Archive for October, 2019

The Andon Cord

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Not long ago, I started working in a different division within my company. To become more familiar with the work, I began reading a book called The DevOps Handbook. To my surprise, the book was captivating and I had a hard time putting it down.

In what can only be described as binge reading, I soon came across a concept in this book Toyota had implemented called an “Andon cord.” I learned, how on the manufacturing line, workers pull a cord when a problem is detected. Then, a team leader immediately comes to help resolve the issue. But, if the problem can’t be fixed, something amazing happens. The entire production line stops, everyone drops what they’re doing, and they join together and work until the problem is fixed.

While this problem-resolution methodology is ingenious, it won’t do any good unless workers actually pull the Andon cord. If they don’t pull the cord when issues are spotted, the result could be poor production quality or future manufacturing mishaps.

After reading about the Andon cord, the wheels in my head started to turn. While this is an every-day concept, I began to see the Scriptural principle at work:

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2, KJV).

When we look at people in the world, we do so with our natural eyes. We see the image individuals project; the visage they want everyone else to see. Sometimes God helps us view a person not with a physical lens, but a spiritual one. He gives us a Word of knowledge about a soul and insight that penetrates deep into core of their current circumstance.

Many people in this world are lost and hurting. They keep this sad truth hidden and all to themselves. They struggle day after day, drowning in a sea of sorrow and lies by which the enemy binds them. And, when God reveals to us the heavy weight of their burden—the element in their lives restricting positive spiritual growth—we need to have the guts to pull the Andon cord.

This sounds easy. There’s a problem, someone needs help. Why wouldn’t we pull the cord and sound the alarm? We don’t because we’re scared. We don’t because we think we’ll cause a larger issue. We don’t because we might call unwanted attention to ourselves.

We get short sighted and can’t see the bigger picture. We don’t see the spiritual benefit of the cord. In reality, within the Andon cord model, pulling the cord initiates an alert and calls attention to the lost soul (not the individual pulling the cord). The alarm sounds a cry that someone needs Jesus! A loved one, spiritual elder, etc. arrives to help the lost and dying.

But, if they are unable to reach the person alone, an amazing thing happens: spiritual swarming. The Body of Christ stops what they’re doing. They come together in a unified effort in intercessory prayer and fasting for the soul. God hears the cry of His Church and this activates His healing and saving power. The Church doesn’t stop praying and fasting until the problem is resolved—until the burden lifts, the healing comes, and the Holy Ghost is poured out.

If we don’t pull the spiritual Andon cord, souls won’t be delivered, healed, or saved. God will work—He can do all things, but it’s according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20). Don’t hesitate and don’t hold back. We need to step out and step up to pull the cord. There’s something important at stake: a soul.

Be First

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

Being first is an interesting concept. As a child, you want to be first in everything—standing in line, receiving a snack, playing with a toy, taking a ride, and especially when it comes to trying something new. We don’t care what we look like or consider the outcome. We just want to be first.

As adults, we’ve realized a key component in life. Embarrassment is a very real emotion. Therefore, as we’ve grown older, we intentionally drift back from first place. We’ve learned that “first” doesn’t always equate to a positive thing or experience. We’d rather let someone go first, see how they fare, and learn from their mistakes.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t want to be first. If anyone approaches me and asks me to try something, if I find out no one else has done it before, my knee-jerk reaction is, “no thanks.” I don’t want to be someone’s guinea pig. Plus, there’s this ego thing, which I’m fairly certain everyone deals with. I don’t want to put myself out there and look stupid.

While Scripture does admonish us to put others first (as a sacrificial action) (Matthew 20:16), that doesn’t hold true in every case of being first. There is a time when we shouldn’t be paving the way for others to get in front of us:

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore (John 21:7–8, NLT).

Peter was a disciple who exemplified going after the right “firsts.” While fishing, John spotted Jesus on the shore; word quickly spread to the rest of the disciples. Peter’s companions immediately became consumed with coming to a convenient stopping place in their task. But, Peter didn’t stand around and wait for everyone to get back to shore. Instead, he jumped off the boat and swam to meet the Lord. If anyone was going to feel, touch, or experience the power of Christ first, it was going to be Him.

What a model for the church to follow! So often in our church services, we wait for someone else to step out before we respond to God’s presence. When out running errands, we shyly wait for someone else to step up and pray with that person in the middle of the grocery aisle. But, this isn’t the time to wait, hold back, or be second or third. It’s time to be first.

We’re living in a time where God’s calling His church to be on fire for Him—to embrace and engage without hesitation and to emulate an eagerness to be in His presence. If God’s moving, we need to step into the flow. Don’t wait for someone else! Be first and receive a touch from God. If someone’s in need of prayer, don’t sit on the sidelines, but boldly approach the throne of grace and pray for them.

In these instances, we can’t assume someone else will eventually step up to be first. It must be us. We can’t be concerned about what we look like, how we’ll feel, or what others will think. Our relationship with Christ is between Him and us. We’re first. And, a part of that relational order is being a vessel for His use. That includes acting first, being available first, saying yes first, etc.

If you’ve been harboring an excuse for why you’re second, third, or fourth to get in touch with God or be used in His Kingdom, drop the excuse today and start anew. Today’s the first day of the rest of your life with Him and you can make the commitment now to step out and be first.

The Bottle Blunder

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

I’m a very punctual person. I was raised with the understanding: to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late…well you might as well not show up.

But, I must confess something. For me to be early (or on time), I’m going to be rushing to make that happen, plain and simple. I don’t know how to operate any other way. This is why I suspect that I have suppressed superpower tendencies because I’m always moving at super-speed.

And that’s why it happened the other morning when I was getting ready for work…

I had just jumped out of the shower and was hanging up my towel, applying deodorant, and brushing my teeth—all at the same time, and at super-speed (PS I believe excessive multi-tasking is another one of my superpowers). I then reached down to pump lotion from a green bottle. This is when I learned I don’t have super-vision.

My green bottle of lotion was sitting beside another green bottle, but that green bottle didn’t contain lotion. When I reached down with the intention to pump lotion, in my haste I selected the wrong bottle. I didn’t realize this until I had slathered shampoo all over my freshly-showered arm.

An amalgam of thoughts immediately followed: That’s not the right color of my lotion. Why is it clear? It’s not rubbing in. Oh my gosh that’s shampoo! Yuck. How did that just happen? How do I get this off? I don’t need this. I’m pretty sure I’m getting angry. Yep, I’m mad and now. Oh man, I’m going to be late…

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:16–19, KJV).

I’m thankful for these verses in Scripture because they’re exactly what popped into my head as I struggled to contort my upper body to rinse off my arm in the vanity sink. Rejoice in this. Give thanks for this. Don’t quench the Spirit. I redirected my focus, and that’s when the ridiculousness of the situation hit me. I burst out laughing.

I realized getting mad and frustrated at the situation wasn’t godly and wasn’t worth it! It was an accident, and probably wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t employing my self-generated super-speed. It was totally worth laughing over. (How often does this happen to people?) I repented for my attitude and went back to getting ready for work.

In these moments of life, and many others, God reminds us to rejoice and give thanks for every circumstance. If we don’t, we quench His Spirit moving in our life. While the Holy Spirit serves many purposes in our life, one of which is provide an overflow of joy (I Peter 1:8). In a situation, if we choose to gripe, get mad, or pout, we’re halting (quenching) the ability of God’s Spirit to express joy in our lives. If we find ourselves in a bad mood, it’s because we’ve stopped the flow of joy in our lives, not God!

Honestly, while standing in the bathroom with shampoo all over my arm, I’d rather experience joy and thanksgiving in God’s presence any day. It’s much better than the latter alternative. My bottle blunder doesn’t have to be a bad experience, but another opportunity to allow God’s joy to manifest in my life—if I choose to allow it.

If you’ve grabbed the wrong “bottle” today, or find yourself stuck in a shampoo-related situation, remember to rejoice, give thanks, and don’t quench the joy that can be found in Him.

The Window of Opportunity

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

Earlier this year, the Midwest experienced a season of excessive rain. Normally, the general population moans and groans about the overcast and darkened skies. But, this year, the sounds of despondency were harmonized by an unusual group of water-resisters: farmers. Our cultivators weren’t just grumbling at the lack of sun due to personal preference. They were genuinely concerned about the large quantities of precipitation because saturated fields meant the season’s crop couldn’t be planted.

As the storm clouds rolled in day after day, farmers convened meetings to strategize a solution regarding the mud puddle growing across the country. The media covered the conversations and concerns, drawing much attention to a concept known as a “window of opportunity.” This “window” is defined as the segment of time in which a crop can be planted for the year. Crops can’t be planted outside the window because there isn’t enough time for growth, cultivation, and harvest. The risk for the season was very grave. An unplanted crop meant an un-reapable harvest come fall. Farmers would then need to claim a total loss on their fields for the season.

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time (Colossians 4:5, KJV).

While driving on any highway or interstate in the Midwest, it’s hard not to notice the fields. When the corn isn’t “knee-high” by July, you notice. When the soybean harvest hasn’t been reaped, you notice. We easily perceive the stuff that comes after planning, but we’re less inclined to detect the pivotal moment beforehand: the window of opportunity.

This same window of opportunity exists in the spiritual realm in a harvest called souls. There’s a specific time—a window of opportunity—provided to us to witness to this lost and dying world. While there’s a general window of time until the Lord makes His return (II Peter 3:9), there’s a unique, sometimes shorter window, for every person.

In the personalized window of opportunity God has created for an individual to hear and receive His Word, the same window is granted for us to plant (share) the Word as a witness. If we miss the crucial window, the heart (or soil) of the individual won’t be just right. Without the perfect window, the Word can’t be planted.

Just as farmers know they must plant within the perfect window to allow for full cultivation of their crop, we must realize the same principle holds true for a soul. We need to allow the maximum time possible for a soul to hear God’s Word, let it take root, be watered, and weathered for growth. When we wait too long or miss our window, the ground can become too water-saturated, or better yet, become too thorny or too rocky (Matthew 13:1–9). Sound familiar?

If we don’t plant in the perfect window, the risk for the harvest is also serious. An unplanted crop of God’s Word means there won’t be a harvest to reap. But, when there isn’t a harvest of souls, we won’t be able to blame the weather. God will hold us responsible for whether we choose to plant when the conditions were right or when the window was open.

Lord, help us to take action when the window of opportunity is present for a soul. We know there’s a short time before your return; we must be working in the fields before it’s too late and we can no longer plant. Thank you for allowing us to work in Your field: the privilege to plant, the season of growth, and the time of harvest.

It’s Free

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Free. There’s something about the word that tingles my ears and excites my mind. This delight hasn’t subsided as I’ve grown older but only increased. I like free stuff with purchases, free food, free pens, free time, free tickets, and free things to do. Free stuff is good—don’t you agree?

It’s rare I bypass something that’s free. If it’s free junk, I’m not interested because it’s still junk. If I already have 10 million myself (i.e., Chapstick), I’m not stockpiling anymore. And, no matter how great the show, I’m not going to sit through a 4-hour timeshare presentation for free tickets (again), okay?

I’m not the only person gaga for goodies. I’ve seen people stand in line for free stuff, sometimes for hours on end! Some goofs will camp out for days or stay up all night for piddly perks. Occasionally, humans will even create stampedes to get free giveaways. And, while I find most people are frantic for free stuff, many will bypass all the freebies in God’s kingdom:

Thus says the LORD of hosts, If you will walk in My ways [that is, remain faithful] and perform My service, then you will also govern My house and have charge of My courts, and I will give you free access [to My presence] among these who are standing here (Zechariah 3:7, AMP).

God’s God a lot of cool, free stuff in store for His children, but many of us don’t want it. Why? We think it is too good to be true. Have you seen an earthly freebie deal and thought the same? Are they really giving that away? There’s no way that’s true. That’s too good of a deal! It’s easy to question the sweetness of a deal as a con or ploy to lose valuable resources.

The same thing is true with God. He has many blessings available to every one of us. And, these blessings fall into the same category—they’re free! Consider this Scripture in Zechariah: God has promised to give us free access into His presence. We don’t have to pay a toll, need to wait in line, already have too much of it, and there aren’t any hidden gimmicks.

When we don’t take advantage of the free stuff in the natural, we get slighted out of a “mass” deal. It doesn’t have earthshattering impacts to us as another opportunity will arise again in the future. But, with God, when we don’t take advantage of the free, we miss out on something made available especially for us. Not buying into or accepting this offer has eternal consequences.

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, the veil in the temple was torn from the top to the bottom (Matthew 27:51). That moment signified the removal the barrier previously limiting people from God. Jesus’ blood paid the price and provided the ultimate free deal of all time: access into God’s presence. What a glorious gift, amazing blessing, and fabulous freebie; the best kind there ever could be!

God has set an open door before us, and it’s up to us to walk through it (Revelation 3:8). All the earthly free stuff is good, but we need to seek after the greater things. We need to accept the free gift of His presence and allow Him to have free reign in our lives in return. God’s not limiting the free access to His presence; therefore, we shouldn’t limit Him to work in us once we step through that door.

Lord, help us to desire all the freebies we can find in You: free access, freedom, and giving You free course in our lives. We don’t want to miss out on the free today. Your gifts and blessings are better than any earthly treasures. Let us seek after and accept all of You. After all, it’s free.