Links & Quotes

The churches in my hometown have banded together to get food to students who need it for the weekend. Would you like to help us? We can use both your food donations and your financial support as we serve nearly 200 students every week.

Jesus said we are hypocrites when we give, pray, or fast only outwardly. He called our prayers “pagan” when we try to pray unnaturally. Jesus desires for our giving, praying, and fasting to be natural parts of who we are. This is a short clip of a full-length teaching called “Keepin’ it real” that I shared exclusively with my Patreon supporters. If you would like to sponsor me too for just $5/month, check out the details here.

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” —Audrey Hepburn

“Astronomers are thrilled by the extraordinary images provided by the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)—but some of the data already contradict Big Bang expectations. … Creationists have long noted that the Big Bang suffers from the mature distant galaxy problem. Big Bang theorists assume that light from the most distant galaxies took more than 13 billion years to reach Earth. By Big Bang reckoning, we should be seeing these very distant galaxies, not as they are today, but as they were more than 13 billion years ago. Hence, these galaxies should look ‘unevolved’ and ‘immature.’ Yet this expectation is routinely contradicted, and preliminary data from Webb continues the trend.” Check out more from this ICR article.

“Our leadership will always be second to our followership of Jesus.” —Pastor Ben Stoffel

Have you ever been cursed out? Here’s how Jesus wants Christians to respond. It’s pretty easy to say something nice to someone who has done something nice for you. But Jesus tells us to say nice things to people regardless of how they have treated us.

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself—that’s where it’s at.” —Jesse Owens

“Your walk walks, and your talk talks, but your walk talks more than your talk talks.” —Anonymous

Links & Quotes

I co-host a leadership podcast with my good friend of 30+ years Greg Heeres. In an episode that came out last week, we were discussing the importance of friendships for leaders. All of us need friends that are investing in our lives. You may check out the rest of the conversation Greg and I had by clicking here.

Jonathan Woodward writes, “The right use of authority or power can make people glad. In our age, however, power is often immediately viewed with skepticism or outright disdain.” He also talks about our responsibility to the incorrect use of leadership authority: “It’s absolutely necessary to identify, challenge, and rebuke sinful leadership. It ensures that people are cared for and God is honored.” Check out The Power to Bless: Six Dimensions of Good Leadership.

More and more scientists are dissatisfied with the lack of evidence supporting the theory of evolution. ICR reports, “Indiana University Biologist Armin Moczek told The Guardian, ‘We still do not have a good answer. This classic idea of gradual change, one happy accident at a time, has so far fallen flat.’”

The churches in my hometown of Cedar Springs, MI, have partnered together to make sure students who are food insecure on the weekend are supplied with nutritious food to carry them through the weekend. If you would like to know more, or if you would like to help us, please check out the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association website.

“Because we love something else other than this world, we love even this world better than those who know no other.” —C.S. Lewis

This is one of the best interviews I have done. I so enjoyed this! And the good news is this is only part 1. We had such a good conversation that the hosts asked me to stick around to record another episode with them. Here is the first session…

“Here’s the deal: the better you get, the harder you have to work.” —Albert King, speaking to Stevie Ray Vaughan

Here is a brief clip from a teaching I did for some ministry interns. You can check out more of this by clicking here.

Giving Preference To Others

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

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10). 

What does it mean to give preference to a friend or loved one? Here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling. 

Giving preference means I am…

  1. …speaking their “language.” I am a classic Doer, which means my style is, “Ready, Fire! aim.” I need to give grace to those who move a bit slower than me.
  1. …moving at their “speed.” My temperament is highly choleric, so I get fired up quickly and attack situations head-on. I need to give grace to those temperaments that are less emotional and want to handle things more strategically. 
  1. …sensitive to their “fears.” It’s insensitive for me to say, “It’s no big deal” about something that troubles them. Empathy is important so I can see and feel things like they see and feel them. 
  1. …helping them battle their “demons.” Perhaps viewing pornography isn’t a temptation for me, but it may be for someone else. So I need to seek out resources and accountability to help them fight this battle like I was fighting my own battle. 
  1. …avoiding their “stumbling blocks.” Perhaps I can watch certain genres of movies without compromising my Christian testimony, but it may cause my brother or sister a lot of grief. If I am going to prefer them in love, I will avoid talking about those movies in their presence, and I certainly won’t try to get them to “lighten up” to see things my way. 

Agape love is never selfish—it doesn’t want “my way” but it wants others to be edified. So, ultimately, what it means to give preference to another is to only promote those things that will build them up. Remember: saints is always plural in the New Testament, so we must build each other up to bring out the saintliness in all of us. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

“Ministers should be persons of the same quiet, lamb-like spirit that Christ was of, the same spirit of submission to God’s will, and patience under afflictions, and meekness towards men; of the same calmness and composure of spirit under reproaches and sufferings from the malignity of evil men; of the same spirit of forgiveness of injuries; of the same spirit of charity, of fervent love and extensive benevolence; the same disposition to pity the miserable, to weep with those who weep, to help men under their calamities of both soul and body, to hear and grant the requests of the needy, and relieve the afflicted; the same spirit of condescension to the poor and mean, tenderness and gentleness towards the weak, and great and effectual love to enemies.” —Jonathan Edwards

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.” —Elizabeth Elliot

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, I talk about how important it is for us to get a good night’s sleep to keep our leadership skills sharp. Sleep is also vitally important to help in the battle against overcoming temptations.

A groundbreaking paper was released this year that appears to debunk evolutionary theories once again. Check out this commentary from John Stonestreet’s podcast.

“There’s no such thing as a spiritual vacuum in the cosmos. Whatever of our time, attention, interest, or strength is not devoted to the Lord, and His Kingdom and glory, will become susceptible to being taken over by contrary interests. These often take the form of false teachers who appeal to our selfish interests and encourage us to make of the faith of Jesus Christ a kind of spiritual smorgasbord for whatever we think we need. We leave off the solid food of sound doctrine and dabble in the sweets and crunchies of mere self-interest—if we spend any time in the Word of God at all. Our mind enters a period of arrested development which will become permanent atrophy unless serious measures are engaged.” —T.M. Moore

“Always make your gratitude greater than your success.” —Dan Sullivan & Catherine Nomura

We Are: Pentecostal

Pentecost for over 1500 years was a celebration in Jerusalem that brought in Jews from all over the world. But on the Day of Pentecost which came just ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven, the meaning of Pentecost was forever changed! 

Followers of Jesus—now empowered by an infilling of the Holy Spirit—began to take the good news of Jesus all over the world. These Spirit-filled Christians preached the Gospel and won converts to Christ even among hostile crowds, performed miracles and wonders, stood up to pagan priests and persecuting governmental leaders, and established a whole new way of living as Christ-followers. 

We, too, can be Pentecostal followers of Jesus Christ today. We can experience an anointing and an empowering in our lives that turns ordinary Christianity into extraordinary Christianity! 

Please join me this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we rejoin this series. You can check out what I taught in this series in 2019 by clicking here, the messages from 2020 are here, and the messages from 2021 are here.

Check out the messages in the 2022 series:

Thursdays With Spurgeon—My Element

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. 

My Element

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! (Philippians 3:20—4:1). 

     Do you know what it is to feel that the life that is in you is first in Christ and still flows from Him, even as the life of the branch is mainly in the stem? ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20). This is to be in Christ! …     

     This expression is very short but very full: ‘In Christ.’ Does it not mean that we are in Christ as the birds are in the air that buoys them up and enables them to fly? Are we not in Christ as the fish are in the sea? Our Lord has become our element—vital and all surrounding! In Him we live, move, and have our being. He is in us, and we are in Him. We are filled with all the fullness of God because all fullness dwells in Christ and we dwell in Him.

From The Watchword For Today: “Stand Fast”

Years ago I was taking a class, and the teacher asked us to write down some of the different roles we had in our life. I wrote down things like son, brother, employee, team captain. After everyone had finished their lists, the teacher asked the students to share some of their roles. As each one listed a role, the rest of the class would raise a hand if that role also applied to them. One person said, “Christian,” and nearly every hand in the classroom went up. Except mine.

Being a Christian is not a role I step into; it’s who I am. It impacts everything I think and everything I do. 

Birds don’t step into the air when they want to fly. Fish don’t run to the water when they want to swim. Birds and fish always live in their element. We are in our element in Christ when we can always say, “In Him I live, and move, and have my being.” 

The devil has always used doubt and uncertainty—“Did God really say…” he asked Eve, and “Are you really the Son of God,” he mocked Jesus. He wants to do the same thing to you today, making you think you have somehow missed out on being in Christ. 

But if Christ is your Savior and your Lord, stand fast in that. Let nothing move you. Counteract the devil’s doubt-inciting accusations with truthful as-it-is-written statements from God’s Word. Immerse yourself in Christ and make Him your constant element—just as a branch connected to a stalk, or a bird in the air, or a fish in the ocean. You are in Christ, Christ is in you, and Christ is in the Father. Which means Jesus has taken you into the Father with Him. Live, and move, and have your very being in His presence every single moment!

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Don’t Let Your ‘Well Begun’ Be Only ‘Half Done’

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. 

Don’t Let Your ‘Well Begun’ Be Only ‘Half Done’

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! (Philippians 3:20—4:1). 

     The start is not everything, but it is a great deal. It has been said by the old proverb that ‘well begun is half done,’ and it is certainly so in the things of God. … See to it that you lay a good foundation. It is better to have no repentance than a repentance that needs to be repented of! It is better to have no faith than a false faith! It is better to make no profession of religion than to make an untruthful one! … We should learn early on the difference between grace and merit, between the purpose of God and the will of man, between trust in God and confidence in the flesh. If we do not start aright, the further we go, the further we will be from our desired end and the more thoroughly in the wrong we will find ourselves.

From The Watchword For Today: “Stand Fast”

Some people love wearing the label “Christian” but they never surrender to the lordship of Jesus. This is scary because Jesus says that these are the people to whom He will have to say, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21-23). 

In the biblical passage Spurgeon used as his text, we read some important words. First of all, we need to live as citizens of Heaven, not as citizens of Earth. That means we need to always follow God’s laws, not the passing fads of culture. 

Second, the apostle Paul calls Jesus both Savior and Lord. We don’t get to choose one and ignore the other. We cannot say, “Thank You, Jesus, for saving me, but I’ll take it from here.” 

Finally, we need to not only stand firm, but as Paul also says in another letter, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12). No assumptions. No coasting. No merely going through the motions of Christianity, but keeping a humble heart that responds to the correcting word from the Holy Spirit. 

Let’s make sure that our walk with Jesus is never described as only “half done.” But instead, let’s begin well, walk well, and rejoice to hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Hypocrites Who Hurt The Church

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. 

Hypocrites Who Hurt The Church

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27 KJV). 

     Dear friends, I might just continue, for the subject is a very wide one. But I stop because, unhappily for me, though perhaps happily for your patience, my time has gone. Having just indicated what the Christian life ought to be, I must, in a few words, plead with you that by the power of God’s Holy Spirit you will seek to make your lives such. I could mention many reasons, but I will only give you one or two. 

     The first is, if you do not live like this, you will make your fellow members who are innocent of your sin, suffer. … It is very hard when [skeptics] can say to you, ‘Look at So-and-So, he is a church member! Look at what he did. You are all a parcel of hypocrites!’ … 

     And then, remember, dear friends, unless your conversation is such, you will pull down all the witness that you have ever borne for Christ. … Oh, the great thing the church needs is more holiness! The worst enemies of the church are not the infidels. … No, the worst enemies of the church are the hypocrites, the formalists, the mere professors, and the inconsistent walkers. …  

     May the Eternal Spirit, Who still winnows His church, blow away the chaff and heave only the good golden wheat upon the floor! And if you know yourselves to be living in any sin, may God help you to mourn over it, to loathe it, to go to Christ about it….

From The Gospel’s Power In A Christian’s Life

I have defined a hypocrite as a Christian who carries the name of Jesus Christ but not the nature of Jesus Christ. 

I remember once when a man who was virtually a stranger to me—but apparently knew that I was a pastor—walked up to me and said, “What do you think about your boy So-and-So?” The So-and-So he mentioned was a prominent pastor in another state who had just been caught doing some very sinful and embarrassing things. This stranger quickly painted me with the same brush! 

The phrase “one another” is so prominent in the New Testament, which means that we truly are all in this together. That’s why Charles Spurgeon warns us that a hypocritical lifestyle is not only damaging to the hypocrite’s life, but to the entire Christian community as well. 

So I also call for every Christian to “examine themselves” (1 Corinthians 11:28) for both known and hidden sins. We ought to regularly ask the Holy Spirit to point them out so that we can repent of them, make restitution, and strengthen the testimony of all Christians everywhere! 

Let me close with a final word from Dwight Moody, “The world finds plenty of difficulties on the way; let us see that we Christians do not add more stumbling-blocks by our un-Christlike walk.” 

To that I add a heartfelt “Amen!”

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Christian Lifestyle

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 Christian Lifestyle

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27 KJV). 

     The text says we are to ‘let our conversation be such as becomes the gospel.’ What sort of conversation, then, will we have? In the first place, the gospel is very simple. It is unadorned. No meretricious ornaments to clog the pile. It is simple and ‘not with persuasive words of human wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 2:4). … The Christian man ought always to be simple in all respects. I think wherever you find him, you ought not to need a key to him. He should not be like certain books that you cannot make out without having somebody tell you the hard words. He should be a transparent man like Nathaniel, who was ‘an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit’ (John 1:47). … 

     The Christian’s lips should speak truth when falsehood drops from the lips of all other men. A Christian man should never need to take an oath, because his word is as good as an oath. His yes should be yes, and his no, no. … 

     The gospel of Jesus Christ is a very fearless gospel. … As the gospel is very fearless in what it has to say, so let the Christian always be. It strikes me that a living that becomes the gospel of Christ is always a bold and fearless kind of living! … 

     But again, the gospel of Christ is very gentle. Hear it speak: ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). Here is its spirit in its Founder: ‘A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench’ (Matthew 12:20). Moreover, bad temper, snapping off of people’s heads, making men offenders for a word—all this is quite contrary to the gospel. … If you have a lion’s heart, have a lady’s hand. Let there be such a gentleness about your carriage that the little children may not be afraid to come to you and the publican and harlot may not be driven away by your hostility, but invited to goodness by the gentleness of your words and acts. …  

     The world ought to point to us and say, ‘See, how these Christians love one another? Not in word only, but in deed and truth!’ … 

     The gospel of Christ is mercy, generosity, and liberality. It receives the beggar and hears his cry! It picks up even the vile and undeserving and scatters lavish blessings upon him, and it fills the bosom of the naked and of the hungry with good things. Let your conversation be such as becomes the gospel of Christ!

From The Gospel’s Power In A Christian’s Life

We’ve had a tagline at our church for years: Come and see why so many people around here say, “I ♥ my church!” I believe Christians can—and should—live in such a way that everyone in their communities would sit up and take notice of the positive changes. 

Let’s all examine our lifestyle. Is it simple, truthful, bold, gentle, loving, merciful, generous, and hospitable? If not, what changes do we need to make? But if it is all these things, God’s blessing is sure to follow this lifestyle that so clearly portrays the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

I’ve shared some other posts about a church’s reputation here, here, and here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Best Of Neighbors

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 Best Of Neighbors

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27 KJV). 

     The word ‘conversation’ does not merely mean our talk with one another, but the whole course of our life and behavior in the world. The Greek word signifies the actions and the privileges of citizenship, and we are to let our whole citizenship, our actions as citizens of the New Jerusalem, be such as becomes the gospel of Christ. …  

     We are delighted to preach good high doctrine and to insist that salvation is of grace alone! But we are equally delighted to preach good high practice and to insist that a grace that does not make a man better than his neighbors is a grace that will never take him to heaven nor render him acceptable before God!

From The Gospel’s Power In A Christian’s Life

Some other translations of the text from Rev. Spurgeon’s sermon bring out the meaning: 

  • Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (NIV) 
  • Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ (NLT) 
  • Live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ (Message) 

I believe that Christians are not citizens of Planet Earth. Our citizenship is in a place called Heaven, and yet we are traveling on Earth during our present lifetime. While we are here, we need to conduct ourselves in such a way that we make our Homeland desirable for other Earthlings too. 

Let’s live in a such a way that Earthlings will say, “I ❤️ those Christians!” 

I shared a whole series of messages on living as “aliens and strangers” (as the apostle Peter calls Christians), which you may check out by clicking here.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

%d bloggers like this: