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Friday, May 27, 2016

Tutelage Is Vital For A Pastor

# 94 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. (1 Tim 3:6) Next on the list of qualifications for a pastor is he must not be a novice. He must not be a new convert. This is so vital! Though one may have all the other qualifications, if he is a recent convert, he must not have hands laid upon him and ordained into the pastorate. This has nothing to do with age, but everything to do with someone who has had some time to exhibit some spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity comes with time and this time is well spent under the tutelage of someone else who has been schooled in apostolic doctrine. The Apostle Paul spent three years in this process as we read in Ga 1:15-18, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.” Did you catch all that? Paul, was called by the Lord to be an Apostle, but he didn't race off and start pastoring and planting churches. He spent three years being schooled in the desert by the Holy Spirit. This was necessary for an Apostle who's qualifications for the office include face to face teaching from the Lord. Today's pastor is not required to head off to the desert for three years, but he should be spending time under tutors who have been schooled in apostolic doctrine before jumping into this vocation. But schooling alone isn't a true test of maturity. Maturity is always gauged by fruit. So the pastoral candidate must be schooled for sure, but he must also have produced some observable fruit in his service to the Lord. What is observable fruit? Plain and simple, it's performance and results. It is wise therefore to have all pastoral candidates serve under another pastor, sort of like an internship. In time, this fruit or lack thereof, will be evident.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Living In A Fish Bowl

# 93 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:4a, “ 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (1 Tim 3:4a) God bless PK's. (preachers kids) They truly are a special breed of children! They didn't choose their lot in life, but because they are the pastor's children, they must live in a fish bowl. They face intense pressure to toe the line. After all, if the pastor can't keep his children from misbehaving, how in the world can he pastor a church? Why his very calling could be at stake! He could lose his livelihood simply because his children are unruly! No wonder some PK's turn to rebellious ways. That's what happens when Law is overemphasized and legalism rules. This phenomena is addressed in Ro 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. And in Ro:7:8, 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. This truth is magnified in the fish bowl in which the children of pastors live, and it's an area in which the evil one will often focus his attention in an attempt to silence the messengers of God! A PK gets in trouble with the law, an unplanned pregnancy occurs, and the pastor feels he must step down or the congregation demands it! This is all so wrong, and please church, pastor, children, don't fall for it. Ruling one's house well has nothing to do with raising spotless children, just as pastoring a church has nothing to do with raising spotless sheep. No! A thousand times no! Sin will come! Or are you one who has reached perfection! Ruling one's house well and ruling the congregation well is not about making sure everyone behaves. No! It's what you do when misbehavior shows up.....and it will! How you handle sin in the family will demonstrate that you know how to handle it in the church family as well. Yes you teach your children and your congregation the difference between right and wrong! But when they slip up, you lovingly confront them, and if necessary discipline them, with the ultimate goal of restoration! Sometimes these require tough decisions on the part of all involved, but decisions that the leader of the flock and the family must be willing to make. Yes, the ruling of one's family is a great proving ground for the one who would rule a flock.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

God, Family, Vocation

# 92 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:4a, “ 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (1 Tim 3:4a) Next on the list of qualifications for pastors is he must be one who rules his house well. So far we have seen qualifications necessary for the pastor as related to his personal life. In addition to his aptitude to teach, he must have his personal life together on the fronts previously mentioned. Now, if married, or in charge of a family, he must exhibit the qualities of leadership in that home. The idea of ruling here is that of exercising rank. It is to preside over those under his authority. It comes from a word that means “to guard.” So a pastor is one who has shown that he is able to preside or guard his family or household unit well. The first mark of a good leader in the kingdom of God is in the area of service. Jesus spelled it out for us in Mt 20:25-28, “ But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- 28 "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." This trait is not necessarily easily observed. You and I don't know what goes on behind the closed doors of the pastor's house. (and wiring the parsonage is not a good idea!) So this characteristic is only determined by the testimony of family members and whatever can be observed in public. Is there obvious love and respect shown toward the husband/father/pastor? Have you often caught the pastor in the act of loving service to his wife and children? You know, it is worth saying here, that because this is a qualification mentioned for a pastor, it is important to make sure he has his priorities in order, and they are God, family, then vocation. The demands of shepherding a congregation can infringe on that order and therefore the order needs to be guarded by the pastor and respected by the congregation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It's Sneaky, Like A Snake

# 91 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:2 A bishop (pastor) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; Next on the list of qualifications for the prospective pastor is he must not be covetous. This word is very closely related to “not greedy for money. “As quarrelsome is also closely related to “not violent.” And as “gentle” (with the idea of moderation) is closely linked to “not given to wine.” It's as if the Holy Spirit is putting added emphasis on these three traits through the use of repetition! Having said that, let's talk a little bit more about the sin of covetousness. This sin is difficult to pin down, because it is a sin of the heart. Yet it is such a serious sin, that it gets its own commandment in the Ten. “Thou shalt not covet.” The problem with coveting is it causes a desire for power, position, and possessions to unseat the desire for God in our hearts, and that's why it is called idolatry! Col 3:5 says, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Covetousness has been called the mother of sin because the desire to sin first arises in the heart before it finds expression in the act. Think of Eve and the mother of all sins: Ge 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. The word desired here means covet! That's where it all began! All Christians need to be on guard against this sin, but if it becomes an apparent character trait of the pastor, then he is not qualified for this office. If he's in it for power, position, or possessions, he cannot serve the flock as instructed by the Holy Spirit in 1Pe 5:2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; Pastor, ask yourself this question often. Am I serving my sheep eagerly or greedily? Ask it often. Bring your attitude before the Lord often, because still another danger of covetousness is it is like a snake.....very sneaky

Monday, May 23, 2016

Macho Macho Man!

# 90 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:2 A bishop (pastor) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, Next on the list of qualifications for the prospective pastor is he must not be quarrelsome. To be quarrelsome simply put is someone who is always looking for a fight. Someone who is always stirring the pot of controversy. He will strive with anyone, anytime, and over any matter. Pastor or pastor to be, let me tell you something. As the leader of a a congregation, fights and disputes will come all on their own. Controversies and disputes will show up at your door. No need to start them by yourself. (Hey pastor, can I get an Amen on that?) Disputes over things like style of worship, (organs or electric guitars?) which hymnal to use, (the new one or the old one?) what color carpeting should we install in the sanctuary, and other bones of contention will surface over time. I remember a story several years ago about a congregation splitting over how to spell halleluiah. One side said with an “H” the other said with an “A” To be sure, a pastor doesn't avoid controversy when it comes, but he also doesn't seek to stir it up, simply because he is spoiling for a fight. It's interesting that the Greek word here for “quarrelsome comes from the word “mache or machomai” I'm guessing we get the word “macho” from this word. So a word of advice to the calling committee. If your pastoral candidate wants to add “Macho Man” by the Village People to the hymnal. You might want to scratch him off the list! Jesus, (our model of the Good Pastor) never actively sought fights and quarrels, they came to Him, and He handled them appropriately. May all our pastors learn to do the same.

Friday, May 20, 2016

"But" Is An Important Word

# 89 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:2,3 “A bishop (pastor) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, Next on the list of qualifications for the prospective pastor is he must be gentle. It's not what you might think it is. Say the word “gentle” and one immediately thinks of something soft and tender. We sing a hymn in the church about our “Gentle Shepherd” Jesus, Who, of course, serves as a model for all pastors, but is a shepherd really all that gentle? If you think that's the case, you've never been involved in the day to day activities of a farm. Yes there is a place for gentleness, and it's a wonderful picture of our God. Who has said “A bruised reed I will not break,” (Mt 12:20) but there is also a place for firmness in dealing with sheep. The Greek word here, literally means “appropriate.” The shepherd must be “appropriate?” By implication in the Greek, it means gentle, moderation, patient. And the insertion of the word “but” here is significant. Think about it, this passage would read fine without it, “but” with the word “but” inserted, it ties in the character trait of gentleness, moderation, and patience to the preceding character traits of “not given to wine, not violent, and not greedy for money.” The insertion of the word “but” tells us that moderation, patience, and gentleness ought to mark the pastor's use of wine, temperament, and money. He must be one who has learned to properly “appropriate” all three! This insertion of the word “but” should once again remind us that every single word, jot, and tittle is to be carefully weighed as we interpret the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit does not waste words and neither should we. So, you want to be a pastor? Then get a handle on how you “appropriate” these things. (Namely wine, temperament, and money.)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Not Greedy For Money Part 2

# 87 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:2,3 “A bishop (pastor) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, I want to spend some more time on this qualification of “not being greedy for money, ” because it can be a very strong temptation for a pastoral candidate. I was converted to Christ under the preaching of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, and I am forever grateful for the Law and Gospel that was so clearly stated to this poor sinners' ears. These kind of programs need finances to be on the air, but sometimes it seems that there is an over-emphasis on collecting money and it's evident that the lifestyles of some of these “televangelists” is rather opulent, and I confess that the thought occurred to this “new Christian,” that having some sort of similar ministry whether on the airwaves or in a mega church would be a good way to make a living. You see, the gospel message was not the only message being sent out by these huge television ministries. There was a subliminal (and sometimes not so subliminal) message of prosperity that went out with it. This is a trap that prospective pastors and those who are in the ministry need to be aware of. Money must not constrain us, rather it must be the “love of Christ that constrains us,” (2 Cor 5:14) and a heart that is broken for the lost, and sorrowful over the strugglers, the stragglers, the wounded, and the wanderers in the flock. If a pastor is overly concerned about finances, he is apt to compromise the message, because when the ears of the flock are itched by the pastor the hands of the sheep are freed up to reach for the wallet. The Apostle Paul is a great role model here as he went out of his way to not be a financial burden to others (2 Cor 11:9) and no one ever accused Paul of compromising the message. At the same time he reminded the church: "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." (1 Tim 5:18) Church, you have a responsibility here to take care of your pastors. See to it that their financial needs are met. Pastors you have a responsibility to preach the uncompromising message handed down to the church by the Apostles of Jesus Christ. See to it that the flock's spiritual needs are met, and don't be obsessed with financial gain..