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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Will You Publicly Support Your Pastor?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so like the present period, that some of its noblest authorities insisted on its being received , for good or for evil, in the superlative degree in comparison only.” Thus is the beginning of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Wouldn’t you say that we are in the midst of that even now?

Each week we criticize or applaud what is happening. Generally, those in power applaud and those who are denied power criticize. One says it is the best of times, the other says it is the worst. People are acting like little children who believe that their parents are perfectly right about everything or absolutely wrong. The old adage that no one is perfect doesn’t seem to apply. They want a hero without flaw, who is always moral, always powerful, always knowing what to do and always good to the deserving. They want this hero to avenge them of those whom they believe have oppressed them. They throw their support behind the one who has been chosen and either overlook or deny anything is ever wrong. This person may make the journey from hero to goat and never receive forgiveness for his sins.

And this happens as much in the church as anywhere else. The congregation may do that politically or with their pastor. The one they thought to be was the wisest of all is found to have holes in his wisdom. Now, he doesn’t have enough sense to get in from the rain. Everything action taken is either nefarious or abjectly stupid. There is no middle ground. Everything is said in superlatives.

I have talked to many pastors recently who are feeling the pressures of some of members of the churches they serve. They tell me of those who have come to oppose them. Many of these stir up trouble and campaign for these pastors’ removal. These members refuse to forgive when forgiveness is required. They see themselves as those who must avenge the wrongs and take the place of the hero in the story.

How can we believe that God is pleased with this? Who will come to these pastor’s aid against those who would have them removed? Why are the good members silent in these times? I talk with these pastors and give them as much support as I can but I cannot involve myself in the affairs of their churches because I am not a member there. I have no voice.

So, I challenge those of you who read this and are experiencing turmoil in your churches to send this to other members of your congregation. Why? So, you can stand with your pastor and let him know that you are doing so. So, he will be strengthened by you to continue preaching the gospel. So, your church will know that this immoral action of opposition will not be tolerated in your church. So, you may have peace and reach people with the gospel.

Will you do it?

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.  

(Please note that I do understand that pastors who have committed egregious immoral acts need to be removed from their position. But make no mistake: This must be done in the open. The Bible says that an Elder should be rebuked publicly.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We Must All Guard Against Becoming Lukewarm

Revelation 3:14-22 (ESV)
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

What has happened to the people of God? So many come to church without being changed. So many are completely oblivious to spiritual things. They only see what the world sees. They act as those in the world, even adopting the world's view of sin. And they don't know anything is wrong.

I am afraid that many Christians have become lukewarm. They think they are rich in the spirit because they come to church but fail to realize that they have not heard from God in some time. They critique the preacher's sermons on a emotional or worldly wisdom scale. They want to see and hear things which will tickle their ears. They do not realize their distance between themselves and the Lord.

Yet, even now the Lord stands at the door and knocks. He requests an entrance into fellowship with them. He speaks out, hoping they will hear His voice.  His promise is a restored fellowship. But they must open the door.

What will it take for God's people to awaken from the slumber they are in? Their hearing has become dull. Their eyes are dim to the things of God. They have come to believe what they see in the physical world. They see themselves as physical beings who possess a spirit rather than spiritual beings who possess a body.

So, I too cry out to Jesus to continue knocking and calling out.

Yet, I know that He is willing to send whatever is necessary to discipline those whom He loves. What will it mean for a people who have turned away from Him? What act must He allow that will turn His people back to Him? Will He allow something that will remove all of our earthly securities? I know He might.

My concern is also for myself. I can preach sermons and be very far away from the Lord. I, too, must buy His gold. I, too, must be refined by fire. I, too, need to be clothed with His garments.

I continue to pray that I have ears to hear. (Hebrews 5:11)