We spent the whole time in class last night sharing our life stories with each other. Each person at the table was required to spend 20-30 minutes telling the rest of the group the ups and downs of their life. The whole idea revolves around the fact that a leader leads out of who he is. He leads out of his character. And these experiences truly make us who we are.
Anyway, it was an amazing time. We have spent an entire year with the same group of people and yet we learned so much more about each other last night. You never know as much about people as you think you do. There’s always more to what makes people act the way they do. There’s a reason someone gets angry so quickly, or why certain things just get our their nerves. There’s a reason that they have the habits they do and use the words that they use. There’s always a story. Stories make us who we are. We all have them. We all are in the midst of living out our own stories.
After our experience last night, I’m reminded of how valuable our stories really are. I can’t help but think that somehow, the church has lost the art of story telling. I mean, truly, the Scriptures we have today are ultimately a result of the verbal tradition of story telling. How much richer our lives would be today if we reclaimed this art form. We’d learn so much from one another. We could more readily understand people’s hearts. We’d learn how to listen too. How to sympathize and love someone through their struggles. How to look beyond the present circumstances to see the bigger picture. Ultimately, we’d encounter God as He interacts and breaks into each of our life stories.
If there’s anything I’d encourage you to do, it’s this: (1) Learn to tell your story.
(2) Tell someone, tell anyone or everyone.
(3) Give someone the gift of your time and a listening ear and ask them to tell you their story.
Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to “paint” the future? That’s exactly what Isaac Mendez does. (He’s a character from the TV show “Heroes.”) I believe that’s what a good spiritual leader does too. They imagine (or they are told by God about) a better future and paint/interpret those ideas so that others can see them and get on board to accomplish that goal.
Check this out.
The stages of a painter’s life are: (from The Leadership Challenege, Kouzes & Posner, pg 58-62)
1. Paint the exterior landscapes. (They follow other models.)
2. Paint the interior landscapes. (They seek to know themselves.)
3. Paint themselves. (They express themselves in their own style.)
This just makes me excited, ’cause I see myself in stage 2 of this model. I’m learning more and more about who I am and how God has gifted me. I have been through some leadership and followed other people’s models, but now those models just seem inadequate. Everything seems to be pointing to the idea that I’m right on the edge of what might be the greatest ministry time of my life. It’s my prayer, that God will continue to reveal Himself to me regarding all of this. I’m excited about the future as I travel along by His side.
Lord, keep me humble and walking with to You.I love being with You. AMEN!
Here’s another idea that has me thinking the same way:
Henry and Richard Blackaby (Spiritual Leadership, pg 43-46) write about the stages of leadership development put forth by Robert Clinton in his work, The Making of a Leader. Here’s how it works:
1. Sovereign Foundations – God’s activity during formative years.
2. Inner Life Growth – Development of character and spiritual life.
3. Ministry Maturing – Early attempts at spiritual leadership.
4. Life Maturing – Learning to lead in their strengths. Connect character to leadership.
5. Convergence – Maximum effectiveness where ministry and life experience converge to a specific role. This is what the spiritual leader will be most remembered for – their greatest success.
6. Afterglow or Celebration – Celebrating and building upon work of convergence. Also a time for training up new leaders.
Wow! This stuff makes me really excited ’cause I feel like I can look at my life and say that I’m in step 4 – the Life Maturing stage. (By the way doesn’t that stage sound alot like the “paint the interior landscape” stage 2 in the other model?) That means that I’ve still got Convergence ahead of me. That also means that the dreams I have about the future are going to come around right about the same time that I hit the “maximum effectiveness” stage of development. I could never have orchestrated all of this – it’s only by God’s hand and His intervention. That also means that He is intimately involved in preparing me for a future that will go beyond my imaginations.
I couldn’t imagine a better place to be. I have a genuine hope for my future.
Henri Nouwen says that Christian leadership is "downward mobility ending on a cross." Whoa! I’m not so sure I’m really cut out for that. I’ve always felt that it’s the call of every Christian to be a leader in the sense that they should be the influencers rather than the influenced. I believe that with the Holy Spirit this is something we are all capable of, but Nouwen’s definition is so much more intense than just being an influencer.
I went to my first “leadership” class last night. Mike Ayers is the teacher and I’ll have him for the rest of the year. My first impressions of him are really good. There were lots of things he talked about last night that were powerful, but the main thing I wanted to share today was this: He defined a leader as “A person with character and competence to influence people to God-honoring objectives.” He went on to explain that sometimes your skills/competence can take you where your character can’t keep you. I thought this was a great explanation, ’cause I’ve certainly seen people get into positions where they couldn’t handle things and their character was compromised. Then, it’s a real mess. That’s why all those TV preachers end up having affairs and stealing money and stuff. I wonder if it can be the other way around? Can your character get you places that your skills can’t keep you? I only say this ’cause I’ve also witnessed people who have really great hearts, that simply don’t have the skills to lead. Anyway, we’re going to be studying a method of leadership that comes directly Jesus’ life. As he trained and led the disciples, we will learn to lead others.
I’m also excited about these classes because Mike is a church planter. Since that’s something I wanna be a part of someday, I think he’ll be a great guy to learn from. I hope I can have the chance to sit down with him and talk about it all sometime during this next year.
Although the existence of God has been debated throughout the years, there are some very good arguments which have developed. The following are the most popular.
Cosmological Argument – Since the world exists and something cannot come from nothing, God must exist. Teleological Argument – Since the world is ordered and logically arranged, there must be an intelligent organizer. There must be a master architect since the world evidences intelligence, purpose, and harmony. Ps 8:3-4; 19:1-4 testify that creation itself speaks of God. The idea that this kind of organization could happen by accident (as Evolution proclaims) is like a tornado ripping through a junkyard and assembling a Boeing 747.
Anthropological Argument – There are things within man (intellect, sensibility, will, conscience, and inherent belief in a creator) which could never have found their origin in some “blind force,” therefore God must exist. Man is not simply a physical being, but he is emotional and spiritual – this speaks of God.
Moral Argument – If man is only biological, why does he have a sense of right and wrong? It must be from God. Man is different from all the rest of creation in this way. Recognition of moral standards are found in every culture, yet could never be attributed to any sort of evolutionary process.
Ontological Argument – This one isn’t as strong as the others, but it basically suggests that since every culture (all men) have had an awareness of God, then God must have placed that idea in humanity. Therefore, He exists. Anselm (1033-1109) was the first proponent of this view.
How does this affect me? As a youth minister, I get these kinds of questions/challenges all the time. I’d say it’s actually one of the favorite topics, among our students. I enjoy these conversations because these arguments are pretty strong and they can lead into some great evangelism-type situations.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 183-185)
The doctrine of inspiration has to do with the Bible. The question is about how much of the Scriptures can be attributed to God. The best view seems to be given to us by Jesus Himself. What did He think of the Scriptures? How much can they be trusted? Let’s consider His view:
Whole – Jesus quoted and used the OT consistently throughout His earthly ministry. He validated all of the OT simply by His use of it. In Mt 5:17-18 he said that even the smallest letters and strokes of it would be fulfilled. He also calls it the “law and the prophets” which was a typical way to refer to the whole of the OT. In Lk 24:44 he refers to the law, prophets, and Psalms, making sure that they knew he meant every part of it. In Jn 10:35, Jesus reminded some Jews of Ps 82:6 saying that “Scripture cannot be broken.”
Parts – Jesus’ arguments were supported and strengthened by different parts of the OT. Check Mt 4:4-10; Mt 21:42; 12:18-21
Words – In Mt 22:32 Jesus quotes from Ex 3:6 and His whole argument hinges on the present tense of the word “am.” If the words of the Scriptures were not inspired, His argument would be worthless. In Mt 22:44 a similar things happens – Jesus’ argument is upheld by the phrase “my Lord” from Ps 110:1. It’s clear that Jesus believed that the words of the Scriptures are inspired.
Letters – Mt 5:18 – Jesus declared, “not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.” “Smallest letter” = an apostrophe and Stroke refers to something like the leg on the letter Q. Jesus believed that every letter was inspired.
New Testament – In John 14:26, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead the apostles as they wrote out the NT Scriptures, guaranteeing their accuracy. Also check John 16:12-15. Jesus affirmed not only the OT, but the NT too.
In addition to Jesus, Paul and Peter affirmed the inspiration of the Scriptures.
How does this impact my life? Oh it’s huge! I can trust the Bible! I can rely on it for guidance, encouragement, and simply interacting with God. If every little stroke is inspired then I can pick it apart and study every detail to the smallest degree and discover more and more of God’s message to humanity. It also gives me a standard by which to measure everything. If it were not inspired. . . .gosh, the world would be even more messed up than it already is.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 162-166)
Here are the basic views for how humans came into being:
Atheistic Evolution – You guys know this one. It comes from Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species which says that given enough time, a combination of atoms, motion, time, and chance will produce a huge variety of lifeforms like we have today. Weaker species are eliminated through a struggle for survival and evolution occurs. This would mean that there is no God for man to be accountable to or any moral absolutes. Survival is the ultimate goal regardless of the consequences to anyone else.
Theistic Evolution – God used an evolutionary process to bring about all that we see in creation. This theory is an attempt to reconcile evolution with the Bible, but it is strongly rejected by both evolutionists and biblicists. This argument breaks down with the analogy between Adam and Jesus in Romans 5:12-21 because it simply doesn’t work if Adam was not a real person. Genesis 1:1-2:4 must also be read allegorically and the statement in Genesis 2:7 doesn’t fit if humanity came from a non-human ancestor.
Progressive Creationism – This theory is also called the “Day-Age Theory.” The idea is that each of the 7 days of creation recorded in Genesis actually refers to a geological age. Most progressive creationists believe that God directly created man and animals, but that some evolutionary processes are still possible within a certain species. Exodus 20:10-11 uses an analogy between God working 6 days and resting and man working 6 days and resting on the seventh. This demands a literal interpretation. Also, if this theory were true, then people must have died before the fall of man. Genesis is clear that death did not enter the world until Adam’s sin.
Gap Theory – This theory places a long period of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. This allows for an old earth. They also believe that there was another creation which fell with Lucifer’s fall causing the earth to become chaotic. “Formless and void” in verse 2 describes this chaotic earth. Unfortunately, the grammar in Genesis really doesn’t allow for this gap to exist at all.
Literal 24-hour days – As the Bible describes, God created everything in 6 days and rested on the 7th. Geological formations which seem to indicate an “old” earth can be explained by Noah’s flood. Scripture seems to indicate that this is the best approach to the origin of man. The more we study, there also seems to be more and more information/science which validates this viewpoint.
How does this impact my life? This particular issue is at the center of the main attack on Christianity today. I have taught and will continue to teach a Biblical standpoint on this issue to the students in our church. As much as we try to accommodate both the Biblical record and evolution, it simply is not possible without compromising the Scriptures. I will continue hold to the Scriptures over any theory regardless of its popularity. Considering the lack of evidence for the evolutionary theory, I’m actually surprised at its popularity. I guess it doesn’t matter how ridiculous something is – people will believe anything that allows them the ability to ignore God.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 301-304)
There are a few different theories about where demons came from. Here they are:
(1) Dead people – Some early Christians thought this was the case and it has remained a popular theory even to this day. The problem with this theory is that Lk 16:23 says that evil people are in hell after they die.
(2) Race of People before Adam – This theory is based on the “gap theory” of Genesis. The idea is that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and that there was a race of people who rebelled against God which caused them to fall into this demonic state. The problem with this view is that there is no evidence in Scripture that these people ever existed. Also Romans 5:12 says that sin entered the world with Adam. If these guys existed and fell sin had to existed before Adam.
(3) Offspring of Angels and women. Genesis 6:2 says that the “sons of God” had intercourse with the “daughters of men” and created a race of demons called the Nephilim. Scripturally though, there is no indication that the Nephilim were not people or that the “sons of God” were not also people. The verses say they took them as their wives which actually indicates that they were human.
(4) Fallen but unconfined angels. This is the most likely view. When Lucifer rebelled against God, he fell from his place of honor and a bunch of angels went with him. Mt 25:41 actually refers to demons as “angels” so this seems like a probable view. Scripture says there are 2 groups of fallen angels: (1) 2 Pet 2:4 talks about a group who are confined in hell permanently. (2) Lk 8:31; Rev 9:2-11 refers to a group who are imprisoned in a pit. They were “too depraved to and harmful to be allowed to roam upon the earth” but they will be released during the Tribulation to afflict people who don’t have the seal of God on their foreheads.
What are demons like?
1. They are spirit beings. (Mt 8:16; Lk 10:17, 20) They do not have bodies of flesh.
2. They are not omnipresent. They can only be in one place at a time. (Mt 8:28-34)
3. They are intelligent, but not omniscient. (Mk 1:24; Mt. 8:29; 1 Tim 4:1)
4. They are powerful, but not omnipotent. (Mk 5:3-4; 9:22; Mt 9:32; 15:22; Jn 10:21)
Christ has defeated demons! (Col 2:15)
They will be thrown into the lake of fire! (Mt 25:41; Rev 12:9; 19:19-21)
How does this change my life? I’m able to recognize the work of demons more readily and can in turn pray against them. This information also will help me in answering the questions of the youth I work with. Spiritual issues like this are very interesting to students and in answering their questions, I have opportunities to share the good news of the demon’s defeat. Also with good answers to their questions, I can gain the students respect and trust for future conversations.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 295-298)
It is clear from the Scriptures that angels exist. They are actually mentioned in 37 of the books of the Bible. Jesus Himself speaks of them (Mt 25:31-32, 41) and interacts with them (Mt 4:11). Here are some of the basic teachings about angels from the Scriptures:
1. They are spirit beings. They are called “spirits” (Heb 1:14) and do not have bodies. They also do not die (Lk 20:36) or get married (Mk 12:25). However, they do appear in human form sometimes (Gen 18:3).
2. They are created beings. Ps 148:2-5; Job 38: 6-7; Col 1:16
3. They were all created at the same time. Heb 12:22 says there are “myriads” of them but since they cannot reproduce (Mt 22:30). . . .Col 1:16 also suggests a singular act of creation.
4. They are a higher order than man. Heb 2:7 says that angels are higher than men – even higher than Jesus while He was in the flesh. They don’t die (Lk 20:36) and have more wisdom than man (2:Sam 14:20). Their wisdom is limited though – certainly less than God’s (Mt 24:36). They have more power than men (Mt 28:2; Acts 5:19; 2 Pet 2:11) but it is still a limited power (Dan 10:13).
Some of the most prominent angels are:
Michael (Dan 10:13; 12:1; Jude 9)
Gabriel (Dan 9:21; Lk 1:26)
Lucifer (Is 14:12)
Some of the things that angels do include:
Serving God (Rev 5:11-12)
Ministry to Jesus (Lk 1:26-38; 22:43; Mt 2:13; 2:20; 4:11; 28:5-7; 1 Kgs 19:5-7; Acts 1:10; Mt 25:31)
Ministry to Believers
Protection (Ps 34:7; Acts 5:19; Rev 7:1-14)
Provision (1 Kgs 19:5-7)
Encouragement (Acts 27:23-25)
Direction (Acts 8:26; 10:3, 22)
Assist in answering Prayer (Acts 12:1-11; Dan 9:20-27)
Carry us home (Lk 16:22)
Serve God in Judgment (Rev 8:2-12; 9:1, 13; Mt 13:39-42)
How does this change my life? I believe it has and will continue to change my life every time an angel ministers to me as a believer. I am not aware of specific times when this has happened, but I do believe that it has. There are certainly countless times when I have been in need of protection, provision, encouragement, direction, and answered prayer and have received those things. I feel confident in saying that angels have probably had a hand in those situations. I also believe that their work in ministering to Jesus and in serving God have an affect on me – maybe not a direct impact, but that doesn’t mean anything. Also, by having this understanding of angels, I’ll be able to pray specifically for God to send angels when I find myself or my friends in need of these kinds of ministries.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 287-292)
Some of you may be saying, “What?” That’s OK – let me explain.
This term refers to the times that Jesus was “tempted” by Satan. (Matthew 4) The question arises to whether or not it was possible for Jesus to sin. If you believe it was, then you would say Jesus was “Peccable.” Of course if you don’t believe it was possible for Jesus to sin then you are on the “Impeccable” side of the argument. Here’s the evidence for both. I’ll let you decide what you think:
In general, Arminians are mostly on the “peccable” side, while Calvinists are on the “impeccable” side of the argument. (Should I dare say that Arminians are peccable?jk)
Peccable – Hebrews 4:15 – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” Proponents of this view say that in order for temptation to be real, it must be possible. If it was impossible for Jesus to sin, then it wasn’t real temptation and He wouldn’t be able to sympathize with His people.
Impeccable – The purpose of the temptation of Jesus was to prove that He couldn’t sin and could therefore be trusted in the ministry He was about to begin. You should also notice that it was the Holy Spirit (not Satan) who initiated the temptation. If Christ could have sinned, then the Holy Spirit invited Christ to sin, but according to James 1:13, that’s not something that a Holy God can do.
Remember, Jesus had two natures – He was the God-man. If Christ was peccable, then His human nature could overpower His God-nature. That just seems crazy to believe. Can the finite nature within Jesus be stronger than the infinite?
Weakness is implied by temptation and Jesus is omnipotent – all-powerful. There was no weakness of any kind in Him.
Jesus was born without a sin nature. There was nothing inside of Him to respond to the temptation and therefore couldn’t sin.
Jesus knows everything – past, present, and future. Sin depends on ignorance, in order for the sinner to be deceived. Jesus could be deceived and therefore, couldn’t sin.
In moral decisions, Jesus could only have one will – the will of His Father. Is it possible for God to sin? Of course not.
Jesus was able to conquer death – He had authority over it. Sin is less powerful than death. How could you be tempted by something you had authority over?
I guess it’s pretty clear that I’m on the “impeccable” side of this argument. There just seems to be alot more evidence and it makes sense.
How does this impact my life? In some ways I must admit that I feel convicted. Jesus had two natures in Him and of course the God-nature always won out. I have been given the Holy Spirit to influence me and my flesh still wins out sometimes. I understand cognitively that it’s because of my sin nature. . . .I just feel convicted because I don’t like that Holy Spirit’s work get crushed within me, by my sinful self. There’s also something comforting knowing that Jesus could never sin – that means He can be trusted forever. It means I know more of Him to know this about His character. It means I’ve been drawn closer to Him.
Just another thought – In answering this question about how these concepts will impact my life, I feel very inadequate. Many of these concepts are pretty new to me and therefore I don’t know how they’re gonna impact things for me. They certainly will shape my theological standpoints and my understanding of God’s character. As life rolls along – these concepts which are just seeds right now, will take root and change my life in ways that I could never explain right now. By the way, to you Professor Shockley, “thank you for these assignments – I do believe they will make a difference in my life.”
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 236-238)