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All posts for the month November, 2010

I was reading this morning from Romans 7 that says , “And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.”

I love that word “harvest.” I didn’t grow up on a farm or an orchard or anywhere I would use that word, so when I read it I get visions of these huge baskets of fruit and vegetables. Other words that come to mind are bountiful, plentiful, a lot:) Harvest…

Sometimes I wonder if good deeds are underrated in the Christian community. We make it clear that people can’t get to heaven by what they do and so, as a result, we underplay good works. But as one reads the new testament you can’t escape the fact that faith and works are hard to separate.

My wife Suzanne recently had a very cool encounter that falls into the category of a good deed. A woman approached Suzanne and asked her about the church we go to as she was interested in attending because of some hard times she has gone through and because she wanted her daughter to be exposed to her faith. Suzanne listened and encouraged her to attend our Saturday service. That’s it. That’s all Suzanne did. She listened and encouraged. But as Suzanne was recounting the story to me I wondered, “am I approachable?” Good deeds often start with approachability.

In my relationships outside the church I need to be intentional about strengthening them to the point where they would come to me if they needed guidance or spiritual advice or if they were going through a hard time. I want my life to be a harvest of a good deeds for God. And as Jesus told us we can’t make anything grow only God can, but we can till the soil, water the plants, give needed nutrients into the ground…if we do this with people we may very well see the opportunities to harvest good deeds increase.

I’ve been taught this week about leadership from reading paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It’s made me think about the role of those who are apostles, pastors, teachers, prophets, and evangelists (Ephesians 4).

Paul uses a word often in this letter: authority. That’s a loaded word for sure. What authority? Who gave it? How to use it? Do you really have authority if people don’t recognize your authority?

As a leader in a church I have never wanted to pull out the authority card. It seems to me that by the time you feel the need to use that card the people that pushed you to that point won’t listen to you anyway. So why do it? Why not just let it go?

I think leaders often wield their authority way too often and way too early. Paul started by loving and serving the Corinthians. It was only after repeated attempts by Paul and others to bring correction that Paul started stating his authority. And then it was only with people who had a rebellious heart. Sometimes I think pastors start with their authority and try to end with love when they should actually start with love and end, only if necessary, with their God-given authority.

By the way, there is a way to daily walk in authority without being a dominating, control freak…but that’s for another post.

Location:NW Shevlin Park Rd,Bend,United States

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 10:1-2, 9-11
1 Now I, Paul, appeal to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ—though I realize you think I am timid in person and bold only when I write from far away. 2 Well, I am begging you now so that when I come I won’t have to be bold…9 I’m not trying to frighten you by my letters. 10 For some say, “Paul’s letters are demanding and forceful, but in person he is weak, and his speeches are worthless!” 11 Those people should realize that our actions when we arrive in person will be as forceful as what we say in our letters from far away.

Observation
Paul’s letters were often appeals to live a certain way. He wrote boldly and plainly so it would be clear what he was asking. He was accused of being more bold in his letters than when in person. People even saw him as weak and timid in person.

I’ve often been seen in this same light. And one of the dangers in leadership is being one way behind a computer as you type an email and another way in person. But good leaders will take every opportunity to help those they lead move in the direction they desire. And one well-timed bold email can enable a leader to quickly move from confrontation to care when in person. But it will also ensure that a critical issue is discussed in person.

It will be interesting to meet Paul face to face one day and see how he relates to others in person. After reading this chapter my thought is that he will be full of grace, mercy and kindness and not as brash as his letters might lead us to believe. I imagine he allowed God to temper him and shape him into a more effective leader.

Application
Be willing to be taught.
Don’t get in a rut of leading the same way you’ve always led.
Be bold in communication: say what needs to be said and pick the most effective avenues when saying it.
Walk in whatever authority that’s been given.
Don’t delegate authority that’s been given to you.
Make sure it’s clear what authority has been given to you and stay within those bounds; don’t over-reach.

Prayer
Lord, enable me to be the leader you have created me to be. Help me understand and walk in the full authority you’ve given me; nothing more, nothing less. Give me wisdom.

I’m a Pentecostal. I grew up in the Foursquare church which was birthed in Los Angeles and had connection to the Azusa Street Revival. I enjoy walking in the power of the Holy Spirit and being dependent on Him for the ability to witness effectively, to pray boldly, to see people healed and set free. In 2 Corinthians 3:17 it says, “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” This is one of the more recent scriptures that Pentecostals have embraced as we contend for more of the Spirit being released in our lives.

Here’s a couple problems I have with us using this scripture to justify more of the Spirit: 1) in the context of what Paul is talking about it’s not freedom to something, but freedom from something. It’s not speaking of having freedom to dance (though we have that freedom), or freedom to shake, or freedom to scream, etc. It’s speaking of having freedom from sin, from legalism; 2) in some circles this freedom has become a bondage. What I mean is that there is a strong feeling that if you are not walking in this freedom (not the freedom from something but to something) then you are not really free. This creates another form of legalism. This form of legalism says, “If I don’t dance like everyone else, fall down like everyone else, shake like everyone else, then I am not truly free.”

What happens as a result is that the people God has truly set free from the bondage of sin, go back into bondage to freedom. They are truly not free. For instance, if you have to do something to fit in to a specific community, that’s not freedom and in the same way, if you are not allowed to do certain things that’s also bondage.

I am free. In the way Paul writes it here, I am free from the law that leads to death and bondage. I am free from sin and the flesh controlling my actions. And I choose to not put a burden of some other kind of freedom onto others. Nor do I choose to put into bondage those who walk in another kind of freedom that allows them to dance and fall under the power of the spirit.

In all things charity.

What’s better: a command from God or wisdom from God? Does it matter to God whether He speaks directly or if he speaks through the wisdom he gives us?

We live in a very suspicious world these days. Even the news channels come from a certain bias and if you don’t come from the same bias you don’t trust what they have to say. So, why would it be any different as a Christian leader? Unless you are a Christian what motive do you have to listen to preachers, regardless of whether it’s God’s commands or their own? How do you know the difference?

I saw a story recently of a preacher saying of a death row inmate soon to be executed that his punishment will be far greater before the Lord than his impending death. Is that God’s wisdom or man’s? Is that really what God said? You see the dilemma.

People can reject both God’s word and the words of preachers, but if they reject God’s word then they will have to face God some day. For Christians we would do well to separate our speech between what God actually told us and what we simply just think. Let’s not be people who quote God as if we know all that He is thinking on every issue that arises. We can look to His word for guidance in this, but even then there are two testaments: an old and a new. Often we quote the old and appear judgmental. The new is more grace-filled.

My prayer today is that we would represent God well. That our speech would be according to His word. That our wisdom would draw from the wells of His knowledge. (see 1 Corinthians 7)

Scripture: Mark 15:39
So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

Observation
How will I die? I know, it’s a morbid question and who wants to think about their death. But even in Jesus’ death he pointed people to God.

It makes me think of my grandmother who died many years ago. She was a life-long follower of Jesus and when she died, she died in peace. There was no fear. There was no hurt. As a result she pointed her family and friends to Jesus.

Application
Rest in the Lord now and when my final rest comes it will point people to Christ.

Prayer
Lord, you are amazing. Even in crucifixion your last breath brought a soldier to believe. Thank you for your sacrifice. Give me grace to find my rest in you.

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