Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peter's Powerful Testimony - Final

I Peter 5 So I exhort the elders among you, mas a fellow elder and na witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: oshepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,1 pnot under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;2 qnot for shameful gain, but eagerly; not rdomineering over those in your charge, but sbeing examples to the flock. And when tthe chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the uunfading vcrown of glory.Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. wClothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, forx“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
xHumble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, ycasting all your anxieties on him, because zhe cares for you. aBe sober-minded; bbe watchful. Your cadversary the devil dprowls around elike a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. fResist him, gfirm in your faith, knowing that hthe same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And iafter you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, jwho has called you to his keternal glory in Christ, will himself lrestore, mconfirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 nTo him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

12 By oSilvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, pI have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is qthe true grace of God. rStand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does sMark, my son.14 tGreet one another with the kiss of love.
uPeace to all of you who are in Christ.

 I have really enjoyed this walk through I Peter. I found myself mulling over the book throughout the day and as I pondered the words on my pillow at night. It is a great balance between exhortation and encouragement.

Pretty neat that he closes with the imagery of a shepherd. Again, Jesus restored Peter with that idea of 'feed my sheep".

My take on this is that Peter is anticipating the end of his ministry- not just the end of a letter. We get a fuller sense of this at the intro of II Peter:

2 Peter 1:12 Therefore I intend talways to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in uthe truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this vbody,8 wto stir you up by way of reminder, 14 xsince I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, yas our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
So, as a faithful disciple, he has been a disciple maker and exhorts those who will be leading after he has departed. This is the most crucial aspect for the future of the church- not what are we leaving behind... but WHO?

Billy Graham......

John Frame....

John Mc Arthur.....

R.C. Sproul.....

Ravi Zacharius.....

Who is going to fill their shoes?

Now, let me point out the wisest advice that I have found in the whole letter....


See, this piece is directed toward spiritual leaders- and most leaders are always looking to lead bigger and better. This urge to move forward can create a general discontentment. Musicians want to be discovered, young pastors want to land the big congregation, assistant coaches want that head coaching position- but I love what Peter says- learn how to oversee the group you have been honored to lead. Don't look ahead- be found faithful where you are.

To me it starts in my home- I need to be found as a good shepherd to my little flock of Mathews.
How am I to do it? Accept the rule of oversight- diligently be involved in their lives. I don't need to be KING of my castle, I need to set an example in service and humility. I need to trust God and allow him to develop in me a godly contentment.

Next, I have a group of students- same deal.

When I originally left Briarwood in 2003, I had become very discontented and overly ambitious. I wanted to lead my own program and was just cocky enough to push hard to find that opportunity.

Four times previously, I had finished as a runner-up for a head coaching position and each time grew more frustrated. The offer to move from Nashville actually came from them. I twice said NO and then went to interview. And we went for it.

Looking back, it was God's will for me to go. But it seems like (as far as how it applies to me), it was God using circumstances similar to Jacob working for Leah (7 years) when he thought he was getting Rachel.

When it looked like it was God's plan for me to return to Briarwood, you can imagine how it hit me. At first I thought - I'm like a whipped puppy- coming home with his tail tucked between his legs. I imagined the reception being something like- Couldn't cut it huh? Was I a complete failure?

And, here was the most interesting part- not only was I no longer a head coach, I wasn't even going to be the coordinator. I was going to just be a position coach.

But the Holy Spirit did something rather remarkable- He granted me a sincere 'God sent' contentment. And the day before I accepted the job, I felt my spirit and God's spirit come to a point of unity- Lord, I know You are in control- I willingly lay all of this down at the foot of the cross- and won't worry about 'being in charge' or 'calling the shots'- I'm going to love the players I have and 'shepherd my flock' with passion and energy.

The result? This year was the greatest professional; year of my life! The people at Briarwood only expressed love and excitement at my return. They made me feel special again after my last few years where my leadership beat me up pretty good.

My wide receivers were amazing to work with- we texted- went out to eat- laughed- worked hard- improved- it was incredible!

I never felt frustrated- I was part of a great team of men- who didn't care who got the credit and we respected one another and shared the workload.

I have now for a long time  misunderstood the verse, humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you- this doesn't necessarily mean he takes a pauper and makes a king- it most likely means He sustains you in the task He has called you and will reward you at the day of glorification.

So as a spiritual leader (in my home, as a coach, as a dean of discipline, as a small group leader, as a Sunday school teacher)- what does this passage say to me?

  1. Lead by example- not in a domineering way
  2. Be diligent to initiate oversight- active, sober-minded-... not passive
  3. Respect all lines of authority with great, godly contentment
  4. Use all the means of grace to combat pride
  5. Pray at all times and trust in God's goodness
  6. Understand the nature of the battle- this is no day on the beach
  7. If circumstances call for suffering- then bear it in all endurance
And what does Christ promise here?

He will RESTORE me
He will CONFIRM me
He will ESTABLISH me

Peter's powerful testimony was proof of the truth of all these things.

In a much smaller way- this blogger can give the same testimony.

Like Peter , I can proclaim... "I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. (Let us ALL) Stand firm in it"

When the Good Shepherd appears, I hope He finds me faithful- no matter the task......

Have a blessed rest of 2011- 2012 should be a wild ride!

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