EASTER – WHY SEEK THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD?
Ron Edmondson, passionate church leader, reflects on Luke 24: 5-8, ‘And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you.”’
- I look for the living among the dead…
- I look at my past mistakes and think I can’t do better…
- I look at my failures and think I’m defeated…
- I look at those who cast doubt on me and think they speak truth…
- I look at my inadequacies and think I’m limited…
- I look at my problems and forget that his mercies are new every morning…
- I look for the living among the dead…
Are you looking for the living among the dead?
Let Easter remind you we serve a risen Saviour! The tomb is empty!
Live that way!
Ron Edmondson, Immanuel Baptist Church, is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Recommended: www.mustardseedministry.com / http://www.ronedmondson.com/
RESURRECTION DAY AND THE WORD ‘UP’
Ed Delph with humour shares a great resurrection truth…
An English word that has more meanings than any other two-letter words is ‘UP.‘ It is listed in the dictionary as an adverb, preposition, adjective, noun or verb.
It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car. Before going into litigation, you lawyer-UP.
At other times, this little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. Even in a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost one-quarter of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP. When it doesn’t rain for a while, things dry UP.
A friend sent me these thoughts on UP from an unknown author. Let me finish this UP!
The major Easter UP
This weekend is Easter Sunday or what Christians call Resurrection Day. For almost two thousand years, Christians have adopted the slogan, ‘He has risen. He has risen indeed!’ One Easter song says it best: UP from the grave he arose…
We are a spirit, we have a soul (mind, will and emotions), and we live in a body. We are not human beings going through a temporary spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings going through a temporary human experience.
The victory of Jesus is the victory of all who accept that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised him from the dead. Historian Josephus writes about the crowds that saw Jesus after he had risen from the dead. Over five hundred saw him in one place. Jesus rose UP so we would know for sure Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life for an eternity with God.
Jesus wrapped UP Easter this way to Martha, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me, shall never die.’
Ministers and leaders…
It’s UP to us to get this truth out there beyond our churches to locals and to the nations. To challenge the unchurched, the unsaved, with ‘Do you believe this? It’s UP to you to decide. I hope you listen UP, look UP, think UP, believe UP and go UP when your time on earth is UP.’
Now I’ll shut UP! Have a blessed Resurrection Day and eternity.
Dr Ed Delph is president of Nationstrategy, an organisation with the strategy of envisioning and empowering today’s leaders in the church to be some of tomorrow’s leaders in the community. Links: firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.nationstrategy.com ____________________________________________________________________________________
TWO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE IMPOSSIBLE
Dick Hardy, pastoral leadership consultant, challenges:
Sports history was made the day before I was born. On May 6, 1954 that which was previously thought physically impossible happened.
The place? Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England. The event? The mile run. The person? Roger Bannister.
For years mile runners had pushed the times downward in their pursuit of the elusive 4-minute mile. So many had come so close. So many believed for it, trained for it, hoped for it … and all fell short by a few seconds and some only tenths of a second.
So when six runners lined up at Iffley Track that spring day, it was another time of expectancy. These were some of the best runners in Europe, potential Olympians in the mix.
The British medical student who would someday be a renowned neurologist, Roger Bannister had trained like all the others. He came prepared like the others.
As the gun sounded, however, he was not prepared for the pace front-runner Chris Brasher set for this group of milers.
‘It was too slow. I even yelled, “Faster,”’ Bannister noted. But in hindsight Brasher was doing Bannister the greatest of all favours. Bannister noted during part of the race that his mind felt detached from his body. To him there was a surreal element to the race.
By the fourth and final lap, the third placed Chris Chataway had then taken the lead with Bannister in second. They went into and around the first turn, at the end of which Bannister made his move.
Believing for the impossible
With little doubt of his intent, Bannister burst around Chataway heading into the backstretch. He had heard the third lap split at 3 minutes and realised he needed to run this final lap at 59 seconds. He believed he could do it.
Rounding the final turn he saw the faint line of the finishing tape. It was a mixture of agony and joy. It might just happen. He threw himself at the tape and nearly collapsed into the arms of race officials.
He knew he had done it. Even before the announcer came on, he knew he had done it. Then to the crowd’s delight, when the announcer said, ‘And the time was … three ….’
The roar took over, completely drowning out the results of 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds! Unbelievable! Impossibility became possible, the 4-minute mile had been broken.
I’ve watched this video over and over and over again. Yes, it happened the day before I was born, but it inspires me to do the impossible today and tomorrow. How about you?
Some considered the 4-minute mile a true physical impossibility. But not in Roger Bannister’s mind.
My two questions to leaders are:
1) What’s impossible for you?
2) What’s stopping you from going for it?
I’m telling you, it can happen. Dream the impossible- attempt the impossible. Your faith in God and leadership in ministry requires no less!
We serve a God where all things are possible. If a 6 foot 2 inch, 25-year-old Brit could do what was thought impossible nearly 61 years ago, why not you? Why not imagine the physically and spiritually impossible to be yours. It can be.
It is my prayer that by the grace of God it will be!
Recommended – Dick Hardy’s Right Turns – Link: email@example.com.
Murray Capill, author and Reformed Theology College’s principal, writes…
Choosing people and choosing directions. This is the stuff of church leadership. Every church makes repeated choices about people, facilities, programs and priorities.
But how do we make those choices and decisions? How rational are we? How spiritual are we? How flexible are we? What processes and procedures should we use?
Early church example
If you thumb through the Book of Acts it’s interesting to see how the early church went about choosing people and making decisions. In the opening chapter a new apostle must be chosen to replace Judas. Their process was, in the context of prayer, to consider relevant scriptures, clarify what was needed and establish the necessary criteria for an apostle, propose two, and then draw lots in dependence on the Lord’s sovereignty.
A few chapters later we find them choosing people again. This time, in chapter 6, the apostles have to deal with the tension that arose among the widows of the community. Their approach was to establish clear priorities, determine the criteria for those who would be appointed, put the proposal to the whole church, choose the men (we’re not told exactly how this was done), and then set them aside with prayer and the laying on of hands.
Later the church of Antioch chooses and sends out the first missionaries. The context in chapter 13 is that of a church engaged in worship and fasting. They receive, it seems, the direct leading of the Holy Spirit who tells them to set aside Barnabas and Saul. In response, they fast and pray and lay hands on them as they commission them for this new work.
Then, at the conclusion of their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas themselves appointed elders in each church that had been planted, committing them to the Lord with prayer and fasting (14:23).
Five common ingredients
The word translated ‘appointed’ can mean ‘to vote by a show of hands,’ though it does not necessarily have this meaning. We can only say that it is possible the elder’s appointment was by way of voting.
In chapter 15 we read of the meeting held in Jerusalem to deal with the issue of what to require of Gentile converts. There was first an extensive discussion during which a number of speeches were made and relevant scriptures were quoted. A course of action was determined and a letter written to the churches containing the decision. Significantly, in the letter they said of their chosen action that it ‘seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…’ (15:28).
It is apparent from these brief examples that there was no single formula in use. They didn’t have a fixed procedure – they made it up at the time depending on the situation. The Book of Acts is remarkably free of anything that looks like a ’fixed Church Order’ or a book of rules, though things are always done in an orderly way. However, while they were flexible in their approach, they were not random. There are key common ingredients in each situation.
There is …
- Prayer – A prominent emphasis on prayer, sometimes with fasting
- Scripture – Frequent reference to the scriptures for the establishment of guiding principles
- Discussion – Among the brothers and the establishment of criteria for each situation
- Dependence – On the Holy Spirit, whose leading may be direct or indirect
- Decision – Which may include setting people aside with the laying on of hands.
Spiritual and rational
It is striking that it is a rational, spiritual process. The rational and the spiritual work together. They think and they pray. They read the Bible and they discuss. They seek the leading of the Spirit and then they make choices.
The process is not so rational that they had no need to pray or listen to God and look for his leading. Nor was the process so mystically spiritual that they had no need to think and discuss and make level-headed decisions. Most significantly, the rational and the spiritual were not dichotomised in such a way that they flicked over from spiritual mode to rational mode after the opening devotions! Too easily we can do that in church business.
We feel the need to open every meeting with a Bible reading and prayer. Then once that’s done we get down to business! That seems not to have been their procedure. Instead, theirs was a process of thinking carefully, biblically, prayerfully all the way, under the guidance of God’s word and Spirit. Even when God had not audibly spoken they could then conclude, ‘it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us…’
Church decision-making today
This kind of flexible, rational, spiritual process is a good way to make church decisions and arguably the best way to conduct church business. Spiritual reflection and prayer should never be confined to the opening and closing devotions – it should be the tone of all church business. Rational, clear-headed decision-making should never be seen as unspiritual – it should be the way we always discern what God requires of us.
And flexibility should not be seen as disorderly – it should be the norm that we seek afresh each time the best way to act in a given situation.
It might be useful for churches and their leaders to ask, how spiritual, rational and flexible are we in the way that we choose people and make decisions?
Dr Murray Capill is principal, Reformed Theological College, Geelong and author of Preaching with Spiritual Vigour. And the excellent 2014 The Heart is the Target. Links: firstname.lastname@example.org / RTC, Waurn Ponds, Vic: Int+ 613 5244 2955 / www.rtc.edu.au.
RTC also operates SOLA Ministry College serving Geelong region churches. Combining the resources of a theological college and the expertise of local pastors and church leaders, SOLA ably provides affordable, accessible training that equips believers for mission and ministry
NOT EVERYTHING IN THE BIBLE IS BIBLICAL
Author Jeff Clarke challenges…
For so many of us, the Bible has become little more than a book of spiritual formulas and incantations that, if applied properly, will enable us to find success, happiness, wealth and personal satisfaction. From sermons to blog posts, it seems we are constantly inundated with ‘three points for this’ and ‘five ways for that’ and ‘ten things for this.’ When viewed through this lens, the Bible ends up having more in common with a book of magical spells than it does the cosmic-redemption story it seeks to tell.
To read the Bible this way is to treat it improperly. In many respects, to read the Bible through this formulaic lens is to read it in much the same way as a recipe book – say this, do this and voila – the life you’ve always wanted is yours for the taking – freshly baked. In this context, the Bible ends up being just another self-help manual designed to give you a better life.
However, the sad reality is when we read the Bible this way we completely miss the story, message and Person the Bible ultimately seeks to communicate…
Ed. Note: Check out the full challenging article: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=107b28313aa799d8ec642d150&id=41980ee769&e=c09ec26370 / Recommended: Jeff’s timely, balanced blogs http://jeffkclarke.com
CHURCH LEADERS DAILY…
• Matt Tully in Pastor, Love Your Wife, gives timely advice: ‘Open your hearts up to the people around you. Allow your wife to be a healthy church member and not a woman who is placed on a pedestal for all to stare at.’
• ‘Heaven Tourism Books’ pulled from nearly 200 Christian bookstores. LifeWay Christian Resources has stopped selling all ‘experiential testimonies about heaven’ following consideration of a 2014 Southern Baptist Convention resolution on ‘the sufficiency of scripture regarding the afterlife.’ LifeWay told Baptist Press about its decision to halt sales of heaven visitation resource.
• Billy Graham in Don’t Be Preoccupied With the Sins of Others :‘A critical, complaining spirit is wrong in the eyes of God. How can we love others (as God commands us to do) if we look down on them?’
RECOMMENDED LEADERSHIP LINKS
• Breaking Christian News http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/
• Christianity Today http://christianitytoday.com
• Church Leaders Update http://www.churchleaders.com
• Dan Black On Leadership http://www.danblackonleadership.com
• Ed Stetzer http://www.EdStetzer.com
• Faith & Leadership http://www.faithandleadership.com
• Hardy Group http://www.thehardygroup.org
• Jeff Clarke http://jeffkclarke.com
• Leadership Journal Newsletter http://www.christianitytoday.com/
• My Christian Daily http://www.mychristiandaily.com/
• NACBA MultiBrief http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/nacba/
• Ron Edmondson http://www.mustardseedministry.com