One of the benefits of not being able to sleep is to see a spectacular sunrise. God’s glory in on display.
“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”
Further proving the adage that there is nothing new under the sun and the maxim that I get my best ideas from other people … I will be starting Veritas: Church-Based Leadership Development at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, this fall.
Veritas was first developed in 2001 by Tim Jack and myself while we were both serving as associate pastors at Crossroads Bible Church in Bellevue, WA. When I became senior pastor of United Evangelical Free Church in Seattle, I took it with me and implemented it there. It will begin its third generation this fall at FCBC.
Rather than simply being one more program of discipleship, Veritas is a philosophy that seeks to train and equip men and women for leadership in the local church. Veritas aims to help people grow in six broad categories—knowledge of Scripture, understanding of theology, ministry foundations, ministry skills, character development, and life skills development. The purpose statement, “Bringing All to Maturity and Many into Leadership” comes from Colossians 1:28 and Ephesians 4:11-16.
Colossians 1:28 – Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Ephesians 4:11–16 – 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
To understand more about the philosophy, purpose, and goals of Veritas, click on the link to download a copy of the philosophy of leadership development.
The first course we will offer will be The Character & Habits of a Leader. This course is not about management, although the principles discussed will certainly affect how you manage. It is not about discovering the latest trend, technique, or methodology in leadership, even though it will undoubtedly affect your methods and style of leading.
Instead, this course is about becoming the kind of leader whom others will want to follow. It’s about discovering how God shapes spiritual leaders and then letting him work in your life. It’s about finding God’s plan for your life and following it, as well as learning how to lead others where they need to go.
Whether you are a veteran leader or just beginning your trek, a leadership expert or a novice just beginning to study the subject, this course is your invitation to climb higher and grow deeper.
In this course, we will study the lives of five biblical leaders—Joseph, Moses, David, Nehemiah, and Paul. Our goal will be to discover what character traits are required of mature Christian leaders and how they relate to the task of being a leader in the local church. The course will also help you develop a plan for personal evaluation and the strengthening of character.
Meetings: 6 seminar sessions designed to guide and deepen your own research. The class will meet every other week on Monday evenings from 7:00-8:30PM, September 11, 25, October 9, 23, November 6, 20.
Instructor: Pastor Mark Wheeler
Assignments: During the course, we will read one book and work together to develop an expanded profile of a biblical leader.
Cost: $20 for the course materials and textbook.
To register, contact Pastor Mark Wheeler at the church (413-592-5353) or send a note to email@example.com. Please register by September 4.
Click on the link to download a copy of the course brochure.
The story is told of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, and how he played a practical joke on some friends. As the story goes, he sent an anonymous telegram to each of twelve friends, all men of great virtue and considerable prestige and position in society. The message simply said: “Flee at once … all is discovered.” Within twenty-four hours, all twelve had left the country.
No doubt there is some playful exaggeration here, but the point is that each one of us can identify with failure. Each one has at least one skeleton in their closet. However, very few are willing to admit it. John F. Kennedy once said, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan; no one wants to claim it.”
Moses was no stranger to failure. Though he was on the fast track to success, he ran ahead of God, made a huge mistake, and then ran and hid from his failure. His early life provides a cautionary tale for us all about the danger of running ahead of God’s plan.
Moses was on the fast track to greatness (Acts 7:20-25). Moses had:
Moses ran ahead of God’s plan (Exodus 2:11-12; Acts 7:23-25). As a man of action, Moses did not like marking time and waiting. He initiated his own plan to deliver the nation of Israel (Acts 7:23). He rolled up his sleeves and jumped in. In so doing, he demonstrates a misguided understanding of his own importance (Acts 7:25). He seemed to have the idea that all he had to do was sound the rallying cry and all Israel would come running. Rather than think through the situation and develop a plan, he reacts emotionally (Exodus 2:11-12). He acted alone, in secret, and in his own strength. With one rash act, he threw away forty years of preparation.
Moses ran away from his mistakes (Exodus 2:12-15; Acts 7:26-29). When you act in the flesh, you have to cover up your sin. Moses buried his in the sand (Exodus 2:12). However, it did not remain a secret very long and the next day it was common knowledge. Rather than embrace him as deliverer, his own people rejected him (Exodus 2:13-14; Acts 7:26-28). After realizing his failure (Exodus 2:14), Moses flees and becomes an exile (Exodus 2:15; Acts 7:29).
When we take matters into our own hands …
Don’t run ahead of God. As Moses learned, God will not be bent to our will. He will bend and shape us to his will. Even if it means letting us sit on the sidelines for 40 years.
This is the synopsis of a message given to the congregation of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 18, 2017. It is part of a series of messages on The Life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.
In what seems like a former life, I was in the marching band during my high school years. Our band director was a Navy veteran and a stickler for marching with precision. We drilled for hours on end to perfect our stride and formations. Performing in halftime shows was fun and marching in parades was enjoyable, though exhausting. But what I enjoyed the least was marking time, simply marching in place while waiting for the signal to go forward.
To my chagrin, I hate to admit that not much has changed. Though far removed from my high school years, I still don’t like to mark time. I don’t like standing still. Waiting is one of my least favorite things to do. I want to move forward and accomplish something. Rather than mark time, I want to make progress. I want to be productive.
Perhaps this is why I identify with the story of Moses. I can put myself in his sandals as he waited forty years as a shepherd in Midian before God appeared to him in the burning bush. I can guess how he felt while Israel took one more lap around Mt. Sinai and wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Moses spent the bulk of his life marking time.
And yet, Moses developed a unique relationship with God during those years of waiting. He was known as the one who spoke with God face to face. He begged God for his presence and caught a brief glimpse of his glory. Though he did not travel far geographically, he traveled deeper into the heart of God than many others have done.
Rather than chafing when God sends me into the wilderness, I need to use the time to get to know him better. Rather than feeling frustrated when I find myself marking time, I need to seek God’s presence. I must learn to wait in a productive manner.
Book Review: Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, by Jeff Goins
If you major in art, you’ll starve! If you want to be a writer, you’ll never make a decent living! These are two of the myths that most of us have heard growing up. And they are the myths that author Jeff Goins wants to eradicate in his latest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age.
As the author explains,
You don’t have to starve. Today there is a New Renaissance changing everything we thought we knew about creative work—one that is turning Starving Artists into Thriving Artists—and all we have to do is embrace it. We can, in fact, create work that matters and earn a living doing so. We can share our gift with the world without having to suffer for it. And the sooner we acknowledge this opportunity, the sooner we can get on with doing our work.
The author uses Michelangelo as his primary illustration, along with stories and lessons from Jim Henson, C. S. Lewis, Dr. Dre, George Lucas, John Lassiter, and many others. He divides the book into three major sections—Mind-set, Market, and Money. In the area of Mind-set, we need to realize that artists are not born, they are developed; you don’t have to be an original but simply build on the work of others; you should learn from a master rather than try to grow by your lonesome; and you need to be stubbornly persistent. In the area of Market, an artist cultivates patrons, goes to where creativity is happening, collaborates with others, and demonstrates their work in public. Regarding Money, an artist doesn’t do anything for free, they own their own work, diversify their portfolio, and make money in order to make more art.
In the Renaissance, artists were not aristocrats as Michelangelo hoped to become. But he was committed to not only making a living but earning the respect of his peers. It was not easy, but in the end, he changed the game for artists. How did he do this?
First, he mastered his mind-set. When many artists were opening shops to train apprentices, he resisted such temptations to conform. He knew that to make for himself, he would have to think differently. He befriended those in power so he didn’t have to beg for scraps. He became an apprentice.
Then he mastered the market, plugging into a web of influential relationships that included popes, kings, patrons who helped his work thrive. Building this network ensured he’d never starve.
Finally, he mastered his money, earning ten times what an average artist made by charging what he was worth. He invested in land and property, which secure his position as an aristocrat. Only the wealthy owned property. But long after he had more than enough money, he kept creating, living twice as long as the average person and creating an unforgettable legacy. He made money to make more art.
The book is both informative and encouraging. It also provides practical ideas on how to pursue your art and craft in the midst of your daily life until you get to the point where you can do it fulltime.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Book Review: Eats With Sinners: Loving Like Jesus, by Arron Chambers
If the gospel is shared best through relationships, how do you go about building intentional relationships with non-Christians? How can you work at understanding them? How do you avoid offending them?
Those are the questions dealt with in Arron Chambers’ latest offering, Eats With Sinners: Loving Like Jesus. The title and theme of the book is that Jesus regularly ate with sinners because he longed to eat with them in heaven. The author blends biblical teaching, motivational thoughts, encouraging stories, and practical ideas to help the reader know how to let their guard down so God’s love can flow through them to their non-Christian friends.
The author takes a somewhat different approach in addressing the topic of evangelism. This is evident in each of the chapter titles and themes.
The first edition was published in 2009 and is now revised and reformatted. A helpful and encouraging book on the topic of evangelism.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.