NO PLACE TO LIGHT PART II Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Imagine a Massai warrior standing an arm’s length from the mouth of a lion!  On our first mission trip to Kenya, the regional Bishop took our team of five under his wing and introduced us to the precious Kenyan people and their amazing culture.  We were all engrossed in his story as we drove through the rice fields, sugar cane, coffee and tea plantations.  We had been ministering two services a day for almost a week at different churches throughout the region.  Heading back to our hotel, Bishop decided to take us the long way home so that we could see the prolific produce in the Mt. Kenya area.  Bishop was teaching us the culture of the Massai people although Mt. Kenya is predominantly populated by the Kikuyu and Swahili people.

The Massai tribes live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.  Their home is on the Serengeti where they herd their cattle and goats among the lions and other predators.  Some have called their tribe the “lion killers” because of their on-going necessity to protect their herds.  They live together with extended family for protection.  Their large compound is constructed with an open area in the center encircled by a tall thorny fence of thickly compressed acacia tree branches.  The cattle pen has one opening which is barricaded at night.  They often designate one warrior to sleep in the pen with the herd for protection.  

The perimeter of the compound is surrounded by Bomas, which are small straw huts built with thin tree branches overlaid with a strong mortar of clay and cow dung.  Their roof is made of thatch and cow dung making it waterproof and sturdy.  The mixture adheres to the materials providing a tough structure that also insulates against weather.   

During the daytime the cattle are driven by Massai on the Serengeti but at night they are steered into the center of the compound for protection.  The thorny fence is their only fortification from lions on the prowl for a meal.  A lion that breeches the wall will meet a formidable challenge from Massai warriors in the camp.  When a young Massai comes of age, his rite of manhood is proven by his ability to kill a lion.

The Massai clothing is very colorful.  The men wear a shuka, which is a red robe with striped, plaid or checkered patterns often with bright red and royal blue.  They believe the color red scares the lions.  The Bishop told us it is apparent that lions purposefully try to avoid the Massai because they must connect their shuka with those who are lion killers.  (My pictures are from a mission trip to Tanzania in 2010).  

The men drape their large beautiful robe around their body for covering but it has versatile functions.  The women wear long, one and two piece dresses that are colorful, and wrap a cape around their shoulders.  They have beautiful vibrant beaded necklaces and earrings for their jewelry.    Their shoes are sandals made of leather or more currently, old rubber tires.  A warrior will carry a spear and a large knife (sword) at all times.  Herding cattle can be dangerous both day and night but the Massai warrior is fearless and well equipped to oppose a lion.

Bishop continued his story about the Massai warrior.  When he is attacked by a lion, the Massai removes his robe and wraps it around one forearm.  His sword is in the opposite hand.  He moves into close range and when the lion charges and opens his mouth, the warrior thrusts the forearm into his mouth grabbing his tongue in a death grip rendering him helpless and unable to bite.  He then thrusts his sword into the lion killing him with one swift blow!  The Massai are courageous and they are able to guard their families and cattle by disabling the tongue of the lion!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8, “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.  Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined]…”  Peter is directing the church to be prepared to withstand any persecution or suffering required because of the Gospel.  He counsels believers to walk in humility submitting to those the Lord has placed in the church to encourage, guide and direct them in the ways of the Lord.  He also warns them of the devil who is constantly seeking for an opening to bring destruction in their lives.  He charges us to withstand the devil being firm in our faith in God.  Hosea 4:8 explains, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of my law, where I reveal My will].  Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge…”

James, the brother of Jesus encouraged the church, “So be subject to God, Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7.  Notice, the scriptures do not say God will remove the devil from us.  Instead, it says we are to withstand the devil’s attacks.  We are called to be lion killers!  James 4:6 explains, “But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully).  That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).”  Our strength comes from the Holy Spirit and our faith in God.  He gives us the strength to withstand temptations when they come whether to sin against the Lord or to doubt or fear his ability to save us from trouble.

Now, let’s examine the Massai warrior with spiritual eyes.  The Massai warrior trains to become a lion killer.  It does not happen accidentally nor does his strength come by simply being born a Massai.  It comes through study and practice.  A young Massai is trained by the elders who teach him the authority he has over the lion.  There is a process they use when they approach the lion or the lion approaches them.  James gave us a spiritual process for defeating the devil:  1) submit to God, 2) resist the devil and he will flee.

Isaiah 54:17 proclaims, “But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong (condemn).  This [peace, righteousness security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification says the Lord.”  (Emphasis mine).

Paul instructed the Ephesian church to daily put on their armor in order to be prepared for battle.  “Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”  Ephesians 6:13.  The entire passage continues to list the armor we have been given by the Lord:  belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Our belt of truth protects our innermost being.  It is the knowledge of the truth that sets us free.  God’s truth is the Rock of our foundation upon which we stand.  The breastplate of righteousness covers our heart.  Out of our heart flow the issues of life.  We are righteous because of our repentance of sin and trust in the redeeming work of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Our righteousness gives us the ability to stand in the authority of Christ daily.  When we trust in the Lord completely, we will be shod with peace and walk in peace wherever we go.  His peace guards our heart and ensures we are in His will.  Faith is a gift from the Lord.  The shield of faith is developed by hearing the Word of God.  It could come from a message preached, Bible study/reading or the inner voice of the Holy Spirit.  The helmet of salvation represents the Mind of Christ Jesus.  It is the mind of the Spirit and not of the flesh.  The sword of the spirit is the Word of God.  Our authority comes by using the Word of God in faith.  When we submit to the Lord’s will, speak His Word to the problem (storms, trouble) standing in faith, he must flee.  We must KNOW that God will back up His Word!

The Massai warrior places his robe (of righteousness representing the authority of Christ) upon his arm so that he might grab the tongue of the lion without suffering injury.  He then thrusts the sword (Word of God) into his heart to disable and destroy his ability to kill.  The tongue of the lion represents the accusations, lies and fears the enemy uses to cause us to doubt God.  The result is our being surrounded by confusion, fear and defeat.  He is the “accuser” of the brethren.  Once our past has been confessed and buried in the waters of baptism, we are clothed in the Righteousness of Christ Jesus.  The enemy no longer has the right to accuse us unless we allow him by not closing his mouth.  The devil is always trying to speak lies, fearful scenarios of disaster and accusations to draw our attention from the Lord which in turn gives him more power.

We must grab hold of the devil’s tongue with a death grip to silence all the attacks.  We do that by “throwing the Book at him”!  The Bible is the Word of God and it is filled with truth.  There are scriptures for every need we could possibly have in life and they are powerful at pulling down strongholds the enemy has erected in our lives.  There are 365 scriptures in the Bible regarding fear where the Lord encourages us to fear not.  We could read a different one every day of the year.  There are also scriptures regarding healing, finances, relationships, marriage and so on.  When the devil tries to take us down in circumstances, thoughts or by others all we need to do is get in our prayer closet and speak the word of God to each one.  We also need to remind him and ourselves who we are in Christ.

When Jesus was raised from the dead and preparing to ascend into heaven, he left his disciples with one powerful declaration.  “All authority (all power and rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20.

Paul taught that we are now seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.  “And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”  The scepter of authority has been given to us.  The devil has no jurisdiction over us unless we grant it to him.  Wherever we find ourselves under his rule (or torment) we have been given the responsibility with the authority from heaven, to shut the mouth of the lion by thrusting the Word of God into his heart.

The Word of God is a lethal weapon against the enemy and when used in faith, our victory is sure.  Knowing God’s Word and using it properly enables us to defeat every giant we face.  God’s Word is the rock David used and faith in God is the sling that hurls the rock into the head of the enemy.  Our strength comes when we walk humbly before our God submitting to His will and His Word.  We are then able to stand and resist the devil and he MUST flee!  It is then we will give him “No Place to Light”!

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 4 by Larry W Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 4   by   Larry W. Peebles   June 16, 2017   17.22

At five ft. five inches, my Dad was considered short in stature.  But as a boy, I watched him deal with authority as a customer and a consumer.  He did not let his size diminish his authority.  He knew the authority he had with the company when a mistake had been made in his account.  In those days, the conversations to straighten out an account with a problem were done face-to-face.  There were no automated phone answering machines, no internet, and no email.  Even a big retailer like Sears would have a department in the local store to handle account questions.

Dad would walk in and ask to speak to whoever was “in charge” or “the boss”.  He went straight to the top authority in the company to explain the mistake and receive his assurance as a customer that all would be corrected.  He saw no point in taking time to explain the mistake to someone who did not have the authority to correct it.

When I think of leadership and the role of the leader, I believe this question of authority must be addressed.  At the most fundamental level, the leader must realize that ultimately all authority is given or granted; it is not taken.  Authority is also not to be confused with power.  To help distinguish the two, let me give this example.  When a police officer or a state trooper raises their hand to stop traffic, do they stop the traffic by power, or by authority?  The officer or trooper does not have the physical power to stop a bus or an 18-wheel truck.  Those vehicles will, however, come to a stop when the officer’s hand is raised to halt traffic because the driver of those vehicles recognizes the officer’s authority to stop traffic.

The city or state has by law granted the officer the authority to stop that traffic, and stands prepared to enforce that authority.  That city or state has been granted the authority to pass those laws by the people’s consent to be governed.  So who is the real leader in that traffic control situation?  Is it the driver who applies the brake, the officer who raises the hand to signal halt, or the court who stands ready to issue a fine for failure to stop?  It might be the people of the state, who hired the officer to enforce the control of traffic, and granted the court the ultimate authority to back up the officer with penalties provided by law.

I spent the biggest part of my career in homebuilding in charge of the local division of corporate homebuilding companies that operated across the nation.   I was considered the leader of that division, which might consist of hundreds of employees.  My title was Division President, or General Manager.  Many would consider that a powerful position.  However, my authority to operate in that position was granted by the corporation in the form of a written document called a corporate resolution.  This resolution, adopted by the Board of Directors of the corporation, spelled out what I was authorized to do, and what I was not authorized to do in my position.  If I took authorized action, the company stood behind it.

I reported to high level officers of the corporation, who reported to the Board, who reported to the shareholders.  I had no power per se, except for personal energy, drive and certain abilities.  My authority in that position was granted by the corporation, who ultimately answered to the shareholders.  All authority is granted by some ultimate source, and authority is not to be confused with power in the leader’s mind.

During His time of ministry on this earth, Jesus’ authority was questioned by the chief priests and elders of the church- “By what authority are you doing these things [teaching and doing miracles], and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23).  [Insert mine.]  But following His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection, Jesus said in Matthew 28:18- “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples,….baptize,….and teach.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

His death and resurrection annihilated any and all other claims to authority.  No king or kingdom, no devil or mystic power could ever again claim authority.  Jesus had ALL authority in the earth and in the heavens.  Ephesians 1: 20-21 says the incomparable power and mighty strength of God was exerted in Christ “when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but in the age to come.”

The devil had tried to destroy His creation.  Jesus’ mission of turning the tables and restoring mankind to his original position with God was complete.  In the process, He utterly destroyed the works of the devil.  After He made that point clear, Jesus issued a heavenly resolution.  He in turn authorized us to “go” spread the good news of the Gospel, and make disciples.  We were also authorized to baptize into new life in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach His commands (which are not restrictions, but rather keys to long life).  We are not to be fearful and shrink back.  We are to let nothing stand in our way- -Jesus said He would always be with us to enforce the authority given to us as believers and His followers.

Simply said, our authority is His delegated power.  Consider these Scriptures that speak of the authority (delegated power) given believers:

  1. Jesus said in John 14: 12-14- “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing [miracles]. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name [delegated authority], so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  [Inserts mine.]
  2. Mark 16:17- “And these signs will follow those who believe. In my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will by no means hurt them.  They will lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.”
  3. John 15:7- “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you will, and it will be given you.”
  4. John 16:23- “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
  5. Matthew 17:20- “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’, and it will move and nothing shall be impossible for you.”
  6. Romans 5:17- “We shall reign in life through Jesus Christ.”

These scriptures make the case clear.  When Jesus conquered death and the devil, He put all things under His feet.  Then He gave the authority to His followers, and delegated power to enforce the consequences.  If this is not enough to convince, consider that in other Scriptures, He used these terms to describe His followers, all of which reveal the authority given: “heir of God”- Galatians 4:7; “ambassadors for Christ”- 2 Corinthians 5:20; and “more than conquerors”- Romans 8:37.

Finally, He would not be the Good Shepard if He left us short of anything we needed to succeed in this life or the life after.  2 Peter 1:3 says- “His divine power [delegated to His followers] has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

Prince George, the son of William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is royalty but does not know it.  He is a future king, but now acts like a small boy.  That is no criticism, but rather an indication of his maturity level as a soon-to-be four year old.  He will grow to know who he is and the authority he possesses.  Similarly, we have been given full authority by the King of Kings, but often do not act like it.  Our maturity level of faith in Jesus needs to grow so that we know and understand our authority.  Otherwise, what He has given us goes unappropriated, wasted and useless.  We are already standing in the highway, dodging everything that is coming our way, and asking God to redirect the traffic away from us.  He could do that, but we would not grow from the experience.  He has already given us the authority to stop what is coming at us.

All believers have the authority (delegated power) to oppose everything that oppresses them spiritually-fear, sickness, poverty, loneliness, anger, etc.  James 4:7 says- “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  It is not a matter of feeling powerful or authoritative.  We have been given more authority than we think we have.  My Dad did not feel or appear “big”, but he knew his authority.  A true leader must rise up in authority, and exercise it, remembering it is not about the leader’s power, but it is about the authority they have been given.  For the believer, there is no greater authority than that given by the Lord Jesus Christ.

NO PLACE TO LIGHT Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Vultures are pesky creatures.  Our home sits at 1,800 feet elevation with a southern view of mountains behind, a valley below and a long-range mountain view to the east.  It seemed to be the perfect vantage point for vultures to perch and watch for prey.  Their favorite roost was our chimney cap on top of the house.  They would make rustling noises constantly and drop nasty fur balls on the back porch.  It was rather disgusting.  They are the ugliest birds ever created and that’s probably due to the road-kill diet they consume.  At our age it is quite disconcerting to see a row of vultures waiting on top of the house every time we returned home!  My husband and I began discussing how to get rid of the scoundrels while we were sweeping their fur balls off the porch one day.  I did some research on vultures and to my shock, I discovered they have a very special purpose.  Their bodies were created to clean up all the toxic waste from dying and decaying animals without being harmed themselves.  Because of their intrinsic value to our ecology, they are a protected species with heavy fines and jail time.

I continued to research to see if there was any way to prevent them from roosting on our home.  I found a company that attaches a row of 3-4” metal spikes to the top of roofs and chimneys which eliminates any comfortable perching spaces.  Within a couple of weeks our house was sending a message to our pesky vultures, “No place to light”!  It has been over a year now and we are still vulture free.  It feels good and right.  We have peace inside and out.

The devil is like the vulture.  Jesus defined the purpose of the Devil.  “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”  John 10:10.  Satan tries to steal our joy, faith, health, prosperity, well-being and peace.  His plan is to kill us and destroy our witness of Jesus, our destiny in Christ, and our purpose in the world and the church.  We must give him no place to light!

The devil perches himself, much like the vulture, in high (heavenly) places watching for those who are broken, weak and seemingly helpless.  The word of God encourages believers, “Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times.  That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone].”  1 Peter 5:8-9.  Peter gives us clues to victory in this scripture.  We are not helpless or hopeless although, our enemy is ruthless, cunning and a vigilant predator who seeks to destroy.

The animal world is well aware of the predator/prey syndrome.  The typical mode of operation of a predator is to find the weakest animal, one who is separated from the group, and attack it.  The predator will only attack a mature elephant, water buffalo or zebra if there is no other alternative, but they usually do so in groups.  Predators lie in wait trying to outsmart their prey by using the element of surprise.  They are cunning stalkers who calculate their every move.  Animals, fully aware of their prey status, are always on alert.  They have warning systems in their herd and the mature will surround the weak to protect them from being devoured.

 

One of the ways the devil is effective among believers is through his lies.  The devil is a liar and therefore uses lies as a way into our mind and heart.  If he can dispel a truth of God creating doubt as he did in Adam and Eve, he has a place to light.  From that perch, he can continue badgering the mind, will and resolve of the believer.  If there is no strong resistance, he can create a stronghold of unbelief.  Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders for their unbelief and called them children of the devil.  “You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks whatever is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.”  John 8:44.

Believers who do not truly know the word of God through continual Bible reading and study are easy pray for the devil.  He twists scriptures, and uses emotional pleas of reasoning which are contradictions of the truth.  The Word of God illuminated by the Holy Spirit teaches us the will and ways of God.  It demonstrates the Kingdom of God through the life of Christ intertwined in both the Old and New Testaments.  It teaches morality, the consecrated life, and the power of God working through miracles, signs and wonders.

The Lord God created Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden.  He then instructed him to cultivate it and have dominion over every living thing.  God showed him what he could eat and then instructed Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  “So the LORD God took the man [He had made] and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may freely (unconditionally) eat [the fruit] from every tree of the garden; but [only] from the tree of the knowledge (recognition) of good and evil you shall not eat, otherwise on the day that you eat from it, you shall most certainly die [because of your disobedience].’”  According to scripture, God gave Adam His instructions before He created Eve.  We do not know from the Bible account if Eve received her instruction from the Lord or Adam, whom the Lord made the keeper of the garden.

We do know the serpent approached Eve with his cunning temptation and it appears that Adam was not with her at the time.  “Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the LORD God had made.  And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, ‘Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’  And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden.  God said, ‘You shall not eat from it nor touch it, otherwise you will die.’  But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You certainly will not die!’  ‘For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened [that is, you will have greater awareness], and you will be like God, knowing [the difference between] good and evil.’”

The lying serpent enticed Eve by making the fruit appealing to her.  Satan told her that the fruit supplied not only food to be enjoyed but it also contained wisdom only God possessed. He convinced her she would not die but she would become wise like God.  After she ate the fruit, Eve gave some to Adam and seeing she hadn’t died (immediately), he ate it also.  The Jewish tradition from their Talmud explains that Adam was not with Eve during the temptation of the serpent.  That explains why he did not contest the serpent’s statements.  The Lord held Adam responsible for the fall because Jesus is referred to the second Adam in Scripture.  “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to all people [no one being able to stop it or escape its power], because they all sinned…For by the trespass of the one (Adam), death reigned through the one (Adam)…Romans 5:12-17.   “So it is written [in Scripture]; ‘The first MAN, Adam, became a living soul (an individual);’ the last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit [restoring the dead to life].”  1 Corinthians 15:45.

I believe the Lord held Adam accountable because God had told him directly not to eat from the tree and had placed Adam with the full responsibility and authority to keep (guard) the garden and everything in it.  While Eve received second hand revelation from Adam, he received the revelation first-hand from the LORD God Himself, but Adam still ate the fruit.  Why does this make a difference to us?  Biblical truths must be experienced first-hand by the individual, otherwise they are simply someone else’s faith or “opinion”.  We cannot survive by standing on someone else’s beliefs.  We will be accountable for our own.  When true faith is born in us, we can stand against the attacks of the devil.  When the Word of God is revelation to our souls, we will not succumb to the lie or the manipulation of half-truths which make people deceived.   The Scriptures are clear that it is not the Truth that sets us free, it is the Knowledge of the Truth that sets us free (and keeps us free).  “And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32.

The moral and ethical dilemmas facing us in the world today are continually challenging our Christian beliefs.  If our faith is not based on revelation we have received directly from the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, we cannot stand for truth.  The result is obvious, we will compromise the Word of God and cower to the pressure of others.  If we do not truly KNOW God and His Word first hand, we will believe anything.

The Apostle Paul explains the Christian walk in Ephesians, Chapter 4.  He admonishes believers to allow God to transform their lives through total consecration and surrender to His will and purpose for us.  He lists many areas where our old sin nature must be changed to one of righteous and holy living which can only come by the Holy Spirit’s work in us.  Paul uses the Word of God as a tool to instruct us and reveal Biblical truth to us.  Paul also teaches by showing us how to deal with the attacks of the devil.  “And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness]…And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked for the day of redemption…let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with every kind of malice…” Ephesians 4:27-32.  Every fleshly emotion that is unbridled by the Holy Spirit is a perch upon which the enemy can light.   Paul confirms that “the knowledge of the truth leads to godliness” in Titus 1:1.

Victors resist the attacks of the enemy, they stand firm in their faith in God, abide in His word and His presence becoming rooted, established in faith and unshakable.  They are well aware of the predator/prey syndrome and remain sober by being cautious, self-disciplined and well-balanced in their faith.  They know their God and the authority He has given them in heavenly places.  They are firmly rooted in a church family which surrounds them, strengthens and encourages them.  They are not loners but have become an active part of the body of believers who stand together to defend one another.

We who are believers have been brought out of darkness and placed in the light of Christ Jesus.  Living wholly and completely in Christ Jesus places a barrier between us and the enemy.  It is in that place we will not be moved and the devil has no place to light!

 

Dying for a Drink, Part 1 Larry W Peebles

Dying for a Drink, Part 1   by   Larry W. Peebles    June 2, 2017   17.20

There was no question the young couple was in trouble.  A group of men from our church were on a weekend hiking trip.  We ran across the couple near dark as we came back to our campsite.  We had set up our camp after hiking most of the afternoon, and replenished our water supply from a near-by stream.  We then finished our hike up to the summit of Blood Mountain in Georgia (elev. 4459’) to enjoy our evening meal and a spectacular view of the sunset.  The day had been warm, and the hike was uphill and strenuous, but the scenery from the summit and the cool evening breeze made it all worthwhile.  As the sun began to fade, we descended back to camp for the night.  That’s when we found the couple.

The man was dehydrated and confused, extremely weak and sick from lack of water.  He said the young lady with him was in worse condition.  They had managed to set up a tent in the camping area while we were away, but she was not able to come outside.  I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say they were dying for a drink.  The man said they knew they needed water, and they even knew they were close to a source of water, but they could not find the water in the dark.  The main trail would have led them to the water, but it first led them by the sign directing them to the campsite.  They came to the campsite expecting to find the water, but there was none to be found.  By then, night had set in all around them, and they could not find water even by going back to the main trail.  It was too late, they were sick and confused, and did not know where to look.

We had extra water, and quickly shared it with them to start the re-hydration process.  Then some of our men took the young hikers’ water bottles and jugs together with our water filtration equipment, and left by flashlight to walk back to the stream.  It was not long before we had completely replenished their supply.  With water and rest, along with some food, the couple was back on their feet by morning.

All of this reminded me of how critical water is to life.  Humans can go 7 to 10 days without food, but only 2 to 3 days without water.  About 60% of the adult human body is water, and for some vital organs the percentage is higher.  Without water, these organs begin to shut down.  It was very fortunate for these hikers that someone came along who had water and knew how to get more water for them to complete their journey.  As I thought about what had happened, the Lord showed me the spiritual lesson embodied within this real-life experience.

Jesus did not take the matter of thirst lightly.  In John, Chapter 4, Jesus asked the Samaritan woman at the well for a drink.  She said “How can you ask me for a drink?”, as she was a Samaritan, and He was a Jew.  The spiritual lesson is revealed in His response in verses 10-13- “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that asks for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.  ‘Sir’, the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.  Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?’  Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”

In John 7: 37-39, Jesus explains further- “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.  Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”

This says that when Jesus spoke of the living water, he was speaking of the Holy Spirit.  Up to that time, the Bible is clear that the Spirit came upon men for a time or a purpose, but would lift.  Jesus was speaking of a time when the Spirit would come and permanently live within men, to the point that man would be filled to overflowing with the indwelling presence of God.

Previously, when the Spirit of God came upon a man, we see incredible things happen, such as Elijah outrunning King Ahab’s horse-drawn chariot all the way back to Jezreel in 1Kings 18:46. When the Spirit of God came upon Jesus “like a dove” at His baptism in Luke 3:22, He received the Holy Spirit without measure or limitation.   After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven, we see the Spirit manifest at Pentecost as wind and fire (Acts 2:2-4), but at that point those present were filled with the Spirit.  The Spirit then permanently occupied the temple of their hearts.  Their lives were incredibly changed forever.

The Spirit is not a dove.  It is not wind, fire, or super-human strength to out-run horses.  It has manifested as such, and Jesus said we might also expect it to manifest in believers as living water.  Once a person believes in Jesus and receives the Spirit, they can expect to receive living water in abundance.  The purpose, however, is not to receive the living water and keep it.  We are to become a conduit to distribute the living water.  Just as it is eternal life to the bearer, it is eternal life to those who will receive it.

We see the picture of how this is to work by comparing two men’s visions of this living water from Scripture—Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1-12), and John (Revelation 22: 1-2, 17).

  1. Living water comes from the Temple of God- Ezekiel 47:1-2     Rev. 22:1
  2. Living water forms a river-                                 Ezekiel 47:3-6     Rev. 22:1
  3. Trees are on each side of the river-                   Ezekiel 47:7         Rev. 22:2
  4. Where the water flows, things live-                   Ezekiel 47:9         Rev. 22:17
  5. These are fruit trees-                                             Ezekiel 47:12       Rev. 22:2
  6. Trees bear fruit year round-                                Ezekiel 47:12       Rev. 22:2
  7. Leaves of the trees are for healing-                    Ezekiel 47:12       Rev. 22:2

These two visions, some 680 years apart, are remarkably similar and are convincing that Jesus was not speaking metaphorically of this living water.   The living water is supernatural (outside the realm of the natural senses), but it is none-the-less real.  Additionally consider, as Psalm 1:3 says, we can be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.”  If we can be trees planted by streams of living water, then we can draw on this water and our hands (leaves) can be for life and healing, as Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18-“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

This supernatural living water brings life and healing to those who receive it.  It is for that reason, once the believer receives the living water of the Holy Spirit, they immediately become part of the distribution system to get it out to others.  They immediately want to tell others about Jesus, for it is by faith in Him one receives the living water along with all the other benefits of salvation.

The young couple on the hiking trip knew they needed water.  They knew they would die without it.  They had waited dangerously late to look for it.  Fortunately, someone who knew of the water led them to it, and even carried light into the darkness to help them secure it.  This is the story and the purpose of spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world.

We live in a dark time, full of dry and thirsty people.  Many are looking for something that will carry them through life, and into eternal life, but do not know where to look or how to find it.  Jesus is the answer.  When He comes, He brings forgiveness, salvation, and hope.  He also brings the Holy Spirit, the living water, to live in our hearts.  Our job is to then pass it on to others who are thirsty.

More on the incredible purpose and power of this living water will follow in    Part 2.

I AM YOUR KEEPER Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I approached the front door and as my hand reached for the handle, the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t open that door”!  I dropped my hand to my side and looked through the beveled glass to see a young man in a white T-shirt and jeans on the other side.  I asked him what he needed and he told me he was looking for a friend and gave a name.  I knew all my neighbors and the name he gave me was not someone who lived on our cul-de-sac.  I told him he had the wrong street.  He left immediately and as I walked away from the door, the Holy Spirit said, “Call security and let them know about this”.

My daughter was away at college and my husband and son were out of town on a church men’s retreat.  I would be alone in the house until around midnight.  It was 6 pm.  Our neighborhood was open to the public but we had a security service that drove through the streets to lend some watchful eyes on our behalf.  When I called, security asked several questions about the young man.   I hung up the phone and ate my supper.  The doorbell rang an hour later.  It was the security guard so I opened the door and he asked me more questions.  He told me the police were looking for three young men.  They had stolen a van and abandoned it in my neighborhood.  He said the young man at my door fit the description of one of them and the other two were probably out of view and ready to force their way into my house had I opened the door.  I could have been in serious danger or even killed if the Holy Spirit not spoken to me.  All evening I could hear helicopters flying overhead and police cars with lights flashing were driving through the area.   I spent the rest of the night in perfect peace because I knew my Lord had kept me safe and would continue to be my keeper.  My husband and son returned home around 11:30 pm and asked what was taking place in our neighborhood.  They said there were police everywhere.  I told them what the Lord had done for me.  What would they have found when they arrived at home had the Lord not warned me?

David learned that God was his keeper when he was a youth tending his father’s sheep.  He slept out in the pasture many nights and defended the sheep from predators such as a lion and a bear.  He knew the Lord was not only with him but was his source of strength.  The Lord kept David safe when he stood against the Philistine’s greatest warrior Goliath.  Goliath towered over David, but he was struck dead by one smooth stone which David hurled from his sling shot.  The rock was sent forth by the power of God and imbedded into the forehead of the giant warrior.  The entire armies of Israelites and Philistines looked on with unanticipated amazement.  David knew who his Keeper was.  “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He Who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”  Psalm 121.

The Hebrew word for keep is Shamar.  It means:  to keep, guard, to keep safe, preserve, to protect, to watch (as a watchman of cattle or sheep), and to hedge around something (as if with thorns).   (Key Word Study Bible).  David kept his father’s sheep safe from predators who would devour them.  It was his responsibility to not only nurture them, but to care for them.  He also meditated upon the Lord Who was guarding and keeping him from danger.  “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4. (See entire Psalm).

The Lord also kept David during the eleven years he spent hiding from King Saul.  The Prophet Samuel had anointed David to be King Saul’s successor after Saul had sinned against the Lord’s commandment.  God enabled David to stay one step ahead of the king and his warriors who wanted to kill him.  He guided him and led him out of the path of danger.  He even gave him warriors who stood with him and helped him as he journeyed through those tough times.  David wrote in gratitude to the Lord, “O Lord, You have brought my life up from Sheol (the place of the dead); You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (the grave).”  Psalm 30:3.

“Bless our God, O peoples, give Him grateful thanks and make the voice of His praise be heard.  Who put and kept us among the living, and has not allowed our feet to slip.”  Psalm 66:8-9.

I am one who has had a history of being anxious or worried since childhood.  The Lord showed me He had protected me that night He told me not to open the door.  It was over 20 years ago, but I am just now understanding Him as my full-time Keeper.  There is a difference between having a head knowledge of something and it becoming faith that is unshakeable.  Head knowledge is more like a “wish” than faith.  I can say I believe something God has promised but when I’m in the trenches of testing, I find out whether it is faith from true belief or a wish I hoped would come to pass.  Lately the world stage has given us many opportunities to become fearful or worried.  Now more than ever we (the church) must begin to function in genuine faith from KNOWING the Lord keeps his promises.

Psalm 91 has always intrigued me.  I have framed it, given it to a soldier in Iraq, and to people dealing with fear or physical illness.  I have read it to a parent preparing to meet the Lord and used it to encourage the body of Christ.  I can’t say that I have had true faith in all its promises when I think of scenarios where I might apply it.  Last week when the Lord spoke to me, “I AM your Keeper”, something congealed inside my heart.  His promise has become heavier, more substantial than ever before.  This promise however, is not just for me, it is for us all!  There are times coming which many of us will go through before the Lord returns.  The world will begin to become more dangerous and scary as the Bible foretells us, but the children of God need not fear.  When persecution comes, the glory of God will surround us.  He will lead us and guide us, as the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night protected and led the Israelites when they came out of slavery in Egypt.  We will not simply survive, we will thrive with the knowledge that God is our Keeper!  This revelation will be as important to us in life as when we one day face death.

God’s promise is for those “who dwell in the shelter of the Most High.”  He assures them they “will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].”  He declares they “will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”  The result of our standing in faith assures “He will save you from the trap of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.  You will not be afraid of the terror of night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noon.  A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but danger will not come near you”…Why?  “Because you have made the LORD, your refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, (daily intimacy through thanksgiving, prayer, worship and the Word with God).  No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will command His angels in regard to you, to protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service]”…The Lord explains why, “Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never].”  He again promises “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.  With a long life I will satisfy him and I will let him see My salvation.” (Emphasis mine).

Jacob knew God as his keeper.  Isaac and Rebekah sent him away after he received Esau’s birthright and blessing through cunning and deceit.  Jacob obeyed his father and his mother but Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac so he went to Ishmael and took more heathen wives.  (See Genesis 28:7-9).  Esau despised his birthright.  (See Genesis 25:29-34).  Jacob treasured and honored the birthright.  God had prophesied to Rebekah the elder son would serve the younger one. The Bible says after Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew, “Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.”  Esau rejected the God of Abraham and Isaac while Jacob embraced the Lord.  When Jacob left his father and mother at their instruction because Esau vowed to kill him, he had an encounter with the Lord.  The Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream and gave him many promises including His protection.  “And behold, I am with you and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you.”  Genesis 28:15.  Every promise of God was fulfilled and the Lord brought healing between Jacob and Esau.

Isaiah knew the keeping power of the Lord.  “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

I am learning to keep my mind occupied with the goodness of the Lord, the promises of God and his faithfulness to fulfill His Word, instead of worrying about my problems.  Playing scenarios in my head causes fear, worry and anxiety which kill faith.  We must put all our trust in the Lord because we cannot protect ourselves.  God’s protection doesn’t mean we won’t see or experience some difficult situations, it means He will keep us in spite of those things!

Last week as I began writing this article, the Lord proved His word to me again.  My husband and I love to hike for exercise.  The spring rains have brought a prolific growth of plants in the forest this year.  Our hiking paths have become very narrow with the over-growth of ferns, ground cover, leafy trees and shrubs.  Living in a forestry and mountainous area we can encounter deer, bear and poisonous snakes.  We make precautions for such encounters including deciding when and where we hike.  We chose to avoid the narrow paths with the arrival of warm weather because the overgrowth supplied ample hiding places for the copperheads and rattlesnakes.  We elected to hike the jeep trail near our home, which was wide and open.  Except for a few rocks here and there, the road was clear.  We were a good mile into our hike and were enjoying our conversation as we walked together.  My husband was a couple steps ahead of me and several feet to my right.  I lifted my left foot to take a step and “happened” to look down at the road.  To my shock, I saw that I was about to step on a copperhead which is a poisonous snake.  His coloring was much like the road.  He was lying completely straight like a stick, with his head slightly raised.  He lay deathly still as if hoping to catch prey that inadvertently passed his way.  I shrieked and stepped backward several feet.  My husband had already passed by him without noticing him.  Fortunately, he was walking several feet to the right, just out of his reach.  My heart was racing, but at that moment I knew the Lord had kept us both safe!

The goodness of God caused me to look down and distinguish that snake from the ground keeping me from danger.  Understanding that truth made my heart rejoice.  He really is my Keeper!  We’ve been in many near miss tragedies and have been well aware that God’s grace had kept us safe, but this took His keeping power to another level.  We need not fear or worry.  We do not have to spend another moment concerned for things we cannot control.  He is our Keeper.  We simply need to put our whole trust and faith in Him.  I would like to close with one of my favorite scripture verses.  Jude 24-25, “Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight)—To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity).  Amen.”  The Lord is truly watching over all who make Him their dwelling place.  His promise is sure:  “I AM your Keeper!”

 

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 3 by Larry W. Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 3   by   Larry W. Peebles   May 19, 2017   17.18

When I think of great leaders I encountered over a 35 year business career, and those I still encounter today, I conclude there is no discussion on leadership without a discussion of character.  There is no shortage of information on the character traits of good leaders.  One can find numerous books and articles from business magazines, leadership centers, leadership coaches and trainers, and entrepreneur magazines on the essential character qualities of a good leader.  I had no trouble finding a number of such articles on the internet recently.  I reviewed them just to get the content freshly processed in my mind.  It is interesting that many of these articles include the same traits, and give them a similar ranking without really saying that they are ranked in order of importance.  In addition, some of the same traits are described differently.  For instance, are integrity, honesty and trustworthy different traits, or by definition is not an integrity-filled person also honest and trustworthy?

The word character comes from the Greek word “kharakter”, which is a stamping tool that leaves a distinctive mark.  No two people are alike, and no two leaders are the same– each is distinct.  Each leaves a mark or impression that is unique to that person.  From my experience, and from the material I reviewed (adjusted for terminology), here are perhaps the consensus top three leadership characteristics, presented with a Biblical perspective.

  1. Integrity—the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Synonyms include honesty, decency, fairness, sincerity, truthfulness, and trustworthiness, among others.  This suggests a person has a moral compass that does not waiver.  People want to be treated with integrity, and will follow a leader who demonstrates this skill.  Day after day, this person is trying to do the right thing for the right reasons for all involved.  It’s been called the Golden Rule.  Jesus expressed it in Matthew 7:12—“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Daniel comes to mind as the Biblical example, although there are certainly others.  Darius was King of Babylon where the Israelites were exiled.  He had been tricked into issuing a decree forbidding everyone from praying to any god other than the king.  His own staff had whispered and plotted in secret because they were jealous of Daniel.  They knew of the king’s plan to set Daniel over the whole kingdom, yet “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”  (Daniel 6:4).  They knew Daniel prayed to the One True God three times a day, and knew they could trap Daniel if they could influence the king into signing such a decree.

Daniel knew of the decree, but continued to pray to God.  He was caught praying, arrested, and taken before the king.  The king favored Daniel, and knew he had been tricked by his own advisors—men with no integrity.  The law of the land was such that the king’s edicts could not be waived.  The king had no choice but to have Daniel put in a den of lions overnight.

After a sleepless night alone and worried about Daniel, the king hurried to the lions’ den early the next morning.  God had shut the lions’ mouths all night–Daniel was safe.  The king had his tricky advisors thrown into the den, along with their families, where they were immediately crushed by the lions.  He then decreed Daniel’s God was the True God to be worshipped throughout the land.

Daniel would not waiver from worshipping the True God, even when confronted with death.  He served the king with integrity, and certainly meant him no harm, but he could not rightly worship a man.  Both God and the king honored Daniel’s integrity.  The Bible says “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6:28).

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort, choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy, and choosing to practice one’s values rather than simply professing them.”

“Speak with Honesty.  Think with sincerity.  Act with integrity.”  (Both are quotes from the public domain.)

 

  1. Confidence—the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust. Synonyms are trust, belief, faith, credence, and conviction, among others.  This suggests a person has or enjoys a state of feeling certain about the truth of something. It is distinguished from self-confidence when that someone or something relied upon is bigger than oneself.  When I have seen this trait come to the surface, it is invariably because the opposition is mounting up against the truth or the cause, yet the leader remains sure and is in command.  The three friends of Daniel–Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego–said when they were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace by the king for worshipping God and not the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.” (Daniel 3:17.)  That is confidence in the face of danger.

The Pharisee Saul encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus in Acts 9.  The encounter opened his eyes to the reality of the Messiah.  He converted from a well-known persecutor of the Christian faith to perhaps its greatest proponent.  His life was never the same thereafter, as evidenced by his confidence in the Truth he had come to know.  He was also confident that he must spread the Truth, even as he then risked great persecution.  Though Hebrew and Jewish, he preached largely to the Gentiles, and thereafter preferred to be called by his Roman Gentile name-Paul.

In 2 Corinthians 4: 1 and 7, Paul writes—“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart…we have this treasure [Jesus Christ as Lord] in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  [Insert mine from v. 5.]

Paul also wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:12- “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”  Paul was absolutely confident in what was revealed to him on that road to Damascus, and for the rest of his life could not keep silent about it, although it ultimately cost him his life.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”  Helen Keller.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”  Teddy Roosevelt.

 

  1. Commitment– the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity. Synonyms are devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, and fidelity, among others.  This cause or activity is larger than oneself, and the leader can see the outcome and the benefit.  He also knows the steps necessary to achieve the outcome.  When Moses was chosen to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, he knew the magnitude and the gravity of the situation.  He said- “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15).  Moses knew that he might be perceived as the leader by the people, but only God could truly lead such a freedom march from 400 years of captivity in the mightiest nation on the planet at the time.  Moses was committed to lead only if God was going with them on the journey to freedom.

Nehemiah was committed to rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem.  Though he was called by God, and had the backing of Babylonian King Artaxerxes, he faced great opposition in returning from exile to rebuild the city walls in his homeland.  He was told the task was too great.  The locals accused him of rebelling against the king in order to set up his own kingdom.  He was told he did not have the skilled labor or the necessary materials to rebuild the walls.  His opposition spread rumors of impending attack, and threats against Nehemiah’s life.  Distractions were everywhere, yet Nehemiah refused to come down off the wall.  He would not let the distractions pull him away from the work to which he was committed.  He and his men worked with tools in one hand and weapons for protection in the other.  They worked with limited rest, water, food and changes of clothes.  Nehemiah said –“Don’t be afraid of them [the detractors].  Remember, the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your home.” (Nehemiah 4:14).  [Emphasis mine.]  As the leader, Nehemiah called to remembrance the great cause of rebuilding the walls around their ancient homeland city of Jerusalem for the glory of God.

“A committed, energetic, enthusiastic, and inspiring leader is more likely to have a cooperative, hardworking and victorious team.”  William C. Oakes, Christlike Leadership.

When one reflects on these top characteristics of a leader, considers the heroes of these Bible stories, and the truths reflected in these marvelous quotations, one concludes that perhaps the greatest leaders emerge when the circumstances are the direst.  The greatest power to lead comes from outside the leader, from a source bigger than the leader—it comes from God Himself.  As a final thought, consider this paragraph from Part 2 of Thoughts on Leadership–

WWII Fleet Admiral “Bull” Halsey, who led all the combined forces that held the island of Guadalcanal against Japanese invasion, said “There are no extraordinary men…just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.”  With all due respect to the late Admiral and to the Navy, I would modify that to say “God helps ordinary men deal with extraordinary circumstances.”  This is the most important key to leadership.

God is our ultimate source of integrity, confidence, and commitment.  He wrote the book on it!

 

LIVING STONES Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

My elementary and high school years were from 1955-67.  My generation was post World War II and it was during the time of Hollywood’s “greatest” years.  It was a season of epic movies that became events to entertain and excite.  Many of those movies like Ben Hur and The Alamo were three hours long.  They began with several minutes of prelude music, had a ten to fifteen minute musical intermission and also ended with postlude music.  Before television was widely accessible, movies were a large part of American lives and remain so today.   The original plan of movie moguls was to simply entertain the audience, but their amazing popularity ultimately triggered a conscious agenda to push the envelope in every faction of life.  Many factors have contributed to the slow dissolution of the church’s influence on our nation over the last 75 years, but I believe the entertainment industry has carried the lion’s share.  The movie industry has made a formidable negative impact not only upon American religious beliefs, but also on our social image.

The church unwittingly allowed its love for entertainment to melt its resolve for the pursuit of holiness while the entertainment industry helped sway its lifestyles, clothing, home life and sadly, its Biblical faith.  Teenagers in the 1950’s and 60’s tried to conform to the image of their favorite movie star’s fashion, hairstyle or “look” and today it is no different.  The music industry also helped thrust the agenda of the world upon an unsuspecting and unguarded generation.  The two waged a formidable attack on the faith of believers unaware of the slow dulling of their Godly conscience and Biblical standards.  Limited by the influence of feelings and rational thinking, unbelievers are emotionally driven while the church is supposed to be led by the Holy Spirit.  Presently, most movie themes express language, show explicit scenes and violent behaviors in direct opposition to the holiness God expects.  Current social trends not only defy morality, they mock those leaders who represent the churches holding on to Biblical moral and ethical standards.

Immorality and unfaithfulness to God invaded the church as evidenced by the divorce rate which reports say has reached 60%.  Alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes in the movies added a “sophistication” to the lives of their characters while the quest for wealth and materialism began to erode our trust in God.  The church soon looked no different from the world and as a result, our God-given image and influence was exchanged for that of the world.  We who were once Living Stones became stumbling stones to those seeking authentic Christianity.  Many American churches lost their effectiveness as they settled into a form of religion minus the power and life of God.

The underlying result is the alarming fact that America is no longer a Christian nation.  It has become a secular society where Godly beliefs and standards have begun to be persecuted within the last several years through changing federal and state laws, IRS targeting, and negative public opinion.  The worship of God was exchanged for the worship of creation and many have become deceived and have fallen away from the faith.  There would be no Christian church today except for the Lord’s intervention!

The Lord had a plan for the image of mankind at the beginning of creation and He is in the process of restoring that image to all who will believe.  Genesis 1:26 states, “God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind (male and female) in Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth.”  (Emphasis mine).

Jesus Christ did not suffer the agony of the cross simply to pay the penalty for our sins so that we might go free.  His resurrection has given us the power to become the sons of God!  Resurrection Life is granted to all who truly believe and provides the grace and power to be transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.  The Apostle Peter proclaimed, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy.”  1 Peter 1:9-10.

Peter continued to strongly charge all believers to press steadfastly into their calling from God.   “Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul.  Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles (unbelievers), so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].”

My husband spent 35 years in the home building industry.  He ran a local division of a nationwide home building company.  He learned every aspect of the homebuilding business from land acquisition and development to construction, sales and closings.  Twenty-three years of his career were spent in the state of Florida.  The homes in Florida had cinder block construction on their outer walls because of the threat of hurricanes in the state.  Local wind construction laws varied because of the propensity of a direct hit from a hurricane.  Miami’s Dade County had wind construction regulations for 165-185 mile per hour winds.  This process required steel rebar to be imbedded in the foundation of the home every several feet to connect the foundation to the outer walls.  Blocks of cement with two open chambers were placed over the rebar and as the walls were raised, more rebar was added for solid connections all the way to and including the roof.  Cement was then poured inside the blocks with rebar to establish a solid hold that would withstand hurricane strength winds.  The steel rebar and straps were eventually attached to the roof to make a secure structure from top to bottom.  The outer frame of the building was interconnected so that each block held its own place while additionally helping to support the other blocks.  The principles are Biblical.

The Bible declares Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone.  “This is the gate of the Lord; the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall enter through it.  I will confess, praise, and give thanks to You for You have heard and answered me; and You have become my Salvation and Deliverer.  The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  This is from the Lord and is His doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”  Psalm 118:22-23.  Jesus also mentioned this prophecy in Matthew 21:42-44 and challenged the Jewish people and leadership, “I tell you, for this reason the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruits of itAnd whoever falls on this Stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom It falls will be crushed to powder [and It will winnow him, scattering him like dust].”  (See Isaiah 8:14 and Daniel 2:34-35).   (Emphasis mine).

We were not given the invitation to become citizens of God’s kingdom simply to be forgiven of our sins and live our lives as we see fit!  We were called to a purpose.  We were called by God to become Living Stones with Him as our Cornerstone, our example, our image.  Ephesians 2:19-22 charges us, “And He came and preached the glad tidings of peace to you who were afar off and [peace] to those who were near.  For it is through Him that we both [whether far off or near] now have an introduction (access) by one [Holy] Spirit to the Father [so that we are able to approach Him].  Therefore you are no longer outsiders, (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household.  You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.  In Him the whole structure is joined (bound, welded) together harmoniously, and it continues to rise (grow, increase) into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, consecrated, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].  In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you yourselves also are being built up [into this structure] with the rest, to form a fixed abode (dwelling place) of God in (by, through) the Spirit.”  (Emphasis mine).

The Lord is building His church with living stones.  These stones He is preparing are alive, strong and filled with passion for their first love, Jesus.  They have the Word of God written upon their hearts and they are His witnesses in the earth.  They abide continually secured to the Vine, attached with spiritual rebar to their Cornerstone, and they bear fruit of righteousness, the works of a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  They pray with authority from heaven and they speak the Words of the Lord their God.  They are emboldened with His love to be the salt and light to the world.  They refuse to be hidden and silent.  They press on with birth pangs to be transformed into His image and they reflect His nature and His character.  They are filled with and moved by His Holy Spirit and they are fountains that disperse His Living Water to a broken and fearful world.

The Lord is calling us, His church, to come out from among the world.  He has invited us to His banquet table where He has provided all the supplies we need to be filled with His love, power and strength to withstand the attacks of the enemy who would try to thwart the church in making disciples.  When our hearts become fully consecrated to Him we will be emboldened to trust in Him completely and miracles, signs and wonders will follow all who believe.

We must choose to lay down the image of the world and rise up to the image and stature of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is looking for those who will die to the world and choose to believe in Him, walk in His ways, live in peace and be peacemakers who reconcile the lost to God.  They will thrive through resurrection life and as Living Stones, they will be called the sons of God!

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 2 by Larry W Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 2    by   Larry W Peebles   May 5, 2017   17.16

I often found myself in a leadership position in my business career that spanned 35 years.  I led small groups of 3-5 members at times, and large divisions of big companies with hundreds of people at other times.  I do not remember being specifically taught to rely upon the work of those under my charge, but I do remember having that philosophy early on.  Perhaps it was something I learned while working for my father and watching him supervise the efforts of others.  He managed a small but hard-working crew in a magazine shipment business.  He had other duties such as receiving magazine deliveries in bulk, payroll, and organizing the day’s activities.  When his work was done, he would jump in beside the workers in the crew and help them finish off the manual tasks involved with filling the daily magazine orders and getting them shipped out to retailers.

He not only led by example, he also relied upon the work of the crew members.  He led from the front, as opposed to barking orders and retiring to a desk somewhere.  If someone on the team was not carrying their load, they received special private coaching, which never took place in front of others.  He depended upon the crew to carry the load while he took care of his other management duties, but was not afraid to get his hands dirty and work hard to assist the crew to complete the day’s shipment goal.  He never took the credit, but his helping hand near the end of the day got the entire team over the finish line when it did not look like we would make the shipping quota.

He demonstrated the value of challenging a group with a quota to meet, complimenting and encouraging as their work progressed, and then stepping in as needed to ensure the success.  As I worked for my Dad, I remember feeling exhausted by the end of the day, but so fulfilled for having met the quota—something we did a high percentage of the time.

Let those in your charge do their work.  Let them know how much their efforts count, and are appreciated.  Let them run with their own ideas on ways to be more efficient and productive.  Rather than dictate how something should be done, I often found that it was better to ask the workers their ideas on the best way to do something or accomplish a goal.  Their idea might not be the way I would suggest.  I might provide some advice or refinement, but I essentially let them try their idea.  Often they would make their idea work just because it was their idea.

I learned that leadership is not about the leader.  The leader’s job is to make it all about the members of the team being led.  Give them a chance to do their job.  Help out those who may be struggling, and be sure the team secures the victory.  But above all, stay in the background.  Remain humble, and consistently let the others take the credit.

My leadership tips may seem foreign, but consider these two Biblical examples of leaders chosen not by their resume of accomplishments, or assertive personality, but by God:

  1. Moses (Genesis Chapters 2, 4)- Moses was raised and educated in Pharaoh’s house; however, he did not receive his call to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt until he had completed years of tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the wilderness. When God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, He told him He would send him to Pharaoh and that he was to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’”  This reluctance was followed with a question regarding what he should tell the people if they asked who sent him (or what authority had been given him?).  Moses tried to dodge the role of leader when he asked God “What if they do not believe me” (that I have been sent by God)?  He then pointed out to God that he was not qualified by virtue of being “slow of speech and tongue”.  Finally, he outright asked God to “send someone else”.  All of this would not be the normal progression of an interview for a leadership position.

We know the rest of the story.  With God’s help, Moses led an entire nation into freedom from Egypt, the most powerful nation on the earth at that time. The Bible tells us Moses grew so very close to God that they talked as friends, and God Himself buried Moses upon his death.  Moses was so greatly regarded by God that he appeared with Jesus at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:3).  There is no one better to qualify a person for leadership than God, and no leadership should be undertaken without prayer and submission to the call to God.

  1. Gideon (Judges Chapters 6, 7) – The Midianites for several years had overpowered the Israelites and destroyed/confiscated their crops. The Israelites had resorted to dwelling in caves to hide themselves.  Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites when the Lord appeared to him and called him “Mighty Warrior”.  He told Gideon to “Go in the strength you have and save Israel.  Am I not sending you?”  Similar to Moses, Gideon began to pour forth his excuses as to why he could not lead the people against the Midianites.  Gideon considered his clan “the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least of my family.”  He did not see in himself the leadership God saw in him.  Gideon asked for a sign that it was God asking him to lead.  His offering of bread and meat was consumed by fire.  He asked for another sign — dew on the wool fleece while the ground was dry.  When that was done, he asked for the reverse sign—dew on the ground while the wool fleece was dry.  That night God did as Gideon asked.

The Spirit of God then came upon Gideon and he summoned an army from Israel.  God thought the initial army of 32,000 was too large.  When offered the chance to opt out, 22,000 went home.  Then a test of how the remaining men lapped water to drink with their hand while on alert (instead of kneeling and putting their face in the water) reduced the force to 300 men.  When God calls one into leadership, it is never about the size of the army or the resources.  The three hundred were divided into three companies, and Gideon led one of the companies.  All three companies followed God’s direction, and the Midianites were routed in the night.  Gideon’s army appeared to be mighty and great in number when they blew trumpets and smashed jars to reveal hundreds of lights in the jars.  The panicked Midianites turned the sword on each other in the dark and noise and confusion, resulting in their own defeat.  If leadership is in touch with God, His strategy will result in victory, with little effort on their part.

Prayer is a key component of leadership.  When God qualifies one for leadership, even a reluctant leader, victory is assured.  One of the men I respected most as a leader was the late Bishop Kimaro of the Pentecostal Evangelical Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) church.  He identified and trained many new pastors.  He championed church planting and growth.  He never refused help to those in need.  He was Bishop over more than 200 churches, yet pastored his own church.  He built a complete PEFA training facility for the Mt. Kenya region near his hometown.  He was a tireless worker, stretched thin in his responsibilities, but took time to buy food for the street kids.  When asked how he was so effective in his leadership, and how he got so much done, he quickly responded that it was so easy—he simply said “It’s the Holy Spirit.”  As a last bit of advice on leadership, let’s draw from that example.  A leader does not have to have all the credentials and answers.  If they are called by God to the role of leadership, they know where to go for resources and help.

WWII Fleet Admiral “Bull” Halsey, who led all the combined forces that held the island of Guadalcanal against Japanese invasion, said “There are no extraordinary men…just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.”  With all due respect to the late Admiral and to the Navy, I would modify that to say “God helps ordinary men deal with extraordinary circumstances.”  This is the most important key to leadership.

 

The Image Breaker Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Every person has been given two images of themselves, one from God and the other from Satan.  Our sin nature feeds the image from Satan, allowing it to dominate us.  God’s plan for us, however, is a completely different image and we can find it as we seek Him through His Word, prayer and by being quiet in His presence so that we may hear His voice.

One of my favorite Christian books is “Hinds’ Feet on High Places”, by English writer Hannah Hurnard.  It was published in 1955.  The lead character is Much Afraid, who is a yearling belonging to the Fearlings family.  They live in the Valley of Humiliation. Her family had arranged for her to be married to a cousin named Craven Fear.  Much Afraid is insecure, fearful and easily controlled by her family of Fearlings.  The family consists of several formidable characters named Gloomy, Spiteful, Foreboding, Dismal, and of course, Craven Fear.  More distant relatives are Self-pity, Bitterness and Pride.  All these family members attempt to keep Much Afraid intimidated and a permanent resident in the Valley of Humiliation.  This was their image for her.

The Shepherd, however, reveals himself to Much Afraid and offers her a completely different lifestyle and image of herself.  He draws her to the High Places although she visibly has many afflictions, such as club feet, a crooked mouth, ugly appearance, and deformed hands.  Much Afraid becomes enthralled with the notion that the Shepherd believes in her ability to abide in the cliffs and shear ledges of the High Places.  She answers his call to come up higher but questions her escorts, Sorrow and Suffering, whom the Shepherd assigns to aid her as she begins her ascent upward.

Surrendered to the Shepherd, Much Afraid receives her first gift from him.  He plants the “Seed of Love” within her heart.  It is inserted with a slight feeling of pain, but quickly settles into a peace that strengthens her for the journey.  She is surprised that her ascent upward to the High Places often leads her downward through difficult situations, trials and challenges.  She soon realizes each are meant to build her stamina, increase her resolve, and reveal insight to the new image her Shepherd has for her.  The book ends with a newly created hind, healed of all deformity and weakness, fear and insecurity.  She is re-named Grace and Glory by the Shepherd, the lover of her soul.  She becomes bold, secure in His love and sure footed.  She has developed the ability to withstand those who once brought her low, and she has obtained freedom from all that made her fearful.  Her transformation became a witness to all her family that lived in the Valley of Humiliation.

“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering and responsibility]!”  Habakkuk 3:19.

Mephibosheth was the grandson of King Saul and the son of Jonathan, David’s friend. His name means exterminator of shame or image breaker. (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary).   “Jonathan, Saul’s son had a son who was a cripple in his feet.  He was five years old when the news came out of Jezreel [of the deaths] of Saul and Jonathan.  And the boy’s nurse took him up and fled; and in her haste, he fell and became lame.  His name was Mephibosheth.”  2 Samuel 4:4

Before King Saul became jealous of David, he and Jonathan became close friends.  Jonathan made a covenant of friendship with David.  “When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life…Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life.  And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, even his sword, his bow, and his girdle.  And David went out wherever Saul sent him, and he prospered and behaved himself wisely; and Saul set him over the men of war.”  1 Samuel 18:1-5.  (Read entire chapter).

Later on, David had to flee the country because King Saul, through jealousy, sought to kill him.  Rather than defending his own life, David chose to leave the kingdom.  He walked in integrity refusing to hurt the king.  He would not even speak against him.  David was a mighty warrior and Jonathan knew he could have killed his father if he had so desired.  Jonathan was caught between his father and his closest friend, David.  He chose to support David, made a covenant with him, and protected him.  He also decided to honor his father by standing with him in his time of need.  “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, And the Lord will require that this covenant be kept at the hands of David’s enemies.  And Jonathan caused David to swear again by his love for him, for Jonathan loved him as he loved his own life.”  1 Samuel 20:16-17.

Eleven years passed as David kept one step ahead of King Saul and his men, who searched the land in order to locate and kill David.  David proved faithful twice by leaving evidence he had been in close enough proximity to have killed the king but chose otherwise.  David had the fear of God and knew it was only God’s right to judge King Saul in His own timing.  He showed great restraint as he honored the Lord and “his anointed” King Saul.  Sometimes anointed vessels of the Lord do not act honorably toward others or the Lord.  They may even fall into serious sin as David eventually did, but they are still the Lord’s anointed.  David knew better than to be judge and executioner of a fellow son of God because only God can judge the heart of man.

King Saul’s judgement day ultimately came.  He was killed by the Philistine army along with Jonathan and his other sons.  David eventually became King of Israel.  Mephibosheth had been hidden since the death of his father and grandfather for several years.  King David inquired if there were any descendants of King Saul or Jonathan left in the land.  Ziba, who had been of the house of Saul was asked by David, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the [unfailing, unsought, unlimited] mercy and kindness of God?  Ziba replied, Jonathan has yet a son who is lame in his feet.”  2 Samuel 9:3.  He summoned Mephibosheth to his palace and he came before King David in fear and trembling.

“And Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and did obeisance.  David said to him, Fear not, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your father [grandfather], and you shall eat at my table always.  And [the cripple] bowed himself and said, What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am?  Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, I have given your master’s son [grandson] all that belonged to Saul and to all his house…So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table as one of the king’s sons.”  2 Samuel 9:6-11.  Mephibosheth’s grandfather, King Saul had sinned against the Lord and excused his actions before the prophet Samuel instead of repenting of his sin.  He brought shame and dishonor upon his family.  Jonathan, however, honored his father while he also honored David who had been anointed by God to be king in Saul’s place.  His actions restored honor to his household.  It was through his covenant with David that Mephibosheth was cared for all the days of his life.  His honor and respect was restored to the place that he once again sat at the king’s table as a son and he was given back all his inheritance for the rest of his life.  Mephibosheth saw himself as a dead dog, but God had another plan.  His name “image breaker” foretold of his destiny.

The Lord is calling forth the Mephibosheths in the earth.  There are those who once ate at the King’s (Lord’s) table but fell, became crippled (whether at the hand of another or by their own sin) and have hidden themselves from the Lord.  He is inviting them back to His table to partake of his unfailing, unsought and unlimited mercy and kindness toward them!  There are those Mephibosheths who have never before eaten at the King’s table.  They have family members who have prayed and interceded for their life and the Lord wants to invite them to His table of provision filled with His unfailing love, unsought, unlimited mercy and kindness.  The Lord is also calling those Mephibosheths who believe they are the dead dogs, the unredeemable of society, the unwanted and filled with fear.  The Lord is saying to them, come to My table of grace and mercy.  Come partake of my unfailing love, my abundant grace and mercy and my healing waters.  My table is for you, just come!

God’s arms are open wide to all who will respond to His call to come to His table.  It is a table of healing, a table of provision, a table of restoration and a table that offers a new name, a new identity, and a new way.  King David showed Mephibosheth his identity was not a dead dog, it was son of a king!  The Lord is the true image breaker.  He calls us to surrender to His plans and purposes for our life and removes the stigma of our old, crippled and broken life.   He exterminates our shame and delivers us from fear.  He clothes us in His righteousness, places a ring on our finger and sits us at the place of honor at His table.  He has picked us out from among the crowd and called us to come out of the Valley of Humiliation so that He may give us hind’s feet to dwell in the high places with Him.  He crowns us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5) as we become transformed to reflect the image of Christ.

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 1 by Larry W Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 1   by   Larry W Peebles  April 21, 2017   17.14

This might just be my dream job.  I was invited to interview for a major leadership position with a big company in our local area with a great brand name.  This was a successful company with an image to match.  They were looking for a company president to take them to another level.  I went through a high level interview, with all the appropriate tests and interview strategies, conducted over several sessions.  In one of the sessions I was asked to name a favorite book or a book that I had read recently.  I replied “the Bible”.  This caused an awkward moment for the interviewer, as if that was an unusual or inappropriate answer.  I think the follow up question to my answer was “Why”?  I gave a short but accurate response and we moved on to the next question.  Instead of my answer being considered a strong answer, I had the impression it was deemed something they might be able to overlook or work around.

I was offered that job, but after praying, I felt I should decline.  God ultimately had something even better in mind.  Thinking back on it, I do not believe I could have been happy in a company that never saw themselves intentionally aligned with Biblical principles, or had no appreciation for or understanding of anyone who was seeking Biblical wisdom and guidance.

I have been fortunate to have many men in my life that I respected and considered to be leaders—even great leaders.  As I think of these men, I realize styles of leadership vary.  My dad, my father-in-law, my two brothers, a coach, and a few pastors and friends are certainly on the short list of leaders that impacted my life.  However, for purposes of this article, I will use my grandpa as an example of a great leader.  I loved my grandpa, and the older I get, the more I remember from what he taught me.  I do not write this to glorify my grandpa, although I adored him and think of him often.  He led by example more than by what he said.  Much of what he demonstrated I did not grasp until years later.  There is no better legacy than to have your example endorsed by the Bible.

Let’s start with this familiar principle–we reap what we sow.  I can remember when I was a small boy I found my grandpa alone in the barn, combing through the ears of corn, hand sorting each one.  Everyone else was in the yard starting to celebrate finishing the harvest of the corn crop.  Good ears went in one pile, bad ears that were only partially developed, or that had sections of brown or black kernels went in another.  The bad ears would be used for hog or cow feed.  Grandpa was really looking for the outstanding ears—the ones that were big, perfectly developed, with rich golden kernels.  Grandma’s fried chicken at the celebration would have to wait until he had finished searching for the perfect ears of corn.

When he found one of those golden perfect ears, it went in yet another pile in the corner of the barn.  After those ears dried, they would be run through a special machine that picked the kernels off the cob, where they fell down a chute into a seed bag.  The seed bag would be sewn shut, and the seed stored until the next planting season.

Without his ever saying a word, my grandfather taught me a valuable lesson.  If one wants to produce a field of big, beautiful golden corn, one must have the discipline to start with the best seed.  Seed selected from the partially developed ears with black kernels would produce more of that same poor quality corn.  The poor corn should be fed to the animals.  Similarly, the seed from the average corn would produce more average corn.   This corn could be sold or eaten.  The very best corn had only one purpose.  It was not to be eaten, not even at the celebration with friends and neighbors who helped bring in the crop.  The very best corn needed to be his seed for the next planting.  Similarly, the best results require the best effort.  If we expect to be treated well, we must treat others well.  Loving others is the best way to receive love in our lives.

The Bible says it this way.  “Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap.”  Galatians 6: 7.  Whatever one plants determines his harvest.  My grandpa provided a graphic illustration of this Biblical truth I shall never forget.  Consider these additional examples that reveal great leadership:

  1. He worked hard, dawn to dusk, and he was not afraid to do things that were hard. There were fields to plow, livestock to feed, barns and fences to build or paint, and lots of children and grandchildren that needed attention.  Colossians 3:23- “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”  Proverbs 16:3- “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”  Proverbs 14:23- “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”  Isaiah 41:10—“Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
  2. He did not work on Sunday. Exodus 20:10- “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor any stranger that is within your gates.”  Sunday morning was for church, and Sunday afternoon was for the large family gathering at the farm for fellowship, a light evening meal, or perhaps homemade ice cream.
  3. Grandpa not only rested himself, he rested the land. He lived his whole life on his farm.  He was born there, and he died there.  He was a successful farmer, married over 50 years to one wife, and raised six children through two world wars and the Great Depression.  Under all that pressure, he never over-worked the land.  He also never used fertilizer on his crops.  He plowed the stubble back into the field after the last crop, and let it decay naturally back into the soil.  Certain crops were planted that had no value except to rejuvenate the soil, and crops were rotated through different fields.  On a rotating schedule, he also rested a field so it could refresh itself.  Leviticus 25:4- “During the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath rest to the Lord; you shall not sow [plant] your field nor prune your vineyard.”
  4. Grandpa left an inheritance. He left a book full of fond memories, an example of a life well lived, and a monetary inheritance.  Although he only completed formal education through the third grade, he ultimately owned two farms, and a number of rental homes and commercial buildings.  He was decisive with the investments he made with the money he had received as a blessing from God.  When he died, my dad and mom (his daughter) were able to pay cash for a modest home from the inheritance.  When my dad and mom passed, my portion of the proceeds of the sale of that house went to my children, or grandpa’s great grandchildren.  Proverbs 13: 22- “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”
  5. Grandpa was a willing lender/giver to those in need. He loaned money to my older brother to finish college.  He gave me and my wife an envelope full of cash on our wedding day, which took a great deal of financial strain off our plans for the honeymoon.  Grandpa had no debt, and he never had a credit card; he paid cash for everything.  One of the blessings the Lord promised Israel in return for following and obeying Him is found in Deuteronomy 28: 12- “You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.”
  6. He cared for the widow. I went with him and watched him care for his mother and my grandma’s mother (both my great grandmothers) after they became widows.  He would visit them often, make sure they had food to eat, check on their health, and keep up the maintenance on their homes.  James 1:27 says- “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  I watched him care for his wife (my grandma) when she had a stroke and went into the nursing home.  As busy as he was, he always had time for others and their needs.  This experience helped me as I cared for my parents in their later years.
  7. He helped his family and neighbors. He could repair almost anything.  He painted my first car, put new brakes on my cousin’s first car, and helped my dad keep our family car running.  If he was not repairing his own farm equipment, he was off helping a neighbor repair theirs, or helping them bring in a crop.  Hebrews 6:10- “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.”
  8. He loved to laugh. He had a certain enthusiasm for life.  Many of his children, my aunts and uncles, carried on that trait.  They were the generation that courageously carried the burden of WWII, but when the war was over, they came home, rebuilt their lives, moved forward, and learned to laugh again.  They never allowed their situation or their circumstances to diminish their joy or hope.  Psalm 126: 2-3– “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them.  The Lord has done great things for us, and we were filled with joy.”

He never used tobacco products, and the only alcohol I saw him drink was a little brandy he made himself from peaches he grew on his farm.  These are just some of the leadership examples my grandpa left for me, all Bible based.  Enthusiasm, courage, discipline, and decisiveness are some of the traits of a leader I saw in my grandpa.  I’m sure Grandpa was not perfect, and maybe these are the things I choose to remember about him.  But the examples I remember out of the shadow he chose to cast helped me as I grew older.

Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples and a leader in the early church.  His shadow healed the sick as he walked by.  (Acts 5:15).  We all cast a shadow as we walk through life.  My prayer is that my shadow is helpful to others, not harmful.  My prayer is that I can be a positive influence on my wife, children and grandchildren.  My prayer is that I can lead by example, and demonstrate an inner Biblical compass that points to Jesus.