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Archive for the ‘Pastors’ Category

This morning I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Peter 5:1-4. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Elders are to care for God’s people gladly, sacrificially, and as an example as faithful under-shepherds of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus.

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charles_spurgeonSome of what didn’t make it into my sermon last Sunday:

One of the phrases in the passage I preached on (1 Pet. 4:10-11) says, “Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God (verse 11a).  Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has been given at least one gift by God in HIs grace. We’re to use those gifts well as good stewards. Those gifts are divided by Peter into two broad categories: speaking and serving.

Those who have speaking gifts (such as teaching, preaching, and exhortation) are to proclaim God’s Word and not their own. Charles Spurgeon said,

Reckon that every sermon is a wasted sermon which is not Christ’s Word. Believe that all theology is rotten rubbish which is not the Word of the Lord. Do not be satisfied with going to a place of worship and hearing an eloquent discourse, unless the sum and substance is the Word of the Lord. My brothers and sisters, whether you teach children or their parents, do not think you have done any good unless you have taught the Word of the Lord. For saving purposes we must have the Lord’s Word, and nothing else.

Amen!

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The title of this article by Drew Dyck says it all – “Millenials Need A Bigger God, Not A Hipper Pastor.” That goes for everybody, too. You can read the article here.

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Last Sunday, I began to preach a short series of sermons on meaningful church membership. Actually, I only made it through half of what I had prepared, so the second half comes next week.

One of the most important passages on the subject is Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” These two sentences teach us a lot about church membership, both on the side of leaders and members. One thing taught clearly is that church members – those to whom the author of Hebrews wrote – are to obey and submit to their church’s leaders. But is that a blanket, or universal, command which covers everything? In other words, should you as a member of a church obey and submit to anything (literally anything) you’re told to do by your pastor and your elders?

So, should I obey and submit to my church leaders? It depends – that’s the answer. Under most circumstances, the answer is yes. There are some circumstances, however, when the answer has to be no. Here are a few of those times, according to Jonathan Leeman in his book Church Membership (pp. 118-119). Obedience and submission should not be given when church leaders characteristically:

  • Make dogmatic prescriptions where Scripture is silent.
  • Rely on intelligence, humor, charm, guilt, emotions, or threats rather than on God’s Word and prayer (Acts 6:4).
  • Play favorites.
  • Punish those who disagree.
  • Employ extreme forms of communication (tempers, silent treatment).
  • Recommend courses of action that always, somehow, improve the leader’s own situation, even at the expense of others.
  • Speak often and quickly.
  • Seldom do good deeds in secret.
  • Seldom encourage.
  • Seldom give the benefit of the doubt.
  • Emphasize outward conformity, rather than repentance of heart.
  • Preach, counsel, discipline, and oversee the church with lips that fail to ground everything in what Christ has done in the gospel and give glory to God.

May God give us church leaders, and may I be the kind of church leader, who are not characterized by any of these things – for God’s glory and our good.

 

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Tim Challies is a blogger par excellence, but as of late he’s been preaching at the church at which he is an elder. Along the way, he’s learned a few things. About his post on the subject, he says, “This is an article about preaching that is meant to be read by non-preachers.” You can read it here.

I highly recommend it. It gives those who don’t preach a bit more understanding of those of us who do, which is a good thing. Tim’s article is similar to the idea James Dobson had when he wrote a book called What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Them. I hope it helps you understand this “strange breed” of human being called by God to preach His Word.

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I attended a 9 Marks workshop at Hinson Memorial Baptist Church in Portland and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was encouraged, inspired, and caused to think about a number of things as a result of the talks and the question-and-answer sessions. All day Monday and Tuesday morning, several hundred of us were reminded of the nine marks of a healthy church.

The organization – 9 Marks – was started by Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., to remind and help churches recover the essential elements, ingredients, or “marks” that characterize churches that are healthy and pleasing to God. None of the marks are unusual or new. We can find each of them clearly taught in Scripture. This is what churches who take God and His Word seriously are supposed to be doing.

What follows is a summary of the nine marks as they were presented by each of the speakers.

1. Expository Preaching (Mark Dever) – The Word of God is to be preached in such a way that the point of the text is the point of the sermon, is explained in its context, and is applied to those who hear. If we get this right, everything else will follow.

2. Biblical Theology (Michael Lawrence – senior pastor of Hinson Memorial Baptist Church) – A theology that encompasses all of Scripture, with Jesus being seen as the interpretive key, must be taught.

3. Biblical Gospel (Zach Schlegel – assistant pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church) – The church must protect and proclaim the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ – as it’s found in the Scripture. People must believe the true gospel in order to be saved.

4. Biblical Conversion (Michael Lawrence) – If we understand biblical conversion properly, we will understand that we need to be made new, not nice; we need to be saved, not sincere; and we must call people to become disciples, not simply make decisions. Conversion is the work of God, not man.

5. Biblical Evangelism (Zach Schlegel) – Evangelism takes place wherever and whenever the gospel is preached with a view to conversion. Social action, inviting people to church, sharing your testimony, having a spiritual conversation, or someone making a “decision” is not evangelism.

6. Biblical Membership (Jonathan Leeman – Editorial Director of 9 Marks) – Church membership is a relationship between a Christian and a church which recognizes the Christian’s standing in the kingdom of God and involves submission to the church for their spiritual care and well-being.

7. Biblical Discipline (Jonathan Leeman) – Church discipline is an aspect of discipleship that involves both instruction and correction. This kind of loving action is the key to revitalizing our churches.

8. Biblical Leadership (Mark Dever) – Qualified, godly, mature elders are absolutely crucial to a healthy church. These men lead the church by teaching the Word of God. A plurality of elders is best.

9. Biblical Discipleship (Mark Dever) – A culture of discipleship (following Christ) must be developed in a church. People who are growing and maturing in their walk with Christ should be normal in our churches, not abnormal.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out Mark Dever’s books The Nine Marks of a Healthy Church and The Deliberate Church. 

Once again, there’s nothing earth-shattering among these marks. They’re what God says the church should be doing and it was good to have the reminder.  It was also good to know that we’re on the right track at Immanuel.

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Passion in Ministry

Paul Tripp listed 6 Traits of a Pastor in Awe of God in a blog post earlier this month. The third trait – dealing with passion – jumped out at me:

No matter what is or isn’t working in my ministry, no matter what difficulties I am facing, no matter what battles I am fighting, the expansive glory of God gives me reason to get up in the morning and do what I have been gifted and called to do with enthusiasm, courage, and confidence. My joy isn’t handcuffed to circumstances or relationships. My heart isn’t yanked wherever they go. I have reason for joy because I am a chosen child and a conscripted servant of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the great Creator, the Savior, the Sovereign, the Victor, the One who reigns and will reign forever. He is my Father, my Savior, and my Boss. He is ever near and ever faithful. My passion for ministry does not come from how I am being received. It flows out of the reality that I have been received by him. I’m not enthusiastic because people like me, but because he has accepted and sent me. I’m not passionate because ministry is glorious, but because God is eternally and unchangeably glorious. So I preach, teach, counsel, lead, and serve with a gospel passion that inspires and ignites the same in the people around me.

Wow! May the Lord give me and my pastoral brethren that kind of passion!

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