The unsearchable riches of Christ. —Ephesians 3:8
My Master has riches beyond the count of arithmetic, the measurement of reason, the dream of imagination, or the eloquence of words. They are “unsearchable”! You may look, study, and weigh, but Jesus is a greater Savior than you think He is when your thoughts are at their greatest. My Lord is more ready to pardon than you are to sin, more able to forgive than you are to transgress. My Master is more willing to supply your needs than you are to acknowledge them. Never tolerate low thoughts of my Lord Jesus…Lord, teach us more and more of Jesus, and we will tell the good news to others.
—Charles Spurgeon, in Evening by Evening, p. 243.
He who with his whole heart believes in Jesus as the Son of God is thereby committed to much else besides. He is committed to a view of God, to a view of man, to a view of sin, to a view of Redemption, to a view of the purpose of God in creation and history, to a view of human destiny found only in Christianity.
-James Orr, The Christian View of God and the World, 4 as quoted in Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 6.
“Your talent and giftedness as a leader have the potential to take you farther than your character can sustain you. That ought to scare you.” -Andy Stanley
Character matters for leaders. The above quote alludes to the fact that many times what brings down Christian leaders is not so much that they could not do their jobs well or competently but rather that they did not have the requisite character to do their job with integrity. Right now you can probably name three or four prominent Evangelical leaders who have had their ministries crash and burn around them THIS YEAR. Character is crucial.
Jeff Iorg begins his book The Character of Leadership by saying “In my twenties, I was determined to change the world. In my thirties, I tried to reform the church. In my early forties, I discovered I was the problem” (p. 1). Dr. Iorg has all the right experience to write a book on this subject: he was a pastor for many years (including planting a successful church in the Pacific Northwest), a denominational leader for the Southern Baptist Convention, and currently is the president of Golden Gate Baptist Seminary . But he has also learned many leadership and character issues the hard way and seeks to pass on what he has learned in these decades of experience.
This is not a book about how to DO leadership. It is about how to BE a leader. (p. 2)
Dr. Iorg shares that the main ways he has seen God shape himself and other leaders has been using 1) the Bible 2) the leader’s circumstances and 3) disciplined discernment. “God is committed to shaping you into the image of Jesus. He uses his Word to set the standard and allows circumstances to turn up the heat. Discernment, asking the right question and allowing enough time to pass for perspective to reveal God’s purpose, is essential to understanding what God is doing” (p. 17).
How then does Dr. Iorg approach the subject? And does he succeed in his approach?
Back in June, Tim Keller published a review of two books that each argue that the Bible does not disapprove of same-sex relationships: A Letter to My Congregation by Ken Wilson and God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines. Rather quickly, Matthew Vines wrote back, alleging that Keller unfairly misrepresented his views at several critical points and questioning if Keller had even read his book.
This exchange fascinated me and I decided to read God and the Gay Christian in order to see just what was going on and also to try to further educate myself on the issue. Here’s what I found.
The squeaking of these shoes in the silence
Arias in a sad, strange opera
-Not Ezra Pound
Next up for Praying the Promises: Romans 15:13!
In the ESV, Romans 15:13 says:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Why I pray this verse: In this case I was looking for a verse to pray specifically for my wife, Lauren. Many godly men set the example in my life of having specific verses that they regularly prayed for their wives and for their family. Finding myself young and without wife, I also did not have verses I was praying for my wife. I mean, I didn’t even know who she was yet! But the more I saw these men pray for their wives the more the conviction grew that this was something I wanted to imitate and put into practice. (Sidenote: married folks, if this is something that you aren’t already doing, I could not encourage you enough to start it! It’s been an incredible blessing to have a growing list of verses that I have specifically to pray for Lauren.)
I pray this verse for my wife because it has so much in it that I already see in Lauren both in the present and in our future together: she is hopeful, joyous, a woman full of peace and full of the Spirit. But even the most hopeful of us could stand to have some more hope and we all need the Holy Spirit to be the continual fount of that hope! If we look to anything else for hope, it will (eventually) disappoint. Only God will always be faithful and true. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
How I pray this verse: An example of praying this verse would look something like this. “God, you are the source of all our hope. Would you fill Lauren and would you fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by your power we would ABOUND in hope and others would see it, experience our hope in you, and be blessed by it. Would those with no hope see the hope we have and ask how we can be as hopeful as we are and would those whose hope is also in you be encouraged.”
Those of you without spouses can use this to pray for anyone-family, friends, neighbors, yourself, etc. I’ve simply mainly used this in praying for my wife up to this point. But those of you with spouses: feel free to steal this one! Or to start your own list!
What verses do you pray for your spouse or those closest to you?
If John Maxwell is associated with just one thing, it’s leadership. This volume from Thomas Nelson collects his 101 series. As the preface states:
We’ve cherry-picked the essentials in subjects such as leadership, attitude, relationships, teamwork, and mentoring and put them into a format that is easy to read. And now for the first time, we’ve combined all six of the 101 books in one volume. (vii-viii)
(The other topics covered are self-improvement, success, and equipping)
Think of this as the “general education” part of a leadership education. Those looking for depth or exhaustive treatments of these topics should look to Maxwell’s other books. And those who already have several or all of these volumes already won’t necessarily want to repurchase them.
But if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop sort of approach to the basics of leadership, this is the book for you! The hardcover edition is a quality book that is attractively packaged and yet not bulky or unwieldy. Both a consult-as-needed reference book approach and a read-cover-to-cover would work here depending on your needs and exposure to the material.
Because it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, The Complete 101 Collection gets
5 stars out of 5
John C. Maxwell, The Complete 101 Collection. Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2010. 624 pp. Hardcover.
Buy it: Amazon
Thanks to Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers for the review copy!
Could not help but think of the recent discussion on Planned Parenthood while I read Calvin’s exposition of the Sixth Commandment in the Institutes.
“To be clear of the crime of murder, it is not to enough to refrain from shedding man’s blood. If in act you perpetrate, if in endeavor you plot, if in wish and design you conceive what is adverse to another’s safety, you have the guilt of murder. On the other hand, if you do not according to your means and opportunity study to defend his safety, by that inhumanity you violate the law.” -Calvin
Lord, show us the means you have given us to protect life.