Pastor, Have You Been With Jesus?

Pastor prayingPastors have a great influence in the lives of their flock–they are supposed to. As under-shepherds to Christ, we are to help direct and encourage the sheep to follow Jesus in the daily life. However, there is a dangerous trend we see in America among men in leadership. It seems very few spend quality time with Christ in prayer.

Many have detailed messages with elaborate outlines and cute points. However, a trained heart realizes that most information comes from books and sermon outlines they have quickly glanced over from ministry helps, and not from time on their face seeking the heart and mind of God. We have dead preachers preaching dead sermons to dead congregations.  Continue reading “Pastor, Have You Been With Jesus?”

Monday Morning – The Pastor’s War

Pastor tiredRegardless how full of the Spirit leaders are on Sunday, there is always the Monday morning war. The Lord could fill the weekend services with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and yet, when Monday rolls around a battle rages. Take heart fellow Elders, Church Planters and Pastors….it is common. The victory of Mount Carmel is always followed by some degree of the loneliness of Elijah’s cave. (1 Kings 19:9) We are engaged in a continual battle…we don’t get a day off.

The enemy loves to do one of three things:

  • Over exalt what took place to get us into pride…attempting to make us feel ‘we’ did it.

Or

Not the Couch…The Cross!

Counselor CouchThis post is for Church Leaders: Today’s pastors are expected to be a jack of many trades. One particular job that has been laid at their feet is not only dangerous, but destructive. It is the expectation to be a free version of a professional counselor. People want to meet with the pastor and muse over all the emotional baggage of their life under the pretense of looking for answers. Many times, these encounters have to be repeated every few months in order to provide a ‘release’ for those craving an audience for venting their frustrations, and to keep them afloat.

It must stop! For the spiritual health of the leaders and their need to spend time with God in prayer and the study of Scripture, it must stop! Pastors must be bold enough to make a couple of things clear to their congregations and those ‘needy visitors’ who, under the pretense of possible membership, will suck the life and time out of your week. Here are a couple of potential helps.

Pre-Counseling Requirements for Members:

1. Attend regular services. (When the doors open, be there!)

2. Respond to what is taught.

3. Repent for any thing preached which fits your life. (Not discussion about it, but repentance.)

4. Take the necessary paths to restore relationships with those you’ve offended–NOW! Continue reading “Not the Couch…The Cross!”

Christian Writers – Beware!

All we can do is thank the Lord for the abundance of Christian writers and authors we see today. Many young men are getting into the fray of ideas by sharing the truth of the gospel, either through blogs or books. I’ve been writing frequently since the early 90’s and simply want to share a brief warning to Christian writers to help guard against some of Satan’s tricks and schemes against authors.

All writers I have had the privilege of being around exhibit a very committed and tenacious personality. We are goal oriented and usually thrive over deadlines and ‘getting the ball’ over the hill. We are capable of shutting other things out in order to accomplish what we know the Lord has laid upon our heart and called us to do. However, in the midst of these traits, we face some unique temptations and traps from the enemy. Here are a few.

Traps for the Christian writer:

Replacing quiet time – First and foremost, we must maintain our ‘quiet time’ of prayer and biblical meditation with our Lord. We must guard against waking up and grabbing our laptop or pencil as our first activity of the day. Let time in prayer and meditation be our primary goal for each day.

Replacing living – Getting detached from on-hand experience with the people of God. We can become ‘hermit-tish’ (my word) instead of being giving to hospitality.

Replacing sharing – Witness only through writing and lose contact with one on one, face to face sharing of the gospel. This will cause us to lose the personal touch of identification with the broken lives of men. Also, this detachment will come across in our writing. Continue reading “Christian Writers – Beware!”

The Seduction of the Pulpit

Probably more so than any other generation, there is a strong seduction to the pulpit. The attention, the technology, the lights and the production are all part of the paraphernalia of this addiction. Do it correctly, with some worldly advice and techniques, and leaders can easily have a cult-like following of gawkers who substitute popularity for purity, foolishness for faith, or entertainment for excellence. It is the ‘drug of choice’ by many ‘young guns’ in the church world.

**(I’m not referring to the piece of furniture we call ‘pulpit,’ but to the position of leading. It exists whether someone uses a stool, chair, table or music stand.)

What does this seduction look like? What are some of the earmarks of this addiction? Glad you asked. Here are a couple of them which my older and mature fellow Elders will recognize.

  1. Must have the Sunday Morning Service – The addict lives off of the fact that the crowd came to hear him preach. It gives him value. Yes, the TV and radio broadcasts always feature the same man. (Few escape this one.)
  2. When not present, pipe in messages via internet or live streaming – This is how the megachurch can become the biggest drug dealer. It allows the addict to continually get a fix by over-inflating their importance.
  3. Talk about you and your family’s adventures instead of Scripture – It’s the church’s version of ‘Ozzy and Harriet’ or ‘My Three Sons.’ After all, people need to know about your ‘smoking hot wife’ or your ‘funny little kids’ every week–NOT. Continue reading “The Seduction of the Pulpit”

What Your Pastor Would Love For You To Know!

I have been in full time ministry for over 28 years and would not take anything for that time. It has not always been easy or pleasant. Dealing with people and their lostness isn’t a walk on the beach. We must be willing to enter the soiled lives of those hurting in order to offer the righteousness of Christ to them. However, over the years I have come to realize there are things Leaders wished their flocks clearly understood. Here is a short list of 18 things Pastors would love to tell their congregations. They are in no particular order.

1. We struggle with temptation…just like you.

2. We don’t always feel like praying…just like you.

3. We get physically and spiritually fatigued…just like you.

4. We need some space…just like you. Continue reading “What Your Pastor Would Love For You To Know!”

Let Us Preach From Our Knees – Street Apologetics

America is a nation which loves arrogant personalities with shock jock and intimidating communication traits. We see this in sports, news commentaries and politics. Sad to say, we also see this in preaching. In spite of the instructions from God’s Word, we constantly observe preachers, who are supposed to represent the “Lamb of God,” spouting insulting and obnoxious antics and statements…their speech betrays their own claims. It is the Shibboleth of our generation. (Judges 12:5-6)

Truth, as beautiful and liberating as it is, has baggage which comes with it. That baggage is the ability to make us arrogant and high-minded, as if we invented it and are the source. Nothing wrong about proclaiming truth, however, when we declare it in an coercive and arrogant fashion, we contradict the very spirit and character of truth…which is the spirit and character of Jesus. He is the Truth! (John 14:6)

If we keep ourselves upon the altar of prayer, repenting and dealing with our inclinations toward self reliance and pride, the Holy Spirit will work through us by making us broken vessels which reveal the glory of Christ. Satan and his imps are constantly waiting to pounce upon our lack of brokenness and humility, and to entice us to move into a disrespectful and graceless mode of communication. Let us be careful to preach from our knees! Continue reading “Let Us Preach From Our Knees – Street Apologetics”

Really Want to Help?…Think Small

In the age of giant egos and “bigger is better” pop culture idolatry, it seems many evangelicals are biting into the same rotten apple as those who do not know Christ. The pride of man is always prodding individuals to become the big chief, head honcho or chief executive. The flesh loves to embrace the chief mentality… it makes us feel important without brokenness and powerful without the Holy Spirit. It must go to the cross and be put to death! (Rom. 6:11, Eph. 4:22, Col. 3:5)

Few things are as putrid to mature believers as the rock star promotion of so-called leaders. You’ve seen them…we all have. From the sickening ‘change the color of your hair every week peach fuzz prophets’ and the effeminate ‘gospel with a grin stage productions,’ to the uncouth ‘shock jock pulpit yuppies.’ Nothing new, every generation has them because the flesh loves to idolize and project itself through heros, even spiritual heros. However, when we as the church adopt it, it makes a mockery of the true message of Grace and Humility. Everything from book tours to church planting have become the latest fads for men to lift themselves, or allow others to lift them, to the status of idols. Continue reading “Really Want to Help?…Think Small”

When Leaders Fall

Few things are as taxing in an Elder’s life as when a fellow Leader falls into a sin which demands he step down from ministry and go through reconciliation and restoration. These areas include certain levels of moral failure, dishonesty and doctrinal error. A lot can be said on the qualifications of ‘certain levels,’ but that can be a post in and of itself.

There are many areas which we can discuss, but let’s look at two essential ones. One involves the fallen brother and the other the congregation or local body.

THE FALLEN BROTHER

Purpose is to Restore – Should be obvious, but is easy to overlook and lose sight of this. The purpose is not punitive, but restorative. If our motive ever leaves this, we may perform the steps, but they will not produce life and liberty. Continue reading “When Leaders Fall”

The ‘Deaconized’ Pastor

John is a young man who responds to the call of God. The excitement of finally surrendering to the Lord’s will for his life is beyond containment. He spends years preparing and submitting to training for the work ahead and he can hardly wait for his release to reach people for Jesus and bring life to a local church.

He finally becomes the pastor of a church and he is ready to bring changes and life into a stale or nominal American church. He sees opportunities in the community and limitless potential to impact people with the truth of the gospel. He pitches his vision to the deacon board with all the surety given to him by the Holy Spirit. They listen with suspicious looks and granite flexibility. After much discussion and warnings of moving too fast and too extreme, the pastor’s vision is lost in an endless parade of excuses and small minded thinking.

Time and time again, the scenario above is played out until John finally becomes ‘deaconized.’ Church after church, he experiences the same thing. He may last 5 years or Continue reading “The ‘Deaconized’ Pastor”

Marks of Mature Leadership – #1

Mature Leadership – aspired to by many, reached by few. We are not in lack of leadership in our church settings and church planting. However, a quick glance at the churches around us, and the continual upheaval of ministry problems, reveals there is a great lack of ‘mature leadership.’ Discussions with believers from various denominational settings and house churches also reveal our need in this area. Now, it is obvious, that maturity is not instantaneous; but it should be continual. We all, myself first, want to walk more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, more compassionate to those hurting and more obedient to our Lord.

Mark #1 – An Inward Realization of the Depth of Our Depravity

What are some of the marks of a mature leader? We will look at several over time, but here is our first installment. A mature leader will continually grow, not just in theological Continue reading “Marks of Mature Leadership – #1”

Where Are The Prophets?

The modern church is in great need of prophets. No, not the self appointed and wild eyed fanatics we see on TBN and other religious broadcasts. You have seen them, they add their delusions to the revelation of Scripture. They equate sweating and laughter with anointing. They lead millions further down a road of deception and delusion. Instead, we need men in leadership who will spend time alone with God in prayer and get a living word to communicate to God’s people. Men of vision who are not selling out the church so they can become a celebrity in the ‘religious conference tour.’

A prophet doesn’t have a burden…the burden has the prophet! New Testament prophets do not go around as a one man show. In fact, the rock star promotion of ministers grates his spirit, because it offends the Holy Spirit. The prophet weeps when alone in prayer Continue reading “Where Are The Prophets?”