Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You Might Be Reformed if...

Happy Reformation Day!

Top 10 Signs you think about theology way too much!
  1. You think "Will and Grace" is a sitcom about Arminianism and Calvinism.
  2. Your idea of evangelism is to nail a copy of Luther's 95 Theses to the door of every house in your neighborhood (in   Latin).
  3. Your kids are named Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli.
  4.  Your bumper sticker says "Honk if you're a Supralapsarian!"
  5. You tune into "Crossing Over" expecting to see the 18th century theologin, not the 21st century psychic.
  6. You have a life-size poster of John Gerstner on your bedroom wall.
  7. You have a Jonathan Edwards lunch box with a John Calvin thermos.
  8. You think MLK jr. day is the day we celebrate the Reformation.
  9. You keep accidentally referring to the Rose Bowl as the Tulip Bowl.
  10.  You have actually read the Institutes.

Gleefully "appropriated" from my good friend Christi Smoak's Facebook Status on October 29, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Five Means of Obeying God's Word

Over the last forty (40) years I have written a number of quotes, comments, pithy sayings, and poems in the fly-leafs of my bibles. Each Tuesday I am going to share those various entries from my bibles with you. I hope they will be as much of blessing to you as they have been to me. Sometimes I will be able to give credit where credit is due and sometimes I won’t be able to credit the source. I apologize for this to each one who contributed these gems over the last forty (40) years.


Obedience to God's Word Means:

  • taking refuge in Christ for forgiveness
  • knowing Him through the Word of God
  • serving Him with a loving and humble heart
  • doing good works with a great-full spirit
  • exercising self denial and self discipline

Monday, October 29, 2012

If Not the Mariners - Let It Be My Giants!


San Francisco Giants

World Series Champions 2012

Bay Area Resident:


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wishin' I was a Fishin'

I wish this statement to be true
but I wouldn't be honest with you,
as much as I want to be fishin'
tis true I really am only wishin'

Even with posts ready through May
I forgot I needed one for today
although a good idea to go a fishin'
saying something now is my mission

For three years I've posted every day
I am pleased to have had my say
finding something to say is much like fishin'
they both can be like those cousins kissin'

I have tried my best to be wise and witty
thanks to you all who have extended pity
maybe you think I should now be fishin'
I can hear all your groans and quiet hissin'

Is it worth it not to miss a date?
how many would say it's my fate?
keep in mind its to cold to be fishin'
so please would you refrain from bashin'?

Please read this little ditty with pleasure
after all one man's trash is another's treasure
and you might be happy I'm not fishin'
Yes, I know I should be blushin'

In my defense some poems are worse
 this pathetic ditty won't fatten my purse
the time it took did keep me from fishin'
but I think I will just stick to preachin'

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturdays with Spurgeon #012

"Come and take Christ, and you have found God. No man believes in Christ and remains without the favor of God."

--Charles H Spurgeon

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pay Day - His Day

"It is enough, that the Lord hath promised you great things, only let the time of bestowing them be in His own carving. It is not for us to set an hour-glass to the creator of time. Since He and we differ only in the term of payment; since He hath promised payment, and we believe it, it is no great matter...It will be; God hath said it; bide His harvest, wait upon His whitsunday (His term day). His day is better than your day."

--Samuel Rutherford

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book Review: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones - The First Forty Years 1899-1939

Title:  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones - The First Forty Years 1899-1939, Volume 1

Author:  Iain Murray

First Copyright:  1982

Type of Book:  Hardback

General Subject Matter:  Biography

Special Features:  Black and white photos

Price:  $36.00

ISBN:  978-0-85151-353-9

The purpose of this book is to fill a void left by the death of the subject. Many people had hoped that after Lloyd-Jones retirement from Westminster Chapel that he would find the time to write an autobiography. Apparently Lloyd-Jones did not write in order to be published. He also disliked any type or form of personal publicity. As a result, Lloyd-Jones never wrote an autobiography. The difficulty in producing such a work is seen in a statement made by the author in the introduction; 

In view of these considerations it required no great foresight on the part of anyone near to Dr. Lloyd-Jones to anticipate the need for material to be put by so that a record of his life might appear posthumously. Intermittently, over more than twenty years prior to his death, the present writer sought to accumulate information - the most important source being Dr Lloyd-Jones himself. When I hesitantly disclosed this fact to Dr Lloyd-Jones in 1974 he made no response whatsoever. But at least I had not suffered a prohibition!

The author wrote this biography "so the record of a number of things in Dr Lloyd-Jones's life and ministry would not be lost..."  It is Murray's opinion that, "we have lost a leader who, in our generation at least, cannot be replaced."

Theme:  The first forty years of the life and ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Thesis:   The remarkable story of the formative earlier years of Martyn Lloyd-Jones which is now told for the first time.

The author develops and supports his thesis through a very well crafted narration. Murray tells the story of the first forty years of the life and ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones in an orderly series of events which he presents in a chronological order. Murray places great emphasis on the events that shaped and developed the man during those first forty years.

Murray begins with ML-J's early birth and childhood tracing him to his time at St. Bartholomew's Hospital as a doctor, to a struggling Calvinistic Methodist Mission Church in Aberavon, South Wales. Murray provides colorful detail in his narration of ML-J as a schoolboy, dairyman's assistant, political enthusiast, doctor, and pastor.

This book is extremely interesting and easy to read. Murray's accuracy lies in the fact he was able to gain the consent of ML-J who gave him whatever help he could. ML-J was involved with Murray and the writing of this book until the subject's death in 1981. Murray also relied on assistance from Mrs. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. She had preserved a private cache of press-cuttings for more than fifty years. Murray had access to a box of ML-J sermons to evaluate his subjects thinking in his own words. 

Murray, although a great friend and fan of ML-J seems to have been able to remain objective in his writing. ML-J was obviously a very gifted and unique individual, but Murray refrained from undo embellishment and "hero-worship."

This book is extremely valuable and of great importance. It gives us a needed account of this godly man. It also gives us background and history of both the times and Christianity surrounding this man and his ministry. It is an extremely useful tool to any believer. I agree with Murray that this is a much needed work.

Iain Murray has been in the Christian ministry since 1955. In 1957 Murray co-founded The Banner of Truth Trust serving as the senior editor until 1996. Murray served as an assistant to Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the Westminster Chapel. Murray pastored Grove Chapel in Camberwell, London and St. Giles Presbyterian Church in Sydney. He is has authored numerous books including a number of biographies. He is amply qualified to write this biography of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 

As ML-J's assistant he certainly is qualified to write this remarkable account of this wonderful man of God. Murray was connected with the philosophical nature of ML-J by virtue of being like minded as he served with him.

This book is replete with footnotes. It has a single appendix after the final page. It has an extensive and useful subject index. These footnotes provide additional information as was as documentation. They certainly help clarify and even extend points made by the author in the main body.

In summary this book tells in detail the story of a non-descript medical doctor who was gloriously redeemed and then called into the ministry. It tells the story from the birth of this great man to his first year in the pastorate of the famous Westminster Chapel. It tells of his conversion, his call, his struggles, his dedication and devotion to his Lord. My general conclusions are as follows: this is a much needed, well written, well documented account of the life, times, and ministry of a unique man of God. This is also a very valuable work that will be a blessing to any one who reads it.

The principle topics of Murray's book is the rearing of ML-J, his call into the ministry, and then the philosophy of ministry of ML-J as he served faithfully from 1899 until 1939. This is in fact "a remarkable story of the formative earlier years of Martyn Lloyd-Jones which is now told for the first time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It Was....Who Said...

The Deceptive Danger of Dubious Disclosures


The Art and Science of Quoting the Religiously Lost

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1, ESV)

More and more I am finding myself becoming uncomfortable while listening to sermons, reading books, and reading articles, including many blogs. As I listen intently to the speaker or read with great interest as the writer makes an excellent point from Scripture, I expect the speaker or writer to continue to be consistent with his content. However, more often than not I am surprised and disappointed when that consistency is interrupted with a dubious source.

I do not believe we should quote unbelievers who purport to be within “Christendom” or within a religious sphere. I am referring to those who claim to be believers, those who are in a main-line and liberal denomination or those who are in recognized cults. I am not referring to unbelievers who would not be considered within a “religious sphere.” I am not saying that we can’t quote Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin or even Mae West. Individuals such as these do not presume upon credentials that would lend credence to a point being made from Scripture.

I am hearing more and more quotes given as substantiation by individuals who are not believers or who are suspect. For example, just recently in an article, a writer made such a spiritual point. He then proceeded to support his claim with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoffer. This troubled me. Why, you say?

For starters, Bonhoffer was a religious humanist with orthodox leanings. Bonhoffer held to the position of sacramental regeneration. He held to the traditional Lutheran view that grace is dispensed through the sacraments of baptism (infant) and through the Lord’s Table. He held to the belief that one becomes a believer through these ordinances. By the way, he also held to the fact that a “believer” could lose his or her salvation. This might not be as grave an issue as sacramental regeneration but never-the-less it is a serious doctrinal issue.

I would think that in most cases a speaker or writer could find an orthodox Christian with accurate biblical belief’s to quote from than from an individual of a known cult, liberal denomination, or non-believer. An unbelieving liberal or cult member might have some interesting things to say, but should we give such an individual an audience?

The reason I believe one should think about whom they cite in order to support a particular biblical point, is to prevent clouding the issue at hand. Many people in a congregation or reading a book or article may not be at the level to discern whether the person or point is valid and/or biblical. We should be concerned for the lambs to might believe there is nothing wrong with the doctrinal background of the individual being quoted and become mired in doctrinal confusion.

Before the cards and letters start pouring in, let me say I am not advocating we set ourselves up as judge and juries over someone’s heart. I am not proposing we become “church cops” and like the gestapo, run roughshod over someone who may disagree with us on certain biblical issues. I am not suggesting we become judgmental or critical of denominations which have a point or two of difference.

However, I do believe we have the responsibility of matching up what someone says or believes with the scripture. Otherwise the beloved apostle John would have been guilty of judgmental, critical hate speech when he wrote”

“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever abides in the teachings has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 9-11, ESV)

If we would not greet an individual nor allow him into our house, I am appalled that we would let him into our sermon, article, or blog. Of course there are many other places in scripture that encourages us to be sober, alert, aware, and even to test “the spirits.”  I fear that for many, when we quote a dubious source we erase all the error of an individual in the mind of many, giving credence or approval where approval should not be given. When Pastor So-and-So quotes So-and-So, then So-and-So must be OK.

Let’s think twice before we quote an unbiblical individual or organization. Let’s dig a little deeper in orthodox Christianity for our needed support. Let’s not blur the lines of truth/and error, especially in the minds and hearts of God’s precious lambs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Exegesis and Exposition

Over the last forty (40) years I have written a number of quotes, comments, pithy sayings, and poems in the fly-leafs of my bibles. Each Tuesday I am going to share those various entries from my bibles with you. I hope they will be as much of blessing to you as they have been to me. Sometimes I will be able to give credit where credit is due and sometimes I won’t be able to credit the source. I apologize for this to each one who contributed these gems over the last forty (40) years.


Exegesis leads to Exposition

Exegesis includes bridging the:

Historical Gap
Grammatical Gap
Cultural Gap
Contextual Gap

Exegesis includes introductory survey:


Read the Text
Explain the Text
Apply the Text

"Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." (I Timothy 4:13)

(Something I scratched in my flyleaf a long time ago from somewhere- it is still true today)

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Five Desires of my Heart

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)

Here are the only desires of my heart...

  • teach the New Testament verse by verse (Acts 2:24-47)
  • train men for leadership and ministry (II Timothy 2:2)
  • tell the gospel story to as many people as possible (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • travail in labor until Christ is formed in you (Galatians 4:19; Colossians 1:28-29)
  • thrill in the knowledge that my children and grandchildren know God and are known by Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
What are the desires God has placed in your heart as a result of delighting yourself in Him?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Because Christ is Mine (I Walk the Line)

Because Christ is Mine (I Walk the Line)
Gregg Metcalf
October 21, 2012

First let me apologize to the late Johnny Cash and Sun Records for messing around with his number one hit, I Walk the Line. Johnny wrote this backstage at a concert in Gladewater, Texas in 1956. It spent forty-three weeks on the charts. Cash recorded it four times during his career. An interesting tid-bit of trivia – when asked why he hummed on the song, Cash replied it was because he was getting his pitch. He had to change keys several times during the song.

Second, I was thinking and meditating on Proverbs 4:23 (ESV) that says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life. As they say, “the rest is history.”

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I know that sin can strike at me any time
It’s easy to stray across the ties that bind
Because Christ is mine, I walk the line

I read your word because I know it’s true
I find myself longing after you
Yes, I admit it is so little that I do
Because Christ is mine, I walk the line

As sure as sin is black and Christ is light
I keep a watch on my heart day and night
Your love for me proves that it’s right
Because Christ is mine, I walk the line 

Your grace has a way to keep me by your side
You give me reasons to love you I can’t hide
For your name sake I will always abide
Because Christ is mine, I walk the line

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I know that sin can strike at me any time
I know it’s easy to stray across the line
Because Christ is mine, I walk the line

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturdays with Spurgeon #011

"Whenever we have to praise God, what do we do? We simply say what He is! 'You are this and You are that.' There is no other praise. We cannot fetch anything from anywhere else and bring it to God; the praises of God are simply facts about Himself! If you want to praise the Lord Jesus Christ, tell the people  about Him."

Charles H Spurgeon,
Pastor, Metropolitan Tabernacle
Sermon 2213, 1891

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Path to Revival

Before we deal with the position of those who are outside, let us first examine ourselves and make our confession. For every true revival in the world started as a revival in the church, and revivals come to churches which realise (sic) their need and impotence and turn to God in prayer for forgiveness and for new strength.

D. Martyn  Lloyd-Jones
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years,
by Iain Murray, p.  202

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Obituary Notice

Yesterday quietly passed away at the age of 24 hours old. Yesterday was born October 18, 2012 at 1200 AM and expired October 19, 2012 at 1200 AM. Yesterday was a resident of every country in the world. Yesterday will be remembered as being very generous in affording opportunities to do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith. Yesterday leaves behind every individual in the world. Yesterday is survived by two distant cousins; Today and Tomorrow. Yesterday had been looked forward to by so many people with great expectations.John Wayne once remarked that “Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." The Apostle Paul spoke of yesterday when he said, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without redeeming the time (yesterday)." LBJ commented, “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose."  Della Reese spoke of yesterday, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may be for us and it may not." Many treasured yesterday and will remember it for quite some time.  ” Although great effort at times will be exercised to restore yesterday, it will not be brought back.

Services will not be conducted. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to eternity. "Laying up in store  for themselves  a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (1 Timothy 6:19, KJV)

--Gregg Metcalf

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I Think Evaluation and Response


It’s obvious you took this very seriously, so I want to do the same.  Let me offer a couple general responses, and then a couple of specific.  

One, it seems as though you might be unfamiliar with SBC polity.  For good or ill, most SBC churches run on a congregational polity system.  I think elder led is a better model, more biblical model, but the responses in this list come from men who are dealing with “what we’ve got.”  That means every-member-business meetings on a monthly or quarterly basis.  Would love to do away with them, but that’s the way it is for now.

I am actually familiar with both baptist and SBC polity. I do know that it is typically congregational rule. I really did realize that they were voicing legitimate "complaints" with the system that they are working in or under. In my first church I too did the quarterly and annual business meeting. So I do know the drill. In my last church we went to monthly elder/leadership meetings and one annual meeting where the elders reported the past year's ministry to the congregation. I did away with both buisness meetings and quarterly meetings.

Two, as a general remark, again the responses on his list reflect ministry as we deal with it, not as we’d prefer it.  We’d love to do away with business meetings, ignore criticism, only counsel if we are gifted to, etc. but that’s not the way it usually works.  We are often put in single staff situations, expected to do everything whether we’re gifted for it or not, and this gives rise to the struggles in this list.

I realize not many if any would prefer ministry the way they have it. I think however many times we all things to continue simply because they have always been done this way rather than through patient, thorough, repetitive training and example. I realize sometimes constitutions need to be changed if they require regular business meeting. I think the criticism issue is a little easier to handle in some churches. Because we are out of balance on the fact that we are equal in the body, we forget that in another sense pastors/elders are given to the body as gifts, and they are to be properly reverenced and respected. Again this comes with training and education. But as long as our churches treat pastors as hirelings by "hiring them" they will be subjected to this treatment. The counseling, it is not a matter of being gifted in it. We are not called to be counselors we are called to be equippers, edifiers, and disciplers. If a man can't equip, edify, and disciple then he might not belong in the ministry. 

We are not Christian psychologists practicing some form of white magic christian psychology. I have no use for the James Dobson's, Larry Crabbs, etc. Confront sin, whether in thought or deed with Scripture and guide to Christlikeness. 

That’s in general, now for a couple specifics.

Budgets:  Again, because of cong. polity, the budget in most SBC churches is done by the whole body, administered by a finance committee, which most pastors have to work with.  Not fun, but that’s life.

I realize polity and constitution over rule many pastors and force these issues. Been there done that. I think it can be corrected in some cases and needs to be in most.

Weddings/Funerals.  In a perfect world, we could be more choosey about these.  I am much more picky about whom I marry, than whom I bury, but the truth is in ministering to the community we are often in situations with these we might rather avoid.  Yet we do our best, frustrations and all.

I was flabergasted to read Lloyd-Jones thoughts on this. Now, I am in complete agreement. I know Arminian pastors, SBC or plain baptist ones like to think that they can use these instances to obtain "decisions." But I stopped marrying non-members along time ago. Yes, it has caused some grief. We lost a family becasuse I would not marry their granddaughter. I can't remember when the church started marrying, but it used to be a legal deal with officials marrying. Funerals, I do for members. 

Announcements:  I agree/disagree.  Never before the sermon, but I also say: never before the service.  People will forget by the end and it takes away from worship, so we do ours at the end, after everything is over.

I think that doing them at the end is counterproductive. Now you have taken my mind off of the main point of the message and Christ and put it on pot-lucks, or business meeting times, or choir practice, or a void in the Sunday school staff. I would think that is worse than just prior to a message. We do ours first, our statement is this, It is our custom to make our annoucements prior to the beginning of our worship service, so before we begin, please take note in the bulletin... I really don't think it matters in the long run. You can make the announcements, put them in the bulletin, and put them on an overhead and people still will come up to you and say, I didn't know the ice cream social was at 6:00 instead of 5:00.

Critics:  Again, perfect world vs. reality.  We all know it’s wrong for folks to act that way, and we ought to be more direct in dealing with it, but in this imperfect world it’s a part of life.  And as for ignoring the anonymous stuff, easier said than done.

I am well aware that we as pastors are thin skinned. I dislike being criticized also. But I have learned to give it to the Lord most times. I know very well it aint easy at times. But, I do stand by the fact that if it is annoymous it gets no attention from me. Don't be a coward. The bible says if I have offended you, then you are commanded to come to me and tell me.

Counseling:  I think this might be the one place where your comments were a bit harsh and over the top.  Being a caring shepherd doesn’t make us perfect, doesn’t mean that we occasionally struggle in some areas.  And again, we’re not all gifted the same.  Some are gifted counselors, some are not but they do it anyway because they DO love their sheep.  Still doesn’t mean that when you’re hearing a person go on and on about trivial things in the midst of that counseling that a mind can’t wander, etc.  The “get out of ministry” might be a bit harsh, and miss the point of what the responders were getting at.

I knew 11 out of 10 people would think I was over the top. However, this thought wasn't original with me. I have heard a leading pastor (I can't think of who at this minute), a well known pastor write in a book awhile back, if you can't do or take something or another, then get out of the ministry. Generically I will stand by my bold and capitalized admonishment. Face to face with a guy who is honestly struggling, I would say, stop counseling, throw your psychology books away, and begin equipping, edifying, and discipling. If you can't or won't do that, then please, resign, give the ministry to someone who can and please drive a truck. What I might say generically in my blog may not be the way I would say it to a living human being with feelings who is my brother in Christ. However, as gentle, and loving as I could make it, I would still say, find another job.

You are right, we are not gifted the same. If I did not have the gift of exhortation, I would find a godly person who did have it and have that person help with those who need help. However, even though one might not have the gift of teaching, we as pastors are required to be able or apt to teach. We cannot shirk our duty of equipping or edifying or discipling. we are not counselors nor called to be counselors. Yes, I know the HS is called a Counselor. We are to come along side, bear burdens, but we are not called to listen to mindless pointless drival and trivia to make someone feel good. 

In all, I agree with most of what you’ve said.  But for the most part it comes off sounding pretty idyllic, when the point of the post was to describe our discontent with the way things are, the things we deal with because it is imperfect, etc.  We all strive for the biblical model, but some of us are slower in reaching it, and get frustrated in the meantime. 

 I thank your for reading and evaluating. It could be misconstrued at being somewhat idyllic, however, I try raise the bar and set high standards. I have found if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. I think we lower the standards to excuse our laziness, lack of skill, faulty methodolgy, lack of sucess. etc. I think if we find some areas of discontent we should seek to rectify them one by one. Truthfully, I didn't really look for "the point of the post" as much as I looked at each and every individual statement and meditated on it. I will be the first to say it is more than possible that I missed the point. My goal was to take a statement that was supposedly made in all honesty, evaluate that statement and respond from my heart with information that might be of help or assistance. Please belief me, my heart was not to be naive, harsh, critical, unloving, or idyllic. I truly spoke from my heart about what I came come to conclude after 40 years in regards to the statements that were made.

I realize we fight the good fight, strive to be faithful, live with the debilitating limitations of sin, and are put weak clay. I also am well aware that we become frustrated at time, again, guilty - have been there and done that. For the record this was not a response against Mr. Rainer or any pastor, SBC or not. I just candidly reasoned through each statement and gave my heart felt thoughts.

Hope that helps.  Feel free to send it on to Thom.  I’m sure he’d appreciate the input.  

By His Grace,
Scott M. Weldon, Pastor
Faith Southern Baptist Church
PO Box 653
Marshfield, MO 65706

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Passing of Time

Over the last forty (40) years I have written a number of quotes, comments, pithy sayings, and poems in the fly-leafs of my bibles. Each Tuesday I am going to share those various entries from my bibles with you. I hope they will be as much of blessing to you as they have been to me. Sometimes I will be able to give credit where credit is due and sometimes I won’t be able to credit the source. I apologize for this to each one who contributed these gems over the last forty (40) years.


Yesterday is the tomb of time!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Here Is What I Think

What do you think of this list?
This question was at the end of this list. I put it here to explain my answers to each of these questions. This entire post (sans my response in blue) was copied from the Thomas S Rainer Blog. I don't know anything about Thomas S Rainer but I thought the list was interesting and thought provoking. And after all, he asked what do you think of this list? Mr. Rainer writes:
The expectations of a pastor are endless. Many members.  expect them to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. But different pastors are wired differently. One pastor may get great fulfillment out of counseling, while another dreads every minute of it.
So I did an informal and unscientific survey of pastors. I asked them a simple question: “What do you like least about being a pastor?” The question was opened-ended and they could give more than one response.
I learned two things from this survey. First, pastors can have strong opinions about what they don’t like. Second, pastors are really different. The responses were wide-ranged and often in opposition to each other.
So here are the top ten things pastors don’t like about pastoring. I’ve listed them in reverse order. I then follow each dislike with a comment from a representative pastor.
10. Dealing with budgets and finance. “I have a pastor friend who has a finance major. He was in business before he went to seminary and he loves working with numbers. Not me. I get nauseas (sic) at the thought of working on the church budget.”
It seems that the pattern in the NT was that offerings and/gifts were brought to the apostles who in turn gave them to the deacons to distribute as necessary. I would think that biblically trained deacons would distribute finances with direction from the elders.
9. Weddings. “Emotions are usually high at weddings. Some people are difficult to handle. Plus the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception take away my whole weekend. I wish we could pass a law that no weddings can take place during college football season.”
If you were to limit weddings to immediate members only it would reduce the number of weddings. This would reduce the stress. I agree with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones statement that conveys the idea of why do we take the time to do weddings for those who have no time for the Lord or the church any other time. They have time for the resorts, oceans, casinos, ball-games, etc. Let them call the ocean or Major League Baseball when they need a wedding.
8. Announcements in the worship service. “This past Sunday I was asked to announce that one of the older Sunday school classes was having a garage sale to raise money to repair the pipe organ. Their hearts were right, but I had to talk about a garage sale and a pipe organ right before I preached.”
Never make announcements prior to preaching. Make the announcements prior to the actual beginning of the corporate worship service. Neither the preacher nor the people need to be thinking about garage sales prior to hearing from God from His word.
7. Persistent critics. “You have to deal with critics if you are a pastor. I just struggle with those who are always on me about something. They never let up. It can be demoralizing.”
I try to be gracious first and foremost. However, I also try to imitate Paul in I Corinthians 4:1-5. "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God."
Somewhere along the line we have stopped teaching people that they have a responsibility to submit to and respect the elders as men whom God has set over them in his economy.
6. Anonymous critics. “I shouldn’t even let anonymous critics bother me. If they don’t have the courage to use their name, I have no reason to dwell on it. But, I’ve got to admit, it really bugs me. I find myself wondering throughout the day who it might be.”
This one is in red because anonymous critics should be ignored and not given one moments thought.
5. Counseling. “I really envy those pastors who are counselors. They get energized by listening to people at their points of need and hurt. I have to admit that my mind wanders and I watch the clock. I don’t think I really help anybody when I counsel.”
If your mind wanders, you watch the clock, and truly do not help anybody, then GET OUT OF THE PASTORATE! If you cannot recognize bad thinking or bad behavior and find the appropriate scripture to correct bad thinking or bad behavior and you cannot disciple an individual to a worthy walk with Christ GET OUT OF THE PASTORATE. Go drive a truck or wash cars. Leave shepherding to shepherds.
4. Treating spouses like they are paid staff members. “I really hurt for my wife because we have one church member that expects her to put in the same amount of hours at church as I do. My wife is taking care of our three preschool children at home, but she feels guilty every time the church member talks to her.”
This is an area that is dealt with up front and immediately by the PASTOR. Inform the body that your wife has been gifted by the Holy Spirit with at least one spiritual gift just as they were, and that her contribution to the church will be the utilization of her spiritual gift. Any involvement beyond that is by her choice and desire only. Her primary responsibility after service to God is to care for you the pastor and any children. She is not an unpaid staff member, nor is she expected to do anymore than any other member. If that member has trouble with that suggest a fellowship down the road. DO NOT LET HER TAKE THE RAP FROM ANY MEMBER WHICH CAUSES HER TO FEEL ANY GUILT. SHAME ON YOU.
3. Supporters who don’t support pastors publicly. “One guy was ripping into me at our last business meeting.  But he didn’t bother me as much as my so-called supporters who remained silent the whole time. They’ve told me that they are behind me, but they weren’t there for me when I needed them the most.”
First, I don't understand what a "business meeting" is so maybe I can't address this. If you mean something like an elders or leadership meeting, there is no place for "a guy to be ripping into any one." I can't find that behavior, attitude, demeanor, or action in the New Testament. Second, typically members are not normally at a leadership meeting. Second, if that "guy" sinned against you, you need to confront him and tell him his fault. If he hears you, you won over your brother. If not take two or three witnesses and tell him his fault again. If he still wants to "rip" then tell it to the body and treat him like a tax collector.
2. Funerals of non-Christians. “I’ve been a pastor for nearly thirty years, and I still struggle when I’m asked to do the funeral of someone who never professed Christ. Most of the time my funeral message is directed at the family, and how God will comfort them. It’s still not easy.”
Again if we limit our funerals to members, then typically they shouldn't be lost. "The church of Christ is a church of believers, an association of people banded together by a common belief and a common love. You don't believe? Well, above all, do not pretend that you do. When someone dies in your family, do not come to ask the church in which you do not believe to come to bury him. Go to the sea-side for consolation..." (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
1. Business meetings. “Let me know if you come across a pastor that actually likes church business meetings. I want to find the secret to his moments of delusion.”
Again, I am not sure what a business meeting is, but it sounds like this comes under the heading of, "if banging your head against a wall hurts, then stop it." Leadership meetings deal with the spiritual needs and condition of each and every member of the body. They deal with prayer for power, brokenness, God's presence, restoration, reconciliation and redemption. If and when a need is presented to the leadership it should be investigated and then turned over to the deacons to serve the need and or needy. When shepherds rule and sheep follow, there is no need to have a meeting to pay bills or to decide anything. The elders lead prayerfully,humbly, and in a Christ-like manner while the sheep follow to food, water, comfort, safety, and peace in order to reproduce. I LOVE LEADERSHIP MEETINGS!!!!!!!!

P.S.  I submitted my response to a fellow pastor whom I have come to respect and appreciate greatly. He evaluated and commented on my responses. His evaluation will post on Wednesday. I truly hesitated over posting my responses as written. The question was, "What do you think, and this is what I think.  But my response is honest and from my heart. 

Please note, what I say in a "blanket post" I would say tenderly and a bit differently in person to someone who may be discouraged, hurting, disappointed, disillusioned, or vulnerable. The point of my response would be the same in each circumstance - the verbiage would be tender, caring, and sympathetic. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturdays with Spurgeon #010

Preach earnestly THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS, (sic) and magnify the abounding mercy of the Lord; but always preach it in connection with his justice. Do not extol the single attribute of love in the method too generally followed, but regard love in the high theological sense, in which, like a golden circle, it holds within itself all the divine attributes: for God were not love if he were not just, and did not hate every unholy thing. Never exalt one attribute at the expense of another. Let boundless mercy be seen in calm consistency with stern justice and unlimited sovereignty. The true character of God is fitted to awe, impress, and humble the sinner: be careful not to misrepresent your Lord. (Lectures to My Students, p. 417)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Meet Evert Atkinson

One of my goals for producing this blog is to expose my readers to godly individuals, both living and dead. I take great pleasure in sharing various pastors, missionaries, teachers, authors, and Christian workers with my readers. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I also intend for you to be edified by exposing you to them.

I would like to expose you to a man I love dearly. He has had a major impact on both my personal life and my ministerial life. I would like to expose you to a number of godly individuals in an interview process. I am pleased to introduce you to Pastor Evert L. Atkinson of the Coal Creek Community Church in Longview, Washington.

What is your current position?

Pastor of the Coal Creek Community Church of Longview, Washington. I have been there for forty years.

Where did you graduate from Bible College or seminary?

I took an AA from Sacramento (CA) City College. I received a diploma from Briercrest Bible College.  Briercrest did not grant degrees because the University of Saskatchewan was the only school allowed to grant degrees in the province.  There was a lawsuit and Briercrest became the second school to grant degrees.  They were in the process of changing.  The faculty were told to get their graduate degrees.  Many went to Grace Seminary in Indiana.  That’s when they recruited new teachers like Erwin Lutzer who had just graduated from Dallas Seminary. I received my BA and Master's Degree from San Diego Bible College and Seminary. The three-year correspondence course was from San Diego Bible College and Seminary.  I don’t list them on any resume because it was more of a guided reading program.  They granted me my BA and Master of Theology degrees.  San Diego has merged with a school whose president is David Jeremiah.  I chose San Diego because they advertised in IFCA’s Voice magazine.  I read more those three years than ever before and since.  

Please describe your morning devotions. When do you begin them? What do your devotions consist of and or look like? How much time to you spend reading, meditating, praying, and etc?

I spend at least forty-five minutes in reading through the Bible and praying. While I pray through a prayer list, I also pray for special needs. I sometimes pray as I read, often asking for clarity in understanding and applying what I am reading. I try to argue with God but find He's right every time. I've read through the Bible some thirty times or more and am currently in Isaiah.

What book (s) are you currently reading in these three categories?

a)  for your soul
b)  for pastoral ministry
c)  for personal enjoyment

a)  Fox's Book of Martyrs. This is my second time and a good reminder to not complain over my little trials.
b)  Just finished MacArthur's, Christ's Prophetic Plans. It's a solid book on prophecy.
c)  None right now. I recently read Swindoll's (Chuck) Saying it Well and found it to be highly enjoyable. Swindoll has a gift for making Bible study enjoyable.

Apart from the bible, what book do you most frequently re-read and why? 

None. I would love to reread Ben Hur again but there are so many books I haven't read.

What three books (other than the Bible) have had the most impact or influence on your life? Why?

1)  J. I. Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. It solidified my views on salvation.
2)  Harry Ironside's Holiness, the False and the True. It showed how a believer changed his beliefs in an important area. Most of us stay close to what we were taught when young. (I have read that twice)
3)  F. F. Bruce's Commentary on Acts (NICNT). I love F. F. on almost everything he writes and this book is on top. (I've used this more than once.)

If you could study under any theologian in church history (excluding those in the bible) who would it be? Why?

I would rather sit under J. Boice or Erwin Lutzer. They are different but powerful preachers who know how to teach. I've heard them both. As far as Theologians go, I've gotten more out of Emery Bancroft than any other. He is clear and complete.

What single piece of counsel or criticism has had the most effect on your preaching? 

My wife counseled me to keep it simple. I can't remember who taught me to find a problem that is solved by every sermon. Lutzer taught me how to observe the text. Many doctrines come form the reader's imagination more than the words of Scripture. I always spend more time just observing the text over and over than anything else I do in sermon preparation.

What books on preaching have you found to be the most helpful to you.

I used to read one a year and the one that stands out is Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students. It is practical and covers a lot of ground.

Where in ministry are you most tempted to discouragement?

I hate to see someone under my ministry who doesn't grow or serve. I am encouraged when I can see specific changes in one's life.

What do you do for relaxation or leisure? What are your favorite hobbies?

Right now, my age and illness keep me from doing as much as I used to in the ministry. I work out the laziness from sleeping and makes me alert enough for my devotions. I've never felt the need to unwind. I love the work of the ministry and time in my study and behind the pulpit are enjoyable.

If you were not in the ministry what occupational job would you have chosen?

My pastor told me I had the gifts for the ministry when I was still in high school. Since then I have had to work at a variety of jobs but I always knew where I belonged. Every job, physical or mental was just a step in the direction of the pulpit.

Thank you Pastor Atkinson for your time. 

Pastor Evert has served faithfully the Coal Creek Church for the past forty years. He has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. He trusts the Lord day by day for the strength and grace to continue to serve the Lord whom He has preached the past forty plus years and loved.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review: Archibald G. Brown

Title:  Archibald G. Brown: Spurgeon's Successor

Author:  Iain Murray

First Copyright:  2011

Type of Book:  Hardback

General Subject Matter:  Biography

Price:  $29.00

ISBN:  978-1-84871-139-6

The purpose of the author of this book is somewhat obscure. Normally we find the purpose of the author for the writing of his/her book in the preface, introduction, or even in the first chapter. This book is some what unusual. 

A long time friend of the author, Mr. John Eyers, wrote to Iain Murray suggesting that he "take up" Archibald G. Brown as a subject for a book. Murray's first reaction was to ignore the suggestion since he barely knew anything of Brown. After reviewing the material collected by Eyers, Murray grew excited about this subject and to quote Murray, "...this became the first book I have been 'given.'"

As far as Murray's own words go towards the purpose of this book, he wrote, "The life and message of Archibald Brown will speak to many hearts today as it has done to our own. This book has been for me a special reminder of the providence of God. That a preacher of a century ago should reappear from obscurity is no accident."

Murray intended to provide a biographical portrait of Brown in order to convince his readers that Brown was the kind of man that should be prayed for to enter into the labor of the harvest. Murray's style is informal, friendly, and very colorful. Murray has written this biography will great clarity with a full sense of development. 

The intended audience is the church at large. Murray has written so that every believer can and will benefit from reading this book. The subject, style, and the storehouse of blessing is suite for every member of Christendom.

This book was a tremendous blessing to me. I could not put this book down. It is well written, held my attention easily and written in such a way that I wanted to know as much as possible about Brown. I had never heard of Brown prior to receiving this book, but I am now a great "fan" of this wonderful late pastor. Both the subject and the book caused me to reevaluate my own call to the ministry, my values, my commitments, and my priorities. I would recommend this book to every believer without hesitation.

The theme of this book is the life and ministry of Archibald G Brown. Brown as you can tell by the sub-title was a successor to Charles H Spurgeon of the Metropolitan Tabernacle of London. The thesis of this book is that this obscure man known by little was truly a man of God for his time.

Murray develops his theme by narration. He tells a wonderful story of the events of Brown's life. He moves along in a logical and chronological manner through all the life and times of Brown. Murray tells a great story of this man's contribution to the church of Jesus Christ.

This book was very accurate and thorough. Murray, first of all was very objective. He appreciated his subject was not a "hero-worshipper." Murray's research was thorough even though much crucial material had been destroyed when the two main churches of Brown's pastorate were bombed in World War II.

Murray offers his opinion of the godliness, abilities, skill, and gifts of Brown as a godly, competent pastor. I share Murray's opinion. I agree with them completely. Murray's research and objectivity of this man whom he greatly respected was fully supported by evidence and research.

The Sword and the Trowel offers proof of Murray's evaluation of Brown as a godly and competent man:

"Full of youthful pleasantry, our deal brother was also full of zeal for God's glory, and prayer and faith soon caused the tide to turn; the meeting place was full, and the White Heart Assembly Room had to be taken to accommodate the numbers anxious to hear the young preacher. It was soon necessary to admit the regular attenders by ticker." (pg. 35)

Iain Murray has been in the Christian ministry since 1955. In 1957 Murray co-founded The Banner of Truth Trust serving as the senior editor until 1996. Murray served as an assistant to Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the Westminster Chapel. Murray pastored Grove Chapel in Camberwell, London and St. Giles Presbyterian Church in Sydney. He is has authored numerous books including a number of biographies. He is amply qualified to write this biography of Archibald G Brown.

This book is a hardback edition. The type is amply readable. There are several illustrations and pictures.They certainly give great help in understanding what Murray wrote. They help make the story "come alive."

This book contains five appendixes. It includes and extensive subject index. Murray documents his material with sufficient and numerous footnotes.

As far a a summary goes, this is a well written and interesting biography of an obscure man who followed one of the most famous preachers. Brown was tremendously used of God as a great and godly pastor.

Murray concludes this biography with this paragraph:

"When the sound is heard from heaven, and the next revival comes, there will be nothing said from the pulpit or platform about 'up-to-date' or 'social subject,' or the clap-trap that is popular today; it will be Bible! Bible! Bible! And the people clamouring, 'Let us have the Word of God.' The gospel was preached [at Pentecost], and what followed? Conviction! 'They were pricked in their heart.' They said to Peter, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do.' 'But', says someone, 'do you imagine such a thing could ever happen today? Yes, indeed I do. I have seen it! Every week for years, men and women coming and saying, 'What shall we do?'

After my heavens and my earth have perished he remaineth, and he ever will. My savior is the eternal God. My Christ, the I AM, he who died on the cross for me, liveth evermore, throughout eternity 'the same.' In spirit I look far down those endless ages. Aeon follows aeon, and still the song rises and swells, filling heaven with its melody, 'Thou remainest; thou remainest; the same Eternal, Immutable, Lord Jesus!'" (From a sermon on Acts 2:2, circa 1900)