A Godly Leader’s “We”

When Nehemiah heard about the devastation in Jerusalem, the first thing he did was a very good thing: “I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).

An important mark of a godly leader is one who exchanges “you” and “me” for “we.”

Godly leaders identify themselves with their people; they don’t think of themselves more highly nor look down on others.

Nehemiah said in his prayer, “BOTH my father’s house and I have sinned. WE have acted corruptly against You” (vv. 6, 7). Given the fact that this is 70 years after Judah went into captivity, it is doubtful that Nehemiah was captured in Jerusalem, but he was probably born in exile. Yet he said WE sinned against God.

He also asks God to “be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, AND to the prayer of Your servantS” (v. 11). Once again Nehemiah identifies himself with all the people by not claiming that his prayer carries any more weight than anyone else’s prayer. Every prayer, in Nehemiah’s mind, was equally as pleasant to God’s ears.

My prayer—Help me to be a “we” leader.

This is part 3 in my series on godly leadership. Be sure to check out:

Advertisements

6 Quotes From “The Dawn Of Christianity”

Robert J. Hutchinson makes the history around the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as well as the history of Christ’s followers after His resurrection, come to life in The Dawn Of Christianity. Check out my full review by clicking here.

“Skeptics make much of the fact that historians have no independent corroboration from outside sources of most of the events described in the Gospels, but this is common with ancient history and hardly unique to Christianity. For example, virtually everything historians know about the Three Hundred, the Spartan warriors who held off a Persian invasion at the mountain pass of Thermopylae in 480 BC, comes from the writings of a single Greek author, Herodotus. What’s more, the earliest copy historians have of Herodotus’s chronicle of this event, The Histories, dates to the tenth century AD—or more than 1,350 years after it was written! In comparison, historians have a cornucopia of historical sources and archaeological evidence about Jesus of Nazareth and the early Christian community. For example, more than fifty papyrus manuscripts of New Testament texts exist that date before AD 300. The earliest of these manuscripts, a papyrus fragment from the Gospel of John known as P52, dates to around AD 125 or just thirty years after the original was likely written.”

“Around 20 BC, the half-Jewish King Herod the Great set himself the task of renovating and expanding the temple and surrounding area. There had been a small natural plateau there before, fixed atop the ridge in the northeastern corner of Jerusalem; but Herod wanted something far more spectacular. He therefore enclosed this natural plateau on all sides with four immense retaining walls, some more than one hundred feet high, made up of massive rectangular ashlars, or cut stones, that weighed as much as 415 tons each. These stones are so large that even modern cranes and bulldozers would have some difficulty moving them. Herod then filled in this entire quadrangle with stones and dirt, creating an artificial hilltop plaza—roughly 1,500 feet long by 1,000 feet wide—of more than thirty-five acres. In modern terms, Herod’s Temple Mount is so large that about twenty-six American football fields could fit in the space available. This massive engineering marvel has endured for two thousand years and still stands today, almost wholly intact.”

“Simon the Rock continued to loudly protest that he was willing to die, if need be, but would never deny Jesus. The other disciples said the same. This is one of those incidents that even many skeptics believe must be historical under the ‘criterion of embarrassment,’ which means that the Christian community was unlikely to invent a story that cast such a bad light on its leaders; therefore, it must have actually happened.” 

“Recent archaeological discoveries are showing that the New Testament in general, and the Gospels in particular, are far more reliable historical sources than previous generations of New Testament experts realized.”

“All four Gospels report that this board, what the Romans called the titulus, held the inscription ‘The King of the Jews.’ John’s Gospel alone reports that Jesus’ name was also on the titulus, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,’ and that it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek (19:19-20). In Latin the charge read Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, which is why, to this day, the letters INRI appear at the top of crucifixes.”

“In 1968, archaeologists uncovered a first-century tomb at Giv’at ha-Mivtar, northeast of Jerusalem. Inside the tomb they found in ossuary containing the skeleton of a crucified man—the first and only relic of a crucified man found in Israel. Inscribed on the ossuary was his name in Hebrew: Yehochanan. On top of the bone of his right heel was a wooden board, and through the board, and his heel, was a 4.5-inch iron nail.”

5 Blessings You Should Expect From Your Church Experience

Place of peaceKing David loved God, and he loved God’s people. He was passionate about everyone getting as deeply connected with God as he was, so he wrote worship songs, setup worship teams, and organized the temple for worshippers.

The first song of ascent he wrote was one anticipating how good it was going to be when everyone got to the temple in Jerusalem to worship.

In fact, David was so excited about what he was expecting to happen in their worship together that he practically glowed with joy! Really! The word for rejoiced in his song means to be so cheerful and happy that you make others around you bright by your happiness. 😀

What was it that David thought was going to happen? First of all, we need to look at the name Jerusalem. Traditionally this means the City of Peace, but the two words that make up “Jerusalem” are much richer than that. Yes, -salem means “peace.” But the first part of the word (yara-) literally means water flowing through, or an arrow being shot out.

In other words, David anticipated that we are going to a peaceful place to be sent out full of peace, to take that peace to others who don’t have it, but desperately need it.

While we are in our “Jerusalem” (for us in the New Testament, this is our “church,” even if it’s just two or three people getting together), here are five blessings you should expect—

  1. Unity—with all the “tribes” joining together.
  2. Praise—joining together to tell God how great He is!
  3. Learning—we come together to learn God’s statutes.
  4. Judgment—what?! How is judgment a blessing? If you are nervous about being judged, just remember Who does the judging in God’s temple: the Holy Spirit. He judges us in a loving way, and in a way that allows us an opportunity to see our sin, repent from it, and experience unconditional forgiveness. That is exciting!
  5. Peace, security, prosperity—the word shalom is used multiple times in the closing verses of this song. The best definition of shalom is: nothing missing, nothing broken. In other words, when we gather together to worship we should expect that God will heal any dis-ease we have, that He will supply what has fallen short, that He will fill up what’s empty.

With those five blessings in mind, here’s the declaration all Christians can make—

Inside these walls…
we live in unity
we praise the Lord
we learn God’s laws
we judge ourselves by God’s standards
repenting, confessing, forgiving, and being forgiven
we fight for peace
we bless God and one another
We descend back to the valleys
to take this message to valley-dwellers
that they, too, may pilgrimage
with us to Jerusalem
It starts here in God’s family!
It starts with me!

 

Check out the full video of this message, where I explain each of these ideas more fully. And if you’re in the area, join us on Sunday as we continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent.

Who Gets Praised?

KudosJerusalem’s walls had been rebuilt, but the city remained empty. Everyone wanted to stay put on their family property; no one wanted to make a sacrifice for the good of the country.

So Nehemiah, the governor of the territory, came up with the fairest solution he could think up―“the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem” (Nehemiah 11:1). If no one would volunteer, people would have to be drafted to leave their lands and move into the city.

Although this seemed fair, no one was happy about this.

But check out the very next verse―“The people commended all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem” (v. 2).

The Amplified Bible says, “The people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.”

And The Message says, “The people applauded those who voluntarily offered to live in Jerusalem.”

Commendation, blessing and applause are reserved for those who volunteer … for those who choose for themselves, and don’t wait around for someone else to choose for them.

Here’s a good way to live: Be the one who chooses. Don’t do it for the applause, but the blessing and the commendation will follow your choice.

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some interesting reading I found today.

“The Bible is not a book for the faint of heart—it is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that benefits mankind. It is not the collection of pretty little anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice—it does not so much nibble at our shoe leather as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from the bone. It does not give us answers fitted to our small-minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask.” —Rich Mullins

As I have said before, tolerance is only afforded to those who say “anything goes.” Anyone who says there is a right/wrong, truth/lie is labeled intolerant, as illustrated in this story of the Benham brothers losing their TV show deal

…and to further prove the point, Yahoo Joins Google In Banning Pro-Life Ads.

It’s pretty obvious… that the Judeo-Christian concept of God held the key to the rise of the West, and that is the belief in a rational Creator God, because that had the implication, then, that the creation was itself rational—that is to say, it obeys rules” (Rodney Stark). Read more in How Christianity Created Science (And Why Atheism Wouldn’t Have).

Detroit Tiger fans (like me!) will enjoy this: A Numerical Guide To The History Of The Detroit Tigers.

“Has the enemy tried to tell you that God has bypassed you? Have you been tempted to conclude that the Lord isn’t with you? Have you almost given up your faith? Put your hope in the Lord’s Word to you: ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5). ‘The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know Your name will put their trust in You: for You, Lord, have not forsaken them that seek You’ (Psalm 9:9-10).” —David Wilkerson

… this inscription from Jerusalem may signal widespread—if elementary—literacy during the time of David and Solomon.” Read more about this archeological discovery in Jerusalem.

“Let us meditate on the Lord’s holy name that we may trust Him the better and rejoice the more readily.” —Charles Spurgeon

7 Quotes From “Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?”

Did Jesus Rise From The DeadDid Jesus Rise From The Dead? is an excellent apologetic for both the biblical skeptic and the biblical student. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are seven noteworthy quotes and one infographic from this fascinating book.

“One of the most noteworthy facts about the early Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection was that it flourished in the very city where Jesus had been publicly crucified. So long as the inhabitants of Jerusalem thought that Jesus’ corpse lay in the tomb, few would have been prepared to believe such silliness as the claim that God had raised Jesus from the dead.”

“We have the extraordinary number of at least five independent sources for Jesus’ burial, some of which are extremely early. The Gospels describe Joseph as a rich man, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. As a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea is unlikely to be a Christian invention. The Sanhedrin was a sort of Jewish high court made up of seventy of the leading men of Judaism, which presided in Jerusalem. There was an understandable hostility among early Christians toward the Jewish Sanhe-drists, for Christians blamed the Sanhedrists for engineering a judicial murder of Jesus at the hands of the Romans. … Therefore, Jesus’ burial by Joseph is very probably historical, since it would be almost inexplicable why Christians would invent a story about a Jewish Sanhedrist who gives Jesus a proper burial.”

“Matthew is clearly working with an independent source, for he includes the story of the guard at the tomb, which is not derived from Mark and is unique to his Gospel; moreover, his comment that the rumor that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body, ‘And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day,’ (Matthew 28:15) shows that the guard is not Matthew’s own creation, but was part of prior tradition. Luke also has an independent source, for he tells the story, not found in Mark, of two disciples’ inspecting the tomb to verify the women’s report that the tomb was vacant. This story cannot be regarded as Luke’s own creation, since the incident is independently reported in John’s Gospel. And, again, given John’s independence of the other three Gospels, we have yet another independent report of the empty tomb.”

Did Jesus Rise From The Dead infographic

(click image for a larger view)

“To appreciate how restrained Mark’s narrative is, we need only read the account in the second-century apocryphal Gospel of Peter. It describes Jesus’ triumphant exit from the tomb as a gigantic figure whose head reaches above the clouds, supported by giant angels, followed by a talking cross, heralded by a voice from heaven, and all witnessed by a Roman guard, the Jewish leaders, and a multitude of spectators! This is how real legends look: They’re richly decorated with theological and apologetical motifs. By contrast, Mark’s account is stark in its simplicity.”

“Think about that: ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away’ [Matthew 28:13]. The Jewish authorities did not deny the fact that Jesus’ tomb was empty; instead they entangled themselves in a hopeless series of absurdities, trying to explain it away. In other words, the Jewish claim that the disciples stole the body presupposes that the body was, in fact, missing. Therefore, we have evidence from the very adversaries of the early Christian movement for the fact of the empty tomb.”

“All the followers of those first century messianic movements were fanatically committed to the cause…. But in no case right across the century before Jesus and the century after Him do we hear of any Jewish group saying that their executed leader had been raised from the dead, and he really was the Messiah after all.” —N.T. Wright

“A supernatural explanation of the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith is not contrived given the context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life, ministry, and personal claims.”

God’s Favorite Place On Earth

God's Favorite Place On Earth [web]“God doesn’t have favorites. Everyone and everyplace is His favorite.” Do you think that’s true? If God had a favorite place on earth, where do you think that would be? What about the favorite place for Jesus during His earthly ministry? Was it maybe the nation of Israel? The city of Jerusalem?

Jesus did have a favorite place while He was on earth, and what He did there has major implications for all of us today!

The title of this series is taken from a book Frank Viola wrote (you can read my review of this book by clicking here). In an email correspondence, Frank told me that this book was the most critical of all his works to date, and I must agree! So we’re going to use this book as our guide to visit God’s favorite place on earth and let the pages of Scripture speak to us in a new and exciting way.

I am so excited to get started! Will you please join me this Sunday at 10:30am.

%d bloggers like this: