Posts Tagged ‘satisfaction’

Leaders made mistakes. Even pastors do. The good ones learn from their mistakes and the bad ones don’t. As a result, I’ve been reading Mistakes Leaders Make by Dave Kraft.

The first mistake Christian leaders can make is to allow ministry to replace Jesus. This is quite subtle. It is a question of identity and satisfaction. The identity and satisfaction of a Christian is intended to be Christ. But the pastor or Christian leader can, like other people, have them shift to the work we do. In this case that is ministry.

“Our identity in and intimacy with Jesus slowly dissipates, and over time, the ministry begins to occupy center stage in our affections, time, and focus.”

One of the contributors to this process can be ambition. Godly ambition is a good thing. But it can morph into selfish ambition and you don’t even realize.

Most pastors work long hours. They often feel the pressure for the church to grow. We have to invest ourselves intellectually, emotionally, financially and more. With that investment there can be that subtle shift into selfish ambition. We confuse our goals with God’s goals. Results become increasingly important. Our emotions begin to move up and down based on the numbers.


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As I read The Marrow of Modern Divinity a few things have become clearer to my mind.  One of those is the difference between Repentance unto Life (as the Westminster Confession of Faith calls it) at conversion and the on-going repentance of a Christian.  This distinction is what The Naked Gospel by Farley doesn’t recognize.

There is a difference between repentance during conversion in which one moves from the covenant of works into the covenant of grace and after conversion respecting the law of Christ.  Fisher touches on some of the realities at play here:

“… when believers in the Old Testament did transgress God’s commandments, God’s temporal wrath went out against them, and was manifest in temporal calamities that befell them as well as others.  Only here was the difference, the believers’ temporal calamities had no eternal calamities included in them, nor following of them; and the unbelievers’ temporal blessings had no eternal blessings included in them, and their temporal calamities had eternal calamities included in them, and following of them.”

So, for believers earthly blessings are a foretaste of eternal blessings.  Both are earned by Christ and his merits, not ours.  Because of Christ’s merit and satisfaction, we are not condemned for our sin.  But because God loves us He disciplines us when we break the law of Christ (Hebrews 12).  It is restorative and not punitive, designed to produce a harvest of righteous character in us.  We repent, not because we’ve lost our salvation but because we have disobeyed our Father.


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From God is the Gospel

“God’s glory consists much in the fact that he is happy beyond all our imagination. … No one would want to spend eternity with an unhappy God.  If God were unhappy, then the goal of gospel would not be a happy goal, and that means it would be no gospel at all.”

How often we do think of Him as happy as opposed to thinking of Him as angry?  It probably indicates much about the nature of our relationship with Him, or lack thereof.  This is a God we can delight in.

“Three things stand in the way of our complete satisfaction in this world.  One is that nothing here has a personal worth great enough to meet the deepest longings of our hearts.  Another is that we lack the strength to savor the best treasures to their maximum worth.  And the third obstacle to complete satisfaction is that our joys here come to an end.”

As the venerable Mick put it- “I can’t get no satisfaction, and I tried….”.  Yet, crazy fools are we, to continue to seek our satisfaction in the world and the things thereof.  No food, sex, sports, cars, house, entertainment, technological device etc. is sufficient to satisfy all our deepest longings.  As Augustine put it, “our hearts are restless”.  We are, as Calvin said, idol factories, exalting created things to the place only the Creator can fill.

“If God’s pleasure in the Son becomes our pleasure, then the object of our pleasure, Jesus, will be inexhaustible in personal worth.  He will never become boring or disappointing or frustrating.”

Additionally, He can give us the strength to more fully savor Him by faith.  And (!) He lives forever.  If we rest in Him (to complete Augustine’s statement) we will forever be satisfied in Him.  If we are bored, disappointed or frustrated, it is a pretty good sign that we are actually looking to someone/something else for our satisfaction than the glad God who gladly offers Himself to His people for their gladness.  A large part of ministry is declaring the latter and exposing the former that we might turn from our idols to worship the living God (1 Thes. 1).

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