Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

10 Quotes From “When A Nation Forgets God”

Dr. Erwin Lutzer discovers some scary parallels in the culture that gave rise to the Nazis and what is happening in America today. Please check out this book! You can read my review by clicking here.

“The role of the church [in Nazi-controlled Germany] was minimized by privatizing faith and instituting laws about what could or could not be said from a pulpit.”

“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believes that God must be separated not just from government, but from every sphere of American life. Religion—particularly Christianity—must be ousted from government, from law, education, and the workplace.

“Thus with the so-called public square free of any hint of religious values, the vacuum is then filled with secular values: the cheapness of human life (abortion and euthanasia), the promotion of all forms of immorality (including homosexual marriages), and the sexualization of schoolchildren (often with pornography and the ridicule of traditional values).”

“As Americans we must keep in mind that the First Amendment was not intended to mean that atheists and agnostics have veto power over all those who believe in God.”

“Of course the United States is not Germany, and, as we have observed, parallels between us and the Nazi era can easily be overdrawn. But there is this abiding lesson: satan was right when he said, ‘All that and man has he will give for his life’ (Job 2:4). Survival is a powerful drive within us all, and most of us are willing to compromise our values in order to live. And if the government can guarantee our financial future, we support that government even if we intuitively suspect we are being led down a dangerous path.” 

“Moral relativists who believe that laws are nothing more than the result of social conditioning, subject to the whim of leaders and nations, would have to agree with Goehring, Hitler’s designated successor, when at Nuremberg he insisted, ‘This court has no jurisdiction over me, I am German!’ By what laws then, should the Nazis be tried? And what would be the basis of such laws? At Nuremberg, Robert H. Jackson, chief counsel of the United States, argued that there was ‘a law about the law’ that stood in judgment of all men in all countries and societies.”

“We are not required to win our political battles; we are expected to show our commitment even in the face of threats and sanctions. We must not permit the lawmakers or the courts of America to discourage us from doing what we must: representing Christ in our personal and corporate witness. As our freedoms are curtailed, our witness becomes more focused, more challenging. Let us be obedient to a higher law, the law as given us by the Supreme Court of the Universe.”

“When Hitler starved children, he called it putting them on a ‘low-calorie diet.’ And the extermination of Jews was called ‘cleansing the land.’ Euthanasia was referred to as ‘the best of modern therapy.’ Children were put to death in ‘Children’s Specialty Centers.’ … Sanitized terms were used to camouflage unspeakable crimes. Planned massacres were spoken of in clinical terms to mislead the naïve and to assuage the conscience of the perpetrators.”

“Important though the right leaders might be, we must always remember that God is neither Republican nor Democrat. When the Cross is wrapped in the flag of a political party, it is always distorted or diminished.”

“I believe that the spiritual climate of America will never be changed unless we have a revival of what we used to call ‘the laymen.’ That is, we need ordinary people living authentically for Christ in their vocations, among their neighbors, and in positions of influence.”

I will be sharing some more quotes from When A Nation Forgets God soon. Stay tuned, or better yet, subscribe to my blog so you will be notified as soon as these new quotes are posted.

Born After Midnight (book review)

A.W. Tozer spoke and wrote with a prophet’s voice. Though many of his books are nearly a half-century old, they ring with a timely message to which the church today must take heed. Tozer’s Born After Midnight is one of his most hard-hitting, but needed messages.

Tozer notes that many revivals in church history were born after midnight. Not that there is anything super-spiritual that takes place in the wee hours of the morning, but really this is a call to perseverance. Tozer spoke out strongly against cushy Christianity, against those who thought becoming a Christian was their key to an easy life, or those who expected God to work for them.

Those Christians who are ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work for Christ, Tozer preached, were those who were more in line with the very first Christians of the Bible. Tozer reminds us that “taking up a cross” to follow Jesus isn’t popular, nor is it a road to accolades from the world. But those who will persevere with Christ—even working late into the hours after midnight—will reap the blessings of God’s presence.

A.W. Tozer pulls no punches, but he doesn’t purposefully go out of his way to wound people either. His tone is both confident and humble. Listen to his words as he opens this book:

“To sit even for a moment in the chair of the teacher and write that which may affect the life and character of numerous persons is not only a lofty privilege but a grave responsibility as well.

“The only qualifications I bring to the writing of these pages are love for the Triune Godhead and a sorrowful concern for the spiritual welfare of the church, which our Lord purchased with His own blood.

“If there is anything here good or helpful to the children of God, it must be attributed to the operation of the Holy Spirit who often condescends to work through unworthy instruments. Whatever else may be found here is due to human weakness and is better forgotten.”

This is a fantastic book for our age, and I urge all Christians to read it.

I am a Moody Press book reviewer.

Revival God’s Way

T.M. MooreI am a part of a weekly gathering of pastors from around the country who are praying for revival. T.M. Moore, who organizes our prayer time, shared some fantastic thoughts about revival.

He said, “The better we know God’s word, way, righteousness, justice, and judgments, the more our prayers for revival will have the right focus, and be more likely to be heard and answered.”

By way of example, T.M. Moore shared some verses from Psalm 119. I think you will be able to spot the pattern pretty quickly—

  • …revive me according to Your word (v. 25)
  • …revive me in Your way (v. 37)
  • …revive me in Your righteousness (v. 40)
  • …revive me according to Your lovingkindness (v. 88)
  • …revive me, O Lord, according to Your word (v. 107)
  • …revive me according to Your justice (v. 149)
  • …revive me according to Your word (v. 154)
  • …revive me according to Your judgments (v. 156)
  • …revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness (v. 159)

Praying for revival never comes on our terms, it’s always on God’s terms. Revival is never focused on me, it’s always focus on God.

By the way, if you would like to join me and these other pastors in our weekly prayer for revival, please send me a message and I will get you all of the details.

8 Quotes From “Culture”

cultureIn Culture, you will find a collection of chapters from various A.W. Tozer books all addressing the theme of how a Christian should behave in worldly culture. If you are concerned about influencing the culture for Christ (instead of being influenced by it), I urge you to read my review of this book, and then pick up a copy for yourself. Below are a few quotes from Culture that caught my attention.

“The sacred-secular antithesis has no foundation in the New Testament. … The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is our perfect example, and He knew no divided life. In the presence of His Father He lived on earth without strain from babyhood to His death on the Cross. God accepted the offering of His total life, and made no distinction between act and act. ‘I do always those things that please Him,’ was His brief summary of His own life as it related to the Father (John 8:29). As He moved among men, He was poised and restful.”

“A Christian is now living according to the will of God as he understands it from the written Word. Of such a one it may be said that every act of his life is or can be as truly sacred as prayer or baptism or the Lord’s Supper. To say this is not to bring all acts down to one dead level; it is rather to lift every act up into a living kingdom and turn the whole life into a sacrament.”

“Keep reminding God in our times of private prayer that we mean every act for His glory; then supplement those times by a thousand thought-prayers as we go about the job of living. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.”

“You cannot get miracles as you would get a chemical reaction. You cannot get a miracle as you get a wonderful act on stage by a magician. God does not sell Himself into the hands of religious magicians. I do not believe in that kind of miracles. I believe in the kind of miracles that God gives to His people who live so close to Him that answers to prayer are common and these miracles are not uncommon.”

“Our trouble is not that we refuse to believe right doctrine, but we refuse to practice it. We have the peculiar contradiction of believing the right thing and living the wrong way.”

“It seems that the average person spends more time and intellectual labor each year filling out income tax forms then he or she spends in a lifetime trying to learn from the Scriptures and from the light of the Spirit what the church is and what he or she ought to do about it.”

“I would also have in our body the power of the Spirit of Christ. I have said that the average gospel church could get along without the Holy Spirit—and many do. We are praying for revival. What is revival? It is when the Holy Spirit takes over the work that is His, instead of being pushed aside into the benediction. He now becomes the Chief Executive of the church, running it. ‘But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you’ (Acts 1:8). That means that the Spirit of Heaven should come to a company on earth with His all-prevailing gifts, power, and grace, with His life, His illumination, and His discernment. This is not fanaticism; this is not any weird religion. This is just what the Bible teaches.”

“Did you read the Bible or watch TV more this week? Think of the time you have spent. How many half-hour periods did you spend with your Bible, and how many did you spend with amusements? We do not take our faith seriously enough.”

I will be sharing other quotes from Culture soon. If you will enter your email address in the “Subscribe” box to on the right side of the page, you will be notified as soon as new quotes are posted. You can also read Tozer’s quotes from this book, as well as other empowering quotes that I share daily in Twitter and Tumblr.

Poetry Saturday—Multiply

DSC_0091One man awake, awakens another.
The second awakens his next-door brother.
The three awake can arouse a town
By turning the whole place upside down.
The many awake can cause such a fuss
It finally awakens the rest of us.
One man up with dawn in his eyes
Surely then multiplies. —Lawrence Tribble

Links & Quotes

link quote

“How may I tell when satan hinders me? I think you may tell thus: first by the object. satan’s object in hindering us is to prevent our glorifying God. If anything has happened to you which has prevented your growing holy, useful, humble, and sanctified, then you may trace that to satan. If the distinct object of the interference to the general current of your life has been that you may be turned from righteousness into sin, then from the object you may guess the author.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Every step on satan’s ground deprives us of the security of the promises of God. Often has ruin followed by not refraining from the first step (cp. Mark 14:54, 71). The only safety is in flight (Genesis 39:10, 12). Run then into ’thy hiding-place, and behind thy shield,’ and boldly bid thy tempter ‘depart from thee’ (Psalm 119:114, 115; cp. Matthew 4:10).” —Charles Bridges

“The corruption of the first sinner consists not in choosing some evil thing (there are no evil things for him to choose) but in preferring a lesser good (himself) before a greater (God).” —C.S. Lewis

“We may think we’re living in dark days, that things are going from bad to worse, and there’s no end in sight. But the truth is just the opposite. satan is back on his heels, bound and reeling; the rulers of this world are deceived and deceiving; the Church is complacent, at least in the West, but always a spiritual tinder box, ready for a new spark of the Spirit; and the Kingdom of God is advancing wherever men and women cling to Jesus’ compelling vision and seek the Kingdom of God as their highest priority in life.” —T.M. Moore

“Science and research are proving that porn harms the brain, damages relationships, and is also linked to prostitution and sex trafficking. Porn is a fantasy that is proven to make it harder for users to have real loving relationships.” Read more reasons why pornography is harmful.

Pastors, check out Rev. Dave Barringer’s spot-on post: confronting the diva pastor.

Sheriff David Clarke has some facts that refute the “Black Lives Matter” chatter.

[VIDEO] Ted Cruz is exactly right. The media doesn’t care about substance, but about style—

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