Paths To Power (book review)

As I read A.W. Tozer’s words I find myself saying two things: (1) “Ouch!” and (2) “Amen!” Tozer’s Paths To Power is a continuation in those responses as he outlines what robs the Church and individual Christians of the power God wants them to have.

Right at the outset, Tozer identifies a key element robbing the Church of power: a lack of obedience in the things God has commanded us. “A knowledge of the truth is not enough,” he writes. “The truth must be followed if we would realize in actual experience the blessedness which is here described.”

Another power-blocker is an unwillingness to let God confront us and help us change. We get stuck in a this-is-how-it’s-always-been rut and then shut our eyes to the times of refreshing God wants to send to us. Other blockers include poor doctrine, putting the Holy Spirit in a box, justifying our sin, and not unleashing our faith, to name just a few.

Thankfully, Tozer also points us to the straightforward cures for all of the blockages to power. If we are willing to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to God’s voice, His unlimited blessings could flow uninterrupted into our lives and churches.

Paths To Power contains only seven short chapters, but the digestion, contemplation, and implementation of Tozer’s cures will be something that will involve a lifetime commitment for those ready for God’s fresh power to be poured into their lives.

I am a Moody Publishers book reviewer.

Godly Leaders Raise Up Godly Leaders

“…as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me…I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me” (Ezra 7:28).

A mark of a godly leader is one who raises up other godly leaders. He doesn’t want to walk alone; he doesn’t want to keep God’s blessings to himself. He knows that there can never be too many God-fearing leaders.

How did Ezra raise up more godly leaders?

  1. Ezra made sure his team had everyone it needed to be successful. When he discovered his team had no Levites to oversee functions in the temple, he made an appeal for a Levite to join his team. “Then, by the good hand of our God upon us” God sent Ezra nearly 250 Levites (Ezra 8:18-20)!
  2. Ezra made sure his team would be adequately cared for. He prayed and fasted as he asked for God’s direction and protection for his team (vv. 21-23).
  3. Ezra trusted his teammates. He entrusted them with precious, irreplaceable treasures (vv. 24-34).

What Ezra did became contagious. The leading men that came to follow Ezra all brought other potential leaders with them as well.

Godly leaders are never content arriving at their destination alone—they want as many other godly leaders alongside them as possible.

My prayer—God, place Your good hand on me to empower me to raise up godly leaders.

Where Preachers Are Powerless

To my dear pastor friends, please ponder carefully these wise words from Oswald Chambers:

“As preachers and teachers we are powerless to make saints. Our duty is to put the seed into the right place and leave the rest to God. …

“Modern evangelism makes the mistake of thinking that a worker must plough his field, sow the seed, and reap the harvest in half-an-hour. Our Lord was never in a hurry with the disciples, He kept on sowing the seed and paid no attention to whether they understood Him or not. He spoke the truth of God, and by His own life produced the right atmosphere for it to grow, and then left it alone, because He knew well that the seed had in it all the germinating power of God and would bring forth fruit after its kind once it was put in the right soil. …

“Sow the Word of God, and as sure as God is God, it will bring forth fruit. …

“Sow emotions, and the human heart will not get beyond you. There are men and women at work for God who steal hearts from God, not intentionally, but because they do not preach the Word of God. They say, ‘I don’t want anyone to think about me’; that should never need to be said. If the thought of ourselves is lurking anywhere as we preach, we are traitors to Jesus Christ. Our duty is to get people through to God. … See that you sow the real seed of the Word of God, and then leave it alone.” —Oswald Chambers, in The Servant As His Lord

These words prompt me to take a close look into God’s mirror to see if I’m preaching in a way that God can bless. How about you?

The Servant As His Lord (book review)

One of the most straight-talking, tell-it-like-it-is Christian speaker and author is Oswald Chambers. No one could ever accuse him of sugar-coating the Christian walk! In The Servant As His Lord, Chambers takes an unflinching look at the difficulty a Christian will have in living as his Lord, Jesus Christ, did.

As is the case with nearly all of Oswald Chambers’ books, The Servant As His Lord is a compilation of three sources: lectures, sermons, and essays for some small pamphlets. Biddy Chambers, his wife, often recorded Oswald’s sermons via shorthand and then put them into a book form at a later date.

The material in this book was all recorded during the height of The Great War (or what we now refer to as World War I). Many Christians were quite shaken in their faith during this time, questioning why God’s followers should have to go through such horrific things. Oswald Chambers, as he always did, never dodged the question nor made excuses, but simply stated: Jesus suffered pain, ridicule, and injustice while on earth, and His followers will too. The servant will be as his Lord.

Even though this book addresses some heavy topics, it’s not at all a “downer” for the reader. Quite the contrary! This book is actually very encouraging for the Christian going through any kind of difficulty or trial, knowing that Jesus not only went through the same thing, but that He is walking with us through our own trials.

This is definitely one of Chambers’ meatier books, but it is well worth the mature Christian’s time to study these wise and encouraging words.

10 Quotes From “Legacy Leadership”

I just finished an outstanding reading plan on YouVersion called Legacy Leadership by Dr. J. Lee Whittington. For anyone interested in the biblical concept of servant-leadership, I highly recommend you check out this reading plan.

Here are a few quotes I especially liked…

“Legacy Leadership is a process of intentional influence that takes place in the context of a relationship.”

“There is a recurring pattern of affirmation and exhortation in Paul’s leadership. He provided a dynamic balance between challenging his followers to grow and acknowledging their progress. He was affirming, but never content.”

“There is a growing trend to attack, criticize, and resent anyone who has talent or achievements that sets them apart from others. This tendency extends to those who resent the efforts of leaders who challenge the status quo. Opponents of change initiatives often attempt to marginalize leaders by attacking their character and questioning their motives. If the messenger is flawed, then the message and vision they offer cannot be trusted. As disappointing as it is, these challenges come with the territory of leadership.

“If I am to lead with integrity, I must always confront my own lack of integrity. This demands a willingness to constantly reflect on my motives and the courage to confront my own hypocrisy. It also requires me to allow myself the discomfort of inviting the scrutiny of both the Lord and others who care enough to confront me about my motives, my attitudes, and my behavior.”

“The most effective leaders are able to exert influence without asserting their formal authority. … Paul deliberately chose to forego the legitimate, reward, and coercive power inherent in his position. Instead, he leaned into another base of power: referent power. Referent power is based on respect and admiration. When this is present, the followers identify with and want to emulate their leader. This power base does not come from the leader’s position or control of resources. Rather, it is based on the leader’s character and integrity. Referent power is based on who the leader is.”

“Legacy Leaders do not lead from a distance. They imitate Jesus who said, ‘I am among you as one who serves’ (Luke 22:27). They are comfortable sharing their lives with their followers.”

“The best relationships between a leader and their followers are those that are characterized by a great deal of mutual trust and shared information. The responsibility for creating this type of relationship rests squarely on the shoulders of the leader.”

“Authentic leaders have a seamless link between their values and their actions. But the congruence between values and attitudes is just the starting point for authentic leadership.  From the perspective of scripture, a leader’s attitudes and actions must be anchored to God’s standards. When a leader’s enacted values are in congruence with their espoused values, and those espoused values are in turn anchored to God’s principles, the leader had moral authority.”

“It’s easy to critique the authenticity of others.  But, if we are really serious about developing our own authenticity, we must focus on ourselves. I read this statement several years ago: ‘If we are to be people of integrity, we must constantly confront our lack of integrity.’”

“Legacy Leaders embrace the principles of servant-leadership and understand that the conscious choice to lead comes after the desire to serve. This inclination is not natural. It must be energized by continuous reliance on the empowering presence of God’s Spirit.”

Comparisons Are Killers

It is always a thrill for me to watch a young leader excel so wonderfully! Yesterday I listened as our youth pastor Josh Schram brilliantly illustrated a key component that can kill relationships or build them up.

Trust me: Josh’s opening illustration is worth the watch in the video below!

Here are a few takeaways I had from Josh’s message…

A relationship killer is comparing yourself to others. 

Comparing yourself to others may make you feel superior to them or inferior to them, but neither of these feelings serve a useful purpose, and neither of them honors God.

The fastest way to kill something God is doing in your life is to compare it to what He’s doing in someone else’s life.

When we compare someone else’s highlight reel to our behind-the-scenes mess, it makes us feel less than what God intends because it always increases dissatisfaction. Remember: living this way is comparing yourself to an artificial standard.

Notice how God speaks to us as individuals—Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (Galatians 6:4-5, emphasis added)

A relationship builder is examining yourself.

Jesus ran His own race, and we are called on to remove any obstacles that keep us from running our own race too (see Hebrews 12:1-2).

  • Run your own race.
  • Stay in your lane.
  • Stay focused on Jesus.

No one can be a better you than you.

Remember: someone else’s success is NOT your failure (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

I need to ask myself: Am I being the best me I can be with what God has equipped me to be? If the answer is “yes” then everyone else gets better!

Don’t compare your relationship with God or with other people to others’ relationships. Instead, examine yourself to make sure you are being the best you God created you to be!

True Beauty vs. Pornography

God’s design for sex is truly the most beautiful thing that exists between two people. Its counterfeit is called pornography. Porn is simulated, imitated, and purchased; but no price tag can ever buy true beauty.

God demonstrates the purest love in Himself, when one part of the Godhead is the Lover and the other parts of the Godhead are the Beloved. The Lover is constantly discovering the beauty in the Beloved, and then praising that beauty. The Beloved then reciprocates back to the Lover. It’s a love dance! 

Humans are created in God’s image. We are first created to be God’s beloved. Then we are designed to be both lover and beloved in the bonds of marriage. True beauty—real, lasting beauty that pleases God—is discovered. It’s something that starts inside and radiates outside. A true lover takes the time to discover who the beloved truly is.

To see this in action, just look at some of the compliments between husband and wife in the Song of Songs—How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! … How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! … Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens. … My lover is mine and I am his. … All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

True love that sees this kind of beauty cannot be imitated, purchased or simulated. If someone attempts to, it’s called pornography.

The dictionary gives this definition of pornography: sexually explicit materials whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal. In other words, porn tries to imitate and simulate true beauty at a purchase price.

Jesus identified this sell-out of true love with the Greek word porneia (see Mark 7:14-23). This word means any sexual involvement outside the marriage between a husband and wife. Porneia comes from words that fill out its definition: things like prostitution, idolatry, and slavery.

Your body was not made for porneia but for God (1 Corinthians 6:13). You were made in His image: to be His Beloved, and He your Lover, and then to have a marriage relationship with another image-bearer of God, where you are both lover and beloved, and where you focus on true beauty.

Anything else is imitated, purchased, and simulated. It’s pornography. It’s idolatry.

Christians are told to fight many temptations, but there are only two that we are told not to fight, but to flee: pornography (1 Corinthians 6:18) and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). So our prayer for the purity and enjoyment of God’s true beauty should be: Turn my eyes away from worthless things (Psalm 119:37).

Don’t sell out to the fake beauty in pornography. Discover true beauty exclusively in your spouse!

We’ll be looking at more relationship builders and killers, and I’d love to have you along for this journey of discovery.

%d bloggers like this: