Links & Quotes

God will give you everything you need to minister to others. But there’s one thing you have to do first…

“He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God.” —Isaac Newton

Back in 1929, Donald Gee shared three temptations that Pentecostals needed to be cautious of avoiding: (1) selfish satisfaction, (2) fanaticism, and (3) the temptation to forsake the pure worship of God in exchange for popularity. Check out the full article here.

I really appreciate the leadership insights from Dan Reiland. That’s why I was so honored to have him write such a nice endorsement of my book Shepherd Leadership! Here is an important post Dan wrote for leaders, warning us of 5 ways we can misuse our spiritual authority

Fight The New Drug is right on-target in warning about the dangers of pornography. Check out this insightful post that gives 8 reasons why not watching porn can improve your real human relationships as well as your physical and emotional health

Another display of God’s masterful creativity in the Archerfish. I absolutely love these video from The John 10:10 Project!

Can God Get My Attention?

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

God needed the Ninevites to hear the message of impending judgment, and He needed Jonah to deliver that message and call the Ninevites to repentance. In four short chapters, the phrases about God providing what was needed appear six times! 

Because His messenger was running away and prejudiced against the Ninevites, God had to provide the means to get Jonah’s attention and provide a way to get him back on mission. So God provided

  • …a great wind on the sea (1:4) 
  • …a huge fish to swallow Jonah (1:17) 
  • …the command to the fish of where and when to deposit Jonah (2:10) 
  • …a green plant, a worm, and a scorching east wind to awaken Jonah to his prejudice (4:6-8)

The storm God provided caused the sailors to turn to God. The fish God provided caused Jonah to turn to God. And the sermon God provided Jonah to preach caused the Ninevites to turn to God.

What about the worm and the wind? Did those cause Jonah to turn his attention back to God? The Bible doesn’t tell us because I believe we each have to complete that story ourselves. When God provides trials, discomforts, and even disasters, they are intended to get our attention. 

Let’s keep this in mind the next time things aren’t going the way we had planned. Instead of complaining—or even praying for God to remove us from those difficulties—let’s instead ask ourselves:

  • Have I been disobedient to something God has directed me to do? 
  • Have I allowed myself to get off-track? 
  • Is my attitude about my God-directed assignment God-honoring? 
  • Is there something God is trying to bring to my attention? 

God provides everything needed to keep us on mission for Him. Let’s not try to get out of these difficulties, but let’s ask Him what we need to get out of these difficulties. 

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Eternally Satisfied

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

We see a pattern throughout the history of the Israelites in the Old Testament: They wanted to have all their bases covered, so they kept up the pretense of worshiping Jehovah, but they also added the idolatrous practices of the nations around them. It got pretty vile (see Jeremiah 2:23-25 as an example). 

These cravings for more than God had provided led to their punishment. As we quoted last week from Isaiah, they lost their “matchless, unbroken companionship” with God (Isaiah 30:18 AMP).

Craving for our self-created idols creates anxiety in our hearts that shows up in three nagging questions. 

(1) What will others think of me if they have things I don’t have?

Worrying about what others think of us has always been a trap. We play games, posture, and frequently hide the truth so that we “look right” to others. But this dishonesty only hurts us in the long run.

Dr. Tony Evans noted, “satan uses our legitimate need for acceptance in an illegitimate way that can result in us living under a false identity.” Jesus warned us not to show off to try to get others to think well of us (Matthew 6:1) and He lived this out in His own life. He said, “I receive not glory from men—I crave no human honor, I look for no mortal fame” (John 5:41 AMP). 

To avoid this trap remember: Recognition from God > Recognition from men. We should be living to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21, 23). 

(2) Will I have enough to survive?

Because the things of this earth pass away, it is natural to think that our supply may just <poof!> be gone in an instant. So we can crave the security of having our shelves fully stocked for the future. 

Jesus twice tells us that our Heavenly Father knows what we need (Matthew 6:8, 32). Then over a span of ten verses, Jesus tells us four times, “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:25-34). He can assure us of this because of this rock-solid reality: Heaven’s provisions > Earth’s provisions. 

(3) Will God accept me?

Just as satan tried to get Jesus to doubt that He was the Son of God, the devil will also try to get you to doubt whether or not you measure up in God’s sight. But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasizes the Fatherhood of God thirteen times—usually calling Him “your Father.” 

This tells me that we can cling to this: Being accepted by your Father > Being accepted by anyone else. Paul uses a wonderful description in Ephesians when he tells us we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV). 

Isaiah told us that God longs to be gracious to us, and Jesus emphasizes that idea when He says, “Only aim at and strive for and seek His kingdom, and all these things shall be supplied to you also. Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!” (Luke 12:31-32 AMP) 

Just as God craves to bless you, so you are to crave your fulfillment in what He alone can supply. You must crave the only One Who can eternally satisfy you, Who longs to reward you, and Who delights to give you the inestimable rewards of His kingdom! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Craving series, check them out by clicking here. 

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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

Poetry Saturday—The Lord Will Provide

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

Though troubles assail
And dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail
And foes all unite;
Yet one thing secures us,
Whatever betide,
The Scripture assures us,
The Lord will provide.

The birds without barn
Or storehouse are fed,
From them let us learn
To trust for our bread:
His saints, what is fitting,
Shall ne’er be denied,
So long as ‘tis written,
The Lord will provide.

We may, like the ships,
By tempest be tossed
On perilous deeps,
But cannot be lost.
Though satan enrages
The wind and the tide,
The promise engages,
The Lord will provide.

His call we obey
Like Abram of old,
Not knowing our way,
But faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers
We have a good Guide,
And trust in all dangers,
The Lord will provide.

When satan appears
To stop up our path,
And fill us with fears,
We triumph by faith;
He cannot take from us,
Though oft he has tried,
This heart-cheering promise,
The Lord will provide.

He tells us we’re weak,
Our hope is in vain,
The good that we seek
We ne’er shall obtain,
But when such suggestions
Our spirits have plied,
This answers all questions,
The Lord will provide.

No strength of our own,
Or goodness we claim,
Yet since we have known
The Savior’s great name;
In this our strong tower
For safety we hide,
The Lord is our power,
The Lord will provide.

When life sinks apace
And death is in view,
This word of His grace
Shall comfort us through:
No fearing or doubting
With Christ on our side,
We hope to die shouting,
The Lord will provide. —John Newton


Nature Walk

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

How many are Your works, O Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small. (Psalm 104:24-25) 

This psalm makes me want to go on a nature walk! 

The psalmist is in awe of the Creator’s handiwork—from the majestic sun and moon, to the smallest of creatures, God created them and sustains them all. 

God set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.  … He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of His work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth. … The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. … The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. … These all look to You to give them their food at the proper time. When You give it to them, they gather it up; when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things. 

Take a walk. See God’s beauty.

Listen to the wind, the birds, the lions.

Taste the food from the soil and the trees.

Feel the coolness of the water, the warmth of the sun, the invigoration of the breeze. 

Smell the flowers, the soil, the sea air.

And then as you take all of these in, remind yourself: “If God cares for the fields, if He sees the smallest sparrow, how much more does He care for me!” 

Jesus told us much the same thing—

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? … See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you? … Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. … Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:8, 26, 28-30; 10:29-31)  

My friend, the next time you need reassurance of God’s love for you, I invite you to take a nature walk and let the beauty of the Creator fill you with confidence of His love for you and His power to care for your every need! 

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Poetry Saturday—New Every Morning

Every day is a fresh beginning,
Every morn is a world made new.
You who are weary of sorrow and sinning,
Here is a beautiful hope for you—
A hope for me and a hope for you.

All of the past things are past and over;
The tasks are done and the tears are shed.
Yesterday’s errors let yesterday cover,
Yesterday’s wounds which smarted and bled,
Are healed with the healing which night has shed.

Yesterday is now a part of forever,
Bound up in a sheaf, which God holds tight,
With glad days, and sad days, and bad days, which never
Shall visit us more with their bloom and their blight,
Their fullness of sunshine or sorrowful night.

Let them go, since we cannot re-live them,
Cannot undo and cannot atone;
God in His mercy receive, forgive them!
Only the new days are our own;
Today is ours, and today alone.

Here are the skies all burnished brightly,
Here is the spent earth all re-born,
Here are the tired limbs springing lightly
To face the sun and to share with the morn
In the chrism of dew and the cool of dawn.

Every day is a fresh beginning;
Listen, my soul, to the glad refrain,
And spite of old sorrow and older sinning,
And puzzles forecasted and possible pain,
Take heart with the day, and begin again. —Susan Coolidge

Poetry Saturday—O God Of Bethel

O God of Bethel, by whose hand
Thy people still are fed,
who through this weary pilgrimage
hast all our fathers led; 

Our vows, our prayers, we now present
before Thy throne of grace;
God of our fathers, be the God
of their succeeding race.

Through each perplexing path of life
our wandering footsteps guide;
give us each day our daily bread,
and raiment fit provide. 

O spread Thy covering wings around
till all our wanderings cease,
and at our Father’s loved abode
our souls arrive in peace. —Philip Doddridge

Ingratitude Can Mess Us Up

Fading gratitude can negatively impact our past, present, and future. Because when our gratitude to God begins to fade, so does our understanding of what God has already done for us, our appreciation of what He is still doing for us today, and our hope for what He will provide for us tomorrow. But we can flip the script—Our continual gratitude can begin to positively impact our past, present, and future! 

“Gratitude is from the same root word as ‘grace,’ which signifies the free and boundless mercy of God. Thanksgiving is from the same root word as ‘think,’ so that to think is to thank.” —Willis P. King 

The more we THINK about God’s grace in our lives, the more we can give THANKS for all He has done. Or said another way…

The best way to be THANKFUL is to be THINKFUL!

In Psalm 78, Asaph gives us a two-word reason for the up-and-down history of the Israelites: they forgot. The Israelites’ forgetfulness led to their lack of gratitude, which then caused yet another downward turn away from God. One of the examples he gives us is very informative: the daily provision of manna while the Israelites were in the wilderness (see Psalm 78:11-25; Exodus 16:4, 14-18). 

Every day God’s people had their food needs miraculously supplied for them, yet they begin to take this gift of God for granted. They stopped thinking about His provision, and then they began to ungratefully grumble (Numbers 11:4-6). Their grumbling actually caused them to want to return to slavery in Egypt! 

With fading gratitude, we can get stuck in the past. We even end up looking back at slavery and scarcity and call it “the good old days”! With fading gratitude for the past, sometimes we beat ourselves up. We say things like, “If I would have known then what I know now….” But you couldn’t know then what you know now. You only know now because of what you went through then, which makes another reason to be grateful. After all, God is using everything we have gone through to work out His plan (see Isaiah 46:9-10; Romans 8:28). 

We need to be thinkful about our past so that we can be thankful for what God is doing with it today.

Manna provided food every single day the whole time the Israelites were in the wilderness. It stopped immediately after they entered the Promised Land. For that daily provision, they should have been thankful but it was when they forgot to be thankful that they longed for the past and tried to do things on their own. 

The manna is a picture of Jesus. Not only is He our daily bread for today, but He is also our hope for eternity with God in Heaven. And for that, we should be daily thinkful AND thankful. 

If you’d like a fun idea of how to stay thinkful AND thankful, check this out.

Join us this Sunday as we learn more about the dangers of our fading gratitude. 

Thursdays With Spurgeon—God’s Faithful Provision

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.

God’s Faithful Provision

     My witness is, and I speak it for the honor of God, that He is a good provider. … My first income as a Christian minister was small enough in all conscience, never exceeding forty-five pounds a year, yet I was as rich then as I am now, for I have enough; and I had no more cares, nay, not half as many then as I have now; and when I breathed my prayer to God then, as I do now, for all things temporal and spiritual, I found Him ready to answer me at every pinch, and for many pinches I have had. … My faith has been often tried, but God has always been faithful and sent supplies in hours of need. If any should tell me that prayer to God is a mere piece of excitement, and that the idea of God answering human cries is absurd, I should laugh the statement to scorn, for my experience is not that of one or two singular instances, but that of hundreds of cases in which the Lord’s interposition, for the necessities of His work, has been as manifest as if He had rent the clouds and thrust fourth His own naked arm and bounteous hand to supply the needs of His servant. 

From The Autobiography Of Charles Spurgeon 

I, too, can declare with Spurgeon how many times God has faithfully provided for us just in time. Every instance of true need has been met by miraculous provision as we have prayed to Him. 

It’s a lie to think that God doesn’t care about your need, or that He is too busy with bigger matters, or that He only helps those who help themselves. 

God loves to help those who cannot help themselves, so that He receives all of the glory. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6). 

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