Kingdom Leadership – Towel & Basin

 

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When you enter into the sanctuary of the church our family attends you are confronted with a potent picture of Kingdom Leadership. On the left stage located beneath a wooden cross is a brown washbasin with a towel draped over it. Every Sunday as worshipers crowd in, lift up praises to Jesus, and hear His Word there is a visible sermon calling them to emulate the actions of the King of the Universe.

The image of King Jesus on His knees washing dirty, stinky, ugly, gross feet the night before His journey to the cross would be forever seared into the minds of His disciples who were still grappling with a man-centered approach of leadership. When Jesus approached Peter to wash his feet, Peter vehemently responded, “No, you shall never wash my feet (John 13:8). I believe Peter was still in the CEO paradigm mode of leadership, meaning the world rotates upon a leader’s wish and command. It would take a betrayal of his Lord, a bloody cross on which His rabbi died, and a restoration on resurrection day to shift Peter’s worldview to the towel and basin approach.

The Kingdom of God would advance by humble servant leaders who followed in the steps of Jesus even if it meant washing the feet of the “Judas’ in their life.” The early church launched an unstoppable movement of Jesus’ love by serving the poor, sick, and the “least of these” which opened wide the door for an introduction to the true King of the Universe Jesus Christ.

Some where along the way we lost our towel and basin approach to Kingdom Leadership. How can I tell? Just observe the emotional reactions to the current election by followers of Christ. Many are distraught, consumed with fear, and even overcome with rage at the direction our country is heading. I know because I have had some of those same emotions. Yet when I walk into church and I see the towel and basin I’m forced to wrestle with Jesus’ approach to a leadership style designed to take over the world with a humble love that serves.

When I reread and mediate on the Kingdom Leadership principles in John 13 I get inspired again in the midst of what appears to be a hopeless situation in our country. The early church faced odds of opposition from the right, left, and everything in between yet in a couple hundred years they turned the cruel Roman Empire upside down with the towel and basin approach and earned the right to share the gospel. Rome was invaded and overthrown by a King who ruled in the hearts of His people because of the towel and basin.

On our refrigerator is a picture of a towel and basin. It reminds our family that there is only one way to lead and that is on our knees washing the feet of others. I pray that November 8, Election Day, will be a day that calls followers of Christ to exhibit the humble act of washing the feet of those in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, work places, those serving in political officials and yes even our enemies. I’m praying another Kingdom movement is about to explode by towel and basin!

Following the Father – Know the Truth

In today’s social media crazed world Jesus could be considered The Father’s Instagram Post! Furthering that idea I thought one post about Jesus could be a video showing the heavens ripping open and God’s voice bellowing out at Jesus’ baptism and another similar post might be at the transfiguration. With such a visual post we can see without a doubt that God the Father has an immense love for His Boy. After Jesus’ baptism a Holy Spirit-filled Jesus heads off to war against Satan in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). This time the Father posts an Instagram of His Son in the thick of a spiritual battle. In this battle Jesus demonstrates for us how to conquer such situations and temptations in our own lives.

Jesus’ temptations are real and Satan knows exactly where to aim his repugnant arrows. In each case Satan goes after the Son’s identity found in the Father’s love. This crafty one states, “if you are the Son of God” turn the stones into bread and feed your hungry stomach and another time he says, “if you are the Son of God” jump off the high point of the temple and dazzle the crowds to prove your Father’s love. Satan does the same to us by trying to convince us to turn away from the Father’s love and worship his temporal lures for satisfaction. Satan says all we need to do is give our heart’s allegiance to him and in exchange we get all the pleasures of the world without having to “carry the cross” of our Father’s will (Luke 4:8-9). What a lie from the father of lies!

This post from our Father begs us to tuck in behind our Savior Jesus Christ. We need to follow Him through the maze of temptations we face each day from the enemy telling us the Father’s love is not enough. Jesus stands on the rock solid promise of His Father’s Word every time His identity is attacked and we must do the same. Notice Jesus’ response to the first temptation:

Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

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Jesus’ identity was not rooted in the things of the world but rather in the Words of the Father. For you and me the greatest “word that comes from the mouth of God” is “Jesus!” The Father sent Jesus to show what His love looks like culminating in the victory over sin and Satan at the Cross. Jesus’ finished work enables us to war against the onslaught of the enemy’s attacks and temptations.

Know that by being a follower of Christ temptations will come, and by hiding The Word in your heart and knowing that because of the cross of Christ you have the victory. Your identity and security is in Christ! Go ahead and like that post!!

 

 

 

“When God Dances!”

 

What makes God dance? Dependence! For a month a friend and I committed to study and through Luke 10. This is an amazing text that is foundational for the mission of God’s church, yet, often neglected. The first half of Luke 10 is about Jesus sending out 72 of His followers on a short- term mission trip. He gives them a set of instructions, which they follow and the glory of Heaven comes to earth through these disciples who are overcome with joy at what they experienced.

As Jesus takes time to debrief with them He too is overwhelmed by what had happened and responds in a prayer of praise to His Father:

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children, Yes Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (vs. 21)

The Greek word for “joy” in vs. 21 means to be exceedingly glad, over come with such joy that one breaks out jumping and dancing. This is the only place in scripture where we see Jesus “full of joy.” I’m sure there were time when Jesus laughed and experienced joy but I believe this text highlights for us what brings God the most joy, a joy that makes Him leap and dance. And as the text points out it is when the Father reveals His glory to “little children.” The word “little” means infants who live in total dependence on their parents.

I have been learning through this text and especially the last two years that the Father has been calling me to live as an infant resting on His chest in full dependence for everything in my life. When I lean into this truth I find the greatest of all joys in my Father’s love and provision for all my needs and I know this makes Him dance with exuberant joy over this trust.

My friend and I hiked up to a waterfall last week and pondered Luke 10 and the lessons that the Holy Spirit has been teaching us through it. We both agreed we are most full of God’s joy when we realize we are powerless and totally dependent on Him for everything. This is when we begin to experience Jesus‘ dance of joy over us and the fullness of His love flowing down in and through us like a mighty waterfall of His amazing grace.

I tell you the truth unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3).

 

The Gift of the Father – “I have nothing to give!”

One of the greatest spiritual truths that The Father continues to teach me is “I have nothing to give!” It flies in the face of my human pride to admit that I am empty, needy, can’t fix the problem, have nothing to give. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus teaches is the first step to prepare our hearts for an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Right after Jesus’ instruction on prayer in Luke 11 he teaches His disciples how to prepare for the gift of the Father’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Jesus presents a short story of the friend stopping by in the middle of the night requesting food due to an unexpected visitor who had arrived at his home. In Jesus’ day it was a social taboo to not welcome a guest with food and hospitability, it did not matter if they were invited or not and deciding “to go out” instead was not an option. After frantically searching the cupboards the man desperately yells out “I have nothing to set before him,” Luke 11:6.

Oh how hard this concept is for us grasp! In our American culture we have an endless abundance of just about everything and on top of that a spirit of self-reliance; because of this we have fooled ourselves into thinking we have something to give when in reality our cupboards are spiritually bare. We’ve encountered the latest and greatest “whatever,” we have read the most popular books, we have thrown our money at “it,” worked ourselves to the bone for such minuscule results. In our efforts to advance the Father’s glory, we have been left exhausted and empty.

Jesus clearly shows us there is another way to live powerfully and fulfilled in His Kingdom. Another way to bring the Father’s message of love and hope to a dying world, it starts with realizing that we have “nothing” to give. I sense that our Good Father is seeking to awaken His children to rediscover this deep, life changing truth! As I go online and read the news at times it overwhelms me with the impossible pain that is flooding the globe. Recently, I received a phone call from another follower of Christ beaten up for his tenacious faith and I realize I have “nothing” to give on my own. But the beauty of what Jesus teaches in the following verses all flow from starting with the realization we have no bread in our spiritual cupboards, we are completely empty and must look elsewhere. I need to find The One with the resources, The One who can fill my heart with the life giving Bread of Heaven and that is what will fill my spiritual cupboard so that I have something to give away.

I encourage you to join me in prayer, speaking the words from the vision of The Last Great Outpouring shared in the September 8 blog. Take a moment and ask the Father to show you how spiritually empty you are and how desperately you need Heaven’s Bread, a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).

 

 

 

 

The Character of Abba Father’s Heart – The Holy Spirit and His Faithfulness

This past week my son TJ and I took a road trip. Destination? College! This is the first vehicle that TJ owned and since the truck is up in years and miles I thought it might be wise for me to follow him to Iowa and then I would continue traveling to Michigan where I have some ministry appointments. As the miles went by I found myself staring at the back of the blue Toyota truck as we passed through the never ending state of Nebraska, anyway, as we went along our way I thought about how our Heavenly Father travels with us on the journey toward His promises for us. He is always there to make sure we get to the place He is leading us to. Just as I was with TJ to make sure just in case something happened I was right behind him with my credit card to guarantee he arrived safely to college.

How much more does our Heavenly Father want you and me to know His loving presence; a presence that never leaves us alone on this journey of faith? Which leads us to last week’s blog? Do you remember reason 1 for waiting?

Reason 1: “..we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope…” (Rom. 5:3-4). 

The Father uses the struggle of waiting to build into our character a passionate hope in Him alone. The wilderness of waiting strips us of self and creates a total dependency on the Father and His faithfulness. This is the place the Father desires His children to live from, a place where He is our only hope for this life and the next.

Reason 2: “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us,” (Romans 5:3-4). As we grow in this “passionate hope” we open our hearts to the greatest of gifts the presence of the Father’s love by the Holy Spirit. Hope prepares the container of our hearts to be flooded with streams of living water from Heaven. Jesus taught that the Father would send the “Counselor (the Spirit) who would be with you forever,” (John 14:16). We have a guarantee that is sealed upon our hearts by the Holy Spirit that we are going to make it, that our God will do the impossible just as He did in Abraham’s life.

Jesus told His followers to “wait for the gift my Father promised,” (Acts 1:4). They needed to know the overwhelming love of the Father through the Holy Spirit so that they could travel forward with great confidence. I know I can’t make this journey with out the awareness of my Abba Father’s loving presence with me. Join with me in crying out for a new work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts making us fully aware of our Faithful Father’s presence with us. Come Holy Spirit, Come!!!