I AM YOUR KEEPER Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I approached the front door and as my hand reached for the handle, the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t open that door”!  I dropped my hand to my side and looked through the beveled glass to see a young man in a white T-shirt and jeans on the other side.  I asked him what he needed and he told me he was looking for a friend and gave a name.  I knew all my neighbors and the name he gave me was not someone who lived on our cul-de-sac.  I told him he had the wrong street.  He left immediately and as I walked away from the door, the Holy Spirit said, “Call security and let them know about this”.

My daughter was away at college and my husband and son were out of town on a church men’s retreat.  I would be alone in the house until around midnight.  It was 6 pm.  Our neighborhood was open to the public but we had a security service that drove through the streets to lend some watchful eyes on our behalf.  When I called, security asked several questions about the young man.   I hung up the phone and ate my supper.  The doorbell rang an hour later.  It was the security guard so I opened the door and he asked me more questions.  He told me the police were looking for three young men.  They had stolen a van and abandoned it in my neighborhood.  He said the young man at my door fit the description of one of them and the other two were probably out of view and ready to force their way into my house had I opened the door.  I could have been in serious danger or even killed if the Holy Spirit not spoken to me.  All evening I could hear helicopters flying overhead and police cars with lights flashing were driving through the area.   I spent the rest of the night in perfect peace because I knew my Lord had kept me safe and would continue to be my keeper.  My husband and son returned home around 11:30 pm and asked what was taking place in our neighborhood.  They said there were police everywhere.  I told them what the Lord had done for me.  What would they have found when they arrived at home had the Lord not warned me?

David learned that God was his keeper when he was a youth tending his father’s sheep.  He slept out in the pasture many nights and defended the sheep from predators such as a lion and a bear.  He knew the Lord was not only with him but was his source of strength.  The Lord kept David safe when he stood against the Philistine’s greatest warrior Goliath.  Goliath towered over David, but he was struck dead by one smooth stone which David hurled from his sling shot.  The rock was sent forth by the power of God and imbedded into the forehead of the giant warrior.  The entire armies of Israelites and Philistines looked on with unanticipated amazement.  David knew who his Keeper was.  “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He Who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”  Psalm 121.

The Hebrew word for keep is Shamar.  It means:  to keep, guard, to keep safe, preserve, to protect, to watch (as a watchman of cattle or sheep), and to hedge around something (as if with thorns).   (Key Word Study Bible).  David kept his father’s sheep safe from predators who would devour them.  It was his responsibility to not only nurture them, but to care for them.  He also meditated upon the Lord Who was guarding and keeping him from danger.  “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4. (See entire Psalm).

The Lord also kept David during the eleven years he spent hiding from King Saul.  The Prophet Samuel had anointed David to be King Saul’s successor after Saul had sinned against the Lord’s commandment.  God enabled David to stay one step ahead of the king and his warriors who wanted to kill him.  He guided him and led him out of the path of danger.  He even gave him warriors who stood with him and helped him as he journeyed through those tough times.  David wrote in gratitude to the Lord, “O Lord, You have brought my life up from Sheol (the place of the dead); You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (the grave).”  Psalm 30:3.

“Bless our God, O peoples, give Him grateful thanks and make the voice of His praise be heard.  Who put and kept us among the living, and has not allowed our feet to slip.”  Psalm 66:8-9.

I am one who has had a history of being anxious or worried since childhood.  The Lord showed me He had protected me that night He told me not to open the door.  It was over 20 years ago, but I am just now understanding Him as my full-time Keeper.  There is a difference between having a head knowledge of something and it becoming faith that is unshakeable.  Head knowledge is more like a “wish” than faith.  I can say I believe something God has promised but when I’m in the trenches of testing, I find out whether it is faith from true belief or a wish I hoped would come to pass.  Lately the world stage has given us many opportunities to become fearful or worried.  Now more than ever we (the church) must begin to function in genuine faith from KNOWING the Lord keeps his promises.

Psalm 91 has always intrigued me.  I have framed it, given it to a soldier in Iraq, and to people dealing with fear or physical illness.  I have read it to a parent preparing to meet the Lord and used it to encourage the body of Christ.  I can’t say that I have had true faith in all its promises when I think of scenarios where I might apply it.  Last week when the Lord spoke to me, “I AM your Keeper”, something congealed inside my heart.  His promise has become heavier, more substantial than ever before.  This promise however, is not just for me, it is for us all!  There are times coming which many of us will go through before the Lord returns.  The world will begin to become more dangerous and scary as the Bible foretells us, but the children of God need not fear.  When persecution comes, the glory of God will surround us.  He will lead us and guide us, as the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night protected and led the Israelites when they came out of slavery in Egypt.  We will not simply survive, we will thrive with the knowledge that God is our Keeper!  This revelation will be as important to us in life as when we one day face death.

God’s promise is for those “who dwell in the shelter of the Most High.”  He assures them they “will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].”  He declares they “will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”  The result of our standing in faith assures “He will save you from the trap of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.  You will not be afraid of the terror of night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noon.  A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but danger will not come near you”…Why?  “Because you have made the LORD, your refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, (daily intimacy through thanksgiving, prayer, worship and the Word with God).  No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will command His angels in regard to you, to protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service]”…The Lord explains why, “Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never].”  He again promises “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.  With a long life I will satisfy him and I will let him see My salvation.” (Emphasis mine).

Jacob knew God as his keeper.  Isaac and Rebekah sent him away after he received Esau’s birthright and blessing through cunning and deceit.  Jacob obeyed his father and his mother but Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac so he went to Ishmael and took more heathen wives.  (See Genesis 28:7-9).  Esau despised his birthright.  (See Genesis 25:29-34).  Jacob treasured and honored the birthright.  God had prophesied to Rebekah the elder son would serve the younger one. The Bible says after Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew, “Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.”  Esau rejected the God of Abraham and Isaac while Jacob embraced the Lord.  When Jacob left his father and mother at their instruction because Esau vowed to kill him, he had an encounter with the Lord.  The Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream and gave him many promises including His protection.  “And behold, I am with you and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you.”  Genesis 28:15.  Every promise of God was fulfilled and the Lord brought healing between Jacob and Esau.

Isaiah knew the keeping power of the Lord.  “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

I am learning to keep my mind occupied with the goodness of the Lord, the promises of God and his faithfulness to fulfill His Word, instead of worrying about my problems.  Playing scenarios in my head causes fear, worry and anxiety which kill faith.  We must put all our trust in the Lord because we cannot protect ourselves.  God’s protection doesn’t mean we won’t see or experience some difficult situations, it means He will keep us in spite of those things!

Last week as I began writing this article, the Lord proved His word to me again.  My husband and I love to hike for exercise.  The spring rains have brought a prolific growth of plants in the forest this year.  Our hiking paths have become very narrow with the over-growth of ferns, ground cover, leafy trees and shrubs.  Living in a forestry and mountainous area we can encounter deer, bear and poisonous snakes.  We make precautions for such encounters including deciding when and where we hike.  We chose to avoid the narrow paths with the arrival of warm weather because the overgrowth supplied ample hiding places for the copperheads and rattlesnakes.  We elected to hike the jeep trail near our home, which was wide and open.  Except for a few rocks here and there, the road was clear.  We were a good mile into our hike and were enjoying our conversation as we walked together.  My husband was a couple steps ahead of me and several feet to my right.  I lifted my left foot to take a step and “happened” to look down at the road.  To my shock, I saw that I was about to step on a copperhead which is a poisonous snake.  His coloring was much like the road.  He was lying completely straight like a stick, with his head slightly raised.  He lay deathly still as if hoping to catch prey that inadvertently passed his way.  I shrieked and stepped backward several feet.  My husband had already passed by him without noticing him.  Fortunately, he was walking several feet to the right, just out of his reach.  My heart was racing, but at that moment I knew the Lord had kept us both safe!

The goodness of God caused me to look down and distinguish that snake from the ground keeping me from danger.  Understanding that truth made my heart rejoice.  He really is my Keeper!  We’ve been in many near miss tragedies and have been well aware that God’s grace had kept us safe, but this took His keeping power to another level.  We need not fear or worry.  We do not have to spend another moment concerned for things we cannot control.  He is our Keeper.  We simply need to put our whole trust and faith in Him.  I would like to close with one of my favorite scripture verses.  Jude 24-25, “Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight)—To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity).  Amen.”  The Lord is truly watching over all who make Him their dwelling place.  His promise is sure:  “I AM your Keeper!”

 

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 3 by Larry W. Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 3   by   Larry W. Peebles   May 19, 2017   17.18

When I think of great leaders I encountered over a 35 year business career, and those I still encounter today, I conclude there is no discussion on leadership without a discussion of character.  There is no shortage of information on the character traits of good leaders.  One can find numerous books and articles from business magazines, leadership centers, leadership coaches and trainers, and entrepreneur magazines on the essential character qualities of a good leader.  I had no trouble finding a number of such articles on the internet recently.  I reviewed them just to get the content freshly processed in my mind.  It is interesting that many of these articles include the same traits, and give them a similar ranking without really saying that they are ranked in order of importance.  In addition, some of the same traits are described differently.  For instance, are integrity, honesty and trustworthy different traits, or by definition is not an integrity-filled person also honest and trustworthy?

The word character comes from the Greek word “kharakter”, which is a stamping tool that leaves a distinctive mark.  No two people are alike, and no two leaders are the same– each is distinct.  Each leaves a mark or impression that is unique to that person.  From my experience, and from the material I reviewed (adjusted for terminology), here are perhaps the consensus top three leadership characteristics, presented with a Biblical perspective.

  1. Integrity—the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Synonyms include honesty, decency, fairness, sincerity, truthfulness, and trustworthiness, among others.  This suggests a person has a moral compass that does not waiver.  People want to be treated with integrity, and will follow a leader who demonstrates this skill.  Day after day, this person is trying to do the right thing for the right reasons for all involved.  It’s been called the Golden Rule.  Jesus expressed it in Matthew 7:12—“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Daniel comes to mind as the Biblical example, although there are certainly others.  Darius was King of Babylon where the Israelites were exiled.  He had been tricked into issuing a decree forbidding everyone from praying to any god other than the king.  His own staff had whispered and plotted in secret because they were jealous of Daniel.  They knew of the king’s plan to set Daniel over the whole kingdom, yet “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”  (Daniel 6:4).  They knew Daniel prayed to the One True God three times a day, and knew they could trap Daniel if they could influence the king into signing such a decree.

Daniel knew of the decree, but continued to pray to God.  He was caught praying, arrested, and taken before the king.  The king favored Daniel, and knew he had been tricked by his own advisors—men with no integrity.  The law of the land was such that the king’s edicts could not be waived.  The king had no choice but to have Daniel put in a den of lions overnight.

After a sleepless night alone and worried about Daniel, the king hurried to the lions’ den early the next morning.  God had shut the lions’ mouths all night–Daniel was safe.  The king had his tricky advisors thrown into the den, along with their families, where they were immediately crushed by the lions.  He then decreed Daniel’s God was the True God to be worshipped throughout the land.

Daniel would not waiver from worshipping the True God, even when confronted with death.  He served the king with integrity, and certainly meant him no harm, but he could not rightly worship a man.  Both God and the king honored Daniel’s integrity.  The Bible says “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6:28).

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort, choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy, and choosing to practice one’s values rather than simply professing them.”

“Speak with Honesty.  Think with sincerity.  Act with integrity.”  (Both are quotes from the public domain.)

 

  1. Confidence—the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust. Synonyms are trust, belief, faith, credence, and conviction, among others.  This suggests a person has or enjoys a state of feeling certain about the truth of something. It is distinguished from self-confidence when that someone or something relied upon is bigger than oneself.  When I have seen this trait come to the surface, it is invariably because the opposition is mounting up against the truth or the cause, yet the leader remains sure and is in command.  The three friends of Daniel–Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego–said when they were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace by the king for worshipping God and not the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.” (Daniel 3:17.)  That is confidence in the face of danger.

The Pharisee Saul encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus in Acts 9.  The encounter opened his eyes to the reality of the Messiah.  He converted from a well-known persecutor of the Christian faith to perhaps its greatest proponent.  His life was never the same thereafter, as evidenced by his confidence in the Truth he had come to know.  He was also confident that he must spread the Truth, even as he then risked great persecution.  Though Hebrew and Jewish, he preached largely to the Gentiles, and thereafter preferred to be called by his Roman Gentile name-Paul.

In 2 Corinthians 4: 1 and 7, Paul writes—“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart…we have this treasure [Jesus Christ as Lord] in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  [Insert mine from v. 5.]

Paul also wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:12- “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”  Paul was absolutely confident in what was revealed to him on that road to Damascus, and for the rest of his life could not keep silent about it, although it ultimately cost him his life.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”  Helen Keller.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”  Teddy Roosevelt.

 

  1. Commitment– the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity. Synonyms are devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, and fidelity, among others.  This cause or activity is larger than oneself, and the leader can see the outcome and the benefit.  He also knows the steps necessary to achieve the outcome.  When Moses was chosen to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, he knew the magnitude and the gravity of the situation.  He said- “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15).  Moses knew that he might be perceived as the leader by the people, but only God could truly lead such a freedom march from 400 years of captivity in the mightiest nation on the planet at the time.  Moses was committed to lead only if God was going with them on the journey to freedom.

Nehemiah was committed to rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem.  Though he was called by God, and had the backing of Babylonian King Artaxerxes, he faced great opposition in returning from exile to rebuild the city walls in his homeland.  He was told the task was too great.  The locals accused him of rebelling against the king in order to set up his own kingdom.  He was told he did not have the skilled labor or the necessary materials to rebuild the walls.  His opposition spread rumors of impending attack, and threats against Nehemiah’s life.  Distractions were everywhere, yet Nehemiah refused to come down off the wall.  He would not let the distractions pull him away from the work to which he was committed.  He and his men worked with tools in one hand and weapons for protection in the other.  They worked with limited rest, water, food and changes of clothes.  Nehemiah said –“Don’t be afraid of them [the detractors].  Remember, the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your home.” (Nehemiah 4:14).  [Emphasis mine.]  As the leader, Nehemiah called to remembrance the great cause of rebuilding the walls around their ancient homeland city of Jerusalem for the glory of God.

“A committed, energetic, enthusiastic, and inspiring leader is more likely to have a cooperative, hardworking and victorious team.”  William C. Oakes, Christlike Leadership.

When one reflects on these top characteristics of a leader, considers the heroes of these Bible stories, and the truths reflected in these marvelous quotations, one concludes that perhaps the greatest leaders emerge when the circumstances are the direst.  The greatest power to lead comes from outside the leader, from a source bigger than the leader—it comes from God Himself.  As a final thought, consider this paragraph from Part 2 of Thoughts on Leadership–

WWII Fleet Admiral “Bull” Halsey, who led all the combined forces that held the island of Guadalcanal against Japanese invasion, said “There are no extraordinary men…just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.”  With all due respect to the late Admiral and to the Navy, I would modify that to say “God helps ordinary men deal with extraordinary circumstances.”  This is the most important key to leadership.

God is our ultimate source of integrity, confidence, and commitment.  He wrote the book on it!

 

LIVING STONES Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

My elementary and high school years were from 1955-67.  My generation was post World War II and it was during the time of Hollywood’s “greatest” years.  It was a season of epic movies that became events to entertain and excite.  Many of those movies like Ben Hur and The Alamo were three hours long.  They began with several minutes of prelude music, had a ten to fifteen minute musical intermission and also ended with postlude music.  Before television was widely accessible, movies were a large part of American lives and remain so today.   The original plan of movie moguls was to simply entertain the audience, but their amazing popularity ultimately triggered a conscious agenda to push the envelope in every faction of life.  Many factors have contributed to the slow dissolution of the church’s influence on our nation over the last 75 years, but I believe the entertainment industry has carried the lion’s share.  The movie industry has made a formidable negative impact not only upon American religious beliefs, but also on our social image.

The church unwittingly allowed its love for entertainment to melt its resolve for the pursuit of holiness while the entertainment industry helped sway its lifestyles, clothing, home life and sadly, its Biblical faith.  Teenagers in the 1950’s and 60’s tried to conform to the image of their favorite movie star’s fashion, hairstyle or “look” and today it is no different.  The music industry also helped thrust the agenda of the world upon an unsuspecting and unguarded generation.  The two waged a formidable attack on the faith of believers unaware of the slow dulling of their Godly conscience and Biblical standards.  Limited by the influence of feelings and rational thinking, unbelievers are emotionally driven while the church is supposed to be led by the Holy Spirit.  Presently, most movie themes express language, show explicit scenes and violent behaviors in direct opposition to the holiness God expects.  Current social trends not only defy morality, they mock those leaders who represent the churches holding on to Biblical moral and ethical standards.

Immorality and unfaithfulness to God invaded the church as evidenced by the divorce rate which reports say has reached 60%.  Alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes in the movies added a “sophistication” to the lives of their characters while the quest for wealth and materialism began to erode our trust in God.  The church soon looked no different from the world and as a result, our God-given image and influence was exchanged for that of the world.  We who were once Living Stones became stumbling stones to those seeking authentic Christianity.  Many American churches lost their effectiveness as they settled into a form of religion minus the power and life of God.

The underlying result is the alarming fact that America is no longer a Christian nation.  It has become a secular society where Godly beliefs and standards have begun to be persecuted within the last several years through changing federal and state laws, IRS targeting, and negative public opinion.  The worship of God was exchanged for the worship of creation and many have become deceived and have fallen away from the faith.  There would be no Christian church today except for the Lord’s intervention!

The Lord had a plan for the image of mankind at the beginning of creation and He is in the process of restoring that image to all who will believe.  Genesis 1:26 states, “God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind (male and female) in Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth.”  (Emphasis mine).

Jesus Christ did not suffer the agony of the cross simply to pay the penalty for our sins so that we might go free.  His resurrection has given us the power to become the sons of God!  Resurrection Life is granted to all who truly believe and provides the grace and power to be transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.  The Apostle Peter proclaimed, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy.”  1 Peter 1:9-10.

Peter continued to strongly charge all believers to press steadfastly into their calling from God.   “Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul.  Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles (unbelievers), so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].”

My husband spent 35 years in the home building industry.  He ran a local division of a nationwide home building company.  He learned every aspect of the homebuilding business from land acquisition and development to construction, sales and closings.  Twenty-three years of his career were spent in the state of Florida.  The homes in Florida had cinder block construction on their outer walls because of the threat of hurricanes in the state.  Local wind construction laws varied because of the propensity of a direct hit from a hurricane.  Miami’s Dade County had wind construction regulations for 165-185 mile per hour winds.  This process required steel rebar to be imbedded in the foundation of the home every several feet to connect the foundation to the outer walls.  Blocks of cement with two open chambers were placed over the rebar and as the walls were raised, more rebar was added for solid connections all the way to and including the roof.  Cement was then poured inside the blocks with rebar to establish a solid hold that would withstand hurricane strength winds.  The steel rebar and straps were eventually attached to the roof to make a secure structure from top to bottom.  The outer frame of the building was interconnected so that each block held its own place while additionally helping to support the other blocks.  The principles are Biblical.

The Bible declares Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone.  “This is the gate of the Lord; the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall enter through it.  I will confess, praise, and give thanks to You for You have heard and answered me; and You have become my Salvation and Deliverer.  The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  This is from the Lord and is His doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”  Psalm 118:22-23.  Jesus also mentioned this prophecy in Matthew 21:42-44 and challenged the Jewish people and leadership, “I tell you, for this reason the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruits of itAnd whoever falls on this Stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom It falls will be crushed to powder [and It will winnow him, scattering him like dust].”  (See Isaiah 8:14 and Daniel 2:34-35).   (Emphasis mine).

We were not given the invitation to become citizens of God’s kingdom simply to be forgiven of our sins and live our lives as we see fit!  We were called to a purpose.  We were called by God to become Living Stones with Him as our Cornerstone, our example, our image.  Ephesians 2:19-22 charges us, “And He came and preached the glad tidings of peace to you who were afar off and [peace] to those who were near.  For it is through Him that we both [whether far off or near] now have an introduction (access) by one [Holy] Spirit to the Father [so that we are able to approach Him].  Therefore you are no longer outsiders, (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household.  You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.  In Him the whole structure is joined (bound, welded) together harmoniously, and it continues to rise (grow, increase) into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, consecrated, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].  In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you yourselves also are being built up [into this structure] with the rest, to form a fixed abode (dwelling place) of God in (by, through) the Spirit.”  (Emphasis mine).

The Lord is building His church with living stones.  These stones He is preparing are alive, strong and filled with passion for their first love, Jesus.  They have the Word of God written upon their hearts and they are His witnesses in the earth.  They abide continually secured to the Vine, attached with spiritual rebar to their Cornerstone, and they bear fruit of righteousness, the works of a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  They pray with authority from heaven and they speak the Words of the Lord their God.  They are emboldened with His love to be the salt and light to the world.  They refuse to be hidden and silent.  They press on with birth pangs to be transformed into His image and they reflect His nature and His character.  They are filled with and moved by His Holy Spirit and they are fountains that disperse His Living Water to a broken and fearful world.

The Lord is calling us, His church, to come out from among the world.  He has invited us to His banquet table where He has provided all the supplies we need to be filled with His love, power and strength to withstand the attacks of the enemy who would try to thwart the church in making disciples.  When our hearts become fully consecrated to Him we will be emboldened to trust in Him completely and miracles, signs and wonders will follow all who believe.

We must choose to lay down the image of the world and rise up to the image and stature of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is looking for those who will die to the world and choose to believe in Him, walk in His ways, live in peace and be peacemakers who reconcile the lost to God.  They will thrive through resurrection life and as Living Stones, they will be called the sons of God!

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 2 by Larry W Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 2    by   Larry W Peebles   May 5, 2017   17.16

I often found myself in a leadership position in my business career that spanned 35 years.  I led small groups of 3-5 members at times, and large divisions of big companies with hundreds of people at other times.  I do not remember being specifically taught to rely upon the work of those under my charge, but I do remember having that philosophy early on.  Perhaps it was something I learned while working for my father and watching him supervise the efforts of others.  He managed a small but hard-working crew in a magazine shipment business.  He had other duties such as receiving magazine deliveries in bulk, payroll, and organizing the day’s activities.  When his work was done, he would jump in beside the workers in the crew and help them finish off the manual tasks involved with filling the daily magazine orders and getting them shipped out to retailers.

He not only led by example, he also relied upon the work of the crew members.  He led from the front, as opposed to barking orders and retiring to a desk somewhere.  If someone on the team was not carrying their load, they received special private coaching, which never took place in front of others.  He depended upon the crew to carry the load while he took care of his other management duties, but was not afraid to get his hands dirty and work hard to assist the crew to complete the day’s shipment goal.  He never took the credit, but his helping hand near the end of the day got the entire team over the finish line when it did not look like we would make the shipping quota.

He demonstrated the value of challenging a group with a quota to meet, complimenting and encouraging as their work progressed, and then stepping in as needed to ensure the success.  As I worked for my Dad, I remember feeling exhausted by the end of the day, but so fulfilled for having met the quota—something we did a high percentage of the time.

Let those in your charge do their work.  Let them know how much their efforts count, and are appreciated.  Let them run with their own ideas on ways to be more efficient and productive.  Rather than dictate how something should be done, I often found that it was better to ask the workers their ideas on the best way to do something or accomplish a goal.  Their idea might not be the way I would suggest.  I might provide some advice or refinement, but I essentially let them try their idea.  Often they would make their idea work just because it was their idea.

I learned that leadership is not about the leader.  The leader’s job is to make it all about the members of the team being led.  Give them a chance to do their job.  Help out those who may be struggling, and be sure the team secures the victory.  But above all, stay in the background.  Remain humble, and consistently let the others take the credit.

My leadership tips may seem foreign, but consider these two Biblical examples of leaders chosen not by their resume of accomplishments, or assertive personality, but by God:

  1. Moses (Genesis Chapters 2, 4)- Moses was raised and educated in Pharaoh’s house; however, he did not receive his call to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt until he had completed years of tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the wilderness. When God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, He told him He would send him to Pharaoh and that he was to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’”  This reluctance was followed with a question regarding what he should tell the people if they asked who sent him (or what authority had been given him?).  Moses tried to dodge the role of leader when he asked God “What if they do not believe me” (that I have been sent by God)?  He then pointed out to God that he was not qualified by virtue of being “slow of speech and tongue”.  Finally, he outright asked God to “send someone else”.  All of this would not be the normal progression of an interview for a leadership position.

We know the rest of the story.  With God’s help, Moses led an entire nation into freedom from Egypt, the most powerful nation on the earth at that time. The Bible tells us Moses grew so very close to God that they talked as friends, and God Himself buried Moses upon his death.  Moses was so greatly regarded by God that he appeared with Jesus at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:3).  There is no one better to qualify a person for leadership than God, and no leadership should be undertaken without prayer and submission to the call to God.

  1. Gideon (Judges Chapters 6, 7) – The Midianites for several years had overpowered the Israelites and destroyed/confiscated their crops. The Israelites had resorted to dwelling in caves to hide themselves.  Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites when the Lord appeared to him and called him “Mighty Warrior”.  He told Gideon to “Go in the strength you have and save Israel.  Am I not sending you?”  Similar to Moses, Gideon began to pour forth his excuses as to why he could not lead the people against the Midianites.  Gideon considered his clan “the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least of my family.”  He did not see in himself the leadership God saw in him.  Gideon asked for a sign that it was God asking him to lead.  His offering of bread and meat was consumed by fire.  He asked for another sign — dew on the wool fleece while the ground was dry.  When that was done, he asked for the reverse sign—dew on the ground while the wool fleece was dry.  That night God did as Gideon asked.

The Spirit of God then came upon Gideon and he summoned an army from Israel.  God thought the initial army of 32,000 was too large.  When offered the chance to opt out, 22,000 went home.  Then a test of how the remaining men lapped water to drink with their hand while on alert (instead of kneeling and putting their face in the water) reduced the force to 300 men.  When God calls one into leadership, it is never about the size of the army or the resources.  The three hundred were divided into three companies, and Gideon led one of the companies.  All three companies followed God’s direction, and the Midianites were routed in the night.  Gideon’s army appeared to be mighty and great in number when they blew trumpets and smashed jars to reveal hundreds of lights in the jars.  The panicked Midianites turned the sword on each other in the dark and noise and confusion, resulting in their own defeat.  If leadership is in touch with God, His strategy will result in victory, with little effort on their part.

Prayer is a key component of leadership.  When God qualifies one for leadership, even a reluctant leader, victory is assured.  One of the men I respected most as a leader was the late Bishop Kimaro of the Pentecostal Evangelical Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) church.  He identified and trained many new pastors.  He championed church planting and growth.  He never refused help to those in need.  He was Bishop over more than 200 churches, yet pastored his own church.  He built a complete PEFA training facility for the Mt. Kenya region near his hometown.  He was a tireless worker, stretched thin in his responsibilities, but took time to buy food for the street kids.  When asked how he was so effective in his leadership, and how he got so much done, he quickly responded that it was so easy—he simply said “It’s the Holy Spirit.”  As a last bit of advice on leadership, let’s draw from that example.  A leader does not have to have all the credentials and answers.  If they are called by God to the role of leadership, they know where to go for resources and help.

WWII Fleet Admiral “Bull” Halsey, who led all the combined forces that held the island of Guadalcanal against Japanese invasion, said “There are no extraordinary men…just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.”  With all due respect to the late Admiral and to the Navy, I would modify that to say “God helps ordinary men deal with extraordinary circumstances.”  This is the most important key to leadership.