A High And Holy Calling

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When God spoke to the “princes of Israel,” He was speaking to those in leadership positions. They were men who had wealth, position, and a high level of influence. God called them to live up to their title as “prince” because leadership is a high and holy calling given by God. 

Leaders are to set an example for others. They are to provide what is lacking so that others can live up to their own God-given potential as well. Here’s the way God describes His leaders in Ezekiel 45-46:

They are to be peacemakers, never men of violence nor oppression (45:9). 

They are to be fair, consistent, and impartial in their interactions with others (45:10). 

They are to generously provide for the people under their care (45:15-17, 22; 46:13-14). 

They are to have a “get to do it” attitude toward their duties, not a “have to do it” attitude” (46:5, 7, 11). 

They are to be among their people, not aloof nor isolated from them (46:10). 

They are to provide for their family without impoverishing the people under their care (46:18). 

Since God calls leaders, He will also call them to account. Jesus made it clear that there are only one-of-two assessments that leaders will hear from God:

  1. Well done, good and faithful servant 
  2. You wicked, lazy servant

Let me say it again: Leadership is a high and holy calling. So…

A mark of a godly leader is one who joyfully and faithfully fulfills God’s leadership call. 

This is part 67 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

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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—Heaven In My Face

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. 

Heaven In My Face 

     Sepulchral tones may fit a man to be an undertaker, but Lazarus is not called out of his grave by hollow moans. … I know brethren who from head to foot, in garb, tone, manner, necktie and boots are so utterly parsonic that no particle of manhood is visible. … Some men appear to have a white cravat twisted round their souls, their manhood is throttled with that starched rag. … An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker, and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living. … I commend cheerfulness to all who would win souls; not levity and frothiness, but a genial, happy spirit. There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar, and there will be more souls led to heaven by a man who wears heaven in his face than by one who bears Tartarus in his looks.

 From Lectures To My Students

When I was in Sunday School we used to sing a little ditty that perhaps you’ve sung as well: 

If you’re happy and you know clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know clap your hands 
If you’re happy and you know it
Then your life will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know clap your hands

This should be true for every Christian, but how much more so for the pastor who in many ways is the “face” of his congregation. I want people to see the joy of the Lord in my face. I want them to hear His joy in my voice. I want them to feel the joy of Jesus every time they interact with me. 

I want, as Spurgeon said, for them to see heaven in my face. 

In fact, I would go so far to say I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that to be a Christian and to be unhappy is a sin. An unhappy Christian gives God no praise, robs Him of glory, and paints God in a bad light. A happy Christian knows the Lord is his strength, his comfort, his supply. The happy Christian lifts God high and invites others to know this All-Good, All-Happy God too! 

So let me ask you, my friend, can others see heaven in your face?

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The Roots Of Endurance (book review)

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I always glean so many valuable lessons when I read the autobiographies or biographies of notable people of history. The Roots Of Endurance is the third installment in John Piper’s excellent series “The swans are not silent.” 

This book looks at the lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce. Unlike the other books in this series, these men were all contemporaries and all of them had at least a passing relationship with each other. In fact, their lives and accomplishments were an encouragement to each other. 

Pastor John makes the case in this book that in order to endure through difficult times successfully, we must have a deep root into the joy of the Lord. This root nourishes our hearts to persevere successfully through long trials. These three men exhibit this endurance beautifully. John Newton had to endure his own struggles with his past, Charles Simeon contended with an obstinate congregation, and William Wilberforce battled pro-slavery forces in Parliament for years before the abolition of the slave trade was enacted.

All three of these men endured successfully because they trusted God so deeply. These roots of trust went deep and helped them to persevere for God’s glory.

As I have mentioned in my other book reviews from the series, anyone who enjoys biographies of godly leaders or the study of church history will thoroughly enjoy The Roots Of Endurance. 

If you would like to check out the other books in this series that I have previously reviewed, please click here, here, or here.

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Poetry Saturday—Sorrowful, Yet Rejoicing

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“…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Sorrow was beautiful, but her beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, and making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss below. When Sorrow sang, her notes were like the low sweet call of the nightingale, and in her eyes was the unexpectant gaze of one who has ceased to look for coming gladness. She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her.

Joy was beautiful, too, but his was the radiant beauty of the summer morning. His eyes still held the glad laughter of childhood, and his hair had the glint of the sunshine’s kiss. When Joy sang his voice soared upward as the lark’s, and his step was the step of a conqueror who has never known defeat. He could rejoice with all who rejoice, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him.

“But we can never be united,” said Sorrow wistfully.

“No, never.” And Joy’s eyes shadowed as he spoke. “My path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom for my gathering, and the blackbirds and thrushes await my coming to pour forth their most joyous lays.” 

“My path,” said Sorrow, turning slowly away, “leads through the darkening woods, with moon-flowers only shall my hands be filled. Yet the sweetest of all earth-songs—the love song of the night—shall be mine; farewell, Joy, farewell.” 

Even as she spoke they became conscious of a form standing beside them; dimly seen, but of a Kingly Presence, and a great and holy awe stole over them as they sank on their knees before Him.

“I see Him as the King of Joy,” whispered Sorrow, “for on His Head are many crowns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness, and I give myself to Him forever.” 

“Nay, Sorrow,” said Joy softly, “but I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great agony. I, too, give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy that I have known.” 

“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in gladness, “for none but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.”

Hand in hand they passed out into the world to follow Him through storm and sunshine, in the bleakness of winter cold and the warmth of summer gladness, “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”Lettie Cowman

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The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy (book review)

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God uses humans—flawed, imperfect humans—to accomplish His sovereign plan. As we yield to His sovereignty we can discover an unparalleled joy. In The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy, John Piper shows us this principle in the lives of three notable men of church history: Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. 

Although separated by 1000 years, these men are inseparably linked to the beginning of the Reformation. Both Luther and Calvin relied heavily on the writings of Augustine as they called Christians away from the unbiblical teachings and traditions, and back to the pure, freeing truths of the Bible. 

These men are also linked in another way that should be quite encouraging to us. Augustine struggled with his sexual passions, Luther struggled to control his razor-sharp tongue, and Calvin used some rather worldly means to fight for biblical truths. All of them were flawed men, and yet God sovereignly used them. And through all of their struggles, the Holy Spirit brought all three of them into a place where they savored the sovereign joy that only God can give. This should give us great encouragement that God can use us too. 

By themselves, John Piper’s biographies of these men are worth your time to read, but the way Pastor John intertwines their stories to show us how sovereign joy can be our mainstay as well is absolutely brilliant. 

This was the first book Pastor John published in his series “The Swans Are Not Silent.” If you’re interested, I have previously shared reviews on The Hidden Smile Of God and Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully. 

Students of church history and those longing to know the joy of the Lord more deeply will enjoy reading The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy. 

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Everlasting, Unshakable Joy

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The Lord is angry with all nations… (Isaiah 34:2). 

Perhaps that verse surprises you in light of the title of this post, “Everlasting, Unshakable Joy,” but stick with me.

These phrases from Isaiah 34 do sound like terrible news:

  • God is angry with all nations
  • His wrath is on all their armies
  • God will totally destroy them
  • Even all the starry host will fall
  • God Himself says, “My sword has drunk its fill” 
  • All the world’s princes will vanish away 

But please keep in mind that this is only bad news for those who don’t have their sins forgiven through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause” (v. 8). And, “He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you” (35:4). 

So God’s anger is not at those whose sins have been forgiven, but at those who are not only unforgiven but hell-bent on attacking those who are forgiven. 

These words are intended to “strengthen feeble hands, steady the knees that give away,” and to bring strength “to those with fearful hearts” (35:3-4). 

The righteous have nothing to fear when the world is quaking in fear! “They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crowned their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (v. 10)! 

This is why Jesus told us, “I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more” (Luke 12:4 NIV), and, “Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in His hands” (Luke 12:5 MSG). And also the apostle Peter reminds us that we do not fear what the world fears (1 Peter 3:14). 

If your sins are forgiven, if you are walking in God’s paths, if you are seeking to savor the glory of God, and desirous that His glory be seen on earth as it is in heaven, there is not only nothing to fear, but you will have an everlasting, unshakable joy! 

Get your eyes off the world’s bad news, and keep your eyes firmly on the Good News that only Jesus has made a reality! 

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Honk Your Thanks

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If anxiety kills joy, what kills anxiety? Anxiety—the joy-killer—is itself killed when joy is expressed.

Being grateful for what you have kills the anxiety of what you don’t have.

Being thankful for what you have kills the fear of what you may be missing.

Being grateful for what you have kills the anxiety of the bad stuff that may never even happen.

If joy kills anxiety, how can we develop more of it? Most people would say, “If you’re happy, give thanks” or “If you’re happy, honk.” But really it’s the other way around: “If you want to be happy, honk!”

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Honking your thanks is not only good for you, but it’s good for everyone around you who hears your “honk! honk!” of gratitude. David experienced this in Psalm 34:1-3. Even when he was at a low point, when he started praising God other anxious people began to experience joy as well.

This is a snippet from a longer message, which you can find by clicking here.

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Poetry Saturday—My Heart Is Resting

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My heart is resting, O my God—
I will give thanks and sing;
My heart is at the secret source
Of every precious thing.
Now the frail vessel Thou hast made
No hand but Thine shall fill
For the waters of the Earth have failed,
And I am thirsty still.

I thirst for springs of heavenly life,
And here all day they rise—
I seek the treasure of Thy love,
And close at hand it lies.
And a new song is in my mouth
To long-loved music set
Glory to Thee for all the grace
I have not tasted yet.

Glory to Thee for strength withheld,
For want and weakness known—
And the fear that sends me to Thy breast
For what is most my own.
I have a heritage of joy
That yet I must not see;
But the hand that bled to make it mine
Is keeping it for me.

There is a certainty of love
That sets my heart at rest—
A calm assurance for today
That to be poor is best—
A prayer reposing on His truth
Who hath made all things mine,
That draws my captive will to Him,
And makes it one with Thine.

I will give thanks for suffering now,
For want and toil and loss—
For the death that sin makes hard and slow,
Upon my Savior’s Cross—
Thanks for the little spring of love
That gives me strength to say,
If they will leave me part in Him,
Let all things pass away.

Sometimes I long for promised bliss,
But it will not come too late—
And the songs of patient spirits rise
From the place wherein I wait;
While in the faith that makes no haste
My soul has time to see
A kneeling host of Thy redeemed,
In fellowship with me.

There is a multitude around
Responsive to my prayer;
I hear the voice of my desire
Resounding everywhere.
But the earnest of eternal joy,
In every prayer I trace;
I see the glory of the Lord:
On every chastened face.

How oft, in still communion known,
Those spirits have been sent
To share the travail of my soul,
Or show me what it meant!
And I long to do some work of love
No spoiling hand could touch,
For the poor and suffering of Thy flock
Who comfort me so much.

But the yearning thought is mingled now
With the thankful song I sing;
For Thy people know the secret source
Of every precious thing.
The heart that ministers for Thee
In Thy own work will rest;
And the subject spirit of a child
Can serve Thy children best.

Mine be the reverent, listening love,
That waits all day on Thee,
With the service of a watchful heart
Which no one else can see—
The faith that, in a hidden way
No other eye may know,
Finds all its daily work prepared,
And loves to have it so.

My heart is resting, O my God,
My heart is in Thy care
I hear the voice of joy and health
Resounding everywhere.
“Thou art my portion,” saith my soul,
Ten thousand voices say,
And the music of their glad Amen,
Will never die away. —Anna Laetitia Waring


Podcast: Greed Vs. Contentment

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

  • most people don’t think this leadership killer impacts them [0:30] 
  • we share our personal experiences of leaders placing “me” in front of “we” [2:06] 
  • here’s what this killer does to our teammates [2:58] 
  • sharing is better than taking—this is a key part of an abundance mindset [3:53] 
  • discontentment and low self-esteem lead to feelings of greed [5:14] 
  • what squashes greed? what is our leadership builder? [5:20] 
  • discontentment is the path of least resistance, so we have to choose to be contented leaders [6:43] 
  • Greg shares a contentment lesson he learned while on a missions trip [9:11]
  • how the senior leader should address discontentment or greed in other team members [10:56] 
  • leaders are the thermostat for their team [13:20] 
  • where does work fit into the overall scheme of life? [14:14] 
  • Greg gives us a leadership challenge to help us win the battle against greed [15:40]

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.

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