Saturday, December 24, 2011
Yesterday morning I had the privilege to meet a pastor/missionary friend for coffee. As we were sitting and chatting I noticed on the television a news report of massive beatings and robbing taking place in order to get a new pair of shoes? The new (retro) "Air Jordan" tennis shoes ($180 a pair) had hit the shelves and people stood in line for hours to get their loved one a pair, 'all for the sake of Christ?' You say, "all for the sake of Christ, what are you talking about?" Well, isn't Jesus the reason for the season? Are these people not standing in lines in order to purchase a gift all in the name of Christmas?
I dare to speculate, but I would say these people in the different cities were not too concern for the God/Man Christ Jesus and Him being the "Reason for the Season." They were not concerned God, "took on flesh (John 1:14), lived a perfect and sinless life (1 Peter 1:19) and counted it joy (Heb.12:2) to face the cross even death on the cross (Phil.2:8)." As I viewed the horrific scenes of men running over woman, men punching other men, I could not help to say (out loud) Happy Birthday Jesus, really?
In Seattle the police had to pepper spray the riotous people due to their violence, all of this in the name of Christmas? Come on really? Police officer punched in the face, a man violently ran over, a man stabbed in N.J., gun shots in California, all in the name of Christmas. We see such brutality and violence as not a picture of Christ but rather a picture of "depravity of man." Twenty years ago the same thing happened over the beloved Nike shoes there were murders and robberies taking place all for a pair of shoes. We see the world is not getting better but rather is "waxing worse and worse."
As I ponder what I saw and read, all I could think, "joy to the world, really?" This does not seem as much joy in the world. I am thankful God's people who love Him with all their heart, mind, and soul will honor Christ through this time of the year. God's people understand it is not about buying gifts and nor recieving gifts but rather it is all about the greatest gift ever, "Christ died for sinners according to the scriptures, he was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Cor.15:3-4)." So, although there might not be much joy in the world according to the news, I would say there is MUCH joy in the Person of Christ!
What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. To God Be the Glory!
1 Cor.10:31) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Monday, December 12, 2011
The Lord as awakened me out of my sleep early this morning (3:00 a.m.) to write on this theme of being a faithful shepherd. Yesterday morning as I stood before the people I was confronted with the reality God is sending more people here to PHBC! You would think, well that is a good thing. Yes and No! Keep reading. I was reminded as I stood behind the sacred desk to break "the bread of life", that I am accountable for these peoples souls (Heb.13:17), at least those who has committed to the body of Christ at PHBC. This verse of Hebrews 13:17, "...for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will give an account" has caused me to reevaluate my ministry as a pastor (shepherd).
I have asked myself, how am I doing in the shepherding business? Do I know my people as I should? What does it mean to truly shepherd God's people? These questions have been weighing heavy upon my heart for the last few weeks. Can I honestly say, before the God of the Bible who sent His Son to die as a ransom for His people, that I faithfully shepherded your peoples souls? Was I involved (personally) in their spiritual growth and discipleship? Was I truly concerned for their souls as their spiritual leader?
As most pastors, it concerns me when I see some church members only one time a week. They come in for there dose of religion for the week not to be seen again until next week. But, I wonder how are they doing throughout the week? How are they doing spiritually? Are they worshiping the Lord in His Word? Are they spending time with the Lord in prayer? Are the husbands of the church loving their wives as Christ loved the church? Are wives submitting to their husbands? Are children obeying the parents in the Lord? As the pastor of the Lord's church, I want to do what God has called me to do...."with all my might."
I teach my three boys, that whatever we do, we do it unto the glory of God (1 Cor.10:31) and we do it with all our might! Whether it is their school work, whether it is playing sports, or whether it is tying up the garbage bag and taking out the trash. I so desire for my children to honor the Lord in all that they do, how much more should their father be as a picture and example of those words when it comes to the work the Lord has given me. I want to be the best shepherd I can be to the glory of Christ!
With that said, I will share a couple of things I am trying to do by God's grace to better shepherd our people here at PHBC:
1. Expositional Preaching...I try to be faithful in teaching and preaching God's Word week in and week out. Verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book!
2. Pray for our people daily through out the week. I have members list and I try to go through it weekly and pray for each individual. I also pray for the large number of our visitors who have been coming on a regular basis. I often will send them an e-mail or text to encourage them that day and let them know I prayed for them.
3. Men's Bible Study. We have our weekly men's Bible study on Saturday at 7:30, where men are encouraged to come together and study God's Word. During this time we share our prayer concerns with one another. This also gives me the opprotunity to speak with some of our men one on one and ask some questions pertaining to their spiritual health.
4. Open our home or go to lunch. Periodically we will invite members to our home to visit and share a meal together. I often get the opportunity to go to lunch with individuals and I am able to shepherd them this way.
5. Calendar for monthly visits to their homes. This one is in the making still. This would allow our members to sign up each month for a visit from their pastor. I think this is a neat way to be able to visit with your people (outside them being sick or some tragedy) and also it allows them to open their homes up, which causes them to open their hearts up to you as their pastor.
I guess the reason why I write this is because it seems as though the Lord is sending new people every week to our fellowship. We have people who have inquired about membership and I want to be able to shepherd their souls with eternity in mind. I am not concerned about getting more members as I am about taking care of the ones I already have. Which reminds me of a quote I heard from C.H. Spuregon from one of his students.
The student told Spuregon, "One day I would like to have a large congregation like yourself (which was up to 8-10,000 members)." The student said, "I only have 30 members in my country church." To which Spurgeon replied, "on the day of judgement, believe me you will think you have had enough!"
So, with all that said, I am asking for some input from you other pastors and church members alike. What are some suggestions you would make to a pastor being more faithful in shpeherding his flock?
Pastors, if you are not shepherding your people I encourage you to get with your sheep and get to know them. And, "do it with all your might!"
What do you think? Agree or disagree?
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
As I am "growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)" I am reminded that God is Sovereign. That is, the God who created the heavens and the earth is in absolute control of every atom and molecule in the universe. There is not one thing which happens or does not happen which the God of the Bible is not ordering from His throne. Psalm 115:3 says, "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases." This is a great comfort for one whose faith is in God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.
I received a phone call last night letting me know a gentleman whom I had been disciplining in God's Word had passed away. This gentleman was unable to read or write but was a smart individual. He worked for 35 years with TVA, as a welder. He built his home with his own hands (which is beautiful) and raised a family with 5 children. He received news less than 2 months ago he had liver cancer and there was no hope for him, outside a miracle of God.
Although this gentleman had no education and never attended church he told me "I remember my father-in-law reading the Bible to me and my wife after we were married." He told me, "he remembered there was something to what his father-in-law would read to him about a man named Jesus." He said, he always knew there was something greater than he was, who created him, gave him life and breath." He also admitted, "I never took the time to find out more about this man named Jesus." Therefore, he asked me to come and read God's Word with him until he died.
I have had the privilege for the last month to go to this gentleman's house and read the Bible with him and his family. I read numerous passages of scripture, quoted scriptures, and even wrote scriptures out. But, it wasn't until the last visit I had with him personally that he said, "preacher I believe I need to be baptized. " I asked, "what makes you think, that?" He said, "I've trusted in Jesus Christ." At that moment I could not help to think of Acts 8:26-40, "the Eunuch asked Phillip what prevents me from being baptized? Phillip said, do you believe with all your heart and he replied I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." You know often we want a spectacular event of emotions and other signs to accompany a confession of faith in Christ. Well, not here. He simply confessed that He had trusted in Christ and had a peace about dying he didn't have before.
That afternoon was a glorious time, as I had one of our men from church with me. As we sat around the table there was at least 8 to 10 other family members gathered around the table listening to God's Word and the gospel of free grace. We made plans to baptize him the following Sunday, but he was unable to make it to the church house. He kept telling me, "if I don't make it to be baptize, I know that isn't what gets me to heaven, anyway!"
I write this today because I had in my schedule to go and visit with him again. I looked forward to reading him God's Word and praying for him. I found out last night the Lord took him. I am reminded
it wasn't the Lord's will for me to visit with him today. The Bible reminds us, "the heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes our steps (Prov.16:9)."
I pray we as believers in Christ, would always be reminded our God rules and reigns not only in life or death but even in the salvation of sinners. I pray the Lord would be greatly exalted as I try and minister to a family in need of God's mercy and grace.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Moses speaks to the congregation of Israel with the great responsibility they have as parents to their children. This command is for God's people and it has not changed. When you read the text Moses does not say, this command is something to consider, meditate on, or even pray about. Rather, he says it is a direct command from the Lord Himself, to do! So, why is it so few Christian fathers fail to take heed to this command? James 4:17 tells us, "so whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."
I would like to say at the outset of my post, I am not perfect in this at all. I struggle at times to discipline my own self, let alone my children and wife. I believe often why we fail as husbands and fathers in disciplining our families is because everything competes for our time. Lets face it, when we get off work, come home, eat supper, (if our children are active in other activities) we take them to practice or games, do homework, and get them ready for bed you are completely wiped out. I believe we get so busy with the things of the world the last thing on our minds is disciplining our children in God's Word, as men of God this should not be so.
Our men spoke of this in our men's small group Sunday morning, that our children will NOT be discipiled in God's Word in our school systems nor should we expect them to. It is our responsibility as fathers to "teach" our children (Deut.6:7). There is great joy reading God's Word together as a family in the living room. Taking one verse or a whole chapter reading together and discussing the passage as a family. It is also a great time to memorize scripture together and the books of the Bible. I wonder how many Christians today know the 66 books of the Bible.
I am wanting to encourage you as you read this and to encourage myself to be faithful to disciple our families God has entrusted to us. So I want to give you some things we do as a family. Please remember, I do not admit to have this figured out perfectly but I try by God's grace to disciple my family in God's Word and I have found this to help me in doing so.
NOTE: When we meet for family devotion, family worship, family time (whatever you want to call it) we do not have t.v., computer, iphones, ipods, or anything else on that would hinder our time together as a family. By the way if you are "empty nesters" you can still disciple your wife or grandchildren in God's Word together.
1. When we gather we all have our bibles. Usually we read from the ESV (English Standard). This allows all our children to participate, regardless the age. http://www.esv.org/esv/introduction/
2. We usually read systematically through a book of the Bible but not always. Sometimes we'll take a character (i.e. Abraham, Moses, David, Paul) and study how God used them. Right now our family is reading through Proverbs. You can read a Proverb a day for each day of the month. Here is a reading plan to use and print off if you need one:
3. We usually break down the chapter, so each family member has their own verses to read. If a chapter has 25 verses we have 5 in our family each of us reads 5 verses at a time.
4. After each person reads their verses, we pause to meditate upon those verses to apply it in our own lives and the life of our family. Meditation and application is very important. Wrestle with the text to find out what the author means as he writes it. Apply it to your children's daily lives and your life as well. Use yourself or family as illustrations. Your children will appreciate you willfulness to be used as an illustration:)
5. Something we started sometime ago but failed in continuing as part of disciplining for ourselves and our children was memorization of scriptures. We started back a few weeks ago making it a priority in our time together. Now, me, my wife and our children are having fun in memorizing scriptures together. By the way, we have encourage them by giving them incentives for learning scriptures! By the way, Charles Spurgeon was encourage to learn hymns by his grandfather by receiving incentives for learning them. Here is a great resource in helping you and your children memorize scriptures. All our family has just memorized Isaiah 53:6 and Acts 16:31. Here is a helpful resource in memorization: http://www.ccwtoday.org/teachersparents_bibleabcs.asp
6. Our family is not musically incline, so we do not play the piano or guitar during worship but often we do sing to the Lord. We sing some of the old hymns we are familiar with or sometimes we'll read them out of our hymnal at home.
7. The last thing we do as we conclude is to seek the Lord in prayer. I ask if our children has any special prayer concerns. Then we pray for pastors, missionaries, church members and those with out Christ. Then we pray!
You might be saying, I bet that takes along time. Well, maybe, I guess, but whose keeping up with time any how? Your spending time with God and your family who would want to keep time? Your child might have to miss their favorite show on the t.v. or us fathers might have to miss SportsCenter. What is more important? Your children's souls depend upon it and it is our responsibility as fathers.
Let me encourage you tonight, to get your bible before supper and read Proverbs 29 with your family and then pray. Or before bedtime, turn off the t.v., phones, computers and gather as a family to read the Bible and see the blessings of God be upon your family!
What do you think? You agree or disagree? Let me know how it goes!
Monday, November 21, 2011
As the Apostle Paul closes his letter to the churches at Galatia he reminds them of their responsibility for each other in Christ. He reminds them, "if anyone is caught in sin" those who are "spiritual" (those who are repentant) are to go and confront them. Paul also reminds these churches "to bear one anothers burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Then he moves to those who preach and teach God's word, that they should be taken care of by those who receive the Word. He sums all of it up with the responsibility of the church "as opportunity comes, do good to everyone" but "especially the household of faith."
The last several weeks has been a trying season for the family of faith at Pleasant Hill. We have been attacked on different sides by satan. Knowing our adversary, "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)" God often allows satan to attack His people to strengthen, test, and to prove the genuineness of their faith. But through it all (conflicts, sickness, death) I have seen God's people manifest nothing but the fruit of the Spirit which Paul speaks about earlier in Galatians 5:16-26.
The past two months I have been preaching on the "works of the flesh vs. the fruit of the Spirit." It has been such a joy, as I have spent the last few weeks taking each cluster of the fruit of the Spirit and preaching each one individually. Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to make some application to "goodness." "Goodness" (agathos) means the working for the benefit of others. I was able to commend God's flock here at PHBC in their "goodness" toward those who have been sick and the families who have lost family members the last few weeks.
As I commended the church as their pastor, I don't think it really sank in on how God had used them until they heard it from the family members themselves. As one sister (her husband had suffered cardiac arrest over a month ago) stood and gave testimony of how God had used the church to minister to her family through cards, calls, and visits during his time of sickness. Another gentleman (whose mother passed away two weeks ago, who was a member of the church) stood and thanked the people for their "goodness" through meals and visits toward his family during their loss. I believe it has begun to sink in a little bit just how God has used them (the church) to serve others.
With all that said, I often remind our people, we will never be a "big church", we will never have the "most money", nor "all the bells and whistles" in our congregation...but I tell them, "we can be the most loving-est church." We can manifest the grace of God through Christ and the love of Christ as we are constantly reminded of what He has done for us by bearing our sin upon the cross. I see God working in such an awesome way through His people...and I am honored to be called their pastor!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Often pastors suffer from being lonely, misunderstood, and even from spiritual fatigue. I remember hearing my pastor tell me one time, "people will never understand the pressure and demands of being a pastor." I admit I did not have a clue of what he was talking about 9 years ago. Today is a whole different story. I have been a pastor for going on 7 years now and I am reminded of what he told me.
In the midst of difficulties there are times which brings great joy to a pastors heart. I encountered that time this morning while making a hospital visit to one of our shut-ins. I was informed she was in the hospital yesterday and first thing this morning I wanted to go and check on her. I knew she was 91 years old and had alot of aliments. Upon arriving she told me they have found a mass in her lungs the size of an orange and they wanted to do a biopsy. Which she said she didn't want to have it done.
As I was with her she said, "Bro. Chad, I'm 91 years old and I'm ready to be with the Lord, I am not afraid of dying.!" At that moment I began to weep. She understood this world is not her home, she is just passing through. It also reminded me of this great truth as well. She said, "I am ready to go be with Jesus."
The visit this morning reminded me of the joys of being a pastor. God has called me to pastor His sheep, what a sobering thought. To care for the souls of God's people. I can honestly say, this precious saint of God brought great joy to her pastors heart. To God be the glory!
Monday, July 25, 2011
This is a repost from Brian Croft. Brian is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. He has served in pastoral ministry for fifteen years and is currently in his seventh year as Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. Brian blogs at http://briancroft.wordpress.com.
You may begin reading this post with the idea that I will suggest how many weeks of vacation you should be given by your church, or how much you should advocate to give your pastor. Instead, I intend to answer this question a bit differently. My concern is not about how much vacation time a pastor is given, but how he uses (or doesn’t use) what he is given.
This is an appropriate time to pause for a confession. I thought you should know, I often fail at my own advice. I come to the conclusions I often write about on this blog because I have or are currently failing at them. Just thought I would acknowledge that in case you think I write this way because I have figured it all out. Far from it. The stewardship of my vacation time has become a recent glaring area of failure in my life that I have tried to address in this last year.
A couple of years ago, I was lovingly confronted by a dear friend and fellow pastor that I was not using all my vacation time. In his rebuke, he explained to me the reasons I should be taking every day of vacation the church gives me, which I had never done. Here was the basis for his thoughtful, insightful, and wise argument:
It’s for you. The pastor never gets a break in the regular routine. We are constantly on call. Vacation time is that time where you get time to breathe away from the madness, be refreshed, and rest. All of us who are pastors know we are no good for our people when we are exhausted, distracted, and mentally and emotionally spent. Use the time and use it wisely to achieve that end.
It’s for your family. Your family always has to share you. Maybe just as important as the first one, this time is given so that your family has a blocked of time where they don’t have to share you with the church. When you don’t use all your time that has already been approved by the church for this purpose, you rob your family from having your sole focus to care, fellowship, and enjoy them.
It’s for your church. How is it that many of our churches have somehow existed and functioned for the last 50 – 100 years without us, yet all of a sudden we come and develop this complex that our church can now no longer live without us for a week or 2. Using all your vacation time given to you forces others to step up in your absence, shows them they can make it without you for a time, and reminds the pastor most of all that God is not utterly dependent on him for this church to function. We are expendable and we need regular jolts of humility to remind us of that.
After my excellent week of vacation with my family this past week, I have officially for the first time in over 7 years used my full year of vacation given to me by the church since I was called as pastor. The reasons above that my friend confronted me with all showed to be true and fruitful in those ways as I did so. What have I learned from taking all my vacation time this year…well, I plan on taking it all next year.
If you are a pastor, commit starting next year to take it all. If you are not a pastor, do all you can to encourage your pastor to take it. You, your church, and your pastor will experience multiple layers of benefit because of it
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The Depressed Pastor: The Setup
I was there the week it happened. His wife asked to see me. Tearfully she told me that he'd walked into the church building that week and announced to his staff that he was "done." He said he couldn't face preaching another sermon; that all that he really wanted to do was to run away from his own life. Sam was forty-five and the pastor of a vibrant and growing church. I am convinced that there are important changes needed in pastoral culture, and that the number of pastors who find themselves in that range from discouraged to depressed gives clear evidence.
Let me suggest four potential setups of this discouragement/depression cycle.
1. Unrealistic Expectations. I taught a class at Westminster Seminary on pastoral care and I was alarmed year after year of how unrealistic the expectations of my future-pastor students were. Year after year my students seemed to forget the two things that consistently make pastoral ministry hard. What are they? The harsh reality of life in a dramatically broken world and what remaining sin does to the hearts of all of us. These two things make pastoral ministry a day by day spiritual war. But there’s another area of unrealistic expectations. It’s the congregation's unrealistic expectation of the pastor. Churches forget that they've called a person who's a man in the midst of his own sanctification. This tends to drive the pastor into hiding, afraid to confess whats true of him and everyone to whom he ministers. There's a direct connection between unrealistic expectations and deepening cycles of disappointment.
2. Family Tensions. There's often a significant gulf between the public persona of the ministry family and the realities of the day by day struggles in their home. We almost assume that the pastor will feel regularly torn between ministry and family and will often be forced to make "the lesser of two evils" choices. Yet this tension isn't a major theme in the Pastoral Epistles. Could it be that we're asking too much of our pastors? Could it be that, as pastors, we're seeking to get things out of ministry that we shouldn’t get and therefore make choices that potentially harm our families? This tension between family and ministry robs pastoral ministry of its joy and it’s seemingly insurmountability is a sure set up for depression.
3. Fear of Man. The very public nature of pastoral ministry makes it fertile soil for this temptation. I know what it's like to be all too aware of the critical person's responses to me as I’m preaching on a Sunday morning. I also know the temptation of thinking of what would win that person as I'm preparing the sermon! Fear of man is actually asking people to give you what only God can deliver. It’s rooted in a Gospel amnesia that causes me to seek again and again for what I’ve already been given in Christ. This tends to cause me to watch for and care too much about the reactions of others, and because I do this, to feel that I get way more criticism than I deserve. Each new duty begins to be viewed as another forum for the criticism of others and with this, the emotional life of the pastor begins to spiral downward.
4. Kingdom Confusion. It’s very tempting for the pastor to do his work in pursuit of glories other than the glory of God, and for purposes other than the purposes of God's kingdom. Personal acclaim and reputation, power and control, comfort and appreciation and ministry success are the subtle little kingdom idols that greet every pastor. Yet in pastoral ministry, the kingdom of self is a costume kingdom. It does a great job of masquerading as the kingdom of God because the way you seek to build the kingdom of self in ministry is by doing ministry!
The reality is that the God who the pastor serves has no allegiance whatsoever to the pastor's little kingdom of self. In fact I’m persuaded that much of the ministry opposition that we attribute to the enemy is actually God getting in the way of the little kingdom intentions of the pastor. It’s God, in grace, rescuing the pastor from himself. So as the pastor wants recognition, his Lord wants Gospel transformation. As God is calling the pastor to spiritual war, what the pastor wants is to be liked. As the pastor is wanting just a little bit of control, God is demonstrating that he’s in control. It's discouraging and exhausting to be serving God, yet not be on God's agenda page. This kingdom confusion robs the pastor of the deep sense of privilege that should motivate the service of every pastor. My pastor friend said it well to his wife, "I just want to go somewhere where life is easy!"
Depression in the pastor may be set up by the culture that surrounds him, but it’s a disease of the heart, and for that we have the presence, promises, and provisions of the Savior. Pastor, he’s in you and with you and for you. No one cares more about the use of your gifts than the Giver. No one cares more about your suffering than the One who suffered for you. And no one shoulders the burden of the church like the One who is the Head of the church and who gave himself up for it. In your despondency, don't run from him, run to him. Jesus really does offer you the hope and healing that you can find no where else.
Friday, July 8, 2011
I have thought since then, how did Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and Peter preach to God's people? Did they use "sermon notes?" Please do not misunderstand me, I am NOT saying using notes is wrong. What I am wanting to share with you (especially preachers) is the freedom to look into your peoples eyes and teach them God's Word without using sermon notes. W.A. Criswell said, "Looking the man in the eye as you speak means that you are not staring at the wall or looking out a window or studying your shoelaces. If you are engaged in this, listeners are not sure where your remarks are directed. You are talking to your audience, so look at them.(Criswells Guidebook For Pastors, W.A. Criswell; p.51)"
So, this past week I intentionally studied with the intentions of NOT using any sermon notes so I could look my people in the eye. Totally reliant upon the Holy Spirit to lead and bring to remembrance the things I had studied throughout the week. It was some what horrifying at first. But as one pastor friend told me, "you just have to jump out of the plane and do it." It is amazing what the Lord gives you as you teach and preach His Word.
I am pretty sure my people where not blown away by my dynamic sermon outline. I am not sure if all my points were alliterated and my illustrations held their attention. I do know God has not called me to be master designer of sermons, but rather a faithful preacher of His word.I have discovered preaching is not really difficult at all. It is simply taking a portion of God's Word meditating upon it, explain it in its historical and grammatical context to the people, illustrate it from other scriptures in the bible or from real life experiences, and apply to God's people every day lives for practical application. I felt after my sermon from Joshua 6:15-27, that God used me to feed His sheep and tell His people the point of the passage we studied.
Will I use notes again? I am sure I will. Am I saying your wrong if you do use notes? No, I am not! I just wanted to share with you my experience this past week, one which I felt was liberating for me. By the way here are a few men who did not use sermon notes when they preached, Harry Ironside, T.W. Robertson, Charles Spurgeon, and George Whitfield. Here are a few men who memorized their sermons, Billy Sunday, Alexander Maclaren, J. Vernon McGee, and Dwight L. Moody. Here are some me who used sermon manuscripts, Phillip Brooks, Jonathon Edwards, and John Henry Jowett.
As you can see there is no certain way one should and can preach. God has used all different men who all used different approaches in preaching His Word. But I will close with another quote from W.A. Criswell, "the man of God is far more effective in the pulpit if he preaches with a Bible in his hand without taking along his study notes."
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
These are the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ before His ascension into glory to be seated at the Father's right hand. Jesus has been crucified, dead, buried, and raised again to life and now leaves His disciples (His church) with some important instructions. They were to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit would come and empower them (the church). God has specifically chosen them to carry the news of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Most of all, they were not to do it in their own power but rather in the power of the Holy Spirit.
A couple of Wednesday nights ago I gave a sermon on this particular subject, on mission work in the local church. We live in a day where there are a multitude of different missionary societies, mission boards, and denominational missionaries which one can support for the sake of missions. These can sometimes be beneficial, although I struggle with the lack of accountability the local church has over such boards and missionary societies. What I see in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8, is a commission (not suggestion) for the local church, to go into the world and preach the gospel.
With that said, I want to share with you in how God is using Pleasant Hill Baptist church to reach the world with the gospel.
First, Christ tells the church once, "...the power of the Holy Spirit has come upon you be My witnesses both in Jerusalem..." (local community). In other words these believers were to be witnesses (martyrs) for Christ, right where they lived. I truly believe before a person should go out of state or overseas with the gospel they should be active in their own community in spreading the gospel. God has opened the door for us at PHBC, to go into our Jerusalem with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the privilege and honor to serve the local high school football team as the team chaplain. I get to have devotions with the team and pray with them throughout the week and before their games. Another way we are being witnesses is about three months ago we started going to two different assisted living facilities and doing bible studies with the residents there. We have held bible studies at different times in peoples homes in our community. Also our men had met for four months every Saturday morning to study the book of Romans. We had some guests from our community come and sit in on our study. Our desire is to be witnesses for Christ in our Jerusalem, but at the same time:
Second, "...and in all Judea and Sameria..." This means the regions beyond their local community, perhaps their own country. PHBC had the blessing and honor to be hands on with the tornado relief in Alabama after the disaster took place. PHBC came together to give food, water, toiletries, blankets, pillows, and money. Most of all PHBC was able to send forth the gospel of Jesus Christ as we went to three different towns (Phil Campbell, Mt.Hope, East Franklin) while in Alabama helping. We passed out over 100 tracts of "Why does bad things happen to good people?" PHBC was able to be a blessing to several families in these towns which they may never know about on this side of eternity. PHBC also has the cd ministry. We are up to around 20 cd's a week which gets mailed out to all our shut-ins. But, also we mail them to those who desire to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some cd's gets mailed to Alabama, Arizona, and Washington state. This past week I received phone call from a gentleman who wanted a cd from Indiana.
Lastly, "...and even to the remotest parts of the earth." PHBC launched its internet ministry about a little over a year ago. It has been a great blessing. There are people who listens to our sermons from all over the world. Also, PHBC has been allowed the privilege to help support Miles Mckee (missionary to Ireland, http://www.milesmckee.com/) and Barry Carpenter (missionary to Philippines, www.revivalorruin.com)as they spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. This coming October, I (Pastor Chad) will go to El Tambo, Ecuador for two weeks of preaching and teaching. My main task will be teaching other pastors in Spiritual Disciplines. This will also be an extension of PHBC and our endeavor of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and ultimately being obedient to Christ's "Great Commission" to go into the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ!
So regardless how small or large your church is, you can do great things for Christ and for His glory by being obedient to His Word. I challenge not only our church family in spreading the gospel right where you live but also taking the gospel into the world for God's glory! What will you do, beginning today for the sake of the gospel?
Monday, June 20, 2011
Here is a link to a blog which speaks of Mr. Spurgeons ministry:
Spurgeon: Not a Lazy Preacher
“The Bible is God’s Bible; and when I see it, I seem to hear a voice springing up from it, saying, “I am the book of God; man, read me. I am God’s writing; open my leaf, for I was penned by God; read it, for he is my author, and you will see him visible and manifest everywhere.” – Charles Spurgeon
The preaching ministry is not a career choice, it’s a calling by God. To proclaim God’s Word is a high calling, and it should be approached with a sense of respect and dedication. Unfortunately, many preachers of my generation (born 1977) are “lazy preachers.” It seems that many do not have any real urgency for souls, dedication to Christ, or humility at their responsibility to stand and speak the very Word of God each week. With that being true, the landscape of our culture is not being shaped by Seminaries, Bible colleges, Christian literature and commentaries. The present culture is not witnessing the giants of Church history that once appeared! Where is the faithful pastor-theologian who loves the Word and loves people at the same time? Where is the man who sinks deep into the Word with rigorous study in order to love the people on Sunday by feeding them the truth of God? We are living in a “lazy preacher” generation!
Charles Haddon Spurgeon is a name that is widely known in preaching circles. He was born in 1834 and lived during a theologically liberal era. Spurgeon became the pastor of the famed New Park Street Church (formerly pastored by the famous Baptist theologian John Gill). The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000—all in the days before electronic amplification. In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle.1 Some of Spurgeon’s achievements are:
- He preached 600+ times before he was 20 years old.
- His sermons sold approximately 25,000 copies per week and were translated into 20 languages. NOTE: The collected sermons fill 63 volumes which is equal to the 27 volume ninth edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, and is the largest set of books produced by any author in the history of Christianity!
- He read 6 books each week in order to prepare for his sermons and to sharpen his mind.
- He read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress over 100 times.
- He saw over 14,400 people added to his church during his ministry.
- He founded a pastors’ college.
- He trained approximately 900 men for the ministry.
- He founded an orphanage.
- He produced more than 140 books.
- He edited a magazine.
- He responded to 500+ letters each week.
- He often preached 10+ times each week (combined through guest appearances and through his own church).
- He labored to spare the Baptist name from the liberals of his day. See the Down-Grade Controversy for more information.
- He had two sons who became pastors. When asked by his son to ordain him to the ministry, Spurgeon instructed him to read Matthew Henry’s commentaries in full two times before he would honor his request.
Spurgeon stood on hard issues in his ministry. He fought the battle of the “Downgrade Controversy” and was not popular for taking the stands that he took. He was unashamedly Baptist. He was unashamedly Calvinistic in his theology. Spurgeon once said, “If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, ‘He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.‘ I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this.”2 However, Spurgeon was a faithful evangelist for Christ who fulfilled his ministry as Paul instructed Timothy in 2 Timothy 4. Spurgeon stood firmly against the hyper-Calvinist movement of his day – a lesson we could learn in our present day! Spurgeon was not afraid of taking unpopular stands for Christ.
Spurgeon understood life and he understood his God! As Spurgeon stood to preach each week, he was aware that people were standing on the precipice of life and eternity. He preached with passion and urgency. He pleaded with the lost to be saved through Christ. He was aware that many marriages were falling apart. He understood that many parents were dealing with wayward children. He knew that some of his members were facing the complications of diseased parents. Spurgeon understood that God’s Word was sufficient and that the Gospel was the answer to mankind’s problems! That is why thousands packed out his church each week to hear a man who pointed them to the truth of God’s Word.The name of Charles Spurgeon rings in our ears like a legend. He burned hot for God’s glory and blazed a trail to the cross of Jesus Christ. Spurgeon accomplished everything in his life and ministry before dying at age 57! It seems almost impossible that half of what he did could be done by 57, but it was. Many men could live to be 99 and not accomplish the totality of what Spurgeon did. That is why his son said the following about his Dad:
There was no one who could preach like my father. In inexhaustible variety, witty wisdom, vigorous proclamation, loving entreaty, and lucid teaching, with a multitude of other qualities, he must, at least in my opinion, ever be regarded as the prince of preachers.3
It seems strange that Spurgeon accomplished so much in so little time, but when the truth of his own health difficulties are known – it makes those accomplishments seem even more staggering. Spurgeon lived a life of severe stress at times. He suffered of gout, rheumatism, and Bright’s disease. It is said that during his last twenty years of ministry he was forced to miss approximately 1/3 of the Sunday sermons.
May God be pleased to burn in our hearts in order that we would change the landscape of our culture for God’s glory. May we see Christ as our treasure in such a way that all of our material possessions would seem as utter boredom in comparison. May we reject the “lazy ministry” mindset that creeps into many hearts in our present day. May God be pleased to raise up other faithful preachers who will stand uncompromisingly upon God’s Word and preach the truth for God’s glory!
For God’s Glory,
Pastor Josh Buice
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
We have considered for the last few posts on the duty of being a bond-servant, according to Paul. We must keep in mind, Paul is writing to a young pastor named Timothy. So as he writes to Timothy and gives him instructions on being a pastor, the Lord reminds us today as pastors/Christians we are going endure some conflict in the ministry. I believe this is one reason Paul wrote to Timothy as well in the earlier part of chapter 2:3 to, "Suffer hardship with me as a soldier of Christ Jesus." The key word is "suffer."
I wish someone would have told me from the beginning of my ministry that it would be difficult. I wish I would have been told that everyone will not agree with you or will they like the way you lead. Perhaps, even some would leave the church where you would come to pastor. You just don't get that type of counsel now a days. The counsel most young pastors receive is, "you just get in there and grow the church, beat the bushes, do all you can, and by the way do not change anything." This to me is terrible counsel. The counsel a young pastor should receive should be there will be people who will disagree with you, some who will be used by satan to bring a host of problems for you as a pastor and for the church.
In the 2nd letter Paul wrote to the church at Corinth Paul states, "God gave me a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor.12:7)." Notice, who gave Paul the thorn, it was God Himself. This would do away with any notion that God only wants what is "best" for us, wouldn't it? So many men I am afraid enters into "vocational" ministry with the preconceived notion they will go to seminary (which nothing is wrong with that), I will get a big church (nothing wrong with that), I will have a good salary and benefits (nothing wrong with that), and when all this falls into place I will have it "made." But in reality everything will not just "fall into place." God often places "thorns in our flesh." Thorns that hurt. The majority of thorns in the flesh is people, perhaps even saved people, whom the devil is using to bring such trials upon a pastor/Christian.
So why the thorn? I am glad you asked. I truly believe Paul sums it up very well in 2 Cor.12:9 when God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." God reminds Paul it is not about his power and ability but the power of God which works through him (Gal. 2:20). God places thorns in our lives (whether they be people or sickness) so God would be greatly glorified in and through the "thorns" affect in His servants life. The thorn is to bring God's bond-servant into a place of humility and submission to Him. Pastors and Christians, I believe it a great gift of God to place a thorn in our flesh and bring us to a place of complete dependence on God.
So pastors/Christians when God sends your "thorn in flesh" it is to bring you to a place of "humility and submission" before a great God. I will close with 1 Peter 4:12 "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you:"
1 Peter 4:19 "Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right."
What is your "thorn?" Or better yet, who is your "thorn?" Often it is God's will for His servants to suffer for Him. Example, our Lord Jesus Christ!
What do you think? Agree or disagree?
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Last week marked a great blessing and a spiritual renewal through our meetings at Pleasant Hill Baptist with David Miller. The four nights of meetings with Bro.David proved very profitable to the people at PHBC. Our people were of course amazed of how David has disciplined himself to the Word of God to where he can quote and preach from memory. This is of course a gift from God to build up the church of God. I believe as well our people were encouraged by David just being a "country preacher." Nothing that is, "flashy" or "glamorous", just a man God has called to preach his gospel.
We had above normal attendance throughout the week, which I was thankful for. But that meant extra work for the pastor. What do you mean extra work? Often as a pastor you have to do alot more than just study, pray, and visit shut-ins (especially in a smaller congregation). There will often be things you see as a pastor that will need to be done which no one else will see.
I write this not because I am upset to have to do these things but rather to let men who might be pursuing the ministry to know (the ministry) is more than just praying, studying, and visiting. Throughput the week it rained periodically and people were coming in the building with muddy, wet, and grassy shoes. Our custodian only cleans once a week, usually on Friday. So, that meant if the grass and mud where to be cleaned either I would have to call one of our deacons or someone else to do it...or do it myself. So on throughout the week, I spent a couple of hours cleaning some mud up and vacuuming the building. Also the bathrooms needed to be cleaned. Not a big deal right? The bathroom was out of toilet paper, needed paper towels, and swept and mopped as well. After each nite of the meetings I was up early downloading sermons on the computer so we could mail out cd's for our shut-in ministry and others who visited. Which we ended up mailing out over 100 copies of the cd's to people throughout the community and others.
You might say why are you telling us this? Are you trying to get glory? My answer is, NO! My desire is to those of you who think being a pastor is studying for 30 hours a week in your office, praying, and making a few visits each week...please do not fool yourself. If you truly take shepherding the flock of God seriously there will be times where you will have to vacuum, clean a toilet, and even make cd's. I believe if a man is not willing to clean the toliet for the glory of God how can he preach for the glory of God? Is cleaning the toliet any less than preaching the gospel if it is done for God's glory?
If you are a pastor who has never had to do such tasks in the church, I urge you to take it on one week. It will humble you and cause you to appreciate those who do it week in and week out. At the end of the day men being a pastor is not all about standing in the pulpit in your polished suit and telling people all you have learned. Sometimes it is doing the small menial tasks and doing it for God's glory!
What do you think do you agree or disagree?
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Zechariah 4:10) "For who has despised the day of small things?" As many of you know we are in the middle of our "Spring Outreach" with David Miller. David is from Heber Springs, AR where his ministry (Line Upon Line) is based out of his local church, Tumbling Shoals Baptist church. I met David over 6 years ago at a deacons retreat in Alabama. Since then we have kept in touch. About 5 years ago David invited my wife and I to his annual expository preaching conference which his ministry and his local church (Tumbling Shoals Baptist church) hosts every year.
During our time there I found it refreshing to see that David did not come from a "mega-church." But rather, a small country church. Something David said during the conference to the preachers attending was, "the fact is the large majority of you men will never pastor the First Baptist church of your county seat." This was a great relief to me and my ministry, due to the thought I had to grow a church to be a "big" church. David wanted us preachers to see you could do things for God's glory, which he said, "regardless of where you serve, whether you have 10, 50, 100 people, you can serve God in such a way which brings Him great glory!"
I have since then had the privilege to teach in Ecuador with another ministry which is based out of David's home church, International Church Planters, www.internationalchurchplanters.org/ in their pastors bible institute. Over 50% of the church membership of Tumbling Shoals Baptist (which is largely older members over 50 years old) have been on the foreign mission field with ICP (to Eucador and Africa). I am so encouraged that God, if he so chooses can work even in "small country churches." This brings hope to pastors and lay members who might serve in the rural churches and will never have the big churches. Which I truly believe the Lord has no "big or small" churches!
I have written this blog so it may encourage others (pastors and lay members) who may seem they are out in the middle of nowhere and God has forgotten them. God has not forgotten you and matter of fact, has you are right where He wants you. So, do not be weary in well doing...serve God with all you heart, mind, soul, and strength and do it for His glory. I know as a pastor we may seem as though we are spinning our wheels in the mud...but we do what we do for God and not man.
So when you feel as though no one cares and you wonder if God remembers where you are, "the most beautiful rose God has ever created has never been seen, for it is in the middle of a forest somewhere bringing God glory right where He placed it." So, it is with preachers, God often places them right in the middle of nowhere, in the small country churches where they will never make it on the radio, television, or have a jet plane, but He has you and me right where he wants us.
"For who has despised the day of small things?"
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
For the last month now we have been considering the passage from the book of 2 Timothy on being a pastor. Since Timothy was an elder at Ephesus, Paul saw it was necessary to write to him on how to handle opposition in the ministry. This passage of scripture is worth ones time as a pastor of a congregation or just being a saint of God. Know this brethren, Satan is going to and fro to seeking whom he may destroy and often he uses individuals to attack us. Paul reminds Timothy not to be quarrelsome, be kind to all, he must be able to teach, have patient when wrong, and correct with gentleness.
One thing I wish I was told when God called me to preach His gospel, was that everybody will not "love me." Paul makes no mistake about it, to let Timothy know he will face opposition in the work of the ministry. Doing the Lord's work is not a light task. It takes walking in the spirit and a little tough skin to take opposition and critics of our ministry.
Paul reminds Timothy, for those in opposition to him, that God may perhaps grant them repentance leading them to the truth. As pastors, we must pray God would allow those who oppose us to see the truth of His Word and where we stand as pastors. I believe we ought to pray for God to "grant"them repentance.
Repentance is not something which is "worked up" but rather is given by God. A lost man can not repent of his sins unless God grants him repentance. Repentance is a change. It is a change of mind, heart, and soul. When faced with opposition it is only God who can give them repentance in order for them to see the truth. As pastors we should not be so concerned whether or not "we" are right but rather are we biblical. This is where we stand in our fight for truth is on the authority of God's Word. This is where true repentance will be given.
So when opposition comes my way or your way, pray for God's will to be done not ours. We need to desire to stand on the truth of God's Word and not our opinions. So when men are in opposition they are in opposition with God not us. Therefore, we can again point them to, "what saith the scriptures," instead of "what saith whoever." Perhaps then God may grant them repentance!
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Job 1:21) And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Yesterday the truth of Job 1:21, became a reality to me as I saw first hand the work of God in utter destruction of my hometown of Phil Campbell, AL. This small, quiet, rural town was devastated by a tornado which had winds upward to 175 mph. A town known for its southern hospitality and also of its community college is now known for the devastation of loss of homes, schools, and sadly lives.
After receiving a text message from my mother Wednesday evening stating she was alright but, "it" (the tornado) had hit close to her home, I felt compelled to do something. My family and I first responded in prayer to the Lord for these people. The people in which I grew up with, the people who knew me you by name, these people who worked to make a home and a living for themselves. Wednesday night I could hardly sleep. I was still getting text messages from my mother of the destruction and the lives of those who had been lost. So, Thursday morning I prayed and felt the leading of the Lord for me to make an effort to help the town where I grew up.
So we (my family and I) headed out to Alabama with a trailer load of water, food, toiletries, and clothing. Yesterday morning I really was not expecting to see what I saw. I had seen pictures (on internet) of my hometown but pictures could not hold a light to seeing with my own eyes. I saw pick up trucks turned upside down. I saw houses blown completely off their foundation. I saw foundations in which once stood houses and the house nowhere to be found. I saw ponds filled with peoples lives and also the place where two lives had been lost.
My wife and I road the county roads in East Franklin just passing out water and gospel tracts to people who were working trying to salvage what was left of their lives. We spent time listening to people who tried to explain what happened on that afternoon. We cried with some, laughed with others, and gave hugs to those who just needed to know someone cared enough to be there. One couple in particular, we ran into early in the morning had lost their chicken farm and their home. I was honored to meet them. We gave them some relief supplies and most of all prayed with them. She said, "we have lost it all." But as a believer, I reminded her she had indeed not lost it all. As a believer in Jesus Christ the great possession she had been given was her faith in a God who loves her and cares for her.
I could write I guess a small book in what I witnessed in just a 10 hour period. Most of all, what I was reminded yesterday is that "God gives and God takes away." And no matter what we should praise His name from whom all blessings flow. The Lord makes it rain on the just and the unjust. Paul said, "what do you have that you did not receive." Everything these people had and everything I have, God by His grace entrusted to us. It is the sovereign will of God to give and to take away. I pray through this devastation peoples eyes would be opened and would seek the Lord for the great possession. One thing I take away from yesterdays time with the people of my hometown is, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Do not become too comfortable with earthly possessions but rather trust in the possession which can not be taken away. Eternal life with Christ!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Have you ever been wronged before? Have you ever been accused of something you did not do? Has anyone ever confronted you about your doctrine or your theology? If you are truly serving Christ, whether a pastor or not I am sure you could say, "yes." These questions are ones which young pastors and Christians alike should be told they will face sometime in their walk with Christ. When confronted with questions as above, one must be sure to respond properly, with, "what saith the scriptures?"
The scriptures teach, the Lord's servant "must correct those in opposition with gentleness." This is probably easier said than done. When you are confronted about your "doctrine" or "theology" how do you respond. Do you respond in the flesh or is it a response of "gentleness." As God's servants (pastors, especially)we should be continually bathing ourselves in the truths of God's Word. We should also be reminded that Satan will try to trip us up and respond to opposition in the flesh. This will kill our testimony to the faith in which we hold to.
I know after coming to the doctrines of God's grace in salvation, I was often confronted about these truths. The confrontation was usually in "opposition." I truly did not know how to respond correctly except, to fight fire with fire. After seeing you will do more harm than good trying to argue with those in opposition, I began to pray for them. Matt.5:44) "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." This again is easier said than done. Nonetheless, it is commanded by our Lord.
I have come to the conclusion in my youthful ministry, there will always be those who will oppose the truth of God's Word and His man. I have struggled with this fact, seeing how I often fall into the sin of trying to please men. Galatians 1:10) "For now do I persuade men, or God or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." As pastors we should be more concerned about God's glory and pleasing Him rather than men.
So, the next time you are confronted by those in opposition of God's Word, remember to respond in "gentleness" but always to "correct those in opposition." We correct those who are in opposition of the Word with the Word. One of my mentors would encourage me when I would face opposition, he would say, "no matter what, you be sweet!" For those of us who believe in grace ought to have grace when confronted by those who oppose the Word of God! Also, if they killed our Lord and Savior should we expect less?
Friday, April 22, 2011
I was first baptized at a vacation bible school around the age of 13. I did not grow up in a Christian household, but my grandfather and my cousin's family had a positive Christian influence on me. I had a good upbringing, but I was somewhat spiritually confused because I grew up with the impression that I could simply choose whatever I wanted to believe and that whatever it was, it would be alright--you might call it spiritual relativism. Unfortunately, this spiritual relativism made it so that I did not gain much from the Christian influences in my life.
I was baptized because I wanted reassurance and I wanted to make, in a small way, my grandfather happy, but it was largely due to my emotional vulnerabilities at that time during vacation bible school. It was not a baptism that occured after repentance and a placing my faith and trust into Jesus. So, I returned home that summer and began to ready my bible and pray occasionally for several weeks, but nothing else changed. Over the course of the next decade or so of my life, I studied and considered other religions and basically maintained a state of agnosticism.
I had always felt that there was an almighty God, but I questioned whether or not it was a Christian God. I felt that things happened for reasons, reasons only God knew. I know that part of what hindered my Christian faith were the poor examples of Christians I knew. I often thought, "I'm better than them--less of a sinner--even without being a Christian."
To this day, I think it would be difficult to find people who would speak poorly of me. Not because I'm perfect, but because I have tried to be good. But, after sitting under teaching here at Pleasant Hill, I realized that my very nature, attitudes, and thoughts were so often wicked and sinful even when I'm doing good. Romans 3:10-12 instucts us that: "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one."
Therefore, I increasingly began to pray, study, and fellowship here at Pleasant Hill as I began to deal with this burden. I came to realize that while I had been baptized, I was certain I had not been saved. That ate away at me. I also realized that I was harming myself spritually by being concerned about what others might think or say. I had fear that professing Jesus and really identifying myself as a Christian would not be easy on me. And though I was right about that fear, I learned that people who are of this world will not accept those not of this world as John 15:18-19 say, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of this world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."
So, as I dealt with these things I sought answers and prayed and my faith grew. And on March 26th of this year, I began to pray while driving home from work. Speaking aloud during my prayer, I did repent and place all my faith and trust into Jesus Christ. I had been looking forward to that day and felt relieved of a great burden, and I am reminded of Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
So now, having repented and placed my faith into Jesus, having been saved by faith, I profess my faith and am baptized.
April 10th, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I want us to focus again on the passage of scripture out of 2 Timothy. As Paul is nearing the end of his life here on earth, he leaves a very sober reminder for the young pastor Timothy. In the beginning of chapter 2 Paul reminds Timothy "to be careful of how you handle the word of God." The handling of God's Word, by God's man will (I believe), ultimately, lead to how God's man responds to His opposition in the ministry. If a man who is loose with the word of God, I believe he will respond loosely (not well) to his opposition.
Paul tells Timothy in the text, "when someone wrongs you be patient." I believe this commandment is much easier said than done. If you are a pastor (elder) you have been called to a higher accountability to the Lord. One qualification for an elder is that "he has a good report from those who are outside of the church (1 Timothy 3:7)." This can sometimes be a difficult qualification to fulfill. Especially, in a world in which people are so quick to "run you over." Lets face it we live in a "dog eat dog" world.
Nonetheless, for God's men we are "to be patient when someone wrongs us." I remember very clear at the last church I served I was called to the carpet before the deacon body. There was a lady within the church who had been offended for various reasons by me. She wanted to meet with me and the deacons to "tell me a few things on her mind." She had wrote a 4 page letter and sat and read every bit of it to me. I will confess a "few" items were true (which I did apologize and ask for her forgiveness). The large majority of the letter written was "hear say."
I sat there as she read this very vindictive letter to me and before my deacons. When she was finished I sat quietly. She wanted to know, "what I had to say about what she had read to me." Which I said was, in order for your accusations to have validity the bible says you need "to bring two of three others against an elder (2 Tim.5:19)." Which she said, "they did not want to get involved." By the power of the Holy Spirit I prayed for God to keep my mouth shut and for me"to be patient as I felt I was being wronged."
I do not believe we should allow people to run over us. At the same time we need to be as "wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove." There are times as pastors we must be "patient" with our people (or others), rather than blowing them out of the water and giving them down the road, when we are wronged, we need to love them. The next part of the verse we will consider is, "with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition."
I pray this would help some pastor today. Be patient with your people as the Lord is patient with you!
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ we all fall under this mandate of being a "bond servant" of Christ. All of God's people are required to respond in the way Paul reveals to Timothy, "not being quarrelsome but be kind to all." This is for all of God's people. As I dissect these verses I will focus on the fact which is, Timothy was a pastor and Paul was writing to Timothy as a pastor. So, my post will deal with the intent of how a pastor should conduct himself in the midst of persecution or tribulation coming from others.
Today, I will expound on the thought that the "bond servant" (pastor, elder) should "be able to teach." There is no mistaken about it, if God has called a man to be an elder or pastor of the Lord's church that man must be gifted in the area of teaching God's Word. By the way, this is one of the qualifications of being an elder in 1 Timothy 3:2, "...able to teach..." Often in pulpit search committee meetings this qualification is forgotten about (especially in Baptist churches) where we think there is only one qualification, "husband of one wife." The elder MUST "be able to teach."
The word "teach" comes from the Greek word (didaktikos) which means "apt to teach" or "able to teach." The pastor- elder should be able to "rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 3:15)." What does it take to "rightly divide the word of truth" or "be able to teach?"
1. It takes time. If a pastor is to "be able to teach" he must set aside time each week to prepare to "teach." He must place this priority above and beyond anything else he does through the week. He should not place hospital visits, shut-in visits, or other counseling calls before the time he has set aside to study. Teaching God's Word should not be taking lightly. Teaching should be taken as a very serious and important occupation. Because souls lie in the balance of heaven or hell for eternity. For God's Word says in Hebrews 13:17) "...that elders will give an account for your soul..."
2. It takes hard work. Studying to preach and teach God's Word is hard work. A man MUST lock himself in his study as he seeks the Lord through His Word. This takes time and prayer to know how to deal with the text properly. What do I mean? I am talking about making sure the pastor has the right interpretation (hermeneutics) of God's Word. So many today say, "there are many interpretations!" I disagree. There is only one interpretation of God's Word and it is what the original author meant for it to say to the audience it was written to. To arrive at the right interpretation takes time and it takes hard work.
2 Timothy 5:17; "The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching." This is where the pastor-elder earns his pay! I would venture to say if a pastor is not working hard at this (interpretation and application of the text) he might not be worth is pay.
3. It takes sacrifice. What I mean is there will be times where the pastor-elder will not be able to do the things "he" wants to do! There will be times where he will not be able to do what his "congregation" thinks he should do because he has to be prepared "to teach." All of this takes sacrifice. A sacrifice which God has called him to. A sacrifice which, to the flesh is unpleasant but to the spirit it is pleasing to the Lord. A sacrifice of getting up early and staying up late, reading and writing to the glory of God. A sacrifice of telling your children I have something to finish in preparation for the Lord's Day. Sacrifice of money in paying for seminary training expense so the man of God would be thoroughly equipped to teach God's people.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of things which a man of God should be doing. But it is some thoughts of mine which I deem important to my ministry and my walk with the Lord. I am thankful to be called the "bond servant of Christ." As I close I think of the Words of James 3:1; "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment."
Let me know what you think. Do you agree or disagree? Leave some of your suggestions as far as a pastor should be able to teach.