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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Heart of a Godly Pastor for the Local Church

The life of the pastor of the local church is filled with responsibilities, relationships, and requirements.  The typical pastor makes countless decisions per day and many of those decisions involve eternal elements.  The number of things that are pressed before a pastor each day cannot all be accomplished.  The pastor simply does not have enough time to cover every area that needs to be covered.  The time for prayer and study alone takes up a large portion of time.  The time that is left per day after prayer and study can be filled with visitation, family, community, evangelism, tragedies, funerals, weddings, and the list goes on.

In thinking through the reality of the many obligations that pull at the pastor of the local church, you could easily add the emotional level of it all.  The pastor loves his people, cares about their spiritual wellbeing, and truly hurts when he sees those he cares about going down a road that will hurt them.  When the pastor does get home his mind and heart are still consumed about all the issues of the day, and when he lays down to sleep it seems that his mind moves even faster.  If it were not for the grace of God he would simply self-destruct.

It is not my intent in this post to try to solve the whole of this situation, but to give a word that may help the pastor and that may help the church member to help their pastor.  In Philippians 3:14 Paul says, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus".  The word διώκω (press on) means "to move rapidly and decisively toward an objective, hasten, run, press on" (BDAG).  This verse is where we get the old hymn, "I Am Resolved" by Palmer Hartsough.  In stanza 3 of that hymn he says, "I am resolved to follow the Savior, faithful and true each day.  Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth, He is the living way".

There are a few things that should be notice from Philippians 3:12-16 about Paul that should help.  First, the word διώκω is also used in verse 12.  Paul realizes that he has not obtained the resurrection from the dead nor is he perfect, but he 'presses on'.  What is Paul's motive?  Christ has made him his own.  Paul's identity in Christ was the motive of his ministry.  Second, Paul had the wisdom to know that he could not live in the past.  He had made mistakes, sinned, failed, and etc., but wisdom showed him to επιλανθανομαι (to forget) what was behind and to stretch out or strain for what is ahead.  Third, Paul knew that the issue that was of extreme importance was to διώκω (press on) in regards to the call.  There is nothing greater on earth than the call to the pastoral ministry and the pastor of the local church cannot allow anything to distract him from fulfilling that call.  Martin Luther reportedly said, "Why should I stoop to the level of being a king, when I can stand in the pulpit of God".  Lastly,  the mature are the ones who think this way.  The local pastor must hold true to that which he has obtained.  

The local pastor is to be motivated by his identity in Christ, forgetting the past, pressing on to fulfill the call,  and to know that that is the most mature thing that he can do.  The local pastor will save himself a lot of trouble to have resolve in these areas.  Resolve who you are in Christ.  Resolve what it is that your have been called to do.  Resolve, that come hell or high water you will preach verse by verse, pray without ceasing, lead your family, and serve your local church.  No matter what the entire world may do, nor what they may do to you, be resolved to διώκω (press on) to fulfill the calling that God has placed upon your life.  

If you as a church member desire to help your pastor fulfill his God given role, here are a few suggestions that may be a blessing to your pastor and ultimately to your own soul.  First, pray for your pastor on a daily basis.  Pray that he will stay focused upon that which is most important to the God he serves.  Second, encourage him to study well for his sermons and for any bible studies he is teaching.  Come to class or to worship hungry to learn from the Word of God.  Ask him questions about the text and show interest in the Word of God.  Third, take a moment and encourage his wife.  A pastor's wife who is encouraged, loved, and appreciated will ultimately be one of the greatest ways to bless the pastor.  Show me a happy pastor's wife and I will show you a happy pastor.  Lastly, show genuine love for God by showing genuine love for your local church.  Any pastor worth his salt will love the local church and he will be greatly encouraged to see others loving the same thing that he loves.  There is nothing more draining on a pastor that to see people with a low view of the bride of Christ and there is nothing more exciting for a pastor than to see the people of God giving their lives to serve God by serving the local church. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to Pastor the Local Church

Pastoring the local church is full of challenges.  The pastor questions himself every week wondering whether or not he is being and doing what God has called him to be and do.  In our modern church world a pastor who looks to the internet to examine the pastorate, he may come to many different conclusions.  He may think that to be a pastor he must be successful (growing numbers and his own reputation).  He may consider that to be a good pastor he will have to be on the cutting edge of ministry (lights, camera, action).  He may look to his external appearance and seek to dress a little more hip (square rimmed glasses, untucked shirt, and just the right pair of shoes).  He may even think about his preaching style and seek to implement a laptop, iPad, iPod, or other media helps (visual learning, lights, catchy).  The modern church gives offs the vibes of a hollywood mentality that is seeking the best show in town with the greatest of actors.  He may feel he has to keep up with what everyone else is doing.

What is it that makes a good pastor?  It is of vital importance to look at the "Chief Pastor" to develop a true understanding of pastoring.  Towards the end of Jesus' earthly ministry he is gathered together with his local church of 12 men.  He has known all along that one member of his church is not really with Him.  Jesus had even revealed that one of them was the devil back in John 6:70.  With this knowledge of Judas we still find Jesus teaching Judas, serving Judas, and even washing his feet.  Herein, is the heart of the successful pastor.  A man so in love with the glory of God that he would even wash the feet of the devil to the glory of God.  In John 13 we find these words from the "Chief Pastor", "αγαπησας τους ίδιους τους ev  τω κόσμω εις τέλος ηγάπησεν αυτούς"(having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end).  With all the faults, failures, and at times fickleness of His local church Jesus loved them to the very end.  

The word love gets thrown around and used in many different ways by different people.  We must define the word properly.  Love is defined this way, "By this we know love, that He (Jesus) laid down His life for us".  Jesus, the Chief Pastor, sacrificed Himself for the undeserving.  He sacrificially taught them, prayed all night for them, fed them, watered them, led them, and in our present passage He washed their feet.  A local church of 12 with one of them being a devil and the other eleven having issue of doubt, fear, lack of prayer, timidity, denials, and in general they just were not that impressive.  Jesus loved them to the end.  They misunderstood His teaching at times and had the shocking ability to forget the greatest of miracles that Jesus did.  Jesus' local church rebuked Him for sleeping when a storm was on the sea, when He said He was going to return to Jerusalem, and when He told them He must die.  What nerve they had to rebuke the Chief Pastor.  Yet, Jesus loved them to the end.  

In order to Pastor a local church correctly the pastor will have to learn to love the unloveable.  He will have to be patient with those he does not think deserve his patience.  He will have to teach those who are playing on their phones and iPad's while he is teaching.  He will have to preach to those who sleep while he preaches.  He will have to serve those who slander his good name in the community.  He must learn to love those who do not even want to be loved.  He must learn to love those who do not love him.  He will have to serve some that proof, in the end to be in partnership with the devil.  He must look to Jesus, the Chief Pastor and learn to love like Jesus loved.  He loved to the end. 

Bypassing all of the modern trends of what is said it takes to be a successful pastor, perhaps men should try to learn to love the local church the way that Jesus did.  Jesus loved his own to the end.  Do you love your own to the end?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Answer to the question

The quote from my last blog entry was C. H. Spurgeon and is found in "Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit", Vol. 60, pgs. 566-567.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who is the author?

Just a bit of trivia on limited atonement.  See if you can guess who wrote the following and I will give the answer and source in a few days.  The quote comes in a discussion about faith from James 2:14-17.

"What James does mean, however, is this, no doubt, in brief and short, that while faith saves, it is faith of a certain kind.  No man is saved by persuading himself that he is saved; nobody is saved by believing Jesus Christ died for him.  That may be, or may not be, true in the sense in which he understands it.  In a certain sense Christ died for all men, but since it is evident that many men are lost, Christ's dying for all men is not at all a ground upon which any man may hope to be saved.  Christ died for some men in another sense, in a peculiar and special sense.  No man has a right to believe that Christ peculiarly and specially died for him until he has an evidence of it in casting himself upon Christ, and trusting in Jesus, and bringing forth suitable works to evince the reality of his faith.  The faith that saves is not a historical faith, not a faith that simply believes a creed and certain facts; I have no doubt devils are very orthodox; I do not know which church they belong to, though there are some in all churches, there was one in Christ's Church when he was on earth, for he said one was filled with devils; and there are some in all churches" (Underlines are added by me).