Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Inheriting the Promise (Part 2) – Joshua 6:1-19, 20-21, 24, 26-27

August 11th, 2009

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By way of a recap, Moses had led God’s people to the brink of the promised land and Joshua, taking the mantle of leadership from Moses at his death, now had responsibility of taking hold of the promised inheritance.  The first obstacle that lay in the path of God’s people was the fortified city of Jericho.  God had said it was theirs for the taking, because He had given it to them.  Joshua believed God, took him at his word, and the walls came down!

But this is so much more than simply a story of God’s power.  As with every page of the bible, the central character, Jesus, is pointed at, paralleled and foreshown for our understanding of God’s great plan to reconcile mankind through His son.

1) First things first: our greatest need is to have the walls of sin removed from our lives. Then can follow lasting joy, peace and forgiveness.  Confess your sin to God and to one another.

2) Finished before it began:  the taking of Jericho was a done deal in Joshua’s eyes. Despite the apparent strength of the walls, Israel put their trust in a faithful God.  For us, sin and death are mighty walls, but they have been defeated at the cross. Despite not living in complete fullness, one day we will.  We know who the winner is!

3) Follow the leader:  the name Joshua means Jesus in Hebrew, and this whole story points towards Joshua as being a type of Jesus.  Joshua did exactly what he was told.  He knew where the instructions were coming from, despite ridicule from inside and outside the camp.  It was the same for Jesus.  He was criticised for not taking Jerusalem by force, pilloried for appearing to take it on the chin.  But he took it on the cross, ‘making a spectacle’ of the principalities and powers.  This was a great display of submission in the God-head, and it is a model of how we are to relate to one another.

4) Favour undeserved:  God had already decided to give the people the city of Jericho  This was their inheritance.  He chose them and favoured them.  He has also chosen us and favoured us, an equally undeserving (ill-deserving!) people.  Our inheritance comes from Jesus and he has given us everything for life.  Let this incredible truth motivate you for worship!

Author: Categories: General Tags: , , ,

Titus 1:1-9 Part 1 – Gospel Leaders

June 8th, 2009

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Paul had left Titus in Crete after some work they had shared there near the end of Paul’s life. Several churches had successfully been birthed across the island, an island that seemed an unlikely place for the gospel to take effect. He wrote the letter we are studying as an encouragement to the key task of putting things in order (Titus 1:5) in Paul’s absence.

As we proceed in our calling to build church and advance the gospel across our city and beyond we’ll find the book full of pointers for biblical mission.

At the outset, Paul draws attention to the nature of the mission itself – God’s rescue plan for the world, which was held back throughout all ages, but was now revealed in the coming of His Son Jesus – and through the preaching of men like Paul.

You can’t escape the profound sense of wonder in Paul’s words. In fact the claims he makes would come across as the ravings of a deluded maniac – if they were not true. But people find this a struggle in our culture. We are happy to see Paul as a wise teacher of religion and his message as a very worthwhile idea – but nothing more. Paul himself won’t leave that option open. He, like Jesus, was either a dangerous madman to be avoided to this day – or his message was completely true – and the most important thing ever proclaimed.

Paul knew the expansion and impact of his message depended on the establishing of healthy growing churches – and this, in turn, depended on the right elders being appointed. So he sets to this theme immediately.

We need new elders as a church as a matter of some urgency. This is for two main reasons: firstly, we are growing and reaching new people all the time and the more sheep there are, the more shepherds are needed. Secondly, we are in a process of saying goodbye to a whole tier of senior elders who are gradually stepping down (plus Pete Lyndon who is moving north).

The next two elders we are appointing (this October) are Steve Boon and Matt Davis. Over the next few years there will be several others.

[And quite apart from the specific issue of eldership we are in need of leaders of all kinds. This is relevant to us all – called to eldership or not… In some way each of us has leadership potential to fulfill. The fact is we cannot succeed in our mission if each of you doesn’t intentionally seek to progress in your walk with God and look to take a role somehow leading others forward.

This year alone we have seen well over 140 respond to the gospel amongst us. This is phenomenal – but very, very challenging indeed! There is a terrible danger that we will have two churches under one roof. One which is made up of new people who drift in (and sadly very often out); and the other is made up of those who are mature believers who have been faithful for many years but barely rub shoulders with new people – failing to see the massive difference they will make by simply befriending new Christians – taking a lead in their lives.]

With this in mind it makes sense for us to have a good look at what the right elders will look like. Paul lists some characteristics:

Things which must be present: integrity – men without reproach; marital purity; good spiritual leadership in the home (or how can the guy be trusted with God’s household – the church?

Things which must be absent: arrogance; shortness of temper; drunkenness; violence and greed.

Further things which must be present: love of goodness; self control and discipline; hospitality and uprightness.

Something which must be firmly held to and fought for: the word of God. This must never be taken for granted – especially at a time of generational transition. We need men who love and stand up for the gospel in all its comprehensive truth.

Author: Categories: Titus Tags: , , ,

Romans 12:1-10 Gifts & Ministries of the Holy Spirit Part II

April 27th, 2009

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The book of Romans is the closest we get in the Bible to a single explanation of God’s plan of salvation. It starts in chapter 1 with dark comments on the way things went wrong for the human race. Having been made to worship God, men and women turned instead to the worship of created things. The result was foolishness and darkness (Romans 1:21-23).

Well, chapters 2-11 explain how God wins. Through the work of his son Jesus, God has brought a new ‘race’ into existence. And you can tell by the way they worship. You see the book of Romans, when it gets through describing God’s plan, and moves on to the life of those who are rescued by God, automatically starts with worship (Romans 12:1).

Renewed to Worship

The point? Those who belong to Jesus have their minds renewed (Romans 12:2) so they can offer worship, which is ‘reasonable’ (the meaning of the word in Romans 12:1, which is commonly translated ‘spiritual’). Reasonable worship is the opposite of the futility and foolishness of the idolatry of chapter 1.

So Romans, amongst other things, is about God fixing broken worshippers and, by the Holy Spirit, giving them the right mind.

Renewed to Serve

This book then goes on to talk about how these new people, with new minds, treat one another. In these verses we are told how they need to use the gifts God graciously gives to them ‘according the measure of faith assigned’ (Romans 12:3). God has not brought into existence a random bunch of disconnected superheroes and a few nobodies. He has placed us in a body – a body in which everybody plays a part, in which everybody is needed.

This means the end of individual pride and selfish ambition. That is like a cancer in this body. Members which function without the ‘renewed mind’ agenda are dangerous and need correcting. They are ‘conforming to this world’ (Romans 12:2). The antidote is to serve according to the grace and faith that God uniquely gives. This means God’s strength, not our selfishness, is the driving factor.

We’re then given some examples of how different gifts serve the body

  • Prophecy
  • Service
  • Teaching
  • Exhorting
  • Contributing (giving)
  • Leadership
  • Mercy

Renewed to Judge Rightly

Without the goal in mind being the good of the whole body, and without the energy coming from the Holy Spirit, our ‘service’ becomes self-aggrandizing. If we ‘outdo one another’ it should be in ‘showing honour’ (Romans 12:10).

To avoid missing the point we need the sober judgement, which comes from the gospel – a gospel view of ourselves.

This means reflecting on how all that we have (our salvation, our faith, our gifting) is a gift from God – therefore it is nothing we can boast in (1 Corinthians 4:7). We mustn’t idolize our own gifting or we’ll lose perspective and react fearfully or proudly whenever our false self worth is threatened.

To think soberly about oneself is to remember one is nothing special and one has no better thing than Jesus, with whom we must be completely satisfied, however well our gift is received!

We must also avoid idolizing other people’s gifts, to the point where we wish we were someone else and, instead of practicing our own measure of faith, submit to unbelief.

The main gift of the Holy Spirit is a renewed mind. With that in place everything else falls into place.

The final thing we need to do is settle with the fact that God has put us in a body. The best way to discover our gifts is to find out what it is we do which truly builds up other members. Then we can go crazy playing to our strengths. But this is humbling as we need to start accepting the evaluation of the people around us.

That can hurt but the gospel helps us to remember we are nothing special in ourselves – but loved as the most treasured possessions of almighty God! This means we can afford to get our ‘spiritual gifts ego’ jilted from time to time.

Apostles and Evangelists

April 6th, 2009

Sunday before last at CCK I preached the fourth of six messages on the theme of the Holy Spirit. The focus this time was on the gifts of the Holy Spirit (and this will remain as the theme for the rest of the series). I looked especially at the ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11 and we finished the evening service with one of our occasional Q and A sessions.

I only had time to take a couple this time as the first two needed long answers.

Another that came in, however, was worth a quick blog entry:

The foundation of the church was laid long ago, so why do we still need apostles?

There is a sense in which the foundation of the church was laid long ago. The first apostles in that respect were unique. The whole church through history was given its foundation in the complete writings of scripture – and there is no authority above the scripture. Any ‘Apostle’ or ‘Prophet’ suggesting otherwise (or claiming some secret interpretation of scripture over against the obvious one) should be ignored – or pushed off a cliff. Yes in that sense the foundation is complete, final and not to be supplemented.

But to deduce from this that all the foundation laying in church life has been done forever is a mistake. Every generation – and indeed every church – will have foundations: non-negotiable deal-breaker characteristics, doctrines, values, principles, goals and sustained passions. These exist by default. In any given community, you keep pushing and you’ll soon find what these things are. What are these people living for? What makes them tick? What can you get thrown out for? What is the mission, how do you know who is in on it, and on what basis do you get in? The answers to these questions are your foundations.

Either these foundations will be laid down by accident or deliberately. The people who lay them should not do so according to preferences. The first apostles knew they were servants of revelation and insisted that this revelation should be set down at the very heart of every local church. When they laid this foundation properly, their work would take them elsewhere. This is surely the kind of activity Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 3:10 every local church needed apostolic foundations. With these in place in a key city, Paul could consider a whole region to have as good as received the gospel (Acts 19:10; Romans 15:18-19).

Apostles given by Jesus to the church today must continue to lay foundations in every church. The major difference between today’s apostles and ancient ones is that today’s apostles submit to, and apply, the scriptures – they don’t write them!

On another note, I also taught that Sunday on the Ephesians 4:11 gift of evangelist and referred to Phil Turner as a good example of this gift in CCK. Well I like to think I was proved right this week. Phil preached at our services today and saw at least 22 people make a response to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Aside from baptizing 16 new believers – 8 at each service – I’d say that made it a good day. Jesus is giving gifts for the building of his church

Ephesians 4:1-16: Gifts & Ministries of the Holy Spirit Part I

March 31st, 2009

Often we feel like we need to defend the church or even ignore the church if we are to lead people to Jesus. Is it possible that the church is the primary reason men and women don’t accept Jesus Christ? However, the church is God’s plan, the only answer. God’s plan throughout history is worked out through the church.

God’s has given grace gifts to the church, in particular gifts of leadership. In the church everyone is on an equal footing, leader or otherwise but the ascended Christ has given some leaders to serve the church. Leadership starts with service and ends with service.

God has given apostles, to outwork foundational values in churches, Prophets to bring God’s word for a particular moment and Evangelists to help bring people into the Kingdom of God.