revjoaquinwillisweb.gifSuccessful pole vaulters know what it means to “raise the bar,” to jump ever higher.  In his bestseller, Good to Great, Jim Collins urges us to reset our goals upward, to discipline ourselves in regimens leading to greater levels of godly obedience.

Beth Moore, in her book Believing God, states, “There is power in daily routines with God, especially when they follow some form of divine revelation.”

In Joshua (6:3-5), God proffers the certainty of Israel’s victory in Jericho, telling the faithful, “To march around the city for six days with seven priests carrying trumpets and rams’ horns in front of the Ark of the covenant. And on the seventh day march around the city seven times, with the priest blowing the trumpets. When you hear a long blast of the trumpet give a loud shout and the walls will fall.”

God warned Joshua (6:10), “Don’t give a war cry. Don’t raise your voices. Don’t say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then Shout!”

Moore reminds that, “Sometimes God requires us to follow a fair amount of repetition for a considerable amount of time until He deems a season complete. Then all of a sudden, He seems to do something profound or miraculous and we can’t figure out what changed.”

We marvel at God’s advising Joshua (6:2-5) before the march, that “Jericho is delivered into his hands” – The enemy (Jericho) had already met defeat! As Christians (per Romans [8:37-39]), we also daily battle an enemy already defeated through Christ—Satan. 

Raising the bar requires spiritual backbone. We can strengthen ourselves and purify our blood through praise of God, prayer, daily Bible reading, church attendance, and giving to God’s treasury.

Why were God’s instructions to Joshua complicated?  God wanted to make clear that the battle’s outcome depended upon Him, that the terror was real, and that the military maneuver ordered was a test of Israel’s faith in God.

We suffer discouragement when our good deeds provoke no thanks or tangible results. But Christ challenges us to continue our godly efforts, that, in due season, we will reap a harvest. 

Jim Collins, in discussing the social sector of our world, suggests that “greatness” be defined in ways not using business metrics.  Leaders, he says, must know how to get things done using diverse power structures based upon democratic principles. It is important to align oneself with people sharing a common God-given vision.  Using mechanical analogies, Collins asks us each to define our economic engine, and to allow God to turn the flywheel that will build momentum, or enable us to re-invent our lives. 

Our educational system does not encourage personal growth, but fosters resistance to change.  Our faults can become imbedded, putting us in need of a spiritual stem cell transplant.  From a brave young lady, Devin Vickers, successfully battling leukemia, I have learned that a stem cell transplant can create a new blood type. 
We must be certain to infuse ourselves with the Blood of Christ, in order to find the personal power to “raise the bar.” 

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami.  To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at