Accomplishments as High as Heaven, Character as Low as Hell

In recent months the evangelical world has been rocked by a number of scandals, by news of yet more leaders who used their churches or ministries to indulge themselves to the harm of others. These are yet more cases of men who will no doubt stand before God some day and plead all their accomplishments—“Didn’t I preach the gospel for you? Didn’t I encourage many people in their faith? Didn’t I lead many people to the Lord?” Yet despite such …

Drowning in an Ocean of Encouragement

There are not many in this world who are at risk of drowning in an ocean of encouragement, of being swept away by a tsunami of cheer, of being pulled under by great waves of comfort. There are not many who receive so much encouragement that they never have reason to feel doubts, never have reason to grow weary, never have reason to be tempted toward despondency. There are certainly none at all who are at the least risk of …

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The Inadvertent Trailblazer

My favorite cities to explore are the ones that have come together organically rather than according to a plan. Where some city centers were built on a grid with each building aligned closely with the road beside it and each street meeting the others at a perfect 90-degree angle, I prefer the cities that arose without such careful design. These are the cities where the streets wind and turn, where roads meet and cross one another at quirky angles, where …

The Beauty of a Gentle Heart

If there is any quality that is conspicuous by its absence today, perhaps it is gentleness. Though this is a precious and beautiful trait, it is sadly rare. I recently read (and highly recommend!) J.R. Miller’s short work A Gentle Heart, and in that book I came across this convicting passage which reminds us of the source and model of our gentleness. *** There was gentleness in the world before Jesus came. There was mother love. There was friendship, deep, …

How to Pray Like a Pastor

Of all that is unique about the Christian faith, this aspect stands apart: Its leaders are not called to their positions because of rare skill, raw talent, or overwhelming desire. They are not qualified by the charismatic personality, the ability to draw a crowd, or skilled rhetoric. Rather, Christian leaders are called and qualified by godly character. In passages like 1 Timothy 3:2-7, Titus 1:6-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-3 we read what a man must be if he is to …

Seven Thoughts on the Billy Graham / Mike Pence Rule

I have often wondered how Billy Graham feels about having a rule named after him. And it’s not just any rule either, but one that has generated all kinds of controversy both within the church and outside of it. Having a name synonymous with marital faithfulness must be a joy; having a name synonymous with charges of puritanical prudishness must be a burden. I wonder if he’s been happy enough to hand it off to Mike Pence and let him carry …

No Man More Pitiful

God had promised his people a land. He had promised to lead them out of captivity and into a place of their own. And now he had delivered them from their bondage in Egypt, he had led them across the Red Sea, he had remained with them for forty years of wandering, he had taken them safely across the Jordan River. Now just one great barrier remained—the people who already inhabited that land. The first city they encountered was the …

The Character of the Christian: Respected by Outsiders

Today we conclude our series on the character of the Christian. We have been exploring how the various character qualifications of elders are actually God’s calling on all Christians. While elders are meant to exemplify these traits, all Christians are to exhibit them. I have wanted us to consider whether we are displaying these traits and to learn together how we can pray to have them in greater measure. Today, as we wrap up, we will tackle what it means …

The Character of the Christian: Mature and Humble

Today we continue our series on the character of the Christian. We are exploring how the various character qualifications of elders are actually God’s calling on all Christians. While elders are meant to exemplify these traits, all Christians are to exhibit them. I want us to consider whether we are displaying these traits and to learn together how we can pray to have them in greater measure. Today we will consider why elders—and all Christians—must strive to live mature and …

The Character of the Christian: Family Leaders

Today we continue our series on the character of the Christian. We are exploring how the various character qualifications of elders are actually God’s calling on all Christians. While elders are meant to exemplify these traits, all Christians are to exhibit them. I want us to consider whether we are displaying these traits and to learn together how we can pray to have them in greater measure. Today we will consider why it’s important for parents—both elders and all Christians—to …