#234: The Young Leader Who Lived Through Peace, Prosperity, Reformation, and Disaster

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Imagine turning a large company over to an 8-year old to run. A third grader! You wouldn’t do it, would you?!

Josiah Leader

Now, imagine turning a whole nation over to an 8-year old king? Well, that’s exactly what happened to young Josiah. He was made king over Israel when he was 8-years old after his father, Amon, was assassinated.

Fortunately, Josiah had two Godly people who shaped his young life; his mother, Jedidah, and Hilkiah, the high priest.

There’s a lot we can learn from this young king that parallels many of the situations we face as leaders today. His story is recorded in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35.

Peace & Prosperity

Josiah’s 31-year rule as king occurred during an unusual period. The Assyrian empire was in decline, and the Babylonian empire had not yet become a world power. The ebb and flow of power between the Assyrians and the Babylonians meant the Israelites had a time of relative peace in which they could govern themselves and pursue their trades.

Reformation

When he was 16-years old, Josiah turned away from the evil ways of his father and turned to God. When he was 20-years old, he began a campaign to rid Judah and Jerusalem of foreign idols and altars.

When Josiah was 26-years old, he ordered the cleansing and repair of the Lord’s temple. A copy of the Book of the Law was found in the temple and read to Josiah. He realized how far the people had fallen away from God. Josiah assembled the leaders, and before the people, made a covenant with God to follow all of God’s commands. All the people of Judah entered into the covenant with Josiah to follow God.

Disaster

When Josiah was 39-years old, God instructed Neco, Pharaoh of Egypt, to march to the Euphrates to help the Assyrians in Battle against the Babylonians. Josiah went out with his army to confront Neco. Neco warned Josiah not to oppose God by engaging in a battle with him. Instead of heeding Neco’s warning, Josiah went into battle and was killed. Josiah’s death ended Judah’s 31-year period of peace and self-rule. They were conquered and ruled by the Egyptians, then the Babylonians.

The people of Judah endured four bad kings in a row for nearly 23 years until Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were exiled.

Leadership Lessons for Us

Among the many lessons we might learn from the life and reign of King Josiah, here are my top five:

1) Godly Advisors. Josiah was indeed fortunate that he had two Godly advisors who helped shaped his young life. The important thing here is that Josiah listened to them and became a man after God’s own heart.

Leader Lesson. Surround yourself with Godly men and women who can give you sound counsel and listen to them!

2) Seek the Lord. Josiah made a personal decision to follow the Lord.

Leader Lesson. It is not enough to have Godly men and women speak into our lives. We must each make a personal decision to follow God.

3) Courage. Josiah was only a young man, but he had the courage to rid the country of the foreign idols and altars that had been allowed by his father and grandfather.

Leader Lesson. There will be times in each of our lives when we must have the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion when it is contrary to God’s will for us.

4) Humbled Himself. When Josiah heard the words of the Lord read from the Book of the Law, he humbled himself and vowed to follow all the Lord’s decrees.

Leader Lesson. A position of power or prestige often brings out our prideful nature, but true Godly leaders will humble themselves and always be ready to follow as God leads.

5) Keep Seeking the Lord. Josiah’s reforms brought the people of Judah back to the Lord. But at some point, he stopped seeking the Lord in every matter. Ignoring the Lord in the matter of Pharaoh Neco, brought about his death and the enslavement of the people of Judah.

Leader Lesson. There is never a good time in the life of a Christian leader to stop trusting and seeking the Lord.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of these leadership lessons do you think is most important in your life right now?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

#233: Christian Leaders Need to Read Their Bible!

A recent survey by Lifeway Research found a lot of Americans think the Bible is helpful, but they don’t read it much.

Leaders Read Bible

What? Tell me it isn’t so! How can you say a book is helpful if you haven’t read it?

Some Have Read

In this survey of “representative Americans,” Lifeway found only 11% had read the Bible all the way through. Only 9% had read all the Bible more than once. Another 12% said they had read almost all of it, and another 15% stated that they had read at least half.

So, 47% of Americans have read half the Bible or more.

Some Haven’t Read

On the other side of the equation, 10% of Americans have never read any of the Bible, 13% have read a few sentences, and 30% have read a few passages or stories.

So, 53% of Americans haven’t read enough of the Bible to know what it says or doesn’t say.

This doesn’t make sense! Nine out of ten homes in America own a Bible, and the average home has three Bibles! What are we doing with them – using them as paperweights?

Many Think It’s Worthwhile

What is even more confusing is a lot of people seem to think the Bible is worthwhile:

  • 52% said it is a good source of morals.
  • 37% said it is helpful today.
  • 36% said it is true.
  • 35% said it is life-changing.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet the people that think the Bible is a good source of morals, is helpful, is true, or is life-changing are the 47% of folks who have actually read a good chunk of it.

Some Don’t Think So

A few people didn’t have a positive view of the Bible: 14% said it is outdated, 8% said it is bigoted, and 7% said it is harmful. Again, I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet these folks are the ones who haven’t read much or any of the Bible.

We Have a Problem

If you claim to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, you need to know who it is you are following! The best way to do that is to read and study His Word.

I am absolutely convinced that many of the political and societal issues we are facing today are the result of two things. First, too many professing Christians don’t know the Word of God. The second reason for our political and societal issues is that we are not doers of the Word (James 1:22).

Christian leaders, we need to step up. We need to take responsibility and be the powerful, inspired leaders God has called us to be. We need to know the Word, and we need to be doers of the Word.

Our example as leaders will be a light that shines before others. They will see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Start Reading and Studying Today!

If you are one of the Christians, who hasn’t read and studied the Bible as much as you would like, then I implore you to start today. Find a Bible reading program and start reading. Get into a good Bible study. Get into a good Bible teaching church.

Do you want to get into a program to help you read and understand the Bible in the course of a year? If so, you are welcome to join with me and people from over 100 countries who are reading and studying the Bible daily.

I’ve developed two reading and studying programs that will get you through the Bible in a year. One is a straightforward Genesis – Revelation study. The other is a Chronological study which presents the Bible in the order events happened in history.

If you are interested, check us out and join us out at Bible Study Daily.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What do you think of these survey results? Do they surprise you, trouble you, or is it about what you expected?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Commitment

#231: Is it Wrong to Leave God out of the Workplace?

A recent survey of professing Christians found that 83% were either very careful about how they integrated their faith in the workplace, or rarely if ever, let anyone in the workplace know about their faith.

Workplace

Respondents gave a number of reasons for their reluctance to let others know about their faith, but the root reason was fear. They were afraid of being judged, of being oppressed or persecuted, or of not being able to defend their faith.

If our work is to be in harmony with God’s will then we cannot leave God out of the workplace!

I believe there are three reasons why we should not leave God out of the workplace: 1) work is Godly, and 2) work is our service to Jesus, and 3) work is our evangelism.

Work is Godly

Beginning with the creation account in Genesis, we see God is a worker. At each stage of creation, God paused to review His work and proclaimed that it was good.

In Genesis 2:15 God placed Adam in the garden of Eden to “work” it. Work was commanded by God, before the fall of man, and it was good. In fact, the word translated “work” in Hebrew is abad. The same word is translated elsewhere as “worship.”

Work is Godly. It was ordained by God. Work is a form of worship to God!

Work is our Service

Numerous passages in the New Testament speak of the grandeur and unity of God’s creation.

Paul, writing to his young protégé Timothy, said, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5).

God created the concept of work, and here Paul says everything God created is good. Everything here includes work!

Paul, this time writing to the Colossians, says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…it is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Paul makes it very clear that work is one way we serve the Lord. Paul makes no distinction about the type of work that serves the Lord. There is no higher and lower plane. The person in the pulpit serves the Lord in his work just as much as the field worker, the fast food worker, the housekeeper, the office maintenance man, and everyone else does in his/her work.

The relevant question is, “Is this work in harmony with God’s will? Is it of service to Christ?”

Work is our Evangelism

A lot of Christians I know don’t think of themselves as evangelists. But trust me we all are! Whether we like it or not we are in the world, and the world sees Jesus through what they see in us.

Some folks abdicate their responsibility by saying evangelism is the role of the professionals; the pastors, and missionaries.

But that limits our ability to reach the world and does not align with Scripture.

First of all, our pastors have an hour or maybe a bit longer (depending on your denomination) to preach to people, who, for the most part, are already in the boat.

You and I, on the other hand, have 40, 50, or even more hours in the workplace where we have the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ to people who, for the most part, are not in the boat.

Secondly, all Christians have been given gifts for the express purpose of ministering to the body. Writing to the Ephesians Paul said the gifts were, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

Third, Jesus commanded us to be salt and light to the world.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

Salt is a preservative, but if it becomes impure, it loses its ability to preserve. We are to be like pure salt that preserves the Lord’s teaching. If we become impure by accepting a secular worldview our teaching is of no value to the Kingdom.

Light provides direction and enables you to walk securely without stumbling. If the light is hidden under a basket, it is of no use. A Christian who hides their faith is of no use in bringing light to others.

Christian leaders, we must be pure salt and a bright light in the workplace. We must use the gifts and opportunities God has given us to build up the Kingdom.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled to be pure salt and a bright light in the workplace?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Courage/Risk-Taking

 

 

 

#230: How Does the Greek Worldview of Work Compare to the Biblical Worldview?

When I was a young Christian, I struggled with the question of if, or how, I should integrate my faith into the workplace. It turns out a lot of older, more seasoned Christians I turned to for advice had the very same struggles.

Worldview

As I did some research, I found man has been struggling with this question for some time!

Greek Worldview

Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, shunned the God of the Hebrews and instead came up with their own man-centered philosophies to define the world.

Socrates

Socrates developed the “dialectic method” where students came up with their own meaning of justice and goodness. Today, we refer to such constructs as “moral relativism.”

This philosophy claims there are no universal moral truths. In other words, nobody is objectively right or wrong. Moral relativism holds that because nobody is right or wrong, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others. Does that sound familiar?

Plato

Plato developed the concept of “dualism.” Dualism divides man’s experience into two planes; a higher and lower. The higher plane is made up of eternal things, while the lower plane consists of physical and temporal things.  Work was placed in the lower, temporal plane.

Aristotle

A thousand years later, Aristotle merged Plato’s concept of dualism with Christianity. He came up with two planes as well; there was the “contemplative life” and the “active life.” The contemplative life included sacred activities like Bible study, preaching, and evangelism. The active life activities were the secular activities of life. Like Plato, Aristotle placed work in the lower plane.

Thomas Aquinas

Fast forward to the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas furthered the concept of dualism with two planes he called “Grace” and “Nature.” The higher plane of Grace included such things as understanding theology and church matters. The lower plane of Nature included man’s natural intellect (that which did not require revelation from God). Work did not require revelation from God, so it was part of the lower plane of Nature.

Pietist Movement

Philip Jacob Spener founded the Pietist movement of the 17th century. Pietists continued the concept of dualism with even sharper divisions between what they called the spiritual and the material world. The material world, including work, was of no importance. In the pietist’s view, it was impossible to serve God in your work; only when engaged in spiritual pursuits was one serving God.

A graphical view of the Greek dualistic worldview looks like this.

Greek Worldview

 

There are two planes. The upper, or higher, plane is the sacred activities. The bottom, or lower plane, is the secular activities. The sacred activities include things that are spiritual, eternal and the unchanging realm of God in heaven. The secular activities include things that are physical, temporal, and the changing realm of humans on earth.

Fast forward to modern times. Dualism remains with us. Many people, including people of faith, still believe there are higher and lower planes; that some activities related to spiritual things are of the higher plane and they matter to God, while normal activities of life like work are the lower plane and don’t matter to God.

Between moral relativism and dualism, it’s no wonder people are confused about how to integrate their faith in the workplace.

Biblical Worldview

The Biblical view of work stands in stark contrast to the Greek concept of dualism dividing man’s existence into a higher and lower plane.

In the Biblical worldview, the concept of dualism does not exist. Life is not divided into two planes; one higher and one lower. There is no spiritual plane and a secular plane.

Biblical Worldview

Everything including church, school, art, home, music, drama, sports, business, law, labor, agriculture, sex, medicine, and everything else in man’s existence is either in conflict with God’s will or in harmony with God’s will.

That means our work is either in harmony with God’s will or in conflict with God’s will. If our work is to be in harmony with God’s will then we cannot leave God out of the workplace!

Satan would like nothing more than for Christians to remain afraid of sharing the Gospel in the workplace.

Paul, exhorted Timothy, his young protégé not to be afraid of sharing his testimony: “…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Christian leaders, we must not let the prevalence of moral relativism and dualism in the workplace keep us from our playing our part in accomplishing the Great Commission!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you seen or experienced the Greek worldview of moral relativism or dualism in the workplace? If so, in what way?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Courage/Risk-Taking

 

#229: Achieving Your God Sized, Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

Think Big, Start Small

As far as I know, Jim Collins was the first person to coin the phrase “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals” (or BHAG’s for short) in his 1994 book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.

Goals

Jim’ s idea spread quickly through Fortune 500 companies, including P&G where I worked at the time.

A BHAG is a visionary statement that is both strategic and emotionally compelling. At least in the case of P&G, we added the concept that to be a BHAG the idea must be so large, so visionary, that we don’t know how to accomplish it.

A perfect example of a BHAG from my youth was expressed by President John F. Kennedy. In announcing the United States’ intention to lead the world in space, Kennedy said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Kennedy could have said “the United States will expand the space program,” but that would not have been visionary or emotionally compelling. Kennedy’s goal was certainly a BHAG because at the time, no one knew had to get a man to the moon, land, and return safely.

Long before Kennedy, another man proclaimed an even bigger BHAG. Jesus said to the disciples, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The disciples, a rag-tag group of doubters and misfits, had no idea what was in store for them. Yet, through them, Jesus’ proclamation changed the world.

Not all of us can change the world through our actions, but we can change or corner of the world. To impact our corner of the world we need to establish our own BHAG’s.

Establish Your BHAG

To achieve a goal, you have to establish a goal.

To achieve a BHAG, you have to establish a BHAG. You have to think BIG! Think so big that it is beyond what you know how to do. Think so big that it is beyond what you are capable of doing. Think so big that the only way it can be achieved is through God’s power.

Paul, writing to the Ephesians said God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). That power at work in us as believers is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine!

Do you want to make a God-sized difference in your corner of the world? Then establish a God-sized BHAG; something that can only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit working through you!

When you establish a God-sized BHAG, that is aligned with Gods’ will for your life, then you can be assured that “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s provision.

Get Started

But to achieve a God-sized BHAG you have to get started, and the best way to get started is to start small.

There is a Greek proverb that roughly translates, “the beginning is half of every action.” To accomplish any goals, let alone a God-sized BHAG, you have to get started. Getting started is often the hardest first step.

Here are three suggestions to get you started on your BHAG:

Start Small

Start with a small amount of faith and move against your God-sized BHAG.

Jesus told the disciples that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed they will be able to move mountains (Matthew 17:20). The tiniest amount of faith, combined with the power of God can and will accomplish great things.

Pray

Commit your BHAG to the Lord and reinforce your faith with prayer. James admonished believers saying, “You want something but don’t get it…you do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).

Thank God

Thank God for who He is and what He is doing for you. God is blessing and enabling you to accomplish more than you could ever hope or imagine. So, follow the example of the psalmist who said, “You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you” (Psalms 118:28).

If you want to make a difference in your corner of the world,  establish a God-sized BHAG. Then get to work on accomplishing what God has called you to do by starting small, committing your efforts to the Lord in prayer, and thanking God for his blessings and provision in your life!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you established a God-sized BHAG to impact your corner of the world? If so, any suggestions for the rest of us?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#228: United We Stand, Divided We Fall

This week should be a wonderful week of celebration here in the United States. It is the 241st anniversary of the July 4, 1776, signing of the United States’ Declaration of Independence from Britain.

United We Stand

But, I don’t feel much like celebrating. As I look around the political landscape of our country today, it seems we have not been this divided since the Civil War.

The de facto motto of the United States, “E Pluribus Unum,” was adopted at the same time as the signing of the Declaration. The motto, which translates to “Out of Many, One,” symbolized the strength of the 13 original colonies becoming united as one country.

It was through this united stand that the poorly equipped and largely untrained army of the colonists defeated and won independence from the most powerful country in the world.

Our motto reminds me of the line, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” from Aesop’s Fable, “The Four Oxen and the Lion.”

In this fable, four oxen are arguing with each other and so head off to separate corners of the field to graze. A lion comes along and devours each of the four oxen.

Had they settled their dispute and stayed together they would have been able to fend off the lion.

Divided they fell.

Divided we will fall. Not necessarily to an enemy from the outside. More likely, the enemy is within us. The lion that may devour us is the bitter division of intolerance.

The oxen could not tolerate each other’s differences of opinion, and so they all became lion food.

I fear the same will happen to us.

In late May, Steve Tennes, a Christian farmer in Michigan who lives 22 miles from East Lansing was denied a business permit to sell his crops at the local farmer’s market. Why?  Because he believes God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.

A few weeks ago, actress, preacher, and gospel singer Kim Burrell preached against homosexuality in her church. As a result, her appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ TV show was canceled. Burrell’s radio show was canceled. She was disinvited from an appearance as co-honoree of the BMI Gospel Music Awards. All because she preached a Biblical message in her church.

These are just two of the many examples of Christians who have been marginalized and oppressed for trying to live their lives in a way that honors God and His commandments.

The people who claim to be the most tolerant, are in fact among the least tolerant. They are not willing to let those who do not share their views live amongst them.

This is not a free and open society.

This is a divided, oppressive society.

President Abraham Lincoln, in a speech at the Republican Convention of 1858 said in part,

“We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.
Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.
In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Lincoln’s line, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” is a reference to Jesus’ warning to the disciples about the importance of unity in the Church.

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” Matthew 12:25.

We cannot exist as a productive society as long as there are those who seek who do away with God and His plan for humanity.

Christians, remember Jesus’ warning, “…every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”

Let us come together as believers, setting aside our minor differences, and agree to unite against the common enemy that confronts us.

As long as we are in different corners of the pasture, we will become lion food.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you experienced oppression for maintaining your Christians values?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Values

 

#227: Shall I Do the Good I Know To Do?

There are days when I wake up thinking, “Good morning, God.” But there are days; I hate to admit it when I am more likely to wake up thinking, “Good God, it’s morning!”

Good Evil

Some days I just don’t “feel” like being a good Christian.

Now, this is a problem. The rest of the world could care less how I feel when I wake up. People are going to look at me and decide, “Is this a reflection of Jesus I see?” or “Is this a reflection of the spawn of Satan?”

A perfect example is when I get behind the wheel of my car. If I have plenty of time to get to my destination, and the freeway is flowing along, then I am pretty likely to wave and let you in when you are merging into my lane.

BUT, if I am late. If the freeway is not flowing freely. If you didn’t signal before you cut in front of me. Then I will likely offer you words of encouragement to improve your driving. If you cut in front of me and then slow down, then I will likely suggest locations for you to park your car until you learn how to drive.

I know it’s just me. I know these thoughts have never crossed your mind when you are driving.

The conversations I have are just between the other driver and me. Oh, and my passengers. And of course, God.

Here’s the point. Every day should be a “Good morning, God” kind of day. After-all, it is only by God’s grace that He gave me another day to live and to love.

Every day is an opportunity for me to reflect God’s love and grace to the world. The trouble is, I am weak and full of corruptible sin.

I Fail to Do the Good I know to Do

There are times I know the good I should do, and I fail to do it.

  • I know I should be relaxed and patient when I am behind the wheel of my car.
  • I know I should respond to that email request today because I promised I would.
  • I know I should work on that project at work because I committed to finishing it by tomorrow.
  • I know I shouldn’t listen to the gossip in the office.
  • I know I should help out that homeless guy who is looking for some food.

Yes, I know the good I should do, but sometimes I just don’t do it.

Jesus’ Lessons from the Parables

Jesus frequently taught the disciples this lesson about discerning what should be done and not fail to do what we should.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), there is the man who received one talent of gold with instructions to invest it until his master returned. Instead of investing the gold, the man hid it in the ground. He knew what he should do, but he failed to do it.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) a priest and a Levite purposely avoid helping a badly beaten man left at the side of the road. They knew what they should do, but they failed to do it.

In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man didn’t care about people while he was alive. Then wanted special treatment after he died. He knew what he should have done while he was alive, but he failed to do it.

There are a lot of other examples. In fact, much of Jesus’ teaching touches on this topic of knowing what we should do and fail to do it.

James’ Drives the Point Home

It is no wonder that at the beginning of his book, James admonished believers to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Then, summarizing his instructions, he concludes saying, “Therefore, it is sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.” (James 4:17.

These are sins of omission. Sins of omission are those that accrue to us because we fail to do something we knew we should do.

Our Christian experience is expressed every day. Not just through avoiding the obvious commission of sin but also the sins of omission.

Christians should always be doers of the Word; people who know the good to do and do it!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled at times knowing the good that needs to be done, but not doing it?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#226: Remaining True to Your Principles in a Spiritual Battle

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

I imagine most of you are familiar with the adulterous story of David and Bathsheba. This tragedy is usually told from King David’s perspective. But what about Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband?

David hgnds letter to Uriah. Principles

This month in our Lessons from the Lesser Known I want us to shift our focus to see what we can learn from Uriah the Hittite.

Uriah’s Backstory

Uriah was a soldier in Kings David’s army. Some scholars suggest he carried the rank of a general. Uriah was honored as one of David’s 37 mighty men by David himself (2 Samuel 23:39).

Uriah’s home was just down the hill from King David’s palace which suggests that he was a man of means and social standing (2 Samuel 11:2).

David’s Treachery

While his army was out fighting against the Ammonites, King David was sitting back in his palace. He saw Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. He inquired about her, and despite knowing she was Uriah’s wife, he had her brought to him. David slept with her, and she became pregnant.

Hoping to conceal his act, David called for Uriah to be brought back from the battle under the guise of giving David a status report. David’s plan was that Uriah would go home and get his wife pregnant before returning to battle.

Uriah stayed at the palace with David’s servants that night rather than going home. The next day, David got Uriah drunk and tried a second time to get him to sleep with Bathsheba. But Uriah spent the night with David’s servants again.

Because David’ attempts to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba failed, David sent orders to Joab, his commander, to send Uriah into the battle where the fighting was the fiercest. Uriah died in battle, and his death was reported to David.

Uriah’s Principles

When David confronted Uriah about why he had not gone home and slept with Bathsheba, Uriah offered a principled explanation. Uriah said,

“The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” (2 Samuel 11:11).

Uriah put God first (the ark of God). He put God’s people (Judah and Israel) second. Then Uriah put God’s servants (Joab and the men of David’s army) next.

God first. God’s people second. God’s servants third. They were in the midst of a battle, camped in tents and open fields. Uriah could not see himself enjoying the comforts of home while his fellow warriors were not.

Uriah’s principles stand in stark contrast to David’s behavior. David should have been out leading his army. Instead, he stayed in the comfort of his palace while his men fought against God’s enemies for him.

This is bad enough, but he compounds his error by succumbing to lusts of the flesh when he inquired about a married woman, has her brought to him, and has sex with her.

David later married Bathsheba, but God considered the whole matter evil (2 Samuel 11:27).

Uriah, fighting a physical battle, remained true to his principles and faithful to God. David, fighting a spiritual battle, put his principles aside for his selfish interest.

Leaders, in this fallen world we are certain to face some combination of physical and spiritual battles. Let us strive to keep our eyes upon God the Father who has promised to give us the strength we need to stay true to Him (Philippians 4:13).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Has adhering to your principles ever put you in a difficult or even dangerous situation? How did you respond?

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Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#225: The Insidious Gap Between What We Say and What We Do

Gandhi reportedly said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Gap

An agnostic coworker once said to me, “I’d be more interested in Christianity except I’ve met some Christians.”

Ouch! What’s wrong with this picture?

Is it possible Christians are not living out their faith on a daily basis? Is it possible this happens often enough that people are actually turned away from following Christ?

It certainly seems so. A recent Barna Research study found only 17% of professing Christians have a Biblical worldview.

For the purpose of this study a Biblical worldview was defined as believing:

1) there is absolute moral truth;

2) the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches;

3) Satan is real, not just symbolic;

4) good works are not sufficient for salvation;

5) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; and

6) God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe.

No wonder those outside the Christian faith look inside and doubt us!

It turns out the vast majority of professing Christians either don’t know what the Bible teaches or they don’t accept the basics of the faith. Either way, it follows they won’t live out their faith according to Biblical teaching!

No wonder Gandhi said, “your Christians are unlike your Christ.”

Yet, being like Christ is exactly what we are commanded to be.

  • Paul, writing to the Ephesians said, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1)
  • And writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

There is no wiggle room here. As Christians, we are commanded to be imitators of Christ.

Clearly, there is a gap between what we as Christians are supposed to be like, and the way the way we live. That gap is what the world sees. It is how the world evaluates our faith life. It is why they say Christians are hypocrites.

We Are to be Salt and Light

Jesus commanded us to be salt and light to the world.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16)

Salt is a preservative, but if it becomes impure, it loses its ability to preserve. We are to be like pure salt that preserves the Lord’s teaching. If we become impure by accepting a secular worldview our teaching is of no value to the Kingdom.

A light provides direction and enables you to walk securely without stumbling. If the light is hidden under a basket, it is of no use. A Christian who hides their faith is of no use in bringing light to others.

One kind of Christian has an impure faith, one corrupted by the world’s values, so it is useless.

The other kind of Christian has a solid understanding of their faith but they hide their faith from others, so it is useless.

Jesus’ command is that we be like pure salt and a bright light. If we are like pure salt, we will preserve the faith. If we are a light that shines before others, they will see our good works, and be drawn to the Father.

Leaders, It Must Start with Us

Leaders, it must start with us. Our pastors cannot do it all by themselves.

It was never God’s plan to spread the Gospel just through our pastors. God’s plan for spreading the Good News doesn’t just include us; it depends on us.

We are called, every one of us as children of God, to be salt and light to the world. So, let’s get out there and live our lives in such a way that others see Christ reflected in us, and because of Him living in us, others are drawn to the Father in Heaven!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How are you living your life to be a salt and light leader?

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Category: Personal Development | Purpose/Passion

 

#223: Let Us Stop and Remember Whose We Are

A Memorial Day Tribute

Today is Memorial Day. It is a day when tens of thousands of small American flags mark the final resting place of soldiers who paid the ultimate price; who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Remember the sacrifice

Memorial Day began in 1868 as a day to remember the fallen in America’s civil war. But since then, Memorial Day expanded as a day to remember and honor all those who served and died defending our country over the years.

But a day of remembrance is not unique around the world. Many nations set aside one day to remember those who served and fell. The list includes England, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada just to name a few.

Neither is a day of remembrance a modern institution. There are several examples of memorials established in the Bible.

  • Rainbow. God established the rainbow as a sign of a covenant with Noah that He would not flood the earth again (Genesis 9:8-17).
  • Passover. The final plague visited upon the Egyptians brought the angel of death to every home in the land except for those with a mark of blood on the doorposts. Upon seeing the blood on the doorpost, the angel passed over the house. Passover feasts today are celebrations in remembrance of this event (Exodus 12, 13).
  • Crossing the Jordan. The Lord caused the water of the Jordan River to stop so the Israelites could pass over with the Ark of the Covenant into the Promised Land. A member of each tribe brought a stone out of the river and stacked on the far side of the river as a memorial to future generations of what the Lord had done that day (Joshua 3).
  • Communion. Paul passed on Jesus’ teaching at the Last Supper as he explained both the purpose and procedure of celebrating communion. It is a memorial done in remembrance of Jesus’ life and death on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:17-26).

Each of these Biblical examples is a reminder to future generations of God’s love and provision for His people.

Memorial Day is a reminder of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.

The Greatest Expression of Love is Sacrifice

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, explained some might sacrifice their lives for a just man or a good man.

“For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die” (Romans 5:7).

But, said Paul, God proves His love for us and has sacrificed even more for us.

“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus said the greatest expression of love is in the willingness to lay down one’s own life for his friends.

“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13).

Jesus said that knowing the fate of his followers; that many of them would lay down their lives because of their love for Him and one another.

Jesus said that knowing his own fate on the cross loomed ever closer. Yet, He went to the cross. He sacrificed His life for us that those who believe in Him might have eternal life.

Let Us Remember

This Memorial Day let us remember the importance of sacrifice.

First, it is fitting and proper that we remember and honor all those who came before us and laid down their lives defending our freedom. And in the words of Abraham Lincoln let us, “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Let us never forget the valiant sacrifice of all those who gave the last full measure of devotion to this country that we might live free.

Second, remember that God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us. There is no greater love and no greater sacrifice than this.

In remembering Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, let us remember whose we are!

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Category: Personal Development | Humility