Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Encouraging Exhortation for Pastors from Pastor Chuck

Having been a pastor now for 20 years I know what it is to question myself at times, as to whether or not I am doing everything I should be doing. Am I doing enough?  Or to ask myself, am I doing it right? Its always a blessing to have a reminder that reaffirms your calling and your job description. Recently I have been teaching through the book of Acts in our fellowship,  and I listened to one of Pastor Chucks sermons on Acts 20 and I found it to be a tremendous blessing. I was reminded what my role is in the body of Christ and what I am to be doing within that role.  Below is an excerpt from his message. I hope your encouraged.~PJ

Now take heed therefore unto yourselves, and unto the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, that you feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood (Act 20:28).
And this is the charge and the responsibility that God has placed upon the ministers: to feed the flock of God. But it is so difficult to find pastors today who will really feed the flock of God. We get letters by the hundreds. People are hungry to be fed the Word of God. And so Paul said to these overseers of the church of Ephesus, "Feed the flock of God." Peter in writing his epistle said, "Feed the flock of God which is among you." Jesus said to Peter, "Feed My sheep." I don't know why pastors don't realize that this is the most important function of a pastor is to feed the flock of God. We have those who are seeking to entertain the flock of God. And then God help us, unfortunately we have those who are seeking to fleece the flock of God. But how few are really feeding the flock of God.The reason why you feed them is in that they might become strong. Because wolves are going to come in. Paul shared his concerns, "after I depart grievous wolves are going to enter in among you, not sparing the flock (Act 20:29)."
Men who would try to draw groups after themselves. There's always that. God establishes a work, and then there are always those who try and come in. Even out of your own midst, there will come those who will try to break off a group, to bring them as after themselves. Sad and tragic. Paul when he was writing to the Ephesians said that God has placed in the church, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers, for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry. That's what we're here for. That you might be fed the Word of God, that you might be perfected for the work of the ministry. The building up of the body of Christ. Until we all come into the unity of the faith of the knowledge of the Son of God. Into that complete person. Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the image of Christ. That you be no more as babes who are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine and slight cunning of men who lie in wait to deceive. ~ Pastor Chuck on Acts 20:28

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rejecting Good Advice

1 Kings 12:8 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.


When Solomon reigned as King over Israel the nation reached its zenith. Solomon was filled with wisdom that God gave him to lead the people. Sadly Solomon did not finish as well as he started. For all the wisdom he had received he wasn't wise enough to turn from the deadly temptations that led his heart away from God. At the death of Solomon there wasn't a question as to who would be his successor. Everyone in the Kingdom looked to Solomon's son Rehoboam to be the next king. But although Rehoboam inherited his fathers kingdom, he did not inherit his fathers wisdom. 
On the day of his coronation Rehoboam met with two different groups for council. The first group were the elders who had been with Solomon from the beginning. They had observed his strengths and weaknesses. They had taken note of what was a blessing under Solomon's reign, and also what needed to change. No doubt the council they tried to give to Rehoboam was not to lord over him, but to help him. The council they gave was that Rehoboam speak kindly to the people, be a servant to the people, care for the people. These men had insight, they had been around a lot longer than Rehoboam and they wanted to see the nation stay together. At first Rehoboam listened, and then consulted another group. The second group was some young men that had grown up with him and stood before him. A group that had been waiting alongside of Rehoboam in the wings for their opportunity. Over time, they had developed their own opinions and come to their own conclusions. They told Rehoboam to do things differently then his father. They told him to be oppressive to the people, and to place a burden on them. It's as if they were saying, "change things up, be your own man Rehoboam. What do those old timers know anyway? Those guys are withholding progress in the kingdom. You know what to do. Don't live in your fathers shadow." I imagine this was a difficult decision for Rehoboam. For in addition to the council of his young men telling him to move forward, he had the buildings Solomon had built; and the bankroll that Solomon had amassed to get things done. 
Having received council from both groups Rehoboam decided to reject the council of the elders, and went with the council of the young men. And when he stood before the people and began to put forth his vision for the nation, the people rejected it. The tribes that had been united up to this point divided. The people formerly under Solomon began to leave, and those that left took their money with them. 
As Rehoboams Kingdom continued to decline the tribe up Judah went into carnal and idolatrous practices. Also their Egyptian enemies came in and stole the treasures of the house of the Lord, and they took the gold shields that Solomon had made.  In place of the gold shields Rehoboam made bronze shields. Although they were not made of gold they would still shine, and give off the impression that everything was as stable and fortified as they had always been. Yet sadly, not everything was as it appeared to be.  
You can't help but wonder if things would have been different if Rehoboam had asked the Lord for wisdom as his father had done.
The only consolation that you can find in this sad story is in 1 Kings 12:15 "the turn of events was from the Lord, that He might fulfill His word…." In other words God was still in control, and God still had a plan. Ultimately the Lord would use this for good. 











Friday, January 9, 2015

Keep it Simple


2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 


The church in Corinth had many things going for it. In his first letter Paul mentioned that they were a knowledgable church. They had been "enriched in everything in all utterance and in all knowledge." (1 Cor.1) He also sited the fact that they were a gifted church. There did not appear to be one spiritual gift missing within the congregation. Corinth was also an expectant church, that is they were waiting for the revelation of Jesus Christ. Yet the church also had many problems that Paul addressed in his letters written to them. Among those things that deeply concerned Paul was a change of mindset concerning the simplicity that is in Christ. There were many false teachers that had gained entrance into the pulpits of Corinth preaching a completely different message and rather than stand up to it, they caved into it. This in turn affected the church body that Paul loved sincerely. 

IN THE GARDEN: Paul saw what the Corinthians were facing and likened it to what Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden. It was in Genesis 3 that the devil came in the form of a serpent and began to question and contradict the clear commands of the Word of God. Eve listened to the lies of the enemy, and the devil took advantage of her unsuspecting mind and turned her heart away from the Lord. The bible says in Genesis 3:6 "So when the woman saw that the tree was GOOD for food, that is was PLEASANT to the eyes, and DESIRABLE to make one wise, she took its fruit and ate. She also gave it to her husband with her and he ate." It is hard to imagine that something referred to as GOOD, PLEASANT, and DESIRABLE would be wrong to partake of. It would be easy to justify giving in based on that description. Nevertheless God had already said that tree was off limits. He had warned them before the encounter with the serpent that they were to stay away from it regardless of how tempting it may appear. 

SIMPLICITY: The Corinthians were listening to things that Paul feared were "corrupting their minds". The Word corrupt means to be led away from the state of knowledge and holiness in which one ought to abide. And when Paul used the word SIMPLICITY it meant: sincerity of mind toward Christ as opposed to false wisdom in matters pertaining to Christianity. 

There are many applications that one could make from this passage. When I read it recently it reminded me of how easy it is to get away from the simplicity of just knowing Jesus and loving Jesus. Also it reminded me of ministry. How we can easily begin to convolute what our calling is. Things can get quickly cluttered in a labyrinth of good, pleasant, and even desirable things that could make you wise.   But there are certain things that don't change, THE WORD OF GOD, the SPIRIT OF GOD, the LOVE OF GOD, DISCIPLESHIP, Evangelism, the Great Commission.. etc…
As I go into a New Year I don't ever want to loose that sense of simplicity that is in Christ. Knowing Him, loving Him, serving Him, growing in Him, being found in Him, and finding my treasure and hope in Him..

Keep it Simple, get back to basics..





Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Are Women Called to Be Pastors?

One of the questions that has come up in recent days is, "What does the Bible say about women being pastors within the church?" For some people, the question alone raises some deep seated emotions, and gives way to a highly contested debate. Let me say that is not my intention. I simply want to give "a biblical perspective" on the subject and clear up some confusion and maybe even provide some council. 

The Issue at Hand: First of all let me begin by saying that this discussion is not about men verses women.  Nor is it about discrimination against a particular gender over another.  It has nothing to do with the value or worth of the individual. Rather it is a matter of biblical interpretation, and what the Bible says on the subject. 

The Blessing of Women's Ministry in the Church: Throughout the Bible we read of women taking an active role within the church. During His earthly ministry, there were many wonderful, godly women who served alongside of Jesus and the Apostles. The first person entrusted with the good news of the Resurrected Savior was a woman name Mary Magdalene.(John20)  In his epistle to the Romans Paul identified sixteen co-laborers in the ministry, and ten of them were women.(Romans16:1-16)  One of the women was named Phoebe and she is referred to as a servant. The word servant is the same word used for Deacon. Paul started the church in Philippi in the home of a prominent women named Lydia.(Acts16). In 1 Corinthians 1:11 Paul was sent a letter by a women named Chloe that informed him of some of the problems within the church that met at her house. The women in the bible played an important role within the ministry of the church. The truth is not much has changed. Much of the ministry in churches today would cease to exist if it wasn't for the  participation of godly women. 

The Parameters and Structure: The Bible does not restrict women from public praying or prophesying. (1 Cor.11:5) In the book of Acts we read of a man named Philip who had four daughters that prophesied.(Acts 21:9)  Nor does the Bible prohibit women from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit.(1 Cor.12) Like men, women are called to follow after Jesus. They are encouraged to share the gospel with the lost world. But the Bible does make a distinction within the church concerning women being pastors. 

The Biblical Text: 
If you were to read briefly through the New Testament  on passages concerning the church you would discover a few things. For one thing, there is no mention of any female pastors  at all in the New Testament. Also none of the instructions that are given for the order of the church include instructions for female pastors. However when you come to the book of 1 Timothy the Apostle Paul gives an order for the church which includes a restriction.  In the book of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 Let a women learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. The word for silence is defined as "quietness, or a peaceful disposition". It doesn't mean that women cannot speak within the church. 
What Paul did say was that women were not to teach or have authority over the men. Greek scholars have pointed out that this passage in its context of church order is stating that, "the kind of teacher Paul is referring to is the one spoken of in 1Corinthians 12:28-28, Ephesians 4:11, that is God-called, and God-equipped teachers, recognized by the church as having authority in the Church matters of doctrine and interpretation." (Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Wuest pg.2 Vol.2). This calling is one that God has given to men within the church. This was God's plan, this was His design, and His order for the body of Christ. When Paul laid out the qualifications for the bishops, which is a word used for pastor, shepherd, overseer, or elder; he referred to them as being the Husband of one wife. In other words they were men. (1Timothy3) In writing to Titus Paul gave similar instructions. He informed Titus that he was left in Crete to set things in order and appoint elders, then Paul said, "if a MAN be blameless, husband of one wife etc." (Titus 1:5-6) This prohibition of teaching doesn't mean women cannot teach other women. The bible says that in Titus 2 that the older women are to instruct the younger women. Nor does the Bible suggest that women cannot teach children in Sunday School, but it does prohibit women from being pastors. 

ORDER AND DESIGN: Thankfully our God is a God of order. We see this revealed throughout the Bible  in many different ways. One example is in the area of God's design seen in Creation. Another area would be God's plan for the family. Within the family God gave different roles and responsablities to men and women. Men are called to be husbands, and women  are called to be wives. A wife is not less valuable than her husband because her role is different within the family. Yet if a wife seeks to take the role of the husband, or the husband is not the leader God has called him to be, it would create real problems within the family. So too within the church. It isn't a matter of inferiority, but of function according to Gods design. 
Can a women be a CEO of a company? Can a women be a highly decorated officer within any branch of the military? Can a women be a professor at a university? How about a surgeon? What about the  President of a Country? The answer to all of those questions is an absolute YES!. Can a women take the role of an, elder, overseer, or bishop? Can she be a pastor within the church? The Bible says No. 

REAL TIME: Today we find pastors ordaining their wives to the ministry. They have them serving  alongside of them in a pastoral role. The people in their congregations refer to them as a pastor. Some pastors have their wife teach their congregations, and handle all their weekend services.  The truth is, some of them, are great teachers. Some, may even be better than their husbands. Nevertheless I believe according to the Word of God that the position, the role, the calling, of a pastor was given to men within the church in the same way men are called to be husbands in the family.

Granted there may be several objections that people make concerning this stance. But I would suggest that those who have disagreements read what the Bible says. The Bible says that a woman has a different roll and calling than a man within the ministry of the church. 



















Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pastors Part 4: Steadfast

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore my beloved brethren be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. 

The word steadfast speaks metaphorically of one who is fixed in purpose. It means to be sedentary  and unmovable. When the apostle Paul was taking his final journey back to Jerusalem he called upon the Ephesian Elders for a farewell visit. The Elders of Ephesus were worried about the danger Paul would encounter in Jerusalem, and begged him not to go. In response to their pleas, Paul declared, "none of these things move me"(Acts20:28). In writing to the Thessalonians Paul encouraged the believers not to be shaken or moved when he said, "no one should be shaken by these afflictions for you yourselves know that we were appointed unto this." (1Thess.3:3) 
In pastoral ministry there are many things that could seek to move you from where God has placed you. This never becomes so clear as when you are planting a church. In our first church plant in the South East, it seemed as though there was something daily that sought to move us from continuing. At times in came in the form of lack of resources, lack of help, or lack of opportunity. However in those seasons there is only one thing to do, and that is to remain steadfast. I have found that the ability to stay the course and remain steadfast is strengthened when I am anchored by the Word of God. It is the Word of God that increases my faith, encourages my heart, and keeps me strong. It reminds me of who God is and what God has said. 

Are you facing some challenges that have the potential to shake your confidence in the Lord and His calling? Remain steadfast, stay in the Word, and keep on abounding the work of the Lord knowing your labor is not in vain. 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pastors: Part 3 When Sheep Wander

Matthew 18:12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 


The Bible says that all we like sheep have gone astray. We are all prone to wander off the right path. As a pastor of a congregation, what do you do when you receive word that someone in the congregation has gone astray? How do you respond when you are told that someone has gone back to world? Are you supposed to contact them, or let them be? 
There isn't really any easy answer. We know that the heart of the  Great Shepherd is to seek and save those who are lost. I believe we should have that same heart. We are encouraged from scripture that if we see a brother straying from the truth, to go to them in a spirit of gentleness and seek to restore them. At the same time you don't always have that opportunity. A person may not want to be contacted. They don't want to hear from you. I do believe we should make the effort to reach out, to warn, to exhort, and even at times rebuke in love. Yet I also realize that this will not always be received. In those times when a person cannot be reached, or doesn't want to be reached, it is best to intercede for them in prayer. Ask Jesus to go after the one that is lost. Pray that they will come to the end of themselves. If they are in sin, pray that they will hate it and want to return. If they have gone into a relationship that has taken them away from Jesus and are living in sexual immorality, pray that the LORD will convict them. Pray that they will be miserable in their sin, and desire to come back to Jesus. 
If a person has gotten out of fellowship, and their relationship with the Lord is now something they are apart of only when it is convenient, pray that they will sense the need for fellowship. Pray that God will show them they have left there first love, and that they will return to it.  If they leave your church bitter for reasons you are aware of or are not aware of, pray that the Lord will speak to them.. if they have left your church,  pray that they find one that they can be apart of and grow in. These situations are never easy. As a pastor, these are the things that can keep you up at night. Because you are to have a deep concern and love for Gods people as a shepherd you can feel, and carry the weight of the sheep on your heart. The Lord often brings people to your mind and you  in turn bring them before the throne of grace in prayer trusting that the Lord is working even though you cannot see Him working. 

As a pastor you do the best you can, and trust the Lord with the rest. And remember if that person returns, love them and seek to restore them. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pastors Part 2: Servant

Shepherd the flock of God that is among you…."Serving as Overseer": 1 Peter 5:1

A flock of sheep have many different needs such as: good pasture in which to graze. Also they need protective fencing that provides a safe boundary that protects them from predators. Fresh water is  an absolute must, a  average sheep drinks several gallons of water a day.  All of the needs of the flock provide multiple opportunities for the shepherd to serve. Shepherds exist for the purpose of  serving the sheep.  Jesus informed His disciples that the greatest in the kingdom was the servant of all. When Jesus washed the feet of His disciples He gave them an example to follow. 
I was raised in an environment of ministry where it was made clear to us that if we felt called to pastor, we were being called to serve. We were not there to have people cater to our needs. Nor  were we to get caught up in our title, or ordination certificates; but to be servants. There are some areas of service that are more enjoyable than others. Nevertheless we should never think that we are above even the most menial tasks. No matter where we serve, we are always to do so as unto the Lord Jesus. 
It's also important to consider the motivation for serving. The reason we serve is not for the applause of the people, or that our names will become famous. The reason we serve is because of love for Jesus, and for His glory. In our service we are not to take the bows for what God has allowed us to do. Rather we should point people to the one who gave us the opportunity to serve. 
When I was a janitor at Calvary in Costa Mesa we had a sign over the janitorial closet door that read, "You will know that you are a servant by the way you act when you are treated like one." Even though I did not always like to read it,  it was a great reminder.  
As we faithfully serve our Lord and His people, one day we will hear Him say, "well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of the Lord." What a day that will be!

Are you a shepherd or a hireling? Are you a servant or a tyrant? Are you above the people or under them? Are you motivated by love for your master, or by the recognition of men? Why do you do what it is that you do? 

These are all questions that I have had to prayerfully ask myself before the Lord Jesus.