Archives

All posts for the month October, 2014

IMG_2034.JPG

For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭5‬:‭21‬ NIV)

Now that I know God loves me as His child and accepts me in my brokenness, this verse takes on a whole new meaning.

The way I live my life, the manner by which I walk through the difficulties and temptations, are in full view of God. He sees it all, everything. Nothing is hidden. That used to freak me out. How disappointed He must be in me. Not only does He see everything, He examines it, which means He weighs my choices, the ruts I find myself in, the consistent struggles I face.

But that word “examine” means a great deal more than just weighing my actions or pondering them. It actually means “to make level, to even out.” He doesn’t see everything in my life and then sits back and judges me. That’s how I use to see Rod and many still see God that way. But He actually takes initiative to help us, too even out the rough spots. He patiently endures our mistakes and sin, and comes alongside and gives us wisdom to live better.

I don’t know how you feel about that, but I am extremely overwhelmed with gratitude for His amazing grace and wisdom over my life.

IMG_2034.JPG

My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭2‬:‭1-5‬ NLT)

The picture here is if someone who mines for a great treasure because they know its value. To search for wisdom as a hidden treasure. To dig deep for the gold you must exert effort. To thirst for knowledge that results in digging for a well.

Listen for it – create space in your day to read the Bible and meditate on its wisdom.

Treasure it – do you see its value? Have you tried to understand the Bible better by asking questions, keeping an open mind, sitting under people who teach the Bible? How important and vital is God’s wisdom to you?

So, grab your pickaxe with me and start digging into this great book. Find some friends who have a similar desire to study the secrets to life and talk about this amazing book of proverbs.

IMG_2034.JPG
DAY ONE: What does they fear of the Lord mean to me?

Proverbs 1:2-7
2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. 3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. 4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. 5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance 6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. 7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

By this book, one can learn the principles that determine success or failure in the major arenas of human activity, including business, personal relationships, family life, and community life. Verses 2–6 describe the purpose of the book, that is, to teach wisdom to the reader. The primary purpose of Proverbs is the instruction of young people and those who have yet to learn wisdom (v. 4), but it is not only for children. Those who are already mature and learned (v. 5) also have a great deal to learn from this book, and they should not shun it as unworthy of their time.

The vocabulary of this section indicates four characteristics of biblical wisdom.
– First, it is practical. “Wisdom” includes the idea of “common sense” and the ability to cope with daily problems.
– Second, it is intellectual. This is implied in words like “understanding” and “knowledge.”
– Third, it is moral and involves self-control. This is indicated in words like “right and fair” and “discipline.”
– Fourth, Proverbs draws the reader into the mysteries of life. This is implied in terms like “parables” and “riddles.” Biblical wisdom seeks to resolve or at least adjust to the ambiguities of life. It seeks the reality behind the appearances.

Verse 7 ties the fundamental principle of biblical wisdom (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”) to recognition that many will reject wisdom and God (“fools despise wisdom”). A principle that believers must teach their children is that in their pursuit of wisdom they will be surrounded by others going the opposite direction who will be encouraging them to do likewise. In this fashion the polarity of the entire Book of Proverbs—the way of the wise and the way of the fool—is introduced. The reader faces the alternatives and is challenged to attain wisdom through the fear of God. (“The New American Commentary”)

To fear God is to regard God with reverent awe. He alone is holy, awesome, and glorious (Isa. 6:3). He is worthy of our respect. Because God is righteous, we should be concerned about the consequences of displeasing him. Our fear is not one which leaves us cowering and terrified but rather is like the respect a son should have towards his father. The fear of God leads to wise and pure living: ‘By the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil’ (Prov. 16:6b).

To fear God is to submit to him, turning from self-assertion and evil: ‘Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil’ (3:7). We are not autonomous beings, free to assert our own will and decide what is right for us. We must acknowledge the Lord’s sovereign moral governance of the universe. We should be open to his training and correction and trust that his way is always best. To fear God is to know God. To know God is to have life (19:23a). When you fear God, you no longer fear men (29:25).

The fear of the Lord is not a beginning like the first stage of a rocket which is cast aside after it has served its purpose. Rather, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom in the same way in which a foundation is the beginning of a house: everything that comes after the foundation is built upon it. (“Opening Up Proverbs”)

IMG_2035.JPG

Good leadership responds effectively to the need for more leaders and workers. Appar- ently, no one took a vote to determine the identity of these people. The leaders were chosen. The leadership of the early church practiced the ABCs of leadership.

They:

Attracted leaders.

Believed in them.

Chose them.

Developed them.

The apostles had specific qualifications in mind for the leaders they wanted, and chose men who were…

1. Known from their sphere of influence —“seek out from among you.”

2. People who could serve on a team—“seven men.”

3. Trusted among the people — “of good reputation.”

4. Empowered for the task — “full of the Holy Spirit.”

5. Competent and intelligent —“full of . . . wisdom.”

6. Responsible — “whom we may appoint over this business.”

IMG_2035-0.JPG
Here are key words when it comes to leadership and life that are drawn from Acts 3:

– faithfulness
– empathy that leads to action
– courage
– expectation
– transparency
– authority
– generous
– problem solving

I want to be found faithful. I want to see the brokenness around me and not be immune to the hurting, but walk into their situations. The courage to do what is right and say what needs to be said.

A couple weeks ago I was talking to a young man in our church and he has this vision to do what Peter and John did in this passage. He’s a solid believer in Jesus, a graduate of our intern program and called out for God’s work. He, like all of us, need these principles to live out a God-life right where we are: in our workplaces and right outside our workplaces, in our homes and right outside our homes, in our schools and right outside our schools.

Demonstration + Proclamation = Credibility

Immediately following Pentecost, the Christian movement picked up steam. Two leaders, Peter and John, encountered a lame man on their way to the temple. When the name of Jesus healed the man, they immediately gained credibility to share the gospel. In other words, once they walked the walk, they attracted an audience when they talked. Note how Acts 3 describes these early church leaders:

1. They faithfully did what they knew to do (v. 1).
2. They stopped and sensitively addressed needs (v. 3).
3. They had the courage to face problems (v. 4).
4. Others anticipated receiving solutions from them (v. 5).
5. They realistically admitted their lack of material resources (v.6).
6. They fearlessly used their God-given authority (v. 6).
7. They generously gave away their spiritual resources (v. 6).
8. They solved practical problems (vv. 7, 8).

I’m reading the @YouVersion plan ‘The Maxwell Leadership Reading Plan’. Check it out here: http://bible.com/r/GE

IMG_2035.JPG
This past week I had the privilege of introducing Ken Johnson as he spoke to a group of our Foursquare pastors in Gresham. I was reminded of several of the characteristics below as I have sat under Ken’s leadership, in one form or another, for the past 33 years. What I appreciate most about Ken’s leadership is his commitment to be what he is in private, in public. He and his wife Linda have stood in the gap for Suzanne and me and many others over the years because of their integrity. Thank you.

The Position of a Leader: Standing in the Gap

God contrasts the poor leader with the godly leader in Ezekiel 22. The poor leader oppresses and destroys his or her followers, while the godly leader “stands in the gap” on behalf of the land and the people (v. 30). These leaders represent God to the people, and represent the people to God. They serve as “middle- men,” serving God and serving the needs of the people.

This text describes ten traits of the leader God affirms:

– Consecration: They set themselves apart and remain committed to their call.
– Discipline: They do what is right even when it is difficult.
– Servanthood: They model a selfless life, lived for the benefit of others.
– Vision: They see what God sees and live off the power of potential.
– Compassion: Love for their cause and their people moves them to action.
– Trustworthiness: They keep their word regardless of what others do.
– Decisiveness: They make good decisions in a timely manner.
– Wisdom: They think like God thinks and avoid impetuous moves.
– Courage: They take risks for what is right.
– Passion: They demonstrate enthusiasm for their divine calling.

I’m reading the @YouVersion plan ‘The Maxwell Leadership Reading Plan’. Check it out here: http://bible.com/r/GE

IMG_2035.JPG
Have you ever had those moments where you were you determined to do what you knew you shouldn’t do? It was clearly a bad choice, a stupid idea, a hurtful act but you did it anyway because you were determined to. We’ve all had those moments. Maybe you’ve made a life out of them.

The prophet Jeremiah described it this way: “All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭8‬:‭6‬b NLT)

For me, it’s in those times where I walk away feeling absolutely horrid. Why would I allow myself to deliberately walk that way? I never think, “way to go Steve. Good job. You did it. You deliberately turned your back on your values – great job man” (maybe I say those things sarcastically).

Jeremiah wrote: I listen to their conversations and don’t hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”? No!” (Jeremiah 8:6a)

So what do you do after you’ve blown it, intentionally or unintentionally? Repent. It’s a religious sounding word, but it simply means to turn around. Make a different choice. Own up to it and live better. Say sorry to whomever you need to, a spouse, a friend, a coworker, your God, and move on (and get help from others).

Speaking Hard Truth Without Compromise

Jeremiah did not receive a pleasant message from God to deliver to his people. The Lord ordered him to declare judgment and destruction on Judah. God told the prophet that He was about to destroy a sinful generation, a group of stubborn men and women who had turned to the basest kind of idolatry.

The Lord had patiently borne with these people. For many years He had issued stern warnings about their sin—yet they refused to surrender to Him. They had grown so depraved and shameless that God told Jeremiah they could no longer even blush over their vile conduct (Jer. 8:12).

The truly godly leader takes no pleasure in announcing divine judgment. It is a grievous thing to have to announce that the time for retribution has come. God Himself grieves when His people’s sin sinks to the point of no return. On the other hand, a truly godly leader never shrinks from confronting sin or from declaring the message of God. Effective leaders faith- fully confront sin and call the sinner to repentance.

It could not have been easy for Jeremiah to communicate God’s words of judgment. Neither is it easy to communicate today with people who need to be confronted over their sin. But leadership means speaking all the truth—sometimes unpleasant and painful truth—that God has entrusted to us.