Tag: growth

Church Babysitting?

 

There are tens of thousands of pastors in this great land we call America. Thousands of men and women who desire to feed the flock of God faithfully, and someday hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.”

Pastors, I praise God for your caring and patient heart. You are making a difference in your community, whether you realize it or not. 

You were not called or merely employed by your congregation; you were called of God to your place of ministry. Called by God to feed, guard, tend and carry the flock of God; to help the people of God grow to be mature sons and daughters of God.

Called by the God Who called Abram to the mount with his son, his only son. Called to sacrifice the promised one to the One Who promises. Called by the One Who provides to all who answer the call, and continually listen to His voice.

I honor you, men and women of God. 

May I speak a word of encouragement and exhortation to you, as well?

The word I share is based upon two passages of scripture. One in Acts, and the other from Ephesians.

“Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14-17 ESV)

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV) 

Philip, the man of God, had gone to Samaria and boldly preached Christ. Multitudes came to Christ, hearing and believing the things spoken by him. And those who received Christ, were baptized as well. So, as Philip cooperated with the Spirit of the Lord, a church was planted in the city of Samaria. 

But did you notice what happened next? When the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem heard of the great things God and Philip were doing, they sent Peter and John for further ministry. Why? One preacher ought to be as good as the next, don’t you think?

It’s not what God thinks. 

The Samaritan congregation needed more than what one man or woman could give them. Even Philip, a man who could, with the anointing of God, work miracles among them, was limited. 

You know what? It’s how God planned it. 

Peter and John didn’t come to take over. They came to come alongside the leadership and HELP. They came to fill the pulpit. 

Paul wrote, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you” (Romans 1:11 ESV). Paul wasn’t wanting to boot the Roman pastors out of leadership; he was wanting to fill the pulpit. 

To me, filling the pulpit isn’t a spiritual babysitting job. It isn’t a lesser job, or a part-time gig. It is joining with the Lord Jesus Who said, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

Filling the pulpit, preaching, ministering, leading a “service”, or anything else you’d like to call it carries with it huge responsibility. The responsibility to rightfully divide the word of truth, to tenderly and graciously care for the flock, and, if necessary, use the sword against attacking wolves. 

Filling the pulpit is listening to God, and honoring the trust given by the inviting pastor.

It is MUCH MORE than church babysitting.

Many churches have quit scheduling guest preachers, pulpit fillers, evangelists, etc. Though they have a perfectly logical reason why they no longer have guests, such as money, time, don’t know anyone, been burnt in the past…that still doesn’t override the passage in Ephesians. 

I remember, many years ago scheduling a pastor to preach a Sunday morning and night at our first church. Same denomination as ours, I had met him a couple months earlier and was impressed with the way he carried himself. 

So he came, he preached, he ministered, and I was shell shocked. I was a fairly new pastor, and he was extremely intimidating. Some of the things he preached, and the way he “ministered to people” (hitting them in the stomach – thought he was Smith Wigglesworth): I SHOULD HAVE stopped the meetings and sent him packing. 

But I didn’t. In fact, I let him preach in the evening, too. What a mess! But I was too intimidated to drive him away. I wasn’t guarding the flock.

After he left, I spent the next month teaching what the Bible said, trying to undo his goofiness. 

I never invited him back. 

But I didn’t quit having people in to minister. 

I realize the word tells the under-shepherds, “Feed the flock of God which is among you…”. As a parent, I had the responsibility to feed my son. And I did, though sometimes we went to a restaurant where someone else did the cooking, or we were invited to someone else’s house. Either way, he was fed because I was faithful to my responsibility. 

As I said, there seems to be a trend developing; a trend where the pastor tries to give the flock everything they need. However, it just isn’t possible. The Lord isn’t building His church in such fashion.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” 

Until we ALL ATTAIN to the unity of the faith AND until we grow up into the exact image of Jesus Christ.

There’s still some work that needs to be done, at least in most congregations.

Thanks again, pastors, for the dedication and love you have for the Lord and His work.

And for faithfully filling the pulpit, as the Lord instructs.

Let The Change Begin

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“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.” (1 John 3:2 NLT)

A future hope? You bet!

But so much more.

It’s the promise of change; from an unregenerate, selfish human being into a brand new, born again Christ follower. A partaker of God’s nature, an imitator of Jesus’ ways, and one who is growing to look exactly like Christ.

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT)

But what did John mean, “We shall see him as he really is”?

How do we REALLY get to know another person? It doesn’t take much effort to know someone casually. But knowing them intimately, even to the point of imitating their speech and manners; well, that calls for a lot of personal study and communion.

We may not be able to explain to anyone, including ourselves, just what God is doing in our life. And we may not comprehend the length, breadth, height, or depth of what Jesus is transforming us into. But we can know at least one thing for sure; he is transforming us into the very image of the Father. For “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”

Yes, we’re going to really be dressed up one of these days, when we take off this old earth suit, and put on our new, heavenly suit.

But let’s allow the change to begin now! Let’s spend our lives looking at Jesus. Following him through the gospels, watching him work, hearing him teach, and experiencing the power of his Spirit as he draws us into each and every story.

This is how we begin to “see him as he is.” It’s how to “share his divine nature”, and be formed into his image.

It’s not a promise for an elite chosen few; no, it’s a promise for all who will look “unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

It is Heaven for sure!

So let the change begin.

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