A Pastor’s Prayer

Lord, I ask that I may shepherd Your flock with the same devotion that You shepherd me. May I not seek recognition, prosperity, status, or anything that detracts from being the shepherd of Your people.

May I be found faithful to feed, protect, lead, and care for them according to Your Word and not trends, visions, fears, and the ideas of man. May I not be tempted by the flesh to do those things that are pleasing to me, but only that which is pleasing to You. May I live daily knowing that the church does not exist for me but I vocationally exist for her.

May I pastor in the fullness of Your Word. If not for you oh God, I would not be able to contribute one thing to Your people, but by Your grace I will give what You give me.

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep” (John 21:15–17).

A Simple Prayer to be a Faithful Follower of Christ

Lord, let me never see myself as anything more than a follower of You, and never let me lean on the flesh, what others might or can do. May I never seek to be anything more than a follower. Please allow me to quickly see when I am seeking to lead myself, and as quickly step in line behind You. I pray for a decreasing fear of what may come in following You by a greater understanding of Your majesty, wonder, and incomprehensible nature and work.

I know that being a follower of You is the greatest blessing, calling, and endeavor that a human can be allowed the privilege of receiving, and I am grateful every day for that blessing of blessings.

May all of my errors, failings, mistakes, misjudgments be not from willful rebellion against You, out of a desire to promote me, but rather may they only flow out of a sincere misunderstanding of You. May they be failings of a pure heart on a quest for You.

Jesus’s call is simply “follow me” (Matt 4:19; 8:22; 9:9).

The Ghastly Gospel of Limited Atonement

To be a consistent five-point Calvinist, a person must believe the Bible teaches that the benefit of Christ’s death is limited to actually having paid for the sins of only the unconditionally elect.[1] This means that the non-elect are condemned for rejecting what does not exist. To begin with, it is important to distinguish between the intent of the atonement (why), extent (for whom) and application (when) while maintaining the relationship of these distinct features of the atonement.[2] Continue reading →

Think About IT: God’s Will Is Not Always So Easy

Whether one has chosen the Lord’s will is not determined by whether things get better.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus surrendered to the cross that lay before Him, bearing our judgment, and that was of course the eternal plan of salvation; therefore, He made the right choice. He was in the perfect will of the Father.

However, immediately after the decision to follow the Father’s plan no matter the loss, things went from bad to worse, and then worse even still. He was betrayed by a friend, tried by hypocrites, innocent but declared guilty, denied by a disciple, rejected for a criminal, mocked, flogged, crucified, and ultimately enveloped in the wrath of God and abandoned by the Father unto death.

The Lord’s will is known by the Scripture rather than by what happens after our choice.

“And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will’” Mark 14:36.

The Friendship of Church Discipline and the Gospel

On one occasion, the chief priests and elders approached Jesus while he was teaching and asked him, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matt 21:23). While it is obvious that the priests and elders were disputing rather than making careful inquiry, the question they asked is good and deserves being asked and answered. Many indeed ask by what authority does the church practice church discipline? In answering this question, I will seek to briefly demonstrate that we not only practice church discipline because of explicit commands to do so (Matt 18:15–20; Rom 16:17–18; 1 Cor 5:1–13; 1 Tim 1:19–20; 2 Thess 3:6–15), but also because church discipline is inextricably related to the gospel, evangelism, and the Great Commission. Continue reading →

Think about IT: Loving Those People

Showing the gentle kindness and concern of Christ toward those who love us is good, but such disposition toward our enemies is indeed supernatural.

If we are truly showing Christ’s love, it can never be limited to those who love us or those whom we believe will reciprocate.

Christ commanded us, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). This kind of love and praying requires us to die to self for the flesh wars against such acts (Gal 5:19-21). When we pray for our enemies, it permits us to experience some of what our Lord felt when his enemies crucified him, and his response was to pray, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”(Luke 23:34).

There is simply a dimension of knowing Christ that is unknowable without loving those who seek to harm us. Resentment, bitterness, revenge emanate from our flesh, but loving the ones who may be deserving of our wrath emanates from Christ living through us.

God’s great love in salvation is for those who will accept it and become his children as well as those who will reject his incalculable sacrifice and immeasurable love. It extends even to those who seek to undermine the gospel. may we experience his fullness by walking among enemies of the gospel as he himself did.   

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16.

Think About IT: Receiving Compliments that Honor Christ

Compliments are more pleasing to the ear and honoring to Christ when they come not from the complimented.

Matthew was a tax collector prior to following Christ, an occupation which was one of the most loathed by the Jews. They saw them as traitors.

If God had not used Matthew to pen the gospel that bears his name, he would have remained basically a faceless apostle. When the other gospels mention him, he is simply referred to as Matthew.

When Matthew refers to himself in the gospel he penned, he refers to himself as “Matthew the tax collector.”

Matthew’s designation of himself reminds us that it is for others to cast us in the best light, and it is for we who have been redeemed to remember who we are without Christ.

“Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus” Matthew 10:3.

Bibliography for Studying Scripture

­­SELECTED STUDY BIBLIOGRAPHY  5/31/16 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1984

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1985

 Unger’s New Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, 2006

Logos Library System, several upgradeable levels are available. Find out more at www.logos.com

An Exhaustive Analytical Concordance (Strong’s or NAS)

Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity, Dr. Tim Dowley, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Baker Book House, 1984

Evangelical Ethics, John Jefferson Davis, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2003 or Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options, Norman L. Geisler, Jan 1, 2010

Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharias, Bethany House Publishers; Rev Updated edition (October 1, 2003) or latest update

Lectures in Systematic Theology, Henry Clarence Thiessen, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983, or Eerdmans Revised edition November 9, 2006

Nave’s Topical Bible, Orville J. Nave, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002

Pronouncing Bible Names, W. Murray Severance, Holman Bible Publishers, 1983

Things to Come, J. Dwight Pentecost, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982

Dispensationalism, Charles C. Ryrie, 2007

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W. E. Vine and F.F. Bruce, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1996

Betrayal

Serving in the work of our Lord Jesus provides ample opportunity for turning a servant’s heart into a cynic’s heart. An act of betrayal can hurt so deeply, disappoint so significantly, and rupture faith so cunningly that we can find ourselves moved a step or two away from the servant’s heart and closer to the cynic’s heart.

We may still serve others, but now with less passion, or we may even move to a fuller blown cynicism in which the foremost thought in serving others is protecting ourselves from the pain of betrayal.

Betrayal can only happen in such a poignant fashion by someone we love, and to whom we have unguardedly given ourselves. To guard against even the possibility of being betrayed again is to become only a shadow of the servant we once were. Whereas, we can rightly guard against cynicism by keeping our eyes upon our Lord Jesus, desiring to experience him in every way, and praying for his protection (Matt 6:13; Phil 3:10).

We may pray, let not my heart be guided by the wound of betrayal, and guard me from using prayer to heal my wounds by wounding others. Let me bear the pain of betrayal as my Lord Jesus did, and by doing so reflect his love to others and grow to love him more. May I rejoice that by his grace I am not the betrayer;  may I learn more of my Lord from the anguish of betrayal.

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9).

Think About IT: The Proper Exercise of Authority

Authority without submission is the stuff of which tyranny is made.

Before a person can exercise godly authority as a leader in the home, church, or culture, he must learn how to be under authority (Titus 2:1–14). Godly servant leadership is developed in the context of learning how to be under authority. This includes learning how to support the leader even when we might disagree about the how or why of the leader’s decisions.

Supporting the authority of the person over us only when we agree with his or her decision is easy and requires little humility. The development of humble leadership is nurtured when the future leader follows with respect and diligence in those times when he would do it differently if he was in authority.

Even following the leadership of someone who is rude, condescending, and arrogant can result in the essential tutelage for becoming a servant leader. It provides the follower with a poignant picture of how ugly leadership without humility and servanthood really is. This experience can serve to make a follower into a true godly servant leader because he knows firsthand the unnecessary hurt inflicted upon others and how such undermines respect for the leader who so leads.

I have had such an experience. It was over thirty years ago, and it is still my most powerful experiential reminder to seek to lead others in humility and respect. As unpalatable as the experience was, I would not take anything for what I learned from being under such objectionable leadership. It taught me that godly leadership is really a priceless quality of exercising authority.

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”” (Matthew 20:28).