Is That In The Bible?

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

A meme that makes me chuckle every time I see it is a “quote” attributed to Abraham Lincoln in which he says, “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true.” 

(Not to spoil the joke for you, but unless Lincoln knew how to time travel to the future, I don’t think he knew about the modern internet! 😂) 

I love this meme because it captures something that so many people fall into: a quick acceptance of a statement without verifying its source or thinking through the implications of the statement’s truthfulness. 

Some insightful comments sound Shakespearean, but William never wrote them. 

Some pieces of wisdom sound Socratic, but Socrates never taught them. 

Some religious maxims sound godly, but the Bible never recorded them. 

I would like to invite you to join me as we relaunch this series called Is That In The Bible? I think you may be surprised to discover just how many phrases we call biblical aren’t, and how many phrases there are that we never realized are actually in the Bible. 

By the way, if you have a phrase that you would like to have us explore in this series, please leave it in a comment below. You may want to check out the questions we addressed in both the first installment and second installment of this series. 

In this installment of this series, we asked: Is this in the Bible…

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Blessed Discipline

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. 

Blessed Discipline

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. But judgment will return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it. (Psalm 94:12-15) 

     First, I will ask you to notice that God’s children are under instruction. Other children may run about and take holiday. They may wander into the woods, gather the flowers, and do very much what they like, but God’s own children have to go to school. This is a great privilege for them, although they do not always think so. Children are not often good judges of what is best for themselves. … 

     Some of us have learned much from the Lord’s chastening rod! For instance, we have learned the evil of sin. ‘Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word’ (Psalm 119:67). … Do we not also learn by affliction our own frailty and our own impatience? We are wonderfully patient when we have nothing to suffer, and we are all great heroes and very courageous when there is no fighting to be done. … 

     Do we not, then, learn also the value of prayer? … Do we ever pray in such dead earnest as when everything seems to be sinking from under our feet and our sweetest cups are full of bitterness? … And then how precious the promises become! As we only see the stars when the shadows gather at night, so the promises shine out like newly kindled stars when we get into the night of affliction! …  

     And, oh, dear friends, how should we ever know the faithfulness of God if it were not for affliction? We might talk about it and theoretically understand it, but to try to prove the greatness of Jehovah’s love and the absolute certainty of His eternal faithfulness—this comes not except by the way of affliction and trial! … 

     O Lord, still use the rod if You see that it is necessary. But go on teaching us out of Your Word! We are slow to learn and poor scholars at best, but You may yet make something of us.

From Blessed Discipline

I have learned that there are many lessons that I can learn in no other way than to go through the furnace of affliction. During those dark times, I’ve learned the closeness and the sweetness of God—His presence and His promises became even more precious to me. 

In one of my darkest times of affliction, I stumbled upon this poem from Robert Browning Hamilton:

I walked a mile with Pleasure—
She chattered all the way
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne’er a word said she,
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me.

If you’re going through a difficult time, don’t try to get out of it, but get closer into God’s presence. He is teaching you invaluable lessons during this trial.

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Links & Quotes

T.M. Moore wrote to pastors, “Effective ministry and fruitful Christian living are not automatic. They don’t just happen. Each requires that we receive the gifts of God, develop them according to His Word, and put them to proper use day by day. We must work out our salvation and work at our calling with focus and vigor.” Check out the rest of his post 

Speaking of pastors: In order for us pastors to be at our peak, we need to take care of ourselves. Here is a short video where I talk about the principle of sabbathing (a topic I explore in-depth in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter).

This study from PennMedicine tells us that our brains can continue to learn new things until the day we die. So apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks!

My friend Greg and I have always tried to combine work and play. We’ve found that fun can really help leadership lessons stick. Check out this clip from a recent Craig And Greg Show leadership podcast.

Some really fast-moving stars in our Milky Way galaxy have further called into question the dating of our universe. These stars seem to indicate a universe that was created by God recently.

“When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.” —Walter Payton

How does the word of man become the Word of God? Great teaching from John Piper in his “Look at the Book” series.

Lifelong Preparation

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

I had a great time on the Thriving In Ministry podcast with Kyle Willis and Dace Clifton. 

Dace asked me what I wished I had learned earlier on in my pastoral career. The answer that sprang quickly to my mind is this: God takes me through things on purpose. 

At the time we may not be able to see what God is teaching us, but He wastes no opportunities. Everything we have gone through has a purpose.

How true it is: God doesn’t prepare the path for me, but He prepares me for the path. 

The same is true for you, my friend! You may not know why during the time of your difficult trial, and you may not even know why on this side of Heaven. But God’s Word assures us that He is using every single thing to prepare us and to bring Him glory. 

My book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is proof of this! I never thought God would call me to pastor a church—let alone write a book about pastoral leadership—but as I wrote the book, the Holy Spirit brought back to my remembrance so many lessons that I learned along the way. 

I’ve already shared several clips from this Thriving In Ministry interview which you can find by clicking here, and I’ll be sharing more clips soon, so please stay tuned. 

Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Is That In The Bible?

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

A meme that makes me chuckle every time I see it is a “quote” attributed to Abraham Lincoln in which he says, “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true.” 

(Not to spoil the joke for you, but unless Lincoln knew how to time travel to the future, I don’t think he knew about the modern internet! 😂) 

I love this meme because it captures something that so many people fall into: a quick acceptance of a statement without verifying its source or thinking through the implications of the statement’s truthfulness. 

Some insightful comments sound Shakespearean, but William never wrote them. 

Some pieces of wisdom sound Socratic, but Socrates never taught them. 

Some religious maxims sound godly, but the Bible never recorded them. 

I would like to invite you to join me as we relaunch this series called Is That In The Bible? I think you may be surprised to discover just how many phrases we call biblical aren’t, and how many phrases there are that we never realized are actually in the Bible. 

By the way, if you have a phrase that you would like to have us explore in this series, please leave it in a comment below. If you would like to check out the questions we addressed previously, please click here

In this installment of this series we asked: Is this in the Bible…

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Standing Firm

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. 

Standing Firm 

     Superficial brilliance is always afraid of fire, but gold is not. The paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true diamond fears no test. People who have a kind of confectionery godliness will wish to be preserved from temptations, for they cannot endure them. But the Christian counts it all joy when he falls into different trials, knowing that ‘tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us’ (Romans 5:3-5). My dear friends, if your faith is only a sunshiny faith, get rid of it! … 

     So our gracious God, beloved, glorifies Himself by permitting His people to be subjected to trials and by enabling them to endure the strain. We would never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched. We would never enjoy the juice of the grape if it were never trod in the winepress. We would never discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten. And we would never know the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The excellence of the Christian is brought out by the fire of trouble. The wisdom of the great Workman and the glory of His skill and power are discovered by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. … 

     Depend upon it, beloved, those who suffer as I have described are the children of God, for they show it. They show it by the way in which they bear their trials. In the worst times there is always a clear distinction that marks them as separate from other men. If they cannot shout, ‘Victory!’ they bear patiently. If they cannot sing to God with their mouth, yet their hearts bless Him. There is a degree of light even in their worst darkness…. If they get into the mire, they do not perish there. They cry for help when their woes surround them, and in the very nick of time, when everything appears to be lost, their heavenly Father hastens to their aid.

From The Believer Sinking In The Mire

I shared a series of messages called Thankful In The Night. Another psalmist wrote, “Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me” (Psalm 42:8). 

Notice that this psalmist was praising God IN the night, not praising Him FOR the night. Many people have gone through what has been called “the dark night of the soul.” I don’t think anyone has ever given thanks because of being in a dark time, but certainly they have given thanks afterward because of the lessons learned in that dark time. 

Quite simply put, there are some things God wants to teach us that we can learn in no other way than to go through a dark night. So we can learn to be thankful even IN those nights. IN those nights, we can learn to say, as Spurgeon did, “I believe in my Lord because He is a God who cannot lie. He is faithful and true to His every word and, therefore, let the whole creation go to rack and ruin, my faith will not waver or give up its confidence.” 

Amen! Let us stand firm in that confidence.

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A Teaching Tip For Leaders

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

In Proverbs 25–26 Solomon uses the word “like” 18 times. This small word gives leaders a huge teaching lesson. 

Good leaders are constantly conveying to their team the vision that God has given them. We see this throughout the Bible, where past history is connected to the future promise God has given. Unless leaders are able to consistently, and frequently, refocus their people on the vision, the people “cast off restraint” and go their own way (Proverbs 29:18). 

Leaders need to find fresh ways to make their messages stick. All of the Proverbs, but especially these two chapters, give us excellent lessons for this. Solomon makes memorable connections by starting with something that most people have experienced. Things like…

  • a beautiful piece of jewelry 
  • a refreshingly cool drink on a hot day
  • an injured body part 
  • the actions of nature and animals  

Then Solomon connects these observations to a timely piece of wisdom…

  • The right words, delivered at the right time, in the right way are LIKE a beautiful piece of jewelry. 
  • One who delivers timely and helpful words is LIKE a refreshingly cool drink on a hot day. 
  • Trying to move around on an injured foot is LIKE having to rely on someone inconsistent during times of trouble. 
  • Just LIKE honey is good for you in moderation, too much honey—and too much of any good thing—can make you sick. 

This is a great teaching lesson for every leader. We need to continually find new and memorable ways to help our people grasp the vision, mission, and values of the organization. This teaching tip from King Solomon can go a long way in helping our messages stick. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who is always finding new ways to teach the people around him. 

This is part 59 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

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But And And

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

Proverbs 10 begins with these words, “The proverbs of Solomon…” (Proverbs 10:1). 

Over the next six chapters (184 verses) Solomon generously employs the contrasting conjunction “but” 144 times—that’s nearly 80 percent of these verses! He clearly tells us the blessings of trusting God’s wisdom contrasted with the pitfalls of trusting our own wits. 

I am also intrigued by the 21 verses where Solomon uses the amplifying conjunction “and.” These proverbs give us either the double advantage of leaning into God’s wisdom, or the double whammy of trying to do it our own way. 

I’ll let you read through these six chapters and notice the contrasting conjunction “but” for yourself, but in this blog post I want to especially direct your attention to some of the “and” statements. I’ve listed these in three categories.

(1) The double whammies—

  • malicious people cause grief to others AND ruin to themselves (10:10) 
  • trusting mortals is short-lived AND self-defeating (11:7) 
  • a quick-tempered person does foolish things AND is hated (14:17)

(2) The double blessings—

  • a generous person prospers AND is refreshed (11:25) 
  • a righteous life is a blessed life now AND an eternal life forever (12:28) 
  • fearing God brings security for you AND gives your children a sure refuge (14:26) 

(3) And these mixed proverbs using both a whammy and a blessing—

  • a righteous person is rescued from trouble AND it falls on the wicked instead (11:8) 
  • a prudent person is praised AND the one with a warped mind is despised (12:8) 
  • evildoers are trapped in their own evil AND innocent people escape evil (12:13) 

There is so much wisdom to be gleaned not only in these words of Solomon, but throughout the entire Bible. Take your time and soak it in as you read the Scripture for yourself. 

Here are some of the other posts I’ve shared that may help you in your Bible study time: 

I’ve also posted reviews on these study Bibles: 

However you do it, and whatever tools you may use, get into your Bible every single day, and then let the Word of God get into you too. I can promise you this: Your time in God’s Word will absolutely change your life! 

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Ongoing

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

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart (Proverbs 3:1). 

A better translation of this verse would be like this: My son, keep on not forgetting my teaching, but keep on keeping my commands in your heart. 

Or, as Jesus said it, “My Father is always working, and so am I” (John 5:17). 

Always workING. 

It’s a continuous action. We don’t make a one-time commitment and then coast through the rest of our life. To help us with this, in the third chapter of Proverbs, Solomon shows us God’s blessings on an “ING” lifestyle. That is, the blessings on the right kinds of “ING.” 

If I am keepING God’s commands, He is prolongING my life and bringING me peace (vv. 1, 2). 

If I am bindING love and faithfulness to my heart, I am winnING favor and a good name (vv. 3, 4). 

If I am trustING God and leanING on His wisdom, He is directING me onto the best paths (vv. 5, 6). 

If I am fearING God and shunnING evil, He is bringING health to me (vv. 7, 8). 

If I am honorING God with my firstfruits, He is continually fillING me to overflowing (vv. 9, 10). 

If I am not despisING God’s discipline, I am findING wisdom and gainING understanding (vv. 11-18). 

If I am preservING sound judgment and discretion, I am walkING in safety, sleepING sweetly, and experiencING no fear (vv. 19-26). 

If I am not withholdING good from those in need, not plottING harm against others, not accusING nor envyING my neighbor, then God is blessING my home, showING me favor, and making sure I am inheritING honor (vv. 27-35). 

The apostle Paul reminds us, “So let’s not get tired of doING what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9). 

When I keep on keepING on, so do God’s blessings! 

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The Best Leadership Manual

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

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice… (Proverbs 29:2). 

I have read hundreds of leadership books and biographies of history’s most influential leaders. But no book even comes close to the leadership principles I discover on an almost daily basis in my Bible. Without a doubt, my Bible is my go-to leadership Book! 

A great place to start mining leadership principles is the book of Proverbs. Take time to study just one of the 31 chapters each day, and you will be astounded at the leadership insights you will have gleaned by the end of the month. 

Take Proverbs 29 as an example. Reading through this chapter, I’m reminded that:

  • righteous leadership causes people to rejoice 
  • a leader builds stability through consistent justice, but bribes or showing favoritism undermines a leader’s foundation 
  • leaders who speak up for those without a voice of their own will continue to exert influence long after their tenure is over 
  • wise leaders energize people when they share a compelling vision 
  • justice comes through a righteous leader, but ultimate justice come from God

I even read an important warning for leaders who make it their goal to lead righteously: Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright (v. 10). 

But even on the heels of that warning I read this assurance to continue to lead righteously: Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe (v. 25). 

A mark of a godly leader is one who is continually finding new leadership principles in the Bible. 

Try it for yourself and see how applying God’s wisdom will increase your influence as a leader. 

This is part 58 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

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