Doing what you do – what are you doing?
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves.
(cf. Philippians 2:12-13 & 2 Peter 1:10)
A Vast Difference
● Between being sorry for sin and sorry you are “caught.”
● Between confessing your sins and confessing some other fellow’s.
● Between seeing your own faults and seeing some other person’s.
● Between conversion of the head and conversion of the heart.
● Between being led by the Holy Spirit and being led by your own imagination.
● Between being persecuted for “righteousness’ sake” and being persecuted for “foolishness sake.”
● Between “contending for the faith” and striving for your own opinions.
[Copied: The Baptist Examiner, Vol. 43, No. 51, January 17, 1976]
I recently read a very good article – “The Universe Factory: Do astronomers attempt to peer into the mind of a creator?” by Gordon Reade [email@example.com], (Sky & Telescope, March 2009, p. 88).
I thought the article was done in good taste. The thrust of the article seems to be as to why astronomers, both in the past and those of today, devote much of their working lives to studying the heavens above. In particular the author mentioned Isaac Newton from the past and the present-day astronomers, though not mentioning anyone by name. All-in-all the article was honest and not a slamming (except for perhaps the opening remarks about the theologian & the atheist) of those whose religious beliefs guided those of history’s past and even still today guide some intellectual eyes upward toward the heavens in asking questions. His contrast between these two groups (theological and scientific) was gracious.
In ending his article Reade wrote:
Psalm 19 begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” I don’t know if that’s true of not, because I have no idea who or what God is. I don’t think anyone does. But I do know that astronomy is a pursuit that compels us to examine the nature of our reality. I think it’s time well spent.
Reade’s statement, “[that] I have no idea who or what God is. I don’t think anyone does” caught my attention. As a Christian, I have to ask, do I believe that statement? My answer would have to be no – for the Bible declares to us that we can know.
The Bible is very plain in Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Thus: “Who is God?” – God is our Creator. For me to declare otherwise, would be to say I do not believe that the Bible is God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Second, “What God is?” – From the Bible we learn that “God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
Lastly, how do we know for sure that we can know Him? – The Bible declares concerning our God and Creator, that He is revealed to us through His Son (John 14:7-11). “[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God … for by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (Colossians 1:15-17); (cf. Romans 11:33-36).
Can we know? Yes! – “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1ff).
If I may play off of Gordon Reade’s final words in his excellent article, as for him: “… astronomy is a pursuit that compels us to examine the nature of our reality.” So too, I must say: Studying the Bible “is a pursuit that compels us to examine the nature of our reality.” Alas, we both end in agreement, “I think it’s time well spent.”
February 22, 2009
We are seeing a changing role for the pastor today a new kind of leadership. Gone is the older model of scholar/saint the one who knew his flock and how to tend it. Now we see a new celebrity style a leader who works by manipulating the feelings of the audience. Management follows the pattern of a CEO. Pragmatic any technique is OK if it produces the desired result.
Why do we need to know what a pastor should be? If you’re a Christian, knowing this can help you to understand your pastor/elders. It can help you to pray for them, and how to do a good job choosing them.
I. The Number of Shepherds.
The same folks are referred to by different names in the Bible. Leaders, elders, pastors, and ministers are all similar. There is not a distinction between “bishop” and “elder.” All bishops are elders are pastors, etc. The senior pastor is generally responsible for care of the body as a whole.
Does the Bible teach a “senior pastor”? Maybe. It does not teach it directly, but not all elders function in exactly the same way in the Bible. Some move from place to place. Others are indigenous to one place. Others, like Timothy, came from outside the community to become one of the elders and one who seemed to be a senior pastor. Some are supported full-time by the flock others are not. Interesting to note that Paul wrote to Timothy alone in I and II Timothy, not to the elders as a group. Timothy appears to be a senior pastor, among other elders. The letters of Jesus in the Revelation to the churches are each addressed to the messenger, singular as though there is one person leading the church. Leadership by multiple elders has great benefit rounding out the senior pastor’s deficiencies and providing continuity when the senior pastor leaves.
II. The Nature of a Shepherd.
A faithful pastor is an awful weapon in the hands of a Holy God. (Spurgeon)
Where does this image of a shepherd/pastor come from in Scripture? Old Testament folks were an agricultural people. We see this in Genesis 47, 48:15, 49:24.
Moses prays for a leader to bring the people out so that the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd. Joshua became Moses’ successor to be a shepherd over them. King David is described as the shepherd of God’s people Israel. The Bible often employs the image of God’s people as sheep without a shepherd. It is meant to be a pathetic image bringing to mind a flock wandering aimlessly to their destruction.
The image is also used in the Bible to show compassion. Zechariah 10:2 speaks of false prophets, resulting in people wandering, scattered, like a people oppressed for lack of a shepherd. Jesus uses the scattered sheep image. In Mark 6, He had compassion for people who were like sheep without a shepherd. He tells the disciples they would scatter when the shepherd was struck. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to come and Himself shepherd His people. Matthew 2 speaks of fulfilling the prophecy of Micah of a shepherd over God’s people. The Shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd (John 10:11), who lays down his life for the sheep.
Peter writes to Christians (I Pet 2:25) who were like sheep going astray, but who now have returned to the Shepherd of their soul. John writes in Revelation 7:17 that the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd and wipe away every tear.
A shepherd, a pastor, is one of the good gifts God gives His church. What does it mean to serve as a pastor or elder? Peter charges his fellow elders (I Peter 5:1ff) to shepherd the flock of God so they would receive the unfading crown of glory. In Acts 20, Paul meets with the elders from Ephesus and exhorts them to keep watch over themselves and all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers. Elders or bishops or pastors are commanded to be shepherds.
III. What are the duties of a shepherd?
1. The shepherd should feed the sheep.
Peter becomes the prototype shepherd in John 21:15 feed my lambs. This is the main work of the elder. This is why I Timothy 3 presents the only qualification for elder not expected of all Christians as being apt to teach.
The pastor is supposed to declare God’s word to his people. The elders here at CHBC want to sincerely avoid “not feeding” the sheep. That’s why we generally use expositional preaching here. Ambrose of Milan in the fourth century saw the most central task of the elder being biblical instruction and teaching. Such feeding is the duty of every elder. A pastor can do a lot of things but He must preach the word. Everything else is secondary to that responsibility.
Do you feed on God’s word? This is how you mature in Christ. CHBC is known as a congregation that loves God’s word. We seek to raise up men who can faithfully preach that word. We are to live not on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from God. Feeding this congregation is the joy and privilege of the pastors.
2. The shepherd should know the sheep (John 10:14; Ezek. 34).
How did Jesus “do” discipleship? He called the disciples by name and cultivated personal relationships. The shepherd cares for the one who wanders off. Some congregations are too large for one pastor to know all the sheep. That’s why we try to encourage discipleship relationships. And we have multiple elders to help with the task of knowing the 680 sheep here. Every pastor should follow the example of the good shepherd.
Members, do not hesitate to ask elders for personal help. If you don’t inform elders, they won’t know and they are commanded by God to know you.
3. The shepherd should guide the sheep.
The shepherd walks the path first, so that the sheep know the way to go. Shepherds are called to watch over themselves so that they will be able to lead others. They are called to be examples to the flock. Hebrews urges members to pray for the elders and imitate their faith. They are called to be an example and to be humble. A good pastor shares his life. Exemplary living is a duty of every elder/pastor. Pray for the pastor’s life and wisdom. Pray that the Lord would help members to seek and submit themselves to their godly counsel.
4. Guard the sheep.
Sheep are not a stationary commodity. They must be guarded and watched. They are prone to wander. The shepherds are to protect sheep even from their own wanderings. It takes courage to correct these sheep; particularly because these wandering sheep are the least likely to listen to the elder. Pray for the elders in this matter. Pray that wandering sheep would have ears to hear, and elders would have courage to correct.
5. Protect the sheep from attackers.
Wandering is not the only problem of the sheep. Some seek to snatch them away (John 10). The sheep need to be protected, even from attackers within even from elders. The Ephesian elders are warned of false teachers who will come in and not spare the flock. Paul instructs Titus that an elder must hold firmly to the trustworthy message and refute those who oppose it.
6. The shepherd loves the sheep to the point of laying down his life for them.
Contrast the good shepherd to the hired hand in John 10:11. The elder’s heart should be set on being a servant of the sheep. The elder must not be selfish. He must have selfless love and combine authority and love. Not love for the “honor” love for those over whom the elders are required to exercise authority. This authority is to be a blessing for the sheep in their care.
If you are not a Christian, I hope you see something in this message of the love that should characterize Christianity. In Romans 5:6 we read how Christ died for the ungodly for sinners those in rebellion against God. God has taken upon himself, in Jesus Christ, the punishment we deserve for our sins. Laying down one’s life for sheep is a picture of pastorly work.
Why should a shepherd do all this? Because he loves the Savior. All other motivations will not do. Because we are grateful to him the good Shepherd who has laid down his life for us. We delight in Him as the one whom we must love “better to be with Christ, Christ is best.” Pastors are humbled when they think of the great Shepherd. They remember that shepherds must give account for the sheep in their care. The sheep belong to the Lord, not to the elders. The Lord tells Peter of “my” sheep. The pastor does not own the sheep; God does.
Pastors are humbled when they think of themselves. Like you, our shepherd is the Lord. Any good pastor exercises authority knowing that he himself is under the authority of the great Shepherd. The pastor is only doing what he has been called to do laying down his self for the church.
Remembering what God has done for us focusing on the cross. At the cross, we find our motivation, our foundation. This is true for pastors, elders, all Christians.
by. Dr. Albert Mohler | www.albertmohler.com
President Barack Obama today signed an executive order that reverses the Bush administration’s restrictions on federal funding for research that involves the destruction of human embryos. In a White House ceremony, President Obama said that Americans “have come to a consensus that we should pursue this research; that the potential it offers is great, and with proper guidelines and strict oversight the perils can be avoided.”
The President made a campaign promise to take this action, but in the weeks just after his inauguration he had made comments suggesting that he would prefer for Congress to lift the Bush restrictions by legislation. Nevertheless, today’s White House ceremony was thoroughly orchestrated and media had advance notice as of last Friday.
The President’s new policy means that federal funding will now go to researchers whose work with human embryonic stem cells involves the destruction of additional human embryos. This represents a monumental moral shift. The United States government is now in the business of supporting the destruction of human embryos through federal funding of stem cell research.
President Obama spoke to the moral issues involved when he stated: “Many thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose, this research. I understand their concerns, and we must respect their point of view.”
But the President clearly does not share these concerns, and it is unclear what he means by respecting the point of view of those who rightly understand the issue as tax-supported homicide.
The President also appeared to suggest that Congress should lift other restrictions, though he did not directly call for a repeal of the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which prohibits some forms of research funded by the federal government.
President Obama is now personally responsible for research that will involve the intentional destruction of human embryos. This comes even as the ideological roots of this conflict have become increasingly clear. Credible alternatives to research that would require the destruction of human embryos have become available, even as the most promising avenues of medical research are now using adult stem cells, which avoids the moral issues involved in the use of human embryos.
The scientific community increasingly appears to have drawn a line in the sand on this issue. The insistence that embryos must be destroyed is a matter of ideology. Some researchers seem to resist any alternative source of stem cells, no matter how great its potential.
President Obama pledged to support research “with proper guidelines and strict oversight,” but his own policy removes the guidelines that protected the embryo. The President said he would hold the line by opposing human reproductive cloning, but this is a line he will find difficult to hold or to defend.
And when President Obama spoke of “strict oversight,” he offered no assurance of what this might mean. Even more troubling, with his announcement of reversing the Bush policy the President also issued an official White House statement indicating that he would shield scientific policy from political considerations.
One of his most influential scientific advisors, Harold Varmus, told The Washington Post, “This is consistent with the president’s determination to use sound scientific practice, responsible practice of science and evidence, instead of dogma in developing federal policy.”
The “instead of dogma” language is a direct criticism of the Bush administration policies. President Obama delivered a rebuke to the Bush administration in this new statement of policy, but the new President is either disingenuous or deceptive when he suggests that science can ever be free from political considerations. Science does not happen in a vacuum. Scientific research takes place in a social and political context, and when the federal government is involved through funding of that research, such research is intensely political. The space race was fueled by the ideological context of the Cold War. Decisions about research priorities and policies is hotly political. So is President Obama’s new policy that will lead to the destruction of more human embryos.
Those wondering when President Obama would make a clear move on a matter that involves the sanctity of human life now have their answer — and its consequences. When President Obama says he will “respect” the point of view that such research is immoral, his respect is hard to detect.
When human embryos are destroyed in the name of medical advancement, we make a deal with the Culture of Death and sacrifice embryonic human beings for the hope of medical advances. We all hope and pray for those advances, and for treatments to cure or treat intractable diseases. But there are valid alternatives to the use of human embryos.
The vulnerable human embryo is now at greater risk than ever before. And this, inevitably, means that every single human life is devalued by this decision.
LOOK TO THE SCRIPTURES
by: Hughes Oliphant Old
Where is it that we go to ask these questions about the meaning of our service of worship? The ultimate place in which we must search for the meaning of our worship is in God’s calling us to live to the praise of his glory, his creating us to serve him. The apostle Paul, perhaps better than anyone else, put his finger on it when he taught that out of God’s love for us in Christ we “have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12). What this would mean, then, is that it is in the revelation of God’s will for our worship that we discover how he will have us worship him.
This revelation is found all the way through Scripture. We find it, for example, in the precepts of the Law. The Decalogue starts out with four commandments about worship. First, we are worship and serve but one God; second, our worship is to avoid idolatry; third, it is to glorify God’s name; and fourth, it is to remember God’s works of creation and redemption on the Sabbath in rest from human works. Then, as an elaboration of this basic law, there is the ceremonial law. While the church has never considered the ceremonial law to be prescriptive for her worship, it has often been studied for its insights into worship. All this liturgical law was expounded by the prophets and exemplified in the worship of Israel. The story of the golden calf and the disobedient sacrifice of Saul make clear what it is not. The prayers of Hannah, David, ad Elijah make clear what it is. Above all, we see in Jesus the fulfillment of the rites and ceremonies of the Law. Jesus taught his disciples a great deal about true worship, and he often led them in prayer. He himself was baptized at the hand of John the Baptist. He often broke bread with his disciples, and in the Upper Room he gave them instructions about how they were to continue to break bread as a sacred memorial of his death and resurrection. In the Gospel of John we are taught to worship in Spirit and in truth. The book of Acts gives us several important insights into early Christian worship. We read there of a number of baptisms, and we find a rather thorough description of a daily prayer service. We learn quite a bit from this book about the ministry of the Word in almsgiving. The apostle Paul in his epistles gives us several important passages on prayer, on the sacraments, and on preaching. Chapters 10-14 of his First Epistle to the Corinthians is a virtual treatise on worship. Scattered throughout his various epistles we find all kinds of liturgical material. The Scriptures, both the Old and the New Testaments, are very rich in teaching about worship. It is in God’s Word—in the same Word that calls us to worship—that we find the sense of that worship.
We take it as a basic principle of our inquiry, then, that it is to Scripture, first of all, that we must go when we would try to find an answer to our questions about the meaning of worship.
— Hughes Oliphant Old, THEMES AND VARIATIONS FOR A CHRISTIAN DOXOLOGY: SOME THOUGHTS ON THE THEOLOGY OF WORSHIP. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992, pp. 8-10. ISBN 0-8028-0614-7.
Carl Stam – firstname.lastname@example.org
Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For [God] Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
GOD WITH US
Tom Brokaw, in his book The Greatest Generation, tells the story of Mary Wilson, presently of Dallas, Texas. You never would know by looking at this modest woman that she was the recipient of the Silver Star and bore the nickname “The Angel of Anzio.” When the Allies got bogged down in the boot of Italy during World War II, they attempted a daring breakout by launching an amphibious landing on the Anzio Beach. Unfortunately, the Allies got pinned down at the landing site and came dangerously close to being driven back into the ocean. It looked like another Dunkirk was in the making.
Mary Wilson was the head of the 51 army nurses who went ashore at Anzio. Things got so bad that bullets zipped through her tent as she assisted the surgeon in surgery. When the situation continued to deteriorate arrangements were made to get all of the nurses out, but Mary Wilson would have none of it. She refused to leave at the gravest hour. As she related her story years later, she said: “How could I possibly leave them? I was a part of them.”
Likewise, God does not desert us in our hour of need. (eSermons.com newsletter)
(PreachingNOW@preachingmagazine-info.com – vol. 8, no. 9, March 3, 2009)