A Good Leader Must Possess Certain Assets

In 1 Samuel 16:1-12, as Saul’s time as king is coming to an end, God reveals to Samuel what’s next. He sends Samuel to a man named Jesse, for, God says, “I have provided for myself a king from his sons.” Samuel follows God’s instruction and when he arrives on the scene he assumes which of Jesse’s sons God has chosen based, apparently, on his appearance and height.

“When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord ’s anointed is before him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.’”

Humans seem hardwired to see people who are physically attractive and give the appearance of great strength as good leaders. We often look more at appearance than substance. If someone is attractive and has a decent level of charisma, we assume they will be a good leader. Many – MANY – disasters have followed in the wake of choices made by those metrics!

This is one of the many reasons God’s word gives us character qualifications for leaders. We ignore these to our own peril. We are easily impressed and then led astray by deceitful people of low character who possess charm and charisma.

God goes on to tell Samuel that he “sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” We, of course, cannot look on the hearts of potential leaders the way the Lord does, but we are to do our best to discern the Lord’s choice of leaders based not on their outward appearance or the amount of charisma they possess, but on the marks of character that are readily apparent as they follow Christ.

And yet in this scene, God looks on the heart of David and sees a man of faith, but David is also physically attractive. “Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is he.’” (V12) From this, we learn not to overcorrect in the opposite direction; physical attractiveness and charisma can be assets, so we should not discount someone’s leadership potential just because they possess these traits.

In the end, the lesson is this old cliche: don’t judge a book by its cover. Look at the contents of the book and discern whether or not it is worth reading. A good leader must possess certain assets. Those assets are not found in the pages of GQ but in the pages of God’s word. 

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

The Paradox of Christian Greatness

The paradox of Christian greatness is a thing to ponder. There is no room for pride when one can be the greatest and the least at the same time. 

Jesus said of John, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:28

If we try to visualize this idea, it turns into an Escher drawing. People appear to be ascending to new heights, but reaching the top of the circular staircase they find they are behind those only beginning their ascent. 

This destroys all motivation for competitiveness and selfish ambition and conceit since greatness is connected to humility and not to accomplishment. 

This is a badly needed word in the structures of power in Christianity today. Churches are filled with worldly “corporate-ladder” thinking, with people trying to make their way to the “top” of the organization. 

And yet to really reach the “top” is not to live more and more like a king, but to live more and more like a servant. 

May our churches be filled with people who seek greatness by way of humility and not accomplishment.

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Giving God Room, and What It Means to Be Quarrelsome – Points of Interest  for April 4, 2022

Jonathan Leeman – An Ecclesiological Take on “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill”

“Pragmatism is a results-driven orientation, especially results that can be measured, like dollars in the plate or bodies in the pew. It throws overboard almost everything else the Bible says about being a church in pursuit of those numeric goals. Little by little, churches value leaders more for their giftedness than their faithfulness, their charisma more than their character.”

Rebekah Matt – Give God Room

“Rather than trying to control and manipulate a situation in order to bring an end to our problem, we’re to give God room in order to work in his own perfect timing.”

“Examples abound in the Bible of those who impatiently attempted to orchestrate a solution to their problem, even though they knew they ought to wait on the Lord: Abraham, Jacob, Saul, David, and others, including Sarah… Clearly, the Bible tells us we’re not to respond to challenges with worry or a desire to manipulate or control … but how, then, do we glorify God in the midst of difficult situations and great stress?”

Will McKinney – What Does Paul Mean By “Quarrelsome”?

“Simply put, a quarrelsome man argues about foolish controversies. He doesn’t have the sense to realize that what he is talking about will not be profitable. He continues to tread into conversation topics that breed division, not unity. He focuses on secondary or tertiary issues of the faith in an argumentative fashion; he frequently wants to argue and discuss these things.”

“At times, it’s important to discuss controversial or challenging topics. How a man addresses these topics will show his character. When they’re discussed, they should be done while showing consideration for others (Titus 3:2).”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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For Those Who Work Hard Every Day

The results of our efforts are in God’s hands. 

“And when he had finished speaking, Jesus said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.” (Luke 5:4-6)

We might fish for days and days and catch nothing, and then at his command, we might have more than we can take in.

We may be tempted to only fish on the days we think we’ll get results, but it is the daily discipline of fishing that puts us into the position to reap a harvest when the time is right. 

Apply this truth to whatever good it is that you do. 

If you have found your place in God’s kingdom, be it as a missionary, a factory worker, an accountant, a pastor, or a truck driver – if this is God’s assignment for you at this time, labour diligently. 

You won’t see magnificent results from your efforts every day – no one does. But if you remain faithful in applying yourself to his calling, a harvest is in store. God always blesses efforts made according to his will. 

So go once more to your assignment today and work hard. 

Perhaps this is the day you will lower your nets and be unable to raise them again due to the abundance of the catch.

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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Looking For Approval in All the Right Places

Have you ever done something in order to be liked? It is a truly wonderful feeling to be accepted and admired, but chasing that feeling can lead to much trouble. There is a select group of people who seem to like being hated, but this is rare; our default is to seek affirmation and approval. 

That’s not a bad default, but those desires must be turned in the right direction. 

Listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 6:22-23,26:

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets… Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

Jesus says that we are blessed if people hate us, exclude us, angrily insult us and reject us with disdain, calling us evil – IF they do all these things on account of our commitment to follow him. Not only are we to accept this, we are to rejoice when this happens – to the point of leaping for joy! 

We will be the recipients of great rewards, BUT these rewards come later, and we are not good at waiting. 

Knowing this, Jesus offers a warning: there is no blessing in seeking the approval of the masses, even though there may be some pretty sweet instant rewards. 

When we are hated for the sake of Christ, we are blessed, but if we continually forsake Christ in order to gain widespread approval, we will be eternally cursed.

Where are you seeking approval and affirmation today?

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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My Dumb Phone, Avoiding Mis- and Disinformation, and the Dawning of the Metaverse — Points of Interest  for March 28, 2022

Dru Johnson: Spiritual Lessons from My Dumb Phone

Despite much evidence that our use of smartphones is really REALLY bad for us, many – and I include myself – struggle to consistently manage our usage. Articles like one from an early adopter of reversing the current trends are helpful. Check out the whole thing and challenge yourself to make real changes.

“Scripture commands weekly stillness—Sabbath. Our bodies are designed for the daily stillness of sleep, where we trust the sovereignty of God to uphold all things together… And yet, my phone was becoming my main source of mental burden. It’s always on.

The number one benefit for me [of switching to a ‘dumb phone’] became clarity of mind and time to think. A month in and I feel much more coherent in my own headspace. After my body fully realized that there’s no need to pull out my phone for anything, I began attending to smells, sounds, and sights more than before. My prayers have also increased, and more in the mode of intercession than pleading for personal favors… In unremarkable ways, moving to a low-tech phone eased my terror of stillness by forcing quiet into a dozen little junctures of my day.”

Patrick Miller: How to Avoid Misinformation and Disinformation Online

Wedded to our smartphone usage is our obsession with social media. This combination of hardware and software is dominating our lives. Many seem hopelessly addicted. Take note…

“Every social media algorithm is designed to pinpoint successful posts (i.e., posts that attract engagement such as comments, likes, or shares) and put them in front of as many people as possible. This keeps users on the platform longer, which means more ad revenue. Emotionally gripping posts are great for business. Who cares if they’re true?”

“‘I can’t trust anything’ cynicism is not the answer to the abundance of untruth online. Instead, we must love truth by seeking it out. Christians should be known as those who seek to understand context in the face of decontextualization, who seek truth in the face of disinformation.”

Gene Veith: The Goal Is to Make the Metaverse our “Primary” Reality

You may be hearing talk of the “metaverse”. If you’re not sure what the metaverse is, there’s some good info here. The following quote is from a board member of Mark Zuckerberg’s company, Marc Andreessen:

“Reality has had 5,000 years to get good, and is clearly still woefully lacking for most people; I don’t think we should wait another 5,000 years to see if it eventually closes the gap. We should build — and we are building — online worlds that make life and work and love wonderful for everyone, no matter what level of reality deprivation they find themselves in.”

This is frightening stuff. We already know that living virtually is destroying our humanity and yet our digital overlords are intent on making our use constant and all-encompassing. Will we go along?

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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Repentance is the Daily Substance of Christianity

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Luke 15:7

Repentance results in joy in the realms of heaven. When someone turns away from sin and toward God, heavenly rejoicing follows. When what was lost is found, when a wanderer returns home, there is rejoicing in heaven. 

When you picture the repentance that leads to heavenly joy, what do you see? Do you see the hardened lifelong sinner, crushed by the weight of guilt, in need of the Saviour? Or do you see yourself, already a child of God, but prone to wander, prone to walk in the opposite direction of the God you love? We should see both.

We may believe the joy in heaven applies only to that initial repentance when a person who was a slave of sin becomes a slave of righteousness. That indeed is a glorious thing, but this rejoicing in heaven applies to all our repenting, not just our initial repentance. 

“Turning from sin and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners aren’t merely a one-time inaugural experience but the daily substance of Christianity. The gospel is for every day and every moment. Repentance is to be the Christian’s continual posture.”

David Mathis

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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Our Lives as a Home Renovation Show

“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”

Deuteronomy 8:2

If we look for parallels between those “forty years” and the past twenty-four months (and counting) we might understand the last two years a little better.

The Lord has continued to lead us in ways that encourage our humility, but are we any more humble than we were two years ago?

The Lord has tested us to see what is in our hearts. What has been revealed?

To be honest, there is a whole lot in my own heart that I wish had remained concealed. And this seems, broadly, to be the case. 

The evidence of an increase in the fruits of the Spirit seems far less than the evidence of the increase of anger, slander, selfish ambition, deceit, deception, rebellion, and conceit.  

If our lives over the last two years were a home renovation show, “the reveal,” in many cases, has been a serious disappointment. We were quite capable in the demo phase, but the debris of our demolitions still lies scattered about, and any hope of reconstruction seems hopelessly delayed. Where reconstruction was possible, instead we’ve seen further demolition.

Many people’s lives and our society at large seem to be in ruins and heading for more of the same. It doesn’t look like this renovation show will end with the usual awestruck celebration. 

And yet, somehow, for those who are in Christ, it will. 

The timeline will be a little longer and certainly less tidy and predictable than the tightly scripted thirty-minute renovation shows, but regardless of how much destruction we bring on ourselves, each other, and the world, all that we see before us will be made new...

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’

And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Rev. 21:3-5)

This future reality is no excuse to be careless, flippant, or detached from the present. It is an encouragement for the embedded people of God as they live carefully and seriously in a volatile and hostile world.

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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Missionaries in Ukraine, Failing With Screentime, and “Doing Business” With the World – Points of Interest for March 21, 2022

Vasyl Ostryi: To Stay and Serve – Why We Didn’t Flee Ukraine

Here is a first-hand account from missionaries on the ground in Ukraine.

“We have decided to stay, both as a family and as a church. When this is over, the citizens of Kyiv will remember how Christians have responded in their time of need… We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering, and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.”

Tim Challies: When Parents Feel Like We Are Mostly Failing Most of the Time

Over the last year, I feel like I’ve made progress on managing my screen time, but every so often I realize that I’ve fallen into the same bad habits. Does it work the same way for you? We also struggle to manage our kids’ screentime, and in this article, Tim Challies tells us why that is. 

“Most of us hesitate to properly manage our children’s use of their devices at least in part because we don’t care to manage our own. There’s nothing intrinsic to being a parent that gives you the right to watch endless amounts of YouTube while capping your kids at a half hour. Though we hate to admit it, much of our children’s behavior is learned behavior. If you want to know who they’ve learned it from, you should probably start with the person in the mirror.”

Robert Rothwell: Can Christians “Do Business” with the World?

I’m seeing some church leaders promoting a separate Christian marketplace or numerous Christian “micro-economies” to remove and protect the church from the world and its systems. While this might seem to have some merit on the surface, and while we should indeed distance ourselves from obvious evil and we do business, these ideas don’t seem to hold up in light of scripture. There are several good quotes below, but the whole article is worth reading. 

“Paul’s clarification on the matter shows that he does not want us to remove ourselves from the world. He wants us to associate with sinners—not in endorsing or joining in their sin, but in making ourselves available to them so that they can hear the gospel… Therefore, because we are not to separate from the world into a Christian ghetto, we have to participate in the world’s economy and do business with our non-Christian neighbors. There is no way around it.”

“Jesus commended the paying of taxes to the very authorities He knew would soon crucify Him. The Roman Empire was not merely non-Christian—it was anti-Christian… Since Jesus and Paul would never tell us to do anything that involves us in sin, we may deduce from these passages that Christians are not morally responsible if their tax dollars are used for sinful purposes. And if we are not morally responsible for what the government does with our tax dollars, we are certainly not responsible for what companies do with our purchasing dollars.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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Make Jesus Your Master, Not Your Mascot

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” 

Luke 6:46

These are among the most cutting words uttered by Jesus that we have on record. When we call him our Lord and Master but ignore his commands, we are every bit as hypocritical as the Pharisees.

Broadly

I can see this broadly: 

On one branch of Evangelical Christianity, there is a Jesus who is little more than a mascot for personal and political goals. God’s word is not taken seriously but small portions of it are presented forcefully as justifications for ungodly pursuits. This Jesus is all about contention, confrontation, and the harsh condemnation of those who refuse to get in line.

This is a portrayal of Jesus that many choose to reject, and this is not entirely wrong. But when I hear stories of people leaving the church and deconverting from this kind of Christianity, my heart still fills with sadness and grieving. It is not real Christianity that they are turning away from but in the process, they often turn from the real Jesus.

On another branch of Evangelical Christianity, there is a Jesus who never contends, confronts or condemns anyone. This Jesus never asks anyone to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him. God’s word is not taken seriously here, either. Passages about sin, for example, are ignored, explained or reinterpreted to make a better fit with the world at the moment.

The Jesus of the Gospels contended when necessary, but he was not contentious. He could be confrontational, but he was wise in choosing his battles. He condemned those who knowingly worked against the purposes of God while offering grace to those who struggled to obey. 

Personally

But I can see this more narrowly as well, more personally: 

Why do I sometimes fail to do what Jesus clearly tells me to do? 

Why do I set up my own lesser and easier standards when the standard is already set by the one who knows all and laid down his life for me? 

Why do I repeatedly seek to set up my own kingdom as an impenetrable fortress when I already belong to a Kingdom in which I am infinitely loved and eternally secure? 

Why do I call him “Lord, Lord,” and not do what he tells me? 

In one word: selfishness.

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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