Saturday, May 29, 2010

Teaching Pastor shepherding ONLY elders??

There's a new book out about Shepherding, that the role of the Pastor is to build relationships with the sheep, to keep close contacts with them in order to watch and encourage real fruit. I haven't read that book, but i did listen to an interview/promotion of the book and it sounded GREAT, a much needed reminder to pastors. A biblical reminder to pastors that they are called not to attempt to emulate celebrity preachers, but are called to shepherd their flock.
HOWEVER through the broadcast was all this emphasis on doing the 'dirty' work of shepherding the people and overcoming the excuses blah blah blah, and when the host asked the guest how he does it, he replied (classically) 'I shepherd the elders & their families'. Well you might ask 'what's wrong with that?' Nothing if you are an APOSTLE, or the director of something, or if you don't believe in the plurality of elders.

  • One problem is that it's kinda hard to teach others about doing the hard work of prying in the lives of others for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of their edification, when you don't have to.
  • Second, If there is a 'plurality of elders' then it's quite difficult for their to be mutual accountability if one person is seen as the 'teacher', whereas there should be the challenging of each other
  • Third, there isn't any scriptural example of such a ministry existing within the local church, where one elder gets to pick the people he will lead by example (The one teaching/preaching is the one who definitely NEEDS to be seen).

Now i know that some would object to the difficulty of doing so or even the impossibility of doing so within larger church contexts, however that doesn't call into question the biblical new testament model, it does however call into question the validity & health of a church that has to adopt new forms of church (whereas many are so large that they operate as multiple churches within a church with one SUPER, irreplaceable, preacher).

The solution? Keep it simple, keep it biblical, promote the glory of God not through corporation like strategies, but through humble, touchable, relational ministry. Healthier churches, not bigger churches and more ministers/laborers not bigger ministries.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Where is Holiness

Once again I wish to speak on something which makes too many people uncomfortable. Holiness, practical holiness that is, is something which is fine and dandy to speak of as long as your not living. In other words there are many believers who enjoy reading 'classics', writers which gave due attention to the need for believers to strive for holiness, but who can't stand when a contemporary preacher and ESPECIALLY someone they know speaks about it and too often they attempt to excuse their attitude by finding something they can call 'legalistic' or it's just something old men preach about because they came from such backgrounds.
The 'in-thing' among many reformed men and women is to see just how close they can get to the world without blatantly sinning. Such are those who, though they can quote with the best of them, ignore and despise the radical lifestyles of 'tried and true' saints of the past. Such an attitude usually springs from over-reaction (having suffered under legalistic ministries or apathetic ministries), a desire to rebel, and even uncrucified pride.
Our culture, the American Christian culture suffers from so many imbalances, and many are too quickly satisfied if they can grasp but one aspect of the Christian life. Allow me to name some categories which many so emphasize that they ignore the rest:
Family Groups (Christianity is Homeschooling & Headship)
Evangelism Groups (Christianity is Witnessing)
Church Groups (Christianity is Religion)
Relationship Groups (Christianity is Community)
Social Groups (Christianity is Charity)
Theology Groups (Christianity is Sound Doctrine)
Political Groups (Christianity is Republican Rule)
Prosperity Groups (Christianity is Enjoying life)
Sacrificial Groups (Christianity is Kingdom spending)
Legalistic Groups (Christianity is Rules)
Music Groups (Christianity is Worship Music)
and so on...........
Naturally many of these things may be quite amusing and yet a great majority of these things are biblical and of great importance, and it should go without saying that we don't have the freedom to pick and choose the ones we would like to emphasize.
This is my problem with 'movements', with catchy and inventive names or even 'challenges' because they too often consume everything else (that's NOT to say we cast something aside JUST because it's such, however we are called to examine it).
Christianity ISN'T that complicated, Christianity is CHRIST!!! Our 'goal', our 'challenge', our 'banner', is Christ and the pursuit of CONFORMITY to CHRIST is the calling of EVERY believer!
The gospel enables us to live unto the glory of God, and whether you like it or not PRACTICAL HOLINESS is a MAJOR part of living to the glory of God.
So what exactly is practical holiness?? Well practical holiness isn't about generalities and only being concerned with matters of 'personal' conviction. There are many NON-negotiables in the scriptures
such as our use and pursuit of MONEY
Our SEXual lifestyles
The use of our TIME
The things we say
How we are to treat our spouses
How we are to raise our children
The way we dress
The places we go
The company we keep
The things we set our eyes on
The way we THINK
The way we FEEL
The things we LISTEN to
How we are to WORK

Do you not know brethren that such things are IN the scriptures and that in the NEW testament?? Are these things in which you care to think about, and do you get bothered when they are brought up or explained?? Then there's a problem, HOUSTON and it's not primarily from external sources, it's an internal problem.
Now if that wasn't enough to cover the range of practical holiness as presented in the scriptures, we are ALSO called and COMMANDED to be concerned with 'our own conscience' and the conscience of others. If anything this has to be the LAST thing anyone wants to think or talk about unless it concerns what 'I have liberty to do'. Whereas Paul in his desire to be 'missional' LIMITED himself to reach the masses, apparently the Apostle Paul didn't grasp that the best way to show the grace of God and the freedom found in Christ would be to EXPRESS his freedom in Christ by IGNORING the immaturity of new believers and the judgmental thoughts of unbelievers with a "I answer to God, not you" attitude. Don't ignore the reality that Paul went out of his way and that by scriptural command, yes he wrote Colossians 2:16-23 but NOT to cancel out Roms 14:13-23 (and yes this apparently covers DRINKING/alcohol in SOME contexts/cultures) and 1 Corinthians 8:9, this same Paul for the sake of the gospel had TIMOTHY CIRCUMCISED (Acts 16, can u think of the arguments u would give against that?).
If we would but live unto the glory of God, then we would desire to know His heart and seek to please Him BECAUSE we are accepted and loved by Him and that would entail us opening our lives before Him to point out ANY areas that need change.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

W.W.J.D and 'on fire' Christians

Do you remember when W.W.J.D was the 'in' thing?? Everyone from ministers to saints to sinners was using this acronym. Through the overuse and abuse of this 'fad' many began to despise and ridicule it's use, but is that fair?? Well it isn't my aim to confront each and every abuse of this phrase, but I wish to consider the good of this.

Is asking in any given situation 'what would Jesus do?' a bad thing? Absolutely not!! In fact it IS a great tool to teach new believers how they should live. Obviously one must rightly understand who Christ is, what He did, and what He says in order to emulate Him, given that, this is a wonderful way to remember that "Christianity'" is about following Christ!!

When I find a new convert and I notice that they are indeed doing exactly this, then I rejoice! When I see a man actually scrutinizing his life by continually asking 'would Jesus do that?' I am personally convicted. Too often when a believer is in hot pursuit of God, there always seems to appear a 'firefighter', (one who lost the fire they once had, or one which tried to produce such fire through legalism, the list could go on) who seeks to 'slow' down this dear believer by easing his/her conscience about many things, or by trying to influence them to not be so 'heavenly minded'.

Praise God for those men and women that actually hear a sermon and try to apply it to their lives immediately, bless God for the believers who learn from those who have gone before them by implementing some of the same safeguards in their life. I bless the Lord for those who actually care to ask 'would Jesus, go here? Would He watch this? Would He enjoy that? Would He say this? Would He listen to that?' Is that not a 'good' thing, is that not the problem most of us have, that we don't do this?

Sure we can listen to the Washers, the Pipers, the Albert Martins, the Ravenhills, the Tozers, the Spurgeons, the Ryles, and the like, and we get excited because they ACTUALLY sound like they BELIEVE this stuff and they actually display deep affection and passion for truth and for God. We can love the way they pour out their hearts, and consider these men (though mere men and flawed men) holy men, men who fear God (and there are PLENTY of scriptures which encourage us to 'mark' out such men and to follow them) and YET our admiration, our love goes no further then ENTERTAINMENT or IDOLATRY. WHY? because when these men start to stress the importance of living holy and they spell it out, we then TUNE them out, when they touch our TV sets, when they touch our use of time, when they touch our children, our marriages, when they touch our music, when they touch our 'liberties', THEN we quietly place them in the 'old school' category, you know the 'poor over-passioned and out of touch minister who was sadly influenced by much legalism'. Though deep down we are convicted and we do notice the difference. Indeed such ministers should be placed in the 'dinosaur' category because as Washer says what we have left is 'a bunch of little boys with laptops'. What we have now is a ever-growing group of witty, funny, sarcastic, professional and dignified boys who are masters at quoting. It is no wonder at all that preachers and preaching is despised in our day, because it's so rare to hear and see real preaching and that lived out.
God help us!

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