One Generation Away From Extinction

Former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan made this astute observation: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

As a leader with a lifelong commitment to Church and societal transformation, particularly through the avenue of education, I could not help but see this quote in context to the 21st C Church: “Christianity [itself] is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Steve Rabey, in his book on Authentic Faith, said: “This generation is falling through the cracks of Christendom and the modern church is sleep-walking their way through oblivion.”

I have seen this disconnect globally. The most common concerns of pastors have been the aging of their church populations and the high levels of spiritual fall-out their children are experiencing transitioning into secular education. Of even greater concern to me has been the loss of a Biblical worldview within the Church as a whole.

The Church has, by and large, lost its meta-narrative – ie. “the abstract idea that is thought to be a comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge” (Wikipedia), the plot behind the play, the object of the game, the power of the Gospel – and  is at risk of creating a post-Joshua generation “who do not know the Lord or even the work He has done” (Judges 2:10).

As a transformational leader, I have attempted to be a faithful voice speaking into every social and justice issue our nation of Canada has faced. For seven years I wrote an Internet newspaper column, “Oh! Canada!” describing what righteous paths look like and presenting godly options: what was, what is, and what could be.

From my perspective, unfortunately, the Church as a whole has majored in rebuking the darkness and has consistently failed at lighting a light. We have prayed for national repentance from legalizing immorality and not given an understanding of what to repent unto. The Church has been seen as a reactionary rather than a revelational movement with pro-active solutions. That is why what God has given us in reference to Christian Education is so important. It is becoming an alternative solution for homeschool families, campus schools, and mission fields. As educators we are in a unique position to touch hearts, and to equip young lives with both academic and Godly wisdom.

Scripture makes it clear that God was in Christ “reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor 5:19, AMP). The Greek word for world, “kosmos” clearly refers to “ordered systems.” We were sinners, undermining the integrity of culture through our sin. When we were reconciled to God and were transformed our redeemed behavior was intended to rebuild the ruins of many generations (Isa 61:4, AMP) and reconcile world systems back to Him. We have focused on redeeming the educational sphere.

The Church has a commission to disciple nations, to impact principalities and powers, to tear down strongholds, and to reform society through the “many-sided wisdom of God…” (Eph 3:10). That wisdom is the sophia, the “supreme intelligence, such as belongs to God; the wisdom of God as evinced in forming and executing counsels in the formation and government of the world.” That wisdom is accessed through walking in the fear – reverence – of the Lord (Pr 1:8).

The Church is called to be a counter-intelligence organization, and should demonstrate, as was spoken of Daniel, an intellectual brilliance and a spiritual wisdom above the worldly wisdom that exists (Dan 5:10-12, Msg). It is said that he had the “Spirit of the Holy God” in him (Dan 5:11-12) and that he was “brimming with spirit and intelligence [that] completely outclassed the wisdom of the world…” (Dan 6:1-6, Msg).

Our KCCS mission statement is “to reach, raise up and release kingdom-minded people who are competent to represent their faith in every sphere of culture.” Our educational mission statement for Heritage Christian Online School is “to develop innovative Christ-centered educational opportunities for students to explore and embrace God’s unique purpose.”

We believe that God is the Creator and Owner of our children, a heritage from the Lord (Ps 127:3; Ps 139:15-16). We believe that parents are stewards of their children’s lives and are responsible to raise them in a God-honoring way (Pr 22:6; Deut 6:7). I am a firm believer in God’s rights, but also in parental rights over the education of the children.

Parental rights have been affirmed by Article 5 and 18 of the United Nations Convention of the Child: “The State must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents and the extended family to provide guidance for the child that is appropriate to his or her evolving capacities,” and “Parents have joint primary responsibility for raising the child, and the State shall support them in this.”

We believe that Church and School are extensions of God and parental authority to train, equip and educate children. There is a four-fold cord here that once it is in place is not easily broken – God, parents, church and school. The primary textbook must be the Word of God as it contains the meta-narrative. In the Word of God we find the wisdom needed to educate (Pr 1:7). “There is no law, no society, no justice, no structure, no design, no meaning apart from God and His Word” (Dr. R J Rushdoony).

We are clearly facing a culture war in North America. Our world has become increasingly black and white, with little room permitted for reasonable dialogue. At the core of the battle are two looming questions: “Who has the primary right to educate;” and, “Who decides what they are to be taught?” We have answered those essential questions: we have worked hard to formulate relational connection and equity with parents, the primary educators; and, we have worked hard to provide teachers and curriculum that see life through the lens of a Christian worldview.

The history of Israel recorded by the Judges states that the “generation that arose that did not know the Lord” (Jud 2:10) became “children who served other gods and did evil in the sight of the Lord” (vs 11). As one has said, “If we do not learn from the mistakes of the past, we are bound to repeat them.” We must maintain a commitment to link every life to knowing the Lord so that they can make Him known in all of society.

Socrates wrote, “Could I climb to the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim—fellow-citizens, why do ye turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of your children, to whom one day you must relinquish it?” Children may be one third of our population but they are all of our future. With Christian educators – pastors, parents, teachers – working together, we can ensure the success of the next generation. Our children can become “arrows in the hands of a warrior” (Ps 127:4) sent into the future, with brilliance in spirit and intelligence, leaders who become change agents and history-makers.

As one of our virtual world teachers, Gord Holden said, “Let’s not prepare our students for the real world, but let us prepare them to create a better one.”

God-Designed Margins

In Psalm 23:1-4 (Msg), king David writes, “God, You are my shepherd. I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows. You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

2016 was a very difficult year for many of us. Corporately, we have all had to work at “catching our breath.” We faced immense challenges together, and God has helped us and, I believe, “sent us in the right direction.” I am grateful for your support and prayers, and believe that 2017 will become a year of break through and blessing for our corporate KCCS family as we continue to allow the Lord to shepherd us.

A month or so ago, I attended an educator’s conference in Canmore and one of the keynote speakers was Dr. Terry Young. He spoke on The Mystery of the Margin. The topic intrigued me, as I was personally engaged in a struggle to keep all of my commitments, and was facing higher than usual levels of fatigue.

The thesis of Young’s presentation was that every one of us carries what can be best described as the load of life (alluding to Tim O’Brien’s book, The Things I Carry). When the load we are carrying exceeds our resources and capabilities to carry, we have exceeded margin and will eventually suffer for it.

2016 was my 9-11 day turned into a yearlong experience. The load exceeded my personal resources, and I know that I lost healthy margins. Dr. Young stated, “a good life, like a good book, has margins.” I wanted my life to be a good book read, but I knew my life was being stretched beyond what would actually be healthy: I needed my Good Shepherd’s help so that I could “rest and catch [my] breath.”

R – L = M – Resources minus Load equals Margins

             R – resources: all of us have resources, some more than others. Resources can be described as deposits in our account: time, health, emotional stamina, character, education, skill sets, friendships, financial stability, godly wisdom – the reward of God, blessing. Outlining and defining what they are personally is a healthy process.

L – load: all of us have loads, which are not necessarily negative, but they require withdrawals from the account: work, health, expectations, conflict, emotional stress, pressures, trauma, heavy spiritual lifting, financial debt – the challenges of life. Even bridges have “load limits,” but how do we define our load levels?

Overload has not always been with us. Today is a different day: sociologists are calling it “hyper-living” (David Zach), and many are pointing to a new phenomenon called the “twitching of America” (Bob Greene). Let’s look at some of the load nuances:

  • activity overload – doing two or three things at once, sleeping 2.5 hours less than people did 100 years ago;
  • work overload – 40 years ago futurists were pondering what man was going to do with all of his spare time: eg. in a US Senate hearing in 1967 they stated that by 1985 people would be working 22 hours a week or twenty-seven weeks a year (the average work week has actually increased);
  • change overload – change is now at warp speed;
  • choice overload – 1980 (12,000 choices in the supermarket, today – 30,000 – eg, 186 choices for breakfast cereal);
  • commitment overload – more commitments than time – some people cannot say, ‘No!;’
  • debt overload – every sector of society is awash in red ink – we have less savings than any previous generation;
  • fatigue overload – we are a tired society trying to do too much too quickly (54% of people admit to being more exhausted at the end of their vacation);
  • media/information overload – in my field of ministry, if I read two ministry articles a day, next year I will be eight centuries behind in my reading;
  • possession overload – more toys, more time, and it is estimated that the average person needs to know how to operate close to 20,000 pieces of equipment; and
  • traffic overload – shorter weeks and higher incomes have backfired as people are spending years in their vehicles, over-working and under-relating

 

M – margin: when our resources are greater than our load, we have healthy margins. In that scenario, if another download occurs, we can sustain it. We have a buffer zone. When our resources are less than our load, overload occurs, margins are lost, and we lose our ability to cope. Overload moves us to work harder and longer, creates intense emotions (irritability, depression), makes us susceptible to physical breakdown (sleeplessness, eating disorders, colds), and opens the door to spiritual attack (prayerlessness, exhaustion and vulnerability). Margins are not a luxury: they are a necessity for health.

Have margins gotten worse, or better, over these past few decades?

The Challenges of 21st C Living

            Dr. Stensen, in his book, “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial And Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives” says, “Marginless living is now the universal constant. Humanity is on overload, stressed, joyless, overwhelmed, and suffering the pain of diminishing margins….Margin has been stolen and progress is the thief.”

Progress is the thief? Progress isn’t always progress; sometimes it is regress. Progress works by giving us more and more, faster and faster. Progress often increases stress, change, complexity, intensity, and eventually collides with human limitations. It removes from us the room to breathe, to think, even the permission to heal.

Most of our modern idea of progress is connected to the assessment of our physical and cognitive environments (“are we healthier, wealthier and more knowledgeable?”), but most of our pain comes from the social, emotional and spiritual environments (“are we relationally more connected, are our emotions healthy, are we in a better place spiritually?”).

Though the first two environments are critically important (and tend to be the most visible), the next three environments are even more important. William Wilberforce fought slavery for 45 years. When slavery was abolished, he did not refer to progress as coming from wealth, education or political power, but from a shift to the virtues of love, kindness towards his fellow man, and a concern for eternity. Progress was measured by virtue.

Are we progressing where we really need to progress, in the inner man, in the health of the soul, and in our relationship to God and truth?

Words of Pastoral Advice for 2017

  • Plan your time – everyone needs God time, personal time, family time, sharing time;
  • Prune your activity – speeding up doesn’t mean you are accomplishing more: for many, busyness serves solely as a “hedge against emptiness” (Tim Kreider, The Busy Trap);
  • Practice simplicity, contentment and gratitude for what you have rather than racing to get what you do not have – “what does it profit a man if he can the whole world and lose his ow soul?”Give a man everything that he wants and at that same very moment everything will not be everything” (Immanuel Kant);
  • Separate time from technology – take an e-mail, Facebook, Link-in, messaging fast;
  • Get less done but concentrate on doing the right things;
  • Relish memories – thinking back gives context and appreciation for what you have now);
  • Don’t rush wisdom – be willing to wait for it, study, read a bit more, meditate on truth;
  • Speak more slowly – slow your life down, don’t be afraid to stand in line;
  • Smile more frequently – enjoy the small spaces that bring life;
  • Trash the extraneous – you have to learn to lighten the backpack;
  • Learn to pray and to play again – stop, talk to God and connect to others; and
  • Enter your rest – there is a difference between “rest” and “leisure:” our present world has much leisure but is suffering for rest. Some sociologists are calling it “lethal leisure.” Profit-making swallows up our Sabbaths. Our drive to achieve produces greater unrest. Someone said,

We are not called to rest because our work is done;
we are commanded to rest because our Creator ordered it
and created us to have a need for it
….
God rested on the seventh day, and He wasn’t even tired!”

            So, my prayer for you in 2017 is that the Lord will be your shepherd, that you will find rest for your souls, clean and pure streams to drink from, and that you will, under His direction, be able to catch your breath, and move within God-designed margins, resulting in health and life.

Navigating through Challenging Times

signs

Well, let me start by relaying my apologies for the lack of consistent DAVE Talks. It is something I am attempting to remedy as I pray for wisdom, physical energy and creative writing skills, seeing most of my audience are teachers. You may notice that I have recently included articles from Oh! Canada!, a digital newspaper blog that was set up to address national issues. I hope that they are a blessing to you.

The first five months of 2016 has been one of the most challenging seasons that I have ever faced personally, relationally and organizationally. I know that I am not alone. Many have been unusually stretched. Like the sign expresses above, it has been difficult to know at times which direction to take. Maybe a few of you out there know what I mean.

Some of you have seen the movie, The Perfect Storm. I couldn’t watch it. It was too real for me. When I was a young man, I worked one summer as a lobster fisherman off the Georges banks of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. One had to be constantly aware of changing wind patterns, the level of swells, cloud formations, and tidal changes. To disregard the signs meant placing the lives of crew and skipper in jeopardy. At times, the outer circumstances we faced placed extreme pressure on the skipper to navigate safely back to harbour. I faced some clear and present dangers as a young fisherman. I still haven’t watched the movie.

A good captain knows how to use the adverse circumstances to his benefit. The Bible says in Hebrews 2:10: “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Before Jesus could captain our salvation, He went through rough seas.

Rough seas make can make us stronger and more capable of handling the upward challenges of life. The bottom line is that life continues to move forward whether we want it to stop or not. Learning to navigate in troubled times and to embrace the winds, the waves, and the tidal pulls, and use them to move forward is a critical discipline for all of us to learn.

Jesus embraced His greatest challenge, the cross and saved us all (Hebrews 12:2 – “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”).

 Navigating

            To “navigate” means “to direct or manage, to control the course, to make progress, carefully and safely.” It comes from the Latin word, nāvigātus, applying to “steering a ship through sometimes treacherous waters.” Navigation, in a broader sense, can refer to any skill or study that involves the determination of position and direction: where we are at; and, where we are going.

I know that we are all facing a sea of cultural change, a shift in tides that has destabilized some of the strongest navigators. Just think of the last 100 years in North America:

  • The average life expectancy was forty-seven.
  • Only 14 percent of homes had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
  • There were only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was ten mph.
  • More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.
  • Ninety percent of all physicians had no college education.
  • Coffee cost fifteen cents a pound.
  • The five leading causes of death were: Pneumonia and influenza; Tuberculosis; Diarrhea; Heart disease; and Stroke
  • There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
  • One in ten adults couldn’t read or write.
  • Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores.

Change is occurring all around us

  • More information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5,000
  • More than one-half the scientists who have ever lived are alive today.
  • Ninety per cent of all the items in the supermarket today did not exist ten years ago.
  • It is estimated that fifty per cent of college graduates are going into jobs which did not exist when they were born.

One man put it this way:

 “My great-grandfather rode a horse, but was afraid of the train.
My grandfather rode on a train, but was afraid of a car.
My father rode in a car, but was afraid of an airplane.
I ride in an airplane, but I’m afraid of a horse
.”

             Navigating in changing and challenging times is difficult at best. We are all facing these tidal shifts: parent versus children rights; the right to life before birth and after old age; sex versus gender legislation; etc – I could go on. Because most of our life is not lived in calm waters we need to know how we should now live and conduct ourselves.

That is why we must be attuned as navigators to the two primary principles of navigation: locating your position and determining your direction.

navigate

Locating your Position

            Critical to navigation is an assessment of your known position. It is our personal GPS – global positioning system. Do you know where you are at? It’s like God in the Garden asking Adam, “Where are you?” God knew, but did Adam know that his position had changed? I co-operate with the Holy Spirit’s inspection of my life. Prayer does that. I can’t bow my head without God addressing His agenda for my life first. I also purposely do a spiritual inventory on my life regularly. I ask myself very difficult questions to keep my personal and ministry life honest and integral.

Is it possible that your life is adrift, or that you have lost anchorage? Is it possible that winds of adversity have driven you off course? As you evaluate your position, is it possible that you are no longer where you are supposed to be and that you have moved into dangerous waters?

Knowing your personal GPS is critical to being able to navigate in a healthy manner. A friend, Tony Miller shared at a conference I attended: “Regardless of where you are, you are at the center of your world. Don’t think that someone else somewhere else has it better than you. However, you must be willing to look from where you are with eyes of faith, beyond the obvious, and see the potential that lies before each one of you [no matter the circumstances you are in and what you are facing]” (note: “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you now stand…” – Gen 13:14-15).

Are you watching your personal position? Are you aware of the spiritual, moral, political and educational weather patterns? Have you noticed the changing of the guards nationally? Do you care who or whether there is someone at the helm of your life or not? Have you permitted someone or something else to reposition you? If you are not where you are supposed to be, what steps are you taking to get back to where you should be?

You can shift or drift. I choose to be very real about where I am at, my family is at and where my church, my city and my nation is at. This enables me to navigate from where I am to where God wants me to be, but I need an honest appraisal of where I am at. Let honesty and integrity guide you.

 Determining your Direction

             Direction is not always about destination: it is mostly about knowing True North. A GPS or common compass is of no value without a true north (know some of you will argue with me about True North versus Magnetic North). However, if you lose True North, you are lost, period. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, how you feel about the journey, or how many people go with you – lost will be lost, and devastating to most people.

What does True North look like to you? To me it is wrapped up with two things. The first thing has to do with the most important Person in my life, Jesus Christ: He is the Way (Jn 14:6) and He has a way for me to navigate the challenges of life. Jesus, not heaven, is the goal of my faith and the prize of my call (Phil 3:14). He is my divine back up: he has become the backup Man with the backup plan! If I lose connection to my Guide (the Holy Spirit), or stop listening to His directions, navigating through life will become increasingly more difficult.

I am a presence-driven man before I am a purpose-driven man. In John 5:19, Jesus made it very clear that He could do nothing in His own power or through self-authorization. His only hope of coming through the challenges of life was His intimate and ongoing relationship to His Father – hearing His heart, knowing His will, feeling His passion, doing what He saw the Father doing.

            The second thing has to do with the law of God: I am a principle-based man. God will never lead me to be, do or go anywhere contrary to His Word. One of the flaws in the faith of the post-modern Christian is pursuing “spirit movement without word direction.” Without the affirmation of the Word, you do not know what “spirit” is directing you.

One man said, “If you want to be distressed – look within. If you want to be defeated – look back. If you want to be distracted – look around.” I would add: “If you want dynamic direction – listen to His Word and look up to God.

 21st Century Navigators

             God is calling on us all to be navigators in a world facing great tidal swings. He is asking us to set our sails so that we can catch the wind of His Spirit. He is looking for us to guide and direct the ship – our personal lives, our marriages and families, our students, our ministry organizations – into safe harbours according to tried and proven principles. An entire generation is dependent upon us getting it right. May God help us all!

Living Lives of Integrity

Paul writes to Titus, “In everything set an example by doing what is good – ‘be a pattern and a model of good deeds and works’ (AMP). In your teaching show integrity – ‘be incorruptible in your teaching’ (TM), ‘unadulterated’ (AMP), seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned – ‘showing gravity [having the strictest regard for truth and purity of motive] with dignity and seriousness’ (AMP), so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us – ‘then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around’ (TM)”   (2:7-8,NIV).

house

One picture that has etched itself into my imagination over the years has been that of a single house standing after the fifth most costly hurricane Ivan struck the shores of Galveston, Texas in 2004. They say that this cyclone kicked up waves that reached 90 feet high. One lone house braved this destructive storm, and remained firmly intact on the beach head. It had what we would call, “structural integrity.” It survived the wind, the waves and the flood: its foundation was not undermined when it was tested.

I believe that the strength of an organization like Kelowna Christian Center Society is found in the core integrity of its people. We have entered critical times, and we are facing a season of varied challenges. It is in these times that our integrity is put to the challenge, and we find whether character and convictions or circumstance and preferences rule our lives.

Charlie Brown said, “Most of us like lives of ups and upper ups.” However, the Bible doesn’t promise that. It does promise us a hope and a future, and calls us to be people who “do not faint in the day of adversity….” (Pr 24:10). In difficult times, we need to be found strong, and our strength is found in the “structural spiritual integrity” God provides.

Integrity means “to have an adherence to strict moral and ethical principles; to function with soundness of moral character, free from corrupting influence or motive; honest; in nature, operating from a wholeness, entire, and incapable of being diminished, sound, unimpaired, or in perfect condition; incorruptible, uncompromised.”

One who has integrity is a person who has strict moral and ethical principles and soundness of moral character. People of integrity are free from corrupting influence or ulterior motives. They are honest, internally whole, and cannot be diminished by challenge. They function in an unimpaired, incorruptible manner and cannot be compromised.

The opposite of integrity is the word hypocrisy, referring to an actor who plays a part on stage: literally, “one who performs behind a mask.” Hypocrisy is the credibility gap between the state of the inside and the outside world, between character and personality, between what we know to do as right and what we actually do, between our talk and our walk. It has to do with degrees of pretension. It takes a long time to establish a life of integrity, and reveals itself in our workmanship, our values, and our sense of duty.

Unfortunately, if there is any hypocrisy, it can be undermined in a Hurricane Ivan mono second. Faulty foundations are exposed in an instant. Cracks emerge for all to see. Porous material reveals a lack of substance and strength that cannot sustain the strain of the moment. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to walk our Christ’s integrity in our hearts.

What we need in these times is a deep spiritual sincerity anchored into a vibrant relationship to Christ, a freedom from hypocrisy. Sincerity is a picture word that alludes to vases that were formed on the potter’s wheel, baked in the fire, and then, sent to market. To evaluate the vase’s sincerity, it had to come through the fire and pass the test of light.

Insincere vases cracked under the heat, and potters would fill in the cracks with wax. To evaluate whether something was sincere or not, the buyer would lift the vase into light. If there were any cracks, the light came through the wax and exposed its insincerity. It was considered something without integrity, compromised, unsound, and ultimately, unusable. It could not take the heat or the light: we must be able to sustain both.

James 1:3-5 gives us some keys to overcoming in times like these. The Message translation says, “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.”

The first key has to do with “attitude.” Consider it joy when you encounter adversity of any kind. Some people are more naturally optimistic, and find it easier to handle extreme challenges with faith. However, all of us need to take this spiritual position seriously: don’t let the enemy rob you of your joy. Joyfully encounter every issue.

The second key has to do with “action” – exercise your faith in God, His Word and promises. Don’t allow the enemy to develop in you a place of fear and anxiety, or dislodge you from your confidence. Guard over your heart and mind, and activate your faith. If you are low on faith, the Bible says “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom 10:17). So, get into the Word, get the Word into you, get His Word into your mouth, and declare that Word into your situation.

The third key is to choose to “endure.” The exercise of your faith will strengthen your spirit, enabling you to persevere when others quit. Endurance does not mean “patience or an ability to tolerate or survive.” It is an overcoming term, the ability to keep moving forward, making progress, when others are drawing back. Endurance is the “quality of character in the face of difficulty and provocation that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial” (Vine’s). Scripture makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 13:10 that “God is faithful to His nature and character not to allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear or endure.” He promises to “provide a way of escape for us – an exit strategy, a way in the wilderness, a landing place where we stand upright.”

The fourth key has to do with “character” of a “life of integrity.” If we will allow our faith to work, and keep committed in our heart believing in a good and godly outcome, James says that we will be “perfectly developed, lacking in nothing” and we will be able to radiate integrity to our world. We will not be spared what others face, but we will be able to overcome and not be overwhelmed. We can possess a break-out and breakthrough power, resurrection strength, grace that enables us to grow faster, go further, climb higher, or push the limits of possibility past our fears and discouragement.

Jesus is our example of a life of integrity. The Holy Spirit invades us with Christ’s integrity and character, stamping His image and imprinting His character upon our hearts and minds. We are called to express this integrity in all we are and in all that we do. That integrity will sustain us in the midst of the greatest storms that come to rock our world.

Jesus entered a turbulent and chaotic world that first Christmas. He lived a life that demonstrated what the power of a life of integrity – submission to the Father, commitment to His team, loyalty to the eternal plan, and commitment to the cause and purpose of His coming – can accomplish.

May the Lord be gracious to us all in 2016 as we commit ourselves to be a people and an organization of great integrity, not because of our personal capability, but because of His capability to work this integrity in and through us.             From our leadership team, may I wish you and your family a Blessed Christmas celebration and a very fruitful and prosperous New Year.

The Face of Success

KCCS CEO Address 2015

What a joy it is to see so many Christian leaders gathered together in one place. For those of you who may not know me, my name is David Kalamen, and I am the founding pastor, and the CEO of Kelowna Christian Center Society. As you can see, KCCS has become more than a church ministry, morphing into educational, administrative, technological and missional expressions.

I lead this organization through an executive team that has been expanded to represent all spheres of the Society. That executive team account to a Board of Directors ensuring that we fulfill our spiritual responsibility to God for the mission, belief and values and to government for the Society’s commitment to financial integrity, interpersonal health through HR and compliance to best practice.

Note: DAVE Talks is a Society bulletin that you will all be receiving monthly. The focus – unlike TED Talks – technology, entertainment and Design – will be a commitment to disciple, advise, value and energize. Though many of you are working in different departments, you are all an extension of the heart and vision birthed in the heart of this one entity, Kelowna Christian Center, nearly 34 years ago.

For us to succeed, we are all on the same page. In Matthew 12:25, Jesus said, “Any kingdom (organization, ministry) that is divided against itself is being brought to desolation and laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will last or continue to stand.” Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Built to Last (among others), said it another way: “We succeed at our very best only when we help others succeed.

KCCS Mandate and Method

             So, let me introduce you to KCCS’ mandate and mission. When KCCS was born in 1982 – “John said, “What is born of God overcomes the world” (1 Jn 5:4) – its DNA was established by the Lord in a passage of scripture familiar to most of you (Isa 61). That portion has been a guide post to what we have done and why for 33.5 years.

In this passage you will see the fundamental need for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and that through the anointing we would be able to rebuild lives, ruined cities, devastated generations and cultures, eat the wealth of nations, and our children would be known as blessed around the globe. This is the why we do what we do. We are called to be a missional, transformational and kingdom building force, at home and abroad.

The way we do it is through Christian discipleship. Every extension of KCCS has a discipleship design and purpose: KCC, HCS, HCOS, ICOS, church planting, missions. Christian discipleship is mission critical to everything we do. Its absence, at any level, undermines the success of the call and mission. We must learn to live for what’s worth dying for!

I believe that you are here because of that common goal: as pastors, educators, administrators, financial managers, technicians, and business leaders, you have seen the end goal and are committed to impacting lives, families and communities and influencing a nation. Horst Schulze said, “Don’t hire people to fill a position, select chosen people to fulfill a dream and to serve a purpose.” Bonnhoeffer said it more succinctly in the Cost of Discipleship, “He bids us to come and die.” The team that is here has demonstrated that heart of sacrifice: eg. earliest pastors and teachers served freely at times to get us to this place.

Beliefs and Values

The mission is personal, community and global influence through the anointing and the declaration of the gospel. The method is Christian discipleship. The process of doing so is guarded over by core beliefs and values. Because our beliefs are clearly defined by a Statement of Faith, I want to outline some of our key values, values that will hold us together in times of internal and external threats.

Here are some shared values that I contend are the essence of what true success looks like.

  • Visionary leadership – we believe that God does not lead through committee’s but by raising up leaders who He anoints to lead. That leadership must be accountable, both to God in terms of ethics and integrity, and to Government, internally and externally. Everyone must be accountable to someone. It may be difficult at times for you to see from your perspective why a leader is making certain decisions, but unless they are doing something unethical, unbiblical, or immoral, pray for them and yield. “Without a vision (and a visionary), the people perish (cannot succeed)” (Pr 29:18 –“ If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed” (Msg).
  • Mutual honour and respect – KCCS has worked hard to develop a culture of honour and respect. I am very aware that what has been built over a lifetime can be undermined in a minute, so honour and respect each other, and this should be evident by the way we think, feel, speak and act towards each other. This principle extends upward, downward and sideways. No one is above the need to yield to these values, regardless of position. Romans 1 depicts the devolution of a society when God is not honoured. Key to the restoration of honour is to walk in the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 15:33 states, “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honour” (NIV). Proverbs 22:4 says, “Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honour and life” (NIV). Authority and submission replaced by honour and covenant!
  • Relational integrity and long-term commitment – many of us have walked together for many years, through good, bad and ugly. Eg Billy Graham. We have given grace and received grace in that time period, and grown through it. I met with departmental managers this year to establish better ways to secure and enhance our relationships through a “conflict and resolution policy.” I am committed to ensuring that every employee is treated with dignity and value, and that we grow old, not “get old” together and are still in love with each other at the end of the day. One man said, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” True success is the result of teamwork. As Maxwell said it in his book, “Teamwork makes the dream work.
  • Personal purity and spiritual growth – character development and maturity is not the only thing, but it is a critical component of what the face of true success looks like. Craig Groeschel stated, “If your character is not strengthening, your future potential is weakening.” Truly successful people do not compete or compare themselves to each other: they collaborate with others and are committed to being the best they can be, as they live their life before an audience of One, knowing that one day they will have to give an account. When you puff yourself up and put someone else down, both of you lose. The health of the private life is more important than the image we present to others through the outer life (character over charisma). People see what you do, but only God (and you) see who you are. It takes great people to refuse to sacrifice “who they are” for “what they can get!” Success here requires a vibrant relationship to God.
  • Multi-generational continuity and legacy – truly successful people (and organizations) concentrate on “significance” over “success.” They think of “eternal impact” and not “” The common adage is this: “There is no success without a successor.” True success is not uni-generational, but multi-generational. Jesus was thinking about you when He died. The Holy Spirit was given to the disciples and to all who were afar off. True success is reflected in the drive to be “mentors” as well as “movers.” The race we are in, according to Hebrews 12, is not a one-man race, but a race that has people who have gone before us and those on the horizon to join us after we are gone.
  • Faith driven rather than fear driven – truly successful people and organizations have never been afraid of failure. There is a great divide between “failing” and “being a failure.” I was young and now I am old, and this I have found to be true: “Failure is only a delay, not a defeat,” a “temporary roadblock, not a dead-end street” (William Ward). The law of failure is one of the most powerful laws of success. With God, if we learn to fail forward in humility upon His grace, He has the capability of redeeming every defeat and turning into victory. They believe in the resurrection life of God.

Conclusion

I saw a saying recently by Heather Cortez. You may have read it. She said, “To the world you may only be one person but to one person you may be the world.” Never under-estimate your value, to God, to this ministry, to your leaders and fellow-workers, to future generations, and to Canada, as it sits on the precipice of either revival and reformation or infamy.

God has invited you – you are not hirelings, you are called and chosen ones – to work on His agenda, using the talents you have been blessed with, to serve Him in ways that will have eternal impact. I pray that you see your place here as more than a job or career but as servants for His Name’s sake. Do what you do as unto the Lord, knowing that to Him one day you will ultimately account and may that day be one of exceedingly great joy.

When you look in the mirror, just remember KCCS Who is looking back at you! “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4).