Reverence in Leadership PIII

Reverence in LeadershipBut to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 

Reverence is about submitting to the Supremacy, Sufficiency, and Centrality of Christ as LORD!

In the universe and in the Church, Christ is Creator and God, He is superior over any idea, philosophy, religion, or mysticism. He is over trends, traditions, and even the Jewish laws that pointed to Him. No one can gain salvation or fullness without Jesus Christ, so why even try? How dare anyone foolishly mislead others with false truths or legalism away from the Truth to seek his own over Him. Thus, we must yield ourselves to what the Church is about, how we are to run and grow our church, so we can be our best for His glory and our opportunities (Matt. 5:13; 2 Cor. 2:15; Phil. 1:27; Col.1: 18; 3:11).

How do I know if I am reverencing Christ properly?

Are we robbing God of the opportunities He tries to give us? Do we mix them up with habits, pride, and traditions?

Do we make grandstand pretenses, showing off our faith while we have a heart full of soot?

Do our attitudes, desires, and passions line up with the precepts of His Word, or express our own selfish agendas?

Perhaps you are thinking that this is about passion. Well, this is paramount, but it has to be grounded in God’s truth, not the ideas and desires of man. We must seek initiative and inspiration from Christ, not from traditions.

What can I do to be better at reverence? Do not practice your faith or lead your church through the filter of traditions or habits. Rather, filter faith through the clarity of God’s Word! Prayer will help us navigate through what is selfish and not right to what is of God and is His plan. It is all about being conformed to Him, not to our ideas or desires.

Think about those times of trouble and stress. How is Jesus your source, substance, and Truth in the good and bad times? How must He be for you to not just survive, but to thrive?

We have to reach out to Him; let Christ grasp you so you are not seeing just the sea of what is in it for me. Or be consumed by problems and the ocean of deluge overtaking the ship of your faith and composure in Him. Yes, this is tough; we all deal with this–certainly I do, even now… I want what I want. When times are confusing and we can’t see where we are going or where God wants us, something to consider and pray about is this.

But take this to heart. God is far more concerned about how we are than what we do or where we go. Our lives are a process and a journey, as is our church. Our Lord’s mission is to transform our hearts and minds, the very core of who we are, so that we can live in the Kingdom of God–a Kingdom with His values and purpose, regardless of any opposition we might have, including the opposition others give us. Then, we can lead others properly with a reverence to His Lordship. We especially need Christ in the dire times of life–the times when we have the best opportunities to learn and grow.

So, if you are stuck in your faith or in the spiritual formation of our church, or moving people where they really need to go. Usually, it is our own opposition that hinders us the greatest and is evidenced by our fears and neglect or lack of active faith.

We have to realize that pleasing ourselves (as so many of us pursue) is not the goal of the Christian life either or how we build a church. Rather, we are to follow Christ and be imitators of His character, letting it transform our character. We are to do this through love and the acceptance of others as Christ did with us, even though we did not deserve it.

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The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PIV

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Revelation 1: 5-8 

“Look, he is coming with the clouds…”

We are called a kingdom and priests! What does this mean? In the O.T. meant that all God’s people were holy, set part for purpose, loved and protected by Him.

John begins His Book by reminding his readers of whom and what Christ is, His supremacy, and His role of Redeemer and Judge. What we must be reminded of as we lead and mange His Church. He then gives us a glimpse of end-time events, what we can look forward to. What does this do for us at the board meetings and in the pulpits? We must never forget who we are in Christ. If we do, we will quickly fall into pride and apostasy, buying the lies and living in our depravity. Thus, mismanaging His Church.

Revelation gives us a pointer, shows us that God is beyond time and space, and beyond our comprehension other that what He has clearly revealed to us. He has a plan; let’s face Him, not our fears or our doubts or other’s misgivings. Let us swim in His living waters, and lead our churches as well (Jer. 2:13; 17:13; John 4:10-11; 7:38; Rev. 7:17).

Before Christ, under law, there were specific roles in the priesthood that people were called and ordained to fill. Priests were to be bridges from God to man. Now, through Christ, we have direct, intimate access to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. Each of us is a royal priest as a representative of Christ (doctrine of the priesthood of all believers) on earth, and as ministers, we model His character.  And the bigger point that is often missed, is our call here, to be Christ’s representative, not come up with spurious ideas on His Second Coming (Ex. 19:1-6; 20:6; Lev. 10:10-11; Isa. 66:20; Matt. 21:43; 28:19-20; Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 7; 10:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:9-10; 20:4-6).

Now, see what this does for church leadership, here is the Hope, “He is coming,” this is one of the main themes of this Epistle, the announcement that Christ is coming back. It is a pronouncement of not just hope, but a pointer to Who and What we are as a church to be about.

Get ready…. “the clouds,” which means a spectacular event, such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds. But what does this really mean? This means judgment for the wicked. Not so much with what the popular false teachers proclaim who miss the point (Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64). This is also comforting for the suffering Christians and chastisement for those who are evil and reject Him (Deut. 33:2; Isa. 19:1; Zech. 1:16; Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 10:23; Rev. 2:5; 3:20).

Now comes The Voice, God’s Voice, “I am” refers to God the Father testifies that the Son, Christ, is God. This means Jesus loves us and has washed our sins away from God’s presence. Not just the Israelites, but also all people in Him are those elected ones and have courage, comfort, and faith in Christ. He rules over all (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21; 4:17; Zech. 12:12; Matt. 3:17; Heb. 13:8).

What is going to happen? The realization will come that our will is not in control and our desires and sin have gotten us a raw deal. A reminder when we lead, instruct, even in the dreariest of meetings, we are in His Hands. What a great comfort to those in persecution at the hands of such people to know that they will get what is coming (Zech. 12:10)!

Who and What it is all about, our faith and our leadership all must be from and point to: “Alpha and the Omega!” This means God is eternal and rules over all places and time. He is omnipotent, all-powerful. Referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet meaning His Sovereignty, Christ is all in all; He is LORD of all that is past, present, and is to come. His will and purpose will come true, and ours will not; so, to grow, we must surrender to Him (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; Rom. 8:18-25; Gal. 2:20-21; Rev. 22:12-16).

Do not worry, Christ is coming and all will consummate His will and purpose. Justice and His Kingdom will be fulfilled, and every knee will bow. God may seem to be slow, taking His time, but He does this for good reason. Life is about learning and growing, about becoming faithful, infused with His Spirit, spiritually responsible and character-driven. It is not about how we feel or what we want (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 21:1-22:5)!

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PIII

Why do you suppose most people see Revelation as an ominous apocalypse of chaos and catastrophe and not what it is really about? How do you see it?

Revelation 1: 4-5,  “To the seven churches in the province of Asia…”

One of the main themes of Revelation is the call for us to stand firm and grow further in our collective faith as the Body of Christ. This is also the best, most effectual church growth plan. Why and how, God wants to grow the church under His stewardship and what God does not want to happen, stagnate with apathy and comfort! Does this surprise you? What did you expect to find from Revelation? It is a letter to churches to in peril to wake up and get it right! It is a Book not about end times, rather how we are to lead and mange His Church. Think not? Perhaps you should actually read it and presume. 

John is proclaiming an important fact we must all agree upon-that God is Sovereign and in control!

Jesus Chris is LORD and He gave us grace that we did not deserve and a precious plan that will unfold. We have hope both now and in the future. So then, this is the fuel and material in which we grow and lead our churches. This is an essential message God gives to us that we must have been transformed and renewed by Christ. Then, we live it out. Then, we proclaim it as our message to our people. Then we build our churches by these means. Not by pride and trends; rather, by being in Him as LORD.

Thus, as a church leader, minister or pastor, what we are doing? Point to the Glory of Christ, His Sovereignty and Lordship.

Let’s see what the Word has to say with these key words:

“Grace and peace” is an ancient greeting, as John sends his blessings. To know that we are blessed and have the duty to then bless others, blessed to be a blessing, not look to ‘me’ and be a ‘meme’ leaders; rather, a heart after Christ that humbles us the leader (Gen. 12:1-3; Rom. 12:1-2)

Seven churches.” The principle theme of the Book of Revelation is that it is a letter to real people, real churches with real issues, tough challenges, limited opportunity’s and vacant problems that God want to be there for it! Most people get Revelation wrong, by seeing this as all about the end times and miss the main point. The seven churches were real, just like our churches with our actual problems. These are not allegories; rather, they are relevant to your church now and symbolize the various ages of the Church in history and also represent how each individual church is, through all times and places, in its operation and faith. In fact, after over 25 years of church consultation and research all over the world, every church I have even encountered was like one of these seven, no exceptions (Phil. 2:15; Matt. 5:14-16; Rev. 1:1-3; 2:1-3:22; 22:7-21)!

“Him who is, and who was, and who is to come.” The Lord’s Supremacy echoes the words of God given to Moses in the burning bush. This is a Divine Name of Christ, meaning Eternal Deity and Authority. Thus we are called and empowered to take this seriously (Ex. 3:14-16).

“Seven spirits.” The word, seven, means its importance is compounded. This is a name for the Holy Spirit, referring to His Fullness, not a split personality. Some believe this is referring to the seven celestial beings (Rev. 8:2). However, context and word meaning attest of the Holy Spirit and His various roles as Counselor, Bearer of Wisdom, Fruit… (Isa. 11:2) etc., just as this passage gives several titles for Christ. It also testifies to the profundity (depth and reality) of the Trinity (Zech. 4:2-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rev. 4:5; 5:14).

Faithful witness, the firstborn… ruler means reliable.” What is this about? It sets Jesus as Divine and Lord over all the living and the dead.

That means he is LORD over your ministry and church! 

This also refers to the roles of Christ in His Church. As He is faithful to us, we are called to be faithful to Him, too (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 2:10-13; 3:14).

“Him be glory…To him.” Christ is the quintessential subject and prominent theme of Revelation. This is a doxology of praise, used to wholeheartedly worship and praise Christ as exalted and worthy because of His Sovereignty and the redemption He gives us. Praise is also our frontline weapon against spiritual warfare (Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:9-14; 7:12; 11:15-17; 12:10-12; 15:3-4; 19:1-8).

What does this come down to? Our call is to be blessed so the character qualities we receive from the Holy Spirit come from the inward love we have for our Lord and we will desire to spill them upon others around us as leaders for Christ as we plant, lead, manage His Church (Psalm 1).

The Call for the Church from Colossians PII

…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel… Colossians 1:15-23

Christ is Supreme! That means He is also the Head of the Church! We tend to run our churches as if we were in control, basing our decisions on gathering needs and developing programs to fill those needs. Yet, as good as this may sound, the main thing in church leadership is left out. Where is Christ and where is His purpose and direction? We close the door to our Lord! He is the head; that means we must line ourselves up to Him and His Lordship, not our ideas, trivialities, and agendas. We are to seek Him as Lord over all—over our lives as well as our churches!

Remember the Dead Sea; if all we do is allow Him to flow into us and not out, we will stagnate. If we just try to go it alone without our Lord, we will fail. We cannot flow out if nothing flows in.

The responsibility is clear; we are to allow His Spirit to flow in and out, as we are His tools, His children, and His love. When our faith becomes strong, we will not be moved from it, and that means we will not be moved away from Christ. This is what steadfastness is all about: not being shaken from our beliefs and faith in our Lord. When we stray off our path, we tend to substitute steadfastness with stubbornness that takes us far from the purpose and responsibility of the Lord’s church. Being firmly rooted in Christ means keeping to the integrity of Scripture and His teachings, for when we stray from that path, our church will stray away from His opportunities and call. Christ gives us the hope and opportunities to grow, learn, and abide in Him; we are to respond to the call and opportunities He gives with hope and joy.

We must do this in all things—worship, relationships, our thought processes, how we make decisions, and how we institute and instigate the work of the church.

It all must flow and come from Christ our Lord, our Leader and God, and from nowhere else. When we stop experiencing Jesus as our Lord, and He becomes only a figure in the sanctuary, then we will not be a purposeful or called Church for Him. When we are singing praise choruses and hymns that point to His Holiness and Greatness and as Head of our lives and church, do we mean it? Or, is it merely rhetoric and repetition that has no meaning behind it?

The church exists as a response to the grace of our Lord. Because of what He did, we are to glorify, magnify, praise His name, and then respond further from our worship of Him to our works for Him. Remember that works have no saving construct; they are only the appreciation and response we are give to His majesty and redemption. Grace working in us will produce the work and will of our devotion and holiness to set us apart for His plan. Our response is to accept His teachings and love with joyful excitement, and replicate it in our lives, thoughts, and actions, and to grow and perfect the relationship and work He gives us.

The Call for the Church from Colossians PI

…He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy…. Colossians 1:15-23

The chief characteristic of who we are in Christ is the fact He is the living Supreme God who has existed for all time, who transcends space, time and thought, who knows us intimately, and who loves us. Christ is Lord; Christ is Supreme! Christ is the tangible aspect of God who is beyond sight and comprehension. He is the God who created the universe, who made all things. He made all that we see, and all that we do not see! He is the God who created the molecules of substance, formed the ground on which we stand and the wood on which He was crucified. In all of life, in whatever we will face and know, He has gone and still goes before and with us. This world was created by Christ and for Christ; He is indeed supreme. We need to learn to live our lives in Him for His glory. In so doing, we will be much better as stewards of His Church.

Church life is not about our ideas, presumptions, or expectations—it is about Him as LORD!

When we finally achieve this mindset, we begin our journey of growing in faith, maturity, character, and becoming more content in life and of better use to Christ and others around us. This is realized when we see the hope we have in Him, and allow that hope to be a foundation; He will carry is through all things.

What does this passage have to do with the responsibility of the church?

A lot! This passage is about reconciliation, and the church’s responsibility is to mirror the character of God who reconciled us to Him! Christ has and is revealing the invisible God to us, and we cannot and must not look for God anywhere else. If we look for God in ourselves or anywhere else in the world, we will fail as a church and as believers. This is because the church is the body of Christ, and as believers we are to believe. We are to follow and lead as examples, surrendering to His Lordship and not our own.

One of the big issues and problems is that most Christians just do not get this passage. Our Lord is the head of His Church, including our church, yet our churches are run as if we were in total control and we reign supreme.

As far as the responsibility of the church goes, what more can we say, other than Christ is the head and our lead, thus the vision and call can only come from Him and not of ourselves and our effort. If Christ is our “all in all” then we must respond to His teachings as marching orders and not a list of suggestions or ideas. We are to see and know Him as our Creator and Lord, as our Redeemer and Savior, as our God. Then we can respond as the church that our Lord died for.