26 October 2007

The Tombstone of a Wife

by Frank Turk

Yeah, OK: many of you are silently rolling your eyes at me for the what-for I have given Strategem in the meta of the last post because you have a story like this one, which I received via e-mail and have doctorized to conceal the identity and particulars from the original e-mail:
I took my family to a perfectly orthodox church after I changed jobs a few years ago, as far as I could tell. The preaching was always about Scripture, -always- from some very plain-jane orthodox perspective. They were not participating in trendy marketing & ministry, and they had a viable church polity – biblical enough to be sure.

As I say, we attended for years, faithfully, because God said to attend a local church, and I don't believe there are many excuses not to do so.

I made the effort to be supportive of the pastor. My wife and I did ministry there. We worked to connect to the families in the church and extended our hand to anyone who would shake it.

But the preaching was only safe – safe doctrine, safe exposition, safe topics, all doctrinally fine but, um, sort of under glass like pieces in a museum rather than things I could take home with me.

The church never reached back to us. The pastor/his family never showed friendship to or concern for us. The pastor would see me sitting in the parking lot with absolutely nothing to do as I waited for 90 minutes for my child's youth group to conclude, and at best he'd wave at me. Never wanted to come talk to me, with me.

Then on the recommendation of a former church member, I joined the men's fellowship st our current church. It was in this connection, that I began to see some light, and entered a new and immensely better phase of my life. Then I attended one service. The preaching was remarkably good, and had what the current pastor lacked: passion. My wife attended next, and was similarly impressed. We began coming.

When we left, I emailed the pastor, telling him we'd left, wishing him well, urging him to use his position with passion and fire for God's glory.

He never responded.

But I'm gathering from your posts that you think I did the wrong thing?
I mean, what do you do with that, right?

I think that, if we're going to only fish out what someone prolly did wrong, we're just a bunch of hypocrites looking for a fight – so let's first see what this person did –right-, which I think is a lot.

First, he didn’t live in his church like it was a bunker – like it was the only herd of Christians in the world, or at least his corner of the world. He had needs as a Christian man which his church didn’t fill, and he wasn't afraid to get filled by associating with other Christians even if they were under a different roof than he normally came to. That's not consumerism -- that being honest. If your church doesn't have an opportunity for you to fellowship with other believers in more than just a coffee- while- reading- LifeWay- on- Sunday kind of way, you prolly need some of that and to seek it out isn't evil. It's self-awareness. Getting Christian fellowship ought to be part of church; when church doesn't do that, seek it out with people who are Christians,

You know: like we do at this blog, except in person. It'd be OK if you knew people from other churches.

Next, he wasn't really looking for the next big thing – wasn't chasing fads or leaving one church for another, or stopping his attendance or attending irregularly because his current church was, frankly, lame. He was faithful to the church he was joined to in spite of being more than a little disappointed in its performance.

And lastly, he can make a clear case that one church was exercising the mission of the church by acting alive and the other was frankly on life-support. That is, one was living out some kind of "calling out" and the other was not really doing much at all. It was sort of the tombstone of a church, which is like the tombstone of a wife -- you can see she was there one time, but you can't be married to a tombstone. Put an appropriate, loving epitaph on it and move on.

Let me put it this way: if I was attending a church where I was teaching Sunday school and having serviceable worship on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, but I found that all my fellowship time and discipleship and real acts of public service for the sake of Christ was under the umbrella of another church, I'd seriously consider changing churches – even if I couldn’t teach at the new church. And the reasoning would be this: I am fruitlessly ministering to this body of people, and I am fruitfully ministering with these other people. My Christian life is actually a life in one circumstance, and no so much in the other.

That's not bailing due to apostasy: that's working with fellow workmen. And that, btw, is what the church is.

You could find out by being in the Lord's house on the Lord's day with the Lord's people this week. You can't find out by glowering at this blog and trying to nit-pick the flaws in my reasoning -- that will only give you a headache, and who wants that?







85 comments:

ikon: said...

Sadly, as a salesman I've called on countless churches over the last 10 years. I can say with surety that I've been engaged in conversation by a pastor or evangelized by staff exactly zero times. Some of those encounters have been fodder for my blog. Indifference is the model, at best. Actions that follow convictions are virtually non-existent.

johnMark said...

Franklin,

Thanks for more food for my thought headache.

What do you think about getting involved in programs so the church can have programs to get involved in?

:-)

Mark

Writing and Living said...

You make some wonderful points.

A church can seem to be spot-on in its doctrine, but if people are not connecting, the church is not, as you said, exercising its mission.

The person who sits fuming alone in the pew because no one is coming up to shake his hand should probably try a bit harder, but when a person does try and reach out and continually seems to come to a brick wall, it may be time to move on.

It's a very subtle difference, and one that people should be very careful before they pass judgment.

stratagem said...

OK, just for the record, I'm not rolling my eyes. I'm still honestly struggling to understand your clear, concise instruction for what reason it is legit for one to leave a local church that one has been connect with.

At first a while back, I thought I was tracking with you: I thought you were saying that no matter how much suffering it may entail to stay, you'd better not leave unless there is sin in the camp, and even then, not until after practicing Matt 18 (from the position of church member, not church leader). I'm not sure I agreed with that opinion, but it was clear, at least.

Then, you threw into the mix that if if a church doesn't have a doctrine statement, then it is a social club, not a church, and (presumably) one does not need sin in the camp or to practice Matt 18 to leave a social club. This late entry of caveat left me wondering what other exceptions may be lurking about.

Then, yesterday I heard you say that if the church is ordaining homosexuals, that is another exception. There were some other exceptions mentioned to others along the way, too, as real-life examples were discussed.

Today's article allows that if one simply isn't fruitfully ministering at one's current church, it's OK to leave. That seems like a pretty big retreat from the original, somewhat rigid premise that I thought I read in this blog, at the beginning of this subject area.

I don't expect a response or agreement with what I've said. I'm just writing this to explain myself, and why my confusion about your thesis is not simply all in my head, as you've been implying it is. I'm not writing out of disagreement with today's article, because actually I think today's article is much more understanding and practical than previous ones have been. In fact, I liked it. Thank you.

mkz said...

How agonizing it must be to see such a field of corpses where the battle weary feel they have lost. I too would be turned off by attending such a church. As I read your post, looking at both church models you present, I could not help thinking that a transfusion from the living to the dead may glorify God. In this scenario I would do my best to wrestle the pastor from his spiritual slumber by begging and pleading with him to attend a service in the new church, that light may come to his eyes and breath to his lungs again by hearing the Word preached with fire before I made the decision to leave. Beyond that I would not know what else to do. Thank you for this breakfast banquet!

centuri0n said...

W&L:

"people should be very careful before they pass judgment."

B-I-N-G-O Dude. Exactly. This is not an easy or simple question, and we should think about it with heavy and serious hearts.

Grace said...

This seems to be the opposite of what you've said before. Did miss a tone of sarcasm? Are you using parody? Because this sounds like a 180 from all your other posts.

And yes, I've read them all. I am genuinely confused.

Connie Reagan said...

Well, duh!

Why didn't you say that to start with, cent?

The way you were talking about this subject before just made me scratch my head. And it didn't even itch.

centuri0n said...

strategem:

While I appreciate your less-combative approach to asking questions here, you're still missing the points pretty broadly, so let me offer some points to track by and see if it gets you anywhere.

-- "ordaining homosexuals" is "sin in the camp", dude. If you don't get that, or can't figure that one out, or can't see the way these things fit together, you're not really trying very hard. A church which turns a blind eye to sin so much so that it gives openly unrepentant sinners places in leadership is not being a church. That's a clear case which looks like the warnings given to the churches in Rev 1-2-3. I think it's prudent to still work out Mt 18 in some form there, but it's unlikely that even the first step there will be met with any kind of openness to resolution.

-- A church without a doctrinal statement of any kind isn't a church. Listen: even the Catholic churches I attended as a lad could point you to what they officially believed even if they didn't practice that stuff or taught something significantly different in every homily. If that's hard to grasp, my suggestion is that you don't actually have a working definition of what a local church is, and you should do some remedial reading on the subject -- like the LBCF section XXVI for starters, including the proof texts.

-- Your broad-brush of bearing fruit ignores most of what I said there. For example, it's not just about "bearing fruit": it's about (as I said) "working with fellow workmen". If one finds one's self in many viable Christian settings and in a company of people who are doing the work, de facto one is joining together with them. If it then turns out that in all these non-sunday settings one is joining with a group of people, but somehow on sunday one is joining with another group which is, frankly, not doing anything but a sunday meeting, it seems a little intransigent to say, "I'm going to sit in this building on sunday but do all my christian living with these other people over here."

I find it deeply troubling that you read that to be comparable to the things I have been decrying -- which would include not attending any church at all, leaving for utterly superficial reasons, failing to seek resolution to conflicts, and generally taking an agnostic view toward church membership and church life. And my personal motivation here in all these posts has been to underscore that it's not hardly a "liberal" problem in these matters: it is at least as problematic in so-called "conservative" circles and "reformed" individuals as it is in any other realm of sociological christendom.

As I have said before, I think you're looking for the bullet-point list of bylaws to follow. There isn't any, except that you ought to be joined to a church and not floating around as if Jesus wanted us each to be birthday candles on his sovereign cake. And that's not actually a law: it's a massive privilege, an incomprehensible grace, for which we ought to be grateful and not sort of jaded about.

Belief Matters said...

Forgive me for being very picky, but to expect the pastor to jump in your car and talk with you is not reasonable IMHO. I know that wasn't the only reason they left, but please the pastor doesn't have time to jump in every car and talk with youth parents waiting on their kids. I'm a pastor and there are many times I would love to engage in discussion with church members, but I just don't have the time.

Also, I don't contact every person who decides to leave the church I serve.

Thanks for allowing me to be picky.

Jeff

centuri0n said...

Before anyone else says, "now I'm confused, too", notice something in particular: the anonymous and conflated writers of this fictional e-mail did not leave their weak church for nothing at all. These people stayed at weak churches, served and lead a life of Christian faithfulness until it became apparent that they were actually part of a different church rather than shopping churches like used car lots.

And for those of you who think I haven't said anything like this so far, I challenge you to go back and read this post which links to this post and see if that's true at all.

stratagem said...

I find it deeply troubling that you read that to be comparable to the things I have been decrying -- which would include not attending any church at all, leaving for utterly superficial reasons, failing to seek resolution to conflicts, and generally taking an agnostic view toward church membership and church life. And my personal motivation here in all these posts has been to underscore that it's not hardly a "liberal" problem in these matters: it is at least as problematic in so-called "conservative" circles and "reformed" individuals as it is in any other realm of sociological christendom.

I agree wholly that all of the things listed above are things to be decried. I always would have.

However, at some point in your series, things were sounding a lot more rigid and unforgiving toward even conscientious objectors who leave for anything short of the totally outrageous. I think you can see that others are just as confused. On the other hand it's OK to evolve in one's thinking, even when one is a blogger and therefore the deemed "expert." I think you have appropriately changed your message to be a little more understanding of the common person in the pew (or in Emergent, the couch); I have had some of my thinking changed along the way, as well.

Kevin said...

Jeff said,
I'm a pastor and there are many times I would love to engage in discussion with church members, but I just don't have the time.

Also, I don't contact every person who decides to leave the church I serve.

Where is your time being spent? Who or what are you shepherding?
Isn't "the flock" your number one priority?

Maybe I'm being picky.

JackW said...

Is it just me or is it looking more often than not like THE problem is THE Pastor. Plurality of Elders anyone?

Paul said...

Frank,
This series has been helpful. I think many (myself included) have been more focused on looking for reasons to leave. I have been quick to leave only to later realize the reason I left was actually the reason I should have stayed.

I spent many years in retail management and I would be asked to go to stores that were a mess and under performing. The reason I was sent was to help get the store back into good working order (training, etc.)and in-line with company standards and expectations. I mention this because I believe that God (at times) may draw us to a local church to help clean it up. After all, He will build His church.

Belief Matters said...

Kevin, my time is spent

Studying
Counseling
Praying
Exhorting

I never have enough time to do all I want to do.

Frank's mythical post makes it sound like this fellow demanded his pastor jump in the car every time and just socialize because hey I am there and you saw me.

Kevin, How do you spend your time as a pastor?

Daryl said...

Exactly right Jackw,
Not only that but the size and health of a church has a lot to do with it. In a huge church, of course the pastor can't be expected to get to know everyone. In a small church that makes the pastor do everything...same situation.
That's why we're a body of many memebers. We all serve each other. If you never get to know anyone, that's a problem, but it probably cuts both ways. If you don't get to know the pastor, maybe you need to get involved in a way that you can or maybe you need to get to know someone else.

(Do YOU know everyone in the church intimately? No? Then don't expect him to either.)

centuri0n said...

Kevin -- in Jeff's defense, his #1 priority is preaching and teaching the word of God. That's what the apostles did, and they appointed deacons to, as they say, "wait tables".

Now: in a church of 50, I'll bet the Pastors knows every family and has fellowship with most of if not all of the men. In a church of 500, prolly not so much, and in a church of 2000, how possible is that?

The pastor's #1 priority is the Word of God preached. In season and out of season. It's the only remedy for itchy ears.

centuri0n said...

Paul -- that a great analogy. Having lived that life, too, it resonates with me.

centuri0n said...

jackw:

I reject that answer. I think it benefits any pastor to be one among a plurality of elders, but the single-elder model is not the problem: it is a symptom of the problem.

The problem is failure to do what the Bible tells us to do.

Kevin said...

Cent,

You are so correct.
I agree that a Pastors #1 priority is to teach and preach. Jeff did not even mention teaching or preaching. I go to a small church (400) and our Pastor not only preaches expositionally but also teaches adult sunday school. We are truly blessed by that. And he does go out of his way to try to get to know everyone.

centuri0n said...

All --

I also reject the idea that the fictionalize writer expected his/her pastor to "jump in the car with him" every time he saw him.

Let me put it this way: I've been a leader in businesses since I was 17, and there's only one true fact about leading people. The true fact is that people require attention. You can't be everyone's close confidante and bowling buddy -- but you can do what they call at WMT "manage by walking around". You engage people not by waving at them or nodding, but by stopping and shaking a hand. You look them in the eye. You know something about them.

When I managed a facility of 250 people, I knew everyone's first name and face because, in the first place, I had interviewed almost all of them before they were hired, and in the second place, I didn't just walk past them as if I was busy -- even if I was busy.

It is a reasonable expectation that a leader lead not just by command or station but by influence and relationship. Checking in on an adult who's hanging out while the youth group is meeting isn't hardly about and beyond -- especially when it's week after week that you see them there.

johnMark said...

How about when the preaching is doctrinally weak and the main focus is to be a friendly church?

Making people feel comfortable and welcome as your main goal just seems...to be missing something.

Maybe it's just me...

Mark

Belief Matters said...

Kevin, forgive me for not being clear. When I wrote studying, in my mind I meant preaching/teaching.

Cent, I agree that the pastor must do his best to be out there.

The size of my church is about 100 avg, but the people I care for is closer to 250 or more.

The town I pastor in is small so I try to visit the hospitals and stuff like on a regular basis.

Not to sound like I am defending myself, but simply for educational purposes.

I am responsible to prepare three sermons a week. This consumes up to 30 hours a week in study most weeks.

I am married and have been blessed with three children who deserve my attention.

I also volunteer at school once a month and as the principle needs me. This allows me to be "out there."

I also am considering volunteering at the hospital as a chaplain.

I wrote all that to say this: that when I am walking across the church parking on Wednesday night I ain't how looking at the stars. I am heading some where.

I believe this to be typical of most pastors.

It is a constant battle for me to shepherd the church and my family.

Jeff

Tom Chantry said...

My initial reaction to this series was, “Oh boy, is this awful. Of course there are all sorts of reasons why people must leave churches; are you going to take all those away?” But I kept reading, because the topic is the church. Or, as Frank put it in a comment earlier this week, “God's plan for the life of Christians.” I am in love with the topic. Write anything about ecclesiology, and I’m in - I may not always agree, but I’ll read with fascination, and I’ll be grateful that something is being said. I haven’t really commented seriously in a while, but here goes.

The situation as I see it:

1. There is a serious problem of church-hopping in America today, and a growing phenomena of church-less Christianity. Far from being the exception to these rules, Reformed Christians have become a major factor in it. There are thousands (no exaggeration) in the Reformed camp who leave churches faster than Seinfeld left girlfriends, and for reasons every bit as trivial, and many of them see no problem in sitting at home reading the Puritans on Sunday morning. That’s a problem. A big problem. Frank wanted to address it. How should he do so?

2. A lot of us would start with a list of reasons why it is legitimate to leave a church. Frank didn’t, and I’m beginning to appreciate why. The chronic leavers love those lists, and they can always point to why they left, even if they’ve never actively participated in any church. (“I left my first church for reason 3, my second church for reason 14b, and my last church for reasons 2, 3, 6, and 27.”) A discussion about how and when to leave the church doesn’t really address their problem at all. Think in terms of marriage. The Bible does give legitimate reasons for divorce, but what would you say to a man who asked you, “Can I leave my wife yet? I really want to know whether she’s crossed the biblical threshold so I can leave her, ‘cause, you know, I can’t wait to get on with my life.” Is it a legitimate question? Well, part of it, sometimes. But shouldn’t you start with “What can I do to make this marriage work?” And maybe, just maybe, we should talk about how to minister in the church before we talk about when to leave it? (I know, church membership isn’t marriage. It’s an illustration, OK?)

3. Part of the reason there is such a problem is that we thirst for an ideal church, which isn’t going to happen until Christ returns (all eschatologies I know of agree on this) and in the meantime, the main problem of the church is, as several commenters have acknowledged, that it’s made up of people like me. Christ tells us we will be forgiven to the degree that we forgive others. I believe that has application here. Do we have a forgiving (not complacent) attitude toward the imperfections of our respective churches, or are we counting up the reasons to leave?

4. So Frank took the approach I wouldn’t have thought of, which was to write for weeks against the idea of leaving the church (never saying that there’s no reason to do so), and urging us to think in terms of real participation. The point at which I switched sides and realized what was going on in this series was this quote: “If you're leaving "for the sake of the kids", I say leave – go ahead and go. But get joined to a church for the sake of the kids in such a way that you demonstrate to them what joining means.” How’s that for a starting point: leaving a church even for a good reason doesn’t make you a spiritual hero unless you can honestly say that you’ve truly joined! Not that you’ve been a perfect member, but that you’ve truly given yourself to the church! I hope I’m not putting words in Frank’s mouth here, but that’s what I thought I was reading, and I thought, “Wow! That’s putting it plainly.”

5. People don’t like what he’s saying. Some of them are probably folks who have legitimately had to leave churches. I understand their frustration, but listen, the other problem is out there, too, and he’s addressing it. Here’s another (probably poor) illustration. Anorexia is a real problem. Sometimes doctors and public health officials try to address it and urge teenage girls not to starve themselves. If you were an overweight teenage girl, might you be offended? Might you say, “Hey, what about me, I need all the encouragement in my dieting that I can get!”? You might, because teenagers are intrinsically self-centered. Those of us who have grown up sometimes need to recognize that there are other problems than ours. Furthermore, since the chronic leavers always think they have legitimate reason, might it not do us all some good to reevaluate our respective situations? Perhaps we need to reflect on the principles of proper, biblical participation in church before we rehash our list of reasons to leave.

6. I’ve been getting more and more excited as this series continues. I’ve actually defended it in private email. I haven’t done so publicly before because I’m not a mind reader; I thought I knew what was coming, but I couldn’t be sure. Then came this morning: a post detailing a right response to deadness in a church, demonstrating that sometimes a person who has participated thoroughly in his church’s life may need to leave. All those who leave are not sinners. Frankly, Frank never said they were. Now he is expressly saying that they are not. The timing, in my opinion, is right. He didn’t start with a list of reasons to leave, nor, really, has he given one now, but he’s acknowledged that leaving may be legitimate - in the context of true joining.

7. My one remaining reservation, and I’m no longer certain that Frank and I would even disagree if we sat down to talk about this, is that thorough, biblical participation is a changing standard based on multiple variables. A church member’s gender, marital/family status, age, spiritual maturity, distance from the worship center, etc. all affect the degree to which (as I understand it) Christ will hold him/her accountable for the direction of a church. Today’s post gave us one good example, but it was of a spiritually-grounded, substantially-gifted, happily-married couple. I still hold out that the divorced woman living alone in the city who sees her church turning emergent will not, and probably should not, react the same way that I would. Thorough, biblical participation means something different in her case than it does in mine. We may agree even on that; we certainly agree that she has some obligation to her church, and that if that obligation has never been met, just leaving isn’t going to excuse all her earlier failures.

Anyhow, sorry for the long comment. It’s a digest of the twenty or so comments I haven’t sent over the course of this series.

I’ll close with this, in general appreciation for what Frank is trying to say here: I know how I expect people to treat my bride, whom I love. Is that how I treat Christ’s bride?

JackW said...

"The problem is failure to do what the Bible tells us to do."

I agree, which is where I think the single-Elder model breaks down.

Paul said...

I think the problem is that the series is not really a [typical] blog post. I don't think it is a post to be debated. It is a post that asks us to evaluate how we look at local church membership. Frank has given some excellent reason why we should not leave and provided Biblical references in support of the article. Now, he is being bombardied with "what-if" scenerio's. While I was reading the post related to this series, I never got the impression Frank was asked to be my conscience. Instead, I understood it as encouraging us to listen to our own and really evaluate the reason we left (or are thinking about leaving) a church.

centuri0n said...

Chantry --

On my home blog, I give out "blue ribbons" to people who nail it, and you did. Yet another reason that the blogger comments apparatus is third-rate.

Your comment here, however, is first-rate. Thanks for actually reading and thinking about this.

johnMark said...

Chantry,

Thanks for your thoughts. You said just one thing that I believe gets closer to the differing views and the struggle some have in this area.

I know how I expect people to treat my bride, whom I love. Is that how I treat Christ’s bride?

Now, that makes sense. If we look at this another way with those who struggle with leaving their church I think the issue results in a similar question.

Probably the question those struggling are asking is, "How is this church/pastor treating Christ?"

From the issue of elders all ready mentioned to the Gospel reduced to "somebody needs to make a decision today and ask Jesus into their heart". Or to paraphrase Paul Washer, "American churches have a theology that is 100 miles wide and one inch deep".

Mark

Tom Chantry said...

Probably the question those struggling are asking is, "How is this church/pastor treating Christ?"

OK, fair enough. But if the answer is "Not so well," what should our response be?

Obviously, if our response is, "Oh well, it's my church, so I'll have to loyally, quietly continue attending and giving no matter what is said/done towards Christ," then we've forgotten our first love. Obviously. And I don't think Frank is saying otherwise.

But should we say, "Hey, this church is dishonoring Christ, therefore it's no longer a church, therefore I'm leaving and I have no other obligation," well, that's wrong too. If error unmakes a church, there is no church in the world.

There has to be another path. I thought the current post was an attempt to illustrate another path. First, love Christ's bride, because He loves her. Serve her. Enter in joyfully to her fellowship. Within that fellowship, seek her sanctification. Do these things, and we can talk about how and when to leave. I'm not saying you or many of those whom you say are struggling haven't done these things, but do you see that there is a real problem in the American church with people who never do these things?

I always have to remember, I am not the bride of Christ - the church is. I am not the Temple of God - the church is. So before I go slapping the bride in the face and saying, "How dare you treat Christ that way," I ought to what the groom has done for her. That ought at least to tell me that I have an obligation to serve the church - to truly enter into its fellowship and minister within it. And when it becomes necessary to move on (as no one here denies it sometimes will), I ought to be able to say that I did more than merely jump ship when the church proved imperfect. I sought to serve, and now that it is no longer possible to do so, I will whole-heartedly enter into the church somewhere, and I will serve there.

Even So... said...

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."(John 13:35 – ESV)

We must show that we are different, not just as individuals but also as local units. Where other people cannot get along, we must show that Christ has given us the power where we can. This is how we show the world we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, by loving one another even when some of us are unlovable at times.

You cannot avoid this Word from Christ, to avoid it is to avoid Him and His power in your life, and to deny His Lordship, and to prove that you are not a true disciple.

You cannot be some part time lover of Jesus; you know that don’t you? Well, you cannot be some part time lover of His people, and that is what you are trying to do if you won’t commit to a local church. You just want to play nice when you see someone out, or keep a few friends who you talk about God with. That isn’t what Jesus was talking about. He doesn’t think part time lovers are true disciples.

If you aren’t involved in a local community of believers then you cannot be having the love for one another that Jesus was talking about. You would just be having friends with a common interest, but no covenant bond that requires sacrifice, sweat, and sanctification, as you had to deal with the ups and downs of relationships. If you are not doing that you are doing no better than the world, those who just take up and leave whenever it gets uncomfortable.

You must be willing and intentional in your devotion to Christ by becoming involved with an imperfect church made up of imperfect people like yourself. You must be learning to live the redeemed life in community, showing the love of Christ, the love that loves despite what has happened to us, the love that loves the unlovable, the love we must show the world we have for one another or we deny Christ.

David said...

Nail on head. The church isn't a doctrine museum (or a hymn museum, for that matter).

Christ's body is to be intensely relational. Members should seek and find organic relation with other members. If that's not happening, it's not exactly being the church.

While we're at it, we should all probably find this intense relationship extremely frustrating to our flesh. Iron sharpening iron and all that. We should be there expecting our character to change as we love others as Christ loved us.

centuri0n said...

WHAT?! We should CHANGE because we SUFFER and that's GOOD!?!

Outrageous. Foolishness to the Greek and a stumbling block to the Jews, I say. Completely scummy.

Kim Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
johnMark said...

I'm not advocating just up and leaving, but trying to give some food for thought. Fleshing this out.

How does one get involved in a way that makes a difference? And when people start to see you as divisive because you are bringing biblical concepts to the fore front which challenges the current state of things? And I don't mean doing this by actually being divisive or being a jerk. And when "serving" boils down to passing out programs or being a greeter and that's about the extent of it?

Please bare with me as I am just throwing a few things out at random. Though I've seen these types of issues in the past.

Pardon me, Tom, but this If error unmakes a church, there is no church in the world. is way beyond what I meant.

Frank, you're right, some do suffer. Especially, when the Gospel is no longer foolishness nor a stumbling block, but a way to put on a nice smile and get a few benefits from God.

Mark

p.s. I am an active member of my church. And I do mean "member".

Jim Pemberton said...

Good meta, methinks!

I considered that this is what cent was getting at early on. It's not that there are x number of observable reasons or that there are only particular observable reasons, but that we should have the right heart for God's people when we commit to the Church.

If you leave one church for another church, are you merely leaving the Church for the Church? If you leave one church, are you excommunicating yourself from the Church in order to be re-accepted back into the Church at another church? I've seen people leave one healthy church for another healthy church because they had gifts that could be used better at the other church. They weren't going out of petty disregard for God's people, but following God's purpose for them so they could be of the best use to God.

If any are confused, I don't believe cent's treatise here to be legalistic, but rather to speak to our motivations. Do we have the Spirit of God in our decisions or not? Are we fulfilling the commitment we made when we joined a particular church or not? God is a God of sacrifice and that entails all depths of proper commitment.

Gummby said...

10 COMMANDMENTS FOR SIDEKICKS

I so need that.

Tom Chantry said...

Mark,

Sorry, I see where my last comment led to an unintended insult. By writing, "...If error unmakes the church..." I wasn't trying to characterize your position. Rather, I was trying to identify the real problem which Frank has been hammering at for a few weeks now. There are those who think that error - any error - unmakes a church and releases all of its members from continued participation. My contrast of two extremes wasn't meant to pigeon-hole you into either camp, but on reflection I can see how it looked that way.

As far as being labeled as "divisive," Frank has talked about that. Sometimes when you confront real error in the church you are shut down and closed out of all discussion. Frank has called that "being asked to leave." I would agree, that sort of response moves someone along the road to leaving a church must faster.

"What is service?" Look, productive service is many things. This is what I was driving at in the last part of my first comment. Differing circumstances and gifts will change the meaning of useful service. Speaking as a preacher, I greatly appreciate the people who pass out programs and greet visitors. It is essential and often fruitful service.

In my opinion, the question here isn't always "What can I do that might change the direction?" That may be the issue for someone who has the requisite gifts and position. But primary is this, are you a person who serves the church? If you are, you will agonize over leaving a church, not leave over one confusing sermon, one perceived slight, or one slightly diverse opinion. You'll want to stick with the church you have served, and when you can no longer do so, you'll be looking for another church in which to do so.

I know and appreciate how hard many Christians have served within their churches. I am saddened - and sometimes sickened - by the way they've been treated by churches that have gone over the edge. But the other problem is very real. There are individuals who have left every church they've ever been a part of and are now part of no church because no church is pure enough. Frank has some good things to say to them.

You are evidently not one of those who need the rebuke, nor are those who have suffered while diligently serving in their churches. All of us can use a reminder from time to time, though, that the church doesn't exist to minister to us, but as a body in which we might minister together with others. I need that admonition quite frequently.

ezekiel said...

"I am responsible to prepare three sermons a week. This consumes up to 30 hours a week in study most weeks."

I have seen a lot of pastors lately making these types of comments to justify their inability to be friendly and actually spend time with their flock. And It always gives me the same desire to poke them with the end o my spear.

That is 10 hours of study per sermon. I don't know what you are doing with all that time but maybe you spend a little too much time with the polish. Sounds like you are working on a sales pitch to a major client. Do you use power point with a slide show?

I know that is way over the top snarky and meant to be. I make time to read every morning for about an hour. Sometimes that turns into more. The point is that the Holy Spirit is teaching me and relaying what I am learning can take hours. Not of prep time but actual "looky here" look what He showed me this morning type stuff.

Maybe you would be a lot better off if you toss the 15 step guide to a perfect sermon that you got at seminary and start preaching the WORD. It has already been written and the owner strictly forbids changes. Read it to them if you have to. If the Holy Spirit moves in you the way he does in me, you won't be able to share what He shows you every morning in a 30 minute time slot. They will be flaggin you down about 3 that afternoon when you need a pit stop.

Put simply your job is to convey the WORD not rewrite it every week. If the Holy Spitit is not breathing on you stong enough to fan your sails you might want to stop and check the direction the wind is blowing.

Sorry for the rant but you studious types run me nuts. Be prepared to preach the WORD in season and out. Throw the notes out and preach from your heart and let the fire of the Holy Spirit flow through you.

(end of rant)

stratagem said...

If any are confused, I don't believe cent's treatise here to be legalistic, but rather to speak to our motivations. Do we have the Spirit of God in our decisions or not?

Perfect - before you leave, stop to consider whether you are leaving for your sake alone, or for others' sakes (those others may be at another church where your gifts can be put to use more effectively). Now there's a simple, understandable and Gospel thesis!

johnMark said...

Tom,

Thanks for your insight. I'm sorry that I took your comment too far. Blogs aren't always the most effective way to communicate.

Forgive me for not seeing the duty of passing out programs as a way to really "serve". It just seems that the church is so full of this type of "serving" that we don't go beyond the walls of the building.

Let me be honest here. What probably lies at the root of my particular struggles is that I am a reformed mind baptist in a not even close to being reformed baptist church. I get tired of agenda driven vs. biblical driven sermons. I'm a geek of sorts and I want to talk about theology, apologetics and reaching the lost. The few people I can talk to about these things aren't at my church.

Yes, I do love the people and I'm sure I'm not totally innocent in this all of this as I could be more proactive in some areas. I'm just giving an area of frustration not to excuse where I may approach some things wrongly.

Tom, has anyone ever challenged you about a process in your church not being biblical? How did that work out? Forgive me if that's too personal.

Mark

stratagem said...

Mark, perhaps you ought to consider going to some event having to do with an activity you are interested in and do some street witnessing, taking along one or two people from your church? The whole thing just might get them excited, and who knows, someone may get saved as a result. It may be that they just haven't actually done something like that in a long time. Worth a try.

Tom Chantry said...

Tom, has anyone ever challenged you about a process in your church not being biblical? How did that work out?

I decided to answer that privately. Not sure whether Frank wants it in this meta anyway!

Belief Matters said...

Ezekiel, You are over the top because you judge what you know not. I didn't give all the hours I invest in people because quite frankly I don't keep track of the time I spend interacting with people, but if you reread my posts you would see more than what you first read. 30 is also a round figure. Inaddition, much of my study time is done in the early or late hours when most people are asleep. Please think before you write.

Stefan said...

Wow, for once I am at a loss for words. What an excellent discussion this post and ensuing comments have become.

lordodamanor said...

To dream the impossible dream...

Do a search of reasons to leave a church in Scripture...but there are legitimate reasons to leave.

Then do a search of Scripture for reasons to stay...

score...

now, there are reasons to leave, but man, this discussion revolves around the SLBCF...

and curiously, or perhaps to point, in this chapter of the Confession you will find almost zero of the first...kind of like the Scripture...but there are legitimate reasons to leave. We are speaking of the '89 which was not the WCF and formulated another association, estranging it from those, ick, baby dunkers and state churchers.

There is talk of calling in the SLBCF, in fact, like the officers of a church, the particular gifts to the church are its members, also, each having gifts varying according to the working of the HS to profit withall.

I like Peter Masters, but his sermons can be quite the museum piece if I pay attention to the style of delivery. And when I read the mythical email, what struck me was that it was a matter of style, and not sufficient reason to leave. There was however a perceived sin. One of the qualifications of a Pastor/Elder is hospitality. We have read here that size can determine relationships. But the e-accuser makes no mention of that. His actions were not described as an approach to the Pastor as a matter of sin. There was no exercise of accountability on the writer's part, it appears. So, even though this person was engaged, some openness about and inquiry into relational aspects with the Pastor would have gone a long way to resolving a 'personal' conflict. After all, the purpose of being in fellowship is the edification of another, and it might just have been this man's call to restore the Pastor (if the student learns anything he is to share it with his teacher), if there was indeed any real problem. Who knows? In a providential sense, perhaps, this was God's way of showing this man that he was needed elsewhere. Who knows? But, calling is serious, church is serious. Fellowship is not Promisekeepers, tailgait buddies, as a former Deacon once said coming back from one PK convention, "we have a bunch of cool guys here at Sunnyside," drawing a line of demarcation between PKer mentality, and, well, those of us that were just a little more spiritual.

Sorry for flip response, but I was serious about Wittenburg. Luther we like to caricature as being a rogue leader who just one day had enough, took his petty gripes and serious disagreements and having made a big noise, went elsewhere. Luther worked the system. He presented his complaints to his "Elders." After a long struggle, he went public. After nailing his elders within, he nailed his theses to the el door. That was not the end, as the story goes. We are still fighting a public battle with an apostate church.

Cent, I think, is asking other questions. Maybe I can crudely frame them like this: Have we lost sight of the reason for the establishment of the local assemblies? Do we take them for granted as just another vestment of our consumer driven society? Do we seek purpose for ourselves, or do we seek God's purpose in his bride?

The Episcopol problem is a pericope that deserves examination. There is a seriousness about their business that relates to what are the proper reasons for dissassembly. It is not just the sexuality issue that we should be looking at. Have they done all they could do to maintain adhesion? Both sides in the controversy have sought to maintain fellowship (for right or wrong reasons). The hierarchy of issues are from bottom to top:
sexuality, orthodoxy: inerrancy/ infalibility, church order. They are now at this last and over arching, and final reasonable cause of separation. The occasion has been social controversy and it has tested the structure in the Day, whether or not the foundation is still Christ. These protestants are disassembling because, like Luther, having done all to stand, they have a real reason to seek church elsewhere without, because it no longer is within.

I am not sure that Cent is relating this discussion specifically to the condition of the SBC. It is dying. One reason being, that authoritative rule is breaking down. There is a sense in which church order is not understood. Discipline, church to member and member to church, church to church and churches to conference, has been replaced by a lackadaisical, superficiality, leaving it without any consensous of accountability. The problem is endemic. We have gone from local autonomous churches in accountble relationship, to autonomous independant churches, to autonomous, independant unaccountable membership- from head to toe, unsound.

I refer back to the Confession:

"When difficulties or differences occur in respect of doctrine or church government, and peace, unity and edification are at risk, one church only may be involved, or the churches in general may be concerned. Again, a member or members of a church may be injured by disciplinary proceedings not agreeable to truth and church order. In such cases as these it is according to the mind of Christ that many churches in fellowship together should meet and confer together through their chosen representatives, who are able to give their advice on the matters in dispute to all the churches concerned. It must be understood, however, that the representatives assembled are not entrusted with any church power properly so called, nor have they any jurisdiction over the churches themselves to exercise discipline upon any churches or persons, or to impose their conclusions on the churches or their officers."

We are not just simply autonomous churches, but autonomous churches in association. And we are not just autonomous members, but members in association. And, I have to agree with strategem, the universal church is not made up of autonomous churches without reference one another, but even though we might have differing confessions of faith, we are a multitude of associations of local churches in association with each other. The cause of Christ is not the cause of the Bapts, nor of Presby's nor Episkies, Lutes. Is Christ divided? No. I am glad I did not baptize my babies...blah,blah,blah.... In any case, we have neglected the spirit of the first part of this paragraph and unduly emphasized the independence expressed in the final sentence resulting in no Biblical sense of accountability.

In the meta church, an interesting phenomenon is happening. The walls of separation are coming down. At the same time that this blessing is happening another threat emerges, too much autonomy. In the final analysis discipling cannot be without relationships in the real.

In the above mentioned paragraph, there is an all inclusiveness, at least within the concuring association under the confession. How does that play out here? Will the meta tend to be a surrogate church, without the accountability function of inter and intra church councils, and fellow member accountability? I mention this in light of the reality outside the meta. The church has a well defined structure and functionality, Ephesians and elsewhere, and as Paul described, to prepare a bride, virginal, without spot or blemish, able to withstand, in unity. But, does that really exist, concretely, save perhaps in respects to PCA type synods?

What then is intra-church discipline? The current expression of autonomy among the SBC goes too far, and is not far removed from independant churches which shutter at the idea of any accountability to other local churches. But, we are called the church at, "fill in the blank", mutually accountable. My SBC local association has no such mechanism as indicated this paragraph or even as is expressed in the BFM, nor is there any such mechanism among the several communions here. In other words, the body of Christ is divided in a way that God never intended, within and without the SBC. Yes, we are sometimes vocal, but when was the last time you heard of a synod of "fill in the blank," taking up the case of an abused churched member, or grievance between churches or communions, or even daring to publically condemn or critize as Luther did, or Dorht? But, that is exactly the way that it should be. There is no such thing as an independant church of Christ.

Up coming is the Building Bridges Conference. The significance of this is that it is addressing grievances, or at least beginning the dialogue. Hopefully, this will lead to resolution, restoration, and a revival of the true cooperative effort of the SBC. If it does not, woe.

Everyone knows of the corruption of the WCC, and the NCC. In what I have said above, I am not suggesting any kind of rigid ecumenism. Still, we have to deal with the Scripture and its requirement that we, all of us who name the name, be in accountable fellowship, each one submitting himself to another.

Tarried too long here, though there are much harder things to say.

ezekiel said...

belief matters,

I did think before I wrote. And while you whine about how much time you spend doing other things to justify your post, (which was originally written to defend a fellows lack of attention to a member), try reading mine with an open heart.

My post was entirely on the time you spend preparing your sermons. That is what I am judging. You still don't tell us what you are doing for 30 hours. Could it be you are so busy checking out MacAurthur and all the things all the other folks have to say about it that you just chew up a lot of time trying to make sure you don't say something controversial? So you can backup what you say with all those giants that have gone before you?

If the spirit that is in you is the same that is them, won't you be preaching the same thing?

Try it some time. Stop cowering behind your books, commentaries and such and just preach the WORD.

You show me where Jesus, any prophet or any apostle spent 10 hours preparing a sermon and I will extend sincere apologies for offending you. Until then, I will base my comments on OT prophets and John eating scrolls... or the very spirit of God indwelling apostles and calling preachers.

None of which was a work that they created but one the Holy Spirit undertook.

Either the Holy Spirit talks through you or He doesn't. And He doesn't need notes or 30 hours of prep. What He needs you to do is eat the scroll. Abide in the Word and the Word abiding in you. Then preach his message. Not yours.

It is way to time consuming trying to proof text your message to push your flock the way you want them to go. Start pointing them to the WORD. You just may lose control and revival might break out....

johnMark said...

stratagem,

Thank you for the suggestion.

Tom,

I'm sorry to ask something too personal. I really didn't mean to go digging for specifics, but more of the "hows" of the approach and outcome. If that is possible without at least some specifics.

Mark

Tom Chantry said...

Belief Matters,

Thank you for loving the flock under your care enough to recognize the limitations of understanding which you share with every preacher in history, enough to strive to overcome those limitations through careful application of your mind to the inspired text of Scripture, enough to ignore all vague impressions of what may be the Spirit's leading, and to be certain, insofar as God graciously gives you certainty, that you are leading that flock in the truth and not in the opinions of man.

You, sir, would appear to be Christ's gift to your church, according to the Apostle Paul's words in Ephesians 4:11 ff. Blessings.

Tom Chantry said...

Mark,

Since you asked...

My opinion, as a pastor, is that it’s never wrong for someone to say, in as non-confrontational a tone as possible, “Why do we…the way we do? Can you show me the rationale?” And then, as a follow-up if the answer is exclusively pragmatic, “But, I guess I was wondering, is this the biblical way to…?”

There are several possible answers to that, and they tell you lots about the church. Such as:

“Well, yes; here’s the biblical reasoning we followed - let’s talk about it.” Whether you wind up agreeing or disagreeing, at least you know the church wants to be biblical. You may gain understanding, or you may wind up improving the understanding of the church.

Or:

“This always struck me as something the Bible doesn’t speak to one way or another, and so we’re free to follow our own wisdom. Do you see it otherwise?” Again, that’s a legitimate answer, and while you may wind up agreeing or disagreeing, there’s a chance for growth.

Another would be:

“You know, I never really thought about it that way. Maybe we should reconsider.” I’ll acknowledge that’s going to be a rare response, but it could happen.

On the other hand:

“C’mon, Mark! Are you going to be a trouble maker about this, too?” Depending on the seriousness of the matter you asked about, this can be a major problem. Frank has addressed the situation in which you work patiently for change but are closed out of the discussion and effectively silenced. He called it “being asked to leave. It’s a harder way to leave, but it isn’t divisive, and it isn’t irresponsible either.

Or even:

“Hmm. That’s interesting.” (followed by lasting, unbroken silence) This is really the passive-aggressive form of the last answer. It didn’t lead anywhere constructive, but you tried.

lordodamanor said...

"You show me where Jesus, any prophet or any apostle spent 10 hours preparing a sermon and I will extend sincere apologies for offending you. Until then, I will base my comments on OT prophets and John eating scrolls... or the very spirit of God indwelling apostles and calling preachers."

I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.

I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly.

And this is what Solomon asked for, and God granted. He said that he did not give his eyes rest so that he could set many things in order for others who came after could read what he had discovered. So, that Solomon, the prophet of God, wrote for us of his great books and learning, and studies of everything written by others. His libraries we probably greater than any others, even Alexandria. He purportedly wrote concerning every subject under heaven. Hmmm, seems someone here is claiming inspiration by the HS but denies the testimony of Scripture. Paul was a student of literature, studying was his life. He instructed young Timothy to study. I wonder where Paul got the information to be able to converse with the Athenians? Every sermon is a commentary, every song, every bible study and guide. No one in the Church relies soley upon the HS, or the reading of the Scripture, but we were given teachers, who just happen to write books, like Solomon did. We are given teachers and each other to study (examine). So, in reality, every prophet, if he is one, studies others, and all kinds of things, to proof text what they will say. Every preacher of God, has sat under the guidance of another, even Jesus of who it is said that he went home and submitted himself to his parents and grew in wisdom and in favor with God and man. Oh and by the way Ezekial, all those studies that people do of others words, you just expected everyone on this thread to study your commentary. And not only that, if you are a preacher, you expect everyone to study your word, spoken or written, or you are not teaching them to be good Bereans. If all I have to do is read my bible, then all that my hearers have to do is read theirs, and I might as well go home.

ezekiel said...

Is it really "loving your flock" when you take huge blocks of time to mold and construct a message from the WORD to make it less offensive thereby not convincing the man in the pew that he needs God or showing him how to search for Him?

Or if one spends serious time to mold and shape a message that is really geared to convince the man in the pew that he needs the preacher because he can't get all the message any other way?

Or is it loving the flock when one spends all his time preparing a message that really makes himself look good on Sunday morning but proves to them on a daily basis that he just doesn't have time to stop and shake a hand?

Or is it really loving the flock when the shepherd cares for that flock, feeds it and waters it with untrampled grass and clean clear water?

30 hours is a lot of time to trample the grass and muddy the water or a lot of time to get it clear and tall.

I just pray that everyone that steps behind the pulpit has the calling and the Holy Spirit to show them the difference.

Belief Matters said...

Frank, Sorry that my comments has led us off topic. I guess I'll keep my "picky" comments to myself :)

I have debated whether to respond to Ezekiel or not. I choose not to respond because it will appear that I am defending myself, or looking for affirmation from others.

Jeff

ezekiel said...

lordodamanor.

Good points but a bit of misunderstanding. Claiming inspiration by the HS but denying scripture? When I point directly to it?

I may be misunderstanding but when Solomon is used as an example to justify writing books and commentary, are we not also claiming HS inspiration at that point. So do we make the argument that what we write or say is inspired like Solomon's were?

If so, why are we not adding books to it on a regular basis? Reckon it has something to do with "don't add to or take away from my WORD"?

It is pretty clear in scripture that Jesus was taught and was teaching scripture. In His case He wrote it, I think He knew it. Paul was also inspired/taught and studied scripture fervently. So where did they get their material? Inspired sources. Scripture. HS.

That brings us to the source material we have available today. Tons of books, commentary on and on. I find making time to study the WORD difficult enough without wading into and reading every book written in the last say 2000 years. I like to keep it simple. Simple ways for simple minds so to speak.

I would expect and do expect every person who reads what I write to compare it to scripture. Be a Bereans. I hope it will stand the test. If not, I am sure there are many out there that can and will correct me. Thank you for your words that do so.

If you go back and read what you wrote and compare it to what was true about the pharisees and scribes you can make and sustain a lot of the same arguments in support of them......They did a whole lot of studying and a whole lot of misleading....

" If all I have to do is read my bible, then all that my hearers have to do is read theirs, and I might as well go home."

Well this would seem to violate scripture as one would certainly be forsaking the gathering. And it wouldn't be hearing by the preaching of the WORD.

On the other hand it may comply with scripture. "will no longer teach his neighbor"

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Where does it say that commentary, and man's opinion are profitable? Did Solomon think his writing and knowledge was profitable? Does having the ability to do it have to be profitable just because we do it?

I am certainly not saying don't study or read other material. But is it profitable to do the job that needs to be done? How do we hear the WORD by preaching if preachers are preaching somebody elses word....

ezekiel said...

And before all you preacher dudes get your hackles up, I am not condemning you or your profession provided that your every fiber is bent on pointing people to the WORD. I am however speaking out against those that want to whine about the challenges and lead the sheep into these mega clubs and a life of idolatry. Idolizing a smooth talking, truth hiding, self exalting...

If you are one of those guys slogging through the trenches, laboring for His bride then may He bless you with prosperity and health and all those that reside in your camp.

I will put up my guns, roll my windows up and drive my lowrider out of town. Been fun guys, thanks for the patience Frank!

Richard D said...

Thank you. After the recent posts at Pyromaniacs, I really needed this post--which I believe shows much more honest Christian understanding for those of us who do not attend Grace Community Church, or Bethlehem Baptist Church, or Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

I would love for you to balance your recent posts by posting calls to church leaders to live to a higher standard--serving Christ's bride with humility and love.

Richard D said...

Ezekiel - Amen, amen, and AMEN!!!

centuri0n said...

Richard D:

My opinion is that the series tagged "stay or go" is extremely balanced. The problem is that we -- you and me -- are not. We are people who are frankly out of balance because of how we have been raised in the church.

The readership of TeamPyro is, frankly, way biased toward being "not pastors" than it is "pastors" -- so I wrote this series to the majority of our readers and for the majority of our readers. And for the record, I don't attend any of the churches you listed but a small (about 300 on Sunday) rural/suburban church on the OK/AR border. I live this stuff every day, every week.

Are there pastors who need some, um, guidance and accountability? Why yes: there are. How does that start -- by blogging about it, or by people in their congregations taking seriously the call to love and reconcile but to bring a fault to a brother for the sake of winning him back? I think it happens by the latter -- and we're suddenly back to what most people ought to be doing in and about church.

Most people like you, like me.

Mike Riccardi said...

I would expect and do expect every person who reads what I write to compare it to scripture. Be a Bereans. I hope it will stand the test.

Before we take it to the Scripture test, it has to stand the grammar test. :o)

No disrespect, Ezekiel... just having a little fun with ya.

I don't really wanna get into a big discussion, but I do wanna drop a comment because BeliefMatters has chosen not to defend himself and I think his position warrants being defended.

10 hours per sermon, in my opinion, is a great commitment, Jeff. And I hope that your congregation esteems you highly for your labor in the Word. I'm only beginning to learn Greek, and so when I do preparations for Sunday School lessons (I'm a layperson), I sometimes take 10 to 20 cumulative hours over a month's period. Some of it is because the Greek/Hebrew takes me a long time, but I imagine that if I were a full-time pastor, I'd take about 10 hours per sermon (if not more if I didn't have 2 others to do).

I don't think, Ezekiel, that spending all that time means you're trying to re-package the Word or otherwise quench the Holy Spirit. I don't think that's an assumption you ought to be making.

In sermon preparation, you've got to consider the biblical context, which requires reading straight through the book you're preaching in at least once, reading and re-reading the surrounding chapters, and reading and re-reading the passage itself. Then there's the historical context, which, if you're not up on automatically, requires some historical research. (For instance, it's really helpful to know that John is writing about the gnostic / docetist heresy in 1 John, which taught a radical, aberrant dualism that condemned all matter as inherently evil and all spirit as inherently good. Not knowing this type of information makes expository preaching impossible, because its lackluster exegesis fails to truly unfold the text.

So I've covered grammatical, contextual, and historical... now you've got to start applying the passage. But not to your congregation... at least not yet. You've got to discern what this passage is teaching and convicting you of in your own life. And then you've got to pray it in and assimilate it!

Now you've got to remember, as Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, you're there to do something to your congregation. You've got to start thinking about individuals in your flock, what they're going through, what sins they're struggling with, where their worldview falls too short to have this Word take root, and then figure out ways to clearly indict them for all those things, all while pastoring them as a shepherd and not railing them as a bully.

Sounds like a 10 hour task to me...
at least.

Praise God for men who take this calling seriously, who diligently labor to show themselves as workmen approved by God, not needing to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of Truth! Jeff, if this is you, be encouraged brother! Not everyone is so lucky to have a pastor so devoted to the power of the Word that they smack the Rock till the water pours forth, even if it just looks like hitting a rock for a while.

tsn423 said...

Ezekiel,

Did you know that MacArthur spends 30 hours a week preparing for one sermon?

4 days to prepare:

Day 1 (First 8 hours):

* Reads, re-reads, and re-reads the text.
* Takes out a legal pad a jots down some notes.
* Turns to the Greek text.
* Peruses some 20 commentaries on the text.
* Goes through cross-references.

Day 2 (2nd 8 hours):

* Mediates on what he learned on Day 1.

Day 3 (3rd 8 hours):

* Puts together his rough draft.
* Finds Biblical illustrations.
* Writes his introduction and conclusion.

Day 4 (4th 8 Hours):

* Writes his final draft, all of which is hand-written.

What I find interesting about this is two fold. First, the simple length of time that MacArthur takes to prepare. Its not as if after forty years of exposition he takes shortcuts! Second, I appreciate the idea that MacArthur takes a day simply to meditate on the text following all his reading. Perhaps this is a missing element in many of our preparations?

I found this on unashamedworker.com. I too am a pastor and I try to follow the same pattern as MacArthur. I am not as skilled and I take less than 30 hours, but I read and re-read the passage throughout the week, and I do look to commentaries, and other peoples sermons during the week to build my understanding of the passage. I then spend the time praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me in the direction I need to go for my flock. I don't understand your take on this whole matter. I can understand if someone came on here and said they spent all those hours conjuring up all these new-age ideas or EC ideas, but that is not what was said, I think you were way off with your comments. And did you notice that MacArthur reads 20 or so commentaries. I would guess you are not going to email him and tell him he doesn't preach in the Spirit? or tell him to stop spending all that time studying and get out among the people?

And by the way, I do also prepare a power point presentation. Is that wrong?

Mike Riccardi said...

Tsn...

Sounds like you and I are on the same page... except for that whole Power Point thing...

:o)

lordodamanor said...

"are we not also claiming HS inspiration at that point. So do we make the argument that what we write or say is inspired like Solomon's were?"

No, Solomon did not only write Scripture. The point is this. He wrote and others studied it. He did not just study other's Scriptures, but as the Scriptures declare, he was called the PREACHER, and he studied the works of other men, inspired and not, to write what we have as inspired Scripture. The point being, that it is proper to study, and not just the Scripture. When we hear a searmon, we are studying the words, written or no, of a man. It is mere foolishness to cut oneself of from counsel. And what you are saying is that less counsel makes for more safety, but this man Solomon, said no. In fact what he said is a man who isolates himself is a fool, cutting himself off from all wise counsel. If you think that you are wise, filled with the HS, able to teach others, why, in Jesus name, would you insist that others cut themselves off from other preachers, couselors, who write what they preach out of the Scriptures, down in books? I do not know about you, or how much you do study, but if it is just Scripture, and not commentary to understand the insights of other men, you have cut yourself off from teachers, given as gifts to the church. If you think that thirty hours a week is too much, you're living in a dream world. You would not even be able speak freely today if it had not been for preachers and teachers of the past who spent twice that much or more per week, studying. As you inferred, your preaching is inspired, but it is not Scripture, and these men thought, and think the same. I doubt that Solomon thought his own writing inspired, and I do not imply by that, that the men who write commentary write inspired text unknowingly. But, they are Pastors, filled with the HS, many of them who spend much time in ministry. As was said, the Elders, appointed men as deacons to accomplish the meeting of peoples needs, so that they could dedicate themselves to study and ministry of the Word. Johnathan Edwards spent 14 hours a day studying, and then as a pastor, also ministered to the needs of his flock in preaching, teaching and carrying out the wash. Our problem today is that we have an eight hour day, where the men of the past worked eighteen. In light of that, People like Edwards, spent a third of their day, and at that time, six days a week, and all day Sunday, in the direct ministry that you speak of. Egoistical myopia makes us tend to look at the men of the past through slitted vision, anachronistically. Our work week is forty hours, theirs was twice that and more. As some have written, we do not study the fathers in lieu of the Bible, we study them to check our work. I do not reget my Pastor studying more than ministering to personal needs, I regret that my fellow laymen do not spend an equal amount of time doing likewise.

And, exactly, you got it right, it would not be hearing by the word preached. Now, is the preaching, on paper, in books written by men of God, a valid way of hearing the word preached? I don't think you can make the case that it is not. If you've been around this blog long enough you've had a chance to read the preaching of Spurgeon, just a clearly heard today as when he was alive.

lordodamanor said...

A final note Ezekial,

If you are saying that men should not neglect the study of the Word and just study commentary, I heartily agree. As Luther once said, and I paraphrase, "Studying commentary is good for a season, but then return to Scripture." And this was from a man who wrote prolifically, commentaries directed at those who might not have access to vocal sermons. Calvin too, wrote his Institutes directed toward the laity, for their edification, because above all he was a pastor, avid evangelist and church planter.

tsn423 said...

Mike Riccardi,

It isn't a fancy powerpoint, I have notes that can be filled in, and I have all the Scriptures I use on there also. I know that people can become lazy if they don't use there Bibles, but it makes it easier because then we are all using the same version. And yes, I know that is what the Bible in the pew is for, but I am new to this church and they have the RSV, and I am not going to use it.

But every church but one that I have been in for the last 8 years (I move a lot) has used a powerpoint and most have been expositional preaching churches.

Mike Riccardi said...

It's cool, brother. No explanation needed. I was just joking with ya.

Richard D said...

Centuri0n - I attend a church similar to yours in size, led by a man who is committed to the Word and who does not follow fads. I am grateful to God for this church.

My comments probably are based on my unbalanced (and probably prejudiced) view of having been raised in a pastor's home and seeing my father do the work of a pastor with a heart for the gospel and a heart for the people and then looking for 20 years for the same leadership from the pastors/elders/leaders of the churches we have attended since my father left for a foreign mission field.

I struggled greatly with leaving our previous church for many of the reasons given in the posts about church hopping, for lack of a better term. I truly believe that God led us to the church we now attend (160+ miles from our previous church--new church, new locale), but the struggle with leaving that church prompted in me a great deal of empathy for those who struggle under the ministry of men who do not live up to the awesome call of the bishop.

I have developed a strong belief that the dirth of solid leadership in our conservative evangelical churches may be just as much a curse from God for our ecclesiastical lack of gravitas in worship and evangelism as our nation's current state may be a curse for our national rejection of God.

ezekiel said...

lordodamanor,

I agree with your last statement. Very much so. And I agree that preaching can take many forms, written and verbal. Spurgeon is a great example.

I have been reading you guys for quite some time and it has certainly been a learning experience. Now if I am guilty as charged (isolating myself and only reading the WORD) then what am I doing here? I love to hear your points and compare, test them against what I have read. To your (team Pyro and many commenters) credit and my shame, I am just sorry that I got a late start on everything and could not have been here from the beginning. Before you accuse me of isolationism check out this sermon

Riccardi,

I have to tell you that your comments are always good. As to the last one regarding context, it is everything. I would go further than you however in saying that not only is reading the book, then chapter and then verse important for context but the over all context of the entire WORD. How do you pick one verse or a few out of one little old book and make it mean anything to anyone? That is where us pew folks have totally failed you guys. A lot of us don't have the context of the whole bible down. So you have to spend too much time setting context for us and have too little time for the point.

TSN423,

Well good for him. Am I glad he does it? Yes. Right now, his is the only commentary that I trust myself to read. Let me get through the WORD 5 or 6 more times and I may feel competent enough to handle some of these other guys. Until I have it in context though, and pretty well committed to memory, I am going to stay on the safe road. In the WORD. It is really a charge to read something, draw my own conclusion then go to Mac and find that he has the same take on it. Must be something about the spirit in him being the same one in me. Funny thing is that I find that same spirit here. I hope you guys don't run me off.

Having said all that, there is nothing that gets my knickers in a twist any faster than a preacher complaining about the hours, the pay or the work.

If my name isn't enough of a clue, I identify greatly with the OT prophets. Not saying I am one obviously or anything close. But when I read something (Ezekiel) and my heart cries out in utter dismay at the state of our world today and the almost identical state of Israel in those days, my heart burns to tell people of the coming disaster. And I will do that for no pay, for as long as it takes and to as many as will listen.

So when I hear a preacher whining I go nuts.Do you have any idea of who your working for????? It is not a job at the local...whatever, that you punch out and go home. We are not sitting here over a beer and telling each other how bad things were at work today...are we?

The last time I looked WE are a royal priesthood. I don't need you spoon feeding me. Correct me, teach me... but for God's sake and mine tell me the truth! And tell all those folks you have in your pews. Just as in Israels day, apostacy is the greatest threat to the church out there today. Apostacy in the pulpit and in the pew.

Lest I leave you thinking that I never listen to anyone or read anything else I suggest you give this a listen. Apostacy.

That is where I am coming from and no more than I know right now...I am scared to death that preachers are letting folks down, letting Jesus down. I have been a member of a bapist church for nigh on 30 years. I had a burn then to warn the world and I have a burn now to do the same thing.

We just won't talk about the 30 years in between.
Praise God that he turned me around. Just know that I am not going to sit here and listen to preachers complain when they have been called to be a watchman......

Gut it up and grind it out. And make darned sure you are pointing everyone to the WORD and not your picture on a wall or the pulpit in that thing you call a church. That is the way He builds His church. If you want to build your church do it in your building and on your own time. Not His.

ezekiel said...

Should have been 20 years in between.

I don't need any of your smart comments or spelleing tips riccardi...

:)

lordodamanor said...

Okieday Ezekial,

But, I can only go on what you say. Now, that you have clarified, my apologies.

Still, if you have been reading this blog for sometime, you know that these guys do not pull punches, with either the pulpit or the pew.

By the way, I am relatively a newbie to Fire, and often not very well received. I am not a Pyroteam player, but have grown to appreciated much of what they teach us all.

Before I go and listen to your teacher, give me an over-view of his theology-

at a risk of placing myself in the box I apparently put you in, I do not want to waste my time. Maybe give me an synopsis of the sermon. You can leave it at my blog.

ezekiel said...

Richard d,

"I have developed a strong belief that the dirth of solid leadership in our conservative evangelical churches may be just as much a curse from God for our ecclesiastical lack of gravitas in worship and evangelism as our nation's current state may be a curse for our national rejection of God."

I don't think your belief could be any more correct.

Lying Spirits

Believe a lie

The Curse vs. 15-68

ezekiel said...

lordodamanor,

Paisley apparently is a preacher with a baptist background and pastors a church in Belfast. Last I looked that had a whole lot of catholic stuff going on. I think to say that he has been persucuted for preaching the WORD is an extreme understatement. The pope might even have folks looking for him.

In this sermon he appears to be preachin to preachers. The strength and power of the WORD. How to build a church JESUS style......don't skip it, it is worth your time unless you are preaching a self serving message, watering down the WORD and advertising in the local paper and news media for new members.......Then might I suggest you listen to it twice.

No apology needed....forehead is hard as flint....some say the rest of it is too....

centuri0n said...

Richard D:

While I think a lot of what runs around under the cover of "worship" is nothing of the sort, I have the opinion that it cuts both ways not only into the rock-concert thing so many churches what to perform (a label I would also put on any 30-minute Gospel sing before the word is opened), but also into dead ritual which hasn't been reconsidered seriously in 200 years (or more). There's nothing sacred about what we do in worship time unless it is both in spirit and in truth, and because the Bible doesn't really give us an order of worship we have to admit that God wants us to worship both in spirit and in truth, but maybe also as every tribe, tongue and nation.

That doesn't mean that there's anything "us-ward" about the activities, but it does mean that there is a trajectory to God from us in worship.

So that said, I reject the contemporary fad to "liturgy" as just a different flavor of the Lakewood experience -- something a little more subtle in its goofy spin on how worship "makes me feel".

And that said, the call to church leaders to be better at what they do starts with Mt 18 in your local church. If your pastor has sinned against you -- or, in your view, against God -- bring it to him and ask to have it made right in order that you may win him back.

This is such an important command from Scripture! And here's why -- maybe you are wrong. Maybe your pastor can teach you something you don't understand. Maybe the fault is that you don't have all the information.

But maybe, if you engage him as a brother and not a heretic who needs the Servetus treatment, you can get actually influence him. I know you're not advocating a witch hunt, but here's why the series I have posted so far is important:

I know a guy who isn't a great pastor at all. Great guy -- people love him. Superficial at best theologically. In his previous church, however, men in the church started to "investigate" him after he was called and appointed to serve -- going to his previous church, interviewing people, that sort of trash.

There had been an interview process, and the opportunity to talk to his previous church was available and open during the search process. To go back after the process was closed was a sign of bad faith.

But rather than resign, he started fighting back. Listen: he was right to be offended -- because what happened was not Mt 18. It was a lynching -- and he was right to say, "I have been wronged". But what happened thereafter was that the matter was not closed in a Mt 18 way, and he used that as leverage against all complaints against him going forward until he had splintered the church and nobody supported him.

It was only when two men in the church took the matter up with him in a Mt 18 way -- seeking to express their perception of offense personally, privately, with the intent of reconciling the problem without fireworks and self-satisfaction, that this man finally saw what he was doing and had done and he stepped down.

Did it have to end with him stepping down? Maybe not -- but he knew he was unwilling to go back 5 years or more and start over in that church, so he opted to leave. That's actually a pretty honest way to admit that something is broken ad you helped break it -- and it can (and did) lead to some healing.

The real irony is that this church has people who used to attend who want that church as it exists today to "reconcile" with them when that church as it exists today did not offend them. The people who did the wrong are long gone. Where was the spirit of reconciliation when the church was actually in trouble?

I would agree that weak or shallow leadership is a big problem in the church today, but it's only half the problem. The other half is that people are not willing to be honest and up-front and willing to reconcile when they are offended. People like that can't be lead -- they can only be pandered to.

Richard D said...

Centurion - We are all sinners and it shows in our churches. In your first response to me you mentioned being unbalanced. I thought immediately that you were showing great wisdom in that comment, almost as if you know me personally.

Your most recent response relates to one of the experiences that has contributed to my personal lack of balance.

I approached an elder from our previous church about some things he was doing that were detrimental to the body. One of the things I mentioned was not something I had seen, but I was made aware of it by an email response that included the long string of previous communications I had not been part of. He responded by charging me with gossip since I had brought this to his attention after hearing about it from a third party. He did this in a public email that was distributed to many uninvolved people including some people who were not members of our church.

I asked for a meeting with him in the presence of another elder. In that meeting we made some attempt at reconciliation, but the elder refused to withdraw his public accusation against me. He admitted that I had not gossipped, but would not contact those who had heard the accusation.

After my family had moved to another area of the state and begun to attend a church in our new residential area, I received a phone call asking me to meet before the elders where they would "pursue the next step in Matthew 18." This obviously meant that they intended to excommunicate me. The chairman of the elder board told me that his reason for calling this meeting was because I had left the church in anger. This was not the case and they all knew that we had moved to the new location due to family health issues.

I have not found this to be uncommon. It has led me to believe that our current conservative evangelical (especially Reformed) leaders are heading down the already-traveled road of the elitist clergy class, which rules the laity with an iron fist.

Educator-To-Be said...

In the Washington area, where I go to school, people change churches a lot.

This is so, not only because it is a transient area, but because people want to find a church in which they like the congregation, the pastors, and the services. They also want a church that is not politically active, for the most part, advancing various political agendas at both ends of the political spectrum.

Myself, I want stimulating and thoughtful sermons most of all. "Fluff" sermons, which are very common here, do not do much for me as a worshipper. I want to learn something, and examine my life, and examine my faith, and engage in thought, while I listen to a sermon.

This is just my personal layman's opinion, of course.

Amy

centuri0n said...

Richard:

I have empathy for your story. I recognize it. I admit it is too common.

The question is whether or not that gets cured by lectures or by appealing to what God has already said.

Here's my guess, and with it I offer you the opportunity to have the last word in our exchange here. My guess is that guys that that aren't reading blogs, or much of anything. That's why they need a congregation which will call them on their arrogance.

ezekiel said...

That is an odd perspective Frank. At least odd to a flagship sbc mega. There the preacher rails against the bloggers trying to hold him accountable. Anything done in secret is of the devil. Then he has his secret meetings, refuses any openess on finances or records, even a request for a copy of the bylaws resulted in 2 deacons on the run. Tells us that he is accountable to no one this side of God himself. Tells us that Mat 18 doesn't apply to preachers.

Meanwhile about 4500 sheep have left or been shown the door after years of service.(50%) One 70 year old sunday school teacher that refused to sign the loyalty oath included.

Now he is advertising for members and putting up bilboards telling folks that "God loves you just like you are". A true enough statement, but do you think he will ever get arond to telling them that God hates their sin?

Or will they get sidetracked at the loyalty oath and the shrine of him and his wife in the front entrance.

So when he doesn't read blogs (claims not to but he does have staff designated to), Manipulates the congregation with a (meaning one) sham business meeting last year that he shut down when someone made a motion he did not like and surrounds himself with more security detail than Jimmy Carter, reckon it is time to leave?

And the classic statement of the ages by his wife...."we have to take the trash out everywhere we go".....

lordodamanor said...

Ezekial,

I listened and I also did a background study on Paisley. I don't follow much the 300 years war in Ireland, its politics, past and current, so the name was not familiar to me.

And what I would say about this man, is well, he's dangerous. Yes he preaches against apostasy, but in a "Fundamentalist," sense. If there is a compliment to socialist liberation theology, this man is the rightwing version of it. He is not a fundamentalist in a biblical sense, he is a wacko Fundamentalist in the Bob Jones sense. He fits well the warning in Jude of people who use the cover of Christianity for license. License is the improper use of what otherwise is good for personal or private gain, and not for the cause of Christ. He is a militant revolutionist and conducts his private war under the guise of Christianity and you need to measure what he says through his eyes which is militant secularist governmental/political activism, no different than Shinning Path. He is a radical unionist of the rightist stripe and associated with rightwing terrorism in Northern Ireland. Admittedly, his affliations are shadowy, and underground, but that is the issue. What is a man of God doing in clandestine relationships and being entangled in civilian affairs? This is a man who apparently uses the gospel for sorted, that is personal gain. I would call that apostasy. He fits the mold that is common among propagandists of fascist history, who preached against the very things that they themselves did. Many of the more prominant preachers of the past and present, are not unlike him. Jerry Falwell, who was by some considered a "backslidden" Fundamentalist as is Billy Graham and many others, was simply not to be trusted because of his politcal activism. It was not his Christian message (though Arminian) as much as his adoption of a "manifest destiny" mentality and overly zealous theocratic emphasis. The merging of the secular with the Christian cause, fundamentally, destroys the latter. Billy Graham has become a scapegoat for the Fundamentalists, even though he comes from the same illigitimate brood wing of baptistism. Paisley, though a Presbyterian, founded the Free Presbyterian Churches of N. Ireland, and though I have not looked into his theology, I would imagine that the "free" has more than one connotation, and is perhaps a "free-will" Presbyterianism. Perhaps you can tell us. And by the way, Fundamentalists are separationistic, and until they simply became marginalized because of their insignificance academically, they eschewed study, they did not begin at first to establish colleges and universities. Bob Jones perhaps the first to establish a Fundamentalist teaching academy in 1927, refused, initially, to be accredited, but then violated his own standards to become acceptable. Their marginalization was self-imposed by their radical separationistism, which tended to an anti-intellectualism. Coming out of the second world war, this branch of fundamentalism which had become a movement had settled in and was fully intrenched in the SBC. The effect of their separationist mentality is evident in Falwell, who finding himself an insignificant social influence established his own Fundie college, and latter became a "reconstructionist fundamentalist," himself through active political participation with his Moral Majority which has proved, that his brand of social activism produces the opposite of what he wanted, a Fundamentalist, Protestant Christian nation. The other branch of small "f" fundamentalism was lead out by Machen, which maintained the truth while exalting the grace gift of acadmic persuit in the service of God to combat the secularist and religious modernism of the late 19th and early 20th century. This itself is a rich study and is pertinent here in the discussion of why people leave. Sometimes, even when it looks so good, it is so bad.

Having listened to him and read, now I understand more of your paradigm. But, let this be known. Paisely is a well published minister, parlimentarian, and to think that he does not, or has not spent what you would consider an inordinate amount of time studying is preposterous. To be considered a viable threat, as his opposition does, he has to be able to stand his ground academically in the field of politics, public administration and works...

Assessment- avoid him at all cost.

Question, cuz I do not know you, are you a capitol "F" fundamentalist. There are several historic pathways of fundamentalism. Though I am not a scholar, like the men of Pyro, I think that I know the difference. I digress. But, for my information, could you explain your religious orientation? And your politics?

centuri0n said...

Zeke:

As I have said over and over -- if your attempts at Mt 18 are rebuffed, you're been shown the door. Leave with a good conscience.

VcdeChagn said...

And the classic statement of the ages by his wife...."we have to take the trash out everywhere we go".....

Hmmm....shady business, loyalty oath, shrine to pastors, taking out the trash?

Hyles man?

Get out before the police throw you out....google Jason Burrick for details...

lordodamanor said...

Did a little more reasearch on Paisley. As I suspected, even though he claims a Presbyterian name, and has the WCF and Articles of Faith as foundational documents, he is a free-will Presbyterian. He has a affinity for revivalism of the type of Billy Sunday. He calls for decisional regeneration at the same time that he condemns other forms of mechanistic sacramentalism (baptismal regeneration is especially targeted). As James White would say, this God can only save me if I do something decisionalism is Romanism dressed up in Paisley's Fundamentalist garb. In other words, Ezekiel, this man is a horse of a different color, but still a horse. His hallmark it anti-popery which gains him points with Scottish/Irish Orangemen and other protestants of that ilk. I suppose that is why he does it. Again, stay away- he is poison.

Richard D said...

Centurion - I have enjoyed our exchange. Thank you for your encouragement. The thing I have to remember to keep my anger and hurt feelings in check is that it is Christ's church, not mine. And he certainly knows better than I how to handle things.

Keep up the good work. I love this blog.

ezekiel said...

lordodamanor,

Precisely my point. We went from me telling folks to stay with the WORD, preach from the WORD to a point where you said I was practicing isolationism. That I need to seriously study other peoples work to protect myself and not wind up way on out there.

Then I reccomend a sermon from another preacher and all of a sudden we have to critique him, not his sermon but his politics and religious orientation. What we find after all the work is that both are at best suspect and we should not listen to him. "Assesment-avoid him at all cost". But then that is your word right? I haven't done my study so I don't know. Should I take your word for it? Maybe you should tell me what your orientation and politics are so I can evaluate you before I evaluate him.

Worse yet, what if I am young and impressionable and really like this guy. Don't I suddenly find myself in a position of having to defend someone or their politics or their orientation that couldn't be further from what I am willing to defend in the abscense of pride? What if I am a preacher that doesn't do his homework and wind up preaching and teaching what I have learned from this guy and the old codger in the back with callouses on his knees walks into my office and tells me how wrong I am. What then if I am too proud to admit it....He's gotta go right?

Don't we find ourselves pretty close to my original postion? Preach the WORD and only the WORD. Know Him, Abide in Him. Don't worry about those other guys, you preach what He gives you.

What about the next guy that I hear? Or read? Don't we then have to go through the same process of evaluation with the new guy? What do we do if his politics or religious orientation is a lot closer to mine but something just doesn't smell right. What do I test him against. Is the answer the WORD?

Now while I am doing all this testing and comparing, evaluating, investigating just how much clearer is the water getting? Is the grass as tall as it was when we started or does it have a lot of hoof prints in it?

EZ 34:18-19

He is not talking to the pew here, He is talking to the pastor, and the theologian, scribe, pharisee...

2 Ti 3:1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So just what are you filling your head with? Facts and trivia about every theologian or preacher out there or the WORD?

What do you meditate on day and night? The WORD or what someone else says about the WORD?

Psalm 1:1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.


So the way I see it, I can meditate on the WORD day and night, and point everyone I see or that will listen to the WORD and exhort them to do the same or......

I can spend all my time trying to find out what other folks think ....Maybe I will just email you and you can tell me who to trust...

My orientaion or politics don't matter any more than yours do if we are both pointing people to the WORD. He is the Shepherd and He leadeth in green pastures and by still water......

My politics and orientation will be the same as yours where it matters if we are both in CHRIST. In the WORD.

ezekiel said...

While we are in the subject of Paisley, lets not forget Balaam. He apparently suffered from the same motivations you tell us Paisely does. Bad politics and motivated by money. Yet all he could say is what God told him to say....

If we start weeding out preachers that suffer the same set of problems, we would have plenty of room for all us wanna be's in the pulpits that open up as a result.

No where in scripture can I find the instruction to hunt down all the false prophets that we are told that are among us. We are instructed to mark them when we find them. I say the best way to find them is by knowing the WORD well enough that it is obvious when we meet them.

If we look at eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Christ in John 6 and that flesh and blood being God Himself, John 1.....we have to do that in a spiritual sense lest we suffer the same problem His disciples did in John 6. We just say it is too hard and turn away......Flesh, blood, water and grass. Tis all the same....sheep food.....The WORD.

Sacchiel said...

I really thought that was Iron Man.

centuri0n said...

It really is. Whether it's really a Biblezine or not is the question ...