A High And Holy Calling

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When God spoke to the “princes of Israel,” He was speaking to those in leadership positions. They were men who had wealth, position, and a high level of influence. God called them to live up to their title as “prince” because leadership is a high and holy calling given by God. 

Leaders are to set an example for others. They are to provide what is lacking so that others can live up to their own God-given potential as well. Here’s the way God describes His leaders in Ezekiel 45-46:

They are to be peacemakers, never men of violence nor oppression (45:9). 

They are to be fair, consistent, and impartial in their interactions with others (45:10). 

They are to generously provide for the people under their care (45:15-17, 22; 46:13-14). 

They are to have a “get to do it” attitude toward their duties, not a “have to do it” attitude” (46:5, 7, 11). 

They are to be among their people, not aloof nor isolated from them (46:10). 

They are to provide for their family without impoverishing the people under their care (46:18). 

Since God calls leaders, He will also call them to account. Jesus made it clear that there are only one-of-two assessments that leaders will hear from God:

  1. Well done, good and faithful servant 
  2. You wicked, lazy servant

Let me say it again: Leadership is a high and holy calling. So…

A mark of a godly leader is one who joyfully and faithfully fulfills God’s leadership call. 

This is part 67 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

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Links & Quotes

“This is one of the rewards of reading the Old Testament regularly. You keep on discovering more and more what a tissue of quotations from it the New Testament is; how constantly Our Lord repeated, reinforced, continued, refined, and sublimated the Judaic ethics, how very seldom He introduced a novelty.” —C.S. Lewis, Reflections On The Psalms 

I have shared quite often about the historicity of the Bible. Here is some additional evidence for that: Top 10 discoveries related to the Book of Daniel.

The folks at Fight The New Drug provide excellent research on the dangers of pornography as well as many helpful resources for folks to break free from a porn addiction. Pornography often attracts people when they are emotionally drained, but viewing porn actually increases feelings of loneliness and isolation.

If we ever start to think the Church is one or two ministers and a whole bunch of parishioners, it really won’t be a Church. According to Ephesians 4, all Christians should be ministers. 

You can check out the full message that this clip is from by clicking here.

Here is a word of encouragement for anyone in a time of spiritual warfare—

Check out my regular Monday Motivation series.

Wow, this post from T.M. Moore on how we respond to God’s “call” is a much-needed reminder. In the post, he wrote,

“Probably most Christians treat the calling of God as a kind of punctuated equilibrium. He breaks into their lives to ‘call’ them to some activity or task, but only from time to time, and only for that activity or task. He ‘calls’ us to believe the Gospel, and we do. He ‘calls’ us to this or that church, and we go. He ‘calls’ us to some ministry or other Christian activity, and so we participate. He ‘calls’ us to make a special gift, go on a mission trip, send a note of encouragement to a friend, and so forth. Our lives run on their own schedules, so whenever God ‘calls’ us to do something, we’ll try to get it done.

“But most of the time, other things have prior claims on our lives. We have jobs, families, friends, responsibilities, things we like to do or must do. We can’t respond to every calling from God because, well, there just isn’t enough time. We say, when friends press us to consider this or that Christian opportunity, ‘If God calls me to it, I will.’ But aren’t we just using the language of piety to relieve the discomfort of pressure to do something we’d rather not do?

“We are called of God. Of this there is no doubt. But for most Christians, the way they understand God’s calling is not the same as the way God issues it. And they have not yet learned to value His calling as He intends, as the defining and guiding value of our lives.”

A Spiritual Clinic (book review)

Some of the most formative leadership books I read early in my leadership journey were written by J. Oswald Sanders. Books like Spiritual Maturity and Spiritual Leadership. It’s my desire to be a lifelong learner, and in that pursuit, I need an external, objective source to help keep me on track. Sanders’ book A Spiritual Clinic is just the check-up I needed! 

In the physical world, we may get a check-up from our primary care physician, a counseling session with a mental health professional, or perhaps a regular check-up with a spiritual advisor like a pastor or mentor. All of these are healthy if they are all grounded in the principles in God’s Word. 

Sanders brings us to his spiritual clinic for a well-rounded check-up of our spiritual leadership. He says, “[This book’s] thesis is that the complex strains and problems which the Christian worker encounters in the contemporary world find their answer, not in tranquilizers or stimulants, but in a correct understanding and application of scriptural principles, and effectiveness in Christian work is the natural outcome of conformity to spiritual laws enunciated in the Scriptures.” 

So “doctor” Sanders holds up the mirror of God’s Word to our activities to see how we are performing in light of God’s standards. He addresses topics like stress, learning, suffering, depression, spiritual ups-and-downs, and our conscience. He zeros-in on leadership topics like ambition, authority, discipleship, use of time, and understanding God’s calling. 

Each chapter is short but packed with so many principles that it should take you quite a while to evaluate and implement. This is time well spent! 

I am a Moody Publisher book reviewer. 

An Awesome Privilege And Responsibility

…Joshua the high priest… (Zechariah 3:1). 

The way that God talks about Joshua the high priest is quite informative for anyone in a position of godly leadership. 

From this passage [Zechariah 3:1-10] we learn that God’s leaders are…

  • … standing in God’s presence 
  • … opposed by satan
  • … protected by God
  • … anointed, empowered, and inflamed by God
  • … cleansed by God
  • … admonished by God to live up to the highest standards of righteousness
  • … given rewards for their righteousness
  • … used by God to accomplish His plan

Being a leader is an awesome privilege and responsibility! This is not a position anyone should seek for themselves (James 3:1; Jeremiah 45:5). 

A mark of a godly leader is one who feels the weight of God’s calling. 

This is part 31 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Don’t Live Beneath Your Capacity

“The most common cause of living beneath our capacity is that we have chosen to walk alone rather than to walk together. You will never sustain greatness or fulfill your God-given calling if you see people as an obstacle to your destiny rather than as essential to fulfilling God’s purpose in your life. … 

“The truth is, there are relationships that will keep you from the life God created you to live. There are people whom you need to extricate from your life because they pull you back to the person you were rather than forward to the person you must become. Yet this must never blind us to the deeper truth. We were not created to do life alone, and if we want people to be for us, then there need to be people whom we are for. …  

“People don’t slow you down; the wrong people slow you down. When you choose the right people, when you find your people, your life begins to come together in a way that it never could when you walk alone. … 

“When you surround yourself with great people, it elevates who you are. If you want to have great character, surround yourself with people of great character. If you want to take great risks, surround yourself with a tribe of risk takers. If you want to live a life of adventure, then choose a tribe that makes life an adventure. You will become who you walk with. So imagine the implications if you decide to walk with Jesus.” —Erwin McManus, in The Last Arrow

You can check out my review of The Last Arrow by clicking here. You can also check out some other quotes I’ve shared from this book here.

Bricks And Rungs (book review)

T.M. Moore is a first-rate theologian, so everything he writes is well-grounded in Scripture. However, when most people think of “theology,” they think of a lifeless treatise that is boring to read, or perhaps difficult to grasp. But T.M. totally shakes things up in Bricks And Rungs with rock-solid theology presented in beautiful poetic verse.

Bricks And Rungs is all about finding our purpose or calling in life. T.M. says—

“Most people have a sense of being here for some reason. They must become something, achieve something, or come to know something which they consider to be unique to them. Something is out there for them, beckoning them, drawing and wooing them beyond themselves to realize more of something, however that is envisioned or whatever it may be.

“Calling is experienced as a summons from without, a beckoning which resonates with something within, something deeply personal, leading us to aspire to more than what we know or are or have at present. …

“Everyone has a sense of calling. Christians know this to be a summons from God, a command which their lives are intended to fulfill by knowing God and serving Him. The Christian knows that each human being is called to know God and, knowing Him, to serve Him gladly and fruitfully. Calling thus involves our need to be blessed and to be a blessing to others.”

Some of these poems are autobiographical to T.M. Moore, some are reflections on Scripture, and some are musings about how each of us discovers our own calling. But all of these poems will open a window in your soul to hear God’s voice speaking to you about your own unique calling.

Take some time to linger over these insightful words.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“No man can murder his brother who has not first murdered God in himself.” —Oswald Chambers

“We love our neighbors when, like Jesus, we seek them out to love them (cf. Luke 19:1-10). Jesus did not wait for lost or hurting people to find their way to Him. He went looking for them. He learned the names of many of them, and used their names freely. He took the initiative in making certain contacts, some of which He repeated many times during His earthly sojourn. Jesus started conversations with people and was doubtless a good listener. And He prayed often for others, seeking their wellbeing before the Father. We can know that we love our neighbors when, like Jesus, we go seeking them, in order to touch them with His love.” —T.M. Moore

“The Word of God is our only hope. The good news of God’s promises and the warnings of His judgment are sharp enough and living enough and active enough to penetrate to the bottom of my heart and show me that the lies of sin are indeed lies. Abortion will not create a wonderful future for me. Neither will cheating, or dressing provocatively, or throwing away my sexual purity, or keeping quiet about dishonesty at work, or divorce, or vengeance. And what rescues me from this deception is the Word of God.” —John Piper

“If you spend too much time looking for your next big break, you’ll be stealing your opportunity to do your best work. Which is the the most important break of all.” —Seth Godin

“God’s definition of promotion isn’t a move up the ladder, it is a move toward your call. Don’t let someone ‘promote’ you out of your call!” —Max Lucado

“In the parable of Matthew 18:23-27 did the king overlook his servant’s sin? Did he wink at his debt and merely excuse it? No, not at all. The fact is, by forgiving him, the king placed upon this man a weighty responsibility, a responsibility even greater than the burden of his debt. Indeed, this servant now owed his master more than ever. How? He was responsible to forgive and love others, just as the king had done for him.” —David Wilkerson

If you don’t think Planned Parenthood’s business of abortion is a huge money-maker for them, why are they spending $20 million in 2016 to elect pro-abortion candidates?

For Detroit Red Wings fan, here is a nice mini-biography of Mr. Hockey: Gordie Howe.

[VIDEO] Barbabas Piper and Bobby Conway on the difference between knowing and believing

Links & Quotes

link quote

“O Lord, keep me strong in the sense of Thy call.” —Thomas Boston, Scottish Presbyterian pastor

“You have remained true to God under the great tests, now be alert over the least things.” —Oswald Chambers

“Mighty events turn on a straw.” —Thomas Carlyle

“God is love, but God is also just, as severely just as if He had no love, and yet as intensely loving as if He had no justice. To gain a just view of the character of God you must perceive all His attributes as infinitely developed; justice must have its infinity acknowledged as much as mercy.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Pleasures demean, disappoint, and destroy us when they are merely fleeting, fleshly, and foolish. The pleasure we ultimately seek, and for which we were created, can only be found in one place, in fellowship and communion with the Lord of heaven and earth.” —T.M. Moore

John Piper has some very insightful words in the wake of the tragedy in Paris—France: A Fabric Torn.

Jim Cymbala reminds us, “There are no trendy shortcuts, no hocus-pocus mantras that can defeat satan.” Read more in No Hocus-Pocus.

Parents, teachers, and anyone who works with youth will appreciate this counsel from Tim Elmore: 5 ways to cure the “cool kid” curse.

[VIDEO] What does the Quran teach about Jesus?—

[VIDEO] Pastor Dave Barringer is in Israel, and this real-time observation is quite eye-opening—

Pastor, Do You Enjoy Pastoring?

Phillips Brooks was a pastor, teacher, and songwriter. These words of his should be read very carefully and thoughtfully by every pastor…

     “I think, again, that it is essential to the preacher’s success that he should thoroughly enjoy his work. I mean in the actual doing of it, and not only in its idea. No man to whom the details of his task are repulsive can do his task well constantly, however full he may be of its spirit. He may make one bold dash at it and carry it over all his disgusts, but he cannot work on at it year after year, day after day. Therefore, count it not merely a perfectly legitimate pleasure, count it an essential element of your power, if you can feel a simple delight in what you have to do as a minister, in the fervor of writing, in the glow of speaking, in standing before men and moving them, in contact with the young. The more thoroughly you enjoy it, the better you will do it all. 

    “This is all true of preaching. Its highest joy is in the great ambition that is set before it, the glorifying of the Lord and the saving of the souls of men. No other joy on earth compares with that. The ministry that does not feel that joy is dead. But in behind that highest joy, beating in humble unison with it, as the healthy body thrills in sympathy with the deep thoughts and pure desires of the mind and soul, the best ministers have always been conscious of another pleasure which belonged to the very doing of the work itself. As we read the lives of all the most effective preachers of the past, or as we meet the men who are powerful preachers of the Word today, we feel how certainly and how deeply the very exercise of their ministry delights them.” (emphasis mine)

Pastor, what unspeakable joy should thrill us to know that God Himself called us to do what we do!!

I know that being in full-time ministry is tough. I know the demands on our time. I know that we are often targets for criticism. But still, this should never diminish our joy in being God’s ministers!

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the calling to be a pastor! Today I pray for pastors who don’t feel the joy they once felt. Holy God, will You reconfirm Your call on their lives. Reassure them that they are doing what they are doing because You called them to do it. And I ask that Your Holy Spirit would reinvigorate them with holy joy. Let the hands that hang low be lifted up in praise! Let mouths that have been tightly shut open wide in holy laughter! Let Your joy be their strength and encouragement. May You be glorified in joy-filled pastors!

Uh Oh! God’s Calling Me

Back in the pre-cell phone days, my parents had to develop another system to communicate with me. Many times it was simply an agreement before I left the house like, “Be home at 6 o’clock for dinner.” Or maybe something like, “Come inside when the streetlight turns on.”

I was usually pretty good about following through on this. But occasionally I would get so caught up in what I was doing with my friends that time just sort of got away from me. That’s when I would hear the distinct voice of my Mom calling me. Not on the phone, but with her hands cupped to her mouth, yelling, “Craaaiiig! Time to come home!”

If she was calling me, that meant I missed the deadline. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

Uh oh!

I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer. (Jeremiah 35:17)

God spoke to His people at first because they were close to Him. But then He had to call to them because they had gotten farther away from Him.

If God is calling me, perhaps it’s because I’ve gotten too far away. Maybe not on purpose. Maybe I just got caught up in what I was doing. Maybe I allowed something else to capture my attention.

I don’t want God to have to call me. I don’t even want to be close enough that He has to speak to me. I want to be so close to Him that just His whisper gets my undivided attention.

What about you: How close do you want to be?

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