A Resurrection People (By Manik Corea)

Just under 3 weeks ago, a tragedy occurred in our NAMS church community here in Bangkok. Kazia, a young 21 year old Pakistani girl (who with her parents were asylum seekers in Bangkok) died suddenly from complications from a blood infection. She had been close friends with Sara, one of our church members, also Pakistani. On Christmas Day in 2017, Kazia and Sara had been guests for the day with my family and 2 other NAMS Companion missionaries at our home. We enjoyed a wonderful day of holy celebration, feasting and fun together. We saw her occasionally after that, and I visited her at the hospital the night she died. We are still grieving the sudden lost of such a young life.

But in the midst of our profound sadness, the hope of the resurrection is the greatest comfort we can have. On the morning after Kazia’s death, as I was on my way to Myanmar, I was reading from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, which speaks of the return of Christ when all the dead and living in Christ shall rise to meet him. Paul writes, ‘…and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.’ In our sadness, we take comfort that her death (and ours) is not a full stop, but simply a parenthesis. We shall meet again at the return of our King.

Jesus’ resurrection changes everything. It is the oxygen of hope in the smog and fog of our confusion and grief.

For not only was His resurrection historical, it is also transformational for all who believe in His name and saving work.

Jesus’ victory through his death and resurrection remains the only true panacea for the ills of all humanity. It forgives our past sins, transforms our present sinfulness and will one day resurrect us in glorious perfection. Past, present and future simultaneously effected!

As has been said, this Gospel or good news is not merely the ‘ABC’ of our faith but the ‘A to Z’ of it.

And the resurrection is a central part of that good news. Apostolic preaching centered on it – every recorded evangelistic sermon in the book of Acts mentions the resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus himself predicted his resurrection would be a sign to unbelievers (Matthew 12:38-40). It witnesses to the unique saving work of Jesus to those who are receptive (Acts 10:40-43). It is at the heart of our confession of faith until salvation (Romans 10:9) and fuels our on-going life of faith and hope (Romans 8:9-11, Philippians 3:10-11).

We are freed from the fear of death because of Jesus’ rising (Hebrews 2:14-15). And the same power with which God raised Jesus, works in us today and will likewise raise us up to the same resurrected life (1 Corinthians 6:14 and Ephesians 1:19-20)

In the halcyon days of our childhood, many a story ended in those blissful terms: ‘and they lived happily ever after.’ Growing up in the school of life, such a myth is easily dispelled.  We live in a sad, mad and bad world.

History is a litany of ills and wrongs repeated over and over again. ‘All news is old news happening to new people.’ (Malcolm Muggedridge). And the news is almost always bad.

Against such hopelessness and helplessness, the Gospel and the resurrection of Jesus mitigate. They sing us a new song of hope and usher all who would turn in repentant faith to Jesus into a new dawn of hope. In God’s new kingdom, we will indeed live the happy-ever after He always intended. He has left us the witness of an empty tomb to guarantee it.

Against the tragedy and loss of death that tends to shake us, especially when the loss is personal or tragic, His resurrection offers hope not only for that inevitable last day of our mortality to come, but it calls us to sing a different song today – one that lifts Him up for all to see.

We are a resurrection people, called to go and share with a world that knows no such hope. Who will you share this hope with today?

 

A Resurrection People (By Manik Corea)

Resurrection changes everything (by Manik Corea).

There was once a man who went on holiday to the Holy Land with his wife and her elderly mother. During the holiday, his mother-in-law unexpectedly had a heart-attack and died.

The local undertaker explained that it would cost $1500 to fly her body home, but that they could just as easily bury her in the Holy Land for only $150. The man said, “No, we’ll pay to ship her home.” Surprised, the undertaker asked, “Are you sure? It’s much cheaper and we can do a good job, you know.”

The man said, “Look, 2000 years ago they buried a man here and three days later He rose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance!”

Jesting aside, we do well to remember that all humanity will one day likewise rise from the dead wherever we are interred (Revelation 20:12 cf Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2). Jesus’ words and physical resurrection guarantees this – see John 11:25 & 26; 14:19b and 1 Corinthians 15:21 & 22.

Christianity, unlike any other faith or world-view, religious or otherwise, is predicated on the on-going, historical and universal effects of an outstanding, miraculous event that is utterly unique to it – an empty tomb. “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:5b).

Every other historical figure of note is dead and buried. Gone!

That Jesus was once dead but was raised resplendent to live forever is the epicenter and ground zero of our faith and hope. It underpins and augments every aspect of the Christian experience. It is the hook on which the veracity and authenticity of our Gospel hangs.

And it is the basis for which we are a ‘sent’ people to the ends of the earth, no less. (Matthews 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; John 20:21). We are to be as homeless as He was in this world, restless for the true Home of homes he is preparing for us, a city whose builder is God. He sends us to invite with all persuasion the great and small of all people, calling them to humble repentance of their sins, to believe and receive His blood-stained Gospel offer, so that they can be made to be His disciples. Indeed, He goes with us. Or better, we get to join in with His mission in the world – the Missio Dei (or ‘Mission of God’) which begun with creation, continues in redemption and will be completed in the new creation.

The final command of Jesus is therefore predicated on the Risen Jesus having all authority in heaven and earth and because of that, commissioning us with Him to be his royal priests and ambassadors.

So, whether we go to serve in our community or to the some distant country, we are sent out in His resurrection hope and power.

 

 

 

Resurrection changes everything (by Manik Corea).

4 Things Kingdom Leaders do: Part 4 (by Manik Corea)

In the last 3 blogs, we have considered 3 principle works that Kingdom leaders are tasked with, if they are to be faithful under-shepherds of Christ.

Today, we look at the 4th and final task that Kingdom leaders must undertake: raise successors. It has been said, ‘A leader without a successor is not successful.’ The point of Kingdom leadership is to raise more leaders, not increase our following!

Lieutenant Colonel Harold ‘Hal’ Moore Jr. was a US officer and war hero in the Vietnam War. The book and movie, ‘We were Soldiers Once’ were based on his experiences in war. There is a scene in the movies where Moore’s character is training a squad of soldiers. The squad leader is declared ‘killed’ in the exercise. ‘You are dead,’ said Moore. ‘Now, who do you have ready to take your place?’

In battle, as well as in the Kingdom of God, if we don’t prepare others to take our place, when we do leave (suddenly or planned) the area of our influence, we will put those who have looked to us for leadership at risk, by unwittingly creating a leadership vacuum.

Strong and gifted leaders, in the midst of their success or influence, can easily – and typically gradually – lose sight of the Lord who called them. We see that happen in the Scriptures, with kings like Saul, Solomon and Joash, who all begun well but ended poorly. They ended up compromising their loyalty to God, rejecting God’s word and trying to cling on to power. They cared less about raising up godly leadership after them, then in keeping their name and fame alive.

Through the Scriptures, the lack of godly leadership succession is always a recipe for disaster. This is seen clearest in the aftermath of Joshua, who having led Israel into the conquest of the Promise Land, apparently failed to raise a successor after him, like Moses has done with him.

‘In those days, there was no king in Israel.’ The book of Judges contains this common refrain about this lack of long-term spiritual leadership after Joshua (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). In Judges 17:6 and 21:25 (which is the last line of the book), the added phrase ‘Everyone did what was right in his own eyes’ shows that the absence of godly leadership left the people divided and prone to fall away easily from loyalty to God and the guidance from the covenant He gave them through Moses.

Every time, a judge (a divinely-appointed leader) arose in Israel in the book of Judges, he then failed to raise-up a leader after him. We see in Judges that a lack of godly leadership results in all manner of spiritual dystopia and anarchy.

Jesus on the other hand, put leadership development at the core of his modus operandi for the spreading of his Kingdom rule to all nations. He called 12 disciples and designated them ‘Apostles’ – the new leaders of his Church and Kingdom movement.

Jesus was already modeling for them the need to raise and release leaders for Kingdom purposes throughout the world. Apostolic leadership was never an end in itself – it was always about preparing others for works of service (Ephesians 4:11-16).  Succession of leadership and leadership development are part of our call, paving the way for many other men and women to find their kingdom assignments.

Kingdom leadership therefore will resemble the Sea of Galilee more than the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is full of life because water from Mount Hermon flows into it and then out of it to become the Jordan River. Fish and people alike thrive in and around it. The Dead Sea on the other hand is aptly named for the precipitous amount of salt in its water content that is toxic to life, partly because there is no outflow of waters from it. It only receives but never gives.

If we are to please Jesus as leaders, we would be committed like him to raise-up new leaders after us who desire to find and fulfill God’s plan and call for their lives. Moses had his Joshua, Paul had his Timothy, Elijah had his Elisha.

Who do you have coming after you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Things Kingdom Leaders do: Part 4 (by Manik Corea)

4 Things Kingdom Leaders do: Part 3 (by Manik Corea)

We have already looked at 2 important tasks that godly leaders must be devoted to: visionary leadership and obedient action. Today, we look at no.3 – persevering and growing in the midst of opposition.

If there’s one thing that is guaranteed of godly and visionary leaders, it is that they will be attacked, complained about, spoken against, criticized unjustly and sometimes wholly despised. Thankfully, not usually all at once!

Leadership of God’s people can be challenging – just ask Moses (Numbers 11:11-12). A leader is called to walk ahead of others – which also means becoming a walking target for those behind you.

Furthermore, we know and expect opposition from the world we live in, which in our day is increasingly antagonistic and downright hostile to Christians, if not already persecuting. We can’t say we have not been warned, given Jesus’ words in John 15:18, 20:

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first…..Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.” (NLT).

How should we then lead as Jesus-called leaders in this day and age? We must persevere in doing God’s will, despite the challenges outside and inside the church. What matters most is that we please God over man, to whom we are ultimately accountable (Acts 4:19-20; Galatians 1:10; Hebrews 13:17).

But let us also realize we are all yet imperfect leaders called to lead imperfect people! We see things from partial perspectives. We judge from flawed experience or prejudiced attitudes that can blind us. We may easily take offense or react to personalities, behavior and viewpoints that trigger unsavory responses. We cannot therefore take ourselves too seriously.

There is an anecdotal story of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu who was met on a narrow path by a Caucasian man walking in the opposite direction. The man pushed forward, glared at Tutu and said, ‘I don’t make way for gorillas.’ At which Tutu stepped aside, and retorted, ‘Ah, yes, but I do.’

Humorous reactions aside, Kingdom-leaders must grow in grace to deal with (sometimes unjust) criticism and to endure opposition. Here are 2 things I have learnt through much struggle, that has helped me deal with and grow from opposition and criticism:

  1. When criticized, directly or indirectly, seek God’s help not to immediately respond with commensurate anger or frustration or to defend oneself.

The fruit of the Spirit includes gentleness and self-control. We are instructed to learn to be slow to speak and to be angry (James 1:19).

The Proverbs are full of godly counsel regarding our reactions to what others do and say to us. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (see also Proverbs 15:1; 17:27). Reflect before you speak. Let silence and prayer become your default first reaction.

2 Seek the counsel and prayers of others

Leaders who try to manage criticism and opposition on their own usually end up regretting the things they do and say. I write from personal experience. I am proud and strong-willed in that way, and so it takes a lot for me to seek and ask for advice, counsel and help. But we so need the wisdom of the community of other disciples, and the readiness to receive wise instruction.

I am blessed with great counselors. My wife often speaks home-truths to me. I have had (and still do) wonderful mentors and peers who help me to see my faults and to help me be gracious in response when not in the wrong.

One lesson I have been slow to learn, is to hear out the criticism or challenge, and to consider carefully if there could be truth that I need to hear. A great suggestion I recently heard is, when criticized, to go to a trust-worthy friend, and ask this question: “Someone said this about me. Do you see this as well? Is there something to this?”

Hateful critics will seek to tear down, but godly leaders seek to build up and be peace-makers. There is no reason Jesus gives us for hurling stones back or to give as good as we get. ‘Bless, do not curse’ (Romans 12:14 and Matthew 5:44).

Pray, seek counsel, act in humility. In all things, flee to Jesus and learn from Him (Hebrews 12:3-4).

4 Things Kingdom Leaders do: Part 3 (by Manik Corea)

4 Things Kingdom Leaders do: Part 2 (by Manik Corea)

Last week, we started to look at 4 principle things a Christ-pleasing leader should consistently do, as he seeks to lead and raise other leaders. First key task: to seek and pursue a godly vision for one’s life and call.

There are important practical steps for leaders in communicating godly vision to those they lead – i.e. capturing, concretizing and casting the vision in a way that calls everyone in the direction God intends.

But the most crucial and critical piece in fulfilling godly vision is its practice. We are called to walk by faith. ‘Walking’ is of course, a doing word. This is our second principle work of kingdom leadership: active obedience to God’s command.

All true disciples, like Jesus, will seek to do the will of the Father.[1] This may seem commonsensical, but it is amazing how easily, when taking the reins of leadership and responsibility, we then find a host of other competing demands.

The tasks, burdens, responsibilities and challenges of leadership are many. The Apostle Paul told in his letter of the heavy burden of leadership that he carried and the loneliness it sometimes entailed (2 Corinthians 11:28-29; Galatians 4:19; 2 Timothy 1:15).

But there are temptations too. I was taught that every leader must beware of the 3 ‘G’s – i.e. Girls (or ‘Guys’ for the ladies), Gold and Glory

We are tempted to think leadership is a matter of titles, remuneration, authority, talents or creative abilities. We easily lose sight of Jesus in the egoistical exhilaration of having people who look up and listen to you. Or people may start to undermine and criticize our leadership and we become reactive or crowd-pleasing.

So, how can a leader keep his way pure?

Three things are needful:

  1. Stay fixed and focused on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 is a reminder to keep our eyes firmly on our Lord, who sought the joy of godly obedience while enduring the cross. We are called to throw aside every encumbrance in pursuit of our Lord’s pleasure and glory. Our work of faith, first and foremost, is to trust and obey Jesus and find joy.
  2. Order your personal life. In NAMS, all Companions vow to God to keep the personal holy habits of daily abiding in God’s word and prayer, giving towards global mission, making disciples and retreating 4 times a year with Christ. These should be minimal for any serious follower of Jesus. But the onus is on us leaders as God’s fellow workers, to really be steeped in discipling and leading ourselves from the inside out!
  3. Be accountable. We who are ‘born-again’ are born into a family. A great cloud of witnesses, Hebrews 12:1 tells us, is watching. Therefore, we can lay aside the entanglements of sin with each other’s support, counsel, prayers and watch. A well trained leader will answer to those over him in the Lord.

Ultimately, such a walk will demand consistency. John Maxwell said, “Leadership develops daily, not in a day.”[2] Not least Jesus-shaped leadership. It is only by faithful obedience to Christ’ commands that we can effectively help others to obey.

Jon Shuler, NAMS founder and spiritual father to me and many, often reminds me that we can only bring people to where we already are.

We are not called simply to instruct people like professors or bark orders like drill sergeants. We are call to lead people on by journeying with and ahead of them. As has been said, “A boss says ‘go’. A leader says ‘let’s go.’”

The tragedy in our churches is that they are full of Christians who know what God wants and may even sing lustily about it at worship services. But God requires more than assent or even decision. The tragedy of today’s evangelical Christianity may well be calling people to profession, but not to obedience.

Most already know more than they choose to practice. When all is said and done in God’s kingdom, more will have been found to be said than done.

But love for Christ is proved by our obedience (John 14:15). A Christ-formed leader will therefore be a ‘doer’ of the word, not merely parroting that word to others (James 1:22).

What will it take to ensure this is the case in your own leadership call?

 

[1] Matthew 7:21; Mark 3:35; Luke 6:46; John 4:24, 6:38-40, 7:17.

[2] John Maxwell, subtitle to chapter 3 title, ‘The Law of Process’ in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (HarperCollins Leadership; Revised, 2007).

4 Things Kingdom Leaders do: Part 2 (by Manik Corea)

4 Things Kingdom Leaders do: Part 1 (by Manik Corea)

In the previous weeks, we have already established that at the heart of Christian leadership is a call to sacrificial servant-hood. As leaders, we will see ourselves fundamentally as servants of God and stewards entrusted with the things of God. God is our only Master.

Now, leadership has been defined as ‘the ability of one person to influence others to follow his or her lead.’[1] The Christian leader is called to influence others, believer and unbeliever alike, towards the goal of living for Christ. Making Christ the greatest treasure and absolute centre of our lives, we seek to present him to others so that we can bring all (if possible) to maturity in Christ (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21; 3:8-11; Colossians 1:27-29).

How is this godly influence exercised and worked out? In the next weeks, I want to look at 4 principle works that any leader in God’s kingdom must be committed to doing and to help others do the same, in order to know Christ, and to make Him known. These are:

  1. See and share a godly vision of life
  2. Be passionate about obeying, following and teaching the commands of God
  3. Be ready to endure opposition and persecution for Christ
  4. Raise other leaders after him.

In short: vision, passion, endurance and succession. First then: vision.

What is the difference between a great leader and a good leader?

Perspective! A great leader sees better and further than his contemporaries, and is committed to leading them there. Jesus-shaped leaders are seeking to see God’s vision for all their life and then to pursue it with all their heart.

Isaiah 6 is often looked at and used as a passage about the ‘call of God’ – particularly  the challenge of God’s missionary questions in verse 8: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’

But Isaiah’s vision has a more to teach us than just the question of ‘going’. It is first and foremost, about the effect on Isaiah of his ‘seeing’ the Lord.

The first verse of Isaiah 6 tells us that a national tragedy had occurred – King Uzziah had died. He had been a good king for Israel, particular in the early days of his reign (see 2 Chronicles 26). But now he was gone. However, God granted Isaiah to see something far greater – a vision of God on his throne in the temple.

What he saw and heard shook Isaiah to the core – met by the manifest glory and holiness of God, his utter sinfulness was made bare.

Isaiah saw himself in the light of God, and felt utterly unworthy. He cried ‘woe is me.’ In our celebrity culture today, many people seem to be crying the opposite – ‘Wow is me!’ But right vision of God will always result in clarity of who we are in truth. It is the need of the hour.

Having confessed and been cleansed by an act of grace (vs 5-7), Isaiah is then consecrated for representative mission by God, for God (vs 8-9). The process is clear – vision leads to conviction, confession, cleansing, and finally consecration.

I am certain that Isaiah’s vision of God branded itself on his consciousness and no doubt influenced his prophetic ministry from then on. We need similarly to see and encounter God often in our lives. As Edmund Chan has said, ‘The greatest need of leadership is a fresh vision of God coming out of a fresh encounter with God.’

A godly leader is one who sees and seeks God for who He is – the author, controller and director of our lives. We live out His vision for ourselves and those He gives us to lead. ‘God is not the supporting actor in our stories; we have bit parts in his.’[2]

Three times in Acts, we hear Paul relating the vision and call of his Damascus Road arrest by the Risen Christ.[3] It shaped henceforth the absolute direction and content of his life, such that at his trial before King Agrippa, he was able to declare that ‘I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared….that they should repent and turn to God.’ (Acts 26:19-20).

What is God’s vision for your life? Your family? Your ministry? What is your vision for this day he has given you? Godly leadership will seek to follow and fulfill God’s vision over and above every other competing and compelling sight.

[1] J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, 27.

[2] Kevin J. Vanhoozer “Letter to an Aspiring Theologian: How to Speak of God Truly.”, page 31. First Things, Aug/Sep 2018/

[3] Acts 9:3-8; 22:6-11; 26:12-19

4 Things Kingdom Leaders do: Part 1 (by Manik Corea)