Dangers Christian leaders (including church leaders and pastors) need to steer clear of (non-exhaustive and not in order of importance):

1. Subtle and sometimes hidden crave for power and control

2. Putting one’s agenda above God’s

3. Not taking the longer and more uncomfortable route of seeking God for His purposes and hearing from Him resulting in leading from the flesh

4. Desire for adulation of man instead of the pleasure of God

5. Entering into relationships that result in politicking and manipulation

6. Lust of the flesh (including material things and sexual temptations)

7. Passing of half truths as truths

8. Compromised personal Bible study and communion with God

9. For public speakers, making someone else’s words our own (plagiarism)

10. Love and friendliness only towards the influential and wealthy and not towards the regular folks

(My Personal) Top 10 Words of Encouragement

10. “God redeems our wasted past.” – based on Rom.8:28 (And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.)

9. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” – Jer.31:3 (the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.)

8. “I’m not done with you yet.” – based on Phil.1:6 (“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”)

7. When God says, “I know”, amidst a time of trial. – based on Heb.4:13 (And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.)

6. When God says, “vengeance is Mine”, during a time of betrayal and injustice. – based on Rom.12:19-21 (19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.)

5. “Sometimes God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” – Steve Estes (Pastor-Theologian)

4. “Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizon, that I might fulfill your true vision for me.” – B.J. Hoff (Christian Author)

3. “Knowing that your labor is not in vain, never never never in vain in the Lord.” – based on 1Cor.15:58 (Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.)

2. “You know my name!” – based on Ps.139:1-4 (1 O LORD , you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD , you know it altogether.)

1. When God says, “No one decides your destiny but Me”, amidst disappointment and hopelessness – based on Jer.29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.)

Pilgrim’s Progress – A Biblical Message Not Aligned With Prosperity Gospel and Hypergrace Teaching

Watched Disney’s animated version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in church yesterday (Rock of Ages Church), an amazing movie that depicts in allegorical form the journey of a true believer, one that is filed with temptations, trials and tests that require the faithful follower of Christ to be patient, persevering, focused, disciplined, determined and faithful even to the point of death – a truly biblical message! It may have been written 200 years ago, but it’s message is still relevant in today’s church – maybe even more relevant now than ever amidst a Christian climate filled with prosperity gospel, hypergrace teaching, over-emphasis on the love of God and under-emphasis or non-mention of the holiness of God by false teachers.

Mt.7:13 Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (New International Version)

He Is No Fool

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot (missionary to the Auca people in Ecuador who lost his life, murdered by the people he planned to reach)

Problem is, many people today including some in the church, keep what we should give and lose what we should gain!

Jn.12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Sometimes God Permits What He Hates …

“Sometimes God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” – Steve Estes (quoted by Joni Eareckson Tada in one of her books – probably “A Step Further”)

What an amazing statement that lends great perspective to our understanding of suffering. The Bible says in 1Jn.4:8 that God is love, thus everything God does is motivated by His unconditional love. The Bible also tells us that the Lord is righteous (Ps.119:137), that means God can do no wrong!? This is the reason why we can continue to trust God and have full faith in Him even when things don’t go our way! We need to remember that it is not all about us – which is why we pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done”.

Our Faith – Flesh or Fresh?

Christians and Christianity can become too much flesh today while we should really be evidenced by spiritual freshness and power! We serve a mighty and powerful God who is able to powerfully: heal the sick, deliver the oppressed from demonic spirits, transform a wretched sinner from a life of ungodliness and unholy addictions into someone who lives whole-heartedly to honor God, free us from self-centredness, self-indulgence and pride, enable us to love each other sacrificially and unconditionally. When we let the Spirit of God perform these works in and through us powerfully, the world will know that we are His disciples!

Eph.3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing of Unity

In Ps.133, we read that where there is unity amongst fellow believers (from the church members to pastors and church leaders), there the Lord commands blessing and life forevermore. Yet it is not often easy to foster and maintain such unity and one key reason is because of close friendships. While we encourage deeper friendship and bonding, we must be careful not to let such closeness between a few people become a group with political power. It has happened many times and it must stop. Close friends must remain objective and fair when it comes to church matters, otherwise such relationships will become toxic and ruin the unity amongst fellow believers and God will not bless such a church!

Ps.133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.