Leadership Links 3/13/2019

SPIRITUAL LIFE

The glorious love of God as our GPS (Trevin Wax): Most Americans believe that the purpose of life is enjoyment that comes from looking deep within to find your true self, while pursuing whatever brings you happiness. That’s the road map for most people today. As Christians, we’re not going to be faithful to Christ in our era if we just tweak that map here and there. We need another map. We need to know how to make our way forward in this world, and how we can fulfill our ultimate purpose of bringing glory to God and finding satisfaction in him. Read more at The Gospel Coalition.

Do you have the reflux of love? (Mike Leake): The gospel changes the way we see people. Read more at MikeLeake.net.

Your sin begins with a felt need (David Bowden): You can’t be tempted to do something you don’t desire. I can’t tempt you to eat a bowl of gravel. No matter how much I wave it tantalizingly in front of your face and woo you with sweet words of seduction about its texture and taste, you won’t find it tempting. Why? Because you have no desire to eat gravel. We can only be seriously tempted by what we desire. Temptation, then, is not something that happens to us; it is something that happens within us…Our desires are our chief tempter. This should be a huge wake-up call for us. The way to fight sin is not mainly by trying to resist temptation. The most effective way to fight sin is by changing our desires. Read more at Desiring God.

God doesn’t want your tithes, your moral behavior, or your religion (J.D. Greear): When we think of our lives in buckets, we tend to think of religion as a set of obligations we have to fulfill so we can have freedom, autonomy, and blessing in these other areas. Keep Jesus happy in Bucket #1, and I can get all the goodies of Bucket #2. Those who live this way often ask questions like, How much do I have to go to church to keep God happy? or How morally do I have to live so I don’t get on his bad side? or How much of my money do I have to give to keep God off my back? To which the Apostle Paul would say, “Wrong question. Christ owns it all! He is first in creation, he went first in salvation, and so he should come first in everything” (cf. Colossians 1:15–20). Read more at JDGreear.com.


PRAYER

Suggestions for redeeming your church prayer meeting (Landon Byrd): Many Christians see no benefit in having a prayer meeting each week. “Prayer Meeting,” in their experience, may have been nothing more than a third sermon for the week. It was really a normal worship service, with a few minutes of silent prayer tacked on at the end. Or their experience may have been more along the lines of what one deacon referred to as “Organ Recital,” where everyone sits and just recites what’s wrong with various church members’ organs, or other body parts. So what can we do to redeem the perception and practice of the “prayer meeting” in our churches? I offer these five strategies. Read more at Radical.


SHEPHERDING
 
The tragedy of sparing others from obedience (Joey Nickerson): People default to what’s convenient; that’s why it’s hard to tell someone they cannot cohabitate. People protect their sense of security; that’s why it’s hard to tell someone to give generously and regularly. People desperately want to belong; that’s why it’s hard to tell someone they can’t be a church member unless they’ve been baptized. The list goes on and on. Simply put, the Bible makes difficult, counter-cultural demands. It poses to us a question: do we believe obedience offers our people something better than the things we’re asking them to forsake? Read more at 9 Marks.

COMMUNITY / SMALL GROUPS
 
8 reasons why small groups become inwardly focused (Chuck Lawless): Even the most outwardly focused small group today can become inwardly focused tomorrow. Here are some thoughts about why this problem happens. Read more at ChuckLawless.com.

CHURCH
 
Desperately seeking transcendence (Owen Strachan): As the people of God, the church is more about heaven than earth. It is not as if earth created the church. Heaven created the church. The church only lives at all because the Father willed to form a people for Himself by the blood of his Son and the sealing of his Spirit (Ephesians 1). Take away God, and there is no church. There is no worship. There is no people of God. How strange, then, that churches would grasp after immanence in their weekly worship. How odd that churches would strive “to make people feel comfortable” in their services. There is nothing quaint and glancing about worshiping God in the Bible. Read more at Reformanda.

Two delusions that can threaten any church (Timothy Paul Jones): Delusion 1: The people are property of a leader.  Delusion 2: The leader is property of the people. Read more at The Gospel Coalition.

BIBLE INSIGHT
 
We have something of heaven: a theology of joy in Revelation (Brian Tabb): The glory of the new heaven and earth will not be the streets of gold, the gates of jewels, the tree of life, or the end of night. The glory will be God himself. The book of Revelation gives us four great images of joy in God: an ultimate deliverance, a decisive victory, a spectacular wedding, and a secure eternal home. With the certainty of our future joy in view, God’s people sing the songs of the new heaven and new earth now in the old, sorrow-filled land in which we live. Read more at Desiring God.

10 things you should know about slavery in the Bible (Sam Storms): We should acknowledge right from the start that the terminology of “slave” and “master” is highly offensive. And the reason is that our concept of “slavery” today is quite different from what existed, for example, in the time of Paul when he wrote Colossians 3:22-4:1. So let’s proceed carefully as we try to understand what the Bible actually says about this controversial topic. Needless to say, this is far from an exhaustive treatment. But I hope these ten observations will help. Read more at SamStorms.com.


CULTURE 

When being a Christian isn’t decent anymore (Denny Burk): How should we respond to the increasing hostility against believers. The author gives us three ways to respond. Read more at DennyBurk.com.

The Equality Act accelerates anti-Christian bias (Andrew T. Walker): The Equality Act represents the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America. Given that it touches areas of education, public accommodation, employment, and federal funding, were it to pass, its sweeping effects on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience would be both historic and also chilling. Read more at The Gospel Coalition.