Thursday, May 31, 2012

Biblical Pictures of the Servant Leader in the Church:
By: Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

1. A Shepherd (1 Pet 5) — The Apostle Peter calls the leaders to shepherd — tend and care for — the flock of God among them. They are to exercise oversight not under compulsion but willingly. And not for shameful gain but eagerly as proving to be examples of Christlikeness to the body of believers. Furthermore, these leaders must never dominate and lord their authority over the flock but rather they should prove to be examples to the flock. This leader, then, is one who leads, serves, feeds, tends, carries, loves, and ministers to his very own flock entrusted to His care.

2. A Watchman (Ezek 3:17) — This text reveals how God in his great wisdom called Ezekiel to be a watchman and a guard for the House of Israel. He was appointed to teach and dispense God’s truth to God’s people. Indeed, whenever Ezekiel heard a word from God, he was commissioned to warn God’s people. Thus, a watchman is a man who keeps diligent watch and at the first blush of incoming enemies he raises the battle cry and warns the people of invasion. The leader of God’s flock must see himself as a watchman — and one who proclaims the Word of God as warnings to people.

3. A Guard (Acts 20:28) — This text explicitly states that those who lead the local Church as shepherds, teachers, and students of the Word are called overseers. Part of the overseer’s responsibility rests in the duty to always be on guard against false teaching, false converts, dangerous wolves. Indeed, the greatest thing an overseer can do is care for the church of God and, as this verse reveals, one way this is accomplished is by guarding his own doctrine, life, and character in addition to those who are allotted to his care.

4. A Defender (Titus 1:9) — An essential qualification for one who holds a leadership position in the local Church is a firm defender of God’s Truth. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy word which is taught in Scripture. He must know it, be familiar with it, be acquainted with it, be daily fed from it, be regularly discipling other men from it, and be shepherding his wife and discipling his children from it. This is two sides of the same coin. He must, first, be able to give instruction in sound doctrine. That is to say, he must know doctrine — what is sound, right, accurate, and biblically supported — and know how to clearly present it. Furthermore, he must be willing, able, and competent enough to refute those who contradict this sound teaching that does not fall in accord with Scripture.

5. A Herald (Jer 11:6; Acts 13:5) — A foremost duty of OT prophets and NT apostles — and a continuing command throughout the entire NT — is for men to be heralds, that is, proclaimers of God’s Word. God appointed Jeremiah to go into all the cities of Judah and proclaim the words of the covenant of God. And in the NT, on Paul’s missionary journeys, his custom consisted of entering a city and going immediately to the synagogue and proclaiming the gospel. Thus, the man of God who leads the flock of God must be a herald of the Word of God with all passion, conviction, certainty, persuasion, urgency, compassion, and humility.

6. A Messenger (Phil 2:25; 2 Tim 2:25) — The leader in a local Church must see himself as a messenger. He is one sent by the Living God who made heaven and earth to convey a message to an audience. He cannot change the message. He must not alter, fabricate, or downplay the King’s orders. He must instruct those who oppose sound teaching so that God may, in His wisdom and power, grant repentance to the deadened sinner. When the leader in the church envisions himself as a messenger sent by God with a primary purpose of teaching, feeding, protecting and disseminating the truth of God, he embraces this responsibility and faithfully discharges his duty in the context of the local assembly.

7. A Servant (Matt 20:26; 1 Tim 4:6) — One who wants to be great must always be a servant. The path to greatness is the path of service. No one can be exalted who exalts himself. It is the true servant — not just in outward show or actions but one who serves as a joyful act of heartfelt obedience to Jesus Christ — who willingly, joyfully, frequently, and privately serves (even if no one else ever recognizes and praises him). A servant of Christ Jesus is one who faithfully points out God’s truth to the brothers. The greatest act of service can be to obey the Sovereign King of all and his commission is to appoint His Word to His people. A servant must obey his master. If not, he is an unfaithful servant and is unworthy to even be called a servant.

8. An Example (Titus 2:7; 1 Tim 4:12; Phil 3:17) — Godly leaders show themselves to be examples of good works. They model Christlikeness. In the teaching, they demonstrate integrity and dignity. The leader must always strive to be an example for the flock in life, love, faith, speech, and purity. It is this man of God who can reiterate the words of Paul to the flock to imitate him in so far as he follows Christ. This leader in the local Church can be examined, scrutinized, and subject to testing and his life will show that it is one worthy of close imitation.

9. An Instructor (2 Tim 1:11; 1 Tim 1:3) — An essential element of a leader in Christ’s church is that the man be an instructor of the Word of God. He must embrace the doctrines of the faith, the biblical gospel, and he must instruct those who are unbelieving, wayward, or apostate. These men must call folks to teach no other doctrine in the local church other than that which is true, biblical, and in accord with all of Scripture. He must teach from God’s Word. He must teach about God’s Word. He must live out God’s Word. He must declare how to instruct his children in the truth of God’s Word. He must show how to shepherd one’s wife in God’s Word. He must commit himself to the relentless task and bottomless well of prayerful study of God’s divine revelation so as to instruct others with it.

10. A Father (1 Thess 2:11) — As Paul dealt with the Thessalonian believers as a father would his own children, so every Godly leader ought to care for the flock of God with this fatherly care, concern, & love. Just as Paul exhorted, encouraged, and charged each one in the flock to live holy lives worthy of God and His election of them, so the leader of the Church must exhort, encourage, and charge every person to know Christ, pursue Christ, cherish Christ, believe in Christ, and walk obediently to Christ. Just as a father lovingly counsels and encourages his son, so this is the mindset of a leader in Christ’s church.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This is a needed reminder for those of us in full-time pastoral ministry. God's Word demands that we be above-reproach & integrity-filled when it comes to our sexual purity. 

Here are Armstrong’s eight suggested ways that pastors should plan to prevent sexual sin (pp. 174–81):
  1. “Understand the nature of sexual temptation.” “In two areas, traveling and counseling, a pastor must take precautions.” [Cf. Josh Harris on how guys and girls are “wired” differently sexually.]
  2. “Understand the power of the seductive woman.” “The pastor must be especially careful to guard himself when he detects the first mannerisms that indicate a woman may have feelings that are beyond those of a healthy and pure relationship.”
  3. “Guard your mind.” “The pastor must guard his mind by staying away from explicitly erotic material, as well as television programs and images that fuel the fires of lust. . . . Pornography surrounds us, acting as a poison that corrupts healthy sexuality.” [Cf. Joe Tyrpak, "Help for Fighting Lust: A Meditation Plan"; Mike Salvati, "The God of Truth and the Lies of Porn."]
  4. “Cultivate and protect your own marriage.” “This seems to be the plainest meaning of the wisdom given in Proverbs 5:15–23: You must enjoy your wife physically and her alone.”
  5. “Take precautions as you minister.” “The wise pastor cannot be overly careful.” [Cf. Mark Minnick, "Maintaining Moral Purity in the Ministry."]
  6. “Maintain relationships where accountability is real.” “Every pastor needs several relationships where he is mutually accountable for his actions and relationships with others.” [Cf. Phil Gons, Matthew Hoskinson, and Andy Naselli, "Accountability."]
  7. “Cultivate your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.” “You must know yourself and take care of your body and soul to remain strong.”
  8. “Consider regularly the consequences of sexual sin.” “What will this sin mean to your wife? Your children? Your congregation? Your closest friends? Your future ministry? We need to do this because the outcome of this particular sin is so deceiving.” [Cf. Randy Alcorn's "purity principle": purity is always smart; impurity is always stupid.]
From: John H. Armstrong. The Stain That Stays: The Church’s Response to the Sexual Misconduct of Its Leaders. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications; Reformation and Revival Ministries, 2000.

HT: Andy Naselli

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Great lines from Ed Welch:

Sexual "looking", whether we are looking at a real person, a digital one, or an imaginary one, is about greed.

What I “see” is what I want to possess. Porn is not about our vision. It is about our hearts. I am saying, I WANT THAT AS MY OWN, which is exactly what the picture promises. The person in the photograph wants to belong to you and you alone. Sexual "looking", whether we are looking at a real person, a digital one, or an imaginary one, is about greed. I want to accumulate for my own kingdom.

Amen & amen. Ephesians 5:1-5 confirms this.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Here are some helpful resources on biblical decision making & the will of God.

Gary Friesen, Decision Making & the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View.

Colin Hamer. Finding God's Will: Reaffirming the Sufficiency of Scripture.
John MacArthur, Found: God's Will, God Wants to Give Your Life Direction & Purpose.

James C. Petty, Guidance: Have I Missed God's Best?

Stuart Scott, A Study of Decision Making God's Way (DMin Dissertation)

M. Blaine Smith, Knowing God's Will: Biblical Principles of Guidance.

Bruce K. Waltke, Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion?

The most helpful ones if I had to pick two:
Colin Hamer, Finding God's Will (short & very readable)
Gary Friesen, Decision Making & the Will of God (much longer, thorough, & practical!) 

Friday, May 18, 2012

This puts it so well:

Rather than waiting for some kind of mystical 'call' from God, every believer should respond to the revealed will of God (in Scripture) by giving serious consideration to becoming a cross-cultural missionary.
The command to "make disciples of all nations" was given to the disciples of Christ and remains in effect even until the end of the age (Matt 28:19-20). For the believer, personal involvement in the cause of world missions is not optional. We don't need a call -- we've already been commissioned. Every single Christian is to be making some contribution to the objective of world evangelization and discipleship.

From Gary Friesen, Decision Making & the Will of God, p.330.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Here are some helpful reminders on making biblical decisions.

1. Studying Scripture deepens your consciousness of God.

2. Studying Scripture also brings us into contact with God.

3. Scripture informs us of God's principles.

4. Biblical passages may also confirm a particular decision.

5. The Bible can be an invaluable aid in praying for guidance (Ps 143:8, 10; 51:10-12; 5:8; 19:12-14; 25:4-5, 21; 27:11; 31:3-4; 86:11; 119:5, 10, 35-36, 80, 133, 176; 141:3-4).

From M. Blaine Smith, Knowing God's Will: Biblical Principles of Guidance, 57-59.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Family worship is so 'out of date' that many hear of it and what it may entail and quickly think that you are still living in the 17th century Puritan era.

But I think that the principle of FAMILY WORSHIP ought to be regularly practiced by all Christian households.

John Knox, the Scottish Reformer, wrote:

Dear brethren, if you look for a life to come, of necessity it is that you exercise yourselves in the book of the Lord your God. Let no day slip or want some comfort received from the mouth of God.
Open your ears, and he will speak even pleasant things to your heart. Close not your eyes, but diligently let them behold what portion of substance is left to you within your Father’s testament. Let your tongues learn to praise the gracious goodness of him, whose mere mercy has called you from darkness to life. Neither yet may you do this so quietly that you admit no witness. No, Brethren, you are ordained of God to rule your own houses in his true fear, and according to his word.
Within your houses, I say, in some cases, you are bishops and kings; your wife, children, servants, and family are your bishopric and charge. Of you it shall be required how carefully and diligently you have instructed them in God’s true knowledge, how you have studied to plant virtue in them, and [to] repress vice. And therefore I say, you must make them partakers in reading, exhorting, and in making common prayers, which I would in every house were used once a day at least.
But above all things, dear brethren, study to practice in life that which the Lord commands, and then be you assured that you shall never hear nor read the same without fruit. And this much for the exercises within your homes.

I would call each man to examine himself in his leadership in the home with the following heart-searching questions:

1) Do you feed your own soul daily with the food of God's Word?
2) Do you passionately pursue and tenaciously frequent the secret closet of prayer to God?
3) Do you shepherd your wife & children in the Word of God, the ways of God, prayers to God, and catechism? If so, how?
4) Do you feel confused and unable to perform this spiritual practice?

Let me help by proffering a few suggestions:

Read — Open the Bible with the entire family together and read a portion of it.
Sing — Sing a hymn and teach the family a verse/stanza of solid theology.
Pray — You as the head of the household pray for the family (or, go around and ask each member of the family to pray)
Catechize — Go through a catechism and teach yourself, your spouse, and your children solid theology.
In this article I am by no means saying that these are the only two essential attitudes that can make a marriage function. But what I am saying is that with the many commands and attitudes that must be enveloped in a Christian marriage, these two must be evidenced. The two key attitudes that I am referring to are self denial and self-giving. Allow me to deal with each one individually so we may be those who have these essential attitudes in marriage for the honor and glory of God.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

1 Chronicles 28:9    "As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
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