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Archive for November, 2007

Develops Shepherding

50. Partake – The Christian Disciple Develops as a Shepherd

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” Hebrews 13v20-21

All Christian Disciple are to be shepherds, and even more so because you lead people! Leading God’s people means you have the responsibility to shepherd. All the characteristics of the Christian leader relate to God, His purposes and His people. Though these fundamentals overlap, they do focus on a particular aspect of leadership.

  • The servant spotlights obedience to God’s person
  • The steward emphasizes faithfulness to God’s mission, message and people.
  • The shepherd highlights a care for God’s people.

The skilful mature Christian leader persistently obeys God, wisely uses available resources to accomplish God’s purposes and carefully nurtures the people God has provided. These three leadership roles should function harmoniously to produce distinctive biblical leadership.

1. Definition of a Shepherd Leader

A shepherd is charged with religious care and guidance of others. Hebrew ARAAH & Greek POIMENO both translate as the one who pastures and tends domestic animals. It is figurative for one who leads, teaches and cares for people.

Scriptural Examples

  • Psalm 23 – God is our shepherd. Leadership basically should find itself in the person and quality characteristics and activities of God Himself, for He is our leader.
  • John 10v10 – Christ gives His life that we might have it more abundantly. Its focus is on the abundant life of that sheep.
  • Hebrews 13v20-21 – the focus is on the good shepherd working in you, producing that which is well pleasing in His sight. All Christian Disciples are under-shepherds, moulded by the Holy Spirit, overseers of the flock of God.
  • Psalm 78v70-72 – The concept throughout the Bible of leading God’s people is the concept of a shepherd.

The Shepherd’s responsibilities are to guide, nurture, protect and care. Shepherd leadership involves influence, motivating, modelling, counselling, exhorting and disciplining. The shepherd leads as a servant.

2. The Example of Peter

1 Peter 5 shows us how Peter leads leaders through both his relationship with, & leadership of the church elders.

His relationship – He establishes an equal relationship with these elders. This is the key in leadership. We must have a more than a vertical relationship; we must also establish a horizontal one. We are sheep, just as they are sheep. Here Peter is accepting these people as equals and he is showing them respect for their maturity, experience and gifts.

His Leadership Style – He says I exhort and beseech. I appeal to you elders (1 Peter 5v1).

i. (1 Peter 5v2) from a position of exhortation to a position of teaching them. He is teaching them the simple basic truths of shepherd leadership. He says you take the leadership and this is how to do it.

  • Not by constraint, not because you have to, but because you are willing.
  • Not for filthy lucre but have a ready mind. Be ready to serve not for gain (Job 7v2)
  • Neither as lords over God’s heritage but as examples to the flock.

Peter as he exhorted and as he taught was choosing to influence their minds and then their wills and return their actions. He was modelling the type of leadership shepherd they should have.

ii. (1 Peter 5v4) He is motivating them towards the chief shepherd, Jesus Christ and toward the eternal reward, to do and to give your life for that which is of eternal value. The only things in eternity are going to be people and that is why shepherd leadership is so important. These people are of eternal value!

3. Characteristics of Shepherd Leader

Nurture (Psalm 78v72 & John 21v15-17). Jesus is concerned for the weak, the small and the young. He is concerned for their welfare, not primarily for how much wool, meat, milk or reproduction we are going to get out of them but he is concerned for their welfare. Only if you love me, will you be concerned for them and care for them.

Feeding & nourishing (John 21v16-17) – means to tend, manage, and govern the flock, feeding and nourishing them. The dual role of the shepherd, he is to manage govern, lead and to guide. He is also to feed them with the Word and nourish them. The person that the sheep respond to is the person who is interested in them. The person who is interested in the care and welfare of the sheep, is also the one ministering to their soul.

Protect (Acts 20v28-29). The job of a shepherd is to be watchful (Proverb 27v23). The word overseer means to look carefully into and to inspect. We must have a great sense of whose sheep they are; they are God’s sheep. God is watching me to see how I am taking care of His people.

Care for Needs (Ezekiel 34v4). Prominent in biblical shepherding is caring for the weak and healing the wounded. The biblical shepherd retrieves rather than abandons, He restores rather than rejects. The needs are so great and we are so limited, that is the big problem. (Acts 3v6).

4. Limits of Shepherding

  • The shepherd leader is one who oversees the needs and development of God’s sheep.
  • The area of ability – we don’t have the capacity to help everybody but what I have, I can give.
  • The receptivity of people – go where they are receptive.
  • I may have prior God given responsibility.

5. The Key to Shepherd Leadership

The question is not what I can get out of it, but what I can give? Leadership is always a situation. A leader must have followers, and must be prepared to be led. A leader must assume authority, and submit to authority.

For more to think about please do ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read Proverbs 27v23. What does this Proverb have to do with my Christian discipleship?

Q2. Read Hebrews 13v20-21. How is the Holy Spirit shaping my shepherding skills?

Q3. Read Ezekiel 34v4. What lessons can I learn from this section in regards to my being a shepherd?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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Who Am I Casting Crowns

http://youtube.com/v/CT7x3VnrqbA

UPC Conference Church 2006 De Bron, Who Am I – Casting Crowns/ Performed by the Oslo UPC Youth Group. They got in November a new concert at Oslo, Norway.

http://rapidshare.com/files/62741775/Who_Am_I_-_UPCI.avi.html

Develop Creativity

49. Partake – The Christian Disciple Develops Creativity

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1v1 & 27

Our God is a creative God! His creativity is all around us! Further to this, as humans we are created in His image, and as a result, we are creative! Everybody has some form of significant creative potential. If you don’t think you do, perhaps it is because you haven’t found your creative niche yet! The natural creativity of children is amazing! However, quite frequently significant persons bury creativity under layers of conditioning and negativity. Some of the greatest culprits are teachers, parents and peers, but there is hope because the conditioning process can be reversed. It is a process with a high cost factor, because creativity is essentially a life style. It has to pervade every area of your experience. None more so than in your area of service as a Christian Disciple!

Examples of Biblical creativity

Jesus used creativity in his teaching! He took every day people and objects, creating lessons out of them. Think of some of your favourite parables and see the creativity behind them! As for the Psalms, they are filled with creative language in order to praise God, seeking penance before God and expressing a desire to know God better! Similarly some of the symbolic language of the Bible is very creative. Take for example the genealogy of Matthew 1. To us it may well be tedious and insignificant, but to its initial audience of a small group of Jewish believers, it includes enormous significance and creative symbolism! The way Matthew constructed the genealogy highlights many things, one of which was his highlighting of Abraham, David and of course, Jesus! We know to the Jewish mind, numbers were not just mathematically significant but also held great symbolism! The number seven represents perfection. Each of the 3 stages in the genealogy of Matthew 1 contains 14 stages making a total of 42 times perfection! So what Matthew was saying that Jesus was a great deal more than perfect! Now if you were not a first century Jew, you would not at first see creative symbolism!

Why the importance of creativity?

  • Creativity perpetuates the learning process. As long as you live you should be learning, and remember that Christian Discipleship is essentially a call to perpetual learning.
  • Creativity is essential to meet the growing demands of a changing society. Package thinkers are out of business for an impact tomorrow. If we do not prepare those that we lead to change, they will not be a change element in our next generation.
  • Creativity is important to both affect & infect your communication with a characteristic freshness & vitality. We are commanded to communicate the truth. A communicative individual is always a creative individual.
  • Creativity develops your leadership style.
  • Creativity will overhaul your lifestyle. Most Christian Disciples seem to only exist and not live! If a person is living in the past or in the future, they cannot be enjoying the present.

What are the principles of creativity?

  • Creativity is largely a matter of effort. The mind is like a muscle and grows with use.
  • Quantity is essential to quality in the creative process. Scientific evidence suggests that it is only a maximum of 6% of ideas that are good. You have to get more ideas to get some winning ideas.
  • Results of which are good, bad or indifferent are welcome. Don’t pass judgment at the outset of the creativity process; you have go to withhold it.
  • Incubation generates illumination. Put your ideas on the back burner. Put time between thinking of ideas. Then don’t be surprised when a moment of inspiration of how to complete it arrives!
  • Group effort stimulates creativity if you learn how to listen.

How to activate creativity?

  • Experience provides fuel for ideation, which is the formation of ideas.
  • Problem solving. Get your drive going in the right direction.
  • Involvement in hobbies & fine arts. Photographic sites like http://www.Flickr.com are great places to see creativity in process and get tips on how to improve! There are oodles of websites out there for almost every conceivable hobby!
  • Reading. Creativity thrives on reading the only problem is passivity. Read it until you can tell somebody else. We tend to read the stuff with which we agree which only serves to reinforce our own prejudices and presuppositions. Read things that you know you won’t necessarily agree with, and expand your reading and thinking!
  • Writing. Keep a journal, a blog or a website! It’s easier than you may well think! Write down questions, examples and your meditations.
  • Spend time with creative people. Think with those you are leading. You think your ideas are so good because you have never tested them against someone diametrically opposed to yours.
  • Creativity can be used in the church. Just take for example worship services. Is worship just singing songs? Or can other means be used in order to worship, such as responsive prayers and bible readings? What about dancing as part of creative worship? What about creative outreach or evangelism? Try something new! By being creative, the church can be culturally relevant whilst still remaining biblically faithful to God.

For more to think about please do read Genesis 1 and ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Knowing I am in the image of a creative God, how am I developing my own creativity for His service?

Q2. How can creativity be used during Church worship services?

Q3. Remembering some of the parables Jesus taught, what sort of things did He use creatively and how can I in some way emulate His creativity in my ministry?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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Develop Stewardship

48. Partake – The Christian Disciple Develops Stewardship

“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” Hebrews 3v1-6

All Christian Disciples are called to be stewards! We are Gods stewards! Stewardship is defined as the exercise of responsible care over possessions or gifts entrusted to them by God!

New Testament Greek – Oikonomos – the manager of a household and the resources of his master. Hebrews 3v1-6 describes the concept of stewardship. A house in scripture is a family (1 Timothy 3v15; 1 Peter 2v5; 1 Peter 4v10-17). Every Christian Disciple is a member of the house of Jesus Christ. The concept of stewardship derives from this: Jesus Christ is the head of the house, and Christian Disciples live in the house and are stewards (Ephesians 4v7-16). Two prime qualifications for stewardship are faithfulness & wisdom.

What are Christian Disciples stewards over? In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) Jesus intimates that those who follow Him, will be judged according to all that they have been given stewardship of! This includes things such as Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12v1-10), acts of service (Galatians 5v13) and material possessions (2 Corinthians 9v6-8)! These are used to accomplish three other items of Stewardship: mission, message and men.

1. Jesus & Paul as examples of stewardship.

a. Jesus Christ. He is a steward of a mission, a message and of men.

Mission – John 3v17; John 17v4

Message – John 17v8, 14

Men – John 17v6, 9, 11, 17

b. Paul. Also is a steward of a mission, a message and of men.

Mission – Ephesians 2v19 – 3v8

Message – 1 Corinthians 9v16-17; Colossians 1v25

Men – His brothers are equals – 1 Timothy 1v11-18; 2 Timothy 1v6-14, Titus 1v3-5; 2 Corinthians 2 v12-13

2. The responsibilities of a Christian steward.

He needs to know his mission from Jesus Christ

He needs to know his message

He needs to know his men who God has given him

He needs to know what resources are available to do the job.

3. Nehemiah’s example.

Nehemiah exhibits beautifully, the responsibilities of a steward with regard to procedures or activities. There are no set patterns in the Bible of procedures of stewardship or management but there are certain procedures that are emphasised and taught.

Prayer (Nehemiah1v4) – The quality of his prayer life, we need to pray through the situation before we can come up with a plan.

Planning (Nehemiah2v12-16) – Nehemiah planned the rebuilding wisely. He spoke to the King, went to Jerusalem and then surveyed the walls in secret!

Motivated (Nehemiah2v17-18) – Nehemiah motivated the people. He identified their felt needs, both public and personal, and gave them a workable solution, and answered any objections.

Opposition He initiated the work in the midst of opposition and he makes a declaration of faith “The God of heaven. He will prosper us therefore we His servants will arise and build.” (Nehemiah2v20)

Organised and delegated (Nehemiah 3) is a record of how Nehemiah scheduled, organized and delegated the workers to rebuild!Evaluate and sustain – To give support, to maintain or cause to continue, to endure without falling. Chapter 4. If the enemy can destroy your self-image, he has destroyed your work, and that is what the enemy is trying to do. Nehemiah gets them together and prays. He got the people’s eyes off themselves onto God, He transferred their weakness to God and onto what He was going to do and it freed their minds. Evaluation is not to find out what is wrong, it is to find out what we do to sustain the people in the work (Nehemiah 4v7-8, 14). Nehemiah’s answer “God you think about it, I am going to think about it and build the walls.”

Do not allow unjustified criticism to stop you. Let God think about it, and keep at the given task. We are God’s stewards and want to be faithful to Him and be wise.

Developing co-workers (Ephesians 4v11-12) – We are all going to die, who is going to be left behind to do the job. The key to Nehemiah’s stewardship and accomplishing this mission, was that Nehemiah modelled in faith and in action what was needed to be done to build the wall.

For more to think about please do ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read 1 Corinthians 12v1-11 – Have I discovered my Spiritual Gifts and am I using them in accordance with Scripture for the glory and honour of Jesus?

Q2. Read Galatians 5v13 – How is my service to the Church and to God dynamic and how can I improve my service to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Q3. Read 2 Corinthians 9v6-8 – How is my giving to be done and why do I give?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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Develop Convictions

47. Partake – The Christian Disciple Develops Convictions

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

The model – (Deuteronomy 6v4-9)

  • Incarnational
  • Instructional (Deuteronomy 6:7)
  • Internalization (Deuteronomy 6:8-9)

Everybody has 2 sets of convictions. Firstly are those that you think are your convictions and secondly the ones by which you live your life.

Where do we get the basis for developing our convictions? As Christian Disciples, the foundation of all our convictions is located in Scripture! Jesus is to be out life! That is one reason why we are to read the Bible regularly and apply it to our life. And we are not alone in either the reading of Scripture or in its application to our life. Remember that the interpretation of Scripture is part of the Holy Spirit’s role in the life of the Christian Disciple as the great teacher (John 16v13) and in its subsequent application (Ephesians 5v26; 2 Corinthians 7v1).

Definition of a convictionA conviction is a principle that I cherish or prize highly enough that I practise it in my life. There is a vast difference between your belief system and your convictional system. A belief system is something you will argue for. A convictional system is something you will die for. It is a good thing to ask your self periodically what is really worth dieing for.

 

How to develop convictions

 

a. Developing convictions is a process

Dependency leads to inter dependency. A growth equation – THE WORD + OBEDIENCE + TIME = GROWTH. This is the key, and there are no shortcuts.

 

b. The prevailing attitude of passivity.

Leaders are not passive or dependent people. This is the person who as good intentions but no plan of action. A lot of people trust the Lord for the product but not for the process. Isaiah 40v31 assures us that those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”.

 

c. The lack of clear-cut objectives and/or standards.

You achieve what you aim for. We don’t have clear objectives because we are primarily negative people.

 

d. The problem of inconsistency

· The realization that your convictions are different from contemporary society that believes they are determined by the media not ideas. How much are you poured into the mould of your society? “The power of Christianity appears in the antipathy towards, never in its agreement with, the ways of fallen man” – AW Tozer

· The realization that your convictions are different from your future convictions. The problem about convictions is that you are free to choose them but you are not free to escape the consequences of your decision.

· The realization that your convictions, if they are biblical will be different from the world community.

· The realization that your convictions are different from your parents & family. Don’t just react to your parents negative convictions without knowing their positive convictions

· Confusing the convictions of Christian Disciples with non-Christian convictions. The convictions of non-Christians are most frequently cultural, whereas convictions of the Christian Disciple are to be always biblical.

· Then there is the realization that there can be no growth without tension. The Lord Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. There are two things regarding intention – too much tranquillity produces apathy and too much tension produces anxiety.

  • Communicate truth in a reality setting.
  • Communicate truth in a relational setting.
  • Communicate truth in a reproductive setting.

f. How to communicate your convictions

· Sharpen your own personal convictions, in the presupposition that you have identified them.

· Help others to devise a clear cut set of objectives and priorities. You are just as spiritual as you choose or want to be.

· Relationships always precede requisites. People tend to accept your ideas and your philosophy because they accept you. Conversely, they also reject your ideas & philosophy because they reject you.

· Explain your convictions to others. Don’t let anybody go out of exposure to you wondering where in the world you are.

· Feed others responsibility You have got to give them enough developmental rope to grow. Casualties are essentials of the process. God will give you enough success to encourage you and just enough failure to keep you dependent on Him.

· Create a desire on the part of others to relate to Jesus Christ and His Will, not primarily to you. A Christian is a person who follows Christ, not you or me. We ought to obey God rather than man.

For more to think about please do read ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read Luke 10v26-28, How can my convictions be further developed along these lines?

Q2. Read Matthew 5v1-11 What is the core of what Jesus is saying about living His way and following His convictions?

 

Q3. Read Isaiah 40v31 What role does trusting in the Lord play in the development of my convictions?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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