A Summoned Leader

I was reading Jim Beaird’s remarkable book, Proximity Factor this morning. He quotes Leonard Sweet, who wrote, “Leaders are neither born nor made. They are summoned.”

This resonates with my current experience. I’m in two leadership roles for which I was neither born nor made. Two leadership positions which were not part of my master plan.

During the day, I am Academic Dean at New Hope Christian College. In my off hours, I serve as Presiding Clerk of Northwest Yearly Meeting of the Friends Church.  Both of these positions were offered to me without any initiation on my part; both of them started off feeling like a poor fit.

By “poor fit” I mean that neither one of them was a position I desired. I like leadership, but I had other plans for the arena of that leadership. By “poor fit” I also mean that both positions are requiring growth from me that stretches me in ways I would not have chosen.

However, being summoned means not only going where God calls, it means giving the Lord freedom to stretch me in unanticipated directions. It does not mean I live without a master plan, just that I need to hold my plan lightly so that I respond to God’s call quickly.

What this means for me is that leadership no longer connects to being in charge; leadership becomes more and more an adventure of being directed.

Beaird, Jim (2014-07-21). The Proximity Factor: Essential Disciplines in a Leader’s Spiritual Formation (Kindle Location 326). TriFactor Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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God, Teach Me to Find You

I read the prayer below at http://bit.ly/10a7Lay

I’m struck once again with two truths: how little I look for God’s presence and activity in my day, and how readily God is found when I look.

Here’s the prayer, by St. Anselm:

O Lord my God,

Teach my heart this day where and how to see you,
Where and how to find you.
You have made me and remade me,
And you have bestowed on me
All the good things I possess,
And still I do not know you.
I have not yet done that
For which I was made.
Teach me to seek you,
For I cannot seek you
Unless you teach me,
Or find you
Unless you show yourself to me.
Let me seek you in my desire,
Let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you,
Let me love you when I find you.

 

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Time for Wisdom

Italian Vineyard tcktcktck.org

Italian Vineyard tcktcktck.org

Today’s Bible reading included 1 Kings 20-21, and it definitely confused me. At times, God chastised the leaders when they treated people graciously. At other times, God explicitly reverses himself and treats people graciously.

So my question is, how do I know when to treat people with grace, and when do I demand that they meet the full letter of the law? I know that God expects me to do both in various situations, and I feel like I often choose the wrong path.

Part of the answer requires sensitivity in every circumstance to the Lord’s voice.  Part of it means getting beyond what I feel and discerning the true impact the other person. Part of it is diving in, recognizing that bold mistakes are better than timid lack of action.

“God, I must admit I often wonder whether a situation requires your justice or grace. Please teach me, and lead me, so that my decisions reflect your truth and glory. Amen.”

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Revealing Jesus Christ

I’ve spent a delightful thirteen weeks teaching at New Hope Eugene, and tonight will be the last night for the Spring.

Tonight we finish our 7-week examination of the big story underlying all scripture. As we look at the book call “Revelation” we quickly discover that it reveals much more about Jesus than it does the future. (Or at least we understand what it say about Jesus better.)

If the Bible story begins with God wanting a family to reflect his glory, how is Revelation the best possible conclusion? We find out tonight as we examine Great Suspense – Grand Conclusion

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Expansion of the Gospel

I often hear stories of incredible growth of the gospel, which never fail to inspire me. Whether its through medical doctors in Nepal or American missionaries in Venezuela, the Holy Spirit is building new groups of believers at a breath-taking pace.

However, the most amazing growth spurt of the church was the very first one. We read the New Testament for life guidance, and well we should. But once in awhile, we should read it as the miraculous story of 120 fragile individuals creating a world-wide movement in just 30 years.

Tonight I’m teaching about the Acts and Epistles at New Hope Eugene. You are welcome to join us, and/or download the Power Point Look at Us Grow

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Working Righteousness

My devotions this morning were in Romans 10, where I read “ For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:3-4, ESV).

The Jews of Paul’s day (and too often, me) thought that righteousness was something they were required to produce. When they couldn’t, they felt shame and doubled their efforts to manufacture some form of righteousness.

In reality, righteousness results from submitting to God’s work, not by submitting our good works to God. In this context, “submitting” is closely tied to believing.

“O Lord, I want to receive — I want to submit — I want to believe — I want release from shame. And I want freedom from sin.

While I now recall that I can do none of this on my own, I believe that you are doing all of it through your Spirit. Thanks for your unspeakable gift. Amen.”

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Looking Unto Jesus

Remember when your parents warned you to not look at the sun? Well tonight I’m teaching a lesson at New Hope Eugene entitled “Do Look at the Son.” Christians believe that the Bible makes the most sense when it used to look at God’s son, Jesus the Messiah.

The lesson will focus on the big picture of the Gospels, as we watch Jesus announcing the arrival of God’s kingdom. The PowerPoint is Do Look at the Son

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Adding Emotion to the Mix

Some like to treat the Bible as an intellectual topic, full of great concepts. Others treat the Bible as a rule book, which commands strict obedience.

Fortunately, the Bible contains the “Heart Books” of the Old Testament, which remind us that we are to feel God’s presence, as well as believe his truths and walk according to his ways.

Tonight I will share with New Hope Eugene a few ideas for getting the most of the Bible’s poetry, especially Psalms and Proverbs. The PowerPoint for tonight is This Time With Feeling

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Learning From Other’s Mistakes

One of the greatest values of the Old Testament history is that we don’t have to repeat their mistakes. As we watch Israel move through the centuries, we see repeatable patterns which provide us wisdom.

Tonight I’ll be teaching about the big themes in the historical section of the OT. The PowerPoint is Fractured Fellowship Lessons

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Another Six Weeks at NHE

I’ve been asked to continue my teaching about the Bible for another six weeks. I’m calling this six weeks “”Getting Inside Your Bible.” The basic format will examine the big themes of each major section of the Bible, as they feed into the overarching story of the Bible.

Tonight, we look at the Pentateuch, or the Five Book Foundation

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