Saturday, April 6, 2013


There seems to be a lot of varying thoughts and opinions about leaders. We sometimes call them elders, pastors, etc but they are the ones who are demonstrating the way to go and convincing people to think or act in a certain direction. They are referred to, by the apostle Paul, as the "leading ones among you". 

Today there is a dissenting opinion of who these "leading ones" are and what they should be doing. It seems there are some who would prefer no leaders. They want to be able to make their own decisions and do what is right in their own minds. Then there are those who only want to be told what to do all the time and never have to make a decision on their own. Finally, there are those who are in between those two extremes somewhere.

I believe God has been quite clear on all those matters and we can find our way through the varying opinions. I say through because I believe the truth is on the other side of opinions. Rather outside of our opinions. I believe discerning what is true is a matter of spiritual and experiential revelation in our lives. We live through the life God brings to us in order to  develop of our Godly character. The result of that produces leaders in those that submit to His hand.

Being an elder is a good goal. 1 Timothy 3:1  It is a true statement that anyone whose goal is to serve as an elder has his heart set on a good work. Paul sets in place the guidelines for elders, deacons and godly women in 1 Timothy 3:1-13. You should read this if you believe God is calling you to lead. Also read Titus 1:6-9. Maybe it would be good to read all of Timothy and Titus. There is a lot of truth there we all need to understand and obey. It's good to be reminded.

If I desire to serve God and aspire to be used of Him as an elder or deacon, then I really need to understand what that means. I need to be prepared to do the things that are required of an elder or deacon. Those offices of the church are ones that come with maturity and wisdom from God. They are not to be taken lightly for it is through those offices that God is able to lead and guide His church. We need examples and guides that can demonstrate the life of Christ and the obedience to God in our lives. We learn best by doing. Leaders are doers. They hold up a standard and shout, "Follow me, as I follow Christ!" 1Cor.11:1  (You must follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.) If you are in the office of an elder or deacon then I ask you to carefully consider what Paul teaches about who an elder or a deacon is and what they should do.

With that, if you are wondering about the questions I raised towards leaders above, I would ask you to read the following article by T. Austin Sparks. If you believe you are needing more, please write me and I will be available to help you find the answers you need.


-by T. Austin Sparks.

We gather from this book of Judges that those who are going to be
instrumental in the Lord´s hands in helping others out of their bad
condition must themselves have shared that bad condition… It is
necessary for a spiritual leader to have suffered in the same trials
as those being led; to have known the same depths of misery, to
have been in the same complicated circumstances, to have passed
through those very problems, and to know what it is to emerge
from a dark, dismal and wretched state. All that makes a leader,
but that also represents the cost to begin with.
The cost of leadership is…

a) …By what course, by what road, is this transition made? Always
through the grave. Before we ever come to spiritual understanding
we shall have all our own understanding pulverized, ground to
powder, so that we do not understand anything, and we know it. If
we are asked to explain we can give no explanation. It is not in us
to explain. All understanding has gone. God breaks down the
natural to make way for the spiritual. That transition is through
death, through the grave. Then presently we emerge, and we are
seeing things now from God´s side, we are understanding with a
faculty and capacity that we never before possessed. Somehow
or other a resurrection work has been done; that is, something has
been quickened which we never had before. We are made alive to
that of which we had no knowledge before. We have a new standard
of judgement now, a new standard of values, a new sense of
differences. It is just something done, not something which we
have created or made. It comes, as it were, to birth, and we know
it, and as we move accordingly, in obedience to it, it grows.

There is all the difference between natural understanding and
spiritual understanding, and the difference is between death and
life, and a grave is between. Oh, those dark days, when we lost
all natural understanding and there was no light. It is a terrible cost.

We are not speaking about just understanding certain events. It
may have to do with trials of a certain nature through which we
pass, but it is the general faculty to which we are referring. There
is all the difference between a natural faculty for understanding
things and a spiritual faculty for understanding the things of the
Lord, which cannot be defined, but can be declared as a fact.
That cost is the cost bound up with spiritual leadership.
b) The assurance of understanding

There was a time when some of us were most sure. Oh yes, we
knew, no one could tell us. We were the most sure people. We
could lay down the law to anybody as to what they ought to do.
The Lord has taken in hand and has ground to powder, made pulp
of all that assurance. We have lost all self-assurance. We have
come to the place where we feel that we could question everything
in ourselves, doubt everything about ourselves. We have come to
the place where, when we tell the Lord that we mean to be all for
Him there is something inside which says we meant it, but come
up against the test and we find that we are not that. Peter was a
most self-confident man; “Lord, I will follow thee even unto death.”
I am certain that if we had met Peter later on, after the cross, we
should have found him a man who would never for a moment say
a word about his own certainty or self-assurance. Yet you find the
man marked by boldness; there is nothing more sure than his
statement on the day of Pentecost; but he is a different man. He
has gone through the grave, and self-assurance has been broken
in him and replaced with the assurance of God. There is the full
assurance of understanding of the Lord. It is costly, but it is the
way of spiritual leadership, the way to spiritual values.
c) Active faith

We spoke of active faith. It comes the same way. The time
through which we pass is a time when we lose all. There are
times when we feel that the bottom has fallen out of everything.
What have we to rest upon? Faith. Where is our faith? If God is
not merciful to us it is a poor lookout for us. If this whole thing
depends upon our faith today, the Lord help us!

Yes, these are dark, strange experiences, things you may not
say to the unconverted. They are not bound up with our salvation,
our acceptance before God. It is another side, the side of our
usefulness to the Lord, the measure of our spiritual value to the
Lord for the sake of others. The cost of spiritual leadership and a
faith of this true, pure kind is borne out of a grave. It grows like a
new child; it is quiet, steady faith in God. You have been through
the depths, and you have found the Lord faithful, and you have
had to say, “It was not because of my wonderful faith in God, not
because of my saying I am able to hold on, to persist! God was
faithful to me when I had nothing of faith as far as I was concerned.”
That comes back from the grave. It is the cost of leadership.
d) Initiative

This is quite true also in the matter of initiative. Naturally there
was a time when initiative was not difficult to some of us. The
bigger the proposition the more we gloried in tackling it, and
lacked no initiative in these things. Then the Lord took us in hand
and broke all that natural force, or began to break it, and we came
steadily to the place where, so far as we were concerned, the
initiative left us: that is, the natural initiative, the taking of big
responsibility, and we became deeply conscious that we were
needing a divine energy to move in relation to the Lord´s interests.
And now to some extent we do know that energising of God in
relation to His interests. When we have no natural energy, when it
does not spring from ourselves, and if it were left with us, we
should not do it, we would not move, but just lie there, refuse,
decline, and yet we know that for the Lord´s interests there is an
energy which we have not got. We lay hold of that divine energy,
and the initiative of God is appropriated by faith, and there are

There is all the difference between that natural go-ahead attitude
in the work of God, and that energising of the Holy Spirit; that
initiative which is of the flesh, and that initiative which is of the
Holy Spirit. You have to pass from the one to the other in a deep
experience, when all that is of nature is broken down, and you
come on to the ground where it is all and only of God. It is a new
creation in Christ Jesus, where all things are out from God, as
manifested in the Lord Jesus Himself.
e) Humility and dependence

The same law holds good. We may have been very independent
or self-dependent, or dependent upon others. The Lord has dealt
with all that, or will deal with it in us, and bring us to a place
where every other kind of support is removed, where all our
independence is dealt with, where our self-dependence is
destroyed, where our dependence upon others is cut away. And
we come out to a place, through trying and painful experiences,
where our dependence is upon God.

Paul is an outstanding illustration of this. There is no character
more self-confident than Saul of Tarsus. In the long-run there is no
one more dependent upon God, and confessedly so. He said:
“We despaired of life.” The sentence of death was upon him, so
that he should not trust in himself, but in God who raises the dead.
The way through is a deep, dark, and painful way, but this is all
the way to spiritual leadership. It is all that is involved in the
transition from the natural to the spiritual, and it all leads to values
for others.

Your value to others in the Lord entirely depends upon your own
measure of knowing the Lord for yourself as your very life, your
wisdom, your strength.

There may be a little weakness in what we have been saying, that
we have dealt with positives rather than negatives. Some are not
in much danger of strong, natural, go-ahead-ness. Perhaps some
are lacking altogether in any kind of strength like that, and may
be saying, “Well, I do not have to be broken down very much,
therefore I cannot come through to very much for the Lord.” Do
not say that, because your painful experience will probably be
from a negative to a positive, not from one positive to another
positive. We mean this, that some timid people will go through
an agony when God brings them out to take initiative. It is an
agony for reticent people to be made to stand on their feet and
take responsibility. They would sooner shrink into a corner, but
the Lord will not let them get away with that. In effect He says,
“You have got to be of value, you have got to count; it is no use
your hiding in a corner, I want values in you for My people.” Then
comes the agony of perhaps having to talk to someone, having to
take initiative for the spiritual help of somebody, when you would
rather be somewhere else, doing something else. It is the
transition from the natural, whatever the natural is – whether
positive or negative – to what is spiritual. It is costly, but it is the
price of leadership, and after all, it is that the Lord should have
His full measure in us, “…each several part in due measure”
(Eph. 4:16). There is a “due measure” from each several part.
f) Loneliness

The cost of leadership is always loneliness. When you are going
through a thing in the hands of God, your one sense is that no
one has ever been through this before. The Lord sees to it that
you do not escape by having someone come along who has just
been through it so that you may throw yourself on them and they
carry you. The Lord allows isolation. But, however it is, it is
always loneliness. That is bound up with leadership. It is as
though you were pioneering and no one has ever gone this way
before; you are alone. It is part of the price, but it must be. No
doubt you have longed for somebody who has been that way to
be alongside of you while you are going through, but the Lord has
not allowed it. We say in effect, “If only we had t heir experience
in this thing to appeal to!” But somehow or other the Lord cuts it
all off from us, and takes us through with Himself alone. If we
refuse to go through with Him alone, we are going to miss the Lord´s object.
g) Misunderstanding

So often accompanying the loneliness is misunderstanding, and
that is the more bitter side. It is the more positive or active side.
Think of Nehemiah. He had to take the lead, the initiative. But it
was not long before not only in his loneliness, but in
misunderstanding and misrepresentation he discovered the cost
of that leadership. All around things were being said: “He is
building this thing to make himself a name! He is going to appoint
prophets to preach about him! He is starting a new movement!”
All the things which were said were lies, false; it was
misrepresentation, misunderstanding. That is simply because a
man or woman has come to know the will of God as it applies to
them, and they are going on in that way of God.

It is strange how people will very rarely give another credit for
walking with God. Others always seem to interpret their
movements as though they had been captured and led astray.
They never give them credit for really walking with God
themselves. They blame someone else, and then blame them for
getting into the hands of someone else. It is a part of the price.
h) Selflessness

It is necessary when counting the cost of leadership to be
selfless and disinterested in the matter. Leaders may labour for
perhaps another generation, for others to enter into their labours,
and they may never see the fruit of their own labours.

Look back over the history of all who have really been used of
God in the lives of His people. Very rarely has their life borne fruit
until they have gone. They have laboured, and other men have
entered into their labours. It means that there is to be no present
glory, nothing for self, no present reward. It is a Moses leading
through the wilderness, up against the real hard, tough side of
things, and then passing out without seeing the fruit. That is the
price of leadership so often; selfless disinterestedness, being
willing to labour, to give one´s life, to suffer, to come to a place of
value for others and never see the full result of it.

That is all we shall say for the time being. It has all come out of
that expression of Deborah: “For that the leaders took the lead in
Israel”. That is the explanation of such deliverance, of a mighty
emancipation, of glorious victory, the changing of the whole face
of things from servile slavery, depression and oppression, to
ascendancy, liberty and progress…
-Original Source-

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What is the Capacity of God's Forgiveness?

By now most of us have failed at our New Year's Resolutions and repeatedly found ourselves in a state of remorse about it. For those of you that have not, I applaud you. Keep up the good work. For those of us who find ourselves in that failed state I offer the thoughts of David Wilkerson

No matter what you may think or feel about yourself, failing and struggling with overcoming sin is a real and often dealt with condition we live in. Not that there isn't forgiveness or mercy, there is an abundant provision of grace God has for us. We seldom have the same capacity of forgiveness of ourselves or others. We tend to judge ourselves and others much more harshly than God does.

Consider the relationship you have with God and ask yourself if you are interested in what God has to say about you or not. If you are not interested in what God thinks about you, then you can stop reading this now. If you are interested in what God has to say and your relationship with him, keep reading. Listen to what David Wilkerson has to offer with his thoughts about the capacity of God's love and forgiveness.

An UNUSUAL WORDby David Wilkerson
Recently the Holy Spirit gave me an unusual word, one that I did not want to hear! He said, "You are bound to a very limited vision of the Lord´s ocean of tender, loving mercies. You have endured much guilt, condemnation and fear because you have not allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal the vastness of My forgiving, healing, reconciling mercies. You do not know Me for My tenderness!"
God showed me that this is a root cause for many giving up and falling away. When sin strikes-when Satan comes in like a flood, when you fall into some old habit or sin-the devil creates a bondage. First, the guilt comes flooding in, then fear fills your heart. A sense of total failure and helplessness overwhelms your soul. At this point, most believers run out of grace-because their view of God´s mercy is so limited.
Satan comes to you and says, "You´ve reached your limit. You´ve confessed your sin time after time. There is no way God will forgive you now, because you´ve sinned against the light. If you return and confess once more, you´ll turn around and sin all over again. So quit now!"
The devil does not want you to see God´s ocean of mercy; he wants you to see only a trickle! Because of our ignorance of the forgiving, restoring power of Christ´s love, we are destroyed. We run out of mercy for ourselves because we are horribly bound by a limited vision. Our eyes have not yet been opened to the endless mercies of our tender Father! We are so bound by a false, limited view of His mercies, we find it almost impossible to believe or accept what James said: "[We] have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful (full of compassion), and of tender mercy" (James 5:11).
This verse means, "God is easily crushed by our troubles and hurts. He feels our pain and our failures, and He is kind and compassionate to us. He loved us even when we were His enemy. Even when we offend Him, He is quick to help, restore and forgive us."
The word mercy means "kind and compassionate treatment of an offender under one's power." God has the power to damn us to hell every time we sin; He has us under His control and can do with us as He pleases. And it pleases His tender heart to be compassionate, loving and kind toward those who have failed Him the most.
-PLEASE COMMENT on this article at the following website-© 2013 World Challenge - a registered trademark of David Wilkerson

Consider the relationships you are involved with presently. Do you have friends that love and care about you? Family members? Spouse? Children? IS there someone out there that can love you more than them? 

There someone that you can love more than all of them and He can love you much more than you can love Him. His capacity for love and forgiveness far outweighs your capacity. His love and forgiveness is limitless  He loves with a love never ending. 

What is it that keeps us from entering into that boundless relationship of love? Guilt? Fear? No matter what it is, He can erase the past and give you a new beginning. 

The one that limits you entering into that forgiveness and love is YOU! This is where the problem begins. And the solution is so simple. 

Are you stubborn and pig-headed enough to pass up the opportunity to be forgiven and loved by a father like He is? There is nothing but you that can keep that relationship from happening. Be restored. Be forgiven. Be loved. Be humble and soft towards Him. Give up your stubbornness and rebellion and submit your thinking and feelings to Him. He will take you into His heart and love you. He will forgive you, no matter what the offense is. There is nothing too large, too deep, too sinful that cannot be forgiven and forgotten by Him.

God's mercies are new every morning. Make a new start today by giving all your concerns, fears and doubts to Him and ask Him to forgive you. Ask him to demonstrate His love to you and you will find a fresh start and a new love you never new possible. Then rejoice and be glad! Because He loves you with a limitless capacity of love never ending.

Thanks to Little Bits for the use of the "New Year's Hat" picture.
Thank you to Hospice of the North Coast for use of the "Heart" picture.