Picture of Piper Tower which is now known as Campbell Mithun Tower

The Piper Tower in Minneapolis. It is now known as Campbell Mithun Tower

The Antithesis to Wolf of Wall Street

By Brian Lee

If Jesus were to show up on Wall Street, what would people do?  What would they say?  Would they know who He was?  Would He look like Gordon Gecko? How about  Jordon Belfort? As you ponder those questions, I’d like to share a story about a divine appointment I had in 1989 with a businessman named Harry Piper.

At one point in his career, Harry Piper told me that he was a Governor on the New York Stock Exchange. He had wealth, he had power, and he had made a name for himself.  They had recently finished construction of what was the second-tallest glass-curtain building in downtown Minneapolis called “The Piper Tower”.  He was the Chairman of the Board of Piper Jaffrey and it was his name that was on the tower.

Harry Piper died in 1990.  In 2012 the Piper family provided St. Olaf College with a $2.575 Million gift to name and support the Harry C. Piper Center for Vocation and Career

Harry Piper died in 1990. In 2012 the Piper family provided St. Olaf College with a $2.575 Million gift to name and support the Harry C. Piper Center for Vocation and Career. For more info on this generous gift, click the picture above.

When Harry knocked on my dorm room door at St. Olaf College, he didn’t want to discuss how successful he was in business.  Instead, it was his personal testimony that he wanted to share with me on how he came to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  He started by telling me  a story about when his wife Virginia Piper had been kidnapped in 1972 and he had to pay $1 Million to get her back.  It was the largest ransom in U.S. history and third largest in the world.  His wife was found two days later, handcuffed and chained to a tree in the dense woods of Jay Cook State Park, near Duluth, MN.  When she got released she told Harry that it was her faith that helped get her through being tied to a tree in a cold dark forest.

Harry had everything that anyone could ever want, including his wife, except that he was empty inside.  A friend told him that he was empty because he didn’t know Jesus yet and that he should consider taking a class at the local seminary to learn more about Him.  After careful consideration, Harry chose to take his friend’s advice and through the process of attending the class, he not only developed a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ, he got a Master’s degree in Theology.

After getting a Master’s degree in Theology, Harry never went on to become the pastor of a church, so I asked why he didn’t do that?  His answer was my first introduction to what is now called “marketplace ministry”. Harry told me that the reason he didn’t become the pastor of a church was because he knew he could do more for the Lord in business than he ever could from the pulpit of a church on a Sunday morning.  His business became his pulpit. He went on to say that Jesus spent time with those who were sick, and that there were a lot of sick people that he knew in business that were completely lost because all they cared about was greed and the pursuit of making lots of money.

My hope in sharing this story is that it will serve as an inspiration for people who are Christians in business to do what Harry Piper did and move outside the walls of the church and share Jesus Christ in the marketplace.  If you have a similar story that you would like to share, please take the time to share it in the comments section.  Thanks!

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As Baseball begins a new season imagine showing up for spring training to watch your favorite baseball team and while arriving at the ball park you run into the LORD. You have no clue who you just met.

You’re baffled because the LORD invites you to sit with Him in the Champions Club located right behind home plate. You graciously accept His invitation, and you’re amazed at how many people He has invited. As everyone takes their seat, the LORD looks at you with excitement and shares that He has put together a team that will never lose, coached by His Son Jesus the Christ. He announces that today’s game will be like no other game you’ve seen before.

While watching the game you’re surprised at how quickly each inning has passed. It’s already the bottom of the ninth. The LORD’s team is down two to nothing with two outs. It’s looking as if the game is over and the LORD’s team might experience their first loss. Coach Jesus quickly makes a few changes in the lineup. The next batter, named Love, shocks the crowd as he comes to the plate. They were expecting a more aggressive batter.

Love swings at the first pitch and hits a single.  The crowd cheers as the announcer announces that Love never fails. The next batter, named Faith, steps up to the plate and the fans are even more baffled, as he hits a single too. The crowd now moves to the edge of their seats in awe as they saw how well Faith worked with Love. Faith had been misjudged by many to be just a lucky hitter.

With two men on base the crowd stands cheering as they watch the next batter, Godly Wisdom, approach the plate. Many were surprised to see that Godly Wisdom was still in the game and thought he had retired.  The opposing team’s pitcher, named Religion, wound up to throw the first pitch. Godly Wisdom looks it over and lets it pass. Godly wisdom never swings at the all star’s Religious pitches.

It’s now ball one. Religion stares down Godly Wisdom trying to create fear in Him. He cunningly throws three more pitches using his famous curve ball, and is stunned when Godly Wisdom gets the walk. The shortstop, named Anger, grits his teeth and looks at Religion in disgust for letting Godly Wisdom get on base; especially since Godly Wisdom knew not to ever swing at the curve balls thrown by Religion.

The bases are now loaded and the crowd is going crazy. The LORD turns to you and says it’s time to bring in the star player, a rookie named Grace. Grace doesn’t look like much and is an unknown player by the crowd. At first glance He doesn’t even look as if He could get a hit, let alone be batting clean-up. Coach Jesus, however, was confident in Grace’s batting ability because he had a good batting coach, a guy named Forgiveness.

Religion’s whole team relaxes as Grace steps up to the plate.  They mistakenly see Grace as an underachiever and think that their good works were better than anything Grace could ever do. They were confident that their good works alone, would be enough for them to win the game.

Religion wound up and fired the fastest pitch of the day.  To the shock of the crowd, Grace hit the ball harder than anyone had ever seen. Religion was not worried.  His center fielder, the Prince of the air, lets very few ever get by.  Prince of the air jumped up for the ball and was shaken as it went right through his glove, hit him on the head, and sent him crashing to the ground.  The ball continued over the fence for a grand slam home run! The LORD’s team won the game!

The LORD now looks at you, smiles, and asks if you knew why Love, Faith, and Godly Wisdom could get on base but could not win the game.  You humbly tell Him that you don’t know why.  The LORD then explains to you that today’s game was actually dedicated to you and that if He were to use your Love, Faith, and Godly Wisdom to win the game, you would have thought you did it all yourself. The LORD then explained that Love, Faith, and Godly Wisdom can get anyone on base, but only His Grace can get you Home. He said once you accept My Grace through My Son Jesus the Christ you become Born Again, a Champion in Christ.

Are you a Champion in Christ?

© Brian Lee 2012

Posted: March 5, 2012 by Brian Lee in Churches, Family, Sports and Entertainment, Uncategorized
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Source Of Image Unkown

My work history began when I was 10 years old and started a paper route.  Back then life was simple and we were called Paper Boys.  Today, the title is more sophisticated and they are called Independent Delivery Contractors.  Being a kid I never intended to turn the paper route into a business.  It was simply a way for me to spend time with my dad and for us to talk.   Some dads will hunt with their boys, some will fish, but mine chose to do a paper route.   Whether the sun was shining or the snow was flying, every day we would load the papers into the back of dad’s Ford Pinto wagon and we would do the route together.  Weekends were extra special because dad would throw in breakfast at McDonald’s.   We never solved the world’s problems from any of our conversations, but one thing dad taught me was the importance of people and putting the needs of others above ourselves.  It was through the pursuit of people, not profit,  that my paper route grew.

As a ten-year old kid I wasn’t tainted yet by sales quotas or the pressure to cut costs.  I just liked talking with people and encouraging them to take advantage of the marketing programs that were available, even though I was too young to know or care what a marketing program was.  Without promising to give my customers good service, I gave them good service because I thought it was the right thing to do, not because it was part of some strategy I developed to grow my business.

One of my customers was a retirement community called Oak Ridge Manor. Every day the building would light up because the people knew that when I walked through the doors I would take an interest in their lives and I would do more than just deliver the paper – I would take the time to visit with them.  As a bonus, every Christmas I made arrangements to have my Sunday school class come in and sing Christmas carols.  It wasn’t until I was older that I came to understand the true meaning of the tears they would shed when we shared the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ in us through our songs.

It’s hard to call it a service, but one thing I liked to do was write hand-written notes of encouragement for my customers and include it with their newspaper.  With the misguided convenience of texting and e-mailing, this is something that appears to be lost today.   When was the last time you wrote a hand-written note of encouragement to a friend or someone you work with?  How about sending a hand-written thank you note to a customer?

In my pursuit of people over profits my paper route grew to the point where it tripled in size.  Before I ever went to school to learn about excel spreadsheets and the pursuit of profits in business,  and before I ever heard the term marketplace ministry, I believe God was using me as a kid to grow His Kingdom.  I sincerely hope that He is still doing that today.   Are you using your business or your job to grow God’s Kingdom?

Have you ever thought about what it was like to live during the time of Jesus Christ?  Imagine being at the wedding party where Jesus turned water into wine.  Would you have asked for some cheese to go with the wine and then moved on to thinking about what’s for desert? Or would you have recognized that you were an honored guest at what would become the most talked about party in history – the one that launched the King of all Kings (Jesus Christ) into His ministry. What would you have done?

How about the time five thousand men were fed from five loaves of bread and two fish?  Would it have been like a professional sporting event and you were the lucky guy sitting in the section that won the free hot dogs ( a piece of fish and bread in their time)?  Or would you have realized that you were being taught by the Lord of all Lords (Jesus Christ) and that through knowing Him, He could meet all of your needs? What would you have done?

Let’s not forget about the time that Jesus cast out demons and commanded them to go into a group of pigs that proceeded to jump to their death in the sea?  Would you have dismissed the event and just been glad that you weren’t a pig that day? Or would you have shaken in your sandles knowing that you were with the Son of God (Jesus Christ), the One who had the power to overcome the world? What would you have done?

Do you believe in miracles? Or do you think it was just something that happened during the time of Christ, if at all? What if you experienced a miracle today? What would you do?  Would you believe it?  If so, would you tell anyone?  Or would you dismiss it because your intellect tells you it’s not possible?  Somehow the triumphant victory of the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1980 over the Soviet Union can be accepted as a miracle, but someone being miraculously healed of cancer?  Hmmm?

As a person who has come to know and be a follower of Jesus, I can assure you that miracles are real and that they happen every day as part of normal Christian living just like they did during the time of Christ.  On a recent mission trip to India through Hope of Glory Ministries I witnessed everything that Jesus said we should expect as they did in the early church.  The preaching of the Gospel message was followed by baptisms, the casting out of demons, young children speaking in tongues, laying hands on the sick and, yes, people being healed!  Hallelujah! 

I was so moved by this experience that I sifted through the photos from the trip and produced a short video called “LET FAITH ARISE”.  Click below to see it and let us know you liked it by clicking the like button at the bottom and sharing it with others.

Let Faith Arise from Brian Lee on Vimeo.

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I must confess I don’t understand this thing called social networking.  I keep asking is there a place for Jesus Christ in all of it?  Face to face interactions are being replaced with computers and high tech gadgetry.  Everywhere I go I’m surrounded by the noise of people texting along with Wifi networks powering up so people can log into their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.  Can people come to know Jesus through this type of interaction?

    When I began writing for Champions In Christ I knew very little about blogging or social networking.  At the time God had convicted me to start writing even though I knew nothing about it.  All I knew was that God had blessed me with a life rich in testimony and He wanted me to share that with as many people as possible.  Even though I knew not where I was going, out of obedience to the same God that Abraham knew I started this blog.   Now that I have been blogging for awhile, I’ve come to learn that a lot of traffic to the network has come from social networking sites.  I still know very little about social networking, but in the interest of sharing Jesus Christ with as many people as possible I’ve expanded my horizons and can now be found on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Please join with me in becoming a part of the Champions In Christ network. 

    With the help of God and others, my hope is that as more people will continue to join the network and that the Holy Spirit will convict them to share their testimony as well.  By using social networks the power of knowing Jesus Christ can be revealed.  Together, as we share our identity in Christ, we can all be Champions in Christ!

Click here to learn more about Chris Tomlin's tour

Normally I don’t go to concerts and the thought of getting up and dancing with other people around brings knots to my stomach, but that all changed last week when I got to worship and sing praises to God with Chris Tomlin and his worship team.  All of a sudden my introverted character was set free and I became a new man when my wife Jennifer dragged me down to front and center stage of the Xcel Energy Center and we started to sing and dance with Chris in what he called the “Largest Karaoke Event Ever”. 

Chris Tomlin has proven to be an authentic Champion in Christ.  All I had to do was look into his eyes and could see Christ in him. Everyone knows that he’s a talented musical artist, but when it comes to praise and worship, Chris is anointed with an awesome gift to shine the light of Christ into people and lead them into bringing glory to God.  Gathering with his team to worship was like entering the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven and singing with thousands of angels surrounding us.   Praise the Lord!

A Meet & Greet Session with Chris Tomlin

If you would like to learn more about Chris Tomlin, click here for his website.  You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

I taught the young man in this photo to say Jesus Loves Me. Eventually I gave him the shirt I was wearing in this photo. If you would like to see a larger picture, double click the photo.

If you’re looking for love, then perhaps you should meet Jesus Christ.  He’s the greatest person I’ve ever met and He’s the one who taught me everything I know about love.  Some people think that Jesus is just an imaginary friend, but I can assure you that there is nothing imaginary about Him. I would rather spend the rest of my life being judged for having an imaginary friend than to die having denied my destiny  to preach and teach others about the love of Jesus Christ.

In my last article I shared how I came to know the truth about Jesus.  Today, I would like to share a more recent experience I had in India through Hope Of Glory Ministries.  The trip was much like stepping back into the first century, walking with the Apostle Thomas across India, and being the first to share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  When we arrived at one of the villages we went down to the river to do baptisms.  One of the villagers was so excited to learn about Jesus he grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go.  The interpreter told me the villager had a mental disability, so he couldn’t understand what the young man was saying to me. 

Many people came down to the river from the village to watch the baptisms. If you would like to see a larger picture, double click the photo.

One thing I learned was that all I had to say was Jesus Loves You and smile.  A smile is universal and can be understood anywhere in the world, especially if you have the love of Jesus inside of you.  As we  looked into each other’s eyes he could see the love of Jesus inside me and I could tell that he wanted to have what I had.  Some people aren’t interested in knowing Jesus, but he certainly was.  Through the grace of God I was able to teach him how to say Jesus Loves Me and then he jumped into the river wanting to be baptized along with the others.  I trust that when he came out of the river he came out a new man, just like I did when I was baptized.

The young man was so excited about knowing Jesus that he wanted to be baptized. If you would like to see a larger picture, double click the photo.

When he came out of the river I was so overwhelmed by the young man’s excitement that I gave him my favorite shirt which I happened to be wearing at that time.  The other villagers became curious and wanted to know why I would give him my shirt and so I told them it was because Jesus loved him just as much as he loved the rest of us and I wanted to let him know that.  As I walked back to the car I looked at the villagers and said may the Glory of the Lord rise among us!

Photo By Simon Howden

I have a gift that I would like to share with you, but before you open it you must know that it’s intangible.  You’re welcome to share it with as many people as you like, but once you receive it the gift is non-refundable and can never be returned.  Parts of the gift are invisible, so if you’re an intellectual you must throw your thinking cap away and accept something that logic and science can’t explain.  Are you ready?  The gift is knowing Jesus.

Twenty Three years ago I did a study on the life of Jesus that included a trip to the Holy Land.  While in Israel I had an encounter with God Himself where  He revealed to me the Truth about Jesus Christ and what’s in the Holy Bible.  I wasn’t trying to find God, but He certainly found me.  I was so overwhelmed by the experience that it took years before I grew comfortable sharing it with anyone. I was young, immature, and feared what other people would think of me.  Now, as I’m growing in my Faith I’m moving away from fearing what people think and closer to fearing God, which is why I have chosen to share this story. 

The Church Of The Nativity As Seen From Manger Square

On December 24, 1987 I arrived in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.  Many of the festivities that would normally occur in Bethlehem during the Christmas season were cancelled due to rising tensions from a conflict between the Israeli’s and Palestinians. I didn’t see any mangers, or wisemen, or choirs singing Handel’s Messiah, but through the grace of God we were still able to enter through the door of humility and participate in the Christmas Eve candle light service held inside the walls of  The Church of the Nativity

Outside The Church Of St. Peter In Gallicantu

After Christmas my study moved from the birth of Jesus to his death.  Why did they kill him?  It’s a simple explanation but it seems that the high priests wanted to kill Jesus because He threatened their livelihoods and they didn’t want to get stuck waiting in the unemployment line.  I wanted to better understand the specifics of the trial that led to His death so I visited a site that was once the courtyard and house of Caiaphas, the high priest.  Today, a church is built on top of the site called the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu.  It was during this trial that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.  Can you imagine spending all that time with Jesus and still denying that you knew Him?  Have you ever denied Jesus?

In the darkness of this underground prison cell Jesus was scourged by the order of Caiaphas and Pilot. It is also believed that Peter and John were scourged there for preaching the name of Jesus in the temple area after the Resurrection (See Acts 4:1-3; 5:17-18; 5:40)

Inside the Church of St. Peter In Gallicantu was a holding cell where they held people who were on trial.  I was given permission to go underground into the cell and in the darkness of that cell God spoke to me.  He called me out by name and told me that I was standing on Holy ground.  He said I was standing where His son Jesus once stood and that the Holy Bible was a historical document.  Everything in it was true.  I trembled in fear as I tried to process what had just happened to me.

Many people, including pastors and theologians have told me that it’s not possible for God to speak to us.  Really?  Then why does the Bible say this in John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of me.”  (NKJV) Those words were spoken by Jesus and revealed to me by God.

Has God ever spoken to you?  If so, and you’re willing, please share your story with us in the comments section.

Do you believe in luck?  When things happen in life, is it simply a coincidence or is there a deeper purpose to it? What about Solomon, the son of King David of Israel?  Was he just a lucky man because he happened to be in the right place at the right time?  Or was it part of his destiny where he was simply fulfilling God’s plan for his life?

Solomon prayed to God and asked Him for an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge God’s people.  God heard his prayer and gave Solomon a wise, discerning mind, so that no one before him was his equal, nor would any arise after him to be his equal. God made Solomon the wisest and richest man to ever live.

I recently took my family to see the movie “Secretariat“.  Gifted with speed and endurance never seen before or after, Secretariat was the greatest known thoroughbred horse to ever run. Was he lucky, or was he gifted and created to be who God created him to be as was Solomon? Born with a heart 2 1/2 times the size of a normal thoroughbred,  he won the Triple Crown in 1973 and set records in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes that haven’t been broken. There’s no question that this horse fulfilled his purpose for what he was created to be.

Prior to owning Secretariat, Penny Tweedy discovered that her father (owner of Meadow Farms)  had an important handshake deal with Ogden Phipps. The deal went like this: Phipps would allow his famed racing stallion, Bold Ruler, to breed with two mares from Meadow Farms.  One of the resulting foals would go to Phipps’ farm, the other would stay at the Meadows.  A coin toss would decide which foal went where. Phipps won the flip and picked his obvious choice, but Penny came out the real winner. Penny knew life wasn’t about the luck of a coin toss: It was a race and her prayers were answered when her second-rate foal (according to Phipps) turned into the best race-horse to ever live.

When Secretariat came around the last bend in the Belmont, a mile and a half of pure endurance, his hooves thundered down the track in frenzied excitement as he ate up the ground with speed and the ease of an eagle in flight. The movie faded to silence for a moment. Then a gospel choir took voice, and the pleasure of God rolled across the screen as we watched the horse, his strength, his neck clothed with flowing mane and muscle striking terror, bound toward history. (See Job 39:19-25) Secretariat proved in the Triple Crown to become everything God created him to be.  He was born with an identity and a destiny.

My favorite part of the movie came when the horses were coming around the final bend.  A seasoned horse trainer and competitor of Secretariat looked in astonishment at Secretariat’s strong lead and said “that’s impossible”.  My 10-year-old son turned to me and confidently stated that whatever the guy just said wasn’t true.  I curiously asked him “why” and he said ” because all things are possible with God, dad.”  My curiosity moved to joy as I left the theatre in tears knowing the truth about what my son had just shared with me.

If you would like to see footage of this spectacular race click the link below

Photo Courtesy Graur Codrin

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, out of control and unable to cope with a situation in your life?  You may feel totally hopeless and completely alone.  Situations may chip away at your soul.  People try to rob you of your joy and destroy your life.  You may feel unlovable, unwanted and not good enough to measure up.  Have you ever thought-I’m just not able to get out of this situation.  Then you may have been in prison-a personal one.
 
I have worked within the walls of a real prison through the Charis ministry.  Once I got on the other side of the sally port doors of the prison, I soon learned there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the personal prison I just mentioned and a real one.  All the feelings listed above, could be felt by any inmate.  Inmates have required activities, are told where to go and when they get to leave.  They may or may not get visitors for years.   They are surrounded by an environment and circumstances out of their control.
 
I am amazed though, at the freedom that some inmates feel inside prison.  Some inmates express gratitude and joy that they are incarcerated.  How can this be?  It’s simple.  They have been introduced to and accepted Jesus Christ.  The apostle Paul wrote “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galations 2:20
 
Those inmates chose to believe in Jesus Christ.  They chose to overcome their circumstances by relying on God.  They chose to be joyful despite their circumstances and environment. 
 
You can have this freedom too.  Accept that Jesus took away your sin with his death and resurrection.  Three nails plus a cross equals forgiven.  There is freedom in forgiveness.  Freedom to live for God, counting on the fact that you are new person and knowing your salvation is complete through Jesus Christ.   

We are able to make the choice for how we will live the remainder of our lives.  God has granted us grace through Jesus Christ.  Jesus said  “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly” John 10:10 

If you would like to experience a great presentation on forgiveness and how to live an abundant life, click below and watch the video “He’s Alive” as sung by Don Francisco

We welcome your comments on how this article or the video impacted you.