Pastor Chad's Itinarary

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pray For Your Pastor(s) by Rick Muchewicz

Pray For Your Pastor(s)

Today's post is by guest blogger Rick Muchewicz. Rick serves as an elder at Pleasant Hill Baptist church in Orlinda, TN. He is married to Karen and they have a daughter Ella. Rick is an author and blogs at He is a graduate of Boyce College the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. 

Pray For Your Pastor(s)

    You as a church member have the responsibility and the privilege to pray for your pastor. Your pastor needs prayer. The average church member, I would guess, rarely thinks of their pastor when they are praying. Why is that? I don't know, I cannot answer that for everyone. But, if you are reading this, you now know that you ought to be praying for him.
Why do pastors need prayer?
    Pastors need prayer for the same reasons you do. They face the same things that you face day in and day out. Your difficulties are their difficulties. Pastors face temptations, struggle with sin, are often beset with weakness and doubts, deal with prayerlessness like other believers, have problems in the home, raise children, wrestle with apathy, grieve over social issues, allow stress to take hold, are at war spiritually, and live life in a fallen world just like everyone else.
    In addition to these needs, pastors face others. Pastors need your prayers because they often struggle with depression. The ministry is demanding and often fruit is not seen. It is easy for a pastor to take his eyes off of the Lord and look to all of the issues within the church. Or, a pastor might become bitter and complain. “Woe is me!” can easily become the attitude of a pastor.
    Other things that most church members may not realize are that pastors bear the sins and burdens of their people, are held accountable by God for their flock, experience heartache over the faithlessness of some members, face criticism, may feel pressured to perform in certain ways or produce according to the churches standards, and face the challenges of leading a group of people that are made up of different backgrounds, different maturity levels, different interests, etc.
What to pray
    Pray for your pastor's preparation. Pray that as he prepares to preach and teach that he would be illuminated, faithful, prayerful, obedient, studious, understanding, submissive, and able to apply God's word. Pray that God bless you pastor with clarity, the ability to deliver God's word, that he would communicate effectively, that he will not be distracted from his time in study, that he would be a good steward of his time, and that his sermon will be Christ-centered, Spirit-dependent, and gospel-saturated.
    Pray for your pastor's personal life. Pray for his family. Pray that he is growing, maturing, and spending time in the word. Pray also for his needs, struggles, leadership, character, joy, holiness, and hope. Remember to pray that he get enough rest, that he would be God-honoring, above reproach, a good husband and father. Pray that he work hard and be a good steward of all that God has given him. Pray for his physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
    Pray for his prayer life. Pray to God that as he prays throughout the week he be filled with passion, grace, mercy, love, and faith in God to hear and answer. Pray that he remember to intercede for the saints, confess the sins of the church, and beg God for mercy and forgiveness. Pray that your pastor's prayers will be scriptural, effectual, Spirit-led, and strengthened by God. Pray that your pastor have a desire to pray, that he makes time to pray, and that he never ceases to pray.
    Pray for your pastor's ministry. Pray that he would be faithful, God glorifying, biblical, and persevering. Pray that the Lord bless his efforts with fruit, spiritual growth, conversions, and joy. Pray that the Lord bless him with the desire to serve, cast a vision, be patient, be focused, love the people, and be evangelistic. And, pray that the Lord grace him with wisdom to teach, preach, and counsel in and through any situation.
    Pastors need the prayers of their people. Church members do not know everything that goes into being a pastor and the emotional, physical, and spiritual strain it places on a man of God. It takes its toll. So, remember to pray for your pastors. Your prayers, in God's sovereignty and perfect plan, may be the one thing that is keeping your pastor sane, faithful, and productive. Thank God for the prayers of the saints! Keep praying saints. The days are getting darker, the ministry more challenging, and life more arduous. The battle is real. Pray for your pastor as he prays for you.
    What a gift from God. God has called and equipped men to shepherd his church. He has given them the command to pray for the sheep. And God has orchestrated that the sheep pray for the shepherd. There is a harmony here that can only come from God. Shepherds and sheep need each other. We help one another. We are on the same pilgrimage and headed for the same destination; one is leading and the other following. But, it is a relationship with no equal-a pastor and his sheep. What a beautiful picture, what a beautiful marriage. So again, pray for your pastor as he prays for you.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"John Calvin: The Scholar, Theologian, and Pastor" (pt.3)

Calvin: The Pastor
            Although John Calvin is remembered as a writer, theologian, and professor, what many people fail to remember was that John Calvin, first and foremost, was a pastor. Calvin spent three years in Strasbourg, which proved to be the most formative time of his life when it came to the ministry. It was in Strasbourg that “Calvin was called to pastor the ecclesiola Gallicana.”[1] While Calvin was in Starbourg, he carried out the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and the different duties of the pastoral ministry. The pastorate caused him to consider the seriousness of worship in the church, which led him to translate a large amount of the Psalms into French. Calvin’s heart as a pastor was to lead the people of God into personal, intimate worship through the preaching of God’s Word, the Sacraments, and the congregational singing of the psalms.
            As a pastor, Calvin’s pastoral ministry was largely affected by his belief and trust in the Scriptures as God’s Word. He believed the only way a person could know God was through the testimony of His Word. He argued, “God bestows the actual knowledge of himself upon us only in the Scriptures.”[2] This strong conviction regarding the Scriptures being God’s Word allowed Calvin to have the freedom to preach, teach, and counsel the Word of God as the supreme authority in the life of God’s people.
            Calvin believed without the word of God, man is unable to know God correctly and as He truly is. Calvin believed man is born spiritually separated from God, thus not knowing God correctly, and that man needs to be shown correctly. The only way for man to know God properly was to know Him as He has revealed Himself in Holy Scriptures. Therefore, Calvin held to a high view of Scriptures as God’s revelation of Himself to man. This affected affected Calvin’s pastoral ministry immensely.
            Calvin believed it was the role of the Holy Spirit that testified to the Scriptures being the Word of God. As a pastor, Calvin understood that he could not convince others that the Bible was the Word of God, and that only the Spirit of the living God could do such a work. Some people say that the prophets testified that the Bible was the inspired word of God; however, Calvin argued,
The testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded.[3]

He believed the Spirit is what convinced individuals that the Bible was God’s Word, rather than human reasoning. Calvin’s firm belief in the working of the second Person of the Trinity gave him the assurance in the Word of God as a pastor.
Calvin’s primary goal as a pastor-teacher was to bring people to the knowledge of God through the atoning work of Christ and by the preaching of the Scriptures and trusting the Holy Spirit of God to His Sovereign work. He believed the heart of a pastor theologian was to “not divert the ears with chatter, but to strengthen consciences by teaching things true, sure, and profitable.”[4] He believed the chief end of every person was to know God—this was the only purpose of an individual’s existence. This is why he argued that “If a person had one hundred lives, this one aim, to know God, would be sufficient for them all.”[5]
Calvin believed a person could only come to know God through the hearing of His Word. This conviction is what drove Calvin to be a brilliant pastor-teacher, not only in Strasbourg, but also in Geneva. Calvin’s only weapon during the time of the reformation was his Bible. His deeply rooted conviction that the Bible was the Word of God set him loose on an adventure in preaching and teaching it everyday. James Montgomery Boice submits,
“Calvin preached the Bible everyday, and under the power of that preaching the city (Geneva) began to be transformed. As the people of Geneva acquired knowledge of God’s Word and were changed by it, the city became, as John Knox called it later, a New Jerusalem.”[6]

Calvin’s preaching was motivated by the belief that God’s Word was sufficient. This led him to preach through entire books of the Bible verse by verse. He would preach the New Testament on Sunday mornings, Psalms on Sunday afternoons, and from the Old Testament every morning of the week, every other week. Calvin was a preaching and teaching machine. Calvin’s method of preaching through entire books of the Bible and exposing his people to the different genres of Scripture left no doctrine untaught, no sin unexposed, and no promise undelivered.
Calvin wanted, first of all, to be thought of as a pastor bringing God's Word to God's people in the local church. There was one incident that illustrated his full commitment to the Word of God. In 1538, Calvin was ejected from the pulpit in Geneva. In 1541, Calvin was called back. On that first Sunday back in the pulpit of St. Peter's, on what did Calvin preach? Was it a rebuke to the citizens of Geneva for their fickleness, or a vindication for his previous ministry? No, Calvin began again exactly where he had left off three years before, picking up on the next verses in the text, as if to show that he saw that there was nothing more important than his task of feeding God's flock from the Word of the Lord. Calvin sought to not let his personal feelings shape what texts he chose in preaching, but what edified God's people.
Calvin’s preaching also affected the way he cared for his flock. Although Calvin was deep in his theological writings and teaching, he preached where the common man was able to understand the message. He preached in simple terms. He wanted his people to know and become familiar with the Bible. He wanted it become personal to them. Even though Calvin preached from the Greek and Hebrew Bibles in the pulpit, he would explain the meaning without ever using the Greek or Hebrew words. He was very intentional in wanting his people to come away with a sense of God’s glory, rather than the knowledge of Calvin.
Calvin’s preaching for the common man shows the type of heart he had for his flock and others. His preaching was very pastoral and personal. He never lost his understanding of being a shepherd over God’s flock, and he even implemented the use of the words, “us,” “we,” and “our” during the exhortation to the church. With a shepherd’s heart, he avoided preaching down to his congregation, but at the same time, he would call his congregation to honest self-examination according to the Scriptures. This type of preaching was proof of his loving care as part of his pastoral duty.
The theme of Calvin’s pastoral ministry could be summed up in the fact that His theology affected his mind, heart, and the church. Calvin’s early years of education prepared him for a lifetime of writing and teaching theology, which was God-centered. This had an impact on how he ministered to his flock and lived his life. His faithfulness as a scholar, theologian, and pastor has set a biblical example of what it means to be a faithful servant of Christ.
Calvin’s life testimony was to be used in order to bring great glory to His God. He did this by devoting his life to being a student in God’s school of theology. Not only was he a student of theology, but he was a teacher of theology, as shown through his lifetime of pouring into the students of Geneva. However, perhaps Calvin’s greatest contribution was not in merely reading, writing, and studying theology, but publicly ministering theology to those who sat in the pews every single week. The number of souls who have been convicted, drawn, and graced with salvation through the careful exposition of God’s Word by Calvin will never be known, but his writings and principles are still highly beneficial for the Christian today.

Boice, James Montgomery. Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines that Shook the World. Wheaton:Crossway, 2001.

Calvin, John. Commentary on the Book of Psalms. Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1845.

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Philadelphia: Westiminster: John Knox Press, 1975 & 2006).

George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers. Nashville: B&H Publishers, 2003.

Gordon, Bruce. Calvin. Cornwell: MPG Books, 2009.

Moore, Thomas. Utopia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Parker, T.H. L. John Calvin: A Biogrpahy. London: Westminister John Knox Press, 1960.

Parsons, Burk. A Heart For Devotion Doctrine & Doxology. Lake City: Reformation Trust, 2008.

[1] George, 188.
[2] Denis R. Janz, A Reformation Reader, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1999), 223.
[3] Calvin. Institutes, 1.7.4.
[4] George, 206.
[5] Ibid., 206
[6] James Montgomery Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? Rediscovering the Doctrines that Shook the World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2001), 83-84.