Links & Quotes

Unhealthy leaders don’t admit their need for help, and as a result they put a lid on their leadership potential. Check out more of this message hereAnd be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

A prominent Chinese scholar, Dr. Wang Yun Wu (1888-1979), abandoned atheism in 1924 after he witnessed the miraculous healing of his sister’s eyesight. Dr. Wang later became Vice Premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Check out this miraculous story in the Pentecostal Evangel.

The Culture Translator weekly email from Axis had some helpful information for Mental Health Awareness Month.

What it is: May is mental health awareness month, making mental health and suicide prevention bigger topics than ever. #mentalhealthmatters has around 42 billion views on TikTok, and #mentalhealthawareness has racked up 20 billion.

Why the conversation is changing: The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior survey showed that suicidal ideation, especially for teenage girls, is continuing on a concerning trajectory. In 2021, 30% of girls said that they had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 24% said they had an actual plan to end their life. According to data published by Mental Health America, 16.4% of youth reported experiencing a major depressive episode within the last 12 months. This news comes at a time when adults are feeling so lonely that the US surgeon general has declared loneliness a public health emergency. Stigma around mental health topics appears to be eroding, but that isn’t necessarily leading to better mental health outcomes for teens and for the population at large.

Conversation Starter: What do you think are the biggest contributors to mental health issues for your generation? (Check out our new video series on Mental Health for more help having this conversation!)

One of the things contributing to the unhealthy mental state of many people (not just teens) is the negative impact of pornography. Fight The New Drug reports how watching porn hurts self-esteem.

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” —Harry Truman

Is pain good or bad? Dr. Matthew Loftus makes the case that avoiding suffering undermines the role of medicine and also stunts our ability to feel and express compassion. Check out this full article and the thoughts John Stonestreet shared about them.

“What a sweetness lies in the little word ‘our’; how much is God’s glory endeared to us when we consider our interest in Him as ‘our Lord’ [Psalm 8:1].” —Charles Spurgeon, in Spurgeon and the Psalms

Links & Quotes

Shalom—the peace that comes from God—could be defined simply as “nothing missing.” But couldn’t it also be defined as “no one missing”? It sure could! What peace there is when no one is missing from Heaven! Check out more of this message hereAnd be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

“A good man is a God-fixated man, ever-receiving, ever-overflowing.” —Dick Brogden, in Proverbs: Amplified and Applied

“Despite the moon’s apparently simple shape, uniformitarian scientists have long had great difficulty explaining how it could form by natural processes apart from a supernatural Creator. One Harvard astrophysicist once quipped that the best explanation for the moon’s existence was observational error—the moon doesn’t really exist!” This is a very interesting post from the Institute for Creation Research.

“Do we not miss very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful meditation before it, and hopeful expectation after it? … We too often rush into the presence of God without forethought or humility. We are like people who present themselves before a king without a petition, and what wonder is it that we often miss the end of prayer? We should be careful to keep the stream of meditation always running, for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. … Prayer without fervency is like hunting with a dead dog, and prayer without preparation is hawking with a blind falcon. Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit, but He works by means. God made man, but He used the dust of the earth as a material. The Holy Ghost is the Author of prayer, but He employs the thoughts of a fervent soul as the gold with which to fashion the vessel. Let our prayers and praises be not the flashes of a hot and hasty brain but the steady burning of a well-kindled fire.” —Charles Spurgeon, in Spurgeon and the Psalms

What a powerful word to pastors from T.M. Moore’s post First Things First. “Pastors sometimes complain that their people don’t seem very hungry or thirsty for the things of the Lord. Sated on the junk food of getting-and-spending, generously ladled over with pop culture, God’s people have little appetite for Christ or His Word. But what about us? Does our hunger and thirst for Christ make them long for the same? Do they see in us that earnest desire to be with the Lord that tells them they’re missing something of great importance? Loving Christ and delighting to be with Him is infectious. If the people we serve see it in us, they’ll want it for themselves, more than anything this world might offer.”

We don’t read about Jesus getting angry that often, but what usually got Him upset was when people in need were being kept from the God who could meet their needs. Sadly, it was usually man-made rules and practices that kept people away. I don’t want to make Jesus angry, so I need to evaluate anything in my life that may be standing in the way of connecting needy people with a need-satisfying God. 

“So in our broader culture, people no longer sin; they make mistakes. What about our Christian environment? In our case, sin is not denied. Instead it is often redefined to refer to the more flagrant sins of society. We tend to ignore our own sins of pride, selfishness, gossip, and the like. So, effectively, no one sins anymore. The reason is that we have lost sight of the biblical meaning of sin.  Typically, if we are not actually murderers, felons, or adulterers, we tend to think of our common sins as no more serious than a parking violation. We are so used to living with pride, selfishness, envy, gossip, and a whole host of other ‘respectable sins’ that we don’t even think of them as sin. But the fact is that, as serial sinners, we are all as guilty before God as that murderer. You and I sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. And whether those sins appear great or small in our own sight, in reality every sin we commit is an act of rebellion against God, a rejection and attempted negation of His sovereignty and rulership over us.” —Jerry Bridges

Links & Quotes

The Holy Spirit can speak to us through other people. Be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

“A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Every word from God comes with the power to make that word happen.” —Kevin Berry

“The question is not, ‘Should we pray for the lost people of our community?’ The question is, ‘Will we?’ Will we pray for our neighbors, our community, our nation, and our world? Will we seek the peace of the world and the wellbeing of all our fellow humans before the Lord in prayer? [Jeremiah 29:7]
“If we will not, then we must face up to the fact that we are disobeying a divine mandate, abandoning our neighbors to their folly, and stoking the fires of indifference—if not outright scorn—for the unbelieving world around. But if we will pray, who knows what God might be willing to do?
“Those prayers may be prayers of anguish and anger at times; but they must also be prayers for God to work in the hard hearts of our unsaved neighbors, just as He has worked in ours, to bring new life, forgiveness, and hope to those who now live apart from God in a world full of rebellion and sin.” —T.M. Moore

Axis is a great resource to help parents communicate effectively with their pre-teen and teenage children. In the wake of the school shooting in Nashville, Axis posted this: “We have created resources to help parents and caring adults have conversations about violence and school shootings. Consider our Conversation Kit on Violence, our Parent’s Guide to School Shootings, our Parent’s Guide to Talking About Violence, and our Parent’s Guide to Anxiety, for starters.”

This is an excellent post from Fight The New Drug on how to spot online sexual predators.

“Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.” —Hank Aaron

The Compliance Of Silence

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

A couple of weeks ago I shared a recap from my sermon called Eloquent Silence. Jesus serenely remained silent when He was being falsely accused by those who wanted Him out of the way. Yet, His silence was eloquent and convicting. 

We would do well to learn this lesson from our Savior. 

There is a flip side to this: Sometimes our silence can signal compliance or acceptance of those who are speaking or perpetrating evil. 

David wrote, “Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men? No, in heart you work wickedness; you weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth” (Psalm 58:1-2 NKJV). 

Commenting on this psalm, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “It would be well, if people would sometimes pause and candidly consider this: ‘Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones?’ Some of those who surrounded Saul were passive rather than active persecutors—they held their tongues when the object of royal hate was slandered. In the original, this first sentence appears to be addressed to them, and they are asked to justify their silence. Silence gives consent. People who refrain from defending the right are themselves accomplices in the wrong.”  

Silence does have its place. King Solomon wrote, “He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter” (Proverbs 11:12-13 NASB1995). But to remain silent in the face of evil or falsehood could also be a sin. 

Consider a few other wise words:

“No one wants to be thought of as holding to a ‘minority position’ on anything, so, rather than speak up in the face of many who are doing so, most will remain silent. This is where the Christian community finds itself at this time, trapped in a spiral of silence before a blustering but empty secular and unbelieving worldview. So it is very important that believers in Jesus Christ make the best use of every opportunity to talk about what is good and pleasing to God.” —T.M. Moore 

“Don’t be a bystander, be on stand by. I will not allow a bully to bully others. I will not laugh at his jokes, I will not remain silent. I will stand up and say ‘Enough is enough.’” —Nick Vujicic 

“As Christians we are tempted to make unnecessary concession to those outside the Faith. We give in too much. Now, I don’t mean that we should run the risk of making a nuisance of ourselves by witnessing at improper times, but there comes a time when we must show that we disagree. We must show our Christian colors, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.” —C.S. Lewis 

“Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that really matter.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

When to speak up and when to remain silent is a huge issue for Christians. This is why we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit telling us when to hold our tongues and when to speak out boldly.

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Links & Quotes

One of the best pieces of advice if you’re looking to regulate your emotions is very simple: SLOW DOWN! Constantly having your game face on or being “on a mission” can cause your emotional regulation to suffer, and seriously hurt your leadership. Be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

You may have heard the oft-repeated line that human beings and chimpanzees share 98-99% of our DNA with each other. This simply isn’t true, and yet it will not die. John Stonestreet has an idea of what is behind this claim in his post Of Primates and Percentages.

“The unprepared mind cannot see the outstretched hand of opportunity.” —Alexander Fleming

John Piper asks, “Why is anxiety about the future a form of pride?” Check out this faith-building post that concludes with these words, “The way to battle the unbelief of pride is to admit freely that you have anxieties, and to cherish the promise of future grace in the words, ‘He cares for you.’ And then unload your fears onto His strong shoulders.”

“Hold fast to eternal salvation through the eternal covenant carried out by eternal love to eternal life.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.” —Mia Hamm

Links & Quotes

When you say, “I don’t know how to do this,” your mind stops looking for answers. But if we simply add one word—“I don’t know how to do this yet”—your mind will stay active. Adding this one word will unleash the creative, solution-finding part of your mind.

“Our preaching ought to have a voice for all classes, and all should have an ear for it. To suit our word to the rich alone is wicked sycophancy, and to aim only at pleasing the poor is to act the part of a demagogue. Truth may be so spoken as to commend the ear of all, and wise teachers seek to learn that acceptable style.” —Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon And The Psalms

“How did Jesus live among us? He was different things to different people. See if you find yourself on this list.
To the victim, Jesus defended.
To the rebel, He held out mercy.
To the brutalized, Jesus comforted with kindness.
To the questioning, He spoke truth.
To the fearful, Jesus stood beside.
To the lonely, He nodded, ‘I’ve been there.’
To the sick, Jesus revitalized.
To the outlier, He welcomed in.
To the forgotten, Jesus remembered in detail.
To the filthy, He washed clean.
To the broken, Jesus empathized.
To the doubting, He listened.
To the isolated, Jesus joined company.
To the discouraged, He drew near.
To the cynic, Jesus answered.
To the rejected, He restored.
To the anxious, Jesus calmed.
To the betrayed, He identified.
To the betrayer, Jesus forgave.
To the wounded, He sympathized.
To the wanderer, Jesus pointed the way.
To the shattered, He rebuilt dreams.
To the lost, Jesus led home.
To the abandoned, He was home.
To the destitute, Jesus deepened.
To the single again, He completed.
To the tempted, Jesus was available.
To the courageous, He gave purpose.
To the one in trouble, Jesus led out.
To the exhausted, He was wholeness.
To the hurried, Jesus patiently waited.
To the over-committed, He built margin.
To the weak, Jesus fortified.
To the one in debt, He released.
To the searching, Jesus satisfied.
To the foolish, He said, ‘Turn around.’
To the pure in heart, Jesus blessed.
To the one who keeps on going, He rewarded.” —He Gets Us (part 2) reading plan on YouVersion

This is a pretty long article, but it’s quite fascinating to see the engineering behind the artificial intelligence (AI) of ChatGPT.

“God is not afraid of my questions. Am I afraid of His answers?” —Betsy Owens

C.M. Ward was the speaker for the Revivaltime radio broadcast for a quarter of a century. Dan Betzer, who was also involved in these broadcasts, once said that he heard Rev. Ward preach on the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 more than a dozen times without ever repeating himself. Here is a quick biographical sketch of this influential man’s ministry. I have also shared before my brief encounter with Rev. Ward when I was a young man.

A bonus quote from Charles Spurgeon: “‘No God’ means no law, no order, no restraint to lust, no limit to passion. Who but a fool would be of this mind? What a bedlam, or rather what a battleground, would the world become, if such lawless principles came to be universal!” —Charles Spurgeon, commenting on Psalm 53:1

A reminder of just how amazing our Sun is! Our Creator perfectly fashioned our Sun and Earth and solar system to sustain the life we enjoy. Check out this amazing article from The Institute for Creation Research.

Come To God As A Brother

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

Being the firstborn, I didn’t have a big brother, but I took being the big brother to my little sister very seriously! Like when young men would come to pick her up for a date, I would meet them on the front porch and say, “I hope you have a really nice evening. Just so you know, I will be home all evening waiting by the phone. You’d better pray that my little sister doesn’t have to call me!” Hopefully, that let my sister know I was ready to protect her whenever she may need it. 

 Whenever we go into any situation for the first time, there is always a natural fear of the unknown. What’s going to happen? How do I behave? What do I say? How will others treat me? How will I know who to trust? Or even, how will I know what to pray for? 

Those unknowns cause fear, and fear prevents intimacy. The Bible says, “There is no fear in love” (1 John 4:18). Where there is love, fear has to leave. But when there is fear, love is pushed aside. 

We learned that we can come to God in prayer as a Father—we can bring Him all our fears and concerns and problems—but did you know that we can also come to God in prayer as coming to a Brother? 

Jesus loves the fact that we can come to our Abba Father just as He did, which is why He taught us to begin our prayers with, “Our Father in heaven.” 

How wonderful it is to have a “big brother” to show us the ropes, to walk with us, to give us his counsel! One that says, “I’ve already been to that high school … I know that employer … I have experience with that kind of relationship … I’ve solved that problem … I’ve tasted that pain.…” That’s exactly what Jesus does for us. He is our perfect Big Brother! 

Jesus knows everything we will experience in life. There might be unknown things that we walk into, but they are never unknown to Him. And more importantly, they are never unexperienced by Him. Check out these assuring words from the Book of Hebrews—

Both the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. … For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. (2:11, 17-18) 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (4:15-16) 

Jesus has been there, done that, and has the scars to prove that He is victorious! 

  • We never have to be at a loss of what to say (John 12:49-50)
  • We never have to be at a loss of what path to take (John 14:6) 
  • We never have to be at a loss of what prayer to pray (John 16:23)

(Check out all of those verses by clicking here.) 

Charles Spurgeon said, “The Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to take the most imperfect prayer and perfect it for us. If our prayers had to go up to heaven as they are, they would never succeed; but they find a Friend on the way, and therefore they prosper.” 

Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Commenting on these verses in his book Proverbs: Amplified and Applied, Dick Brogden wrote:

“We tend to crave God’s explicit direction for the momentous choices of life—marriage, study, career, transition, promotion, change—but sail through a thousand daily choices independent of consultation with Him. Functionally, we act as if we only need God’s help for big things because we can handle the small things without Him. The error in this dichotomy of dependence (thinking we only need God’s help for big decisions) is twofold. First, big decisions are not divorced from small decisions; they are simply the crowning act, the summary of a legion of choices. Second, big decisions are not more important than small decisions. It is the small, simple, silent, serial choices of daily living that make one wise. When we acknowledge the Lord in all the minutia, our course is chosen and our path is set, and we do not stand bewildered at the critical crossroads of life.” 

Walking with Jesus as our Brother keeps us free from fear. His perfect love opens our hearts to have intimate conversation with our Heavenly Father. You can trust our Brother to help you with every single decision at every single moment. Let’s learn to lean on Him more! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series on prayer called Intimate Conversation, you can find all of the messages by clicking here. 

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Book Reviews From 2022

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

I love reading, and I love sharing my love of good books with others! Here is a list of the books I read and reviewed in 2022. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Cary Grant

Contending For Our All

Father Sergius

Hank Greenberg: The Story Of My Life

Living In A Gray World

Out Of The Depths

Roots Of Endurance

Simple Truths Of Leadership

Spurgeon And The Psalms

Susanna Wesley

The Holy War

The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy

The Poetry Of Prayer

The Self-Aware Leader

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

Who’s Pushing Your Buttons?

Here are my book reviews for 2011.

Here are my book reviews for 2012.

Here are my book reviews for 2013.

Here are my book reviews for 2014.

Here are my book reviews for 2015.

Here are my book reviews for 2016.

Here are my book reviews for 2017.

Here are my book reviews for 2018.

       Here are my book reviews for 2019.

Here are my book reviews for 2020.

Here are my book reviews for 2021.

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Links & Quotes

Every Monday I share a 1-minute thought to get your week started. It’s my weekly Monday Motivation series of videos. Check out this week’s video and subscribe on YouTube.

“The Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to take the most imperfect prayer and perfect it for us. If our prayers had to go up to heaven as they are, they would never succeed; but they find a Friend on the way, and therefore they prosper.” —Charles Spurgeon

I love this thought from T.M. Moore: “We sometimes use the word reflect to express what we want to see happen in our lives as Christians. We say we want to reflect Jesus to the world, like a mirror reflects an image. As agents of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, believers are not so much like mirrors as they are like prisms. Mirrors reflect light. The light strikes them and bounces off, without bringing anything of the mirror with it. Prisms refract light.” Please take a couple of minutes to read Moore’s post Prisms of the Light.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Judging By First Appearances

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. 

Judging By First Appearances 

     A good horse cannot be a bad color, and a really good preacher can wear what he likes, and none will care much about it; but though you cannot know wine by the barrel, a good appearance is a letter of recommendation even to a plowman. Wise men neither fall in love or take a dislike at first sight, but still the first impression is always a great thing even with them; and as to those weaker brethren who are not wise, a good appearance is half the battle.

     What is a good appearance? Well, it’s not being pompous and starchy and making oneself high and mighty among the people, for proud looks lose hearts, and gentle words win them. … When a man is as proud as a peacock, all strut and show, he needs converting himself before he sets up to preach to others. The preacher who measures himself by his mirror may please a few silly girls, but neither God nor man will long put up with him. The man who owes his greatness to his tailor will find that needle and thread cannot long hold a fool in a pulpit. …  

     At the same time, the preacher should endeavor, according to his means, to dress himself respectably; and, as to neatness, he should be without spot, for kings should not have dirty footmen to wait at their table, and they who teach godliness should practice cleanliness. … A worn coat is no discredit, but the poorest may be neat, and the men should be scholars rather than teachers till they are so.

From John Ploughman’s Talks of Plain Advice For Plain People

Like it or not, people do form first impressions on external appearances, and all leaders (and especially pastors) would do well to measure these words from Charles Spurgeon. 

I think Spurgeon is talking about honesty here. I need to be honest with who I am, while at the same time being honest about the office that I hold. I’m not playing dress-up, but I also need to be aware that I am representing the King of kings so an appropriate dress and lifestyle are required. 

I also need to be honest that people are forming first impressions the moment they see me, but also that I cannot try to dress or act in a way to please or attract people. 

I remember meeting a group of “seasoned saints” who all showed up at our church one morning. When I engaged them in conversation, they told me that their new pastor appeared to be too young for their style. They formed an opinion about him before ever giving him a chance. I told them that I knew their pastor and that I liked him a lot. I directed them to return to their home church and give their best support to their pastor for at least six months before they made any decisions. Thankfully, during that time they got to know this pastor and remained in that church with him. 

I am in the position I am in because God placed me there. I am working to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I don’t want my appearance to get in the way of people hearing the message. I don’t want to try to be someone I’m not. I need to remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s direction in how I should dress, talk, and live. If my conscience is clear before God, then I won’t have to pay attention to the opinions of others.

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