty of future hope in the person.

There will be people in our lives who we trust; and there are different levels of that trust. Then there are people who we simply don’t trust at all.

For good or bad whether we are aware of it or not, we keep a mental track record of who we can trust and exactly what we can trust them with.

No human relationship works well without trust. It simply will remain a very superficial relationship—an acquaintance.

We can trust in and rely on God. We are told to “Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV).

If we never fully trust God our relationship with Him will remain very superficial—nothing more than acquaintances.

Our experiences with people can wreak havoc on our ability to trust God because we can project bad experiences and betrayal in human relationships onto our relationship with Him. That is why we are told not to lean on our own understanding because our understanding can be colored by those previous experiences.

I never want to stay at just an acquaintance level of trust with God. I want to fully rely on and have confidence in His integrity, His strength and His ability. I fully trust Him—no matter what I get from people—I fully trust God my Father.

A lack of trust

If trust is a reliance on or confidence in the integrity, strength and ability of a person, then distrust is simply no confidence in a person—and it’s tangible, both people know it.

The relationship will feel like it is clunking along, there may be friction or awkwardness and we may not even know why.  We may not be able to put our finger on the reason we feel the way we feel, but we are suspicious.

Our distrust is very expensive.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

If decisions need to be made in a no-trust or low-trust environment, they will be slow and the change around those decisions, even slower.

Trust is tangible and the effects of a lack of trust, or low trust, can be deadly.  A marriage will fall apart, a church will not grow, a business will have a struggling bottom line.

Trust is tangible

You can feel it.  You can also feel its absence.

When there is high trust in a relationship it is a safe place. You feel very at ease and secure in each other’s presence. There is a comfort level, a known acceptance of each other. The person knows a lot about you, good and bad, but you are loved and accepted in spite of it.

Being loved and accepted frees you to express what’s in your heart without having to monitor or censor you words. You don’t have to make sure you were understood. You don’t try to manage what the other person comes away with from the conversation. There is no need to—as they know you and your intentions and they believe the best in you.

Believing the best promotes an openness of communication. Nothing is held back, there is no fear in sharing dreams, tragedies, triumphs, as the other person isn’t going to jump to the wrong conclusions or make harsh judgments, they simply listen.

A relationship with high trust will be encouraging and affirming and you can depend on the other person to have some tough conversations with you when needed. “Hey, your thinking on that issue is a little off”, or “you might not be aware of this really bad habit, but…” They won’t leave you where you are—they help you grow. But not in a condemning critical way, in a life-promoting, freeing way.

The tangibility of trust is safety. You feel safe in the relationship.

Trust and suspicion

Suspicion is when we suspect something is wrong with little evidence or proof. It may be no more than a slight feeling that leads us to be suspicious.

Sometimes suspicion can be an imagined apprehension. Sometimes our suspicion proves right, but more often they prove wrong—really wrong and it’s damaging to relationships.

At times an individual may give us good reason to be suspicious and to consider their agendas. Maybe they show a lack of integrity, or there’s been a betrayal, they have a track record of unreliability, maybe they are a gossip, or they are a person who shows they just don’t value people.

Sometimes our suspicions are the Holy Spirit saying a very loud WATCH OUT! We need to learn how to hear that and respond.

Other times our suspicion is purely our own weakness, fears and insecurities. Our past experiences make us suspicious of new people and new opportunities and we can miss out on a lot of added richness in relationships; and in leadership.

The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted. –Mahatma Gandhi

Suspicion drains trust. We quickly dismiss a person—the whole of the person, because of the slightest whiff of suspicion we think we caught from them.

Suspicion is not equal to wisdom. We should not be led by suspicions. Although we should use wisdom to get to the bottom of why we are suspicious.

Harry S. Truman said, “We shall never be able to remove suspicion and fear as potential causes of war until communication is permitted to flow, free and open, across international boundaries.”

Mr. Truman was talking about international relations between nations. It is also true of relationships between people. There is sometimes an internal warring in our thought life about the motives of other people and even our own motives.

Open communication and generosity in extending love to people will work to defuse suspicion and then to build trust.

Love looks for the best in people, it always trusts, always hopes, it believes for the best, 1Corinthians 13:4-7 (paraphrased). If we let our suspicions run wild we will never fully love people and believe the best in them.

Be generous in love and use wisdom.

A track record of trust

We mentally keep track of people we can trust, why we trust them and what we can trust them with. We may not realize we do this, but we keep a mental track record of the things people do, or don’t do. We know who we can rely on and we know who we can’t.

Every time we say we will do something and then don’t do it, we are building a track record of unreliability, people will lose trust in us.

BUT every time we follow through with the things we say we will do, even if it is wildly inconvenient or at great cost to us, we are building a track record of reliability and integrity and that builds trust.

What’s your track record?

Love does not guarantee trust

It is totally possible to love someone but not trust them. Love never guarantees trust. 

Love and trust get lumped together and it gets confusing because very often they co-exist–and we want them to co-exist. But they are not mutually dependent.

Sadly, many of us hear things like, “If you really loved me, you would trust me.” This is a wrong expectation. It’s emotional manipulation. Love never guarantees trust and as such, should never be demanded like this.

I love my three-year-old little girl. She’s beautiful. I want to give her the world but I would be stupid to hand her the car keys and say, “OK, take it for spin”.  She doesn’t have the size to see over the dashboard. She doesn’t have the physical or mental maturity. She would wreck the car.

I have a six-year-old boy and I love him. He wants to make his breakfast in the mornings. He puts the cereal in his bowl. He gets the milk from the fridge and pours it into the bowl; then keeps pouring and pouring and pouring. Milk is everywhere. He’s not quite got the skills he needs to keep it in the bowl, much less clean up his mess.

Then, there is my eight-year-old son. He’s a big boy. I love him. He has a Nintendo DS Lite. I constantly find expensive DS parts left all over the house, in my washing machine, in my car and even in the backyard. He is showing me he is not yet responsible enough for bigger more expensive electronic toys.

As my kids grow I will trust them with more as they show me they can handle it.

It’s no different in the adult world. We can love people and be totally accepting of them but it is unwise to trust people based upon our love for them.

People need to show maturity, some skills, capabilities, or certain capacities. People need to be responsible before we trust them. They need to show they can keep confidences and not gossip; that they have the ability to handle information—especially if it’s delicate. People need to show they are loyal.

We should be instant in our love and acceptance of people but understand that trust is something that grows.

And, believing the best in people, we should generously allow them opportunities to build trust with us. We should also show ourselves trustworthy.

Burden of trust

It’s too easy to drift away from trusting in God and too easy to place this trust, along with a lot of expectation and hope, in people—and we even do this in the church.

We were designed for relationship with the Father. We were designed to place all our hope, expectation, and trust in Him. He is the only One who can handle it all. No person can.

But instead of trusting in God, we are looking to people. This places too much pressure on our relationships and often those we are closest to—it’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high. It is why we see broken trust, hurt, disillusionment, and even forgotten dreams.

We want people to carry the burden of our expectation, and we are hoping in them for things that only God can deliver on. It’s wreaking havoc in relationships and in our ability to trust people and then even God. People will let us down, so we think God also let’s us down and we start to doubt Him.

People were not created to bear that burden—God wants us to give it all to Him. Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

All our hopes, dreams and desires, they come from Him. He placed them in our heart so that He could fulfill them in us. As we learn to more fully trust Him and learn to walk obediently submitted to Him, in patience, He fulfills our desires.

Psalm 62:5&8 (Amplified) My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him… Trust in, lean on, rely on and have confidence in Him at all times… pour out your heart before Him.

Psalm 143:8 (NIV) Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. 
Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

God wants to show Himself faithful and trustworthy. We just have to let Him!

The transparency of trust 

It’s common sense to know the person who hides things or keeps things close, the person who seems allusive, leaves him or herself open to suspicion. While the person who is honest and has nothing to hide–you feel like you can trust that person.

Transparency simply means you can see through something.

When a person is transparent they are not trying to hide anything. There is no second-guessing. There is little room for doubt. You know where you stand with them. There is no hidden agenda. There is an upfront honesty and a willingness to engage in conversation. There is an openness about the person.

That is why transparency builds trust.

Interestingly, something that is transparent becomes even more transparent, when light shines on it.

John 3:19, 20 “…Light has come into the world…everyone who does evil hates the light…(because of the) fear that their deeds will be exposed.”

No body wants to be exposed. People feel condemned and so keep things hidden. This is true not only of sin, but also of simple mistakes and the areas in our life where we fall short. We feel shame and so we hide it.

John 3:17-18 clearly says Jesus doesn’t condemn us, He forgives us, there is grace for us. So we shouldn’t fear being honest and transparent before God.

When we let God’s light shine on our lives, living honestly before Him, it’s easy to live this same way before people. This develops trust with both God and people.

10 ways to build trust

1.  Be reliable.

2.  Be better than on time, be early with time to spare.

3.  Follow through and do what you said you would do—even if it costs you.  You said you would do it; don’t break your own word.

4.  Finish the job, get results, and show you are capable.

5.  Don’t make excuses or throw the blame on others.  Be responsible and own up for your mistakes.  That goes for giving credit where credit is due.  Make sure the right person is appreciated for a job well done.

6.  Don’t lie.  If you lie about even the smallest thing, it will cast doubt and suspicion on everything you do and say.

7.  Run to help and serve others.

8.  Don’t speak badly or gossip about people, ever; and don’t be in people’s business when you have no business being there.  If you are not in a position to help a situation, your involvement becomes purely for gossip.

9.  Return phone calls and emails quickly.  Silence leaves a person very suspicious.  Returning messages is just a basic common decency.  Not returning them shows a lack of care or value for people.

10.  Do everything with excellence.

10 things that promote low trust

A low trust environment is detrimental to relationships, churches, our businesses and places of work. Here are 10 things that will promote low trust:

1.  Dishonesty. The smallest of lies casts suspicion on everything else you do.

2.  Broken promises. Not following through with your word.

3.  Changing plans because something else—a better offer—comes along.

4.  Not keeping confidences and gossip. The minute a person talks to you about someone behind their back, you should assume they will talk to that someone about you–behind your back. Silence that person. Not only let them know you will not listen to them, but silence them. Let them know it’s inappropriate to spread gossip and rumor.

5.  Bureaucratic politicking. People out for their own gain, full of agenda, willing to sabotage others. Having to adhere to unending policies and authorizations before anything gets done.

6.  Micromanaging people. It tells people they are babies and shows you don’t believe in them.

7.  Not valuing or recognizing people or their input, and taking their credit.

8.  Not listening to people—shows you don’t value them.

9.  Unethical behavior.

10.  Ethical but incompetent behavior.


I might be narcissistic if…

This is a tongue-in cheek look at a very real psychiatric personality disorder that often needs medical help.

Tongue-in-cheek as as no Christian would ever live like this, would we?

Narcissism has become an accepted phenomenon of epidemic proportion in culture, and it can creep into church.

We are so used to narcissistic behavior that when we see a person of success behaving this way, we excuse them thinking it is just the way successful people behave. Some of us even begin to emulate the behavior, thinking it’s the way to our own success…

Symptoms of narcissism…

  • a belief that I am better than others, superior, of primary importance, deserving of special treatment, I expect it and act accordingly
  • when I don’t get the special treatment I am entitled to, I become impatient or angry
  • a belief that I can only be understood by, or associate with, other high-profile or special people
  • expect others to go along with all my ideas and plans
  • demand automatic compliance with what I want
  • frequently take others for granted, even exploitative
  • condescending and patronizing of others
  • laughing at, belittling, or even express disdain for others who are inferior
  • a belief that others are jealous of me (this is actually rooted in the fact that I am jealous)
  • paranoid belief that because of jealousy, people will do things to hurt me
  • easily offended or hurt and emotionally overreact to hurt
  • overwhelming need for constant praise and admiration, or at least the attention of others
  • easily recognize troubling, unhealthy relationships but completely unable to recognize I may be the center of them
  • give the impression of tough-mindedness or being unemotional, but this is sham
  • an outward look of confidence, but internally a very fragile self-esteem, always looking for reasons to talk myself into confidence
  • insist on having “the best” of everything–the best car, athletic/gym club, medical care, clothes or social circles
  • come across as snobbish, arrogant, pretentious, aloof
  • cannot handle anything that may be perceived as criticism, react with rage, contempt, or efforts to belittle the other person in order to make me feel better
  • under stress, many of these symptoms are magnified

One further symptom:

  • reading the other symptoms, I have a lot of contradictory emotions, primarily, denial. My drive for power, admiration, and perfection will not allow me to ever think there could be something wrong with me.

This is a scientifically documented psychiatric disorder. The good news is, typically with age the symptoms decrease. So a person in their 80’s has really mellowed because they realize the universe doesn’t revolve around them.


The dominant theory professionals subscribe to is a biopsychosocial model. Passed from parents to children via, genes, environment, early childhood development, and learned coping skills through life. So, the narcissist can safely blame their parents!