Seeing the Fantastic In The Famine

I have been reading through Genesis in my devotions for the past few weeks. The last week or so I have been in the section where Joseph is in his up and down ride through the plan of God for his life and the larger plan for the nation of Israel. In chapter forty-one, Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dreams, telling him that a severe famine is about to come upon the whole land. He tells Pharaoh that this is about to be done by God.

"And the doubling of Pharaoh's dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about."

Sure enough, the famine comes and it spreads throughout the whole earth. Joseph's brothers are forced to come to Egypt to buy food in order to survive and it is there that Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers as second in charge in the land of Egypt. He tells his brothers (who had started this whole cycle in his life by throwing him into a pit and then selling him into slavery) in chapter 45,

"And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life...for God sent me before you to preserve a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors."

Do you see the fantastic in the famine? The famine was sent by God. This was the worst famine the world had ever seen and extended to all the earth, but it was sent by God. Why? God sent the famine in order to get his children, the nation of Israel, to Egypt. Why did he do that? God moved his children to Egypt so that He could have them put into bondage. Why would God do that? He did that so that He would then raise up a deliverer, Moses. Why would he do that? He did that to reveal Himself to His people, Israel, and to make His name and power known to Pharaoh.

Why did God do all of this? He did it to picture a coming Deliverer for His people. He did it to picture a coming Sacrificial Lamb whose blood would be spilled so that God's wrath could Passover all who believe in Him, Jesus Christ.

Are you in a famine right now? Remember, that for those who believe in Jesus Christ, God is always up to more than we can see or imagine. Remember the words of Joseph to his brothers,

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive..."

A Good Gospel Word on Transracial Adoption

Russell Moore recently wrote a very helpful article in response to a recent report against transracial adoption. You can find the entire post here. Here's a taste...

Right now, there are untold numbers of children, many of them racial minorities, languishing in the foster care system in the United States. Would the social workers really have us believe that it is better for an African-American child to grow up bounced from home to home in this bureaucratic limbo than to be a child to parents whose skin is paler than his? Do they really believe that a white Russian child would do better to live in an orphanage until she is dismissed at eighteen to a life of suicide or homelessness than to grow up with loving African-American parents?

I mentioned earlier that I was trans-ethnically adopted, and that's quite true. Now, I grew up biologically birthed into a very rooted family, a family I can trace back for generations. But the gospel tells me that I've been brought into a different household. I am hidden in Christ; therefore, in him, I am the offspring of Abraham, grafted onto the vine of Israel. God accepts me because, in Christ, I am his beloved son in whom he is well pleased. I receive with Jesus everything that he receives as an inheritance-the whole cosmos.

Some of us need to think about whether the Lord's calling us to adopt a child, and to put aside whether or not he or she is of our same race or background. Some of us need to put aside our hidden racist or elitist hatreds and hostilities. We need to crucify them, in fact.

What if the outside world could see church directories and family albums filled with people who look nothing alike-but who call each other "brother" and "sister" and mean it, and who unabashedly hug and kiss one another?

Perhaps the outside world would be better able to understand how black parents can love and raise an Asian daughter, how a Latino child can love his white Iowan mother, if they were to see our churches filled with people, red and yellow, black, and white, who are precious in the sight of one another.


Fathers: Key to Vacation Success, Part 3

CJ concludes his very helpful and valuable lessons to us as fathers concerning our leadership in making family vacations successful. The entire post is here, but below are the final two lessons with an excerpt or two. Enjoy and imitate.

6. Intentionally Together

Family vacations are FAMILY vacations!...It’s about being together as a family. What a family does together is much more important than where a family goes together...A wise father prepares his children for a FAMILY vacation, and he adjusts everyone’s expectations accordingly prior to the vacation and monitors those expectations during the vacation.

7. Gratefulness to God

Vacations are a gift from God. I want my family to perceive God’s kindness and generosity each day, and I want them to express their gratefulness to God each day...because it’s possible for us to be blessed by God but not perceptive of God or grateful to God.

I not only want my children to be grateful to God (“How good of God to give me this”), but ultimately I want them to be amazed by this God, amazed by “the quality of that Being” who has provided all these gifts, and adore him.


Fathers: Key to Vacation Success, Part 2

CJ Mahaney has resumed his series of posts on 7 lessons he has learned in leading his family on vacations.

The first two of the seven were:

1. A Servant's Heart
2. A Tone-Setting Attitude

In this post he lists the next three. Here they are with a few excerpts from the post.

3. An Awareness of Indwelling Sin

Though you are going on vacation, you would be wise to remember that sin never does...A wise husband begins by anticipating how and where he will be tempted by sin on vacation. Ponder in advance your existing sin patterns and potential temptations on this vacation, and prepare in advance for those temptations.

And prepare your children for their unique temptations. Review with your children the temptation and tendency to be selfish or complain with specific instructions of how and when this could take place.

4. Studying Your Family

Though it has been a number of years, I vividly remember one particular vacation when my wife wisely approached me asking if it would be possible to rest at some point during the vacation. Though I was perplexed why anyone would want to rest on vacation, I listened, and by God’s grace learned how to more effectively serve my family on vacation. I realized that my planning for our vacation was largely informed by my preferences, not the preferences of my wife and children. That conversation with Carolyn has made a difference in my vacation planning.

How can you most effectively serve your family on vacation? Well, in order to answer this question you must study your family and interview your family. Find out what they would like to do and if possible make it happen, even if it involves just resting and relaxing.

5. Skillful Surprises

Personally, I love to surprise my family (I’m sure you do too). And I try to do this throughout the year. But I want this to be a part of each family vacation as well. Effective surprises begin with studying each member of your family to discover what a meaningful and memorable surprise would involve. But trust me, each member of your family loves to be surprised.

You see, effective surprising is a skill. It is a developed skill rooted in the discerning study of a family member. You must study them and discern their passions and gifts, their preferences and joys in order to effectively create and craft a surprise for them.

A Familiar Warning

One of the sure to be much debated and probaby hotly debated issues at the SBC Annual Convention this year is the resolution concerning regenerate church membership. There has been a persistent and much needed urging of the convention to pass a resolution acknowledging our failure to accurately report our actual membership and also to resolve to move forward in a new committment to regenerate church membership--guarding the membership of local churches to exclusively genuine believers in Christ, those whose hearts have truly been regenerated or awakened and made new by Jesus Christ.

Forty-seven years ago this same warning and urging was heard from Dr. Leo Garrett. A recent post by Timmy Brister summarizes an article by Dr. Garrett in which he lists five challenges churches face in recovering and moving forward in a renewed committment to regenerate church membership. Below I have listed two of those five with some commentary by R. Stanton Norma, who cites excerpts from this article in his book, The Baptist Way: Distinctives of a Baptist Church. Be sure to read the rest here.

1. "Southern Baptist life is immersed in a culture that measures ministerial and ecclesiastical success numerically."

R. Stanton Norman comments in his book:
Pastors and other church leaders are overwhelmed with the pressure to produce results. Statistical growth has replaced biblical fidelity as the standard for ministerial excellence. This climate encourages churches to lower their membership quirements. The emphasis on regenerate church membership may diminish in order to “grow the church” or to “have a big church.” Church growth is typically defined in terms of multiplication to the exclusion of maturation.

2. "The widespread method of voting on new applicants practiced in many Baptist churches."

What is in view here is a failure on behalf of the congregation and especially pastors to properly interview and examine those seeking membership as to whether or not they are truly new creatures in Jesus Christ. Instead, potential candidates just come forward and the congregation votes without little to any information about the spiritual state of this potential member.

Stanton wraps it up with these comments:

Failure to heed these warnings will result in irreparable harm to our churches. The loss of the conviction of a regenerate church membership would be the abandonment of one of our crucial theological distinctives. We would in essence forsake one of our core tenets that has classically and theologically defined us as Baptists in the free church tradition. We would erase the line of demarcation between the church and the world.

Our churches would become more worldly and carnal and less holy and Christlike. We would witness and increase in the number of inactive, indifferent, uncommitted, and undedicated members in our churches. In our effort to have larger churches with greater numbers of members, we would contribute to the demise of effective evangelism and witness a decrease in the number of new converts. We would also lose our prophetic voice to speak with biblical convictions on the great moral and social issues of our day.

Oh, how some things never change, but Oh how they must change! Local churches must be comprised of men and women who are truly members of the Bride of Christ, the Church.


Sunday Leftovers For Monday

As a pastor, it seems like you never get to say all that you want to "get in" to a sermon. Every passage of Scripture is so rich and so full of application to our lives as believers. There are many Sundays where I find myself working my way through the message and knowing that I am running out of time and having to skip over certain illustrations and examples or application and further explanation. That is when you are reminded as a pastor from the Lord that what He wants you to say and what you have planned to say and focus on sometimes do not match--and He always wins!

Yesterday was no different. I ran a "little long" or as one of our children's workers for the day said, "You were a little long-winded today, weren't you?" They are so gracious to bear with me on those Sundays where I go long and they have to watch the children a little longer. Thank you for the way you serve our children and the church as a whole.

We have been going through a vision series at the church for a few weeks with the vision being, "Treasuring and Sharing Christ Together Locally and Globally for the Glory of God." You can listen to the different messages here if you like. Yesterday we focused on the second value that serves as a foundational pillar to this vision: Growing Together--A Bible Saturation. From 2 Timothy 3:10-17 we looked at Paul's command to Timothy and to us to live persistently in the Word of God.

One of the reasons from the text why we are to do this is so that we will not falter in the day of deception. Paul warns us that evil people will advance more and more, deceiving and themselves being deceived. One of the quotes that I left out was from Eugene Robinson. He is an Episcopal Bishop in New Hampshire. He is also a homosexual who sees no problem with that at all as he reads Scripture. In his recent autobiography he writes,

“Though I believe the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, that doesn’t mean they are literally the ‘words’ of God, virtually dictated by God through human media. And let’s not forget that the real ‘Word’ of God is Jesus himself.”

“The Bible is the best and most trustworthy witness [to Jesus] but it neither replaces Jesus as the Word nor takes precedence over Christ’s continuing action in the world through the Holy Spirit. To elevate the words of scripture to a place higher than the revealed Word of God in Jesus Christ is an act of idolatry.”

This is a prime example of someone who is deceiving others with unbiblical teaching and unbeknownst to him being deceived himself. You simply cannot pit the Jesus as the Word of God up against the Bible as the Word of God. Stressing the importance of the Bible as the literal Word of God and as Paul tells Timothy, "All Scripture is breathed out by God," does not detract from Jesus Christ as the Word of God. What would we know about Jesus Christ apart from the Word of God? All that we know about Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior to the World is derived from the Word of God. If we mistakenly allow that the Bible is not literally the Word of God then we cannot be sure that what it says about Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior to the World is correct and thus we have nothing reliable to believe about Jesus Christ as the Word of God. Our belief/trust, and rightly so, that the Bible is literally without error the Word of God is our only source of reliable and lifechanging teaching about Jesus Christ as the Word of God and Savior to the World--anyone and everyone who believes in Him alone for the forgiveness of sins.

Another quote I left off had to do with this same focus on why we must live persistently in the Word of God. Not only so we will not falter in the day of deception, but also so we do not falter in the day of persecution. Paul assures Timothy that everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Therefore, we must stay in the Word of God so that by God's grace we will be sustained to endure that suffering and not turn back.

At the recent "The Basics" conference, Voddie Baucham made this precise and true comment in regard to our suffering and the Gospel.

We did not earn this “setting apart.” I’m set apart by the grace of God. He saved me and set me apart; it is not because of my works. Why do I get upset when suffering comes? Because I’m not thinking gospel. The gospel says I’m not saved through my works but through the finished work of Jesus Christ. But I begin to compare myself to the people around me and compare myself favorably. When suffering comes my way and my first reaction is not to say that this is not about what I’ve done, but rather “God, haven’t you been paying attention to all I’ve done.” If I don’t preach the gospel to myself over and over and over again, my reaction is to look inward. When I remind myself of my sinfulness and the depths from which I’ve been saved I ask, “Why don’t I suffer more?”

We don’t have the grace to live and preach the gospel, but the great news is that we do not have to. It is not us but Christ in us. We must proclaim the gospel over and over again because difficult days will come and they will have the tendency to frighten us into fearing men more than God; unless you have proclaimed the gospel to yourself consistently you will cry “Woe is me and where is God!” If we keep our minds set on Jesus and remember that He saved us and set us apart and did so for His own glory and by His own grace, and if we remind ourselves that He is the only means by which any who have suffered have been able to endure, we will proclaim and preserve the gospel on the one hand and endure the suffering that will come on the other. Preach the gospel to yourself!

What a great question to ask ourselves in the midst of suffering and persecution! Ask not, "Why am I suffering?" but rather, "Why do I not suffer more than I do?" The answer is because of the grace poured out to us through the cross of Jesus Christ and it is that same grace that enables us to endure the suffering and persecution we go through in life.

Well, this blog has gone on too long as well. I must leave it here and go and preach the gospel to myself so that I might not falter in the day of deception or persecution.


Fathers: Key to Vacation Success

C.J. Mahaney has begun a timely and very wise string of posts concerning the importance of fathers in the success of family vacations.

Here’s what I’ve learned. The difference between forgettable vacations and unforgettable vacations is not the location or attractions. Nope. The difference between forgettable and unforgettable vacations is the father’s attitude and leadership. This makes all the difference.

With the arrival of Memorial Day, the vacation season has begun and will continue on through Labor Day. Fathers, let us heed this advice and make our vacations a success this summer. C.J. will be mentioning seven important truths.

1. A Servant's Heart
2. A Tone-Setting Attitude
3. An Awarness of Indwelling Sin
4. Studying Your Family
5. Skillful Surprises
6. Intentionally Together
7. Gratefulness to God

Below are the first two with an excerpt from the commentary on each by C.J. I encourage you to go and read the entire post here as well as the rest of the series.

A Servant's Heart

Actually, God-glorifying, grace-filled, relationship-building, memory-making vacations are not supposed to be a vacation for the father. Instead of simply resting and relaxing the father has the privilege of serving, leading, planning, initiating and working.

And you will know you are serving and leading effectively on your vacation when you fall into bed at night more exhausted than at the end of the most grueling day of work. The father must enter family vacations committed to serve, lead, plan, initiate, and work, and do all this with joy. This isn’t your time to rest. Only your wife deserves to rest on vacation (because no one works harder than she does the rest of the year).

A Tone-Setting Attitude

Children may be temporarily distracted by the venue, but ultimately the memory of that vacation will be associated with the father’s joy, gratefulness, generosity, and service, or with his irritation, frustration, and anger.

And there is no vacation from the gospel...Vacations provide unhurried periods of time where in the shadow of the cross a husband/father realizes afresh that he is doing much better than he deserves. Instead of wrath and hell God has been merciful and kind, pouring out his wrath on his Son so that sinners like you and me could experience forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation, and adoption.

Learning Leadership From Nehemiah

I recently read a great post on leadership lessons from the Book of Nehemiah by Dave Kraft over at the Resurgence blog. You can check out the entire post here, but below are a few ideas/quotes that resonated with me and I am sure with anyone who has been called of God to pastor. Here are four of the twelve principles he lists in the article.

"Christian leaders are deeply concerned about the fulfillment of God's plan and purpose. In dependence on Him, they do something about it."

Leadership always begins with God; the fact that He's up to something and wants me to be a part of it. True spiritual leadership is getting on my heart what God has on His. I want to know where God is at work and where and how I can join Him in that work.

"Leaders have Big Dreams. They have God-sized divine desires birthed from divine dissatisfaction with what is."

Nothing significant starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. Every accomplishment started off first as an idea in somebody's mind. It started off as a dream. It started off as a vision, a goal. Therefore, the first task of leadership is to hear from God and have a vision. If you don't set the vision, you're not the leader. Whoever is establishing the vision and goals in your church or group is the leader. A church, group, or organization will never outgrow its vision and the vision of a group people will never outgrow the vision of its leader. (Adapted from a Web article by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Valley Church).

"Christian leaders understand to whom they belong, whom they serve and who gives lasting success."

The God of Heaven will give us success. It's all about Him, about His glory, His purpose, His honor. I am His servant. He is not my servant to help me carry out my plans, my desires, my agenda in order to build my ministry with my people. It is fundamentally all about Him!

"Leaders should expect opposition in various forms."

The "expect to be misunderstood" has expanded through the years to, expect to be: criticized, judged, called an ungodly leader, no leader at all, not a Christian, having no love for people, and the list goes on. Anyone who has had a leadership role for any length of time knows that being judged, condemned, or having one's motives questioned goes with the territory. If opposition comes only from perceived enemies of what you are trying to accomplish, that would be one thing. But in many cases it comes from some of your key people and that's especially hard to take. Enemy or close friend, having someone criticize you or your ideas is always difficult to receive and respond to. Once again, Nehemiah is a model for us.

If everybody likes everything you're doing, you are probably not doing anything of significant value. Leaders don't lead and make decisions in order to be popular or appreciated.

In his book, "Well-intentioned Dragons," Marshall Shelly delineates some of the people types who will oppose your leadership and your decisions. Be on the look out for them:

The Wet Blanket-No matter what the idea or decision on the table, Wet Blanket has a quiver full of reasons why it has never worked, will never work, and should not work because it is not the will of God.

The Fickle Financier- If you do this or that, I will never give another dime to this ministry. Without my support and the support of my friends (who feel the same way I do) your ministry and leadership is dead in the water.

The Sniper - Never seems to talk directly with a leader in a healthy manner voicing concerns, but rather stays at a safe distance and takes indirect pot shots in private conversations that paint the leader in a bad light.

The Legalist- Has a list of absolutes that run from how much the leader paid for his house to how many verses should be sung from a particular song.

The Merchant of Muck- the group gossip who disguises everything behind the mask of prayer requests and concerns.


The Poison of Unforgiveness

Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board of the SBC recently commented,

"Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

How true.


Pray For the Chapman Family

Holly and I are very big Steven Curtis Chapman fans. One, because he is a Christian musician/artist who "gets it." The lyrics in his songs are God-Centered, Christ-exalting, Cross-centered, and Biblically saturated. He and his wife have also been profoundly used by God to raise awareness for the need of adoption.

Yesterday, the Chapman's youngest adopted daughter, five year old Maria, was killed in a tragic accident. You can visit a blog that has been set up in memory of her here. Please be in prayer for the entire family. From news stories I have read they were in the midst of much family celebration. Emily, their oldest daughter had just gotten engaged and Caleb, their son, is about to graduate. In the midst of these celebrations, God has brought this tragedy.

God of grace and comfort, please bring Your grace and comfort to the Chapman family now. Let them know that in the midst of this unspeakable tragedy you are kind and good and loving. May your grace flow down to them in unimaginable ways to comfort a mom and a dad and brothers and sisters in ways that only You can bring. May You help them to know what is the breadth, and height, and length, and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, and to be filled with all the fullness of God in this. May You bring good from it. Have compassion and mercy on them Lord and may they make much of You Jesus through this.

Below are lyrics to a song by SCC called, "With Hope" from his Speechless CD.

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...

We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...
We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

You can listen to the song by going here. Find the Speechless CD. It's track 11.


Obama, Racism, Abortion, & Outrage

I have recently had uncomfortable and disgusting reminders of the ignorance of racism in our country. In conversations concerning politics and the upcoming elections I have heard very racists remarks made in reference to Senator Barack Obama. I have heard comments in public places such as, "I would vote for that (expletive) n---- before I would vote for another Republican." I have heard jokes concerning Obama's black heritage, which maybe were not said with any ill will, but still do not help the problem of racism in our country.

It outrages me that people in 2008 can still be still be so ignorant in this arena of life. Racism has no place anywhere for any reason. But that's not the main point of this post (maybe it should be). Both of those comments involved comments by people who would give their support to Senator Obama despite the fact of his skin color. How kind of them.

There is a much larger issue concerning Sen. Obama's fitness for President. The first video below is a speech Sen. Obama gave at a Planned Parenthood meeting inn 2007. The second video is from Abort73 and as a warning to you is fairly graphic. It depicts the truth behind abortion.

Here's Obama's speech.

Here's the Abort73 Video.

It seems like the kind of equal opportunity for our daughters that Obama wants is that they have the same equal right to enjoy irresponsible sex outside of marriage without any danger of unwanted consequences. A man can have sex and not have to worry about the hindrance of a baby. A woman does not have that equal right and opportunity. Therefore, Obama wants advocates that we elevate the right to have sex without any worries over the right for a baby to live.



Pastors and Freshly Mowed Grass

At the recent T4G conference Holly and I attended a few weeks ago, two very interesting and entirely accurate comments were made by two of the speakers. One was by Al Mohler and the other by Ligon Duncan. Al Mohler made the comment that as a pastor, this side of eternity, you never get to experience that feeling of a freshly mowed lawn.

If you have ever cut your grass, you know the feeling he is referring to here. After you have spent hours mowing your yard or just maybe 15 minutes if you live in New England, you stand back and look at what you just accomplished and there is great pleasure and satisfaction in that accomplishment. As a pastor you never, here on earth, get to really experience that feeling in regards to pastoring people. The yard never is completely mowed and finished.

Ligon Duncan made a similar comment in that being a pastor is a task in which we as pastors are constantly looking for an interim report card, but none will be given. Our report card will only be given when we have run our race and finished our course. Then, we will be given a report card of how we did as a pastor. We will see all the ways in which we failed and we will flee to the cross for the forgiveness of those sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. We will also see all the successes we have had as a pastor and we too will then run to the cross where the shed blood of Jesus Christ purchased every grace for us to do anything good.

This week though, and over the past few weeks, I have been able to see glimpses of that fresh mowed feeling. I have seen and am seeing the evidences of God's grace working in people's lives within our church and it is amazingly encouraging. The Spirit of God is taking the Word of God and driving it deep within people's hearts and that is so precious to a pastor.

The Apostle John was indeed correct when he stated in 3 John 4

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."

Thank you Jesus. For from you and through you and to you are all things. To you be glory forever and ever!

Sunday Morning Versus Real Life

I read a post this morning from Carolyn Mahaney, wife of C.J. Mahaney, in reference to the celebration of their anniversary this week. In the post she recounts their courtship. She recalls a question early on that she wondered about this man she would eventually marry...

"Was this guy as passionate in real life as he appeared to be on stage?"

What a piercing question for a pastor and one that really only his wife is best equipped to answer. I pray that my passion in real life will appropriately reflect my passion on Sunday mornings from 10:20 to 11:15. I pray that the Christ I preach about on Sunday mornings will be the Christ that I cherish and live for in "real life." I am thankful to God for a wife who has and will continue to alert me when that is not the case.

"All Evil/Sin Is From God?"

Did I hear what I think I just heard the pastor say? Did he just say that all sin and evil is from God? Yes and no. Yes, I did say Sunday morning that "all things are from God" and the "all things" includes sin, suffering, and evil. I gave the examples of Job and Joseph both commenting that God had taken away and that God meant evil for good. There is never enough time on Sunday morning to say all that needs to be said and sometimes even a statement like "Evil/sin is from God" gets said without the needed clarification and explanation.

I did make the statement that all evil/sin is from God in this sense. The Bible clearly presents the truth that God has ordained that sin and evil exist but not in such a way that He is guilty of sin and evil. There is a definite sense in Scripture that God wills what He hates for a greater purpose. There are more references to mention here, but let me just mention two.

2 Chronicles 10:15 says,

"So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the LORD might fulfill his word..."

If you read the entire chapter you see that the wise and good thing for Rehoboam to do was to listen to the counsel of the old men, but instead he did the wrong or evil thing and followed the counsel of the young men. The writer of Chronicles says that the decision to do this was a turn of affairs that God brought about. So we have an account of God willing something that He hates.

The best example is Acts 2:23:

"...this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."

Here we see the greatest act of evil and sin of all time and it is according to the definite plan of God, but everyone would agree that crucifying Jesus was against God's clear and revealed command to those of that day. Crucifying him was clear disobedience and sin on their part.

The question that screams out to be answered his why? Why does God will to bring about what He clearly hates and despises? The answer is in relation to His ultimate purpose in all things--the glory of His Name.

2 Timothy 2:9 says,

"...who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began..."

God gave to His people, those whom Christ came to redeem, grace in Jesus Christ before the beginning of this world. God had in his mind before this world began a purpose. That purpose involved pouring out grace to sinners in Jesus Christ. God purposed from before the ages began to pour out his grace on sinners through Jesus Christ--through His death and resurrection. He freely and lovingly did this to make Himself (His glory) known for this people and not only known, but enjoyed forever and ever. God ordained that this world be with all its evil and suffering so that there could be a world in which the greatest act of evil and suffering could be played out--the crucifixion of the Son of God for sinners, through which the glory of God could be seen and savored in the greatest possible way for His people forever and ever.

Jonathan Edwards put it this way...

It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God's glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent, that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all.

Thus it is necessary, that God's awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God's glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.

If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God's holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God's grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. How much happiness soever he bestowed, his goodness would not be so much prized and admired. . . .

So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature's happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect.'


Reflections From AWANA Awards Night

On Wednesday evening this week, we wrapped up another year of our AWANA ministry. What a joy it was to see all of those young people receiving their rewards and recognition for working so hard to memorize the Word of God! (As a Dad is was especially rewarding to see Annika beginning to speak the Word of God from memory)

It was also a time to recognize and thank all of our workers who have labored so faithfully for yet another year in serving these young people in the area of helping them to memorize the Scripture. At the end of the awards night, we gave an impassioned plea to parents and church members to begin thinking about serving for next year's AWANA ministry. But there is a plea that must go out and must be answered if our AWANA ministry is to be as fruitful as it could be.

That plea is for our people who are serving on Wednesday nights in AWANA and those who have very understandable reasons why they cannot to be faithfully praying for these children as the Word of God is being placed in their minds. This is so because there is a vast difference in having the Word of God memorized in your mind and rooted in your heart. The difference is a difference that only the Holy Spirit of God can make. Therefore, there is an urgent need for us as the church to be praying for these children throughout AWANA that the Holy Spirit of God would come and take the Word of God and apply it to the hearts of these children. Pray that God would open their hearts to see Christ in these scriptures and turn from their sin and to Him as Savior.

These three must not be separated: Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will use the Scripture to change the hearts of these young people for all of eternity.

Whetting Your Appetite

I just finished reading Stop Dating the Church: Fall In Love With the Family of God by Joshua Harris. Here are a "few" excerpts that I hope will send you running to purchase and read the book, but more than that my prayer is that as a follower of Christ you would stop dating the church if that has been your practice and instead become married to the church.

We build our lives around priorities. Building your life around the church means making it the kind of priority that secondary concerns flow around, not over. Unfortunately for some, concerns like the Sunday football game, hunting season, skiing, sleeping in, or enjoying beautiful weather are concerns that run over their involvement in the church.

Membership in the church must not be spectatorship.

Harris quotes Spurgeon,

Do not go where it is all fine music and grand talk and beautiful architecture; those things will neither fill anybody's stomach, nor feed his soul. Go where the gospel is preached, the gospel that really feeds your soul, and go often.

Commenting on questions to ask of potential churches to join, Harris lists number nine as, "Is this a church that is willing to kick me out? He then follows up with this remark,

Why should you be excited about the potential of being expelled from a church? I gain a wonderful sense of protection in knowing that if I committed a scandalous sin and showed no repentance, my church wouldn't put up with it. They would plead with me to change. They would patiently confront me with God's Word. And eventually, if I refused to change, they would lovingly kick me out."

Speaking of the importance of listening well during the teaching and preaching of the church worship time, Harris recounts wise counsel from C.J. Mahaney:

I will be held accountable for what I have heard regardless of whether it moved me emotionally. God's truth is God's truth. It doesn't matter if it was delivered with pizzazz or introduced with a tearjerker illustration. If I have heard God's truth, than I am called to obey it. Period.

Get the book and live what it teaches.

Church: Welcome and Unwelcomed Change

I have been listening to the messages from last year's Gospel Growth vs. Church Growth conference. In one message by Phillip Jensen, of Matthias Media, is entitled, A Fresh Understanding of Church. In it he "redefines" the church for our contemporary culture and even for our contemporary church culture. He began by making the observation that we begin training people at a very early age with an incorrect definition of the church.

When a little child is riding in the car with his parents and passes a building and asks the question of his parents, "What's that building?" his parents answer, "That's a church." With those simple words a dangerous misconception of the church is planted and unfortunately it gets watered and watered and grows deeper and deeper as the child gets older.

Jensen makes the point that what we define as the church is very far from what we see the church as in Scripture and what the Church will be for eternity. The Church is the called out people of God gathered together before the Lord and His Word to worship Him.

He continues on and makes an interesting connection between a wrong definition of the church and its connection to church growth.

When you don't understand what the church is, you can do anything to make it grow.

Concerning change in the church when "the church" is incorrectly defined, Jensen comments on two categories of change. Paraphrasing his comments, he says that there is one change you can make in the church that no one will complain about, except the elect. That change is shorter readings of the Scripture or no reading of the Scripture at all. However, in most churches change the music or the style of dress or the furniture or the color of the carpet and the complaints are many.

It all stems from that misconception of the church that begins to be ingrained in our minds at an early age.


Church Growth: Quality or Quantity

Mark Dever, in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, makes the following comment:

"A healthy church has a pervasive concern with church growth--not simply growing in numbers but growing members. A church full of growing Christians is the kind of church growth I want as a pastor. Some today seem to think that one can be a "baby Christian" for a whole lifetime. Growth is seen to be an optional extra for particularly zealous disciples. But be very careful about taking that line of thought. Growth is a sign of life. Growing trees are living trees, and growing animals are living animals. When something stops growing it dies.

"Growth may not mean that you negotiate this rapid in half the time you negotiated the last; it may simply mean that you are able to continue in the right direction as a Christian, regardless of the adverse circumstances. Remember, it is only the things that are alive that swim upstream; the dead things all float along with the current."

I want to focus on one phrase/statement in that comment. "A healthy church has a pervasive concern with church growth--not simply growing in numbers but growing members." I do not want to minimize the importance of growing in numbers because we should be doing all we can do to grow our churches with more sinners who have come to faith in Jesus Christ. That numerical growth, however, is still out of our hands. We cannot "make it happen," but rather we must faithfully speak the gospel and live out its implications, trusting God to grow His Church numerically in His time and way through His Spirit and His Gospel.

I do however, want to maximize the importance of growing members--of equipping the saints to do the work of ministry; of growing in the likeness of Jesus Christ. This too is something that is ultimately God's work that He accomplishes through His Word--consumed in private by the believer and proclaimed in public by the pastor.

As a pastor, I want to maximize the importance of shepherding the sheep--of feeding them the Word of God with the prayer that we as the Church will be growing as members more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. A neglect in this essential, if not primary responsiblity of pastors, may be one contributing factor to the current state of our churches. Pastors have focused so much time and energy into numerical growth at the expense of spiritual growth. What pastors fail to realize is that if we neglect spiritual growth in an attempt to grow numerically we end up with a decline in both eventually.

How so? If a pastor has not done the hard work of discipling/teaching the sheep, what kind of Church will a new convert come into? If it is true that more "members" then we would like to admit are more than likely not true followers of Christ, what kind of "Church" will a new believer walk into? He will walk into a church that may give the appearance of godliness without true godliness. He will walk into a church that on the surface seems "Christian" but once you scratch past the first coat of paint, he will find that the people are just like the rest of the world with the same priorities and values. What will he or she eventually do? Probably leave and over time the "members" will decrease more and more because their lives are not rooted in the Gospel and so they fall away because of persecution or the cares and concerns of the world.

Generally, the bulk of the blame is to be laid at the feet of pastors who do not take the time or do the work to invest in the sheep spiritually; to work hard at teaching and preaching with the hope and prayer of growing together as a church that thinks, looks, and feels different from the world because our lives are rooted in the Gospel.

Pastors, preach the Word. Be faithful to the Gospel. Give the Scriptures to your people week in and week out. Take the time to find out if your "members" are believers. Work hard at being an instrument of God for the spiritual growth of the church and see if the Lord will not add to your number day by day those who are being saved. God, keep this pastor from sacrificing the growth of members for the growth of numbers.


Blogs, Exposing Secrets & Sanctification

Nathan Finn has written an excellent post on the impact technology such as blogs has/is having on the exposing of secrets. You can read the entire post here entitled, Attention Southern Baptists: There Are No More Secrets.

Nathan concludes the post with these insightful words:

The point is, whether helpful, unhelpful, or likely both, blogs have undermined (though not eliminated) the Group’s ability to work behind the scenes to influence the direction of the convention. There are almost no secrets anymore. The world always finds out, and if it hasn’t happened yet, trust me, it will. This should offer a word of warning to anyone who is in a high-profile position within the convention. (The same warning could be applied to pastors of local churches.) People are always watching. They are always listening. Every misspoken word will be recorded. Every fleshly moment will be found out. Every secret decision will come to light. Every hidden sin will be discovered. Every closed-door debate will be let out into the open. In some of these cases, it will be a bad thing when the cat is let out of the bag; it is a fact that not every secret is nefarious and not every closed-door debate is insidious. But sometimes it will be a good thing, if for no other reason than then ongoining sanctification of the one who must now be careful concerning what he says and does behind closed doors. Because all of the doors are now made of glass.

So watch your life, your doctrine, and your email exchanges–somebody is always watching. And even if some secrets manage to slide pass the blogo-police who are always on patrol, remember that there is One who sees all, and pleasing Him is infinitely more important than maintaining whatever meager amount of influence any of us may presume to wield in the Southern Baptist Convention. May the very presence of blogs remind us to allow God’s Word to shine its gospel spotlight into the deepest recesses of each of our hearts, exposing our sin, convicting us of our transgressions, and conforming us to the image of the One who gave his life for us.

The word for followers of Christ in regards to sanctification is this: Make sure that what you say in private, if shared in person or in public will be honoring to Christ and the glory of God.


Me and Timothy: Separated From Birth?

I was listening to a few excerpts from sermons by Alistair Begg and found one very comical. Holly was listening with me and made the comment, "Is he talking about you or Timothy?" He was making the point that Timothy would have been the last man most search committees would choose because he did not fit the contemporary "mold" of a pastor or preacher. Timothy was young, shy, and had stomach problems.

I'm young, not the best in crowds, and have had my share of stomach problems. But, like Timothy, God chooses the weak and foolish things of the world to show His strength and His wisdom. Don't be anyone but who God made you to be. To be sure, work on your weaknesses and strive to improve in those areas for the glory of God.

However, don't look at what some would call "weaknesses" without remembering that God made you with those personality traits or physical limitations and did so for the purpose of exalting His strength, power, and wisdom through your life for the glory of His name.

You can watch/listen to the whole excerpt below.

There are also two other excellent words of counsel concerning preachers/pastors, preaching, and the sufficiency of the Word of God here and here.


Promoting Unity Pastorally

Two weeks ago, I had the joy of preaching Ephesians 4:1-6 as we are making our way through Ephesians. The passage deals with the church living in such a way that it properly reflects the calling of the gospel--the unity that God has brought through the gospel between God and man as well as man and man. One of the points I made is that we, as the church, must distinguish between that which is central to our faith and that which is marginal. Then we must be unified around that which is central, but be willing to lovingly disagree on that which is marginal--all for the sake of the Gospel and the glory of God.

Josh Harris (link to his blog is in the list of blogs I read), now pastor of Covenant Life Church in Maryland, but probably best known as the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, recently gave a very helpful word on gospel unity and humility in the church in the midst of issues that are not central to the gospel and perfectly ok to disagree upon. I thought I would share it. It challenged, encouraged, and built me up as a believer and I pray it will you as well.


Where Do You Put the Cookies?

I have heard it said many times in the context of advice being given to pastors, with well-meaning and godly intentions, "Take the cookies down from the top shelf and put them where everyone can get to them." The meaning being to make sure that you preach in such a way that everyone can understand it and it's easy and simple.

Unfortunately that advice, though given with the best intentions, has gone to the extreme to where much of what is claimed to be preaching in churches has been stripped of doctrine and is all easy, simple, "how to" messages that everyone can understand and everyone is comfortable hearing.

I have some hang ups about that advice. I can never preach in such a way that everyone understands it and everyone is comfortable with what I preach because not everyone to whom I preach is a believer. If the heart has not been changed and God's Spirit has not awakened the sinner to the glorious truth of the Gospel and all of God's Word then it does not matter how easy I try to make it, they will never get it. And in my attempt to make it "easy" and "clear" I will tend to ignore and neglect key and essential teachings of Scripture because it may be too difficult or too hard to understand.

If you read through 1 Thessalonians you find that Paul addressed some pretty "hard" concepts to these new believers. He discussed everything from God's choice in election to sanctification to the Second Coming of the Lord. I think Paul had the right idea and that is not to say that we as pastors should ever intentionally use big words to impress or sound superior. God, guard us from that and may we be quick to repent when we do so in our pride. We need to always be faithful in laboring in the Word and working hard to explain and teach it to the people God has called us to shepherd. That is the primary element of the calling and responsibility of a pastor.

But I think Paul had it right and I think his answer to the question, "Where do you put the cookies?" would maybe be something along the lines of, "Leave the cookies where God placed them and trust and expect God to grow people taller through His Holy Spirit where they can reach them, open the jar, take the cookie out, and consume it with great delight!"

Pastors, "Leave the cookies alone."

Pastors & Churches: Listen & Do Likewise

How do you grow a church? You and I don't. Christ does. But for the sake of this discussion that is a question that is frequently asked in the arena of church growth. It has been rightly said that "what you get them with is what you keep them with." Therefore if you get people to come to your church because of a great praise team or great music, then you must keep them with the same. If you get people to come to church with a great children's ministry then you must keep them with a great children's ministry. If you get them with a great personality behind the pulpit, then you must keep them with a great personality behind the pulpit. If you get them with the gospel, then you keep them with the gospel.

Thabiti Anyabwile has recently written a post on his blog that should be mandatory reading for every pastor and every church member everywhere. Stop reading this blog and read the entire post on his blog right now entitled, "Be Careful How You Build: A Plea For Boring Preaching."

In case you do not do that here are a few excerpts that hopefully will change your mind about reading the entire post and about the issue of which he is addressing. Thabiti mentions that the danger of building a church on an exagerrated personality are two-fold:

First, it traps the preacher in the entertainment expectations of so many churchgoers. If we entertain rather than edify, we're not far from becoming the little monkey in the red suit that does tricks on the street corner for his owner. And it's awfully difficult to escape that arrangement once you start building the pulpit on an exaggerated personality like that.

The second danger of building on personality is the congregation gets very accustomed to two things: feeling as the end of worship and lazy listening as the means of worship. If we entertain people rather than instruct and edify, we will create a body of people who want the fleeting feelings of a moment rather than the meat of the word. They will want a glitzy god rather than the glorious God of Scripture. They will not think they have "worshipped" or served God until they have felt something or been moved in some way. That's emotionalism, not genuine emotion that comes from the truth.

And a congregation accustomed to being entertained will be a spiritually lazy congregation. Entertainment increasingly puts the cookies on the bottom shelf (actually the floor). It makes everything easy to reach, requires little/nothing of the one entertained, and encourages comfort and ease. In short, today's entertainment generally makes people lazy. The same is true in a church if entertainment is the dominant philosophy. People are not made into Bereans, searching the Scripture to verify the truth. They're reduced to blank-faced popcorn and goober eating moviegoers, taking in whatever glimmers on the silver screen. Except the silver screen is increasingly the church service.

Well, I've just about reprinted the whole post. I couldn't resist--it's just that good. I might as well conclude with the the plea Thabiti gives,

So here's a plea. Please, please Lord build your church on "boring" preaching and "regular" personalities owned and fired by your Holy Spirit, so that your people will find excitement and emotion that comes from the truth and their affections will rest on You rather than the earthen vessel that proclaims your Name.

And please, please brothers, let us be "weak" in the pulpit that Christ might be seen as strong. Let us preach in the personality the Lord gave us, only careful not to build the church on it.


Respect: Earned or Freely Given?

Many times growing up I have heard this statement and I imagine you have as well: "Respect is earned, not given." The meaning being that respect is something that is accumulated and deserved over time and not something that you extend to another person freely regardless of time known or regardless of possible wrongs done.

But that mindset seems to be an unbiblical one and just the opposite of what the Scripture commands for everyone, but especially those whose hearts have been changed by Jesus Christ.

For example Genesis 9:6 reads,

"Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image."

There is an intrinsic amount of respect that we owe, not which is earned, all people as human beings who are all made in the image of God.

Leviticus 19:3 says,

"Everyone of you shall revere (respect) his father and mother."

Children do not wait for their parents to earn their respect, they are commanded by God to give it freely.

Ephesians 6:5 says,

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear (respect) and trembling, with a sincere heart..."

Again, workers do not wait for their bosses to earn respect, they are commanded to freely give it.

Ephesians 5:33 says,

"However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

1 Peter 3:7,

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor respect) to the woman..."

No one begins or survives a marriage by waiting for their spouse to earn their respect. Scripture commands us to freely give it to each other.

Luke 6:31,

"And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."

If I want others to give me respect, then I must freely give it to them long before they have earned it.

So, the next time you hear the comment, "Respect is earned, not given," remember the person does not believe this "because the Bible tells them so" because the Bible says exactly the opposite. As humans and especially as followers of Christ, we freely give respect to others: non-believers, our bosses, our employees, our spouses, fellow believers, etc.,

The reason our default mindset on this issue is one that respect is earned, not given is because that's just how our sinful nature operates. That mindset is one of pride and a sinful focus on self and not the other person. I am thankful that Christ has redeemed me from all sin, including this unbiblical mindset and everytime I mess up and revert back to this unbiblical thinking, He is faithful to forgive me again and again.

Let's lovingly show some respect whether it is earned or not and do so for the glory of God.

Pastor: Don't Confuse Your Responsibility Wih God's

Earlier this week, God tugged at my heart a little bit with a reminder to not get my responsibility as a pastor confused with His responsiblity and promise as God. The Lord told Peter two very important truths that this pastor and every pastor needs to remember.

First, he told Peter that He would build His Church.

Matthew 16:18:

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build the church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Second, he told Peter (three times) to feed His sheep.

John 21:15:

"Feed my lambs."

It is tempting for a pastor in an attempt to achieve the growth of the church to forsake feeding the church. And so in his attempt to "grow the church" he neglects the most important means of growing the church--feeding them a steady, meaty, diet of the Word of God.

Christ has promised to build/grow His church. That is his responsiblity. The task he has given to me and all other pastors is to faithfully and lovingly feed the sheep. The moment a pastor confuses the two (God's responsibility and his) is the moment, whether immediately noticed or not, that the health and growth of the church both begin to suffer.

John MacArthur has said very wisely that from the beginning of his ministry he determined to focus on the depth of his ministry and let God take care of the breadth of his ministry.

God, help me to hear and follow that wise counsel, but more than that to follow and trust the truth of Your Word.

"Modesty: A Pastor's Concern"

C.J. Mahaney recently wrote a chapter for the forthcoming book, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. The chapter he authored deals with modesty. Below is an excerpt or two from the 4th of a 7 part post that includes excerpts from the book. You can go here to read the entire post and the previous posts as well.

In this post (excerpt) C.J. gives two testimonies from two young people concerning this battle in the believer's life around the discipline of modesty. One is from the perspective of a young man and the struggles he faces and the other is from a young woman and her realization of the responsibility she has in the lives of her brothers in Christ. If you have a teenager (or are an adult for that matter) you would do well to pass this along and we all would do well to heed the counsel here.

The young man writes,

The one place I might think I wouldn’t have to face as much temptation is at church. But this is not always the case. When ladies I’m friends with dress immodestly, it definitely has a negative effect on our friendship. When she dresses immodestly, it doesn’t make it easy to see her as a sister in Christ. There’s a constant battle going on as I’m interacting with her. Communication becomes more difficult, but I’m also trying to fight temptation.

I also think that some ladies aren’t aware that even the little things can distract guys a lot — showing even a little part of their stomach, wearing a bag that has a strap that goes between their breasts, etc.

I’m so grateful for the friendships God has given me over the last year and a half and for the godly ladies in my small group. I’m so appreciative of the sacrifice that these ladies make to glorify God and to serve and care for the guys.

I heard a story of one of the ladies in our small group who went shopping and really liked a shirt she was trying on. But then she thought, "No, I can’t do this to the guys." That was the first time I had ever heard of anything like that, and it made me so grateful. It is such a blessing to have friends who care for me enough to be selfless and to sacrifice what might look attractive in order to help me and other guys with
sexual lust.

When ladies dress modestly, it’s attractive and it makes me want to hang out with them. I think modesty is so attractive and helpful in friendships; it makes it easier for a friendship to be centered around God and for fellowship to be unhindered.

A young woman then writes,

I had a vague idea that guys were more affected by sight than girls were. But I never realized how pervasive the temptation was. . . . Now, knowing a little bit of what guys go through every day, I have an ardent desire to serve my brothers in Christ. I want to make the church a haven for them.

Thanks to my parents’ oversight, I don’t think my wardrobe is immodest. But I can often spend too much time critiquing my outfit, trying to figure out how I can work with what I have to get guys’ attention. After your message, I no longer have the desire to dress immodestly— rather, my concern is to protect the guys and help them in their walk with God. I don’t want my clothes or behavior to distract them from focusing on God.

Why Should a Pastor Blog?

I fought this blog wave for quite some time because I really did not see the use in it and thought it would just be a colossal waste of time. I finally "bit the bullet" and plunged into the blogosphere a few months ago. I am glad I did. When I go a week (or more sometimes) without blogging I find that there is so much that has happened or that God has shown me that I want to share and communicate to the one or two of you who read this.

I recently ran across a blog post from Abraham Piper on 6 Reasons Pastors Should Blog. I would encourage you to read the entire post, but the six reasons he gives are as follows. I include the entire excerpt from the sixth reason because it is probably the most important of the sixth at least to this pastor. Enjoy!

Pastors should blog...

1. ...to write.
2.... to teach.
3...to recommend.
4....to interact.
5....to develop an eye for what is meaningful.
6....to be known.

This is where I see the greatest advantage for blogging pastors.

Your people hear you teach a lot; it’s probably the main way that most of them know you. You preach on Sundays, teach on Wednesdays, give messages at weddings, funerals, youth events, retreats, etc.

This is good—it’s your job. But it’s not all you are. Not that you need to be told this, but you are far more than your ideas. Ideas are a crucial part of your identity, but still just a part.

You’re a husband and a father. You’re some people’s friend and other people’s enemy. Maybe you love the Nittany Lions (Red Sox). Maybe you hate fruity salad (chocolate). Maybe you struggle to pray. Maybe listening to the kids’ choir last weekend was—to your surprise—the most moving worship experience you’ve ever had.

These are the things that make you the man that leads your church. They’re the windows into your personality that perhaps stay shuttered when you’re teaching the Bible. Sometimes your people need to look in—not all the way in, and not into every room—but your people need some access to you as a person. A blog is one way to help them.

You can’t be everybody’s friend, and keeping a blog is not a way of pretending that you can. It’s simply a way for your people to know you as a human being, even if you can’t know them back. This is valuable, not because you’re so extraordinary, but because leadership is more than the words you say. If you practice the kind of holiness that your people expect of you, then your life itself opened before them is good leadership—even when you fail.