Something at my very core is changing. The old way must go. I’m at a loss of words when it comes to explaining what is taking place, but I have found a great passage of scripture that does the explaining for me. Take some time today to read God’s words instead of mine. Let Him speak to you. The following passage of scripture is taken from a Biblical paraphrase known as The Message. Please feel free to look up these same verses in which ever version of the Bible you read.
Ephesians 4:17 – 5:10
“And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that.
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.”
- It’s time for change to take place - Tim
There seems to be a new trend taking place that concerns me. The ‘adult’ entertainment industry appears to be pushing pornography onto women, and it is working. Not too long ago, the largest advocates for tearing down the porn industry were women. A large portion of the female population argued that pornography was demeaning. They rightly contended that it made ladies appear as nothing but a tool to fulfill men’s selfish desires. Ladies were a large voice in calling for the repeal of what a majority of women viewed as a detestable act. In my opinion, the strength of the female voice began to weaken the porn industry and they retaliated by making male porn more attractive to women. Much like when the frog is slowly warmed in water to be cooked, women are slowly being lured into embracing pornography.
This trend is currently creating what seems like a double standard in our society. I’m sure the plan is to make it where all pornography is accepted.
Why am I stating this is a double standard? The main reason is because many women have no problem going to see a movie about a male stripper, Magic Mike, but they would still be offended if their husbands/boyfriends attended a movie about female strippers. This is not the case for all women and I don’t mean to generalize the statement. I am fully aware that some women did not watch Magic Mike and some who did have no problem allowing their boyfriends/husbands to watch pornography but I think that many who did watch the movie do oppose having their significant others lusting after another woman.
Say what you want to about the story, the main reason the movie has made $107,600,000 to date is because women wanted to see Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey and other men take off their clothes. That was the main focus of the commercials and the draw for the movie. This is not a record breaking movie but when one figures in the fact that the movie’s main demographic was women, it’s a large number.
I will get off my soapbox for a moment… Pornography is something I have personally dealt with in my life. If anyone ever tells you that pornography is not destructive, they are either lying, in denial or just perverted. Like any other addiction, it can control your life. It is destructive because it messes with your psyche. The fact that some people fight so hard in defense of pornography should be a very clear sign that it is harmful. It’s much like when an alcoholic says, “I’ve got everything under control. I know my limits.” Because pornography is an addictive behavior, it often leads down a road of progressive steps. A person may begin by looking at an image on a website. The image may be considered soft porn. That suffices for a time but is soon not enough to fulfill the person’s desire so he/she turns to more hard core images. The images lead to watching movies, interacting with people online and often to the person perusing sexual escapades. Each thing leads to another and the destructive nature of the behavior increases. One of the most famous cases of pornography going bad was in the case of Ted Bundy. Bundy was a famous serial killer in the 1970’s. In an interview with James Dobson, Bundy stated that his addiction to pornography lead him down the path to becoming a serial killer. I am not saying that viewing pornography will make you a murderer, but it will lead you down a path of destruction. There will be a price to pay. It may cost you your job, marriage, financial health or even your physical health. It’s not the first image you view that will cost you but that image could lead you down a path to an addiction that will cause you to make decisions that cost dearly. If you don’t believe me ask any wife who divorced her husband due to his having an affair. It usually starts with porn and leads to something more.
Every Christian should be outraged that the entertainment industry has produced a movie fully intended to desensitize women to pornography but I am here to tell you that many Christian women went to see the movie. I don’t have any statistics to corroborate my claims because there is apparently not a Christian female meter on movie viewing, but just Google ‘christian women watching magic mike’ and read some of the other blogs on the subject. It seems that much of Christian society is silent when it comes to women watching what essentially is a pornographic movie while they are outspoken when men do the same thing. It almost seems as though we Christians shun pornography when it is directed toward men but are silent when its target audience is women. It’s a double standard. Pornography is either a sin or it isn’t. If it is wrong for men to view sexually explicit imagery, it’s wrong for women.
As I stated, it’s my opinion that this is a move to generate more acceptance toward pornography. It creates a slippery slope. Think about this scenario. A wife asks her husband, “What did you rent for guy’s night?” He replies, “Showgirls.” She says, “I can’t believe that; you know I don’t like for you to watch that trash!” He retorts, “You watched Magic Mike last month, so what’s the difference?” The lines get thinner as the loudest voice against pornography grows silent. The giant $12billion industry known as the Adult Entertainment industry continues to grow while we embarrassingly fail to fight it.
Want to read a Christian review of Magic Mike? Check out this link: mike.aspxhttp://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/magic-mike.aspx
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Have you ever wondered if God chooses to be silent? Are there times when you simply cannot hear Him speaking to you? I am at a place in my life where I am straining, pleading, needing to hear God speak to me. My family recently moved to a new town about two months ago, I confess it feels like an eternity. It’s been a slow summer, a spiritually dry summer. We’ve had a difficult time finding a new church, I haven’t made any close friends and I am terribly homesick. I’ve been isolated in a small town and the local Kwik Shop is about my only option for a fun night out.
Now, if you are an introverted, laid back personality this may sound like bliss, isolated at home, not a lot of people to hang out with, and not a lot to do. For an extroverted, Type A personality, it’s like sitting in the dentist chair getting a root canal that takes hours to finish. I confess that my personality needs a lot going on, projects to manage, people to interact with, places to go, and something to do other than laundry, (my boon companion). It’s difficult for me to be still. Now let me say that again like a 5 year old asked to sit quietly, IT’S DIFFICULT FOR ME TO BE STILL! I haven’t been able to find a job, I have no friends, and if I have to clean another toilet I may lose my mind.
In my lonely state of self-absorption, I am reminded of the Israelites. If they weren’t on the mountain top, they were in the valley complaining. If God wasn’t speaking to them directly or doing awesome miracles, they worshipped another. If Moses wasn’t telling them what they wanted to hear, they threatened to leave. The Israelites were fickle, wondering, emotion driven people who let their circumstances determine their value. It wasn’t enough to be a child of God, they needed to be a child of God with lots of stuff. It’s great to be a child of God when things are going well, with a place to live, food to eat, and prosperity in your future. It’s difficult to just be a child of God and not know where you will rest your head, how you will put food on the table, and have no employment prospects. We might not be that destitute as my husband has a good job. But the move has been difficult, in fact, the last few months have been down right trying.
Simply put, I get the Israelites. I love being on the mountain top, like attending a great worship service where the worship is palpable, the message is inspiring, and lives are changed. I love being around people who are friendly, kind, and interested in my life. I love having a job that makes me feel like I’m valuable and where I get all kinds of accolades. I love having lots of friends and lots of activity in my life.
My American driven ego and life style isn’t used to not having these emotionally driven activities. Therein lies the problem, I’m not used to being still and I’m not good at trusting God in the valley.
I believe the Word of God is true and I believe God fulfills His promises. Yet my heart is aching and my emotions are on a roller coaster. So what’s a girl to do? Run and worship another idol like the Israelites because my emotions are not falling in line with what I believe to be true? Or do I claim the Word of God and keep my emotions from influencing what I believe and how I behave?
I’ve let my emotions deter my course of action before, swerving from the truth just a little bit so as to appease my aching heart. It ended badly for me and has had a profound impact on my life. I will write about that in future blogs. So today, June 27th, I chose what I know to be true regardless of emotion.
God will not forsaken or abandon me.
God has a future and a hope for me.
God is still the same no matter what my circumstances.
God is doing something new in my life.
If you are in a difficult place where trusting Him doesn’t “feel” like the right thing to do and you want to run in the opposite direction from Him rather than to Him, then let’s claim this promise together.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
To be continued……..
There are many issues that get people fired up these days, but the ones that get people most fired up are the moral and political issues that we deal with in our culture, like homosexual marriage, abortion and gambling for example. On all of these issues it seems there is an unspoken morality that surrounds them which is unrelated to those issues themselves. Really, this is true for any social or political issue that has moral implications. The only moral rule which can’t be broken is the rule of tolerance.
The rule goes like this: we are tolerant of every person’s opinion or lifestyle choices, so we do not make claims that any person's thought or choice is not equally valid or true. After all, what might seem right or wrong to you may not be right or wrong for others.
In this system of tolerance, the only thing that is not tolerated is when someone makes a truth claim that contradicts the truth claims of others. In other words, the only thing that is not tolerated is an absolute truth of some kind. The moment someone makes an exclusive truth claim (like “Abortion is wrong because it is ending a life” or “homosexual marriage is wrong because it is not God’s design”), those who preach tolerance will immediately reject that claim vehemently and declare the person ignorant or a bigot. In this line of thinking, making any statement of truth which excludes the truth claims of others automatically disqualifies the claim. In essence, it is immoral to hold that particular position because you’ve broken the ONE Commandment.
1. You shall not claim to know anything.
Now, I believe there is such a thing as a healthy kind of tolerance. It goes like this.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Our society is a marketplace of ideas. No matter how much I disagree with your opinion and even state why I disagree with that opinion, you are still entitled to hold it. I will stand for what I believe and I will make an argument for what I believe and you will do the same. At the end of the day, we may have to agree to disagree.
Unfortunately, in the climate we live in today, those who hold a differing opinion from the societal norm are attacked and demonized as bigots and hate-mongers. One example of this can be seen in the way the Chik-fil-a franchise has been attacked by many in the media recently when its CEO stated that he was against Homosexual Marriage. Do a search for Chick-fil-A and you'll see the backlash and the name calling are rampant.
This way of thinking is a symptom of postmodernism, a philosophical movement that really began to take hold in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. According to this postmodern view, there is no absolute truth. Rather, truth is all relative and subject to change. One of the ironic things about all of this is the fact that the entire premise behind postmodernism is that we are all seekers of the truth. Trouble is, when someone claims to have found the truth, everyone stops listening.
Imagine standing before a modern crowd, on a college campus for example, and saying…
“I am a seeker of the truth!” [crowd cheers] “We are all seekers of the truth!” [crowd cheers more loudly] “The reason we are here on this campus is to seek out the truth and learn together as we interchange and share our ideas. [crowd cheers some more] And today, I have come to tell you that I have FOUND the truth! [much of the crowd falls silent] [some walk away] [others go from cheering to jeering]
In the postmodern culture in which we live, the greatest thing you can claim is to be a seeker of the truth, but the most absurd thing you can claim is to have actually found it. If you are a Christian, you know that we clearly believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth and we also believe that, while there are many things we can’t know with certainty, there are also many things which God has laid out clearly in His Word that can be known. Let us, therefore, continue to lovingly stand for His Truth even in the face of many jeers.
D. Courtney Hill
Combine a goal with a detailed plan and throw in some dedication and elbow grease and you can achieve great things. Such is the case with our kitchen. Julie and I have a great marriage because we balance each other very well. We seem to do terrific when we work on projects together. I must admit that we make a great team. We bought our current house in 2009. It's a pretty nice house for having been constructed in 1979. When we bought the house it still looked like 1979 though and needed some remodeling to say the least. We have remodeled the entire house including cutting a hole in a wall to open up the dining/kitchen area, carpeting, texturing walls, painting, etc. One of the most dramatic changes, however, has been in the kitchen. We have been working on a very tight budget. We did need to buy appliances and change the flooring when we bought the house, but we even saved in those areas. We have completed a kitchen remodel in a previous home but that did not compare to the overhaul we worked in this kitchen. We learned how to change a counter top, tile a back splash and upgrade existing cabinets all on our own. I have been able to work on my carpentry skills and Julie has perfected her painting.
Here is a list of what work we did to make our kitchen transformation.
- Put in new hardwood floor - with the help of Julie's father - Joe
- Cut hole in wall between kitchen and dining room with Joe's help
- Installed floor cabinets, counter and tiled the counter top in the hole to create an island
- Removed small coat closet to open up the kitchen more - with Joe's help
- Converted kitchen laundry closet into a pantry by renovating the old family room into a 4th bedroom/laundry room - with Joe's help
- Installed new dishwasher, refrigerator and microwave
- Installed new counter, sink and faucet
- Removed old back splash and replaced it with ceramic tile
- Installed new ceiling fan and cut hole/installed a fixture near the door to provide more light
- Positioned paintable wallpaper over the paneling and painted it green
- Installed new window
- Converted old cabinet over microwave into small open nook for baskets
- Primed and painted all cabinets, hinges and handles
We are still not finished. We are currently working on a plan to upgrade the ceiling. This has been a very rewarding project and I so enjoy working with Julie.
What are your thoughts about our remodel? - Tim
Bible Postscript"The worker deserves his wages.” - 1 Timothy 5:18b NIV
A couple weeks ago I wrote about our daughter, Rachel. You can read that blog by clicking on this link. I talked about how Rachel has been experiencing sudden changes in her heart rate and about the struggles we were facing in trying to assess what his going on. I also mentioned that we would be taking her to a pediatric cardiologist in St Louis, Mo to learn more information. I realized that some readers may have read that blog and wondered about what has happened since. I am happy to say that things are looking good so far.
Last Wednesday we took Rachel to a pediatric cardiologist who works for Children’s Hospital in St Louis. We were extremely nervous to say the least. They ran an EKG and then had us wait for the doctor. When the doctor came in she asked us to explain our story. She wanted to know why we had brought Rachel to her. We were not certain what she meant because it was as if she really didn’t know why we were there. My wife, Julie, began explaining that our daughter’s heart was racing one day while she was sitting and she came and said, “Mommy, my hear is beeping.” Julie chuckled and said, “I know she meant to say ‘beating.’” The doctor stopped Julie and replied, “No, she meant beeping.” She then opened the door and asked the nurse to get a looping heart monitor. Julie and I continued filling the doctor in on the rest of the story.
After we finished the doctor pulled out the charts from when Rachel had previously worn a 24 hour heart monitor. She explained that she was confused as to why we had come in because there were no abnormalities on the readout from the heart monitor. This confused us because our pediatrician had informed us that there were several episodes on the same results. The doctor explained that there were some peaks but they were consistent with Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia. This is a naturally occurring variation due to breathing. She said that our explanation of what had been taking place did make her think that there is something else going on. She said that the main clue was that Rachel said, “My heart is beeping.” She explained that children of different genders, ethnicities and ages will often use the word ‘beeping’ to communicate a heart abnormality. They know something is out of whack and for some reason that change in their hearts feels like a beep.
The doctor explained that she does think something is going on, but she assured us that it is not a life threatening condition. She informed us that it might be a condition known as Supraventricular Tachycardia or SVT. She drew a chart out for us and explained that it is a condition where the heart suddenly speeds up. She explained that it is often due to an extra valve and that the valve can cause the heart to circulate the blood rapidly at times.
She told us that this condition is not life threatening. She then told us that once it is diagnosed, we will have three options: do nothing, put Rachel on mediation or have a minor procedure done to correct the problem. To properly diagnose the condition, the doctor put Rachel on a looping monitor for 30 days. Whenever she has an episode we are to push a record button and then send a signal to the doctor’s office by phone.
This is really all we know at this point, but I will do my best to keep my readers informed of any updates later on. Have a blessed day.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
This past weekend I attended an event held in honor of the 20th anniversary of our high school graduation. There were two events held over the weekend but I was able to only attend one. There was a family night party held on Friday at a skating rink in my hometown of Paris, TN. It was great to see classmates that I have not seen for 20 years and to have the opportunity to learn about all of their life accomplishments. I did not get to attend the second night of the event and missed catching up with other HCHS alumni. Based on the Facebook photos I saw, it looks like everyone had much fun.
This event was monumental in the fact that it reminded me about how each of us leaves lasting impressions on one another. I talked with people whom I was not close to in high school, but as we talked memories resurfaced of events from the past. It was as if time was being erased and an 18 year-old boy was peeking through these 38 year-old eyes. I had a very good time and just really enjoyed reflecting on all of the good memories that I have from my time at Henry County High School in Paris, TN.
The one piece of advice I leave with you today is to hold on to each good memory. Don’t let life slip by without taking time to smell the roses and bask in the sunshine. Life is short and we too often get so focused on completing tasks that we forget to just live.
I appreciate the time I spend with my classmates and thank everyone who took part in planning the events. Finally, I want to give a shout out to the Henry County High School class of 1992!
This has been one of those difficult days to stomach. On my way to work this morning I heard the news of the shooting at a theater in Aurora, CO. If you have not heard the news, a gunman apparently burst through an exit door during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises and fired shots into the startled crowd. At this point there have been 14 people killed and 50 injured.
This is a very tragic day and these types of events sadden my heart. Every time something of this nature happens it brings back the memory I have of preparing to return to the U.S. in 1999. Julie and I had just completed a three month mission trip in the country of Honduras. Just a couple days before returning we learned of the Columbine shooting. We were heartbroken to think that such an event would take place on American soil. I remember thinking about how many of my family and friends told me that they had worried about us spending so much time in what they viewed as a dangerous third world country, and I remember thinking, ‘wow, I’ve been fine in Honduras but I’m not sure I want to return to the U.S.’ The main reason was because there was an expectation to watch my back in Honduras. As long as I stayed completely aware of my surroundings I was able to stay relatively safe. In the U.S. we often have a false sense of security. We believe that we are safe when we go shopping, eat out, attend school or church, and when we go work or the movies. All of these places, however, have been locations for shootings. It is depressing, but our sense of security in the U.S. is false. It saddens me to think that crazed lunatics can plan and implement such devious actions, but they do.
I almost always ask a question when this type of tragedy strikes. I ask, ‘God, where were you?’ As a believer in Christ, I know God as a loving Father. I often have difficulty understanding why God allows these tragedies to take place. I’ve seen miracles and just have trouble understanding why an angel did not appear and stop the attacker or why the gun didn’t jam or at least some type of intervention did not happen to keep this tragedy from taking place. I can say this; God did not cause this tragedy to happen. We live in a flawed world with evil people who act upon their intentions. The shooter is responsible for the events that took place. I am not sure why God did not intervene, but that does not lessen my faith in Him. I do know this, God does provide comfort in the midst of tragedy and I pray that he comforts the families of the victims and that he heals those who are wounded.
Please take a moment today to pray for those affected by this event. Remember the families who have lost children, fathers and mothers and remember those who survive with physical and mental scars.
God, I pray for those parents who have lost their children to this unspeakable tragedy. I cannot even imagine the sense of loss and pain they are suffering. I know that nothing can replace the children they have lost but I ask you to provide them with comfort during this tragedy. Surround them with loving family who can hold them as they sob. I pray for those who have lost parents. To be young and to lose a parent must be one of the most difficult experiences in life. This senseless act has hurt many innocent young lives. I ask you to surround those children with family who can provide them with the security they so greatly need. I pray for all of those who have suffered loss and ask you to supernaturally endow them with strength as their bodies reel under the stress of this tragedy. Please provide healing to those who are wounded and I ask that you will wrap all of those affected with your love. In Jesus name, Amen.
I’ve been doing some reflecting on my life in recent days and I’ve come to a few conclusions. One is that I can’t believe I’ve turned 40 this year. Another is that I can’t believe we’ve been living in Herrin, IL for over 12 years now. Don’t get me wrong, I love being here; but if you had told me back in December of 1999 that I’d still be in Herrin in July of 2012, I might have laughed in disbelief. Over the years of my life, I think one of the things that God has been trying to get through this thick skull of mine is this idea of grace. When I look at the Scriptures, I see this colossal theme of God’s grace throughout, and I think it’s becoming more and more clear as the years go by. Paul shares an idea about this in Romans 7...
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)
I would encourage you to read that entire section of Scripture to get a better understanding of Paul’s point. I really believe I’ve caught a slight glimpse of what Paul is describing here, even though I feel as though it’s literally the very tip of the iceberg. I hate sin my friends. I don’t hate it nearly enough, but I do hate it. But I still sin and God, by His grace, shows me when I do. I wish I did not sin at all and that is the desire of my heart- to be 100% free from sin.
But this is where we live my friends. We are a fallen people, and if we are believers, we are being redeemed. And actually, we are being sanctified. As believers, we’re all in this thing together. We are a sinful people. We make mistakes. We fail frequently. We deal with issues of pride. We deal with lack of self-control. We deal with anger, jealousy, frustrations, and the like. But we have to co-exist. And, as believers, we have to learn how to be gracious.
For ourselves, we have to learn to be recipients of grace. One of the greatest dangers of dealing with sin in the life of a genuine believer is that it makes you want to give up in despair. We begin to think that our ability to live without sin is somehow proportional to God’s love for us, but this is not the case. We’re not on a performance scale here. Praise the Lord that is not the case! This does not mean we continue in sin, but it certainly does mean that we need to understand who we are and lean even more upon the grace of God. And we must bear with one another my friends. So, let us walk in grace and share His grace.
D. Courtney Hill
(Dealing with leadership conflicts in the local church)
One of the most rewarding things for me personally in the ministry is found in seeing students I’ve worked with, prayed over, and tried to disciple surrender their lives to the Lord and become active in ministry. Conversely, one of the most troubling things in ministry, which I’m sad to say I’ve taken part in at times, is when churches get upset with pastors and staff; and the circle of criticism begins to play out in full, resulting in a forced resignation or termination.
Why do I bring these things up? Well, the reason I mention these things is because these two things have just converged for me, personally. I’ve just received word this past week from one of the students I worked with as a youth minister years ago that her church forced the resignation of her husband and the rest of the church staff (pastor and music minister) on Sunday afternoon. I was shocked when I heard it. Now this couple and their three children have two months to pick up the pieces and leave. I also found out that a similar situation happened with another dear brother in Christ in just the last week. The circumstances were a bit different, but the result was the same. He and his family are hurting and reeling at this moment, having been forced to resign.
Now, I admit that I do not know all the details of these situations, but I do know that in both situations these people were blind-sided with the news and given no other recourse than to leave immediately. It has left them with bigger questions than “how will we eat when our severance runs out?” The real question they must be asking is this: “Is this what ministry is all about?” They are probably walking into their next ministry assignment with their arms figuratively covering their heads, just waiting for the first rock to be thrown. They are guarded. They are hurting. They are permanently affected. Now, God can redeem this, but my question is “was it necessary?”
Why is it that when a group of people in a local church get upset with a pastor or member of the staff, the immediate answer is “get rid of him”? Is that needed? I suppose it is human nature, isn’t it? It is sinful, that much is sure. But isn’t that often what happens? We didn’t like something the pastor did or something he said in the sermon, so we get upset and rake him over the coals at lunch. Some immediately go looking for others who agree with them on this. They find someone else and rip the pastor some more. How long does it take for this to become a pattern? I’ve seen it happen. I’ve allowed myself to do this very thing at times. It’s a vicious cycle. Soon, the pastor or staff member can’t do anything right and everything is examined under a hyper-critical microscope. Hey, perhaps it was something serious. Maybe it was a doctrinal error. Maybe it was something that needs to be addressed. Maybe it was a true moral failing. (this was not the case in the scenarios I mentioned briefly above, to my knowledge) So, here is the question: why don’t we address it in a biblical way? Even if it is a serious sin, there are instructions given to deal with it properly.
I’ve been dealing with issues like these for many years. Sometimes the issues have been about me. Sometimes they’ve been related to others I’ve worked with. Sometimes they are legitimate concerns. Sometimes they are simply matters of personal preference and conflicts of personality. But there is a way to handle these matters which is biblical. Here are some Scriptures and thoughts…
15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.
17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
1 Timothy 5:19-20
19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.
20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.
1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
1 Timothy 5:1-2
1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers,
2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
Friends, Scripture lays out plainly how we should deal with matters of disagreement in our local churches; and let me just say this: we are failing miserably in following the commands of our Lord in this regard. We can lay blame in various places. Perhaps we do not know how we should respond. Perhaps we are afraid of speaking one on one with the ones with whom we disagree or with whom we have concerns. Perhaps your own local church has no system or order in place to deal with these issues, especially as they pertain to the staff, and this leaves churches making things up as they go along when these issues arise. That will not work my friends. We are accountable to the Lord and we have been given His Word.
What can these verses teach us?
1. (If your brother sins against you…) Determine if this is a matter of personal preference, personality conflict, or something that is a serious failing of some kind, which is against the teachings of Scripture. In other words, is it truly sinful?
Many of these kinds of issues are simply a matter of personal preference and can be dealt with simply. Perhaps a suggestion can be offered to fix the issue. Perhaps communication between the two parties will fix the issue. My experience is that the vast majority of things folks get upset over can fit into this type of category. Be prepared when you offer suggestions to also offer help. Sometimes things are not done simply for lack of manpower. Other times they simply have not been considered. Communicating with others about the person who has upset you does NOT solve the issue. It actually has the potential of turning a very simple situation into a very complicated situation. Further, by gossiping and murmuring against a God-given leader, you’ve actually sinned against them and God, and now you are in need of repentance. (see Numbers 14 for the dangers of grumbling against God-given leaders) (see 1 Samuel 24:6, 26:9-11, and 26:23 regarding treatment of God-appointed leaders)
If the issue is not serious enough to discuss directly with the person, it’s not serious enough to discuss with anyone. I have found that to dwell on an issue like this only begins to cause it to multiply within your own heart and mind. It is very easy to blow things out of proportion, given enough time and repetition of the accusation. When you rehearse your complaint, you become convinced of it, whether the complaint has merit or not.
2. (go and show him his fault in private) If this is a serious issue which needs to be addressed… Go directly to the person with whom you are upset. That is the first principle Jesus lays out. Go to them privately. (if he listens to you, you have won your brother) Give them a chance to respond to the charge directly. Do not come out firing and angry. Present the problem in a gentle and calm way, by God’s grace. (Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father) Please try to avoid assuming motives. If you assume anything, assume that this person is a believer who desires to be right with God and the people of the church. You may discover at this point that you’re actually dealing with a misunderstanding or miscommunication. If so, the problem will likely be solved in this meeting. You may find this is a truly serious problem. You may even find that the person needs help to overcome sin. If they repent and the issue stops, it ends here. If given time the same issue persists, continue to step three.
3. (if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed) Assuming he hasn’t listened to your private conversation, the second step is to get another brother or two to go along with you for another conversation. Please be careful in choosing who goes. You should choose mature believers to handle this issue. (you who are spiritual, restore such a one) It should also be noted, an accusation against an elder (which in a Baptist church would be a pastor or staff member) shouldn’t even be entertained as legitimate if these previous steps have not been followed nor if only one person is making the accusation. (Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses) When confronted by multiple people, a believer with a genuine sin issue is likely to begin to see the severity of the problem. If not, the problem may be much deeper set and the final step may be necessary, but only as a last resort.
4. (If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.) In many cases, it seems that this 3rd step Jesus suggests is the first step actually taken. Oh, it’s been hashed out in conversations many times- between those with the grievances but not with the person who is allegedly at fault. And those who are upset usually project their own opinions onto the rest of the congregation and may even be shocked everyone isn’t in favor of immediate termination. (or forced resignation, because it protects the church’s reputation) Ex-communication from a local body should definitely be seen as a last resort for a man who has been confronted multiple times in a Scriptural way but refuses to repent.
5. The goal of communication and confrontation, if it is to be Scriptural, is always reconciliation. Our primary motive, when dealing with brothers and sisters in Christ, is always that they be reconciled to God and to the local church. And we should treat these people like we’d want to be treated, as Paul said to Timothy. (Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.) If we do not enter into this situation with a heart desiring reconciliation, we’re in sin. If your heart’s desire is “just kick the bum out!” you are not obeying what Jesus has taught us.
Look at these phrases from the passages above:
“you have won your brother”
“be reconciled to your brother”
“you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness”
It’s clear that the goal of ANY interaction of this kind is restoration, forgiveness, and complete reconciliation. If this is not the goal we have in mind, we’re taking the wrong approach. Asking someone to leave or forcing their resignation should not even be a consideration until all other avenues have been attempted in good faith. If you have no desire for reconciliation, then you are the one who needs to repent before you take any of the steps I’ve mentioned. Not being reconciled to a brother or sister in Christ inhibits our own walk with the Lord. (leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering)
I think one of the underlying issues that we have here is the fact that many church members do not see their pastors and staff members as truly a part of the body. [aside] It would be easy to point out here that a better way of finding leaders for a local church is to train them up and promote from within. Still, many churches seem content to search mounds of resumes and bring in a stranger to the church rather than find someone from within the body to complete the role. I admit, there are times when there is no other options, but promoting from within would help the church to view the pastor or staff as a true part of the body. [steps off soap box] Now, back to the idea of truly accepting these pastors… A local church must understand that the pastor and staff members who come to the church from the outside should be accepted as members of the body. Think of this person as anyone else who has come to the church, perhaps through a job relocation or something similar, and has joined the church by letter or statement of faith. They should be accepted into the church, not as an “outsider,” but as a part of the body of Christ. Many churches wouldn’t ex-communicate a native member who was caught in heinous acts of public sin, but they’d ex-communicate an “outsider” pastor who wanted to change the color of the carpet. (pardon my hyperbole) Can we not see the serious issue here? Pastors and staff members are just as much a part of the body as the guy who has been a member since he was on the cradle roll and should be treated as such.
I hope that you do not find yourself at odds with your pastor or the members of your church’s staff. If not, praise the Lord my friend! If you do find yourself in that position, please, consider the words I’ve offered here. And let me offer this as well- perhaps you are being sinful in your criticisms of your pastor and staff members. This can spiral out of control or it can be gotten under control. It’s tough to come back from that, but I have found that much prayer and then face to face communication are keys. Most often, once a heart to heart happens, the hyper-critical pattern will stop. But if you’ve gossiped and murmured against leaders, it is clearly sinful according to Scripture, and repentance is needed. Remember, reconciliation to God and the body is the goal, and the other goal is to continue to be able to work together for the sake of the Kingdom without the distractions of these conflicts. I pray that all who read this might listen to the voice of God and do what is needed. Amen.
by D. Courtney Hill