Archive for November, 2011
This is a guest post from online friend and pastor Nathan Rouse. Nathan is Lead Pastor at Raleigh Christian Community, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Check out these thoughts from Nathan:
With those I lead, my words carry a lot of weight. With these weighty words I’ve blown it and crushed people and on other occasions by God’s grace I’ve brought healing. But, I’ve found that some of the most intimate and helpful words that I’ve given to others come in the form of the question, “Would you share your story with me?”.
Let me give you 3 reasons why I’ve found this question to be a relational game changer:
It tells the person that you desire to truly know who they are.
Believe it or not people aren’t asking each other this question. I’m continually amazed how our conversations even with those we call close friends tend to stay on the surface. So when you ask someone this question it’s like a breath of fresh air. In essence you’re saying to them, “You’re valuable and I want to know who you are.”
It says, “I’m not the focus right now, you are.”
As leaders if we’re not intentional about putting the focus off ourselves and onto others, there will be many who will inherently make our conversations about us and our priorities for them. We need to be able to turn the tables and get back into their world and make the focus about them. This isn’t a leadership gimmick that seeks to make people think we really care. A leader who is worth his or her salt actually cares about those they lead.
It says, “I’ve got time for you.”
In a society that has pushed out all margin for relationships, people rarely “go there” with others around them. Turning to someone and asking to hear their story speaks volumes in regards to them being the priority in that moment. As a pastor that’s leading a growing church, I have countless people who start their conversations with me with this phrase, “I know you’re busy, but”. People automatically assume about themselves and others that we just don’t have time. Asking this question about their life’s journey gently encourages them that you do have and want time with them.
Bottom line: Leadership isn’t done in a vacuum. It’s done with people. The greatest gift I can give those I lead is to ask to know their story. Give that priceless gift this Christmas.
Let me hear from you. How have you gone about creating relational moments with those around you? Share a comment.
If you really walk with Jesus you will be in a constant state of reinvention.
If you can receive this, and are willing to participate in it, congratulations. You’re in for a lifetime of increasing conformity to the character of Christ. And God will supply all of the raw material for the required renovations.
If you aren’t into that sort of thing-if you’re determined to stay stuck in the ways of yesterday-you won’t make it very far toward God’s goal for your life. You’ll also get sick of yourself more and more each time you resist the transforming
work of God’s Spirit. It’s a losing proposition from every perspective.
Are you willing to pray today: God, make me over, and over, and over…?
As many times as it takes?
And whatever it costs?
…who can be against us?
What shall we then say to these things?
If God be for us, who can be against us?
— Rom. 8:31
Is this a correct saying?
Well, it is in the Bible so it must be true…!
Of course God is for us …
Yet, the devil is still coming against us…!
Surely that is not right …
… nothing is supposed to come against us…!
Is it ?
… or are we understanding it wrong…?
God does not say that we will not have opposition …
… but in fact says we should expect it …
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
— John 16:33
When the Bible on the one hand says that we will have opposition …
… and on the other hand says that …
… if God is for us, who can be against us …?
What does that really mean …?
In answering that question, the Psalmist wrote …
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler …
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust …
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand;
but it shall not come nigh thee.
— Psalm 91:2-7
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
— Psalm 23:4
Does it say that God is for us…?
Does it say that nothing will come against us…?
But what it does say is …
That whatever comes against us …
… cannot prevail against us, if God is on our side!
Therefore, what Romans 8:31 is telling us is …
… If God is for us …
… then nothing that comes against us …
… can successfully stand against us!
Of course the devil will still attack us …
… but if God is fighting for us, the devil has no chance!
So let God do the fighting … you do the trusting!
A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.
Here are three more comely things in their going, beautiful in the discharge of their gifts and offices (30:29-31)! The lion, the king of beasts, has already been described (30:30). If you meditate carefully on these three things, there are lessons of wisdom to be found (Job 12:7-10; Ps 107:43; 119:96). The greyhound is beautiful by speed, the he goat by grave leadership, and an invincible king by irresistible authority. Delight in these traits!
Agur the son of Jakeh wrote this chapter of Proverbs (30:1). But God inspired his words by three counts. First, all Scripture is inspired, and Proverbs is part of Scripture (II Tim 3:16-17). Second, these proverbs by Agur were a prophecy, a revelation of God’s wisdom by inspiration (30:1; II Pet 1:19-21). Third, he warned against adding to God’s words (30:5-6; Rev 22:18-19). Therefore, we should read these words as from God Himself.
Most of Agur’s proverbs are lists of things (30:11-31). The list here is four things that are comely in their going – beautiful in their appearance, movements, and conduct (30:29-31). The lion, already mentioned in the previous verse, has a bold and majestic walk, showing confident pride; he fears no creature, and he does not turn away from any (30:30). He is the king of beasts and illustrates boldness, confidence, and fearlessness.
What is beautiful about the greyhound? The greyhound is a slender, streamlined dog, having loins tightly girded for exceptional running speed. Its name has nothing to do with color, but rather with being a coursing dog, a hound that hunts by sight and pursuit. English gentlemen and pharaohs owned them, with references dated before 2000 B.C. The typical male greyhound weighs 70 lbs., and it can run short distances near 45 mph.
The greyhound is elegant, easygoing, and gentle. With long legs and tail, compact muscles, slender profile, and alert appearance, the greyhound is attractive, fast, and agile. With eyesight to see small moving objects at up to one half mile away, it was created and bred to hunt by sight and chase. It is comely in its going, whether walking elegantly or agilely chasing down a rabbit in an open field, a task only a cheetah could match!
What is beautiful about the he goat? With a long beard, magnificent horns, and constant presence at the head of the flock, the he goat presents a strong picture of grave and sober leadership. It was common knowledge that he goats go at the front of the flock (Jer 50:8). And God used a he goat as the powerful symbol for Alexander the Great (Dan 8:5-8), which is very fitting, as the Macedonians revered the goat. The he goat is an excellent guide and protector, illustrating the beauty of a faithful, patriarchal leader!
What is beautiful about an invincible king? It is hard to appreciate the authority of a king, against whom there is no rising up, since there are no more kings, other than figureheads. National rulers today have little authority or power in comparison. They must answer to legislators and courts, have their college conduct scrutinized, beg the votes of peasants to remain in power, obtain permission for vacations, cooperate with the media, shake hands and kiss babies, grin and wave like a mannequin, and justify every decision to scorners.
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was the greatest king (Dan 2:37-40; Jer 27:6-7; 28:14; Ezek 26:7). He was not voted into office; he answered to no one but God; opponents did not draw rude cartoons about him; he didn’t shake hands or kiss babies. He could start a new religion on a whim and enforce it with death by fire on every politician in the world (Dan 3:1-7)! If you offended him, even if you were in his cabinet, he would have you cut in pieces, your house leveled, and a great pile of dung erected in its place (Dan 2:5; 3:29)!
Solomon and his father David were great kings in their own right (II Sam 8:1-6; I Kgs 2:12; 4:20-28). They understood the power of a king, and they wrote about it. He was to be feared as the lion is feared in the jungle (16:14-15; 19:12; 20:2; 24:21-22; Eccl 8:2-5; 10:4,20). And he was to suppress all evil in his realm (14:35; 16:10; 20:8,26; 29:14). We know by Agur’s words that the trait we are to admire is his invincibility and irresistibility, which is declared by the words, “Against whom there is no rising up.” This is a beautiful thing, no matter what the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights may imply!
What lessons can be learned by this list from the natural creation? First, the Lord Jesus Christ fulfills all these traits perfectly; and second, Christians should also seek to fulfill them. It is not enough for you to be righteous: you should also be comely in going, by adding beauty and grace to every performance. It is by comely conduct in duties that Christians add glory and praise to their religion. Duty and righteousness are excellent; but the manner and spirit in which you do them adds to their beauty (22:11; Matt 5:16; I Cor 13:5; Gal 4:18; 5:6; Phil 1:27; Titus 2:1,9-10)! Christian, are you comely in your going?
Are you bold and fearless like the lion in doing your Christian duties, regardless of opposition or threats (28:1; Job 32:1-14; Ps 119:98-100; Heb 13:6)? Are you quick to keep the commandments of God, like the greyhound (Ps 119:60; Gal 1:15-17)? Are you a leader by example in your marriage, family, and church, like the he goat (I Cor 16:13; Eph 4:16; 6:4)? Are you unmovable, like a great king, in defending God-ordained authority, righteousness, and the apostolic gospel (22:17-21; I Pet 3:15; Jude 1:3)?
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and turns away from none (Rev 5:5). He destroyed the works of the devil, who is described as a roaring lion (I John 3:8; I Pet 5:8). He is like the greyhound, for he is quick in understanding (Is 11:3) and coming quickly (Rev 2:5,16; 3:11; 22:7,12,20). He leads His people, as their Apostle, Bishop, and great High Priest, much like the he goat. And there is no rising up against Him, for He is King of kings, the Blessed and Only Potentate (I Tim 6:13-16)! Hallelujah! Amen!
Mignon McLaughlin tells us, “People are made of flesh and blood and a miracle fiber called courage.”
Courage comes in two forms: physical courage and moral courage. Physical courage is demonstrated by acts of bravery where personal harm is risked to protect others or preserve cherished principles. It’s the kind of courage that wins medals and monuments.Moral courage may seem less grand but it is more important because it’s needed more often.
Moral courage is the engine of integrity. It gives us the strength and will to meet our responsibilities and live up to our principles when doing so may cost us dearly.
It takes moral courage to be honest at the risk of ridicule, rejection, or retaliation or when doing so may jeopardize our income or career. It takes courage to own up to our mistakes when doing so may get us in trouble or thwart our ambitions. It even takes courage to stand tough with our kids when doing so may cost us their affection.
Moral courage also empowers us to overcome adversity and persevere when we want to quit.
At unexpected and unwelcome times, we all will be forced to deal with the loss of loved ones, personal illnesses and injuries, betrayed friendships, and personal failures. These are the trials and tribulations of a normal life but, without moral courage, they can rob us of the will and confidence to find new roads to happiness and fulfillment
Moral courage is essential not only for a virtuous life, but a happy one. Without courage, our fears and failures confine us like a barbed wire fence.
Moral courage is our internal warrior but it does not always come on its own. Sometimes we have to summon it from within and coax it into action by promising to trust it.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
The devil is a liar. That’s all he is, and he’s good at what he does.
He’ll tell you whatever he needs to tell you in order to trip you up, or keep you down.
And he’ll change up the delivery of his message depending on what you’re going through.
So when you’re suffering a trial, the devil will whisper a message of hopelessness to you.
He’ll say something like:
This will never end.
On the other hand, when you’re in a season of blessing, the devil will try to shake your confidence by telling you the exact opposite:
This will never last.
But trials do end. Joy comes in the morning. There is a mountain of victory on the other side of your valley.
And blessings do last. Even though seasons change, God’s favor is forever. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.
Don’t let the devil twist the truth.
Catch him in his lies, and stand on what God says.
Do you love yourself …?
What a strange question …
… I thought it was the other way around …
… that we should be loving others …
rather than just thinking about ourselves?
Yes … of course we should!
… Yet …
… in talking about loving others …
… Jesus linked loving others with loving ourselves …
… saying to us …
… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
— Matt 22:39
If Jesus said it, then we had better take note of it …
… and maybe start by asking ourselves …
“Do I love myself…?”
A simple question … but difficult to answer …
Why did He not just tell us to love others?
Why does Jesus expect us to love ourselves?
Did He really mean it…?
Absolutely! … Jesus not only meant it …
But … He also expects us to do just that …
… for a most important reason!
Consider this …
When God created you and me … He created us special!
(Gen. 1:26-28 , Ps. 8:4-6)
So special … that when man failed …
God did not give up … He gave us Jesus!
We are not just special to God …
He also wants us to see ourselves as special …
… unless we see ourselves as being special …
… we won’t see ourselves as special enough to receive all God has for us!
And we won’t be open to receive all His love and all His blessings!
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh;
but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
— Eph 5:29
Consider this …
If you are in lack … what do you have to give?
If you are unfulfilled … what do you have to share?
Therefore Jesus says to us …
Love yourself so much …
… that you want all that God has for you!
Love yourself so much …
… that nothing will stop you from receiving all God’s blessings!
Then … in the fullness of His love …
You will start seeing your neighbor as special …
… and start desiring for them to have all that you have!
… the fullness of God … in your life!
A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.
Rebellion can be active or passive. Wicked servants will not respond to verbal correction, for their hearts are full of defiance. They fear enough to refrain from cursing, but they do not have the spirit of a virtuous servant. Though clearly or frequently corrected, and understanding the lesson and their needed improvement, they will not answer properly or amend their ways. Therefore, authority needs to be enforced painfully.
A scornful, sullen, surly servant will show his stubborn rebellion by ignoring verbal instruction and correction. If you explain things carefully and clearly, he will not agree or submit. Though you ask questions he understands, he will not answer. He uses silence to punish the authority he despises. He shows his wickedness quietly by rejecting your rule. Men may describe such a person as the man who does not know how to say, “I am sorry.”
If you find yourself saying, “Say something!” you have encountered the rebellious problem Solomon here described to his son. Silence is no evidence of agreement or submission; it is often a loud statement of defiance. Measures beyond words must be used. This is not just any servant, for many servants are corrected by words (Matt 8:9).
Such rebellion must be crushed. Authority must be enforced to maintain order and peace. It was solved by two options under Moses’ law. You could beat the servant, if necessary, to within an inch of his life (19:29; 26:3; Ex 21:20-21). And if you were tired of beating him, you could sell him to a master with a bigger rod! Moses’ law warned against unnecessary rigor (Lev 25:43), but authority must be maintained (19:25; 21:11; 26:3).
Modern employment relationships do not have the provisions of Moses’ law, so wise masters fire belligerent losers. Keeping one bad apple will spoil the whole bunch. Allowing a defiant employee to remain, even if he rebels quietly, will cost your authority. When you find a scorner, and you cannot correct him, throw him out (22:10)!
Parent, do you know your children? Do you know when silence is rebellion? Do you observe sullenness? Do you understand that a withdrawn child is a problem child? Do you know their temperamental differences, and do you carefully watch the passive ones, who tend toward reserved responses? Their rebellion can grow while you snooze.
Rebellion can be active or passive, loud or silent, angry or sullen. It is your job to detect passive rebellion. Do not allow a child to avoid instruction, correction, or questions. They quickly learn delay tactics, knowing you will tire and forget them. Reject excuses, such as needing more time; children do not have any such rebellious luxury when facing you.
Remember how God hates mocking eyes (30:17). Watch and read the faces of your children. Correct any insolence, even in the facial expressions. Silence can be mocking. When you detect such a problem, quickly move toward more severe measures to rescue this child from their self-will. The rod will work wonders (22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15).
Tears are also used in silent rebellion. Rather than telling you wickedly they will not do it, they simply let go with the tears, knowing that such a show of emotion got rid of you the last time. If the tears are genuine, they will accompany sincere words of apology.
Husband, manage your marriage! Watch your wife’s face and correct any marital problems while they are in the bud. Silent rebellion is very common. They will self-righteously justify themselves as submissive, all the while building up bitter rage inside. Spot this sinful rebellion by her silence, smoldering eyes, facial expressions, or body language. Do not let a confrontation end until she is fully at peace with God and you.
Wife, silence is not submission. If your husband must correct you, tell him quickly you are sorry. Tell him you understand the lesson; explain it back to him; and promise better behavior in the future. Too much for your pride? Get down right now and confess your arrogance to God. Pride is a horrible sin, and it will destroy your life and home. Answering again is wrong, whether with words or with silence (Tit 2:9). Watch it!
Christians should never be such blots on their Saviour. They should take correction with cheerfulness and contrition. They should reverently express a desire to make amends as quickly as possible. Then they should do what is expected. Silent rebellion is conduct totally contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ for servants (Eph 6:5-7; I Tim 6:1-2).
Let us be the quickest to say we are sorry when shown our faults. The man unwilling to say he is sorry on earth will say it longest and loudest in eternity, for such willful stubbornness is the mark of a reprobate. Insubordinate servants, wives, and children are obnoxious things that trouble the earth (30:21-23). Let Christians avoid such reputations.
Dear Christian reader, do you understand the great Lord you serve? You must give Him your sincere confession when you are convicted for sin. Feeling conviction and purposing in your heart to turn from your sin is not nearly enough. You must confess your sins and admit your folly to Him (28:13; Job 33:27; 34:31-32; I John 1:9). Your blessed Master will receive you, the angels will celebrate, and your fellowship will be restored. Amen.