Ministry & the Mount of Olives

John 8:1-8 (MSG)
1-2Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.
3-6The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
6-8Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

"Mountofolivespanoramic" by Neilwiththedeal - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mountofolivespanoramic.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mountofolivespanoramic.jpg

Mount of Olives

In ministry there can truly be an relentlessness of it all.  There are always people who need our attention, matters to be addressed, mission to be accomplished.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is not to do.  But that is just what I see Jesus often doing throughout His time here on Earth.  We see an example of this in the passage in John 8*.  In John 8:1 we see Jesus went across to the Mount of Olives.  We see in Luke 22:39 (ESV), “39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.”, that it was Jesus’ routine, His custom, to retreat to the Mount of Olives for prayer.  The Mount of Olives would have been near Jerusalem yet far enough away to be secluded.  It was near Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, at the Base was the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus often, as indicated in John 18, retreated.  So there is a sense of place, there is a sense of purpose associated with that place, to rest, to pray, to commune with His disciples and with friends.  That is what the Mount of Olives represents.  And in John 8:1 we see Jesus went across to the Mount of Olives.  This was directly following a major confrontation with the Pharisees and the temple leaders. It was on the leading edge of what awaited him in the remaining verses of the passage and He takes breath to pause, to retreat, prepare Himself physically, emotionally, and spiritually for what’s coming.  In John 8:2 (MSG) Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.  Then again a few verses later we see the well known account of the woman caught in adultery, in verse 6 we see that her accusers kept “badgering him” trying to stump him, trying to get him to slip up.

I see a lot of takeaways from this but as we minister there’s always more to be done.  I’m not Jesus and I don’t immediately and incessantly have swarms of people coming to me to teach them, but I do have a never complete mission always before me, and so do you.  I do have people, most of whom God has entrusted me with to some degree, who want and need something from me, so do you.  It can be consuming if we let it.  If we approach it from a place where there is no rest–we become no good.  Then there are the distractions, the accusers, the ever present enemy of our God given mission.  Jesus, at every turn experienced this, why shouldn’t we expect it as well?  I find myself ill prepared to combat this when I’m tired emotionally, physically or spiritually.  That is why we must take regular times of rest and refreshing.

So, as we enter a new ministry season, I implore you to go across to your Mount of Olives, even if for only an evening.  Turn off the distractions, get alone with God, at times get alone with friends and those that aren’t interested in your ministry, and just be, just refresh.

*Many people are quick to point out that this story [John 7:53-8:11] doesn’t appear in many of the earliest transcripts or doesn’t appear in this exact location in some. However portions of this story have been found in many early manuscripts and the reason some later early fathers wanted to exclude it had more to do with trying to prevent the impression that Jesus was okaying sexual immorality.  But that really isn’t the point.  Many scholars very much assert the account and the truth is in keeping with the whole of the Gospel.

God has a compelling vision for your life! Wait for it… #2014CABible

God has a compelling vision for your life!  Books or blogs that start that way tend to pump me up and inspire me to go for it, whatever it is, to dream to plan to move.  But it is true God has a purpose and plan for your life, it is compelling, it is wild, it will be great. But…what, but, there is no but with God and vision and stuff.  I mean, that’s true, right?

Well, here are a couple of thoughts from the last few day’s Bible reading:

1.  There are costs involved in following a God-given vision.  It is going to require us to give up something and we have to be prepared to do it.

When we begin to follow a God ordained vision, what is talked about in Proverbs 29:18 as a prophetic vision, there will be tangible movement required which will have results.  Jesus talks about it in Luke 14.  Many were following him, some were just wanted to be associated with him for what they could get, but he begins to declare what it will be like if they really embrace His call.

25Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:25-33 (ESV)

Here Jesus is talking about being His disciple, about how one must approach it.  Part of being a disciple is being willing to trust that God knows best, that His plans, His purposes are greater more adventurous, are right, but that they also require us to surrender to Him totally.  We can’t partially embrace the vision.  We can’t accept it where it is comfortable or convenient.  We must count the cost and see if we are really ready to move on a God-given vision.

2.  Not everyone will like or support the vision

Shocking as it is not everyone will always embrace the vision God has given you or support it even as they profess to love and support you.  Sometimes God vision, God dreams make others uncomfortable, sometimes they just conflict with the vision that person has for you, either way resistance should be expected even as you are zealous for what God is calling you to.  Joseph experienced this with his family.

5Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. 6He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: 7Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

9Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” 11And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.
Genesis 37:5-11 (ESV)

Joseph was the golden boy of the family and that got under his brother’s skin, but they could deal with that somewhat, but then he started having dreams.  He got a glimpse of what Andy Stanley talks about, “what could be, what should be”, he didn’t know what exactly that all meant but it excited him.  In his excitement he brought too many in to the process of working out the vision.

There is a vital lesson learned here.  If we cast our vision, paint a picture of what “could be, of what should be” to early, just as God is beginning to spark the passion within us the vision is subject to being slaughtered.  Even those, actually often those closest to us, with the most invested in us are resistant to the vision.  They will have opinions and ideas, or even other visions that aren’t God ordained or God-given.  It is important to bring them in to the conversation at the right time.  That’s not to say that we shouldn’t seek Godly council or that we can’t get it wrong, just that early in the birthing of a vision it is vital to guard who you allow in.

I’m excited about this year, I see great things ahead.  I pray that we will all have that prophetic vision as the ESV puts Proverbs 29:18 or to personalize the paraphrase (MSG), that we would attend to what He, God, reveals, that we will be most blessed.

Bop It to Start

I have to admit it, I love games.  My wife shares a love for games and we are teaching our kids to love them too.  This past New Years Eve we had a family game night to ring in 2014, while playing spoons my six-year-old pulled a spoon right out from his mom’s hand to seal the win.

We have another game called Bop It.

Bop it to start

Bop It is an OK game in my opinion but my kids really use to enjoy it.  The bop it calls out random directions to be followed quickly such as bop it, press the middle button, twist it, twist the yellow knob, or pull it, pull the blue lever.  For an added degree of difficulty you can activate the shout it function where you must shout out on command.  Bop it has several different functions from individual to team along with different levels like novice, intermediate, and expert.  For about a month straight both of my sons played bop it daily.  It was a little hard for them, they are six and three, but Cade, my six-year-old, could get up into the thirties out of one hundred on novice.  Zechariah, my three-year-old, could get to about eight at his best.  Neither of them ever wanted to play on novice though, they didn’t want to play on intermediate, they wanted to play on expert.  I would tell Cade, “buddy you do good on the novice and you will get better and can move up as you learn to beat the novice level” but it was no good he wasn’t having it.  Eventually he lost interest as he never had much success on the expert level.

That doesn’t just happen with kids.  We often do the same thing in many areas of our life.  We want to operate at the expert level without doing the learning and mastering at the learning (novice) and mastering (intermediate) levels.  This expectation is enhanced today where technology allows the anomalies, the outliers.  We see twenty something Facebook moguls, there are platforms for app based fortunes, idols make pop stars all leading to the expectation that success comes easy and mastering is expected and quickly.  The fact is though in most cases this isn’t reality and even when success comes young or early there was unseen time spent at novice and intermediate.  This bleeds over into the areas of spirituality.  When someone commits to follow Christ there is much excitement and enthusiasm to make a difference.  This also happens often following major life events or spiritual encounters.  The new-found enthusiasm leads a desire to charge forward, to forge new frontiers, to lead the way.  This is often great and a catalyst for amazing things, however it can also lead to weak foundations when this causes us to bypass the learning and mastering work of spiritual disciplines, of learning, of discipleship, of mentoring.  Which leads to long and lasting spiritual maturing and success.

I urge us all to embrace the foundation building and sustaining of learning and then mastering.  Why not make a start by embracing reading the Bible this year with me.  Bop It to Start!

Move on God’s Word #2014myCABible

Are you moved?

15As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.

Genesis 19:15-16 (ESV)

Here on this angelic visitation Lot is warned of the fate of the city.  God’s wrath was going to be poured out.  The angels were messengers with a word directly from God.  Yet in Genesis 19:15 Lot and his family are just kind of lingering.  Not really wanting to move on God’s word.  Hoping that maybe if they ignore it or put things off it will all just blow over.

2Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 6And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

Luke 7:2,3,6-10 (ESV)

Later in our Day 7 reading we come to Jesus’ encounter with a centurion in Capernaum.  A Roman soldier, not a Jew.  He’s heard about Jesus, he’s heard that Jesus heals and he seeks out Jesus via an intermediary to heal his servant.   As Jesus nears the house this centurion sends word to Jesus saying basically I know authority and I know you have authority that can change this situation.  At your word things will move.  At your word things will shift.  And Jesus was astounded by this man’s faith.

When God speaks things change, at a word from the Lord situations turn.  When God directs us we are not to be as Lot and his family to delay and pretend that God really isn’t going to move we are to be as this centurion who expects and takes action because we understand the authority of the word of God.

As we enter this new year, as we read God’s Word together, as God leads you in your personal life allow it to cause you to respond.  Are you moved by God’s Word?  If not, let’s allow Him to move us.

Day 2 & 3 #2014myCABible

Today is day three of the #2014myCABible plan which can also be followed along here.  Yesterday we saw the fall of man, where by human choice sin enters the world, in Genesis 3 and the birth of our redeemer in Luke 2.  Day three brings a vision of what the fullness of sin’s corruption breeds in the heart of humanity when people became so corrupt and evil that God actually laments in His creation.

5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

Genesis 6:5-7 (ESV)

God’s wrath comes upon the Earth in the form of a flood cleansing His creation starting afresh with only Noah and his family. Though, the seed of sin is still present in the Earth.  Later in our reading for day 3 we come to the Luke 3 passage where John is Baptizing with water, a baptism of repentance.  Water is symbolically representing purification, much as God had purified with water in Genesis the waters of baptism are symbolic of the purification of repentance.

Something that really struck me from day two’s reading was in Genesis 3.  It is not something that I newly noticed but it is probably the main thing that stuck me this time.  It has to do with the defensiveness and deflection from Adam following and Eve, but particularly Adam when God shows up.

8And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:8-13 (ESV)

God says to Adam in verse 9, “Where are you”. Adam (my paraphrase), well um, you see, um, well…I got scared, I heard something, I know you usually come and walk with me and all but for some reason today I got scared.  Yeah, no reason to be concerned just got a little scared because I happened to notice you know what I’m not wearing any clothes.

God then asked a very Dad like question, “Who told you that you were naked?” with the followup of (again my paraphrase) did you do the one thing I told you not to do?  As a parent I particularly find this interesting.  It’s not like God didn’t know what was going on.  I use this tactic a lot myself, that is asking an innocent question that should be very easy to answer except when your child has something to hide.  That’s what sin does, it cause us to try to hide, to try to deflect, to cover up.  Yet just like I know the lie immediately God already knew the answer.  Yes, Adam had done the one and only thing which God had told Him not to do and he began to deflect, to get defensive, to blame everyone else.

12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Yeah, God, I  really blame you.  I mean if you hadn’t given me this woman, I wouldn’t have done what you told me not to do.  Plus really I’m more the victim here.  That’s really what Adam is saying.  That is the default human, sin, nature when confronted with our wrong.  The default is to blame, deflect, go on the defense.

We must, by the power of the Holy Spirit, overcome this default.  We must resist blame, deflection, and defensiveness when confronted with our wrong and embrace the restoration which can only come through confession, acceptance, and repentance.

2014 Bible

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This year I will be going through the First Steps Life Journal Bible reading plan which can be found here, you can also follow along with YouVersion and The Bible App.  I’m doing this as a community endeavor and will go by the tag line #2014myCABible.  I encourage you to follow along, join in, and plug in to the Bible. I’ll be following along with the plan daily and posting my thoughts here at least a few times a week.  This particular plan is published by the Life Journal through New Hope O’ahu and is designed as a plan to journal through as you read, I encourage you to do that.

There is no greater endeavor one can give their life to than the pursuit of God and no greater way to know God than to know His Word.  2014 is going to be a great year, I expect great things, I look forward to walking through the Bible with you!

Today, January 1st we begin in the beginning, in Genesis 1.  In the begin there was God.  God was creator, God created with His word, His Spirit hovered over the waters.  In the very beginning God begins to reveal Himself.  This sets the stage for the great work God does through His Word, making Himself known to His creation.  In the passage from Luke 1, Mary is visited by Gabriel with a word from God.  His Spirit is again going to break in and God will again reveal Himself and birth the way for a new creation.

January 1:  Genesis 1 & Luke 1:26-38

The Local Church

The Local Church is the Hope of the World, Bill Hybels.

Something about that statement use to sit wrong with me. I would say to myself, no Jesus Christ is the hope of the world! I have since been challenged in my thinking. God’s eternal plan to redeem and restore a broken creation includes its execution through His agent, the Church Universal! And His church Universal interacts and impacts time and space in the church local.

So very truly The Local Church is indeed the Hope of the World!

The Purpose of the Church is to be about the Purposes of God, or better yet, the Church was created for the redemptive mission of God.

Christopher J.H. Wright puts it:

…to ask the question, “What is the mission of God’s people?” is really to ask, “For what purpose do those who call themselves the people of God actually exist? What are we here on earth for?”

But to answer that we have to go one step further back and ask, Whose mission is it anyway? And of course, the answer to that has to be – it is the mission of God. God himself has a mission. God has a purpose and goal for his whole creation. Paul called this the “whole will [plan] of God” (Acts 20:27; cf. Eph. 1:9 – 10). And as part of that divine mission, God has called into existence a people to participate with God in the accomplishment of that mission. All our mission flows from the prior mission of God. And that, as we will see, is broad indeed. “Mission arises from the heart of God himself, and is communicated from his heart to ours. Mission is the global outreach of the global people of a global God.”1

It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission – God’s mission.

Wright, Christopher J. H. (2010-09-07). The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Biblical Theology for Life) (Kindle Locations 173-185). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

Biblical Theology v. Political Ideology

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.  Psalm 20:7 (ESV)

Some may take this verse to mean that we are not to engage in the political system, that our only true authority is God, and therefore we are to disengage from this world’s systems otherwise we are relying on something other than God.  I tend to disagree in principle, this is not a verse of disengagement, it is a verse of focus and of hope.  Our hope is in God, we realize that God alone brings true and lasting peace, hope and justice.  He is who we rely on.  That does not diminish our need to engage where we have been we now are with a Christian world perspective.  God even calls us to pray for those in established autority authority.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 (MSG)

1-3 The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

As long as we think the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquility, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith.

Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Discipleship in an Instant Society

We as Christian men and women are in a peculiar situation.  We are of a different kingdom and our decision-making should be adjusted accordingly.  We are called to live out our faith in the real world, in our real world decisions, in how we interact with people, how we love others, the choices we make in our daily lives says more about who we are and what we believe than thousands of eloquent words.  Though our hope is not in this world or its systems, we are called to live here for now and we are called to live a life here, worthy of our calling.  That means we should filter our decision-making processes through our belief system.  Separation of church and state is an established fundamental of the American political culture, and the bedrock on which religious freedom exists in this country.  This principle is not however a demand for Christians to disassociate our Christian world view from our decision-making processes including in our engagement of the American political system.  As Christians our belief system should be engaged with every decision including as we vote and engage in the political discourse.  This includes the civility with which we engage others.  Ultimately our hope in not in this world or in its systems, in governments or governmental authorities, ultimately our hope is in God alone.  God through the atoning work of His Son Jesus on the cross is our only hope!  That is both the starting and ending point though because of this Hope we must live our lives as worthy of that calling and we must filter our decisions through a world view which is consistent with His Word.

1 Peter 2:9-16

9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  11Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 13Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

We are in the most important election season of my lifetime thus far.  I am praying and committing to voting for the candidates who most closely model decision-making that is in alignment with my world view, which is firmly grounded in Jesus.  I encourage you also to engage.

Psalm 119:17-24 (NKJV)

17Deal bountifully with Your servant,

​​That I may live and keep Your word.

18​​Open my eyes, that I may see

​​Wondrous things from Your law.

19​I am a stranger in the earth;

​​Do not hide Your commandments from me.

20My soul breaks with longing

​​For Your judgments at all times.

21​​You rebuke the proud—the cursed,

​​Who stray from Your commandments.

22​​Remove from me reproach and contempt,

​​For I have kept Your testimonies.

23​​Princes also sit and speak against me,

​​But Your servant meditates on Your statutes.

24Your testimonies also are my delight

​​And my counselors.

 

Psalm 119:17-24 (MSG)

17-24 Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life;
not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road.
Open my eyes so I can see
what you show me of your miracle-wonders.
I’m a stranger in these parts;
give me clear directions.
My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous!—
insatiable for your nourishing commands.
And those who think they know so much,
ignoring everything you tell them—let them have it!
Don’t let them mock and humiliate me;
I’ve been careful to do just what you said.
While bad neighbors maliciously gossip about me,
I’m absorbed in pondering your wise counsel.
Yes, your sayings on life are what give me delight;
I listen to them as to good neighbors!

A couple of good articles from the Gospel Coalition on the matter:

‘The Weightier Provisions of the Law’

What Am I Doing When I Vote?

Prophetic Vision

Getting our Vision from God.

This was from a teaching to the Men of Church Alive

 

I recently came across a Forbes Magazine article from 2009 the title of which was Leadership Success Always Starts with Vision.

I believe this but I think that it is a partial truth.

First though, we as men need to understand our high calling as leaders.  It wouldn’t matter a hill of beans to talk about leadership and vision to a group of people who weren’t leaders, who didn’t see themselves as being leaders or thought that they’d ever be leaders.  But that is not who I’m talking with.  I am talking to a room full of leaders.

Most of you are husbands and many of you are dads, so by virtue if in no other role, though I find that hard to believe, you are leaders (at least have been called to be) in that capacity.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NASB)  22Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

So you see you are a leader because your wife is to submit to you…Well maybe not so simple.  You are a leader because you are compared in the marriage relationship to Christ in His relationship to the Church.  Our obligations as leaders of our home are stated in:

Ephesians 5:25-26 (NASB)  25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word

We are leaders, or have been called to be leaders, at least in our homes because we are to be in our homes as Christ is to the Church.  So we look to Christ and his leadership to model our own.  This isn’t simply applied in the home but in every position of leadership which we operate in.

John Maxwell defines a leader as someone “who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”

This is simplistic but sometimes simple is ok. I believe there are three essential components that most be present in order to be considered an effective leader in any capacity.

  1. Own, define and communicate VISION
  2. Promote and Cultivate RELATIONSHIPS
  3. Actual Goal ACCOMPLISHMENT

And these three essentials can correlate to Maxwell’s definition of leadership

  • VISION – Knows the Way
  • RELATIONSHIPS – Shows the Way
  • ACCOMPLISHMENT – Goes the Way

All three of these components have to be present in the life of the leader for the leader to be an effective leader.  They are interdependent.  Take one away and the leader is ineffectual.

However today we are going to focus on only one of the three – VISION.

But we are not simply leaders like the leaders in Washington or the leaders on Wall Street.  We are called to be something different, we are called to be Spiritual Leaders.  And not just about spiritual matters.  This applies in our homes, businesses, politics, and friendships; pretty much in every aspect of our lives and in all realms where we wield influence of some sort.

So what is a Spiritual Leader and how is it different?

Spiritual leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda

Spiritual Leadership, Henry and Richard Blackaby, p.36

Spiritual Leadership has to do with leadership by God’s Vision.

Therefore, as Spiritual Leaders, our vision comes from God.

An often quoted passage about leadership is Proverbs 29:18

In KJV:

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV):  18Where there is no vision the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

There is a problem with the translation here and it has nothing to do with the translation but it has everything to do with the multiplicity of our understanding today of vision.  To get a better understanding about this vision that is so vital to have, as the people will perish without it, let’s look at another translation, the ESV, and also the Message Bible.

First ESV

Proverbs 29:18 (ESV):  18Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18 (MSG):  18If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves;  But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

You see our vision is to be prophetic vision, meaning divine in origin.  Therefore we must learn to hear from God for ourselves in order to have prophetic vision.  We must be reliant on God for our vision.  There are countless examples of God given vision and also of visionless leadership as well.  One example is with Hannah and Eli.

Hannah, who had been barren and pleaded with the Lord for a child had vision for her son.  With the blessing of Samuel she dedicated him, she had God given vision for his life and hers.  Samuel ended up becoming a mighty man of God despite having a mentor who had no prophetic vision for his own family.  Eli, the priest, the same priest who was to take and mentor Samuel had sons also, but had no vision for his sons.  Had not lead his sons and his sons grew to be vile men whom experienced the wrath of God.  Eli wasn’t doing much better mentoring young Samuel, probably because Eli himself didn’t often seek the voice of the Lord.  In Samuel 3, a scene unfolds where God is calling Samuel and Samuel doesn’t recognize the voice of God.  He keeps asking Eli about it, Eli shrugs him off until finally Eli realizes and tells Samuel that the Lord is trying to talk with him.  Why didn’t Eli get it?  He was after all the religious leader of God’s people.  I believe because Eli had very little prophetic vision or revelation.  It says in 1 Samuel 3:1b.

1 Samuel 3:1b (ESV):  …1bAnd the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision (or widespread revelation [NKJV]).

The books of the Kings and the Chronicles are littered with accounts where one generation did well and they’re offspring failed.  Why?  Obliviously it doesn’t all have to do with the foundation set.  Great leaders and parents have had offspring that did not choose to follow the good and Godly example set before them.  However, there are great examples throughout the scriptures, such as Hezekiah, were lack of God given vision for the next generation led to a downfall.

Hezekiah was one of the kings of Judah.  Hezekiah for the most part proved to be a good king.  He did what was right in the sight of the Lord.  However Hezekiah did not seek the word of the Lord late in his life and acted foolishly.  He showed off Judah’s wealth to the Babylonians.  The Word of the Lord then came to Hezekiah, through the prophet Isaiah.

2 Kings 20:16-18 (NKJV):  16Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD:  17‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD.  18‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”

This is a pretty long lasting and terrible consequence for not having prophetic vision, for failing to inquire of the Lord.  Hezekiah follows that up with a visionless statement.

2 Kings 20:19 (NKJV):  19So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!”  For he said, “Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?”

Hezekiah ended up dying sometime after that and was succeeded by his son Manasseh, who just happened to be one of the worst kings in Judah’s history.  Here Hezekiah had no care about seeking the Lord’s vision for his kingdom nor any vision for Judah’s future or even his own lineage.  Manasseh suffered, in part, because of his father’s lack of vision.

Jesus talked about this need for vision when he was teaching his disciples about choosing a leader.

Luke 6:39-40 (NKJV):  39And He spoke a parable to them “Can the blind lead the blind?  Will they not both fall into the ditch?  40A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

Luke 6:39-40 (MSG):  39He quoted a proverb:  “‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch?  An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master.  The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.

Really this scripture is has more to do with selecting a teacher / leader to submit to, however as we are leaders we can use it as a measure for how we are to be.  We are to have vision, prophetic, God given, vision.  We should have an understanding of where we are going.  We get that from the Lord.   That is what Jesus did.

John 8:28b (ESV):  28bI do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

We are first, as spiritual leaders, to teach those of whom we are in authority over as we have been taught.  Then we are to teach them to gain vision on their own.

2Ti 2:2 NIV – [2] And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

Ultimately this is the outliving of the Christ’s great commissioning to make disciples.  Only ones who have been discipled and are leaders with a vision for making disciples can live out this commissioning.  But aren’t we all called to be this?  It is the corporate, revealed will of God.  We are all called to certain things as members of the body, such as loving the Lord with all of our heart, all of our minds, all of our wills and all of our strength.  We are all also called to love our neighbor as ourselves.  God commanded that we all, as we are going to make disciples of all peoples, and don’t stop at that, that’s not the end of the command.  Teach them my revealed will, help them to learn about me and teach them to do as I do.

This is our calling as leaders.  There is also a personal ‘will of direction’ so to speak that is unique or personal to us as individuals.  This will of direction will never be in conflict with God’s revealed will, it should compliment God’s revealed will.

So how do we go about gaining this prophetic vision?  That is a bit more than I can really go into at this time but there are some principles which we can go by.

  1. Spend time with God (Paul and Barnabas commissioned)
  2. Study His Word to get an understanding of what He sounds like
  3. Submit everything to Him
  4. Ask Him to give you are heart for the things that He has a heart for.  (Nehemiah example)
  5. Be willing to make mistakes
  6. Be willing to give something(s) up
  7. Take note about when you got it wrong and when you got it right.
  8. Submit to Godly council, but don’t substitute man’s word for God’s Word.
  9. Ask Him His Will

Act 13:1-3 ESV – [1] Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. [2] While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” [3] Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Neh 1:1-11 ESV – [1] The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital, [2] that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. [3] And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” [4] As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. [5] And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, [6] let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. [7] We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. [8] Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, [9] but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ [10] They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. [11] O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.

Neh 2:4-6 ESV – [4] Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. [5] And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” [6] And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.

The Great Omission, Dallas Willard

I came across a great quote by Dallas Willard in the Great Omission.

“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.”

 

Often the current church lives in the Grace v. Works world where these two ideas are in opposition.  However there is no reality in this thinking.  James talks about this mentality with faith and works in James 2:18

Jam 2:18 ESV – But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

We lull our people into an anemic and ineffectual form of spirituality by promoting a moment of salvation as an end rather than a beginning of a wonderful journey, which requires movement and action.  We are being conformed to Christ’s likeness.  Paul talks about this in Romans 12:1-3, 11-15:

Rom 12:1-3, 11-15 ESV – [1] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [3] For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. … [11] Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. [12] Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. [13] Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. [14] Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. [15] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

There is action with the Christian Walk, there is effort.  We can earn nothing but the overflow of Grace is a walk that’s byproduct is Christlikeness.  The sinful man is hostile toward God and the things of God, to a walk which is pleasing and acceptable to God.  Yet the overflow of a grace filled life is denoted in Philippians 4:15-18:

Phl 4:15-18 ESV – [15] And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. [16] Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. [17] Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. [18] I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Here Paul is talking about a monetary offering, though the idea here is not monetary alone.  It is action that is a response to the Grace that has been extended to that Church through the redemptive act of Jesus Christ.