Truth that Transforms: A Holy God

This is the third message in the series Silent No More: “A Holy God.” The study is from Isaiah 58. This sermon also looks at Isaiah 6 and Matthew 5:48.

Posted in Holiness | Tagged ,

Hero of a Hundred Fights: Standing in the Gap

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“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).

The Painting is by Joseph Mallord William Turner. It is called “The Hero of a Hundred Fights” (c.1800-10, reworked and exhibited 1847). It may be seen at Tate Gallery, London. The scene is that of a foundry at work and the eye is drawn to the burst of light. The painting was first displayed next to a painting of Noah and created some commotion in the art world for distracting from Noah’s rainbow. Yet the foundry painting was done as Turner captured the image of the common men who worked at the “breaking away of the mould at the casting of M.C Wyatt’s bronze equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington which had occurred in September 1845…” (Tate Gallery).

There is always a need for an artist to look beneath the heroes that everyone sees to discover the heroes that few see and remind us of all of them. The storytellers and artists stand in the gap as well as the unseen heroes.

There is also a need for men and women of prayer to stand in the gap. We see the Wellingtons of faith and can acknowledge them. Yet they who are faithful and true will quickly tell you that they are dependent upon the foundry of prayer where the casting of Providence is poured and the bright light of destiny is secured. They must have saints who will stand in the gap if they are to stand in the crowds. Only a fool would preach without prayer.

How are you answering God’s call to stand in the gap for the Body of Christ today?

Posted in Bible, Biblical, Christian leadership | Tagged ,

Leadership and Leaders

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There are many who are called to positions of leadership. Yet leadership is not about a title. It is not about gaining a consensus. Leadership is about burden, conviction, a fire burning deeply, a holy discontentment, a righteous indignation. There are many other ways to say it. Leaders lead by a burden that is lifted by a conception of what life looks like when the burden is lifted. That conception is called vision. Vision then gives life to mission. Values guide the way. All other strategies and plans are tactical consequences of burden, vision, and values. Leaders spend time surrounding themselves with capable people who believe in the burden, vision, and values that causes you to “burn alive.” They get so close to you that they, too, “catch on fire” themselves. Yet their job is to then help you figure out “how” to decode the burden, interpret the vision, and inculcate the values among others. Your job is then three-fold: (1) keep living, embodying, modeling, and proclaiming the burden, vision, and values, which you cannot help but do if it is authentic, but which you can be diverted from if your superior (s) and/or team underestimate the absolute necessity of that up-front modeling role, and desire that you join them as a “tactician;” and (2) entrust the critical and time consuming “how to” land the vision job to a trusted staff of lieutenants, resource officers, a cabinet, or whatever you call them—and (3) always “inspect what you expect” from these important people. And you  are inspecting for what? You are expecting and therefore inspecting your key resource staff for what you live for: the burden, vision, mission, and values. All questions about their tactical assistance and expertise in carrying out their assigned part of the plan must relate to those four areas. One other thing: be careful that they don’t confuse their roles. They bear the sacred responsibility for tactically implementing the vision of the visionary. They are not there to add to your vision, or adjust it, or replace it. If so, they have become visionaries deserving, or not, of their own mission. Again, they are in leadership but they are not the leader. This is not to diminish their own personal burdens and visions. The question is, “Has their passion matured or has God’s timing arrived to allow for a multiplication of leadership. Or, is their calling yet to remain in a supporting role? A supporting role is most critical. If you could ask Roosevelt how important Eisenhower was I think you know the answer! All are critical to success on a leadership team. Yet it remains: there can be but one in a singular enterprise. Competing visions lead to conflict and division in the most severe cases and inefficiencies and misunderstandings in even minor episodes. There is no shame in recognizing the emergence of genuine burden within an organization for senior leadership. To the contrary, that is a mark of growth, a sign of health. A member of the leadership team may also have become misguided, defeated, misunderstood, or isolated and will need encouragement to be redirected to pursue their tactical goals. Finally, there may be genuine usurpers who no longer share your burden, and thus lack your same vision; perhaps, then, no longer committed to the mission, or even at odds with your values. If this is discovered you will help these people by directly but pastorally clarifying the question. If your inquiry reveals any authentic diversion, they must be helped to transition out of the team. If the burden is that great, then the vision and thus the mission and tactical plans will be that important. A parting need not be acrimonious. Indeed, a leader may show genuine honor to another who has diverted from the vision due to changes in views or honest disagreements that can’t be reconciled. The spoiler may be malicious. Often, though, it is a matter of honest disagreement. Since most of us will disagree with ourselves from time to time we can be patient and charitable who disagree with us. Yet there will come a time when the burden will once again “appear” before, summoning you to give account for your handling of the mission that leads to the fulcrum to lift the burden: the vision. You will have to “inspect what you expect” and if what you find in your staff’s work is not in harmony with the greater mission leading to the vision that lifts the burden, then Christian leaders must act with firm and godly resolve to return balance and forward movement.

Recently, the passing of the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher, allowed us to pause and reconsider just how rare and impacting undiluted leadership can be. The type of leadership that I have suggested was summed up with characteristic beauty by Peggy Noonan in her reflections:

“She [Margaret Thatcher] said once to her aides: ‘I don’t need to be told what, I need to be told how.’ Meaning I have a vision, you have to tell me how we can implement it. That stayed in my mind. Politics now, in England as well as America, is dominated by politicians who are technicians. They always know how to do it. They just don’t know what to do.” —Peggy Noonan (The Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2013)

The same can be said about many in Christian leadership. We have a lot who study the “how” of leadership. What we need are those who are convicted by the “what” of burden.

Yet I have seen a new generation of leaders arising. I have heard from those who are broken over the need for revival and will not rest until the Church in the West is awakened to her need to pray and witness and seek holiness of life. I have sat in the living rooms of pastors who prayed, burning with a fire of compassion for small, forgotten, rural communities of North America, who cringe every time they hear that the city is the only place to be. I personally know women whose hearts are torn out by the sight of Muslim women living in chains and they have chosen to go and live among them.

Some of these people sense the burden and are in a struggle of prayer to see the vision—the new heaven and new earth motif of how life could be “if only…” Others know the burden, have “seen” the vision, but are wondering about the “pathway” to the Promised Land—the Mission. Some have not clarified what values are mission essential and what values are not. And some never will. Yet the world will always wait for that one who has the fire in the bones who says, “Don’t tell me what, help me with the how. I have felt the what. I have seen it. I live for it. I would die for it. I need help in getting there.” All of these things must be and then comes the dream.

We need those people now more that ever. For those are leaders. Those are the ones who have understood the depth of pain of the prophet Jeremiah when he spoke as one imprisoned by God and whose only hope was found in proclaiming His Word,

“There is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9).

 

 

Posted in Christian, Christian Gospel, Christian leaders, Christian leadership, Christian ministry, leaders, Leadership, Leading, Michael Milton, Reformed faith | Tagged , , ,

Praying for Denver and Our Nation

Once again we are awakened with chilling news of a great tragedy that has beset our country. The shooting at the cinema in Aurora, Colorado has left us all horrified at the sheer brutality and utter disregard for life that led to this massacre of our fellow citizens. Our prayers go to the Lord Jesus Christ for His ministry to the families and friends in the community and in the greater Denver area. In a real way, such an event touches the whole nation and reminds us again of our vulnerability, not only from outside enemies but also from those unstable and troubled souls in our midst. May God have mercy upon our nation and call our hearts to come together in prayer and know again that our security is only in Christ.

Such an event reminds me of why Reformed Theological Seminary exists. We are here to not only prepare pastors to “take every thought captive” for Christ, but also to produce shepherds and counselors and other gospel servants who will be there to minister healing from the Bible to hurting people in times like these. May God strengthen the local pastors, counselors, and government authorities who seek to bring comfort to the grieving and justice for the victims.

Mae and I cut off the television this morning and listened to this rendition of “The Prayer” from Charlotte Church and Josh Groban. It led us to our own prayers. I share it with you this morning.

Commending us all to Christ and to the Word of his grace and praying for our nation and for the people of Colorado, I am

Yours faithfully

Mike Milton

Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer

The James M. Baird Jr. Chair of Pastoral Theology

REFORMED THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Posted in Pastoral Theology, RTS | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Praying for Denver and Our Nation

Once again we are awakened with chilling news of a great tragedy that has beset our country. The shooting at the cinema in Aurora, Colorado has left us all horrified at the sheer brutality and utter disregard for life that led to this massacre of our fellow citizens. Our prayers go to the Lord Jesus Christ for His ministry to the families and friends in the community and in the greater Denver area. In a real way, such an event touches the whole nation and reminds us again of our vulnerability, not only from outside enemies but also from those unstable and troubled souls in our midst. May God have mercy upon our nation and call our hearts to come together in prayer and know again that our security is only in Christ.

Such an event reminds me of why Reformed Theological Seminary exists. We are here to not only prepare pastors to “take every thought captive” for Christ, but also to produce shepherds and counselors and other gospel servants who will be there to minister healing from the Bible to hurting people in times like these. May God strengthen the local pastors, counselors, and government authorities who seek to bring comfort to the grieving and justice for the victims.

Mae and I cut off the television this morning and listened to this rendition of “The Prayer” from Charlotte Church and Josh Groban. It led us to our own prayers. I share it with you this morning.

Commending us all to Christ and to the Word of his grace and praying for our nation and for the people of Colorado, I am

Yours faithfully

Mike Milton

Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer

The James M. Baird Jr. Chair of Pastoral Theology

REFORMED THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Posted in Reformed faith

Praying for Denver and Our Nation

Once again we are awakened with chilling news of a great tragedy that has beset our country. The shooting at the cinema in Aurora, Colorado has left us all horrified at the sheer brutality and utter disregard for life that led to this massacre of our fellow citizens. Our prayers go to the Lord Jesus Christ for His ministry to the families and friends in the community and in the greater Denver area. In a real way, such an event touches the whole nation and reminds us again of our vulnerability, not only from outside enemies but also from those unstable and troubled souls in our midst. May God have mercy upon our nation and call our hearts to come together in prayer and know again that our security is only in Christ.

Such an event reminds me of why Reformed Theological Seminary exists. We are here to not only prepare pastors to “take every thought captive” for Christ, but also to produce shepherds and counselors and other gospel servants who will be there to minister healing from the Bible to hurting people in times like these. May God strengthen the local pastors, counselors, and government authorities who seek to bring comfort to the grieving and justice for the victims.

Mae and I cut off the television this morning and listened to this rendition of “The Prayer” from Charlotte Church and Josh Groban. It led us to our own prayers. I share it with you this morning.

Commending us all to Christ and to the Word of his grace and praying for our nation and for the people of Colorado, I am

Yours faithfully

Mike Milton

Posted in Reformed faith

Me and My Shadow

My Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Fred, when he was a p...

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Do you remember that catchy, ridiculous and wonderful little song by Harry Nielson called “Me and My Arrow?” if you do you are likely paying too much attention to the social security debates in Washington (but that, as they say, is another story). I like Nielson’s song and am thinking about that and the gift of God‘s creation this lovely Saturday morning as Shadow, our 15 year old Cardigan Welsh Corgi and I go for our weekly visit. Where do we go? While ardent Starbucks fan, I herby admit that I take a morning off on Saturdays to have a medium Duncan Donuts brew. More importantly, for Shadow, she gets the greatest treat in her week: a munchkin, you know, DD’s name for a plain, old donut hole! Ok. It is not the best for her, but Shadow is of “riper years” and I doubt one every week or so will do anything but make her happy.

When the Lord gave Adam animals and gave him the joy of naming them, it had to be fun. They do provide such joy don’t they? But Saturday came and man was still lonely. And you know who came next! Well, it is Saturday. I am writing in the parking lot of Lowe’s, where I am to get some pine bark mulch. Mrs. Milton is waiting for me to come home. So, me and my Shadow need to stop reflecting on the next best thing in creation, and get home to the tip top!

But I am still singing to myself, old Gal: “Me and My Shadow, straight up and narrow…wherever we go, everyone knows it’s me and my Shadow…”

Posted in Animal stories, creation | Tagged , , , , , , ,