Over four years ago my friend, Rusty, was pulled over while test-riding his scooter. Through a lengthy process, that incident sparked a change that has resulted in harvests of Kingdom fruitfulness (and a ticket with a hefty fine:). What began as a humiliating moment became a journey, toward confronting internal prejudices regarding authority figures and identifying a missing ingredient in my life- honor.
I'd always experienced honor as "treating people nicely even if I didn't feel like it". I was told to honor my elders and those in positions of authority. That meant giving my seat to grandparents, taking my hat off when entering buildings, and waving at police officers and firefighters when they drove through our small town parades with their sirens blaring. I'm certain some good came from those actions, but nothing impacted me at a heart level. Honor simply became something I gave some people, but not all.
I carried two misconceptions about honor.
- Honor was something I gave to people who deserved it.
- Honor was something I withheld from people who didn't deserve it.
Part of the journey after my friends' ticket included two books that helped process what God was bubbling to the surface. Danny Silk's, Culture of Honor, and John Bevere's, Honor's Reward were incredibly helpful. These books contained ideas and principles I was familiar with that were easy to integrate or strengthen in my life. There were also things that greatly challenged me that I wrestled with, but through the wrestling I found the voice of God touching me in deep ways.
The three seeds that grew, matured, and produced fruit over the years revolve around a REASON for honor, a FILTER for honor, and a GOAL for honor. Here they are:
REASON: I don't honor people because they are honorable, but because I am honorable.
FILTER: Honor is receiving people for who they are, not for who they aren't.
GOAL: Kingdom life flows through honor.
I'll be addressing each of these in an upcoming blog series at www.choge.org/blog. Stay tuned.
Pruned for Fruitfulness
In John 15:1-2, Jesus says "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardner. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more." God used my friend's scooter incident to prune areas in our lives and in our church's life. That pruning in the area of honor has produced more fruit than we could have imagined.
Here's what we've harvested so far:
- We hosted the Exeter Police Department at a service to honor and pray for them.
- We committed to wave and smile at local officers whenever we saw them.
- We committed to pray a blessing over every officer we saw.
- We started providing a meal for the Exeter Police Department every other Thursday (over 110 meals to date!).
- We began an annual First Responder Dinner; providing an elegant dinner for all local first responders.
- We annually collect $5 and $10 gift cards for local first responders; a "Thank You" for their daily sacrifice.
- We began a weekly group called Frontline; gathering local officers for a word from the Bible for "gearing up to go back out".
- We began a Frontline Facebook group as an additional voice of Biblical encouragement: connecting over 375 local officers.
- We partnered with Exeter PD's Chief Bush, and Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers' Mike Wallace to host an evening of prayer and action called Reach UP & Reach OUT.
- We launched a Reach UP & Reach OUT Facebook page that is inspiring over 350 local residents to continue to pray for our nation and love their neighbors well.
- We are planning our second Reach UP & Reach OUT where we will begin restoring honor to local teachers from our county.
- We are planning a service this 9/11 to honor more circles of leadership in Exeter, hoping to see a new season of fruitfulness in new spheres of influence. Check here for more about how that event happened.
Calling All Agents
We can't change the presidential election beyond our vote. From Exeter, we can't change Baton Rouge, Orlando, Dallas, Falcon Heights, Milwaukee or any of the other cities that have recently been impacted by tragedy.
But we can let God prune away our own prejudice and pride in order to see Him produce greater fruitfulness than we can imagine. Let's be change agents to restore honor where we are planted!