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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Renewed Leadership

I came across a quote that is so simple, so true, and yet deeply profound. John Maxwell, Leadership Guru, says this:

“God is the Ultimate Leader, and He calls every believer to lead others. The call to leadership is a consistent pattern in the Bible. When God decided to raise up a nation of His own, He didn’t call upon the masses. He called out one leader–Abraham. When He wanted to deliver His people out of Egypt, He didn’t guide them as a group. He raised up a leader to do it–Moses. When it came time for the people to cross into the Promised Land, they followed one man–Joshua. Every time God desired to do something great, He called a leader to step forward. Today He still calls leaders to step forward for every work–both large and small.”

If you are a leader (and according to the above, every believer is a leader), then you have a calling. As 2012 draws to a close, let’s recommit ourselves to pursuing God’s plan for our leadership with fresh vigor and energy. There is no question that God has called each and every one of us to lead others. Let’s make the most of it this year.

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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Prayer

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about prayer lately. And one Scripture passage has come up a couple of times. It is a pretty strange parable, spoken by Jesus in Luke 18:

1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’”

What strikes me about this parable is how Luke introduces it. He says right in verse 1 why Jesus tells the disciples this story: “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” So before you even read the story, you know what you are looking for: an example of how to pray and not give up.

But what exactly is that example? Clearly there is something that the widow does that we are supposed to emulate. But what? My gut feeling tells me that the widow’s key trait is persistency–she doesn’t give up until she gets the answer she wants. In fact, my Bible has a header for this passage, calling it “The Parable of the Persistent Widow.” But really, I think there is a different quality at work. Something else that Jesus wants us to show us about always praying and never giving up.

The trait that this widow has that we should emulate is that she knows where to turn. It is telling that Jesus describes the judge as unjust and evil. The widow can’t predict whether the judge will do the right thing or not. She’s powerless in the situation, yet she reaches over and above her social situation to talk to the judge, because she knows that he is the only one who can help her. She knows who to turn to. And when she doesn’t get an answer immediately, she keeps turning to him. She doesn’t try to solve the problem herself, she doesn’t look for a male relative who can help, she keeps on asking the same judge. He’s the only one with the ability to help her.

Her persistency is not that she fervently prays the same thing over and over again, but rather that she prays persistently to the only one who can make a difference. And that is the quality that Jesus wants us to emulate. Turning only to God, not matter how long it takes, to get an answer to our prayers.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Spiritual Gifts

I came across this description of spiritual gifts versus natural talent, and I found it thought provoking, particularly the last two paragraphs. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
“Every human being has talents and aptitudes to do work that serves the human community, but Christians have both natural talents as people in God’s image and spiritual gifts as new creatures in Christ.

This means Christians not only must determine how their talents equip them for a certain range of work, but also how their gifts equip them for a certain range of ministry in Christ’s name.

It is not always easy or necessary to make distinctions between “natural talents” and “spiritual gifts,” since ultimately they are all from the Spirit of God (Ex. 31:1-11; Isa. 45:1-7; and James 1:17). God may adopt a talent and use it spiritually to build up others or the church; then again, he may not. As J. I. Packer points out, sometimes a very mediocre talent or ability can somehow be adapted by God into a spiritual gift, while at other times, a great talent in a Christian never seems to be used as a spiritual gift or ministry.

As we exercise our spiritual gifts, we also need to avoid two great problems: “gift cop-out” and “gift projection.” Every single one of the gifts is also a task, or assignment, given to all Christians. Not all are evangelists, but everyone is a witness. Not all are deacons or deaconesses, but all are to serve. “Gift cop-out” is saying, “Since I’m not gifted at that, I don’t have to do it at all!”

“Gift projection” works in two opposite ways: Making yourself feel guilty that you aren’t as gifted or good as someone else is, and making others feel guilty that they aren’t a passionate or as good at what you do as you are. It is all too easy to try to make the whole church over into your image–making it strictly an evangelistic church, or a justice church, or a cultural center, or an intense discipleship community.”

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Uncategorized