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Author: Paul Phillips

Paul was born in Fort Benning, Georgia. He earned his BS in Sports Management from Furman University and worked for the Atlanta Braves Public Relations Department. In 1987, Paul joined Young Life staff and served as the Wilmington area director for 13 years. Paul completed his MDiv at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2001 and became CCC’s founding pastor in 2002. He’s married to Nancy, and they have two grown children.
David: Two Ways Not to Respond to Evil – Leadership Lesson

David: Two Ways Not to Respond to Evil – Leadership Lesson

(This Leadership Lesson was lead by Sam Kennedy)

This year we are working our way through the Bible and highlighting certain leaders. We ended last semester with Moses as he lead the people of God out of slavery and Egypt. Following Moses, we looked at Joshua, the military general who lead them into the Promised Land.

Last week, we looked at a leader who is really remembered for his disobedience: Saul. Because Saul lost the fight against his own sin—because he listened to his own voice instead of God’s, he became a failure. 

Continuing on the theme of self-leadership, we’re looking at Saul’s successor David and his leadership as a king and a father.

Maybe you’ve heard the term: “don’t be that guy.” Here is a funny example of how to not be “that guy.”

Today, we will be looking at examples of David’s reactions to evil and suffering. These are not examples you want to follow. In other words, “Don’t be that guy!”

Side note: What you do in the Dark, doesn’t stay in the Dark.

Remember the Bathsheba incident? David lustfully takes her and has sex with her. In an attempt to cover up his sin of adultery, he murders her husband Uriah the Hittite by sending him to the front lines.

The consequences of David’s sin do not stop there. Over time, his sins of adultery and murder get repeated in his kids. This principle is especially seen in our kids today. The inferior life of a man is reflected in his children. God created children to be sponges; we all learn from modeling ourselves by other men’s examples. Whether you know it or not, whether you have children or not, younger men are looking to you! What you really love, what you really value, they see it, and they learn it.

Don’t be that Guy #1: Don’t Blow Up

In 2 Samuel 13 David’s firstborn son Amnon rapes his half sister Tamar. Tamar is the only baby sister of David’s son Absalom. Absalom loves his sister, but his response to this heartbreaking tragedy is not a healthy one.

For Absalom’s response, read 2 Samuel 13:20-22. After two “FULL YEARS”, Absalom murders his brother, which then begins to unravel the entire kingdom as he eventually tries to take the throne away from his father.

 What the blow up looks like (in your life):

You’re hotheaded. You get blinded by emotion. Pain, anger, sadness. You believe you’re the only one who can see things clearly. You go Jack Bauer mode and take matters into your own hands. You’ve lost the ability to hear other people or points of view.

But how did Absalom get this way? It is largely because of the silence of his father.

Don’t be that Guy #2: Don’t freeze up

This is one of the most frustrating sentences in all of the Bible. After the horrific rape of Tamar, she is now a desolate woman. – 2 Sam 13:21 – “When King David hear these things he was very angry.”

What? Is that it?!

In the Dead Sea Scrolls, some later manuscripts make an addition to this verse. You may see an asterisk or note at the bottom of your Bible that says, “…he was very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, since he was his firstborn.”

Davids response is totally passive. David gets played by his kids like a Nintendo. They are spoiled and do whatever they want. After the murder of Amnon, Absalom runs away. David’s people beg him to go out to Absalom and bring him back, but David just sits on his duff.

What the freeze up looks like (in your life):

The “freeze up”— you see a problem, you feel strong emotion. Maybe it’s righteous emotion, but you freeze. The voice in your head says, “I can’t do anything, I can’t say anything, It’s too hard, I’ll just make it worse.” You find 1000 ways to justify not acting. and because you do nothing, the problem keeps growing.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letter from the Birmingham jail to a group of southern pastors who claimed to care about the rights of African Americans but refused to speak out. They advised Dr. King to be patient—to retreat.

This is his answer to them:

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God…we must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

Men— we don’t deal with emotions well. The Bible is clear that we are weak-framed, dusty people. But we do see throughout the Bible a third way. The solution we have is simple.

 The Solution: Be A Man

We have two “don’t be that guy” moments in this chapter. Two false pictures of masculinity.

  1. Masculinity is not being aggressive (The Blow Up)
  2. Masculinity is not being passive (The Freeze Up)

Elizabeth Elliot, wife of Christian Martyr Jim Elliot wrote this in her book, The Mark of a Man:

“this is the distilled essence of masculinity – initiation.”

Manhood means initiation, authority means sacrifice.

I’d like to offer a slight correction to this statement. In Christ, we see the essence of masculinity is being a cross-bearing initiator.

God is this the initiator. This is the distilled essence f masculinity: initiation. All creation responds to his initiation. It is the only thing creation can do. He calls men to take the first step into hard situations.

God moves into the world, bearing a cross, moving towards difficulty. Relieving others of their burdens and being a servant. As men, we are called to do the same

Questions:

  1. Who were the men who modeled masculinity for you? What was healthy or unhealthy about the picture of manhood they gave you?
  2. Who are you serving as a model for? Who (at home, at work, at church) is looking up to you?
  3. Do you blow up or freeze up? Where do you see these responses most often (at home, at work, with friends?)
  4. “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” Where have you been “appallingly silent”? Where can you be a co-worker with God for truth and justice this week?
  5. What crosses will you have to bear in order to take initiative for what’s right?
Iron Leader Update – Ron Edmonson, Tim Challies, and Millenials

Iron Leader Update – Ron Edmonson, Tim Challies, and Millenials

Iron Leaders,

Ron Edmondson (ronedmondson.com) has a good website about leadership you might want to add to your favorites list. Below is one of his blog posts about Traits of Courageous Leaders. Tim Challies (challies.com) also has a great website and his article on Sexual Detox is a must-read for men in leadership. On a less serious note, enjoy the video about Millennials.

I look forward to seeing you this Friday, January 20 at 6:30 AM or at 6:00 AM for the Daily Office.

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture
Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

 

Saul’s Disobedience and its Consequences – Leadership Lesson

Saul’s Disobedience and its Consequences – Leadership Lesson

As we begin our first lesson in 2017. Let’s review where we left off in 2016:

  • Moses: Leads the people of God out of Egypt and Slavery
  • Joshua: Military general who leads them into the Promised Land
  • Judges: Gideon (Judges 2:11-12 – Read) “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. They abandoned the Lord….instead they went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them.” **They preferred to follow the ways of the world around them rather than be Obedient to God. **This disobedience set up a sad spiral which ended: Judges 21:25“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

So – When you turn from Judges to Samuel (the last Judge), you could say Israel was looking for a leader. The leader they chose, was Saul.

Unfortunately, Saul continued the sad spiral of disobedience. This clip is a good example of the childishness of blatant disobedience:

The greatest challenge in leadership is Self-Leadership. The hardest person to lea is the person you stare at in the mirror every morning. We all have preferences, impulses, and desires. They strongly influence our leadership. (We want ice cream!) But Christian Leadership requires obedience to God’s preferences, impulses, and desires above your own! The failure of obedience can have heavy consequences, much more than being taken to your room.

1. Fatal Beginning: I Samuel 8:4-7 (Read)

The Elders (the Leaders) uncoupled themselves from God’s leadership.
They decided instead to obey their own desires – their voice/their
desires will be King. (This is a repeat of Genesis 3 when desires become King)

Samuel’s Warning (1 Samuel 8:10-18)

God warns his people through the prophet Samuel that the leader they elect will bring trials upon them. The phrase “He will take” is repeated in verses 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.

He will take:

  • Your sons
  • Your daughters
  • The best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards
  • A tenth of your grain
  • Your male and female servants, and your donkeys
  • A tenth of your flocks…and you shall be his slaves.

This is important: Whenever you uncouple your life from God and listen to another voice, that voice takes. He will take.

John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life, and to have it to the full…the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy…(i.e. to take).

Samuel 8:18 – Just hold on to that, there will be a day when you cry out and the LORD will not answer!

People’s Response (1 Samuel 8:19-20)

Even after God’s warning, the people respond – “No, we don’t want God as our King, we want what we want, we want to be like everyone else. Just like the kid in the movie, “We want ice cream!”

The LORD’s Response (1 Samuel 8:22)

Verse 22 is such a scary and sobering voice. The Lord said to Samuel: “Obey their voice.” Let them lead. “Make them a king.” Give them a king in their own image. One who is emotionally immature, a king who will easily uncouple himself from God’s instruction.

2. Saul’s Downward Spiral of Leadership

It is worth noticing in 1 Samuel 9:1-2 that Saul is wealthy, handsome, and tall. These are all of the external qualities the world is looking for in a leader. Yet, it is not those qualities which make great leaders.

Saul’s 1st Leadership Test – Chapter 13

Samuel (representing God’s voice) tells Saul to go to Gilgal and prepare to fight against the Philistines. Saul is instructed to wait 7 days for Samuel to arrive. When Samuel arrives, he is supposed to give an offering (seeking the Lord’s favor in battle) and give instruction to Saul.

So here is the real leadership test. It is not the fight against the enemy (Philistines), the real fight is against himself. Will Saul obey they voice of the Lord or will he “eat the ice cream?”

Question: As a leader, are you willing to be led by God’s Word, even when you have to wait? Even when it looks like things are falling apart and people are abandoning you? Even when everyone else is doing business another way? When those things happen, who’s voice do you obey? This is a constant challenge!

Read 1 Samuel 13:8-11 – This is oh so painful. So familiar to times in my own life! In verse 10, if he had just waited a little. In verse 11, he is skilled in blame shifting. He says “I saw,” meaning that he follows what he sees, not God’s instructions. He blames the people, then Samuel, and then the Philistines. Everyone gets thrown under the bus, except Saul! In verse 12, he says “So I forced myself”. In other words: it was difficult to go against God’s word, but I forced myself. Saul uncouples himself from God’s Word.

Back to the key point, your biggest enemy is yourself!

A Second Similar Test – Chapter 15

Who’s word will Saul obey? Samuel gives Saul specific instructions to destroy the wicket Amalekites. “Saul, go to war and don’t bring anything back.”

Saul’s response is in 1 Samuel 15:9. Saul keeps the king (Agag) and the best of the livestock alive. Verse 12 tells us that after the battle, Saul sets up a monument to himself. His voice, his desires are king. 1 Samuel 15:19-21 display so many poor leadership traits: Blame shifting, the fear of man, and a disconnect between his leadership and those he leads.

Here’s an illustration: Long ago, when my son Zachary was little, I saw there was a broken pot in our house. I asked my wife if she broke the pot. She said no. At this point, I knew it was Zachary so I asked him, “Did you break the pot?” “No,” he said. A few seconds went by, and then he said, “…but my foot did.” We blame shift so easily, but good leaders take responsibility for themselves and their people.

1 Samuel 15:23b is the LORD’s response. “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king.”

Chapter 18

Following David’s defeat of Goliath (Read vs. 6-9), Saul’s emotionally immaturity intensifies. Saul’s childish response is so incredibly unattractive. He drifts further from God. Saul is uncoupled from God’s word and is slowly being destroyed.

Chapter 28

Saul is nearing the end of his reign. He is now completely uncoupled from God’s voice and under great pressure from the Philistines.

Read 1 Samuel 28:5-6. Saul doesn’t cry out to repent, he doesn’t cry out for a restored relationship with God. No, he cries out for rescue. He is only concerned about himself. Recall 1 Samuel 8:18. God did not answer him in that day.

Read 1 Samuel 28:7 . Saul, who once forced himself to go against God’s Word now easily consults a Medium, a Necromancer.

Leaders, please listen. Sin, when left unchecked, grows. When you uncouple yourself from God’s word, it may seem like a small thing in the beginning. But when left unchecked, it is catastrophic.

Chapter 31

Saul commits suicide. John 10:10. The enemy wins. Saul’s total destruction. The failure of obedience can have some heavy consequences. Saul loses himself, his sons, and a nation.

Questions

1. If your greatest enemy is yourself (self leadership), then what area of Self-leadership do you need to focus on in 2017? Do you have a real plan to work on that area?

2. Saul was:

  • A blame-shifter
  • Afraid of what others thought
  • Refused to take personal responsibility for personal mistakes
  • Emotionally Immature (Jealous of David’s victory).

In your mind, which one of these is the most unattractive leadership quality? Why?

3. How does God’s Word affect your everyday leadership style and decision making?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture
Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
paul@cccwnc.com

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions – 2017

New Year’s Resolutions – 2017

Iron Leaders,

It is time to kick-off Iron Leadership for 2017. Our first meeting of the year is this Friday, January 6 at 6:30 AM or at 6:00 AM for the Daily Office. Make it your new year’s resolution to attend this year’s Iron Leadership meetings. Look at the spring schedule below and go ahead and put those in your calendar.

Another one of your new year’s resolution should be to read good books, so I took the liberty of sending you a couple of book of the year lists from World Magazine. The first one is their 2016 books of the year and included in the article are previous years’ winners. Also, for fathers of young children, there is a list of children’s books that I referenced in reading good books to my children.

2016 Books of the Year: Persecution. Cultural Pressure. Death, Marriage, Fun by Marvin Olasky

The Nifty 50: World’s List of 50 Great 20th Century Books for Children by Susan Olasky

….And for those of you who have less lofty goals than reading great books, here is something for you:

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture
Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
paul@cccwnc.com

2017 SPRING SCHEDULE:

-January 6
-January 20
-February 3
-February 17
-March 3
-March 17
-April 7
-April 21
-May 5
-May 19

How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax – TGC

How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax – TGC

Iron Leaders, for the next few weeks leading up to 2017, I am going to send you some articles on time management or productivity.  The Lord teaches us to number our days and that our days are like a mist so we want to use our time wisely.  I hope you benefit from these articles and prepare to get the most out of 2017. Read How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax

Paul Phillips Signiture

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

Leadership When Things Look Impossible – Leadership Lesson

Leadership When Things Look Impossible – Leadership Lesson

Several times it looks like it’s “over” for the Iguana. The odds of survival seem impossible. In the book of Joshua, Gideon has to lead through what looks like impossible circumstances. Gideon wasn’t perfect but his faith in God put him into the: “Faith Hall of Fame” – Hebrews 11: “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell . . . And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, Samuel, David and the prophets…”

Gideon had to learn by Faith, not by Strength

Background:

Joshua lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. When Joshua died, there was a vacuum in leadership. (Judges 2:11-12) “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.” This is what happens when there is no one to lead people toward God.

“Everything rises and falls on leadership, everything.”

John Maxwell

A pattern begins to develop in the book of Judges: The people rebel against
God. They suffer, they cry out, and God sends a Judge (Military Leader) to
rescue them.

Judges 6:1-10: For a period of 7 years the Midianites would invade during harvest season and swallow up all of Israel’s resources. The Israelites were so afraid of the them that they lived in caves: (Read vs. 1-6a – Israel was brought very low).

This already looks like an impossible situation. (Just like the Iguana. Before anything happens, it looks like the odds are against him!) In reality, this is a great moment for God to be noticed! God is looking for leaders who will rise up and point people to Him in the midst of Oppression, Poverty & Fear.

3 Snapshots of Gideon learning to lead by Faith, not by Strength

1.  Judges 6:11-16.

Gideon doesn’t start out looking like a strong candidate for leadership:

  • vs. 11 – Gideon is hiding
  • vs. 13 – Gideon blames God
  • vs. 15 – Gideon doesn’t see himself as capable (He is the least – and least qualified)

Yet, the main person to focus on in these verses is not Gideon – but God! Romans 8:31 – “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

  • vs. 12 – When God is involved, he sees things that are so much bigger than we can see about ourselves. Gideon’s self assessment might have been correct, but Gideon wasn’t adding God into his equation.
  • vs. 16 – “I will be with you” – If that’s true, that’s all that matters. “Be strong and courageous,” Why? “because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!”

So the first part of leading by Faith and not by (personal) strength – is absolute trust God is in the equation.  Then, impossible circumstances can be faced.

Most biblical leadership doesn’t come as a result of self-promotion. Those who tried to self-promote were told to get in the back of the line: to be servants. (The disciples – “How can we be first or great?”)

Leadership so often comes as a disruption to our plans. You see this so often in the Bible. God t-bones someone to move and lead in a different direction than they had planned. For example, Gideon was just trying to feed his family and stay out of the Midianites’ sight.

2. Judges 6:25-32

Let’s remember, what was Gideon’s ultimate assignment? His first assignment was this: to conquer the evil in his own house. 6:25-26a – “Pull down idols . . . and build on top an altar to the LORD”

This is so important as a leader. The biggest problem Gideon faced was not the Midianites, it was his own people! Recall Judges 2:11-12 – “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals . . .They abandoned the Lord”

Before you take on external enemies, please examine potential problems in your own soul. Our leadership is often limited because we can’t lead ourselves!

Now this request by God looks like another impossible situation. The people would be happy to have Gideon expose and defeat the Midianites, but they weren’t at all interested in having their own sin exposed and defeated! This is an enormous challenge in Self Leadership – you have to make changes that will make those closest to you uncomfortable.

Gideon clearly understands the risks (vs. 27). He was afraid, and for good reason! (vs. 30). Despite his fear, Gideon was faithful.

3. Judges 7:1-22

In chapter 6, Gideon wins the internal battle. Now is the time for the eternal battle against the Midianites. Gideon does what any military leader would do, he gathers an army: 32,000 men.

(Judges 7:2) “The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with
you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest
Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.'”

What a great verse! God is basically saying: “There is a problem here. 32,000 makes this situation look possible, so I need to reduce the umber to make the situation look impossible.” Why? The answer is in the text. You will make the victory about yourself! Your salvation is not about you, so God eventually reduces the number of soldiers to 300 (<1% of the original amount.) Now it’s impossible without God.

Instead of quitting, instead of complaining, Gideon faithfully trusts God and moves forward.

Questions

  1. How do you respond when the situation looks impossible?
  2. Is it possible that God wants you to begin a new leadership challenge by first examining the conditions of your own soul? What might need to be cut down in your life before you can move forward?
  3. Is there a leadership opportunity in 2017? Something God is calling you to that you might be resisting because it seems impossible?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

Too busy to read? General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis doesn’t think so.

Too busy to read? General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis doesn’t think so.

Just before Marine Gen. James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis was getting ready to deploy with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to Iraq in early 2004, one of his colleagues asked him about officers who sometimes found themselves “too busy to read.”

The legendary general carted around a personal library of 6,000 books with him everywhere, and he had plenty to say on the topic. Read the full article here.