“I wish my husband was more like you.”
This is a sentence I have heard in one form or another multiple times throughout my ministry. Sometimes it is worded differently because it comes from a single woman who “would love to meet someone like you.” Sometimes the scary sentence is actually made up of a series of compliments over weeks or months, “your sermons mean so much” with a gentle touch on the shoulder. Rarely, the statements come in the form of a full out assault from a young woman who looks for opportunities to compliment you and hug you in front of your wife (yes, we actually experienced that one time).
Now, I know that as I write this some hear me saying that women are evil manipulators, but that is not my intention at all. In fact, I would say that most of the women who have ever put me into awkward situations with their compliments or actions have done so without ill intention. Often they are hurting women in troubled marriages that perceive the preacher on a stage as the embodiment of much that they are missing. Regardless of the intention on the part of those expressing gushing compliments, a man can find himself in the middle of a conundrum.
As men, we enjoy having our egos stoked. As leaders we are encouraged when people respond well to our leadership. As a result we must be aware that the weaknesses that our biology and our positions leave us with make us vulnerable to temptation from those who look up to us. Our flesh is often weak even when our spirit is willing.
There are steps that every minister should take to protect himself and those around him from … Continue reading
I’ll never forget the day. I was a broken man. I had no reason to be broken, I had just baptized eight people, our sanctuary was packed to the gills, the Holy Spirit spoke convincingly during my sermon, people responded by repenting of sin, and we had new families join the church. By all normal accounts, this should have been one of the greatest Sundays of my life and yet, there I was, seated in a chair in my office after the service, sobbing.
It was there that I was found. Not found in the salvific sense, God found me and saved me at nine years old. No, I was found by my wife in a heap of emotions and depression. I, the strong leading husband, pastor, and father was broken and alone–or so I thought. Certainly in that moment I was broken, I was a wreck and though I didn’t know it at the time, I was on the precipice of the most challenging six months of my life. The days following that warm summer Sunday would be filled with sleepless nights, personal sickness, the deaths of loved ones and church members, uncertainties and darkness would surround me and many that I knew and loved. I was in a mess and the mess was about to get worse, but I was NOT alone.
Of course we are never alone, we have those warm promises from Jesus, “I will not leave you as orphans.” But, in that moment I felt like Elijah must have, “I alone am left.” I felt that kind of alone, all alone to suffer and carry my problems. And there I was alone in my office, wallowing in my own all alone problems, and there I was when my wife … Continue reading
“I want to lead, but I don’t know how.” This is a common refrain from men I encounter. They have a desire to lead in their home, but they are intimidated. They do not know as much about the Bible as their wife or they are uncomfortable praying out loud or they are afraid that their kids will ask questions they cannot answer.
I have good news. There is really only one way to fail as the spiritual leader in your home and that is to refuse to lead. Your fear of failure has kept you out of the game. You rationalize, “If I don’t do it, I can’t fail.” Unfortunately, you’ve already failed because you’ve forfeited. But take hope, you need not stay out of the game. Today can be the day that you turn the tide and begin to lead in your home. Here are five steps and a few resources to help you along the way.
Pray for God’s Guidance. This is not some Billy Graham kind of prayer in front of millions. This is you honest before God in your truck on the way home from work, “God, give me the courage, strength, and conviction to lead my family to know you more and obey your commands.”
Pursue Accountability. Tell someone else. Call a friend and ask him to call you tomorrow to ask how it went. This can be intimidating to some guys so take the easy route. Call your pastor, he will be thrilled to receive this phone call from you.
Make a Plan. You will not lead by accident. Take Mel Gibson’s advice from The Patriot, “Aim small, miss small.” Your first goal will not be to make it through the book of Leviticus. … Continue reading
Truth Matters is a new book by Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw aimed at equipping college students to defend their faith (or cling to their faith) against the liberal attacks they will experience in liberal religion classes. The book is one that I strongly suggest for any college student and really for anyone who has ever been challenged to believe that the Bible is true. Contrary to the attacks leveled against the Bible in college classrooms and on cable TV channels, there is substantial evidence to support the Bible’s claim to be true. For evidence to make a difference, however, one has to be willing to seek the truth and allow the truth to inform one’s views.
In my ministry, one of the most frustrating experiences is for people to cling to faulty worldview, ideas, or ideologies in the face of truths that contradict. Simple logic shows that if a is true then the opposite of a cannot be true at the same time. Nevertheless, many people cling to false ideologies in the face of logic simply because they are more committed to their comfortable worldview or perspective than they are to a pursuit of actual truth.
Truth is the friend of every Christian. Jesus claimed to be the very embodiment of truth. All truth is God’s truth and to be faithful as a follower of Christ is to pursue truth and conform our lives around truth. The truth is often uncomfortable, but as uncomfortable as it may be, Christians must seek to live consistent lives that are oriented around the gospel and truth.
Our worldview and other personal perspectives become a part of who we are and as a result are difficult to change or walk away … Continue reading
I originally wrote this for and had it posted at LifeWay’s Pastors Today blog.
There is an interesting confrontation in the gospel of Matthew between Peter and the tax collectors at the temple. In Matthew 17:24, Peter is asked whether or not Jesus pays the temple tax. Peter, always willing to speak without thinking, replies in the affirmative, but is then engaged by Jesus in a conversation about taxes and family relationships. The gist of Jesus’s discussion with Peter is that the sons of kings do not owe taxes, thus as the Son of God, Jesus does not owe the temple tax.
Nevertheless, in verse 27 Jesus replies to Peter,
“However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”
This account recorded by Matthew has become an important principle for me in ministry. Sometimes, so as not to give offense, we need to pay the tax that we do not owe.
Paying the tax we do not owe often means choosing to be the offended if it advances the gospel or helps to maintain unity within the church. Paying the tax may mean apologizing even when you do not feel that you were wrong (or that you were the only one wrong). Sometimes in ministry, paying the tax may mean keeping our mouths shut when we could share information that would make us to look better.
Of course this does not mean that a pastor (or anyone) should always be the victim.
Apologizing for something you did not do is not honest and … Continue reading
Just follow your heart. Are you in love? Follow your heart. Deciding on a job? Follow your heart. Moral decisions? Follow your heart. But, what if your heart is wrong? What if your heart isn’t even trustworthy? Of course Jeremiah 17:9 warns us that the heart is deceitful and wicked, but that’s not all. Romans 1:24 says that God, in his wrath, will give people up to the lusts of their hearts.
The reality of God’s wrath, in other words, is often God’s lack of intervention. The saddest state in which a human being may find himself is the place of God’s utter disregard. You’ve decided that you will follow you. Your greatest idol is not made of wood or precious metal, the idol in your life is your own comfort and desires. Your idol is your own heart and your own mind, you have put you on the throne of your life and you will satisfy you regardless of what anyone else may say. You are following your heart.
And God has given you exactly that which you want. Of course no one wants God’s wrath, but few people want God’s rules either. Like the parent that finally throws in the towel God says, “fine, I’ll give you what you want,” and in that moment you have become what you worshiped, a deity of sorts, a god who makes his or her own rules, and God is perfectly justified in giving you exactly what you want.
You want to live as an adulterer, God says OK. You desire to live in a constant state of covetousness and God allows it. You want your homosexual lifestyle and you want the blessing of the church, guess what, God gives it to you and … Continue reading
Our current sermon series at Malvern Hill, The Lights of Christmas, focuses on the good news that came with Jesus. As a part of the introduction to that series, I wrote, “Christianity rises and falls on the truth of the virgin birth.” Without the virgin birth, there can be no biblical Christianity. During this time of Christmas, it is important that we remember all of the details surrounding the birth of Christ. He was more than a good man who did good deeds in the world, he was the God-man who came to perform the greatest deed. Christ came to die so that we could live. Unless there is a virgin birth, Jesus could not be the person he claimed to be and he certainly could not have accomplished all that he or the other New Testament writers claim that he accomplished.
The Bible can be a book of morality or literature without the virgin birth, but it cannot be words of life. I’m thankful that Al Mohler has take time to write about the importance of the virgin birth this week. I hope that you will take time to read all that he has to say in his most recent article, The Only Intelligible Explanation for the Incarnation: A.T. Robertson on the Virgin Birth of Christ. Christ came to bring hope and salvation, but he can only do that if he is a God who is able to save us from the sin that ensnares us. He can only be God if he was divinely conceived. May God bless you this Christmas season as you reflect upon his wisdom and grace in sending his Son to die for our sins.
School mornings in our home can be an absolute nightmare. Our local elementary school begins the day at 7:30 (yes, in the morning) which means getting the kids up before 6:30 and out the door no later than 7:15 (so at least we live close). I take our kids to school most days; it is on my way to the church building and helps me to get to the office at a good time. I also love taking the kids to school. I am grateful for the 10-15 minutes in the truck every morning. It is quality time for me to spend with them, we laugh, sing, talk, and pray. Well, theoretically we do all of those things, on bad mornings we just try to be polite with one another and pray that we are not late to school after fighting to get out the door–but I digress.
On those good mornings, there are songs, laughs, and prayers. I love that time. I love it because it is giving me an opportunity to be formative in the lives of my children. Angela and I are blessed for her to be able to work part-time and be home with our kids most afternoons. She does homework, serves snacks, reads, and plays with our kids. It is a thankless task that is often more stressful than my description suggests, but it is a valuable time of formation. She is so important in their formation and she gets to spend tons of time with them shaping and molding them. I work full time as a pastor and my one-on-one time with our kids is less than hers, so I have to make the most of it. That’s why I love driving our kids to school (and taking them hunting).
Our time with … Continue reading