THE PASTORAL MINISTRY OF SHAKING HEARTS

I am writing to respond to a blog post entitled, The Pastoral Ministry of Shaking Hands, written by Pastor H. B. Charles Jr. which was recently shared on Tim Challies blog.  I reluctantly read it with caution because it touches on a topic that I have been wrestling with issue for a number of years.  Reading the blog post confirmed my deep seated convictions on what Pastor Charles Jr. calls “The pastoral ministry of shaking hands.” I simply do not agree with his rationale for this mainly because I believe that the practice that he is advocating is mainly cultural not biblical.  This “pastoral ministry of shaking hands” is mainly a creation of the American culture than it is of the Apostles in the New Testament church.  The practice is very foreign among many Christians outside of North America (although some are now copying it simply because it’s coming from America and thus it must be right).  For this reason (mainly), I do not think that it should be expected of every pastor.  In all fairness, the Bible does not necessarily condemn the practice (although I believe good biblical grounds may be found against it).  But it is also fair to say that the Bible does not sanction or prescribe it for pastors and congregations for that matter and we shouldn’t either. Continue reading “THE PASTORAL MINISTRY OF SHAKING HEARTS”

The Best Job in the World!

bestjobintheworldBeing paid to study and teach the Bible has to be the BEST job in the world! Seriously, think about it. You spend hours and hours praying, reading, studying and teaching the Word of God and at the end of month, someone hands you a check for doing that? How wonderful is that? Hey, if you are wondering – that’s my job and I love it! I don’t love it for the money (though I need the money to pay some bills and care for my family). I’ve got a wife and two kids and lots of other responsibilities. I need the money and I am thankful that I do get paid. But you know what, even if I wasn’t getting paid, I would find a way to keep doing what I am doing and care for my family at the same time. Like, Paul, I could go tent-making or something like that. I would do anything if I had to – thankfully I don’t – for now anyway and I praise the Lord for such mercy and grace to me and my family!

Continue reading “The Best Job in the World!”

Pray for Your Pastor Often

Tim Challies on his blog recently wrote about this very topic.  As a young and inexperienced pastor, I couldn’t agree more.  I often remind the congregation that the Lord has entrusted to me of this very thing.  And I am thankful that they do this often.

The Apostle Paul often asked the mission churches that he worked with to pray for him.  See the following examples:   Continue reading “Pray for Your Pastor Often”

Big Changes at Desiring God

The Lord continues to use and bless John Piper and his Desiring God (DG) Ministries.  DG is really on the move and continually expanding its reach globally which is quite exciting and inspiring.  Piper recently posted a DG Ministry Update on the DG website where he outlines some of the BIG changes that will be taking place at DG.  One of those BIG changes is that DG will be closing their online bookstore in the near future.  As a result of this change, DG is running a $5 CLEARANCE SALE on all of their books (read to the end of the post for more information).  Here is an excerpt from the post.  Enjoy – and don’t miss out on the $5 BOOK SALE being offered by DG:

Transition from Selling

We’ll tell you more in the months to come. But here’s one implication of this clarified focus on the Web. We’ve decided that this ship could sail faster and farther if we stopped carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of book inventory. For years, we have had a store as part of our Website. I have always said to our guys: Let’s have the lowest prices on the Web. Beat Amazon’s prices. And we have—but only by pennies. But we can’t beat Amazon’s service. And we’ve simply decided that there’s no need to. Let’s not compete; let’s partner.

So the “store,” as such, is going away. Instead, we will have improved “product pages”—an online catalog of sorts—on each book and other products where you will have several of options: read descriptions, watch video introductions, download free PDFs, and click to order the product from Amazon, or other partnering retailers. In other words, you lose no accessibility, you gain information and possibilities, and we off-load the inventory, so to speak, so the ship sails faster and farther. We’ll keep on doing the amazing bulk offers from time to time, but even those will be for suggested donations. We are leaving the selling business.

Speaking of dumping the inventory, we are putting all of our books and resources on sale for $5 or less. Think of this as a transition sale. We’d be thrilled if you would take advantage of this and help us lighten the ship.

You can read the whole thing here.

Some Things For Which I am Thankful!

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Giving thanks is not something that comes natural to many of us especially when things don’t go our way or when we are going through difficult times in our lives.  And yet, the LORD expects us to be thankful  in all circumstances.  This means, we have to be deliberate about the cultivation of a thankful spirit in our lives – of course by the grace of God.

Besides the obvious things like a wonderful and godly wife, a precious daughter, wonderful parents, brothers and sisters, a wonderful church family, and above all life in Christ, etc, I am thankful for getting too much e-mail…because it lets me know I have friends who are thinking of me.

I came a cross this(below) on another blog – I found it interesting and would love to share it with you.  Enjoy:

“I am thankful for…

…the mess to clean up after a party
because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
…the taxes I pay
because it means that I’m employed.
…the clothes that fit a little too snug
because it means I have enough to eat.
…my shadow who watches me work
because it means I am out in the sunshine.
…the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
because it means I am capable of walking.
…all the complaining I hear about our government
because it means we have freedom of speech.
…that lady behind me in church who sings off key
because it means that I can hear.
…lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing
because it means I have a home.
…my huge heating bill
because it means that I am warm.
…weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
because it means that I have been productive.
…the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
because it means that I am alive.”

What are you thankful for?  Wonna share your thoughts?  Leave a comment below.  Thanks!

Is God Calling You to the Gospel Ministry?

This post is specifically targeting any young men who may be considering the gospel ministry.  I simply want to ask the question:  “Is God calling you to the Gospel ministry?”  I am intentionally asking this question because I suspect that there may be some young men who are feeling the internal urge of the Spirit leading them in this direction, but are not willing to make the commitment and say, “Yes, Lord!”  Such men need to be pressed until they yield to God’s will.  Yes, it’s ultimately the Lord who calls people into the ministry (the internal call), but there is such a thing as the “external call” whereby the same Lord calls people to the ministry through others (particularly the church).  So, I hope that the older men and the women reading this will be seeking opportunities to encourage any young men around, praying for and challenging them to consider the gospel ministry.

For the rest of this post, I would like to share with you a brief article by Dr. Albert Mohler who serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

In his article entitled, Consider Your Calling: The Call to the Ministry, this is what he had to say:

Has God called you to ministry? Though all Christians are called to serve the cause of Christ, God calls certain persons to serve the Church as pastors and other ministers. Writing to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul confirmed that if a man aspires to be a pastor, “it is a fine work he aspires to do.” [I Timothy 3:1, NASB] Likewise, it is a high honor to be called of God into the ministry of the Church. How do you know if God is calling you?

First, there is an inward call. Through His Spirit, God speaks to those persons He has called to serve as pastors and ministers of His Church. The great Reformer Martin Luther described this inward call as “God’s voice heard by faith.” Those whom God has called know this call by a sense of leading, purpose, and growing commitment.

Charles Spurgeon identified the first sign of God’s call to the ministry as “an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.” Those called by God sense a growing compulsion to preach and teach the Word, and to minister to the people of God.

This sense of compulsion should prompt the believer to consider whether God may be calling to the ministry. Has God gifted you with the fervent desire to preach? Has He equipped you with the gifts necessary for ministry? Do you love God’s Word and feel called to teach? As Spurgeon warned those who sought his counsel not to preach if they could help it. “But,” Spurgeon continued, “if he cannot help it, and he must preach or die, then he is the man.” That sense of urgent commission is one of the central marks of an authentic call.

Second, there is the external call…God uses the congregation to “call out the called” to ministry. The congregation must evaluate and affirm the calling and gifts of the believer who feels called to the ministry.. As a family of faith, the congregation should recognize and celebrate the gifts of ministry given to its members, and take responsibility to encourage those whom God has called to respond to that call with joy and submission.

These days, many persons think of careers rather than callings. The biblical challenge to “consider your call” should be extended from the call to salvation to the call to the ministry.

John Newton, famous for writing “Amazing Grace,” once remarked that “None but He who made the world can make a Minister of the Gospel.” Only God can call a true minister, and only He can grant the minister the gifts necessary for service. But the great promise of Scripture is that God does call ministers, and presents these servants as gifts to the Church.

Consider your calling. Do you sense that God is calling you to ministry, whether as pastor or another servant of the Church? Do you burn with a compulsion to proclaim the Word, share the Gospel, and care for God’s flock? Has this call been confirmed and encouraged by those Christians who know you best?

God still calls . . . has He called you?

Related Posts:

Why Young Men Don’t Go into the Ministry

Today, I would like to follow up on yesterday’s post, Where Are All the Men, and talk about some reasons why many young men in our day don’t want to go into the ministry.

Jesus in talking to His disciples in Matthew 9:37 said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…”  Here is what Matthew records for us in Matthew 9:35-38:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The Lord Jesus Christ looked around Him and saw a needy people, a people “harassed and helpless” or “dispirited” “like sheep without a shepherd.”  And then He gave His analysis of the situation, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.”  I think Jesus’ analysis of the spiritual condition of the men and women in our cities and villages today would be the same.  Though outwardly people look “okay” they are not so inwardly.  All the TV stars that we know, the celebrities, “powerful” people in government, all the multitude of people across the globe, need Christ desperately.  Many of them have been bruised and are being bruised by the effects of sin.  They are looking for peace, happiness and joy in all the wrong places.  Their relative success isn’t cutting it for them – that’s because they need Christ.  Then, they are all the multitude of people all around the world who aren’t celebrities, they aren’t among the “powerful” – they are vulnerable in every way – they too need Christ! Christ alone is the answer to the problem!

Bored Young Men
Bored Young Men - Nothing to Do

Here is the BIG question:  If this analysis is correct (and it is), if Christ is alone is the answer (and He is), then why aren’t we seeing more young men going into the ministry so that they can preach Christ to these people?  I am sure there are a myriad of reasons as to why this is the case.  And, I would also like to state here that I am aware of the fact our individual situations and circumstances are different and that sometimes certain constraints are placed upon us which make it difficult to do what we may have been called to do.  I am also aware that there are exceptions to the general comments that I am about to make.  But I think the following five reasons contribute to the problem:

1.  A Lack of Compassion for Lost Souls – this I am sure is the biggest problem.  Jesus was moved with compassion for the souls of the men and women that He encountered, every time He encountered them.  He was first and foremost concerned about people’s spiritual condition above all else.  When compassion for souls characterizes one’s life – it’s difficult – and I would even say, that it’s impossible to ignore the call to preach, the call to the ministry.  The only response in that situation is:  “Woe is me, if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

2.  A Loss of Confidence in the Gospel and It’s Power to Save Lost Souls – This is a sad reality in our day.  Even those who are in the church (clergy and laity alike) seem to have lost the necessary confidence that they need to have in the power of the gospel.  That’s why you see many churches today replete with all kinds of programs aimed at “supplementing” the gospel – or “improving” the gospel – or making the gospel more “relevant” and more “attractive.”  Why, because many people today do not really believe that the gospel is intrinsically sufficient, relevant or necessary to the human soul.  But Romans 1:16 tells us that the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes” Jews and Gentiles alike.  There is a desperate and urgent need for the gospel to get out there NOW!

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)

3.  A Lack of Courage to Face the Unknown – Many young men (and old men too), but mostly young men just don’t want to go there!  Too many risks!  Too many unknowns!  Too many uncertainties!  The list could go on and on!  And so what happens is that most of our young men are more concerned about getting those lucrative, white-collar jobs which promise a relative measure of financial security, power and prestige.  I think this lack of courage – this unwillingness to take risks for the gospel and lost souls coupled with a low view of the gospel ministry and its power to change lives for eternity cripples and kills many young people’s ambition and desires to enter the ministry.

4.  A Lack of Good Role Models – I think we really need God’s help here.  We need to do a better job of training our young people and modeling what faithful, God-centered, gospel ministry looks like.  We need to be more intentional too about training and preparing our young people for the gospel ministry from a very young age.  This means that parents as well as pastors should be praying and working together for this causes.  Personally, I think every pastor should have a “Timothy” and every “Timothy” should have a “Titus” if we are to see a significant reversal in the modern trend.  There is biblical precedence for this in the life of Paul (for example) – see 2 Timothy 2:2 where Paul says to Timothy:  “…What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  It would foolish and presumptuous of us to ignore this apostolic precedence and admonition!  The flip side of the same problem is that there just aren’t many good, faithful, committed, strong, Word-saturated, God-centered pastors around!  The “stick-to-it kind” of pastors.  Many of them are “hirelings” who are always marking the EXIT doors and are ready to “jump ship” with the slightest trial and/or temptation.  And, you can understand how difficult it would be for our young people to develop enough confidence in the ministry.  We have given then little or no reason to urge and help embrace the call to the ministry.

5.  Spiritual Apathy – Defeatism.  O, what a deadly disease this is!  What a plague on the modern church this has become!  Frankly speaking, many of the people who frequent the church today – and yes, even those who frequently preach (pastors) – many of them have already given up the fight – tragically.  They are no longer fighting “the good fight of faith.”  They are walking by sight and no longer by faith as they (and all of us Christians) should.  And what do they see around them?  More apathy!  More rebellion against God!  More people drowning themselves in the pool of sin and indulging themselves in the deadly pleasures!  On the other hand, they see dwindling numbers in many of our churches, lack of commitment to the truth claims of Christ and His Word.  They see Christians fighting over nothing and churches splitting because they couldn’t agree on whether the main entrance should be on the north or the south side of their church building.  They see the church engaged in this and several other trivialities and they want nothing to do with the church let alone the gospel ministry.

We need to repent of this and seek God’s help.  And we need to heed Christ’s call!  Let’s “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).  Only He can do it and we want Him to do it – not we ourselves apart from Him.

For those young men out there who may be considering the gospel ministry, I have some good news for you:  It’s the highest calling any man can receive from the LORD!  If you have any inclination within you towards the gospel ministry, I urge you to seek the Lord faithfully and diligently in prayer and in the study of His Word.  Talk to your family members about it – ask them to pray with and for you.  Talk to your church leaders – seek their counsel and prayer support.  Talk to your friends (the good ones – the ones you can trust).  Be open to the possibility and be on the look out for God’s leading in that direction and be ready to take the first step when He calls!  You will never regret!  More on this later!  Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15)