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Meekness is the Leverage of Leadership

In today’s world, meekness = weakness. God does not view it that way, however. The Bible says of Moses,”Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) And in a world where power is everything, Jesus entered the scene in a wooden manger surrounded by barnyard animals. He grew up in an humble village, the son of a carpenter, of modest means. He lived His life serving others, yet Jesus was certainly the most influential leader in all of history.

If you study the lives of Moses and Jesus you’ll find something interesting – they were both great leaders. Both were willing to boldly confront sin and error. Both would rebuke those who believed and lived lies. Both were willing to venture out into the future with faith. Yet they were the meekest men in history. How can this be? You see, we’ve misdefined meekness. Biblical meekness is not weakness, it is really just the opposite.

The Bible’s word for meekness is used in reference to a broken horse, which has all the power to destroy its rider but refrains out of respect for authority. The word is also used to refer to a soldier who has all the might to take on the enemy, yet submits himself completely to the authority of his commanding officer. Meekness is the key to having leverage in leadership. It’s the refusal to demand respect in exchange for commanding it with a life of integrity. It is “controlled power.” Meekness is the willingness to supress those urges to lash out at the wrong time, opting instead to wait for further orders from our commanding officer, Jesus.

Is meekness displayed in your life? How can you submit yourself to Jesus more today? How can you lead others with boldness and courage?

When You Don’t Feel Like Running to God

Running

When you least feel like running to God, that’s when you really need to run to God. And when you feel the least lovable, the least acceptable, that’s when His mercy shows itself strongest. King David once cried out, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble… Oh, how great is your goodness, which you have laid up for those who fear you.” (Psalm 31:9, 19 NKJV)

David’s language in this psalm is a lament over His own errors. He has strong words for those who ensnared him in some kind of trap, but he also expresses the pain and suffering caused by his own choices. He declares, “For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; My strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.” (Psalm 31:10 NKJV) I believe David is likely referring to the mental and physiological toll that our minds and bodies take because of sin, its guilt, and its effect of distancing us from the God who provides the center of our identity.

Our tendency is to shrink in shame when we’ve messed up, which only perpetuates the cycle of our sin. What if, instead, we trusted that God still loves us as much as He did before, that He is still as good as He has always been, and that His grace that saved us in the past is still as strong and available to keep saving us forever.

When you sin, confess it immediately. When you feel distance with God, close the gap without delay. When you feel that He should probably be angry at you over your faults, run to Him in His mercy and trust that He is true to His nature and His promises and that He offers the refreshing renewal of grace and forgiveness.

When you don’t feel like running to God, it’s the optimum time to do so.

photo credit: tpsdave

To Understand the Gospel, First Understand God

Gospel of GodThere are three things I know beyond the shadow of a doubt… There is a God. I am not him. Neither are you.

I know that if we were to make up our own “god,” he wouldn’t resemble the God of the Bible much. I know that because that’s what humanity has done repeatedly and still does today. It’s easier to serve an idol that looks like our idea of god than it is to serve the Living God. That’s why I cringe when people say things like, “Well I just think God probably doesn’t mind…” Whatever comes next is the result of idolatry – our shaping of a god in our image according to our likeness.

The gospel, we’ve said, is defined as the good news about the story of our redemption in Jesus Christ. But to understand the gospel, we first need to understand God (at least, what God has revealed about Himself), because the good news of our redemption flows out of the story of whom God is. Let me explain…

God is our all-sufficient Creator. We often talk about how unfair it is for anyone to go to hell, but we forget that God is an all-sufficient Creator who doesn’t need us at all – He simply wants us! “Our” gospel often says that God owes us salvation, but God’s good news comes from the fact that God is sufficient by Himself. He owes no one anything! But He saves by grace – that’s good news!

God is the righteous and holy One – He hates sin. John 3:16 could easily and truthfully be reworded to say: “For God so hated sin that He gave His only begotten Son…” It is because of His holy nature that He abhors sin. He is separate from it. For God to excuse or associate with sin in any way would be a violation of His holy nature. But He LOVES sinners so much that He came to earth and put on skin and associated with people who had sin in their lives – that’s good news!

God is love – He loves people. You can’t understand the gospel until you understand that God is love. Not just that He loves… but that He IS love! There’s a difference. He doesn’t just do loving things, He does loving things because He defines love.

The gospel, the good news, is that our all-sufficient Creator wants us and loves us enough to save us and redeem for Himself a family through the price of His own dear Son, Jesus.

King Jesus Saves and Reigns!

There is good news.We love to take biblical words and weaken their meanings by adopting them for our own usage. One such word is “gospel.” We use it in a light-hearted way when we refer to something as “the gospel truth.” Like when we say, “Donald Trump’s hair is amazing – that’s the gospel truth!” Not only are we stating something subjective in objective terms, we’re also saying something… weird.

What exactly is the gospel? The word literally means “good news.” It’s good news about a Kingdom and its King. The good news began to be heralded with these words, “In the beginning, God created…” When Adam and Eve sinned, the whole human race was plunged into depravity, sinfulness, and lostness. God’s promise to the human race of a coming deliverer was good news. The good news, which was carried down through the lineage of the nation of Israel until Jesus came, was that God would restore all that was lost and broken in His creation.

The good news is the story of redemption. Jesus is its central protagonist and hero. He rose from the soil of Jewish history to live a life no one else had been capable of living. He died on the cross to provide a substitutionary atonement, paying for the penalty incurred by the sins of lost mankind. He rose again from the grave the third day resulting in His absolute victory over sin, death, and the grave.

He commissioned His church to tell the world this good news and empowers her today by the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. He ascended back to heaven and now rules and rains over this kingdom in a partial sense. That is, he rules and reigns over all submit to Him, receive Him as King, and join His forever family. And someday, He will return visibly and literally to commence His reign over all the earth, redeemed, reconciled, and restored.

That’s the good news. No matter how sin and evil have managed to wreck and ruin humanity, there is good news – King Jesus saves and reigns. No matter the extend of our lostness and brokenness, there is good news – King Jesus saves and reigns. No matter what the powers of the world do to conspire against the rule and authority of God, there is good news – King Jesus saves and reigns.

The question is, have you received King Jesus as your own? The good news is for the world, it is for Israel, it is for the church, and it is for YOU.

The Supreme Sin of Self-Righteousness

Titus 3:4-5We like to rank sins. The problem is, we really stink as sin-value-estimators. We think about sins as how “bad” they seem to us. So the sin of adultery or murder? Those are really bad while the sin of gossip – not so much. I don’t personally believe in the myth that “all sins are the same.” They’re not. But we tend to judge the sin without its motives. We inspect the fruit and not the root.

Why? Because it’s usually easy to find people who have worse external behavior than we do, which help us establish our own self-righteousness. Which is sin. And it’s a “bad” sin in that it’s rooted in pride, echoes the sin of Lucifer, and seeks to usurp God’s authoritative voice on what is actual righteousness.

Here’s the bottom line… we’ve blown it. And when we compare our righteousness to that of others, it’s like seeing who’s jeep is cleaner after we both went mudding. Here’s how John Calvin wrote about it hundreds of years ago:

So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence.

In counseling, I hear often words like, “I know I did _____, and I know that’s a ‘really bad’ thing, but I’m a good person…” It’s pretty much a universal assumption on our part that we’re doing okay. That’s why we’re not doing okay.

So what’s the solution? Feel really bad about ourselves? Not exactly. Self-loathing is just another form of pride parading itself as false humility since the focus is till on US. The solution is to recognize the sin in us and turn our focus toward He who is sinless – to Him who alone is truly righteous.

God loves you and wants to adopt you into His own forever family, NOT because you’re okay or “basically good” or because you’re “not so bad,” but because HE loves you. The Bible puts it this way, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:4-5 NKJV)