Why Easter?

April 18, 2014 — 1 Comment

emptytomb

“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.”

Easter is an interesting holiday. It does not get nearly the hype that Christmas does. Stores ignore the religious aspects of the holiday and have done everything that they can to push the Easter Bunny to the forefront of the holiday, just as Santa is pushed to the forefront of Christmas. The meaning of Christmas, however diluted it has become, though, is still understood to be the birth of Jesus. Even though, in many circles, the Christian aspect of Christmas has been removed, most people in the West retain an understanding that Christmas is ultimately about Jesus.

Easter is very different, though. While the Baby of Christmas is pretty non-threatening, the uncommercialized version of Easter brings many disturbing and uncomfortable ideas to the forefront:

1. Why was Jesus executed and where is the honor in celebrating  that?

2. What do the Christians mean when they talk about Jesus being “resurrected?” Do they believe that He actually came back to life after His crucifixion?

3. If the Easter Story is true, what does that mean for the world? If God really did raise Jesus from the dead, never to die again, what does that mean for me?

To really examine Easter forces one to examine the foundation of Christianity. Was Jesus just a misunderstood Jewish rabbi that ran afoul of the Romans? Make no mistake, messiahs were a dime a dozen in First Century Palestine. Jesus was not the first messiah that the Romans had put to death and He was certainly not the last. The interesting thing about these other dead messiahs is that no one can remember who they were. When they were executed, their followers just faded away.

The Resurrection changed everything. Instead of Jesus’ followers quietly going back to their former occupations, they began boldly proclaiming, “He is alive!” Men who just weeks before had been hiding in the dark out of the fear of being arrested as one of Jesus’ followers, now began to stand up in public and preach the message of the risen Jesus.

The men and women who were witnesses of the Risen Christ had a message to share and they were infused with a boldness that could not be suppressed. Their fear of being arrested was now replaced with a passion and zeal that began to spill over wherever they went. The arrest, beating, and even death that many early Christians suffered did not stop, or even slow the message of the resurrection down.

The Resurrection of Jesus is the defining moment of history. The theological implications are many. The basic message of the resurrection to the world, however, was that just as God raised Christ from the dead, there will be a day when He will also raise His followers to the same kind of new life that Christ now experiences. That calls for a celebration this Easter Sunday! And maybe a chocolate egg or two!

If you would like to help us share the resurrection story in Brazil, here is the link!

https://c3church.wufoo.com/forms/brazil-mission-trip-dave-and-annie-spell/

The cover of Miracles in Mark

This is the last excerpt from Miracles in Mark. I hope you have enjoyed them! Just click here Miracles in Mark to order your a copy.

                                                                                       The Resurrection

The presence of the angel gives weight to the fact that the tomb is empty. The empty tomb itself would not have been an indicator to the women that Jesus was alive. The women would just be wondering what had happened to His body. They had seen Him die. People did not just walk away from being crucified. The women did not come to the tomb anticipating the resurrection. The angel’s announcement that Jesus had risen provided the women with the revelation to go along with the empty tomb.

The angel entrusts the women with the message of Jesus’s resurrection. They are instructed to go and “tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” The disciples had deserted Jesus and fled, leaving Him to His fate on the night of His arrest. Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times. The angel’s words here convey forgiveness and the restoration to fellowship. The disciples will see Jesus again on this side of eternity. This is the message that the angel entrusts to the women.

The next verse, however, seems to imply that the women disobeyed the angel’s directive. “They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” In reality, we know from the other Gospels that the women did tell the disciples what they had seen and heard. Hendriksen understands this verse to mean that the women did not stop on the way to talk with anyone because they were afraid. Mark’s narrative does end, though, on a note that would leave the reader wondering what happened, if they were not already familiar with the story. Did the women pass the message on to the disciples as the angel directed them? Did they eventually encounter the resurrected Jesus?

It is intriguing that Mark would end his Gospel on this note of human fear and weakness. At the same time, however, this has been a recurring theme throughout his Gospel. The resurrection is the culmination of a theme that Mark has developed at length in his book. That theme is the fact that divine power can overcome human weakness. Over and over again, Jesus demonstrated the power of God against sickness, demonic possession, and even nature itself. When confronted by the shocked and grief stricken father who had just lost his daughter, Jesus told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” To the father of the severely possessed boy, Jesus told him, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Here, the resurrection takes what appears to be the ultimate defeat and turns it into the ultimate victory.

Would you consider partnering with Annie and I as we serve in Brazil? Obrigado! (Thank you!)

The cover of Miracles in Mark

These next two excerpts from my book, Miracles in Mark, are from the chapter on the Resurrection. 

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

                                                                                     (Mark 16:1–8)

While there can be no doubt that the cross occupies the central place in Mark’s Gospel, it is just as clear that the resurrection is the supernatural event that gives the cross its truest meaning. The resurrection reversed or overturned the results of the crucifixion, bringing life where there had been death. More importantly, however, the resurrection served to demonstrate the fact that God had vindicated Jesus as the, “pioneer of salvation for anyone believing in him.” The religious authorities clearly thought that they were doing God’s will by eliminating Jesus. By raising Jesus from the dead, God declared once and for all that He was the fulfillment of God’s eternal plans and purposes.

Mark’s actual account of the resurrection is very brief. In fact, there are no accounts of post-resurrection appearances of Christ to His disciples. When placed alongside the other miracles and supernatural events in this Gospel, the resurrection event lacks detail and specifics. It is very tame in comparison to the other miraculous accounts. The brevity of the account has puzzled readers since the days of the early Church. As it is, the ending of Mark’s Gospel leaves the reader hanging. This may have been the result that Mark intended. Some have speculated as to whether or not Mark actually intended for the book to end here. Perhaps he intended to come back and finish it later. At any rate, it does end at verse 8 and this is what we have to work with.

The main characters in this chapter include three women: Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Joses, and Salome, and “a young man.” These are the three same women whom Mark identified as “watching from a distance” at the crucifixion. Two of them, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses were also present at Jesus’s internment. As they approach the tomb, early on the morning after the Sabbath, they realize that they are not going to be able to gain access due to the large stone covering the entrance. When they arrive at the tomb, however, they observe that the large stone has been rolled away. It will become clear that the stone was not removed to let Jesus out. Other Gospel accounts, in His encounters with His followers, have the resurrected Jesus appearing and disappearing, often seeming to pass through doors and walls.

Inside, they are confronted by the other character in this account, “a young man wearing a white robe.” There is little doubt that Mark understood this figure to be an angel. His white robe is one indicator, but the primary indicator is the fact that he communicates revelation to the frightened women. He knows their thoughts and intentions. He knows they are looking for Jesus but announces, “He has risen!” By way of emphasis, the angel then encourages the women to, “See the place where they laid him.” There is no one there.

To be continued…

Would you consider partnering with Annie and I as we serve in Brazil? Obrigado! (Thank you!)

The cover of Miracles in Mark

With Easter approaching, I am posting a few excerpts from my book, Miracles in Mark. This the last excerpt from the chapter, “God’s Greatest Sign,” dealing with the crucifixion. Thank God that was not the end of the story! My next posts will be from the chapter on the Resurrection.

                                                                                     God’s Greatest Sign

This brings us back to the foot of the cross where the centurion is standing. He does not know, nor would he care about the tearing of the curtain. He has seen how Jesus died, though. He has seen the darkness covering the land during the middle of the day. The centurion also knows that Jesus is not being tried as a common criminal. He is not being accused of murder or theft; He is accused of being “The King of the Jews.” The centurion has heard the taunts of the religious leaders, as well as passersby and the other condemned criminals. Through it all, Jesus did not answer them a word.

After enduring the agony for six hours, Jesus uttered a loud cry and “breathed his last.” Mark does not tell us what Jesus uttered but he clearly portrays it as a “victor’s cry of triumph.” While most people who were crucified grew weaker and weaker until they quietly died, Jesus shows that He was in control until the very end. With His last breath He gave a shout of triumph and then voluntarily gave up His spirit. His manner of death fulfilled His own words when He said He came “to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus’ life was not taken from Him. He gave it voluntarily fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy that, “he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many . . .” Only in the resurrection would the ultimate meaning of Jesus’s death be seen. Jesus knew clearly, though, that there could be no resurrection without enduring the agony of the crucifixion.

As the centurion watched Jesus die, he said, “Surely, this man was the Son of God!” It is unclear exactly what he meant by his exclamation. Johnson believes that a better translation of this verse would be, “Truly, this man was God’s son.” As to what he meant, Lane says that, he “presumably meant that Jesus was a divine man or deified hero who accepted humiliation and death as an act of obedience to a higher mandate.” At the same time, however, Mark clearly intended his readers to see this as a genuine Christian confession. In any event, the reader knows that the centurion’s confession is valid. His confession is a statement of faith, whether conscious or unconcious. As we have seen over and over again throughout Mark’s Gospel, as people encounter Jesus, and reach out to Him in faith, their lives are touched and healed. We do not know what happens to the centurion. Perhaps, as some early traditions assume, he did become a Christian. Mark does have him speak for all of us, however, who see the cross as God’s greatest sign and most significant miracle. If we are willing to see it through the eyes of faith, our lives will be transformed, also.

If you enjoyed these excerpts from Miracles in Mark, just click and you can check it out on Amazon!

Would you consider partnering with Annie and I as we serve in Brazil? Obrigado! (Thank you!)

The cover of Miracles in Mark

With Easter coming up, I wanted to share a few excerpts from my book Miracles in Mark. This is one of my favorite chapters. I hope you enjoy it as well! This is the second excerpt from the chapter, “God’s Greatest Sign.”

Jesus was crucified at the third hour or about nine in the morning. At the sixth hour or around noon, darkness covered the land until the ninth hour or three in the afternoon. After hanging on the cross for six hours, Jesus gave a loud cry and “breathed his last.” This reminds the hearer of the commissioning sequence in chapter one in which the Holy Spirit came onto (and by implication of the Greek into Jesus). At His death, He seems to expel the Spirit. At this moment, Mark notes that two things happened. The first was that at the moment of Jesus’ death, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom.” The second thing that happened was that when the attending Roman centurion, “who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God.”

In describing the curtain being torn in two, Mark takes us back to the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, when God gave Him the vision of the heavens being torn open at His baptism. The word that Mark uses to describe the curtain being torn is a derivative of schizo. The root word is the same as in 1:10 when Jesus had His vision of Heaven being torn open. At the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, He had a vision of heaven being ripped open. Here at the moment of His death the veil or curtain in the temple that covered the Holy of Holies was ripped open. This was “the shielding curtain” described in Exodus 26:31–35 and 40:20–21. It was designed to keep people out. Only the priest was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place, and that was only once a year.

The concept here is stunning. As Jesus dies, God pulls the “veil” away from His face in the ultimate theophany. God’s “face” or “presence” had for years been hidden behind the veil in the Most Holy Place. Now, at the moment of Jesus’ death God is showing His “face” in His Son. This is the ultimate picture of self-revelation. Access to the Divine Presence is now available for everyone. This includes the Gentile centurion who will be the first non-Jew to recognize Jesus’ true identity. Jesus’ death did not mean an end to the presence of God on the Earth. On the contrary, with the tearing of the curtain in the Temple, God’s presence was now being released to the whole world, Gentiles as well as the Jews.

 Mark had told us earlier in the chapter that when Jesus was crucified there was a sign, probably affixed to the cross, with the charge against Him: “The King of the Jews.” This idea of His kingship was also part of the taunts He had to endure while hanging on the cross. “Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Now, at the moment of His death, Mark shows the reader the truth of the statement. He clearly shows that Jesus is “enthroned not on the ark or cherubim, but on the cross.”(author’s italics) This is the ultimate sign. No doubt, the meaning and the purpose of the crucifixion would be validated by the resurrection, yet it was the cross that was the culmination and fulfillment of Jesus’ commission.

To be continued…

Would you consider partnering with Annie and I as we serve in Brazil? Obrigado! (Thank you!)

The cover of Miracles in Mark

With Easter coming up, I will be posting short excerpts this week from my second book, Miracles in Mark.

                                                                                        God’s Greatest Sign

And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get…With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God.”

(Mark 15:24, 37–39)

In chapter one, we discussed the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees in Mark 8:11–12. The Pharisees came to Jesus and asked Him for a sign. Mark’s Gospel is full of miracles and supernatural events. The Pharisees were eyewitnesses on several occasions in which Jesus worked miracles. These miracles and healings were not the kinds of signs that the Pharisees were looking for, as we discussed. Jesus flatly refused to give them a sign.

Here, at the end of His ministry, however, Jesus provides a sign for all who have the eyes to see it in the crucifixion. To be sure, the religious leaders saw no significance or revelation in Jesus’ death. In fact, His death had been their intention for the last couple of years. The irony is that this was Jesus’ goal all along, as well. He had told His followers, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The cross was ultimately the fulfillment of the commission that Jesus had received from God at the time of His baptism.

The actual event of the crucifixion is described by Mark with minimal detail. Those who lived under Roman rule would have been all too familiar with the way that the practice was carried out. Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, “The Passion of the Christ,” probably visualizes and depicts the crucifixion in as realistic terms as any movie can. Needless to say, crucifixion, as a form of torture and execution, really did not have an equal in the ancient world. This practice did much to help the Romans to maintain control over their vast empire.

To be continued…

Would you consider partnering with Annie and I as we serve in Brazil? Obrigado! (Thank you!)

Girl Running

For many people, the word exercise equates to torture or drudgery. There are so many better ways to spend time than to get up early and run or bike a couple of miles. Why would anyone want to go to a gym and be around those sweaty, smelly people? The reality, though, is that the body needs and craves regular exercise. The key is for the person to find some type of exercise that they enjoy and then do it.

Regular exercise is important at every stage of life. For adults, however, getting enough exercise becomes even more crucial. For most people, their metabolism starts to slow down as they move towards their thirties. This makes it even harder to keep those extra pounds off. Many people, especially those living in the West, also have poor diets. This, combined with a slower metabolism, means that many people are carrying more weight than is healthy. Eventually, this will take its toll. Someone who exercises regularly has a much better chance of maintaining their ideal weight.

Another reason that regular exercise is important is that people who work out regularly are much less prone to depression and tend to handle stress better. The chemicals that are released into our brains during a workout help to produce a more positive attitude. A person with an inactive lifestyle is much more likely to react negatively to stress, and become a candidate for depression. Many people react to stress in unhealthy ways by overindulging in alcohol or drugs. Exercise is a much more positive way to handle stress.

The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Over twenty five percent of all deaths are related to some form of heart disease. While there are cases of heart disease that are genetic or hereditary, for the vast majority of people this disease can be prevented in two ways. The first of these is diet. High cholesterol is a powerful contributing factor to heart disease. As you get older this even becomes more critical. Individuals must monitor their diets to make sure that their cholesterol stays below two hundred. A yearly blood test is a good idea to find out what one’s cholesterol level is. This is usually a normal part of a yearly physical checkup.

The second way that heart disease can be prevented, and perhaps the most important, is through regular exercise. While lifting weights provides some cardio exercise, aerobic exercise is what is going to do your heart the most good. You can get this aerobic exercise through walking, running, biking, or swimming. Most gyms also offer classes such as Zumba, or some other type of dance workout.

While aerobic exercise is the key to having a healthy heart, strength training is also important for adults. Lifting weights offers many health benefits. One of these benefits is that those who lift weights regularly have much better bone density. As people age, they lose bone mass. Regular strength training will help keep the bones strong. This will be preventative medicine as the individual continues to age.

Another benefit to lifting weights is increased flexibility. Regular strength training helps provide important flexibility to a person’s back, legs, and shoulders. This flexibility is another important tool to protect a person from injury as they get older. A lack of flexibility can cause serious problems for adults as they move into their later years.

Regular exercise is important for everyone, but especially for adults. Many people do not like to exercise alone. In these cases, it works well if they can find a friend that will workout with them. An excellent choice for many people that are embarking on a new exercise regimen is to hire a personal trainer. Even if the person only hired the trainer for a few sessions, this is money well spent. The trainer can provide the individual with a customized workout plan to help them get the maximum results. However the individual decides to do it, exercise must become a part of a person’s lifestyle. Starting and maintaining new habits can be difficult. In this case, though, it could be a matter of life or death.

Would you consider partnering with Annie and I as we serve in Brazil? Obrigado! (Thank you!)

The Insecure Leader

The Insecure Leader

I recently taught a 4 week course at C3 Curitiba based on Dr. Phil Pringle’s excellent book, Leadership Excellence: 10 Characteristics of Great Leaders. Over the last few posts, we have highlighted and discussed these 10 important leadership traits. This is the last post in the series. You can read Part Three here if you missed it.
8. Secure- Confident- we want to follow people who know where they are going.
Insecure leaders are usually controlled by fear. They don’t trust those around them. They are hesitant to give others responsibility. They are quick to shift the blame to others and quick to take the credit for someone else’s work. Insecure leaders are micro-managers.
On the other hand, a secure leader trusts his people. Their goal is to release others and give them responsibility. When a team member makes a mistake, a secure leader will take responsibility. When a team member succeeds, the secure leader will make sure everyone knows that team member’s name.
     A. Self-Image, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth. These are not bad things. We can’t lead well if we don’t love ourselves. Jesus said we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
 
Romans 12:3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
     B. Leading people who are more talented than we are. There will come a time when we will be leading people that are older, more talented, more experienced, and even smarter than we are. A secure leader is able to harness his team’s talent and experience and make the decisions needed to keep moving forward.
King Saul was a weak leader.
King David attracted other strong leaders.
9. Spiritual- This doesn’t mean “weird.” Too often, Christians come across as strange people. They use words that no one else uses and they end up raising walls instead of building bridges to those who are not believers.
Jesus was the most “normal” person that ever lived. Lost people loved to be around him. Children were attracted to him. He did not repel people. They were drawn to him.
Spirituality: A constant connection with God/A constant awareness of other people’s needs.
True Spirituality Manifest itself in:
     A. Humility
     B. Thankfulness
     C. Serving
     D. Generosity
 
10. Self-Control- Discipline
 
How many great ideas never come to pass? Dreams never fulfilled? The world lays at the feet of the disciplined person.
     A. The Tongue- Leaders, of all people, must guard what they say. Leader’s words carry more weight and can do much more damage. At the same time, a leader’s words can encourage and provide the timely advice that someone needs.
     B. Our Attitude- A leader must be consistent in their attitude and demeanor. If we are up one day and down the next, our people will always be on edge. A leader’s attitude goes a long way to shaping the atmosphere of the organization.
     C. Our Mind or Thoughts- Our thoughts will always take us somewhere. Where do we want to go? Paul said that our thoughts must be brought under the control of Christ. If we are undisciplined in our thought lives, the rest of our life will be undisciplined as well.
     D. Living Clean and Pure Lives- “Who will ascend to the hill of the Lord? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” Our authority as leaders does not come from our title or our position. Our real authority comes as we consistently live a life of integrity. Our people know that we are not perfect and that we will make mistakes. They can see, however, that we are trying to live a life worthy of imitation.
Would you consider partnering with Annie and I as we serve and develop leaders in Brazil? Obrigado! (Thank you!)
If you are interested in reading Phil Pringle’s book, Top 10 Qualities of a Great Leader, I would highly recommend it. This is the latest and most up-to-date version. You can even read a few pages for free on Amazon!

Strong Leadership I recently taught a 4 week course at C3 Curitiba based on Dr. Phil Pringle’s excellent book, Leadership Excellence: 10 Characteristics of Great Leaders. Over the next few posts, we will be highlighting and discussing these 10 important leadership traits. You can read Part Two here.

5. Strong- Life is not fair. Leaders will encounter obstacles and challenges. At the end of the day, it is the strong that will survive. Weak leadership really does not accomplish anything of value. Leaders are taking people from where they are now on a journey. This journey will involve the follower having to change and grow. No one wants to follow a weak leader.
Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”
Strong Leadership- it is not leadership to let people do whatever they want. Leaders guide people in a specific direction towards the accomplishing of a vision. In our case, we are building a church with a specific vision.
     A. Strong Leadership Requires Something from Others.
     B. Strong Leadership Holds People Accountable.
     C. Strong Leadership is Fearless of Other People’s Opinions.
Moses and Aaron are a great case study in strong leadership vs weak leadership. 
6. Sound- Good character
“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down you will not be when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Proverb 3:21-24
A leader’s character and integrity are the things that either draw people to them or send potential followers running in the opposite direction. People want to follow someone they can trust. A leader’s character is formed by their habits. What does Good Character look like?
  
Joseph is a great example! When confronted by an opportunity to enhance his career by sleeping with his master’s wife, he ran away. Later, when he was elevated to as the Prime Minister of Egypt, he encountered his brothers. These were the same brothers who had plotted his murder and only at the last minute decided to sell him as a slave rather than killing him. Now Joseph had the power to get even and extract his revenge. Instead, he forgave his brothers and showed kindness and mercy to them that they did not deserve.
7. Sensible- Wisdom. There are many strong and courageous leaders who have failed for a lack of wisdom. They may be full of vision. They may be strong and willing to make the tough decisions. Without wisdom, however, they will eventually become derailed.
“Let those who are wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. And let those who understand receive guidance.” Proverbs 1:5
 
     A. Life-long Learners- reading, listening, attending conferences, seminars.
     B. We learn from our mistakes.
     C. We study people. The wise or sensible leader is great at understanding people. Everyone is not the same and must be managed differently.
     D. Humility- stay teachable. Wisdom says, “There is always something new that I can learn.”
To be continued…
Would you consider partnering with Annie and I as we serve and develop leaders in Brazil? Obrigado! (Thank you!)

Navy Seals Training

I recently taught a 4 week course at C3 Curitiba based on Dr. Phil Pringle’s excellent book, Leadership Excellence: 10 Characteristics of Great Leaders. Over the next few posts, we will be highlighting and discussing these 10 important leadership traits. If you missed it, you can read Part One here.

3. Soldier

“The Soldier grows in a climate of war.”

A. Soldiers are Strong.

Ephesians 6:10-12 “A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.”

Soldiers are not just strong physically. They are strong mentally and emotionally, and in the Christian’s case, spiritually. A leader knows how to weather the storm. Battles are part of the Christian life. We prepare ourselves so that we don’t become a casualty.

2 Timothy 2:3 “Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”

B. Soldiers are Obedient.

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”

Success in war rests on soldiers being able to follow orders. They will never accomplish their mission if they ignore orders. Following directions is essential to success.

C. Soldiers are Disciplined.

What does discipline look like? “Discipline’s choice is a life lived by principles rather than by feelings. Discipline has already decided how she will live, well before meeting the fork in the road. Her choices have already been made.”

People who are disciplined consistently make the right choices. They go to the gym or exercise at home. They go to church on a regular basis. They don’t buy things that they can not afford.

Olympics athletes are an amazing group of people. Have you ever noticed, though, that it is only the narrowest of margins that separate the top five or ten competitors? Is it the most talented that wins the medal? These athletes are all incredibly gifted. I wonder if, at that level of competition, it is the person that is the most disciplined that ends up winning instead of just the one that is the most talented?

D. Soldiers are Armed.

2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

A leader needs to be able to apply the Scriptures in every area of their lives. They must set aside time every day to spend in the Bible and prayer. For someone who does not have this daily discipline, I would recommend  setting aside ten minutes every day. That may not sound like much, but if someone will consistently spend five minutes in the Bible and five minutes in prayer it will change their lives.

4. Successful

How does one become successful? Does success just happen to people or do they create their success? Many people seem to pursue lottery ticket success.

“I will eventually hit the jackpot.”

“One day, the boss will recognize my brilliance.”

Instead, these three things can lead to genuine success:

A. Look for a need and meet it. Anticipate what your boss is going to need. Don’t just go to your boss with a problem. Give him some solutions to problems and he will love you!

B. Look for a hurt and heal it.

C. Look for opportunities and take advantage of them.

i. Create momentum by taking small steps.

ii. Be willing to work harder and longer than those around you.

iii. Take responsibility for your own success or failure.

To be continued…

Would you consider partnering with Annie and I as we serve in Brazil? Obrigado! (Thank you!)