Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Scroll down to read previous articles on Leadership issues.  ---Billy Long

Thursday, April 26, 2018

LOYALTY ISSUES

This post is a continuation of the series on Leadership. I know there is always a "flip side" of the coin, but this series is emphasizing issues that tend to get leaders into trouble. After you read this article, you can scroll down to read previous posts. Then click the "older posts" button at the bottom of the page to go to the earlier articles on the subject.

Misguided Loyalty
Loyalty carries the idea of fidelity and devotion. It is a good character trait, but its virtue, or lack of it, depends upon the object of its allegiance as well as the motives of the devotee. Loyalty can be misplaced or misguided. It is abused when being loyal requires a person to act contrary to conscience, integrity, or truth. Misguided loyalty often stems from an attempt to avoid disfavor, rejection, or accusations of betrayal from a leader who is unwilling to really listen, who refuses to acknowledge his guilt or face issues, defects, and errors in his life.
We should be loyal to our friends and our leaders, but loyalty does not remove our need to stay in the realm of reality and to speak the truth in love. Loyalty does not mean indulging the sin and weaknesses in those we follow or supporting the sin in our friends or fellow-workers. Loyalty does not mean never having a dissenting opinion. True Biblical loyalty does not mean closing your eyes to reality and failure to speak up in order to avoid disfavor. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Open rebuke is better than secret love. Integrity, reality, and honesty are important ingredients in real love and in healthy loyalty.

Loyalty Within the Council
There should be love, harmony, wisdom, and prophetic insight in a council of church leaders. A group of elders should respect their senior leader, especially if he has been their spiritual father and mentor. They should give him the honor and courtesy due his position. However, individuals on any form of leadership council should speak up in their official positions and not be “yes” men. Any leadership council is useless unless its members bring their wisdom and thoughts into the conversation and decisions that have to be made. It is not good when a senior pastor or leader creates an atmosphere in which the other leaders feel they are betraying him if they disagree or express concerns that need to be dealt with. A silent council is no council. A spiritual father should respect the growth and maturity in his spiritual sons. Loyalty must be mutual and reciprocal.

Charges of Betrayal
A couple who was rejected by their pastor left the church wounded and hurting. They were bewildered that there was no follow-up communication from people (in the church) whom they considered to be their best friends. No one called to say, “Are you okay? How are you doing? Where did you go?” Years later they received an apology from one of those friends saying he and his wife had wanted to reach out to them but were afraid the pastor would see it as betrayal.
Ahimelech the priest of Nob would have had the same fear had he been aware of King Saul’s condition. He innocently befriended David not knowing David was fleeing from Saul. Saul in self-pity, insecurity, and grasping to hold his position counted as enemies anyone who befriended David. He, therefore, erroneously charged Ahimelech and eighty-five priests of Nob with betrayal and executed all of those innocent men along with their families. Saul here is an example of the insecure leader who demands blind “loyalty” and perceives kindness to his “enemies” as an act of betrayal.
I know life is complicated. There are good, faithful, and godly leaders who have suffered abuse at the hands of rebellious followers. There is a time for church discipline. But this principle has been abused in the hands of a self-centered, self-righteous, and stubborn leadership. Leaders should stand in the fear of God knowing that injustice has two sides−freeing the guilty and oppressing the innocent.

Sons of Zeruiah
Joab and Abishai, two of Zeruiah’s three sons, showed themselves fiercely loyal to David in fighting David’s enemies. But this outward zeal to defend David masked an inner spirit of error that manifested itself in their presumptuous and independent action. Abishai tried to get David to kill Saul when Saul was 
relieving himself in a cave and in a vulnerable position. Joab acted contrary to David’s orders and assassinated Abner and Amasa, former enemies of David whom David had pardoned and given positions of honor. Joab also slew the rebellious Absalom against David’s explicit command. 

The irony is that Joab later defected to King Solomon’s brother Adonijah (who desired the throne). That wickedness of heart that had previously expressed itself in a vengeful loyalty to David later caused Joab to be deceived into a misplaced loyalty to Adonijah and into the very betrayal and rebellion he had disdained in others. The “Sons of Zeruiah” will be fiercely loyal to you today…but will betray you “tomorrow.” We need to beware of carnality in the spirit of those who support us. For that very carnality may become a door for their own deception causing them to turn on us later.
David said, “What have I to do with you sons of Zeruiah?” Leaders should expect their followers to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, even as they require it of themselves.


Conclusion
Jesus knew what it was to have faithful and loyal disciples. He also knew what it was to have ostensible followers who turned and walked away when He gave a hard word or did not respond according to their fancy. He knew what it was to be betrayed and to have friends forsake Him in His hour of trouble. But He always loved them and sought their best interest. Loyalty was important, but He did not use loyalty as a means to manipulate or “use” people.


Accompanying Biblical references are available upon request.

Comments are welcome. Click the "comments" button below, or write to me at broblong@gmail.com      ---Billy Long


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A PERSPECTIVE: GRACE, FAITH, WORKS, TRAVAIL, OBEDIENCE, REPENTANCE


GRACE, FAITH, WORK, TRAVAIL, OBEDIENCE, REPENTANCE:
TERMS THAT STAND IN CONTRAST BUT NOT IN CONTRADICTION

A CHALLENGE FROM FRIENDS
I had four separate conversations with friends that caused me to have concern with some of the doctrinal trends that have been developing in the church over recent years.

One friend was telling me that, under the New Covenant, Christians do not have to repent. Grace has brought forgiveness and a believer does not have to “repent” of sins.

A second friend was telling me that the terms “obey” and “obedience” were part of the Old Testament Law, and therefore, not appropriate for the New Testament Christian.

A third friend expressed concern over my sermon entitled “The Blessing is Beyond Obedience” and that this message undermined faith.

On a fourth occasion a friend expressed a mild disapproval at my teaching on “travail and labor in Intercession.” His implication was that travail seemed to suggest “works” rather than faith.

The error in my friends’ approaches is that their positions rested on one facet of a Biblical truth overemphasized to the exclusion of other legitimate aspects. In formulating any Biblical doctrine, one should look at all the scripture verses related to the subject, those you like and those you don’t like, and then formulate a doctrine that draws a circle inclusive of all those verses. The whole Bible must be our foundation, not just one pet principle. Neither should it be only one facet of any one truth.

FAITH AND TRAVAIL
The following terms are inter-related: Grace, Faith, Work, Travail, Obedience, Repentance.
We are looking here at Biblical concepts that work together in harmony. These virtues are foundational aspects of Christian character and effectiveness.  They are perfectly compatible with each other and work harmoniously together. They may stand in contrast, but they do not stand in contradiction or opposition.
For instance, “laboring in prayer” does not contradict “faith in prayer.” The Apostle Paul speaks of praying with “all prayer.” This means there are many patterns in prayer. It can sometimes be a simple word of faith, ask and believe, or sometimes a more protracted supplication, or even intense labor and travail. All are done in faith; and we see all in the life of Jesus. He sometimes simply spoke a word of faith to get something accomplished. But then he also “offered up prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears.” There is a place for both. Paul said that Epaphras “labored fervently in prayer.” The disciples could usually cast out demons with a word, but also encountered situations in which the demons came out ”only by prayer and fasting.”
Situations that require patience do not indicate a lack of faith. Hebrews speaks of “faith and patience,” (Hebrews 6:12). They work together.
Obedience does not mean salvation by works. By the same token, salvation by grace does not remove our need to obey, and salvation by faith does not remove our need to work. “Laboring in prayer” does not mean a works/merit mentality. Laborers are called into the harvest.  We labor, travail, fight in prayers in the same way as we labor in the harvest (Matthew 9: 38, John 4:38, Col.4:12).
Labor itself is not contrary to grace. Paul said that grace labors (1 Cor 15:10). We labor and work, even as Jesus did. It is part of our service. But we do not work to earn salvation, which is by grace through faith, and not of works.

OBEDIENCE
Grace does not remove obedience as part of the Christian’s life. Obedience is not just associated with law and rules, but in the Christian life obedience is a dynamic of relationship. Even in the New Testament we obey God, our Master and Lord. We obey Him and keep His word.  Obedience is an element of “relationship,” a vital expression of our walk with Jesus Christ.

Obedience existed before the law. While obedience is also associated with law, it exists apart from law. Obedience was a living and vital part of “relationship” long before there was the law. In our relationship with the Lord we obey Him, we obey His voice.
Adam “disobeyed” (Rom 5:19) before there was ever a “law.” He disobeyed the Father.
Abraham obeyed long before there was “the law.”  His obedience in offering Isaac was not to a law, but to a command or word arising in his relationship and communication with God.  Hebrews 11:8, 17.
The rich young ruler’s disobedience was not to law but was a refusal to obey a word arising in his relationship with Jesus. It is interesting that in this case it was easier for the young man to obey the law than to obey the voice of Jesus. The lesson is that in your relationship with Jesus, He might ask you a hard thing.

Jesus obeyed the Father. He was obeying His Father’s voice.  Hebrews 5: 8, John 8:55. (He was not “under law,” but nevertheless, His actions never broke His Father’s law). Like Jesus, we obey the Father and the Holy Spirit. Being led by the Spirit we fulfill the law, we do not destroy it.
.Hebrews 5:8-9.  “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And being made perfect He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.”

Philip 2:8. “He became obedient unto death, even the death on the cross.”
He was obeying the Father…not a law. Although the scripture prophesied that HE would go to the cross, yet there was no law that commanded Him to do this. He was obeying the Father, not a rule. Sometimes the voice of the Father asks us “to do” a hard thing, sometimes something more difficult than anything in the law.
Luke 18: 18-30.
The law did not tell the rich young ruler to sell everything and follow Jesus. But the voice of Jesus told him to do that. The young man testified that he had “kept the law.” But now was unwilling to obey the voice.
The law did not tell Abraham to offer up his son, but the voice of the Father did tell him. (The voice also stopped him). He obeyed the voice, that sometimes tells us to do “a hard thing.” To say “we are not under the law” does not relieve us of our responsibility to obey the voice of God. That voice will not allow us to do evil, and it will not always lead us into soft places and comfort.
The New testament is filled with verses using the word “obedience” and “command.” Peter’s writings alone include 10 sections of scripture using the word “obey” or “obedience” or “obedient.” The New Testament has commands, and we are told to obey the word of God.

REPENTANCE
Grace does not remove the need for repentance. The great commission commands repentance. Even Christians are commanded to repent when there is sin in their lives. I have a list of eighteen New Testament verses of scripture which speak of repentance. I list here only a few of them.
Jesus in the great commission told the disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel “Teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:20.
In Luke 24:47 He commanded that “repentance….should be preached in His name to all nations.”
In Jesus’ message to the seven churches in the first three chapters of Revelation he commanded them saying, “Repent, or I will remove your candlestick.”
The apostle Paul in his message to Athens said that God now “commands all men everywhere to repent.”

“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”  James 1:22-25

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

MY BOOK

If you are hungry to know more about how the Holy Spirit worked in the early Christian church, and if you are hungry to understand and experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you should order my book SPIRITUAL POWER FOR EVERYDAY LIVING. 
Go to my website at the link shown below to order your copy.

https://www.billylongministries.com/

The book clarifies many misconceptions and contains practical teaching with many examples and testimonies of the gifts at work. It is an excellent tool for teaching others about the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. ---Billy Long

Saturday, March 31, 2018

GREETINGS TO READERS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

I am blessed that so many people from around the world have been reading my blog posts. I do appreciate your visits. 
There are many readers from South Korea, Europe, and other nations. Please send me an email and introduce yourself if you have enjoyed these posts. 

Write to me at broblong@gmail.com

Thanks so much. 
Billy Long

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Post Dealing with Leadership Issues

Below are four posts dealing with important issues around the subject of Leadership. I plan to post more. So if you are interested in this topic, keep a look-out for subsequent postings at this site.   
Thanks to all my friends who read my blog. I also invite you to visit my website to order my book. It is an excellent tool for understanding the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I recommend it highly for personal reading, and for use in small groups or classes. It is also very good for laying a foundation in understanding the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.   ---Billy Long

My website:
Billy Long Ministries

My Other Blogs:
Out of the Box
His Presence With Us

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

LEADERSHIP SERIES: Leaders Need Listening Skills


He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is a folly and shame to him.” Prov. 18:13

The failure to listen when someone comes with a problem or complaint.
Discipline yourself to listen. 

Do not interrupt the person before he has finished.  Let him share all that is in his heart.  People, need to "drain" themselves of what's on their mind and in their heart.  If you interrupt him before he finishes communicating his ideas, his mind will still be on his own issues and he will not hear or be able to listen to you.

It is easy to formulate answers before you listen to the question or the complaint. But even if you have revelation, even if you already understand, it is still important not to interrupt before the person has spoken all he needs to say.
             
To speak before a person has finished is to risk being guilty of presumption, error, misjudgment and condemnation.

Usually people do not go directly or immediately to the heart of the matter. They start at the periphery and work their way to the root issue. Therefore, if you answer too quickly, you are only dealing with peripheral aspects of the issue.
           
People become very frustrated if they feel you have not heard them or if you have not given them opportunity to share their heart.

When a leader speaks too quickly and forms a judgment without listening adequately, the person approaching him may become intimidated and close up.  He will become frustrated and withdraw feeling that he cannot talk.  The person may "drop the charges" but leave confused, questioning his own discernment, questioning what is reality--but still with an inner sense that things are not really resolved.

Pastors should listen because the person may have a valid criticism.

 A Pastor should develop the ability to make people feel comfortable and free to communicate.  Learn to help people open up and share their heart.

Be quick to hear, slow to speak.  Do not let your first response be to defend yourself or to attack the other.

After the person has said everything he has to say, then a leader should evaluate and make a response.