About every six months, the Lord gives me a message to bring to the churches. These messages are very different than our standard newsletter as they convey messages from the Lord and we are merely being used to impart it to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see what He wants to say and reveal. Sometimes God uses events to trigger His messages and uses circumstances as parables. This letter started in such a way.
I was walking along the sidewalk one day and came to an intersection. The light was red and I stopped. On the other side of the street were two ladies, one started walking, even though the light was still red, and shortly after the second lady followed, again the light was still red. When the light turned green I proceeded into the intersection, but when I got to the place where the second lady was walking, in the middle of the road, she turned to me and said, embarrassed, “I guess it’s follow the leader”.
Of course, this is not the first time I had seen something like this, and even to a greater extent, many people in many situations, automatically without thinking just follow. I guess it’s like a herd mentality, go where the crowd goes. If someone shouts in a panic, “run”, people usually don’t think, they just run. I believe that God, in that moment, wanted me to examine the whole aspect of leadership and being an example that others would follow. What kind of leaders do we have? What kind of leaders are we ourselves?
Why would I follow you, for example? Or why would you follow me?
Why should we follow a leader that says go, or do something, but he himself is not willing to go or to do what he asks others to do, or to serve, to preach, to give, to sacrifice, to suffer, to be ridiculed, laughed at, spat at? But he boldly says go and preach the gospel to all creation, take care of the poor, don’t you know what the Bible says, read it here… and there… Hypocrisy!
I was really challenged by this, because the entire Bible, the old and new testaments is filled with people that did walk the talk. Men and women that obeyed the living God, not only with words, but with action. There are entire books in the word of God about what those men did. Of course, we have the whole chapter in Hebrews 11, where God holds up true heroes of faith as examples. Let’s stop for a second, why are they heroes? Because they talk nice? Maybe because they had a very nice pulpit, or… I know… perhaps because they had a great big congregation. I know that I am sounding cynical here, I did it on purpose, to challenge you to think, not on the surface, but deep within your own heart.
When it comes to me, I refuse to listen to leaders that speak and yet do not follow their own preaching. Don’t get me wrong, the message may be wonderful and true, one hundred percent, but somehow I don’t see the weight and I don’t feel the power of the Holy Spirit behind those words. Perhaps because God hates hypocrisy. Oh, I have watched many talented leaders giving very smart and sophisticated messages that stirred the congregations either with laughter, tears, or that get the listeners thinking. But it says in scripture, be not hearers of the word only but doers. Only doers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Also, there are strong words of Jesus for leaders who walk in hypocrisy, Matthew 23:3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments…
We all have to admit that the entire part of Matthew chapter 23 is powerful and very challenging. The thing is that it should not just be challenging but life changing. The question is what will we do with what we now know? It is not a question of whether or not you are reading it, but rather are you obeying it? But who am I? I am just a man saved by grace. A morning mist, dust in my flesh, let every man be a liar but God speaks the truth. But, what God wants to say, He will say.
I recently listened to a very talented preacher who was challenging the congregation to step out in faith and do something for the Lord, so I spoke to Him afterwards asking him if he was serious in his challenge. I actually presented him with an opportunity to be like Moses and lead the people out of the desert, of complacency, into the promised land, of action. The teacher thought that the proposal was great but declined due to the fact that he may offend some people. What a shame and, sadly, this happens far too often in the church.
So how is it that we are willing to say to others you go and you do it, that’s the will of God, but we ourselves will not go and do it. Is it not required of us who speak, as much as it is of those who hear? It’s like politicians sending kids to war, but will not send their own, nor would they go themselves. They say you do it, you die for the cause, as they being motivated by greed, power, cowardess, money, pride, or whatever, stay comfortably at home manipulating people for their own gain, but God says, Mark 9:35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Such a big difference, wouldn’t you agree? I will go even further, the commandments to preach, to go, to do in Matthew 10:7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. and Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. are for who? Angels did not receive this commission, we did. God did not write in the sky “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…” He says we are to go outside from our comfortable pews to let the dying world know that Jesus died so that they could live.
Many people today, in the church, look to the “faith chapter” in Hebrews for Heroes of the faith, others look to people like Paul, or Esther, or King David, or Moses, and they are wonderful examples, but the truth is that we don’t have to look only to these heroes of the past. Today, God wants to make heroes of average men and women, stay at home moms that, through sweat and tears, bring up the next generation in Godly teaching, through godly conduct, fathers who work diligently to provide for their families, with Godly character, and while teaching and preaching in their places of work. People that are considered average are the very people that God wants to use and to lift up. These are our modern day heroes, with no fame, no fanfare, no glory, they diligently work with the heart of God to fulfil the call of God in their lives.
Leadership – A place of Authority
God says in His word, to whom much is given, much is required, and that the punishment and the rewards will be greater for these who have been given people to care for. Sometimes, this can be a very scary thing but never the less, if God called you to that position, do it with great reverence and true humility, do not take it lightly.
Who are my heroes? The average Joe, that doesn’t care about titles, without any applause, faithfully, with the heart of Jesus, serving others and sharing the truth of the gospel. My heroes are like Jennifer that I see coming to the streets and shaking every homeless person’s hand and telling every one of them that Jesus loves them, individually, and with a big smile, with God’s anointing, doing the impossible – changing the atmosphere that was hellish into heavenly.
When I look at Monty, with his cowboy hat, having a full time job and yet for years so faithfully reaching out to the homeless feeding them and telling every one of them, “Jesus is the greatest cowboy ever and He is coming back and He died for you.” Or David despite a horrible situation that he is facing, still dances for the Lord, praising Him, not hidden in a closet, but on the streets of Calgary. Then there is Daisy, who is 83 years old, and Joan and Netty other “youngsters” who could always say “I am too old for this” or “I am retired”, yet they come four times a week and pray for the people on the streets letting them know that they are not alone and that Jesus can change their circumstances. Then there is Bogdan, a man with broken English, who faithfully comes to the streets and works with the poorest of the poor sharing with them truths of the scriptures. He could say, “No I cannot do it, my English is not good enough, I studied scriptures in Polish, not in English, please have me excused.” And there are many more countless and faceless servants of God.
So what do these people all have in common? Despite their short comings, lack of education, or fleshly abilities, they are willing publicly to identify themselves with Jesu,s proclaiming boldly, without shame, that Jesus Christ is Lord, understanding that there is only one way to the Father, through His Son, and that God himself wants to use them for the salvation of others.
According to Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” There is another thing that they have in common, they are not only willing to talk, and to give nice speeches or teachings, but they are willing to do it. I prefer to listen to them. Those are my heroes.
There is another noteworthy, modern day, Daniel that refuses to be like the world (politically correct, following the status quo), his name is Bill Mills Mayor of Truro, NS. He and the six city councillors, voted 6 to 1 against flying the trademark rainbow flag of the homosexual movement at the town hall. He refused the proposal made by gay activists, stating, "There are writings in the book of Romans chapter one, to name a few – basically I have to go with that conviction, and I know it’s not a popular one." This was an incredibly difficult move for him which brought the scorn of many, including some so-called “believers” in the church.
Shame on them for coming up against a man standing, in public office, for the word of God. Here me now when I say, homosexuality is an abomination, if you have never heard it before, here it is. In the eyes of God, this is a sin and individuals practising this, will end up in hell unless they repent. God loves them, and commands us to love them and we do, at our tables there are many homosexuals that come and eat, who receive prayers and help, but the truth is those practices are wrong, against the nature of mankind and someone has to tell them before it is too late, that the wages of sin, any sin including this one is death. But God wishes that none should perish but that everyone should repent and find everlasting life. Recently this one pastor said, “God will judge them”, and that’s true, but He will judge that pastor for refusing to speak the truth. We must remember that if the watchmen fail at warning the city of impending danger and the city falls the blood will be on the watchmen.
The Mayor of Truro did something else that is worth acknowledging. He could easily have escaped the wrath of the homosexual activists by simply saying that City Halls masts are for the Canadian flag or the provincial flag only, and that would be the end of the story, but he didn’t do that. He openly, without shame, stated that as a Christian he cannot endorse “same-sex marriage or gay pride” and at the end of his statement he said something every so-called “believer” should here twenty times a day, "It comes down to what you believe." My Hero, a man that walks the talk. Such a big difference between the council in Truro and ours here in Calgary. Most of our councillors including our Mayor Dave Bronconnier are acting like prostitutes selling themselves to anyone who pays, or to the highest bidder, no standards, no morals, no fear of God, mockery of justice, and corruption. Calgary’s City Council made it very clear that God is of no importance in their decision making process. The very same God that they mocked is going to judge them on the day of judgement when all men will appear and give an account for every deed and even every idle word they’ve spoken.
Stepping Stones or Stumbling Blocks – Your Choice (God speaks through the mouths of babes)
When I was in Florida, I took my family to a water park. There were these tall multi-story hills that were covered in large stones that you would climb up, to get to the top of the water slides. One time, as we were climbing these stones, my son Gabriel (4 years old) turns to me and says “I really like those stepping stones”. I asked him why and he said “because they take me higher”. Then it hit me, like an image from God, those stepping stones are like the situations we go through in our walk with Christ. There are opportunities for us to step up and grow in our walk and to be lifted higher in our relationship to God. Leaders and, as a matter of fact, all believers have a choice. For some a circumstance is a stepping stone, for others it is a stumbling block. For us each stone that was placed on the path was big, and the walk was hard because of them, but they did take us higher and higher toward the goal, to a better place and made us stronger, tougher, more trained, but those same stones for others could trip them up, wear them out, discourage them to quit, some would say it is too far, too high, too hard, too dangerous, it requires too much commitment, I am afraid I will fall.
A true leader of God takes the difficult situations that come up as stepping stones to bigger victories, through Jesus Christ who strengthens us. God’s leaders will take their people under their wing and they will lead them up, through those so often difficult stones, the don’t send them up the hill on their own but are with them every step of the way building and encouraging by saying, “see I am walking with you… you can do it… keep going… if God is for us… who can be against us… victory is at hand…”. The question you have to ask yourself, as I did, is “What kind of leader am I? Am I leading or just sending?”
Three Seconds Six Stories – How Can You Help Others Do It?
At the same water park, there was this water slide called the bullet. It is a similar situation. You climb up a hill on these large stones. Only this time after such a long trek the reward is a fast and furious fall six stories in three seconds. When you go on this water slide it’s so fast it leaves you breathless. At the top of the slide, where you climb on, you are literally on the edge teetering over the abyss. To some it is exhilarating, to others it is terrifying.
Of those of us that went to the water park in our group, only three of us desired to go on this slide. There was my oldest son Nathaniel, my mother, and myself. We made our way up the long trek to the top. When we arrived, my son boldly took the plunge, dashing in where angels fear to tread. Then my mom got ready to go, she got into the slide and was about to let go and decided, at the last minute, that she just could not bring herself to go.
At this point I tried to encourage her. I told her that she could do it, and to prove it, I asked her to just watch me and see that it’s not that hard, that she can in fact do it. I got in the slide and headed down into the abyss with what seemed to be a jet propelled stream up my back. I made it safe and sound. I waited for a minute, for my mom to come down, but she didn’t arrive. At that point I thought for sure that she had decided to make her way back down the long windy rocky path. As it turned out there was a whole scene playing out at the top of the slide.
When my mom had backed out of the slide others had formed a line, holding hands preventing her return down the hill, not in a bad way but in an encouraging way. They had decided that since she had worked so hard to get to the top, she should tough it out and be courageous. They were telling her that she could do it. The workers at the top of the slide were also telling her that she could do it. She had a full team of cheerleaders rooting for her. There were others that went down ahead of her, again showing her that it was safe and that she could make it. Finally after much encouragement, she took the plunge. She did it, and what is more beautiful is that at the bottom of the slide, those people that went ahead of her were clapping for her and letting her know that she did great.
There are some lessons for us to learn from this experience. Godly leaders never give up, will continue to encourage those who are afraid to press on, will not accept defeat, will lead the way and be there to not only show that it can be done, but to applaud others that didn’t give up when victory is attained. They are literally there all through the whole journey, not as a spectator, but as an active participant and an example. Just look at this situation with my mom. Look at the two types of feelings that she could have come away with. One was the feeling of being defeated and of being a failure, the other is of being a conquerer and a victor. What made the difference for my mom is often what will make the difference for many believers around us. Are we leading the way, encouraging them to rise up and press on, are we applauding those that take the plunge into the unknown with a desire to walk in faith, or are we discouraging them?
Also, there are those that may not even decide to come on the hard journeys to start with, but they have to see that, when we face hard tasks, we are willing to go again and again and again. After a while some will see that, although the journey is challenging and even scary, the banner of victory is being raised. Then they will say, “If he can do it, I can do it”. Not everyone wants to pave the way, but people need Godly examples and leaders to follow after.
Today I take the time to bow my head with respect and love, before my Jesus, the Lord, the perfect leader, that led the way, who was not afraid to get his hands dirty in order to bring salvation and life and to those Godly leaders that are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God, and that are following what they preach.
One last thought. A question needs to be asked. No matter what role you play in the body of Christ, you have those that you consider examples to follow after. What kind of leaders are you following? Are they the kind that God would have you follow, strong and steadfast for the word of God and the truth of scripture? Are they unwavering and uncompromising, even in the face of persecution or adversity? Let me tell you, North America, unfortunately is following leaders after their own heart and the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things and filled with compromise. May God strengthen you not to be that way.