Pastor Chad's Itinarary

Saturday, April 30, 2011

"The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes Away"

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

"So You Want To Be A Pastor?" (pt.4)

2 Timothy 2:24-26) The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

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

"The Testimony of a New Believer"

Here is the testimony of a young man who has come to faith in Jesus Christ about a month ago. He read it to the congregation at Pleasant Hill prior to his baptism. I ask him if he would allow me to post his testimony on my blog. He graciously said, "yes." I am overwhelmed of God's grace in saving sinners, out here in the "country." To God Be the Glory!

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.
Garet Davidson
April 10th, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"So You Want To Be A Pastor?" (pt.3)

2 Timothy 2:24-26) The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

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

"So You Want To Be A Pastor?" (pt.2)

2 Timothy 2:23-26) "The Lord's bond servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will."

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, " 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.