Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others; whereas an humble saint is most jealous of himself, he is so suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The spiritually proud person is apt to find fault with other saints, that they are low in grace; and to be much in observing how cold and dead they are; and being quick to discern and take notice of their deficiencies. But the eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home . . . that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts . . . He is apt to esteem others better than himself, and is ready to hope that there is nobody but what has more love and thankfulness to God than he, and cannot bear to think that others should bring forth no more fruit to God’s honour than he. - Jonathan Edwards
Monday, August 27, 2012
We declare on scriptural authority that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained toward Christ. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 4, p.139).
Sunday, August 26, 2012
From Jared Wilson, here.
“[Theology is] not a response to the human situation or to human questions; it is a response to the Word of God, which demands a response because of its intrinsic nature”
– Alister McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction
“[The] man who refuses to listen and to obey the Word acts not as a free man but as a slave, for there is no freedom except through God’s Word . . . Theology responds to the Word which God has spoken, still speaks, and will speak again in the history of Jesus Christ which fulfills the history of Israel.”
– Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology: An Introduction
Yes. Theology answers the problems of the world but by beginning with the Word, not the world. So much of what we call theological pursuit involves the disjointing of Scripture to fit the contours of our concerns. Instead, real theology results from the heart and mind wrestling with the revelation of God. And if this puts our hip out of joint, so be it.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
J. I. Packer:
What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it—the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands [Isa. 49:16]. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort—the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates—in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.
—Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 41-42, emphasis added.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Much of life is about making the best choices. When we make a choice to do one thing we make a choice not to do another thing. For instance, I have had some people who have left my church and still wanted to maintain our relationship. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this but practically it is difficult. To choose to spend time with them means that I am choosing to not spend time with someone else God has called me to shepherd. With limited time, I cannot shepherd sheep who have chosen to go to another flock and be shepherded by another shepherd. The same is true even with those I am called to shepherd. I need to prioritize my time strategically with my flock. Jesus did this in his ministry. He ministered to the crowds but discipled the twelve. He discipled the twelve but focused more intently on the three - Peter, James, and John. He focused on the three but had a more intimate relationship with one, John. I thought this article was helpful to see how easy it is to waste time with the wrong people. This is critical because it can mean the difference between surviving and thriving. We will never get it right all the time but can learn to do it better . . .
It is easy to see other people making this mistake. It is more difficult to catch yourself doing it. I’ve been guilty plenty of times.
Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/weka
For example, a few years ago, while I was still CEO of Thomas Nelson, I met with an important author. In the course of the meeting, I learned he was unhappy with the cover design we had done for his previous book.
Being the people-pleaser I am, I thought I could fix his problem. “I will take personal responsibility for this next cover,” I announced. “I will work with you directly to make sure we get a cover you love.”
I then hired a designer I knew who had delivered stellar results for another one of our authors. In a few weeks, the designer delivered six superb cover comps. I made a few suggestions, the designer revised his work, then I submitted them to the author.
He didn’t like any of them.
I spent an hour on the phone with him, as he berated the designer. Undaunted, I rolled up my sleeves and spent the afternoon personally searching through a stock photo library, trying to find just the right image—not exactly the best use of my time as a CEO.
But finally I found a photo I loved. This is it, I thought. Perfect!
I went back to the designer and had him create several more comps based on the new photo. I submitted the new batch to the author, confident he would love one of the options. I followed up with a phone call.
He hated them all.
Again, he criticized the designer. He then came after me. “If you would just spend the money and hire a decent designer, we could get onto more important things.” He lectured me like this was the first time I had ever done this.
Silly me. I hired another designer and went through one more round with him. We produced twenty-one cover comps in all. He didn’t like any of them.
Finally, we acquiesced and used a cover designed by his team. I wish I could show it to you, especially compared to the others.
With that, I woke up to the fact that I had invested all this time, money, and emotional energy and had not moved the needle one bit. It was a total waste. He was incorrigible.
The resources I wasted on him would have been better spent elsewhere.
We finished out our contract with him but passed on offering him another one. We had had enough. We let him go to another publisher.
Leaders often make this same mistake in various areas of their lives. For example,
- A mother invests all of her emotional energy in a difficult child to the neglect of the quiet, compliant one. The difficult child gets worse and the compliant one begins acting up to get attention.
- A corporate executive spends most of her time helping under-performing salespeople rather than provide leadership and inspiration to her top producers. She then wonders why she can’t keep her best people.
- A pastor expends so much of his time trying to fix broken people that he doesn’t have the energy to develop the leaders who could help shoulder the burden. He constantly grumbles about his workload.
What can you do if you are in this situation?
Make sure you are investing your best resources—including your time and energy—in your best people. Here’s how:
- Acknowledge that your resources are limited. Your time, money, and energy are finite resources. It’s easy to forget this and overcommit. But it’s a zero-sum game. Every time you say “yes” to one person, you are saying “no” to others.
- Become aware of where your resources are going. It’s easy to think the situation is temporary or an exception. But is it? This is the little lie that keeps us stuck if we aren’t careful. Look back over your calendar and make an honest assessment. It will reveal the truth.
- End unproductive or unhealthy relationships. This is the hard part. If you can’t end them, then at least establish boundaries. If you need inspiration or moral support, read Henry Cloud’s excellent book, Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward.
- Identify the people you should be investing in. This is the most important step. Change your focus. Who are the individuals you have overlooked? Who are the people who should be getting the bulk (or at least more) of your resources? Who are the ones who represent the future?
- Schedule time on your calendar to serve these people. Good intentions are important, but they are not enough. Like the old adage says, “What gets scheduled gets done." The opposite is also true, “What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done.”
Yes, Jesus spent time with broken people. He healed the sick. He comforted the broken-hearted. He ministered to the outcasts.
But he spent the bulk of his resources on just twelve people. He proactively invested in them, knowing that his mission was, humanly speaking, dependent on their success.
Question: Where do you need to shift your focus and allocate your resources differently? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
From Ray Ortland
“Whenever a change occurs in the religious opinions of a community, it is always preceded by a change in their religious feelings. The natural expression of the feelings of true piety is the doctrines of the Bible. As long as these feelings are retained, these doctrines will be retained; but should they be lost, the doctrines are either held for form sake or rejected, according to circumstance; and if the feelings again be called into life, the doctrines return as a matter of course.”
Charles Hodge, “Address to the Students of the Theological Seminary,” Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review 5 (1829): 92.
Hodge is not asserting that feelings are more important than doctrine. He is observing that feelings precede doctrine by creating a bias toward certain doctrines. If a church’s heart is tender and warm toward the Lord, that church will love the Bible as his Word. If a church’s heart cools off toward the Lord or becomes simply distracted, that church will be doctrinally unstable. The heart works with such power that it creates inevitability in a church’s theological future, for good or ill.
It’s why we pastors work so hard to help our churches love the Lord, above all else.