The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

Matthew 13:31-33

31 “He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

It’s like a Mustard Seed

The mustard seed is miniscule, about the size of the tip of a pencil lead. Your eye would barely notice it.

Nevertheless, if this mustard seed falls into the soil and if rain and sun nurture it, months later you could see a remarkable bush that has grown from that very small seed. How is that possible? 

When it was a seed, it looked like nothing. It seemed worthless and lifeless. But after it has nestled in the soil and received sun and water, the bird that didn’t notice the seed before might soon find this bush to be good place to build its nest.

Likewise, the kingdom of God may look insignificant, worthless, and lifeless to us. We might be tempted to pass over it in our thinking and instead dwell on things like earthly governments, the media, popular trends, political figures, human institutions, and so on.

The same would have been true of the kingdom of God in Christ’s time. If you had lived then, perhaps your atten­tion would have been focused on the Roman government as it controlled the then-known world. 

Uprisings, taxes, political intrigue – many such things would have seemed a lot more significant than a wandering rabbi from the back country of Galilee with a band of twelve followers. 

How many people in the Roman Empire do you think noticed what happened one Passover outside of Jerusalem, when Jesus was crucified between two thieves, with all His followers scattered and offended? 

Don’t you think what happened there seemed like just a mustard seed compared to things that must have seemed more important?

What lasting good could come out of an odd group of people spreading the news about things they saw and heard?

Yet, when we survey the growth of God’s kingdom since Christ’s death, what a gigantic “bush” has grown up! And it continues to spread, over lands and nations, across oceans and deserts. 

People from every corner of the earth have seen this “bush” branch out right in front of them, and, like birds, many of us have found a place to hide and shelter in its branch­es – all from a single, miniscule “mustard seed” planted in the soil outside of Jerusalem long ago.

Jesus goes on to teach another aspect of the kingdom of God and its growth. 

It’s like Leaven

Leaven or yeast is a fermenting fungus. What Jesus refers to would have been a piece of fermented dough from a previ­ous baking, which a woman would knead into a new batch of dough. 

Imperceptibly, the leaven would move throughout the whole dough, powerfully impacting all of it and making it rise.

Sometimes the Bible uses the picture of leaven for some­thing evil, such as “the leaven of the Pharisees” (Luke 12:1) or “the leaven of malice and wickedness” (1 Cor. 5:8). 

Evil can indeed move imperceptibly and powerfully. However, in this passage, Jesus is not referring to something evil; He is again referring to the kingdom of heaven and its growth within individuals throughout the world. 

So how does the kingdom of heaven work like leaven?

  1. Its work is hidden from view. The process of leavening cannot be seen with the human eye. Neither can the growth of the kingdom of God in a person’s heart. The Holy Spirit changes a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. This new heart is soft and pliable.
  1. It changes from the inside out. Jesus accused the Phari­sees of cleaning only the outside of their “cup,” while the inside remained dirty. Their lives might have seemed righteous on the outside, but their hearts remained unclean and evil. This is not how the kingdom of God works in the heart. Like leaven working from the inside out, the changed heart brings forth a changed life.
  2. It works as a comprehensive change in the end. Leaven makes the whole loaf rise. It makes it light and airy and tasty throughout; not one bit of loaf is left unaffected. In the same way, someone whose heart has been affected by the gos­pel, will ultimately show in his whole life that a change has taken place. 

It’s true that, on this side of eternity, believers will still continue to be plagued by sin. Yet, the growth of the kingdom within us will impact all of us: our thoughts, our habits, our actions, our words, our pursuits, our priorities – in short, our life as a whole will be dramatically changed.

So Let’s not despise the day of small things. Just because we don’t see anything happening on the surface doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing is going on below the sur­face. Let’s continue to pray earnestly that the Spirit of God would do His mysterious invisible work. 

Let’s adore the secret work of God. The Spirit’s work in each heart is mysterious and powerful. It reaches where no one can reach. In the secret depths of sinful hearts, God implants a new principle that radically changes peo­ple in every possible way. 

Has this change been worked deep in the recesses of our hearts? Do our lives pass on the leaven of the gospel in our families, churches, workplaces, and communities?

The Mustard seed is small but powerful, and leaven penetrates and permeates everything, and a little of either will go a long way.

Why Does the Church Exist?

Church has become a negative word to many people these days. For followers of Jesus it can also be challenging, because they may have been hurt, let down, or disappointed by church people or leaders in the past.

However, God set up the church as the way to reach the world with the Good News about Jesus Christ. The church exists to bring glory to God. That is not only true in a worship service, but it is also true of us in life. Look at what 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” . Whatever Christians do, they should be doing it to bring glory to God – in their careers, in their marriages and in the choices they make in life. The church was created to bring pleasure to God and bring glory to his name.

It’s really the people that make up the church, and the people that make up a church are to bring glory to God, we do this in several ways. Jesus gave this compelling vision to the church just before He returned to heaven. in Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Five Purposes of the Church

  1. To Make Disciples.

Very clearly one of the main purposes of the church is to make disciples. What is discipleship? It’s exploring God’s ways, it’s becoming more like Christ. It is a life-long process of maturing and growing in your faith. Disciples are learners, learning the ways of Jesus, and walking with him on the narrow road.

2. To Share the Gospel.

In order to become a disciple you first have to meet Jesus and believe in Him as your Lord and Savior. So another important purpose of the church is evangelism. The church is here in order to expand God’s kingdom. Introducing people to the authentic, real Jesus will transform their lives. The people in a church play a big part in this, because as they grow as a follower of Christ, they become more like Jesus and therefore allow other people to see Jesus in them. Everything we do should bring glory to God and draw people closer to Jesus. When we share the love of Christ with others, the Holy Spirit can do transformational work in their hearts.

3. To Worship God.

Another purpose of the church is worship. Christ followers glorify God through worship in all areas of their lives. Worship brings the church to life and life to the church. Worship is exalting God’s worth. We do that many ways in a church setting. We worship through music and singing, through giving and serving, through prayer and reflection, through reading and preaching God’s Word, through communion and baptism. We were created to worship, and the church helps us to live that out in our lives, not just in a church gathering.

4. To Fellowship Together.

We need each other. God created us for community. It is not good to be alone. The church is a great place to build meaningful, life long relationships. It’s a place were we can connect with one another. A place where we can be real and authentic. We do that by worshipping together, serving together, eating together, caring for each other, encouraging each other and doing life together.

5. To Minister to Others.

This last purpose of the church is vital. Everywhere Jesus went, he extended his grace and mercy to those who need it most. When we serve unselfishly, we become extensions of Jesus. Ministering selflessly to a broken and bruised world should characterize every follower of Jesus Christ. This is how the church lives out the mission of making disciples, by being the church to people inside and outside the church. Finding ways to show the love of Christ is ministry.

The church is not perfect, it’s filled with people that are in process with flaws and problems. Yet as we grow and live out these 5 purposes, the church can have a huge impact on the world around us. I hope you will consider being a part of a local church. Pray and ask God to direct you to a church where you can be a part of making a difference in the world, and grow as a disciple.

Thoughts about Church – Part One

Most people have experienced some confusion or frustration with the church. The word itself can pull up bad memories or hurtful circumstances for some. Maybe you feel it was ineffective or irrelevant to your life. The church has been, and continues to be attacked from the outside and compromised on the inside at times.

It’s easy to criticize the church. It’s full of human beings that make mistakes and bad decisions, and sometimes hurt one another. Church leaders can be controlling and overbearing sometimes. Church leaders can also be weak and afraid. sometimes.

Yet God wants us to love the church. It was His design for reaching the world. The purpose of the church is to be an extension of the purpose of Jesus Christ. That purpose is to spread the good news about Jesus. To make disciples, baptize them, and teach them the ways of God.

To understand what the church is, we should look at what it is not:

  • The church is not a physical building. The building is simply place for the church to gather.
  • The church is not an institution or organization. It’s not a denomination or an affiliation.
  • The church is not a set of services or activities.
  • The church is not just a congregation.

The Bible describes the church in four ways:

  1. The words church refers to the universal church, which is all believers on earth at any given time.
  2. The word church refers to a particular location. The New Testament places the most emphasis on the church in its local setting. The churches in Galatia, the church in Cenchrea, the church in Sugarcreek.
  3. The word church refers to the actual gathering of believers in any place of worship.
  4. The word church refers to the body of Christ. Christ is the head. It is through the church that Christ does His work. As His followers, we are Christ’s hands and feet and voice.

How should the church function?

  • Believers in a church should use their gifts to serve.
  • Believers in the church should submit to one another.
  • Believers in the church are priests, each one loving, serving, and caring for each other.
  • Believers in the church should be striving for unity and growing in their relationship with Christ.
  • Believers in the church should be supporting the church through giving, serving and praying.
  • Believers in the church should be inviting others to come and meet Jesus.

The church is also compared to a flock of sheep, with Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The church should have elders/shepherds that care, oversee, serve, and lead the people. These shepherds set the vision and direction for the church. They provide protection, provision and care for the flock.

The church is also referred to as a family. God’s Word says we are sons and daughters of God, united together by our faith in Jesus Christ. As family members, we are free to enjoy a mutual, intimate relationship with God our Father and other children in His family. In a family, people are always more important than policies. Relationships are always more important than roles.

A healthy church will thrive and have an impact on the lives of the people that gather together. Those lives will have Kingdom impact in lives outside the church in our world. The church can also be unhealthy and cause a lot of damage to peoples lives which causes damage to the world we all live in.

In Part Two I will talk about Why the church exists.

Living intentionally for Christ

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, he forgives our sins and redeems us. We are born again spiritually. That the biggest most important decision you will ever make.

So as a Follower of Christ how do we live intentionally and walk in our new identity?

For a Christian, living intentionally begins with living a life submitted to Christ. In Christ we find our identity and purpose.  Knowing your purpose is key, because your purpose determines your priorities. As you seek God, He will reveal your specific calling and purpose to you.

However, as a follower of Jesus Christ your main purpose is to bring glory to God by loving and worshiping Him with your life – all that you are and everything that you do.

That’s where we start. Before your career, financial, and relationship goals can fall into place, you must be intentional in your relationship with God. He will guide you and give you wisdom for your decisions.

Colossians 2:6-10

6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

What’s the secret to living the Christian life? We all start off so well. We receive Christ as our Savior, and we are filled with excitement at the prospect of new life in Christ. Our sins have been forgiven, we have been restored to relationship with God, we have assurance that we will go to heaven when we die, and we know that our whole life just changed. The old is gone, the new has come!

We start off enthusiastic for Christ and ready to take on the whole world. And then many of us seem to struggle and flounder at times. Why is that? We want to live the Christian life. Why is it so hard sometimes? What’s the secret to living the Christian life?

In the Scripture you just read, Paul tells us three things about living the Christian life. The Christian life is marked by faith in Christ, it is marked by freedom in Christ and it is marked by fullness in Christ.

We received Christ Jesus by faith – now we should continue to live in him by faith.

First of all, the Christian life is marked by faith in Christ. Look at verses 6-7:

 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” What is Paul saying here? Your Christian life began with faith in Christ, and it must also continue with faith in Christ.

By faith you received Christ Jesus as Lord. Declaring: “Jesus is Lord.”

We confess our faith in Jesus as Lord at our baptism, when we mark ourselves as Christ followers and when we go under the water it is symbolic of death to our old self and coming out of the water resurrection and a new life a new heart..

By faith you received Christ Jesus as Lord. Now Paul says, you need to live in Christ the same way you received him.

The Christian life is not simply faith in a set of teachings but faith in a person. It is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The Christian life is lived in Christ. Christ lives in you, and therefore you live your life in him. Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, you continue to live in him.

First of all, you are rooted and built up in him. “Rooted” refers to the foundation of your Christian life. The Christian life is founded on Christ and Christ alone. It is not founded on your goodness or your works or your merit. The Christian life is founded on faith in Christ and Christ alone.

As Jesus says in John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus is the root and source of the Christian life. You cannot live the Christian life apart from Christ.

Next, Paul tells us you are “strengthened in the faith as you were taught.” The word translated “strengthened” in this verse means “established” or “made firm.” Not only must you have faith in Christ. You must also be well-grounded in your faith.

Paul is telling us to stick with the gospel. Stay grounded in Christ and the Bible. Don’t go looking for new teachings outside of Christ. Grow in what you already know!

He also says a life that is lived by faith in Christ is one that is overflowing with thankfulness. Begin each day thanking God for your life and salvation and for the many blessings he has given you in Christ. Living in Christ means being thankful and grateful every day.

Someone said – How do you know if your bucket is full? If your feet are getting wet.

Don’t be just a little thankful. Be overflowing with thankfulness. You can never thank God enough.

The Christian life is marked by faith in Christ, and secondly the Christian life is marked by freedom in Christ.

Look at verse 8 where Paul writes: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

In other words this is a strong warning to guard your freedom, to stay alert, to be on the lookout for those things that can rob you of your freedom and take you captive.

Things like deceptive and false teaching, the lies of the world, busyness of life

It’s fighting the daily spiritual battle from our enemy, we do that by walking in our true identity as children of God, loved by our heavenly father and bringing glory to HIm

C. True freedom is found in Christ alone

Too many people think the Christian life is all about rules and regulations when Christ really offers us a life of beautiful freedom.

In Christ you are free from condemnation, free from guilt and shame, free from fear, free from sin. We are constantly attacked in those areas, but we must remember who we re and whose we are. Children of God, deeply loved sand accepted.

in Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

The last thing is this:

1) The Christian life is marked by faith in Christ. 2) The Christian life is marked by freedom in Christ. And 3) The Christian life is marked by fullness in Christ.

Look at verses 9-10: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

A. All the fullness of God lives in Christ

This is a remarkable statement. First Paul says that all the fullness of God lives in Christ. Not just God’s attributes but his very essence; not just part but all – all that marks God as God dwells in Jesus Christ.

Not only that, Jesus Christ is also the head over every power and authority. Paul is probably thinking about spiritual beings once again, earlier in Colossians he spoke about spiritual beings as thrones, powers, rulers and authorities. All these powers and authorities were created by Christ, and all these powers and authorities are subject to Christ.

And then there is one more part to this remarkable statement. You have been given fullness in Christ! Christ lives in you; all the fullness of God lives in Christ; and therefore you have been given fullness in Christ.

Paul’s point in Colossians is this. Why give in to the hollow and empty philosophy of the false teachers when you have been given fullness in Christ?

You’ve already been filled! You have Christ! What more are you looking for? As Max Anders writes: “Don’t go looking for treasure you already have!” Everything you need from God you have in Christ.

Closing Scripture:

2 Peter 1:3-8:  3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV

CONCLUSION: So what is the secret to living the Christian life? Christianity is not simply living out a creed, but it is living in a person Your True Identity is In Christ!

You are united with Christ by faith, and you receive the strength to live the Christian life every day through your relationship with him. Your Christian life began with Christ, and it must continue with Christ.

The Christian life is marked by faith in Christ, freedom in Christ and fullness in Christ. Anything less is not authentic Christianity. What’s the secret to living the Christian life? It’s simple. The secret to living the Christian life is living in Christ. That’s the heart of Christianity.

What Keeps us From Hearing From God?

Most people that profess to be Christian, or following Jesus Christ, have a desire to hear from God. Many would say they don’t hear from God, or that he never speaks to them. I firmly believe that God speaks to us on a regular basis. I also believe there are some things that keep us from hearing from God.

  • Pride – We don’t think we need God. We don’t want to bother God, or we think we can handle most things on our own.
  • Self-Focus – When you’re self absorbed, the world revolves around you and your problems, circumstances and issues. When we think more about ourselves than others or God it’s difficult to hear anything else.
  • An un-surrendered will & life – This is huge. When there are things in our life that we have not surrendered fully to God, they have influence and control in our lives. It ties in with the pride and self-focus we just talked about. To do this it means completely trusting God with everything you have.
  • Not believing God will speak to us – Some people just don’t believe God speaks anymore. Maybe some through Scripture, but nothing beyond that. That unbelief will block you from hearing from God.
  • Maybe we just don’t know how to hear from God – Some people just don’t know how to even start hearing from God.
  • Unforgiveness or bitterness – When we don’t forgive others and forgive ourselves it can block us from really hearing from God. That root starts to grow and builds negative emotions that distort and deflect much of what God is trying to speak to us.
  • A non-repentant heart toward God – When we are not repenting from our sins, and being vulnerable and honest with God, it keeps us from hearing from Him.
  • Simply too busy – The busyness of life is one of the biggest culprits to us not hearing from God. There are so many things distracting us from God.

A great place to start when wanting to hear from God is to start praying. Spend regular time praying, which is talking to God and listening to God. Prayer is two way communications. The more time you are spending in prayer, the more likely you will hear from God. However, the most important part of prayer is listening.

To listen to God, you also need to remove the many distractions around you. You need to find a place, and time where you can focus completely on God. Maybe it’s a walk in the woods, or a walking path. Maybe it’s in your closet, or a quiet room. Find a place where you’re not distracted and start listening.

God wants to speak to you because He loves you, you are one of his children. In your time with God ask Him some questions. Prayerfully ask the question and then wait. As thoughts come to your mind write them down. Those thoughts are usually from God.

Here is are some examples questions that I recently did in my time with God:

  • Heavenly Father what do you want me to know in my life right now? After waiting a few minutes this is what came to my mind and I wrote it down: “That I am bigger than anything you will ever face. That I love you more than all of creation and that you are doing what I want you to do right now in your life.”
  • Lord Jesus, how do you care for me? Please show me how you love me. “Chad, I have provided for all your needs and most of your wants, I’ve protected you from things you don’t even know about. I’ve brought certain people into your life to support, encourage and care for you. I am always with you and I’ve given you strength and wisdom for the struggles of your life. “
  • Father God, what do you want me to know about how I am to mentor the people you bring into my life? “Be more authentic and pour more of yourself into these men. Share your story with them and show them how you connect with me, how you work on your relationships – But to do that well, you need to be more consistent in your time with me. Listen more & I’ll tell you more, you will be amazed at what happens when you listen more in our prayer times. “

When you ask good questions and listen carefully, God does speak. The more you do this, the more you start to be even more clear about God’s voice, verses your own voice. Practicing silence and solitude is a good step into this. Reading Scripture is vital, because that is how you know it’s God’s voice and not just your own voice.

God also speaks through other people, so pay attention when someone is praying for you or giving you counsel. Again if you are reading God’s word you can know if what they are telling you lines up with God’s word or not.

So if you are longing to hear from God, start by getting alone with no distractions and pray, but be sure to listen. Have a journal and pen ready to write down what is coming to your mind. If you are stuck, start reading Scripture and see what jumps out at you, highlight it or write it down in your journal. Stay consistent and persistent and see what God does.

Wisdom for Difficult Times

James 1:2-5

“My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.”

What do you do when hardships hit you? Who do you talk to when life takes a turn for the worse? What do you do when people attack you? Who do you turn to when things get out of control?

Some people go to social media for information. Some people turn to the news, or to government leaders. Some people turn to their friends or parents or a trusted mentor. And some people turn to God.

Turning to God is the first and best thing we can all do in difficult times. I think we can also talk to people we trust to process and gain insight into what is best. But talking to God should always come first. Asking for help, for wisdom and discernment to know what is right and what is not. I often ask God for spiritual strength to keep going, or for God to bring the right people into my life to give me direction or encouragement.

James tells us that we should be grateful for hardships and trials, as it will make us better, it will give us wisdom and valuable experience, building our endurance. However we only gain wisdom, and our character is only strengthened, if we handle those adversities in the right way. When we learn from our failures, and gain deeper understanding about who God is, who we are, and what our purpose in life is, then we gain true wisdom.

Wisdom cannot be purchased, but wisdom can be developed. Reading God’s word and praying to God, gives us the right perspectives when dealing with difficult times. That is why it is so critical to be reading God’s word and praying during the hard times of our lives. Going to church and listening to messages from Biblically based leaders can give you new insights, wisdom and encouragement.

Good leaders will point people to Jesus, and the incredible transformation that comes from a relationship with Him. When spiritual growth and personal growth come together there is real transformation.

In these days of political unrest, division, hatred, and deception, we need to understand that this is not new, there have been and always will be difficult, trying times in this world. However, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus, it changes your perspective. Why? because now you know where you will spend eternity. Fear is taken over by love, and we experience a freedom like nothing else.

So use common sense and be wise in difficult times, but also look to God for your wisdom, courage and strength. Talk to Him regularly, read what He has to say, then listen and obey.

Seven Things I’ve Learned about Great Leadership

As I reflect on being a leader over the last 30 years, it’s been a process of building, learning and growing. I still believe that everything rises and falls on leadership. The times that I have not lead well, things began to slip whether at work or at home. When I’ve led well progress was made and change happened, in me and others. I’ve learned so much and still have a lot to learn and improve on, but I would like to share some of what I believe about leadership.

I’d like to share seven thoughts about leadership, and what great leaders do.

  1. Great leaders develop people – People development should be a daily event, integrated into every interaction and conversation. As a leader you are constantly evaluating things and people around you. Are the right people in the right position, who needs more attention, what resources are needed to help them grow, are our systems encouraging growth, learning and improvement. Encouragement is a big part of developing people, building up their self-confidence, encouraging risk taking and constant improvement. Leaders need to mentor, coach and counsel the people they lead. The only way to do that is by getting to know them, their personalities, what motivates them, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what they are passionate about.
  2. Great leaders cast vision – Vision leaks and it’s the leaders responsibility to keep filling people up with the vision. If there is no vision the organization, the family, the relationship will decline. To cast vision you must be clear about what the vision really is. The vision can’t be constantly changing. Dripping the vision consistently, rewarding people that get it and living it out as an example.
  3. Great leaders build trust – Trust is built over time by being consistent, doing what you say, listening, and being humble. Leaders take responsibility for when things go wrong and they generously pass around praise when things go right. Trust building also comes from good decisions, asking for peoples input, and doing what is best for your company, your family or the relationship. It also makes a huge difference to admit when you were wrong and to ask for forgiveness when you make a mistake. Trust takes a long time to build, but can be lost very quickly with one bad decision or mistake. What helps me is to have some other leaders around me that know me and hold me accountable, pray for me and encourage me.
  4. Great leaders make the tough calls – Tough calls can bring on criticism, resistance and complaints. Leaders that are willing to make difficult decisions do that because of the vision, the values, and the culture they are passionate about. Anything that derails that or distracts from that, needs to be changed or eliminated. The ability to make the tough calls comes from years of experience, failure and victories. It’s also vital to have some trusted advisors or mentors that can help you when you are facing a tough decision.
  5. Great leaders serve – Serving the people around you is one of the primary functions of a leader. What I mean by that is good leaders look for ways to make things better for their people. What resources are needed? What information is needed? What questions need to be asked? Who needs to rest or slow down? Who needs to be challenged more? The best way to do this is by meeting with your people, asking questions, getting to know them better, and really caring about them. Great leaders serve!
  6. Great leaders inspire – Inspiration comes from a compelling vision, but it also comes from being a good example. Leaders that live out what they say and lead by example inspire others to do the same. Leaders that take risks, learn through failure, and lead with integrity inspire people and give people the courage to do the same. Inspiration comes from the words leaders use and the actions they take.
  7. Great leaders are humble – Humility is the key to great leadership. Thinking about what is best for others and not yourself. Being open to new ideas or other people’s opinions. Admitting when you make a mistake, and owning bad decisions. Being humble does not mean you are weak, it really means you are strong and confident. It means you are not afraid to surround yourself with people more talented than you are. Leaders that have the combination of humility and persistence are the leaders people want to follow.

There is so much more to leadership, but if you work on just a few of these things you can grow as a leader. If you are struggling as a leader, keep going, it’s in the struggling that you become the leader God created you to be.

The last thing I will say about great leadership is that faith in Jesus Christ has been a game changer for me. Jesus is the best leader this world has ever seen. Simply studying and following the life of Jesus will make you a better leader. Putting your faith and trust in him changes your eternal destiny. He is all seven of those things in perfection, and so much more.


There are many opinions about whether the Bible is true or not. Some people think it’s partly true. Other people think many of the stories in it are a myth. Read the following verses and identify where the Bible came from and how we got it?

 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” NLT

2 Peter 1:20-21: “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” NLT

The Bible claims to be inspired. Inspired or “God-breathed” means that God spoke through the writers of the Bible to communicate absolute truth to us. Although the exact method is unknown, the entire Bible is God’s thoughts given to us through people. Because the Bible came from God, you can be certain it’s true.


A lot of people say the Bible is outdated or irrelevant. Yet many people have never read an entire chapter of the Bible. Read the following list of subjects. If you think the subject is outdated, mark it with an “I” for irrelevant. If the subject is relevant today, mark it with an “R” for relevant.

     _  marriage     _    addictions _ forgiving others     _    money management     _    dating

  _    handling stress     _    family relationships      _   time management

It may surprise you that each of these subjects is addressed in the Bible. The more you read the Bible, the more insight you will find regarding the issues and challenges you’re facing.

Many items we purchase come with an expiration date. You can be certain you won’t find an expiration date on your Bible! Everything in the Bible is relevant for us today and throughout our lives.

When most of us hear the word study it produces a negative connotation. However, when we study something, we learn and discover facts about it. Studying the Bible involves a process of learning that includes observation, interpretation, and application. Read the following verses and identify what you observe, can interpret, or apply? 

Psalm 1:1-3


Getting to know the Bible is more than just reading words on a page or learning facts about a subject. The Bible reveals the truth about Jesus Christ.  So as we get to know the Bible, we’re really getting to know Jesus.

Identity Crisis

In our world today there is a lot of confusion about identity. Many are putting their identity in sexual orientation, gender, political beliefs or even a sports team. There is also massive confusion about who God is and who Jesus Christ is. Religious beliefs and teachings can further confuse people.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, and a believer in Jesus Christ, my identity is in Him. If you are also a believer then your identity should also be in Christ. We are now children of God, part of the family, and God is central in everything we think, say and do.

Most Christ followers need reminded from time to time of who they are in Christ. I often will read through things that help me to remember who I am. I want to share some of the things that have helped me over the years. I hope this is helpful to you as well.

The Apostle Paul shares our lofty position in Christ when he wrote, “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians. 1:1). As you read this, put your name in the following:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed (name) in Christ with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places, even as He chose (name) in Him before the foundation of the world, that (name) should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined (name) for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed (name) in the Beloved. In Him (name) has redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon (name) . . . In Him (name) has obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will . . . In Him (name) also, when (name) heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of (name) inheritance until (name) acquires possession of it (Eph. 1:3-14).

Understanding your identity in Christ is absolutely essential to your success at living the victorious Christian life! Slowly read through the following list, maybe even read it out loud. Let these statements sink deep into your soul. Look up the Scriptures and keep drinking it in.

I am accepted . . . 

John 1:12 I am God’s child.

John 15:15 I am Christ’s friend.

Rom. 5:1 I have been justified.

1 Cor. 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one spirit with Him.

1 Cor. 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price. I belong to God.

1 Cor. 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.

Eph. 1:1 I am a saint.

Eph. 1:5 I have been adopted as God’s child.

Eph. 2:18 I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit.

Col. 1:14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.

Col. 2:10 I am complete in Christ.

I am secure . . . 

Rom.  8:1-2 I am free forever from condemnation.

Rom. 8:28 I am assured that all things work together for good.

Rom. 8:31-34 I am free from any condemning charges against me.

Rom. 8:35-39 I cannot be separated from the love of God.

2 Cor. 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God.

Col. 3:3 I am hidden with Christ in God.

Phil. 1:6 I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will 

be perfected.

Phil. 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.

2 Tim. 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a 

sound mind.

Heb. 4:16 I can find grace and mercy in time of need.

1 John 5:18 I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me.

I am significant . . .

Matt. 5:13-14 I am the salt and light of the earth.

John 15:1,5 I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life.

John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.

Acts 1:8 I am a personal witness of Christ’s.

1 Cor. 3:16 I am God’s temple.

2 Cor. 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.

2 Cor. 6:1 I am God’s coworker (1 Cor. 3:9).

Eph. 2:6 I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.

Eph. 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.

Eph. 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

(From Living Free in Christ by Dr. Neil Anderson)

The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity!”
(From Victory Over the Darkness by Dr. Neil Anderson)

Obey Like Jesus

If ever there was a word that makes us cringe, it would be obedience. For a lot of folks, obedience has a negative connotation. Maybe it reminds you of your failures, your inability to measure up to some standard. Maybe it reminds you of someone in your past (a parent, or a pastor) who used religion to manipulate you.

As Parents you want your children to “obey” you. Not because they are afraid of you, but because they trust you. Lots of kids rebel against authority, especially their parents. They experiment on how far they can push it. They want to go their own way, even if you as the parent know better. Honestly many adults are also rebelling, doing their own thing and not obeying authority figures, especially God.

When it comes to obeying someone, it’s a lot easier to obey someone you trust and feel loved by. However, not everyone who insists on obedience does so out of love for us. Some people throw this word around like a hand grenade, and do a lot of damage in the name of God. Obedience is a power word. Usually when someone insists on our obedience it’s a “red flag.” Some people use this word to conceal their ambitions, hidden agenda, and selfishness. Emotionally abusive people love to use this word as they tread all over us like a doormat.

From a Biblical perspective, we’re always living in obedience to someone, or something. And so our obedience can be directed toward God, or it can be dislocated away from God.

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:16

We can be mastered by sin just as readily as anything. So we obey our addictions. We obey our lusts. We obey our appetite for caffeine, alcohol, sugars, carbs.  We obey our materialistic impulses–the idol of bigger, better, faster, newer, shinier. We obey our tech impulses, new and better devices. Few masters are more ruthless than our desires.

At first our lusts isolate us from others. We withdrawal to do our thing. Then they demand greater commitment. Time, energy, resources, relationships, life. At first we try to manage them, until they finally consume us, destroying us in the end.

In Mark 7:8 Jesus observes how we “lay aside the commands of God to obey the traditions of men.”

We can identify as a certain denomination instead of a follower of Jesus. We obey the traditions we learned instead of the person we love, Jesus. Instead of serving God, sometimes we can become servants of our religious/political ideologies.

The masses didn’t crucify Jesus because he was the Son of God, or was obeying God. They killed him because he didn’t obey their traditions. In John 12:43 he describes how people “love human praise more than praise from God.” How many times have you felt conviction about some great thing God put on your heart, only to realize that your spouse, a boyfriend/ girlfriend, your kids, a friend was not on board, or disagreed with you? So instead of pressing forward, you relented, and gave in to the pressure. Our need for affirmation, and approval is so strong, we will cave rather than risk the disapproval of others. It’s like a law has been passed: “I have to be liked.” I need a Facebook thumbs up, a Twitter retweet, to have the validation I need in life. Do we obey men, or do we obey God?

Galatians 2:16 says, “…we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law” (NLT).

The Bible describes how people believe they are accepted by God by obeying all the laws God has given. So like the Rich Young Ruler, people try to establish their own righteousness before God. Our checklists become a source of pride for us, and they become a sort of litmus test by which we gauge other’s sincerity, spirituality, or faith. “I don’t ever miss church. I read my Bible. I’ve been baptized. I tithe. I volunteer. I go to Bible study. I go on missions trips. I care about orphans, widows, prisoners, the hungry, the sick. . . I, I, I…” Our selective, cherry-picked lists can give us a false sense of confidence before God.

God’s standard is Galatians 3:10, “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

Who or what do you most obey? Jesus’ obedience wasn’t oriented around things… it was oriented to Father. Look at how Jesus obeyed. In John 8:28-30 Jesus says, “… I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. “ And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”  

Philippians 2:8, “… being found in the appearance as a man, Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!” 

To Obey Like Jesus: First, obedience is all about relationship. “Obedience or trusting obedience is God’s love language.” The “heart” of obedience is pleasing the Father in everything–i.e. in all we say and do. He is pleased when we obey because he knows that means we trust him. When we trust God we want to obey God, When we have a relationship with Jesus and are intimate with our Father God we don’t obey out of fear, it’s out of love. 2 John 1:6 says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

Second, grace is the basis for our relationship with God. We are saved through faith in Christ alone, by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice, His perfect righteousness, His blood. The best we can do is respond to God’s offer of mercy. We can confess Jesus as Lord. We can repent and turn to God. We can pledge our lives to him in baptism. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.” Faith in Jesus Christ leads to being born again spiritually. You are a new person and that new person begins to grow in love for Jesus. As that love grows, trust increases and obedience increases.

Third, obedience is God’s prescription for blessing. God’s commands carry a blessing, a promise, a reward. God’s promise to the children of Abraham is that if they obeyed God, it would go well for them, they would live a long life, and receive inheritance. If we sow obedience, we reap God’s very best in our lives. In Luke 11:28 Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  I even noticed in 1 John 3:22 that obedience makes our prayers more powerful. John says, “If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.”

Last, obedience is evidence our faith is alive, not dead. James says faith without works is DOA (James 2:17).  1 John 2:5-6 says, “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus lived.”  If our faith is alive, real, vibrant, sincere, it will show itself in how we live. Obedience is the inevitable fruit of saving faith.  In the end, God judges our faith by every word spoken, and every deed done, whether in public or private.

Who will you obey?