Leaders – Getting Our Own Houses in Order

I know an exemplary Christian man who had conducted Bible studies with businessmen for many years. But he became convicted that he was not teaching his own wife and children. So he quit teaching the Bible study with businessmen for 10 years. He decided he should not lead other men unless he was doing it in his home first.
This is a powerful example of obedience. You may be a leader in your church. You may be a popular Bible study leader. You may be serving effectively on many fronts, but if you are not leading at home, you should stop and get your own house in order. Then, once your household is in order, you might think about resuming some of your former ministries.
If you are a pastor, and you have a man in your church who is spending time preparing for Bible studies or Sunday school classes or is mentoring others but who is not doing what Psalm 78 calls him to do in his own family, encourage him to stop and begin doing them for his family. After he succeeds in shepherding his own household in the Word, then he will be ready to do it for others, and to do it far more effectively because he will have had much practice.
Get your schedule in control
The problem is not prioritizing your schedule, it is scheduling your priorities. The problem is not usually lack of time, but time spent in occupations of little importance.
Commenting on Psalm 78, Charles Spurgeon paints a beautiful picture of the man who invests his time in teaching his children:
“Around the fireside fathers should repeat not only the Bible records, but the deeds of the martyrs and reformers, and moreover the dealings of the Lord with themselves both in providence and grace …What happy hours and pleasant evenings have children had at their parents knees as they have listened to some sweet story of old.”
Treasury of David, Hendrickson Publishers, Vol II, USA,Charles Spurgeon, p331, ISBN 0-917006-25-9
Spurgeon’s picture of family discipleship is a difficult one to paint with the strokes of daily life in the twenty-first century because almost every force around you is saying that there is something better. Sadly, even the program of the church can prevent the creation of this beautiful scene in our families.
Churches in our day are a flurry of activity. It’s programs, programs, programs for everybody’s needs, needs, needs. People are busy cranking the gears of the church’s organization. There is a giant sucking sound that devours the resources necessary to keep the machine moving. With all the pressures of maintaining church programs, church leaders are very concerned that the programs are fed, but they are not as concerned that fathers are feeding their families the Word of God. For every Christian it is a matter of stewardship. God has given us the time and the resources to do the task He has called us to do. But we often spend our resources of time, money, and effort on the wrong things, and have little left for the really important things.
How does this happen? Here are a few suggestions that may help a man make changes he needs to make to accomplish what Asaph is advocating.
– Remove items from your schedule that are of lesser importance to their primary calling.
– Acknowledge the fact that your role as a trainer of trainers will cut you out of many things going on in the culture and maybe even your church!
– Remember that the world will constantly lure you away from your creation order mandate.
– Accept the fact that you will sometimes be thought of as on the fringe.”
If being faithful to God puts you on the fringe, then so be it!
So what kind of activity are we supposed to be engaged in? Leaders have a responsibility to paint the target and say, Put your energy here”.
The target for our energy painted in Psalm 78 is, break the patterns of your fathers, open your mouth in a parable,” and train the trainer of the next generation.

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Fear of God Devotional: What Does Repentance Look Like in the Life of a Pastor?

What does repentance look like in the life of a pastor?

Dennis Gunderson explains in this video what repentance looka like in a pastor. He has to be a man who doesn’t take advantage of the fact that he is held in high esteem. He must be a man that exemplifies humility. 

He has to make sure that he understands that he is a sinner as his congregation is. It must be stressed that because he is a pastor and in leadership, he is held to a higher standard. There may be a higher level of accountability because he is the leader and shepherd of the flock. 

Acts 20:28 (NKJV) – “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God[a] which He purchased with His own blood.”

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Fear of God Devotional: What Judas and Peter Did After They Both Sinned

What is the difference between the lives of Judas and Peter after they both sinned?

John Snyder explains in this video that we find a contrast between Judas and Peter in the way that they responded after they sinned grievously. Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver, but Peter betrayed Christ as well when he denied Christ. Both sins were heinous. Both men were guilty. But how did both of these men respond afterward?

Judas, in a sense of self-centered grief, is overcome and he chooses a path of self-destruction by hanging himself. In contrast, Peter, after denying Christ three times, he is broken-hearted. He humbles himself and he takes Christ’s offer of mercy. He repents and turns from his life of sin and receives forgiveness.

Matthew 27:3-5 (NKJV) – “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.” 

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Read 2018 Webinar – Paul White

Paul White and are on a live webinar to discuss the things we read over the past week as we are reading through the Bible. We will be on the line for 20 minutes to give some practical insights for families for the reading from the past week in Exodus and Matthew.

You can view the webinar here.

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Fear of God Devotional: Characteristics of a Church That Embraces Repentance

What are characteristics of a church that embraces repentance?

Paul Carrington explains in this video that a repentant church is a humble church and is sincere about conforming to the Word of God. It involves a group of people that not only hear the Word but actually do what Scripture commands. Such a church desires to closely align their lives with Scripture.

Conversely, a church that is devoid of the Holy Spirit will not repent or experience true reformation. Love also becomes predominant within the church, among the family, and to others outside of the church. The church now desires to proclaim salvation to others. 

James 1:22-25 (NKJV) – “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” 

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Fathers Who Break Generational Patterns of Sin

The Westminister Confession of Faith describes the doctrine of repentance and explains that in order for there to be true repentance, we must repent of “particular sins particularly” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch 15. 5-6). In Psalm 78, Asaph exhorts the current generation of fathers to turn away from the sins of their fathers from previous generations. 
The Psalm identifies past sinful attitudes and actions practiced by the fathers of Israel over a long period of time.
The following sins are some of the sins Asaph is warning his readers about. Each one warns of bad patterns that we and our children may need to identify and break. Take note of these sins. These are the problems of the fathers of Israel – which ones are yours?
Stubborness and Rebellion: And may not be like our fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God (v. 8). 
Cowardice: The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, Turned back in the day of battle. They did not keep the covenant of God; They refused to walk in His law” (vv. 9-10).  
Forgetfulness of God’s Works: And forgot His works And His wonders that He had shown them. Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers, In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan” (vv. 11-18). 
The fallout from the forgetfulness of fathers from the previous generation was that they lost the ability to acknowledge the faithfulness of God, even though it was demonstrated over and over again through miraculous acts. It marred their appreciation for the salvation of the Lord and filled their hearts with gloom.
Doubting God: Yes, they spoke against God: They said, Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? … Can He give bread also? Can He provide meat for His people (vv. 19-33)?
Flattery and Deceit: Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth, And they lied to Him with their tongue; For their heart was not steadfast with Him” (vv. 34-49). 
Provoking and Tempting God: How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power” (vv. 40-55). 
Acting Unfaithfully Towards God: Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God, And did not keep His testimonies, But turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers (vv. 56-66). 
This long section makes it clear that the fathers of old were stubborn, cowardly, forgetful, doubting, flattering, provoking, and unfaithful — just like their own fathers before them. 
We later see the consequences of the sins of previous generations. After Israel failed to heed this warning to break the patterns of their fathers Nebuchadnezzar attacked in 586 BC and the destruction was terrifying. God sent judgment because the sons did not turn away from the sins of their fathers. 
Jeremiah writes, Because your fathers have forsaken Me, says the Lord; they have walked after other gods and have served them and worshiped them, and have forsaken Me and not kept My law. And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold each one follows the dictates of his own heart, so that no one listens to Me. Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor” (Jeremiah 16:11-13). 
The plea of Asaph is for fathers to break the cycle of rebellion against God. He fills his heart with the knowledge of the faithfulness of God and then he spreads enthusiasm for Him to his children, his children’s children, and for the children yet to be born. It is a marvelous ministry. 
We must encourage the rising generation to break the bad patterns of their fathers. Even though no one has the opportunity to have a perfect home life and all parents are flawed in their techniques and their training, each generation can an improve on the former one. Parents should pray that their children will exceed them in every way. But, in order to bring this about, it is critical that we repent of “particular sins particularly.”

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Fear of God Devotional: What Happens When Pastors Preach Repentance?

What would likely happen if pastors emphasized repentance in their sermons?

Kevin Swanson explains in this video that if pastors emphasized repentance in their lives, in the ministry of the church, and in their preaching, we would see a reformation of life. We would see a reformation of all the areas of life that have been contaminated by the world. 

We would see people seeking to change various areas of their life. They would be crying out for repentance for themselves and the culture. They would seek a cleansing of all areas of their lives and desire to see all of life reformed. 

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

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Fear of God Devotional: The Joy That Flows from Repentance

What is one characteristic of repentance?

Curt Daniels explains in this video that there is a joy that comes after repentance. It is one evidence of true repentance. This joy comes from the fact that God forgives those who truly repent – Acts 3:19 says, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”  

Though our sins are grievous and many, God can make them as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18 says, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'” 

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

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People who Look at Pornography Know This

Worldly pleasures are worthless.

Jonathan Edwards speaks of the fact that the only true pleasure is found in what pleases God, but here he makes it clear that worldly pleasure proves to be worthless:

“Worldly pleasure is in itself but a worthless thing. Men generally have very great expectations from sensual pleasure before their enjoyment, but they almost vanish in the enjoyment, and men that have great expectations from them are always disappointed. They are like shadows and phantoms which vanish as we endeavor to embrace them, and if one doth enjoy them to the full, their nature will allow them to last but a very short time, and after one is a little used to them they are loathed and hated.”

Jonathan Edwards Works, Vol 10 p24

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Fear of God Devotional: What is the Object of Repentance?

What is the object of true repentance?

David Eddy explains in this video that the object of godly sorrow that leads to repentance is the Lord. We recognize a breaking of the relationship that sin and disobedience cause. This creates a godly sorrow, which leads to repentance, which leads to righteousness. In short, repentance is a Godward act. 

This idea can also be seen in the marriage relationship. If you sin against your spouse, a person who truly repents will repent because they desire to reestablish their relationship with their spouse and they hate their sin.  

1 John 3:18 (NKJV) – “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

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Evangelistic Mothers in Fields Ripe Unto Harvest

For mothers of children, the fields are ripe unto harvest – everyday. However, pastors sometimes make moms feel overwhelmed, guilty and even angry when they make broad appeals for more evangelistic fervor. The mothers of young children may be thinking, “Does he know what my life is like? Does he know how many diapers I change, tears I dry, runny noses I wipe, altercations I pacify and meals I serve everyday? Does he know that I can’t even close my eyes for one second during the day?” These moms wonder how they can participate in the newly launched evangelistic program… They feel guilty and overwhelmed!

How do we help mothers to process these appeals for evangelization of the lost?

Following are eight ways that mothers need to grasp in order to consider their role in fulfilling the Great Commission.

First, she must be satisfied with her God given realm of responsibility. 

In the Lord’s sovereign organization of society, communicated in the Bible, He has established various roles, jurisdictions and responsibilities. In terms of her primary realm of service, it is clear from Scripture that mothers are directed by God to focus their energies homeward. She is a “Keeper at home,” (Titus 2:5). “[She] builds her house,” (Prov. 14:1). She is a home despot, who oversees what goes on in the home, (1 Tim. 5:14). This is her realm. 

Therefore, a mother’s chief evangelistic field is, the home. She need not feel guilty about her focus.

Here is Jeremy Walker on exhausted mothers and their callings, writing in his book, “The Brokenhearted Evangelist”:

“Let no exhausted mother, with her hands full of home and children, bruise her soul with the conviction either that she has no way of serving Christ in this way or that she is somehow prevented by her children and her home from doing something worthwhile. Rather, that is the very sphere of her labor. Her mission field is at her feet (and quite possibly under them and in her arms and on her back and currently drawing something indelible on something irreplaceable). Indeed, for her to feel falsely guilty about what she is not doing or to transfer that guilt to her children in resentment and bitterness will only prevent the good that she is called to do as a minister to her children. Consider some of the earlier examples of Augustine, Spurgeon, and Paton, to name but three. We tend to look at those men and think that they are the evangelists, but each of them was first evangelized by his own parents.” 

(“The Brokenhearted Evangelist” – Jeremy Walker p.17).

Women who give their whole hearts to this realm are often undervalued, ignored or even scorned. While her realm of service has been maligned, it is a realm that God has created and has given to her to manage. John MacArthur says it this way,

“To be a mother is by no means second class. Men may have the authority in the home, but the women have the influence. The mother, more than the father, is the one who molds and shapes those little lives from day one.”

(“Successful Christian Parenting” – John MacArthur 1998, p. 194.)

Second, she must understand the meaning of the Great Commission and how a mother fulfills it.

Without question her primary calling is to fulfill the Great Commission in her sphere of responsibility as keeper at home. What is the Great Commission?  Jesus says, “‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matt. 28:18-20).

Third, she must explain the gospel to her children.

She explains what it means to be born again and that family ties cannot save, for we “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13). She communicates the multifaceted glories of the treasures of the Kingdom of God. She preaches the gospel to them in dozens of ways through her demeanor and speech. She upholds biblical morality. She is faithful to biblical commands for child raising. She reads the Bible to them and helps them to memorize Scripture. She is like Timothy’s grandmother who made sure that, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). She made sure that there was not a famine of the Word of God in her home (Amos 8:11).

Fourth, she must set herself to make disciples of Jesus.

A keeper at home fulfills the Great Commission by making disciples in the context of her home. She does this, primarily by teaching her children to learn from Jesus Christ. A disciple is a learner. She understands that she has responsibility to communicate the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ and to explain the promises of God in salvation because, “the promise is to you and to your children…” (Acts 2:39).

Fifth, she must teach them to honor and obey.
She explains the Word of God to them, driving it deep into their hearts so that they would not “forsake” their “mother’s teaching” (Prov. 1:8). This instruction is something that is daily fortified through repetition as she seeks to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord”  and teach them to “honor” father and mother (Eph. 6:1-4). She commands her children to “keep the ways of the Lord” (Gen. 18:19).

Sixth, she must practice hospitality.
God has ordained the home to be a place of hospitality as we see here. “…If she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the feet of the saints, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has followed every good work” (1 Tim. 5:10). This mother “extends her hand to the poor … and needy” (Prov. 31:20). One aspect of this is the power of the dinner table. It is one of the most powerful evangelistic platforms available. Taking meals with the lost, the poor and needy is a critical way a wife can advance the evangelistic mission of the church.

Seventh, she must seek to prepare her children for earth and heaven.

She keeps an eye on the future – on the day she will send them out into the world to work for the glory of God, so that they would, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). She recognizes her responsibility is to consider the trans-generational work with which she is involved, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7). 

She prepares her children for life in two places, life here on earth and in eternity. Every home is a place where children are sent out to fill the world… they must be prepared to go. Home is the place where the preparation is.

“Mothers, then should be thoroughly acquainted with the word that is allotted to them. I speak not of the physical training of the children, nor primarily of their intellectual culture, but of their social, moral, and religious education. A mother’s object and duty is the formation of character. She has not merely to communicate knowledge, but habits. Her special department is to cultivate the heart and regulate the life. Her aim must be not only what here children are to know, but what they are to be and do. She is to look at them as the future members of society, and heads of families of their own, but above all as probationers (candidates) for eternity. This, I repeat, must be taken up as the primary idea, the formation of character for both worlds… A mother should look upon her offspring with this idea; “that child has to live in two worlds and to act a part in both. It is my duty to begin his education for both and to lay in infancy the foundation of his character and happiness for time and eternity too. What ought to be my qualifications and my diligence for such a task? ”

(Theology of the Family, P198-199)

Eighth, she must give her whole heart and the best years of her life for it.

God has designed that a woman has her children during the time of her youthful vigor – generally. That vigor is ordained to be expressed toward her children with laser beam focus and intensity. A mother’s demands upon her and her need to focus on her home is well communicated by Alistair Begg,

“Ladies, [motherhood] is a full-time job. Do not kid yourself that you can be a dental receptionist and a mother; that you can be a typist and a mom; that you can be a Vice President and a mom. One of the two things will win. Now look at your Bible and ask what you have to do.”

(“Biblical Principles for Parenting” – Alistair Begg, Truth for Life podcast) 

Young mothers, particularly carry a very difficult burden. Sleepless nights, diapers, bottles, nursing, sickness, accidents, incidents, discipline, counseling, correcting, meals, cleaning, hospitality… This means they often feel inadequate, overwhelmed or hurt and maybe a little angry.

I have never met a young mother with lots of kids who did not struggle with fatigue and frustration and from time to time, in her lowest moments, wondered how she could be useful to God at all. As she prioritizes her life, she can find solace in an authority greater than her heart or her culture. This authority calls her to focus on her home. Therefore she can be content to be a “keeper at home.”

How mothers are key players in revival.

A mother’s focus is one of the keys to revival. Charles Spurgeon understood the growing pressures to modify family life in his own day and to neglect spiritual life in the home in his article, “The Kind of Revival We Need,” he explained,

We deeply want a revival of family religion. The Christian family was the bulwark of godliness in the days of the puritans, but in these evil times hundreds of families of so-called Christians have no family worship, no restraint upon growing sons, and no wholesome instruction or discipline. How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His gospel to their own children? Oh, Christian men and women, be thorough in what you do and know and teach! Let your families be trained in the fear of God and be yourselves ‘holiness unto the Lord,’ so shall you stand like a rock amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around us.

(“The Kind of Revival We Need” – Charles Spurgeon)

This kind of mother is “a treasure” (Prov. 31:10).

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Fear of God Devotional: Distinctions Between True and False Repentance

What is the distinction between worldly and true repentance?

Sam Waldron explains in this video that one of the differences between true and false repentance is that those who truly repent sorrow for the sin itself while those who falsely repent only display sorrow for the consequences that stem from sin. 

While true Christians are certainly sorrowful for the consequences of their sin, that sorrow serves a motivation for genuine repentance. If someone’s sorrow for sin never goes beyond a simple fear of its consequences and does not include a hatred of sin itself, that repentance is not genuine.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV) – “ For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 

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Read2018 Webinar – Chris Law

Chris Law and are on a live webinar to discuss the things we read over the past week as we are reading through the Bible. We will be on the line for 20 minutes to give some practical insights for families for the reading from the past week in Exodus and Matthew.

You can view the webinar here.

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Age Integration – How one church made the transition

Several years ago, Carlton McLeod, pastor of Calvary Revival Chesapeake became a family integrated church. They went to the Scriptures to address a pressing problem. The church was losing its children to the world. Carlton will tell you that often, returning to Scripture isn’t easy; it’s just worth it. Here is an audio Message Carlton delivered explaining the church’s journey to age integrated worship and discipleship

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Expect Trials to Multiply

Someone sent me this recently. Charles Spurgeon speaks of the trials and tribulations God’s people experience… especially as they get older and stronger. He says:

“God does not put heavy burdens on weak shoulders. God educates and tests our faith by trials that increase in proportion to our faith. God expects us to do adult work and to endure adult afflictions only after we have reached a mature status in Christ Jesus. Therefore, beloved, expect your trials to multiply as you proceed toward heaven.

Do not think that as you grow in grace your path will become smoother and the sky calmer and clearer. Quite the contrary. As God gives you greater skill as a soldier of the cross, He will send you on more difficult missions. As He more fully equips your ship to sail in storms, He will send you on longer voyages to more boisterous seas, so that you may honor Him and increase in holy confidence.

You would think that in Abraham’s old age – after he had come to the land of Beulah, after the birth of Isaac, and especially after the expulsion of Ishmael – he would have had a time of rest. But “it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham” (Genesis 22:1). Let Abraham’s story warn us to never plan on a rest from trials this side of the grave.

The trumpet still plays the notes of war. You cannot sit down and put the victory wreath on your head. You do not have a crown. You still must wear the helmet and carry the sword. You must watch, pray, and fight. Expect your last battle to be most difficult, for the enemy’s fiercest charge is reserved for the end of the day.”

Beside Still Waters: Words of Comfort for the Soul. C.H. Spurgeon, Edited by Roy H. Clarke, p2

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