You’ve probably heard it. You may have said it. When the name some politician comes up in a discussion, you can rest assured that somebody will at least be thinking it.
“I do not respect him/her, but I respect the office.”
Those few words say a lot. Most of what is said is not good. Part of the message is that some particular individual is (at least in the eyes of the one making the statement) unworthy of respect and honor. Their character may be flawed. Their abilities may be very limited. The people with whom they associate may be unsavory. Any number of reasons may be given. The bottom line is that they are deemed unworthy of respect.
At the same time, those words indicate a respect for such things as authority, rule of law, a functioning society, etc. In fact, they indicate a respect for God who instructs us through His Word “…that prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions… (1 Tim. 2:1-2, emphasis added).
There are many areas of life in which it is true that a position can be respected without any real knowledge of the type of person holding that position. For example; I do not necessarily need to know anything about the person wearing a police uniform in order to follow instructions given to me. The mere presence of the badge (and that gun on the hip) will help me to respect the position.
The person who owns the company for which I may work may be a real scoundrel. It would be wise, though, to demonstrate respect for the position whether or not I respect the person. That would be true especially if I enjoy getting paid on a regular basis.
Should I fail to turn in assignments in school because the person in front of the classroom does not “measure up” morally? The answer to that question may be determined by whether or not I would like to continue my education.
What might be appropriate in the areas alluded to here and many others should never be an option in the church. Such things as character, devotion, godliness, and commitment are absolute necessities for those who would attempt to serve in any leadership role among God’s people.
Those who would attempt to lead God’s people need to exemplify such traits. They are not to “throw their weight around.” Rather, they should lovingly and patiently develop a relationship with those they would want to follow them.
It is to be a relationship based upon trust and respect.
It is to be a relationship based upon mutual trust and respect.
It is to be a relationship based upon mutual trust and respect for individuals, not necessarily
But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’ (Matt. 20:25-28)
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Reading is an essential part of life, and we want to challenge our children in reading. On this week’s podcast, Adam is joined by Brad McNutt, who is doing something interesting for his very young son. He is building a “future library” of books he wants his son to have when he is an adult.
On the program, Brad talks about what gave him the idea, and also gives some recommendations if you would like to start such a library for your child. (The recommendations are listed below.)
Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart by Kyle Idelman
Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul by Bill Hybels
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Can Man Live without God? by Ravi Zacharias
“The Book Club” [Brad’s podcast on The Light Network]
“Al Mohler: Study Tour” [Video]
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My friend, you have been looking a bit harried lately. Not to say you don’t look beautiful, but I can see it in your eyes. You feel like you are falling short. And not just falling short in one or two areas but all across the board. Your husband needs some attention and all of your children seem to have an activity or school project due this week. And those lesson plans don’t write themselves!
Or maybe you are the friend whose aging parents are competing with your job for who or what can cause the most stress. You know God teaches to respect and care for those in your family, but your boss doesn’t seem to understand that and is pressing for more travel, more revenue, more something!
Or maybe you are the single friend who is happy with her life until someone makes you feel like you aren’t enough because you haven’t followed the traditional path of marriage right after college. Nevermind that the only reason you haven’t is because you can’t find a man who loves God first.
Or maybe you are …
You get the picture. There are a variety of us who each have our own unique situation that is stretching us to the max. Lately, I have found myself praying to be everything that all of the people in my life need me to be. And then I realized that if I would change my prayer, I might help myself not feel so overwhelmed and change my focus.
What is this “magic” prayer? Simply this, “God, please help me be who You need me to be.” And that will be enough.
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” –Ecclesiastes 12:13
It was an epic battle; one waged in the middle of the night with nothing but our instincts and intellect to see who would be the victor. What began just a couple of minutes after the stroke of midnight ended over a half-hour later. I came out on top of this battle, the conqueror over nature.
I caught the mouse.
We had a mouse loose in our bathroom. That little critter refused to just get on the sticky trap (what was he thinking?), so I forged into the bathroom with a sword and shield to slay the beast.
(Okay, so it was a dustpan and plastic sack. Let me have my moment, please.)
Finally, 35 minutes later, I emerged victorious and cleared our house of this nuisance that we had been trying to catch for about three days.
It was when I returned back in the house from disposing of the furry creature that my precious wife said those words that every man longs to hear. Well, first she made certain I had finished the job by asking, “Did you catch it?”
(Not too romantic so far, I know.)
When I was able to nod my head, though, she said, “You’re my hero.”
That’s what every man longs for in his heart. There is something deep down in a man’s chest that wants a beautiful lady–which my wife is–to call him her hero.
But when she said it that night, something inside me finally clicked.
Too often, the Hollywood version of a hero has to sail across the seas to slay a dragon (not just a mouse). It is the major event, one that provides the epic moment. It’s as if that one event wins the heart of the girl, and then…well…they live happily ever after.
Husbands, I want us all to come to an important realization. If you want to be your wife’s hero, I can give you a one-step process.
You ready? Here it is: slay a dragon.
…and your pride is that dragon.
What I mean is simply this: there is something you can do every day to slay the dragon of self and show your wife that she means more to you than anyone else.
It is not a single epic battle. It is a daily practice of doing something to show your wife that her life is more important than your self.
What could it look like?
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of debt. It could be something as simple as cutting up a credit card or selling that prized boat or collectible gun to put the financial security of your family before your hobbies.
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of passing on spiritual leadership. Lead your family in a prayer before breakfast, or sit down and read a few verses of the Bible to your kids tonight.
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of apathy. Get off the couch and roughhouse with the kids some. Do the dishes after supper. Prepare a family budget. Help your kids with their homework.
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of taking your wife for granted. Send her a text (right now would be good) just telling her that you love her. Plan your next date night and put it on your calendar–and let nothing take its place on that calendar.
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of laziness by catching that mouse, instead of expecting her to do it!
But here’s the thing: you cannot believe the Hollywood hype. Being your wife’s hero does not happen with one epic battle and then all is well forever and ever.
Being your wife’s hero happens daily, with decisions that may seem small, but that build in her heart a trust for the one who is putting her first every single day. The man who shows that winning her heart is a daily desire; not a one-time event.
I want to be my wife’s hero. Often–very often–I am anything but heroic, but a decision every day to put her first will help me win her heart daily.
It may not have involved dramatic music or an epic battle made for the big screen. But catching a furry little mouse in the middle of the night was enough to remind this husband that he can be his wife’s hero.
If I can say that I have done something every day to keep that heroic status with my wife, what could be better than that? My name may never be in a heroic tale or an epic film, but in the heart of a beautiful lady who wears my name, I can be a hero. That’s what matters.
…and they lived happily ever after.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
The words above are among the saddest that I hear. They are usually spoken by somebody who is hurting terribly. Often the pain they are experiencing has affected them in so many ways.
All too often, I hear these words as a part of an explanation concerning the person’s absence from worship services, Bible classes, and other opportunities to learn, worship, and enjoy fellowship. They feel as though they cannot do those things because they just can’t face anybody because of what is going on in their lives.
Every time I hear those words, I realize that something is wrong besides the pain that is being experienced and expressed. I realize that somebody needs to learn a little more about how brothers and sisters are to relate to and with one another.
As Christians, we wear the name of the One who was sought out by individuals who were hurting. It is also important to observe that He sought out individuals like this. To be sure, some of the pain might have been self-inflicted, but that was not an insurmountable barrier for Him or for them.
Our brothers and sisters in the first century drew strength and support from one another during times of trouble and weakness. They, and we, are instructed to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Those who were and are “…strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak… (Rom. 15:1).
Those who cannot bring themselves to face a group of people may be thinking that they are avoiding such things as unjust criticism, gossip, prying for information, and/or pity. Do they think they would experience these things with brothers and sisters in the Lord?
Are they right?
If they are, they are not the only ones who need a better understanding and application of God’s Word.
Source: He Told It Like It Is (page 65)
For a congregation to please the Lord, we must follow His plan. God has not left it up to our own thinking as to how a congregation of His people is to be organized. Philippians 1:1 makes it clear that there are “overseers and deacons” along with all the saints. First Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 give us the qualifications for those men who would serve in the roles of elder and deacon.
There are no two ways about it: God has a pattern for the organization of His church.
That said, a congregation cannot just give men the right title and then claim to have it all figured out! Too often, there are congregations that have elders and deacons–thus, they are Scripturally organized–but the members are frustrated because they do not know what these leaders expect them to do.
That’s where one verse comes into play. It is a verse that needs to be studied and applied in far more congregations. If applied, it would make a world of difference in the desire to serve of the members.
In Ephesians 4, Paul has written about how there are different leaders (in the First Century church, there were apostles and prophets; in the church today, there are evangelists and shepherd-teachers). Then, however, he gives their role, and it is one of the most overlooked verses in church organization that I can think of:
“To equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).
“Equip.” “Equipping.” “Perfecting.” All these are translations of the first part of that verse.
We need to avoid just telling people what to do; we need to equip them to do it!
How could this play out in the life of a congregation? Here are a few examples:
How many members know they are to be striving to win lost souls to Christ, but are frustrated? Week after week, they are told from the pulpit that they are to be evangelists, too. However, we need give them some method or training to help them do that task! We are not equipping the saints for the work of ministry.
Take your Bible school program. Some sweet Christian lady agrees to teach a class of 5- and 6-year-old students and wants to give her time to that task. So, we hand her a book and just let her go. Instead, there needs to be some training. What do the elders want to see accomplished in that class, and how can a more experienced teacher help a new teacher meet those expectations?
When we let a Christian man lead singing or read Scripture, do we just sign them up and let them go? Instead, there needs to be some training, not so they are professionals and not so they are just robots who all do everything the same way, but so that there is excellence in what we do. They should have every advantage of knowing how to do that task well before they ever step up in front of the congregation.
…and the examples could go on and on.
What I am suggesting is hard work, no doubt. But elders should take the time to evaluate every aspect of the work of a congregation and ask the honest question: are we equipping people to fill their roles of ministry, or are we just signing people up?
An honest answer might be sad for many elderships, but it is worth the effort to come up with ways to teach, train, and evaluate the work of the church. It helps build confidence in those who serve. It provides a very clear level of communication (which is never a bad thing!). And it helps people know if they are succeeding or not.
Where I work and worship, we have about 220 people on Sunday mornings for worship. Contrast that with the 6 elders and 2 preachers we have, and that’s a weighty ratio! How can 8 people equip all 220 folks (and hopefully, continually growing numbers)? We can’t.
However, the elders can come up with the methods and expectations, then equip a few key leaders in how those things need to be done. Deacons, seasoned Bible school teachers, and older Christians are perfect choices to be the first to get the training and to know and understand the expectations and methods the elders would like to see done.
Then, those key leaders simply pass along that training and teaching to others. Soon, the methods, systems, and expectations are just part of the life of the congregation, and elders are able to truly “oversee” the work without micromanaging.
If elders will do the hard work of coming up with expectations at the beginning, they have a way to evaluate how the work is going. They can also evaluate themselves to see if they are continuing to provide the equipping that people need to do the work. Do they have the necessary time? Facilities? Financial resources? Leadership? Communication?
All this may sound tedious, or even very “corporate,” but it is all part of what makes the work of the church more enjoyable for members and more easily overseen by elders. When expectations are clearly stated and members feel they are properly equipped to do the work, peace will reign in the congregation.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
You may remember your teacher saying something like this to you in school, “Okay, class, it is time for you to put your thinking caps on!” This might have meant you were about to receive a lesson, take a test, or consider something very important. Though it seems almost silly to state something so obvious, thinking is not overrated. It is essential to success in every aspect of life.
In the August 1981 issue of Reader’s Digest one story told of a time when Henry Ford hired an efficiency expert to evaluate his company. After a few weeks, the expert made his report, which was highly favorable except for one thing. “It’s that man down the hall,” said the expert. “Every time I go by his office he’s just sitting there with his feet on his desk. He’s wasting your money.” “That man,” replied Mr. Ford, “once had an idea that saved us millions of dollars. At the time, I believe his feet were planted right where they are now.
Imagine being paid just to think! Maybe if we were paid to do it we would do it more often! The fact is, we are rewarded with so much more than monetary blessings if we will let the mind of the Master be the master of our minds. Consider a few of the things that taking time to think will accomplish:
God’s advice to Joshua in leading Israel was to THINK – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). It is not only important that we think, but it is just as important to choose the right subject. The only true help for those who are looking for it is going to be found in the Word of God.
The key to good thinking is found in the word “meditate.” Meditation is time spent in the action of thinking. It is dedication coupled with a willing mind for understanding. Meditation is not putting on your thinking cap, but rather, realizing that you are never supposed to take it off. We all need to be wearing our thinking caps all of the time! What a shame that anyone would ever have to encourage us to put it on!