Dr. Craig L. Oliver
“Having an unforgiving heart leads to bitterness, and a heart that is bitter is incapable of love.”
With so much emphasis placed on the benefits of forgiveness and our Heavenly Father’s desire for us to operate from that space, it is easy to overlook the dangers associated with living with an unforgiving heart. If ever there was a message that must be conveyed to the world it is that forgiveness is as much for the giver as it is for the recipient. As a matter of fact, given the insidious dangers of an unforgiving heart it is appears that it is actually more beneficial to extend forgiveness than it is to receive it.
“Forgiveness is surrendering my right to hurt you for hurting me.”
- Archibald Hart
To live is to forgive! Life will constantly present you with opportunities for offense through which you will either navigate successfully by way of the virtue of forgiveness or unsuccessfully via the lack of forgiveness. It is the will of the Father and His command through scripture that we operate with a heart that forgives.
During my reading, I came across a leadership article entitled 7 Qualities of an Eagle Every Smart Leader Develops. It was featured on a Nigerian website Nairaland.com by one of their contributing writers. Last week I shared the third, fourth and fifth qualities of the eagle listed by this inspirational and relevant article. This week I will share the sixth and seventh qualities of an eagle that aspiring leaders should develop.
- Dr. Craig L. Oliver, Sr.
Key Verse: 2 Kings 12:5
“Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, then use it to repair whatever damage is found in the temple.”
Last weekend was an exciting time for us as we discussed particular renovation initiatives for each of our campuses and we displayed a rendering of the future expansion of our Atlanta location. It cannot be denied that God is continuing to do great and marvelous things for our church. We can all bare witness that the good hand of God’s favor is upon us. Evidence to this reality is seen in how we have experienced exponential growth spiritually through the lives that are being transformed through our discipleship division and life groups. Spiritual growth is also seen through the hundreds of individuals that have made public confessions of faith through water baptism. We see evidence of God’s favor through the plethora of ministry activities that our church facilitates, both through in-reach as we provide ministry for members in our congregation (i.e., Oasis of Hope Partnership with Richmont University in providing Christian based counseling) and outreach activities through Love-in-Action community projects hosted around the city. From a missional perspective, our church is literally touching the world for Christ through annual short-term mission trips whereby members of our church travel abroad to foreign nations proclaiming the Gospel and ministering to the needs of people. Speaking about missions, are you aware that in Nairobi, Kenya our church in partnership with the Huduma, built a school where we sponsor hundreds of children to receive a quality education and receive a nourishing meal that many of them wouldn’t receive otherwise? I can rattle on all day discussing how God’s good hand of favor is upon us. Perhaps more notably we see the favor of God upon us every weekend, as we host 10 celebration / worship services over 5 sites with live preaching via our incredible collaborative preaching team. What is remarkable is that each site is growing and is healthy.
The poignant words of Jesus in Luke 12:48 holds true for us principally, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” With more comes more responsibilities, demands, requests, challenges, and greater needs. Word to the wise, be careful about requesting for more.
As a congregation that has been entrusted with much, we must anticipate that the demands and needs will be greater. One of the visible and physical ways that we see the incredible effects of the exponential growth of EBC is the “good wear and tear” to our current facilities and the pressing need for us to expand for the future. We are experiencing what many organizations and institutions experience from time to time, namely growing pains. Growing pains are the problems and difficulties that an organization faces as a direct result of expanding in various dimensions. Notice there is pain that is associated with growth. This is a positive and productive pain that we are experiencing. Our growth is a direct response to the faithful discharge of our mission and vision.
Because of the incredible amount of “people traffic” we experience daily, especially over the weekends, we MUST embark upon a renovation project for many of our facilities that are desperately in need of repair and a face-lift. We must expand our Atlanta facility so we can continue to be an instrument and gathering place for life transformation and community development. We must expand our parking capacity so we can continue to facilitate our mission in this gathering place in which is to “Lovingly leading lost individuals into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to develop mature believers.”
That’s what last week’s “Vision Weekend” was all about. We designated last weekend as time to present to our congregation an opportunity for us to beautify God’s house and expand our capacity to minister to more people in a place of excellence and with a spirit of excellence.
We attempted to respond to two significant questions that we all wrestle with whenever a vision of this sort is cast. Namely, we all at some point ask:
- Why Are We Doing This? (1 Chr. 29:1)
- How Are We Going To Do This? (1 Chr. 29)
On last week some of our leaders and members boldly stepped up to the plate and committed to give between now and April 1, 2018 (Easter Morning) $780k toward the goal of 2.1 million. We are gratefully blessed that we are moving in the right direction of achieving this goal. Based upon our set goal there is a current variance of $1,320,000.00. This amount is within the sphere of our collective potential and possibilities. This amount is not farfetched or insurmountable. With God and our faith we can meet and exceed this goal. There is one major reason we are asking all of our members to support this initiative. We believe that God is glorified when we beautify His House. His house must reflect His character of excellence, majesty, honor and splendor. Ultimately the way we treat and care for God’s house reflects what we think about Him. Keep this thought in the forefront of your heart that what we are embarking upon is solely for the glory of God. David declared that the purpose for building the first temple, known as Solomon’s Temple, wasn’t for man, but for God.
It is no secret that buildings require maintenance from time to time – they can be damaged or worn out by people, or by nature. Buildings do not naturally maintain themselves, so over time some damages are done either by too much use or by neglect. Work needs to be done not only to make them useful, but also beautiful. In today’s passage, we will see how God’s temple in Jerusalem will undergo its first major restoration since it was built. The temple was built as a home for God here on earth, and after it was built and dedicated, God blessed it by bringing His presence there. The temple was the place to worship God, and bring offerings to Him. It was a home for God here on earth. If there was any building that needed to be maintained, it was God’s temple. It had been standing for around 130 years. It was plundered by Egypt around its 35th year, and it was looted by Athaliah’s sons within its last 10 years. It suffered neglect, as the nation was split in two, and the rulers were becoming more and more unfaithful to God. God’s house was being neglected! When king Joash came of age, he would reverse this trend by calling for the repairs to any damages in the temple, and establishing a fund to do so.
Look at v.1-2, “In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the eyes for the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.”
Joash became king when he was 7 years old. It was an amazing story of how God literally brought back the line of David from the ashes when Athaliah attempted to slaughter all of his descendants. He ruled 40 years because he did right in the eyes of the Lord. His father only ruled 1 year because he did evil in the eyes of the Lord. His grandfather only ruled 8 years because he did evil in the eyes of the Lord. How was this pattern broken? Remember that when he was only a year old, he was hidden away as Athaliah killed all of his brothers. His father and grandfather had also died. Joash was raised up in the temple by Jehoiada the priest, away from the influence of his wicked ancestors. Look again at:
v.2, “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” Notice that Joash did right all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. Jehoiada was a good spiritual mentor.
Verse 3 says, “The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.”
The people of God under their spiritual leaders are experiencing the tragedy of normalcy. This is the tendency of normalizing what God dislikes. God was not pleased with the high places because God instructed the people to worship in one place only – the temple, but these high places were built so that people did not have to go all the way to Jerusalem. The only approved place to offer sacrifices to God was the temple, but the high places were used so often now that kings were hesitant to shut them down. The high places did not make a king good or evil in God’s eyes, but if the king allowed idol worship in his nation, then they would be considered evil. Sometimes people worshipped other gods at these high places, but right now, during Joash’s reign instructed by the priest Jehoiada, only the God of Israel was worshipped at those locations.
2 Chronicles 24:4 (KJV)
And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the LORD.
- The Dilapidation of the Place of God
- Pillaged by the Predators
2 Chronicles 24:7 (KJV)
7 For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord did they bestow upon Baalim.
- Procrastination of the Priest
2 Kings 12:5-8 (KJV)
5 Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found.
6 But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.
7 Then king Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and the other priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? now therefore receive no more money of your acquaintance, but deliver it for the breaches of the house.
8 And the priests consented to receive no more money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house.
2 Chronicles 24:4-5 (KJV)
4 And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the Lord.
5 And he gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to them, Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that ye hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened it not.
- Passivity of the People
- The Determination for the Place Of God
- His Passion
- His Plan
- His Perseverance
III. The Dedication of the People of God
- Their Consecration
- Their Collaboration
- Their Celebration
2 Chronicles 24:10 (KJV)
10 And all the princes and all the people rejoiced, and brought in, and cast into the chest, until they had made an end.
- The Distribution of the Proceeds to God
- Accounted Finances With Integrity
2 Kings 12:14-15 (KJV)
14 But they gave that to the workmen, and repaired therewith the house of the Lord.
15 Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully.
- Allocated Finances With Intentionality
During my reading, I came across a leadership article entitled 7 Qualities of an Eagle Every Smart Leader Develops. It was featured on a Nigerian website Nairaland.com by one of their contributing writers. Last week I shared the first two qualities of the eagle listed by this inspirational and relevant article. This week I will share the third, fourth, and fifth qualities of an eagle that aspiring leaders should develop. As I continue to share from this article I believe it will inspire you to greatness as you pursue excellence in life and leadership!
- Craig L. Oliver, Sr.
During my reading, I came across a leadership article entitled 7 Qualities of an Eagle Every Smart Leader Develops. It was featured on a Nigerian website Nairaland.com by one of their contributing writers. The article was both inspirational and relevant. Over the course of the next few weeks I will share from this article and I believe it will incite you to pursue greatness on another level as it has with me.
- Dr. Craig L. Oliver, Sr.
- Eagles Have Vision
If you ever happen to see an eagle sitting high above the tree or cliff of a stiff mountain, watch closely and see how attentive the bird is. The body sits still and the head will be tilted side to side to observe what is happening below, around and above it. Even if it’s flying close by, you can observe how keen its eyes are looking for its prey. Eagles have a keen vision. Their eyes are specially designed for long distance focus and clarity. They can spot another eagle soaring from 50 miles away.
Does this characteristic ring a bell in your mind? I am sure it does. Look at great leaders of this world who have come and gone. There are many great leaders that came and went but one characteristic that is common in all is "Vision". Vision is a successful leadership characteristic.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
- Abraham Lincoln
We are often taught the importance of navigating places and moments of adversity from the perspective of effectively maximizing uncomfortable seasons and circumstances providentially allowed by our Heavenly Father. By comparison, lessons that teach us how to strategically walk through the successful seasons of our lives seem to be far fewer in number. I would argue that it is just as important to learn how to handle seasons of success as it is seasons of adversity. As a matter of fact, seasons of plenty and abundance can be dangerous for the person who is ill-advised of the responsibility that comes with it. Subtle traps of pride and relaxed discipline can slowly but certainly shift us to places of destruction and calamity when we are unaware of how to effectively tread the course of success.
“Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged people who kept on working.”
Though it may not be a popular thought, the reality of discouragement is one of life's absolutes. Throughout the course of one's life there will certainly be times of discouragement. Whether that discouragement comes as a result of people, circumstances, or a mixture of the two is simply a matter of how the Sovereign Lord has allowed it to play out. The challenging valleys of life are as necessary to our lives as the enjoyable mountain top experiences. For it is only from the lowly view of the valley that we can appreciate the expanse of the optimal view of the mountain. In other words, moments of joy and inspiration have their best meaning when measured against moments of discouragement.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
- Proverbs 19:21 New International Version
Key to operating in unstoppable momentum is alignment with the Purpose of the Lord. As intimated in the previously referenced scripture Proverbs 19:21, we as human beings come up with many plans and strategies as to how we will move throughout this life and what we want to do with it. It is the purpose and design of our Heavenly Father, however that will always win out. Perhaps one of the most frustrating positions that you can find yourself in is to have charted a course that is out of alignment with God’s purpose for your life. It is akin to running or driving in a context where the wind is contrary to your direction. You utilize more energy and expend more effort running against a headwind and progress is limited. If, however, you are able to get into alignment with the will and purpose of the Lord, your momentum is increased exponentially. Now instead of the winds of life being contrary to your forward progress, agreement with the purpose of God has strategically placed the wind of His favor at your back giving you an extra boost to succeed!
Momentum is the force or speed of movement. It is the impetus, moving force, or stimulus of a physical object or course of events. It is the cause of motion that incites to action, feeling or thought. In sports, it is said that a team has gained momentum when they have found their rhythm of success in a game and the force of their victory appears unstoppable.
In the context of ministry and organizational leadership, momentum is a critical component of success necessary for continued forward trajectory. If you are going to experience success as a leader than it is imperative that you are intentional about cultivating and maintaining momentum. Very often the kind of oversight that we provide to our teams can either strengthen or hinder the momentum of which we are desirous.
I would argue that one of the great case studies of momentum in the Bible is found in the “Classic Book of Leadership” Nehemiah. In Chapter 6 it indicates that he and his group were able to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and its gates within 52 days. You can only pull that off when you have a sense of mission, a sense of morale, and you have the manpower. Mission, morale, and manpower increases your momentum. What normally would have taken much longer to complete was accomplished in 52 days. I argue that oftentimes in church it takes us a lifetime to get stuff done and more often than not it can be attributed to a low momentum capacity. There is a lack of morale, a lack of clarity regarding the mission, and a lack of competent manpower which inevitably diminishes our momentum. I have seen churches that have been in building programs for decades who have never built anything. More often than not it is due to a lack of momentum.