Shepherding for Such a Time As This

Fierce Wolves And Bold Shepherds

Knowing he’ll never see them again, Paul gathers the Ephesian elders and counsels them with these words:

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20:28-30)

Paul has invested much in the church in Ephesus and now he’s leaving it to the care of these men. Much can be learned from this passage, but I’d like to point out three points:


Scripture warns us over and over about the danger of wolves in the church. This passage refers to the wolves as “fierce” or “savage.” These wolves will not spare the flock. What will they do? They “will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them.” Scripture often indicates that wolves in the church are false teachers leading others astray with bad doctrine. Consider Matthew 7:15- “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

False belief leads to destruction. While many in the church today consider doctrine to have very little “practical” value, Scripture argues otherwise. Everything we do, every thought we have, and the motive of every action is a reflection of what we believe. A true understanding of doctrine feeds a mature faith that believes in a big God and shows itself in good works. False doctrine will lead to a false view of God, small faith, and dead works.

The rest:

The Nature Of God: The Heart A Shepherd

During the Thirty Year’s War in Europe (1618-1648) they slew the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus while his troops were winning the Battle of Lutzen, in what is now Germany.  Sweden was thrown into mourning, and government officials met to determine how to replace the king. Some suggested a republic; others thought the crown should go to Adolphus’ cousin, the king of Poland. The chancellor of Sweden arose and said, “Let there be no talk of a republic or of Polish kings, for we have in our midst the heir of the great Gustavus, his little daughter, 6 years of age.” Some protested that they had never seen her. The chancellor said, “Wait a minute, and I will show you.” He brought in Christina, daughter of the king, and placed her on the throne. One representative who was especially suspicious of the move pressed forward and gazed intently into her face. Then turning to the assembly, he exclaimed, “Look at her nose, her eyes, her chin! I see in the countenance of this child the features of the great Gustavus. She is the child of our king!” From all quarters of the room rang the proclamation, “Christina, Queen of Sweden!” – Source Unknown

In the beginning of Ezekiel 34, there is a serious condition God is addressing.  If you look into the eyes of Israel’s priest you would not see the nature of God.  They didn’t behave like God, they didn’t reflect God’s nature and they didn’t care for the people the way God intended.  Hear the charges against them in God’s own words,

“The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. [1]

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Tips for Leaders

“Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”  Matthew 20:26-27

On an occasion following a great victory Napoleon was asked how he made his army cross the Alps and he replied, “One does not make an army cross the Alps; one leads it across.”

Whether a boss, a parent, a teacher, or a friend, the most effective way to lead others, to teach others, to motivate others, to train our children and/or to influence others is by example; that is, by who we are, by what we do, and most of all by how much we care about them. In other words, we need to model what we want others to learn and do. We need to lead the way, not by being demanding or controlling, but by showing through both our caring and our doing—by example not by telling.

Furthermore, “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care,” and as Carl Jung stated, “Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.”

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me to teach others your ways, not by my telling them how but by showing them how by my example. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”


15 Things To Do If You Want To Lead Better

  1. Read more. Set a leadership reading plan in place (perhaps at least one book per month) that includes spiritual books on character and practical books on competence.
  2. Listen more. Many leaders have stopped learning because they can’t stop talking. Listen to other leaders around you. Learn from some podcasts.
  3. Pray more. All of us need to pray more, but some leaders don’t pray much at all. They live on their charismatic personality.
  4. Exercise more. God gave you a body, too. Take care of it.
  5. Sleep more. This one’s tough for me, but I know what the doctors say: Get sufficient rest if you want to be at your best.
  6. Think more. Like . . . before you speak. And before you tweet something. And before you send that angry email. And before you make that phone call.

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Dear Church, It’s the Pastor’s Job to Warn You of Savage Wolves

On Facebook, a fellow pastor pointed out the what celebrity pastor Andy Stanley was teaching about the Old Testament was “really wrong.” Of course, this brought out all kinds of comments from the enemies of truth implying how unloving, mean, and wicked the pastor was for doing so. Given Andy Stanley’s track record, of winking approval at homosexual couples in his congregation, and declaring that we need to un-hitch ourselves from the part of the Bible that Jesus, Peter, and Paul all preached from, every orthodox pastor in America should be warning their flocks against Andy Stanley.

This is, the pastor’s job to do so.

For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,  holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict (Titus 1:7-9).

Pastor’s don’t have the freedom to keep their mouths shut when it comes to other pastors declaring falsehoods. We have a responsibility to teach sound doctrine and warn the flock against savage wolves.

Now some might try to argue that Andy Stanley isn’t a savage wolf. They might say he is a very nice guy, and a good moral man. Most savage wolves are very nice guys. They are the type of people that you would want as neighbors because they are so nice and well meaning. But the message they preach is a different gospel, and has eternal ramifications. In other words, they may say nice things, but at the heart of their message is humanism, and moralism., which are both contrary to the gospel of Christ. This is why it’s important that they are called out.

Remember that Peter was confronted publicly by Paul for his public sin. So confronting Stanley publicly is completely appropriate because what Stanley said was public. If Stanley is saying that we don’t need portions of the Bible, he is not holding to orthodox Christianity. Remember that the Apostle Paul labored to declare the full-counsel of God to those in Ephesus (Acts 20:27). What was he preaching from? Not the New Testament, but the Old Testament.

Paul also wrote in Romans 3 that the Old Testament, which he calls the Law and the Prophets, also testified of the same righteousness that Paul declares to us that comes from Christ, apart from the Law. So you can see how important the Old Testament is. It undergirds the gospel.

 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets (Romans 3:21).

This is the same Old Testament that Stanley is decreeing we no longer need. What hubris. But not only that, what a lack of understanding We can never understand the fullness of Christ, and all that He accomplished without the Old Testament.

In fact, the very first conflict recorded in Genesis results because Satan declares, “Indeed, has God said…” This is the same thing Andy Stanley is doing. He is taking all that the Law and Prophets declares to us about God and saying we don’t need it.

Given that, we should rejoice that there are pastors willing to stand up and declare his statements as wrong. We should run Stanley out of the ministry, but given that he is in the Southern Baptist Convention, where church discipline is almost non-existent, nothing will happen to Stanley, and he will lead his thousands, nay, his 10,000s down the wide road of destruction.


Message to the Elders – Sproul

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Why Your Church Members Don’t Pray Much

Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer in the United States. My evidence is anecdotal, but it seems to me that most church members don’t pray much, despite efforts like the Day of Prayer. In general, they talk about prayer much more than they actually pray. Here’s why that happens:

  1. Some are not genuine believers. Jesus Himself had one fake among His group, and we’re not likely to do better. We shouldn’t be surprised when non-believers among us don’t really know how to pray.
  2. No one has ever taught them to pray. We’ve told them to pray, but we’ve not taught them how to pray. Consequently, they don’t pray—and they often feel guilty because they don’t–and can’t–do what we’ve told them to do.

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John Stott: One of the Most Neglected Themes in the Bible

Whole life discipleship

Preach like Hebrews

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The book of Hebrews is the only letter in the Bible that contains an inspired sermon, and as such pastors should model their sermons after Hebrews more than the styles of communication popular today.

Hebrews is certainly a written letter that contains the content of the author’s sermon. The point of the sermon was to express the pastor’s concern for the congregation’s perseverance. If you open your Bible to Hebrews, the first thing you notice is that it doesn’t begin like any of Paul’s letters or like anything else in New Testament literature. It’s different. It has a stunning start. “The Spirit expressly says…” The opening statement is confessional in character and compels attention. It engages in auditor or reader immediately. The preacher has a sense of urgency. He wants to compel his congregation to perseverance.

He moves from there to the issue of the superiority of Christ. The author writes to warn against drifting and to encourage steadfastness in his recipients. He does this by urging, warning and proving that Jesus is “better” than all that came before. 

This should be our model as well. The ancient, inspired, anonymous preacher provides a paradigm for preaching that transcends his audience and time period and instructs us as communicators in the modern age. This dazzling portrait of Christ ought to motivate an expositor today to ensure that their sermon is fixed and focused on the Son of God, and his glory.

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