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).

 

 

Think About IT: Humility In Knowledge

Christians should know that however much more we believe we know than others, we really know so little in comparison to what some know, what we shall learn, or what can be known. We should always seek to know more and know what we know better. But being aware of the vastness of what we do not know is equally important, and even more so for the sake of humility.

Awareness of proportional knowledge bears the fruit of humility, whereas awareness of only what we know so well bears the fruit of pride. The latter is an ugly portrayal of Christ with its concomitant boasting and judgmental insensitivity, but the former nurtures a life of learning and teaching with respect and kindness.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches’” Jeremiah 9:23.

Thanksgiving to God for Making us a Dad

Thank You for this blessing beyond the beyond. In this You have enabled me to grow deeper in my understanding of You as my Father, though, I make no comparison of quality, only of enlightenment. It has truly enriched my understanding of sacrificial love, devotion, caring, sadness, and joy that a child can bring.

It makes me weep for the sadness I bring to You when I act spoiled and ungrateful or untrusting. It makes me ever so grateful when I follow and grow, albeit by grace and grace alone, knowing this pleases You. Because you have graciously made me a father, You have allowed me to experience with my own children the majesty of what it feels like when they honor me, as well as the grief when they do not; thus, heightening my desire to please You.

You have allowed me the sadness of parenting to remind me of my frailness as well as theirs, and our constant need of Your grace. You have allowed me to give and receive love to help me grow in appreciation of Your love; although, it is unfathomable in all of its fullness.

May my fathering reflect you so that my children love and follow you more than they do me. Thank you my heavenly Father for granting me the honor of being an earthly father to my children.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Think About IT: Expressing Our Desires Not Demands!

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reflects the heart of a true servant of the Father. He knew that He, as a man, merited heaven. As the God-man, He knew there were myriads of angels awaiting His command.

He also knew full well what awaited Him at the Cross. It was not the taunts, flogging, and degradation of man that caused Him to pray in the dirt and sweat drops of blood. Rather, it was those hours He would be abandoned by the Father and hurled into the cauldron of God’s judgment for the sins of the world. The price exacted for sin in those hours could not have been paid by man, even if every human suffered God’s judgment of hell forever.

Jesus knew His options and prayed His desire to the Father to “let this cup pass.” And yet, with the hallowedness of heaven and the hell of the cross before Him, He willingly chose the Father’s will above everything else, “yet not as I will but as you will.”

This was not passive resignation or a mere prayer formula, but the prayer of total trust. Like Jesus, we should make our petitions known to God with total trust in God’s granting, delaying, or withholding.

When we pray, the very requests that we make may well be God’s best for us. He may answer that prayer and work in ways that he would not have had we not made our requests known to him.

Just as Jesus did, we should always make our requests known for that is the will of God (Matt 6: 11-13). Additionally, we should always pray remembering that our  prayers are never more powerful than when expressed in reverence and total trust. Demanding prayer is “my will be done; trusting prayer is “your will be done”. Demanding prayer reaches the ceiling, whereas trusting prayer reaches the heart of our heavenly Father.

“And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39).

Dr. Patterson’s Review of My Book, The Equipping Church: Somewhere Between Fundamentalism and Fluff

Even a crusty old academe loves a pleasant surprise. And for much of my academic experience Ronnie W. Rogers, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma, has been regaling me with one surprise after another.

The other day, a copy of the book The Equipping Church: Somewhere Between Fundamentalism and Fluff, written by Ronnie Rogers comes to me. Since I have learned not to take a chance setting aside anything that he has written, I immediately took it with me on a journey and read almost every syllable of it before I could put it down. Here is a book that addresses in the most thoughtful and fair way I have ever observed the question of the church and the culture.

There has never been a time when the world has not been at odds with the church. The church is supposed to be “a little heaven on earth” in the midst of the upheaval of the lost and confused world. At its worst, the church has been a mirror to the world, mimicking its problems and doing absolutely nothing to be salt and light. At its best, the church has been both salt and light and has introduced the love of God and the love of the church into the human dilemma and presided over changed lives. Culture can be one of three things. It may be good; it may be evil; or, in rare cases, it may be neither.

Ronnie Rogers in The Equipping Church recognizes that the culture is neither universally good nor capriciously evil. As a matter of fact, Rogers sees that part of the duty of the church and of the pastor through his preaching is to help the sheep of the flock make wise decisions about their own response to the culture. In doing so, he is unafraid to take on the culture and state where it is a ubiquitous evil and when it is just not helpful. So often today pastors hesitate to make that identification or else they make the identification in a ranting fashion that causes the younger generation simply to turn them off. Rogers knows better. First, for years now, he has been the pastor of a church just off the campus of the University of Oklahoma. Although he has many people in the church who are unrelated to the University of Oklahoma, he has enjoyed a stupendous ministry to students, faculty, and staff members at the university; and none of them find him to be shrill. They find their pastor to be thoughtful, just, and, more often than not, right.

But Rogers does more in The Equipping of the Church. Having identified the limitations of the culture, he moves on to a discussion of how the church can respond positively to the culture and reach it for Christ. Having discussed the liabilities of the contemporary model as well as many positive attributes and contributions, he continues with the responsibility of the church in the secularizing world. In the process of this, he defines what the church is and stresses that it is not a matter of choice but a matter of faithfulness to Scripture that binds the church in the nature of its ministry. In the final chapter discussing the model of the church for carrying out his mandate, there is an incomparable exegesis of Ephesians 4:11–16.

I love it when a relatively unheralded pastor writes a book that not only will challenge the thought life of academics everywhere but also, due to his pastoral experience, will be easily comprehended by any thoughtful individual who reads it. The Equipping Church is exactly that kind of book. This pastor’s book needs to be carefully read by everyone interested in the relationship of the church to the culture.

Paige Patterson, President
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas

A Prayer for Faith over Fear

I pray that You would grant me faith above my fear, and that my fear, no matter how dreadful, daunting, and hellish in velocity, would never cause me to shun the walk of faith. May my heart be willing to die where I am, lose all earthly possessions, be laughed at without mercy, and be capsized in the torrents of fear’s rage rather than to turn my back on the walk of faith.

May my physical and emotional traumas and ailments from the walk of faith through the lion’s den of fear be scars of faithfulness and not failure. Though my fear cause me trembling, may my fear not be allowed to displease You as I traverse the deep waters of depression, disillusionment, or human wisdom on my journey to Your chosen destiny. The things which kindle fear within me are ever so minor in light of Thy greatness as are the trials of some of my brothers and sisters in the faith, which serve as a humbling reminder of my weak faith. Grant that my weakness would display Thy strength and mercy.

Guide me through the maze of discerning the difference between faith and presumption, and may I fearlessly shun presumption, with its roots and nourishment drawn from the cisterns of pride and hell. May I rather dwell in Thy chosen place of humility.

My dear wonderful and holy Lord, my eyes are blinded in the clouds of bedevilment which hide from me even my next step. May it forever be so that in You and You alone I trust to keep me on the path you have chosen. “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

A Prayer for a Heart of Evangelism

May I see the lost as You do and sacrifice as You do and mourn as You do. May I live so they may see You and not me. May my speech be your words. May I serve you with a daily burden for people who do not know the wonder of You and your salvation. Oh God, by your power and grace may we see untold numbers broken over sinning against You and drawn into Your presence with mourning over their sin and joy over Your grace.

I pray my lack of evangelism will decrease with every passing day, that my selfish, shortsighted flesh will be subdued. I look to the cross and see what it means to crucify the flesh, yet all too often I feed the flesh.

My Father, with wonder beyond words, holiness that I can feel when I pray, and power that the ages testify to, please forgive me for all too often loving things that are not the passion of the cross.

Thank you for permitting me to play even the smallest part in someone experiencing salvation by faith in my Lord Jesus Christ.

Is Reprobation Necessary for God to Demonstrate His Holiness and Wrath?

According to Calvinism, God voluntarily predetermined for some of the human race to experience salvation in order to display His mercy, while concomitantly and voluntarily predetermining to pass over most of the human race, thereby inviolably destining them to perish in hell. The former are known as the unconditionally elected and the latter are known as the reprobate. This predestination is said to be necessary in order to display both His grace and His wrath.

For example, commenting on Romans 9:11ff, John Calvin plainly says, “The reprobate are expressly raised up, in order that the glory of God may thereby be displayed. At last, he concludes [referring to Paul] that God has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom. 9:18). You see how he refers both to the mere pleasure of God. Therefore, if we cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just that it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating others but his will. When God is said to visit in mercy or harden whom he will, men are reminded that they are not to seek for any cause beyond his will.”[1] Continue reading →

A Prayer of Contentment

May I hear all reports of what you do through others to advance the kingdom with a grateful heart. May I be predisposed to see Your mighty works and rejoice, and only be inclined toward doubting because of heresy and sin. Oh God, let me not be critical because You have not chosen to so use me; even if you have chosen to leave me in the hollows of obscurity as long as You are with me. Let me rejoice when righteousness advances according to Your power.

My loving Father, forgive me when I run to self pity and flee from thankfulness. Thank You for speaking from Your Word to jostle me from my pride so that I may walk with You anew. Each time I am saddened by my plight, feel underappreciated, or that my cross is too much for me to bear, I am but shortly, awakened by your grace to the peace that I have with You; I am rescued by my joy and gratefulness for even my next breath, much less the superabundance that I really have from Your mercy. Thank You for not allowing me to live in such a sinful state, and may my visits there become shorter and less frequent as I learn of You.

May I cherish Your withholding of blessings that expose my sinfulness. May I see the lust of my heart as the evil tyrant it is and flee to the rule of my Savior. May I do so more quickly today than yesterday. When I look to my thoughts of what I need, need to do, or future uncertainties I find  worry and anxiety, but when I trust in You, I find peace and fullness. May every anxious or discontent thought sound the trumpet of sin in my life, my own self-reliance, and be quickly banished by repentance and reliance on You.

Think About IT: How to Lose by Winning

I must ALWAYS be right

Such firmness whether witting or unwitting assures the loss of respect and love by others. This unspoken resolve leaves spouses and children deeply wounded, sometimes for life.

Although I cannot imagine a Christian actually uttering such words, one’s consistent arguing of his point until all objectors have given in painfully reveals such a mindset to those with whom he speaks. It is evident by the need to have all agree with you or have the last word.

Often those who disagree become silent and appear to have given in. Far too often, they have actually given up, and silence and emotional detachment become their hiding place.

This kind of winning with family and friends often results in everyone losing, especially the “winner.”

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” (Romans 12:10).