Poetry Saturday—They Stand

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They stand at attention saluting our flag,
or they place a hand over their heart.
They’ve stood together on foreign lands,
each one has done their part.
They’ve defended this nation and some have died
to ensure that you’ve kept your rights.
They’ve watched as their buddies fell to the ground,
and they’ve slept in the jungle some nights.
They’ve crawled in the mud while covered with blood,
our children, our daughters, and sons,
and never, not once did they go on strike,
saying they did not get enough funds.
Many days they have gone without sleep
as they fought for this country we love.
Thousands of them have lost their lives
and went with our God up above.
To us, they are heroes, but to them it’s their job,
they do what needs to be done,
defending this country that we so love,
even down to the last one.
We give them a day to memorialize them,
to honor them for all that they do,
but a year would not be honor enough
for the service they give that is true.
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines,
men and women that are so grand.
They serve this nation of America,
and forever, together they stand. —Barney Fritcher

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Links & Quotes

C.S. Lewis identifies one of the harmful effects of pornography. “For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival.” —C.S. Lewis

“Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship; it is a consequence.” —Eugene Peterson

Dan Reiland has an excellent post for leaders entitled 4 Layers To Gaining Wisdom.

In my personal devotional time, I came across a sobering idea in the book of Amos about God’s love. I am reading through the Bible in Halley’s Study Bible, where I also read this: “The basket of ripe fruit [Amos 8] is another symbol that the sinful kingdom was ripe for ruin. And Amos reiterates the causes: greed, dishonesty, and merciless brutality toward the poor. Over and over, through many images, the Bible makes it plain that there is no possible way to escape the consequences of persistent sin.” —Dr. Henry Halley

The Institute for Creation Research has a powerful post explaining how seafloor spreading matches Creation predictions.

J. Warner Wallace wrote, “The historic development of language and communication prepared the way for the birth of Jesus. God orchestrated this timing, along with the development of roads, postal services and a 200-year period peace within the Roman Empire (known as the Pax Romana) to prepare the world for the arrival of Jesus.”

Our church is taking time on Fridays to fast and pray. Here is a reminder of the expected results that I shared with our church family—

Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Final, Authoritative Word

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

The Final, Authoritative Word

…For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:20).

     It would not be worth our while to speak what Isaiah had spoken if in it there was nothing more than Isaiah’s thought—neither should we care to meditate hour after hour upon the writings of Paul, if there was nothing more than Paul in them. … 

     It is not mine to amend or adapt the gospel. What? Shall we attempt to improve upon what God has revealed? The Infinitely Wise to be corrected by creatures of a day? Is the infallible revelation of the infallible Jehovah to be shaped, moderated, and toned down to the fashions and fancies of the hour? God forgive us if we have ever altered His Word unwittingly. … 

     One Word of God is worth more than libraries of human lore. ‘It is written’ is the great gun which silences all the batteries of man’s thought.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

As Solomon neared the end of his writings in the Book of Ecclesiastes, he made this observation, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (12:12). How true that is. Have you walked through a bookstore lately?! There is no end to the opinions that people want to share with you. 

But there is one thing that all of the books in all of the bookstores and all of the libraries have in common: not one of them is given to us by “the mouth of the Lord.” 

There are certainly many, many books that are saturated in Scripture, but they are still the opinions of man. We need to make sure that everything we read, or every wise person that we listen to, or even every conversation that we have with ourselves are all proven to be true or false based on what God has spoken.

Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would remind us of everything God’s mouth had spoken to us (John 14:26), and that He would guide us into all truth (John 16:13). 

So go ahead and search out wise, godly books and wise, godly counselors. But remember that their word is not the final word—only the words that come from the mouth of the Lord are the authoritative words you should apply to your life.

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A Leader’s Daily Guide

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Sometimes it’s best just to let the Bible speak for itself. 

As Moses was preparing the Israelites for life in the land God has promised them, he had these words for them about their leaders—

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. … When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left…. (Deuteronomy 17:14-15, 18-20) 

A mark of a godly leader is one who uses God’s Word as his daily guide.

This is part 64 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here. 

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Podcast: Forgiveness Frees Your Leadership

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • [0:41] Greg and I talk about what may be the most overlooked leadership builder a leader’s toolbox. 
  • [1:34] What is it about forgiveness that people struggle with?
  • [2:34] How can leaders make forgiveness a core value in their organizations?
  • [3:40] I share a memorable joke about unforgiveness.
  • [5:10] Grudges prohibit followers from freely following because suspicion becomes the dominating factor in the organization.
  • [6:13] Forgiven faults need to be forgotten faults.
  • [6:41] Unforgiveness leads to stunted growth both personally and organizationally.
  • [8:25] Does unforgiveness undermine trust? I shares a painful time I experienced attacks.
  • [10:00] I named my dog as a personal reminder of how to handle difficult people.
  • [10:50] Forgiveness is paramount to servant leadership.
  • [12:58] The Bible calls our hypocritical unforgivers.
  • [13:37] An example of a petty leader’s strategy of unforgiveness.
  • [14:21] Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it takes maturity to do it.
  • [14:46] Both forgiveness and holding grudges are barometers of leadership.
  • [15:22] There is incredible freedom in forgiveness.
  • [16:09] There is a perceived power in holding grudges.
  • [16:38] Forgiveness serves others on our team.
  • [17:06] Forgiveness looks forward to better things.
  • [17:59] The personal experiences that Craig and Greg have had make them well-equipped to work as your coach. Check out our coaching huddles!

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

The Comfort And The Terror Of God’s Love

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The Book of Hosea is a love story. It’s a real story telling a much grander story. 

The real story is between a man named Hosea and his wife Gomer. Sometime after their marriage, Gomer became unfaithful to Hosea and became entrapped to someone like a pimp, because it required a rather large payment from Hosea to redeem her. Gomer was restored to Hosea and they lived together faithfully from that point on. 

The grander story is the relationship between God and His people. God’s faithful love redeemed us, but our sin is like that of a cheating wife who has abandoned her husband for another lover. 

God’s love sounds like this:

  • “Let My tender words woo you back to Me” (2:14) 
  • “I will betroth you to Me forever” (2:19) 
  • “My compassion is aroused toward you” (11:8) 
  • “I will not carry out my fierce anger against your sin” (11:9) 
  • “I will care for you in the wilderness” (13:5) 
  • “I will feed you until you are satisfied” (13:6)

But God’s love also sounds like:

  • “I will block your path with thornbushes” (2:5) 
  • “I will ignore you” (4:6) 
  • “I will hide Myself from you” (5:6) 
  • “My sword will flash in your cities” (11:6) 
  • “I will terrify you like a roaring lion” (11:10) 
  • “I will attack you like a mother bear robbed of her cubs” (13:8)

(Check out all of the above references by clicking here.) 

We love the first list—and, indeed, that’s where God would desire us to stay—but the second list is just as loving. 

The opposite of love is not hate, but the opposite of love is apathy. 

God loves us too much—His Son paid too high of a price for us—for Him to let us head down a path that leads to eternal destruction. Listen to how the prophet Isaiah says this:

In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit. So He turned and became their enemy and He Himself fought against them. (Isaiah 63:9-10) 

We need both the comfort and the terror of God’s love. 

We need Him to roar His lion’s roar and flash His terrible sword when we are on the path of destruction so that we can return to the path of life and experience His tender voice and bountiful provision. 

When we pray for our wayward loved ones, pray for both God’s sword and His loving words. He knows best which to use. And for ourselves, when we are stricken with fear, use that as an opportunity to ask why we have heard God’s roar or seen His sword flash. Then, if needed, repent and return to His tender embrace. 

God’s love speaks tenderly and roars ferociously because He loves you so very much! 

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Anointed To Minister

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Last week I shared this key thought: The Holy Spirit’s empowerment ignites and then alines our light-bearing to a disaster-prone world. 

Despite what some people try to say, this empowerment from the Holy Spirit isn’t just for a select few. Jesus not only prayed for all of His followers to know this, but Peter also brought this out in his Pentecost Day sermon (John 17:20-23; Acts 2:21, 38-39). 

So why are some people not baptized in the Holy Spirit? I think there are numerable reasons, but allow me to share four broad headings: 

  1. They have impenetrable hearts to the Holy Spirit’s wooing (Acts 7:51)
  2. They are ignorant of the fact that this baptism is available to them (Acts 19:1-2) 
  3. They have impure motives regarding the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9-19) 
  4. They are too impatient (Luke 11:9-13)  

(Check out all of the above passages by clicking here.)

The bottom line: God wants to baptize you in His Spirit, Jesus wants you to be anointed with the same power He used, and the Spirit wants to bring out greater Jesus-exalting fruitfulness from your life. 

Two years ago in this series, I said that when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in a Christian’s life: In > On. 

In the Old Testament, Samson had the Spirit of God ON him, but he never allowed the Holy Spirit to come IN him and make important changes. Three times we read that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” (Judges 14:6, 19; 15:14), but after every one of these times we see Samson reverting to his childish, selfish, pouting ways again. 

By contrast, consider the life of Jesus. After He was baptized by John we read that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” and “led by the Spirit.” That word for “full” means complete or lacking nothing. Jesus yielded to the Holy Spirit and allowed Him to lead and direct, as well as supply everything that was needed for ministry. Just a few verses later we read that “Jesus returned to Galilee, in the power of the Spirit.” And in His first recorded sermon, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah about the Holy Spirit anointing Him for ministry (Luke 4:1, 14, 18). 

That word for “anointed” is chiro, from which we get the word Christ. That is the same root word in us as CHRISTians. 

We see this in Peter, Stephen, Barnabas, and Paul (Acts 4:8; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 11:24; 13:9). And then Paul writes that this anointing is for all Christians—“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us [that’s the word chiro again], set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). 

The anointing that characterized the life of Jesus in Acts 10:38—“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him”—is the same anointing for ministry for all CHRISTians today! 

So…

Don’t dabble—dive in! 

Don’t settle for on—allow the Holy Spirit fully in! 

When we are yielded and baptized in the Holy Spirit, we have the anointing to shine brightly for Jesus in our generation. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal, you can check them all out by clicking here. 

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Poetry Saturday—For Fear Of Feeble Man

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Shall I, for fear of feeble man,
The Spirit’s course in me restrain?
Or, undismayed, in deed and word
Be a true witness for my Lord?

Awed by a mortal’s frown, shall I
Conceal the Word of God Most High?
How then before Thee shall I dare
To stand, or how Thine anger bear?

Shall I, to soothe the unholy throng,
Soften Thy truths, and smooth my tongue,
To gain earth’s gilded toys, or flee
The Cross, endured, my God, by Thee?

What then is he whose scorn I dread,
Whose wrath or hate makes me afraid?
A man! an heir of death! a slave
To sin! a bubble on the wave!

Yea, let men rage, since Thou wilt spread
Thy shadowing wings around my head;
Since in all pain Thy tender love
Will still my sure refreshment prove.

Savior of men, Thy searching eye
Doth all my inmost thoughts descry;
Doth aught on earth my wishes raise,
Or the world’s pleasures, or its praise?

The love of Christ doth me constrain
To seek the wandering souls of men;
With cries, entreaties, tears, to save,
To snatch them from the gaping grave.

For this let men revile my name.
No cross I shun, I fear no shame,
All hail, reproach, and welcome, pain!
Only Thy terrors, Lord, restrain.

My life, my blood, I here present,
If for Thy truth they may be spent,
Fulfill Thy sovereign counsel, Lord!
Thy will be done, Thy Name adored!

Give me Thy strength, O God of power;
Then let winds blow, or thunders roar,
Thy faithful witness will I be:
’Tis fixed; I can do all through Thee! —Johann Joseph Winckler (translated by John Wesley)

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Don’t Be An Unloving Pastor

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In my personal devotional time, I have been reading and thinking my way through the book of Amos. 

This minor prophet especially resonates with me because we have a similar background. Amos was a farmer and a businessman when God called him to be a preacher (Amos 1:1, 7:14-15). My story is quite similar, as I was a businessman when God called me to follow Him along a path that eventually culminated in me becoming a pastor. 

Amos’ calling was a heavy one: He had to speak to God’s people who had strayed away from God and were on the brink of God’s righteous judgment. It wasn’t a time for Amos to play games, water down the message, or shrink back from making God’s message perfectly clear. To be certain, it wasn’t a popular message. In fact, one of the priests of Bethel brought a message from King Jeroboam that basically said, “Stop preaching this way or I will have you killed!” (Amos 7:10-13). 

But the most unloving thing any pastor or preacher could ever do is hold back from telling people the truthful consequences of repeated, unrepented sin. 

The Holy Spirit confronted me with the words recorded in Amos 3. After I had pondered these words for myself, I felt I needed to share them with my fellow pastors. I pray that you will prayerfully consider these words. 

My friend, I’m praying for you that God will give you loving boldness to speak His truth to whomever He sends you. I pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint His words as you deliver them so that Jesus will be exalted. 

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Links & Quotes

William Perkins defined theology as, “The science of living blessedly forever.” He also had this word for pastors as they teach theology: “The ‘demonstration of the Spirit’ becomes a reality when, in preaching, the minister of the Word conducts himself in such a way that everyone—even those who are ignorant of the gospel and are unbelievers—recognize that it is not so much the preacher who is speaking but the Spirit of God in him and by him…. This is what makes his ministry living and powerful.”

“Self-trust is the first secret of success.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

80 Years Ago: The Assemblies of God was a founding member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and remains the largest of the 40 denominations that are members of the NAE today.

John Piper identifies five digital dangers and gives us strategies for combating them. I especially thought these insights on pornography were powerful: “More insidious that X-rated videos, we can now not only watch but join the perversity in the privacy of our own den. Interactive porn will allow you to ‘do it’ or make them ‘do it’ virtually. I have never seen it. Nor do I ever intend to. It kills the spirit. It drives God away. It depersonalizes women. It quenches prayer. It blanks out the Bible. It cheapens the soul. It destroys spiritual power. It defiles everything. Resolution: I will never open any app or website for sexual stimulation, nor purchase or download anything pornographic.”

“I could well believe that it is God‘s intention, since we have refused milder remedies, to compel us into unity, by persecution even and hardship. satan is without doubt nothing else than a hammer in the hand of a benevolent and severe God. For all, either willingly or unwillingly, do the will of God: Judas and satan as tools or instruments, John and Peter as sons.” —C.S. Lewis

“The response of Jesus to those guilty of sexual sin is not to condemn nor condone the sin. I see in His example [John 8:10-12] a good pattern: (1) Love first—‘I don’t condemn you’; (2) Speak the truth—‘Sin no more.’” —Kevin Berry. The world has made “love” mean accepting whatever the other person is doing, and “truth” now means agreeing with the other person. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can speak the truth in love without condemning nor condoning.

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