Tag Archives Jesus

How Now Shall We Lead?

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The life of Jesus is an example to all of us of how to effectively lead people. However, Jesus’ approach is often rejected. Jesus’ methodology and results are plain to see for anyone who desires to learn. In a relatively short period of time, Jesus assembled a core group of people who would start a transformational movement that would continue till this day. How would you have assembled such a group? Would you make it easier or harder for people to follow you? Think about it for a minute. If I wanted to build a team of people who would go on to make such an impact, how would I recruit such a team? 

Many prominent leaders today use rhetoric to draw followers. Such leaders spend hours learning persuasive language and jokes that would get any crowd laughing. Such an approach seems extremely effective short-term. You can grow a very large group of followers using this approach. However, such leaders leave their followers defenceless as they don’t have the knowledge needed to live fruitful and productive lives.

So, what can we learn from Jesus about leadership?

Firstly, true leaders always start with the end in mind. This is vital because if you are short-sighted, you will be more concerned about pleasing people than challenging them. Jesus said to his disciples as recorded in John 15:16, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” – (John 15:16 NLT). Jesus’s ultimate goal for His disciples was for them to remain as disciples and go out and make more disciples (Matthew 28:18-20 and John 8:31-32). This was reflected in the way He recruited as He allowed people to walk away. He allowed the numbers to fall because He knew quality was more important than quantity (Matthew 19:22 and John 6:60-71). It is vital as a leader in whatever capacity that you do not try to take everyone on board. You will have to be quite manipulative to try to please everyone.

It is okay for people to walk away; dwindling down in the numbers is a good thing as the people that remain will be there because they want to be as opposed to because of your magnetic personality.

Secondly, Jesus replaced Himself. This is especially hard for charismatic leaders because they see their success by their ability to do everything. If you are a business owner and desire your business to grow, you will need to be replaceable. Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:7 (ESV), “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.” Jesus knew that if His disciples continued to physically depend on Him then they wouldn’t grow. The Holy Spirit is referred to as “the Helper” that would continue the work that Jesus started. Leaders that thrive off people’s complete dependence on them suppress the growth of their team. The solution to this in business looks like promoting people that you have trained to take over the company whilst you as a leader take more of a consultancy role. Why is this important? As your business grows the demands on your time and energy will increase and you will not be able to keep up with this. Something will have to give – either your health or the productivity of your business or ultimately both.

Moses’ father-in-law wisely advised him to raise up leaders so the load on him would be distributed (Exodus 8:1-27). This advice may have just increased the years of his ministry and life.

Thirdly, leaders should create a culture where people are treated equally but differences are celebrated. If an environment in which people are treated equally is present, naturally there will be a diverse group of people. If women’s views are valued then naturally they will want to be part of the team. If people are loved regardless of cultural differences then you will have people from diverse cultures come. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – (John 13:35 ESV). John in the book of Revelations gives us a glimpse into the diversity that will be in heaven,

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” (Revelation 7:9 ESV).

Lastly and most importantly, there must be a clear vision of the impact that you want to leave. This is more than a simple mission statement but also a system or plan of how to get there. What was Jesus’s mission statement? In the great commission Jesus told His disciples to “go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”(Mark 16:15 NLT). The blueprint for doing this was also given, “…make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – (Matthew 28: 19-20 ESV). ‬‬‬‬‬‬ Which demographic of people were they called to reach? All nations! How were they to produce disciples? By teaching the people what Jesus had taught them. This is why when Peter got off track and started to show partiality to the Jews, Paul reminded Him of the mission (Galatians 2:11-18). If there is no clear vision then how do you get people back on track? It’s vital that leaders don’t assume that the people they are leading know this automatically. They must take time to go over it and break down the practical steps that need to be taken in order to see the mission accomplished. 

Leadership is a hard but rewarding position to have.

In order to lead effectively, you must be trained and have a team which you are accountable to. It’s about influencing people, not controlling them. Jesus learnt how to lead by following His Father’s example (John 5:19). Ultimately, our effectiveness in leading will be down to who actually trained us as opposed to any natural ability that we may have. The skills needed to lead can be learnt. However, we must seek to imitate the right people.

“The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” – Jesus

By guest writer Praise Anyanegbu

God Loves You, Always & Forever!

How Can I know God’s Will?

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If you’re anything like me then you will probably often find yourself worrying over what the future holds. Having recently experienced the passing of my Dad the transition hasn’t been easy. I still have questions about what it truly means to be a man. I’ve got a lot to learn and have plenty of memories of my Dad’s life that has left a mark on me. With important decisions ahead of me to make, I long to hear from God a simple yes or no. Is this the right job? Have I met my future wife yet?  It would be easier for God to just give me answers up front, it would ease my doubts and the apprehension that often tries to grip me. Then, I read Paul address to the Church of Colossae saying, “So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.” – Colossians 1:910 NLT

As much as I would prefer God to say, “that’s the right job for you” or “She’s your future spouse” , this isn’t how God usually works.

God gave us free will for a reason. He also gave us the ability to critically think, learning to weigh up before we make decisions. In so doing, He expects us to take advantage of what He has made available. Can He give us such answers? Yes! Will He? Not always. Paul says, “…you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.” This implies that our growth as Christians’ is attached to our willingness to grow in our knowledge of God. In other words, God in desiring us to grow He gives us room to make decisions. He wants to inform us in our decision-making process instead of simply making all the decisions for us. We would never grow if all we got was a yes or a no.

This is what discernment is all about rather than being told what to do in our daily walk, we learn to think like Him as we walk with Him.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:89 NLT

In my opinion, this is one of the most misunderstood scriptures in the church. The usual interpretation is something like my plans didn’t work out because His ways are higher than mine. This leaves us with the impression that when things don’t happen the way we plan them to, it’s because God’s thoughts and plans are so much wiser than ours.  Which is true however, the verse means so much more than that. The verses that come before verses 8 and 9 are, “Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for He will forgive generously.” – Isaiah 55:67 NLT

The issue isn’t just that God is so much wiser than us. The issue is that naturally as humans, our thinking is twisted. We tend to take what God gives us and abuse it.

As a child, I enjoyed playing football but my enjoyment for football became an obsession. Rather than sport being used as a tool to develop my character, patience and discipline as it later did, I wrapped my whole identity around it. The prophet Isaiah is bringing our focus back. In imploring us to forsake our natural tendency to rebel and twist what God gives us, he is encouraging us to learn to see as God sees. This takes us back to Paul’s letter to the Church in Colossae. We will not grow if we continue to walk in such a way that leads us further and further away from God’s ways. If my prayers for a spouse is all about me and my desires do not line up with His, it would mean that lust has gripped my heart.

“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” – James 4:23 NLT

These are strong words from James. Ultimately, he is saying that our desires aren’t always right or good meaning they don’t always align with God’s. This runs contrary to the world’s mantra of “follow your heart”. James is telling us not to follow our heart because our heart often leads us astray. Someone might say but I love Jesus! James would ask do you really?!

Do you remember the first question that Jesus asked Peter after He resurrected? Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Why do you think He did that? Jesus surely knew the answer to the question. Jesus’s reply to Peter is revealing, “Then feed my Lambs…” – John 21:15 – 17

I can proclaim to love God all day but I cannot love Him if I don’t know what He desires from me and if I refuse to obey Him when I know what He desires from me.

How do I come to know what He desires from me? Well, I must first realise that I don’t automatically know. I can only know by seeking out and discerning God’s will through proving (Romans 12:2) and by His grace obeying Him.

A pastor once said, “If I had three years to serve God, I would spend the first two studying and preparing.” What a waste! I can imagine a lot of people thinking. By nature, we want to make a huge impact for God’s kingdom before we take time to get equipped. However, willingness to prepare ourselves through study shows an intelligent regard for God and His ways. This is important in all aspects of the Christian life. A medical doctor would have to have spent years in medical school before they could perform an open-heart surgery on their patient. This is because of the potential damage that such a high-pressured job can have on people’s life. We would never say that all that time of study is a waste of time. As Christians, our impact on people in our communities, in our places of work and our families has eternal consequences. So, if I don’t take time to know God and His ways, I will not represent Him correctly to the people that I come in contact with. It’s not enough to be enthusiastic about the Lord that enthusiasm must come with knowledge,

“Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.”  – Proverbs 19:2 – 3 NLT

Knowing God’s will through Discernment

In referring to critical thinking, I’m not encouraging reliance on our own understanding. As stated above our thinking doesn’t always line up with God’s. So, what I mean by critical thinking is as Apostle Paul says, “…in your minds be mature [adults].” – 1 Corinthians 14:20 AMP

Practically, this means that we reflect over who and what is influencing the decisions that we make. If my primary reason for getting a job is because I want to appear wealthy amongst my friends then I’ll be more concerned about my salary than my service to my company. I should instead think through the skills and gifts God has given me and seek to use those skills for the benefit of the organisation that has employed me. Does that mean that I shouldn’t seek out a promotion? No! Think about the reasons why you want a promotion. Wanting to provide for my family and give more generously lines up more with God ways than having more money so that I can be flashy amongst my peers.

In desiring to be married is the primary reason because I desire companionship? Are those lonely nights influencing my search? For many married couples, they feel lonelier now than when they were single. Companionship is a good thing but it shouldn’t be the primary reason for me deciding to get married. If you avoid asking difficult questions because you are fearful that the other person will walk away, you may be compromising in a bid to try to fulfil your desire for companionship. Truth and transparency set a good foundation for marriage. Asking questions like ‘Do you have a history of viewing pornography?’ Have you found freedom in this area? What are your career ambitions and what are you currently doing to get there? Do you want children? Will both of us work once we are married or will one of us stay at home with the children? You may be surprised by the answers that come. Please don’t dismiss such questions as marriage is very challenging. Yes, there are plenty of benefits that come from being married but whatever pleasure there is there are responsibilities attached to it.

Children don’t tend to think about the consequences of their decisions. They don’t usually think about what awaits 10 – 20 years down the line.

Momentary satisfaction is the main motivator for a lot of their decisions. Every decision that we make have ripple effects years down the line so we need to grow in our thinking so that we can see clearly. That new job feeling will ware off no matter how much money you’re being paid. Infatuation hinders our ability to see the other person’s flaws, hindering us from making an informed decision.

In conclusion, this is the pattern of how people in the bible grew in their knowledge of God. God warned them to test what their prophets said rather than simply believe (Deuteronomy 18:17-22). They were encouraged to marry based on the known and proven character of the person within their communities (Judges 14:3 and Ruth 3:11). In the New Testament, Paul instructs that leaders should be closely examined before been given their position (1 Timothy 3:10). They were also encouraged to test prophecies (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21). Why is this important? Because we only come to know God’s will if we seek.

As we test out and examine, we grow and learn to know God more and more. The process isn’t meant to be easy growth never is but it is always worthwhile.

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” – Proverbs 3:1314 ESV

By guest writer Praise Anyanegbu

God Loves You, Always & Forever!

Trading Glory

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Caution: Some of this is probably a bit PG.

Often in the Bible, God’s relationship with His people is portrayed as a marriage showing the depth of His relationship with those He calls His own. In the Old Testament, God is seen many times to be reminding the nation Israel that she’s married to him and refers to Himself as her Husband. However, the people of Israel turned away from God in idolatry countless times. But God always called out to them to return to Him and even in their unfaithfulness, His love and mercy for His nation was boundless.

In the book of Hosea, God is seen to be dealing with this recurring issue of Israel’s unfaithfulness. He states that Israel was His wife and He her Husband but that Israel had neglected her marriage to God and was chasing after other lovers (Hosea 2:2-5). This is referring to her idolatry and backsliding from God in rejecting Him and chasing other gods. What’s interesting is that many times in the book of Hosea, Israel’s unfaithfulness to God is referred to as ‘harlotry’ – also known as, prostitution. However, we usually call unfaithfulness in marriage just ‘adultery’. So why didn’t God just say Israel was committing adultery? Why go as far as saying it’s harlotry? At first thought, it seems a bit extreme to refer to unfaithfulness as prostitution. When looking at the difference between the two words though, adultery can simply be an act committed for pleasure. Prostitution, however, is an act committed for payment or some sort of gain. This indicates that Israel in her unfaithfulness to her Husband was seeking some sort of payment from the other lovers she was chasing. There were some things she was hoping to gain from them. This is shown in Hosea 2:5 (NKJV) – For she said:

“I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, My oil and my drink.”

When reading further down the chapter, we see God’s jealousy towards His people as He expresses His intention to block Israel’s path so she doesn’t find what she seeks from the other lovers. Her search for them would end up being pointless and would lead to nowhere. Ultimately, His goal was so that ‘…she will say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, For then it was better for me than now.’ – Hosea 2:7 (NKJV)

God expresses a similar frustration towards His people through a different prophet, Jeremiah. He states how He remembers the love that Israel had when she first got engaged to Him in the wilderness after coming out of Egypt. But once she had received her promised land, she defiled it, turned her back to Him, and played the harlot (Jeremiah 2 NKJV). In her backsliding, not only had Israel forsaken the fountain of living waters, but she had built for herself broken vessels which could not provide or even hold, any ‘water’ at all (Jeremiah 2:13 NKJV). She’d created useless things for herself that didn’t give out nor hold any life or good thing while forsaking the One who is the source of life and who is Good. What was more surprising to God was that Israel’s kind of unfaithfulness towards Him was not seen in the other nations who had gods which were not really true gods (Jeremiah 2:10-11 NKJV). These other nations never traded or changed their false gods, but the people of the one true God did. ‘…but My people changed their Glory [God] for that which does not profit.’ – Jeremiah 2:11 (AMPC)

What is amazing in all this is that, even in Israel’s harlotry, God still sought for her to return to Him and be His once again. He actually instructed His prophet Hosea to go and marry a prostitute and love her just so He can represent and show him the love that He has for the unfaithful Israel (Hosea 1, 3:1). Because of His love and jealousy for Her, He didn’t allow her to find what she sought from other lovers as He wanted her all for Himself. In fact, it’d always been Him who provided the very things she was seeking somewhere else.

So He stripped her off what He’d given her and allowed her to go through difficulty so she can remember what it was like being with her Husband.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her [Israel] and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart.’ – Hosea 2:14 (AMPC)

He allowed her to go through the wilderness – through bareness, heat, and difficulty so He can love on her and bring her back to Himself. God loved Israel even in her unfaithfulness and prostitution. He desired and worked to bring her back to Himself once again.

This heart of God towards His people Israel back then, applies to His people today. In Christ Jesus, we who once were not a people are now the people of God (1 Peter 2:10). As His people, and as the Church, we have been engaged to one Husband and will be presented as the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2). So all this relating to His people Israel applies to His Church today. God still seeks to preserve the integrity of His marriage to His people.

He burns with fierce jealousy for them and longs for His people to be His people alone.

However, there are many ‘other lovers’ that disrupt this relationship and our faithfulness to God. Idolatry doesn’t necessarily just apply to physical statutes but anything and everything that threatens our union with God. Many times, same as Israel, our turning away is for some kind of payment. As Israel sought food, clothing, drink, and oil from other lovers, we also divert from God to ‘other lovers’ in an attempt to feed the hunger, cover the nakedness, and satisfy the thirst of our lives. So, in an attempt to satisfy some of these needs and wants are we chasing ‘other lovers’ for payment? As the people of God, as His Church, are we taking our eyes off our Husband? Have we given our hearts and minds to something else? Or are we honouring our union with Him?

Searching somewhere else for what we can find only in God is pointless and leads to nowhere.

It never really resolves the needs and longing of our souls. But instead, it makes us stray away from the fountain of living waters – our source of everything and from which all life and good things flow. It separates us from our first love and dishonors our union with Him. As said about other nations in Jeremiah, even today, there is not the kind of unfaithfulness towards other supposed gods in the world as seen within the people of the one true God. We still trade our Glory, our God for what does not profit. But even when in harlotry, God loves His people. He intends His great love and kindness to lead us to repentance and return us to Him. He is always working to have His people back – for us to be His and His alone once again. Therefore, let us return.

By guest writer Abby Folle

God Loves You, Always & Forever!

Enduring Faith 2 – Cultural Engagement

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We can learn a lot from the influence of the Church in the Roman world. The Church influenced multiple aspects of society. This blog focuses on four main areas, namely – the individual, the family, their communities and their nation. I hope that as Christians we will learn from History and be better informed in order to engage more successfully with those we come in contact with.

Enduring Faith

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As we read through the Bible we come across many men and women who displayed tremendous faith in God. We’re inspired in our daily walk with the Lord as we see those willing to take a stand for what they believed in even if it meant that they faced the fiery furnace, the sword, lions and a giant.

‘Lord, Lord’

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“Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].” – Matthew 7:21-23 (AMPC)