Brethren, Pray For Me

Brethren, Pray For Me

2 Thess 3:1-2 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

One thing that is hardly addressed these days is the desperate need of prayer for pastors and missionaries. These men are in the forefront of the spiritual battle. We see so many fall to the wayside due to many reasons both physical and spiritual. Sometimes, they give in to the pressure of being told not to stand for the truth, maybe they become afraid in the battle, or grow weary because of the fight. Maybe they have been ill used by the congregation and their very soul is tattered and torn, maybe they struggle against sin or a specific sin, maybe their family is falling apart and they feel overwhelmed by everything going on, or maybe they are in a deep depression at this point.

Yes, we can all feel those things at one point or another yet how few people realize the tremendous pressure these men are under. They are in the front line of fire, spiritually speaking, and there is much they have to endure that most wouldn’t allow. A lot of people in the congregation think that because they pay the pastor or missionary that he has to obey them in everything. Don’t get me wrong as I believe in accountability but the people don’t own the heart and soul of the pastor and missionary. God owns their soul and is the One whose will should be followed completely and wholeheartedly.

Preaching in the right spirit and with all a person’s heart is quite similar to a day’s work. It’s easy to complain that the pastor doesn’t do anything but a person who says that hasn’t watched a true pastor give himself up in his preaching.

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Brothers and sisters, pray for your pastor. Pray that he will stand true to the Word of God and do what’s right regardless of the cost. Pray that his heart will be touched by what he studies and that the Holy Spirit will speak to him, first, then speak through him when he preaches. Pray that his heart will be renewed day by day. If he has a secular job as well as the ministry, buckle down and pray the Lord will give him strength for both positions. It’s not easy on a pastor to work, take time out for his family, and do what he needs to do for the family of God. Pray also for the health of the pastor who works as he will very seldom get time off.

Brothers and sisters, pray for the missionaries. Pray the same thing for the missionaries except they need added encouragement when they live in a different country. There will be culture shock on their parts and will need extra grace to adjust.

One more thing, pray that the Lord will cover both pastors and missionaries with His cloak of protection. May they each stand firm and do the Lord’s will. A strong man of God will mean one who’s ready to follow the Lord and guide his ministry in the way that they should go but a weak man of God means his ministry will fall into apostasy.

Sorry, Still Wrong

Yes, just as Todd Bentley who showed up again, so also, it has not taken long for Mark Driscoll to jump back into the limelight again. We knew this would take place sooner rather than later.  Sadly, far too many who claim the name of Christ are willing to show a gross lack of discernment by following the ministries of people like Bentley and Driscoll.

Less than one year after his fall from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Mark has decided that he needed to move to a warmer climate in Phoenix, Arizona where he has filed papers to start a new religious establishment called “The Trinity Church.” In case, you may have missed all the kerfuffle in recent times, this is the same Mark, who reveled in being known as the cussing pastor. This is the same man who was obsessed with pornographic visions of people in his “church” that supposedly came from God. Yes, this is the same man who plagiarized and bought his own books with funds not his own in order to push up his book sales on the best-seller lists.

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A website detailing far too much to reiterate at DefCon can be found here at The Mark Driscoll Controversy website.  We have repeatedly sought to give warning about Driscoll and will continue to do so as we feel that it is necessary.

For the record, here at DefCon, we do not now, nor have we in the past, nor will we in the future endorse or support any aspect of a man who has repeatedly chosen to mock the God of the Bible. My recommendation to those reading who think that Driscoll is a man of God is to pray for much discernment so you will quickly be able to see what this man was all about, and still is.

This is a man that needs much prayer. Prayer that he will truly repent of what he has said and done in the past. Prayer that people will not blindly follow him as they did under the Mars Hill Empire. Prayer that God will continue to raise up godly men to proclaim the truth of God’s Word whether it is liked or not.

A Note of Encouragement for Pastors

I don’t know how many pastors read my blog but, if you are a pastor who is discouraged, I hope this will help to lift your spirits. If your pastor is down right now, feel free to share this with him. Even if he’s not down, this may provide the extra lift he needs.

I have several friends who are pastors, and at least one is very discouraged with the state of the Church. Unfortunately, many attend church because it’s what they do on Sunday morning, but they are not there to hear a word from the Lord. In fact, if God really showed up, I expect some would get up and leave. Gone are the days of growing and repenting and crying out, “Search me, O God!” People simply want a peppy worship service, with a feel-good message afterward, so they can then go back home and live their comfortable life.

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Some pastors probably are fine with this, as they want the same thing, but I know there are some whose heart is toward the Lord, who desire His will above all else, who wonder if anyone hears a word they say week after week. It seems, many times, a congregation will not tell a pastor what a blessing his messages are (even if they think so), but he will definitely hear about it if he preaches too long, gets too excited, doesn’t get excited enough, etc. Let me just remind you that your job is to preach the Word. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to change hearts. It’s possible, though, that you can help that change come about through prayer and crying out to God for it. It is not the time to be discouraged. Faithful is He who called you, and HE will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24). If you know that you are where God put you, you must trust that He has a plan. Your job is simply to be faithful.

I know you already know this, but let me remind you that success in God’s eyes is not measured by numbers, wealth, or any such thing. God is looking for people who will speak the word He gives them to speak whether people want to hear it or not. He wants bold men and women who will say, “Here am I. Send me. It doesn’t matter if anyone makes fun of me, criticizes me, etc. As long as I know You are pleased with me, that’s all that matters.”

You may never see results this side of Heaven but, one day, when you finally get Home, you will hear your Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.” At that moment, all the struggles and frustrations you had while on earth won’t matter. It will finally be worth it all.

God Is Still On the Throne

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This past week, the Supreme Court made a decision that has caused many to become worried over the future and the state of America. There is a reason that I don’t watch much news: because I know how easy it can be to become depressed and lose sight of the fact that God is still the same yesterday, today, and forever. The fact is that we have been losing our freedom for a while. This is just another spoke taken out of our wheel. No matter what the world does, however, God hasn’t changed, and there is a reason we are here at this moment. Our job is to find out what our purpose is in this ever-changing, dark world. My Facebook page has been riddled with posts as people express their views on the ruling but the best one I read was from a pastor in California who summed up perfectly how I feel. With his permission, I would like to share it with you:

Wow, what a day can hold. There has been so much conversation and online chatter about the Supreme Court Decision today and it is to be expected. I have had several conversations about it already. Its my privilege as a pastor, and its a blessing. But personally, I find myself so blessed to be doing what I do every Friday: preparing Bible studies so that Gods people might be refreshed, refocused, and that they might continue to disciple one another while engaging our ever-changing culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will never change. Today a monumental decision has been made that will change our culture drastically in the near future. But Christian, what has changed really? The world will always be the world, and the church will always have work to do. In John 9:4-5 Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Lets pray to understand what it means to be the light of the world and passionately pursue that privilege until the Day comes when we will rest and be rewarded. Do not let your hearts be troubled, my friends, lets continue to be about the Fathers business.

Amen!

Church Problems?

We occasionally repost articles by permission from other writers. Pastor Jon Gleason does an excellent job in this post addressing the issue of church problems being based on doctrine. I have chosen to highlight a few parts and added a picture.

Church Problems — They Are Always Doctrinal

Most pastors have heard it many times, especially if they are active on the Internet — it hits their email inbox all the time.  “Something has gone wrong in my church.”  Sometimes it is from another pastor, sometimes a member of the congregation, often from someone he doesn’t even know, who gets in touch online.

There’s an additional statement that often comes with it:  “It’s not doctrinal.  The church still teaches sound doctrine.”  That addendum is wrong.  It is always doctrinal.  Problems always are.

The most common errors are probably in Bibliology, the doctrine of what the Scriptures are, their inspiration, authority, and sufficiency.  Close behind, if not even more common, are errors in ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church of Jesus Christ, what it is, its purpose, and its leadership.  But perhaps underlying almost every problem is a failure to truly carry out what it means when we say God is great, holy, loving, and true.  If we didn’t diminish who God is, it would probably be impossible to have problems in the church.

Is the problem that the church has a pastor who won’t lead, or one that is dictatorial?  Those are doctrinal problems.  Whatever may be said from the pulpit or in Bible studies, the practice of the church in teaching the role of church leadership is not according to sound doctrine.  The ecclesiology is in disarray.  If the pastor is dictatorial, the Bibliology of the church is also likely in trouble — instead of the Bible being the authority, the pastor begins to become the authority in the church.  If the pastor is the authority, then we diminish God.

Doctrine

Is the church adopting new and questionable practices in an attempt to bring more people into the church?  Whatever the words of the doctrinal statement may say, the practice of the church is based on a flawed doctrine of salvation.  The pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, including His work in regenerating lost souls) has also probably gone astray, as that is effectively set aside for the view that the new practices are the key to evangelism.  We’ve replaced the work of the Spirit with our own ideas — and diminished God by saying our ideas can do what the Spirit does.

Has the church become emotionalistic, giving the emotions of an individual or the entire group a central focus?  This is doctrinal error on many levels, skewing the ecclesiological doctrine of the church’s worship so that it becomes more about human emotions than about honouring God — we reduce God to a reason for me to get excited or emotional.  It is flawed Bibliology, for the Scripture emphasises truth — the facts of what God has done (not “how I feel”).  It is often errant anthropology (the doctrine of what Bible says man is) by exalting human feelings to the most important part of who we are.

Is the church unfriendly and cold?  The church’s doctrinal practice, whatever is taught in words, denies the doctrines of regeneration and sanctification which teach us to love.  It denies the ecclesiological truth that the church is a family of brothers and sisters, a body united together.

Is the time of teaching the Word decreasing?  If you decide that your church needs more time on other things and less on Scripture, you effectively deny the inspiration and sufficiency of the Scriptures.  Is a pastor’s preaching changing, so that he spends less time simply explaining the Scriptures, and more time telling stories?  Does he give the impression he is more concerned with a powerful or entertaining performance than with simply communicating truth?  It is the same problem — the pastor’s presentation has been exalted to the detriment of the sufficiency of Scripture.

Is someone grumbling and complaining?  That is a denial of the doctrine of last things (eschatology), our future hope.  It is also a denial of the doctrinal truths about sin — if we really believe our sin is as bad as God sees it, then we know that we deserve nothing but judgment, and we have nothing of which to complain.  If we complain because we think we deserve better, we deny the doctrinal truths of God’s grace.  In fact, grumbling is a denial of almost every doctrine in the Bible.

Is there gossip in the church?  That is a doctrinal error on the doctrine of sanctification (as Christians, part of the holy life we are to live is to speak the truth) and the doctrine of the church (we are to be one body, united, loving one another).

page38_picture0If your church has a problem (and which church doesn’t?), it can always be traced back to doctrine, either what is taught in word or what is taught in practice, or both.  Almost always, if doctrinal errors are practiced long enough, they begin to make their way into the verbal teaching of the church as well.

Note:  Of course, the problem just might be you.  You might be the one who is grumbling or gossiping.  The church’s problems may not be anywhere near as bad as you are making them out to be.  You may be the one who is in doctrinal error (in your practice, whatever you say you believe).

How can you tell?  And (the vital question) if the church is in trouble, how can you help?

A good place to start is to identify the doctrinal questions involved.  If there is a real problem, there is a doctrinal error.  Cut through the surface considerations to identify just exactly which doctrine is at stake.  There may be more than one, for many wrong behaviours violate more than one doctrine.

Once we’ve done this, we begin to see the problem Biblically.  When we see problems Biblically, then we not only understand them better, we are well on our way to finding Biblical solutions.

Furthermore, when we can identify the Scriptures and doctrines which are at stake, we are much better equipped to discuss the problems with others, if necessary.  This does not guarantee that any such discussions will go well, but using the Scriptures gives an authority which we could never have on our own.  Most importantly, we’re using God’s way of addressing problems.  The Scriptures are sufficient for the problems in our churches, if we will only use them.

Not every difference between people in a church is doctrinal, but if it isn’t doctrinal, then it isn’t a real problem.  If it is real, there certainly is doctrine at stake somewhere — someone (or the church as a whole) is denying true doctrine, in words, actions, or both, whether they recognise it or not.  If you sort out the doctrine (both stated and applied), you sort out the church.

These Are ‘Want’ Ads For Pastors?!

Is it any surprise that we have need for such open letters for pastoral repentance and bad, bad, bad church signs when churches are actually listing mostly worldly requirements for pastors?

These actual ‘want’ ads are taken off a good sister’s blog:

Executive Pastor
MCC is looking for an Executive Pastor (i.e. acting as the Chief Operating Officer) who will manage the operations of the church and will report to the Senior Pastor. The ideal candidate will have a proven track record of effective staff leadership and development and will be a person of integrity committed to the mission and vision of the church. The individual will possess exceptional organizational skills and excellent oral and written communications skills. He/she will be able to manage multiple priorities. The Executive Pastor will supervise all senior staff at MCC and will lead the development of integrated plans across ministries/staff to deliver the church vision. This candidate will have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. MCC is a 2300 member church that is mission oriented and has a passion to reach the community and the world with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The Executive Pastor will embrace this mission and share this passion. This is a full time position with a full benefit package. The ideal candidate will have a Bachelors degree and a strong background in business and organization management. A minimum of 10 years experience in a leadership capacity with responsibility for delivering a vision is required. Executive Pastor Experience desirable (but not required).

Just one Biblical requirement — a close relationship with Jesus Christ?!

Worship Pastor
Emmanuel Baptist Church is seeking a man to serve as full-time Worship Pastor. Candidates must be comfortable leading a “blended” style service. EBC leans toward the contemporary side of “blended,” but we need someone who truly loves and uses both traditional and contemporary music to unite people of all age categories in worship. A little history of our church may help… EBC has more than doubled in worship attendance over the past 5 years to a weekly attendance of 600+. Last year, we saw 251 salvations, 50 baptisms, and 136 new members added to our church family. EBC has grown at an average of 100 people per year in a small town setting. In addition, Emmanuel Christian School has 450+/- students enrolled in grades PreK-12. We also opened a School of Fine Arts teaching music, voice and drama. Emmanuel Baptist Church is balanced, growing, financially sound, and known as “A Place of Grace” in our community. Emmanuel is truly experiencing a modern-day miracle! Candidates for this position should have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Music, a minimum of 3 years experience, and be proficient in piano.

Wow, no mention of any spiritual status at all! One just has to know how to lead a “blended” style service. What that is can be very open to interpretation, especially if we see the word “contemporary”, no?

Senior Pastor – Life Groups
PURPOSE OF THE POSITION
This purpose of this position is to create “Raving Fan” small groups where people can learn, change, grow, connect, support and experience God together.

PRIMARY STRENGTHS/GIFTS/TALENTS REQUIRED

  • Vision Caster – Able to communicate the LG vision effectively so that people buy in and embrace it.
  • Strategic & Systems Thinking – Able to develop effective systems (both administrative & leadership) to make sure the LG’s are on track and achieving their goals.
  • Up Front Teaching Gifts – Able to design and deliver effective leadership training in a way that creates Raving Fans.

Are raving fans an euphemism for raving lunatics? Oh, and by the way, no mention of Biblical requirements for shepherds either.

I rest my case.