Leadership Is Not for Cowards-Part 1
Heart to Heart

Leadership Is Not for Cowards (Part 1)
by Candy Summers

 For most, this New Year 2003 will not be celebrated with a hope and confidence of what the future holds because fear, despair, and hopelessness have gripped the hearts of man. On every side we are surrounded by greed, malice, strife, corruption, murder, perversion, and every form of depravity and wickedness known to man. If this nation, founded on Christian principles, is so great, then why does the condition of those around us continue to become more hopeless with each passing year? Should it be so surprising when Paul warns us of the consequences of dethroning God and placing self on the throne at the center of life?
 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:20-32). Wow, what an accurate description of the condition of our society today.
 Our land was once blessed because of our forefathers’ faithfulness to God as promised in Deuteronomy 28: “Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all … I command you … the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth…. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be your offspring … your produce … your basket … Blessed shall you be when you come in and … go out. The Lord will cause your enemies … to be defeated … He will bless you in the land … The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself … if you … walk in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of you. And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity … the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord shall make you the head … if you will listen to the commandments … to observe them carefully, and do not turn aside … to go after other gods to serve them.”
 However, in spite of the great inheritance our forefathers left in our charge, we have not been careful to keep it. The consummation of this great evil gained possession of our land when God’s church abandoned her providentially ordained calling to be salt and light to the world, and instead, adopted a course based on her depraved reasoning, to build bridges to the world. Once she laid down her sword, the Word of God, and became pleasers of men, the defiling of the church began on an accelerated descent as it continued to lower its standards to please more men, until finally rendering it virtually impotent. Sadly, the standard bearer, so as not to offend anyone and please everyone, no longer bears any standards and has become a wholesale whore for the world.
 Instead of storming the gates of hell, hell stormed its gates. And now, raped of its holiness, the church has brought the beginning of God’s judgement upon our land, as also proclaimed in Deuteronomy Chapter 28, Ezekiel 9:9,10, and Hosea Chapters 2 and 4. Hosea gives us a very vivid picture of God’s judgement on His people when they play the harlot.

Pleasers of Men

 As described in Jude, “For certain persons have crept in … ungodly persons who turn the grace of God into licentiousness … reviling the things which they do not understand … clouds without rain, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit … following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage…. In the last days there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts … worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.”
 Their message of licentiousness has indeed filled their buildings with lots of people. Overall, their religion became popular as their churches became convenient one-stop social clubs. “Seeker friendly” is just a new label for an age-old practice of soliciting customers for pay. And to keep her customers happy so they continue to come back, entertainment reigns paramount, all while their sedated souls are led to the open grave.
 No longer fearing any admonishment for their sins, members can continue to spin and weave their own thoughts with the opinions of others, but with the added benefit of including selected scriptures as a crutch to bolster their human reasoning. By contrast to the security and direction the church could impart, for “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17), sadly, left untethered, such thinking causes them to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine and makes them unstable in all their ways. “For the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind…. being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways…. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (James 1:6,8,14).
 Vacillating in all directions, their lives are full of contradictions and uncertainty, so when faced with a Christian who with unwavering confidence stands firmly on God’s Word, they become greatly offended, to the point that such assurance provokes them to emotional wrath, which comes out in walloping comments like, “Who do you think you are? You’re not my spiritual leader. [Of course, they have none.] You’re not my pastor.” Of course, they attend non-confrontational churches that comfortably let sin lie where it is and wouldn’t stay at a church where a godly message was preached. And because they are unrestrained, they become easily offended by the truth and are likely to lash out with, “I have a right to … [basically do whatever they desire], and nobody is going to tell me what I can and cannot do.”
 The fact is that the very existence of absolutes violates their desire to rule the roost. Truth requires a response because we cannot serve two masters; it is either God or self. And for those who refuse to be mastered by God, any truth that questions their comfort zone of self-gratification cuts them to the quick.
 Ironically, in spite of their desire to sail their own ship, because they refuse to allow God to be their Captain, the very right they claim enslaves them to every wind that comes their way; for without grace, they are powerless to resist the wiles of the enemy. For God warns us to “see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men … rather than according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:14,15).
 Furthermore, because they do not possess the security that comes from a secure relationship with Christ, they long for the fellowship of others and strive for the esteem of men, desperately searching in vain for the love and acceptance only God’s love can satisfy. “And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God’” (Luke 16:15). “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).
 And when these same men who stroked their egos call to them from the pit of hell, will they follow? “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded…. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:4-10).
 Yet inwardly tormented by instability and insecurity, they illustrate the hopelessness of man apart from God. They constantly fear what others think of them because in their warped state of mind, they believe that others’ opinions are the essence of their state of being. While God says, “My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body … But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4,5). “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted” (Prov. 29:25).

The Stark Differences Between Pleasers of Men and Pleasers of God

 Many years ago there lived a young virgin girl named Mary, who was visited by an angel who proclaimed she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit, who would be called the Son of the Most High. Let’s for a moment put ourselves in Mary’s place to consider her circumstances and predicament.
 For four hundred years God had remained silent, not speaking a word to His people, and then suddenly an angel comes to call upon a young unmarried girl to tell her that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Think of the consequences—unbelief, ridicule, shame, shunning, and even possible stoning. She had no husband. How could her betrothed possibly understand? He certainly wouldn’t want her when he discovered she was with child. No home to live in, no means of support. How would she and her son survive, if of course, she weren’t stoned first?
 Yet composed and confident, Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
 God knew His chosen one’s heart belonged to Him and that she would do whatever He asked, no matter how difficult the task or challenging the circumstances because she feared God more than many. She even went on to say, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave … For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him” (Luke 1:46-50).
 God used Mary to birth the Savior of the world because her humble heart feared God, revered God, and was willing to do whatever He asked regardless of the personal cost to herself. Her response in this time of incredibly difficult circumstances certainly demonstrated the Master of her heart.
 Now let’s go back to a time not so long ago, to a woman we personally knew, who was blessed with a faithful husband, six healthy children, and a pleasant home in the suburbs. She, too, was visited by the presence of the Lord through His personal letters to her, in which He asked her to be an obedient wife and loving mother, faithful to train up her children in the admonition of the Lord. Think of the consequences she faced—love, support, peace, contentment…. Yet restless and discontented, we sadly watched her go from her house to a huge house so she could have more space to get away from the kids who were driving her crazy, from being at home with her kids to running them everywhere but home, to trading housekeeping for a “real” job, to finally getting rid of her husband for someone else she thought would make her happy.
 Tragically for her, she traded her soul for the world’s emptiness. For the trouble wasn’t her house or the kids or her husband; her trouble came from trying to fill her God-shaped void with things rather than with God.
 What a stark difference there is between these two young women. One sacrificed everything to do what her Lord asked of her, and through her obedience, the world was given God’s greatest gift; while the other destroyed everyone around her to pursue what she wanted. So why were these two so different from each other?

A Heart for God

 Mary believed that God had created her in her mother’s womb just as He was going to create her baby. “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well…. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Ps. 139:13-16). Mary also knew that God took pleasure in her. “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people” (Ps. 149:4). Moreover, Mary believed that God had a plan and purpose for the life He gave her. “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jer. 29:11).
 Ultimately, Mary was safe and sound and secure in the knowledge that God created her with a purpose for her life. She knew where she came from, where she was going, and who was in control.
 Like Mary, God created us with a marvelous plan for our own good, but unlike Mary at the time of her angelic visit, we have the knowledge that God Himself shed His blood for our redemption. Think of it. God died for us! We are worth the Almighty King’s blood.
 We, too, have been set free from the fear of ridicule, criticism, or rejection from any man because we belong to God. And nothing but what God thinks of us matters. The bondage of this world’s value system has no hold on us, no effect. For happiness does not come from the things we own, the people we live with, the house we live in, or from what others think of us, but from the priceless treasure of God’s own Holy Spirit within our hearts.
 Are you free, truly free, from fearing others’ approval? Free to act upon God’s requests, however difficult, ridiculous, humiliating, uncomfortable, or treacherous? Free to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes?
 It makes no difference what others think, only what your Father thinks. It makes no difference if others love and appreciate you—God loves and appreciates you.

God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength

 Perhaps the circumstances you face today are difficult ones, seemingly insurmountable. Remember that God is sovereign over all and powerful—for nothing is too difficult for Him. He has a plan that He wants you to be a part of, but you must be willing to sacrifice yourself and do whatever He asks. Remember, too, God is always victorious in the end, no matter what obstacles seem to exist in your path.

A Vision of God’s Divine Glory

 What possessed men like Moses who left his palatial surroundings to cross the Red Sea and the wilderness so God’s people could be delivered from their bondage; like Joshua to go into a land inhabited by fierce enemies so he could lead God’s people to possess their inheritance; like Jeremiah who risked his life to proclaim God’s judgement on Jerusalem’s apostasy; like Nehemiah to leave the king’s court to rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem, bringing relief to God’s distressed remnant; like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who yielded their bodies as not to serve or worship any god except their own God; or women like Esther who faced possible death to deliver God’s people from obliteration; or like Mary who faced ridicule, shame, shunning, ruin, and possibly stoning to bring forth the awaited Savior who would deliver God’s people from the bondage of sin?
 Like Ezekiel, all these men and women sacrificed their will for God’s will because they possessed a vision of God’s Divine Glory and consequently understood His Divine Authority over their lives. From this vision and understanding, they were able to courageously go forward fulfilling all God asked of them, regardless of how impossible, impractical, humiliating, or treacherous the task.
 Do you think Mary wanted to be unwed and pregnant? Did Moses want to leave his glorious surroundings to lead a stubborn people through the desert? Did Christ, blameless and holy, want to take the sins of the world upon Himself?

A Pattern for Life – Not My Will But Thine Be Done

 Christ was God in the flesh, yet He chose not His own will but the will of His Father, submitting even unto death. Falling on His face (Matt. 26:39), He prayed saying, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).
 He was God, but He constantly prayed to His Father for divine direction and guidance, speaking only those words God gave Him. “These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father … this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do…. I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me … Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me … Now they have come to know that everything Thou hast given Me is from Thee; for the words which Thou gavest Me, I have given to them; and they received them, and truly understood that I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me…. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name … I guarded them … and these things I speak … that they may have My joy … I have given them Thy word … I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth…. That they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee … I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity … and I have made Thy name known to them … that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me may be in them’” (John 17).

The Life I Live I Now Live for Christ

 For I have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20). “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). For my “body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19). “Indeed the Spirit of God dwells in [me]” (Rom. 8:9).
 So to be Christ like, like Christ, we must follow His ways as specified by Him in His own words in the previous seventeenth chapter of John. God sends us that they may know Him. We must glorify God in all we do and diligently accomplish the work He has given us to do. Entrusted with the revelation of God, we are to teach them, being careful to give the Word God has given us. We are to pray for the flock and guard them. Each of us must sanctify ourselves that they also may be sanctified. There being no greater joy than that which we possess, we are to pass on our joy and impart the great love God has given us. By these, they shall know God who loves them and deserves their worship.

Faithful – Fearing God More Than Many

 The most important qualification for being a leader is to be faithful, fearing God more than many (Neh. 7:2). Faithful means firmly adhering to duty; true fidelity; loyal; constant in the performance of duties or services; exact in attending commands; true to one’s word; constant; not fickle; worthy of belief.
 God says in Luke 16:10 that “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much …” and in Luke 19:17, “Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.” “Moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (1 Cor. 4:2).

The Battle Cry

 We may indeed grieve over the enormity of the evil which surrounds us and over the depravity of the church, but Paul’s verdict in Romans Chapter 1 not only implicates the evildoer who rebels against God as Creator and Lord, but also those who look on approvingly. And although most of us are not practicing such things, if we are not faithful to stand against all evil and blasphemy, if we are not faithful to proclaim and propagate truth, if we are not faithful to be salt and light wherever we go, then we, too, are guilty and will pay the price for our adultery. However, all is not hopeless, for God in His great mercy promises that if “My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
 “From everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:48). We have been given so very, very much! Life, love, mercy, compassion, grace, peace, joy, liberty, prosperity, hope, eternal life; we have been entrusted with the sacred, divine truths of the Almighty God, the keys to heaven, a message of hope for a desperate and dying people. Raised for such a time as this, our time has come to lift high His royal banner and courageously go forward and lead God’s people out of bondage. It is time for us to go in and take back the Promised Land, our great inheritance that was purchased with our forefathers’ blood.
 We are God’s people! We are the standard bearers for our Almighty King. We must storm the gates of hell, and with God leading us into battle and His Word as our sword, the gates of hell shall not prevail against us. “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chron. 16:9). Amen!!
 Our great desire and passion is to usher in a rebirth of the hearts and minds of God’s people by proclaiming a fast, whereby we confess our sins, purify ourselves, and consecrate ourselves so that we may renew our covenant with Him to do all according to His Word by the power of His mighty Spirit.
 Please join us as we lift up our hearts and prayers to our Heavenly Father on Sunday, January 26th. May we come together in the unity of the Spirit with one mind and one purpose to confess our sins, purify our hearts, and covenant with Him to faithfully serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
 To prepare your families for the day of fasting and prayer, please read the wonderful prayer in Nehemiah Chapter 9 and the following prayer in Daniel 9:3-19: “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, ‘Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Thy servants the prophets, who spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land. Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which Thou hast driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against Thee. Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee. To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth. Therefore, the Lord has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who hast brought Thy people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and hast made a name for Thyself, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have been wicked. O Lord, in accordance with all Thy righteous acts, let now Thine anger and Thy wrath turn away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us. So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplications, and for Thy sake, O Lord, let Thy face shine on Thy desolate sanctuary. O my God, incline Thine ear and hear! Open Thine eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Thy name; for we are not presenting our supplications before Thee on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Thy great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.’”