Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Case Of Spiritual Heartburn

"I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." — Job 23:12

The other night as I was putting my daughter Kylee to bed, she grabbed the new Bible we gave her for Christmas and a pen. She rushed into bed and said, “Daddy, I know. We can read something from the Bible, underline it and then when the whole Bible is underlined, we’ll know we’ve read the whole thing.” I laughed and then quickly stopped her before she marked in her Bible. At first I told her no, but then I thought – what a great idea! This little girl wants to read the whole Bible! Why should I stop that sincere love and desire to read and understand God’s word because I don’t want her new Bible to get marked up? It was foolish thinking on my part. We underlined several verses she has memorized and the story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well in John 4. I heard one time that the condition of your Bible reflects the condition of your soul – your time spent with the Lord. Maybe more of us should desire to underline scripture and let the Lord underline it on our hearts. It’s like having “spiritual heartburn”. It keeps you awake at night and won’t let you think about anything else. But this is a good type of heartburn.

What is the first think you think about when you get up in the morning? What is it you think about before you go to bed? The Bible? Some people do. When I get up in the morning, what is the first thing I think about? The Bible? Sometimes. My church? Sometimes. Mostly, it is the day’s agenda and “what’s for breakfast”. Can I be honest? I have to train myself to get into God’s Word. I do that in a couple different ways. I have a couple of email devotionals that I receive daily. I read a couple of blog sites from some pastors I admire. I listen to several different pastors preach through podcasts. But nothing really beats getting out the written word. I love my Bible – especially the one I’ve marked up, duct-taped the spine, highlighted and had since High School.

Think about this. I mentioned food being one of the first, if not the first, thing most people think about when they wake up. How much do you desire your next meal? Probably a lot if it is a nice restaurant or you are extremely hungry. What about your desire for spiritual food? Sometimes I skip lunch because of a hectic schedule. The thought crossed my mind “wouldn't it be great if I also were willing to neglect a physical meal to make time for the Word of God?” I like what Job said about God's Word, "I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12).

Does your heart burn for the Lord and His Word? It was inside of my daughter that night and I almost extinguished it. Do you remember the two discouraged disciples on the Emmaus road? They were saddened because, in their mind, Jesus had gotten himself killed before establishing the kind of kingdom they anticipated. They were walking along discouraged, when a stranger joined them. Although they didn't know it, it was Jesus himself. He spoke to them about all the things in Scripture concerning himself. By the end of the journey, their hearts were burning again for the Lord.

When He disappeared, they said, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32).

Spiritual heartburn only comes from taking in the Word. It is almost an over indulgence of the Word. All of us could use some “Spiritual heartburn”. And we will get it when Jesus Christ speaks to us through His Word. I pray your heart burns with excitement and anticipation of what He has to say to you through His written Word.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Genuine Leadership

I hate it when someone has a title and flaunts it. It really makes you not want to do what they say. It is almost like they have to prove that they are the boss. I heard John Maxwell say one time that if no one is following you, you are just out taking a walk. Servanthood leadership is the best. It is not just "do as I say" but "do as I do".

Paul understood how to do this right. He knew that he was to be a servant-leader, not a dictator. In 2 Corinthians 1:24, Paul wrote, “Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy...” Of all people, Paul could have claimed dominion over another’s faith but instead considered himself a “member of the team,” charged with helping people mature in their faith. Paul led by example not by militant rule.

1 Peter 5:1-3 is another great example of servanthood leadership: “The elders who are among you I exhort...Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion...nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” One of the scriptures most misused in authority is Hebrews 13:17. It is a scripture that is truth - people should obey those in authority. But it is also commonly used to justify abusive control and authoritarianism by the leaders of some churches. Hebrews 13:17 instructs believers to, “Obey those who rule over you…” These leaders think that this means they have blanket authority over the flock entrusted to them and that they can proceed to take control over the personal lives and personal faith of believers. Nothing in this verse gives church leadership unrestrained control over the lives of others. Instead it teaches believers to consider the example set by truly loving, God-fearing, servant-leaders that lead us to Christ.

I don't know of anyone on our staff, elder team, deacons or leadership that repeatedly acts this way. I see all of our church leadership serving, giving and leading by example. I do think that any of them (me included) could fall into this if we aren't careful to be humble - led by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Humility, servanthood and glorifying Christ have to be at the forefront of our minds as leaders.

I don't want someone to obey me just cause I say so or have a title. My kids do that when I say things like "clean your room", but that's my kids. The goal is for them to obey me in the Lord according to Ephesians 6:1-3 ONLY as I do Ephesians 6:4 - don't provoke them to anger and bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. I can only do this as I grow in the Lord and realize that all authority comes from Him and that I am just a steward of what he has entrusted me with.

Teach me Lord to know that the head of every man is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3). Teach me to lay down my life for those who I serve and lead (1 John 3:16).