Pastors


Powerful blogpost on the pastor’s wife.

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·         {{began by praying for the gift of Tongues for the brothers who expressed a desire to pray for that particular gift}}

·         ACTS 25

·         The account of the Apostle Paul’s very memorable defense before the Roman Procurator Festus and King Agrippa (and his wife Bernice)

o   Middle of a story that had begun a few years earlier

§  Included his arrest by Roman soldiers

§  After having been rescued by them from the violent mob at the Temple mount

§  The plot against his life by the 40 religious fanatics

§  Resulting military escort from Jerusalem to Ceasarea to ensure his safety

§  Left in prison without charges for two years

·         Felix hoping that Paul would try to bribe him

§  When it became apparent that Paul was not going to have his case heard fairly by Festus (who had taken over from Felix), Paul exercised his right to appeal to Caesar

§  And so Festus, having to specify charges, determined that there would be a hearing for the purpose of hearing Paul’s case, so as to enumerate charges.

·         When permission was given to Paul to speak, he became the focus of the room

o   Everyone’s eyes now came upon Paul

o   And eeverybody had two questions:             

§  What would he do

§  What would he say

o   The most powerful government leaders in that part of the world were now his audience

o   Would he use this opportunity to defend himself?

o   Would he accuse the government of abuse of his rights?

·         When Paul opened his mouth, he proceeded to give them the most valuable thing that he had to give

o   The one thing that Rome couldn’t take away from him – chains couldn’t take away from him – no one could take away from him

o   He gave them his testimony.

o   His personal story of how he came to faith in the Lord Jesus.

·         It is interesting to notice how often the Apostle Paul publicly recounted his testimony, and how often that it’s recorded in the Scriptures

o   No less than 3 times in Acts alone

o   Multiple references to it in his epistles

o   This tells us that Paul never lost his awe over his salvation story

§  It had an ongoing influence on his Christian life and service

§  Had a healthy humbling praise-producing effect on his personal life and ministry

§  As he thought about what he was before Jesus, how God had saved him, and the amazing privilege that was his to live his life for Jesus

·         What was I before Christ?

o   What would I be now without Him?

o   What did He save us out of – and what is the life that He has saved us into?

o   Thank the Lord for our testimony – for our salvation

·         ACTS 20

·         Paul is at Miletus, about 40 miles from Ephesus

o   Called the elders of the church of Ephesus to meet him & the Miletans on the beach.

·         He tells them, “you know me.”

o   “I’m not revealing anything new to you.”

o   He’s going to commission them for the ministry.

o   He’s not sure they’ll ever see him again.

o   He’s living in uncertainty as far as the future is concerned.

o   He knows that wherever he goes the Spirit is warning him of what’s coming.

·         “I was serving the Lord with all humility of mind, with tears, with trials…”

o   “You know I’ve served the Lord with humility of mind…”

§  God has been very good to us.

§  He just keeps blessing.

§  It’s an interesting thing, when God begins to bless, you probably have one of the greatest dangers in ministry.

§  If you can explain why God is blessing, you’re in trouble.

·         If you think it has anything to do with you, that you have some kind of a secret, that God has chosen you because of your ability or whatever

§  Humility of mind – very important, because the danger of success is we begin to lose that humility.

·         We begin to attribute that success to something other than God’s grace.

§  God is good, and He wants to bless

·         But often He knows He cannot bless, because the success causes a person to stumble.

·         They think it’s them instead of God.

§  God allowed Chuck many years of dismal failure – 14 years in the ministry.

·         Struggled for those 14 years.

·         Hard time

·         Even so, it was a necessary time

·         God had to empty him of himself, his confidence in his abilities

·         “God has prepared us for the work that He has beforeordained that we should walk in them.”

·         In looking back, Chuck can see how God allowed him to go through those years, so that when He began doing His work, Chuck would not be tempted to take any glory for what was going on.

·         God prepared him through the failures in the ministry for his future ministry

§  It isn’t your ability that He is interested in at all; He’s interested in your availability.

§  It’s amazing what God can do when you get out of the way and allow Him to move.

o   “…tears and trials…”

§  Tears over failures, mistakes, trials, going through hard experience

§  Yet in all of it learning very important lessons, learning about the faithfulness of God, His provision

·         Holding back – don’t.  You’re to minister, not in a reserved kind of way

o   “Well, I have 10 minutes for you, so make it snappy and say what you have to say…”

o   Be available for the people

·         “And I showed you and taught you publicly and from house to house”

o   Paul didn’t just minister from behind the pulpit, but he got out and was with them and showed them by his life.

o   He wasn’t ashamed to make tents to provide so that he might not be a burden

o   Showing them that we’r e not above work

o   Our greatest sermons aren’t from the pulpit but away from it

§  Letting people see the Word in our lives

§  Letting them see what it is we’re teaching

·         People are not going to learn nearly as well as when you can demonstrate with your life

·         It’s interesting that the first word of the Gospel is “repent.”

o   Surely a great need of our world today

o   Of ourselves today

o   It’s not about what we have done, what we can do – it’s about showing them Jesus, pointing them to Him

·         Paul then speaks about his circumstances…”I don’t know what’s going to happen, but the Spirit’s warning me.”

o   Paul went in with his eyes wide open

o   The Lord warns us it won’t be easy, so that we don’t have to be blindsided.

o   If you’re afraid of what might happen, you might not ever go where God calls to begin with.

·         “I don’t know what’s waiting for me, but I know it’s bad.”

o   Yet, Paul felt constrained to go

o   He felt it was necessary to go

o   So his attitude, knowing the difficulties, still went.

o   “I know the future’s going to be bad, but none of these things move me.”

§  All that mattered to him was faithfulness, not the consequences of faithfulness.

o   Let what happens happens, let them do what they will, let them say what they’re going to say

§  You be faithful.

·         that I might finish my course with joy.”

o   I want to finish my course with joy.

o   Many people have a great start, but a poor end.

o   It’s a lot of times because we’re not following the exhortation of Paul to serve the Lord with all humility of mind

§  You think you’re above the laws of God

§  You’re an exception

§  It really was all about you and how awesome you are

§  Don’t think “it can’t really happen to me.”

·         IT CAN!!!  IT WILL!!! If you don’t take heed!

·         Finish well!!!

·         Paul was pure of the blood of all men.

o   He didn’t compromise the truth

o   Didn’t try to give people an easy way in

o   Declared all the counsel of God

o   Our goal – to fully declare to our people through all of the counsel of God

§  If you don’t take your congregation through the entire Bible, you can’t really claim this.

§  Don’t skip.

§  He honors His Word above even His Name

§  He will bless His Word

·         The people will grow strong and blessed in the Word of God

·         And so, Paul’s final admonition to the elders: Feed the church.

o   “Feed My sheep.”

o   Feeding of His sheep is the only response of the one who truly loves Him.

·         Chuck’s challenge to us: Take heed to the flock of God over which He has given us the oversight.

o   There are people coming to our churches coming to hear the Word of God, to find answers to the problems of life

§  Take heed to the flock of God

§  Feed the sheep, that they might grow in their knowledge of the Lord and in their walk and relationship with Him

§  Be faithful in feeding the sheep.

·         Who knows?  With the condition of our world today, who knows if we’re going to have another one of these conferences?

o   We may not have the same freedom we have now, in not so long from now.

o   If it becomes against the law to preach the Word of God, send Chuck a file in the package we send him, and he’ll see if he can’t somehow break out.

·         Preach the Word!

·         ACTS 15

·         Very contentious passage…about contentions

·         The Bible does not directly say who was right – Paul or Barnabas

·         The first principle of contentions in the church – it’s normal to disagree.

o   Cults operate on the principle of forced unity

§  You can’t deviate one iota – if you do, you’re out.

o   Real unity – we’re all looking in the same direction with the same heart

§  Forced unity – not the same thing at all.

·         There are places on earth where perfect peace, perfect unity abides

o   We call them “cemetaries.”

o   As long as there’s life, there will be contention, there will be problems.

·         Avoiding dissenting voices or pretending they’re not there is not the answer

o   The key is in both Paul and Barnabas’ lives, they both had very different views of what’s coming ahead.

§  Realize they were looking at things from different perspectives.

o   Barnabas was all about grace, Paul was all about the mission. He understands the battle ahead.

§  Who was right?

§  Which side will you take?

·         First step is to see it’s normal – and we therefore need to give people the freedom to have a dissenting voice.

o   Give people the freedom to push back; and when you go to minister to the body, you do so in one spirit

o   The break between Paul & Barnabas did not spread; it did not form factions.

·         Warning – wolves in the church will appeal to Matthew 18

o   They want to keep people in the dark, keep them from comparing notes.

·         Paul & Barnabas kept things between themselves, and they came to a conclusion – even though we might not have much liked it.

·         Know your limitations – you don’t know what you don’t know.

o   Some times that’s enough in the subject of contention – you must realize you don’t have all the information.

o   Up to this point, the Lord has moved among us

§  Let’s not wreck it by speculation and assumption

o   That person who feel s he has to get to the bottom of everything is both insecure and dangerous.

·         Read Spurgeon’s “A Blind Eye And A Deaf Ear”

o   If you hear your servant talking behind your back, don’t take it to heart

§  You know you’ve done it, too!

o   There are people who just can’t let things go.

o   Sometimes, you need to develop a thicker skin – take your shots – don’t defend yourself.

o   Your critics can be your best friends if you look at it the right way – they will often see what you can’t!

§  At the very least, they’ll keep you from believing your own press, and will keep you praying and humble before the Lord.

o   Be thankful for those who point out your faults!

o   Be thankful for those who point out your shortcomings!

o   Small-minded people feel they have to get to the bottom of everything.

o   Don’t take things to heart in the sense of mulling, dwelling, worrying, etc.

§  Take things to Jesus, and let Him apply what’s legitimate to you.

·         Spurgeon said, “we don’t have earlids like we have eyelids” so we need to find another way not to take things to heart.

·         A lie is like a fish out of water – eventually it will flop itself out.

·         Stoke the true fire rather than try to put out all the other fires the enemy starts.

·         “Difficult people are God’s agents to scour the lives of His chosen servants.”

·         The root of many disagreements: Strengths overplayed.

·         In most cases, it’s more important to be loving than it is to be right.

o   Win the argument, lose the fellowship, what have you gained?

·         “Are they convinced that you love them?”

·         Can you tell the difference between a wolf and a wounded sheep?

o   Wounded sheep can be very loud

o   “Have you ever had anybody spiritually throw up on you?”

o   Love them, love them, love them.

o   Take it. Don’t take it to heart, take it to Jesus, and love them.

o   “Once you’re a part of this church, you’re a part of the family, so I’m going to love you anyway even when you hate me back.”

·         In the contention that we see in Acts 15, God does something powerful through Paul which confirms he is in the right for some people.

o   What people really want to know is, “is the Lord among us?”

o   Go back to the cross.

·         Spurgeon put it this way: people will forgive many of your shortcomings and faults if they’re well-fed and well-loved.

o   You can’t stop many contentions in the fellowship

o   But you can be faithful to keep loving and keep praying and keep teaching the Word.

·         ACTS 10-11 – Adventures In Grace

·         {{story about “Carrie” and “Grace”}}

·         It’s not enough to receive grace; having received we must now extend grace.

o   It’s not enough just to know grace if you’re not going to show grace.

·         A right standing with God is both obtained and maintained by the grace of God alone.

·         “Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we’re nice, but because she’s nice!”

o   Jesus’ work on the cross is accredited to me because of His grace

·         Peter knew grace, he taught grace…and then he was challenged to apply grace.

o   Often for pastors, practice lags theology

o   Should not be so!

·         Grace is more than a blurb in our statement of faith or doctrinal summary

o   We must – must – live it out.

·         Next to the Day of Pentecost, what happens in these chapters contain the most important, strategic event in the history of the church.

o   Never has so much theology been worked out over lunch. It was a true power lunch. {{yes…he said that.}}

·         All religion defines “clean” from “unclean”

o   Even pseudo-Christian religion – defining who’s “clean” and who’s “unclean”

§  Who’s “holy” and who’s “unholy”

§  Who’s “in” and who’s “out”

·         Here’s the problem: everybody’s a bad guy.

·         Religion chooses sides – picks out good guys from bad guys – assigns white hats and black hats – awards merit badges for accumulating filthy rags…

o   But that’s not Christianity.

o   The goal of Christianity is simple: bring everybody to Jesus.

o   The point: we are all the bad guys – and we all need Jesus badly.

§  Pew-sitting bad guys, and pulpit-occupying bad guys

§  Heretical bad guys, and Calvary Chapel bad guys {{this after a long, funny, but very very telling list of “x” bad guys and “y” bad guys, all building to this point}}

·         Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation

o   No one is being labeled good guy/bad guy any longer

o   Now it’s all about all of us receiving the love that none of us deserve.

o   “Rise, Bubba! Play and sing!” {{you have to hear this for yourself…}}

o   “Grace exploded in my soul. Suddenly, you didn’t have to live up to my standards or my theology before you could receive the grace of God.”

·         Over the years, however, Sandy’s observed the sad truth that we all have our kosher laws.

o   Even Calvary Chapel pastors.

o   Religion is easier than grace.

§  It’s easier to assign white hats and black hats.

o   Pride will always lean us toward religion.

·         It’s only when I realize that there’s nothing I can do, that it’s all about grace that I will finally, truly get it.

o   None of us is any more deserving of God’s grace than the murderer or child molester.

·         Religious caste system – exact opposite of grace.

o   If that kind of pecking order exists in the church –shame on the pastor.

o   What God has cleansed, you must not call common.

·         We are complete in Christ, not because we toe the party line.

·         If Chuck has his own way, we will finish as we began – in radical, wild grace.

o   There is no more distinguishing mark of our movement than the radical love and celebration of grace.

§  Sound theology, expectancy of Jesus’ return, all that are marks of our movement

§  But grace used to be the defining mark – and must continue to be.

o   Your denominational affiliation didn’t matter; your political affiliation didn’t matter; your opinion on secondary matters didn’t matter

§  What truly mattered was Jesus

o   It’s not that we didn’t have opinions about these things, but we put them in perspective!

·         Start down the finger-pointing path and it’s a very slippery slope.

o   It’s real ugly there at the bottom!

·         Don’t misunderstand; we must be faithful to speak out against false doctrine and teach the Word

o   But God has not called me to police the neighborhood.

o   I must give the people room to grow, room for grace.

o   We can still learn from others – even when we sharply disagree with them!

·         Calvary used to do a lot of finger pointing – we were pointing at Jesus!

o   When did we start pointing at each other?

o   We must get back to the point of continuing in the grace that we have received!

o   “What grieves me more than the saint with the mug shot is the saint who went looking for the mug shots!”

·         Are we treating people with the same grace that we have been shown?

o   We must teach grace

o   But it’s even more important that we show grace.

·         Peter was trapped in a bias

o   And there is nothing that’s a greater hindrance to living in grace than a bias

o   It can even trap an entire movement.

·         What keeps us from practicing grace?

o   Misinformed principles

§  Conscience is taught by truth…or tradition.

§  Peter needed to surrender his conscience to the Lordship of Jesus.

o   Prejudice

§  Don’t underestimate the power of a prejudice!

§  There are some things that don’t “feel right” to you…but that in itself doesn’t make it wrong.

§  You must be careful not to teach your prejudices as truth.

§  Your prejudices will close the door to some people; grace will keep it open.

§  Calvary Chapel has been around long enough to develop a few biases of our own.

·         Be careful! What if God wants to move in a different direction than what we are used to?

o   Precedent

§  “This had never ever happened ever!”

§  Think “tradition”

§  God wanted to take Peter not up to the edge of where he’s been, but to a new place

§  Some steps we’re called to take are hard just because we haven’t taken the steps before.

·         Unlike religion, Christianity isn’t a commitment to a principle, a prejudice, or a precedent, but to a PERSON.

o   The Ruler trumps the rules

o   The Lawgiver trumps the law

o   We are to follow Jesus!

§  Will you go where He sends you?

§  Do what He instructs you to do?

§  Love whomever He sends to knock at your door?

·         If you are ready for this, there will always be a knock at the door!

·         You get grace from God, but then you send grace to all those around you.

·         Religion is predictable

o   Grace is wild and wooly

o   It’s orthodox to believe in grace, but it’s risky to practice it!

o   Practice grace, and you’ll find yourself in uncomfortable places, with uncomfortable people, in uncomfortable situations

·         We read the story of the prodigal son, and we marvel at the extravagance of the Father’s love

o   But the other brother had a different opinion

o   Thought the dad was soft on grace

o   Which will you be?

·         Religious people love to put up a bunch of hoops that you must jump through

o   When you remove those hoops, they will be mad at you

o   If you show this level of grace, you will be misunderstood

o   If you’re not being accused of sloppy grace – maybe you don’t actually walk in grace!

·         Grace applied changes everything

o   Living by grace is living graciously

o   Everything changes when grace explodes in your heart

·         The good works that followed in Cornelius’ life was the fallout not the cause of grace.

·         Calvary Chapel is our Joppa

o   We have seen the vision

o   Now there’s a knock at the door

o   Do you hear?  Will you answer?

o   Will you live out these principles?

o   “Rise, pastor! Kill and eat!”

·         God did not save us to sit on a bench, but to get out there and get the Gospel to the lost.

·         We are given to live for the Kingdom of God, not our kingdom.

·         We are Christians first, not pastors.

·         REVELATION 2

·         God knows of our labors, what we do for Him

o   Nevertheless (can be stated, “despite…however…”)…

o   “Man, I’m doing all this stuff, doing all these outreaches…”

o   Left the first love (Jesus) to focus on at-best-secondary things (building the church)

o   {{story of showing the marked Bible}}

o   Am I doing what I am doing for God – really?

§  Or am I doing what I’m doing for myself?

o   If I lose my love for God, I will lose my love for humankind, too, and be filled with love for self.

o   I can’t do what I do to try to build a church; I must do what I do out of love and devotion to Christ.

·         God’s call, His solution: remember who you are, remember Who He is.

o   Return to your first love.

o   Get back to your Dad’s pad.

·         When I do what I do for Jesus, there is joy, there is blessing – no matter what the apparent success or lack of it happens to be.

·         Repent, do the first works again.

o   Got caught up in doing the work of the church? Repent.

o   Remember those first works, the works motivated by love, and do those.

o   WE NEED REAL DEVOTIONAL TIMES.

§  Studying, preparing to share, is not devotional time – is not time spent specifically to hear from the Spirit.

§  Read the Bible, pray for your fellowship, your relationship with Jesus.

§  Joshua 1:8

§  Saturate your minds in God’s Word.

o   Pray continually.

o   Share [the Gospel] constantly

·         Remember the works of the Spirit

o   We need to get back to total submission to the Spirit of God

o   We need the power of God in our lives if we want to do His work effectively

§  Which means we need to stop trying to do it ourselves

o   We need to be sensitive and attentive to the Spirit

§  Which by the way means that we are to live in continual repentance

o   We need to be led by the Spirit

§  {{story of ministering to the girl}}

o   Take ventures of faith with the Spirit

§  Where God guides, He provides

o   Be controlled by the Spirit

§  Be held in check by the Spirit

§  If you’re in the flesh, you hinder the Spirit.

§  Never live in such a way that you wonder, “what could have the Lord done in my life?”

o   {{story of his brother, having been shot}}

·         Let God keep you in check

o   Stay in the Word

o   Stay close to Jesus

o   Stay in the Spirit

o   Continue to take ventures of faith

o   Encourage the brethren

·         The Lord wants to do much through us, but we often tie His hands with our agendas.

o   Live for Him – wholly for Him!

I am extremely miffed at myself – but I missed most of Brian’s session. I had a meeting that ran long at lunch, so I came in quite late.

What I’d heard of Brian’s message, however, was priceless.

The main points I’d heard:

  1. When sending out men to plant churches, send your best – the experienced ones – not the ones you think you can do without.
    1. Experience is needed, so that when hard things and hard times come, the man doesn’t fold – he’s seen God move similarly before.
  2. We must not get caught in a rut as a movement – be open to whatever the Spirit wants to do – our way is not necessarily the best way, be open to learn from others in the Body.

I can’t wait to get the MP3s of the conference so that I can hear Brian’s session in full.

I have the sneaking suspicion that his session will turn out to be the one that’s worth the price of admission.

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