The Destructive Power Of Self-Sufficiency

…Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her (1 Samuel 28:7). 

How sad for King Saul! But this is the inevitable path for one who was put into his leadership position by God and then completely turned his back on God. 

God did so much over so many years to try to get Saul to turn back to Him, but Saul persisted in his self-sufficiency. As Paul wrote in Galatians, “A man reaps what he sows.” Militarily, Saul had one shining moment: delivering the people of Jabesh Gilead. The closing words of 1 Samuel show us the valiant man from Jabesh conducting a covert nighttime mission to remove the bodies of Saul and his sons from the Philistines, and then giving them a proper burial. Just imagine how many more valiant men may have been around if Saul had continually obeyed God! 

Now, nearing the end of his life, Saul is at his wits’ end: God is not answering him by any means he tries. As a result, this final chapter of Saul’s leadership is characterized by words like:

  • afraid
  • terror filled his heart 
  • great distress 
  • filled with fear 
  • his strength was gone

Until King Saul ultimately takes his own life.

The consequences of Saul’s sinful self-sufficiency impacted more than just him. A leader’s sins have devastating effects on his followers. Throughout Saul’s reign as king we see the army fearful, hesitant, ill-equipped, slinking away, confused, set up for failure, and ultimately defeated. Saul could never get out of his own way, taking Israel down with him.

A mark of a godless leader is sinful self-sufficiency.

How sad for Saul and Israel. Especially because Saul’s demise was totally avoidable if he only would have repented of his pride and turned wholeheartedly to God.

This is a sober reminder for all leaders: if God has put you in a place of leadership, you will experience success. Don’t let that success fool you, as it did with Saul, into thinking you created that success. This is the first step toward the downward slide that ultimately destroyed Saul, and it will be your undoing as well. 

This is part 49 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

10 Steps To Help Someone Through A Tragedy

Christians should be the best at loving others and supporting them through a tragedy. When someone’s world is rocked by an unexpected heartache like a miscarriage, a suicide, a difficult medical diagnosis, or even a hurricane, here is my list of 10 steps to help someone through this trying time. You may watch this short video, or see the list of 10 items below…

  1. Just be there for them.
  2. Listen.
  3. Listen.
  4. Listen to them some more.
  5. Don’t try to “fix” their problem.
  6. Weep with those who weep.”
  7. Don’t defend God (like Job’s friends tried to do).
  8. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you insight.
  9. Remind them of their responsibility now—your choices to go forward, how will you honor their memory, how can you help others in a similar situation, what does this make you think about your eternity?
  10. Stay in touch for the long haul (remember the birthday of their dead loved one; be them for the anniversary date of a marriage, the day their loved one died; go to those doctor’s appointments with them; roll up your sleeves and work alongside them). Use your creativity to proactively be there for them.

Links & Quotes

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“The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as He really is. Be a telescope for the world of the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God.” —John Piper

It’s pretty sad—and quite telling—when Planned Parenthood’s arguments for abortion sound eerily similar to pro-slavery and pro-Nazi arguments of the past.

Seth Godin reminds us that past performance is no guarantee of future results. Check it out! I also really liked Seth Godin’s warning about getting caught up in the Black Friday hype.

“Things will all work out” and “You can do anything you set your mind to” are just two of the seven sentimental lies you might believe.

Eric Metaxas shares about a “crisis of despair” where the church is desperately needed.

What a comfort we can have in this—“This very day I am being saved by the eternal intercession of Jesus in heaven. Jesus is praying for us and that is our salvation [Hebrews 7:25]. We are saved eternally by the eternal prayers (Romans 8:34) and advocacy (1 John 2:1) of Jesus in heaven as our High Priest. He prays for us and His prayers are answered because He prays perfectly on the basis of His perfect sacrifice.” —John Piper

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks a vitally important question: How’s your prayer life?

[VIDEO] A great look at competitiveness from John Maxwell—

Around, Awake, Aware

Fathers DayThe statistics on fatherless homes are quite alarming:

  • 63 percent of teen suicides are from fatherless homes;
  • 90 percent of homeless children and runaways are from fatherless homes; and
  • 71 percent of all high school dropouts are from fatherless homes.

Since the latest numbers tell us that 40% of babies are now born to unwed mothers, we could have a potential societal collapse looming! But there is good news: It’s not too late to do something about this. We—the men in the Church—can make a difference. A father has life-changing power. Not simply someone who is a biological father, but someone who will step into a fatherly role to invest in a person’s life.

God chose David His servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep He brought him to be the shepherd of His people Jacob, of Israel His inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. (Psalm 78:70-72)

God is looking for men who are His servants; men who don’t want to plan their own course, but who say, “I am Your servant; use me however You see best.”

David was given a ragtag bunch of men, which the Bible describes as “in distress, in debt or discontented” (1 Samuel 22:2). With integrity and skill David poured into their lives, so that by the end of his life this ragtag group became heroes (see 2 Samuel 23:8-39).

Throughout Scripture God calls men to step into the lives of the fatherless. These distressed, indebted, discontented children of today need a father who is:

  • Around physically—Ephesians 6:2 (it’s hard to honor an absentee father)
  • Awake emotionally—Ephesians 6:4a (one who won’t exasperate them)
  • Aware spiritually—Ephesians 6:4b (one who will bring them up in…the Lord)

We can be a part of reversing the downward slide of our culture.

Hear me, God-fearing men: countless distressed, fatherless kids could become our generation’s mighty warriors because of your investment! 

Links & Quotes

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“People who suffer the loss of a loved one will tell you that your presence is comforting, not your answers. In his first sermon after losing his son to suicide, Pastor Rick Warren advised his congregants that if they were unsure about what to say in a tragedy, say nothing. Just be there. Job’s friends initially did that. It was only after they began to speak that they made matters worse. If you’re hurting right now, I risk making matters worse by giving intellectual answers to emotional pain.” —Frank Turek

“Men may as well build their houses upon the sand and expect to see them stand, when the rains fall, and the winds blow, and the floods come, as to found free institutions upon any other basis than that of morality and virtue, of which the Word of God is the only authoritative rule, and the only adequate sanction. All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they have of stringent state government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet. It may do for other countries and other governments to talk about the state supporting religion. Here, under our own free institutions, it is religion which must support the state.” —Robert Winthrop, speaker of the US House of Representatives (1847–1849)

Some wonderful quotes from Maya Angelou.

“Anything which you have in this world, which you do not consecrate to Christ’s cause, you do rob the Lord of.” —Charles Spurgeon

“If we don’t kill every hint of immorality, we’ll be captured by our tendency as males to draw sexual gratification and chemical highs through our eyes. But we can’t deal with our maleness until we first reject our right to mix standards. As we ask ‘How holy can I be?’ we must pray and commit to a new relationship with God, fully aligned with His call to obedience.” —Steve Arterburn

[VIDEO] So are Christian scientists biased in their research? Yes! Any scientist is, but that is why there are controls—

Links & Quotes

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“Some temptations come to the industrious, but all temptations attack the idle. … Idle Christians are not so much tempted of the devil as they are tempting the devil to tempt them. Idleness sets the door of the heart ajar, and asks satan to come in; but if we are occupied from morning till night, if satan shall get in, he must break through the door. Under sovereign grace, and next to faith, there is no better shield against temptation than being ‘Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’” —Charles Spurgeon

“satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” —Isaac Watts

“Our God and Father may, for wise ends, which shall ultimately subserve His own glory and our profit, lead us into positions where satan, the world and the flesh may tempt us; and the prayer [Matthew 6:13] to be understood in that sense of a humble self-distrust which shrinks from the conflict. There is courage here, for the suppliant calmly looks the temptation in the face, and dreads only the evil which it may work in him, but there is also a holy fear, a sacred self-suspicion, a dread of contact with sin in any degree. The sentiment is not inconsistent with ‘all joy’ when the divers temptations do come; it is akin to the Savior’s ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me,’ which did not for a moment prevent His drinking the cup even to its dregs.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Meekness loves to learn. And it counts the blows of a friend as precious. And when it must say a critical word to a person caught in sin or error, it speaks from the deep conviction of its own fallibility and its own susceptibility to sin and its utter dependence on the grace of God. The quietness and openness and vulnerability of meekness is a very beautiful and a very painful thing. It goes against all that we are by our sinful nature. It requires supernatural help.” —John Piper

Dads, this is an important article for you to read if you have a daughter.

Did you know that 41,000 people commit suicide each year? Here is a helpful piece on how you can help bring hope to the hopeless.

Seth Godin says, “If your employees can’t answer how something they do helps the customer or the company, you’ve insulated your people from their jobs.” Check out his post Why Do You Do It This Way?

A Murderer’s Checklist

Murderer's checklistYou shall not murder (Exodus 20:13) sounds pretty straightforward. This verse is actually just one word in the Hebrew language: ratsach. The idea is a human killing another human in an animalistic way.

Think of a predatory animal like a lion. The lion attacks as an angry response when it is provoked. There is no thought about consequences or possible alternatives, but it simply lashes out in anger. A lion will also lie in wait to ambush its prey. Humans who kill in this animalistic way are regarded in the Bible as murderers (see Exodus 21:14; Numbers 35:20-21, and Deuteronomy 19:11, 13).

The legal definition of homicide today says it is “the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority.”

God determines our day of conception (Psalm 139:16), the value and purpose of our life  while we are alive (Ephesians 2:10), and the day of our death (Job 14:5). Taking any of these things out of God’s hand, and putting them into our own hands, not only constitutes murder but dishonors God.

Some things are obviously homicide: Abortion is murder, suicide is murder, euthanasia is murder. Because these things put man in the place of God, they are unlawful.

But think of this: Slander is also murder. According to rabbinical scholars, publicly humiliating someone is murder, because it is character assassination. Jewish law also forbids the sharing of true but harmful information about someone else. Both of these things devalue a human being’s God-given value and purpose. Jesus echoed these teachings in Matthew 5:21-22 and Matthew 15:19.

J.I. Packer wrote, “We all have in us capacities for fury, fear, envy, greed, conceit, callousness, and hate that, given the right provocation, could make killers out of us all. … When the fathomless wells of rage and hatred in the normal human heart are tapped, the results are fearful.”

Here’s a quick checklist to make sure we aren’t getting close to becoming murderers:

  • Do I get too angry too quickly, and stay angry too long?
  • Do I harbor unforgiveness against anyone?
  • Have assassinated someone’s character?
  • Am I “lying in wait” for anyone to catch them doing wrong?

To stay clear of these murderous ways:

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading & watching from today…

Surveys show that Christians who support same-sex “marriage” are also much more open to other unbiblical lifestyles. Read John Stonestreet’s post Package Deal.

“Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, Who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.” —John Calvin

“God has provided His salvation that we might be, individually and personally, vibrant children of God, loving God with all our hearts and worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness.” —A.W. Tozer

Timely reading: Suicide Prevention Tips From A Survivor.

[VIDEO] Inspiring speech from a Little League coach after his team was eliminated from the Little League World Series.

I never thought I’d read the New York Times ask this question: Who Will Stand Up For The Christians?

Want A Happy Marriage? Here are three important things.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire.” —John Witherspoon

Religious persecution alert: ISIS is eliminating Christians in Iraq.

“It is a serious fault if a believer is in want, and thou knowest it, or if thou knowest that he is without means, that he is hungry, that he suffer distress, especially if he is ashamed of his need…. If he is in prison, and—upright though he is—has to suffer pain and punishment for some debt (for though we ought to show mercy to all, yet we ought to show it especially to an upright man); if in the time of his trouble he obtains nothing from thee; if in time of danger, when he is carried off to die, thy money seems more to thee than the life of a dying man; what a sin is that to thee!” —Ambrose

[VIDEO] Detroit Tigers radio announcer Ernie Harwell broadcasting his last game.

Interesting: Why The First Hospital To Do Sex-Reassignment Surgeries No Longer Do Them.

“When the Middle East is fragmented in this horrible war, this savage, savage war between militant Shiites and militant Sunnis … the only place where you have freedom, tolerance, protection of minorities, protection of gays, protection of Christians and all other faiths is Israel,” said Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister. Read more about the wrong-headed decision of the Presbyterian (USA) Church to divest in Israel.

More young adults are having kids outside of marriage, and that is creating a dangerous environment for the kids.

“Kind words are the music of the world. They have a power which seems to be beyond natural causes, as if they were some angel’s song which had lost its way and come on earth. It seems as if they could almost do what in reality God alone can do—soften the hard and angry hearts of men. No one was ever corrected by a sarcasm—crushed, perhaps, if the sarcasm was clever enough, but drawn nearer to God, never.” —Frederick William Faber

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“A good mind is also a good possession. And, further, a pure inner life is a valuable possession. Hedge in, then, this possession of thine, enclose it with thought, guard it with thorns, that is, with pious care, lest the fierce passions of the flesh should rush upon it and lead it captive, lest strong emotions should assault it, and, overstepping their bounds, carry off its vintage.” —Ambrose of Milan

“Unlike in physics and chemistry, very few of the findings in the social sciences can be characterized as incontrovertible. But there’s one major exception: the impact of fatherlessness on American children. To name but a few grim examples, 63 percent of teen suicides are from fatherless homes; 90 percent of homeless children and runaways are from fatherless homes; and 71 percent of all high school dropouts are from fatherless homes.” —Eric Metaxas

Great historial article: What Can Pentecostals Learn From John Wesley?

A former abortion worker testifies, “We would find women’s weaknesses and work on them” to convince them to have an abortion.

Joel Osteen says he doesn’t like the term “prosperity preacher” applied to him, and then describes what he believes (which sounds a lot like a prosperity doctrine to me!). John Piper debunks this garbage better than I can in this video.

4 Ways Selfishness Ruins Your Life.

[VIDEO] Ted Cruz blasts the attempt by Democrat Senators to obliterate the First Amendment.

“We only know God in His works, but we are forced by science to admit and to believe with absolute confidence in a Directive Power—in an influence other than physical, or dynamical, or electrical forces.” —William Thomson (Lord Kelvin)

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