Monday, April 13, 2009

Pulpit lion but a Personable lamb

A good minister, will be a Lion in the pulpit and a Lamb in personal counseling.
Though this isn't perhaps the best description of a minister, in that of course there are times where one or/and the other is necessary.
Yet this is what i mean: A good minister like a prophet will proclaim the truth of God with no hesitancy because of what people may think. This boldness is needed not only towards the lost, which many don't find too hard, but needed even among those you 'assume' it might anger, hurt, or confuse. Once again i remember the wise council of Albert Martin who told pastors that if your congregation figures out they can move you with their smiles and frowns then you're doomed (paraphrased). Even the 'weeping prophet' spoke as bold as a lion, the lover of our souls Jesus Christ preached the boldest of them all. The truth of God must be exalted and in that process the pride of man will be shattered. There needs to be times where the scriptures stings, where it burns, where it crushes your listeners. Likewise surgery isn't delightful, yet the scapel is a needed tool in order for there to be any healing.
Listen up preacher, if this applies to you then you BETTER listen: If you don't have this Boldness and Tenderness then you have NEITHER, don't be fooled if you can't tolerate, if you can't weep for others then you DON'T have spiritual boldness; perhaps you're just another nerdy guy who got picked on too much in school and now you think you're something behind a pulpit. On the other hand, if you only have this tenderness, like many I've met that say ridiculous things like, well i don't like to speak on these subjects (like heretics, any specifying of sin, any emphasis on hell or God's wrath against the wicked..). All you have then is a soppy-hippie-mother Theresa-barney love that wants everyone to be happy and feel good. In other words you have sought to define 'love' not by the scriptures but by your experience, oh how you should tremble for not preaching the whole counsel of God.

This rings incredibly true with the preachers that i have much respect for and have heard much of. In fact, Paul Washer, Albert Martin, and John Macarthur have this impression in common; which is usually a shock to some that these guys are so incredibly gentle one on one.
This is of course more evident in those who have been blessed with a high view of the ministry of preaching, an urgent reality, and a solid grasp on the problems of the church as a whole!

With care, with much patience, should we minister to those in need, to those seeking help, to those seeking freedom. We must slowly nurture them back to health, which might mean a lot of sacrifice on our part, but it's worth it. While always being bold on the truth, our hearts should be breaking as we counsel one on one, no longer are we speaking to a crowd, now is the time for more transparency, for careful and slow teaching of the scripture (including saying something over and over and over and over again.)

This goes especially with church discipline, which some view as the means to throw people out of church (if that's your understanding of church discipline then you need some counseling). It should break your heart to find a member in your church in sin. It should cause you to tremble in even addressing the matter. Yet it should be your overall wish that it turns out well, that this person will receive godly counsel and will repent and be restored.
What's the extent of mercy you would show someone? Have you EVER restored a fallen believer? Have you cut them off even after they have pleaded for help and for forgiveness?
I recall Paul Washer telling of the time there was a sister in the church who fell into gross sin and how she was weeping before the church (repenting) and NO ONE went to comfort her, so Washer told his wife he was going to comfort her: to this tenderness Paul Washer said there were those who confronted him later saying "How could you forgive her, after WHAT she has done" and Washer replied something along the lines of 'If there's no hope for her then there's no hope for me'. Do you understand that? Then something is quite wrong, if you are a preacher then it's most likely that you've missed your calling. Go write books in a cave until you have a heart for people, especially the body of Christ.
Scriptural compassion and scriptural boldness are NOT natural to your personality, they must be rooted and directed by God.

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