A Leader’s Sincere Apology

…I’m sorry, brothers… (Acts 23:5). 

It started off innocently enough. Paul was addressing the Jewish high counsel and simply said, “Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!” 

That doesn’t seem too controversial nor insensitive, but the next move does—Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth. What?! That seems like a bit of an over-reaction on the part of the high priest, or maybe a bit of show of force to let Paul know who was really in charge here. 

If you were Paul and got slapped in the face for a pretty simple and true statement, how would you respond? Paul responded like I think I may have, with a little verbal “slap” of his own: “God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?” 

Yeah, take that, you big meanie! 

Those standing closest to Paul must have gasped in horror as they said, “Do you realize who you’re talking to?” 

Paul is an old man by this time. He’s been through shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonments, without food, traveled more miles than he can count, preached more sermons than he can remember. His body was giving out on him, and his eyesight was especially weak. Clearly, Paul didn’t realize to whom we was addressing his remarks. 

But Paul immediately owned up to his mistake. “I’m sorry, brothers. I didn’t realize he was the high priest, for the Scriptures say, ‘You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.’” 

A mark of a godly leader is one who is quick to apologize.

Paul could have made excuses. He could have justified what he said by explaining, “He deserved it because of how he spoke to me!” or “He started it!” 

But Paul offered no excuses or justifications, just a quick, simple, sincere apology. 

Oh, that all Christian leaders were as sensitive as Paul and as quick to apologize!

This is part 26 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 13

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

Jeremiah 13

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 13.] 

     When a man is afraid of God the only right thing for him to do is to run straight to God and not wait to dress himself. The further we get away from God the more we want to dress ourselves up in prayer, etc., but if we fly, just as we are, God will take us and remove the unclean thing. … 

     Spiritually when an individual builds his confidence on anything less than God inevitably there will be a perishing of the ground of confidence. … Beware of building your faith on your experience of God’s grace instead of on God Who makes the experience possible. … 

     Never succumb to believing in an inevitable fate, but fly to God, then you will never know the darkness or the judgments on sin (cf. John 3:19). Judgment comes because of conscious rejection or a conscious neglect. If we see and do not obey, there will be the wandering in the shadows, by God’s decree. There is always a way back to God, and that is to fly as you are, not as you want to be. …  

     Never trust innocence of outlook in yourself or in other people when the statements of God’s Word are directly opposite (see Mark 7:21 and Jeremiah 17:19). … It is difficult when convicted to turn to Jesus Christ; we turn to vowing; but unless we turn to Jesus in obedience and let His life enter in, it is hopeless, for we build again on the same old foundation.

From Notes On Jeremiah

When the Holy Spirit convicts us, our natural human tendency is to (a) justify, (b) make excuses, (c) vow that we will never do that again, (d) ask a friend to help hold us accountable to better behavior, or (e) try to cover up with a lot of religious activity. 

What God wants instead is for us to run to Him. Just as we are. No pretenses. No excuses. No delay. He alone has the healing and restoration we desperately need. 

10 Quotes From “Sacred Rest”

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith thinks you may be too busy to read her book Sacred Rest, and she was candid enough to admit that she was almost too busy to write it! But rest is absolutely vital to keep our lives on track and productive. Check out my full review of Dr. Dalton-Smith’s book by clicking here.

“When I am resting because my body is weak, I need to remember that I’m not wasting the day doing nothing. I am doing exactly what I need to do. I’m recovering.” —Anonymous 

“There has to be a bridge between good and bad sleep, and that bridge is rest. Sleep is solely a physical activity. Rest, however, penetrates into the spiritual. Rest speaks peace into the daily storms your mind, body, and spirit encounter. Rest is what makes sleep sweet.”

“All rest is not created equal. Much of what we consider rest fails to work because it is not restful. Shifting our activities or changing the location of where we are active is no more restful than doing those same activities at home. The most effective rest occurs when we are purposefully reviving the parts of our life we regularly deplete. Any so-called rest that does not meet this goal isn’t rest; it’s just more work adding to the busyness.”

“As important as it is to rest your body, it’s equally important to quiet your mind from the ongoing influx of information it receives. Much like our social media news feeds, our mental background noise is often infused with negativity. Thoughts about the future are contaminated with anxiety, thoughts about the past are tainted with regret, and thoughts about the present are spoiled with discontentment. The mind is magnificent, but it has its own agenda. Rather than willingly focusing on positive affirming thoughts, the mind prefers to settle upon negative ones that intensify stress, worry, anger, and frustration. It will attempt to occupy your attention with useless information, depleting your time and your energy. Mental rest involves relinquishing the constant stream of thoughts entering your mind quickly and obtaining a sense of cerebral stillness.”

“One should not set about treating the body without the soul. This is exactly why most ailments are beyond the capabilities of Greek healers: they neglect the whole when that is what they should be paying attention to.” —Plato

“Physical pain increases when you are under emotional stress and spiritual distress. Anything you can do to improve emotional pain will also improve how you feel physically.”

“Social rest is when we find comfort in our relationships and social interactions. … Studies show an improved immune system, better cardiovascular health, and less dementia in those who regularly enjoy the companionship of close confidantes.”

“We are not made for rest; rest was made for us. Rest is God’s gift back to His people. His presence is how He connects us to His rest. It is part invitation and part prescription.”

“Excuses are invented reasons we create to defend our behavior. It’s how we rationalize our neglect and how we avoid taking responsibility for our choices. … With excuses, we’ve placed external blame for internal problems and stay in a cycle of unproductivity.”

“A well-rested life is a secret hidden in plain sight. It is a life at one with God, self, and others. It’s a life strengthened by winding down the expectations of others and charging up your expectations for yourself. You become in tune with what you need to be at your best. You become comfortable with your strengths and knowledgeable about your weaknesses. You then use that information to pour into the areas needing strengthening and reinforce areas already strong. You find your sweet spot in living, loving, being, doing, and resting.”

11 Quotes From “The Duty Of Pastors”

The Duty Of PastorsJohn Owen has some fascinating insights on pastors and ministers (hint: they’re not the same thing) in his book The Duty Of Pastors. Here are some of the quotes I liked from this book. Remember this book was written in the 17th-century, so don’t let the Old English keep you from discovering the rich truths in these passages.

“Why should any speak where the Holy Ghost is silent? … Where things are obscured, it is a safer way to prove the practice of men by God’s precept, charitably supposing them to have been obedient, than to wrest the divine rule to their observation, knowing how prone men are to deify themselves by mixing their inventions with the worship of God.”

“The lights which God maketh are sufficient to rule the seasons for which they are ordained. As, in creating of the world, God ‘made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night;’ so, in the erection of the new world of His church, He set up two great lights, the lesser light of the Old Testament to guide the night, the dark space of time under the law, and the greater light of the New Testament to rule the glorious day of the gospel. And these two lights do sufficiently enlighten every man that cometh into this new world. There is no need of the false fire of tradition where God sets up such glorious lights.”

“All faithful ministers of the gospel, inasmuch as they are ingrafted into Christ and are true believers, may, as all other true Christians, be called priests; but this inasmuch as they are members of Christ, not ministers of the gospel. It respecteth their persons, not their function, or not them as such.”

“Thus, this metaphorical appellation of priests is, in the first place an intimation of that transcendent privilege of grace and favour which Jesus Christ hath purchased for everyone that is sanctified with the blood of the covenant.”

“Not to lose myself and reader in this digression, the sum is, the unspeakable blessings which the priesthood of Christ hath obtained for us are a strong obligation for the duty of praise and thanksgiving; of which that in some measure we may discharge ourselves, He hath furnished us with sacrifices of that kind to be offered unto God.” 

“That the name of priests is nowhere in the Scripture attributed peculiarly and distinctively to the ministers of the gospel as such. … And yet, when Christ ascended on high, He gave some to be prophets, for the edification of His body, Eph. iv. 11; none, as we find, to be priests. Priests, then (like prelates), are a sort of church-officers whom Christ never appointed.”

“Never fear the equity of what God sets thee upon. No excuses of disability or any other impediment ought to take place; the Lord can and will supply all such defects.”

“God never sendeth any but whom He doth so extraordinarily and immediately call and ordain for that purpose; and that this may be manifested unto others, He always accompanieth them with His own almighty power, in the working of such miracles as may make them be believed, for the very works’ sake which God by them doth effect.”

“We do not read of any such miracles wrought by the prophet Amos, and yet he stands upon his extraordinary immediate vocation, ‘I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son, but the Lord took me,’ etc. It sufficeth, then, that they be furnished with a supernatural power, either in, 1. Discerning; 2. Speaking; or 3. Working. … The sum is, that seeing such men pretend that their revelations and miracles are from heaven, let us search whether the doctrine they seek to confirm by them be from heaven or no.”

“There is a general obligation on all Christians to promote the conversion and instruction of sinners, and men erring from the right way.”

“For a public, formal, ministerial teaching, two things are required in the teacher: first, Gifts from God; secondly, Authority from the church (I speak now of ordinary cases). He that wants either is no true pastor.”

Be sure to check out my review of The Duty Of Pastors by clicking here.

Do You Want To Be Average?

average“Average” is what the failures claim to be when their family and friends ask them why they are not more successful.
“Average” is the top of the bottom, the best of the worst, the bottom of the top, the worst of the best. Which of these are you?
“Average” means being run-of-the-mill, mediocre, insignificant, an also-ran, a nonentity.
Being “average” is the lazy person’s cop-out; it’s lacking the guts to take a stand in life; it’s living by default.
Being “average” is to take up space for no purpose; to take the trip through life, but never to pay the fare; to return no interest for God’s investment in you.
Being “average” is to pass one’s life away with time, rather than to pass one’s time away with life; it’s to kill time, rather than to work it to death.
To be “average” is to be forgotten once you pass from this life. The successful are remembered for their contributions; the failures are remembered because they tried; but the “average,” the silent majority, is just forgotten.
To be “average” is to commit the greatest crime one can against one’s self, humanity, and one’s God. The saddest epitaph is this: “Here lies Mr. and Ms. Average—here lies the remains of what might have been, except for their belief that they were only ‘average.’” —Edmund Gaudet

God’s Pursuit Of Man (book review)

God's Pursuit Of ManA.W. Tozer was a prophet in his time, and his words still carry the same weight every time I read them. God’s Pursuit Of Man is a thus-saith-the-Lord wakeup call to realize how much God wants to be in a close relationship with us.

Each chapter took me deeper and deeper into God’s presence. Tozer uses the Scripture in a way that cuts through all of the excuses and posturing, and made me come face-to-face with what God really wants. He wants me. All of me.

As I read Tozer’s words, and then allowed the Holy Spirit to let those words sink in, I discovered more and more how much further I could be going into God’s presence. I realized I have as much of God in my life as I want.

But I want more. I want to answer a resounding “Yes!” to God’s passionate pursuit of me. If you want that too, this book is for you.

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading & watching from today…

“What matters is not the accomplishments you achieve; what matters is the person you become.” —Dallas Willard

“God-given dreams have to do with unselfishness and the serving and blessing of others. Dreams that are initiated out of our own imaginations tend to be primarily focused on ourselves and what we can ‘get.’” —Jeff Hlavin

“Pray against pride, dear friends, wherever you may be. Pride will grow on a dunghill, as well as in the king’s garden. Pray against pride and vainglory, and God give you grace to keep it under!” —C.H. Spurgeon

[VIDEO] John Maxwell reminds us that you don’t have to be a cosmetologist to make someone else beautiful.

Mark Atteberry addresses an article about why millennials are leaving churches, and he does a great job refuting the main points.

Great encouragement from David Wilkerson for anyone praying for a wayward child or spouse.

Planned Parenthood’s stance: if it’s consensual, then violent sex is okay. Again I ask, “Why are my tax dollars funding this garbage?!” Check out this transcript from Live Action’s latest undercover investigation

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: OK. Um, role-play absolutely is normal. Um, it’s—I would say anything within the sexual world is normal as long as it’s consensual 

15-YEAR-OLD: OK. 

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: —between the two people. So if you feel like—like, if he threw out role-play and you were like, “That sounds really weird,” or “I feel really uncomfortable with that,” and he still, like, pressured you, then that is not normal. 

15-YEAR-OLD: OK.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: But if you were like, “Yeah, I’m open to it, whatever,” and you try it and it felt weird, so you said that, and he was like, “Yeah, that—whatever, that’s fine, let’s not do that again,” that’s also normal.

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