Monthly Archives: October 2018

Encourage Your Pastor

Encourage Your Pastor

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.  1 Timothy 5:17

Bishop, Elder, Pastor.  Which one is the leader of your church?  How about all three?  Recently, as Dr Jeff Amsbaugh was preaching to our regional pastor fellowship in upstate New York, hosted by WBC, he pointed out the 3 synonymous terms in the Bible that refer to the “pastor” of the local church.  As Baptist we prefer to use the term pastor, because of it’s connotation – I will share soon, but these other terms are good Bible terms that can give tremendous insight to the responsibilities and calling of the pastor.

Bishop. 1 Timothy 3:1 says, This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  The word “Bishop” means “inspection or superintendent.”  While the pastor does not do all the work of any given church and ministry, he is to oversee or be the superintendent over all the ministry.  With many others coming together to serve the Lord, the pastor gives the general direction and offers organizational helps to guide the church administratively.  God is a God of order and Paul told the Corinthian church members in 1 Corinthians 14:40, Let all things be done decently and in order.

Elder. 1 Peter 5:1 declares, The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed…  Elders means “older” or “senior.”  It refers to the maturity of the individual leader.  Church leaders are to be mature in the faith.  While this does not mean the “he knows everything” it does mean that the foundational principles of Christianity are not new territory for him.  That is why Peter exhorted the elders to continue in their wait for Jesus to come back for them.  Keep going despite persecution or problems.

Pastor.  Ephesians 4:11-13 elaborates, And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ… In fact the verse goes on to describe the gift the pastor is to the local church and the end result of his shepherding ministry.  That is what a shepherd is.  He feeds and leads his people like a shepherd cares for his sheep.

  • Shepherds are concerned about spiritual growth in his sheep.
  • Shepherds are cautious for wolves among the sheep.
  • Shepherds are caring for the pain endured by the sheep.
  • Shepherds cease any nipping and bickering among the sheep.
  • Shepherds who are following the Great Shepherd (Jesus) attempt to get the sheep to keep their eyes on Him.

Baptist churches, like ours, prefer this term “pastor” because of the quality of care and the level of closeness a shepherd has with his sheep and the sheep for their shepherd. The model of the pastor being the “under shepherd” pointing people to the “Great Shepherd” is a good one to follow.  Show extra honor to those who faithfully are serving you.  The Lord will bless you, and him for it.

I commend the pastors (Bishops/Elders) that are faithfully serving the Lord and His people in the church.  Like Paul, I commend the teaching/preaching pastor’s especially.  Those who deliver Bible messages week in and week out and do not merely give lip-service to the Bible, but live it out as well, are to be encouraged and celebrated.  Their unending work causes much personal tiredness and at the same time joy.  Serving spiritual food to sheep can be a difficult thing sometimes.  Pastors cannot make changes in the life of his people.  The sheep must want to receive the Word for themselves.  They must make application on their own.  But the pastor keeps leading and feeding the flock.

Encourage your pastor today. Pray for him. Drop him a note.  Leave a gift on his door. Text or email and encouraging word or two.  Choose to know him as a person and choose to follow his lead.  Show respect.  Sheep who care for their shepherd in material things are sure to be prepared emotional, relationally, and spiritually to receive the spiritual teaching their pastor gives.

 

 

 

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Fellow Servants in the Church

Fellow Servants in the Church

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  Acts 6:4

There is much to do in ministry.  Preach, teach, pray, plan, promote, organize, visit, encourage, make phone calls, send texts and emails, administrate, design, print, clean, build, repair, record radio, post messages and devotionals, read, understand current religious trends, cast vision, staff meetings, deacon meetings, special church training sessions, counseling sessions, develop materials, conduct weddings and funerals, and generally be available to encourage the saints while evangelizing the lost.  etc. etc. etc.

Depending on what ministries your local church hosts, there could be many more responsibilities that are connected to the Senior Pastor position in your church.  Even the assistant pastors have much responsibilities in their oversight.  Like Arron supported Moses and lifted his hands, assistant pastors also make a big difference. Ultimately the pastor will give an account of each ministry decision and direction and he may have his hand in nearly every aspect of ministry to a degree because of that accountability.  Speaking of the relationship of the church to its pastor, Hebrews 13:17 states: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

The pastor is watching for the souls of his people, the sheep in his local pasture field.  His ministry in prayer and in the Word are his primary responsibilities. It could be called “leading and feeding.”  Like a good shepherd does for his sheep.  No matter what needs arise in your life, your pastor will try to assist, help and encourage.  But, he cannot be everywhere at once.  Only God can do that!  The pastor cannot meet every need, but he may be able to point you in the right direction.

The congregation is likened to a flock of sheep who are called to know their shepherd and are directed to follow his leadership.  1 Thessalonians 5:12 teaches: And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.  Do you know your shepherd?  Do you know his likes, dislikes, and personal characteristics?  Do you know his family or personal needs, and have you asked his thoughts about certain matters?  The church is to know and follow the shepherd God gifted them with.

With so much to do and with such a responsibility for both the pastor for leading and feeding, and the church for knowing and following, you can see why the Lord gave additional helpers in ministry.  They are called deacons.

The term deacon is defined as “an attendant, or someone who runs errands.”   Those who are called to the ministry of pastoring are focused on two main components: Praying and Studying/delivering the Word of God itself.  Therefore, the Lord gave deacons, to help with the material matters of the church.  They run the errands and conduct much business, supporting the oversight of the pastor.  It is the deacons, whose spiritual calling and enabling is to serve the church by freeing the pastors to fulfill their calling.  With so much to do, prayer and study can be hindered.  With so much needing to be built, repaired, meals delivered, saints cared for in physical ways, fellowships, hospitality, assistance, and more help in other material things, the deacons also have much to do.

During pastor appreciation month, I am thankful, not only for the pastors and servants preaching the Word, but I am also thankful for the deacons, who support the pastor, by serving the church people and looking for ways to minister to their material and physical needs.  We are blessed to have fine deacons at WBC.  It is a pleasure to serve with them.

Even if you are not a deacon, you are called to serve others.  Every Christian should find and fulfill his calling of God to “serve one another.”  There are many “one another’s” in Scripture to apply to our relationships at church. Some people are actually “deacons in training” who may fill that role in the future!

So, pastors – thank you.

Deacons – thank you.

Fellow church members – thank you.

Working together with God, we can see the Lord accomplish amazing things in our lives, homes, and church.  We are “fellow servants” in the church.

 

 

 

 

Tending to the Flock

Tending to the Flock

And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.  Jeremiah 23:4

Several years ago as my bus was quickly traveling down a mountain road in Israel, I noticed just a few miles from Jerusalem several wide open places and sheep walking around, un-fenced, and on their own.  But they were not on their own.  There were men, shepherds, and their sheep dogs, guiding the sheep and leading them, from grassy fields to clean refreshing water.

The Lord promised to Jeremiah and the people of Judah to send pastors (shepherds) who would feed and protect the people.  In the context of Jeremiah 23, the Lord is speaking of governmental leaders; the people who were given responsibility and a charge to take care of the “flock” of God.”  This is a good passage to learn about the responsibility the government has – to care for its people in restoring peace for prosperity and protection from harm.  The promise even includes that people would not go missing (due to crime) because of the good leadership of the governmental leaders.

Interestingly enough, the word for “pastor” and the word for “which shall feed them” is the same Hebrew word.  It means “To provide pasture.”  In other words, one of the responsibilities of the government is to provide the means to conduct prosperous business ventures.  It does not mean “to spoon feed;” but to provide a place for growth and sustenance. The government is called to provide a field in which industrious people can safely work, toil, and grow in business.  Like sheep freely roaming a field.

The government is also to provide basic safety.  Not only is there the possibility of wolves harming the sheep, like predators from foreign places that are not part of the field, but sometimes there are already wolves in the field.  We all were probably taught to “Not talk to strangers.”

Jeremiah 23 goes on to describe the return of Jesus and how once He comes back to earth, He will set up His Millennial Kingdom and will rule with splendor and majesty.

In contrast, check out how the previous leaders of Israel had failed in Jeremiah 10:21.  “For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.”  Because of a lack of godly leadership the nation of Israel and Judah suffered terrible.  “Brutish” is a Hebrew term which means to “kindle a flame or to consume with fire.”  Instead of looking out for the best of the people – the leadership was looking out for… itself.  Everything they touched, like a fire, they tried to consume.  Taxes, regulations, tolls, and more could be examples today.  Have you noticed much the same pattern in modern politics.  Many governmental leaders are successful at accumulating large amounts of money for themselves or for their pet projects.  I guess, some have even become rich by being full time politicians.

But one day.  One day, following the rapture, the 7 years of tribulation, and the battle of Armageddon, King Jesus will return.  He is the Perfect Shepherd this world desperately needs.  In the mean-time, praise the Lord for Jesus, the Great Shepherd Who is daily watching after His own sheep.  In this church age we are living in, the sheep are not confined to Israel, but to all those who are born again by faith in Jesus.  Take a moment to read Psalm 23 for more shepherding insight.  Be encouraged in Jesus today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Wait

I Can’t Wait!

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.  Psalm 39:7

You have said it.  You have thought it.  Any young person you have near you has also said it – “I Can’t Wait!”  We can get excited over many things in life.  Looking forward with expectations of good things is natural.

“I can’t wait to see if the Yankees win.”  “I can’t wait for the basketball season to start.” “I can’t wait until the medicine or treatment helps me to feel better.”  “I can’t wait until school is out.”  “I can’t wait until our wedding day!”  “I Can’t wait until I see Jesus.” Or my favorite: “I can’t wait until…. dinner!”   These are common examples.

Make you own “I can’t wait” statement:  I can’t wait _____ _______ ________.

What if we changed our thinking and our perspective a little bit?  Instead of focusing on an event, situation, or outcome, what if we placed our expectation in a person?  Not a spouse (or fiancée). Not a promotion, start of a season, or outcome of a game.  What if our expectation was in Jesus?

In the 13 short verses of Psalm 39, David portrays his need for the Lord.  He declares that his hope is in the Lord.  He mentions controlling his tongue, sorrow, anger, his physical frailty, the vanity of most men, deliverance from evil, the judgment of God, praying to the Lord, and recovering strength in moments of weakness.  He covers a lot of topics in this short chapter!  Right in the middle, in verse 7 he says: “What wait I for?”  It is a good question!  If our hope, expectation, satisfaction and fulfillment is completed in Jesus, what are we really looking forward to in life?  What more can a Christian have if Jesus is truly his “All in All.”

I believe that we should have healthy expectations.  We should be looking ahead and be forward thinking in our mind.  At the same time, while we are looking forward to events and outcomes, we must realize that true fulfillment, peace, and satisfaction does not come from the Yankees winning.  Real satisfaction is not found in relationship, events, or outcomes – but in Christ.

This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote in Colossians 2:10: “And ye are complete in him…”  While the “I can’t wait” things may be good, Jesus is the best.  What more can we find in life if we do not place our hope in Jesus and Jesus alone?  The answer is nothing.  Without Jesus at the center of our life, decisions, and personal satisfaction for living, we will not find true purpose or meaning for life.

The next time you say: “I can’t wait…” look ahead to Jesus for a moment and remind yourself how He is the ultimate goal we are looking for.  Find your fulfillment and completion in Him.