How Do We Find the Balance of Leading and Following?

Most People Just Drift Through Life Because It Seems Easier

Leading and following can both be scary. Leading means you have the responsibility, and if things don’t go well, you can get blamed. Following requires you to give up control, and we don’t like that either.

Drifting through life without any responsibility and doing whatever we want sounds like the better easier option.

Part of what makes drifting seem like the better plan is not having a bunch of rules to follow. One thing that pushes people away from the church is all the laws that God gave us. They can seem overwhelming.

We all know about the Ten Commandments. But what about the other 613? That’s right, there are actually over six hundred commandments in the Bible.

Whether or not 613 is the exact count is not that important. What is important is that the purpose of the law was to point us to Christ. Galatians 3:24 says, “In fact, the Law was to be our teacher until Christ came. Then we could have faith and be acceptable to God”.

No one can perfectly obey all the commandments, no matter how many or few there are. In fact, no one can obey the Ten Commandments completely. The Law makes our sinfulness evident (Romans 7:7). God gave us the Law to define sin and demonstrate our need for a Savior. Jesus is the only one who has perfectly obeyed the Law. Through His life, death, and resurrection, He fulfilled all of God’s righteous commands (Matthew 5:17-18).

Drifting through life is not God’s plan for us here on earth.

He has given each of us a purpose. Fulfilling this purpose requires taking responsibility. He has given us everything we need to succeed, but it’s up to us to do it. We all have a unique purpose.

It’s up to us to figure out who we are and take the lead to fulfill our purpose.

So, who are you?

You are a unique combination of things that make you, you.

Like me, you may be a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a business owner, a township board member, and a raft of other things. But whoever you are, you are unique.

In Luke 9:18-20, Jesus asks His disciples who people say that He is. Some said John the Baptist, some said Elijah, others said a prophet from long ago. Jesus asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah sent from God.”

Jesus knew who He was. Peter knew who He was. The disciple knew who He was. The problem was that they had a misconception of what that meant. They thought He was going to be a powerful worldly king and ruler.

There is no question that Jesus was a popular item and people wanted to be a part of it. These people would say, “I will follow You anywhere.” Then Jesus would lay out the plan for them, and they would come up with all kinds of excuses. Luke 9:57-62

We all do this. We get one thing in our head and then we are disappointed when things aren’t what we expected.

If we believe Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior, then we need to not question Him, but follow Him. It’s all about priorities and what you choose to make most important.

The balance of leading and following is to follow Jesus and lead others to do the same.

It’s Not Because We Have Value That We’re Loved

It’s Because We Are Loved That We Have Value

We all want to be valued, but most people are looking for it in the wrong place. They’re looking for value from a worldly perspective. They see value in material things.

Our true value is bigger than the world.

Last week we discussed the surprising connection of salt and light, rules and laws. I shared how in Matthew 5 verses 13-20 Jesus shows how these are related.

It’s not good to be without salt and light. The same goes for rules and laws. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some poor human laws (like India’s cobra law).

God’s rules, however, are meant for our protection.

My Mom lives in the country and a neighbor down the road has a dog that likes to run out in front of cars, running around in circles barking. Mom was concerned that she was going to run over the dog. So, after dealing with this for a while, one day before the dog had a chance to get started, she stopped the car, rolled down her window and forcefully told the dog to get back in the yard. After repeating this to the dog a few times, it went back to the yard. This process went on for a while as Mom would drive by. Now, the dog recognizes Mom’s car and doesn’t even bother to go to the road.

People are like this dog and sometimes God has to roll down His window for us.

This week Pastor Lee continued looking at God’s rules and laws in Matthew 5 looking at verses 21-37. Like the dog, these rules are for our benefit. God’s rules are because He loves us.

The religious leaders in Scripture were focused on the rules not God’s love. Jesus came to fulfill the law not to abolish it. He came because He loves us.

It can be hard to love people who treat us badly. But we are told to love our neighbor. The worse a neighbor has treated you, the harder it is to love them.

We all know how Jesus was treated and how He responded.

But you may not know how Douglas “Pete” Peterson was treated or how he responded.

Pete was flying bombing missions in Vietnam in 1966 when his plane was shot down. He landed in a mango tree and was badly hurt. He had head injuries, both knees dislocated, a broken leg, arm, and shoulder.

He was caught by a group of villagers. They stripped him of his clothes, bound him and dragged him back to their tiny village. After a while he was moved to another village where he was interrogated, and then, still in his broken, untreated state, piled into the sidecar of a battered motorbike, and paraded through countless other villages.

Then he was taken into Hanoi, to the Hoa Lo prison – known to its American inmates as the Hanoi Hilton – and there he was brutally interrogated.

After four days, Peterson was finally transferred to a hospital and from there, to a prison camp south-west of the city, known as “the Zoo”.

His prison room, “had three air-holes in the ceiling, a trap door in the door which food and so on was passed through, and a bunk, just planks of wood set on concrete pillars – and that was the bed.”

Peterson was released on March 4, 1973.

He remained in the Air Force until 1980, retiring as a colonel.

In 1990, he was elected to Congress and remained there until 1997. During this period, he revisited Vietnam three times in the hunt for information about US soldiers missing in action, the “MIAs” who some believed were still be imprisoned in Vietnam.

These trips were a chance for Peterson to come to terms with his wartime experience.

Peterson became a voice for reconciliation. After he chose not to run for a fourth term in Congress, he was approached with a job offer.

“President Clinton contacted me and asked if I would be interested in being a candidate for the ambassador slot in Hanoi.”

“I was a little concerned. You can go back and visit a country and that’s one thing, but going back and being a chief diplomat of a country is quite different,” he said.

From one perspective, he was a strange choice. How would the Vietnamese receive a man responsible for 66 bombing raids on the country – raids which Peterson admits probably resulted in civilian casualties?

And although he insisted at the time that he would “check hate at the door” would his counterparts in the country buy that, or assume he still bore grudges from his ordeal during the “American War”?

He was welcomed with open arms, according to former LA Times journalist David Lamb. He said that during his four years in Vietnam, Peterson became “a walking billboard for reconciliation”.

He drank tea with Nguyen Viet Chop and Nguyen Danh Xinh – two of the men who pulled him from the tree and dragged him back to the village through the rice paddies. He walked through the fields, holding hands with the grandson of one of his former captors, to the mango tree in which he had fallen 31 years earlier.

Pete Peterson was not a man to relax in his retirement, nor was he one to dwell on the past. Years ago, he said that he had no intention of becoming a “career POW”, but that God had not saved his life for him to be angry. “My life was preserved to do something constructive.”

I believe that we can all take some lessons of forgiveness and love from Pete. He didn’t get hung up on the rules and law…he was focused on love and reconciliation.

We are loved by God and that love is what gives us our value.

It is up to us to share that love with others and show them their value.

This is What We’re Supposed to do…Make Things Better

How Does Salt and Light Have Anything to do With Rules and Law?

Initially salt and light don’t appear to have any connection with rules and law.

For that matter, what do salt and light have to do with each other?

Most of us are familiar with the use of salt and light in Scripture. In Matthew 5:13-16, we are told that, “We are the salt of the earth.” And “…the light of the world.”

The Scripture goes on to say this about salt, “But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet.” 

Then in verse 15-16, “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.”

Both salt and light make things better.

Salt makes food taste better. It also helps preserve it and makes it last longer. Light helps us to find our way in the darkness. Like a light house, it shows us what direction to go when encountering a storm.

Directly following in verses 17-20, Jesus tells us, “Don’t even begin to think that I have come to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I haven’t come to do away with them but to fulfill them. I say to you very seriously that as long as heaven and earth exist, neither the smallest letter nor even the smallest stroke of a pen will be erased from the Law until everything there becomes a reality. Therefore, whoever ignores one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called the lowest in the kingdom of heaven.” And “…will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Laws and rules in society, for the most part, make things better and safer. Things like speed limits in city limits are a good idea. At the same time, we need to be aware that as humans when we make rules…they may come with unintended consequences.

A good example of this is India’s cobra law.

In colonial India, Delhi suffered a proliferation of cobras, which was a problem very clearly in need of a solution given the sorts of things that cobras bring, like death. To cut the number of cobras slithering through the city, the local government placed a bounty on them. This seemed like a perfectly reasonable solution. The bounty was generous enough that many people took up cobra hunting, which…

Led exactly to the desired outcome: The cobra population decreased.

And that’s where things get interesting.

As the cobra population fell and it became harder to find cobras in the wild, people became rather entrepreneurial. They started raising cobras in their homes, which they would then kill to collect the bounty as before. This led to a new problem: Local authorities realized that there were very few cobras evident in the city, but they nonetheless were still paying the bounty to the same degree as before.

City officials did a reasonable thing: They canceled the bounty. In response, the people raising cobras in their homes also did a reasonable thing: They released all their now-valueless cobras back into the streets. Who wants a house full of cobras?

In the end, Delhi had a bigger cobra problem after the bounty ended than it had before it began.

The unintended consequence of the cobra eradication plan was an increase in the number of cobras in the streets. This case has become the exemplar of when an attempt to solve a problem ends up exacerbating the very problem that rule-makers intended to fix.

We can be grateful that God’s rules won’t come with these kinds of unintended consequences.

We are told to follow God’s rules; there will be consequences if we don’t. We are called to be salt and light in the world. These things are all part of God’s plans for us and the world.

Now follow God’s rules, share your light and do your part to make the world a little better.

Are You Standing in God’s Way or Standing in God’s Will?

You Better Get Out of the Way Before You Get Run Over

Most people fall in one of two groups…rule keepers or rule breakers. You know which you are.

Either of these taken too far can result in standing in God’s way.

Rules can be misinterpreted and misunderstood. For example –

When a mother returned from the grocery store, her small son pulled out the box of animal crackers he had asked for. He opened the box and began spreading the animal-shaped crackers out on the kitchen counter. “What are you doing?” his mom asked.

“The box says you shouldn’t eat them if the seal is broken,” the boy explained.

“I’m looking to see if there are any broken seals.”

In Acts 11:1-18 some of the Jewish followers began arguing with Peter about his staying in the homes of uncircumcised Gentiles and eating with them. This was forbidden by Jewish rules.

Peter shared a vision he had while praying.

He saw heaven open and something like a huge sheet held by its four corners came down. When he looked in it, he saw animals, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds. He heard a voice saying, “Peter, get up! Kill these and eat them.”But I said, “Lord, I can’t do that! I’ve never taken a bite of anything that is unclean and not fit to eat.”

The voice from heaven spoke again, “When God says that something can be used for food, don’t say it isn’t fit to eat.”This happened three times before it was all taken back into heaven.

“God gave those Gentiles the same gift that he gave us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. So how could I have gone against God?”

When they heard what Peter told them they stopped arguing and praised God.

Too many times in the Bible the Jewish leaders are rule followers and get in God’s way.

This doesn’t mean that rules aren’t important. Sometimes we go too far the other way and don’t want to adhere to any rules. Or we pick and choose the rules we follow. We think rules can be restrictive and suppressing.

Ignoring the rules doesn’t work very well either.

God has given us our instructions of how we are to live. It’s called the Bible. Like any instructions, if you don’t read, learn and implement them, you won’t get the outcome God wants for you.

God loves us and wants what’s best for us. It’s up to us to read His instructions and put them into action.

Action causes movement, movement causes momentum and if you get in the way of momentum, you’re likely to get run over.

Being a person of action is good. You’re less likely to get run over.

If you read, learn and implement God’s instructions you can inspire others. To lead, you must move forward. People move out of the way of a person on the run; or they’re caught up in his wake.

An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep!

Be a lion for God.

A person who moves neither left nor right is destined to get in the way. Many people say they are waiting for God. But in most cases, God is waiting for us!

Read God’s instructions so that you will know His will. Because if you’re not standing in His will, you’re standing in His way…and that’s a good way to get run over.

Some content taken from Andy Andrews’ Active Decision

There’s Something Better Out There for Each of Us






Figuring Out What It Is, Is the Hard Part


There were a couple of boys selling candy bars to raise money for a school project. When they asked a man walking by if he would like to by one, he agreed to, on one condition…the boys had to eat it. The kind gesture on the part of the man backfired when one of the boys refused to eat his half. He said, “I can’t take candy from a stranger.”



His obedience to the rule was without understanding the underlying meaning.


In this week’s Scripture, Luke 13:10-17, Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath. This causes a church leader to become angry. The rule was, no work on the Sabbath. Jesus points out that, if it’s okay to water their animals on the Sabbath then surely, it’s okay to heal this woman.

We often get hung up on rules without looking beyond the surface and going deeper. One of the Ten Commandments is, to keep the Sabbath holy, Exodus 20:8-11. What is the reason for not working on the Sabbath? God made everything in six days. If he can do that and then rest a day, we should be able to do our work in the same amount of time.


What about those whose jobs require the work be seven days each week, i.e. medical, power and utilities, emergency workers, etc. The important thing is to rest and honor God…which ever day of the week that happens to be. Most of us are working more than we should and it’s no one’s fault but our own. We need to dig down on this question and find the balance of work and rest.

This doesn’t mean that rules aren’t important and that we shouldn’t follow them, because they are. We need to be careful to not get hung up on each little rule or cultural trend and miss the big picture. Our busy lives cause us to take things at face value. It’s quicker and easier to follow the crowd and just believe what we’re being told. It’s important to dig deep and find the underlying foundation.

There’s something better out there and it’s up to us to find it.

Some people visiting an orphanage in Botswana witnessed a young girl who wasn’t joining in the activities with the rest of the children. Then they noticed crutches lying on the ground beside her. After some research they found out that she was unable to walk from birth, but with the use of the crutches and therapy she was improving. As the group was going inside, she fell, the people started to go help her up, but the leaders of the orphanage stopped them. They said that God has something better in store for every child and her getting up on her own made her stronger.



God has something better in store for each of us…we just have to get up when we fall down.


We need to be careful to not get tripped up by the rules without knowing the underlying meaning and if we do, get back up and go again. The more we do the stronger we become.

What Are the Rules That You Live By?




They Will Be the Building Blocks in Your Life’s Foundation




We all make choices everyday about how we will live our lives and how we will treat those around us.

Often, we adults make things more complicated than they need to be and it’s really pretty simple. All we really need to know we learned in kindergarten, just ask Robert Fulghum.


Here’s a partial list:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.


These are just good common-sense things that will be great foundation blocks for building a better world.


We can make a big difference by doing small things, even though at the time it might not seem like it. The story of the young boy and the starfish is a good parable that makes this point.


“One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked, he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.
The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”
The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”



Use good blocks for building your life.