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Nehemiah Part 3: Patience, Pounding, and Practice

Nehemiah Part 3: Patience, Pounding, and Practice

Friday, October 13, 2017 – Audio Recording

 

If you’ve been keeping up in this series, you may be saying to yourself, “Hey, we have already talked about this. Let’s move on!

To that quiet whisper in your head, I would respond:

  • Repetition is the mother of all learning (ask a coach or teacher)
  • What we are talking about in these opening verses of Nehemiah are foundational to the rest of the book and  foundational to our own lives.

Vision: Vision is a preferred future. It’s a picture of what could and should be done.

Getting a Vision for your Soul: Who do you want to BE

  • Expanding your interior life.

Getting a Vision for your Self: What do you want to DO

  • Expanding your exterior life.  Most men think about this vision.

To get a clear vision it takes patience (time), pounding (hammering it out over and over until its clear), and practice (new habits and spiritual disciplines). These things prepare you to move forward.

Unfortunately, patience, pounding, and practice are like saying four letter words in our “racecar” culture. We want a vision, we want it now and we want to immediately move forward. It rarely happens that way.

In chapter 2 we find the primary question we need to ask when thinking about vision:  It’s the Babylonian Kings question to his servant Nehemiah: (2:4)  What are you requesting?” What do you want? It’s a life shaping question.  It’s a question you must pound on in order to get an answer.

Interestingly it’s the same question Jesus asks his first two followers. In John 1, two guys start following after Jesus and Jesus, the king of kings turns to them and asks, “What do you want?These are the first words of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Jesus is probing, “What hunger drives your heart? 

Let’s say you don’t know, or you have hungers that drive your heart that aren’t healthy. What steps can you take? Nehemiah helps us.

First Step: Holy Discontent

We see this in Nehemiah 1:3-4. Nehemiah got a disturbing report, and it rocked him down to his core. It had such an effect on him that he knows he must respond by having an effect on it.

It had such an effect on him that he knows he must respond by having an effect on it.

This happens to our interior and exterior lives. You see something ugly in yourself, or you see something ugly in your corner of the world. Either way, you have what Bill Hybels describes as your “Popeye moment”.  Few people remember him and his dubious anatomical structure. In each cartoon, something would agitate Popeye until he would finally say “I’ve had all I can stands…..and I can’t stands no more!”  Then he’d pop open a can of spinach and the rest is history.

Second Step: Personal Practices

Nehemiah alters his personal practices in verse 4. We talked about this last week. Prayer, Fasting & Journaling.  Nehemiah takes his holy discontent and first starts working on himself. This is huge. Nehemiah works to expand his interior world so he can be prepared when his exterior world expands.

Think of these practices and spiritual disciplines as pounding. What do these practices pound into Nehemiah? How do these shape him?

1. Practices Pound the Right Perspective

Think about this with me for a minute: Nehemiah hears about the great trouble and shame his people. He hears how their defensive wall against enemies is broken down. Nehemiah is disturbed and agitated. 

The question in his mind could have been: “Who broke down these walls in the first place?  The Babylonian King I am serving, that’s who!”

Nehemiah’s agitation could have come out against the King he serves.

Or how about: How long have these walls been broken down? 150 years. I mean, these people have been living in trouble and shame for 150 years. Why haven’t any of those stupid people left in Jerusalem done anything about it? 

Nehemiah’s agitation could have come out against his own people.

Just to clarify, we don’t know if Nehemiah had any of these thoughts during the 4 months of processing. These are examples of blame-shifting. They aren’t the right perspective.

Read Nehemiah 1:6-8. During these 4 months, Nehemiah sees that he is the problem. “We have have sinned. . .I and my father’s house. . .we acted corruptly.” This is huge. This helps him navigate forward in the right direction.

When men come to talk to me about their problems in their marriage & family, who are the main problems? Usually, their wife and kids. If they talk to me about problems at work, its their boss and the economy.  Perhaps, but let’s start with you.

It’s very possible you see the problem correctly but you don’t yet understand the true cause. If you don’t, then you will go in the wrong direction. You need more pounding!

2. Practices Pound a Vision

Nehemiah started out distressed (1:4), and ended up seeing himself as part of the solution, specifically building a wall (2:5). Nehemiah loves his home city and he knows he can’t do everything, but he can tackle one thing, building a wall. We will see in coming weeks how his one thing helps other people do their part. Just like a trophic cascade.

Like Nehemiah loved Jerusalem, I love Wilmington. Lord willing I will die in this city. My grandchildren, perhaps my great grandchildren will grow up in this city. What role does God want me to play? What contribution does God want me to make in order that this city would be stronger for Christ and stronger for human flourishing?  I can’t do everything, but I can tackle one thing.

To build a Church and build men. Thats my eco-system.

Nehemiah sees himself as part of the solution. He doesn’t pray that God would magically make him a better person or magically make his country safe. No, he asks God how he might join with God in accomplishing God’s desires.

3. Practices Pound that any Success is God’s success.

It’s God’s steadfast love, willingness to redeem, power and strong hand. God grants success. God plans on using you, but it means that when you have success, all Glory belongs to God. We only have this one recorded prayer in the opening chapter of Nehemiah. Who knows how much prayer and pounding it took to get Nehemiah out of the center and God into the center? For most men – this kind of prayer that pounds you out of the center is something which must be practiced everyday.

Recall the first question that Jesus asks his disciples in the Gospel of John: “What do you want?” What hungers drive your heart? Do you know? In the very last chapter, Jesus asks a similar question to his number 1 disciple, Peter.

Jesus asks Peter 3 times: “Do you love me? Peter, does your hunger for me drive your heart or is it something else?”  Why does Jesus ask Peter this question? Because Peter, who had promised to follow Jesus even to his own death, denied him. When the pressure came on, we uncovered Peter’s heart. Peter was still hungry for Peter.

Do you recall what happened between Peter’s promise and Peter’s denial? In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus pleaded with Peter to “Watch & Pray…so that you may not enter into temptation…for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Peter didn’t practice prayer, so he wasn’t prepared. Peter was still at the center.

These things don’t happen all at once. Patience, Pounding, and Practice are needed in order to be Prepared.

Questions

  1. What hunger drives your heart? If Jesus asked you “what do you want” – do you know? What would you say?
  2. How do spiritual disciplines and practices pound the right perspective into you? What would be the down side of having your Popeye Moment (“I’ve had all I can stands…”) then acting on it immediately?
  3. Do you pray for God to do something or do you pray asking how you can be part of the solution? What difference would it make?
  4. How do you know if, deep down, you still want to be at the center of your success?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips

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

5 Characteristics of Jesus’ Leadership

5 Characteristics of Jesus’ Leadership

Last week we began looking at Jesus’ leadership by examining just one characteristic, Servant Leadership. Our text was Philippians 2:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…who took on the very nature of a servant.”

We previously talked about what it looked like to be a servant leader. Of course we know Jesus had many more excellent leadership attributes. There are a few more I want to examine this morning. Here’s my thinking – “If my attitude should be the same as that of Jesus, what are some other characteristics I should be following? If Jesus is the lead pilot, especially in Leadership, how can I align myself with his leadership?”

Watch this video of the Blue Angels. They are 18 inches apart, flying between 400-700 mph. All taking their light patterns from the lead pilot. So, as I am moving through my life, sometimes at great speed, what do I need to do to stay in formation with Jesus?

5 Characteristics of Jesus’ Leadership

1. Jesus was Disciplined in Prayer

Read Mark 1:32-38

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

Jesus makes prayer a priority. He gets up early and does the opposite of what we would have expected.

Mark 9:28-29

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Apparently the disciples thought they could do things on their own. When they wing it, they lose power.

Luke 11:1-2

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples…..{followed by the Lord’s Prayer}”

This is the only recorded instance of the disciples asking Jesus to teach them something. Of all things, they asked for prayer! Because things change through prayer.

Mark 14:32-38

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Understandably Jesus’ own flesh was wanting to resist the cross (“Take this cup from me”). Yet Jesus gains strength in prayer. The disciples sleep and are soon swept away.

Here is an illustration involving Charles Spurgeon known as the “Boiler Room”:

“Five college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. Waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, “Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?” They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn’t want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, “This is our heating plant.” Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was Charles Spurgeon.”

If there is one place to be aligned to Jesus, it is prayer. How is your Boiler Room with God? Or do you just wing it?

2. Jesus Led Himself Well: He Learned Self-Control

Proverbs 25:28

“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”

Jesus understood if he was going to lead others well, he had to lead himself first! One area of breakdown and all would be ruined. Just like a wall amde for flood protection. If only one part of the wall is not up to strength, the flood will still prevail.

Jesus time and time again shows us his self discipline. He fasted for 40 days, he constantly withdrew to solitude with his father, and he repeatedly walked away from recognition. After all, many of the people wanted to make him king!

John 6:14

“After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they said, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”

How are your walls of Self-Leadership?

3. Jesus was Laser Focused on his Vision

John 17:4 says, “I have brought you glory on earth,” (my definition of Glory – the visible explosion of the infinitely great attributes of God), “I have completed the work you gave me to do. I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.”Isn’t that surprising? There are so many more still unreached. .In his humanity, even Jesus’ role was limited.

1 Corinthians 12:27

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

What’s your part? You might have more than one role. Husband, Father,  Churchman, Work? Some roles might have you in the lead, and some roles you might be in support position.

Whatever it is, do you live with a sense of purpose? That you are on Mission? Do you know your part? Are you in alignment with Jesus?

4. Distractions Were Part of the Mission

Jesus handled distractions with grace.

A paraphrased example from Mark 5, the Bleeding Woman: A large crowd followed and pressed around Jesus because he was going to heal a Father’s daughter. A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” The woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole story. Jesus did not treat her like a detour or a distraction.

Here is another instance from Mark 10: Jesus was passing through Jericho with his disciples & a large crowd. As they were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus, was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” Once again, he was not a distraction.

How do you handle people or events that aren’t part of your agenda for the day? Do you treat them like distractions? Jesus didn’t, and saved lives in the process.

5. Jesus Built a Team, Needed a Team, and Gave his Mission Away to a Team

Jesus doesn’t intend your life to be a solo mission. He built a small team of 12 disciples and larger support team who helped him in his ministry. John the Baptist was the first team member!

Jesus eventually gave his mission away to the team that he built. We see this in Matthew 28 and the great commission. Read Acts 2:12-14 This is one of my favorite scenes! The Holy Spirit had just fallen on the Apostles and they were preaching the Gospel in several different languages. After all the commotion, Peter stepped up as the leader, just as Jesus intended.

And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.”

To stay aligned with Jesus, it will take a team. Do you have a spiritual team around you, or do you fly solo? Who are you leading?

Questions

  1. Prayer: What’s the temperature in your Prayer Boiler Room?
  2. Self Control – Proverbs 25:28 – “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” What are the weak spots in your wall?
  3. Laser Focused Vision: Do you live with a sense of purpose, that you are on mission. Do you know your part, are you in alignment with Jesus?
  4. Distractions: How do you handle people or events that aren’t part of your agenda for the day? Do you treat them like distractions?
  5. Team: To stay aligned with Jesus, you need a team. Do you have a spiritual team around you or do you fly solo? Who are you leading?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Jesus the Humble Servant – Leadership Lesson

Jesus the Humble Servant – Leadership Lesson

On January 13, 1982, 74 passengers and 5 crew boarded Air Florida Flight 90 from DC to Fort Lauderdale. They boarded the plane during a snowstorm. The pilot failed to de-ice the wings and moments after take-off the plane plunged into the icy Potomac River. Only 5 people survived. It certainly wasn’t the worst airplane disaster but it gripped national attention to the servant leadership of one man. This man was known as “The Man in the Water.”

Balding, probably in his 50s, an extravagant mustache. He was seen clinging with five other survivors to the tail section of the airplane. This man was described by Usher and Windsor as appearing alert and in control. Every time they lowered a lifeline and floating right to him, he passed it on to another of the passengers. “In a mass casualty, you’ll find people like him,” said Windsor, “But I’ve never seen one with that commitment.” When the helicopter came back for him the man had gone under.

Still, he could never have imagined such a capacity in himself. Only minutes before his character was tested, he was sitting in the ordinary plane among the ordinary passengers.

For at some moment in the water he must have realized that he would not live if he continued to hand over the rope and ring to others. He had to know it, no matter how gradual the effect of the cold. In his judgment he had no choice. When the helicopter took off with what was to be the last survivor, he watched everything in the world move away from him, and he deliberately let it happen.

-Roger Rosenblatt

Just imagine, every time the life ring is dropped, you hand it off to someone you don’t know…serving them but putting your own life at risk.

Thankfully, none of us will have to endure this kind of test. However, every day as leaders we face much smaller yet still important tests of our character. We enter ordinary offices (or) families with ordinary people and then suddenly something goes wrong. Things don’t work out the way you hoped. Someone has to make a sacrifice.

How you react at that moment defines your leadership style. When you’re sitting on the plane or sitting here this morning, you can say whatever you want about your leadership style, but it’s at moments like these; when circumstances force you to display your leadership. That’s when everyone finds out your true leadership character. What characteristic or adjective describes your leadership style?

Jesus’ leadership is best described as “servant leadership”

Jesus’ servant leadership is best summed up by Paul in Philippines 2:3-8.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus….taking on the very nature of a servant.”

“Vainglory” vs. “Humility”: (It’s a Heavy Weight Fight)

In one corner, is vainglory.

(Greek: keno-doxia – empty-praise)

My definition is pride hiding behind virtue.

Jesus tackles vainglory in the sermon on the mount. Turn to Matthew 6:1-18. “Beware” is Jesus’ warning. Don’t be deceived into thinking God applauds your life when you are really living for the applause of others.

3 Gauges to Examine

 1. Giving to the Needy (Matthew 6:2-4)

Jesus illustrates the absurd with the absurd (vs. 2) “When giving to the needy…sound no trumpet before you.” Imagine passing around the offering basket today and as it’s comes down your row, you scramble through your purse in order to pull out your checkbook and trumpet! (Da…ta..da !!) “Thank you! I just dropped in my check.” It’s ridiculous. Yep, and it’s also just as ridiculous to give to needy people in a way which draws attention to yourself.

Jesus offers a solution: “When you give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” When you give with one hand, don’t pat yourself on the back with your other one. Don’t seek applause from others, don’t even seek applause from yourself.

“Giving to the needy” is not just limited to giving money. It could be about giving your time or talent, but you’re still looking for applause.

Preaching in India was a unique experience for me. For safety reasons they had me wait outside in a truck until it was time for me to come on. When it was time, I preached to a crowd of about 2000 people, but immediately after I was done, for the same safety reasons, they took me away. I walked off the stage, got in a truck, and they drove me away. I was in the back seat of the truck with two guys I had never seen before. Also neither of them spoke English. For an hour we drove through the dark back to the hotel. As a pastor who is so used to getting instant feedback from my congregation, I couldn’t help but keep asking myself, “how’d I do?” I realized how much I hungered for applause. In this case, it would never come.

Jesus tells us to give and not expect applause from others.

2. Prayer (6:5-15)

In the Jewish culture there were set hours each day for prayer. Some people would purposely time it so they would be at a busy intersection when it was time to pray. “O man, how did I end up here at this busy intersection, where everyone can see me pray? Oh well.”

Do you ever pray, and at the end of your prayer you hope someone is impressed with you? Do you see how ridiculous this is? The primary purpose in prayer is to make God’s name great. “Hallowed be your name.” Yet, you use prayer to make your name great. Its vainglory hiding behind virtue.

3. Fasting (6:16-18)

Jesus is observing people using fasting as a way to draw attention to themselves. And again, there has to be laughter here. “Don’t look gloomy – don’t disfigure your face.”

Pharisees fasted twice a week and apparently some wanted to make sure other people knew that they were in the spiritually elite club. They didn’t verbally say anything, but they walked around with gloomy, tired, disfigured faces, in the hopes that someone would ask:

  • “Hey, are you OK?”
  • “Oh surrrre……why do you ask?”
  • “Well, you don’t look so good”
  • “No, I’m fine…well…maybe it’s because I’m FASTING!” “But don’t tell anyone because this is just between me & God”

We all understand what Jesus is trying to uncover. Bragging while hiding behind a virtue. Bragging behind a false humility is so common, it actually has a name now: Humblebrag.

It happens often in the Christian community. It usually contains the word “Bless”

So blessed to be watching the sunset from my balcony in Hawaii.

Pastor’s tweet: “I am truly humbled you follow my tweets. I pray they enrich your life and strengthen your ministry. God bless all 200,000 of you!”

Do you practice your life with Jesus in a way you hope is noticed and applauded by others? Or if not, do you applaud yourself? That’s Vainglory.

In the Other Corner: Servant Leadership.

Jesus became the perfect example of humility when he took on the very nature of a servant.

Humility is not thinking of less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

In 1 Peter 5:5, we are told to “clothe yourselves with humility.” The word “clothe” means to “tie it on”, or “make a knot”, like you would tie an apron. It’s a command to action. Humility is not something you wait for to grow, it doesn’t grow naturally, it must be cultivated. Peter’s instructions are informed by his personal encounters with Jesus. So when Peter says, “Tie humility around your waist like an apron” he must have been thinking of The Last Supper.

Recall Peter and the other 11 disciples in the upper room. As they enter, each one walks right past the foot washing station. As Jesus is trying to discuss with them his coming suffering and death, a long standing dispute breaks out among the disciples: Who will be the greatest? This must have been so painful to watch. As all 12 men are taking hits from the helium tank of pride and puffing themselves up, where is Jesus?

(John 13) Jesus gets up from the table, lays aside his own garments and ties on the towel of a servant. One by one he washes the bloated feet of the disciples. The Creator bends down to serve his own creation.

A day later he hangs on a Cross, handing the ring of life to us while he dies. That is servant leadership.

Questions:

1. The Man in the Water – Where are the places in your ordinary life that your character is tested? What’s challenging about handing the life ring to others rather than taking it yourself?

2. “Vainglory” – Pride hiding behind Virtue. Why is it difficult to detect pride in yourself? Discuss the challenges of living a virtuous life without living for the applause of others. Discuss how men humblebrag.

3. “Humility” – Not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less and less.” Humility is not something you wait for to grow. It doesn’t grow naturally. It must be cultivated. – How do you cultivate Humility?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

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

 

 

Solomon’s Wisdom: Beginning With the End in Mind – Leadership Lesson

Solomon’s Wisdom: Beginning With the End in Mind – Leadership Lesson

For today’s lesson, we will have a guest lecturer. He happens to be the smartest person who ever lived. It might be good to confess up front that it’s often hard to be in the room with the smartest person, especially if they look down on you. (view video below)

Today we are learning from someone much smarter than a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon, and thankfully he doesn’t look down. Instead, he writes down all the mistakes he made, so you and I can avoid wasting our lives investing in emptiness.

Our guest speaker is Solomon. His wisdom comes from the book of Ecclesiastes. The book is jammed with great leadership advice, but today let me offer just a few highlights from chapters 1 and 2.

Solomon tells us: Begin with the end in mind!

(Read Ecclesiastes 1:2-3) The word “Vanity” is used 38 times in the book. “Vanity” means “Vapor”. If all you do is live your life “under the sun” then it’s vanity. Its like chasing a soap bubble. Its shiny, but even if you catch it, it ends up being empty.

Solomon has some vivid descriptions throughout the book:

Read Ecclesiastes 1:5 – Life under the sun is like a giant treadmill. You work, you sweat, but you don’t get anywhere.

Read Ecclesiastes 1:4 and Ecclesiastes 1:11 – Generations come and go, like waves on a sea shore thinking they are leaving their mark. But they actually recede quickly and nobody remembers them. In one hundred years, very few people on planet earth will ever know you existed.

Not long ago, I assisted in cleaning out a 90 year old woman’s house who had recently died. In just a couple of days, all of the furnishings were donated to the Rescue Mission, the inside was painted, and the house was sold. It was as if the woman never existed.

By the time you finish the opening poem in the book (verses 2-11), it’s so depressing that you are desperately searching for a bottle of Prozac! Yet, Solomon is very smart. Over and over in his book he presses the reader up against the brevity of life, the futility of wisdom, the emptiness of pleasure, and the meaninglessness of work. It’s like he is singing the repetitive chorus of “Vanity, Vanity!”

Solomon is demolishing in order to rebuild. He’s demolishing an empty way of thinking. Once we stop pretending that what is mortal is enough for us, only then do we have the capacity for the eternal. The depressing conclusion to the poem is designed to draw you into an awareness of and dependence on someone beyond the sun.

The end of the matter” (Read Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) You see, there is life after our brief lives under the sun. Each one of us will, one day, stand before God who will judge how we lived. So it actually matters how you live. It is not all vanity! “Fear God and keep his commandments . . . this is the whole duty of man.” We must live our lives with the end in mind.

Pleasure as a Goal is Vanity

We can see by the way Solomon outlines the rest of his letter that he is anticipating push back. So, he begins by answering the skeptic who falsely believes that there can be ultimate meaning and satisfaction in personal pleasure.

Here us the motto for the one who desires personal pleasure: “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure.”This sounds like the immortal words from the 80’s rock band, The Cars. It is like Solomon is saying “Let the Good Times Roll.” In chapter 2, there are 5 stops on Solomon’s “Let the Good Times Roll” tour.

Stop 1 – Entertainment

(Read Ecclesiastes 2:2 and Ecclesiastes 2:8)

Here is a wealthy king at a grand party, surrounded by treasure chests full of gold and silver, encircled by beautiful women, entertained by the best musicians, the envy of everyone. You can hear people saying, “He’s got it made”.

Yet, Solomon’s conclusion in Ecclesiastes 2:11 says the end of the entertainment rainbow held not a pot of gold, but instead emptiness.

In 1985, Neil Postman wrote a landmark book titled: Amusing Ourselves to Death. In the book, Postman makes the case that the future of our society will look less like George Orwell’s vision in his book: 1984 and more like Aldous Huxley’s vision in his book: Brave New World. Postman argued that the public will not be oppressed by the State (Orwell – vision) instead the public will be oppressed by their addiction to amusement.

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture. Huxley stated: Those who fear State control have “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”

You know what Solomon would have said to Neil Postman: “There is nothing new under the sun.” People have been trying to amuse themselves to death for 1000’s of years. It has always terminated in “Vanity”.

Here is a story from my saddest counseling session. There was a newly married couple with a lot of tension. The beautiful young girl was trying to save the marriage, but the guy wouldn’t give up his video games. Later, I found out they got a divorce, but he got to keep playing video games.

Stop 2 – Wine

(Read Ecclesiastes 1:3)

If entertainment alone doesn’t work, then let’s add alcohol. Let’s use whatever substance or pill that will anesthetize us from the pain in
this world.

A few of you might remember the old beer commercial slogans: “It doesn’t get any better than this.” That’s what Solomon believed. The commercial practically plagiarizes Ecclesiastes 2:3.

Stop 3 – Work

Solomon was gifted as intellectually as he was monetarily, so he puts his intellect and money to work with an almost God-like creativity.

(Read Ecclesiastes 2:4-7)

Notice the maximum use of personal pronouns: “I made, I built, for myself, I made myself, I made myself…….AND (vs. 7) When he can’t get enough done by himself, for himself, he buys and owns people to make them work for him.

Stops 4 & 5 – Wealth and Women

To get a picture of his wealth and women I want to read a description of Solomon’s life from I Kings 10 & 11:

“Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. The throne had six steps. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been…All King Solomon’s goblets were gold….. Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days..Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon – Solomon loved many foreign women..He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines”

Entertainment, Wine, Work, Wealth, Women – Solomon had it all. If he were alive today he would be a regular face on the cover on Fortune magazine. Our culture would be drooling, saying: “If only I could live like him.”

But what us the end result? When the preacher reaches the end of the “Let the Good Time Roll” tour, what does he conclude?

Answers:

  • Vanity – Ecclesiastes 2:11
  • Hate – Ecclesiastes 2:18
  • Despair – Ecclesiastes 2:20

On February 2, 2014, Oscar winning actor Philip Seymor Hoffman failed to pick up his three children. They went to check on him in his $10,000 month rented apartment in New York City and they found him lying on his bathroom floor in boxers and a t-shirt. He had a needle stuck in his arm, dead at 46. In a haunting quote from an interview in 2013, Hoffman said, “There is no pleasure that I haven’t actually made myself sick on.”

If all there is, is what’s under the sun, if there isn’t something or someone bigger, someone above the sun… then Solomon tells us it all terminates in vanity, hatred, despair, and even death.

Solomon’s despair is not intended to be the last stop on the tour. No, he is kindly using despair to draw us out of ourselves and into dependence on God. He’s demolishing false hopes in order to rebuild on an eternal foundation. Only when we stop pretending that what is created is enough, only then will be have the capacity for the creator.

Conclusion

Read Ecclesiastes 2:24-26. Please notice that these things are not taken away when you enter into a relationship with God. These are all good things that actually come from the hand of God!

24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. 

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 ESV

But (vs. 25), they are not to be consumed “apart from Him.” They are to be enjoyed according to his boundaries. If you use them for your chief end and not his, you make yourself sick on every pleasure. It’s Vanity.

Questions:

1. Why is it important to keeping the end in mind every day? How do you do it?

2. Of the 5 stops on the “Let the Good Times Roll” tour – Entertainment, Wine, Work, Wealth & Women: Which stop is the most tempting for You?

3. This morning you have had a counseling session with the smartest business leader in the world: What one thing to you want to take away?

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

 

 

Abraham: Staying at Your Post – Leadership Lesson

Abraham: Staying at Your Post – Leadership Lesson

Pompeii was a popular tourist city on the west coast of Italy in 79AD. It was during the time of the Roman Empire, and it was home to 20,000 people. It was also located near the base of a massive volcano, Mount Vesuvius. When Vesuvius exploded, scientist estimated it ejected 1.5 million tons of ash and rock every second for 24 hours over 12 miles into the atmosphere. The surrounding region including Pompeii was covered with ash 16ft deep. The ash remarkably preserved the city before it was covered in lava. Lava was estimated to have flowed down the mountain at 70mph. Many of the residents escaped prior to the eruption but some were left behind. There is a story about a Roman soldier whose body was uncovered. He was found standing his post at the city gate.

Abraham was a Man on Assignment

In Genesis 12:1-4, the key to Abraham’s success is summed up in one sentance: “Abram went, as the Lord had told him”. Abraham, like the Roman Soldier, was given an assignment. To go to a foreign country and stand his post until the very end of his life. Yes, God was going to work through Abraham, but those things are up to God. Abraham wasn’t perfect, but what Abraham did well was stand his post.

Jesus said in John 17:1 – “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”  Jesus too was on assignment. Jesus didn’t do everything that could possibly be done. Instead, he completed his assignment. Jesus stood his post until the very end.

Do you sense that you are on assignment? What difference does it make if you do or do not think that you are on assignment?

What was Abraham’s Assignment?

Genesis 12:2 tells us that Abraham was to go live in a land and give birth to a new nation. A nation who, like Abraham, will singularly follow after Yahweh.

I want you to appreciate the immensity of Abraham’s challenge and the immensity of Abraham’s world influence.

Genesis 12:6-7 . Abraham builds an alter to Yahweh where the Oak of Moreh is, the land of the Canaanites. Moreh means “teacher”. Most scholars think this particular location was a place of idol worship. Right away, we see Abraham establishing his camp in enemy territory. This assignment will encounter great opposition.

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God. (Joshua 24:1)

“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River (Ur – Abraham’s home town) and in Egypt (the land they had escaped), and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell (current location). But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)

Notice the surrounding culture of counterfeit gods: Babylon, Egypt, the Amorites, and the Canaanites. Imagine the pressure – One man and his family standing their post against the current and surrounding culture of multiple gods. Yet, Abraham plants himself and preaches exclusivity. One God, Yahweh! In our current culture, exclusivity is one of the most offensive things you can believe.

God’s Timing and Your Assignment

In Joshua 24:1 – Joshua has the people gathered back to Shechem, where Abraham first stood his post. This is the beginning of God fulfilling his promise to Abraham back in Genesis 12.

This is 700 years later! From 2100BC to 1400BC. Ask yourself, if God commanded you today to stand your post and promised he was going to deliver you a great name and nation, would it be ok with you if he fulfilled it in the year 2716? Would you be ok with that?

[8] By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. [9] By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. [10] For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. [11] By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. [12] Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. [13] These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. (Hebrews 11:8-13)

Do you see? It wasn’t Abraham’s job to make a great nation or get a great name. No. Those were things God would do. Abraham’s job was to live by faith – to be obedient – to stand his post even though it looked foolish and unsuccessful to the surrounding culture. He even had to endure suffering.

Leadership writer Patrick Lencioni says this:

“If you were searching for leaders to change the world, what qualities would you look for? Courage and intelligence would certainly be prime candidates. Charisma might make the list. Yet, I would rank two others ahead of them, the two qualities I’m thinking of are: Humility and Pain Tolerance

When I graduated from college, I wanted to change the world. I was determined to make a difference, defy conventional wisdom, confront the status quo… At the time, I was sure that these lofty aspirations were noble.  I was wrong.  There were two big problems with my zeal.
First, I had no specific idea about what kind of a difference I wanted to make.  And although that may not seem like a big deal, it masked a larger one:  I was more interested in being recognized for having changed the world than anything else. ‘It doesn’t really matter what I changed, as long as it was something unique, and I got credit for it.’ You see, making a difference was not really about the world after all.  It was about me.

There was another problem with my desire to change the world, and it
is just as important. … there were limits to my desire to change the
world.  As much as I wanted to make a difference, I wasn’t too keen on
having to suffer much along the way.  ‘Sure, I  can deal with some hard
work.  Maybe even temporary financial setbacks.  But real suffering?
Embarrassment?  Rejection by loved ones?  No thank you.  I don’t want to
make that big of a difference.’ Before setting out on a quest to change
the world, Christian leaders should probably ask themselves two questions: “Who am I really serving?”  and “Am I ready to suffer?

Patrick learned that his leadership was really all about himself. He was the goal and the terminating point. He also learned that he wasn’t really ready to suffer. He wasn’t ready to stand at his post no matter what.

Abraham was a man on assignment. He planted himself in the middle of enemy territory and counterfeit gods and was going to remain obedient even if he didn’t receive in his lifetime what God had promised. Abraham knew who he was serving and was willing to suffer.

Questions

  1. Do you sense that you are on assignment? As a leader, what difference does it make knowing you are on assignment?
  1. What are your greatest pressures as a Christian leader?
  1. Talk about you and the two leadership characteristics Patrick Lencioni valued: Humility and Pain Tolerance.

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

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

Adam in the Garden – Leadership Lesson

Adam in the Garden – Leadership Lesson

Sometimes videos capture exactly what you want to communicate: This is one of those videos – As you will see it’s not really about Leadership – yet I could spend several weeks focusing on some of the take away lines for what I am trying to accomplish in Iron Leadership.

Great Leaders – like Wolves caused a “Trophic Cascade”. Introducing something at top of the food chain which creates change all the way through the food chain, all the way to the bottom. They don’t personally change everything. Instead, they start a chain reaction which changes everything.

Great Leaders – like Wolves put things to death, yet that action leads to giving life to many others.

Leaders – like Wolves of Yellowstone have been absent for 70 years. Things were deteriorating because of their absence.

Great Leaders – like Wolves change patterns of behavior. They cause things to regenerate, and the growth is remarkable!

When Great Leaders – like Wolves, when introduced in small numbers can transform not just the ecosystem but also its physical geography. Wolves changed the Rivers! – A few Wolves changed a massive amount of landscape. This is my hope for Iron Leadership: Introducing just a few men into our culture, city, and churches can create a “Trophic Cascade”. Nothing is more needed as our culture rapidly deteriorates!

“To act like men” by: Equipping men to be better leaders in their own personal lives, their homes, their work, their churches and city for the sake of God’s Glory.”

Stated Purpose of Iron Leadership

This phrase: “Act like men” is lifted from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. The Apostle Paul closes his long and difficult letter with this phrase. The letter was difficult because the church at Corinth was a disorderly crowd (Politics, Power Struggles, Sexual Immorality, Lawsuits, and troubled marriages just to name a few reasons…Sounds like a fun church to lead!) — Although Paul addressed these challenges in the letter, he knows that when the letter is finished being read – the leaders in the church will not only have to face these issues head on, they will have to face PEOPLE head on. This will be an enormous leadership challenge. Paul knows the the challenge will require leaders to “Act like Men” – (An/drid/zo/mai) in the Greek.

One word in the Greek, no explanation. Paul assumes his readers will know that for some, it’s time to stop being children, it’s time to grow up, grow a spine, and step into God’s intended role: to be leaders.

Today, you’ll realize this phrase “Act like Men” is no longer politically correct. In a recent article from Princeton University, the Ivy League school banned the word “Man” from its vocabulary.

Here are suggested gender-neutral alternatives from the article:

Man Alternatives

 

So at Iron Leadership, we are swimming against the cultural tide as we learn how to “Act like men”. We believe the best place to learn how to act like men is by reading the Bible, examining the lives of men in the Bible (Good and Bad), and by being around other men.

This year we are going to walk through the entire Bible and examine leadership from different men: From Adam to Jesus, and later the Apostle Paul.

Adam’s Position as Leader

The Wolves video is perfect for this morning because Adam initiates a “Trophic Cascade” of epic proportions. His failure of Leadership initiated a cascade which has affected all of human history.

First, let me establish that Humanity (Male & Female) was given leadership over Creation. Creation is intended to thrive under man’s leadership (I realize humanity’s leadership is imperfect) but mankind is not equal to the rest of creation – we are unique & given unique responsibilities . We don’t worship the creation, we rule over it. This is important.

Biblical leadership is established in Genesis 1:26-28: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over [all creatures]. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over [every living creature]”

Male and Female are created in the image of God and given the task of ruling. Bearing the image of God is to represent the authority of God. We serve as vice-regents over the creation.

Second, it was God’s good design to give unique leadership to Adam – Something not always affirmed, even in Christian circles. Here are 4 ways we see the unique leadership of Adam:

  1. The order of creation: Adam was created before Eve. This forms the foundation for the order of human relationships.
  2. The naming of woman: Adam was given the honor and responsibility of naming his wife. (Genesis 2:23). In the Bible, the person who names something is always the one who has authority over it. In creation, God named the night and the day, the expanse, the earth, and the waters. By naming them he showed his authority. Authority does not mean oppression or dictatorship!
  3. The primary accountability: God held Adam primarily accountable for the Fall. While Adam and Eve hid from God, God called “to the man and said to him, ‘Adam, Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9). God called to Adam alone – he is the leader – it’s God’s Chain of Command. Notice that Satan reversed this order, approaching Eve before Adam in an attempt to disrupt the God-given design of leadership. Satan is always turning God’s plans upside down.
  4. The representation of the human race: Adam had a special role in representing the human race. Though Eve was the first to be tempted to sin, it was Adam who was considered most responsible for their combined disobedience. I Corinthians 15:22: “as in Adam all men die…” Adam is given the responsibility for causing the “Trophic Cascade” – not Eve
  5. Adam represents Christ in a marriage: Ephesians 5:23 – “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Adam is designed to model Christ’s leadership of the church in his family.
  6. The need for a Second Adam: Genesis 3:15 begins to hint at the need for a “Second Adam” – a second man who can come into the world and crush Satan and reverse the effects of the first Adam. I Corinthians 15:22: “as in Adam all men die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Christ is the second Adam, not the second Eve.

I Corinthians 15:45-49: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Jesus is the “last Adam” who initiates an eternal “Trophic Cascade” which reverses the effects of the first Adam.

The Second Adam is a HUGE topic that we can’t fully get into right now. But this does further add to the point that men were designed for unique leadership.

Adam’s Failure as a Leader

Read Genesis 3:1-6. Adam, what happened? Here are just a few areas where Adam failed as a leader.

  • Apathy / Severe Complacency: Adam stands nearby yet does not act. The world is about to fall apart and he doesn’t do anything.
  • Self Absorption: He may be just too into what he is doing to notice or care what’s going on around him.
  • Fear: Adam has never had to confront, challenge, stand up to anything, so he may be afraid. As a result, his fear paralyzes him.

Whatever the reason – it was a failure of Leadership. It wasn’t Satan’s fault, Eve’s fault, or God’s fault. It was Adam’s – and he began a “Trophic Cascade” which we still experience the effect of today.

Questions

  1. What has the greatest negative effect on your personal leadership: Apathy, Complacency, Self-Absorption, Fear….something else? Why or How?
  2. Are you convinced you were Divinely designed to exercise leadership? What is your biggest   leadership challenge in the coming year?

Friends and Brothers,

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

 

 

 

Being Teachable

Being Teachable

Iron Leaders,

Hope you all enjoyed celebrating our nation’s independence this 4th of July! We have much to be thankful for – especially us who have ultimate freedom in Christ.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

“And you say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.’” Proverbs 5:12–13

“When I’m thinking of investing in a potential leader, the first quality I look for is whether or not he has a teachable spirit. When I observe a passionate hunger to learn and grow and a genuine humility that is willing to be taught, confronted, or corrected, there is no limit to what that leader can accomplish or how much influence he might exert in the kingdom of God.”
True Leaders Are Teachable by Dave Kraft

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

Paul Phillips

Pastor, Christ Community Church
paul@cccwnc.com

“Passing the Baton” – Leadership Lesson

“Passing the Baton” – Leadership Lesson

 

Joshua was Moses’ successor. Joshua was the one who would carry Moses’ tune into the Promised Land. See how Joshua was with Moses at important events:

  • Joshua fought the first battle in the wilderness (When Moses was holding up his hands)
  • Joshua was one of the 12 spies who first entered Canaan
  • Joshua was with Moses on mountain when Moses received the 10 commandments

I want to use the events Exodus 32-33 to see some important practices Moses imprinted on Joshua’s life. In other words, Moses’ spiritual legacy and the tune that Moses left Joshua.

Setting: Exodus 32: This has to be one of the lowest moments for Moses. Moses (with Joshua) is on Mount Sinai receiving the 10 commandments when the Lord delivers this report to Moses about the people he has lead out of Egypt (Read vs. 7-8)

  • ( 19-20) Moses reaction: White hot anger
  • ( 21-24) Aaron’s leadership: failure and excuses
  • (33:1-3a) God’s reaction: Moses, go to the Promised Land but I won’t be going with you!

 

**This is a disaster!! What will Moses do – What leadership lessons does Joshua learn at this pivotal moment – what can we learn?

Answer: 33:7-11– Moses meets with God in the Tabernacle/Tent of Meeting

  • Separate Frequently: ( 7 – “outside the camp”) – To meet with God you must separate from the crowd and noise.
  • Seek Completely: The purpose of the tent’s location was to singularly pursue God. The separation is a physical gesture to say: “God, I want to hear from you and follow after you – not follow the crowd.”
  • Submit to Observation: The people watched Moses go meet with God and Joshua ( 11) went into the tent with Moses. How do people learn how to meet with God – they observe others.

 

Silence, Speaking, Submission:

Silence

The Lord would speak with Moses” – Today, it doesn’t happen with a pillar of cloud. Instead, its by reading the Bible.

John 14:25– “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Speaking

I love this statement by Moses in verse 13: “Show me your ways”…not “God, affirm my ways” — notice Moses ‘primary target: “To know God, to find favor with God,” — not to get something done.

If your prayers are primarily about getting something done then your prayers probably terminate on You, not God.

 

Exodus 33:1-3 – God promised to give them the Land, a land flowing with milk and honey, promised to send a Angel to go before them and fight for them – Those are pretty good promises, yet Moses refuses unless God goes with them — What’s most important to Moses is not what Moses gets, but God. WOW!

Submission:

Moses does what God says.

Question: Does the “music of Moses’ life” continue to play into Joshua’s life after Moses is gone? Answer: Yes! Look at the end of Joshua’s life

Joshua 24: “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Question: What do you need to learn? Who are you learning it from – Whose making an imprint on your life?

Challenge: Everyone can begin now, if you haven’t already – being a model for other men or boys. Who are you intentionally investing in? What music are they learning from you?

Questions For Reflection:

  1. Separate Frequently, Seek Completely, Submit to Observation,

Silence-Speaking-Submission: Which one or two of these needs more work on your part?

  1. In Exodus 32 Moses faces a critical leadership moment. It has been said:

“Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it” – What does that mean and what do people learn from you when you are under adversity?

  1. Who has left a lasting spiritual imprint on your life? What was the most important lesson they left that you will carry forward?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

Paul Phillips

Pastor, Christ Community Church
paul@cccwnc.com