Who Can Be a Leader in the Church?

Man Helping His WifeFirst of all, we should define a leader according to Jesus’ terms. The world often thinks of leaders as individuals who are given positions of authority. When worldly leaders shout, their people jump out of fear of losing their jobs. When worldly leaders demand, their underlings bring them whatever they desire. But Jesus distinguished those who would be great among His disciples from the leaders of the world:

“You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10.42-45)

To Jesus, a leader equals a servant…or a servant equals a leader. Bow the knee first to the Father, and then kneel before your brothers and sisters with a towel around your waist and a washcloth in your hand. Scrub those dirty feet! True leaders get their hands dirty along with the troops. They are not above their people; they are beside them and under them.

Washing FeetJesus’ explanation of how to be great shows how every one of us can be great! We don’t need a massive mob of followers, nor must our name be outlined in flashing lights. Many times the true leader is not the guy or gal who heads up the project but the quiet person who gets things done and encourages the team.

True leaders are often simply recognized for who they are. They don’t run for office; they don’t push and pull and demand that others respect them. They just work hard, inspire others to work, and become cornerstones for the team.

The great ones in marriages are often wives. Without usurping authority over their husbands, they faithfully take care of the family business with a gentle and quiet spirit.

The great ones in churches are often women. Paul commended “Poebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea” because “she has been a helper of many and of myself also” (Rom. 16.1-2). He sent greetings to Priscilla and Aquila in the next verse, listing the wife’s name first. Paul was concerned about Euodia and Syntyche, two women who he said had “labored with me in the gospel” (Phi. 4.3). We could go on and on regarding the wonderful women of scripture! None of these women tried to step into a man’s role, but each shines as a true leader.

Shepherd WellPerhaps we should redefine our concept of leader. Truth be told, the New Testament uses the term “leader” only a few times. The clearest I could find is in Romans 12.8, which exhorts the one who leads to lead with diligence. Often we think of our elders as our leaders–and so they are–but their leadership is characterized by serving the flock. They don’t live off the fat of the flock, as worldly leaders do; they spend their lives for the flock.

So who can be a leader in the church? You can! It has nothing to do with earning a title–in fact, Jesus teaches us not to use titles. It has to do with character, humility, service.

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God Moves through Prayer

Lost in PrayerAs I glanced through Paul’s letters to see if he had much to say about prayer, I discovered it’s difficult to find a letter in which he doesn’t mention prayer or write out a prayer!

He prays for his brethren without ceasing (i.e., Rom. 1.9; Eph. 1.15-16); he encourages the Romans to continue “steadfastly in prayer” (12.12); and he prays specifically for the Corinthians “that you do no evil” and “that you may be made complete (2 Cor. 13.7, 9).

Paul also covets the prayers of the Christians to whom he writes. In Rom. 15.30-31 he asks those brethren to strive with him in prayer on his behalf that he might be delivered from those in Judea who did not believe. In Colossians 4.2-4 he asks his brothers and sisters to continue earnestly in prayer and to include him and his fellow workers as they preached the gospel: Pray “that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ…that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”

You probably recall the second shortest verse in the Bible: “Rejoice always.” Paul immediately follows that up with, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5.16-18), and as he closes the letter (and the chapter) he simply pleads, “Brethren, pray for us” (5.25).

PrayingTalk about being convicted! My mind has been specifically centered on the church here and the great need for us to cultivate men among us to be shepherds of the church. A brother told me yesterday he thought he knew the single most important thing an elder should be doing. “Tell me!” I said. “He must be willing to join other men to just pray for the flock.” Wow. So simple. Yet it’s hard work and the work of a man who walks by the Spirit.

He’s right about the need for praying shepherds, but we also need a prayerful flock. God moves through prayer. Prayer is one of the main vehicles He has chosen by which to accomplish great things on earth. It’s awesome to me that He invites His children to participate in the spiritual fight in this intimate way!

Won’t you pray for me, dear brother and dear sister? Pray for your fellow sheep. Pray for shepherds both realized and potential. Pray for God to work!

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A Prayer for Us Today

Bird CagedAnd when He had opened the book, Jesus found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4.17-21)

Amen, Lord Jesus!

Since He is our master pattern, ought we not imitate Him in this business? The gospel both proclaims freedom and indeed sets us free!

BurdenWhat manner of evil do you suffer? Is old age catching up to you? Do you experience pain and discomfort in your body? Have you struggled financially? Are you bound by alcohol or enslaved by food? Do you feel like you’ve always stumbled around in the darkness when it comes to spiritual knowledge? Are you oppressed by (or depressed because of) disease or loss?

Whatever you and I suffer, my friend, it’s because of SIN–a departure from the living God. The curses upon humanity and this earth are the direct result of our separation from the Holy True and Living God, and the GOSPEL is the message of reconciliation of man with his Maker so that we can once again enjoy the fellowship and freedom of the Garden of Eden!

My prayer for you and me today is this:

May God shine the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ into our hearts (2 Cor. 4.3-6) that He may grant us the riches of His glory, that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, that we be rooted and grounded in love and may be able to comprehend what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3.14-19)! Amen.

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The Evolution of Marriage

Macroevolution is evolution on a scale of separated gene pools. Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution, which refers to smaller evolutionary changes (typically described as changes in allele frequencies) within a species or population. (from Wikipedia.org)

Evolutionary TimelineSimply put, macroevolution is (and let me stress this) the theory of biological changes to such an extent that new species come into existence. Nevermind that geologists and historians have absolutely no record of this actually happening, many of the elite minds of modern education have bought into this theory hook, line, and sinker and have committed themselves to perpetuating the myth.

Why can I so boldly proclaim macroevolution as a myth? This wild-brained theory completely contradicts the Bible’s historical claim that God created every plant and animal after it’s own kind. In other words, God created each individual species and built into each species the ability to reproduce after its own kind. Macroevolutionists generally toss out any possibility of a supernatural God, and they certainly decry the Biblical account of creation in which God Himself speaks:

“It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it.
I stretched out the heavens with My hands
And I ordained all their host.”
(Isaiah 45.12)

Because of the pervasive teaching of evolution, it has become cool to be atheistic or agnostic and to put your faith in scientific discovery and the ideas and philosophies of men. The underlying philosophy behind evolutionary theory naturally results in major societal changes, none of which are positive.

Homosexual weddingUnfortunately, evolution has taken its toll on the most basic building block of society: marriage.
Before God instituted government, He instituted marriage. He joined husband to wife before He joined parent to child. Marriage existed before the church existed. And God saw what He had made, and behold, it was very good. Our government wants to lay claim to marriage and redefine it, as if it has authority to say the first word about it! Government has not the right to define marriage, but it certainly has the God-given role to uphold what God instituted from the very beginning.

Godless men and women are applying the natural consequences of evolution to the old tradition of marriage. They believe they have evolved beyond the worn-out concept of one man joined to one woman for life. Marriage itself is evolving. Perhaps (they theorize), as we follow evolutionary changes into the future, men and women will merge into one sex, or perhaps a third sex will evolve. Why wait for those biological changes when we can get with the program now?

But it’s not about biology, for the body of a woman is clearly the biological match for the man’s. “Does not even nature itself teach…?” It’s really about control: who tells me what to do? Who has authority over my body? Who commands my life? The macroevolutionist declares, “I do!” But the Bible points to the Creator.

In the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ:

“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matt. 19.4-6)

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The Form of Our Worship Assemblies

Worship ServiceI just ran across this excerpt from John Calvin in Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church. Keep in mind Calvin was stepping away from the Roman Catholic Church at the time, attempting to free himself of the immodesty of their pompous assemblies. Since the beginning of the church, it seems, men have wrestled with the form of our worship assemblies. You will see how much we have retained of the reformer’s forms of public worship as you read the following. You might also wonder how much of their form of worship was still influenced by their years with the Roman Catholic Church.

“Calvin built his form of worship on the foundation of Zwingli and Farel, and the services already in use in the Swiss Reformed Churches. Like his predecessors, he had no sympathy whatever with the Roman Catholic ceremonialism, which was overloaded with unscriptural traditions and superstitions. We may add that he had no taste for the artistic, symbolical, and ornamental features in worship. He rejected the mass, all the sacraments, except two, the saints’ days, nearly all church festivals, except Sunday, images, relics, processions, and the whole pomp and circumstance of a gaudy worship which appeals to the senses and imagination rather than the intellect and the conscience, and tends to distract the mind with the outward show instead of concentrating it upon the contemplation of the saving truth of the gospel. He substituted in its place that simple and spiritual mode of worship which is well adapted for intelligent devotion, if it be animated by the quickening presence and power of the Spirit of God, but becomes jejune, barren, cold, and chilly if that power is waiting. He made the sermon the central part of worship, and substituted instruction and edification in the vernacular for the reading of the mass in Latin. He magnified the pulpit, as the throne of the preacher, above the altar of the sacrificing priest. He opened the inexhaustible fountain of free prayer in public worship, with its endless possibilities of application to varying circumstances and wants; he restored to the Church, like Luther, the inestimable blessing of congregational singing, which is the true popular liturgy, and more effective than the reading of written forms of prayer.” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 8, ¶87 “The Liturgy of Calvin”)

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Don’t Complain, Trust!

ComplainingLife never seems to go exactly right for my kids. They are constantly caught between having too much work and being bored.

“Can we play the Wii? Can we watch a movie? Can we sit in front of a screen without moving and just let the colors flash in front of our faces for a few hours?”

“Oh, are you bored?” I ask. “You can unload the dishwasher while your brother puts a load of laundry in.”

“Dad! I just did that yesterday!” Lips tremble.

No matter how wonderful dinner is, they never seem so satisfied that they won’t complain about something. “I don’t like it when the macaroni and cheese touches my rib-eye. Do we have to drink water with this amazing meal? How many of these well-seasoned, buttery green beans do I have to eat? What, no dessert?” Perhaps they don’t use those exact words, but you get the idea.

So I’m reading along in Exodus 14-17…God parts the Red Sea, allowing the entire nation of Israel to cross safely to the other side to escape the Egyptian army riding hot on their heels…God closes the Red Sea over the Egyptians, wiping out the entire enemy…they burst into song: “I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously…He is my God, and I will praise Him…”

And then, first thing in the wilderness, they come to a place where the water is bitter (they can’t drink it), “and the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?'” God took care of their problem and miraculously sweetened the water.

I complainThen hunger set in: “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness…’Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger!'” So God provided bread from heaven (manna) every single morning and continued this sustenance for the next forty years!

Then they were thirsty again: “The people contended with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water, that we may drink’…and the people complained against Moses…” So God watered the people out of the side of a rock!

Come on, now, people! Can’t we get through this life without complaining and shaking our fist at God and demanding to know why He put us in whatever situation we find ourselves? Paul wrote to the Philippians and encouraged them: Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Phi. 2.14-15).

Yep, if you can do all things without complaining, you will truly be blameless. Turn the complaining into thanksgiving. Instead of centering on what God has taken or withheld, notice what God has given! Instead of noticing what’s not on the table, be thankful for what is. Those around you will be more thankful for you when you make this change, and you can rest satisfied that you are walking as God’s child. God’s true children don’t complain against Him, they trust Him.

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What’s Your Worldview?

AslanWhen you read fiction you must suspend reality and accept the author’s parameters in order to enjoy the book. If, for instance, a reader were to take issue with C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because there is no such thing as a talking lion, he would not find much enjoyment in that work. But of course most of his friends would think him silly for incredulously mocking such a masterpiece of fiction, because Lewis did not intend for his readers to believe Aslan is a real lion but to understand him as a wonderful analogy and metaphor for Someone who does exist. In fact, for all its magic, talking creatures, and impossible situations, Lewis steeped his Narnia series in a biblical worldview.

How does one determine whether a worldview is biblical or not? Simply put, a worldview is how one views the world, but a worldview determines every aspect of life. Scientists may hold a biblical worldview as their foundation for studying the physical universe; they recognize God created all things, there is a master design to all things, and God gave mankind the purpose of seeking to discover His creation. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter (Prov. 25.2). The historian may hold a biblical worldview, understanding God is the beginner and sustainer of all that happens on earth.

The depraved artist paints vulgar images, claiming “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But the artist standing on a biblical worldview paints images which glorify God, insisting that we dwell on those things which are morally upright and honorable.

Christian WorldviewWhat is your worldview? Is it biblical? Does your life rest upon Scripture or upon something else? Many who insist they are Christians really have not accepted Scripture (or don’t know enough Scripture) in order to have a biblical worldview. How do you interpret science, history, political events, language, law, morality? What underlies your actions and reactions every day? Do you make decisions based on what is politically, socially, or economically expedient for you or based on what God said is right and wrong?

Your worldview affects everything in your life. It’s worth a few minutes’ meditation to truthfully answer those questions for yourself.

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