What does it mean to be man?
Model 1. Bear Grylls the super-man - strength, self-sufficiency and invincibility
On one website the all-action hero was described this way: The writer and television presenter is known for his amazing feats and has paraglided over the Himalayas, escaped from quicksand and snacked on a still wriggling snake.Bear has also run Class V rapids in the lower Zambezi (without a raft), plunged beneath the ice of a frozen lake in Siberia while naked, and even avoided alligators on his way through the Everglades.
Model 2. Homer Simpson the useless man – immaturity, incompetence and irresponsibility
HOMER: Okay, brain. You don’t like me, and I don’t like you, but let’s get through this thing and then I can continue killing you with beer.
HOMER’s Brain: It’s a deal!
Model 3. Jesus the perfect man – the God-dependent, servant-hearted, leader of other
The perfect man is Jesus and we need to look to him to learn to be a man. Jesus shows us that to be a man involves three things: It is a God-dependent, servant-hearted, leader of others.
Learning to lead – 7 ways to lead like Jesus
1. To be a leader you have to be willing to be led
Leading is not an synonym for autonomous, self-sufficient existance. It’s not an excuse to no longer listen or learn. If you are to be a godly leader you will know your need to let Christ lead you. The Apostle Paul writes Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ – 1 Cor.11:1.
As you follow Jesus you learn how to lead. He was THE God-dependent, servant-hearted, leader.
Q. Are you looking to Jesus to lead you? What does that mean?
2. To be a leader you have to first lead yourself
You are the most difficult person you will ever lead. – Bill Hybels. Unless you can begin to lead yourself you will not be ready to lead others.
Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus – Philippians 3:13-14 (c.f. 2 Tim 4:7, 1 Cor. 9:24-27).
Q. Are you making progress in leading yourself? Where might you be failing to take responsibility for your life? Your character, your sin, your time, etc..
3. To be a leader you must see leadership as living out the gospel
It’s not just a question of whether you are leading but why.
Everyone seeks to lead for one of two reasons. We are all of us leading for an identity or from an identity. To lead for an identity will mean our leadership is driven by the need to prove ourselves in some way. Maybe that means to make a name for ourselves by proving our worth to others. To lead from an identity means to be so confident of our identity as children of God and so secure in his love that our leadership is wonderfully liberated from being a tool of self-justification and instead becomes a joyful service of others.
- Leading for an identity works itself out in lordship leadership in which your relationship to others is an opportunity to prove yourself.
- Leading from an identity works itself out in servant leadership in which your relationship to others is an opportunity to offer yourself.
So in a marriage Lordship leadership is an opportunity to be a bully.
Learning to lead like Jesus means that a husband’s authority (like the Son’s over us) is never use to please himself but only to serve the interests of his wife – Tim & Kathy Keller
Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. – Romans 15:2-3
Q. Why do you want to lead? For whose benefit?
4. To be a leader you have to lead others by the gospel
A God-dependent leader recognises his weakness and leads from weakness. The apostle Paul was an apostle of weakness – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (c.f 12:7-10 ‘I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness’). Leaders who lead from the gospel exhibit the following traits;
- Leading in dependence on God
- Leading with the help of others (quick to go to older, wiser Christians)
- Leading by being first to admit fault,
- Leading by being quick to confessing sin,
- Leading by seeking grace
Q. Is it evident to others by your attitudes and actions that you find strength to lead in your weakness?
In a future blog we’ll look at points 5-7.
Every time I’ve heard Peter Jensen he’s been thought-provoking and always insightful. In his closing presidential address to the Anglican Synod in Sydney he spoke on The challenge of the gospel against the cult of the self. Lots of challenge on how we speak to our culture and live & serve in our churches.
Simon Gathercole is a New Testament scholar at Cambridge University who is also a leading expert on other so-called gospels. He has written books on the gospel of Judas and the gospel of Thomas. In this lecture Dr. Gathercole takes a look at the sensationalist claims of the media about other gospels not found in the Bible and offers an expert opinion on what we can really know about Jesus.
St Helen’s Bishopsgate is the church where I first heard the Bible preached and where through that preaching I became a Christian. Today sees the launch of a new resource from St. Helen’s entitled Preaching matters and promises to offer wisdom for all those who share in the awesome responsibility of proclaiming God’s word.
Here’s William Taylor’s introduction:
David Bebbington is author of Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s and Professor of History at the University of Stirling. In a recent interview with Nick Tucker at Oak Hill College he offers the following perspective on the vital need to have a good grasp of Church History;
I don’t think that people should be blinkered by one point in time – the present. I think it is an enormous diminution of human stature only to be aware of the present. To have a sense of how things have come to be as they are seems to me to be extraordinarily important and only so can one understand anything about the human condition. The dimension of time is part of being human and therefore we must all be historians. The better historians we are the better for humanity.
We might go on to suggest that pastors must be historians for the sake of our congregations and community! Whilst theological training can be undertaken in a growing number of ways whatever training we receive Bebbington’s words are a reminder that we cannot afford to underestimate the need for a grasp not only of the Bible, culture, systematics, but the history of God’s work, witness and wisdom through his church. As Bebbington goes on to note Church History is a reservoir of good ideas which we ignore at our peril. Just one reason why we must train those we ask to lead God’s people well.
Honouring Christ – the Christian and same-sex attraction: some very personal thoughts from Vaughan Roberts
In this honest and compelling interview in Evangelicals Now Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St.Ebbe’s Church, Oxford discusses his own struggles with same-sex attraction.
How many Christians struggle in silence with this same issue? Vaughan’s words will offer comfort that they are not alone and renewed confidence that with God’s enabling power Christians can live for Christ.
I hope too that his example will lead to a greater degree of openness in our churches as we support and encourage one another in the daily fight against sin. In the interview he comments: There does need to be more openness in this area among evangelical Christians, given the rapidly changing culture we live in — and the resulting increased pressure on believers who face this battle.
The closing story of my sermon from Sunday evening and in particular Philippians 1:12…
I want to leave you with the story, the true story of the man who advanced the gospel even on the deck of the titanic. The story is itself told in this book The Titanic’s Last Hero by Moody Adams.
On the night that the Titanic sunk, and those 1500 lives were lost, the widower John Harper was travelling with his 6 year old daughter Nana en route to Chicago. Harper was also a Christian, and a church minister on his way to Chicago to preach at Moody Chapel.
When the iceberg struck and the evacuations began, Harper immediately took his daughter to a lifeboat. He bent down and having kissed his little girl, he said goodbye, telling her that she would see him again someday.
As the waters rose and the ship began to lurch upwards, accounts tell of how little Harper thought of his own situation instead his concern were others in danger of death who did not know Christ. Perhaps he could have pleaded to accompany his daughter who was otherwise orphaned but accounts tell of how he choose to spend those final hours seeking to save others. He was seen making his way up the deck yelling, “Women, children and unsaved into the lifeboats!”
On that fateful night 1528 people went into the freezing waters. Survivors tell of how John Harper could be seen swimming desperately between those in the waters talking to them of Christ and seeking to lead them to faith in him in their dying moments. He swam up to one young man who had climbed up on a piece of debris and asked him between breaths, “Are you saved?” The young man replied that he was not.
Harper tried to lead him to Christ but the man refused him. Harper responded by taking off his life jacket, throwing it to the man saying, “Here then, you need this more than I do…” Harper swam away to seek to lead other dying men to Christ. Amazingly, a few minutes later Harper swam back to the young man and succeeded in leading him to faith in Christ.
You might ask how we know of what happened in that conversation between two dying men. Of the 1528 people in those freezing waters only six were rescued by the lifeboats, remarkably one of them was the young man. Four years later, at a survivors’ meeting, he spoke of how Harper had led him to faith in Christ. He also described how Harper had tried to swim back to help other people, before finally succumbing through fatigue and the intense cold. Harper’s last words before his death in those North Atlantic waters were, “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”
God has you where he wants you. For Paul that was a prison cell in a Roman jail. For Harper it was on-board the Titanic and both men knew that God had them where he wanted them so that the gospel may advance.
To live is Christ, to die is gain
The book’s tribute continues
While the flames of other ambitions flickered and died, John Harper’s burned even brighter as he sank into a watery grave. When death forced others to face the folly of life’s pursuits, John Harper’s goal of winning men to Jesus Christ became more vital as he breathed his final breaths.
(HT: Gerard Chrispin and his commentary Philippians for today: Priorities from Prison in which I found this remarkable story.)
A while ago I stumbled across an extract from a CH Spurgeon sermon in which he urges his congregation to pray for his preaching. Without it, he said, his preaching was useless.
Here’s a great post from Joe Thorn giving you 4 different things you could be praying for your pastor this weekend.
Reading some of the media output of the last 24 hours and you’d be forgiven for thinking a new ‘gospel’ had been discovered shedding light on the life of Jesus and challenging our traditional understanding of him. Let me assure you that no such document has been found.
Quite simply the only ‘gospels’ in existence that tell us anything about the real Jesus come from those very early gospels of the New Testament that were all written within the lifetime of the eye-witnesses of the events of his life. True, many other gospels were penned from the 2nd century onwards all by those who never knew Jesus. These gospels don’t tell us anything about Jesus although they are useful in the study of the development of ’chrisitan’ groups and the development in particular of a christian gnosticism.
Bart Ehrmann (no friend of evangelical Christians) writes:
The oldest and best sources we have for knowing about the life of Jesus – are the four gospels of the New Testament. This is not simply the view of Christian historians; it is the view of all serious historians of antiquity of every kind, from committed evangelical Christians to hardcore atheists. This view is not, in other words, a biased perspective of only a few naïve wishful thinkers; it is the conclusion that has been reached by every one of the hundreds (thousands, even) of scholars who work on the problem of establishing what really happened in the life of the historical Jesus.
We may wish there were other, more reliable sources, but ultimately it is the sources within the cannon (that is the four gospels in the Bible) that provide us with the most and the best, information.
Simon Gathercole,a leading expert at Cambridge University, has written this compelling response to those who wish to find a whole lot more than really exists in this new discovery.
Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship is one of 8 signatories to a letter published in today’s Telegraph newspaper. In a blog post Peter highlights just how the disabled are discriminated against even before they are born.
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