Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

Discerning Repentance

One’s attitude does not produce discernment, like sadness can’t diagnose disease. On the other hand, the right attitude should be one of the results of discernment, like an accurate diagnosis may cause sorrow. As always, discernment flourishes only when energized by the light of doctrine.

Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological.

Quoted from John Piper’s post, Test Revival with Doctrine.

Categories
Lies Teens Believe

A Vision for Young People

Here’s a great start to a new series on a gospel vision for the rising generation of young people. From someone who’s in the thick of parenting and pastoring youth:

living for the glory of Christ is not on hold until you are eighteen or twenty-one. There is a way for six-year-olds to make much of Christ and a way for ten-year-olds to make much of Christ and a way for sixteen-year-olds to make much of Christ. And there is a way for parents and church leaders and all of us to create a matrix of relationships and teachings and expectations and blessings that awaken young people from the emptiness and aimlessness of our popular youth culture and give them a vision for Christ-exalting significance throughout their pre-teen and teen years.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

Putting Wounded Egos Out of Their Misery

Pride is bad. What’s more, pride is sickeningly ugly. It is a frightful thing to find in the mirror and a hideous thing to see in someone else. It introduces itself in inopportune situations. It is no respecter of persons. It is enough to damn a man to everlasting wrath.

Pride also takes assorted shapes and sizes though some displays of pride are more familiar and others are often unexplored. The following quotes are from What Jesus Demands from the World and they expose two standard sorts of self-admiration with surgical accuracy.

Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering. Boasting says, “I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.” Self-pity says, “I deserve admiration because I have sacrificed so much.” …The reason self-pity does not look like pride is that it appears to be needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego, and the desire is not really for others to see them as helpless but as heroes. The need that self-pity feels does not come from a sense of unworthiness but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride.

And then just a little down the page,

A person can seem to feel unworthy by constantly depreciating himself in public, but all the while feel angry that others do not recognize this as a virtue. (p.126)

I have been both of those proud people and battle against them today by the Spirit and truth. I also know both types of proud people and struggle for them by prayer, preaching, and patience. But let us not be proud. If we boast, let it be in the Lord. If we pity, let it be those kept from salvation by their pride. If we are angry, let it be toward the flesh that blinds us to how unworthy we really are. And if our ego is wounded, let us put it out of its misery by putting it to death.

Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

The Gospel in Six Minutes

This video of The Gospel in 6 Minutes is a terrific asset for both evangelism and edification. I benefited from it so much I added it to the one28 – About page.

Categories
He Will Build His Church

Leaders of the Flock – What?

Yesterday we took a brief look at some of the implications of who New Testament shepherds are and where they do their work. Today I’d like to quickly consider one distinctive of what biblical leaders do.

Shepherds in the church have a distinct kind of work–it is spiritual, eternal work. Leading the church is not the same as managing a business, coaching a team, building a network of friendships, or securing good public relations with the community. But today’s Christian leaders seem more familiar with these temporal objectives.

I keep re-reading Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper. Some of his beginning thoughts summarize this idea about the spiritual nature of shepherding. Think about these few quotes:

The political and religious atmosphere of the world pushes us–if we have ears to hear–relentlessly toward the unprofessional center of faith and ministry: the brutal, bloody, hideous, heaving, crucified God-Man Jesus Christ. We are driven more and more in these years to say with the apostle Paul, ‘I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified….Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world’ (1 Cor. 2:2; Gal. 6:14). (p. ix)

Insulated Western Christianity is waking from the dreamworld that being a Christian is normal or safe. More and more, true Christianity is becoming what it was at the beginning: foolish and dangerous. ‘We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles’ (1 Cor. 1:23). (p. ix)

the center of Christianity and the center of pastoral ministry is the dishonorable, foolish, gruesome, and utterly glorious reality of the tortured God-Man, Jesus Christ More and more, He must become the issue. Not a vague, comfortable, pleasant Jesus that everybody likes but the one who is a ‘stumbling block’ to Jews and ‘foolishness’ to Gentiles. The closer you get to what makes Christianity ghastly, the closer you get to what makes it glorious. (p. xi)

The aims of our ministry are eternal and spiritual. They are not shared by any of the professions….We are most emphatically not a part of a social team sharing goals other professionals. Our goals are an offense; they are foolishness (1 Cor. 1:23).” The love of popularity and acceptance “kills a man’s belief that he is sent by God to save people from hell and to make them Christ-exalting, spiritual aliens in the world (p. 3).

This is what I don’t get about typical youth ministries, many churches, and certainly most parachurch groups. I don’t get how games and fun and entertainment and comfort and self-esteem and popularity and status are consistent with the biblical picture of Christianity which includes dying to self, living as exiles on the earth, abstaining from passions of the flesh, killing love for things of the world, and thinking it gain to die.

And I believe it is a slippery slope when we begin borrowing organizational structures from the world for our Christian organizations. Positions such as (parachurch) “ministry presidents,” “C.E.O.s,” or men with other similar titles are not equal to the leaders of the body of Christ. The church is not a corporation with a board of trustees and committees and executives that carry out memorandums. These other terms apply more to corporations and businesses rather than the organism of the Body. Leaders of the flock are not equivalent to professionals.

And not only must we be careful with our titles, we must be careful about our goals. Our goals are not marketing goals. Our aim is not to sell a product, increase our market-base, promote our company, etc. Our mission is not to make buddies and make everybody happy and win the game. We do not judge our success by numbers and respect and position.

Instead, our purpose is to “present every man mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). Our emphasis is on commitment, not success. Our expectation is to receive no greater treatment than they gave our Master (Matthew 10:24-26). Our priority is on the unseen, eternal things and not the visible, transient things (2 Corinthians 4:18).

We will not win the world by becoming like the world. We should stop thinking that is what will happen. And we should stop thinking that is what God’s leaders do.