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Partnership and team workI recently read an article suggesting that America’s problem is the lack of leadership; that our culture has generally turned from leadership to management (to our peril). It used the following comparisons to make its case:

The leader innovates; the manager administers

The leader is an original; the manager is a copy

The leader develops; the manager maintains

The leader focuses on people; the manager focuses on systems and structure

The leader inspires trust; the manager relies on control

The leader has a long-range perspective; the manager has a short-range view

The leader asks what and why; the manager asks how and when

The leader’s eye is on the horizon; the manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line

The leader originates; the manager imitates

The leader challenges the status quo; the manager accepts it

The leader is his or her own person; the manager is the classic good soldier

The leader does the right thing; the manager does things right

At the time, I was so impressed with the article that I shared it with my connections; and I determined to write my own take on the subject; namely, why we need more leadership in the church.

Then I hit a snag. Perhaps you see it, too. More than a few of the manager characteristics are encouraged for those in the Body of Christ: Administers, is a copy, has a short-range view, imitates, is the classic good soldier. See what I mean. Well, it got me to thinking… and searching.

In the NKJV, “leadership” does not appear, at all. “Leader” can be found 164 times; but only 4 are found in the New Testament, and they all relate to the leaders of the Jews. The terms “leadership” and “leader” are not used by the Holy Spirit to describe the followers of Jesus Christ!

Furthermore, “lead” and “leads” appear 95 times; 32 are in the New Testament, where there is only one verse used to imply action by members of the church: Romans 12:8. Even here (one time in thirty-two uses), it is mistranslated. The Greek word means “to be over” and “to give aid”; not exactly the “leadership” that is encouraged in the Marketplace.

So, there you have it: As astounding as it may seem, the notion of Christians being “leaders” is noticeably missing from the Holy Bible. Instead, we see Christians in “leadership” positions described as stewards; managing the affairs of their master. Is God trying to tell us something in this?

I am still working through the implications of this discovery, and hope to share more in the near future. It would be helpful to hear from you. For now, let me leave with this summarizing thought:

Leadership in the Marketplace is not the same as leadership in the kingdom of God. We must be cautious in our adoption of the world’s ways and thoughts about leadership. They may be contrary to the ways and thoughts of God.

For more on this subject, check out Back to Basics – Leaders in the Marketplace.

Humbly your and forever His,

Albert EinsteinI have noticed that many in the church are confused, in one way or another, about the meaning of the phrases “Marketplace Ministry” and “Marketplace Leader”.  In most cases, the understanding is not wrong; it is just limited. The problem with a limited perspective is that it can inhibit God’s work in and through our lives. Obviously, that’s not something we want to have happen; too much is at stake.

Furthermore, there can be no doubt that God is moving in the Marketplace, in a very intentional way; and when God moves, dramatic things happen. I don’t want to miss Him; and I don’t want you to miss Him. But what, or where, is this “marketplace”; what “ministry” is He doing there; and who are these “leaders” that He is using as His instruments for that ministry?

If you, as a follower of Jesus Christ, have never considered these questions, then I strongly encourage you to do so now. If you have considered them, let me suggest that the Marketplace, and God’s work there, may be more than you have imagined. More importantly, it just may be that He has positioned you to lead and no one has encouraged you in the good work that will glorify your Father in heaven. I pray that this three part series will do just that. Read the rest of this entry »

Military Salute from iStockWhat do you think when you hear someone say, “He’s a leader in the church”? Do you assume that person is a pastor, elder, deacon, or administrative board chair – someone that has a position of leadership in a local congregation? That’s the way most of us think… and it is wrong.

The church that Jesus Christ is building is not an organization; it is an organism, a body with a head; and that head is Jesus. Wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there with them. The church is mobile; and the church is certainly where most followers of Jesus spend most of their waking hours – in the Marketplace.

I realize that this is old news to many of you. God’s most recent move in the Marketplace has been going on for at least 15 years now. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Marketplace Ministries in the United States and around the world. I expect you have been touched by at least one of them.

But there is something about this reality that you may not have considered; something God has encouraged me to share with you: Read the rest of this entry »

Winter, 2013 (Volume 6, Number 1)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! I hope and pray this edition finds you making disciples and transforming your spheres of influence. God has invested much in you as His agent and ambassador. He has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness. He is the wisest of investors. You have been carefully chosen. Be encouraged!!

Some of you may remember Paul Harvey, the radio broadcaster and commentator. His programs reached as many as 24 million listeners every week through five decades. Using his famous tagline, Mr. Harvey kept our hands off that radio dial, waiting through the commercials for “The Rest of the Story”.

I thought of Paul Harvey a few days ago, when I discovered a different kind of “rest of the story” in my quiet time with the Lord. This story, told by Jesus, is a sober warning for those of us called to make disciples in the marketplace. I hope and pray you will give it your attention. Read the rest of this entry »

inLight_logo_vert_2clrLast Chance to Subscribe

Are you a leader Christian Leader in the Marketplace? Then God has called you to be a disciple maker and transformation agent in your spheres of influence. He has invested influence and authority in you, for His kingdom. I know: It’s not easy to be a Christian Leader in the work place. Let me help you through The Adventure Guide to Joyful Spirit-filled Ministry.

This is the final week to subscribe. It is *FREE*. For those that want to go a step beyond subscribing, there are still slots open for those that are READY FOR AN ADVENTURE. Read the following for more details.

In keeping with our mission to encourage, edify and equip Marketplace Leaders, we are offering The Adventure Guide to Joyful, Spirit-filled Ministry. You are invited to join me in this free disciple making, transformational search for God’s purpose, plan and power for ministry in your sphere of influence. I encourage you to use this study for your personal journey and as a resource with those you are discipling.

Here are the links to the Preface, Introduction and first three modules:

Preface – Our Desire, Mission and Appreciation

Introduction – Study Overview and Format

The Marketplace Mission – God has a mission for the Marketplace; and He has a purpose in it for every Marketplace Leader.

Searching Out the Matter – In this module, we will begin the incredible adventure of searching out the vast mysteries of God’s kingdom.

Renewing Your Mind – Reckoning God’s truth as our own makes us free, renews our minds and transforms us to walk in the “greater than” works of God.

This free study will be “published” in 26 weekly modules via Email imbedded links to our website resources page. We will also notify our Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections; and post the links at the inLight Adventure Blog. I hope and pray the Lord will encourage you to forward this to others that will be blessed in finding joyful, Spirit-filled ministry. This is our heart’s desire.

If you are interested in continuing to receive these notifications, respond to this Email with “SUBSCRIBE” in the subject line (no need if you have already done so). If I do not receive your response this week, I will remove you from the mailing list.

I am also offering to share in this adventure with the first twelve Marketplace Leaders that express an interest (five have, so far). We will do this virtually via your choice of social media. This includes answering your questions and challenges about the lesson, and commenting on your responses to the assignments. If you are interested, respond to this email with “I AM READY FOR AN ADVENTURE” in the subject line.

Your servant and His forever,

Rob

Vine and Branch17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.             Romans 11:17-22

God is not a poor story teller. He chooses His metaphors carefully. And this is one of our favorites. As Christians, we understand and can celebrate that we are grafted into the root that is Christ Jesus. His life has become ours; and the fruit we bear is His.

However, there are two related truths that we should be careful to consider:

  1. A branch cannot be grafted into the new root unless it has been first cut off the wild root (away from, completely separated). Is it possible that we are not bearing the fruit of Christ because we are not grafted away from the wild root?  To co-reign, we must be co-crucified.
  2. That which has been grafted in, can be cut off.  Remember, God is not a poor story teller. It is possible to be grafted in and then cut off. It may not mean what I think it means, but it must mean something. You put meaning to it.

From what source are you drawing your life?   Should you be concerned about the fruit you are bearing?  These are eternally important questions.

Your friend and His bondservant,

Rob

We so want to do the work; and most of us for very good reasons. Some want to do the work because they believe it will please God. Others believe it is a means of returning the favor for our salvation. Still others do the work to “glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Is there work to do? Of course; the world is in a terrible state. Are we called to the work? Absolutely! Whatever we do to the least, we are doing to Christ – and this is how He will separate the sheep from the goats. And everyone knows that faith without works is dead – a nauseous smell to God. However, I propose to you that there is a truth (even a mystery) about our work that has been lost on the church of the 21st Century.

The problem is not with the work itself, but our understanding of who is doing it. When men take too much responsibility for doing the work, they tend to resort to their ways and thoughts. And no matter how hard we try, the ways and thoughts of man are not sufficient for work that will lead men to “glorify your Father in heaven”.

We have to understand that the Matthew 5:16 command is not “go do work that will glorify the Father”. Only the work that the Father does will glorify Him. The command is to “let your light so shine before men”. What is this light? John 1:4 tells us that the life that is in Christ is the light of men. Perhaps we will talk more about this in a later post. For now, I want to focus on the work and who is doing it.

Jesus said, “the Son can do nothing of Himself” (John 5:19), and “the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10). Why would the truth be any different for us? As Jesus said in John 15:5, “for without Me you can do nothing”, and in John 17:21, “as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us”, it is to be the same for us as it was for Jesus.

Joshua experienced this same mystery in His conquest of the Promised Land. After approximately 14 years of war, this is what God had to say to him:

‘Then you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the men of Jericho fought against you—also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I delivered them into your hand. I sent the hornet before you which drove them out from before you, also the two kings of the Amorites, but not with your sword or with your bow. I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’    Joshua 24:11-13

How can this be? Either God was not aware of their work, He was trying to take credit for their work, or His work was so much more a part of what had to happen that He could claim it for Himself. Only the latter explanation is possible for an omniscient and loving Father. So, what was God doing that was so much more than the people?

First, there were the battles that were taking place in the Heavens to displace the principalities and powers that were ruling over the Promised Land. Not only that, but in the midst of the war He was changing minds and hearts of the Israelites from nomadic warriors to city dwellers and farmers – a true physiological and metaphysical miracle in the lives of more than one million people. And what about the walls of Jericho? Does anyone believe that shouts and trumpet blast would make that happen?

The lesson of Joshua’s conquest is that we assume that we are responsible for far more of the work than we think. Or better put, He is capable of doing more than we can think or imagine. And that is exactly what He wants to do. No matter how hard our portion of the work might be, we can be assured that He is doing exponentially more.

Admittedly, this is beyond our understanding (and explaining). It clearly exposes the limitations of our minds. That’s okay, because “His thoughts are above our thoughts… as high as the heavens are above the earth”. Instead of getting our minds around it, we need to allow the Word of God to inspire us (faith rising up in us) to believe with our heart that it is true.

If we could get this concept of work that glorifies worked out (no pun intended), it would solve a lot of problems. Here is a couple:

Faith and work. Let’s face it: Many are worried about crossing the hypocrisy line on this – they are either afraid for themselves or they suspect others are trying to get them to work for their salvation. This is a crazy distraction born out of an incomplete understanding of the work I have been created for (Ephesians 2:10). The book of James was almost excluded from the Canon because of the importance it placed on works. The truth is: I can’t be working my way into heaven if it’s not my work.

Baptism as work. I don’t know how many times I’ve watch the tension go up in a meeting the very moment the “B” word is introduced. Christians are either looking for how someone’s understanding differs from their own, or they are afraid of the conflict that will result in the conversation. What was meant to be a point of unity has been used by the enemy to divide us. And it is just not necessary. The work of baptism is not mine to begin with. It is God’s work. Why else did the early church fathers (and most today) call it a sacrament? Instead of recognizing it as such, we call it a symbol. Why? Because we have been deceived to think that it is our work. It is not!! No, it is God’s work. Therefore, I don’t have to get caught up in arguments about it being a work of man that saves me. That is not even an issue if we understand that it is not my work. And once I understand that it is God’s work, I can embrace the truth of what happens when He does the work of baptism (Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:26-27, Romans 6:1-11, and Colossians 3:9-17).

Let’s face it. We simply take too much responsibility for the work God is doing through us, by His Son and the Holy Spirit. And we minimize the work that He is doing around us to make it all possible. If you are still struggling with this, I encourage you to read 2Chronicles 16:9, Philippians 2:12-13, John 15:4-8, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:26-27, Romans 6:1-11, and Colossians 3:9-17.

One closing thought: Don’t be afraid of truth that is not humanly logical. Christ and the Holy Spirit are our Teacher (Matthew 23:10; John 14:26). God has called us to be stewards of His mysteries (1Corinthians 4:1). He has encouraged us to search them out (Proverbs 25:2). If your heart is right toward God in your search for Him and His truth, not only will He be found, but He will protect you from hypocrisy, deception and disobedience.

Your servant and His,

Rob

Just the other day, I heard a man praying.  In his prayer, he thank the Lord for a new day – a day that had never existed.  That got me to thinking.

Each and every day is more of God creating; and in it He is orchestrating events that will eventually accomplish all that He purposes to do – from the smallest blessing to the restoration of all He lost in the Fall of Man.  If I take the time to pray in the morning, I give myself the opportunity to be involved in His work (and know that I am).  If I wait to pray later, then the best I can do is try and figure out if I was involved (and what effect it had on me).

As they say in business, getting in on the ground floor of an idea is the most advantageous position.  Getting in on God’s plan for the day is exponentially more important.  The adventure is so much more exciting (and less fearful) when I know I am travelling with my Guide.

Your servant and His,

Rob

Introduction

Church (Vine’s): ekklesia ; a gathering of citizens called out from their homes; an assembly.

In ancient Greece, and then adopted by the Romans, the ekklesia were a special group of individuals chosen from each societal group (e.g., arts, philosophy, government) to inculcate a conquered country with the Roman way of life. They functioned behind the scenes to infuse (and sometimes force) Roman culture. We see this in Scripture, where the Jewish government was a puppet to the Romans – they could not kill Jesus without Pilate’s approval.

The important truth to note here is that the ekklesia was not a subculture of the society. The Romans in Israel were not trying to be like the Jews. They were a counter-culture intent on making the Jews think like Romans. As we know from history, they rubbed the conquered society the wrong way, so to speak, and the society did not like it. Jewish uprisings were constant and eventually led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

It is no different for the ekklesia of Christ. Our King conquered in His death, burial and resurrection. From its formation, the true Church has stood against both the pagan world and the religious “church”; and it has been persecuted. The Romans eventually crucified thousands of Christians; and we know the Jews played their part in the persecution of the early church.

The call to be a counter-culture ekklesia has not changed in 2000+ years; and the call remains the same in every community, culture and country. The church is the church, and the world is the world. They are at enmity with each other. And the world will hate us when we stand against it – a good measure of our devotion to the Lord’s purpose.

So What is Church Done God’s Way… Read the rest of this entry »

Did you know that the name of Jesus is a power unto itself? Healing comes in the “exercise” of His name (Acts 3:1-16; 4:10). Think about it. What would life be like if we had access to the kind of healing power Peter and John exercised? Signs and wonders would actually follow the mention of His name!!

In John 14:12-14, Christ prophesied that we would do greater things than He did – whatever we ask in His name? Clearly, “His name is power”!!

I believe this is true. I really do!! Really.

So why is this not a normal, everyday occurrence in my life? Is it in yours? I’m convinced – and convicted – that the answer can be found in Philippians 2:9-11:

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I believe this verse is very clearly saying that every time I hear the name of Jesus my knee should bow and my tongue should confess that He is Lord. Whether this is to be taken literally or metaphorically, the mention of His name should elicit a response from the center of my being. I should reverence that name far above all others (Ephesians 1:21).

Is it possible that the power of that name, as it is exercised in my life, is proportional to my reverence for it? In other words, is the authority of Jesus’ name for me proportional to my willingness to submit to its authority over me?

I eagerly confess to you and Him (in the hope of 1John 1:9) that has not been the case for me. I do not have the reverence for His name that I should. Oh, how could I be so blind to such a simple thing, for so long? But…

Praise God for the grace of His conviction!! Praise God for the grace that is, even now, stirring up a passion to reverence His name like never before. Praise God!! Praise God!!

And praise the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!!

His grateful servant and yours,

Rob

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