Christian Living

Tips for Survival in the Service of the Savior, Part 2

See Part 1.

9. Enjoy friends.

Out of all the “leadership traditions” of the past, the most stupid one said that a pastor shouldn’t have any friends in ministry. I’m trying not to use the word stupid. My dear wife, Toni, reminds me that using such words in public sets a bad example in front of the children. I always remind her that the examples are good for the children so they won’t grow up 682159_grand_canyon_scenic_3.jpgbeing stupid! The word stupid in this case is by far the most sanctified term I can come up with to explain the ludicrous nature of the “no friends” approach to ministry. I can already hear the ghosts of that generation say, “Well, some people will think that you favor some people over others.” My response is, “Of course, I favor some over others. I’m not Jesus. I’m Joel!” By God’s grace, I will shepherd all of the sheep, but I don’t read anywhere in Scripture that leaders can’t have special friends outside or even inside the assembly. Not even Jesus stayed within that tradition.

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Tips for Survival in the Service of the Savior, Part 1

About every other year, I attempt a full or partial decent into the Grand Canyon. “The Hike” is amazing. While many would immediately recognize the physical challenge of such a trek (the round trip is an approximate 18-mile quest), they might miss the fact that the experience can be spiritually invigorating. My dad, Dr. Jerry Tetreau, has been leading groups for nearly two decades. One of the things Dad does each year is to send out a list of items needed. One of the most important745889_grand_canyon.jpg components of this guide is the necessary preconditioning required to survive the day without ending the trip en route to the South Rim ER.

I’ve often thought that it might be helpful to send out a similar “heads up” survival guide, especially for those leaders serving in new ministries or retooling existing ones. (I’m convinced that these two groups make up an overwhelming majority of ministry “out there.”) I suppose in a sense the list isn’t necessary because, in fact, such wisdom already exists in authoritative terms within Holy Writ. However, if I were to write a systematic theology of ministry survival, what might I put into such a list? Consider the following:

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Showered with Stones or Grace?

As the crowd watched, she was dragged into the center court of the temple. The scribes and Pharisees had the stones in their hands, and they were prepared to kill her. They told Jesus her crime. “She was caught in the act of adultery.” Then they tried to trap Him into an answer by saying that Moses had commanded them to stone an adulterer and by asking Jesus stones.jpgwhat He would do. Jesus, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), gave a beautiful and wise statement. “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NASB). No one fit that criteria, so they dropped their stones and walked away. I’m afraid that too often we are the stone throwers instead of the grace givers. Our brothers and sisters in Christ fall, and we leave them lying in the ditch of their sin instead of lifting them up and helping to set their feet on the right path again.

The Bible has much to say about sin and its devastating consequences. We know verses like “the way of transgressors is hard” (Prov. 13:15) and “be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). We see examples of people like Achan, whose sin affected the whole nation of Israel. So I don’t ever want to minimize the serious results of sin.

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Book Review—The Great Gain of Godliness: A Puritan Gem!

The Great Gain of Godliness: Practical Notes on Malachi 3:16-18 by Thomas Watson. Puritan Paperbacks. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2006. 166 pp. $10.00/paperback.
watson_great_gain.jpgPurchase: BOT, CBD, WTS, Amazon, Monergism

Note: This book was originally published in London as Religion Our True Interest, 1682.

no indices

ISBNs: 0851519385 / 9780851519388

LCCN: BT75.W337

DCN: 224.997.3 W337

Subject(s): Biblical Criticism-Malachi 3 / Practical Theology-Godliness

1631 reads

Not Many Wise Here

Fair or not, I have decided that the northern wintertime inhabitants dotting the landscape of Central and South Florida (otherwise known as “snowbirds”) must have bought into the whole “Me Generation” shtick of the ’60s. I was brought up to respect my elders, and (as the saying goes) “Some of my best friends are old”; so when I see that the behavior of other people’s grandparents around town ranges from inconsiderate to selfish (or downright hostile), I’m shocked. I’m looking advice.jpgfor wisdom from people I’ve mistaken for the “Greatest Generation,” and instead I get dissed by someone who used to drive a psychedelic VW to sit-ins.

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Paul at Athens: Observations for Apologetics

Within the Book of Acts is an anthology of apostolic preaching. Among those sermons is Paul’s address to the pagans and philosophers of Athens, what has been called his Areopagitica. [1] Here Paul proclaimed the gospel, not to parthenon.jpgbiblically informed, monotheistic Jews, but to pagans and philosophers of thoroughly unbiblical presuppositions. Here if anywhere we would expect to find insights on how to do apologetics today among secularists with their various isms or among modern pagans. Should apologetics be presuppositional, classical, evidential, cumulative case? Where is the point of contact between belief and unbelief? How should the argument be structured?

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Peeled and Healed

I set the lady straight via e-mail—no punches pulled. Just the facts, ma’am. Others were gossiping online about her alleged unethical actions, and I thought she should know about it (after all, I would want to know). I didn’t bother with the whole tact thing. Just typed and hit “send”—grim righteousness without love, clouds without rain, surgery without anesthesia.
keyboardThe false security of my computer screen vanished as the recipient went ballistic, and the e-mail went public. No use to protest, “But she didn’t ask my permission to publish it online.” The feathers have exited the pillow, Elvis has left the building, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put the nail back onto the horse’s shoe. My kingdom for a horse … or a bird. “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6).

I had to apologize to an online group of over 200 people, some of whom I have known (online and/or in person) for five years. If only I had prayed first, taken a few beats (and a few drafts), and then given it a go. Maybe my words would have been more like “apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Prov. 25:11) rather than like the “piercings of a sword” (Prov. 12:18).

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The Want of Worthy Worship

Note: Dr. Sam Horn is host of The Word for Life radio program.

by Dr. Sam Horn

We leave our places of worship, and no deep and inexpressible wonder sits on our faces. We can sing these lilting melodies; and when we get out into the streets our faces are one with the faces of those who have left the theaters and music halls. There is nothing about us to suggest that we’ve been looking at anything stupendous and overwhelming. Far back in my boyhood I remember an old saint telling me that after some servichorn_woods.jpges he liked to make his way back home alone by the quiet paths, so that the hush of the Almighty might remain on his awed and prostrated soul. This is the element we are missing.

J. H. Jowett

In recent years, worship has become the new topic of theological discussion in contemporary American Evangelicalism. Seminars abound to discuss new ways to “do worship.” Books and articles have exploded on the scene, articulating every conceivable variation on worship. Even secular America has tuned in and turned on to worship. Newsweek, Time magazine, and even news programming on prime-time network television have commented on American’s return to spirituality and church. And no one is paying more attention to this trend than Evangelicalism.

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