Challenges of Longevity: Difficulty of A Lengthy Pastorate (Conrad Mbewe)
Conrad is a wise man and a godly pastor. He deeply loves his people and has led them well. However, as he writes in this thoughtful letter, it’s not always been easy. There are profound joys, as well as unique challenges to committing to one flock and staying there for the remainder of one’s ministry career. Worth reading!
5 Notes on Dating for the Guys (Mark Driscoll)
In this article, Driscoll provides some helpful counsel for men in how to be intentional and gracious in the way that we pursue the hearts of young women. Insightful and helpful. If you want to better encourage and interact with women while being honest and demonstrating integrity, then you’ll benefit from reading this. I’m sure all of us single guys who want to honor our sisters in Christ could use help in this area.
Motives Matter: Motivations of A Leader (Dave Kraft)
Here, Dave attacks the notion of selfish leadership–something that is our natural default as sinful human beings and which leads to extremely poor leadership that actually hurts people. He challenges leaders to serve God and man with the right motives that actually flow out of a servant’s heart. May the Lord teach us to be better lovers of God so that we might rightly serve our fellow man. The same applies to husbands as they love their wives with a selfless love that reflects Christ.
Pastors: Do What God Called You to Do (Justin Taylor)
God called us to love people by serving them and preaching Christ. He called us to open the Scriptures with integrity and humility and to proclaim them with boldness and love. May we be reminded of what God “drafted” us to do for His kingdom as we love and serve one another through the power of Christ’s Spirit. This brief article is worth reading!
Good Advice: No One Wants to Offend A “Midget”
Check out this poorly-botched altar call…
“The solution to the problems of the church today is to solve the individual Christian’s problems, and the solution to those problems is a Person–the Holy Spirit. He is the antidote for every error, the power for every weakness, the victory for every defeat, and the answer for every need. And He is available to every believer, for He lives in his heart and life. The answer and the power have already been given us in the indwelling Holy Spirit.”
Praise God for His indwelling presence–the Spirit of Christ–who transforms us into His likeness! May we experience and embrace His power for overcoming sin and receiving grace.
 Charles Ryrie, The Holy Spirit (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1965), 9, as quoted in John MacArthur, Jr., The Silent Shepherd: The Care, Comfort, and Correction of the Holy Spirit (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1996), 6.
The Discipline of Ongoing Repentance
In regards to Romans 8:13, John Owen said the following: “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
Romans 8:12-14 “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
A few chapters later, Paul wrote “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:14). We can only mortify the flesh by perpetually magnifying Christ in our hearts. As we walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5), we will experience the repentance that leads to live—and such repentance is an ongoing work of the Spirit within us as we behold and become like Jesus Christ, our Savior.
John Stott writes:
“The first great secret of holiness lies in the degree and the decisiveness of our repentance. If besetting sins persistently plague us, it is either because we have never truly repented, or because, having repented, we have not maintained our repentance. It is as if, having nailed our old nature to the cross, we keep wistfully returning to the scene of its execution. We begin to fondle it, to caress it, to long for its release, even to try to take it down again from the cross. We need to learn to leave it there. When some jealous, or proud, or malicious, or impure though invades our mind we must kick it out at once. It is fatal to begin to examine it and consider whether we are going to give in to it or not. We have declared war on it; we are not going to resume negotiations. We have settled the issue for good; we are not going to re-open it. We have crucified the flesh; we war never going to draw the nails.”
Let us therefore, embrace a lifestyle of repentance from our sin and faith in the risen Christ.
 Brian Hedges, Christ Formed in You (Shepherd Press, 2010), 138. See also A Lifestyle of Repentance.
“There are as many lessons conveyed to man about the greatness and majesty of God by the silent movements of each night as there are by the light of the successive days–just as there may be as many lessons conveyed to the soul about God in the dark night of affliction and adversity, as there are when the sun of prosperity shines upon us.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalm XIX, Psalms-Vol. 1, 168)
The same is true in our lives–God proclaims His greatness through the highest mountaintops and the lowest valleys–the blissful providences and the severest of mercies where we experience profound happiness and deepest anguish. His glory is seen in the agony and pain and difficulty, as well as the victory and new life that emerges from the ashes. He restores that which is broken and gives life to that which was lifeless. Praise God for His majesty in both light and darkness…
“The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure that he is.” John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, 122.
“I cannot tell you how surprised I was the first time I felt my heart begin to warm. It was real warmth too, not imaginary, and it felt as if it were actually on fire. I was astonished at they way the heat surged up, and how this new sensation brought great and unexpected comfort. I had to keep feeling my breast to make sure there was no physical reason for it! But once I realized that it came entirely from within, that this fire of love had no cause–material or sinful–but was the gift of my Maker, I was absolutely delighted, and wanted my love to be even greater.” Richard Rolle, The Fire of Love.
In the Old Testament, numerous lambs were raised and matured for the solitary purpose of being slaughtered upon the altar of God. In caring for these lambs, some of them likely were known intimately by the family as a they were fed, tended, and raised (sometimes as a beloved pet), thus magnifying the depth of pain brought about in the atonement process–the killing of the beloved animal being a result of the sin that needed to be washed away. In the New Testament, the sacrifice carried an even more profound reality when understood in light of the Son of God giving Himself to make atonement for our sin.
There could be no more profound relationship than the Son of God–the Creator of the Universe and the Life-Giver of mankind–giving His beloved Son for our redemption. So, in truly understanding the reality of sacrifice–we see not only death and atonement for sin but the incredible intimacy of that great act of taking one life in order to spare another. Jesus modeled that so well–and His followers have a responsibility to imitate His life-giving sacrifice through the way that they glorify God and serve one another. The Spirit of Christ in us compels us to lay down our lives for His sheep… just as our beloved Shepherd did for us.
“Israel’s sheep were reared, fed, tended, retrieved, healed, and restored–for sacrifice on the altar of God. This end of pastoral work must never be forgotten–that its ultimate aim is to lead God’s people to offer themselves up to Him in total devotion of worship and service.”
In other words, the pastor’s greatest work is to prepare the flock of God to sacrifice their lives unto Him, in all of their work, for His glory. He must encourage, exhort, and model a lifestyle of being slaughtered for the sake of Christ–the faithful disciple is called to deny Himself and take up His cross.
 William Still, The Work of the Pastor (Ross-Shire: Christian Focus Publishing, 2011), 17.
Jesus drank every last drop of the bitter cup of God’s wrath reserved for us. Every departure of my heart from the will of God provoked His wrath to be stored up for me. Every careless moment of apathy and every presumption upon His grace deserved the pit of hell for an eternity of payment.
I asked the Lord that I might grow in faith and love and every grace,
Might more of his salvation know and seek more earnestly his face.
‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray; and he, I trust, has answered prayer,
But it has been in such a way as almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that, in some favoured hour at once he’d answer my request,
And by his love’s constraining power, subdue my sins and give me rest.
Instead of this, he made me feel, the hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell assault my soul on every part.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne confessed that “the seed of every known sin was to be found in [his] heart.” God often uses suffering to expose the sinfulness of our hearts and drive us to cross where we find forgiveness, mercy, and love. We know far too little about true repentance, but the more we see the depth of our sin the more we desire freedom from it. We serve such a gracious God who is compassionate and slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love… I am so thankful. Eternally thankful!!