FOLLOW FIRST


In our highly competitive world, everyone wants to be a leader. Leaders are the winners. They are the ones rewarded with fame, prestige and the bigger paycheck. But good leaders started out as good followers. A good leader must first know how to be a good follower.

Jesus taught that leadership is actually servant hood.

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:33-35

I learned a lot about being a follower when I was in the Navy. Good followers have several traits in common. I’ve found there are Biblical truths to support these traits. Jesus is our King. He has the ultimate authority in our lives and this world. Therefore, we should all follow Him. We can learn to be better followers of our great King.

1.    A follower must be obedient.

Thousands of orders are given aboard ships every day. Captains need to know the sailors in their command will follow those orders, or the ship may be damaged, discovered by the enemy, or sailors won’t get their evening meal. Not following orders can have even more dire consequences. Failure to follow orders can mean people will die.

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:14 

2.    A follower must be loyal.

Every serviceperson takes an oath when joining the military. Loyalty is very important in life. It goes beyond attachment and affection. It’s being faithful to commitments and responsibilities. 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9 

And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.1 Kings 8:61

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Luke 16:13 

3.    A follower must be respectful.

Back in my day, we learned to respect those in positions of authority. This life skill isn’t emphasized much anymore, but it really is critical for a successful life. We need to learn to be respectful of not just those who are in positions of leadership, but those who stand beside us. Respect goes a long way. 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5


Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:32

 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

4.    A follower is a servant.

Being a servant goes beyond being obedient. Service is anticipating the needs of the one you serve and doing those tasks without being asked. When Joseph was sold to Potiphar Joseph was just a slave, but quickly rose to the role of an overseer of Potiphar’s entire house. How could this happen? He rose again to a position of power while he was in the prison. Why? Joseph did something that set him apart from others. Although Scripture doesn’t say exactly how Joseph rose to prominence in these two passages, it’s easy to infer. Joseph served.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8

5.    A follower is humble.

Good followers don’t draw attention to themselves. Good followers are concerned about the overall team, not just themselves. Followers seldom work alone. They work with teams. Good followers make sure the team is taken care of, the team is noticed, or the team is helped.

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. Psalms 25:9

 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5

Once you are a good follower, the military teaches you how to be an effective and respected leader. There are biblical examples of great leaders who were first great followers:

  1. Joshua followed Moses for more than 40 years before he led the Israelites into the promised land
  2. Elisha served Elijah for at least 10 years before he took up his master’s mantle and went on to perform even more miracles
  3. David first served King Saul, before he became King.
  4. Peter followed Jesus for 3 years before he and his fellow disciples turned the world upside down.

The military knows how to build leaders. If you want to be a Sargent, you must first be a Private. If you want to be a General, you start off as a 2nd Lieutenant. You start at the bottom and learn.

Learn to be a good follower first. God will place you in a leadership position, even if it is only by example.

 Walk in His Light,

Julie

LISTENING TO GOD


 What is prayer?

It’s a conversation with God. In all good conversations, you talk and you listen. Prayer is listening to God.

What do you listen intently to?

Music? People? Your children? The News?

Do you have selective listening? That is, do you tune out certain noises or people?

There is a train near my home. It blows its horn every time it passes by, but I don’t hear it anymore. And sometimes I tune out my children.

What about God?

I suspect we tune out God more often than we realize.

How important is it to listen to God? One answer is in Psalms 81:11-16

 “But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.

“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,

and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Psalm 81:11-16

The primary way we hear from God is by reading His Word. Perhaps we should consider that neglecting of God’s Word is a rejection of Him. He wants us to listen to Him. We reject God by ignoring Him or not reading His word. He also speaks to us through other believers, so failing to attend worship services and failing to have fellowship with other believers is ignoring God.

The Proverbs tell us much on the subject of listening to God.

Proverbs 1:5
let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—

Proverbs 4:10-13
Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.

Proverbs 8:6
Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.

Proverbs 8:32-36
“Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.

Mary was one who listened to our Rabbi; in fact she sat at the feet of Jesus. This is the story of Mary and Martha”

As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10 38-42 MSG

Imagine for a moment the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and hang on His every word. Well, you can. We have a record of our Lord’s teachings in the Gospels. The 21st Century gives us the benefit of several versions of the Bible and numerous commentaries to aid our study. The choice is yours. Will you sit at the feet of your Savior, the Light of the World?

And when you sit at Jesus’s feet, will you really listen to Him, or will you do all the talking?

When we talk to God it’s often a one way conversation. We give Him our prayer requests and that’s usually the end of the conversation. Now think about a really great conversation you had with a friend. Was it a one-way conversation? Probably not. More than likely you took turns speaking and listening. You were focused on each other. No one dominated the conversation. But only giving your prayer requests to God is to dominate that conversation. Spend time getting to know Him. Dig into Scripture and learn God’s ways.

Blessings,

Julie

CHANGE


During these peaceful morning moments, I wish Jesus would sit down with me and indulge in a cup of coffee. 

The fact is He is here. While Jesus may not be drinking coffee, and His voice is not audible, He is here. I need to learn to listen. It’s more than blocking out the noises of the world.  I need to quiet my heart. Lately I’ve been having trouble doing that. My spirit is restless. I think change is coming. And I’m not comfortable with that uncertainty.

Jesus faced change head on. He knew it was coming and He set His mind on going to Jerusalem anyway (Luke 18:31).

Change is inevitable but God promises to be with us wherever we go.

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

While change may be a fact of life, another fact is God is with me and He doesn’t change.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

It’s time to face the day. It’s time to be strong and courageous. It’s time to trust God.

Walk in His Light,

Julie

 


two-wolves

One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

A Tale of Two Wolves

A TALE OF TWO LIGHTHOUSES


lighthouse 2

Many years ago there was a little village on a rocky seacoast, where storms often battered and seas were ever treacherous. Many ships were driven onto the rocks by the storms, and the lives of many sailors were lost because of the raging seas.

One day the people decided among themselves that they should establish a lighthouse and life-saving station on a little peninsula on the coast, to warn ships away from the rocks and to save the lives of those who were cast into the icy waters. They approached the government and began to secure the necessary funds for their project. Soon they set forth and built a tower, and set a beacon in it; they organized a lookout system; and they bought boats and learned how to man them; and soon they were in business. The business of saving lives!

Soon the effects of what they were doing became known far and wide. Fewer ships went on the rocks; and when such a tragedy did occur, and the alarm was sounded, the people risked their own lives to rescue those who had been cast into the raging, icy waters. Within a few short years, people came from great distance to study their lighthouse, and to use it as a model.

One day someone suggested that, since they all spent so much time at the lighthouse that they should gather there occasionally and enjoy good fellowship. And soon they began to get together (at first infrequently, and then more often) at the lighthouse. In fact, many people began to build their homes near the lighthouse. Then when the lookout sounded the alarm, they were there, ready to go out.

Next, it was decided that if they were going to spend so much time there, they must make the place more comfortable. So arrangements were made to heat the lighthouse. The gray walls were painted a brilliant white. Some of the walls were paneled; rugs were put on the floors to disguise the bare concrete; a fine kitchen was installed with a handsome stove; and generally speaking the lighthouse became a nice place to spend your time waiting for the alarm to be sounded. Everything about the lighthouse was made comfortable and nice. The lighthouse soon became the center of life in the little town that grew up around it.

One night a fierce storm blew in, as storms had blown in for years. Many ships were tossed on the jagged rocks, and the men at the lighthouse spent long hours picking sailors from the bitter cold icy waters and taking them to the lighthouse, where they were fed and provided with dry clothing. This had happened many times over the years, but this time, after the storm subsided and the sailors had all left the lighthouse, there were some men who were angry. It seems the storm had made them leave the comfort of the lighthouse, and go out into the wet, dangerous seas; and they got cold; very cold. The sailors, when they were delivered to the lighthouse, soiled the carpets. The kitchen was a mess, not to mention the stove. After a brief meeting it was first decided that sailors, when they were brought to the lighthouse, should be taken to the basement, not to the nice upper areas.

Some time later, another storm blew in; and about one half of the men went out in the boats, and again picked sailors from the frigid waters. This time the ship, which had broken apart on the rocks, was from another nation; and the men who manned her spoke another language, and even worse were of a different color. After this storm, a few more men joined those who refused to enter the sea. They decided that men like these did not belong in the lighthouse at all; some said they felt that the lighthouses’ job was not supposed to be saving sailors from other lands, because they were so much different. There were those, too, who objected to leaving the comfort of the lighthouse to go out into the storm. These men petitioned the government and they also agreed. So, finally, it was decided that the beacon would be kept lit, but the rescue work would be discontinued.

A small group disagreed, however, and went down the coast, a short distance, and started a new lighthouse. This small group decided that they should establish the biggest life-saving station on the little peninsula, and so they did. Every day they warned ships and sometimes attempted to save lives from the icy water. Fame of the new lighthouse grew and the lighthouse back up the bay eventually turned out its beacon. Some people say the beacon can still be seen today in you and I. Oh yes, they also say the small group running the new lighthouse were those once rescued from the raging seas.

We as people all have a choice to make with regards to our rescue work. We can choose to allow our lives to become comfortable and we can find ourselves very content. And often times we may find that we have turned out our beacon of hope for one another. Or perhaps, I hope and pray that we find ourselves lighting and saving the path of others both in our words and deeds.

-Ernest W. Corty

The Kaleidoscope


kaledoscope

 

When I was a child I was fascinated with kaleidoscopes. I could turn the cylinder and watch the patterns change for a long time. I happened along my daughter’s kaleidoscope the other day. I picked it up, held it up to the light, and studied the identical images. Even when I turned the cylinder, the images changed, but they were still the same.

People are like kaleidoscopes.  They want to look or act like others, even letting strangers dictate their choices. The options may be full of color, and change frequently, but the choices are not their own. An uninspired reality emerges. Dreams, imagination and distinctiveness are replaced by the mesmerizing pattern of the kaleidoscope.

It’s interesting that if you open up a kaleidoscope, the colored beads are all different shapes and sizes. The patterns and images created by the mirrors in the kaleidoscope are just an illusion.

PLAYING WITH WORDS


Image

PLAYING WITH WORDS

I heard from my publisher yesterday. My carefully selected title is apparently rather dull. As you fellow bloggers understand, I’m quite disappointed. (Maybe the publisher is wrong??)

So I’ll spend the next few hours combing through the manuscript looking for a new title. I’ll rummage through the dictionary and thesaurus, gathering possible words. Then I’ll take those lists and type out several options. Then I’ll retype, cut, paste, rename and save. I’ll read and re-read my options and run them by my husband. Maybe a reader will offer up a suggestion. I’ll take a break for coffee and start the process again, doing what I love to do.

Hopefully, before the weekend is over, a new title will emerge. The new title will be just a few words, but words that convey the image of God’s eternal light and love.