How are we conformed to the image of Christ?

 

We reflect the LORD as we act on His words and grow our relationships with Him and people.

 

 

Use the following to help you on this journey

This week…

Follow me. Matthew 4:19

 

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19

 

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Use these questions to go deeper

1.) How did Peter and Andrew follow Jesus?

2.) How did the readers of Matthew follow Jesus?

3.) What does it look like in my life to follow Jesus?

4.) Why do I want to follow Jesus?

5.) What is the end goal of following Jesus?

 

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Reading the Bible with friends…

For those married

 

While you explore the following passages, talk about these question?

1.) What did this passage mean to the original readers?

2.) What does this passage mean for us?

3.) How do I daily act out these Biblical ides in my marriage?

 

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Week 1: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

Week 2: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28

Week 3: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9

Week 4: “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:9

Week 5: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Week 6: “Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

Week 7: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Week 8: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4

Week 9: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Week 10: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

 

Explore more…

Questions to think about

 

1.) What section of the Bible have I been reading lately?

2.) What ideas come out of these verses?

3.) How am I applying these doctrines to my life?

4.) What have I been dreaming of lately?

5.) What made me sad this past week?

6.) What made me happy this past week?

7.) How is my motivation for work going?

8.) Which aspect of the gospel am I thinking of?

 

Killing our biggest enemy. Romans 8:13

 

Questions to talk about with family or friends

1.) How does my sin kill me and others?

2.) Do I want to kill my sin?

3.) Do I have the tools for killing my sin?

 

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In John Owen’s book, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers he teaches that my indwelling sin is my biggest enemy.

 

“Be killing sin or it will be killing you!”

 

ONE – The importance of killing our indwelling sin: eternal life for ourselves and others.

 

Romans 8:13 says that if we, through the Spirits power, kill the acts of our sinful body, then we will live – and as a result others will be blessed. If we don’t kill our own sin than ourselves and those around us will experience death. Owen says that real, eternal life for all is linked to the killing of our indwelling sin.

 

TWO – Directions for how we kill our sin: be a believer and have the desire to kill your indwelling sin!

 

Killing our sin does NOT happen when we: hide our sin, try to improve ourselves through positive thoughts or good moral actions, avoid sin or occasionally experience victory. Owen says that we kill our indwelling by: 1.) being a born again (John 3) believer in the Messiah and 2.) having the desire to kill our indwelling sin.

 

Questions to ask myself:

  • Have I been born again?
  • Am I a believer in the Lord Jesus.
  • Do I want to kill my indwelling sin?

 

THREE – The death of our indwelling sin: the power of the cross and the power of the Spirit.

 

Owen ends off by saying that the death of indwelling sin comes about when we: 1.) set our faith on the cross-work of Christ for the killing of sin – we walk into the victory of Christ on the cross over sin and 2.) We allow the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work of killing our indwelling sin, no matter how He does it.

 

This then is one of my answers to the question: how to change a local church?

We need to kill sin and this starts with…

you and me!

 

Questions to ask myself:

  • Have I got a clear idea of the danger of my indwelling sin?

  • Can I see how my sin affects others around me?

  • Is my habitual sin linked to feelings of shame – worthlessness?

  • Am I ready to rise up strongly against my sin?

  • Am I meditating on God’s word every day?

  • Am I listening to the voice of the LORD spoken to my soul, not the voices of others?

  • Am I asking the Holy Spirit daily to bring about the death of my indwelling sin?

 

Finding long lasting happiness. Philippians 3:8

 

Questions to talk about with family or friends

1.) Where do I go to find happiness?

2.) How can I enjoy God more?

3.) When can I find time to make sense of the Bible?

 

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Every one of us wants happiness.

Happiness can be defined as contentment. Contentment means: not wanting anything more – being satisfied. Happiness is when we are satisfied.

The problem is that happiness disappears like smoke from a fire. For a moment we are happy and than we are not.

 

How do we find long lasting happiness?

 

This is the golden question.

 

Dr. John Piper, author of http://desiringgod.org, has been saying for decades that we find long lasting happiness when we enjoy our Creator. How do we enjoy God? We enjoy our Maker when we know Him. The more we KNOW the LORD personally, as Paul says in Philippians 3:8, the more we will enjoy Him and therefore be happy.

 

How do we know God?

 

Through many ways, but the easiest and most effective is by making sense of His Word.

 

Since the Bible is God folding back the curtain to show us who He really is, as Hill and Walton successfully prove in their book a Survey of the Old Testament, the more we hear, read, study, memorize, meditate and speak the words in the Bible the more we will know our Maker. When this happens we will enjoy Him more and the more we enjoy Him the more content (happy) we will be.

 

How do we make sense of the Bible?

 

Below are five easy steps to take that Tim Keller uses.

 

Step One:
Choose any Text (verse or verses).

Step Two:
Sit down for thirty minutes and write down on paper as many ideas communicated by this portion of scripture. Include in this list as many facts about God your Maker that is shown.

HINT: Don’t think after ten minutes and five ideas that you know it all. Meditate and write for thirty minutes.

Step Three:
At the end of thirty minutes, find the best insights you have on your paper. The best insights are those that have and will change your life the most.

Step Four:
Pray these insights over your life and over the lives of others.

Step Five:
Look for an open door opportunity to share these insights with other people.

 

Living as someone created. Genesis 1:1

 

Questions to talk about with family or friends

1.) Do I believe that God is the Creator? If not, why not?

2.) Am I moving in the direction of living as someone Created?

3.) How do I move in this direction?

 

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Our Universe and all that is in it was created by the LORD God (Genesis 1:1). While we are not sure of all the details of how God created, one thing we know for certain is that the LORD Created every bird, bug, banana, bright star and also every human being – including you and me.

 

Living as one created means that we look to our Maker for ALL things. Living as one created means that I will have confidence before ALL people because my value is rooted in the FACT that I have a designer. I will not be ashamed, like Adam and Eve were, because my value is fixed on my Creator who is unchanging – He calls me valuable. Living as one created means that I will receive not only my value but ALL other things from my Maker. I will look to God for freedom, purpose, satisfaction, guidance, etc. – ALL things.

 

Now If you are like me than you will know that it is very difficult to live as one create every second of every day. My confidence before all goes up and down all day long. So does how often I look to my Creator for ALL other things. This is why it is very important that I am always moving in the direction of living more and more in the FACT that I am created. Are you moving in this direction to?

 

Am I moving in the direction of living as someone created?

 

Being redeemed from destructive words. Galatians 5:15

 

Questions to talk about with family or friends

1.) Have I experienced destructive words?

2.) How have these words affected me?

3.) How can I be redeemed from destructive words?

 

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In an interview with Paul Tripp, he argues that Galatians 5:15 tells us that we are destroyed by, “biting words.” Destructive words such as: lying words, devaluing words, angry words, etc. are damaging to the human soul. God has invested words with power and words wrongly spoken damage human beings.

The saying, “stick and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me” is a big fat lie.

 

Think about your own life: when have destructive words been spoken to you?

 

I remember a time when some people close to me called me a, “stuttering idiot.” 

These words damaged me.

 

Now that you are thinking about your own memories… 

 

How did these words affected you?

 

Write down the affects that these damaging words had and have on you.

 

How can we be redeemed from these destructive words?

 

Paul Tripp says that the only way to be redeemed is by going to the one who can really say to us…

“I understand you.” 

Jesus the Messiah: God the Son, the Holy One, the King of kings, the Suffering Servant is the only person in the Universe who can help us because:

ONE – He was verbally abused.

He experienced destructive words.

TWO – He promises us a new Heart (Jeremiah 31:31-32 and 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus radically renews us from the inside out, as Dallas Willard says in his book Renovation of the Heart. 

 

As you seek Jesus and in seeking Him you seek to be redeemed from the damaging effects of wrongly spoken words. I encourage you to use your words to build other people up as it says in Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” 

 

One text that EVERY christian leader must understand. 1 Peter 5:2-3

 

Questions to talk about with family or friends

1.) Am I letting the presence and power of Jesus change me from deep within?

2.) What does 1 Peter 5:2-3 mean?

3.) Who in my life is close enough to be able to help me obey this text?

4.) How often do I meet with this person?

 

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The NIV reads…

 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 

 

 

One common way that Christian leaders respond to the challenges in ministry is to…

Run to professionalism…

As Wilson says, “Books and podcasts and conferences from the leadership cult bid us to believe that pastoral ministry is a technology, that our churches are businesses, that our flocks are customers. The answer to the sorrowful joy of pastoral ministry is not apparently “counting it all joy” but finding the sweet spot in our ministry style. People are problems to be figured out, and if they cannot be figured out, they are to be sorted out to others, and if they still cannot be figured out, they are liabilities. They simply didn’t “get the vision.”

He continues, commenting on professionalism in Christian ministry…

“Brothers, there are aspects of professionalism that make sense in our modern ministry contexts, but when all is said and done, we are not managers of spiritual enterprises; we are shepherds. And shepherds feed their sheep (Ezek. 34: 2–3; John 21: 15–17).”

 

 

Instead of running to this kind of ministry model, we should rather return to the word of God.

 

 

1 Peter 5:2-3 reveals to us a large part of Gods plan for ministry.

Here are some of Wilson’s comments on this text.

 

 

ONE: Care for God’s flock.

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them

He says…

“Pastor, the people you currently have in your congregation are those whom God in his wisdom has dispensed to you. They might not be the people you’d handpick if you had your druthers, but be measured by the fact that God handpicked you to be a citizen of his kingdom. What on earth was he thinking? Dietrich Bonhoeffer cuts to the heart in Life Together: If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ. This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. A pastor should not complain about his congregations, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament. But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray to God for understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God. . . . What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God. Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases.”

 

 

TWO: Willingly chose to Care for God’s flock.

not because you must, but because you are willing

He says…

“On Monday mornings I enter my office at about 8: 00 a.m. and find that, like Sisyphus, the stone I spent the previous week pushing up the hill lay at the bottom again, ready for another go. Monday morning I must pastor. But what kind of must?”

The answer is to willing choice to pastor people. 

But it is hard to willingly chose to pastor when there are so many challenges, this is why we need the gospel.

“The struggle to shepherd willingly happens every time ministry becomes difficult. So we have to see people as Jesus sees them. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9: 36). This compassion is not merely a “feeling sorry for.” It is a gut reaction. Jesus truly saw these people as people in great need of the gospel and was moved in the guts by brokenness for them. Pastors, let us then pray on Monday mornings, and every time we face the temptation to exercise oversight out of compulsion rather than out of free will, for the eyes of Christ. What a great turning point to see that this is how Jesus sees us! There you sit on Monday morning, a pitiful bump on a log. Sipping your coffee, feeling sorry for yourself, worn out and daydreaming of life as a milkman. (Some pastors have “milk truck” Mondays; I have “hole up in a shack in the woods and be John Updike” Mondays.) But Jesus looks at us and feels compassion. He does not see us the same way we see the pop-in visitor approaching through the office window on Monday morning. “Oh boy. Wonder what this is about?” we think in our best Eeyore voice. Jesus neither sulks nor sighs about us. He ministers to us willingly, eagerly. And there is power there to extend that ministry of reconciliation to others in the hardest times.”

 

 

THREE: Care for God’s flock without pursuing dishonest gain

not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 

When we read these words most of us think about money, think again…

He says…

“Shameful gain doesn’t have to be about money, though. There are lots of things we can shamefully hope to gain: attendance numbers, pledge cards, altar call respondents, prestige, power, book sales, Twitter followers, blog subscribers, pats on the back . . . The list is endless.”

The solution to dishonest gain is…

“A vision of the everlasting riches of Christ is the antidote for pastoring for shameful gain.”

 

 

FOUR: Care for God’s flock without ruling over them

not lording it over those entrusted to you,

As Wilson points out, either we can humbly serve those entrusted to us to shepherd, or we can rule over them.

He says that…

“There are lots of ways pastors become domineering over those in their charge, but the first step is usually to remove oneself more and more from them.”

He continues by showing that…

“An astonishing number say they cannot get a meeting with their pastor.”

What often happens is that many leaders use their leadership gift to justify outsourcing the priestly work require of them by God. When this happens, they isolate themselves and so the temptation to dominate the flock increases. 

 

 

FIVE: Care for God’s flock by setting the example of holiness

 but being examples to the flock. 

Wow, he is spot on when he says…

“The pastor who neglects personal holiness has forgotten who’s in charge. He believes he is an employee of his flock, so it is not holiness he is chiefly after but the appearance of success, of “having his act together.” When today’s pastors think of being an example to their flocks, they primarily think in terms of appearing well-off materially, having a happy family, and knowing the right biblical advice for the challenges of the day. The prosperity gospelists have a lot to say about the need for those in ministry to appear healthy and wealthy, but then again, they are probably damned, so it’s not wise to follow them.”

 

 

After reading what Wilson has to say about this text, I was left asking, how do I shepherd God’s flock in this way? I suggest that the only solution is to become more like Christ through obeying his commands.

In Matthew 28:16-20 we read that Jesus instructed his followers to, “go and make disciples…. baptizing them…. teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ” Since we know that a disciple is: a learn and follower of Jesus – someone who wants to be like Christ, the way we become like Jesus is by discipleship. Discipleship is is the: process of learning from and following Jesus – becoming like Him as we do this. How do I move along this path of discipleship? By obeying his commands. No doubt, obeying his commands starts and ends with allowing his presence and power of the LORD to transform my soul. He is not looking for people who have bee changed on the outside, but those who have been changed from within.

 

Overcome your insecurity, Christian leader

 

Questions to talk about with family or friends

1.) What is the gospel?

2.) How is the gospel daily changing you?

3.) Who in your life is close enough to constantly point you to the gospel?

 

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Jared Wilson says the following that I hope you will find very helpful.

The pastoral fraternity is an interesting one. We are a motley bunch of fools. Different personalities and tribes, different methodologies and styles, not to mention denominations and traditions and, of course, theologies. But there is something both lay elders and career elders have in common, something I’ve seen in the thirty-year senior pastor of a southern megachurch as well as the bi-vocational shepherd of a little, rural New England parish, the laid-back faux-hawked church planter and the fancy mousse-haired charismatic, and in nearly every pastor in between: a profound sense of insecurity for which the only antidote is the gospel.

 

 

Every Christian leader is insecure

 

 

How do we as Christian leaders normally respond to insecurity?

Wilson says that one way is to…

Wallow. We feel deflated so we act deflated. We tell ourselves we are just being honest and transparent and authentic. Really we are throwing a pity party in our own honor. Twitter and Facebook have become the new arenas for public lament, and these days we get to see just how similar some pastors are in temperament to teenage girls. But even without the spectacle of social media, it is quite possible for pastors to see themselves as merely husks of men, empty shells wafted by the wind this way and that. Always tired, always empty, menial, miserable. Swing low, sweet chariot; nobody knows the trouble pastors have seen.

 

 

One response to insecurity is self pity.

 

 

And the other way is to…

If a pastor does not react to the peculiar anxiety of his ministry in the manner of a milquetoast whiny-pants, he may instead swing to the other extreme. Not deflated, he is instead puffed up. The stereotype of the arrogant, narcissistic pastor is a stereotype for a reason. You and I have likely both met him. We have likely at times been him. I remember working at a Christian bookstore for several years while in college; the absolute worst customers were pastors. This constantly confounded me. Time and time again, my coworkers and I were subjected to some of the most unchristian condescension we’d ever experienced. We were regularly confronted by ministers accustomed to commanding the rabble in their congregations, and so they thought nothing of commanding us. Congregational deference had turned them into hard-hearted idols—at least on shopping day—and they lorded themselves over us, flabbergasted that we could not invent products they imagined or order products they could not describe or hand out extra-percentage discounts due those of their elevated status. “Do you know who I am? I’m kind of a big deal. People know me.” They were terrible advertisements for their churches, not to mention pastoral ministry in general. It is devilishly easy us as for pastors to believe our own hype.

 

 

Another response to insecurity is arrogance.

 

But these never work!

How does a Christian leader win the battle against insecurity?

It is the same way that all people overcome this giant.

The only answer is to let the gospel change us from the inside out and while this happens, to help others become more like Christ. It is to let the life, death and resurrection of Jesus our LORD transform us and others into His image, as Wilson says…

The right response…is not timidity or a pity party, but clinging more desperately to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The justification for the sin-prone pastor—by which I mean simply the pastor—is the same as it is for every sinner. There is no Justification 2.0 for ministers of the gospel. There is only the gospel itself—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Fusing this reality—the reality of eternal life—to the ordinary life of pastoral ministry is what this book is about.

The only battle plan that works is to becoming like Christ (Matthew 28:19) through acting out His commands (Matthew 28:20) and developing close relationships with people who also want to be like Him.