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My Morning Ruminations Continue.


I woke up this morning with yesterday's gift fresh on my mind, as my wife and I met with old friend now in decline. She was instrumental in our union, a bride's maid in our wedding, an educator on our same hall.


We had such a glorious reunion, though at times experiencing an intermittent awareness of her slow onset of dementia. Conversation at times was interrupted as we sat together with her amidst an almost annoying attempt by other care givers to engage multiple tables in a game of bingo. Stepping out of that common area where we found her isolated on a couch was just too awkward.


We reintroduced ourselves as she gradually awakened. Then soon, deep belly laughs were brought to bear as we reached deep into her spirit with stories of shared life together, now over a half a century. At one point, she laughed and asked, "Am I still in here?" Of course she was!


We humans are so vulnerable, but love penetrates, heals and awakens!


I came away with a deeper sense of urgency to live more transparently, forgive more authentically, love more deeply and once again rejoice vibrantly in these remaining days.


I realized that I had become so serious in my approach to life, perhaps even harmful in my desire to finally get things right. Yet in all that, blessed unbelievably, forgiven daily for my personal blunders, with innumerable opportunitites for impact.


Now what? The answer is always, "Do this in my Name!" To be what He represented in those last few days with the disciples, just before reaching for the cup and uttering these words..."As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, do this in my name." Not simply to participate only in the sacrament, but to be and do true community.


I'm not balking at what is implied by the sacrament of communion, but He was not about establishing another religion, but rather abundant, deep, caring relationships, which would be of necessity for them, and us going forward in His absence. Himself only aware that we would soon become His Body, endowed with His righteousness. Christ in us, the hope of glory, His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven!


Think of that!


My challenge is how to live this out in a practical fashion, in a culture swiftly changing where the religious means of Christianity seems less and less recieved. One where prosperity separates communities, the haves and have-nots battle politically, while nations live on the brink of war for the sake of sustaining their consumer pipeline!


My earlier orientation would simply assign all this to the "last days" and perhaps so? Yet, the Christ in me causes me to struggle with this "circling of the wagons" that leaves so many outside the blessings which my life has afforded.


I have for years thought about what might be next after this late-stage capitalism we now practice, one where greed is justifiable with income so accessible to the have's, the politically and socially well-positioned, many of us long devoted to American Christianity. 

Meanwhile 90% are among the have-nots, a trajectory unsustainable.


Yes, I used the plural pronoun "us" in the paragraph above, for I have also been blessed to be in that 10% to whom I speak. It's awkward to live here with the calling I have. I don’t fully understand that, but it seems that the people to whom I am called require that I have what I have, and I am blessed. 


Paul apologized for what sounded like boasting regarding his status and privilege, please allow this aging wannabe apostle a moment of the same. I will boast even more given my relative generosity and attempts at encouraging philanthropy throughout cities served. Wow, that sounded arrogant!


God knows this is some painful transparency!


However, much of the hundreds of thousands of funds we have given in my lifetime have been directed in and through the church. The means for those funds have fortunately been by way of time and talent given to education, nonprofits, churches and community development, so behind me are thousands of lives touch either through shared knowledge, spiritual direction, housing opportunities or other community-based initiatives.


I had been quite proud of many of those initiatives until I began to realize that each time those with whom I served approached a level of true community impact, potentially transformational (the real "Thy Kingdom come in us" stuff), there seemed always a pull back, especially in economic downturns when sacrifice was required, with no tangible benefits to the sponsoring organization, no positive press, or as with church, no significant increase in adherents. Again awkward, but transparent!


One of those moments first began in 1997, after watching a coalition of believers outside of any one church framework provide a citywide childcare and family resource initiative, fitted with a free dental clinic.  Even more, a partnership with a large hospital in town edtablished an onsite midwife suite in a minority community.  I felt I had died and gone to heaven! 


This multiple church initiative, by way of one of those exceptional pastors mentioned in my last post, soon caught the attention of the Governor. He then replicated our efforts in twelve counties, though his political alignment was fraught with partisan pressure. Not to mention, though I just did, the threat of competition expressed from among income producing church-based preschools. The latter was likely the tipping point for my resignation from a campus-based approach.


The economy is always a challenge and eventually cycled through a correction in 2003.  The growing partisan resistance to what had become a equitable opportunity for under-resourced families, soon toppled the Governor's support. Tax based funding was cut, churches bailed and eventually the various foundations ceased their majority grants, given that they had come on board only because of the potential for engaging thriving churches across scores of otherwise under-resourced communities.


Overlapping this stressful time, I had begun sharing my concerns for our city with a businessman who had come to appreciate my passion for community and as well, I had been invited to join our county-wide municipal planning board which gave me some credibility.


Quite a story here, but this very successful gentleman would later offer me, at no charge, a 24th floor, fully furnished, glass, corner office, where I began to pray for our city and by then a growing need for resources, income streams both for philanthropic purposes as well as personal. We had just begun building a new home.


I would hear the words, "Master Counsel" during my sleep one night, which I wrote on a pad beside my bed.  I would later understand those words as promptings for chartering a for-profit by that name. The name would later be enhanced as Master Counsel and Associates, Inc, for I decided that collaboration would be the model, rather than building a company. Whether my naivety or a God inspired missional purpose that would seem the right course to pursue, with never an employee but always a new venture with new partnerships, even with administrative functions.


I would first begin offering consulting services and have been self-employed since that date.


What I soon realized was that I could provide services for multiple churches and nonprofits at a cost to them below what a staff position would require. In turn a higher Kingdom impact than in my prior roles.  As well, I could direct my time, talent and resources as per my wife and I saw fit.


Soon that morphed into multiple DBA's and other businesses, Master Counsel Technologies, Master Counsel Solutions, Abbey Green, Concepts by LaDonna, even, Master Counsel Realty Group. From landfills to enterprise level software, commercial real estate and my wife's furnishings and accessories business. We were off and running.


We soon paid off the new home we were building, which was my attempt to replace the dream home built previously in which we thought we would retire at age 50!  By the way, that earlier home sold in one week in 1993, after praying about my aforementioned leap from education to "full-time ministry."  We have now lived relatively debt free ever since! God has been faithful.


Maybe I should give my readers a break and pick up tomorrow.



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