Liberated through Discipline: The Five Kinds of Discipline

The term discipline, both in the Bible and in everyday usage, displays various nuances depending on the particular biblical or life context. The ideas communicated by discipline are that of chastening, instruction, nurturing, training, correction, reproof, and punishment. In the negative sense, the idea of punishment is most prominent. In the positive sense, things like nurturing, training, and instruction come to mind. However, since all discipline is based on the perfect character of God, all discipline is actually positive even though it is not always immediately apparent. Just as the Scripture says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). The reality is that discipline and discipleship are so closely connected that to minimize discipline is to minimize discipleship. Lynn Buzzard notes, “To separate discipling from discipline is not only to tear words from their etymologically common roots, but also from their organic relationship.”[1] Continue reading →

A Pastor’s Prayer for Strength and Faithfulness

My Lord Jesus, I pray  You will keep me strong to continue my calling to “equip the saints” and to “preach the whole counsel of God” (Eph 4: 11-12; Acts 20:27). It seems I am surrounded by people, movements, and pressures to let other things push this to the side. To let such things as church problems, countless needs of the church, administration, a flurry of trendy ideas, and the desire to be liked draw me away from my call to preach and teach; may that fear never be realized in my life.

You have been faithful to protect me from abandoning your call to faithfully preach your Word; although it is at times quite lonely, scary, and difficult. I am thankful for the sweet freshness that the study of Your Word deposits in my life, and the maturity you so graciously have given me to both live and deposit in the lives of others. You are so true to Your Word.

While I never seem to fully escape the burden I feel for those who fail to grow in Christ, I thank You for the growth I see in so many; I am blessed beyond measure by the people who hunger to know You deeper. Lord, let me never forget the words of Peter, which remind we shepherds we can only shepherd those who are active in the body of Christ.

“shepherd the flock of God among you” (1 Peter 5:2). (italics added)

 

Keys to Experiencing God!

People often tell me God feels distant. They do not sense his presence as they once did. This is not because God has left us, but it is often because we are seeking him in ways he is not to be found. We cannot find God in our own way, or based upon our personal view of how we should be able to find him. Rather, God is to be found on his terms and according to his ways. 

The Lord is near, and will come close to us when we call out to him in truth. When we truly desire to hear him, obey him, and live for him he will come near. We cannot just call out to him, but we must seek him in his truth and with hearts desirous to live out his truth in our lives.

We must also seek him reverently. God is not someone we can manipulate or seek only for our own purposes as though we are God. He can be found, only when we pursue him in reverential fear. 

We must seek him because we love him. This is quite different from seeking him to get something rather than to find him. When we seek him with an adoring and loving heart, he responds by holding us close in an unbreakable security; one in which we can face today’s challenges. 

We need never believe God is distant if we call upon him in truth, reverence, and love; for those are the keys to experiencing the presence of God.

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. The Lord keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy” (Psalm 145:18-20).

Roger Williams Sheds Light on the “Wall of Separation”

The imagery of a “wall of separation” was actually in use prior to Thomas Jefferson’s famous use of the phrase, and so it is wise to find out how it had been used in the context of religious freedom in America. This is particularly important in light of the fact that Jefferson used it while corresponding to Baptists, who had felt the brunt of government persecution in America. The phrase had a theological genesis as opposed to the modern supposed deistic, constitutional, or secular genesis. Continue reading →

A Prayer of Praise To Start the Day

May I praise You God with every breath and for every breath, the grand, minor, and even the humbling for even they remind me of Your greatness and grace. “Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:2–3).

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation” (Psalm 146:1–3).

Oh Lord, may I not allow the worries, demands, and hurts of the ups and downs of life to silence my praise, love, and thankfulness to You while I live. Grant me spiritual maturity to never take anything for granted and thereby fail to praise You, or, even exceedingly more evil, give your praise to me.

Thank You for continuing to grow me so that I may praise You more when I ponder the majesty of Your being, the greatness of Your creation, and those daily actions that I so easily can take for granted; may I praise you for such things as the ability to see, speak, button a shirt, or comb my hair.

I repent of such ingratitude for these, and a thousand more that I have taken for granted or selfishly complained about in some way. I praise You for the thousands of things that must operate for me even to write out this humble prayer.

May I focus upon praising you for all things and with equal dedication fight every thought or act of pride until praise is all which comes from my lips.

“Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name” (Psalm 30:4).

Is Murder a Choice of Man or a Choice of God?

The following is a question from a respondent to one of my articles. It was asked and responded to in a public forum.

Hello

You said, “Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying. My mother was brutally murdered when I was 8 years old. Are you saying my God wasn’t strong enough to save her or that He cares more about something (namely the free will of man) other than making life perfect and free from sin?”

The following is my response. Continue reading →

Praying For God to be Exalted in My Life

“Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Your glory be above all the earth” (Psalm 57:5).

As Christians, we desire to see God glorified in our lives. We desire that others will want to follow God because of what they see in us. We want to be used of God. We do not want to live this life and come into his presence with only selfishness and pride.

Sometimes, we struggle with where to begin; by this I mean practically. The most practical thing we can do is to pray to that end. But, we often do not know what or how to pray.

Years ago, I read A.W. Tozer’s book, The Pursuit of God. At the end of each chapter he suggests a prayer to be prayed. The one at the end of chapter 8 had a profound impact upon my life. I prayed this prayer reverently and thoughtfully. I must admit, I found it to be a challenge that could only be sincerely met by trusting God. I pray God might use this in your life as well, as you pray and ponder each aspect of this prayer for your own life

“O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth’s treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it means the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses, I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee.

Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, ‘Hosanna in the highest.’”[1]


[1] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1982) 99-100.

God Protects His Temple and So Should We

“If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him” (1 Corinthians 3:17a)

“Under the Old Testament any person, other than the high priest on the Day of Atonement, who dared to enter the Holy of Holies, would drop dead on the spot. He would not need to be put to death by the people. God would strike him dead. Even less does God look kindly upon those who threaten or defile His holy people (Matthew 18:6–10).”[1] The things that destroy the temple of God were present in Corinth: pride, jealousy, unjustifiable elevation of human relationships, prolonged infancy, human wisdom, and milkoholism, all of which are the products of imposing human wisdom upon the temple of God. [2] By supplanting divine wisdom with human wisdom, they placed themselves under the patient but sure judgment of God. Using human wisdom to build the brick and mortar church building is fine, but building the church—the spiritual temple of God—with human wisdom is sin. Continue reading →

Following Christ and Church Discipline

The word for church, ekklasia, appears in the Gospels only twice. The first time is Matt 16:18, where Christ says, “I will build My church.” In this first mention of the church, Christ speaks of the universal church and establishes that it is His church, which He purchased with “His own blood” (Acts 20: 28; 1 Cor 11:24–25). He never abdicates His headship or ownership of the church to any self-enthroned human monarchy or oligarchy. Continue reading →