This is Probably My Last Blog Here, Seriously. Because…

Yes, it’s true. That’s because Zoy Sauce Etc is finally moving to its new domain:

http://enzocortes.com

This is just one of the “big” things that is going to happen for Zoy Sauce Etc. So please keep on supporting it.

So please visit the new home of Zoy Sauce Etc. And please bear with me since the site is still under construction.

Enjoy reading at Zoy Sauce Etc’s new home!

Book Review Fridays: Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft

I wanted to venture into the world of Christian leadership. I have already read many books on leadership, but aren’t distinctly Christian in its nature. Thankfully, I learned about Dave Kraft’s Leaders Who Last (Crossway, 2010). I asked a friend to buy it for me in the States. And after a period of waiting, I finally got my copy.

The Goal/s of the Book

Clearly, Kraft’s book aims to help leaders “finish well.” This is the important to him since “many leaders are not doing well and are ending up shipwrecked” (20). He cites a book by Professor Bobby Clinton of Fuller Seminary, in which the author concludes that only 30% of leaders finish well. Thus, the cover of the book states: “Only 30% of Leaders Last.” This actually what grabbed my attention and made me buy the book.

The book is “written from a Christian perspective,” and is “primarily, but not exclusively, addressed to the following types of leaders: Senior pastors, ministry staff members, volunteer leaders, Sunday school teachers, small-group leaders, leaders in local parachurch organizations.” Truly, it is distinctly Christian in nature. In fact, Chapter 6, entitled The Leader’s Calling, is even written “primarily for leaders in full-time vocational Christian ministry” (77). Obviously, the chapter deals with calling.

Initial Observations

The book is divided into 3 parts: Foundations, Formation, and Fruitfulness. In Foundations, Kraft focuses on “leading from the inside out.” He means that a leader must live with Jesus Christ in the center of his power, as he develops a purpose and a passion, as he sets priorities, and as he develops pacing for how much he needs to accomplish and how fast he does it.

In Formation, he deals with the leader’s calling, gifts character, and growth, while in Fruitfulness, the leader’s vision, influence, and legacy.

At the end of every part, Kraft includes a Thinking Things Through, which are questions and points for discussion. This is helpful for readers since it makes them remember what they read, reflect on it further, and put it into action.

The book is also readable. Once can finish a chapter in 5-10 minutes (Consider the fact that I’m a slow reader).

Additionally, the book is full of personal stories, illustrations, and practical insights. Kraft writes:

Most of the leadership books in my library are based on surveys and studies that attempt to crystallize key principles and proven methodologies for discovering, developing, and deploying leaders. These books are written by successful CEOs of large organizations or professors in MBA programs who use the business world as their model.

In contrast, this book is written from my personal leadership journey for over forty years. It is not the result of interviews and surveys from the business sector, nor is it the product of analyzing and dissecting successful leaders from the Bible or history. Instead, it is a personal and extremely practical account of essential leadership principles I have learned and used. (21)

Gospel-Centered Leadership

Kraft uses this definition of a leader throughout the book:

A Christian leader is a humble, God-dependent, team-playing servant of God who is called by God to shepherd, develop, equip, and empower a specific group of believers to accomplish an agreed-upon vision from God. (25)

I agree with Kraft. But take a look at the opening sentence of Chapter 1:

As a leader, everything I am and everything I do needs to be anchored in my identity with Christ. Leadership begins and ends with a clear understanding of the gospel and being rooted in the grace of Jesus Christ as a free gift. (29, emphasis added)

When I read those words, I immediately knew that this book will talk about a Gospel-centered leadership. I’m so glad I have such a book!

Leaders are Gifted to Speak

Before I end this review, allow me to highlight a point of Kraft which I deeply agree with. It’s about speaking gifts. He asserts that the leader who least must be gifted to speak:

After many years of teaching on the subject of spiritual gifts and working with hundreds of people to help them determine their gifting, it seems the gifts of a leader tend more toward speaking and serving. Bobby Clinton of Fuller Seminary refers to these gifts as word gifts. A true leader is gifted and skilled at using words to shepherd, develop, equip, and empower followers and potential leaders.

The leader who lasts needs to have word gifts. This is not to say they don’t serve. But what distinguishes them as leaders is their ability to use words to accomplish the mission, communicate an agreed upon vision, climb the mountain, and reach the goal. (89)

He goes out on a limb with this statement:

If a person’s gift mix is not predominantly in the speaking category, that person should not consider a major leadership roll. (89)

In my experience, the leaders who made an impact on me are the very ones who have the ability to move me through words, either verbal or written, in the form of preaching or in the form of a simple encouragement.

Conclusion

Leaders Who Last is a Gospel-centered, biblically-grounded, and deeply practical book on leadership. Any leader, especially those working full-time for churches, will greatly benefit from this book. I recommend it to you.


Recent book reviews in The Reading Disciple:

- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- God is the Gospel by John Piper
- Truth Endures by Phil Johnson and Mike Taylor (eds.)

Struggling in Prayer

I’m not going to talk about “struggling in prayer” in the sense of “having a hard time praying.” Instead, I’m going to talk about struggling in prayer in a different light. Let’s turn to Colossians 4:12:

12Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

I’m expecting someone to say to me right away, “Okay, I know Jesus, Peter, and Paul. But Epaphras? Who is he?” Let me answer.

Epaphras was the pastor of the church in Colosse. The apostle Paul described him as a “beloved fellow servant” and a “faithful minister of Christ on [the Colossians’] behalf” (Colossians 1:7). It was through him that the Colossians learned the Gospel (see vv. 5-7). He happened to be with Paul, since he was imprisoned with him (Philemon 1:23). No wonder the pastor of the Colossian church was greeting his own church.

always struggling on your behalf in his prayers

So what was he doing? He was struggling in prayer for his church. The word struggling is translated in Greek as agonizomai. It can mean “to enter a contest,” or “to contend in the gymnastic game,” or “to contend with adversaries” (fight). Now, no one enters a contest, or plays in the gymnastic games, or fights with his adversaries without experiencing pain. So the word struggle (agonizomai) gives us the idea of pain (I believe the word agony came from our Greek word here). We can find this word in Luke 13:24:

24“Strive [agonizomai] to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Of course, there is pain involved when one enters a narrow door, especially when he is fat.

We also see this word in 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NASB):

25Everyone who competes [agonizomai] in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Now an athlete is someone who goes through the pain of self-control. He goes through intense training and diet, which is normally painful. He must do it. Else, he isn’t an athlete.

So how did Epaphras pray for his church? Answer: With agonizing pain. (I believe this is in metaphorical terms. But if Epaphras is literally experiencing pain as he prayed, I will not doubt. At the first place, he was in chains).

I’m reminded of Jacob’s wrestling with God. It is interesting to note that the man touched his hip socket first (Genesis 32:25) before he said “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (v.26). So he was already in agony but did not let go. He struggled so that he’ll be blessed. Later we read that God did bless him (v.29).

But why was Epaphras struggling for his church in his prayers? The answer:

that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

He’s praying for the maturity of his people, that they will be always be aligned in all the will of God. This only reveals that Epaphras loved his church. He will not go through the agony of praying for them if he did not love them at the first place.

At one point, Colossians 4:12 took a grip on me. Sure, I pray a lot, but only for my own needs. For my church? Not much! This revealed how much I love my church.

So I decided to struggle in praying for my church and for the individuals the consist it.

Let’s all learn from the example of Epaphras. Let’s struggle in praying for our church, that they “may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”

Mission, Mission, and Mate

Familiar with this: “I don’t feel the need for a mate, because I’m doing my mission”? Well, I am, because I already said this line many times.

Because I’m already in my mid-early twenties, the desire for a partner has become stronger compared to the former years. So I resort to pray to God, asking Him to reveal His will and even the woman I will be spending my whole life with. And while I’m praying, I wholly give myself to my mission.

I’m currently serving with the young singles ministry of my church and occasionally volunteering myself to the youth ministry. I preach and teach most of the times for these ministries. I also handle a group of young men, in the hopes of advancing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). I love what I’m doing, as well as the people I’m serving. And my mission made me forget of my desire for a life partner, and kept me satisfied…but only to a certain point.

There are times (lots of them!) that I feel the emptiness within me. In spite of a fruitful ministry, the desire for a wife keeps coming back, or should I say, haunting me down. I wrestle with this desire when these moments come, and I’m often left emotionally down. “I thought I’m satisfied,” I say to myself. “What’s wrong with me?”

So what’s wrong with me? I’m glad that the Lord made me realize something. It’s really convicting.

It is this: I’ve been unconsciously finding satisfaction in my mission in the hopes of defocusing myself from the desire of a mate, and not in my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, I have replaced the Master with my mission. (In my church, the phrase Master, Mission, Mate is commonly used. I’m just not sure if this phrase is also used in other churches).

I’m reminded of what Blaise Pascal writes in his Pensees:

There once was in man a true happiness of which now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.1

There is an “infinite abyss” within me in which “in vain [I try] to fill from all [my] surroundings.” I try to fill that “mark and empty trace” with my mission. Now I know that is in vain.

Only God can satisfy me! I’m reminded of these verses:

11You make known to me the path of life; / in your presence there is fullness of joy; / at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

4Delight yourself in the Lord, / and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Only in Him can I find “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore.” He (and not my mission) alone can satisfy the deepest desires of my heart.

It remains true that my mission is a gift from God and is even instrumental to making me satisfied in Him. But I’m making a resolve not to let it take the place of God. As I wait for my mate, I will ultimately strive to find satisfaction in my Master alone, not in my mission.


1Quoted in John Piper, Desiring God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2003), 21.


Recent blogs on The Single: Happy and Holy:

- When My Bank Account Dictates My Love Life
- I Love the Ministry and She Must as Well

The Infinitude of God

I spoke again for Jzone Mandaluyong last Friday. They were having a series on the attributes of God, and His infinitude was the assigned topic to me. So far, it’s the most difficult topic I preached on. Preaching on it felt like trying to put the whole Pacific Ocean into a soda can, or teaching calculus to an ant. But by God’s grace, it was over and some gave good feedback. Anyway…

This topic is really challenging to me. When it was offered to me, I was like, “What’s that?” Nevertheless, I took the opportunity so that I’ll learn more about God. This also meant that I’m going to prepare by faith.

So what exactly do we mean by the infinitude? I checked the online dictionary for the word infinitude. It is the state of being infinite. Well, that should be a no-brainer.

Defining the Infinitude of God

So let’s be a little more specific. Let’s now define the infinitude of God. God’s infinitude means that He “is not subject to any of the limitations of humanity, or of creation in general.”1

In simpler words, God has no limits or boundaries.

So in what sense is He infinite? He is infinite in the sense that He is immeasurable in relation to (1) space and (2) time, and in terms of (3) His attributes. Let’s discuss them one by one.

1. God is immeasurable in relation to space. Space cannot contain Him. When Solomon was preparing to build a temple for the name of the Lord, he sent word to Hiram, the king of Tyre, and said:

5The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. 6But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? (2 Chronicles 2:5-6, emphasis added)

Solomon acknowledged that God cannot be contained by “heaven, even highest heaven.” And this humbled him (“Who am I to build a house for him”).

We know how wide and vast the outer space is, right? And yet, we learn that God cannot even be contained by it. That’s how immeasurable He is (in relation to space).

2. God is immeasurable in relation to time. Just as God cannot be contained by space, He cannot be contained by time as well, for He is eternal. He is without beginning and without end.

When Moses inquired of God about what he will say to the Israelites when he will be asked of God’s name, God replied: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). His name suggests that He has always existed and was never created.

Moses tells us in his psalm:

2Before the mountains were brought forth, / or ever you had formed the earth and the world, / from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90:2)

This line in Moses’ psalm tells us that before everything else was created, God already existed. And he has always existed. He is eternal.

And Jesus, the second person in the Trinity, is also eternal. Speaking to the Jews, Jesus said:

58…“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58, emphasis added)

The verse tells us that Jesus did not only exist before Abraham was born. It also tells us that He is the great I AM. He is the eternal I AM.

3. God is immeasurable in terms of His attributes. I will just discuss just a few attributes due to brevity of time. There are four I have in mind: (1) Wisdom/Knowledge, (2) Sovereignty, (3) Holiness, and (4) Love/Goodness.

God is infinitely wise and knowledgeable:

33Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

He is infinitely sovereign (and in His infinite sovereignty, He has ensured our salvation):

28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

He is infinitely holy:

3…“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; / the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)

He is infinitely loving and good:

1Praise the LORD! / Oh give thanks to the LORD, / for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1)

So what can we say about God’s infinitude? God’s infinitude displays the incredible, incomprehensible, and indescribable greatness of Himself. And this should bring us into a greater worship of Him!

If He is Not Infinite

Think with me for a moment. Let’s imagine that God is not infinite. Let’s say that He is just 99% wise and knowledgeable. And 99% sovereign. And 99% holy. And 99% loving and good.

If this is the case, then He is 1% unwise and unknowledgeable. And 1% not sovereign. And 1% unholy. And 1% unloving and evil.

I think we will encounter a problem. Even if God is 99% wise and knowledgeable, what will assure us that He always knows what He is doing, since He is 1% unwise and unknowledgeable as well?

And even if He is 99% sovereign, what will assure us that He, in His sovereignty, has ensured our salvation and that He is always in control when tough times come, since He is 1% not sovereign as well?

And even if He is 99% holy, what will assure us that He has cleansed us from our sins, since He is 1% unholy as well?

And even if He is 99% loving and good, what will assure us that He has in mind only what is good for us, since He is 1% unloving and evil?

How can we trust God with our lives if He doesn’t know what He’s doing? And how can we put our faith in Him for our salvation if He can’t ensure it and He can’t cleanse us from our sins? And how can we surrender to Him if He isn’t concerned for our welfare?

You see. We can’t afford to have a God who is finite or short of infinity. But we must be thankful, because our God is infinite!

The Infinite God is for Us

One more. Even though God is infinite, or infinitely great, or infinitely different from us, He is also personal. He isn’t far away from us; He is with us in the person of Jesus (Matthew 1:23). He is mindful of us (Psalm 8:4). He wants to show us wonderful things in His word (Psalm 119:18). He wants us to pray to Him, addressing Him as Father (Matthew 9:9-13). He is inviting us to a sweet fellowship with Him (Revelation 3:20). He is infinite. But he is also personal. This is grace!

Let me encourage you with Romans 8:31:

31…If God is for us, who can be against us?

Yes! The infinite (and personal) God is for us! So who can be against us? This is so comforting!

Once again: God’s infinitude displays the incredible, incomprehensible, and indescribable greatness of Himself. And this should bring us into a greater worship of Him.


1Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 167.

Rewind (February 20-26, 2012)

5 blogs:

1. Weekly Wraps (February 13-19, 2012) – Mark Driscoll on marital conflict, Matt Smethurst on Jeremy Lin, Brad House on community, and etc.

2. Rewind (February 13-19, 2012) – 8 blogs.

3. Ending Up Frustrated After Quiet Times – Should I call some of my quiet times failures?

4. What I Think of Livestreamed Services – I’ve been hearing a lot of my friends watching livestreamed services instead of physically going to church for corporate worship. So I’ll take this opportunity to express my opinion on that.

5. Book Review Fridays: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – ‎”Outliers” is a very good read, obviously a work of a brilliant author. If you want to understand more about success, then grab a copy of this book. Let it change the way you view success. I recommend this book to you.

Weekly Wraps (February 20-26, 2012)

D.A. Carson on TGC Women’s Conference, John Starke on B.B. Warfield, Chuck Colson and Timothy George on Obama’s contraceptive mandate, and et cetera.

1. Interview with Don Carson on the TGC Women’s Conference (Tony Reinke) – Carson answers some questions on the first Women’s Conference of The Gospel Coalition (TGC).

2. The Lion Who Died February 16 (John Starke) – Starke on B.B. Warfield.

3. First They Came for the Catholics: Obama’s Contraceptive Mandate (Chuck Colson and Timothy George) – Colson and George calls for action regarding Obama’s mandate. This article is definitely controversial.

4. Thursday is for Thinkers: Eugene Cho (Cho via Ed Stetzer) – Cho on “downward mobility” and “a lifestyle of enough.” Inspiring!

5. The MacArthur Study Bible (NIV) (Phil Johnson) – MacArthur Study Bible on NIV2011. This is interesting.

6. Spiritual Leadership May Be Heartbreaking, but It Is Always Hopeful (Jon Bloom) – Bloom on Moses and leadership. He writes: “Spiritual leadership may be hard and heartbreaking, but it is always hopeful because of where the hope is anchored. Moses’ reward was not the peoples’ admiration, and not even the Promised Land. God was his reward (Hebrews 11:26). And any servant-leader whose reward is God can weather the storms with overcoming faith and joy. Any leader whose reward is something else will not last.”

7. The Strategically Generous Church (Craig Groeschel) – Groeschel on giving strategically. He writes: “Instead of just planning our next building project or fundraiser, we should also ‘plan to do what is generous.'”

8. When the Accounts Are Called: A Christian Understanding of Gambling (Albert Mohler) – Mohler on gambling. Finally, I have a grasp of the issue.

9. “He Knows My Name!” A Defense of Church Member Directories (Tony Reinke)

10. He Knows My Name! He Knows My Name! (John Piper) – Piper on knowing a person’s name. His point seems simple, but is actually profound.

11. Know Your Evangelicals: Charles Colson (Joe Carter)

12. Give Up the Gimmicks, Youth Pastors (Brian Cosby) – Cosby on youth ministry. He pleads: “With all my heart, I plead with you to not be tempted with “success,” professionalism, or the fading fads of our entertainment-driven culture. Rather, pursue Jesus as the all-satisfying Treasure that he is and feed his young sheep with the means God has provided.”

13. Casino Culture and the Collapse of Character (Albert Mohler) – Mohler on casinos. He concludes: “In the final analysis, the greatest danger posed by the casino is not anything that can be determined by economic analysis, because the greatest injury caused by gambling is not financial — it is moral.”

14. 6 Ways Sex Is a Gift (Mark Driscoll) – Driscoll gives 6 glorious benefits of sex.

15. Why Did God Let Paul Become a Murderer? (John Piper)

16. The Power of Clarity in Your Church’s Vision (Matt Steen) – Steen on vision statements. He gives four qualities of a great vision statement.

17. The Southern Baptist Convention Considers Adding Alternative Name: Great Commission Baptists (Joe Carter)

18. Read the Bible Devotionally — and No Less Critically (D.A. Carson) – Carson being interviewed on devotions.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41 other followers

%d bloggers like this: