Tag Archives: pastor

Draymond Was Right

Draymond was Right

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Ephesians 3:7

After Golden State basketball superstar Kevin Durant was injured in the NBA Finals, fans in Toronto were cheering.  Actually cheering.  Their team had a better chance to win now that Kevin was out.  I hope his injury is recoverable.

Speaking about the sensitivity of fans, Draymond Green, a Durant teammate and fellow NBA All-Star said some truthful statements about the perception he feels fans place on him and others in pro sports.

In effect he said: “Fans expect their pro players to never fail or get injured or sick, but they are people too. They don’t care what happens outside the lines. They expect us to be unreal.”

His words are accurate.  Fans do tend to think of their stars as “more than regular people.”  The expectations and assumptions placed on starts by fans are not healthy.   Not healthy for the stars – or the fans.  Like a referee, his call of “Foul!” is warranted.

In the spiritual realm in which we live, how many people perceive and project expectations and assumptions onto people in ministry? How about what we perceive and project onto other church members?

What Draymond said was right, and his insights also apply to how many people see their pastor in their church.

Here are 3 areas to avoid getting a “Foul” called against you.

  • Unrealistic expectations. Projecting impossibilities is a foul against the pastor and against the one with the impossible expectations.  The pastor cannot be everywhere at the same time.  He is unable to visit everyone who misses a service.  It is difficult for him to preach and take attendance at the same time.  Toss into the basket the fact that some parishioners are only in attendance in one service a week, the pastor is less likely to notice they are missing.  For example, if someone that normally attends Sunday morning, Sunday Evening and the Midweek service is missing – the pastor is more likely to see they are not there – because of the frequency of their attendance.  Sometimes the pastor wants to- but can’t.  There are times when I am too sick to make a hospital visit.  We want others to go when that happens, but to have one man visit every person of 200, 100, or 50 people is not very realistic.   Expecting something that is not possible hurts the person doing the “expecting!”  The pastor has a life, family, health needs, and emotional encouragement needs too.
  • Unreasonable assumptions. This is when we assume the worst about people or situations.  Human nature is to assume things are worse off than they really are.  This is the “making a mountain out of a mole-hill syndrome.”  Many good people get caught up in false assumptions.  “He does not like me.”  “She does not care.”  “They like them better than us.”  These are dangerous thought patterns rooted in pride and ego.   This type of thinking is what Paul is warning Titus about in Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.  Choose to have healthy and hopeful thoughts about others.  Avoid assuming the worst.  It hurts your impression of others when you project unreasonable assumptions on others. Not everything will go the way you hope it will but compounding every relationship struggle is -assumption.
  • Unhealthy attitudes. The attitude truly determines your altitude.  If you have a healthy, winning attitude, you are more likely to succeed in whatever you are striving for.  In relationships, if you have a healthy attitude toward your pastor, it will help you be an encouragement.  It will cause you to be less critical.  It will create in you’re a desire to help and to serve.  When people serve with their pastor, they are helping advance the Gospel and the kingdom of God through the local church.

Basketball fans, and church members – don’t get a “Foul!” called on you.  Choose to have realistic thoughts about other church members and about your pastor.

He is a real person who cares much, feels deeply, and hopes unceasingly.

Yes, Draymond was right.  Stars are just people too.  Remember this truth the next time you watch a game.

 

Missions, Buildings, and Growth

Missions, Buildings, and Growth

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

Does our giving money to missions have a direct impact on the blessings of God on a local church?  Does our involvement in missions have a impression on our own church growth?  I would suggest they are probably very much connected.

As the Apostle Paul was commending the Philippian Christians for their faithful financial support the Lord tells him to add this truth: “I will supply your need.”  The church had support Paul for a long time and have given sacrificially.  In some instances, they were the only ones who were helping Paul on his mission trips.  Paul is thankful and says that “fruit has been added to their account.”  Because they gave to missions – God promised to supply all the needs they had.

God met the needs of the individuals, the families, and the church – because they trusted God and used their resources to propagate the Gospel into all the world through their missionary – Paul.

I recently read about one pastor who had challenged his church in missions giving and the promises made on the faith promise cards were the most ever received in that church.  The church was in a life stage of growth and was needing new land and was hoping to build a new building on the land.  But the pastor knew they could not stop going with the Gospel or stop sending missionaries.  It would be understandable to focus only on your church and the needs that you have.  He understood the church needed to remain committed to gospel missions.

The week after the promises came in, a deacon came to him and said, “I found the land.” After months searching for the right piece of land, they found 15 acres.

The pastor said, “I have asked for the people to give so much to missions, I can’t go ask them for more right now.”  Perhaps other preachers reading this have been there too.  I have.

Around Washington DC, the land is expensive.  It is probably expensive where you live too!  $3 million was needed for that land.  The deacon said, “I will buy the land and give it to the church.”  Incredible.

The pastor wrote that he believed that because the church was faithful to support missions that God, in turn, provided them their new place of worship.

We are blessed to partner with several missionaries and have committed to pray for and send finances to help them further the Gospel into their part of the world.

As we make “Faith Promises” to God about missions giving, please remember God’s promise to “Supply your every need.”  It will affect your life, and our church in a positive way.

I look forward to the day the Lord supplies our new building.  He already gave us the land!  Praise the Lord for that.  Let’s keep giving the Gospel here – and abroad thorough our missionaries.  Let’s see our faith increase during mission conference.

 

 

 

Story found in Bud Calvert’s book: “God’s Passion.”

 

 

 

 

4 “Plans” for Avoiding Sin

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Everyone is tempted to sin.  When our lust begins to control and consume us something is born called sin.  James chapter 1 speaks much to this process of temptation becoming sin.  While temptation is not sin, it leads to sin.  Could I suggest that allowing temptation to grow, or even actively nurturing it could also be sin?

John Eastwood made an insightful statement:  “People do not decide to be drunkards, drug addicts, prostitutes, murderers, or thieves, but they pitch their tent toward Sodom, and the powers of evil overcome them.”

Each of us know people whose lives were changed overnight, because of sin.  One temptation acted upon can alter an entire lifetime.  I have met teenagers who are not able to finish high school because of sin.  Many soldiers and sailors have made one bad choice and find themselves in legal trouble, or in the brig.  Ever notice the genuinely homeless people asking for food along the road?  Perhaps one bad choice, led to a whole string of bad choices and they end up with nothing.

If one sin can have such an impact, we should be looking to Jesus fervently and seeking His guidance and help to avoid sin! Here are 4 “plans” to help you avoid sin.

  1. Prayer Plan: Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
  2. Prevention Plan: Psalm 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
  3. Protection Plan: Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
  4. Escape Plan: 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

What happens if I falter and fail?   What should I do when I commit sin?  For sure we do not want to abuse the Grace of God – see Romans 6:1-2.  But when we sin, we do have an advocate with the Father – His name is Jesus.  We are instructed in 1 John 1:9 to confess our sin to God.  When we confess, we acknowledge our wrong and God forgives us.

Don’t forget about repentance.  Remember Romans 6:1-2?  That verse tells us to not continue in that sin.  That would be abusing the grace of God.  In other words, a person who confesses his sin to God, also should repent of his sin and turn around from it.  Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of direction.

So, can these 4 “plans” help you avoid sin?  Yes they can.  While we will never be perfect in our lifetimes on earth, we can choose to honor Jesus by living holy lives that are dedicated to Him.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change

The leaves are falling.  Soon the snow will be flying.  Before long, the grass will shove through the earth and the flowers will blossom.  The heat of summer will emerge, and the fall will be here before we know it.  Seasons make the year interesting.  Just as with the seasons and natural progression of hot and cold that God established, the Christian life and God’s church also goes through changes.

Change is something that human nature is resistant to.  We get comfortable.  We become accustomed.  What is “Normal” is what we have known to this specific point in our lives.  We can arrive at “new normal” when we willingly adjust our expectations.

Change in the Bible is good.  If you are a Christian, the specific moment you trusted Jesus for salvation, a big change took place.  You passed from “death unto life!” In John 5:24 Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Change for the Christian is good. For example: we are to be “transformed” (Changed from the inside out) by the renewing of our minds in Romans 12:1-2.

The Christian is to be continually changing to look more like Jesus.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul teaches, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Change is good.  Individual Christians are changing to look more like Jesus.  Churches also go through changes.  One preacher aptly stated: “Churches are always in transition.”  Very true.

A local church cannot remain stagnant.  A church must strive to be vibrant, meeting the edification needs for its members and the evangelism needs of its community.

Here are three areas a church can benefit from change:

  1. A renewed spirit of unity. We are to strive together to fulfill the Great Commission. We are unified by Christ around the Gospel.  Philippians 1:27, commands, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Perhaps this humorous story will help: “Intending to raise cattle, a family from New York bought a ranch out West. When their friends visited and inquired about the ranch’s name, the would be rancher replied: “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one of our sons wanted the Flying-W, and the other liked the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the BAr-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.”

“But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked.

“None survived the branding.””

There are casualties in a church when the members are not united around the main thing. Don’t be distracted in your service to the Lord!  Preferences, nuances, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” And personality issues should not divert your attention.  Keep serving Jesus.  Stay united to the cause of Christ and do not allow side issues to get your eyes off Jesus.

  1. A restored community of trust. Paul’s ministry even encountered seasons of disunity and discouragement.  When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, some of the believers were divided.  Read 1 Corinthians 1 for more details.  Some liked Paul’s preaching, others preferred Apollos (A great orator), and others enjoyed the passion of Peter.  The division was causing problems in the church.

Paul makes a hasty trip to Corinth in between these letters to try to resolve their issues.

Later, in 2 Corinthians, we find Paul sending another letter, not to elevate himself, but to elevate Jesus and help the people start to trust God again.

2 Corinthians 3:1-5 says, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles (letters) of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

The church belongs to Jesus.  He purchased her with His own blood.  We can trust the church to God.  Jesus can overcome any doctrinal, personal, or preferential problems a church may face.  Paul knew that he was not sufficient to solve the division, but Jesus was (and is) sufficient.   Paul was not boasting in his ability, but in the fact that these Christians had started to yield their sin, personalities, and problems to the Lord and God healed their church.  Jesus said: “I will build my church.”  We can trust Him!

  1. A revived attitude of respect. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 instructs, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”

Pastors are not dictators.  If pastors were dictators, then no church member would ever miss a service, and no one would ever not bring their tithe to church, and members would bring Snickers candy bars to every church function. Lol… if you like.  The role of pastor is that of “Servant – Leader.”  It is an accurate and healthy description.

Pastors are to be gentle shepherds leading and feeding the flock.  Sometimes that includes protecting the sheep from wolves (in sheep’s clothing), false doctrine (bad spiritual food to eat), and dangerous pasture fields (emergent church models).

There should be a mutual respect among the members of a congregation for one another.  Church members should be trusting the deacons.  Church members and deacons should have an attitude of trust with the pastoral staff as well.

One service I was preaching through this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5, and suggested that it helps the pastor of the church when the church members are not fighting or bickering and that when a church was at peace, the true work of the ministry can thrive.  It is a true thought.

A thoughtful man, a genuine student of the Bible, suggested to me that the peace among the members was also connected to their respect or lack of respect for the pastor.  Read that verse again please.

“Esteem” means to “deem, consider, or count.”  A faithful church member must be able to count the pastor as respectful and worthy or he will not be able to learn, grow, or develop in that church.  A result of disrespect is that the pastor is not able to lead as effectively as he should.  Why can he not lead effectively?  Because of the lack of peace.  A pastor constantly putting out fires cannot commit the time called for – for the actual work of the ministry.  It could look like this old saying: “Too many chiefs – not enough Indians.”  Let the pastor be the “Servant – Leader” overseeing the overall work of the church.

These are 3 examples where change is good!  If these areas are lacking – Change!  Change to the glory of God.

  • Are you united with your church family in the purpose of the Gospel?
  • Do you have an attitude of trust for the other members, deacons, and pastoral staff?
  • Is there a mutual respect that you have for the church leadership that creates a peaceful environment?

Change is good.  Christians as well as churches go through “Seasons of change.”  Transitions and changes are sometimes difficult and even turbulent because human nature does not like change; but when we see Jesus – it will be worth it all.  When we make the needed adjustments as individuals and as a church, the Lord is glorified.

And. His. Work. Will. Continue.