The Great Need for Courageous Leaders In the Church

“And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”” (Joshua 10:24–25)

When you begin reading the book of Joshua, you can almost sense the fear and intimidation that Joshua was feeling. It starts with the announcement that Moses is dead. And then over and over again Joshua and the people of Israel are told to be strong and courageous.

After gaining some victories, assurance, and even a few tough lessons, Joshua has grown quite a bit as a leader by chapter 10. As five kings band together to try and stop the advancement of Israel into the Canaanite territory, it quickly becomes obvious that God is fighting for his people and they are unstoppable. The five kings in fear and desperation hide out in a cave, where they are discovered and sealed into the cave to await their fate.

After destroying the five kingdoms, Joshua returned to the sealed cave to deal with the kings. What he did next is worthy of note for leaders in the church today.

1. Joshua summoned all the men of Israel. The men were the leaders of the families and clans, as well as those who fought the battles. By Joshua summoning all the men so that they could be built up in courage, he was strengthening and stabilizing the whole nation. Similarly, when the pastoral leadership of the church strengthens and gives courage to the men in the church as a whole, they strengthen the whole church.

2. Joshua encouraged the chiefs of the men of war…[to] come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Joshua then turned to the leaders of the warriors—the commanders, and gave them the honor of this courageous symbolic act of victory. Not only did this act allow them to taste the victory for themselves, but it also strengthened their courage as the people saw not just Joshua as a mighty man whom God could use, but many mighty men God was using. Again, the local church should not be a place of pastor worship, but a place where the pastors are “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.” This means that we should be producing multiple warriors for Christ, and among them many will rise to the place of “chiefs of the men of war.” How encouraging to know that your local church is a fertile growing place for mighty men of God!

3. Joshua finally spoke God’s Word to them to both focus and humble them: “And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight”” (Joshua 10:25). These are very similar words to those that the Lord said to Joshua when he failed at Ai (Joshua 8:1). Joshua had absorbed those words and was now living by them. He knew that the Word of God is a powerful two-edged sword, and he wanted to equip his men with the same weapon that he had received. Those words were more than simply true—they contained reminders of humility and focus—don’t be afraid or discouraged, be strong and courageous. But don’t forget that the Lord will be fighting for you. It is not you who has won these victories.

Locker room pep talks are strongly associated with sports, and so many men are familiar with them. But that isn’t what Joshua gave them, and its not what our churches need. Leave the pop psychology to Oprah Winfrey and Joel Osteen. Real leaders need en-couragement, meaning they need courage from God himself. Hype only lasts so long. Courageous leaders need to point up and coming leaders beyond themselves to God himself. Preach the Word and let the lion out!

Don’t Cover Your Cracks with Plaster (weekend repost)

A few nights ago I awoke with the aches and pains of a sickness I have been fighting for a few days. Unable to sleep, I started to reflect upon all the friends and loved ones that are struggling with pain and suffering to a much greater degree. I thought about those who are facing a crumbling marriage, the loss of a spouse, the onset of a disease that will take their life. I lay in the dark and considered the deep comfort that we have in Christ.

Read the rest of the post here: Don’t Cover Your Cracks with Plaster

Be Prepared for the Spiritual Battles Ahead

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

(Ephesians 6:11, ESV)

Be Armored

In preparing for spiritual battle, we need to make sure that we “put on the whole armor,” not just selected pieces. Later in this chapter Paul describes each piece of armor, but for now, we need to know that we cannot pick and choose. To do so would be disastrous because would leave us exposed to attack. 

My dad was involved in the LA riots of 1992 as a police officer for Los Angeles. The rioting lasted six days, during which 63 people were killed and and almost 2400 people were injured. It ended only after the California Army National Guard, the United States Army, and the United States Marine Corps provided reinforcements to re-establish control. In preparation for going into a war zone, which is what LA was at the time, which would a policeman choose? A bullet-proof vest or a riot helmet? What will happen if he chooses one over the other? What about if he chose a riot shield and not boots?  These are foolish questions because to be prepared to battle, a soldier or a policeman needs to be fully equipped with his whole armor, not simply bits and pieces. As Christians, we too need to be armored, not choosing some, but all of the armor that God provides.

Be Anchored

“Stand against” or “stand firm” is a reference to not being moved in our fundamental doctrinal positions. The opposite of this means to be blown around by every wind of doctrine. Ephesians 4:11-14 says, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” (Ephesians 4:11–14, NASB95)

There’s a lot to grasp in those verses, but the quick truth I want you to see here is that a lack of biblical discipleship leads to many things, including the immaturity of believers who will be like children who are rocked upon the shore by the waves of doubt and deception.

Those who have drifted in their faith have brought disaster to their lives, and to the lives of many others. Paul warned Timothy of this happening in Ephesus: “keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:19–20, NASB95) 

Be Alert

First Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV). Being “sober-minded” is not something that our age is known for. We are easily distracted, silly, and fascinated with the trivial. Five minutes on Youtube would be enough to confirm this truth to anyone who doubted it.

In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul wrote, “…so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11, NASB95). Outwitted and ignorant of Satan’s schemes is unfortunately a perfect description of many Christians and churches today. We look to the Bible to see God’s will, and to answer questions for life, and rightly so. We see in it the glory of God in Christ Jesus as we should. But in this Book we also have a manual for warfare. War against our great enemies: the World, the flesh, and the Devil. Know these enemies and their schemes! Study the Word to learn about how these enemies of our soul will try to trip us up and lead us astray. We can’t afford to live like there isn’t a roaring lion out there!

In his excellent books, The Christian in Complete Armour, the Puritan pastor William Gurnall wrote, “One of the dangers of playing the devil’s games is that you come to like them. They are as addictive as wine, and create an insatiable thirst. Practice the devil’s tricks long enough, and your blackened soul will begin to devise mischief of its own, to help satisfy your ravishing appetite for sin…. Set your heart toward wickedness and Satan will lend you his own chariot and drive you himself to perform the deed.”

We need to prepare for battle, but we need to fight with the weapons of our King, not earthly weapons of politics, power plays, or philosophies. We need to proclaim the life-giving gospel message and preach the truth. As we do, we can stand firm and watch the Lord fight for us.

Singing Praises in the Fires of Affliction


“At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cosy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. In sorrow of heart I asked, “Why does my Lord deal thus with his child? Why does he permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to his poor servants?” For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet soft sound, a little clear musical note like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window. “What can it be? Surely no bird is singing out there at this time of the year and night.”
‘My friend exclaimed, “It comes from the log on the fire!”
‘The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart! Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. Ah, thought I, when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us then indeed we are purified and our God is glorified. As I mused, the fire burned and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me. Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.”

—C.H. Spurgeon