When I was a child, I sought to be loved by my father, I did everything I could to please him. Driven by my deep desire to earn his love, I worked very hard at it only to learn later that he expected so much more out of others than himself. By the time I entered my teens struggled with whether or not I would ever win his affection. His authority was as clear as the military man he was, requiring strict discipline to his rules and the inevitable consequences (often to harsh) routinely applied for not living up to his standard. I came to believe that love must be earned and that love is conditional.
Then God happened. I began a confusing journey after experiencing His unconditional love apart from performance. It took some time in getting to know God and to believe that He had the best intentions for my life through His Son, Jesus, the Christ. His love brought me into a freedom I had not known before and it eventually replaced the strongholds of false beliefs that I had about love. God’s love is unconditional and can never be earned, it is freely given.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NASB)
No one on this earth can offer us such unconditional love except God. No one. It is a gift freely given when we become His child.
God’s love frees us up to become all we’ve been called to become in this world and prepares us for an eternal life in His presence. Seek God with all your heart and you will find true love, which in turn will make your life better in loving others.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB)
How would others assess your leadership qualities if based on a standard established centuries ago by God? Apparently, leading well requires paying serious attention to what God requires of those who lead although He graciously leaves it up to us to choose His way, that promises success, or our own way to lead, that promises eventual disaster.
“…he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law…and it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life…” (Deut. 17:18-19)
Leading well begins with knowing God’s word for ourselves, not knowing it based on what others have to say about it. In other words, God knows how much a leader, in order to be successful in leading needs to know Him through knowing His word in order to be led properly in his/her leadership role.
“…that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them…” (Deut. 17:19)
Learning to fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). The wisest person who lived on this earth (King Solomon) knew he needed wisdom to lead the people of Israel and it pleased God so much that He not only gave him wisdom but added to it riches, possessions and honor! (2Chronicles 1:12)
“…that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers…” (Deut. 17:20)
God is all-knowing, and He knew that leadership, left up to us would lead to a prideful heart with little to none accountability to anyone.
“…that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left…” (Deut. 17:20)
We are warned ahead of time that without embracing God’s standard of leading well, we will turn aside and adopt our own style of leadership that is anchored by a prideful heart which moves us from being successful in God’s economy to a place of unfruitfulness.
“…so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” (Deut. 17:20)
Successful leadership maintains a lasting effectiveness on those impacted by a leader after God’s own heart, and not just those corporately but the family of those who lead well.
Great leadership starts at home with a loving servants heart and the humility to know your need for godly wisdom for the stewardship that you have been entrusted with.
“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.” (Psalm 25:9)
I Have Decided
Decisions are made through a process of settling a dispute or doubt, making a judgement or determining a preference that brings us to a conclusion “by giving victory to one side.”* Decisions are made in the soul of our being, where our will, emotions and mind reside.
Major life decisions affect the projectory of our life outcomes and the people we encounter along the way. The impact can be enormous when you think about it from the perspective of eternity.
In 1904 a spiritual revival swept across Wales, England and a particular Welshman accepted Jesus and the missionary call to travel to India to a remote village known for its violence and savage head-hunters who prided themselves in displaying as many heads he had collected. This was a sign of their marriageability – the more heads a man had, the more eligible he was.
One tribesman heard the gospel and accepted Jesus as his Savior against much opposition from the tribal chief. After being brought before the entire village the chief demanded that this tribesman stop following Jesus or his children would be killed. “No, I have decided to follow Jesus, I am not turning back,” replied the man. His children were killed.
The chief went on to threaten the man to stop following Jesus or it would cost him the life of his wife. “Thou none go with me, I still will follow, no turning back,” replied the tribesman. The chief killed his wife.
Left alone after witnessing the murder of his children and wife, the angry chief demanded a third time for the tribesman to stop following Jesus now at the threat of losing his own life. “The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back,” replied the man at the cost of his own life.
With the entire village witnessing this ordeal and this one tribesman willing to sacrifice all that was dear to him to follow Jesus, one by one the village people began to make the decision to follow Jesus and eventually the tribal chief bowed his knees to follow Jesus.
God is eternal, our time on this earth is not. Jesus came to make a way for our relationship with God to be restored to His original, eternal plan. Jesus took our place on the cross and made restitution for our sins, completely wiped them away by the shedding of His blood, making a way for those who would choose to believe in Him, granting eternal life in the presence of God. Forever.
I was 14 years old when confronted with this soul decision. By Gods grace I knew in my heart that I needed a Savior, that I didn’t know enough (and never would) to do life on my own. I’m so grateful for my life journey that brought me to a place of settling the struggle and doubt in my heart at that time. This song of the ages propelled me to the altar to proclaim my decision to follow Jesus.
“I have decided to follow Jesus…no turning back, no turning back…Though none go with me, I still will follow…no turning back, no turning back…The world behind me, the cross before me…no turning back, no turning back.” (Author Unknown)
This one tribesman’s decision is still reaping a harvest today. Who could have known but Jesus the ripple-effect of his decision throughout time, the world and the lives that would be impacted and the souls brought into the eternal loving arms of God.
Like a vapor in the backdrop of eternity, life can seem to vanish before our eyes from our first breath to our last just as the Bible describes it.
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14, NASB)
With the recent passing of my mother, her 85 years of life seemed to pass so quickly now that heaven is her home. She was an influencer of her faith in God to those around her. She lived out the assignment on her life in a most sincere, loving and courageous way. Her gift of encouragement and quiet reserve veiled her fierce faith and steel-like determination to pray things through. She was convinced that God could do the impossible for others just as He had done for her. Her faith was contagious and present, as a result of having survived many seasons of suffering that taught her not take her lifespan for granted. She understood what it meant to live out her trust walk day by day, depending on God’s provision for each moment of life.
“Give us each day our daily bread…” (Luke 11:3, NASB)
She lived with an eternal hope that was anchored in the promises of God and His vision for her family which she spoke over us numerous times. She never stopped believing, persevering right up to the end of her life.
To those she left behind, the many lives she impacted, she passed along her baton of faith. Now its our turn to carry on the mission of passing along the eternal hope that sustained her through the travel of life. Let’s pick up where she left off by not only living out our faith with a steel-like tenacity but with the desire to leave the fragrance of Jesus wherever He sends us.
“For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2Corinthians 2:15, NASB)
Her life was a sweet fragrance of eternal hope, a hope that is needed in our world with all its tribulations. The world is waiting to see this hope lived out. The world is waiting for you.
“…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b, NASB)