Do you pray with power? Nicky Gumbel in the Alpha course says over fifty percent of the population prays. “Prayer” is the most searched word in Google today. Yet, few people know “who” they are praying to or understand how effective and powerful prayer can be.
I am excited to announce God not only has the answer — He is the answer!
“Call on me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
Pray With Power
Three years ago, I sensed God’s prompt to begin writing “a” book on prayer. Though I tried, I (and God) knew I was incapable of such a task. Through a series of interviews with dozens of people of all ages from around the world, not just a single book but several books have been conceived. They all include a combination of biblical foundation and testimonies.
Unlocking Legacy: Taking Your God-Given Territory Through Prayer also covers subjects like: faith, praying God’s Word, prophetic and travailing prayer, fasting and praying with authority, corporate prayer and more.
The last chapter contains multiple miracles experienced by those interviewed.
May you be inspired as you read this first chapter. Unlocking Legacy is available for preorder today.
Boast in the Lord and Him only. We may think we’re pretty good compared to others, but not compared to God. We’re just not that good. All other boasting is ludicrous and dangerous.
The other day, I laughed as I overheard four siblings constructing a major building block project. They had gotten along quite well, but now were disagreeing on the finishing touches. Finally, Evan announced, “Here let me do it! Boys are better than girls!”
Shayla, the oldest of the group, placed her hands on her hips, and with eyebrows lowered glared at him in disbelief. His remark obviously stuck a uncomfortable chord with her. Karli, the younger sister, backed off obligingly, pondering the weight of her brother’s comment while beginning to question her own ability. Four year old Sara didn’t miss a beat. She gently but firmly shoved the boaster off to the side, “You’re good, Evan, but you’re not that good!”
I laughed until I felt the nudge of Holy Spirit gently, but firmly, speak similarly to me. He was reminding me how easily I too step in with over-confidence, when humility and tact would be more appropriate. Boasting in ourselves usually doesn’t end up well — for kids or adults, male or female.
“Let someone else praise you,
and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2
Such boasting in ourselves never produces the results we would like. Boasting must have been an issue in the Corinthian church because it was the first problem Paul dealt with.
I have discovered that often boasting partners with insecurity rather than confidence. Those who accurately measure their talents, abilities or expertise, don’t need to boast; their works speak for themselves. Those who feel a need to be publicly noticed or appreciated tend to boast as a way to elevate and validate themselves before others. Such tactics usually backfire.
“Pride goes before destruction
and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
Unless you think, for even a moment, I am pointing my finger at anyone else, rest assured, I’m not! God orchestrated this little incident with these young children to get my attention. Although amusing, it speaks directly to some boastful thoughts incubating in me.
Not That Good
Sara’s small but firm voice, “You’re good, but you’re not that good” has been resonating in my ears. I’m asking God to show me places where I overthink my own worth or accomplishments. I have always struggled to receive compliments well. Insults, I’m able to handle more readily, but accolades can trip me up.
I’m not alone! Perhaps the chief danger zones for most of us are pride, praise, and power. These each have a way of ultimately revealing our true nature.
“Brothers and sister, think of what you were
when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards;
not many were of noble birth.” 1 Corinthians 1:26
Having no claim to either nobility or wisdom, this verse resonates with me. Though my parents gave me a generous start, my beginnings were humble. Any wisdom I possess, came from a gracious God and the school of many mistakes.
Quite frankly, I’m not that good! I hate to break it to you, but in the words of Sara, “You’re good, but you’re not that good” either.
Who Are You?
Just this week, someone confessed that when they heard me teach a class for the first time, they thought, “Who does she think she is?” Believe me, I wasn’t offended! It was obvious to everyone in the room, including me, that I wasn’t anybody special. I hold no distinction, certification, title or degree. Nothing set me apart from anyone else.
But here is the kicker! What does set each of us apart lies entirely in the extra-ordinary mercy of God!
“But God chose the foolish things
of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things
of the world to shame the strong.
God chose the lowly things
of this world and the despised things —
and the things that are not —
to nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before him.”
1 Corinthians 1:27-29
Good news! We qualify among the ranks of those God chooses. Honestly! Who else but God would choose us, when we are “good, but not that good?”
This beautiful, intelligent woman felt a little uneasy about her thoughts. I didn’t! God and I both know, I’m just one of the “foolish things…weak things…lowly things…the things that are not.” And boy am I glad! No one can look at me and say I got where I am on my own efforts, intelligence, economic status, or by any other human means.
In Christ Alone
I constantly need to remember what Paul told the Corinthians believers,
“It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus
who has become for us wisdom from God —
that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30
Everything originates in Christ — everything. Wisdom? From Him! Health or wealth? From Him! Loving relationships, warm home, security, hope, peace, destiny and promise? From Christ alone!
When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he said,
“May I never boast except in the cross
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world
has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14
The cross puts everything into perspective. So no matter how good we may think we are, we know that we’re not that good.
Not all boasting is bad, however. Paul wasn’t disqualifying all boasting. A few verses later, He lets us know that most of their boasting was in specific leaders. He warned about this propensity to boast about ourselves or others, whether a favorite leader, music group, sports team, college, or whatever.
“Therefore, as it is written:
‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'” 1 Corinthians 1:31
Here Paul quotes from a much larger portion found in Jeremiah:
“This is what the LORD says:
“let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.”
God Delights in Boasting
God delights when boasting is directed toward Him. Not because He is in any way self-centered or needs such acclaim, but rather boasting in God is healthy and beneficial.
“My soul will boast in the LORD;
the humble will hear it and rejoice.” Psalm 34:2
Boasting in God has a spin off effect on others, positively turning their eyes toward Him. I’m so glad God didn’t have to use a donkey to speak to me, like He did with Balaam. He chose a four-year-old child to make His point in my heart. I hope her words will stick with me for a long, long time, “You’re good, but you’re not that good.”
Paul boldly challenges the Roman Church, and us, to “speak blessing, not cursing.” All of us, from every generation, need the reminder that love without action is not love at all. Love is a verb!
Though many themes ebb and flow through his writing to the Roman church, personally none pierces my heart more than the theme of grace. The study of this epistle a few years ago reformed my thinking and rearranged my heart to love in a new way.
Love is a verb, not a thought or emotional response. As a new Christian, I prayed, “Lord teach me to love.” I knew as clearly then, as I do now, that love requires a breaking of my self-centered, self-righteous, independent motivations. God alone gives the ability to love in a genuine, transforming way.
Grace and love flow outward to the deserving and undeserving.
Mankind prefers rather to
crush and control,
condemn and judge,
manipulate and intimidate,
strong over the weak,
healthy over the sick,
wealthy over the poor.
This ungodly propensity exists in every culture — Christian and non-Christian. Paul calls for an intentional turn-around in these natural tendencies, no matter how justified we may feel.
Transformation starts from the inside infiltrating attitudes, words and actions. Paul sets the defining tone of love and grace in action.
“Let the inner movement of your heart
always be to love one another,
and never play the role of an actor wearing a mask. Despise evil and embrace everything that is good and virtuous. Be devoted to tenderly loving your
fellow believers as members of one family.
Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another.”
“Lord, teach me to love,” remains a key prayer decades later. Why? Love is tough!
I once read Neigel Bigpond’s story:
“My mother was sick in the hospital, and I went to visit her one day. When she opened her eyes, she looked at me and said, “Nin-zo-de-tow-yoot.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means I love you,” she replied.
“I love you, too.”
My mother responded, “No son, you don’t understand. Our Yuchi word for “I love you” is not like English… “Nin-zo-de-tow-yoot” means, “You are like a river that brings me life, and without you I cannot exist.”
That’s loving like God. Surrendering to Him so completely that others “are like a river that brings life and without them we know we cannot exist.” Quite frankly, God is asking for the impossible.
God knows I can’t! I know it, too! So He gave us the key to loving fully.
” Be enthusiastic to serve the Lord,
keeping your passion toward him boiling hot! Radiate with the glow of the Holy Spirit and
let him fill you with excitement as you serve him.” Romans 12:11
Love comes from God through the Holy Spirit. God is love — strong, unmasked, raw, pure. Only in passionate, “boiling hot,” relationship with Him will that love be evident in any of us. The dissipating of love in any dimension should drive us to our knees, “Lord, set us ablaze! Holy Spirit burn in us!”
Love is a verb! Active and powerful!
Circle of Love
Paul identifies the elements found within the larger sphere of love.
“Let this hope burst forth within you,
releasing a continual joy.
Don’t give up in a time of trouble,
but commune with God at all times.
Take a constant interest in the needs of God’s beloved people
and respond by helping them.
And eagerly welcome people as guests into your home.” Romans 12:12-13
Another version says, “patient in affliction andfaithfulin prayer.”Love hangs in there faithfully praying. At the same time, a season of withdrawing from gross dysfunction or severe abuse may be absolutely necessary.
I have helped people recede from unhealthy relationships, giving individuals time to regain personal health and wholeness. The goal of the separation isn’t to harm, but rather to restore.
Unbroken fellowship with God remains essential for individual and corporate relational health. In Him, we regain godly perspective and the ability to love genuinely and radically.
“Freedom is not the license to do whatever we want;
freedom is the choice to love.”
– Danny Silk
Love is a Blessing
I cannot imagine a life without love — either the pure joy of loving others or experiencing being known and loved. Love is a blessing, a grace gift from heaven.
“Speak blessing, not cursing,
over those who reject and persecute you.”
The things that come from our mouths disclose the reality within our hearts. When communication becomes judgmental and negative, we can be sure we have a serious heart condition.
Words are indicators and predictors!
The words of our mouth create the highway of our future — whether the way of blessing or cursing.
When David became an object of cursing and scorn, he appealed to God for help and strength. He gives a warning to his mockers.
“He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.” Psalm 109:18
Negative talk about others deeply affects our own health — spiritually and physically, individually and corporately. How important to speak blessing!
Just like love is a verb, so is blessing. Blessing goes far beyond the words of our mouths spilling out through active care for others. Paul lays down concrete ways to demonstrate a heart that releases blessing.
“Celebrate with those who celebrate,
and weep with those who grieve.
Live happily together in a spirit of harmony,
and be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own.
Don’t live with a lofty mind-set,
thinking you are too important to serve others
but be willing to do menial tasks and
identify with those who are humble minded.” Romans 12:15-16
Paul calls for a sensitivity, wisdomand humility to mark our relationships. Every word challenges me! Every action is to be focused on the needs of others:
promoting others when we would rather be promoted, serving from a state of fatigue and personal need, setting aside personal agendas to elevate those around us.
Love conquers with blessing. God’s instruction through Paul becomes even more difficult:
“Never hold a grudge or try to get even,
but plan your life around the noblest way to benefit others.
Do your best to live as everybody’s friend…
If your enemy is hungry, buy him lunch!…
Never let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21
This is where I often feel overwhelmed. I hear within these lines a call to Christian extremism showing extreme love and compassion to our most oppressive enemies and most aggressive persecutors.
“Through the power of Christ’s blood,
we can exchange such things as curses for blessings;
guilt for purity; sickness for health;
lack for provision; sorrow for joy;
slavery for freedom; and death for eternal life.”
– C. & R. Wagner
How? In Christ and Christ alone! Unless the fire of Holy Spirit burns intensely within us, we will miss this incredible opportunity to live, love and bless. “Set us ablaze, Lord, and start with me.”
Do you know that we are invincible warriors with supernatural weapons — strategic members of a great and mighty army? So what holds us back? There is no reason for excuses. What keeps us from marching in unison — powerful, and focused?
Common elements necessary for military success and the advancing of God’s kingdom include discipline, humility and ownership. They are supernatural weapons.
The bible often uses two Greek words together: “egnokamen” and “pepisteukemen”. They mean “to know (understand, recognize, are conscious of by observation and experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on). When our knowledge, experience, and faith unite a powerful synergy erupts.
We must recognize and gain knowledge of our weapons, using them through faith, to become invincible warriors.
There are two valleys in the bible that warriors avoid.
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the LORD is near
in the valley of decision.” Joel 3:14
Procrastination dominates the Valley of Decision, “I can’t because ______.” “There is no one to help me.” “What if I fail?” “I don’t know how.” Excuses defeat an army’s opportunity of success before they even enter the battle.
Valley dwellers are a peculiar breed. I should know, I am one! Valley dwellers don’t like risk. They prefer security and safety. Lingering too long, however, and this valley turns into another dreaded location.
“The hand of the LORD was on me,
and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD
and set me in the middle of a valley;
it was full of bones.
He led me back and forth among them,
and I saw a great many bones
on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.”
The common denominator appears to be “many” and “multitudes”. Multitudes of fossilized dead — undecided, disconnected, lifeless, “very dry”.
How long had these bones, picked clean by vultures, lay disassembled on the valley floor? What life once formed their existence?
“So faith comes from hearing,
and hearing through the Word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
God tells Ezekiel to “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!…'” (Ezek. 37:4) The Word of God fused knowing and believing, experience and faith.
Prophecy speaks God’s present word. Alignment with the conversation of heaven makes anything possible — then and now. Ezekiel obeyed.
“So I prophesied as he commanded me,
and breath entered them;
they came to life and stood up on their feet
— a vast army.” Ezekiel 37:10
Only God resurrects “dry bones” into a vast army of invincible warriors. No longer full of excuses, paralyzed by fear, or dead, an army rises from the valley floor — the lowest place.
You may become slightly confused looking at me: once solid muscles sag; a small frame fluffed with excess weight; femininity wrinkled and faded. Not your image of invincible warrior? But look again!
Knowing and believing,
experience and faith,
working deep in co-existing momentum
creating internal change.
Valley dwelling becomes increasingly uncomfortable and no longer optional. I’ve been in training! Secret service training!
The first essential discipline of invincible warriors is the study of God’s Word.
“For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes
of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Paul tells Timothy, “the Holy Scriptures…make you wise…is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2Tim.3:15-16) A necessity to prepare and equip every soldier for the task ahead!
The second and equally important discipline is prayer. Jesus patterned the need to pray: early in the morning, at the end of a busy day, even all night long.
“But Jesus often withdrew
to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16
The third, taking thoughts captive, becomes possible after the first two disciplines.
“For though we live in the world,
we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with
are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power
to demolish strongholds.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-4
Every battle is first won in our minds. The wise never battle without the supernatural weapon of discipline.
Humility of Invincible Warriors
Do you ever feel you’ve joined the enemy ranks? I have! Pride forfeits the use of our most powerful weapon — humility. It also puts us in direct opposition to God.
“…God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6
Every biblical leader who chose to humbly submit to God experienced remarkable military exploits. They lead armies victoriously into battle against overwhelming odds:
Abraham’s 318 defeated the armies of Babylon
Judge Deborah and Barak went against the Canaanites with a vast army and 900 iron chariots
Gideon with 300 defeated the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern people, “thick as locust. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.” (Judges 7:12)
Elisha blinded, trapped, and fed the entire Syrian army, before sending them home.
Often when Israel clothed herself in humility before God, He threw the enemy into such disarray she only had to gather the plunder. Invincible warriors submit to their Commander.
“In order for the Church
to accomplish her last-day mandate…
we need the grace and anointing of God.
Because God gives grace to the humble,
we must learn to take every opportunity
we get to humble ourselves.”
God’s highest ranking warriors are disguised changing diapers, sweeping streets, driving trucks, mowing grass, and working fields. Common people with the supernatural weapon of humility. Quietly doing whatever God asks — unnoticed, unpraised, unrecognized — powerful instruments in the Kingdom of God. Invincible warriors own responsibility!
A common denominator among God’s history makers is the willingness to take ownership of themselves and their “world”. When cultural perspectives shift and become warped, they stand and say, “Not here! Not on my watch!”
A Philistine giant, Goliath, taunted Israel day after day, until the whole army was “dismayed and terrified”. (1 Samuel 17:11) A young shepherd boy came along! David took ownership of the situation. He didn’t blame the army for being frightened. He didn’t talk the fowl-mouthed enemy down peacefully. David stepped forward.
That difference impacted everyone who witnessed the supernatural work of God through one young, invincible warrior. David raised up 30 more fearless leaders and a vast army who delivered Israel from her enemies..
“Don’t let anyone look down on you
because you are young,
but set an example for the believers in speech,
in conduct, in love, in faith, and impurity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
As one experienced in battle, Paul commanded young Timothy, “Don’t make excuses! Do what you are called to do! Own your leadership!” Paul’s last words to Timothy describe a true warrior,
“I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
and I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
No More Excuses
Blaming, finger pointing and giving excuses abound in Christian circles. Changing that error starts with me!
When I am willing to adopt the disciplines of a warrior, humbly serving wherever God calls, and taking ownership of my sphere of influence, I become one of His “invincible warriors”.
Joshua clearly put the decision to the Israelites,
“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you,
then choose for yourselves this day
whom you will serve…
But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15
May the combination of knowing and believing, experience and faith, lead us out of the Valley of Decision and past the Valley of Dry Bones, raising us up to become a mighty army. The supernatural weapons we carry are the practical tools of discipline, humility and taking ownership in battle as we serve God.
An awareness of good and evil resides in us all; with that knowledge comes a tendency toward judgmental attitudes. God calls us to three godly principles: justice, mercy and humility. Personally, justice dominates; mercy is lacking, while true humility is a work in progress.
I was chatting with a preschool teacher a little while ago. She was welcoming new students into her class. They are rapidly learning the behavioural expectations of their new environment. The older students are quick to inform her when one of her new charges is going astray.
We chuckled at how easy it is to point out someone else’s faults, even though it may be the only moment in the entire day when we ourselves are actually obeying. It isn’t just children that fall into this trap!
“He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
He Has Shown You
What does justice look like where the guilty face the consequences of their actions, while victims are restored their rights and dignity?
God has made the distinction between right and wrong clear in His word and even within our hearts. Before we allow intellectual reasoning unruly access, God’s requirements are obvious, even as these little preschoolers demonstrate.
Justice is an action! It is something one pursues and does!
“But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” Hosea 12:6
I immediately want justice when it is me that has faced offense or some kind of violation, even is minor. Yet, when I have crossed the boundaries of honour into the quick-sand of indifferent regard, I’m not so fast to press for that same justice.
The only way justice truly works is when it is mixed with a healthy dose of mercy. The two form the right and left hand of godliness.
“This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.” Zechariah 7:9
“Righteousness and justice
are the foundation of your throne.”
That is a verse I have quoted many times; perhaps I should say, misquoted in part! Usually this is as far as I would go! I honestly did not know the rest of the verse by memory. How about you?
“…mercy and loving-kindness and truth go before You.”
Often when God talks about justice, He immediately adds mercy! I must remember that mercy is first of all a matter of the heart, “love mercy.”
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18
I may seem innocent and humble in my own eyes, at least until the Holy Spirit speaks!
In reality my heart has a strong bent toward pride – so do we all!|
The more Holy Spirit uncovers the secret thoughts and condition of my heart, the more disgusting I find it is.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked: who can know it? “ Jeremiah 17:9
Who truly “knows” my heart? The answer is, God does. Yet, He is willing to look inside and show me the contaminated contents as well.
If my heart lies, I will know it; if my heart accuses, I will know that too; but if my heart is deceived, I will not know it unless God reveals it. It is through humility that lies, accusations and even deceptions are revealed for what they truly are.
We can sometimes misinterpret humility as weakness; it is in fact stronger than justice and mercy combined.
It is humility that keeps my proud nose pointed in the right direction recognizing my own need for transformation, rather than blindly upward. One of the toughest places to demonstrate true humility is in the face of injustice, where the cup of love of mercy appears empty.
Requirements of Humility, Mercy and Justice
Actually, when I reverse the order and put humility first, when I recognize my security in the Father and Christ in me, humility begins to flow rather naturally. Humility, mercy and justice are more than requirements, they are release agents of God’s goodness.
Arrogance has not room in the Presence of God – none! Out of the relationship of love and mercy, love and mercy finds a free flowing channel to influence others. This sweet delicate flow makes wrong things right! Justice begins to naturally invade attitudes and circumstances.
No matter which way you say it – justice, mercy and humility, or humility, mercy and justice – they form a torpedo sandwich catapulting a powerful momentum of strength and dignity into our lives and the lives of those around us.
A requirement is something that is most needed and wanted; it is a necessary condition. God who made us in His own image, says justice, mercy and humility are necessary ingredients for us to re-present Him to our wounded world.
Wanted? Yes, Lord!
May my life be one that actively pursues justice, generously loves and consistently extends mercy, and gently walks in humility, that I might pattern Christ more fully.
To be a servant literally means “to tie or to bind.” Jesus taught and demonstrated a life of absolute service, to His Father, to His disciples and to the world. No other person in history has given Himself as wholly to serve as Jesus did. The privilege to serve is in our hands and in our hearts.
There are multiple examples of people serving those of higher status or position. These are only a few:
Joseph served Potiphar and then Pharoah
Samuel served Eli even as a young child
the Shunammite woman served Elisha
Nehemiah was servant and cup bearer to the king
Ruth left her home caring for her mother-in-law Naomi, and gleaned in the fields
David carried cheese to his older brother’s who were stationed at the front lines of battle
Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna served Jesus
Carrying the cheese may seem like the most insignificant of tasks, yet it was the first step from shepherd boy to king. Great promotions are often wrapped in small acts of kindness and service.
The easiest One of all to serve is, of course, Jesus. He has given so much for us, loves us beyond comparison, and paved a wide road of selfless servitude.
“Whoever serves me must follow me;
and where I am, my servant also will be.
My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26
The words “servant”, “service”, and “serve” are found over 1100 times in the bible. To serve in Hebrew had two key ingredients: the action of working and obedience. In the New Testament, it refers to “a relation of absolute dependence, in which the master and the servant stand on opposite sides, the former having a full claim, the latter having a full commitment.”
Jesus disciples lived in a culture much like ours with people striving for bragging rights to top-dog positions. These chosen men quarreled over who was the greatest and best.
“He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him,
and said, “Whoever wants to be first
must take last place
and be the servant of everyone else.” Mark 9:35
I flip the page in my bible to find the same problem within their ranks. Jesus admonished them,
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people,
and officials flaunt their authority…” Mark 10:42
Flaunting and lording remains common place; however, it has no place in God’s kingdom!
“But among you it will be different.
Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.” Mark 10:43-44
Paul later wrote:
“Don’t push your way to the front;
don’t sweet-talk your way to the top.
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.
Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2:3-4
Daily we have opportunity to either puff ourselves up or propel others to reach their full potential. It is no surprise that God blesses and promotes those who serve and honour others above themselves.
Throughout the world, most cultures demonstrate a healthy expectation to serve those in higher position. It is quite easy to serve within our peer groups. It remains beyond our understanding to comprehend Jesus, the King of Glory, willingly serving downward.
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power,
and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal,
took off his outer clothing,
and wrapped a towel around his waist.” John 13:3-4
Remember, the meaning of servant is “to tie or to bind.” The towel wrapped around the center of Jesus’ body was a perfect symbol of servanthood. He bound Himself to serve. It was such a profound illustration that the disciples were shocked by His move.
“After that, he poured water into a basin
and began to wash his disciples’ feet,
drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:5
Peter, one of the dog-eat-dog Twelve, at first refused the gesture. Later he grasped the concept:
“Each of you should use whatever gift
you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I Peter 4:10
To follow Christ’s example we must know who we are, Who we belong to, and why we are here. Unless we are secure in our identity in Christ, we will have limited capacity to serve with wholehearted devotion.
Am I prepared to pick up the servant’s towel and wash the feet of all those around me? My honest answer is not entirely! Yet, the challenge is before me!
“I have given you an example:
you should do just as I have done for you.” John 13:15
The mark of every Christian is humble service. When Peter began to comprehend what Christ was doing, he declared emphatically,
“not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” John 13:8
We may have good intentions with hearts rightly positioned and yet still get tripped up in the follow-through. It is our feet that need cleaning – these feet that embrace the ground, the dust of humanity, taking the most abuse and getting the dirtiest.
As Christians, Christ has already purified our hearts and cleansed our minds. Still, we need foot-washing reminders of our purpose in serving others.
Jesus actions prepared the disciples for servant leadership. Each of them would eventually lay down their lives in service for others.
All, that is, except one! Jesus washed the feet of Judas, who would soon betray Him to the cruelest of deaths. What an expression of ultimate servanthood!
Last fall I was privileged to attend a Women on the Frontlines Conference in Winnipeg. On opening night, a group of prominent male leaders, apologized for not being willing servants to women in their churches, communities and homes. They acknowledged the glass-ceilings they had perpetuated over women.
The sounds of gentle weeping crescendoed around me. Many women had never experienced such a gesture of respect and honour, even though the majority were recognized leaders in their churches and communities, sacrificially serving in various capacities.
For the remainder of the weekend, these men served consistently, joyfully and lavishly. Their acts of service washed deep wounds and lifted invisible burdens from many women present.
No towels wrapped the waists of these men, yet they displayed how people of strength open doors of opportunity, minister healing, and restore dignity through humble service.
Participants were impacted by this “upper room” experience. They were inspired to greater acts of service as they returned to cities and towns from Ontario to Alberta. Why? Because a handful of men showed the way!
Let each of us be encouraged to pick up the towel of service where we live and serve well. May we activate the words of Jesus, “do just as I have done for you.”
Have you ever heard the expression, “If the shoe fits, wear it!” It means if something applies to us personally, we are to accept responsibility and acknowledge it. I have worn several different types of shoes in my lifetime. some bring back positive memories, others the reverse.
There are many types of shoes in my closet and my spiritual garment bag, each is for a specific purpose.
The foot attire in bible times was, of course, sandals. When God commissioned Moses he commanded,
“Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet,
for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
I have a painting of Moses and the burning bush above my bed. It illustrates Moses’ surrendering to God’s call. When Joshua met the commander of the Lord’s army before the battle of Jericho, he too was asked to remove his shoes.
Removing the man-made sandals was a reminder that nothing we can or will do qualifies us before God. We come into His presence by grace alone. Like Moses, God asks us to lay aside human effort in surrender to Him.
Sandals are my favorite footwear, slipping easily on and off. Their comfort, ease and simplicity exemplify the warmth and freedom of summer.
My response to God’s invitation to draw close and submit to His leading, should consistently be quick and humble.
Humble hardly describes my next illustration!
My husband and I recently moved from farm to city. Everyone in our wonderful new church dressed classy. I mean really “put together”! My laid back country-style hardly qualifies as either classy or put together.
One Sunday I made special effort to rise to this new standard. Checking myself in the mirror before we left home, I thought, “Yep! Looking good!” On getting out of our vehicle at church, however, I noticed one minor problem. I forgot to change shoes. My feet were clad with fuzzy blue slippers!
I know God laughed, even before my husband did! The laugh was appropriate. I was taking myself way too seriously!
I had three options:
Go home, change and be late for church
Dishonestly feign a limp or injury
Or admit my blunder,swallow my pride, laugh with God and give a few other folks a bit of a chuckle too!
I actually chose the latter, learning an important lesson!
“…And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
I think God would like to write this verse permanently across my forehead as a reminder to never remove shoes of humility. Instead, He has written it upon my heart.
Walking in the Spirit
Spring time on the farm required special footwear to navigate the challenges of muddy yards. Mud-walking has two potential hazards: slipping and falling, as well as losing a boot in the suction like grip of the muck. Unfortunately, I have experienced both!
Navigating life has similarities!
“So I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
Walking in the “desires of the flesh” is like mud walking. The consequences of gratifying fleshly desires are more far-reaching. Here is Paul’s mini list of mud walking:
“The acts of the flesh are obvious:
sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy,
fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsand envy;
drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I did before,
that those who live like this
will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5;19-21
On the farm, it was always a relief when the season changed and boots could be stowed away. The comfort of walking sure-footed on dry ground was a relief!
Though an apt illustration, it doesn’t compare with the difference between walking in the flesh and walking by the Spirit.
“just as he who called you is holy,
so be holy in all you do” I Peter 1:15
God has more for us than mud walking!
Shoes of Faith
The best looking shoes may not be the most practical.
Shortly after the release of “Olivia & Me”, I had the honour of being a guest on “Talk of the Town” with Lisa Peters. Just before air time she sat down and put on her best looking shoes. She laughed explaining they were very good sitting shoes, but a little dangerous for walking.
Christians need the sure-footed ability to walk the heights:
“The Lord God is my Strength,
my personal bravery, and my invincible army.
He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk
[not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and
make [spiritual] progress upon my high places
[of trouble, suffering or responsibility].” Habakkuk 3:19
Maneuvering through trouble, suffering or increasing responsibility requires faith.
The feet of a mountain goat has a hard outer shell and a rubbery, concave foot pad which acts like a suction cup. This helps to cushion their feet when they leap from rock to rock. Incredibly, they are also able to pull themselves up from ledge to ledge with their front feet.
Lisa’s shoes were a beautiful accent to her equally wonderful personality.
Can we honestly settle for only looking good when God has given us strength to climb with faith? He wants us to be able to leap and overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.
Shoes to Run
Serious runners need shoes of tenacity and endurance to run and finish strong.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1
Our city hosts an annual marathon luring runners of various capabilities. Avid runners train through the heat of summer and the cold blast of winter. They are focused! Each runner wants to reach their peak finishing the 42 kilometer course in their best time.
There are also those who don’t understand the benefits of training. Their bodies groan under the stress for days after the event.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run,
but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” I Corinthians 9:24
Endurance is developed in the training; the benefits will not be seen until much later.
Shoes For Battle
Part of every Christian’s armour is
“having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE
PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE” Ephesians 6:15
The word, ‘shod’ reminds me of the process of shoeing horses. Pleasure horses don’t need shoes; serious work horses do. The farrier trims each hoof, grinds down rough edges and cleans away any debris, before nailing each perfect fitting horseshoe firmly in place.
The Greek word “shod” comes from two words mean “under, beneath, inferior position” and ” to bind, be in bonds, knit or tie.” Acknowledging Jesus as Lord over our lives is part of the binding and preparing.
To effectively share the Gospel of Jesus Christ I must be both bound to and convicted of its liberating truth. I want to be prepared to
“Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life.
Always be ready to give an answer
when someone asks you about your hope.” I Peter 3:15
The Roman soldiers maintained a secure foothold because they wore heavy sandals studded with hobnails. They were able to stand firm in any combat situation. The best stance is the one provided by the peace we find in Jesus.
As Christians we wear many different types of shoes. These are only a choice few.
I haven’t mentioned shoes of compassion and mercy, or shoes of justice and righteousness. We need to be ready to pull from our spiritual garment bag whatever is necessary to re-present Christ well to our generation.
Whether walking, running or warring, the shoes God has provided fit. Let us wear them well!
Willingness to bend, submit, and yield go against the grain of human instinct. Yet, the only way up is down! The rewards to humility are many!
I am the mother of five robust sons; all exceed my height and frame by a country mile. It is only in the last ten years or so that they have given up challenging me in a “tangle”. Out of fear of hurting me I’m sure!
In younger years when they would test my strength, I would first give them a look that questioned their sanity! You know the look a Momma gives her insolent young? The look that says, “You really don’t want to go there!”
If the look didn’t make them back down, my tenacity often would. The never-give-an-inch grit that went low and dug hard was predictably effective.
Decide in advance to go low!
Jesus noticed his group of followers patterned themselves all too easily by the cultural norm of jostling for positions of status and favour. Many times through parables or simply talking straight, he illustrated the truth that humility precedes honour.
“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests.For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves willbe exalted.” Luke14:10-11
Kingdom principles work in complete opposite to earthly ones. The only way up is to chose to go low! It is far better to have someone else assign you a place of honour than to presume one upon yourself and end up humiliated.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” Philippians 2:3
One of my favorite biblical illustrations of someone going low is the woman with the issue of blood.
“She had suffered a great deal under the care
of many doctors and had spent all she had,
yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”
She approached from a low position with high expectation.
“Just then a woman who had been
subject to bleeding for twelve years
came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.”
This poor woman risked big! She wasn’t supposed to be in public without crying out, “Unclean! Unclean!” Yet here she was on her hands and knees in the middle of a moving crowd with one intention, touch the hem of his garment. She knew with all her being that is she did, she would be healed!
There is no mention of how many times she trampled or kicked in the process.
Jesus instantly knew something supernatural had happened. The disciples laughed it off. Dozens had touched Jesus that day as the crowd bumped along. Only one was healed!
That one was a woman who purposely went low with high expectation! Healing was hers!
Lift Them Up
Going low is the best position to lift others up. For me, the most exciting part of ministry to see others being propelled forward into excellence. I love being the one who comes underneath and gives others a boost!
It often doesn’t take much effort. At other times, however, it may require walking beside someone for years to see them advance into their full calling.
None the less it is thrilling!
Only when we position ourselves intentionally beside someone are we close enough to give them momentum to excel.
The rewards of humility are multiple! Giving our lives for the benefit of Christ and others fills one with a sense of richness.
The greatest illustration of humility is Christ Himself!
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Philippians 2:5-10
He took the form of humanity created from the dust of the earth! God became dirt! The Sinless and Holy wrapped in flesh! We will not fully comprehend the depth of humility Christ walked until we see Him enthroned in the place of majesty, dominion, and power –
crowned in glory,
exalted in power,
radiant in beauty,
awesome in majesty,
excellent in perfection.
What makes a mediocre leader great? What are the marks a great leader? As you can see I probably have more questions than answers! Join me as we take a very brief look at the life of Moses; see if you can identify with what I have chosen as the top five defining qualities of a great leader.
Great Leaders Know Their Assignment!
Moses was well along in years, 80 in fact, when God gave him his assignment,
“So now, go, I am sending you
to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10
That sounds clear enough! So why didn’t Moses resign after he made sure the people were on safe ground on the far side of the Red Sea. He had fulfilled the mandate, right? Check! He went to Pharaoh and he got the people out. Check!
Great leaders don’t quit! They keep going above and beyond the letter of requirements!
It would take 40 more years to get Egypt out of the hearts and minds of the people. These were excruciating painful years for Moses as a leader as his
authority and character was challenged
those closest betrayed him
the masses grumbled incessantly
other leadership challenged his adequacy to lead.
Still he persevered!
Great Leaders are Humble!
“Now Moses was a very humble man,
more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Numbers 12: 3
I can’t help but smile when I read this little line. Why? Because Moses wrote it! You would think that bragging about your humility would disqualify you from wearing the ‘humble’ badge. However, God would not allow this line to maintain its position in the Holy Scriptures if it was not completely true.
Great leaders know who they are, Who they belong to, where they are going and Who is getting them there! They know that in and of themselves they can do nothing! Moses didn’t have John 15:5 to remind him; he lived every day in the strength of God knowing that “without me you can do nothing.”
Great leaders don’t need to prove themselves, even when others rise up and say, “Who do you think you are?”
There is a quiet confidence that truly great leaders display. A confidence cloaked firmly in humility.
Great Leaders Show Grace!
More than once, God was so fed up with the rebellion and sinfulness of his chosen people. He make it clear that He was fully prepared to make Moses
Few leaders would resist that kind of temptation to greatness, especially when the One making the promise is perfectly capable of fulfilling it.
However, Moses falls on his face continually interceding for the people, reminding God of His promises. These was not a twinkle in insincerity within him. He loved and cared deeply for these stubborn sheep he was assigned to shepherd. A true shepherd he was proving himself to be!
Great Leaders Never Compromise!
Multiple times Moses was given compromising offers…
sacrifice to God here in the land
have only the men go
your women and children may go, only leave your flocks…
Great leaders know there can never be compromise! The mandate was to worship God with
“our young and our old, our sons and daughters, with flocks and herds…” Exodus 10:9
The call to worship God is still the same…
for young and the aged
male and female
rich and poor
a worship for everyone
to only One worthy!
Though there may be temptations to do things half way, great leaders never settle!
Great Leaders Have Great Faith!
Hebrews speaks of faith five times in connection to Moses. He resisted the easy road of self reliance because he was “looking ahead to his reward”. Moses persevered because “he saw Him who is invisible.”
I cannot fathom the dimension of faith it took on the part of Moses to follow the word of the LORD and then lead an entire nation so faithfully. A man “mighty in word and deed” who “received living words and passed them on.”
Certainly this faith was entwined with a deep fear of the LORD. We don’t talk much about fear today, but there is such a thing as a healthy dose of godly fear; and Moses had it.
“I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’
Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.” Acts 7:32
Great leaders know how to draw on strength and wisdom beyond themselves – trusting in Him who is faithful.
Consider the quote that sparked this whole thought process,
“I would rather die in the desert with the people,
than get to the ‘promise’ alone..”
Andy Mason is a relatively unknown leader who inspires others to apply biblical principles to everyday business – to the places we live and work.
Independence is deep-rooted in each of us, especially me! What goals are in our futures that we still hope to reach? What promise of God is waiting to see fulfilled? Everyone of us lives with unfulfilled destiny and calling – things we want to be reality in our lives, but are yet out of reach! Some may have to do with family, career, finances or levels of ministry.
I’m taking this challenge personally as I aim toward my goals reaching in the direction of my calling.
How sad it would be to reach my ‘promise’ alone, unable to share the journey or the destination!
Moses never entered the promise because of his own insubordination. However, he was faithful to raise up a successor to effectively carry it out. This young leader would have the privilege of entering the promise and fully seeing the fruit of all Moses worked for and longed to see. Joshua would be the one to lead the next generation into the full promise.