Authority

A.W. Tozer, in commenting on the difference between a yesterday and a today faith, wrote this:

We habitually stand in our now and look back by faith to see the past filled with God. We look forward and see Him inhabiting our future; but our now is uninhabited except for ourselves. Thus we are guilty of a kind of [temporary] atheism which leaves us alone in the universe while, for the time, God is not. We talk of Him much and loudly, but we secretly think of Him as being absent, and we think of ourselves as inhabiting a parenthetic interval between the God who was and the God who will be. And we are lonely with an ancient and cosmic loneliness.

Your capacity to believe God is the gateway to a life of power, usefulness, and joy. And yet during his earthly ministry, nothing caught Jesus by surprise more than the “people of God” or so-called “believers” not believing – living with that cosmic loneliness that Tozer wrote about.

“Where is your faith?” He would ask. [click to continue…]

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(Cool Things I’ve Heard Somebody Pray, #4)

Empty ChairBack in the day I was meeting with our church elders and we were talking about some pretty heavy circumstances somebody was going through. I don’t remember the details, but I remember what Michael prayed. It totally changed my perspective about the circumstances, and served as a reminder of where to go to recharge my faith.

I thought maybe you could use a similar reminder.

As he prayed over the situation, Michael said, “There’s no vacancy on Your throne.”

What a tender reminder that if the only thing missing is unlimited power and authority, that job’s been taken, and the chair’s still occupied.

The Throne

Thrones are seats of authority, and when it comes to this one, this is no game.  When the monarch is on his or her throne, both symbolically and practically, they’re saying, “Let’s get down to business… and it’s my business.” [click to continue…]

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Water CrownEver see something funny that wasn’t intended to be? When language could be interpreted a bit differently than its original meaning?

Example:  One day when the kids were still at home we were on the way to school and passed a local hotel. In their attempt to be friendly to an industry meeting there, they posted this message on the marquee:  Welcome Pest Control.

Yeah, that’s probably not what you want to see when you’re checking in.

More to-date, once a year I teach a strategic planning class for Crown College – a fine Christian school in Minnesota. Like most schools, Crown has an online system for maintaining accounts, library access, classes and the like. In their case, it’s called “my.crown.”

A few months ago, Jeff, the IT guru there, sent notice that the system was having some technical problems.  The message:  My.Crown is Down.

Go ahead, call me weird. But put in a different context, I just thought that was sorta funny, in a Dr. Seuss kind of way. [click to continue…]

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Crowned with Love

by Andy Wood on April 4, 2013

in Esteem, Life Currency, Love

AA006348You were made to wear a crown.  And you were made to give crowns away.  But this is no token symbol or forgotten relic from a bygone era.  It’s a choice you have every day.  Either wear your crown or someone else will.  And choose well who you give your crowns to.

Crowns.  They’re a rare commodity in our culture, unless somebody is playing checkers, crying at the end of the beauty pageant, or eating at Burger King with the kids. Presidents, judges and governors take oaths. Congress takes your money.  Modern Olympians bring home the gold, but nobody gets a head full of garland any more.

That said, we give and receive crowns all the time.  Check out the dictionary for the verb form of “crown” and you’ll find language like:

  • To invest with regal power; enthrone.
  • To confer honor, dignity, or reward upon.
  • To surmount or be the highest part of.
  • To bring to completion or successful conclusion; to consummate.

Have you done any crowning lately?  I daresay you have.  The only question is, who is wearing the crowns you are offering? [click to continue…]

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“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24).

They’re called game changers.  New players.  New rules or rulings.  New technologies.  New rays of understanding.  But sometimes we’re so adjusted, so acclimated to the game changer, it’s easy to lose the significance of it.

In the verse above, Jesus introduces a game changer.  In fact, He rewrites the entire playbook for prayer.  “Until now,” He says, “you have asked for nothing in My name.  Up until now, you have prayed, but you haven’t taken on My identity or authority.  You haven’t prayed ‘as if’ it were Me doing the asking”

Now… time to change the game.  And that’s what praying in His name produces.

Praying “as if” – that’s what it means to pray in His name.  It’s a whole lot more than using a tired old phrase at the end of a prayer.  Praying in His name seizes the handle of the greatest cosmic weapon in the universe.

Take a look at any situation.  A personal need, a friend in need, whatever…  [click to continue…]

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So somebody’s in charge, but nobody’s actually leading.  There’s a boss, but no vision caster.  You have an authority figure, but no one is harnessing the best efforts of the people in your organization.

In short, you have a leadership vacuum.  What do you do?

Quit?

Lead a mutiny?

Facebook your friends and tell them what a loser you have as a leader?

Try to outmaneuver others politically and manipulate your way to power?

Sit and suffer and hope for the best, while your peers keep howling for leadership?

How about asking God to smite somebody while you’re at it?

These are all approaches used to face situations that have become almost cliché they’re so common:  What do I do when my leader isn’t leading?  Organizations everywhere – businesses, churches, nonprofits, and schools are decrying a lack of leadership.  Somebody needs to make the tough decisions, cast the difficult vision, harness the amazing abilities and energy of the people!  And we seem to be convinced that the answer to the search lies somewhere else.

Maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe the search for someone to step into the leadership ends with you.  Maybe you’re the leader the organization needs, even if people in executive suites don’t necessarily see it yet.  Maybe you’re the catalyst for change, even if you don’t have the sanctioned power to make it so. [click to continue…]

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No.

Not if the focus is more on the office of the leader than on the needs of the led.  Leaders tend to have places in authority that give them the power to move people around, get people to do (or not do) things, hire and fire people, and in other ways mess with people’s lives.  Often those people (and the leaders) reverence the office more than the mission.  In Church World, I’ve been in places where “pastor” was synonymous with “Your Majesty.”  Where whims of the leader today become orders in stone tomorrow.  Where elders become rubber stamp specialists and people in general act like they just drank the Kool Aid – at least when the Anointed One is around.   And I don’t care who you are – that’s not healthy.

Not if there is a distinction between the interests of the leader and the good of the group.  [click to continue…]

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Ask most any Christ follower who or what the ultimate model for leadership is, and they’ll point you to Jesus Christ. 

Ask that same Christ follower what the ultimate standard for leadership is, and they’ll probably land on servanthood.  “Jesus was a servant leader,” they will opine, “and He called His followers to lead by serving.”

Okay, so far, so good. One more question.

Ask that same believer to name somebody from among the most successful ministries or institutions who actually practices servant leadership across the board…

…and watch their pupils widen.  The headlights just caught the deer.

In spite of all our claims to servant leadership, the honest truth is that leadership on a grand scale means knowing what to do with opportunity, influence, power, and public image.  Can a leader have all of that and remain a servant?

Yes. 

But will he?

Camels and the eye of the needle come to mind. [click to continue…]

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I have been greatly encouraged and motivated lately by a simple little thought that has helped me with larger tasks and goals – particularly helping me with attitude.  The idea: Win little victories.  I may not be able to climb the whole flight of stairs, but I can take the first two.  I may not be able to lose 100 pounds, but I can lose 2.  I may not be able, metaphorically, to take the Promised Land, but I can cross the Jordan River.  Tom Peters calls this milestoning.  And it’s a critical thing to do. 

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Thirty-seven years I have followed Christ, and somehow this hymn and its lyrics have passed me by.  I saw the words last week, and it blew me away.  Written in the mid 1800s by Anne Cousin, before it was a hymn it was a poem inspired by the letters and the last words of Samuel Rutherford. Only later was it set to music.  (Sorry hymn purists, but I’m ready for a 21st-century musical update.)  It actually has 18 or 19 stanzas, but here are the ones that are typically sung: [click to continue…]

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Help Wanted:  Branches

Master of the Universe, a firm dedicated to establishing change agencies throughout the world and providing eternal dwelling places for an undisclosed number of people, is seeking branches on which to conduct its fruit-bearing strategy.  Generous benefit package.  Unlimited positions available to trusting and trustworthy candidates.  No previous experience necessary.  Will train the right candidate(s).  (Please note:  No advancement possible.  This is an entry- and exit-level position.  The other two positions – Vine and Gardener – have been permanently filled.)

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Stop doing God’s job.  Not only is it unnecessary, it’s ridiculous.  And believe me, when you try to solve God-sized problems with man-sized vision and wisdom, you will be ridiculed.

So, following up from the last post, how DO we approach situations, opportunities, challenges, and problems that are larger than we are?

You approach them like a branch would.  [click to continue…]

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