Archives For Shepherding

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

I recently took our adult Sunday School classes through a short series on rethinking biblical application in relation to expository listening. From that study, I was reminded that biblical change is a synergistic work of grace which often involves the preacher (2 Tim. 4:1-2), the expository listener, and the Holy Spirit (Phil. 2:12-13).

In earlier articles I addressed the biblical expectations of the preacher (Ezra 7:10, James 3) and the listener (James 1:21-27; Luke 12:48). I also included some helpful thoughts by Pastor John MacArthur with regards to the role of application in expository preaching.   In today’s article, I will identify some practical principles that will hopefully instruct Christian listeners and expository preachers alike in order that both might better profit from the preaching of the Word. Continue Reading…

atomicWhen an explosion occurred on April 26, 1986 at the Ukrainian Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the first reaction of Soviet authorities seemed to indicate more concern with avoiding the spread of anxiety than the spread of radiation.

The Minister of Internal Affairs gave a telephonic report of current affairs in the Ukraine to his superior, and only at the end of the conversation casually mentioned an explosion at the plant. When he was asked how the people in the nearby town were doing, he replied “some are celebrating a wedding, others are gardening, and others are fishing in the Pripyat River.” A few hours later, however, the denizens of Pripyat experienced widespread symptoms of radiation poisoning, including uncontrollable coughing fits, vomiting, and headaches.

The aphorism “what someone doesn’t know can’t hurt them” has been debunked so many times and in so many ways that it is stupefying to me that people still use it.

An inescapable characteristic of the sin of believers is that it always affects other people. Since all believers are part of a community—the Body—even the most personal of sins always spawns devastating public fallout.

Eph 4:4-5 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism…

When you settle into unrepentant sin, it affects us all. How?

Continue Reading…


I live in a revolving-door town and so interact regularly with people who are church shopping. It can be a difficult decision  because of things like the commitment needed, the change involved, and preferences we have. Add to that, the various church options in some locations, and it can get trickier. But, are all the options, options? And, are we approaching the search with the right criteria?

God’s word is clear that to not plug in is not an option. So, what are some things to keep in mind as we make the very important decision of choosing a local church?

First, a few preliminary marks.

  • The church is a gift from God to his people. Plugging into God’s kind of church is a privilege and joy for believers. Keeping this in mind will help us maintain a necessary humility as we search.
  • A little more, than less, time spent in a church can facilitate a good decision. It’s usually beneficial to attend a few corporate gatherings, home groups, and some kind of individual setting with a long-time member of the church.
  • Like many big decisions in life, choosing a church is something that should be done with the help of mature believers and/or church leadership.
  • Finally, God has not left essential church matters up to us. Choosing a church, then, is not an arbitrary process. The God of the church has laid out in the manual of the church (the Bible) the essential ingredients which need to be present in a church.

Using biblical criteria over personal preference is needed for the decision. For example, style of music, fancy-ness of the kid’s ministry, and average age of the congregation should not be the deciding factors since they are not God’s essentials for the local church.

With that in mind, here are some things we ought to look for as we choose a church:

Continue Reading…


One of my mentors used to wisely say, “We are either in a trial, about to enter a trial, or coming out of a trial.” Such is life under the weight of the Curse.

Since God’s people are called to be skilled relationally, this means that relating to people in suffering is going to comprise much of our relationships.

Here are a few reminders for Christians as we minister to others in their suffering:

Continue Reading…

Like a premature unveiling of the picture of Dorian Gray, the hideous hypocrisy that lay discreetly stashed in the attic of AshleyMadison(dot)com’s online vault was unceremoniously exposed last week. scarlet letter

This outing of 28 million male and 5 million female adulterers has made a lot of people hot under the lipstick stained collar. Furtive liaisons that “weren’t hurting anybody” have now left a swathe of casualties in their wake. And now that their trust in the sanctity of Internet privacy has been shattered, these poor philanderers and home wreckers have to grow used to the scarlet letter on their reputation, now that everybody knows who they really are. What could they have done differently to avoid getting caught?

There is only one way to not get caught in adultery: don’t commit adultery.

Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

God’s observation of our lives has no blind spot.

But the Bible gives us practical wisdom on how to avoid committing adultery. Here are six suggestions from God’s word:

Continue Reading…

This is the week where new seminary students report for duty—two hundred new students start at The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles (and five at our Washington DC campus!), and as a pastor I watch new students leave for seminary every year.

Here is the advice I give them:    Continue Reading…

One of the hardest things about working with college students is growing in friendship with them over a summer only to watch i hate goodbyesthem leave for school come August. After unsuccessfully trying to convince them to stick around and attend the local college, the only thing left to do is to do my best to equip them to be able to thrive while they are away. So here are five prerequisites to have success in college.

Continue Reading…

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this summer, here are six articles from The Master’s Seminary Journal that address the issue of homosexuality from a biblical perspective.

1. God’s Word on Homosexuality: The Truth about Sin and the Reality of Forgiveness

Abstract: Through following a distorted meaning of “love,” some in the present day have condoned homosexual practice, without realizing that biblical love excludes homosexuality because of its sinfulness. Christians can best share the gospel with homosexuals by calling their lifestyle what the Bible calls it—sin. Genesis 1–2, Matthew 19, and Ephesians 5 describe clearly the way that God has instituted marriage as a monogamous, heterosexual relationship. Genesis 19, Jude 7, and 2 Peter 2 illustrate how the Fall almost immediately eroded the purity of human sexuality, including a devastation of the divine institution of marriage. Leviticus 18 and 20 and Romans 1 lay out very plainly God’s instructions about how repulsive homosexuality is in God’s sight. Yet Isaiah 56 and 1 Corinthians 6 make plain God’s plan for homosexuals to find freedom and forgiveness through a life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. The door is wide open for homosexuals and lesbians to accept God’s invitation.


Continue Reading…

There is no Workaholics Anonymous. Why would there be? Overwork isn’t a hamartia in our society’s currency-lubed, prestige based, multitasking rat race.

Gambling, pornography, cocaine, booze, and most other addictions carry a stigma of shame associated with weakness or dysfunction. But for some reason the caffeinated crew of interns at work broadcast their exhaustion with feigned self deprecating whines of “Sorry I’m so spaced today. It’s because I pulled three all-nighters and haven’t had a day off since the Blackberry was invented.”

Everyone in a cubicle thinks he’s Jack Bauer. Is it possible your job isn’t important enough to global stability to warrant the hours you put in? If that suggestion prickles your pride, then perhaps your dedication to the corporate fiefdom isn’t as noble as you make it out to be.jack_bauer_productivity

I don’t have a definition for what constitutes too much work, but we all know people whose lives are affected detrimentally by their workload. If, thanks to work, your family is disintegrating, your health is deteriorating, and time for God’s priorities (e.g. attending and serving in church) is disappearing then your schedule is unbalanced.

One of the reasons God made Sabbath for mankind is so that we will rest from our labor regularly enough to worship him devotedly, and recuperate sufficiently to sustain a long, productive, God-centered life.

And the hubris of an overstuffed day planner isn’t limited to Silicon Valley Microserfs, Wall Street moneygrubbers, or medical residents. Students, housewives, and pastors all glory in the shame of their limitless spirit being more willing than their sleep deprived flesh.

As a seminoid I loved that the strong coffee for sale in the break room was labeled “Lazarus Blend.” We sported dark rings under our puffy eyes and disheveled clothing (who has time to iron), and if someone remarked, “You look like death!” that was a compliment.


Here are five possible reasons for overworking:

Continue Reading…

In a previous post we examined Fat Secret: The Invisible Sin of Gluttony. But that food for thought is only one serving among a smorgasbord of other gastronomical sins and dysfunctions. self control

Anorexia nervosa (voluntary starving), bulimia (self-induced vomiting), comfort eating (ice-cream therapy), and muscle dysmorphia ( or “megarexia” – a fear of being too small) are all staples in a psychologist’s handbook. Some of these may have a physical malfunction as a catalyst, but often they can be a direct result of sinful thinking.

In that case these types of “eating disorders” might more accurately be termed “disorderly eating.” The former label connotes a malady that has beset you, but the latter admits the responsibility for the problem lies with you.

I certainly don’t want to oversimplify the complex psychological and physiological factors involved with debilitating eating conditions. The body and the mind are so inextricable that one can’t just flip a “stop-it” switch to shut off a behavior without risk of physical consequences. For example, if an anorexic patient suddenly begins to eat copious quantities of solid food, they may actually die.

All I’m saying is that in cases where one’s behavior is causing health deterioration, we need to enlist the help of not only physicians, but also the counsel of godly friends to assist with applying Scripture and prayer and the guidance of the Spirit to bring about gradual change and healing.

Physical and mental conditions are sometimes actually spiritual conditions masquerading as an illness. The remedy is not just nutritional replenishment but spiritual repentance.

Continue Reading…