Poetry Saturday—Choices

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“…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)

I have to choose.
Not my parents.
Not my heritage.
To choose for me.
Myself.

I have to choose.
Not trapped by yesterday.
Not anxious for tomorrow.
To choose this day.
Everyday.

I have to choose.
Not to be in control.
Not to be the master.
To choose whom I will serve.
Jesus.

I have chosen.
Myself.
Today.
Jesus.

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Why We Need Loving Friends

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

Check out this excerpt from chapter 13 of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter

David was the gold standard for every king of Israel who followed him. Numerous times throughout the history of Israel, we will see a note that a certain king either followed God like David, or turned from God unlike David. Yet there exists a wart on David’s portrait: an adultrous affair with the wife of a man in his inner circle, and then subsequent lies and a murder to cover up the affair. “The thing David had done displeased the Lord” (see 2 Samuel 11). 

But I’d like to turn your attention to when this affair occurred: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war … David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1). He was without his usual comrades. The men who knew David best, who could probably sense if something was amiss, weren’t around to warn him. When David tried to find out the identity of the bathing beauty on the roof next door to his palace, an unnamed attendant tried to remind him, “Isn’t that Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah?” but David dismissed him. 

Elijah was arguably the most forceful and fearless prophet in Israel’s history. Not only did he stand up to the evil kings of Israel, but he spoke out against the kings of surrounding nations, too. In answer to Elijah’s prayer, God brought a drought on the land, and again in answer to Elijah’s prayer, God sent rain. Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of the god Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah to a duel to the death, which ended up in a decisive victory for Yahweh. Yet, shortly after this massive victory, Elijah was depressed to the point that he wanted to die. 

What led to Elijah’s depression? Something very similar to David’s slide into adultery: He was alone. Elijah ran away from Queen Jezebel’s death threat, left his servant behind, and proceeded all by himself into the desert. It was when he was without a comrade that he prayed to God, “I’ve had enough. Take my life” (see 2 Kings 17–19). 

And what about Peter? He boldly claimed his loyalty to Jesus, even to the point of wielding a sword at the guards who came to arrest his Master. But when Peter was alone, after the other disciples fled, he denied three times that he knew Jesus (Matthew 26:33, 51, 69–75). 

God designed us to be in relationship with others. His statement to Adam in some of the earliest words of the Bible—“It is not good for you to be alone”—are words for us still today. 

In a recent episode of “The Craig And Greg Show,” Greg and I discussed one of our favorite verses in the Bible: Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses (Proverbs 27:6). 

If you want to go far, don’t try to go alone. If you want an accountability partner that can keep warts away from your leadership legacy, don’t go alone. If you want to extend your leadership influence, don’t go alone. If you want to honor God’s investment in you, don’t go alone. Get those friends around you who love you enough to speak the truth! 

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Obedience Is Success

David said, “…I had it in my heart to build a house as the place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord. … But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for My name…’” (1 Chronicles 28:2-3).

David’s son Solomon would later write about how we make plans in our hearts, but God directs all our steps (Proverbs 16:9, 19:21). 

David not only had the desire to build this temple for God but he said the Holy Spirit gave him the plans (1 Chronicles 28:12, 19). As a result of this, David began amassing resources and organizing personnel. All of this David could then hand over to Solomon, the man who would build the house for the ark of the covenant of the Lord. 

I am sure David felt a twinge of disappointment when God said “no.” Still, David continued to work the plan the Spirit had given him. Who knows how Solomon would have begun his reign as king if David hadn’t done all of this for him. Many of the plans God gives me will not be for me but for the following generations who will benefit from my diligence in those plans.

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows that obedience to God IS success. 

In one of David’s psalms, he prays for success and for his heart’s desire to be fulfilled, but he also acknowledges God’s sovereignty over these things (Psalm 20). May I always keep in mind that obedience IS success. Success isn’t limited only to what I can see and measure during my lifetime.

This is part 53 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

The Legacy Of Worship

As my friend Josh Schram led us through Psalm 66 in our Selah series, I was reminded how our worship of God—especially in our trials—can leave a godly legacy that crosses generations and continents. 

There are three Selahs in this psalm. Remember that Selah is a call to pause to consider the impact of what the inspired biblical text just said to us. The Selahs in this psalm are surrounded by praise to God, as well as the impact of that praise. 

“We don’t praise God because our circumstances are good. We praise God because our God is awesome!” —Josh Schram 

 Psalm 66 could be briefly outlined like this:

  • We say to God, “How awesome are Your deeds!” 
  • Selah—pause to ponder how awesome God is. 
  • We say to others, “Come and see the awesome things God has done!” 
  • Selah—pause to let our worship of God impact others. 
  • Others join with us in saying, “God is worthy to be praised!” 
  • Selah—pause and rejoice as their praise to God reverberates. 
  • Now we can say to an even larger audience, “Come and listen to the awesome things God has done!” 

Notice that our praise of God—despite the circumstances we’re in—makes all of the other steps possible. 

“Come and see my life of praise” (v. 3) precedes the opportunity to say, “Come and listen to my testimony” (v. 5). In other words, we live out our love for God and earn the right to speak out to others about our love for God. 

Look at the same pattern in Paul and Silas:

  • They are thrown in prison on sham charges and they still are about to sing through their physical pain, “How awesome is our God!” 
  • God sends an earthquake that breaks off their shackles and opens the prison doors. 
  • The jailer asks how he also can have this kind of relationship with Jesus. 
  • Paul and Silas have the opportunity to say to him and his family, “Come and listen.” 
  • The jailer and his family accept Jesus as their Savior. 

But it’s not just this jailer. Luke wrote that the other prisoners were also listening to Paul and Silas sing about their awesome God. Through the jailer and perhaps some of these prisoners, a church was started in Philippi. 

Later on, Paul would write to this church about their partnership in ministry, and he would write to the Corinthian church about the amazing missions generosity of the Philippian church (see Philippians 1:3-5; 2 Corinthians 8:1-2). That’s what I mean about leaving a godly legacy that crosses generations and continents. 

God is worthy to be praised! Let others hear you saying, “God is awesome” even in the midst of your painful trials, and you, too, will earn the opportunity to say to them, “Come and listen as I tell you how awesome it is to be in a relationship with God through His Son Jesus!” You can be a part of this godly legacy in your community. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the full list of messages by clicking here. 

Poetry Saturday—Epitaphium Meum

From my years young in days of youth,
God did make known to me His truth,
And call’d me from my native place
For to enjoy the means of grace
In wilderness He did me guide,
And in strange lands for me provide.
In fears and wants, through weal and woe,
As pilgrim passed I to and fro:
Oft left of them whom I did trust;
How vain it is to rest on dust!
A man of sorrows I have been,
And many changes I have seen.
Wars, wants, peace, plenty have I known;
And some advanc’d, others thrown down.
The humble, poor, cheerful and glad;
Rich, discontent, sower and sad:
When fears with sorrows have been mixed,
Consolations came betwixt.
Faint not, poor soul, in God still trust,
Fear not the things thou suffer must;
For, whom He loves He doth chastise,
And then all tears wipes from their eyes.
Farewell, dear children, whom I love,
Your better Father is above:
When I am gone, He can supply;
To Him I leave you when I die.
Fear Him in truth, walk in His ways,
And He will bless you all your days.
My days are spent, old age is come,
My strength it fails, my glass near run:
Now I will wait when work is done,
Until my happy change shall come,
When from my labors I shall rest
With Christ above for to be blest. —William Bradford

Saturday In The Proverbs—Sowing & Reaping (Proverbs 17)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame… (Proverbs 17:2).

There are inevitable outcomes for our attitudes and (in)actions. Or said another way: We always reap what we sow.

Not dealing with confrontation correctly → → Strife (v. 1)

Wise work ethic → → Leadership rewards (v. 2)

Allowing God to refine you → → A pure heart (v. 3)

Listening to lies and slander → → Punished by God (v. 4)

Mocking the less fortunate → → Punished by God (v. 5)

Living well → → Leaving a legacy for my children (v. 6)

Truthful, uplifting speech → → Being treated like a prince (v. 7)

Lies and loose lips → → Being treated like a fool (v. 7)

Giving gifts to others → → Favor with others (v. 8)

Forgiving and forgetting an offense → → Cementing a friendship (v. 9)

Telling others about an offense → → Losing a friendship (v. 9)

Rebuking a wise man → → Gaining wisdom (v. 10)

Rebuking a fool → → Getting rebuked myself (v. 10)

Rebellion → → Repaid with cruelty (v. 11)

Trade folly with a fool → → Get mauled (v. 12)

Repay good with evil → → Get stuck with evil (v. 13)

Keep picking a fight → → Open a world of hurt (v. 14)

Justify the wicked or condemn the just → → Displace God (vv. 15, 26)

Give wisdom to a fool → → Get burned (v. 16)

Love your friends → → Have help in difficult times (v. 17)

Make a bad deal → → Get stuck with it for a long time (v. 18)

Love sin and promoting yourself → → Watch it all crash down (v. 19)

Look for deceit → → Fall into evil (v. 20)

Don’t discipline your children → → No joy (vv. 21, 25)

Be happy → → Make others happy (v. 22)

Be sad → → Cause rotten feelings in others (v. 22)

Accept a bribe → → Pervert justice (v. 23) and displease God (v. 15)

Keep focused on the here-and-now → → Get wisdom for there-and-then (v. 24)

Use words sparingly → → Bring calm (v. 27)

Stay silent when you have nothing good to say → → Be thought of as wise (v. 28)

If you don’t like what you’re reaping in your life, check what you’re sowing. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Nourishing (Proverbs 13)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth … The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul… (Proverbs 13:2, 25).

God’s wisdom never leaves us flat. Never leaves us with a bad taste in our mouth. Never leaves us unsatisfied. Never leaves us without all that we need. 

God’s wisdom…

  • instructs (v. 1) 
  • satisfies the soul (vv. 2, 12, 25)
  • preserves life (vv. 3, 14)
  • brings real riches (vv. 4, 7, 11)
  • promotes (v. 5) 
  • guards (vv. 6, 8)
  • leaves a legacy (vv. 9, 22, 24)
  • increases peace (v. 10)
  • rewards (v. 13) 
  • brings favor (vv. 15, 18)
  • grows knowledge (v. 16)
  • preserves health (v. 17) 
  • gets things down (v. 19) 
  • gains even more wisdom (v. 20) 
  • repays good (v. 21)
  • wastes nothing (v. 23) 

Wow! How nourishing God’s Wisdom is! 

Saturday In The Psalms—Happy!!

…happy are the people whose God is the Lord! (Psalm 144:15).

Happy indeed are people who have learned that there is only One God, and have also acknowledged Him as the Lord of their life.

David lists some fabulous blessings for those have made God their Lord…

  • …are equipped by God for victory
  • …experience His lovingkindness
  • …are intimately known by God
  • …know that God bends heaven and earth to help those who love Him
  • …are protected from evil people
  • …have new songs to sing
  • …experience God’s miraculous deliverance and rescue
  • …see blessings on their children and their work and their home
  • …are used as peacemakers and unity-restorers

Happy, happy, HAPPY!

Happy are the people who are in such a state;
Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!

Saturday In The Psalms—Blessings For The Obedient

Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments (Psalm 112:1).

For the one who loves God and wants to obey Him, check out these blessings—

  • blessed, powerful descendants
  • blessing the current generation
  • taking care of his household
  • keeping his righteousness intact
  • giving him light in dark times
  • multiplying his graciousness, compassion, and righteousness
  • blessing him to be a blessing to others
  • giving him discretion
  • a solid, unshakable foundation
  • a legacy to pass on to his children
  • no fear of evil
  • steadfastness
  • more than enough to share with others in need
  • exalted on earth and in heaven

Bring it on!

Saturday In The Psalms—Resolutions

I will… (9x in Psalm 101).

Psalm 101 is only eight verses long, but David makes nine I will resolutions to God. Perhaps you might consider making these resolutions yourself—

(1) I will sing of mercy and justice. These are two sides of the same coin; in fact, it’s only when we know God’s justice that we can appreciate His mercy. Both God’s justice and His mercy need to be celebrated.

(2) I will sing praises. Regardless of our situation or setting, God is worthy to be praised.

(3) I will behave wisely in a perfect way AND (4) I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. A commitment to integrity, living a godly lifestyle, and leaving a godly legacy.

(5) I will set nothing wicked before my eyes AND (6) I will not know wickedness. A commitment to be childlike in regard to wickedness, and watchfulness of anything impure.

(7) I will destroy AND (8) I will not endure AND (9) I will destroy all the wicked. A resolution to cut-off all relationships that are not God-honoring.

Resolutions aren’t just for New Year’s Day. Resolutions can be made any time we sense something in our life isn’t as God-pleasing as it could be.

What resolutions are you willing to make?

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