Brave Enough

I originally wrote this seven years ago. This morning I felt like someone else needed to see this again…

Craig T. Owens

If God asks me to give $1, I can quickly and easily say, “Yes!”

If God asks me to give $10, I say, “Okay!”

If God asks me to give $100, I say, “Um, well, if You say so.”

If God asks me to give $1000, I say, “I need to pray about this ‘faith promise.’”

If God asks me to give $10,000, I say, “As soon as You bless me, I’ll be able to do this.”

This same principle holds true for anything else:

  • Used clothing? Sure. Brand new stuff? I’m not so sure.
  • Volunteer an hour? Okay! Make a commitment for an hour every week? Let me think about it.
  • Pray for someone? No problem. Add them to my daily prayer list? Whoa!
  • Support missionaries? Yes! Become a missionary? Well….

It’s easy to obey when the stakes are low. But the more “zeroes” that get added to the…

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How To Respond To Bad Pastors

God has ordained that His leaders oversee and administer His ministry. But problems arise in the church when humans change the “His” to “my.”

I read a statistic that 75% of people who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of a problem with their boss. In other words, 3-out-of-4 people didn’t quit their job, they quit their boss. In my personal experience this is equally as true in the church world—Most people don’t quit their church, they quit a bad pastor.

Sadly, those who do quit their church usually do so the wrong way. As a result they become either de-churched (they don’t attend anywhere), or cynical in the next church they do attend.

Who is a bad pastor?

  • One who is no longer effective because he is stuck in an old way of doing things
  • One who is theologically off
  • One who is unwilling to admit an error, ask forgiveness, and make amends
  • One who uses his position to build his kingdom instead of God’s kingdom

We have a great example of how to handle a bad spiritual leader in the story of David and Saul (see 1 Samuel 24). David had done nothing wrong, yet Saul was trying to kill him. At one point David’s men urged David to take matters into his own hands, and he almost did. He got close enough to Saul to cut off a corner of his robe, but quickly discovered that was too close. Immediately after doing so David was conscience-stricken!

Then look how David responded:

  • David rebuked his men as he reminded them that Saul was their “master” and “the Lord’s anointed.”
  • David “bowed down and prostrated himself” before Saul as he apologized.
  • David called him his “master,” “father,” and “the Lord’s anointed.”
  • David said he would leave the matter in God’s hands, allowing God to “judge between you and me.”
  • And twice David declared, “My hand will not touch you!”

This humble reply got Saul’s attention. Saul wept as he said, “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.” Saul then asked David to be kind to his descendants.

Then this conclusion—David gave Saul his oath, and then went away to a safe place.

The New Testament captures these same ideas for today’s Christians. We are told not to lightly entertain an accusation against spiritual leaders (1 Timothy 5:19), but to submit and obey to biblically-correct leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

The Bible gives us only two options for dealing with spiritual leaders…

SUBMIT & OBEY or WALK AWAY

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Responding in an unscriptural way to an unscriptural pastor’s way is just as wrong as what the pastor was doing wrong in the first place!

So give the bad pastor your oath that you will not lay a hand (or a word!) on them, and then remove yourself to a safe place. Submit and obey, or walk away and leave them in God’s capable hands.

12 More Quotes From “Chase The Lion”

chase-the-lionI loved Chase The Lion by Mark Batterson! If this book doesn’t inspire you to do great things for God, I’m not sure what will. Be sure to check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy some more quotes from this amazing book.

“You may doubt yourself because of your lack of education or lack of experience. But if God has called you, you aren’t really doubting yourself. You’re doubting God. God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called.”

“An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. It’s the decisions when no one is looking that will dictate your destiny. In fact, your integrity is your destiny! Killing Goliath was an epic act of bravery. Not killing Saul was an epic act of integrity.”

“One of the most important decisions you make every single day is what time you set your alarm to go off.”

“God doesn’t promise us happily ever after. He promises so much more than that—happily forever after.”

“In God’s kingdom the outcome isn’t the issue. Success isn’t winning or losing; it’s obeying. … In God’s book success is spelled stewardship. It’s making the most of the time, talent, and treasure God has given you. It’s doing the best you can with what you have, where you are.”

“Just as courage is not the absence of fear, success is not the absence of failure. Failure is a necessary step in every dream journey.”

“Fighters don’t walk away when the going gets tough; they fight to the finish for their convictions. Fighters don’t give up when everyone is against them; they fight against the status quo. And fighters don’t shrink back when the odds are against them; they fight for what they believe in.”

“It’s okay to talk to God about your problems, but at some point you have to flip the script. You need to talk to your problems about God.”

“Valor is less an action and more a reaction. If you judge a person by his or her actions, you’re judging a book by its cover. Reactions are far more revealing than actions. How you react in difficult circumstances is the litmus test of character. And you never really know how you’ll react until you’re the one who crosses paths with a lion. Valor is running toward trouble when everyone else is running away. Valor is going above and beyond the call of duty. Valor is putting yourself in the line of fire for someone else.”

“You know why some of us have never killed the giant, chased the lion, or walked on water? We’re afraid of looking foolish. But it’s the fear of looking foolish that is foolish!”

“Sometimes the circumstances we’re trying to change are the very circumstances God is using to change us. … Instead of expending all your energy trying to get out of them, get something out of them.”

“Don’t be in such a hurry to begin the next chapter of your life that you fail to ace the lessons the current chapter is trying to teach you.”

You can check out the first set of quotes I shared from Chase The Lion by clicking here. And be sure to follow me on Tumblr and Twitter, where I daily share quotes from all sorts of inspirational authors.

9 Quotes From “Of Antichrist And His Ruin”

Of Antichrist And His RuinJohn Bunyan’s works are steeped in Scripture. His thoughts about the Antichrist and other end times events are either directly taken from biblical passages, or else his line of reasoning fits perfectly with the intent of the Scriptures. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some quotes I found enlightening.

“Coercion, in anything connected with religion, whether it imposes creeds, liturgies, or modes of worship, is Antichrist: whom to obey, is spiritual desolation, and if knowingly persevered in, leads to death.” —George Offor, editor

“As God therefore did put it into the hearts of the wicked kings of Babylon, to distress in His church and people for their sins; so He put it into the hearts of the kings of the Medes and Persians, who were to be, in a sense, their saviors; to ease them of those distresses, to take off the yoke, and let them go free.”

“This twenty years we have been degenerating, both as to principles, and as to practice; and have grown at last into an amazing likeness to the world, both as to religion and civil demeanor.” 

“Take heed in laying the cause of your troubles in the badness of the temper of governors. … God is the chief, and has the hearts of all, even of the worst of men, in His hand. Good tempered men have sometimes brought trouble; and bad tempered man have sometimes brought enlargement to the churches of God: Saul brought enlargement (1 Samuel 14:28). David brought trouble (2 Samuel 12:10).) Ahab brought enlargement (1 Kings 21:29). Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did both sometimes bring trouble (2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:35; 32:25). Therefore, the good or bad tempers of men sway nothing with God in this matter; they are the sins or repentances of His people, that make the church either happy or miserable upon earth.”

“Antichrist is the adversary of Christ; an adversary really, a friend pretendedly. So then, Antichrist is one that is against Christ; one that is for Christ, and one that is contrary to Him (and this is that mystery of iniquity [2 Thessalonians 2:7]). Against Him in deed; for Him in word, and contrary to Him in practice. … Christ prefereth His Father’s will above heaven and earth: Antichrist prefereth himself and his traditions above all that is written, or that is called God, or worshiped.”

“Nor can all the fallen angels, with all the members and limbs of Antichrist, cause that their brat should abide so much as one day longer than our God’s prefixed time.”

“Now, by ordinances of Antichrist, I do not intend things that only respect matters of worship in Antichrist’s kingdom, but those civil laws that impose and enforce them also; yea, that enforce that worship with pains and penalties, as in the Spanish Inquisition. … What could the king of Babylon’s golden image have done, had it not been for the burning fiery furnace that stood within view of the worshipers (Daniel 3)? Yea, what could that horrible command, to pray for thirty days to neither God nor man, but to the king, have done, had it not been for the dark den and the roaring lions therein ready to devour those that disobeyed it (Daniel 6)? … For as the furnace would have been next to nothing, if void of fire; and the den as little frightful, if destitute of lions; so these laws will be as insignificant, when Christ has slain that spirit that is in them; that spirit that causes that as many as will not worship the image of the beast, should be killed.”

“What say ye now, ye sons of God! Will you learn to make a judgment of things according to the mystery of the wisdom of God, or will ye longer conclude according to sense and reason?”

“Cold blasts in November are not received with that gentleness as are colder in March and April; for that these last cold ones are but the farewell notes of a piercing winter; they also bring with them the signs and tokens of a comfortable summer. Why, the church is now at the rising of the year; let then the blasts at present, or to come, be what they will, Antichrist is assuredly drawing towards his downfall.”

Valuing Life

SOHL“As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.” —David, in 1 Samuel 26:24

This is as strong of a pro-life statement as any in the Bible! 

The Hebrew word for value in this verse means…

  • to grow up
  • to become great or important
  • to do great things

Throughout the Old Testament this word is used to describe people growing from a small, infantile state to a place of maturity and prominence.

David held King Saul’s life in his hand. Since Saul was hell-bent on messing up David’s life (even killing him, if he could), we could say that David had plenty of rationale to justify ending Saul’s life. But David would not touch Saul because he recognized Saul’s God-given human dignity.

David asked God to value his life in the same way that David valued Saul’s life. Even Saul himself affirmed this when he said, “May you be blessed, my son David; you will do great things and surely triumph” (v. 25).

What if God only valued your life as much as you valued others’ lives? 

What if God only spoke up for you as much as you spoke up for the not-yet-born? 

What if God only blessed you as much as you blessed the aged and disabled? 

How much would your life be blessed by God?

Something to think about as we celebrate Sanctity of Human Life month. We will be honoring Sanctity of Human Life Sunday this week by bringing our donations for Alpha Family Center of Cedar Springs. I would love for you to join us!

Cry Before You Confront

As a pastor, one of your responsibilities is to point out what may be harmful in someone’s life. We have a word for that: confrontation.

Handled correctly, confrontation can lead to restoration and newfound maturity. Handled incorrectly, and, well, let’s just say it can get very ugly!

I just heard the story of a pastor who felt like he needed to confront one of his board members. I don’t really know this pastor, nor do I know the board member; I don’t know what was said in their meeting, but I have heard about the outcome, and it’s ugly.

Samuel was going to be sent by God to confront King Saul about the sin he had committed. Look at this passage —

Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. (1 Samuel 15:10-11)

Did you catch how Samuel responded? He cried out to the Lord all that night.

Perhaps if we, as pastors, cried before we confronted the results might be more healthy.

Nehemiah was another pastoral/prophetic figure that was going to confront the inhabitants of Jerusalem about their sin.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: …I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. (Nehemiah 1:4-6)

Before Nehemiah confronted the sins of the people, he tearfully took a hard look at himself, and then asked for forgiveness. Jesus shared this same concept with these words —

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

So before you confront your brother, let the Holy Spirit confront you. Then, if it’s needed, confess your sin and ask God’s forgiveness. Let the Holy Spirit remove things in your life so that you can see clearly how to lovingly confront your brother.

Cry before your confront. Cry over your sin. Cry over the sinful state of your brother or sister. Plead with the Lord for this time of confrontation to lead to restoration and maturity.

Lamenting Over The Fallen

How The Mighty Have Fallen! Long before Jim Collins entitled his latest book with this phrase, David said this when King Saul and Prince Jonathan were killed in battle. In fact, he said it not once, but three times in just eight verses.

It is understandable that David would lament the death of his friend Jonathan. They were covenant brothers, they shared the same heartbeat for God and for Israel, and they stood by each other through thick and thin.

But Saul… why would David lament the death of Saul? This is the man who was jealous of David. So jealous that he did everything he could to trip David up. Including trying to kill him. Saul chased David from his home, his family, his wife, even his country.

Why would David lament Saul’s death? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to rejoice over it?

But David still saw Saul as “the Lord’s anointed.” David recognized the good in Saul. He called him…

  • The glory of Israel,
  • A successful warrior,
  • Gracious,
  • Lovable,
  • Strong, and
  • Israel’s provider

When David heard Saul had been killed, he lamented, Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

When I see the mighty, God-anointed leader fall, do I lament?

I may shake my head … I may feel vindicated … I may be disgusted … but I don’t know that I have ever lamented or grieved when one of these mighty brothers has fallen. Or if I have, my lament has been short-circuited by other less appropriate emotions.

Despite their sin, they are still God’s anointed. Who am I to sit in judgment? Who am I to do anything but lament their fall?

Lord, forgive me! Father, help me to see Your anointed in the proper perspective: as Your anointed. Holy Spirit, remind me of the tragedy of even one mighty one who falls. May my response be one of lament, and mercy, and prayer.

Just keepin’ it real, folks. This is me, but I’m trying to get better.

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