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are generally associated with some form of recovery. They exist for individuals recovering from addictions and their spouses. They exist for those who suffer grief in the loss of a loved one, or from divorce. They even exist for people who struggle with eating disorders.
Support groups exist for a number of reasons and they are beneficial to those who use them. At this point, a couple of questions should be considered for our leadership.
Who makes up the support group for leaders? Wisdom would suggest the potential of other leaders involved in a group. Put together a core group of others who will share and contribute to the group’s design.
What benefit will they provide? They serve as a reminder that others have and do experience the same challenges. They also establish a form of accountability.
A support system will make a difference in how we continue to grow and develop our leadership. Who makes up the group, the purpose of the group’s design, and what we apply to our own leadership is the determining factor to its success.
Prayer seems to be a given when it comes to spiritual leadership. We know about prayer. We study about prayer. We talk about prayer. We teach about prayer.
However, do we believe in the power of prayer?
Most people can attest to the number of times God answered prayers in powerful ways. We have seen Him answer in unexpected ways that went beyond our request.
We are thankful for the avenue of prayer and we desire the kind of faith that knows God will continue to answer our requests.
Perhaps the struggle we have deals with the temptation to doubt when various trials arise and challenge our faith in God’s power to answer…yet again.
When it comes to prayer, there is no magic formula, special words, proper position, or time of the day that makes a difference.
For Christians, prayer is about the simplicity of a humble heart that trusts God to answer in His time, in His ways, and in our best interest.
We may not always understand, but to pray without ceasing is the foundation to powerful leadership.
Isaiah 53 is considered the greatest Old Testament prophecy of Christ.
How could Isaiah accurately predict Jesus’ death in such detail seven centuries in advance? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
Two facts about Jesus
Being innocent, He did not deserve the cruelty He suffered (v. 9).
He is worthy of the exaltation He received (vv. 10-12).
In Proverbs nine Solomon compares two different teachers with two diverse lessons taught to two different students who have two destinations. He advises his sons to be careful to whom they listen and beware of those who would lead them astray. Read Proverbs nine and consider the following outline.
Wisdom is the teacher who has prepared her house and her lesson , vs. 1-6
She offers understanding to the inexperienced
She warns them to avoid folly
Her ways lead to life vs. 11
The woman of folly has prepared lesson as well, vs. 13- 18
She entices the upright to abandon the straight path
She offers stolen water and secret bread to those who lack understanding.
Her ways lead to death
The student who chooses wisely enters wisdom’s classroom and eats from the table of understanding, drinks from the cup of knowledge and learns to FEAR THE LORD, vs. 8-11
The Scoffer refuses wisdom and enters into the classroom of the woman who lacks understanding. He drinks stolen water and eats, uninvited, from another man’s table, vs. 7-8; 16-17.
The Wise student graduates to a long life filled with truth and understanding, vs. 11
The Scoffer flunks out and is doomed to walking among the destitute and dead, vs. 18
Whoever has your ear holds your fate.
To whom we choose to listen to determines our direction in life. If we listen to those who are corrupt, undisciplined or uninformed, who lack knowledge and who do not fear the Lord we put ourselves at risk. If we listen to wise people who fear the Lord, trust his word and follow his godly example we fare much better.It’s a personal decision we all must make for ourselves.
“If you are wise you are wise for yourself and if you scoff you alone will bear it”, Proverbs 9:12.
Pick your teachers carefully your destination depends on it!
Leadership is about people, and unless we are observing how God works in our lives to provide opportunity to lead, we will miss the possibility of God using us to help others.
An ancient Chinese proverb emphasizes the way to a lifetime of happiness: “If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
Helping others can only occur when leaders observe the people God places in their lives each day.
Leaders must seek to discover what goes on in the lives of these individuals, why it takes place, and how they might show the light of Jesus through their help.
Take a few moments each day to simply observe the working of God through the opportunities provided in the lives of the special people placed on our daily path.
This week brings about one of the highlights of the year at Bear Valley - the annual lectureship! It begins tomorrow and goes through Sunday. For a listing of speakers, topics, and times, click HERE
I am also excited to share with you some of the reports from the schools around the world. I know you will be encouraged by what you see.
2016 has been an unprecedented year in the growth of the Extension Program, as we have now started 5 new schools this year! The newest one is in Fiji and will serve the churches of Oceania and the South Pacific. You can read their first report here.
Fresh off of a graduation, the brethren in Nigeria are not taking a break! Read all about what they have been doing in the Kingdom.
Donnie Estep is our outstanding and capable Regional Director for Southern Africa (which includes the schools in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi) and has just returned from a 3 week trip where he visited and taught in each of the 3 schools. (can you imagine?!) Read his encouraging report (with pictures) by clicking here.
Many of you know of the difficulties that our brethren in Ukraine have endured for the past few years, so I think you will be pleasantly surprised to read about all the good things that are happening there. The Director of the school has filed an encouraging update.
Speaking of new schools and progress, one of the newest schools (Liberia) is off to a great start! You will find this report, complete with pictures, very interesting.
I hope that you are richly blessed this week and should you have a chance to attend the lectureship, I hope to see you.
Thank you for your continued prayers, partnership, and support. God bless.
Director of Extensions
Visiting any retail store reveals the multiple choices available. Very little is as simple as only one choice.
Consider something as simple as soap. There are hundreds of soaps available: laundry, bath, dish, liquid, antibiotic, foam, etc.
Along with these choices, there are innumerable name and generic brands on the market. Plus, the purpose of the cleansing agent needed influences the type of soap to look for and the amount.
The issue of choice is not only found in the area of soap. Walk down the isle of any store and consider the choices available on any product. At times, it becomes overwhelming to determine exactly what is needed.
A study of leadership also reveals the challenge of making choices. The choice made by leaders can make the difference in success or failure, so what choice(s) should be made?
Sadly, many choices must be made by trial and error. Only after the results of the choice are seen can another decision be made concerning the appropriate direction to take.
Nothing is more significant than leading others to make the choice about their eternal destiny. Think Souls!
GREAT BIBLE QUESTIONS
by Robert Stapleton
God created man with a mind to think. Sometimes questions are used to stimulate the mind to do so. Questions often make people think about important things. At times we find great lessons being taught and grasped by asking questions. Every time a question is asked in the Bible, whether by God or by an inspired man, a great lesson is taught. In this article, we want to examine some of the great questions of the Bible so as to assist us in better understanding what God would have us to know.
“WHERE ART THOU” - GENESIS 3:9 - God’s first question to man was a serious one. Adam and Eve were now in sin, trying to hide from God. He saw them, and the condition they were in. The question here is not just a question of where they were physically, but where were they spiritually. Men have been trying to hide from God since that time. Hagar said, “Thou God seest me” (Genesis 16:13). We would be well off to remember this at all time. There is no place where we can hide from the “all seeing eye of God” (Hebrews 4:13). We need to be aware that our sin will find us out (Numbers 32:23).
“AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?” - GENESIS 4:9 - This is the first question asked of God. The background for the question reveals the sin of Cain (Genesis 4:1-8). It is important to realize that we are our “brother’s keeper” (Romans 14:7-21). We should always think what affect our words and actions will have on others (Philippians 2:4).
“IF A MAN DIE, SHALL BE LIVE AGAIN?” - JOB 14:14 - Job was interested in this question. He was in misery, and it seemed that death was at his door. Over time, this question has lost none of its interest. Thanks to God, the question is plainly answered (John 5:28, 29; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14). Our life here will determine our life beyond the grave.
“WHAT IS A MAN PROFITED . . .?” - MATTHEW 16:26 - Christ asked this question. By looking at it, we see that it is a two-in-one question. Actually, I know of no answer to it that could be seen as a positive one. It is unanswered, and is unanswerable, as there is nothing but loss when one puts aside the spiritual for the physical!
“WHO THEN, CAN BE SAVED?” - MATTHEW 19:25 - After Jesus’ lesson about a rich man’s difficulty in going to heaven, the question was asked by the disciples (Matthew 19:23, 24).
Over the years, many answers have been given by man that have been in error. However, the Bible answers the question in no uncertain terms. Hell will be filled with people who did not intend to go there (Matthew 7:21-23). Many rational people intend to obey the gospel but neglect to do so. They forget that today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). They forget the brevity of life (James 4:14). Life’s brevity and uncertainty makes this question one of great importance.
“WHAT SHALL THE END BE?” - 1 PETER 4:17 - For those outside of Christ, certainly not salvation (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). For those who refuse to remain faithful, a condition that is worse than their previous one outside of Christ is all that remains (2 Peter 2:20-22). For those who were “once enlightened,” but who have “fallen away” and are remaining in that condition there is no hope (Hebrews 6:4-6).
“WHO SHALL BE ABLE TO STAND?” - REVELATION 6:17 - All will be examined in view of God’s Word (John 12:48). Who will be able to stand as righteous in the sight of God? (Mark 13:13; Revelation 2:10; 22:14).
“AND NOW WHY TARRIEST THOU?” - ACTS 22:16 - This question was asked by an inspired preacher of a praying, believing, penitent Saul. Because of his desire to please the Lord, when he was told what to do, and he did it (Acts 9:18).
These, and other questions similar to them, cause us to carefully consider what God would have us to do. We conclude with one more question, “What will you do with Jesus?” (Mark 15:12).
There will not be enough space in weekly leadership posts to exhaust every possibility about the subject of character.
However, it should go without saying that a leader’s character is invaluable. Without godly character, a leader cannot succeed in leading as God desires.
Character is the very substance of leadership. Where there is character, there will always be leadership.
John Maxwell claims, “Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.” Character in leadership will be indicated by the actions created from the choices made. With each choice, character is developed.
Within a fortune cookie from several years back the following statement was found: “God gives us one face and we make for ourselves another.” This is character.
Why is it so significant to examine areas regarding leadership character?
How should character be defined? How does character define our leadership? What happens when our character is flawed or seen as no longer credible?
We will explore these questions and other important areas about the need to understand character and our leadership. We will also consider several practical areas in developing leadership character.
I Corinthians 14:33clearly states that God is not the author of “confusion”. In the original Greek, the word ‘confusion’ comes from the root word meaning ‘disarray’. If God were such an author, humanity would never be able to clearly understand God’s Word, by which we all are to live. We have all encountered individuals in our lives who, speaking on one subject or another, would say one thing to one group of people and something different to another. Finally, we all just stop believing them completely.
This is the EXACT reason why so many people believe God does not exist. They look at the mess that “Christianity” has become by the hands of men and they say to themselves “what kind of Supreme Being could possibly be behind all of this?” And the answer to that is clear: NONE! Since denominationalism is utterly confusing and contradictory, with one group teaching one thing, another group teaching something utterly different, and yet another teaching something in between, AND, since scripture clearly teaches that God is not the author of such confusion, then who IS behind all of this? There is only one possible response. Satan is behind it. He IS the father of lies – John 8:44. In addition to this, in Matthew 16:18, following Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus said that upon the foundation of Peter’s confession that Jesus was, and IS, the Christ, that He would build His church, SINGULAR, not churches, plural.Jesus only built one church - HIS church. And, because of this, there is no such thing as being a “hyphenated” Christian – a Baptist-Christian, Methodist-Christian, or, Lutheran-Christian, etc.In addition, the apostle Paul was VERY clear, when he said, speaking of religious unity, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, AND that there be NO divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement”– I Cor, 1:10. How, “in the world” (no pun intended) does denominationalism follow this verse??Obviously, they do not.
Denominations have built their different doctrines on yet another lie, namely, that all scripture is open to one’s own private interpretation. This false belief says that we are free to interpret God’s inspired Word any way we please, AND that this interpretation will perfectly acceptable to our Heavenly Father. According to this line of thought, if we feel a passage applies to us, we will decide to go by it. But, if we do not particularly like it, or, if we believe that it no longer applies, such as baptism for the remission of sins, or following the New Testament examples left for us, then, we can just ignore it,or explain it away by saying, “well, I know what it ‘says’, or APPEARS to say, but, we just don’t believe that way”. In response to this, I would ask our denominational friends one important thing: Where is the verse, or verses, that tell us that such “picking and choosing” is acceptable to God? And, what right does ANYONE have to say to God that something important enough for Him to include it in His inspired Word just is not worthy of our obedience to it? Think about this - no one can change or rescind an order in the military unless he/she is of equal or greater rank to the one who originally gave it. Just who, here on earth, fulfills this? Also, Peter, in II Peter 1:3, states that we have been given all things that pertain to life and Godliness. Are the teachings found in the New Testament mere “suggestions” for us to follow? No! Why not? God knew that if He gave us a choice of obeying or not obeying His word, that we would ALWAYS choose not to do so, wanting, instead, to do what WE wanted to do, or what doing what WE thought was best.
This raises the question of how so many people can believe that this is OK with God? How can we ignore plain passages on how we are to live and how God wants to be worshipped,and then do whatsoever WE want to do with no doubts and no guilt? In II Peter 1:20 God, thru Peter, states that no prophecy came to us by the prophets own private interpretation. Now, if the prophets were not free to “interpret” scripture as they gave it to us, through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, essentially saying what they THOUGHT God wanted said, kore what He meant by it, then, how can WE, who are not inspired, POSSIBLY think we have the right to do these things?Again, there is one simple reason. The devil has deceived US just as he deceived Eve in the Garden. There, he told Eve “Oh, it’s OK, go ahead and eat! You know you won’t die! God just doesn’t want you becoming like Him, that’s all!” Today, he is telling us – “go ahead and change that passage, or, ignore the verses you don’t particularly want to follow. It’s OK! You ‘won’t surely die!! After all, you are still obeying MOST of what He says, aren’t you?” And, just as in the garden, when lightning bolts from heaven do not rain down upon us, we reason that it must be OK with God. And, so we would not really notice what was happening, satanm otivated us to change just one little thing at a time. The first change began with the leadership. He influenced one elder to begin asserting influence over his fellow elders. When they allowed it, he asserted more and more influence, until he assumed complete control of the whole church. This idea moved from one church to another until each church had one elder – the ‘pastor’.It then continued with this one assertive man taking control of several churches, until he became the ‘bishop’ of many churches. Then, satan influenced these leaders to change more, and more, and more, just to suit the feelings of themselves and others, until the New Testament church disappeared altogether, being changed into the Catholic church.
What was the ultimate result of this process? The simplicity of the New Testament teachings morphed into the confusing mess that it is today as many, who disagreed with the teaching of the Catholic church, then split off and started their own church, which was the birth of the first 1st denomination. After that split, then, when opinions differed, they also split off, then others split off from those churches, and so on, and so on, until we come down to today with well over 600 denominations, and who knows how many more smaller ‘splinter’ groups have been estabished. And since we still have not witnessed God’s wrath coming down upon the false teachers here on earth, we feel that these hundreds and hundreds of denominations, all with their own collection of doctrines, MUST be acceptable to God, right?
Unfortunately, we must give satan the credit he is due. He is VERY good at getting millions and millions of people to believe his lies and to make those who do succumb to them to feel perfectly justified in doing so!After all, “we human beings DO have our rights, don’t we?”And, because of OUR exercising these ‘rights’, we are losing hundreds and hundreds of formally faithful congregations of the Lord’s church to these horrid lies as leadership after leadership just doesn’t see any difference between the truth of the Bible and the lies that the devil and his servants are continually spreading among us. John 8:32 plainly states “Ye shall know the TRUTH, and the truth shall make you free.” Note: this plain inspired verse does not say “Ye shall know the ‘truths’, or, your personal version of the truth that appeals to you” and that these beliefs will be OK with God, regardless of what they are.”
Some may STILL ask “what’s the big deal? They still teach SOME of the truth, and they DO believe Jesus is the Christ.” To answer this, please consider this. One brother here that I spoke with about this agreed with my illustration of God’s word. Namely, it is like a high mesa located out west. It is completely flat on top, with a vertical drop-off all around. Staying within the boundaries of its flat surface provides safety. But, if we go beyond the boundaries of its surface, whether by one step, or by a huge leap, it would bring certain death. It would not matter how close or how far we went over the edge.When we hit bottom, we would be just as dead.When we “go beyond” God’s word, either adding to or taking away from its truths, when we pass from this life and stand before God in judgment, the result resulting condemnation will be the same.
Brethren, we must gird ourselves with the truths of God’s word and we must all be willing to enter the battlefield where the most important war of all time is currently being waged and is being LOST.. What are the “spoils” of this war? The spoils are the souls of all of the people who are being duped by the evil one, which, unfortunately, includes many formerly faithful brethren who have fallen prey to satan’s lies. Their salvation is literally hanging in the balance.
One final word must be said. In Ezekiel 3:18-19 God tells us that if we warn those who practice iniquity of God’s judgement and their need to come back to God, If they do not listen, they WILL die in their sins, but we will have saved ourselves. However, if we do not warn them,yes, they will still die in their sins, butk,lwe will suffer the same eternal consequences. Remember, we must ALWAYS be doing God’s will. Matt. 7:30 states that if we are not gathering others for Jesus then, we are actually scattering them abroad.
True Christians everywhere must realize that what is now going on, both in our brotherhood and in the denominational world IS OUR BUSINESS. We must always stand for the truth and do our best to warn those around us of their impending doom when they do not abidein the truth of God’s word. Many will never listen, brethren. But, we ALL MUST TRY.And, God willing, WE WILL SAVE SOME – I Cor. 9:22.