5 Quotes From “The Poetry Of Prayer”

In The Poetry Of Prayer, T.M. Moore not only introduces us to the imaginative poetry of George Herbert, but he also shows us what Herbert was trying to portray: There’s an undiscovered world in our prayer time! You can check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“The imagination is a wonderful if much-neglected resource. It is that place in the soul where mind, heart, and conscience, most fruitfully overlap to enhance, enrich, and enlarge each other. 

“When our imaginations are functioning as God intends, they can open the windows of refreshment into our souls, so that we think bigger and more clearly and excitedly; we feel with more urgency and delight; and we establish new priorities and values. 

“Poetry stretches the imagination by inviting it on to familiar ground and then changing the nature of that ground, right under our feet. Images, metaphors, rhyme, rhythm, and in an agreeable form can lead us, through our imaginations, into seeing familiar things in new and exciting ways.” 

“Prayer fixes the focus of our minds on unchanging spiritual realities. Prayer engages our imaginations—what Paul calls ‘the eyes of your understanding’—with visions of unseen glories and wonders. …

“At the same time, as we gaze in prayer upon the beauty of Christ, and commune with Him in His glory, we find that our hearts are enlarged in love for the Lord. The sheer beauty, majesty, and immensity of God can suck the breath out of us and fill us with the Spirit of the Lord at the same time. Lesser things lose their thrall as we drink in the vision of Christ and pour out heartfelt words of worship, adoration, and praise. These, in turn, exercise our heart in love for the Lord, just as our physical muscles are exercised during a workout.” 

“We feed our souls in prayer when, having entered His presence, we fill our minds with the vision of His glory, our hearts with the joy and pleasure of His presence, and our wills with iron resolve to serve this glorious God at every moment.” 

“Even now, as the Apostle Paul indicates [2 Corinthians 4:6], we who feast at the banquet table of prayer can glimpse the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and know daily revival and renewal in His grace.” 

“Prayer brings us from earth to heaven, and then brings heaven to earth in our transformed souls and renewed commitments for the day ahead.”

My Patreon supporters have been given all the rest of the quotes I pulled from this book. If you would like to have access to all of the content I regularly share with my Patreon team, please click here. 

Visionary Leaders

I believe God gives a vision to His leaders.

God doesn’t give a vision to a leader so that a leader can have a better life, but so that the leader can help the people get to a better place. Vision is always through the leader to the people.  

Daniel exhibits this in his life.

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A Teaching Tip For Leaders

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

In Proverbs 25–26 Solomon uses the word “like” 18 times. This small word gives leaders a huge teaching lesson. 

Good leaders are constantly conveying to their team the vision that God has given them. We see this throughout the Bible, where past history is connected to the future promise God has given. Unless leaders are able to consistently, and frequently, refocus their people on the vision, the people “cast off restraint” and go their own way (Proverbs 29:18). 

Leaders need to find fresh ways to make their messages stick. All of the Proverbs, but especially these two chapters, give us excellent lessons for this. Solomon makes memorable connections by starting with something that most people have experienced. Things like…

  • a beautiful piece of jewelry 
  • a refreshingly cool drink on a hot day
  • an injured body part 
  • the actions of nature and animals  

Then Solomon connects these observations to a timely piece of wisdom…

  • The right words, delivered at the right time, in the right way are LIKE a beautiful piece of jewelry. 
  • One who delivers timely and helpful words is LIKE a refreshingly cool drink on a hot day. 
  • Trying to move around on an injured foot is LIKE having to rely on someone inconsistent during times of trouble. 
  • Just LIKE honey is good for you in moderation, too much honey—and too much of any good thing—can make you sick. 

This is a great teaching lesson for every leader. We need to continually find new and memorable ways to help our people grasp the vision, mission, and values of the organization. This teaching tip from King Solomon can go a long way in helping our messages stick. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who is always finding new ways to teach the people around him. 

This is part 59 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

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When To Seek Consensus

David conferred with each of his officers…. He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God…let us bring the ark of our God back to us….” The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people. (1 Chronicles 13:1-4) 

David cast a vision, consulted with his inner circle of leaders, shared the vision with the people, and got unanimous agreement from everyone. 

And yet things went horribly wrong: a man was killed and David became terrified of God.

In the above verses, notice all of the plural pronouns: we and us. David worked hard to build a consensus among the people. 

David was quick to notice that the ark of the covenant of the Lord wasn’t used to consult God during the reign of King Saul (v. 3), but that’s exactly what David didn’t do. He built a consensus among the people without getting a “yes” from God. Even a unanimous decision of the people will fail if God isn’t in it! 

Thankfully, in chapter 15, David corrects this omission. We read phrases like: 

  • “we did not inquire of [God] about how to do it in the prescribed way” 
  • we should do this “in accordance with the word of the Lord” 

I also notice that David no longer sought consensus but merely announced to the people what was happening. In this successful attempt to move the ark, David’s only consultation was with God. After that, he made arrangements with the Levites, gathered his inner circle of leaders, and then asked the people to join in the celebration. 

God had already spoken about how the ark of the covenant was to be moved: it was written in His word. Therefore, as noble as it might sound, there was no reason for David to seek a consensus from the people.

Even if it is not an area or activity explicitly addressed in the Bible, God’s will is to be sought before others are consulted. If God says “yes,” the leader must proceed even if the people say “no.” And the leader must not listen to the people’s “yes” if God has said “no.” 

Consensus is fine in its place, but only in its proper place. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows when to seek consensus among the people.

This is part 53 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

How A Leader Gains Followers

And David became more and more powerful because the Lord Almighty was with him (1 Chronicles 11:9). 

David had followers from all twelve tribes of Israel—warriors, leaders, talented men, fierce men. David wasn’t recruiting them or promising them any rewards, but they volunteered, coming in “one accord” and creating “joy in Israel” in the process (12:1-40). 

David was prepared to go alone. He fled from Saul without a single helper. David’s attitude was one of all-in trust in God, so all of these warriors came to David because of what he represented, not because of what he advertised. It was David’s wholehearted commitment to God that won the wholehearted commitment of these valiant men.

Their unity of purpose—“fully determined … one mind” (12:38)—was not because of a compelling vision that David cast but because of a mighty God David fully feared and loved. 

A leader’s focus should never be on building a following or casting a compelling vision, but on wholehearted, single-minded love and commitment to God. Any power or following only comes “because the Lord Almighty was with him.” 

A mark of a godly leader is his wholehearted devotion to God which creates a wholehearted devotion in his followers. 

This is part 52 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here

Handling Personal Attacks

So the people grumbled against Moses … The people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron (Exodus 15:24; Numbers 20:2). 

People with limited vision have limited faith too. As a result, they frequently grumble when things don’t go their way. Ironically, their grumbling is almost always directed at the leader who does have far-reaching vision and God-honoring faith! 

For most of his tenure as leader, Moses handled the grumbling of the people well. Sometimes, though, the complaints seemed more personal:

  • …in opposition to Moses and Aaron
  • …they quarreled with Moses
  • …“Why did you…?” 

These complaints may seem like a personal attack, but in the end, we find out that these attacks weren’t really against Moses at all—“the Israelites quarreled with the Lord” (Numbers 20:13). 

God tried to help Moses and Aaron see that this was not a personal attack on them. He instructed them to “speak to that rock” so that water would be provided for the grumbling people. But sadly, Moses and Aaron missed this point. They said to the Israelites, “must we bring you water out of this rock?” And then in total frustration with the quarrelsome Israelites, Moses “struck the rock” instead of speaking to it.

Moses made himself the focal point, not God. God responded: “you did not trust in Me enough to honor Me as holy in the sight of the Israelites” (v. 12).

A mark of a godly leader is one who doesn’t take personal attacks personally.

Previously, Moses responded to the grumblers better—

  • He “cried out to the Lord” and received directions
  • He obeyed God’s directions to the letter
  • He reminded the people that their grumbling was really “against the Lord” (Exodus 16:6-8)
  • He humbled himself before the people and pleaded with them not to rebel against God
  • He humbled himself before God and interceded for the people

If God has called you to lead, people will bring their quarrels and complaints to you. It will feel like a personal attack, but it’s not. When attacked or when people grumble, you need to humble yourself before the Holy Spirit and ask, “Did I do something wrong?” and then listen attentively for His answer.

If the answer is yes: repent, ask forgiveness, make things right.

If the answer is no: don’t take it personally, stay humble before God and the people, and obey the specific directions God will give you. Don’t get frustrated and cut short your tenure as a leader.

This is part 44 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

9 Quotes From “Shepherding God’s Flock”

T.M. Moore has given pastors a phenomenal training resource in Shepherding God’s Flock. Please be sure to check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“The work of church leaders today—and especially of that class of leaders called elders, with which this study is concerned—has been shaped and conditioned more by the temper of our times than by the teaching of God’s Word.” 

“According to Paul, any church that does not have in place elders—and other leaders working with them—who are functioning as shepherds is a church that is not in order.… A church without a strong ministry of shepherding is a flock without genuine pastoral care, oversight, and equipping. It may be very active, even happy, and may be ‘growing’ in what some consider impressive ways. But without shepherding as the framework and integrating dynamic, such a church will always be something less than what God intends.” 

“Where the work of shepherding is being faithfully pursued, the gospel goes forth with power, lost sheep are located, and the flocks of God grow as He adds new souls to the fold.” 

“Where faithful shepherds are at work, the Lord’s sheep will be well fed. Both milk and the meat of the Word will be their daily diet, according to the needs and callings of each. Well-fed sheep are healthy, strong, and fruitful in their own contributions.” 

“The work of shepherding begins in relationships of mutual love and trust, spiritual friendships where sheep and shepherd know, love, and care about one another.” 

“Only when the people feel known and loved, and only when they know and love those who are called to lead them—only then will they be willing to follow where the shepherds of the church are seeking to take them.” 

“In the Christian life, people tend to live up to or achieve, not the level of their abilities, for their abilities are virtually limitless, given the presence of the indwelling Spirit of God. Rather, they tend to live up to the level of their vision—of what they see for their lives in Christ. Unless we are leading them into God’s vision for their lives, the people of God will settle for something less than the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” 

“When temptation arises we can follow one of two courses. Either we will fall through temptation into sin, or we will grow through temptation into a higher stage of sanctification. … The shepherd’s task is twofold: first, he must help the Lord’s sheep to recognize temptation, by grounding them firmly in the law and Word of God; second, he must equip and encourage them in finding the way of escape from temptation, so that they may grow as the Lord intends.” 

“Jesus’ approach to bearing witness was thus energetic, proactive, continuous, compassionate, and pioneering. Should we expect anything less from the shepherds He has left to bring other lost sheep into His fold?”

Get Up And Get Moving

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him… (Matthew 1:24). 

I was reading an article posted on WebMD about how much damage we can do to our hearts by spending more time in front of the TV or computer than we do exercising. You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh! isn’t that obvious?!” It should be, and yet all of us still have a natural tendency to just sit there.

One quote especially stood out to me —

“It’s not even about the exercise. It’s about not sitting,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “I think that sort of points us in a little different direction. In order for you not to cause harm to yourself, you really need to focus on getting up and moving.”

This reminds me of Joseph (Mary’s husband) in the Bible. God spoke to him three times in dreams. After Joseph woke up, instead of just sitting there contemplating the vision, there’s a phrase that shows up after every single vision—“Joseph got up and did.” 

A mark of a godly leader is one who obeys God quickly.

I’m convinced that if Joseph had not obeyed the first God-given vision, he wouldn’t have been given anymore. 

Has God given you a vision for your life? If so, just sitting there may do damage to your heart and limit any other visions from God. So follow Joseph’s example and get up and get moving!

This is part 32 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

11 Quotes From “The Nehemiah Code”

All of us have opportunities where we need to rebuild something that has fallen apart. O.S. Hawkins uses the example of Nehemiah in the Bible to teach us highly applicable rebuilding principles. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“One never rebuilds until he personally identifies with the need and weeps over the ruins. … Sadly, there are many who are simply not grieved or burdened about the walls in their lives that are broken and in need of rebuilding. It has been far too long since some of us have ‘sat down,’ much less ‘wept, and mourned for many days.’” 

“Those who play the blame game never get the task of rebuilding completed.” 

“True rebuilders identify with the fears and failures of those around them. They take personal responsibility for the situation—even if the problems didn’t begin with them.” 

“Opportunities most often come our way when we are knocking on the door and not simply waiting for an opportunity to knock.” 

“Nehemiah was able to convince the people to adopt his vision because he followed three vital rules in goal setting: they were conceivable, believable, and achievable.” 

“Note the repetition of the plural personal pronouns in his challenge: ‘we … us … we’ (Nehemiah 2:17). Nehemiah was smart enough to incorporate a lot of plural pronouns. He was subtly motivating his people to work with him and not for him.” 

“Nehemiah left us a stellar example to follow by laying out five important principles that are essential to the delegation process: set clear objectives with specific tasks, pick the right person for the right job, be an example yourself, hold others accountable, and be generous in giving genuine pats on the back.” 

“When it comes to personal relationships, we all need someone to whom we are accountable. Someone who will remind us of God’s standards and give a gentle nudge—or shove—when we stray from those standards. Without such a friend, the result is often self-reliance, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, and self-centeredness, rather than God-centeredness.” 

“The fatigue factor is often at the root of our own failures. We simply give out and become too tired to go on, so we are then tempted to give in and to give up. When fatigue sets in during the rebuilding process, it brings along with it a loss of perspective, and little things often become much bigger than they really are. …Fatigue pulled their focus from their goal and placed it upon the rubbish, which led to frustration.” 

“People have a way of rallying around a cause if they are convinced that God is in the midst of it. Which voice do the troops hear from your mouth? Is it the voice of Sanballat and ‘We won’t’? Is it the voice of Judah and ‘We can’t’? Or is it the voice of Nehemiah and ‘God will!’?” 

“At last, the goal was in sight. The finish line. ‘Mission Accomplished’ just ahead. But be warned: this is the most dangerous point in any rebuilding process. This is when the enemy comes along with one final attempt to divert us from our goal. …It is not so much how long our personal race may be, nor even how difficult the obstacles we face along the way, but it is how we finish that matters most.” 

Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 6

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Isaiah 6

[These are the notes on Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 6.]

     My vision of God depends upon the state of my character. Character determines revelation. … Until I am born again and enter the Kingdom of God I see only along the line of my prejudices. …  

     The purpose of the vision is to enable me to see “the arm of the Lord” behind all circumstances (see Isaiah 53:1). God never gives a man the power to say “I see” until his character proves itself worthy of its purification. What hinders the purging of our perception is that we will build our faith on our experiences instead of on the God who gave us the experiences. My experience is the evidence of my faith, never the ground of it, and is meant to reveal to me a God who is bigger than any experience. …  

     The symbol of the live coal ‘from off the altar’ represents the twofold nature of the substitution of Christ, not only Christ for me, but Christ in me. … 

     God only gives us visions of Himself for one purpose, that we may work them out into character. … After God has given us a time of face-to-face contact with Himself and then puts us into tumults, the temptation is to sit down and say “Where is the blessedness I had when I first knew the Lord?” The Spirit of God holds us steady until we learn to know God, and the details of our lives are established before Him, then nothing on the outside can move us.

From Notes On Isaiah

There are specific reasons God will give us a clearer revelation of Himself—

  1. to purify godly character in us
  2. to help us deal with our own sin
  3. to see God at work in everyday affairs
  4. to keep us energized through trying times
  5. to make us more aware of what Jesus has done for us and in us
  6. to be His messenger among needy people

God doesn’t give visions or revelations just to thrill us or give us an experience. God is perfectly purposeful in everything He does. His visions are for His glory.

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