How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith? – Part 2

What should pastors do and what should the church expect, encourage, and allow?

I believe the best way to answer that question is to ask: what are some of the fundamentals that Scripture gives for pastors to practice?

(1) A pastor must consistently practice right speech, right living, and right affections

Paul says in verse 12 of 1 Timothy 4,

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Ti 4:12)

Here Paul calls Timothy to be an example to the believers in his congregation. In order to be an example, he has to consistently practice certain things. Paul tells him first that he has to set an example through:

Right speech

He can’t just say whatever he wants, however, and whenever he wants to say it. His speech has to always be in line with God’s Word. And it must consist of wise words that serve to build others up. The tongue is powerful, as James makes us aware in chapter 3 of his letter when he says,

“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (Jas 3:7–10)

So pastors have to be able to control their tongue, showing others that it’s possible.

Not only should a pastor set an example through right speech, but he should also set an example through:

Right living

Paul brings up the ideas of conduct, love, faith, and purity in these verses. What he is telling us is that a pastor has to be someone who conducts himself in line with God’s Word. He must love others, be faithful and trustworthy, and operate with integrity. These must be the characteristics that a pastor possesses so that he can be an example to others.

Along with right speech and right living, a pastor must also set an example through:

Right affections

He must not only have a love for others, but he must also have a love for God. A love for God that is stronger than the things of this world. You see, we are good at making idols and worshipping those idols to the neglect of God. But that should not be so. God tells us in the 10 commandments that we should have no other gods before Him. In other words, we shouldn’t worship anyone or anything else but God.

The only way that we are going to be able to crush our idols and give God the worship that He commands, is if our love for Him is greater than our love for the things of this world. The way we increase our love for God is by meditating on who He is and what He has done for us. What He has done for us is save us. Wretched, vile, rebellious sinners have been saved by God. He saves by giving up His only Son to die in our place.

Imagine giving up your only son to die in the place of a terrorist, a child molester, a rapist, a murderer, or a serial killer who is sitting on death row. That is unheard of. No one in their right mind would do that, except for God. He has given His only Son so that a vile, wretched, rebellious people may be saved. Meditating on that truth. Realizing who God is and what He has done for us should draw our affections away from the things of the world to God.

A pastor must set an example for his congregation in that his affections must be directed towards God and not the things of this world, which he accomplishes by consistently meditating on the truth of God’s Word, and specifically the gospel message.

So we see that a pastor must be someone who is leading out in right speech, right living, and right affections. The church should not only expect that from their pastor, but they should do all they can to encourage these things.

Next Time

Next time we will explore a few other things pastors are to do and what the church should expect, encourage, and allow.

Question for Reflection

  1. If you are a pastor, do you practice these three things?
  2. If you aren’t a pastor, do you encourage him in these areas?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?

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How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith? – Part 1

Just recently I came across an article that opens like this:

“In 2004, nine hospitals in Michigan began implementing a new procedure in their intensive care units (I.C.U.). Almost overnight, healthcare professionals were stunned with its success.

Three months after it began, the procedure had cut the infection rate of I.C.U. patients by sixty-six percent. Within 18 months, this one method had saved 75 million dollars in healthcare expenses. Best of all, this single intervention saved the lives of more than 1,500 people in just a year and a half. The strategy was immediately published in a blockbuster paper for the New England Journal of Medicine.

What did these people do? They didn’t implement new technologies. “There were no pharmaceutical discoveries or cutting edge procedures. The physicians just stopped skipping steps” [1] .

The way these hospitals made sure their physicians stopped skipping steps was by implementing a checklist. A simple checklist that anyone can write on a piece of paper ended up saving these hospitals 75 million dollars and 1,500 patient lives in a year and a half.

If you are anything like me, you probably think that is almost unbelievable. You see, we are always looking for something new to make us successful. Some new technology, a new procedure. Something revolutionary. And a checklist is not revolutionary. It’s as basic and fundamental as it gets. But here’s the things and here’s the point of the article: Sometimes consistently practicing the fundamentals is all we need to be successful. This is not only true in the health industry, but it’s also true in school, at home, and especially when it comes to our faith. If we want to grow and continue to remain steadfast, we must continually practice the fundamentals of the faith. Looking for something new and revolutionary is not going to do it.

But here’s the thing and here’s the point of the article: Sometimes consistently practicing the fundamentals is all we need to be successful. This is not only true in the health industry, but it’s also true in school, at home, and especially when it comes to our faith. If we want to grow and continue to remain steadfast, we must continually practice the fundamentals of the faith. Looking for something new and revolutionary is not going to do it.

Now, there are a lot of fundamentals to the faith. We certainly don’t have time to explore all of those. So over the next few posts, we are going to look at those fundamentals that have to do with pastors. Reading that, some of you may be thinking that I have forgotten that I am writing primarily to laymen and not a group of pastors. But I haven’t forgotten. You see, while these are fundamentals that a pastor must practice, the church’s involvement is required in order for him to do them.

While It Starts with Pastors, It Continues with the Church

It starts with pastors

What I mean is that pastors first have to determine that they are going to operate based on Scripture’s wisdom. They can’t be overly concerned with pragmatic principles or what’s currently popular. Instead, they have to be determined to do what the Bible says no matter what. That’s where this has to start.

It has to continue with the church

The church has to be onboard with operating according to Scripture. They have to prize Scripture’s wisdom over culture’s. And they have to expect, encourage, and allow their pastors to practice the fundamentals that are given in Scripture.

If the church doesn’t expect their pastor to do these things, he may not do them. And if the church doesn’t encourage him as he is doing them, he may get discouraged and quit.

As well as if the church doesn’t allow him to do these things because they are bent on doing something else, it is going to be tough, if not impossible, for even the most biblical minded pastor, to practice these fundamentals.

So it has to start with the pastor, but it has to continue with the church. The church has to expect, encourage, and allow their pastors to practice these fundamentals.

Next Time

Next time we will get into more of the specifics of what pastors are to do and what the church should expect, encourage, and allow.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you see the church’s role in the pastor’s growth?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?

[1] http://lifehacker.com/do-more-of-what-already-works-the-power-consistency-1695317174

How can we train ourselves for godliness? – Part 3

In my last post, I encouraged you to consistently feed on God’s Word. I know that can be difficult. Other things are always vying for our attention each and everyday. So how can we consistently feed on God’s Word?

How can we consistently feed on God’s Word?

(1) We should practice the spiritual disciplines

If you aren’t familiar, the term Spiritual disciplines, refers to our daily efforts to intake God’s Word and meet with Him in prayer. We can do that in a number of ways:

  • Reading
  • Memorizing
  • Meditating
  • Discussing with others
  • Attending Bible studies

These are all ways for us to daily get into God’s Word and pray. The hard part is doing it daily. That is where the discipline part comes in because it takes effort and work to get into God’s Word on a daily basis. We know we need to practice the spiritual disciplines, we just don’t do it.

How can we get to a place where we are consistent in getting into the Word and praying?

Let me offer a few suggestions.

(1) Use a plan

You don’t build a house or start a business without a plan, nor should you practice the spiritual disciplines without a plan. We have to know where we are going and how we are going to get there, which is why a Scripture reading plan is crucial. Not only does it help provide direction, but it helps you track your progress, so that you know you are on target.

(2) Schedule a Meeting

Along with a reading plan, it is a good idea to plan when you are going to meet with God and put it on your calendar just like you would any other meeting. I find the appointments I schedule are the ones that usually happen.

(3) Pick a place

Along with scheduling a time, it’s probably a good idea to schedule a place to have your meeting. When thinking about the place, I encourage you to pick a place that you can sit, read, and pray without distraction or discomfort. For me, that’s usually the kitchen table if the kids aren’t up, my office or the back porch. Those are quiet, distraction free places that are comfortable.

(4) Change it up 

Don’t use the same Bible reading method or plan year in and year out. Instead, change it up. Use a read through the Bible plan one year, camp in a book the next, or select a specific topic of study.

But don’t just change up your plan, try changing up the version you read as well. A different translation can help you discover things you may not have seen before. And that can help keep things fresh.

(5) Meet with a group

Studying together is a great way to get more out of your daily devotions. I am in a study group that meets every Friday morning — our Men’s Breakfast. It has been a blessing to me. As we have worked our way through several books of the Bible, I have discovered things about God’s Word that I would not have on my own.
And meeting with those guys every week also helps keeps me on track. I know I have to be prepared on Friday. Having that deadline helps me to be consistent.

So those are just a few ways you can practice the spiritual disciplines more regularly. Hopefully, one or several of those will help you to be more consistent in feeding on God’s Word.

Along with practicing the spiritual disciplines, if we want to constantly feed on God’s Word,

(2) We must set our hope on Christ 

That is what kept the apostle Paul going, and that is what should keep us going. Look at what he says in verse 10,

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Ti 4:10)

Paul tells us to set our hope on God because he knows the ways of the world are completely bankrupt. Jesus is the One who gives us hope. He is the One who saves, sanctifies, and satisfies.

Knowing that Jesus is our only hope should drive us to want to know Him and to live according to His ways. The way we grow in our knowledge of Jesus, the way we come to know how He wants us to live, the way we are motivated to keep pressing on is by reading His Word. So our hope in Christ, then, should drive us to feed on God’s Word. As we feed on His Word, we should grow in godliness.

Knowing that, then, should drive us to intake God’s Word on a daily basis. I encourage you to make a commitment today to read, study, meditate on, memorize, and pray God’s Word. That’s the only way we are going to grow in godliness — in our devotion, respect, and desire for God — so let’s commit ourselves to feasting on the meat of God’s Word daily so we will be a people who are consistently growing.

Question for Reflection?

  1. What tactics do you use to make sure you are consistently feeding on God’s Word?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon: How Can We Train Ourselves for Godliness?

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