What I've Learned As a Pastor (Part 3)

From Voice magazine, Nov/Dec 2015. Used by permission. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

We Pastors Need to Learn to Forgive.

Local church ministry often involves seeing people at their worst and unfortunately all of us pastors experience times when rocks and arrows are directed at us. We need to forgive others when we’ve been wronged because it’s commanded in the New Testament and because it honors the Lord when we “take the high road.” And we need to acknowledge there are times in ministry when we pastors do or say the wrong thing and we need to admit “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” All of us need to forgive those who have hurt us in church squabbles and get along with them so the gospel won’t be negatively affected. Unsaved people are watching and need to see how the Gospel has changed us by helping us to truly love and forgive others. Forgiveness is simply the active part of love. Read more about What I've Learned As a Pastor (Part 3)

The Gospel Applied: "Intruder Alert!" (Part 1)

(Read the series so far.)

Rodents and pests are both creative and enduring creatures—but they are intruders. To be fair, in many cases, we may be the actual invaders, for we build houses in the middle of their habitat and then desperately try to keep them from living in our space. How do we do it? We fill every gap and close every opening so that we can keep them from getting in. What do they do in response? They find another way in! It can be a battle if they have found your stuff to their liking.

We may think of them as pests, but what they do is actually quite ingenious. A mouse can squeeze his body into a hole the size of a dime. He can pull his bones from joints to get himself from tight places. There is something admirable about that kind of tenacity. At the same time, such an ingenious behavior and tenacious approach doesn’t always work. Read more about The Gospel Applied: "Intruder Alert!" (Part 1)

Are Dispensationalists Fighting a Losing Battle?

© 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc. Used by permission.

Where are we headed today in terms of dispensational theology?

This fascinating question could be answered on many levels—spiritually, biblically, prophetically, theologically, academically, ecclesiastically, culturally and in other ways.

I will seek to address this topic thoughtfully in this new series of blog articles that will run intermittently over the next several weeks. In the best case, my take on the subject will serve to provoke much further thought and discussion—rather than being considered a comprehensive answer.

Let’s start by looking at the question from a wide perspective, in terms of our current cultural situation. Read more about Are Dispensationalists Fighting a Losing Battle?

On Being Generous

This article is an add-in to the series of posts on Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving (Part 8). As I have continued to study what the Scriptures say about grace giving, I have seen an emphasis on generosity through both the Old and New Testaments. Grace giving is by definition generous.

I ordered an ice cream cone one time and watched as the server prepared it. She pushed the first scoop all the way to the bottom of the cone. She packed the second so it was even with the top. On this solid foundation, she constructed a towering ice cream edifice that looked like it would fall over any second, but held firm as she placed it in my hand. As I lapped at the overspill, I thought, “Wow, I got more than my money’s worth on this one.” The menu offered one scoop or two. She gave me way more. That’s the way to serve an ice cream cone! No hollow, soggy cone that caves in on empty space as you near the end. Delicious, creamy goodness from the first lick down to the last cold, crunchy bite. Read more about On Being Generous

Starbucks, Persecution, & "War Against Christmas"

(From Theologically Driven. Used by permission.)

We’ve been hearing a lot of warnings these last few years about the coming persecution of Christians. And a look around the globe reveals that public sentiment really is turning perceptibly against Christians—chiefly abroad, but with fresh harbingers here on American soil. Unfortunately, these warnings have fostered a troubling response among some well-meaning believers.

Rather than making “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity,” because “this is good, and pleases God our Savior” (1 Tim 2:2–3), a rather sizable group of believers have begun, rather unquietly andunpeacefully, to incite persecution by saying and doing ungodly and undignified things. Which is to say they are doing something bad that displeases God. Read more about Starbucks, Persecution, & "War Against Christmas"

Welcoming Your Brother (Part 9)

(Read the series so far.)

Every believer must prayerfully study the Scripture and be fully persuaded in his mind about the issues of life. Along with this sense of persuasion comes a tendency to think that everyone should join him in it. You’ve studied the Bible and logically applied it. You’re sure of your conclusion. Of course others will come to the same conclusion. We must remind ourselves that God might not intend our brothers to have the same conviction He gave us. And we must examine how we ought to behave in light of that.

Romans 14 begins and ends with appeals to welcome. Romans 14:1, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him.” “Welcome” (προσλαμβάνω, proslambano) is a call to companionship, friendship, even to “grant access to one’s heart.”1 Read more about Welcoming Your Brother (Part 9)

Memorizing the Word in 2016

The church leadership at Highland Park Church recently agreed to launch a congregation-wide Scripture memory plan. What follows is part of pastor Ed Vasicek’s commuication to the congregation, describing the plan and its purpose. Perhaps it may stimulate ideas for church-wide Scripture memory efforts in other churches as well. – Editor.

Camp Emmanuel is different from most “church camps” in that is more of a Bible camp than a church camp. The kids compete for team points through Scripture memory, and Bible is central. AWANA is different from many church clubs in that it, too, is centered on Bible memory.

But what about the rest of us? Is Bible memory only for kids who can memorize more readily? Are the rest of us spiritually over the hill when it comes to Bible memory? We may not be able to teach old dogs new tricks, but our church is not a dog park! We humans do learn and memorize more slowly as we age, but we can still learn—we just need to make sure the pole is not set too high.

The elders are happy to announce that Terry Watson will lead our church in a new emphasis for 2016: Memorizing the Word. The elders (of which Terry is one) are enthusiastic about this emphasis for 2016.

Psalm 119:11, 97-99 suggests that memorizing Scripture has a big part to play in our attempt to live with discernment, wisdom, and godliness: Read more about Memorizing the Word in 2016

What I've Learned As a Pastor (Part 2)

(From Voice magazine, Nov/Dec 2015. Used by permission.)

People Will Fail. God Never Will.

As I said in Part 1, over the years I’ve deliberately surrounded myself with some of the finest people imaginable. Those great folks have given me so much that I’ve often felt overwhelmed with gratitude reflecting on the countless ways I’ve been blessed by others in my life. Yet I also know that people fail (including, and most especially, me). We are all fallen, feeble, frail and broken instruments—but God is great! This truth has helped temper my perfectionistic, unreal, idealistic expectations when I’ve directed them at myself and those around me. I’ve learned to be more patient and forbearing over the years knowing all of us need to receive grace and extend forgiveness each and every day. People are great; people are frustrating. People help us up; people push us down. My actions are good; my actions are bad. In all the variations of our humanity, this one thing is certain: God never changes and He’s always dependable. He will never fail and so we should keep our eyes on Him. Read more about What I've Learned As a Pastor (Part 2)