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 →
May I lead only out of what You teach me as I follow You. May I be strong in leading others to follow You while always being gentle in demeanor, patient in temperament, and forgiving in failure.
May I lead through the prism of my weaknesses so that I may more clearly see the strengths of those whom I lead. Protect me from leading through the prism of my strengths thereby unnecessarily highlighting weaknesses of some whom I lead.
Thank You for constantly reminding me of my woeful inadequacy, incalculable failures, and what others must accept to be led by me so that I may lead out of humility and not pride and arrogance. May I bless You and them for their strengths and pray for their weaknesses.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Much of the confusion in discussions between Extensivists (here used in place of non-Calvinists) and Calvinists is due to not understanding the different perspectives regarding man’s moral freedom. Calvinists believe man is free according to compatible moral freedom; in contrast, Extensivists believe man is free according to libertarian moral freedom. A clear understanding of these two ideas is essential to properly evaluating the claims of each perspective. The following is provided as a summary. A more detailed explanation can be found by searching Compatible and Libertarian Freedom. Continue reading →
Calvinism believes that God knows what will happen in the future, including everything each person will do because he has microscopically determined that humans perform such actions through decrees and compatible freedom. In very stark contrast, Extensivism believes that God knows everything including everything each person will do as well, but for different reasons. Extensivists recognize that Scripture presents the picture that God chose to create man in his image. This includes the ability to choose otherwise within the range of options God has established, libertarian freedom, which is ubiquitously evident in Scriptures reflective of choosing between accessible options. Given that God chose to so endow man, God has eternally known every choice that every individual will make; further, while libertarian freedom is a force, it is a force created by God, and therefore, entirely under his sovereign rule. Continue reading →
Pride is the great canopy for a galaxy of sins.
Today I am reminded once again of my pride because of the power of Your Word and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I can truly say with David, “My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).
My pride calls, wants, needs, and forefends every whimper of my flesh. Lord, my fear of praying about my pride is that I cannot possibly see it in all of its ghastly horror as You see it. Confessing it is even harder because my blindness to its subtleties only allows a miniscule portion to be confessed. I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! For as I grow in my walk with You, I see it is the seedbed of everything ungodly.
Although in this life, I may never eradicate the pride of my flesh, may You say of me as you did Hezekiah, “However, Hezekiah humbled the pride of his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:26).
Thank You for increasing my walk and reverence for You so that I may hate my pride. “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate” (Proverbs 8:13).
I do believe with all of my heart that “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23).
Oh my Lord, how You can love me is beyond my understanding, but I thank You that You do, and that I know it.
I confess that my pride and self-centeredness are always lurking beneath each breath, glance, and turn of life. They are the ever-present combatants skulking in the shadows just out of sight until the attack. They seek to draw me into their dungeon of pride through both criticism and praise, poverty and prosperity, and love and hate. Thank you for humbling me and giving me a hunger for walking in humility before you, although, my failings and weaknesses, at times, envelop me as though I am but a small stem in the eye of a tsunamic torrent.
Thank You for your promise, “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25:9). For because of you, this is my desire. “Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose” (Psalm 25:12).
Oh my precious LORD, “forgive all of my sins” (Psalm 25:18), and they are many, more sins than any one in the world it seems to me.
Help me to balance praise for how dramatically You have changed who I am and how I love while never ignoring or making light of the sinfulness I see in my heart, which immeasurably disheartens me because You are always good and deserving of infinitely more. May I prize humility in every thought and action so that honor comes to You first and then to those whom you bring to me. “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
Thank you that you have brought me to a place in which I can clearly see how dastardly despicable and de-humanizing pride is; this vividness affords a constant reminder that fighting the domination of pride is a noble endeavor. Yet, I know this has nothing to do with my own acumen or abilities (Romans 12:16–20).
May my pride lie in defeat today more than yesterday, having been slain by the sword of the Spirit, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6).
“But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2b).
A lack of, or a diminishing, passion for God’s Word is symptomatic of a remote love for God. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Yet, some Christians seem content to not only fail to keep Christ’s commandments but even to spend little time to know them.
If every architect knew as much about buildings as some Christians know about Christianity, no building could withstand a spring shower. If every lawman knew as much about law as some Christians know about Christianity, even the anarchist would long for a badge. If every sea captain knew as much about sailing the high seas as some Christians know about Christianity, every ship would be a floating mass grave. If every composer knew as much about music as some Christians know about Christianity, music would be so cacophonic it would be deemed cruel and unusual punishment. If every medical practitioner knew as much about medicine as some Christians know about Christianity, every disease would be treated with a prescription from a Mr. Potato Head game. If every educator knew as much about their subject as some Christians know about Christianity, kindergarten would be the terminal degree, and goo goo gaga would be our lingua franca.
May we say with the psalmist, “May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord, Your salvation according to Your word; So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word. And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I wait for Your ordinances. So I will keep Your law continually, Forever and ever. And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts. I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings And shall not be ashamed. I shall delight in Your commandments, Which I love. And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes” (Psalm 119:41–48).
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).
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).
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. 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. Continue reading →