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. 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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)

Conrad Black, John Piper, and Divisions in the Church – Points of Interest for February 21, 2022

This is a weekly roundup of pieces I read on other sites around the web. Click on the titles to open the articles in a new tab. Happy reading!

Conrad Black: Trudeau’s wretched smear-job of truckers highlights sorry state of Canadian leadership

“The official response to the truckers protesting COVID restrictions is one of the most disgraceful political episodes in the history of Canada as an autonomous country… The truckers can win this confrontation by exposing Trudeau’s pompous posturing and his slander of the truckers as a fraud. But they can’t win by trying to intimidate the government and by so inconveniencing the public that they demand the government make concessions to end the truckers’ protests… The truckers are right to rail against authoritarian mandates, but they should remember that they have no mandate from anyone to do anything, and their hold on public support is tenuous.”

John Piper: Are Divisions in the Church Necessary?

“When we come to Christ, we are grafted in by the Spirit to one body, Jesus Christ, and members one of another, so that the command in Ephesians 4 is to ‘maintain the unity.’ Don’t create it — show it to the world… the public effectiveness of our unity is when unbelievers see on the ground attitudes and acts of love among believers.”

Paul Carter: Towards Unity Of Mind And Judgment

“The Bible has to be our common authority. If you are reading Calvin more than you are reading the Bible, then you are part of the problem. If you are reading Rushdoony more than you are reading the Bible, then you are part of the problem. If you are reading Zahn, Boyd, McKnight, DeYoung, Keller or Carson more than you are reading the Bible, then you are part of the problem. Using a scholar as a guide or a conversation partner is wonderful – but using them as a lens or a cipher leads to tribalism.”

If you are into quotes and quote graphics, check out my Instagram page (link below)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Counting Present Sorrow as Future Joy

“But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.”

Psalm 71:14-15

I remember as a child in the church being led in song and the leader telling us not to sing if we couldn’t honestly affirm the words. On the surface that seems fairly harmless instruction, and in some cases this might be wise, but I have come to see many songs, and some of what is written in scripture, as what I would call “aspirational statements.” 

When we aren’t feeling what we wish we did, we can still aspire to feel rightly according to God’s word. We can proclaim what we know to be true even when our feelings lead us in the opposite direction. Psalm 71:14 strikes me as that kind of statement: “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.” 

King David often felt hopeless, but he aspired to hope continually, and this increased his ability to hope. 

And we can do the same. We can proclaim the truth that this darkness will not last, even as we despair that it seems to have no end. We can rejoice in our trials and sufferings not by coming to somehow “enjoy” them, but by being obedient to this command, with the truths of scripture as the fuel of our obedience.

When I meet trials of various kinds I often find it difficult to rejoice in the clear light of truth and so easy to get lost in the labyrinth of despair. But in those times I remind myself of this: “Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

By faith, we can count present sorrow as future joy, and this can bring that future joy into the present for us to enjoy.

Today’s featured image and others are available as a photo or canvas print. Please visit my store on Facebook or contact me for details.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

If the World Hates You…

“Except in rare cases and for relatively short periods, the Christian is always out of step with the spirit of the age. If we find that we are in close step with the spirit of the age we should ask ourselves how close we are in step with the Spirit of Christ.”

“The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.“

1 John 3:1

The world does not know Christ, but it often knows us because we are more like the world than we are like Christ. 

Consider all the clamouring we do, so desperate to attract the eyes of the world to the uniqueness of our gifts, our talents, our “brand.” The demand imposed upon us by this type of attention-seeking is often the minimization of the less palatable parts of the gospel. And this leads not only to a failure to know God and be known by him but to the additional catastrophe of preventing others from doing the same.

In John 15:18-19, Jesus says that “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Strangers or Citizens – or Strange Citizens?

We should not seek to be hated or to create animosity where there is none, but we will inevitably encounter some level of disdain if we speak about and demonstrate the truth of God’s revelation in Scripture. If we find this is not the case, if we never feel like strangers in the world, it is because it has become a comfortable home, a place where we live in false peace because we have made peace with “the elementary principles of the world.” (Gal. 4:3) 

Except in rare cases and for relatively short periods, the Christian is always out of step with the spirit of the age. If we find that we are in close step with the spirit of the age we should ask ourselves how close we are in step with the Spirit of Christ.

To Celebrity or Not To Celebrity

What does this mean, then, for our desperate attempts to attract the world’s attention and thereby receive the acceptance and affirmation we so crave? It means these efforts are a foolish pursuit, a chasing after the wind. If we are faithful to God, and if we allow him to determine the level of our exposure and any resulting “celebrity”, as it were, we can be free of the craving for attention and the many burdens of obtaining it.

Would you like to be well-known? Love God. 

“But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (1 Cor. 8:3)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Tim Keller, Bill C-4, and the Breakdown of Civility Among Christians – Points of Interest for January 31, 2022

Tim Keller, Bill C-4, and the Breakdown of Civility Among Christians – Points of Interest for January 31, 2022

This is a weekly roundup of pieces I read on other sites around the web. Click on the titles to open the articles in a new tab. Happy reading!

Tim Keller on the Church Crisis That He Never Had to Face as a Pastor—But You Do

“In virtually every church there is a smaller or larger body of Christians who have been radicalized to the Left or to the Right by extremely effective and completely immersive internet and social media loops, newsfeeds, and communities. People are bombarded 12 hours a day with pieces that present a particular political point of view, and the main way it seeks to persuade is not through argument but through outrage. People are being formed by this immersive form of public discourse—far more than they are being formed by the Church.”

Have you seen this in your own church?

Bill C-4: History, Concerns, and Response – The Gospel Coalition | Canada

Good words here from Pastor Paul Carter:

“I fully recognize that a day may well come when there is a heavy price to pay in this country for faithfully preaching what the Bible has to say about human sexuality and gender. If it comes – when it comes – I will count it an honour to suffer on behalf of Christ. Until that time, and as long as the Lord gives me life and breath, I will continue to use every opportunity I have to reach out in love and Gospel concern to my fellow Canadians.”

The Church On The Other Side: Anticipations And Concerns – The Gospel Coalition | Canada

Paul Carter (again):

“During a season of prolonged conflict, polarization, and civil unrest, moderate views begin to look like cowardice, restraint begins to look like abdication, wisdom begins to look like inaction, extremism becomes the norm on every side. The end result is a breakdown in civility and the loss of any inclination toward peace. That seems to be precisely what we are now observing in the evangelical church in Canada during the latter stages of this pandemic.”

This is something I’m really concerned about as well. All sorts of new dividing lines have been introduced over the last two years. People have been leaving churches for political reasons, something fairly common south of us but not common until recently here in Canada. 

If you are into quotes and quote graphics, check out my Instagram page (link below)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Header Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

On COVID Restrictions, Vaccines, and Trucker Convoys

We cannot – and certainly will not – make peace by trying to minimize our love for Jesus for the sake of being at peace with those who do not love Him. But we do unnecessary violence to the cause of peace when we invent new points of division with other believers for the sake of unity with those who share our opinions but not our faith. 

Continue reading…

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

Matthew 10:34-36

What Jesus speaks of in Matthew 10:34-36 sounds a lot like what many families – church families as well as biological ones – are experiencing right now. We have disputes about restrictions, division over vaccines, and disagreements regarding the trucker convoy. 

But Jesus is speaking here of the inevitable division between those who follow him and those who don’t, between those who believe the gospel and those who reject it as truth, and not about the unnecessary division between people with different opinions about COVID restrictions, vaccines, and trucker convoys.

Maintaining the Unity of the Faith

You can believe that restrictions were necessary or too extreme, that vaccines are crucial or unneeded, that the trucker convoy is a great good or a dangerous endeavour – you can believe any of these things and still be united in Christ with every other person who genuinely follows him. And in the interest of protecting this precious unity, regularly examine your own motives and words.

Are you making these secondary issues primary, thereby destroying the unity of Christ’s body for reasons not found in God’s word?

Are you making your personal opinions on these matters the measure by which other believers are judged unfaithful and unworthy?

Are you twisting the Scriptures, even subtly, to support your political aims?

Are you adding insult to disunity by slandering the very ones who follow Christ just as they do?

These practices must stop. 

Your Primary Unity

If you are someone who follows Christ, you are in unity with all those who also follow him. This unity with other believers must be primary over unity with anyone else. To adopt secondary issues as primary ones is to compromise your loyalty to the gospel. And to go further and elevate these secondary issues to primary ones is a betrayal of the gospel itself.

The coming of Jesus and the commitment he commanded is a necessary flashpoint in many families. The light of this flash should illuminate the truth that Jesus says we cannot follow him if our loyalty to any person, protest, movement or ideology is greater than our love and loyalty to him.

Let There Be No Fellowship of Light With Darkness

So when he who is the Truth divides one against another, we must choose to follow Him instead of making temporal peace with those around us. He alone can change their hearts. We cannot – and certainly will not – make peace by trying to minimize our love for Jesus for the sake of being at peace with those who do not love Him. But we do unnecessary violence to the cause of peace when we invent new points of division with other believers for the sake of unity with those who share our opinions but not our faith. 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join the conversation on Facebook…

Photo by Rhys Moult on Unsplash

How to be the Wise One in a Room Full of Fools

As Christians in 21st-century North America, we are generally materially rich but if we are spiritually poor we will end up in a poverty far worse than owning nothing. We must become desperate for the wisdom of God if we are to avoid this fate. Those who voluntarily live in spiritual poverty are unlikely to receive much in the way of eternal riches.

Continue reading…

“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.”

1 Corinthians 2:6-7

Over the last two years, one ideological movement after another has blown like a sandstorm across the landscape of society. The response of Christians to these movements often reveals a general shallowness in the knowledge of Scripture and the principles and commands found therein. As a result, we see that while many are eager to speak, few are equipped to hold an opinion worth its weight in breath.

The Bible sometimes seems like the last guest at a party that we seek to get to know. Of course, for Christians, the flow of our seeking should lead us to Scripture as the first source we look to, not the last place we eventually visit. Many seem to have reversed the flow and are using theories spawned by flawed human reasoning to evaluate the wisdom of God’s word. But to modify the ancient wisdom of Scripture in order to conform it to the whims of the present age is to welcome apostasy.

Wise Living or Constant Folly? 

God has given each person the capacity to know him. What we do with that opportunity will determine whether we progress in wise living or devolve into constant folly. We have God’s word, but we know that relatively few of those claiming to be God’s people take the time to read, and fewer still who wrestle to understand. Despite their outward appearances, such people will eventually experience the consequences of their folly.

As Christians in 21st-century North America, we are generally materially rich but if we are spiritually poor we will end up in a poverty far worse than owning nothing. We must become desperate for the wisdom of God if we are to avoid this fate. Those who voluntarily live in spiritual poverty are unlikely to receive much in the way of eternal riches.

Reversing the Flow

In prayer, we plead for wisdom and in God’s word we find his wisdom, but we will not become wise unless we believe and apply what we find. Even as we believe and apply, we will not do so perfectly, but our imperfect applications themselves lead us on the road to greater wisdom. 

Daily pleading and reading and application are the keys to gaining wisdom. God’s wisdom is found in his word but it will not manifest in our lives until it soaks into our hearts. The question is whether or not there is any space available in our over-busy hearts. 

Which Side Are You On?

In this age of so much foolishness posing as wisdom, we must be diligent in evaluating what is presented to us against the standard of real wisdom found in God’s word. Are we among the mature to whom real wisdom can be imparted or are we still so weak in faith and knowledge that we are “like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind”? That person, James tells us, “must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord…”

Jesus’s take on the matter is found in Matthew 13:12: “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Barnes comments: “A man who improves what light, grace, and opportunities he has, shall have them increased. From him that improves them not, it is proper that they should be taken away.”

On which side of that equation do you find yourself? Is your wisdom in a state of multiplication due to application, or is it currently wasting away for lack of use?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Today’s featured image is available as a photo or canvas print. Please visit my store on Facebook for details.

4 Ways to Avoid Destroying Yourself by Way of Your Sin

A church family should be a place where both afflictions and joys are openly shared. The cultivation of such an environment should be the normal impulse of any church leader, but too often it seems we are more interested in shaping a culture of positive motivational quotes while ignoring the more challenging aspects of life. 

“The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.”

1 Tim. 5:24-25

Paul writes in 1 Tim. 5:24-25 of two types of unrepentant sinners. Of all the varieties of sin, some stand out as obvious and judgement for them follows close behind, while others remain hidden until a later date. We could call these two types “short-game” and “long-game” sin. 

Short-Game and Long-Game Sin

Short-game sin and its outcomes happen in a sequence on a relatively short timeline. Considering all the damage that sin can do, we should thank God when sin is quickly revealed and dealt with. Some damage is always done by sin, but short-game sin has less opportunity to ensnare others. Some flame out quickly and take only a few down with them.

Long-game sin is quite different. It is deeply-hidden sin, usually in the life of someone who appears quite holy, who is often well-respected and even admired. We lament to think of the tragedy of all that was revealed after the death of someone like Ravi Zacharias. In the aftermath of these revelations, the faith of many was shaken – and in some cases destroyed – and the reputation of the gospel was stained.

How can we avoid destroying ourselves and the faith of others by way of our personal sin? 

  1. By regularly confessing our sins to God

God’s word assures us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NASB) 

It seems like a no-brainer but ask yourself: When was the last time you regularly and thoroughly examined yourself and confessed your sins to God?

  1. By regularly confessing our sins to one another

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT) 

This instruction probably suffers even greater neglect. So many people believe they will face judgment and condemnation if they reveal their sins to other believers. That is, of course, a risk, but we may not ignore this command simply because it is risky.

  1. By inviting accountability

This goes right along with confessing your sins to someone. We should follow up our confessions with an invitation to an external examination by other trustworthy believers. In Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We would be foolish to wait until the day of judgement to receive an assessment of the wisdom of the words we use. It is much better to ask for caring critique and loving rebuke from those who desire to see us live in a way that is pleasing to God.

  1. By dwelling in a community of faith where we can be fully known

Many churches come by their reputations as bastions of shallowness honestly. But that will not do if 1 Cor. 2:26 is to hold true: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.”

A church family should be a place where both afflictions and joys are openly shared. The cultivation of such an environment should be the normal impulse of any church leader, but too often it seems we are more interested in shaping a culture of positive motivational quotes while ignoring the more challenging aspects of life. 

If you are part of a Christian community where confessing sins to each other is not the norm, you might want to ask yourself if you are actually part of a real Christian community at all.

A Call to Repentance

Finally, if you have not been practicing the above and know you are engaging in unrepentant sin, whether it be short-game or long, be assured that what is presently in the dark will someday be brought into the light. It is far better to bring sin into the light yourself than to have it brought into the light by someone else. 

Join the conversation on Facebook…

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Today’s featured image is available as a photo or canvas print. Please visit my store on Facebook for details.

The Itching Ears That Lead to Death

We all want to believe certain lies because these lies temporarily soothe the seemingly insatiable desires of our flesh. But if we give our itching ears what they want our souls will be damaged and quite possibly destroyed.

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

2 Timothy 4:1-4

As a pastor, why should I reprove, rebuke, and exhort by way of preaching? Because we are in a time when people regularly ignore sound teaching in favour of false wisdom.

We’ve all had bug bites that demanded to be scratched. It feels so good to scratch, doesn’t it? Oh, the satisfaction! But afterward, the urge to scratch is not gone; in fact, the desire may even be more intense.

Scratching is satisfying and pleasurable while it’s happening, but the good feelings cease and the urge to itch returns the moment you stop. Continued scratching will mark up your skin and could leave you with permanent scars.

So what does it mean to have itching ears?

It means listening to that which we have some sense we shouldn’t.

It means giving our attention to what creates momentary enjoyment but does not satisfy true need.

It means chasing what feels good to our flesh at the expense of our spiritual health.

We all want to believe certain lies because these lies temporarily soothe the seemingly insatiable desires of our flesh. But if we give our itching ears what they want our souls will be damaged and quite possibly destroyed.

Today’s featured image is available as a photo or canvas print. Please visit my store on Facebook for details.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Affliction is the Seed of Joy

That affliction and joy can co-exist, that one can result in the other, is one of the beautiful paradoxical realities of the Christian life.

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit…”

1 Thessalonians 1:6-7

For people living in a culture of rampant ungodliness, following Jesus is more likely to bring affliction than applause. That much is as true in our own day as it was in Paul’s, as it has been for much of recorded history. But for the follower of Jesus, affliction is the seed of joy.

That affliction and joy can co-exist, that one can result in the other, is one of the beautiful paradoxical realities of the Christian life. So much effort is spent avoiding affliction, and yet the writers of scripture remind us repeatedly that affliction cannot be avoided. What’s more, we are told that affliction is an instrument of sanctification.

Suffering well is a sign of steadfast faith and serves as a vibrant witness to those looking on. If we believe that affliction is an instrument of sanctification, we will cease our efforts to always avoid it and begin instead to rejoice in it, believing the promise that God really does work all things for good.

Today’s featured image is available as a photo or canvas print. Please visit my store on Facebook for details.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join the conversation of Facebook—>