A new addition to the India collection…The Red Fort is located across the river from Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
Other photos of India can be found by clicking on this logo:
What would it have been like to be with Moses and the Israelites between Egypt and Canaan? If ever there was a time when the direction of the Lord was clear, it was then. By day the Lord went before them in a pillar of cloud and by night in a pillar of fire. “He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Exodus 13:22).
Before we start longing for that day of such an obvious manifestation of the Lord’s presence with His people, we must remember that the Israelites were still a “stiff-necked, rebellious people” who grumbled at every inconvenience! Our desire is certainly for clear direction from the Lord but even more so for His presence to accompany us as we proceed, for His character to reveal itself through the faithfulness of His people.
At one point, Moses said to the Lord, “If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). I share that sentiment entirely! Since God has brought us a long way in ministry over the past few years, it is crucial for us to continue to go with Him. We dare not venture out alone in ministry. If we are not led specifically by the Lord, we will of necessity pray “Do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Thy sight, I and Thy people? Is it not by Thy going with us so that we, I and Thy people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16).
How, then, can we be led by the Lord? No clouds or pillars of fire present themselves to us. But in these last days, God has spoken to us in His Son. In Christ Jesus we are led with assurance both of His direction and of His abiding presence! When we abide in Him, the Vine, we as branches will bear much fruit giving further confirmation in the changed hearts and lives of people touched by Christ that He goes before us and with us.
More days of stretching and growing are before this body of believers. We will follow wherever He leads. We will wait until He does lead and then with the boldness, power, and authority of a people who bear the name of the King of Glory, we will not be diverted by lesser callings!
He still leads with clarity today in His Son, by His Word, through His Spirit. With the evidence of His presence and the promise of His presence, we must keep our focus on our exalted Head so that His name is held in honor by all who recognize His presence among His people.
Like many folks who grew up in North Carolina, I turn into a nine year old when it snows! Granted, when the initial gentleness of the first few hours turns into shoveling, slipping on the ice, negotiating muddy slush on the roads and having to cancel important events and meetings, it gets old quickly!
But the beauty as it falls and the pristine picture of the world covered over with a blanket of snow makes me smile. Sledding, snowmen and snowball fights still come immediately to mind and great memories of all the stories over the years of fun times in the snow!
The spiritual imagery cannot be missed–our sin being covered by the redeeming grace of Christ so that our hearts are cleansed by His blood and made “as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).” No wonder I still love snow days!
However, it is not all fun and games! There are those moments! This video that has been around for a while and still makes me laugh. Enjoy!
A question that has come up more often lately in my hearing has to do with leadership. Are we facing a crisis in leadership? I am sure that at the end of World War II our grandparents were wondering who would emerge on the world scene to provide stable governmental leadership in the second half of the twentieth century. During the sixties, adults were bound to be concerned about the future as they watched the radical behavior of students lead to bizarre points of view and life choices. Once again in our day we hear the questions regarding the future leadership capabilities of our sons and daughters who have grown up in a culture which has largely been stripped of its moral, ethical and spiritual moorings.
Although we look on the national scene for strong political leaders and struggle to find much encouragement, we in the body of Christ should focus our attention on the leadership problems facing our generation by taking responsible action. What we need in each successive generation is a steadfast commitment to build and develop godly leaders in the power of the Holy Spirit. Who will pastor the great churches of our nation whose pastors are nearing an age where new leadership should take over? Vital Christian ministries which have enjoyed strong vision and godly leadership for decades now face the inevitable changing of the guard. Not many years ago people began to ask questions like, “Who will be the next Billy Graham? Bill Bright? Howard Hendricks? Where are the new writers to replace C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, J. I. Packer, John Stott, Elisabeth Eliott in the years just ahead? Or new pastors to step forward to follow men like John Piper, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, Tim Keller?
I could go on listing the names of great Christian leaders who have influenced my life for Christ, but I think you understand what I am saying. Obviously some of those mentioned have many more years of fruitful ministry ahead of them, but we must always be asking who is coming along to take their places. By God’s design, He wants to provide the kind of leadership needed as we continue into the twenty-first century with boldness, courage and confidence in the power of Jesus Christ.
Are we truly facing a leadership crisis in our day? As I have examined that question over the past several years, I honestly do not think that has to be so. If there is a leadership crisis it has nothing to do with the generation coming up. Leadership is developed and cultivated as leaders train those who come alongside to assume more and more responsibility until they are equipped to function as fully qualified leaders themselves. Therefore, if there is a problem with the leadership of the next generation, it will be our fault in this generation for failing to do what it takes to grow godly leaders. We have a tremendous privilege entrusted to us by the Lord, not only to lead, but to develop leaders. In other words, we are charged with the unusual responsibility of working ourselves out of a job.
How does this impact you and me in our ministry? It is quite simple. In order to avoid a leadership crisis in our church, our community, our schools and our government, we must take seriously our calling to train and develop leaders. We must accept as inevitable that we will one day pass the baton to those coming along behind us. To do so with integrity requires much thoughtfulness and commitment on our part and theirs.
As the coming year of ministry unfolds, we face the exciting but uncertain prospect of watching the Lord raise up godly men and women to positions of leadership. Like Paul’s word to young Timothy, we must take what we have heard and learned and entrust it to faithful men and women who can then do the same for others. “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
The Lord never comes up short of leaders. He gives all the necessary gifts to His people so that there is never any lack. But we must cultivate that leadership, making commitments on both sides of the equation, both to accept the leadership challenge set before us to lead, and to accept the leadership responsibility to teach and train new leaders.
Every year we need more leaders because there are more sheep in the fold who need someone trustworthy to follow. Pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, disciplers, mentors, directors, and other ministry positions too numerous to name are always in need of those who will “stand in the gap” and lead others to follow Christ. What leadership role has the Lord placed before you?
Oswald Sanders once wrote,
“The overriding need of the church, if it is to discharge its obligation to the rising generation, is for a leadership that is authoritative, spiritual, and sacrificial. Authoritative, because people desire leaders who know where they are going and are confident of getting there. Spiritual, because without a strong relationship to God, even the most attractive and competent person cannot lead people to God. Sacrificial, because this follows the model of Jesus, who gave Himself for the whole world and now calls us to follow in His steps…The real qualities of leadership are to be found in those who are willing to suffer for the sake of objectives great enough to demand their wholehearted obedience” (Spiritual Leadership, p. 18).
May God raise up in this church such leaders for His own glory!