can leaders be trained?

Ruth Tucker, in her book Leadership Reconsidered: Becoming a Person of Influence (Baker,2008), doesn’t think so. She writes,

Enrolling in a seminar to learn how to be a leader is as unfeasible as taking a seminar to learn how to teach. There are as many kinds of leaders as there are teachers. Teaching elementary piano lessons, for example, requires a different set of skills than teaching calculus or carpentry or creative writing all of which require unique teaching proficiencies.

If leading refers only to the job of the CEO, then the field narrows significantly, but if leading covers the categories of everything from playground monitor ad supermarket produce manager to president and pope, then there is no effective way to teach leadership. Unless training is offered for fields of specialty such as gift-market retailing or marina management, training for leadership is mostly a waste of time (38).

Agree or disagree, its been fun to read so far. She skewers many a leadership theories’ sacred cows!


The Missional Church

Quote of the Day:

God is about a big purpose in and for the whole of creation. The church has been called into life to be both the means of this mission and a foretaste of where God is inviting all creation to go. Just as its Lord is a mission-shaped God, so the community of God’s people exists, not for themselves but for the sake of the work. Mission is therefore not a program or project some people in the church do from time to time (as in “mission trip,” “mission budget,” and so on); the church’s very nature is to be God’s missionary people. We use the word missional to mark this big difference.

Mission is not about a project or a budget, or a one-off event somewhere; it’s not even about sending missionaries. A missional church is a community of God’s people who live into the imagination that they are, by their very nature, God’s missionary people living as a demonstration of what God plans to do in and for all of creation in Jesus Christ.

From the intro of Roxburgh and Romanuk’s The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) p.xv Jossey-Bass, 2006.

What say you? I guess my only quip is that the missional thrust of the Church has existed from the very beginning and we’re all acting like it is the new deal. Old is new?

On the notion of truth

Francis Schaeffer wrote in his book The God who is There,

….if man has been kicked up by chance out of what is only impersonal, then those things that make him man – hope of purpose and significance, love, motions of morality and rationality, beauty and verbal communication – are ultimately unfulfillable and are thus meaningless.

95-96 Francis Schaeffer Trilogy (Crossway, 1990)

I have been reading this book and it has been blowing my mind… (or vexing me). Some of the conversations I have seen going on on the blogs are starting to make sense now as to why they are happening. Part of it is the problem of the effects of post-modernism on Christian Theology and the loss of the notion of absolute truth. Without absolute truth, all truth becomes “God’s truth” and this is a terrible thing and has wreaked havoc on our ability to know and believe that 1) Christianity and the Bible is true, and 2) that God (who is personal and infinite) can be truly known (though not exhaustively). All this has led to much confusion in the church and it is sad to see. If we ask “can I really be sure I am saved? We might say “I don’t know.” if we ask, “Can God really be known?” We might say, “I don’t know.” much of this has come because we have given up the notion of absolute truth along with the idea that its opposite is not true for the notion that there are many truths so we try to synthesis the various truths together and call it truth when it isn’t…

Ah the tangled web we weave…

More to come on this.

on the Trinity and the gospel

if belief in or understaning of God as Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is not necessary for salvation (or to be considered “saved”), since it would put out all the early Christians up to the formulation of the Doctrine since they did not necessarily see God or Christ in such terms, then, to what end the Doctrine of the Trinity?

on the fear of the Lord

yesterday I read through the book of Proverbs in one sitting. This was a really interesting experience. But I think probably the basic gist of the book is that the fear of the Lord is the basis for gaining wisdom and understanding.

Wisdom is contrasted with folly, understanding with simplicity or ignorance, wealth with poverty, hard work with laziness, righteousness with the wiked and so on. All of this hangs on the notion of the fear of the Lord.

So I made a list of the instances of “fear of the Lord” and what was associated with it.

The Fear of the Lord is:

the beginning of knowledge. 1:7
the knowledge of God. 2:5
to hate evil. 8:13
the beginning of wisdom. 9:10
adds length to life. 10:27
is to walk uprightly. 14:2
a fountain of life. 14:27
to avoid evil. 16:6
leads to life. 19:23
humlity. 22:4

Now, I have to say that the whole notion of what it means to fear the Lord has not been an easy process for me.

I once read a book that talks about it but felt it put too heavy a burden on me. It was a book by Joy Dawson on Friendship with God. I am sure it wasn’t her fault but I did not respond to the book in a positive way. I actually became more legalistic and a hard person. I was hard on myself more than anything. I don’t really remember why this happend but I felt the same burden try to come on me when I once tried to read John Bevere’s book on the fear of the Lord, A Heart Ablaze. I just couldn’t get throught it, hardly even past the first couple chapters. I got rid of it and his other books I had too. Not sure why those two books had such a negative effect on me.

The one and only book so far that I have read that helped me and was actually refreshing and enjoyable to read was Jerry Bridges’ book The Joy of Fearing God.

It has been a while since I read it but it impacted me so I carry some of it with me. One thing I do remember is his talking about how we ahould fear God in both senses of the word. I know this isn’t a popular notion but I think he is right. It is along the lines of how C.S. Lewis described Aslan in his Chronicles of Narnia. “He is not safe, but he is good” and that if one could stand before him without their knees knocking they are either braver than most or just plain silly.

I don’t think it is inappropriate to speak of the Lord in this way but probably necessary. He is afterall, the Judge of all the Earth and his judgement is coming. When that day comes each one of us will have to stand before the Lord and give an account and I think the bacis idea behind “walking in the fear of the Lord” has to do with keeping these kinds of things in mind. It has to do with living in the present in light if the future.

I think we all need a healthy dose of fear of God in our hearts. It helps us “walk the line” so to speak.

In Proverbs, living in the fear of the Lord helps us avoid folly and wickedness, and destruction, and to gain wisdom, understanding, righteouness and life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (9:10). The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life turning a person from the snares of death (14:27). The fear of the Lord leads to lfe; then one rests content, untouched by trouble (19:23).

Well, those are my thoughts for now on the fear of the Lord.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s Letter to His Church

The following is a letter from Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who currently faces the death sentence for apostasy written a few months ago.  I do not know the present state of his situation but this is a pretty powerful and moving letter.  Please continue to pray.

(This message has been translated from Farsi to English.)

Dear brothers and sisters, Salam

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am continuously seeking grace and mercy to you, that you remember me and those who are bearing efforts for his name in your prayers. Your loyalty to God is the cause of my strength and encouragement.

For I know well that you will be rewarded; as it’s stated: blessed is the one who has faith, for what has been said to him by God, will be carried out. As we believe, heaven and earth will fade but his word will still remain.

Dear beloved ones, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of a few verses, although you might know them, So that in everything, you give more effort than the past, both to prove your election, and for the sake of Gospel that is to be preached to the entire world as well.

I know that not all of us are granted to keep this word, but to those who are granted this power and this revelation, I announce the same as Jude, earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.

We are passing by special and sensitive days.They are days that for an alert and awake believer can be days of spiritual growth and progress. Because for him, more than any other time there is the possibility to compare his faith with the word of God, have God’s promises in mind, and survey his faith.

Therefore he (the true believer) does not need to wonder for the fiery trial that has been set on for him as though it were something unusual, but it pleases him to participate in Christ’s suffering. Because the believer knows he will rejoice in his glory.

Dears, the “ judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Therefore those who are enduring burdens by the will of God, commit their souls to the faithful Creator. Promises that he has given us, are unique and precious. As we’ve heard he has said: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you”

How can it be possible for a believer to understand these words?

Not only when he is focusing on Jesus Christ with adapting his life according to the life Jesus lived when he was on earth? As it is said ” O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”

Have we not read and heard: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Many attempt to flee from their spiritual tests, and they have to face those same tests in a more difficult manner, because no one will be victorious by escaping from them, but with patience and humility he will be able to overcome all the tests, and gain victory.

Therefore in the place of Christ’s followers, we must not feel desperate, but we have to pray to God in supplication with more passion to help us with any assistance we may need.

According to what Paul has said: In every temptation, God himself will make a way for us to tolerate it.

O beloved ones, difficulties do not weaken mankind, but they reveal the true human nature.

It will be good for us to occasionally face persecutions and abnormalities, since these abnormalities will persuade us to search our hearts, and to survey ourselves. So as a result, we conclude that troubles are difficult, but usually good and useful to build us.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must be more careful than any other time. Because in these days, the hearts and thoughts of many are revealed, so that the faith is tested. May your treasure be where there is no moth and rust.

I would like to remind you of some verses that we nearly discuss everyday, (Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.) but as long as our human will has priority over God’s will, his will will not be done.

As we have learned from him in Gethsemane, he surrendered his will to the father, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

What we are bearing today, is a difficult but not unbearable situation, because neither he has tested us more than our faith and our endurance, nor does he do as such. And as we have known from before, we must beware not to fail, but to advance in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, And consider these bumps and prisons as opportunities to testify to his name. He said: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

As a small servant, necessarily in prison to carry out what I must do, I say with faith in the word of God that he will come soon.”However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Discipline yourself with faith in the word of God. Retain your souls with patience. For there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly.

May you are granted grace and blessings increasingly in the name of Lord Jesus Christ.

Yusef Nadarkhani
Lakan Prison in Rasht

via Trevin Wax

Good Bible Study Advice

from Tim Gombis.  He shares in part:

In my first year of college I was consumed with understanding the Bible.  I tried to get my hands on anything and everything that would help me to “get it.”  I remember being at a bookstore and spotting a little booklet called “How to Study the Bible” by John MacArthur.  I had to buy it.  Among a number of other things in that little paperback booklet was one of the most valuable suggestions for knowing and understanding the Bible I have ever come across.

MacArthur said to choose a portion of text of about 3-5 chapters and to read that text for 30 days straight.  Just read it and re-read it, again and again.  So I did.  I started with James.  I read it once.  And then again.  After five days, nothing magical happened.  After ten days, still nothing.  I wasn’t arriving at the deep insights I was seeking to gain.

After about 18-20 days, I noticed that I was walking to class with a question running over and over in my head: “Who is wise and understanding among you?”  It just kept repeating (James 3:13).  And then the answer: “Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (I was reading the NIV my parents had given me).

I wasn’t intentionally “memorizing” the passage, but the cadence of the words and the flow of thought were running through my head.  After about 25 days I noticed that I felt I knew James in a thoroughgoing way, and after those 30 days felt like James was an old friend.  Read More.

Reading and reading and re-reading and re-reading a section of Scripture or whole books of the Bible is GREAT advice…  Thanks for the tip Sir!