Throughout the life and ministry of Jesus, God’s power was constantly on display. The power of a perfect life, complete victory in an epic spiritual battle with Satan in the wilderness, miracles and signs that accompanied his preaching, words so full of authority and truth that people were amazed at the grace-filled words that came from his mouth. Broken people were reconciled to God through the power of authentic relationships with Jesus. Sinners were graciously forgiven and gloriously freed from addictions by a loving Savior.
The crowning display of God’s power in the life of Jesus was the might He wielded through the Holy Spirit when He raised Jesus from the grave on the first day of the week which we now celebrate as Easter Sunday. King David prophetically penned these words hundreds of years before the advent of Jesus: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay” (Psalm 16:9-10). The Apostle Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, stood up and recited this Old Testament scripture to thousands of people, declaring that this prophecy finally realized its fulfillment in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter was an eye-witness to this glorious display of God’s power. That day, over three thousand people responded in faith to the preaching of the gospel.
To this very day, the global church of Jesus Christ is a faithful steward of the authority and message of Jesus. We are bearers of resurrection power, the power of the gospel, and the power of transformed lives. This privilege should be accompanied by a powerful response.
We are recipients of His resurrection power, believing in faith that because He lives, we also will live with him for eternity. Resurrection power declares, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Resurrection power enables us to face each day with a heavenly perspective and a living hope. The Apostle Paul declared, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:18-21, NIV)
Power of the Gospel (God’s Good News for all creation)
We are witnesses and ambassadors of the gospel which brings salvation to all who believe. From our own personal experience we can bear witness to the truth and power of the good news concerning the atoning death, burial and victorious resurrection of our Savior. Jesus Christ himself entrusted this message to His church and gave us authority to share it with the whole world: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV). The Apostle Paul declared: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16, NIV)
Power of Transformed Lives
The power of the resurrection and the power of the gospel are displayed daily through transformed lives. The Holy Spirit not only cleanses each sinner who embraces and confesses the gospel of Jesus Christ by faith, He also makes us a completely new creation in Christ. The old is gone. The new has come! We are eternally changed and daily transformed into the image of Jesus as we submit to the indwelling Spirit of God and the Word of God. The Apostle Paul and Zacchaeus are just a few examples of the transforming power of God.
“I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.” (Apostle Paul, Galatians 1:22-24, NIV)
“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’” (Luke 19:8-10, NIV)
This Easter as we celebrate the resurrection power of Almighty God and glorify our risen Savior, let us remember that Easter weekend is also a time to re-calibrate and surrender anew to Jesus Christ. It is a timely reminder of our calling to share the power of the gospel with a world so desperately in need of hope. It is a day to be deeply grateful for the transforming power of God in our lives and communities. In truth, the resurrection power of Easter is not something we should celebrate once a year. It deserves a powerful response each day as we wake up and embrace the opportunities that God places before us to put His mighty power on display.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them…whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. (Exodus 34:29-35, NIV)
The Countenance of Moses Displayed the Radiance of God
Contemplate this for a moment. The transcendent God of Heaven entered into regular and personal conversations with a spiritual leader who was flawed just like the rest of us. Being in the presence of the Great “I AM” caused Moses to bear in his countenance the radiated glory of Almighty God for days and perhaps weeks on end.
This residual effect of deep intimacy with a holy and righteous God was something that struck awe and fear in God’s people. For their sake, Moses wore a veil to lessen the intensity of the heavenly glory that emanated from his face. Each encounter with God renewed the radiance, so this became a regular pattern for Moses and the Israelites as God revealed His word through a sanctified leader.
The Countenance of Jesus Revealed the Glory of God
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. (Matthew 17:1-2, NIV)
God the Father met with his eternal Son Jesus face to face. The encounter caused his countenance to shine with unparalleled glory, as bright as the sun. For a moment in time, the veil of his humanity was lowered and the three future leaders who witnessed his transfiguration saw the pure, unparalleled glory of God. This glory was not radiated as in the experience of Moses. No, it emanated from within Jesus, a heavenly glory generated from his deity as God the Son. In like response to the nation of Israel under Moses, this tangible encounter with the glory of God struck awe and fear in the three disciples who bore witness. Again, God revealed His word to His people: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
The Faces of Believers in Jesus Christ Reflect the Countenance of God
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18, NIV)
Another sanctified leader, the Apostle Paul, who himself encountered the blinding and destiny-shifting glory of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, enlightens the global church to a spiritual reality. The shekinah glory of God is present and active in our daily lives.It is a transforming and ever-increasing glory. The Holy Spirit is fashioning us into the image of Jesus Christ as we pursue intimacy with God and contemplate His glory.
Often when I am out in a public setting like a supermarket or a coffee shop, I whisper the following prayer: “Father, may my face bear the countenance of Christ.” It is a simple one sentence prayer. Yet behind it is a deep desire to capture such intimacy with God that my face radiates His glory, giving people a glimpse of who He is through one of his beloved children. I want my countenance to openly display the love, mercy, kindness and approving smile of God toward people he masterfully created. When I pray this prayer, I have a heightened sense of awareness of others. A smile brightens my face and I feel empowered by the Holy Spirit. I find myself praying for people who seem downcast, lonely or stressed. Might this be an example of what Paul had in mind when he mentioned the ongoing, transforming work of the Holy Spirit in believers which causes us to shine with ever-increasing glory? What about you, sanctified follower of Jesus Christ? Would you join me in this simple prayer? Let us together bear the countenance of God with ever-increasing glory!
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them.” Exodus 6:1-3
When God first appeared to Moses in the wilderness, Moses had long ago resigned to the fate of a shepherd. Gone were his youthful dreams of being a savior to his people (see Acts 7:23-25). Years of brokenness and isolation had snuffed out all worldly ambition and self-sufficiency and replaced them with great humility and crippling insecurity.
When the God of his forefathers interrupted his quiet life, Moses was content to worship at the burning bush, but was resistant to the invitation to pick up the staff of leadership that God was entrusting to him. Offering God one excuse after another, he certainly hoped that God would select someone else. Yet God firmly and lovingly persisted and addressed every fear and protestation with a future promise.
In Exodus 6 we see God offering to work in marvelous ways to make the mission of Moses successful. He offered DIVINE POWER. God declared that His mighty hand would convince an obstinate Pharaoh to not only agree to let God’s people go, but to actually drive them out from the land that enslaved them. God also offered His DIVINE NAME. God had revealed Himself as God Almighty (El Shaddai) to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God had shown Himself to be the one who provides and sustains. But God had sovereignly chosen not to make Himself fully known by another name, the LORD (Yahweh), until He revealed Himself to Moses.
By this name, God would offer PRECIOUS PROMISES to Moses and the people of Israel. In Exodus 6:6-8, God made seven distinct promises to Moses. He promised: 1) to bring his people out from the land of Egypt, 2) to free them from the oppression of slavery, 3) to redeem them, 4) to adopt them as His very own, 5) to be their One and Only God, 6) to bring them to the land He promised Abraham, and 7) to give them the land as an inheritance. Moses would see six of these promises come to pass in his lifetime. Joshua, his successor, saw all seven promises come to fruition.
What does this tell us about the work of God and how does this story relate to spiritual leaders? First, as Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King said in the transformational book Experiencing God, "God speaks!" There are times in the lives of every spiritual leader when Almighty God interrupts our lives for His greater purposes. This interruption is an invitation for us to join God in what He is already doing. This invitation requires faith and obedience and will undoubtedly involve tests that Blackaby called “crises of belief.” It is during this process of faith and obedience that God reveals Himself as provider, sustainer and promise-keeper. He is Mighty in Power. He is the LORD. Second, God is not deterred by our insecurities, weaknesses, failures or excuses, and He is persistent in His invitation. If we say “Yes” to God, then He says “I will” to us! So, what is holding you back? Stop resisting. Respond to His invitation to pick up the staff of spiritual leadership and then go out into your spheres of influence with a message of hope that is so desperately needed. As you step out in faith and obedience to the call of God, He will go before you with His Mighty Hand, His Divine Name and His Precious Promises!
NextGen participants at the Latitude GLC Transformational Mentor Training at Lake Highlands Church in Dallas, TX in May 2017. Pictured third from left is Matthew, a leader that I have been mentoring for 2 years. Matthew assisted me in the training event, sharing his own mentoring journey.
In May of 2017, nineteen participants from the Men's Ministry at Lake Highlands Church in Dallas, TX attended the Latitude Transformational Mentor Training event hosted at their site. Seven men were 35 years of age or younger. Each of the participants were afforded the opportunity in their learning groups to share stories of how mentoring relationships, or the lack thereof, had shaped their own spiritual journeys.
What encouraged me the most is that these young men are already engaging in informal mentoring relationships, and they are interested in being more intentional and transformational in their efforts. Whether their influence is with their own generation or the generation rising up behind them, they understand the biblical mandate to come alongside others in a shared spiritual journey. Each participant studied the biblical foundations of spiritual mentoring, explored examples of nine types of spiritual mentors found in Scripture, discussed the dynamics of transformational mentoring relationships, diagrammed their current mentoring relationships and reflected on future mentoring needs. At the end of our time together, each of these young adults committed to praying for, initiating, and engaging in mentoring relationships with people behind, beside, and in front of them in the spiritual journey.
I reminded the NextGen participants of what the Apostle Paul told his young "son in the faith," Timothy: "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12, NIV). Often NextGen believers feel insecure in their ability to provide spiritual leadership and insight to others, believing that they don't have their act together enough to be spiritual mentors to anyone. The truth is that none of us has our complete act together. We are all still pursuing spiritual maturity, holiness, and Christlikeness. We are all imperfect and in need of grace and second chances. I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for 44 years, and I still struggle at times with the more basic elements of the Christian life, just as the Apostle Paul struggled (Romans 7:14-8:4). The key is to be available, authentic, faithful, a solid example, and prayerful as you enter into mentoring relationships under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Start simple! We all need a Barnabas to encourage and believe in us, a Paul to exhort and challenge us, and a Timothy to stretch us and hold us accountable to walk the walk. If you are a young adult who follows Jesus Christ and longs to be more like him, you will benefit the most in your spiritual journey by surrounding yourself with a constellation of mentors, including other young adults who need an example to follow. Millennials make great mentors! Maybe all you need is some training and confidence to help you become a transformational mentor. If you are interested in participating in or hosting a future Latitude Transformational Mentoring event in the Dallas area, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life, and be satisfied…
(Isaiah 53:10-11, NIV84)
The prophet Isaiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prophesied about the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of the Messiah. For those of us who follow Jesus Christ, this is one of the most powerful passages of Old Testament Scripture. For in it we see more clearly the sorrowful life, complete obedience, intense suffering, substitutionary death and ultimate triumph of God the Son. We begin to comprehend the righteousness, justice and resurrection power of the One to whom Isaiah refers as The Lord. It is true that this passage does not call Jesus by name, nor does it specifically mention any person of the Trinity. Yet when compared with the narrative of the New Testament, we understand that the man of sorrows is Jesus Christ, and The Lord is the Triune God.
The Gospel of John reveals that God the Father motivated by love, sent his Son into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it. God the Son came willingly in the person of Jesus Christ as described in Philippians 2. Jesus himself said that no one took his life, but rather he willingly laid it down. Not only did he have the power and authority to lay his life down as a ransom for many, but he also had the authority to take it up again (John 10:18). By his own power and strength God the Father kept Jesus’ body from seeing decay in the three days after his death. By his own power and strength God the life-giving Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. Luke broke it down for us in the book of Acts. “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keeps its hold on him (Acts 2:24, NIV). That’s right – IMPOSSIBLE! Death and the grave did not stand a molecule of a chance at prevailing against the Son of God. The disciples learned that when Jesus called himself “the Resurrection and the Life” he meant it. He was not only the “first-fruits” of our resurrection, He IS the Resurrection.
Because Jesus lives, those who have embraced Him as Lord and Savior shall also live eternally with Him. Isaiah described us as “his offspring.” This, followers of Jesus, is our HOPE, our JOY and our VICTORY! Because the man of sorrows humbly and silently offered himself as our perfect substitute, God the Father forgave us our sins, cleansed and made new creations out of us by the Holy Spirit, and offered us eternal life as joint heirs with the Son, Jesus Christ.
Friends, this is the reason we celebrate Easter! We serve a risen Savior! Don’t be afraid to say, “Happy Easter!” in a politically correct world. It was by far the happiest moment in history when Jesus rose from the dead, folded the grave clothes that bound him, and walked out of his tomb, leaving it empty and conquered! Celebrate and rejoice in your King! HE LIVES!
Keith’s Spiritual Retreat Schedule
This week I have felt a weariness of soul and body that is a warning indicator that I have overextended myself. I am in a season of running on fumes spiritually and physically. I realized that I have not used good self care recently, and it is affecting my spiritual leadership. It's time for me to be intentional about getting some time alone with the Lord to recharge and recalibrate. I dug out my spiritual retreat schedule this week and called a friend to see if I could use his cabin for a few days. I told a few peer mentors of my intention and am asking them to hold me accountable to make this retreat happen in a timely manner.
I have shared this schedule over the years with young leaders I mentor and have encouraged them to customize the details to better fit their current needs. It's time for me to practice what I preach. "Physician, heal thyself!" I hear my soul whispering.
Just in case you are in the same place in your leadership, I am giving you this tool to help you take some much needed time of spiritual renewal. Let's follow through together.
Note: This template works best for those whose “spiritual pathways” are solitude, nature, bible study, worship, and/or prayer. It normally takes at least two days of solitude to clear the mind of distractions. It is recommended that the retreat be at least 4 days if possible to ensure the best clarity.
6 – 8 AM: Morning Recreation (Keith – Fly fishing)
8 - 9 AM: Breakfast and clean up cabin
9 – 11 AM: Personal worship and reading (Focus Time)
11 AM – 1 PM: Lunch and walk or hike
1 PM – 3 PM: Free time: nap, read, journal, etc. (Sabbath time)
3 PM – 5 PM: Evening Recreation (Keith – Fly fishing)
5 PM: Get ready and have dinner in town (be around people)
7 PM – Bedtime: Prayer, journaling, bible reading, worship, reflection (Focus Time)
Recommendation: Don’t enter into a spiritual retreat with an agenda for God. He alone knows what He intends to do and how He plans to reveal Himself to you. Your only objective should be to create a sacred time and space of hospitality so you and God can connect relationally at a more intimate level. Anything more than that is an added blessing. That being said, be prepared for God to speak. Have Samuel’s attitude of “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
Summary: This schedule is not meant to be rigid or legalistic. It is merely there to create a sense of rhythm and continuity. Feel free to switch things around based upon daylight hours, weather conditions, and best focus times. If you are doing this retreat with others, the recreation and meal times can be a great opportunity for mutual encouragement and interaction, but there needs to be significant periods of solitude in order to connect more intimately with God. There is also the possibility of having a silent retreat with others where the participants experience shared activities with no verbal communication, such as preparing meals and completing chores.
I have been studying the book of 2 Corinthians lately, and God has allowed me to look at this letter through new lenses focusing on what the Apostle Paul says about our new identity in Christ. I am not finished with this study yet, but so far I have been reminded that we are saints (1:1) and the aroma of Christ (2:14) among both those who are being saved, and those who are perishing.
What is interesting is that depending on those we are around at any given time, we are either the fragrance of life or the stench of death. At first glance, it appears that we are the fragrance of life to those who are being saved, and the stench of death to those who are perishing. However, if we look more closely at the sentence structure, we can conclude that Paul was saying that we are the stench of death to those who are being saved, and the fragrance of life to those who are perishing. Paul mentioned several times that we are to die to self, be crucified with Christ, and lay our lives on the altar as a living sacrifice. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3, NIV). He also said that our lives and testimonies should be attractive to a lost world around us.
Therefore, he challenged the Corinthian church to live among Christians (those who are being saved) in such a way that we model death to ourselves and our old ways of life, choosing instead to live what some would call the “cruciform life,” or cross-shaped life, which is a life defined by the cross of Christ. Paul further challenged them to live among those who are perishing in such a way that the fragrance of their lives would lead unbelievers from the path of spiritual death into the promise of a new life in Christ.
In light of this new perspective, I have been asking myself lately, “Do I really die daily like Paul? Does my life challenge believers to make their lives a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God?” I am also reflecting on whether or not my life exudes the aroma of Christ to those in this world who are perishing without the knowledge of Him who is calling them from death to life.
Years ago I was attempting to explain to a friend what I believed God was doing in my life. I sensed I was entering into a period of significant transition because it seemed that God was slowly ripping me from my circumstances and comfort zone, and it was happening in such a gradual fashion that the best way I could describe it was “the Velcro Effect.” My friend nodded his head and replied that he knew exactly what I was talking about. Velcro holds things securely together, though seldom permanently. The adhered objects can be separated quickly and violently, or slowly and methodically. There is always some level of resistance, discomfort, and noise in the separation process. This is the way God’s plan sometimes unfurls in our lives. Through various means God reveals that he is leading us through a time of transition. Often spiritual leaders have more questions than answers in this season of change, and it surely requires patience and trust in God’s plan with very little information to go off of. Somehow during this gradual ripping from our current lives and relationships, God creates in us a sense of growing expectation mixed with a little (or a great deal) of fear.
This pattern has repeated often enough in my life that now I more readily recognize the process. My personal experience has shown that God’s grace accompanies the slow tearing. There is a unique fellowship I experience with the Holy Spirit as I learn to wait patiently in the discomfort. I have often told others that during these transitional seasons “It seems that I wait, and wait and wait some more on the Lord. However, before I know it, He is on the move in my life, and it seems like I have to run to catch up.”
This “Velcro Effect” is illustrated in the three-year spiritual journey the twelve disciples shared with Jesus. They were swiftly ripped from their normal lives and comfort zones by three earth-shattering words: “Come, follow me.” Suddenly their lives disengaged from the old reality and adhered to a new reality of life with Jesus. No doubt they relished this season of ministry and probably hoped it would last forever. Yet toward the end of his ministry, Jesus began to slowly and methodically rip them from their circumstances and comfort zones again to prepare them for a new, more effective ministry. The velcro ripped a little as he sent them out as short-term missionaries armed with his authority and blessing. It ripped some more when he began to speak descriptively of his future arrest, suffering, and ultimate sacrifice. Eventually the last rip of the velcro took place when Jesus commissioned them, then abruptly ascended out of their sight, instructing them to wait for a while. Truthfully, there is pain in this process of spiritual growth: ripping, releasing, and waiting before the reattachment finally begins.
For the disciples, was it worth the discomfort, uncertainty, and incessant waiting? On the day of Pentecost, they received the promised Holy Spirit, and the velcro was immediately reattached to a new reality – the Church of Jesus Christ. They were ushered into a season of ministry marked by greater power, broader influence, and exponential fruitfulness. After waiting for what seemed to be an eternity, the disciples were suddenly running to catch up with the Holy Spirit just as they had once run to catch up with Jesus.
This would not be the last time an uncomfortable change of circumstances took place in the lives of the disciples. They were eventually torn loose from their effective ministries and released again to the uttermost parts of the world for the sake of the gospel and the church. Again, was it worth the discomfort, uncertainty, and incessant waiting? Look in the mirror at the face of a Christ-follower two thousand years removed and perhaps half-way around the world and you have your answer. Their discomfort translated into our comfort and salvation.
I’ve experienced this process for the past five years as I transitioned from a long-term ministry position in a great church to my current role as the founder of Latitude GLC. Although it has been challenging at times, enduring fear of the unknown, loss of job security, and wondering if people think I am reckless or unwise for stepping out in faith at my age (54), I am also filled with hope and expectancy to see the vision God planted in me back then starting to take shape. Just this week I have been able to encourage several leaders in their spiritual journeys. I feel joy in obedience and living out my calling in the midst of continued transition.
If you are experiencing “the Velcro effect” in your spiritual journey, take heart. God is on the move in your life. Soon you may be running to catch up to Him as he leads you into a period of greater power, influence, and fruitfulness.
Leaders often fear seasons of obscurity and isolation. Since most leaders would agree that leadership is fueled and leveraged by influence, it seems counterintuitive that falling off the grid for awhile could actually make someone a better leader in the long run. Sometimes these periods of perceived irrelevance are actually seedbeds for nurturing a great heart and a humble spirit in a leader. The Scriptures are full of examples of spiritual leaders who emerged from the wilderness of isolation with a transformed identity and an emboldened heart that was somehow packaged in a meek and humble spirit.
Moses is a primary example of this type of metamorphosis. People often concentrate on how God found Moses at the burning bush- a man who was slow of speech and who had a self-image lower than a serpent’s belly. What we don’t often think about is what Moses was like just before he was driven into the wilderness for 40 years. As an adopted member of the royal Egyptian household, Moses no doubt had access to all the resources that would prepare someone to be an effective and capable leader. Moses’ self-image may have actually been at the opposite end of the spectrum from what we see in his encounter with God. In the book of Acts, Luke records Stephen’s defense before the Sanhedrin in which he recounts the history of Israel. This Scripture sheds some light on Moses’ pre-wilderness persona. “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action…Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not” (Acts 7:22, 25 NIV). Press pause here. When Moses was forty years old he knew that God had called him to be the Deliverer of the nation of Israel. He actually thought that this was self-evident to God’s chosen people. Apparently he was brimming with self-confidence and passion, and he had a powerful message that he was ready to communicate.
The problem was that Moses was prepared to do God’s work from his own power base, using the positional influence of the royal family and the leadership tools of a pagan civilization. What God desired was a humble leader who would faithfully communicate the words of God and who would lead from a spiritual place of power. So if we hit the play button again, we see that God interacted with Moses after he had been as isolated as a leader can be for an unthinkable period of time. Forty years! God had done exactly what he had purposed to do in Moses’ life, taking what seems like an eternity to accomplish the task.
There are other biblical examples of what I believe is God’s preferred method of spiritual leadership development. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Daniel, Elijah, John the Baptist, and JESUS all had seasons of obscurity and isolation. Yet these are all leaders who shaped our spiritual heritage and changed the course of history.
If we are to learn anything from these leaders, it is that God the Father orchestrates seasons of obscurity in the journeys of spiritual leaders to ensure that we all lead from a transformed heart, a humble spirit, and a spirit-filled, God-dependent life. God’s eternal purposes and his called out community deserve no less.
If you find yourself in a season of obscurity, entrust yourself to your loving Father. Resist the urge to rush the process. Savor God’s sufficiency. Cultivate contentment. Stay connected to the life-giving Word and to the called-out community. Cling to David’s declaration of faith in the Psalms: “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me... Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 54:4; 55:22). God will orchestrate your re-engagement in the fullness of time and you will eventually be grateful for his shaping activity in your life.
Several months ago, I was seeking to increase the joy and power of my personal prayer life. I decided to do something I had never done before and created a daily prayer discipline that includes the following prayers and Scripture recitations. I pray them in this order every day and try to focus on the words and their meaning, pausing at times to reflect on what I am about to say. This daily habit primes the pump of my prayer life and leads to other prayers of praise, confession, intercession, and intimacy. I have memorized these prayers and Scripture passages, so I can now pray them anywhere and anytime.
If you are struggling for deeper intimacy, greater effectiveness, and increased continuity in your prayer life, I would recommend trying these morning prayers for 30 days. See if it helps you connect with the Triune God in deeper ways. Then begin to craft your own daily prayers that fit your spiritual journey and help you move into closer communion with Christ.
The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)
Prayer of Daily Dedication
"Father in Heaven, these are the riches I choose to pursue today:
I want to be grateful, humble, joyful, content,
Free from anxiety and fear, compassionate, and generous.
I pray these things in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
And of the Holy Spirit. Amen" (adapted from a prayer I read several years ago; source unknown).
Prayer of Thanksgiving
"Father in Heaven,
Thank you for your continual, abiding presence in my life
And in my household.
'For God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?' (Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV84)
Thank you, Father, for your continual, abiding presence in my life. Amen."
Recite Psalm 121 (NIV 84)
"I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over you- will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
Recite Psalm 23 (KJV)
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in paths of righteousness
For his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
Prayer of Reliance
"Father, I will dwell 'in the shelter of the Most High.
I will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust.' (Psalm 91:1-2, NIV)
Father, 'You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
And surround me with songs of deliverance.' (Psalm 32:7)
Lord and Master, Protector and Provider,
I fully rely on you to sustain and uphold me throughout this day. Amen."
Keith West is the founding President of Latitude GLC, a non-profit ministry in Rockwall, Texas. Keith believes his calling is to be a "Barnabas" to the next generation of spiritual leaders.