Wednesday, December 11, 2013

3 keys to leadership

There is a lot that can be said about the appearance of Jesus to Peter on the sea shore after his resurrection. As leaders I believe we can take three key thoughts for helping the people in our groups draw closer to Jesus and each other. You remember Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him and you remember Peter saying yes three times, the third with vehemence.
Jesus was calling Peter to love him and the people he was going to be leading. As leaders we have to be drinking from the well spring of Jesus love on a daily basis. Just as Peter repeatedly affirmed his love for Jesus so must we each day. We cannot be like the man who responded to his wife's request that he tell her he loved her, "I told you 30 years ago on our wedding day. If anything changes I'll let you know." Love to be lived must be expressed. What is true of our relationship with Christ is also true of our relationship with our group members. It is imperative they know we are leading them because we love them not because we hold a leadership position.
True we are leaders and leaders - well - lead. Because we are living everyday loving Jesus we have a direction for our group. We want them to love Jesus as much as we. Our example speaks volumes. They cannot know how much we love Jesus until they see how much we love them. As the young boy told his Mom when she reminded him he was not alone because Jesus was always with him, "I know, but, I want somebody with skin on." We are the love of Jesus to our group members.
Jesus makes it clear to Peter that he is in charge of the follower’s nutrition. As we select our series and as we prepare our lessons we must not forget that the follower of Jesus feeds on the Word of God. There are a lot of great lessons to be learned that do not come from studying the Word - and they have benefit for your group. However, non is better for them in the long term than the scriptures. As milk is one of natures total nutrition foods for the Word is "God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).
Love them
Lead them
Feed them
(I am grateful to Pastor Clinton Browning for the core concept in this Lifter)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Be Brave in the face of Power

Ron Walters is the Senior Vice President of Ministry Relations for KKLA had a great article this month and I have included it below. He hits the nail right on the head.
In the years following the Reformation, new controversies raged within the Church that Luther had left behind. The most heated was, Where had God placed the earth in His cosmos? The defining questions in this debate were, Are you geocentric? i.e., clinging to the notion that earth was the orbital center of all God's creation. Or Are you heliocentric? i.e., believing that the earth was just another planet taking its daily spin around the sun.
To side with the geocentric crowd was the safer choice; it was, after all, endorsed by the Church. Tradition has always been a powerful force. What was good for Grandpa is good enough for me!
On the flip side, those who tossed their cap into the heliocentric camp did so at their own peril. The Church of the 1500s did not encourage independent thinking. In fact, cutting-edge thinking tended to have guillotine conclusions.
However, during that time, one man had the correct answer to the geo/helio debate: Nicolaus Copernicus—but he wasn't talking.
Although Copernicus was the foremost astronomer of his day, he was also a cleric, a highly decorated member of the Church--the same church that fumed over Luther's earlier rebellion. And though his mathematical model of a heliocentric system was spot on, Copernicus just couldn't bring himself to expose the errors of the past and tell the world what he had discovered.
Copernicus worried. How can I tell people that Plato and Aristotle were nuts? How can I explain that Ptolemy didn't know what he was talking about? How do I say you're wrong to conventional thinking?"
For a thousand years the theories of these oft-quoted philosophers held the world's thinking in a stranglehold. Theirs was a science based purely upon observation. What they saw was what we got. The sun rose in the east and set in the west; therefore, they concluded, the sun revolves around the earth.
To compound their flawed thinking, the Church leadership liked the sound of those theories. They liked the idea that God staged His prized creation in the center of everything, not on some isolated, nondescript, obscure planet. Being the center of the universe appealed to the Church. That doctrine would preach!
The geocentric thinkers backed their claims with absurdity upon absurdity:
Every dropped object always falls to the earth. That is proof that the earth is the center of everything. If the earth was not the universal core, every dropped object would fall toward another true focal point.
Wind is a natural result of movement. Therefore, if the earth is in motion circling the sun, there would be an extraordinary display of wind. Where is that wind?
Who could argue with logic like that?
Certainly not Copernicus. For thirty years he kept the truth to himself. Not until his deathbed did he allow his work to be published and the truth to be known. What a waste! He chose to conceal the light from those who lived in the darkness.
On the flip side, many students of truth could not hold in what they knew.
The prophets. Even when the tide of public opinion turned against them, they wouldn't forsake their message—or the God who sent them.
The apostles. Their message was vigorously attacked by well-educated, well-funded and well-dressed opponents. Yet each proclaimer was willing to die for the truth.
The magi. Tradition says they had fame, fortune, and position. But what they wanted most were directions. "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him."
The gospel has always been good news, too good in fact to hide. There's a world of people in search of that truth. And, no doubt, they'll be dropping by during Christmas to hear it again.