• You don’t want to be a dead pastor at 55, do you?

    I have always considered myself quite fit and healthy. That was until a few weeks ago when I went to the doctor. He did a pretty routine checkup and then said to me words I will never for get. He said:

    “Hans, if you keep eating like you are and not exercising you will be morbidly obese by the time you are 55! You don’t want to be a dead pastor at 55 do you?”

    Well, to say the least, these words  shocked me into action. I now go to the gym three times a week and have started out on a diet. I have already seen results and my energy has increased dramatically.

    Pastors have a lot on their plate. We have sermons to write, leaders to train, people to visit, our families to tend to and so many other things to do. Our schedule means that taking care of ourselves is put way down our priority list. So a lot of us eat badly because bad food is quick and we don’t exercise because we don’t have the time.

    This kind of living poses two theological problems:

    1.  Stewardship: God Has given us two things that are extremely precious. Firstly time and secondly our bodies. How we use our bodies affects how we use our time. If we eat well and are fit we will use our time more effectively because we will have more energy. So whether or not we exercise or eat well becomes a stewardship issue. Are we stewarding the resources of time and our physical bodies that God has given us well?

    2. Character: Character is doing the right thing at the right time no matter what it costs and no matter what we feel like. If we are not exercising or eating well it says something about us as individuals. It says that we are lazy when it comes to the important but not urgent things in life. This is theological because it is God who calls leaders to have great character (1 Timothy 3).

    What changes do you have to make in these areas?

    • Have you ever thought about planning out what you will eat for a week and sticking to it? So much of the time we eat junk because it is convenient.
    • Have you put times in your diary where you are going to drop everything and exercise? If you have do you keep them?
    • Have you got someone holding you accountable to your eating and exercising?

    Brothers and sisters, God has given us one body and one life. Let’s steward these resources well.

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  • Why Podcasting Could Destroy your Faith

    I was at a good church, the minister was a great man of God. He was godly, humble a good leader and extremely likeable.  He had taken this almost dead church to be a thriving church. Almost everyone loved his preaching. That is almost everyone except me. I had gotten into podcasting great preachers about a year before I started not appreicating this man’s great preaching. I was subscribing to about 40 podcats (yeah you read that right). I was listening to all the big names like Piper, Driscoll, Mahaney, Macarthur, Chandler, etc. When I came to church my pastors preaching wasn’t as dynamic and riveting as the guys I was podcasting. Sure he was faithful but I wanted more. No, I needed more.

    What was the issue here? It was me. I was judging the sermon on how much it entertained me. I was listening to Podcasts for entertainment not for spiritual change. The things that I remembered from the podcasts and commented on was the funny/touching/gripping illustration and not how the word through the preacher had changed me. I was hooked to podcasts as entertainment and preaching was primarily a performance. A performance where if the preacher didn’t grip me it was his fault.

    Every week God was speaking at my local church through the preacher and I prepared my heart to be entertained and when I wasn’t entertained I grew cold to the preaching. What a sad state I was in!

    I was not being fed spiritually because I had the wrong expectations, I was not being fed spiritually because I was judging the preaching rather than sitting under it.

    And it all came from listening to podcasts in the wrong way.

    I think people being bored with the preaching at our local church is a huge issue today. One that is born out of an entertainment, me first culture combined with a listening to preaching for entertainment.

    Should you listen to podcasts of the greats? Sure if you want to.

    But why are you listening to them?

    And what are you doing after you listen to the podcast?

    Are you listening to the podcast because it is fun or because you want to encounter God in his word?

    Are you coming away from the podcast and repenting of sin and being inspired to tell the world about Jesus or are you laughing at the joke the guy cracked on the podcast.

    If you listen to podcasts for entertainment you will start judging all preaching by whether it is entertaining and you will take this attitude into your local church and you will become like I was, selfish and self centered, thinking the preaching was all about me.

    By all means listen to great preaching through podcasts but don’t listen to be entertained listen to be changed.


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  • Keeping your Word

    “Is this done?” I was asked by a member of Resolved. The problem was that it wasn’t done and today was the day I said I would have it done. What was I going to do? I thought of so many rationalizations for why I haven’t got this thing done:

    • I had less sleep now that Kate and I have a small baby. (Not really true)
    • I have been too busy writing the sermon for this weekend or in other meetings that have come up. (Kind of true but still no excuse)
    • She hadn’t reminded me that I had to get it done. (But we hadn’t agreed that she would remind me either)

    I looked her in the eye and told her the truth “No, I haven’t done it. I am sorry.” Her words were kind and gracious. She and I agreed on the date I needed to have it done by. But there was still an issue. When I told her I didn’t have it done, for a split second, I saw in her eyes that I had let her down. I had disappointed her. I told her I would do something and I didn’t do what I said I would do.

    I didnt keep my word.

    I lacked integrity.

    Integrity is the key to leadership. In their famous book The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner surveyed 1000’s of people around the world and found people wanted integrity in their leaders more than anything else.

    Get that, your people want you to do what you say you will do more than they want you to be dynamic leader or a visionary leader.

    But not only do your people want you to have integrity God values you keeping your word more than almost anything else.

    Ecclesiastes 4:4 says:

    When you vow a vow to God. do not delay in paying it for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 

    Did you see what God calls a person who doesn’t keep his word or his vow? That’s right a FOOL.

    Wow that hurts! But it is true, a fool is rash with their words and doesn’t  think about how to use them. A fool makes promises and doesn’t keep them.

    So do you keep your word?

    Do you have integrity?

    Keeping your word or integrity is the key to you being a biblical leader.

    Keeping your word or integrity is the first step in you becoming the best leader you can be.

    “According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character. It’s not about style, status, personal charisma, clout, or worldly measurements of success. Integrity is the main issue that makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one.”  ~ John MacArthur 

    How do you think you can have more integrity?

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  • 7 Resources you can use to Fight Pornography

    Pornography is one of the biggest issues facing many Christians, male and female, today. Over the past few weeks the issue of pornography has come up over and over again in pastoral conversations that I have had. I also have had different friends in ministry asking me about dealing with this dreaded issue in the lives of their people.

    How do you deal with pornography if you are addicted to it?

    How do you help someone else in their addiction to pornography?

    The following are some resources that you might use in your fight:

    Here are some videos about dealing with porn addiction that you should watch:

    In this one Don Carson talks about temptation but the example he uses is pornography

    John Piper has a few clips about dealing with pornography. One about unbelief and porn addiction. In this one John Piper is talking to a bunch of youth about pornography. Both are fantastic!

    In this one John Piper, Tim Keller and Don Carson talks about how the gospel and accountability conquers the sin of Pornography.

    If you struggle with pornography you need to get some kind of monitoring software. I use Xwatch Pro which costs 7 dollars a month. You can get the free version here

    Mark Driscoll has written a book called Porn again Christian. It is very blunt and very frank but very good.

    Pornography looks so good and yet it never delivers what it advertises it will. It promises gratification but that gratification is quick and shallow and ultimately it leaves people empty. But more than that, when we look at porn, even free porn, we are playing our part in the victimization of the women and men who do porn. These men and women are created in the image of God and therefore should be loved and respected.  And because porn distorts our self image as well as our view of sex and other people we are alspo destroying our lives. But most of all God hates porn and we should too.

    The answer, as the guys say in the various videos, is not to give yourself a list of rules. If you are trapped in this sin you don’t need another list of do’s and don’ts, you need to realise that your greatest joy will not be found in sex but in Jesus.

    When realize that, and this truth becomes central to your being, you will have overcome pornography.


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  • You Have Never Felt More Insignificant, You Have Never Felt More Alive

    Have you ever just looked up at the stars in the sky and just thought about how far away they are? What happens when you do is that you start to realise how small you are, and how insignificant you are. I remember when I was in Moree. Sometimes me and a few mates would go down to the local sports field at night and lie on our backs and stare up into the stars. Yeah, there wasn’t much to do in Moree. But what Moree did have is no pollution or city lights. So the sky just lit up before you. I remember one of my mates saying, “I love coming down here and staring up into the sky. It is when I feel the most insignificant and yet I feel the most alive.”

    Think about it why do you go to places like in that example? Why do people go to the Blue Mountains and look out over the vast valley? Why do people stare up in space, and feel at the same time, insignificant yet never more alive? Because written into your DNA is the truth. That you and I weren’t made to be made much of.  We were made to make much of God, your heart won’t be stilled or satisfied, you will never be truly joyful until you find total rest in him. It is only in God that you will find your true and ultimate joy. And the first step to finding that joy is to come to grips with your own insignificance. Because when you feel your own insignificance you won’t want to make much of yourself, but you will want to make much of your God.


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  • Is your church successful?

    “Thus, when we plan our church life and judge its successes, let us not be guided by management technique or modern theories of presentation and influence. The basic principles of church life and practice are laid down in the Bible and are exemplified in the lives of biblical saints. Is the church weak and despised by society at the moment? Well, that is sad; but on another level, who cares? We are not meant to be respectable, to have political influence, to be an organisation that those outside admire for our slickness and savvy. We are meant to be those who preach Christ to the world around us both in our words and deeds. I find it worrying when evangelical success comes to be measured in the categories of worldly success, for precisely this reason: we are not meant to be successful by worldly standards; we are meant to be faithful by biblical standards; and the example of Christ indicates that these two things are, at the end of the day, implacably opposed to each other.”

    Carl Trueman, Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, 55

    What do you think?


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  • If you don’t Praise Others do you Functionally Deny the Gospel?

    I have started reading Sam Crabtree’s book Practicing Affirmation. So far it is a great book. But the foreword floored me. Not many forewords have floored me. But not many are written by John Piper either. In the foreword Piper quotes the following passage from C.S Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms:

    “The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers praising their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars.  I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits, and malcontents praised least.  The good critics found something to praise in many imperfect works; the bad ones continually narrowed the list of books we might be allowed to read.  the healthy and unaffected man, even if luxuriously brought up and widely experienced in good cookery, could praise a very modest meal:  the dyspeptic and the snob found fault with all.  Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.”

    Did you hear what he says. It is only those who are humble, balanced and capacious that are liberal with their praise of others. It is those who are arrogant, snobby and full of themselves who do not praise others.

    Piper goes on to comment about the central idea in the book:

    “Sam says, “The best affirmation is rooted not only in the character of God, but in the Gospel.” Which means that every glimmer of good in the life of God’s children is blood bought. Jesus died to make it possible. What does it say about us if he died to bring it about, and we don’t consider it worth praising? That is, to say it again, I need this book.”

    To put some skin on it. When we see something that someone else does and it is good and we do not encourage them we are saying something profound about God and his good gifts. We are saying they are not praise worthy.  And we know that all good gifts of God that we can see in others are there only because of the gospel. So there is a sense in which our failure to praise the good in others is a functional denial of the gospel.

    But the sentence that floored me the most was this one:

    When our mouths are empty of praise for others, it is probably because our hearts are full of love for self.

    When I am only full of negativity toward others, when I give no praise, no compliment, only put downs and negativity I do it because I am full of myself and arrogant.


    I need to repent a lot! My lack of praise of others shows how much I don’t praise my father in heaven and it also shows how full of myself I am.

    Do you agree that if you don’t praise others you functionally deny the gospel?

    What do you need to change to see and comment on the evidences of God’s grace in the people around you?

    Who do you need to praise today because you can see evidences of God’s grace in their lives?



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  • 9 things that Inform the way Christians Interact with the Gay Community

    Whether or not Gay people should be allowed to be married keeps getting splashed all over the media. It is a confusing time for all people especially Christians. Christians should love all gay people because God loves gay people and we are called to imitate God in his love. We also need to acknowledge that there are gay people in our churches. Some people are struggling with their orientation in silence, others are figuring out where they are at with Jesus while living as a practicing gay person and while others are open about their struggle and are seeking to conform to the image of Christ. The following are 9 things that I think Christians need to keep at the forefront of their mind when thinking about the current sexual climate. If you are reading this and you don’t call yourself a Christian the following is a summary of what (I think) Christians should believe about Gay people and being gay. My hope is that this belief that we Christians should have is worked out in love for the Gay community.
    1. All people are created in the image of God. Just because a person’s sexual orientation changes, it doesn’t change that they are made in the image of God. Therefore, Christians should treat homosexual people with love and respect knowing that, just like them, gay people are created in the image of God.
    2. The gospel says that gay people, just like straight people, are loved by God. When the Bible talks about the love of God (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10; Rom 5:6-8; etc.) we see that the love of God is open and knows no boundaries. Therefore, Christians need to biblically affirm that gay people are loved by God, and we, as Christians, should be known for our scandalous love for the Gay Community.
    3. The gospel says that gay people, just like straight people, can change. The Bible calls Christians ‘new creations’, which infers that people can be made new. This shows that through the power of the gospel all people, including gay people, can change. This does not mean gay people will automatically change their sexual orientation. That may change but just like a person who is arrogant will struggle with pride for the rest of their life we must not think that all gay people will change their orientation. This may change, but all people (married,single, gay, straight) are called to faithfulness to God. This is a tough pill to swallow but we all need to acknowledge that our humanity and identity is tied up with God and who he is and not our job, money, sexual orientation, etc.
    4. Biblical sexual ethics starts with Genesis 2:18-25 and this text is never superseded, but always remains foundational for biblical sexual ethics. This text affirms that the right context for sex is between one man and one woman in one relationship for one lifetime.
    5. Although Jesus did not talk about homosexuality specifically, he understood marriage as being between a man and a woman. In his conversation about divorce in Mark 10:1-12, Jesus uses Genesis 2:18-25 as foundational when he speaks of marriage. In using Genesis, Jesus is affirming biblical sexuality as being between one man and one woman in one relationship for one lifetime.  Also, in his teaching on divorce (Matt 5:31-32, 19:9; Luke 16:18; Mark 10:1-12) Jesus shows he is conservative on divorce, thus deconstructing the myth of the sexually-tolerant Jesus.
    6. People in the Roman world around the time of the New Testament had similar views on homosexuality, including long-term homosexual union, as the general population in the Western world has today. In Greco-roman literature[1] as well as art[2], homosexual activity was normal and sometimes was held up above heterosexual sex![3]
    7. We need to do careful word studies on the words the New Testament uses when speaking of Homosexual acts. We need to look at the Greek words ἀρσενοκοῖται and μαλακοὶ in their contexts in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. Some scholars seek to show these words to have an extremely wide range of meaning and therefore render the words unusable because they lack specificity. But the overwhelming support from New Testament scholars is that ἀρσενοκοῖται should be translated something like ‘males who take other males to bed’[4] and μαλακοὶ should be translated something like ‘effeminate males who play the sexual role of females.’[5]
    8. The Bible is univocal in its condemnation of homosexual practice. Wink, a theologian who argues that Christians should fully accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation,[6] says this: ‘I have long insisted that the issue is one of hermeneutics, and that efforts to twist the text to mean what it clearly does not say are deplorable. Simply put, the Bible is negative toward same-sex behaviour, and there is no getting around it. The issue is precisely what weight that judgment should have in the ethics of Christian life.’[7] Wink is saying that the Bible clearly condemns homosexual behaviour but he asks what place the Bible has in speaking to Christian ethics. So, even a theologian who is agreeable to homosexual relationships recognises that the Bible clearly condemns all homosexual acts.
    9. Gay people, like straight people, need to hear the gospel first and foremost. Christians have a tendency to be moral warriors. But what the world needs to hear is the gospel. The world needs to hear the fact that God is there and he created them. The world needs to hear that we have all rejected God as our king. The world needs to hear that God, in his great love, sent Jesus to die and take the penalty for our rebellion. The world needs to hear  that Jesus has risen from the grave guaranteeing our Resurrection. The world needs to hear that God is inviting us all to know him and one day to be with him where  there is no more evil, pain or suffering. The world needs to know the gospel. Christians sometimes act like as if we get gay people to be straight we have won. But you don’t go to hell for being gay and you don’t go to heaven for being straight. You go to hell because you have rejected Jesus as the lord and saviour of your life. The world needs to hear the gospel from the lips of Christians who have their heart broken by the love of God for the world.
    What do you think?
    What would you add?
    What would you take away from this list?

    [1] See the discussion in Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001), 350-360 as well as Thomas K. Hubbard, Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: a Sourcebook of Basic Documents (University of California Press; 2003); and Marylin Skinner, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture (Wiley-Blackwell 2005).

    [2] See John R. Clarke, Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art, 100 B.C. – A.D. 250 (University of California Press, 2001)

    [3] See Plutarch Dial, Love 750B-751B, 752B-C

    [4] This is how Gagnon takes ἀρσενοκοῖται. Some alternative translations from other scholars include ‘Men who take the female role in sex.’ Victor Furnish, The Moral Teaching of Paul: Selected Issues (Abingdon Press; April 2009); ‘Men who assume a passive sexual role with other men.’ Bernadette J. Brooten, Love between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism (University Of Chicago Press; 1998).

    [5] This is how Gagnon translates μαλακοὶ.

    [6] Walter Wink, ‘Biblical Perspectives on Homosexuality’, Christian Century, November 7, 1979, 1082

    [7] Walter Wink, ‘To Hell with Homosexuals: Sex and the Bible’,  The Christian Century, June 5-12, 2002, 32-34

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  • Why I’m not surprised that God redeemed me

    “In two decades of teaching theology I have had countless students ask me why God doesn’t save everybody. Only once did a student come to me and say, “There is something I just can’t figure out. Why did God redeem me?”

    We are not really surprised that God has redeemed us. Somewhere deep inside, in the secret chambers of our hearts we harbor the notion that God owes us his mercy. Heaven would not be quite the same if we were excluded from it. We know that we are sinners, but we are surely not as bad as we could be. There are enough redeeming features to our personalities that if God is really just he will include us in salvation. What amazes us is justice, not grace.”

    RC Sproul, The Holiness of God, pg 153

    This quote cut straight to my heart. It exposed my arrogance and self-centeredness. What should amaze me is God’s grace and yet so much of the time it doesn’t.

    I should be surprised that God has redeemed me, but usually I am not and I need to repent.

    The reason I’m not surprised that God redeemed me is my own arrogance, plain and simple.


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  • The danger of being bored with the Gospel

    “If your heart does not leap at God’s grace in Christ, what you need is more grace. Nothing else can save you from your own deadness. Therefore, fear your own hardness of heart more than anything else. Beware of rigidity, ingratitude, a demanding spirit. Beware of an unmelted heart that is never satisfied. Beware of a mind that looks for excuses not to believe. Beware of the impulse that always finds a reason to delay response. Beware of thinking how the sermon applies to someone else. God watches how you hear his Word.”

    Raymond C. Ortland, Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, pg 83

    Has your heart grown cold or hard to the Gospel?

    Are you bored with the Gospel?

    How do we make sure we are not bored with the Gospel?

    How do we make sure our hearts are continually refreshed by the Gospel?

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