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One of the side benefits of owning a site like SharperIron is that I get to scratch an itch that is a major burden of mine: helping pastors and church leaders. Outside of pastoral ministry, nothing in ministry gives me more satisfaction. Hearing their struggles, listening to their rebukes, directing them to resources, and getting to know them better have been some of my greatest joys of the last two years. However, my burden for them has increased ten-fold. I have come to believe that pastors are America’s greatest, yet most under-valued and under-appreciated, men. It’s no longer in style to respect the man of God. After all, with Swaggart and Haggard, why should anybody respect the clergy? I hope to answer that question.
On Paul’s second missionary journey, he wrote a letter to the Thessalonians. He addressed many areas, including the need to be faithful amidst persecution, to encourage them regarding those who have already passed away, and to address errors. He hit on moral laxity and laziness, and then he addressed their tendency not to respect their church leadership. The problems of the Thessalonians are present in today’s church as well. I believe every church member should appreciate his pastor.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
—Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 22:37–39, KJV)
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
—The Beatles (“All You Need Is Love”) 
Are John, Paul, George, and Ringo, living 1900 years after Jesus of Nazareth, reiterating His message to a new generation? Is this similarity evidence that the same basic message underlies all world religions and worldviews? That after we strip away all the external, all the ceremonial, all the legal, all the theological and metaphysical considerations, every religion pursues the same basic values, usually including “love”?
That all religions are basically the same is an idea held both by the man on the street and in the halls of academia. Consider what Paul Tillich wrote:
(Note: The first 50 bloggers who e-mail JourneyForth Books at BJU Press will get a free review copy of the book sent to them. We just ask that you write a review of the book sometime in January or early February. If you would like a book, just send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, give your mailing information, and ask for the SharperIron promotion.)
During my college years, I took a year off to travel. During that year, I took a trip that changed my life. My best friend and I planned a three-month missionary trip to Africa. We spent six weeks in the jungles of the Congo and six weeks in Kenya, a more modern African country. Plans developed smoothly until departure; there was a problem. I had fallen madly in love with a girl named Jennifer. She was a southern belle with a charm and character that wrapped me around her little finger.