Passage for Study: Acts 17: 1 - 9 … Acts 17 linked for study …
2nd Passage for Study: 1st Thes. 2: 1 - 6 … 1st Thes. 2 linked for study …
My Journal for Today: Over the years I’ve learned that there are several critical abilities to this business of Christian discipleship. The are availABILITY, vulnerABILITY, accountABILITY, and stickABILITY. Certainly, the Apostle Paul had all of these; but today Chuck Swindoll focuses on the second of these, ... VULNERABILITY.
Today’s passage illustrates that the Apostle Paul was the “real deal” to all, wherever he went, ... wherever he preached, ... and wherever he ministered. Paul, and anyone who traveled with him, had one - and only one - priority ... that the gospel and Christ would be preached to whomever would listen. So, anyone who came into contact with this road warrior for Christ would hear Paul’s testimony and would experience witness for The Messiah.
Swindoll points out realistically that we should beware of Christian preachers or teachers who are inaccessible or aloof, seemingly hiding behind masks. He quotes the powerful Chrsitian teacher/writer, John Stott, who wrote, ...
”Happy are those Christian leaders today, who hate hypocrisy and love integrity, ... who have nothing to conceal or be ashamed of, ... who are well known for who and what they are, ... and who are able to appeal without fear to God and to the public as their witness. We need more transparency and openness of this kind (comparing to the Apostle Paul) today.”
My friends, Stott’s claim is all too true. But if I may, right now at this time in my life, I am blessed to come under the Shepherd’s authority and teaching of a Pastor (in my local church) who is like Paul, who declared openly to his followers, (see 1st Cor. 11: 1), ”Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” And that is the way of my Pastor, Dr. Ernie Frey; and he is an open and ever vulnerable witness for Christ, one who is the real deal just like the Apostle Paul.
Ernie is a living mirror of vulnerability; and he often makes some uncomfortable with his honesty and realness. The Apostle Paul was certainly not perfect; and neither is my Pastor. What you see in Ernie Frey is what you get! And because of this Pastor’s realness and openness, a culture of vulnerability and integrity is growing at Central Church, following years where this was not the case.
My friends, I hope you follow Christian leaders who, like the Apostle Paul [or my Pastor], are open and accessible, ... who model vulnerability , ... and who are not afraid of accountability, living what they preach or teach. These are leaders who are growing in Christlikeness and inviting others to follow them as they become more like Jesus. Yes, leaders like Ernie Frey can be uncomfortable at times; because they are mirrors, showing openly the strong calling of The Lord, as I so often quote here from Luke 9: 23 ... for us to deny self, take up the crosses of life daily, and to follow the Lord. When you are led by one who closely follows Jesus and leads the way to become more like our Lord, it’s challenging, to say the least. But it’s in becoming vulnerable and open, as was the Apostle Paul, that we can become humble enough to surrender to God’s Spirit, the shaper of our souls.
I hope you have a leader like my Pastor and Shepherd, who takes his flock to places where we must grow to be like Jesus. We need more Christian leaders like the Apostle Paul and my Pastor today, don’t we?
My Prayer for Today: Lord, I thank you for My Pastor, who leads me by his availability and vulnerability and honesty, to become more like You. Amen