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Showing posts from February, 2013

What is the mark of leadership?

Leaders are the people who show the way because they have a clear sense of where they're going. They walk into the future with courage, challenging others to follow them. They are often misunderstood and sometimes bitterly opposed. They stay focused on the things that matter, but they never forget that people matter more than things. They fight tenaciously for what they believe in because they believe in a cause bigger than themselves. This cause consumes them and becomes the rallying point for everyone who follows them. - Bob Briner (Source : Leadership Lessons of Jesus)

Images of God (Judge)

We live in an age of increasing danger, threats and opposition to those who worship the name of Jesus Christ. Those who are not willing to compromise with the secular demands of our age. All around the world, Christians are suffering increasing persecution.  Persecutions and other struggles of the Christian life have the capacity to reduce our trust and confidence in God. In our weakest moments we can find ourselves asking “who is truly in charge”? It is in such times that we must turn our attention to God. We must constantly be reminded of God's amazing character. When we face difficulties and focus on God, we begin to see the challenges of life, of whatever origin, from a fresh perspective - from God's perspective.  And one image of God provided for us in scripture that we must never lose sight of is that of God as Judge. The Bible presents God as the judge of the whole earth!
When Abraham interceded for his nephew Lot, he asked God the rhetorical question, "Will not th…

What is God's agenda?

God’s agenda is not to make us happy (in terms of temporal bliss). He came to make us holy. This only happens as we begin to understand who he is. The bigger Christ becomes in our eyes, the smaller we become in our own. The ground a redeemed sinner stands on is not purchased with play money or cheap trinkets. It is blood-bought and won by the Spirit over the bitterest opposition of the flesh. That is why so many doors to our hearts and minds have to be forced open by rough break-ins. These things shake us up, but it is the only way to shape us into conformity to Christ. - Jim Andrews (Source: Polishing God's Monuments)

Scars of Grace

Promise Me by Aaron and Jeffrey remains one of my favourite songs of inspiration! The song pictures Christ speaking to the believer. He is responding to the unspoken prayer. The tone is deeply human and personal - and yet altogether transcendent and triumphant! It's hard to imagine that I've been there too I've felt the passion burning in you Every temptation, I understand Your Saviour knows what it is to be a man
I know what it's like when the nightmare comes true Someone left a cross for me like they left for you Trust me when I say, I've been where you are The strength to live again my child is hidden in the scars For those who stand, for those who fall Strength is found in one place : beneath my Cross crying out for grace
Promise me. Promise me before the passion turns to flame, promise me you'll call my name Promise me. Promise me you'll remember these scars of grace and remember I took your place Promise me! (Source : Aaron and Jeffrey, Promise Me)
In…

Faithfulness

Three years ago a newspaper posed the question to its readers – is anyone faithful any more? A question it proceeded to answer and conclude that it was impossible to be faithful. Therefore we have to teach ourselves to accept that and live with it. The tragedy of the article was not just in its conclusion, which gives a hopeless picture of life, but also in its limited understanding that faithfulness goes beyond marriage. All areas of our lives require some form of faithfulness. A society in which people are increasingly unfaithful in marriage will undoubtedly lead to faithlessness in other areas e.g. work, citizen obligations. Sin is contagious.
The secular vision of faithfulness stands in sharp contrast biblical faithfulness. When the Bible speaks of faithfulness it goes beyond marriage. When Paul wrote the letter to Colossians it was one of the most things that were front and centre on his mind. He introduces himself with a clear statement: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by t…

Leadership and Eating

Memos, manuals, and seminars are useful instructional tools, but they can never replace the quiet lunch or dinner as a means of teaching, learning, and growing together. Private executive dining rooms and solitary working lunches may have their place in a leader's life, but the wise leader will be sure to “break bread” occasionally with those he seeks to lead. - Bob Briner (Source : Leadership Lessons of Jesus)

The Danger of Experience

In our walk with God we tend to elevate precedents, biblical and personal, into “laws.” We get these neat little models in our heads of the way God is supposed to do his business. The effect is to put him in a mold. We like to have it so, because it furnishes us a comfort zone. We like predictability. We want to be able to anticipate with some accuracy what the Lord will or will not do. We like a God whose ways fit almost geometrical patterns. Therein lies a problem. - Jim Andrews (Source: Polishing God's Monuments)

Images of God (Warrior)

It seems that a day never passes without hearing some form of terrible news of war from a far country. We hear of bombings in Syria, Mali and many other war torn places. The grief never ends. The world is field with war and rumours of war. War affects all of us. It is a global reality. Last century over 150 million lives were lost to war and genocide. Some have said history is nothing more than the history of war. The bible chronicles war as a major recurring fact of human history. An outworking of the fallen nature of man! Since the days of Cain we have been at war.
But at the same time, it offers us an hopeful image of war – it often uses military imagery as a central metaphor to describe God’s character and his work in our world and in his people.  Not is war part of the salvation story, but God is a Warrior! In Exodus 15:3 after being delivered from Egypt, Israel sung, “The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is His name”. Throughout the Bible God wages war for His people to free them…

Prayer is the Battle

Many of us have the wrong idea about prayer and solitude. We think these parts of life are what you do while you're waiting to do something really important. In that sense, we view prayer as equivalent to a football team doing pregame warm-up drills. Everyone knows that the drills only get the team ready for the big game. There is a real sense, however, in which prayer isn't the pre-game at all. Prayer is where the battles of life are won and lost. - Bob Briner  (Source : Leadership Lessons of Jesus)

Status

There are moments in the Christian life when the weight of our failure casts a shadow on who we are in God. These moments are not diminished by how long we have walked with God. On the contrary, it is the paradox of the Christian life that the more I grow to know Jesus the more aware I become of my own sinfulness. The closer I get to God the larger the gap becomes between God’s holiness and my own sinful nature. It is the equivalent of moving from standard definition television to more high definition television. With each step of spiritual growth the reality of my own sinful becomes sharper – and so is my deeper need of God's grace! Confronted with this paradox, I am often tempted to retreat and fall back on my good deeds. I am tempted to work harder, so that my earthly account somehow gives me a resting knowledge that God is proud of me. And in succumbing to such temptations, I sometime replace a God centred identity with a self created identity. I begin curve an identity apar…

Leadership and Loyalty

Loyalty, like unity (with which it is closely allied) is a leadership absolute, an imperative. It is something a leader should expect and on which he should be able to rely. Without loyalty, there really is no leader/follower relationship. A leader must cultivate and reward loyalty and must punish and expel those who are disloyal. This may seem harsh, but it is a leadership lesson of Jesus. Loyalty does not mean mindless, uncritical devotion. That is worship, and no one other than Jesus is worthy of worship. Leaders make a grave mistake when they exercise the kind of leadership which requires any kind of submission. When this happens, leadership has degenerated into paranoia. This is not loyalty. Loyalty is exercised primarily outside the group. Sometimes the most loyal thing a follower can do is to openly disagree with a leader to his face. Because he cares about both the leader and the mission, he is willing to say, “Wait a minute. I think we're making a mistake here. Please ex…

Identity

I wonder how you introduce yourself to people who you have never met before, but know that your relationship will necessaily go beyond the brief moment. These could be people you meet at the start of a new job or new neighbours. Or it might even be when you attend a local church for the first time. How do you introduce yourself?
When I was growing up in Nchelenge (Luapula, Zambia) having penpals was a big thing. Penpals are people who regularly write each other letters. The more penpals we had the more good we felt that we were in touch with the rest of the world, despite living in a village! Hearing from them made us transcend our local circumstances.

Starting a penpal friendship always hinged on that first introductory letter. You had to introduce yourself to her. And it was account of what you wrote that the person found you fascinating to correspond with.  The process of penpal writing helped clarify not only who I regarded myself to be, but also if the friendship lasted, it hel…

God is Big

It’s overwhelming (and somewhat dehumanizing) to realize that there are close to seven billion of us alive on the planet at this moment. But before we think it’s too much for God to know everything about every single one of us, we have to remember that there are more stars than that in just one arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. In fact, the Milky Way contains hundreds of billions of stars, and our God put each one in its place. - Louie Giglio & Matt Redman  (Source: Indescribable)

How We Lose Focus

Bob Briner'sLeadership Lessons of Jesus has a fascinating example on why it is very difficult to maintain focus on our projects and goals : Consider a Sunday school class formed with a very simple mission: to study God's Word. One hour a week is set aside for the sole purpose of Bible study by a homogeneous group. There is a simple mission with a very sharp focus. Yet here is what often happens. Someone says it would be nice to open the class with a song or two. Fine. The class begins with singing.
A suggestion is then made that the class should promote fellowship among its members. Fine. Time is set aside at the beginning of the class for coffee and fellowship. Class time is taken to discuss and plan for fellowship opportunities outside of class. (“Should we have a potluck or a picnic? How does two weeks from Friday fit into everyone's schedule? How about three weeks from Friday?”)
The church leaders recognize that many who come to Sunday school do not stay for the wor…

The God Who Rescues!

The world was so intrigued by the universe that it sent a space shuttle. God so loved the world that He beat us to it and launched His own mission, sending His only Son. The miracle of the Christian gospel is that the One who was quite simply beyond our grasp drew near to us. He who was out of reach reached down to us. At the cross of Jesus Christ, we encounter the one true God on a mission to seek and save the lost. He might simply have impressed us with the soul-inspiring works of His hands, and awed us into submission. Yet our God chose to go much, much further—not simply wowing us with greatness, but wooing us with grace. - Louie Giglio & Matt Redman (Source: Indescribable)

Common Grace

Even though depravity reaches every aspect of our humanity, we still are not as thoroughly bad as we could be. The image of God is not totally eradicated from us. Even Hitler did not kill his mother, and he came up with a number of inventions useful to this day. The foremost sinner (Saul; 1 Tim. 1:15) could be commended for his (misplaced) zeal (which God would eventually harness and channel in a fruitful direction) in the same way that he later commended the unbelieving Romans for their zeal:“I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). - Sam Crabtree (Source: Practising Affirmation)

Jesus as Leader

If you have dismissed Jesus as irrelevant to modern life, brace yourself. Most of us know that Jesus was a great teacher and the Redeemer of the human race, but many people have never considered him to be the ultimate leader. From The Leadership Lessons of Jesus by Bob Briner and Ray Pritchard. Until I read this book last week, I had not given serious to Jesus as a Leader. Yes, he led disciples and was in every way extraordinary. Two natures in one. The God man! That I clearly knew, but what I had not done was taken a step back and asked, what sort of leader was [is] Jesus? Reading this book centred on the gospel, was like the scales falling. Passages that I had read many times now shown with new insights. 
In 2012, I got a deeper appreciation of the Lord Jesus as the ultimate intellectual through reading Dallas Willard's Divine Conspiracy. I am pleased that I start 2013 with not only a deeper appreciation of the Lord Jesus as the ultimate leader but also with fresh perspectives …

A Fool in Christ

It’s so easy to cash in these chips on my shoulder   So easy to loose this old tongue like a tiger   It’s easy to let all this bitterness smolder, just to hide it away like a cigarette lighter   It’s easy to curse and to hurt and to hinder   It’s easy to not have the heart to remember   That I am a priest and a prince in the Kingdom of God   I’ve got voices that scream in my head like a siren   Fears that I feel in the night when I sleep   Stupid choices I made when I played in the mire, like a kid in the mud on some dirty blind street / I’ve got sorrow to spare, I’ve got loneliness too   I’ve got blood on these hands that hold on to the truth   That I am a priest and a prince in the Kindgom of God   I swore on the Bible to not tell a lie / But I’ve lied and lied   And I crossed my heart and I hoped to die / And I’ve died and died   But if it’s true that you gathered my sin in your hand, and you cast it as far as the east from the west
If it’s true that you put on the flesh of a man,

Divine Extravagance

I recently watched a television documentary about Africa's beautiful landscape and  rich wildlife. In one episode the narrator took us underneath the Kalahari desert with a river that has never been fully explored and beams with increadible species. In another episode we saw the great "Google rainforest" of Mozambique, again teaming with all kinds of plants and animal life. God's creation is truly extravagant on earth, and even spectacularly so in the cosmos - the question is why is it so?  A recent book I read by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman Indescribableputs it this way:
But why create stretches of the universe that will never be seen? Why be content for distant galaxies to go completely unnoticed for thousands and thousands of years? It is a mark of extravagance in the heart of our Creator God. God is not like us. So often our nature is to cut corners. If there’s a room people rarely go into, we’re unlikely to consider keeping it tidy. Or say, for example, we’re d…