Leaders Who Are PROVEN

Leaders Who Are PROVEN

There is talk all the time about leadership. Leadership in the government (having just come out of an election year), leadership on the football team (listening to commentators talking about various players each Saturday), leadership in the home (that whole marriage roles conversation), even leadership in the church (like the role and function of a pastor, the staff, deacons, and teachers). Leadership is not necessarily all about control and authority, because leadership expert Dr. John Maxwell says that leadership is influence. When you have influence over a person, group, a company, or a church, you are a leader.

It’s about influence that moves people to do things that they likely could not have done without leadership. I suppose a glaring biblical example of the lack of leadership may be found in the Book of Judges. There are two verses that tells us that everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25, it’s even found in Deuteronomy 12:8). By the way, Proverbs offers a little commentary when it comes to people doing what is right in their own eyes… “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15) and “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2).

In the Titus 1:5-11 passage we read earlier, Paul is coaching Titus on leadership. We can learn much from what we read in Scripture, if we only we take the time to read it, understand it, and seek ways to apply it. Here is how Paul describes church leaders:

Blameless (above reproach) – Their work for the church, as well as their interactions with others outside the church, are to be of such moral quality that they do not bring shame or in any way disgrace the body of Christ or the name of Jesus.

Above reproach, however, does not mean without sin. No Christian lives an entirely sinless life, nor will we until we get to heaven. Above reproach means that the leader’s life is free from sinful habits or behaviors that would hinder his setting the highest Christian standard and model for the church to imitate (Hebrews 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3). Remember that leadership is influence.

In the same way, the leader must not give reasons for those outside the church to challenge its reputation or integrity. Being above reproach means that no one can honestly bring a charge or accusation against the Christian leader (Acts 25:7; 1 Peter 3:16).

Husband of one wife – this does not mean that a church leader must be married, or even male, but probably means the person is faithful to the vows he’s made to his wife, and not a polygamist.

Has children who believe – this does not mean that a church leader must be a father or have children walking with the Lord. How many of us have raised our kids in the church yet they today have nothing to do with the church, maybe even nothing to do with God? At some point all human being must make their own decisions about who they will serve. What I mean is that since children have soul competency before God, their rebellion and wild nature cannot disqualify a church leader from effective service to God and this church.

Paul throws in some negative qualities:

Not accused of dissipation (which is indulgence, immorality, depravity, corruption) or rebellion – basically the leader is not overbearing, quick-tempered, given to drunkenness, violence, dishonest gain.

Then on the plus side:

The leader is hospitable, he or she loves good, is self-controlled, holy, and disciplined, holding firmly to sound teaching and doctrine.

So, as we look at leadership today, leaders are to be PROVEN. I am going to share with your six qualities of PROVEN leaders…

PASSION = Passion of Jesus, his mission, the Great Commandment, and the Great Commission:

Passion is not a word often used in our culture, unless it is in the romantic sense of being passionate with or about your spouse, but the word is very accurate when it comes to our connection with Jesus.

This word passion fits right in with God’s greatest commandment, which is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, to love our God with all of our being (heart, mind, soul, and strength). Let me share some guidance from Scripture about how to awaken that in your life:

1) Get to know God. It goes without saying that we cannot love someone we do not know, so the place to start is to get to know God and understand what He has done for you. Before the command to love God is given in Deuteronomy 6:5, the statement is made, “Hear O Israel, The LORD our God is one LORD.”

One aspect of this statement is that the God of the Bible is unique, and the better we get to know what He is like, the easier it will be for us to love Him with our whole being. This also involves getting to know what He has done for us. Again, before the first command is given in Exodus 20:3, God states what He had done for Israel in bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. Likewise, in Romans 12:1-2, the command to offer our lives as living sacrifices is prefaced with the word therefore–a word meant to remind us of all of the mercies of God toward us recorded in the previous chapters.

To grow in love with God, a person needs to get to know Him. God has revealed Himself in nature (read about that in Romans 1), but so much more through His written Word. We need to make daily Bible study a personal habit—as much a part of our lives as eating food every day. It is important to remember that the Bible is more than a book; it is actually God’s love letter to us, revealing himself through the centuries, especially through the ministry of Jesus Christ, His one and only unique Son. We must read the Bible, asking His Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts about what He wants us to learn from it that day.

2) Pray like Jesus did. When we examine the life of Jesus (as well as that of Daniel and others who had a passion for God) we find that prayer was a vital ingredient in their relationships with God. You cannot imagine a man and woman growing in love without communicating, so prayer cannot be neglected without expecting your love for God to grow cold. Prayer is part of the armor we use against our greatest enemies (Ephesians 6:18). We may have a desire to love God, but we will fail in our walk with Christ without prayer (Matthew 26:41).

3) Walk closely with God NOW. Daniel and his three friends chose to obey God and refused to compromise in even the food they ate (Daniel 1). The others who were brought from Judah to Babylon as prisoners with them caved in, and are never mentioned again. When the Jewish prisoners of war had their convictions challenged in a far greater way, it was only these few who stood alone for God (Daniel 3 and 6). In order to ensure that we will be passionate for God LATER, we need to walk with Him NOW and begin to obey Him in the smallest details of life!

Peter learned this the hard way by following God “at a distance,” rather than identifying himself more closely with Christ before his temptation to deny Him (Luke 22:54). God says that where a man’s treasure is, there his heart will be also. As we invest our lives in God through serving Him and being on the receiving end of persecution for Him, our treasure will increasingly be with Him, and so will our hearts (1 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 6:21).

4) Eliminate the competition. Jesus said it is impossible to have two masters (Matthew 6:24). We are always tempted to love the world (those things which please our eyes, make us feel good about ourselves, and gratify our earthly desires – 1 John 2:15-17). James tells us that embracing the world and its friendship is enmity (hatred) toward God and amounts to spiritual adultery (James 4:4). We need to get rid of some things in our lives that compete for our alligience (friends who would lead us the wrong way, things that waste our time and energy and keep us from serving God more faithfully, pursuits of popularity, possessions, and physical and emotional gratifications). God promises that if we pursue Him, He will not only provide for our needs (Matthew 6:33) but will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4-5).

So, leaders are to be people who are passionate about Jesus and his mission and spiritual disciples.

RELATIONSHIPS = Relationships resulting in accountability and application in small groups:

A small group at church consists of a handful of believers who are connected by our common faith in Jesus. They meet together for Bible study, service projects, encouragement, prayer, and fellowship. As churches grow larger, these small groups keep people connected with one another. The goal of a biblically faithful church is to create authentic community through our small groups ministry, which fosters discipleship, prayer, connection, and accountability. The number of participants in each small group is generally limited so that deep and long-lasting relationships are cultivated and maintained.

The model for small groups is found in the book of Acts when believers met together in homes to eat, fellowship, and take communion (Acts 2:41–42, 46). They would read the apostles’ letters, discuss them, pray, and challenge each other to keep the faith (Acts 20:7–8). A small group that functions correctly is a little church within a larger congregation.

It is within these small groups that the “one anothers” of Scripture take place. When the Bible tells Christians to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), pray for one another (James 5:16), accept one another (Romans 15:7), and forgive one another (Colossians 3:13), it implies that we are in close relationship with other believers. On a practical level, in a church of several hundred, the pastor cannot visit every sick person or take a meal to every new mother. Regardless of how friendly or outgoing a member may be, he or she cannot personally know an entire crowd seen only for an hour on Sunday morning. Community doesn’t happen when we are looking at the back of someone’s head. Community happens in circles, not in rows. So, the pastor and staff rely on small group leaders to take care of the members of their groups. They are the shepherds of the small flock of members who are in their charge.

In many ways, the first-century church was a series of small groups. They all studied the same Scriptures (Acts 17:11), read the same letters from the apostles (Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27), and obeyed to the same standards for community lifestyle (1 Corinthians 11–14). They met in homes throughout the week (Acts 2:46) and established close, personal relationships with each other (Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 2:17). When modern church groups strive for the same unity (Ephesians 4:3; Psalm 133:1), they are fulfilling the expectations Jesus has for His church (Matthew 16:18).

OBEDIENCE = Obedience to the Commands of Christ and the Teachings of the Bible;

The Bible has a lot to say about obedience. In fact, obedience is an essential part of the Christian faith. Jesus Himself was “obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). For Christians, the act of taking up our cross and following Christ (Matthew 16:24) means obedience. The Bible says that we show our love for Jesus by obeying Him in all things: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). A Christian who is not obeying Christ’s commands can rightly be asked, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

Obedience is defined as “dutiful or submissive compliance to the commands of one in authority.” Using this definition, we see the elements of biblical obedience. “Dutiful” means it is our obligation to obey God, just as Jesus fulfilled His duty to the Father by dying on the cross for our sin. “Submissive” indicates that we yield our will to God’s will. “Commands” speak of the Scriptures in which God has clearly presented His instructions, these “commands of Jesus, which I have studied over past decade. These are grammatical imperatives that must be obeyed, because they are not suggestions. The “one in authority” is God Himself, whose authority is total and unmistakable. For the Christian, obedience means complying with everything God has commanded. It is our duty and privilege to do so.

Having said that, it is important to remember that our obedience to God is not solely a matter of duty. We obey Him because we love Him (John 14:23). Also, we understand that the SPIRIT of obedience is as important as the ACT of obedience. We serve the Lord in humility, singleness of heart, and love.

If we love God, we WILL obey Him. We won’t be perfect in our obedience, but our desire is to submit to the Lord and demonstrate our love through good works. When we love God and obey Him, we naturally have love for one another. Obedience to God’s commands will make us light and salt in a dark and tasteless world (Matthew 5:13–16).

VICTORY = Victory over sin through ongoing sanctification and integrity:

The key to victory in our struggles with sin lies not in ourselves, but in God and His faithfulness to us: “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18; see also Psalm 46:1).

There’s no getting around it: we all struggle with sin (Romans 3:23). Even the great apostle Paul grieved over his ongoing struggle with sin in his life (Romans 7:18-20). Paul’s struggle with sin was real; so much so that he cried out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24).

Yet in the very next breath, he answers his own question, as well as ours: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25a).

Our key to victory in our struggle with sin lies in the promise of God Himself: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). If God provides a way of escape, it seems to me, that victory over sin is a matter of making better choices with the help of the Holy Spirit, who dwells inside every believer.

The Proven disciple (and the Proven leader) will have this desire to please God in his or her life and victory will come over a lifetime of obedience to God’s Word. When we understand the battle and the enemy’s battle strategy, we can better live victoriously in this fallen world.

ETERNAL FOCUS = Eternal focus resulting in Evangelism and the Example of Jesus:

Personal evangelism appears to be a scary thing for a lot of believers. It is simply the act of a person sharing the gospel, the good news, with someone else. There are many different methods of personal evangelism, and it is a hot topic within Christianity. Books, classes, and seminars are dedicated to the subject of witnessing, soul-winning, and helping others find salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Not every method is effective or biblically supportable; according to Bible teacher Dr. John MacArthur, “Jesus would have failed personal evangelism class in almost every Bible college and seminary I know.”

According to a 2016 Barna survey, 73 percent of Americans claim to be Christians. However, after applying scriptural tests to those claims, only around 31 percent actually qualify as practicing Christians. The Bible knows no other kind of Christian (Matthew 7:19–21; 1 John 3:7–10). Clearly, what has passed for personal evangelism for the last several generations has not been effective. It’s time for something new. Not a new message, but a new method of reaching people for Jesus.

I’ve shared this before, but I like the BLESS strategy; I call it “How to BLESS your neighbors.”

  • BEGIN with Prayer. Helping someone come to faith in Jesus is a God thing, don’t leave home without prayer.
  • LISTEN to the people around you. Discover their needs, hopes, dreams, cares, problems, frustrations, joys, and desires by simply having a conversation and listening to them.
  • EAT with them, sharing a meal. Find a time to share a meal. People will open up when they are across the table of fellowship.
  • SERVE them in some way, meeting a need. After all this listening to them, how can you make a practical difference in their lives? Serve them.
  • STORY means earning the right to share YOUR story or HIS story. After you have earned the right, find a way to share one of two possible stories: YOUR story, which is your testimony, or HIS story, the plan of salvation in the Bible.

In our personal evangelism, it is good to remember that we are only responsible to God for our obedience, not the results of that obedience. We may present the gospel thoroughly and lovingly, and the person to whom we witness may hear and understand, but still choose to walk away. We are not responsible for that reaction, but only for the level of obedience involved in our presentation. Acts 1:8 tells us that we will be his witnesses, the only choice we have is will we be a good witness or a poor witness?

NURTURING = Nurture others in the faith through example, teaching, and leadership:

As I think about nurturing others, I think about family and parenting. While the Bible has much to say about physical parenting, we are also called to spiritual parenting.

When God led the Israelites out of bondage, He commanded them to teach their children all He had done for them (Deuteronomy 6:6–7; 11:19). He desired that the generations to come would continue to uphold all His commands. When one generation fails to teach God’s laws in the next, a society quickly declines. Parents have not only a responsibility to their children, but an assignment from God to impart His values and truth into their lives.

While the home is primary place for raising children (Sunday School and VBS is not enough) the church is also a place to nurture those around us. And it is not just for kids. Women get together on Tuesdays. Men of Steel gather at Denny’s on Wednesdays and the Noble Men meet in the fellowship on various Saturdays. Leaders are nurtured and actively nurture others. The growth never ends, not until Jesus calls us home.

So, these six characteristics will help us to be a PROVEN leader, and a PROVEN disciple of Jesus. A lost world is watching us, ad waiting for us to prove that we are who we say we are. We expect more out of our leaders. Remember that being above reproach does not mean we are perfect, but that we live in such a way that no one can honestly say that our behavior would bring shame on the name of Jesus or his church.

Maybe you heard something today, and you need to make some changes in your life. We’re here to help, no one does this Christian life thing on their own. At King’s Grant, we are first of all, a community of faith. You can grow into the disciple and leader God desires for you to be, and the church can help, you’re not alone.

Let’s talk to God about it…

PRAY: Lord Jesus, this time is yours. You know our hearts, motivation, and attitudes. You know where we fall short better than we know ourselves. May we rekindle our passion for you, your Word, and the mission you have in our lives. Help us to live a life of significance and influence. Help us to know your will and your ways and give us the courage to stand up for the cause of Christ. Lord Jesus, may you be glorified through your PROVEN people. AMEN.

Thank you for being a part of this worship and study time. If we can help you in any way, please reach out to us through the church website (kgbc.us/more). If you live in the Virginia Beach area, we invite you to stop by for a visit on Sundays at 9:30am or 11am or join us for midweek activities on Wednesday evenings (kgbc.us/midweek). Until next time, thanks for joining us. We hope to see you soon.

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Obedience to “One Another”

This is part of my message on God’s Will and the Church. I brought up accountability and ran out of time and said I’d post it here!

Obedience (to God and His Word) is Always a Positive Thing:

The New Testament is filled with imperatives (commands that God expects us to obey). These imperatives instruct us how to talk to one another. Our talk should include confession, prayers, exhortation (suggested next steps for someone), words of comfort, rebuke, admonition (or warnings), and the list goes on.

  1. John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” [more on LOVE is written below]
  2. Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;”
  3. Romans 14:19 “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”
  4. Romans 15:7 “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”
  5. Romans 15:5 “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,” [Romans 12:16]
  6. Romans 15:14 “And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.”
  7. Romans 16:16 “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.” [1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12]
  8. 1 Corinthians 12:25 “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”
  9. Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
  10. Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
  11. Ephesians 4:2 “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,”
  12. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
  13. Ephesians 5:21 “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
  14. Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;”
  15. Colossians 3:13 “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”
  16. Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
  17. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 “Therefore comfort one another with these words”
  18. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ‘Therefore encourage one another and [Ephesians 4:29] build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (Hebrews 3:13; 10:25)
  19. 1 Thessalonians 5:13 “and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.” [Mark 9:50]
  20. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.”
  21. Hebrews 10:24 “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,”
  22. James 5:16 `Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
  23. 1 Peter 4:9 “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”
  24. 1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
  25. 1 Peter 5:5 “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
  26. Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.”
  27. 1 John 1:7 “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
  28. John 13:14 “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” [This one seems odd but there IS a good explanation]
  29. We are to Love One Another
    1. John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
    2. John 15:17 “This I command you, that you love one another.”
    3. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 “and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;”
    4. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;”
    5. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;”
    6. 1 Peter 1:22 “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,”
    7. 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
    8. 1 John 3:11 “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;”
    9. 1 John 3:23 “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”
    10. 1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
    11. 1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
    12. 1 John 4:12 “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
    13. 2 John 1:5 “Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.”

When we choose to NOT get involved in these interdependent relationship, accountability or small groups, here is the alternative: Matthew 24:10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.”

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Why We Avoid Accountability

This is part of my message on God’s Will and the Church. I brought up accountability and ran out of time and said I’d post it here! The question is “Why do we avoid accountability in the body of Christ?”

  1. Rugged Individualism: we want to go it alone, pull ourselves up without any help.
  2. Image Building Tendency: If I get involved in accountability, they will discover I’m not really all together… like Halloween people – Pretenders
  3. Resistance to Change: I have always lived this way and don’t want to get involved.
  4. Fear of the Lack of Confidentiality: If I share anything to someone else, I’ll be the next sermon illustration or the talk of the church.
  5. Shame & Blame: There will be some “Holier than Thou” people to kick me while I’m down, and shame me into living for God and obeying the Bible.
  6. We are Falsely Led to Believe that we Uniquely Struggle with a Particular Sin: Many of us think our struggles are unique to us, but in an accountability relationship or small group we find out that our personal problems are universal. It’s exciting to find out that the members of your group have not only struggled with common problems but have found common solutions in God’s Word (1 Corinthians 10:13). 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

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Why We Need Accountability

This is part of my message on God’s Will and the Church. I brought up accountability and ran out of time and said I’d post it here! The question is “Why do we need accountability in the body of Christ?”

  1. Because Walking with God in the Past is no Guarantee of Success in the Future (1 Corinthians 10:1-5). For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
  2. Because we Underestimate the Evil Desires and Passions that are in our Flesh (1 Corinthians 10:6-11). Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
  3. Because we Overestimate our Capacity to Handle Temptation (1 Corinthians 10:12). 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
  4. Because we can Easily Become Self-deceived:
    1. James 1:22, But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
    2. Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
    3. Proverbs 20:6, Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man? NKJV, a man basically tells himself, “I’m doing pretty good!”
  5. Because of our Tendency to a Double Standard (Luke 12:1; Romans 2:17-24), In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
  6. Because of our Need to be Stretched: Philippians 3:13, Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…
  7. Because God Never Intended for us to go it Alone: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 1OFor if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

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Being a Man of Authenticity

We all like to make a good impression, but when it comes to God and the church, honesty is the best policy. Here is a creative video about God’s grace and acceptance, and the need for authenticity in our spiritual lives.

This is one concept that should define a believer. By authentic I mean we are to be Christians that reflect the reality of the gospel. We want to be authentic Christians who are members of authentic churches pursuing authentic faith and service.

So, what does this actually look like?

Take a look at what Paul writes in First Thessalonians 1.

Presence: the first sign of Christian authenticity in a community is an awareness of God (1 Thessalonians 1:1-2)

Paul mentions that he is aware of the contributions of both the Father and Son in his relationship to the church in Thessalonica. A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 he references the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. We have to ask the question whether our lives reflect a similar awareness of each member of the Trinity? If not, who is missing, and why do we neglect that Person of the Trinity?

Practice: a second sign of Christian authenticity is faithful service characterized by faith, hope, and love (1 Thessalonians 1:3-4)

Paul says, “As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). It is always exciting to be a part of a community of faith that expresses these three virtues. Our prayer should always be that God allow us to work, labor, and endure with the faith, love, and hope.

Proclamation: a third sign of Christian authenticity is presenting the gospel not only in words, but also with power, the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

To many people the gospel has become mere words, which amounts to an exercise in beliefs rather than living out what we profess to believe. Does a church proclaim Christ only in words? If so, authenticity is going to be lacking.

Persistence: a fourth sign of Christian authenticity is leadership marked by incarnation, modeling, suffering, joy, and reproduction (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7)

Sometimes it is easy to come to Christ. These believers came to Christ at the personal risk of life. I wonder how many authentic followers of Christ we actually have in the church today; once the persecution begins. These people not only came to Christ under difficult circumstances, but became an example to others in the region. They had a great testimony!

Perseverance: a fifth sign of Christian authenticity is faith characterized by repentance, service, hospitality and waiting on the Lord (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10)

The actions of this church spoke louder than mere words. They were demonstrating their faith and others concluded that their Christianity was authentic.

The church at Thessalonica was:

  1. An energetic church (1 Thessalonians 1:1-3) Paul gives thanks for their strong faith and labor of love.
  2. An elect church (1 Thessalonians 1:4) they were chosen by God himself.
    1. Salvation begins with God
    2. Salvation involves God’s love
    3. Salvation involves faith
    4. Salvation involves the Trinity
    5. Salvation changes lives
  3. An exemplary church (1 Thessalonians 1:5-7) Paul’s example to the church and their example to the world.
    1. They received the Word (1 Thessalonians 1:5, 2:8)
    2. They followed their spiritual leaders (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
    3. They suffered for Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
    4. They encouraged other churches (1 Thessalonians 1:7)
  4. An evangelistic church (1 Thessalonians 1:8) their faith was known everywhere.
  5. An expectant church (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10) they looked forward to the return of Christ.
    1. Decision made (1 Thessalonians 1:9) they turned from idols.
    2. Dedication made (1 Thessalonians 1:9) they turned to the living God.
    3. Devotion to a person (1 Thessalonians 1:10) their focus will be on the  Son.
    4. Deliverance from a penalty (1 Thessalonians 1:10) they escape will be from the wrath of God.

I pray that those who come in contact with King’s Grant will know about, sense and rejoice in the genuineness of the authentic gospel. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35)

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National Porn Sunday

Statistics says that pornography use is rampant in America, and the American church is not exempt. It is sort of the elephant in the pew. Take a look at this:

  1. Men admitting to accessing pornography at work-20%
  2. U.S. adults who regularly visit Internet pornography websites-40 million
  3. Promise Keeper men who viewed pornography in last week-53%
  4. Christians who said pornography is a major problem in the home-47%
  5. Adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction-10%
  6. Breakdown of male/female visitors to pornography sites is 72% male & 28% female
  7. Internet Pornography Sales-$4.9 billion
  8. Pornographic websites-4.2 million (12% of total websites)
  9. Pornographic pages-420 million
  10. Daily pornographic search engine requests-68 million (25% of total search engine requests)
  11. Daily pornographic e-mails-2.5 billion (8% of total emails)
  12. Internet users who view porn-42.7%
  13. 89% of porn is created in the U.S.
  14. $2.84 billion in revenue was generated from U.S. porn sites in 2006
  15. Over $3k a second is spent on porn worldwide.
  16. 72% of porn viewers are men.
  17. 260 new porn sites go online daily.

Source: www.XXXchurch.com

National Porn Sunday Super Bowl Sunday, February 6

I’ve been thinking about this event, King’s Grant has outreach Super Bowl parties scheduled, but what if the Men of Steel took this farther?

Over 300 churches throughout the country have taken part in Porn Sunday. This is the chance to bring hope to those who are struggling with pornography. For some it is ludicrous to link three X’s with church and for others it is long overdue. The one undeniable truth that can’t be ignored is the blatant push for all things sexual in our society. Porn Sunday seeks to drive the conversation about pornography into our churches, families and lives. This weekend service brings healing to those sitting in churches who are caught up in pornography.

F.A.Q’s

  1. Will this prepare my church to have accountable relationships? Yes.
  2. I don’t know if my church is ready for this yet. Take a risk. The freedom and healing for the people in pew is worth it.
  3. Can I use the kit just as a resource for my congregation? Yes.
  4. Doesn’t the title and approach trivialize a serious topic? It actually does the opposite. People will laugh a little but in the end they will walk away equipped to deal with a tough issue in their lives.
  5. Why is an elephant the mascot? Porn is the elephant in the pew. The thing everyone wants and needs to hear from the church on, but continually does not.
  6. Will the press show up at my church? Maybe. If you send out a press release (included) and promote the weekend well.
  7. Will some people in my church not understand why we are addressing this issue? Yes, but a few should not hold us back from helping the majority.
  8. Isn’t pornography a men’s only issue and be dealt with at a mens breakfast? Definitely not. There are women who struggle greatly with pornography and also there are women who need to hear a message of hope because their husbands are in way too deep.
  9. What age group is PornSunday appropriate for? Middle school and up appropriate. The average age a child sees pornography is age 11.

A Word from XXXchurch.com

The reality is that as men we all struggle. And for some it’s an overwhelming struggle with pornography. We know where to find porn and we know how to keep it hidden. In our culture the line has been blurred on what is porn. The magazines, TV and the Internet put it right in front of us every day of our lives.

It is time to make some decisions. What are we doing with all the junk that is coming at us? Consume it, get in way over our heads or are we going to live for things that are greater? There is a point in which we have to acknowledge that what we keep hidden from our wives, girlfriends, children and even closest friends we are not proud of. The question is simply will you live a life that is transparent?

At the core of consuming porn is selfishness. I will get my fix. No one will know. It is my secret. It is what I do in private. My dad did it. Everyone does it and I am going to as well.

Porn is a fantasy designed to do one thing, keep you completely to yourself. It is a lie. Porn tries to tell you what sex should feel like and look like. Porn will destroy the relationships around you. You will pull away from reality because of this dirty little secret. As you consume porn, it becomes your life and you will eventually lose control to addiction. Stop now. Be done with it all. Change today because there are much greater things than porn to give your time, money and energy to.

Next Steps:

1. Confess
Go before God with everything. Confess your struggles through prayer. He already knows it all anyway, right? You have to put all your junk out on the table and acknowledge that you can’t handle it anymore-you need God. You cannot handle it on your own.

2. Get Accountable
Find someone in your life that you trust and let him or her in on your struggles. Such as a close friend, pastor or family member. You are not alone. You are not supposed to deal and carry this on your own. God has placed people around you that will walk with you as you move toward freedom. As men we naturally want to keep it all to ourselves. It it is time to own up to those closest to you.

Download XXXchurch’s free accountability software X3watch. It’s simple and completely free. This software monitors what is accessed online and sends a report of any questionable websites to your accountability partners e-mail addresses.

Download X3watch – www.x3watch.com.

3. Clean It Up
Throw away the porn stash. Delete it all. Literally get rid of the things that are tripping you up. It is time to break that pattern of the things that make you stumble, the things you go right back to.

Maybe you need to cancel your cable or internet altogether, move the computer out of the basement to the kitchen or get a filter on your computer. Take solid action steps toward moving away from your places of struggle. The process of cleaning it up is continuous and will not happen overnight. Define the specific situations you struggle and take tangible steps to eliminate those places from your life.

Source: www.XXXchurch.com

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Leaders and Bosses

Men, some of you guys are the boss, and I suppose the rest of you have a boss, but have you ever considered what the Bible teaches about the two. It appears that Scripture addresses the issue of leadership more than just being a boss. I guess the contemporary application of slaves and masters (Ephesians 6:5, 9, Colossians 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18) may resemble the employee/employer relationship, but I sense that Jesus would rather have leaders more than bosses. Many who think they are leading are really just lording over other people (Mark 10:42).

I think that many people confuse leadership with power and control. We tend to believe that a person in a position of authority or someone with a title has their position or title due to their leadership qualities. But, in many cases there is no connection between a position and that person’s leadership ability. Just having a title does not make someone a leader.

Years ago I taught a pastoral ministries course on leadership at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia and emphasized that leadership is all about influence. Everyone has the ability to influence others, no matter where you are in the organization. There is a huge difference between being a boss and being a leader. I recently read the following:

  1. The boss drives group members; the leader coaches them.
  2. The boss depends upon authority; the leader on good will.
  3. The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.
  4. The boss says “I;” the leader says “we.”
  5. The boss assigns the task, the leader sets the pace.
  6. The boss says, “Get there on time;” the leader gets there ahead of time.
  7. The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown.
  8. The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how.
  9. The boss makes work a drudgery; the leader makes it a game.
  10. The boss says, “Go;” the leader says, “Let’s go.”

– Author unknown

So, as you consider those over whom you have influence, how can you be a better leader?

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Men and Accountability, Part 7

Ok, here’s another thought from this passage of Scripture… from an event in the life of Moses and Joshua dealing with accountability and men. (see also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6).

After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14)

When the victory is over, many men have the tendency to forget, right? If people want me to do something, I tell them to write it down and give it to me because I am going to forget, count on it. I even ask Kim to send me an e-mail with an important date or event, just so I remember to put it in my Palm Pilot (Yes, I still have such old technology).

God tells Moses exactly what to write: “Write this … as a memorial and recite it.” Where did this shepherd, wanderer and deliverer learn to do all this writing? Moses would have learned writing and record-keeping in Pharaoh’s school of government. Official Hebrew records other than Scripture were also to be kept, and in this case especially for the purpose of remembering the victory of the very first battle in which they fought. God referred to “a book,” so Moses had evidently already begun writing one. This was not, then, the initial entry into what perhaps became known as the “Book of the Wars of the Lord” (Numbers 21:14). Writing it was essential, so the facts could be verified and it did not need to depend upon human memory or just oral tradition.

God also said He was going to blot out the memory of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:14). This is similar to the death sentence (or national extinction) which the Amalekites pronounced on Israel (Psalm 83:4–7). The sentence was partially realized in Saul’s and David’s day (1 Samuel 15:1–9 and 2 Samuel 1:1; 8:11, 12), after which the Amalekites are scarcely mentioned again.

However, due to Saul’s disobedience in sparing Agag, the Amalekite king and some of his people (1 Samuel 15:7, 8, 9), he lost his throne (1 Samuel 15:23). The prophet Samuel killed Agag (1 Samuel 15:33), but some Amalekites remained to return a few years later to raid Israel’s southern territory, even capturing David’s family (1 Samuel 30:1–5). David killed all but 400 (1 Samuel 30:16, 17) who escaped. Fast forward a couple hundred years, and it was a descendant of Agag, the wicked Haman, who tried to exterminate the Jews later in Esther’s day (Esther 3:1, 6).

My point in writing all this? First, write down your victories. In the midst of defeat after defeat in our spiritual lives (or relationships), it is so important to remember the times that God came through and allowed us to experience victory. If we don’t write them down, we are not going to remember them. We can even use these victories to trash-talk the enemy when he’s trying to bring us down.

Next, God tells Moses to “recite” the stories. It is a great thing to brag on God’s provision, protection and promises… just to tell others about His faithfulness. As believers, we have a story to tell of how God brought into our lives a victory over sin and death. The fancy church word is that we have a testimony. Let’s tell of his wonderful deeds, so that the world may know who He is and what He has done (1 John 5:13, 1 Chronicles 16:24, Psalm 96:3, Exodus 10:2, 31:13, Joshua 4:24, 1 Kings 8:60, Isaiah 37:20).

Third, Moses was to recite these stories to Joshua, the next generation. I read that any civilization is only 2.5 generations from extinction if they do not remember the stories of who they are or how they got to where they are. It goes for Christianity, too. Pass on the stories so the next generation will know about our exceptional God.

Fourth, just as Saul did not do as he was told, and spared the life of Agag the Amalekites king (1 Samuel 15:9), don’t ever allow the enemy to have a foothold in some area of your life, only to have that vice come back and attack you at some later point in your life. As Barney Fife used to say, “Nip it. Nip it in the bud. It’s time to do a little bud-nipping.”

Finally, just as the Amalekites were to be blotted out, it did not happen right away. The same familiar enemy will continue to attack you until the time God completes His work in your life. Don’t expect to live a life free of the enemy relentlessly pursuing you. When this enemy gets hold of you, it brings only death and destruction; so be on your guard at all times. He jumps out of nowhere to cause a lot of harm (Numbers 14:45). But there will come a day when the enemy has no power over you in these areas in your life. Remember, there may be only a single family member that makes it through to cause so much grief, as in Esther’s day (Esther 3:1, 6). Be on your guard.

The best part of Men of Steel is that we don’t go through this life alone. There is safety in numbers and wisdom in many counselors (Proverbs 13:10, 15:22). Have a great week.

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Men and Accountability, Part 6

Six parts… you thought I was done with this Bible passage, didn’t you? Here’s another thing to glean from this passage of Scripture… from an event in the life of Moses and Joshua dealing with accountability and men. (see also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)

Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. (Exodus 17:10)

Have you ever thought about what mentoring is all about? It’s basically one person (the mentor) investing his life into another person (the protégé or learner). Some men have a natural drawing to another man, someone whose career, marriage, lifestyle or spiritual connection with God is so impressive or inspiring that other men just like being near them. Perhaps one can learn a few things through close proximity or through books, but this really is about relationships.

Mentoring is seldom a prearranged situation. Sure, you can get into an official program and actually mentor another person, but there is usually a time limitation or the relationship ends at some point. While mentoring is not a permanent relationship, it does continue. The ideal would have the protégé being mentored while he keeps his eyes open to the possibility of mentoring someone else.

“Joshua did as Moses told him” (Exodus 17:10). I sense that Moses and Joshua had such a close relationship that Joshua hungered to sit at Moses’ feet and learn what God wanted him to do. At this stage in their relationship, God spoke to Moses and then Moses would speak to the people. Today, we have direct access to God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. No one gets to the Father except through Christ (John 14:6), but we must also understand that God will often speak through His servants, like a mentor. As a mentor seeks after God, his goal is to pass on what he learns and his experience to the next generation. Joshua was a protégé who knew what needed to be done. He understood the big picture and was obedient, perhaps unto death. There was no guarantee that Joshua would not lose his life during this battle with the Amalekites.

So who is Joshua anyway? His name means, “Yahweh delivered.” Joshua is one of the unsung heroes of the Old Testament. It was he, not Moses, who led the people of Israel into the Promised Land. He was a person of such stature that he could succeed the incomparable Moses and compile a record of notable success (Joshua 24:31). His name in the New Testament is equivalent to Jesus.

Joshua was born in Egypt during the period of slavery. He was a member of Ephraim, the important tribe that later formed the heart of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He first appeared in our current passage, during this battle with the Amalekites. He was Moses’ general, who led the troops in the actual fighting (Exodus 17:10, 14).

Joshua was also Moses’ servant (Exodus 24:13). He was on the mountain when Moses received the Law, or Ten Commandments (Exodus 32:16-17). He was also one of the twelve spies Moses sent to investigate Canaan (Numbers 13:8, 16). He and Caleb returned with a positive, minority report. Of all the adults alive at that time, only the two of them were allowed to live to enter the land of Canaan (Numbers 14:28-30, 38).

The Lord selected Joshua to be Moses’ successor long before Moses’ death (Numbers 27:15-23; Deuteronomy 31:14-15, 23; 34:9). Joshua was a military leader, a political leader, and a spiritual leader. He was quiet and unassuming, but he was not afraid of his responsibilities or the task that lay before him. He was a battlefield genius, particularly in the areas of careful planning, strategy, and execution. He was a capable administrator for the nation, effective in maintaining harmony among people and groups. He was a spokesman to the people for the Lord. Though he did not receive the Law as Moses had, he communicated the Lord’s will and the Lord’s message much like Moses (Joshua 24:2, 14, 15).

Joshua was leading the nation during the conquest and the distribution and settlement of Canaan. He led in the covenant renewal at mount Ebal and Shechem (Joshua 8:30-35; 24:1-28). He was able to challenge his people by both word and example. He set a pattern that is hard to live up to. Moses had guided (or mentored) Joshua to be the effective leader he had become.

The goal of the mentor is for the protégé to become greater than oneself, to pass on knowledge and experience so that one day the protégé will succeed in life. We see this in Joshua because Moses invested himself into Joshua, and God was able to take that and use him for greater glory. Who do you see as a mentor, and when are you going to formally step into that relationship for the greater good of your marriage, family and spiritual life?

Join us this Saturday at 7:30 in the Welcome Center. Then we can go visit a man of steel in Virginia Beach General.

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