Jesus: “I Thirst” … Reconsidered

Salvation

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” John 19:28 NKJV

Years ago, I became so dehydrated on a mission trip that I had to be hospitalized. I understand the phrase, “I thirst.”

Obviously, Jesus suffered far more than I ever did. Multiplied by thousands. I can’t imagine how dehydrated and thirsty He must have been.

I wonder, however, if there was an even greater suffering Jesus was experiencing.

Think back to another occasion in the life of Jesus that involved water. When Jesus approached the Samaritan woman, He told her He had water she knew nothing about. Jesus called this water “Living Water”. Jesus revealed later that indeed He is this Living Water. Jesus said that anyone who drinks of this water, would never be thirsty again.

I wonder if Jesus’ cry on the cross was more than the result of the obvious physical state of dehydration. Perhaps Jesus cry had a deeper meaning.

Could Jesus have been crying out for some of that Living Water?

As we know, Jesus was about to be separated from His Father. Never before had God turned His back on His only Son, but that was exactly what He did at Jesus’ crucifixion. “He who had no sin, became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21) Jesus became sin, and God can have nothing to do with sin, so God had to reject His only Son, because of your sin and mine. God the Father had to abandon God the Son. (Matthew 27:46) Jesus had to face the burden of all the sin of the world completely alone. (Praise God you and I don’t have to face our burdens alone!)

Was Jesus experiencing the reality of this separation when He cried “I Thirst!”?

I’m just asking for consideration. Maybe reconsideration. I know for me, the thought of being separated from God, even for a moment, seems unbearable. I need thee every hour. I am desperate without my God.

When you think of Jesus suffering on the Cross, remember it wasn’t just a physical pain. Jesus suffered emotionally and spiritually as well. As many know, this kind of suffering is many times the worst kind of suffering. Jesus, who knew well the joy of experiencing the glory of God, was about to give up His stake in that glory. It was surely a most horrible experience.

Jesus, you must have endured more than I ever imagined on the Cross.

Thank you for your willingness to suffer separation from your Father on my behalf.

10 Ways to Have a Reproducing Culture

growing team

Yesterday I shared traits I look for when recruiting new leaders.

Perhaps I need to back up a bit. You can’t recruit leaders…or you won’t effectively…if you never develop a culture that reproduces leaders.

Yet, finding new leaders is critical to the successful growth of any church or organization.  Kingdom growth is greatly impacted by the numbers of leaders we can recruit.

With that in mind, we must strive to recruit more leaders and we do that by having a culture of reproduction. How do we develop that type of culture?

Here are 10 thoughts:

Catch the vision of multiplication – It’s hard to convince people to buy into something you don’t believe in personally. As a leader, you must believe reproducing leaders is a valuable enough process to make it a priority.

Be intentional – Every leader in the organization must be willing to consciously replace themselves.  Multiplication must be a part of the overall strategy. There must be a system of leadership recruitment.

Start early – Reproducing cultures replace leaders before they actually need them.

Invest in personal growth – You can’t take new leaders where the current haven’t been or aren’t going.

Humble leaders – Leaders must not be afraid that new leaders could lead better than them. When leaders allow people to shine under their leadership it advances their ability to lead. The good news is today’s generation likes honesty. They will follow a leader more if they trust their integrity.

Share responsibilities early – The easiest way to learn something is to do it and the more ownership given to people the more they will be motivated to participate.

Identify potential – This was in my previous post. It’s important in a recruitment culture to always be looking for people who may someday be leadership superstars. Look for the good in people. What do they have that attracts people to them?

Create an environment conducive to leaders – Leaders don’t develop well under a dictatorship. If people are afraid to have an answer under the current leadership for fear of being wrong, they are less likely to try to have an answer. The real leaders will disappear quickly in a controlling environment.

Recruit – The “sign up” method seldom works well. The best quality people are personally recruited. Jesus found people with a personal ask.  The best recruitment in most organizations will be likewise.

Lead for life change – Some people will experience their greatest life change only when they are leading others or have some sort of responsibility for leadership. Nurture potential leaders knowing that part of their spiritual maturity will be that step of leadership.

Are you in a leadership reproducing culture? What makes it so?

10 Traits to Identify Potential New Leaders

Full body isolated portrait of young business man

One of the most important tasks of a leader is to identify potential new leaders. If a church or organization is to grow, finding new leaders is critical. Equally vital is the quality of leaders being discovered. Good leaders learn to look for qualities in people that are conducive to good leadership. If you want to have a culture that reproduces leaders, read THIS POST first.

But, where do you find these people who can be future leaders? I find it helps to look for certain qualities, which all good leaders need or qualities that, consistently over time, seem to make good leaders.

Here are 10 attributes I consider valuable traits when looking for new leaders:

Concern/Love for others – You can’t lead people effectively if you don’t genuinely love people. I’ve seen people in positions who have great power, but they don’t appear to love others. These leaders often produce followers well, but they fall short of reproducing leaders.

Not a complainer – Candidly speaking, leadership encounters complainers regardless of what we do. I certainly don’t want to add complainers to my team of leaders. A positive attitude will get my attention every time.

Teachable and open to suggestions – A person who thinks they have all the answers will repel other leaders. People with no desire to keep learning rarely find their place on my team of leaders.

Excellence in following – This is a biggie for me. I try to follow people I lead, because there are times they know more than I do. Many times. Someone who isn’t willing to follow is seldom ready to lead.

Reliability – Leadership is about trust, and trust is developed over time and consistency by doing what you said you would do. I look for people with that quality.

Interest – The people with a burning passion for the church or organization often make great leaders. You can train someone to lead others, but you can’t easily train them to have interest.

Good character – Character counts. Not perfection. Not flawless. But, good character is necessary to be trusted on a team. Integrity. Honesty. A humble desire to always be improving as a person. That kind of character.

Potential – God always saw potential in others they themselves couldn’t see. I try to have eyes to see that in others.

Confidence – Leaders have to move forward when others are ready to retreat. That takes confidence. Not prideful, but a genuine willingness to lead through the hard times; to do what others aren’t willing to do.

People skills – This goes without saying, but you can’t lead people if you can’t communicate with people. You don’t have to be the life of the party (I’m a strong Introvert), but you do have to be able to engage people and make them feel a part of things.

Well, those are some traits I look for in potential leaders.

Do you have other traits you look for in recruiting leaders?

(This is an expanded version of an older post.)

All Creation Bows…When Your Faith Dwindles

faith

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matthew 8:26

I wonder if Jesus often wondered, in His humanity, why the disciples just didn’t get it.

In fact, I wonder why I don’t at times. Sometimes it seems like an everyday occurrence.

There Jesus was, all along, throughout the storm, and yet I fail to recognize Him. I knew, at least in my heart, that God was still God, that the Holy Spirit was my great comforter and that Jesus was at the right hand of the Father saying, “Dad, I know what he’s going through. Let’s help him one more time.” But in the midst of a tempest…a storm…a trial…it often seemed like He was nowhere around.

Or, are you not like me and my disciple friends? Do you have perfect faith? Strong faith? BIG faith? BIGGER faith? Is your faith “mature”? More “perfect” than mine?

Sure, we should always grow in our faith. And, it is trials and storms of life that God uses so often to increase our dependency on Him; to teach us who God is and who we are not. But you and I, if we are honest, know that our faith often dwindles. We often try to take on the storms with our own abilities. It may be like flying a paper airplane in a hurricane, but we will put our all into being independent. As dumb as that seems in reality.

And then our plane crashes…

You’ve been there.

Suddenly, we have nowhere else to turn and we call upon the name of the Lord!
Redemption comes! Then comes the real strength and power! Then comes the real solution!

Our faith…little as it may be…calls upon Jesus…and all Creation bows at His name!

When is the last time you knew God to be God…no questions asked?

Are You a Christian Struggling with Guilt?

girl past

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” John 3:17 NLT

Are you a believer, but you can’t seem to shake the feeling of guilt? You know God saved you, but you still feel so much guilt from your past?

I need to assure you today that, in my understanding of Scripture, guilt does not come from God. The devil often uses guilt to keep us from doing the will of God and growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Guilt has to do with condemnation. You feel the “weight” or “sentence” of your sin. But, didn’t Christ die for that condemnation?

The next verse after John 3:16, the famous and familiar verse, reminds us that God sent Jesus to save, not to condemn it. Romans 8:1 says there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The very definition of guilt has to do with remorse for having done something wrong. Furthermore, guilt is being responsible for an offense. A Christian’s sins have been paid for on the Cross. One of the very definitions of guilt is “guilty conduct; sin”.

The sin debt of any believer is heavy, but every bad offense we have ever committed has been covered over by the grace of Jesus Christ. We still sin, but Jesus doesn’t get back on the Cross. His death was sufficient for all our sins. There is “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Please don’t misunderstand, you may feel sorry for your sins and ask God for forgiveness. That’s what we call repentance, but God’s motivating factor in obedience is love, not guilt. God guides His children to obey Him with a loving hand. Sometimes God’s love for us involves discipline. Many times we suffer the consequences of our sins. God will lead us to follow Him exclusively, but He will do it with love, not with guilt.

Jesus didn’t come to earth to bring condemnation. He came to bring salvation to all who would believe in Him.

Thank God today that there is no guilt for the person who knows, loves and believes in Jesus Christ as Savior.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Church Drama

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I love the local church. I really do. I believe it is God’s design and His plan to reach the world with the Gospel…with life and hope.

But, I hate church drama.

I really do. I hate destructive drama in any setting, but especially in the church. It shouldn’t exist. It especially shouldn’t exist in the church. We have to violate a lot of principles of God’s plan for the church and for believers for it to exist at all, but, even still, it does.

Drama. Gossip. Back-stabbing. Politics. Jockeying for power. Rumors. It’s destructive and has no part in the local church. I’ve seen lots of it. And, along the way I’ve learned a few things.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned about church drama:

Not all rumors are true. Most aren’t.

People like to expand on what they know. Or think they know.

There are consequences to sin. Even though there is grace. Some confuse that.

Some people enjoy telling others “the good stuff”. With practice, some have even learned to make things bigger and “better” than they really are.

Gossip destroys.

There is usually more to the story than what you know. But it may or may not be what your mind stretches it to be.

Many people never consider the ramifications of what they are saying.

Some of the juiciest gossip is disguised as a prayer request.

Thumper’s mom was right.

The only reliable source is the direct source.

For those who have given up on church because of the drama…Please reconsider. I still believe in the local church. I think we need people who like me…hate the drama of church and just want to live out the Gospel. Don’t let the drama keep you away. Come be a part of ending it.

You may want to read my post 7 Ways to Stop Gossip and 5 Suggestions When Your Life is a Drama. Or, even better, read the Book of James…New Testament. Or maybe Ephesians. (Specifically note 4:29).

What have you learned about church drama?

A Harsh Reality of Leading Today

Elegant leader

Here’s a harsh reality if you want to be a leader today.

This is a word especially to young leaders…

If you really, really want to lead…and want to be successful at it…

No one is going to hold your hand.

No one is going to tell you how to do everything.

No one is going to encourage you everyday.

No one is going to paint the picture in complete detail for you.

If you want to succeed as a leader…

You’ll have to put your big boy (or girl) pants on…

And figure it out…

The leaders in the future will be the ones who didn’t demand “show me how”…

They simply get it done. They do the hard work, figure it out, and make something happen. They find ways to stay motivated. They learn from others. They learn from trial and error. They get back up every time they fall.

And, in the process, they excel above the ones who are waiting around for someone to hold their hand.

Honestly, that’s how it’s always been, but it’s still that way today.

Perhaps even more so.