RSS Robot

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  1. The Good Confession

    “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession.” (1 Timothy 6:13) Young Timothy also had “professed a good profession [same word as ‘confession’] before many witnesses” (v. 12), evidently of similar substance and quality to that in th... More... View the full article
  2. This painting by the Danish artist Carl Heinrich Bloch depicts Jesus teaching His disciples at what we call the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew chapters 5-7. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, (Matthew 5:1-2 KJV) I’ll hope you click on the reference to read those three chapters, or pick up your Bible to do so. There’s a great deal of Christian beliefs defined in Jesus words. Many of these verses are used stand alone to offer solace or uplift hearts. A few are used as pejoratives to express contempt toward professing Christians who do not live up to standards set by men. Jesus took His disciples up into a mountain – the verse does not describe the multitudes accompanying them, but it is possible others besides the disciples heard His words. Matthew was inspired to write them down. The other gospels include the lessons, too, indicating He was consistent in His descriptions and sermons. How they were received, though, is of interest. He was with these disciples for only three years. How long have we spent learning from one person outside of family? Our parents, yes. Our spouse, yes. Our children, yes – we do learn from them. But a non-family member? How long? Yes, I have had friendships that lasted years, but I’ve never spent three years traveling and discussing religion with one person. These disciples did not get the message in those three years, either, did they? They heard Him prophesize His death, but abandoned Him at Gethsemane. Peter followed to see what would happen, but ended up denying Him three times, as He prophesied. None of them buried Him and only women came to see to His funeral Sunday morning. One was the reason He was taken at the garden. For that, he received money, which was appropriate since he saw after their finances. Judas’ guilt brought anger, regret, a change regarding his desire for money – but no indication that he turned to God to acknowledge his sin. His actions show no indication that he believed Jesus’ messages. Yet could have at the very last moment of life asked to be remembered when Jesus’ kingdom came. A thief did, and received a promise. (Luke 23:39-43) These three chapters are filled with Jesus’ teachings – many of them familiar through multiple tellings, both in and out of churches. How we apply them to our own lives tells much about ourselves. Too often we see other’s examples where we should see ourselves. It would do us good to remember one very short verse: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 KJV) How can we do the will of God until we study what is known of God? I believe that comes through scripture, as Paul wrote Timothy: And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:15-17 KJV) That’s where we get our doctrine – which astounded people as the Sermon on the Mount closed: And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29 KJV)View the full article
  3. Creating Life

    “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” (Genesis 1:20) The two most fundamental laws of science state that matter can neither be created nor destroyed and that all processes tend to lose order, wear out, and eventually stop functioning. This i... More... View the full article
  4. Raphael’s depiction of Paul in Athens is similar, but yet different, from street preachers today. Instead of going to Athens, we see him leaving Berea, where his words were met with learning and researching but detractors couldn’t stand that interest in his words. (Acts 17:11-14) In Athens, Paul reaches out to his primary audience: Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. (Acts 17:16-17 KJV) He has an audience with a long cultural history with their own beliefs, along with temples, statues and monuments to their deities. As a Jew, Paul would recognize idolatry, but as a follower of Jesus, he cared about what happened to the Athenians. What he said did not condemn them, and they were interested in learning more: Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. (Acts 17:18 KJV) There’s a place in Athens where people expect to hear new ideas. Paul stands before them without protest signs. That’s not necessary in a city that prides itself on education and debate – they have platforms for speakers to share thoughts. (Acts 17:19-21) Then, Paul preached. (Acts 17:22-33) Please read that for yourself. He did call them superstitious – the Greek word used is δεισιδαιμονέστερος, a compound word that combines “more” and “religious”, which could be taken two ways: in a good sense reverencing god or the gods, pious, religious in a bad sense superstitious I believe we can take away a serious lesson from Paul’s interaction with the Athenians as we interact with people of other faiths – and our opportunities to do just that will grow and grow as our nation diversifies. We have opportunities today. Across my work years, I interacted with devout believers of Atheism, Christianity (in its various interpretations) Hinduism, Islam (both Shiite and Sunni, perhaps Wahhabism), Judaism (Conservative, Orthodox and Reformed), Sikhism, Taoism and Wicca. A kind Jewish gentleman taught me how to break a number of Religious Laws by eating a ham sandwich on a high holy day. A Wiccan explained how he left Catholicism for Wicca. I also heard how an abused wife left Christianity as her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s abuse was justified by their church with Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18, completely out of context. One supervisor, a Catholic, Jesuit trained for priesthood, explained to me how wrong it was to use biblical references, which should be left up to a priest to interpret for today’s world. I’ve discussed my beliefs under a number of circumstances, but the simplicity of Paul’s sermons is as valid today as it was in Athens. The only better of his sermons (in my view) was before Agrippa. (Acts 26:1-28) That’s all we can do – tell of Jesus, His life, His teachings, His death – but most of all, His resurrection. We can refer to the apostles who wrote of Him, the changes in their lives. We can refer to changes in our own – but that’s all. And, we can move on when we’re told – as Paul was: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (Acts 26:28-29 KJV) View the full article
  5. NEW BOOKLET: Signs & Wonders! Five Things You Should Consider NEW BOOKLET: Signs & Wonders! Five Things You Should Consider by David Dombrowski is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own […] The post NEW BOOKLET: Signs & Wonders! Five Things You Should Consider appeared first on . View the full article
  6. One of the easy traps for parents to fall into is having shortsighted goals for their children. If I can just make it through today… (particularly in the preschool years) My child’s greatest problem is to change _______ behavior. If he can just make a higher grade… If she could just have more friends… While it is good to make it through another day(!) and behavior, grades, and friends do matter, 3 John 4 gives one of the greatest goals any Christian parent can hold: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” This is a long-term goal—that your children would set a lifelong direction of walking in the truth. By the grace of God, Terrie and I can personally attest to the joy of having children who not only walk with the Lord, but are actively pursuing Him and serving Him. We thank the Lord that all four of our adult children are loving and serving the Lord with their spouses. What helps set the direction for your children on the path of walking in the truth? Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years through our family life and through counseling hundreds of other families. 1. Have a spiritual relationship with your children. I believe you should have fun with your children. You should play games and have family days and talk about what’s going on at school. However, realize that your children don’t just need you to be their friend. They need you to be their parent. They need you to be a spiritually nurturing authority in their lives. It should not be abnormal for your children for you to talk about spiritual things—to ask them what they learned in church, how their walk with God is, how they’re doing in resisting temptation. Ask your teen, “What is God teaching you lately?” When I was in high school, my mom was so good at this. She would come to my room in the evening while I was doing my homework and just ask me about my day, tell me she was praying for me, and sometimes share a Scripture verse with me. Those moments—not so much individually, but accumulated—made a profound impact on my life. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.—Deuteronomy 6:6–7 2. Know your children’s friends. Influence is a powerful force. Your children’s friends can be a tremendous force—either for positive or for negative. So make it your business to know who is influencing them and what they are like. When our children were still at home, I was a little bit like an FBI agent when it came to who their friends were. I wanted to know who was influencing my children and how. So it mattered to me what their friends listened to, talked about, thought was funny or cool, and (if I allowed our children to go to their houses) what their homes were like. No children are perfect—not yours and not your children’s friends. So the point isn’t that they can only have perfect friends. The bottom line is simply that you do not want your children around people or in environments that are going to undermine the values that you’re teaching them at home. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.—Proverbs 13:20 3. Watch their social media. Social media is often a window into a young person’s heart and can be a place where they reveal very private thoughts and even information that could hurt them in the future. If you allow your child to have social media accounts, you need to be involved. You need to understand how it works, what their privacy settings are, who they are connecting with through it, and what they are saying. The Internet is one of the most dangerous places in the world to allow your child to simply find their own way with no parental oversight. (This is why there are two entire chapters in Making Home Work on navigating through the challenges of media.) For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.—Ephesians 5:8, 11 4. Be involved with the authorities in their lives. Know your children’s teachers, Sunday school teachers, youth pastor and workers, coaches, and anyone who is an authority in their lives. And help your child get to know them as well. Invite them over for dinner, make effort to see them at church, ask them specifically how your child is doing. Children need a united front between their authorities. Don’t allow your children to pit you against another authority. If you ever have a concern regarding how one of your child’s authorities is handling a situation, go directly to that person, and work out the difficulty between the two of you. Also, be sure your children’s authorities always know you are available for any concerns they have and that you will listen to and believe what they tell you, even if it is that your child is struggling in a way you did not see. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.—Proverbs 15:32 5. Set the right example. The greatest gift you can give your children is a good example. If what you tell them does not match what you show them, they are likely to reject what you tell them. No parent is perfect (and no child expects his parent to be perfect). But every parent is an example. If you want your child to love God, engage in the body life of the church, develop character, respect authorities, and invest their lives in eternal values, don’t leave it to the youth group to teach them. Model these in your own life. Children do what children see—and especially what they see in their parents. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.—1 Corinthians 11:1 Parenting children can be difficult and is definitely challenging. But in the difficult moments, look further than the immediate problem in front of you to the long-range goal of seeing your children walk in truth. Ultimately, each person will make their own choice regarding the direction they take for their life. But, as a parent, make sure that what you are doing today contributes toward directing your children to walk in truth…for a lifetime. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.—3 John 4 Related posts: 7 Practical Ways to Teach Your Children to Love the Ministry How to Protect Your Children How to Pray for Your Children View the full article
  7. The Invisible Law

    “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” (Romans 1:20) Are you aware that all science rests on an invisible law of science? The most certain and universal of all scientific principles is that of causality, or the law of cause and effect. The... More... View the full article
  8. The Dazzling Spider

    “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” (Proverbs 30:28) There is incredible detail and beauty in a typical spider web. Scientists have found that web strands are comparable in strength to fused quartz fibers. Zoologists discovered that spiders have one to four pairs of spinnerets located in their abdomen (the normal number are... More... View the full article
  9. Hillary Clinton Picks Jesuit-Influenced Catholic For Vice President Running Mate LTRP Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content. “Kaine’s Catholicism has been strongly influenced by the Jesuits – the order Pope Francis is part of that has long been associated with education and social justice.”—Washington Post “‘A Pope Francis Catholic’: Now […] The post Hillary Clinton Picks Jesuit-Influenced Catholic For Vice President Running Mate appeared first on . View the full article
  10. Our Advocate in Heaven

    “Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.” (Job 16:19) It is significant that here, in what is probably the oldest book in the Bible, two vitally important New Testament truths are anticipated. Job somehow knew that he (and, by implication, every other person as well) has a “record” in heaven. This is the only occurrence of t... More... View the full article
  11. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20) The doctrine of verbal inspiration implies that not only are the words of Scripture inspired, but the very order in which they appear is also inspired. Studies by commentators and translators have rightly noted that a change in the order o... More... View the full article
  12. Forest Fire Prayer Request for Warren Smith Please pray for our author and co-worker, Warren Smith, again. Another forest fire is nearing their property this afternoon as we write this, and the neighborhood is being evacuated. As we reported a couple weeks ago, Warren’s house underwent a house fire causing extensive damage (due to faulty wiring). A forest fire began about the […] The post Forest Fire Prayer Request for Warren Smith appeared first on . View the full article
  13. Cutting-Edge Christianity or Shamanism? By David Dombrowski Editor at Lighthouse Trails Publishing I find it rather interesting how God has orchestrated things in life, which demonstrate His great love and ongoing mercy to ordinary people like myself. But, more specifically, I am thinking right now about how years ago I happened to come across a copy of a nearly […] The post Cutting-Edge Christianity or Shamanism? appeared first on . View the full article
  14. Local Kenyan Government Praises Bryce Home Program Presented by Understand the Times, International Compiled by the Bryce Homes in Kenya Board THE SURVEY REPORT OF BRYCE HOME PROJECT KENYA BY THE KENYA GOVERNMENT OFFICERS FROM THE MINISTRY OF GENDER AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT While the Bryce Home support project have been making progress in Kenya, it came to our attention that the local […] The post Local Kenyan Government Praises Bryce Home Program appeared first on . View the full article
  15. Leadership is hard, and biblical leadership calls for gospel maturity more than many leadership roles. I’ve been exposed to many Christ-like and some toxic leaders. The road of toxic leadership is a bad one. The stories don’t end well for either the leader or those he leads. Eventually, the leader implodes; and those he led end up hurt, dismayed, and often wounded enough lose their faith. The only perfect leader is Jesus, and every one else is capable of leading poorly. Yet, the call to biblical leadership is a call away from fleshly leadership tactics or traits—what, for this post, I will call “toxic leadership qualities.” In the next two posts, we will examine 14 toxic leadership qualities. They exist, in some form, across every kind of leadership context and different kinds of churches. They exist wherever there are carnal or immature leaders. We will see the first seven toxic traits in this post, and then the next seven in part two. If you are a leader, in any context, these qualities will diminish your ability to lead and influence well. If you are a “follower”—it is vital for your own health and growth that you find a leader who is seeking growth and accountability to avoid these traits. Here are the first seven warning signs of toxic leadership: 1. Places Personal Success Over Gospel Service—A secular leader essentially says, “You’re here to help me succeed.” A servant-leader essentially says, “I’m here to help you succeed.” Toxic leadership places the “prestige” of the leader over the care of others. In an over-emphasis of the leader’s personal accomplishments and significance, he might view it all as “my ministry, my people, my…” Conversely, servant leadership, while it may be respected, isn’t demanding or driven by that respect. Servant-leaders are driven to help others grow, help others experience joy. They desire to see others thrive in the gospel. To a servant-leader, the ministry is a call, not a merely a career; and the church family is the Lord’s heritage. A servant-leader’s greatest joy is not his personal success, but the joy and flourishing of God’s people. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19) 2. Demands Blind Loyalty Rather than Biblical Unity—Toxic leaders demand loyalty rather than develop it. What team doesn’t need loyalty towards one another? But there are two problems with demanding loyalty. First, often it is “blind loyalty” that is emphasized. This, in itself, is a bright red warning light on the dashboard of leadership. The emphasis of something the Bible forbids should give serious concern. Second, even reasonable loyalty can’t be demanded as much as it can be developed. If a strong team loyalty isn’t growing organically, can it really be coerced into place? Reasonable loyalty grows from the context of integrity and humility. When the team is healthy in biblical direction and relationships, loyalty grows organically from the garden of close-knit hearts. Therefore, it generally doesn’t need to be emphasized, as much as appreciated. A leader should be humbled that co-laborers would develop an appropriate sense of support and commitment, not only to the leader, but to the whole team and to the cause of the gospel. Where loyalty is absent in a God-given relationship, there is a character problem either in the leader or follower. Over-emphasis of loyalty is evidence of a deeper problem—either an insecure leader or a fracturing team. Put another way, if I were a leader in your life, and didn’t have your loyalty, then I probably wouldn’t get it by demanding it. Maybe it would be appropriate to have a conversation about why I don’t have it, how I could develop it, or what is fundamentally flawed or broken about the relationship. 1 Peter 5:3 “3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” 3. Expresses Hostility Towards Questions (Rather Than Transparency)—Biblical leaders should be approachable and able to field a question. A toxic leader is continually spooked or made hostile by questions—sometimes because of insecurities, and other times because he has something to hide. This hostility is an indicator of a problem. People have questions, and most questions are honest and sincere. Most questions come from people who are spiritually engaged and supportive of ministry. There’s a funny irony on this point. Leaders who most fear questions always generate more questions, and not easy ones. This leader creates a culture of suspicion, which generates many more questions. Toxic leaders are afraid of questions and therefore tend to be less communicative. They often have something to hide, and therefore avoid accountability. They surround themselves with compliant hearts who would rather not ask a question. Their general lack of communication leaves people wondering and needing more information. This is counter to the biblical pattern of leadership. 2 Timothy 3:10 “10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,” 4. Over-Reaches for Final Authority in Counseling and Decisions—The Bible knows nothing of a single-counselor with ultimate final authority (or veto-power)—except Jesus. To the contrary, the Bible emphasizes a multiplicity of counselors in decision-making. If God has given you a “multitude of counselors” to confirm His given direction, and you allow any one man to veto that confirmation, you have usurped Jesus’ Lordship in your life. One man among others, offering wise counsel, is biblical; one man wielding absolute control, in spite of others, is not biblical. I can safely say, if I had allowed any one man to veto God’s clear leading in my life over the years, I would have missed a great number of God’s greatest blessing and opportunities for my life and ministry. Proverbs 11:14 “14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Proverbs 15:22 “22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” 5. Over-Emphasizes Authority and Morphs it Into Lordship—The continual emphasis of “position, title, or authority” exposes a gap in understanding the nature of biblical authority. Continually reminding people “who is in charge” is a sure sign of one who really isn’t in charge. A father or mother that must always yell, “I’m in charge here!” generally isn’t in charge and isn’t leading well. Where biblical authority is lovingly expressed, people know where the authority rests—for it is being used to serve and care for them. The biblical use of authority generates appreciation, respect, and order because it is fully accountable to “the great shepherd of the sheep” and knows its place to “care for souls” and not to oppress them. (See Hebrews 13) When a spiritual leader is over-emphasizing or over-reaching his authority, there is a deeper problem. A servant leader exercises authority under Christ’s authority, without the need to relish it, restate it, or reach beyond its scriptural bounds. That same spiritual leader is comfortable with the principle of “the priesthood of the believer”—the idea that every individual believer is accountable personally to Jesus Christ in all decisions and directions. 1 Corinthians 11:1 “1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 6. Avoids Personal, Confrontational Conversations—Servant leaders are, by definition, problem solvers. (See Acts 6) That’s what leaders do—they resolve, reconcile, and serve by bringing hearts together in the fellowship of the gospel. Therefore, biblical leaders must become secure enough in Christ, and courageous enough in His grace, to be able to calmly and competently enter into potentially confrontational and controversial conversations. Toxic leaders do three tragic things with possible confrontation. First, they avoid it. They dismiss problems, disregard concerns, avoid questions, hide sin, etc. Second, they become passive-aggressive and misuse the pulpit to confront publicly. Third, when confrontation becomes unavoidable, they become carnal, slanderous, hurtful, and make it personal. Contrast this with the Apostle Paul’s call for a leader to help two ladies in Philippi to reconcile their discord: Philippians 4:2, 3 “2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.” 7. Uses the Public Pulpit to Deal with Private Conflicts—A toxic leader takes private, resolvable issues, and uses them in the pulpit to coerce people. Or he takes personal matters to the pulpit to vent or rage or threaten. The verbiage might be vague, but people know “who” or “what” the pastor is referencing. Verbal jabs and innuendos make the message clear, although plausibly deniable. The target person “gets the message” and is hurt. Observers are put in fear not to “cross the leader.” But mature Christians see through the game, and they will view the leader as either insecure or malicious. They will lose respect and trust, and probably don’t stay around. As they leave, the cycle repeats itself. Most importantly, this tactic is a tragic misuse of the sacred responsibility to teach and preach the word of God from the pulpit. God warns us about this use of this type of force or cruelty. Ezekiel 34:4 “4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.” ——————— Toxic leaders hurt people, hurt themselves, and hurt the cause of the gospel. By God’s grace we can avoid these carnal tendencies, and seek to become leaders like Jesus. These are only the first seven of fourteen toxic leadership qualities. Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the last seven in the next post. View the full article