People Skills & the Pastor

Republished, with permission, from Voice magazine, Mar/Apr 2013.

I was talking to a young pastor recently, and after our lengthy conversation I commented on his wisdom and warmth. I told him many pastors fail in regards to dealing with people (something we often refer to as people skills). When I said this, the young pastor was surprised and asked me to elaborate further. So I provided him some specific sad examples of ungracious pastors and their interpersonal blunders. At the close of our conversation, he said something quite profound: “That’s so strange. Why would you become a pastor if you don’t love people?”

That young pastor asked a great question which summarizes the basis of pastoral interpersonal skills…love. Love is the bottom-line way to define people skills. And the pastor’s life must be characterized by love in the same way that Jesus’ life was characterized by love. Read more about People Skills & the Pastor

“Paid In Full!” A Study of Romans 1-5 (Part 3)

For time’s sake, I want to skim a few verses through the next chapters to help us grasp a fuller description of the gospel message. Drop your eyes down into chapter two for a moment. Do you see the first three verses? They make the argument:

The Gospel is a message that shows “living by conscience” won’t fix my sin problem.

We’ve all heard it. “I do the best I can. I hope God will see that I was a good man.” Look at what Paul wrote:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? (Romans 2:1-3)

Read more about “Paid In Full!” A Study of Romans 1-5 (Part 3)

The List - Discontentment & Self Deception

A pastor friend mentioned some folks who left his church, unhappy because the church used animated Bible stories with their youth. They complained that those videos distorted the Bible and made light of Scripture. The couple finally left the church. But the church they began attending used the same videos, even more frequently than the first.

Why did this couple rant and rave about videos in one church and turn a blind eye to the same videos in another? Because their faultfinding was insincere, trumped up—and not really about the videos themselves. That was merely the pretext.

We are born with a propensity to lie to ourselves and to others. Dostoyevsky wrote, “Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.” I agree. I witness this in myself, and I see it in others. Our personal pride masks this “lying to self” propensity. Jeremiah 17:9 puts it this way (ESV): “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Read more about The List - Discontentment & Self Deception

The True Church

(About this series)

CHAPTER I - THE TRUE CHURCH

BY THE LATE BISHOP RYLE

Do you belong to the one true Church; to the Church outside of which there is no salvation? I do not ask where you go on Sunday; I only ask, “Do you belong to the one true Church?”

Where is this one true Church? What is this one true Church like? What are the marks by which this one true Church may be known? You may well ask such questions. Give me your attention, and I will provide you with some answers.

The one true Church is composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus. It is made up of all God’s elect—of all converted men and women—of all true Christians. In whomsoever we can discern the election of God the Father, the sprinkling of the blood of God the Son, the sanctifying work of God the Spirit, in that person we see a member of Christ’s true Church.

It is a Church of which all the members have the same marks. They are all born of the Spirit; they all possess “repentance towards God, faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,” and holiness of life and conversation. They all hate sin, and they all love Christ. They worship differently and after various fashions; some worship with a form of prayer,

6   The Fundamentals Read more about The True Church

From the Archives: God Gave Us a Book

Can the supernatural and the natural realms talk together? Is communication possible between God and people? This crucial question polarized our nation’s founding fathers. All of the founders believed in a supernatural realm—God was a given. But a few of the founders insisted that God created the universe to run on its own without Him (a view known as Deism). For all practical purposes, these men dismissed the very possibility of communication between the natural and supernatural realms.

Since the early influences of Deism, American culture has been shaped by the anti-supernaturalist philosophies of biological evolution and secular humanism. Secularism is not merely anti-religious, although it is that. Secularism is, more fundamentally, an utter denial of the sacred and thus a disaffirmation of the indispensability of a supernatural realm—a supposition rendered reasonable by the theory of biological evolution. Whereas Deism was stuck with a Creator (albeit a silent one), evolutionism eliminated the notion of a Creator and completely eradicated the necessity of a supernatural realm. Secularism stands in at this point to assert what evolutionism suggested: supernaturalism is a myth.

It would seem that most Americans today embrace some form of evolutionism (fueled by evolutionism’s monopoly of the public education system), but few Americans are pure secularists. Surveys indicate that most Americans pray, and praying evidences at least a wishful hope in the existence of a supernatural realm (which goes far to explain the angst secularist educators suffer when public school students talk to God). Despite the inroads of Deism and secularism, many Americans still believe in a supernatural realm with which communication is possible. Read more about From the Archives: God Gave Us a Book

“Paid In Full!” A Study of Romans 1-5 (Part 2)

(Read Part 1)

The Gospel Is a Message that Makes Clear the Problem of God’s Judgment

The message about Jesus isn’t just uncomfortable because it rests on a Personal God and a risen Savior, but also because the Bible makes clear that the relationship between God and man is currently, on the whole, not a good one. Paul wrote it this way:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (NIV, Rom. 1:18-25)

Read more about “Paid In Full!” A Study of Romans 1-5 (Part 2)

“Paid In Full!” A Study of Romans 1-5 (Part 1)

For thirty years they struggled in that little house on the corner. They raised five children in a house barely large enough for two. Its halls heard the daily squabbles of rambunctious children, the tussle of trying to get ready for school in one bathroom. It seemed for years there was constant fighting for counter space at the single little bathroom sink, just as there was incessant poking of one another and squealing as the lunch assembly line was launched in the tiny kitchen nearby every school day. Now the towel snapping “battle lines” had long ceased, and each child graduated, married and headed out into life. The old house held only the two of them now—just as the place had done where it all had started many years earlier. Read more about “Paid In Full!” A Study of Romans 1-5 (Part 1)

Apologetics and Your Kids: Part 1 - The Price of Truth

We have all read the statistics of young people who flee the Faith in which they have been reared soon after hitting college. There is more than one reason for this defection. The first and most obvious issue is probably the state of the heart. Is this individual actually saved? I’m not asking, “did they think they were saved?” I’m asking “were they saved?”

Now, before someone calls me on stating the obvious, or what is worse, on relying on the easy explanation, let me make a personal observation. This shall also act as my baseline:

In my experience most churches and most Christian parents do not teach the Christian Faith in a way that supports Godward faith in the world we are called to live in. And the major reason for this is a general disinterest in or else fear of doing apologetics. Read more about Apologetics and Your Kids: Part 1 - The Price of Truth