Month: December 2014

How to be a Virtuous Leader in the Church

Photo Credit: Diane Kashin

Photo Credit: Diane Kashin

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed (1 Peter 5:1).”

Elders are men called by God to be overseers. They are known for their prayer life (1 Tim. 2:8), modeling Christ-like service (1 Pet. 5:2), and responsibilities in the homes and workplace (1 Tim. 3:4-7).

Peter, a fellow elder, best exemplified this position. He did not brag about his apostleship or title, but was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He says, “I appeal” as a “fellow” elder. In other words, “I can relate to you–we are on equal playing fields.” Peter was a humble boss who did his best to encourage others around him.

Don’t you enjoy working for bosses like Peter? They make you feel important. I had a boss when I was younger who was very approachable, passionate, humble, caring, and honest. If I wanted a day off work, I could just ask him in person and he would say, “Of course you can. Just make sure to sign off.” He had that vive that made you proud to work hard for him and you knew he had your back. It was a win-win situation because He respected his workers and they would do anything to help this boss succeed in his business.

Peter describes the marks for being a good “boss” “leader” or “elder” in the church. A good leader does not pursue dishonest gain, enjoys serving others, and does not Lord his power. So then, if you want to be a good leader, the Apostle Peter says to be honest, serve, and practice humility for the glory of God. Are you ready to be a leader today? What are you waiting for? Today is your day of opportunity.

The Art of Humility

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble .” – 1 Peter 5:5

I can resonate with this verse. Almost a decade ago, I was a pastoral intern for a well known church in Louisville, Kentucky. The pastor invited me to a conference with some well-known Southern Baptist leaders. I thought I was big stuff.

When I got to the conference, I noticed my pastor was talking to one of my favorite preachers, brother Mark. I was nervous to go and talk but I decided to do so anyways. As I was standing around the circle, Pastor Mark looks at me and asks, “So, what do you do?” I thought to myself, “What should I say?” I anxiously but confidently blurted out, “I intern for Pastor Ryan and exegete his sermons.”

My first mistake was to use a word I didn’t know much about. Since I was a first year seminary student, exegete sounded academic and smart, but it wasn’t used in the proper context. Pastor Mark sarcastically responded, “Oh, so you basically do the sermons for him. Well, maybe you should just preach for him instead, and while your at it, go ahead and exegete my sermons too.” Ouch. He put me in my place. But, it might have been something I needed. God humbled me that day. Anyone ever experience an embarrassing situation where God humbled you? I am sure I am not the only one.   

In this passage, Peter is talking about practicing humility and rejecting pride. He begins with a metaphor, “Clothe yourselves with humility.” Why do you think Peter uses this metaphor?” I believe Peter is referring to the Fall of Man. it was pride that caused the need for man’s clothing, correct? In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve refused to listen to God’s commands and ate the forbidden fruit. Their downfall was a result of pride, and it led them to become ashamed of their nakedness.

This is a powerful reference because it reminds us of the original badge of man’s sin and blame. It shows us the destruction of pride and how it can lead to guilt, shame, remorse, and regret. On the flip side, it points to God’s love and care. He provided us with His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our robe of righteousness. When we come to Christ as broken sinners, He exchanges our sin nature for His righteousness, according to 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He became sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

So then, how does one practice a life of humility? The first step is to ask Christ to change your heart, mind, and will. See, my friend, we have a heart issue. Our nature is to be proud and self-confident. The only way to get to the root of the matter is to have God give us a new heart. Allow God to take out your heart of flesh and give you a new heart and fill you with His Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:26). When you do that, you will be on your way to mastering the art of humility. If you want to know more about how to establish a relationship with God, please go here.

The Shelter of God’s Salvation

shelter-in-the-storm

Photo Credit – TheRambler

The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom should I be afraid? -Psalms 27:1-2

We depend on a lot of things to get us through our daily lives. A couple of months ago, I was driving to a local college and hit a huge pot hole. I didn’t realize it at the time, but air was slowly leaking. I continued to drive on it back home and the next day I got in my car to drive to work and my tire was flat. Good thing I had a second car.

Psalm 27 reminds us that the one we ultimately depend on is God himself. We can rest in his salvation because we receive strength and guidance from him. As this Scripture states, God is our light, salvation, and stronghold. The light represents God’s guidance and direction in David’s life as he was fleeing from Absalom to Jerusalem. Salvation helps us realize that only Christ  can offer forgiveness from sin and restore our relationship back with God. The stronghold proves that God can be trusted. He provided security to King David numerous times, and He can do the same for you.

God’s presence in David’s life meant something else was removed. Fear. Fear can come in the form of finances, relationship problems, or spiritual separation. The light that God provides is His salvation. It eliminates the fear and is the erason we can trust because it is a person and not just a thing. He’s not a treasure chest where he keeps life, love, and forgiveness. Rather, He is the salvation and light that we need. How does the confidence in your salvation affect how you face the dangers of life?

Are you going to Heaven or Hell?

heaven-or-hell

ABC news conducted a telephone survey in 2005 to over 1,000 adults. Of those who considered themselves “evangelical Protestants,” 94% believed they were going to heaven. A separate study was conducted, and found that less than 4% of people believed they were going to Hell.

Interestingly, these statistics are opposite of what the Bible teaches. Jesus said broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter into it, and narrow is the way that leads to life and only a few people ever find it. In Matthew 7:22, Jesus said that not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will never the kingdom of Heaven. Many will say to Jesus on that day, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons and perform many miracles? And then Jesus will declare to them, “I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice unrighteousness.”

Think about how seemingly spiritual people can be and still not make it to heaven. They called Jesus Lord, they prophesied, casted out demons, and did many wonders in his name. These people look more spiritual than the average churchgoer, and yet they will be rejected by the one they call “Lord” to eternal damnation.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself: Are you trying to scare me into heaven? Is this the type of message that is unloving and unkind? People say, “You shouldn’t scare people into heaven.” But think about it. Why not? We are scared into all kinds of things.

Recently, I was watching a commercial on Television. A teenage girl was driving with three of her friends. They were all laughing and having a good time. As they were stopped at a 2-way intersection, the driver got distracted and started text messaging. She didn’t realize her feet went off the pedal. Her car was in the middle of the road, and by the time the driver reacted, a truck smashed into the car. All you hear is glass shatter and then silence. Then the message comes on the screen, “Don’t text message and drive.”

Was that effective? Absolutely. For me it was. This healthy fear might make me think twice about text messaging and driving at the same time. How much more should we fear being lost in Hell forever, separated from the grace, mercy, and love of God? A Hell that is a place of eternal, conscious torment. Psalm 111 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Jesus told us in Matthew, “Do not fear the one who can only kill the body. Rather, fear God, who has the power to kill both body and soul in Hell.”

Of course, as we grow in grace, our motivation will less and less be the fear of Hell and more and more of the sheer love of God. But don’t forget that sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation, this stirring of conscience, is a gift of God and a prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Have you put your trust in Jesus? Are you certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven? If you want to learn more about how to have a relationship with God, please click here. Don’t wait until it’s too late. God bless and have a wonderful day.

Bless And Love Your Enemies Like Jesus Did

grace

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9-10).”

Warren Wiersbe, an American Pastor, once said: “As Christians we can live on one of three levels. We can return evil for good, which is the satanic level. We can return good for good and evil for evil, which is the human level. Or, we can return good for evil, which is the divine level. Jesus is the perfect example of this latter approach.”

How true! Jesus called us to radically love our enemies, not to take revenge. We should return positive good deeds for evil ones. Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will inherit the Kingdom of God.” Moreover, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthian believers to bless those who curse you and answer kindly to those who slander you (1 Cor. 4:12-13). This type of radical love is foreign to the world today.

In the Grace of Giving, the author, Stephen Olford, tells of a Baptist Pastor, Peter Miller, who lived in Pennsylvania during the American Revolution (1765-1783). He was good friends with George Washington and often visited him. In Miller’s place of residence lived a man named Michael Wittman. He was a bully and wicked minded man who would oppose and slander Pastor Miller daily.

One day, Mr. Wittman was accused of treason by the American government and sentenced to die. Pastor Miller heard about this and traveled seventy miles on foot to Philadelphia to defend this traitor in front of General George Washington. “No, Pastor Miller, I can’t grant you the life of your friend.” “My friend!” exclaimed the preacher. “He’s the bitterest enemy I have.” “What?” cried Washington. “You’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I will grant your pardon.” And he did. Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home–no longer an enemy but a friend.

When we bless those who curse us, we are demonstrating the love of God to the world. We are also admitting that grace was once given to us. There was a time when we were cut off and separated from God. Despite our former, rebellious hearts, Jesus decided to forgive us, so we should forgive others.

As Christians, never forget where you came from, lost and without any hope. Instead, be eager to share this hope with others. Ask yourself: Do you have any enemies at this moment? Are you storing up bitterness inside? Have you attempted to reconcile yourself to this person? As Christians, it’s our duty to seek reconciliation and peace. Please do this today before it’s too late.

Having a Unity of Mind for Spiritual Growth

unity

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble (1 Peter 3:8).”

When I was in college, I swam for the University of Indianapolis. Our opponents pejoratively called us the “international team” and accused us of recruiting illegal immigrants. I think they were jealous because our team, full of diversity, would win by a large margin at our swim meets.

It’s true that our swim team was culturally diverse. We had Greek Cypriots, Turkish men and women, Canadians, and a man from Israel. The different languages, cultures, and religious beliefs can produce tension. For instance, there was a fight between a practicing Muslim and Jew because one accidently kicked the other in practice. The coach immediately took care of the situation, kicking both of them out of practice.

This was the only conflict I recall in the three years I was on the team–other than that, our group not only cooperated but became best friends. Why? We had the same passions, goals, interests, and dreams. Our desire to work together, win meets, and become successful was contagious. My senior year, our team ranked in the top 15 nationally. We were victorious.

How much more should we cooperate with one another as believers in Christ? We are not only after the same goal, but we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are united by the spirit of God. Neither life nor death can take away our relationship with God and the church family.

Do you believe that? Are you living that life today? Are you checking up on your brothers and sisters? Believe me, people are struggling more than you think. This is convicting because oftentimes I am concerned more about my own situation than others. It is my prayer this week that the church recognizes their unique calling to love, help, and motivate the people of God for Jesus’ glory. Amen.