How Gratitude Catches Up to Us as Leaders

Frodo had leadership thrust upon him, and his long journey is, in one sense, a process of his acceptance of his own leadership. He can’t escape it, even with the Ring, and he certainly wasn’t sufficient for it alone. One dear Christ-like figure in the story is Frodo’s friend, Sam.

My dear friend, Will Coats, pictured them this way.

We all rage against God at some point after we were converted, called, and empowered to lead in our particular place. God shows us favor when He chooses us in love to fulfill His gracious plans to many. Some times the person runs ahead of God’s plans, presupposing that they are entitled to it and quite self-sufficient for the task (i.e. Moses; cf. Acts 7:25). Other leaders attempt to manipulate the blessing out of His Hands with an outrageous mo for strategic planning without God’s wisdom. For example, Rebekah and Jacob. God particularly loves to invite reluctant leaders like Moses, Jonah, and Esther to courageous lead for the sake of others’ welfare, but reluctance is yet another way we rage against God’s timing and call on our lives.

What we need is Gospel-rest that comes only after we have raged against God to the point of futility, only to finally realize we were already given the favor – already discovered and wanted and secure in God’s redemptive story. One of my favorite authors, Dan Allender writing on leadership, put it this way:

“Remember, only repeated encounters with our furious flight from God can bring us the genuine rest we seek . . . God invites the one who rages to collapse in his arms of love. Rest comes when we can no longer sustain our flight, and we find God waiting for us. But rest is not true rest without surrender.” How do we surrender? “We must eventually be caught face to face with God and be unnerved by his kindness. Only then will we surrender” (p. 104).

Do you know when a leader knows that she knows she has surrendered to God? When he has assurance that the calling and place and people God gave him to lead was a gift? It is when the leader is thankful, even for the furnace of affliction that has forged her to become the leader she now is, and worn out from avoiding it. Allender adds: “The funny thing about gratitude is that it is not earned or deserved; it, too, is a gift. We can’t force ourselves to be grateful, but we can stumble into the arms of gratitude when we’re exhausted from our running” (p. 108).

Dan B. Allender, Leading with a Limp: Take Full Advantage of Your Most Powerful Weakness (The Crown Publishing Group).

Some Onez Got ta Lead

“Leading is very likely the most costly thing you will ever do. And the chances are very good that it will never bring you riches or fame or praise in exchange for your great sacrifices. But if you want to love God and others, and if you long to live your life now for the sake of eternity, then there is nothing better than being a leader.”

Allender, Dan B.. Leading with a Limp: Take Full Advantage of Your Most Powerful Weakness (p. 2). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

When Gender Identity is Regarded as Meaningless

In April 2015 Dennis Prager wrote in National Review: “The End of Male and Female: Whatever one’s position on same-sex marriage, one must acknowledge that at the core of the argument for this redefinition of marriage is that gender doesn’t matter.

Marriage is marriage and gender means nothing, the argument goes. So, too, whether children are raised by mother and father or two mothers or two fathers doesn’t matter. A father has nothing unique to offer a child that a mother can’t provide and vice versa. Why? Because — for the first time in recorded history — gender is regarded as meaningless.

Indeed, increasingly gender doesn’t even exist; it’s merely a social construct imposed on children by parents and society based on the biological happenstance of their genitalia. When signing up for Facebook, one is offered nearly 60 options under “gender.” In various high schools across the country, boys are elected homecoming queen. A woman was recently kicked out of Planet Fitness for objecting to a man in the women’s locker room. She was accused of intolerance because the man said he felt that he was a woman.” http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416543/americas-decay-speeding

 

Seek the Lord While He is Near

“Lord of creation, you are everywhere, but there are certain places where the dividing wall between heaven and earth feels wafer thin. That notion tempts me to pack up for a faraway pilgrimage to find you, but you meet me where I am. Wake me up to your kingdom of grace and goodness through your presence in your Word and sacraments. Amen.”

Reinders, Philip F. Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible Through the Year (p. 579). Faith Alive Christian Resources. Kindle Edition. (Heidelberg Catechism 66)

God’s Love Versus Ours

The cross of Christ inverts how we interpret love. In one short thesis Luther explains the love of God versus human love in the famous Heidelberg debate; thesis 28: “The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of [humans] comes into being through that which is pleasing to [them].”

We love in reaction to what we find lovely and intrinsically attractive to us. I found my wife lovely and delightfully find all her ways attractive to me, even if her love language calls for lots of time with her in a mall.

God’s love, by contrast, is not in reaction to seeing and finding us lovely. Rather, He first sets His love and affections upon us and makes us lovely through Christ. His love is creative.

We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:18). He chose us in love to be His beloved (Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Ephesians 1:4). He will never stop loving us because He never began loving us. He will refute every objection we can muster for why He should not love us, and He will make us adorable when we rise from the dead as His bride upon His return. We don’t have to make ourselves lovable to God since He took care of that in Christ.

For the best on Luther’s life and theology, see Luther on the Christian Life (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2015) by Carl R. Trueman http://www.wtsbooks.com/luther-on-the-christian-life-cross-and-freedom-carl-r-trueman-9781433525025

 

 

 

I am Camping for Solitude with God

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
    Your glory is higher than the heavens.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
    the moon and the stars you set in place— Psalm 8:1,4a

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+8&version=NLT

My sabbatical this summer includes hiking in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, in our beautiful national parks, a few nights alone and a few with a son. I watched the Ken Burns documentary on these parks, and loved learning about how people reacted to their beauty when they saw it for the first time.

For example, John Muir felt that: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

This picture was taken by Anreas Ronningen.

http://unsplash.com/@andozo?utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=photographer-credit Andreas Rønningen