Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Football Classic and a bonus Top Ten

Hope you enjoy this classic from Andy Griffith; They Call if Football.

Now that you had a mid-week chuckle; here are the top ten reasons I have decided to never attend another football game.

10. The Public address system was too loud at times and not loud enough at others.
9. There were teenage girls dressed inappropriately.
8. The referees made calls I disagreed with.
7. The coaches used the same plays they did the last few games.
6. The High School Principal did not welcome me or shake my hand.
5. The band played songs I did not know or like.
4. There were people there to socialize (gossip) and not watch the game -- those hypocrites.
3. I had to pay to get in, pay to get a snack, pay for a program -- football is all about making money or the school not about guys playing ball anymore.
2. The lady beside me screamed too loudly.

and the number one reason I have decided not to attend another football game . . .
1. Large crowds are bad on my nerves and raise my blood pressure too high.

Why do these excuses sound familiar?

Book Review: Biblical Eldership

I missed everyone yesterday. Had a full day away from my study. I make it up to you with a critical book review.

Strauch, Alexander. Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership. rev. and exp., Colorado Springs:Lewis and Roth, 2005, 337 p.

Alexander Strauch writes to correct an area of neglect and misinformation he sees as all too common in “Churches.” That area is the area of eldership and church leadership in general. In his forward Strauch admits that “churches worldwide practice some for of eldership because they believe it to be a biblical teaching” (10). The problem he proposes to solve is that most of these groups do not understand the true nature of elders and he consequently suggests a return to the “only God-given, authoritative source or authentic Christianity” (10). Strauch then begins Bible-based look at elders and elderships, dividing his information into four sections: Part One – Biblical Eldership, Part Two – Defense of Biblical Eldership, Part Three – The Exposition of Scripture, and Part Four – Related Topics.

Strauch effectively begins by debunking the idea that elders are a form of board of directors, policy-makers, financial officers, etc. (15). This concept is wide-spread in the denominational world and is also within the churches of Christ. Strauch then proceeds to define the Biblical role of elders as shepherds, overseers, leaders, and care-providers. As shepherds, elders must be spiritually alert for danger and protect the flock (congregation) from worldly influences and doctrinal error. This according to Strauch requires elders to be men who spend time with the Word of God. This time in God’s word also provides them the knowledge to “feed the flock” and lead them to godliness. Strauch does not take away all financial matters from elderships and includes such in the idea of leading as stewards or managers of God’s flock as overseers (25). Strauch also makes certain that his readers understand that elders are to assist with practical needs that include: visiting the sick, comforting the bereaved, strengthening the weak, praying for all the sheep, visiting new members, and providing counsel (29). This does not remove the responsibility from all Christians, but emphasizes that elders are servant leaders and examples for others to follow.

Strauch sees elders as members of a group that serve a local congregation. He develops this correct concept in chapter 2 on Shared Leadership, and supports the idea throughout the book as he looks at passages on elders and elder responsibility. Strauch sees that each local church should have her own elders (plural) and that they should be from among the members and not hired professionals (37). Strauch correctly states: “The concept of the pastor as the lonely, trained professional – the sacred person over the church who can never really become a part of the congregation – is utterly unscriptural” (43).

Strauch is effective in establishing that the eldership is male in make-up in chapter 3. This chapter rings of familiarity as it is similar to the material LaGard Smith writes in his book, “Male Spiritual Leadership.” Both Smith and Strauch are correct in their application of the scriptures and do so with respect to women and their valuable yet different roles they play apart from male leadership roles.

Strauch spends many pages on the qualifications of elders, not only in the chapter of qualified leadership, but in the multiple chapters that compose Part Two – Defense of Biblical Eldership and Part Three – The Exposition of Scripture. Most of the problems with Strauch’s material are in his explanation of the qualifications of elders. Strauch suggests that elders do not have to be men of advanced age. Without knowing specifically what he considers advanced age, one must realize that the early Christians would have associated the idea of elder with the elders of cities in both Hebrew and Greek cultures. These men would be older as the term “elder” indicates. Strauch also strays in assessing that elders can be single and without children. He assigns the passages in Timothy and Titus as meaning that they are sexually above reproach and are good household managers and “if” they are married, and “if” they have children then they should care for them in the right way. Strauch misses the point (see 189-193). The text says married and with children and we need to take it as such. Unmarried and childless men can and do serve in different ways.

Another area where Strauch may be shaky is in his implied understanding of the extent of an elderships authority. Although in one sentence Strauch affirms that elders serve in one local congregation, he also sees them over cities containing multiple smaller churches. If he is seeing small groups that occasionally meet separately, he may be right, but if he sees the individual cells as part of a larger unassembled body, he is not correct (144).

Strauch does his reader a great service with the word studies he isolates in separate text boxes. Much of that material gives insight into the background of the words and the thoughts of Strauch himself. These sub-sections help to understand where he is coming from as a student of God’s word.

Over-all Strauch is successful in his attempt to take a Biblical look at eldership. Although there are sections where I think he needs to study further, it might truly be said of him, “you are not far from the Kingdom.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Model of Ministry

A Model of Ministry

Last Thursday, Sept 17, Adam Faughn posted a blog I authored concerning the Church and the Pulpit. There was a lot more that I wanted to say; the following model of ministry is some of the extra material I think is valid for all ministers. This model is a practical example of the philosophy of ministry discussed in the previous chapters. This ministry model grew out of a lecture given by Randy Stephens at the FHU Lectures in the year 2000. I weekly strive to put these principles in practice

1.Build Credibility. Remember that relationships matter and that in ministry we should involve ourselves in the lives of people. Work side by side, not only in evangelism but also digging ditches. Attend sporting and school events in the community to show members and their friends your genuine interest in their lives. Have integrity and deal with people honestly.

2.Go Long Term. Remember the statement from Ruth to Naomi and Christ to his followers, “I will never leave nor forsake you.” Cultivate, fertilize, plant, water and wait for growth in people and in the church. The relationship of minister and congregation is often like marriage, it gets better over time.

3.Remember that God Looks at What We Can Become, Not What We Are. God is patient with you, therefore, be patient with his people. Look at what the congregation can become. While teaching and encouraging change remember that how you say something is as important as what you say.

4.Stay with the Text. Go through the Bible as you preach and teach. Use exposition wisely, letting the Bible speak and answer questions.

5.Know That People Still Want to See Jesus. Point to Christ not to yourself. Jesus is an attractive charismatic person, let people see Him and follow.

6.Pray Continually. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “pray with out ceasing.” Ministry cannot occur where God’s power is lacking, and pray is our connection with the power of God. Pray for the church, for people, for souls, for self, and pray for wisdom and strength. This will result in good that you may never know about.

7.Be Responsible. You are responsible to the people, not for them. You are there as a servant to help them grow closer to God through Christ. You are responsible to the eldership of your congregation, and ultimately you are responsible to God.

8.Challenge Christians. Christians need challenges to grow or they will sit idle and wither on the vine. Help the congregation set physical, financial, and spiritual growth goals. Help them set and meet evangelistic goals.

9.Teach and Live Delayed Gratification. Sports heroes do not develop overnight and neither do mature Christians. Help people see their growth and not only their short-comings

10.Welcome New Ideas and Insights. Be teachable and malleable yourself. Allow those around you to teach you and help you grow. Spend time in God’s Word and with him in solitude. Ministers must continue to grow, mature, and learn if they are to effectively teach others.

11.Be Balanced. Behold the goodness and severity of God. Teach the love of God and teach the wrath of God. Show how these go hand in hand.

Application of the above suggestions, living as a Christian should in love with God and in love with man goes a long way in making ministry the life of diligent service it should be.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Motivation for Enthusiasm

Tuesday morning I posted a list of symptoms of apathy and mentioned that a post on motivation was soon to follow. Below are scriptures with limited comment that build up my zeal whenever I focus on them.

For the wages of sin is death, (Rom 6:23). There is more to this verse, but this small quote reminds me of my destiny as a sinner.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Rom 5:6-11) This long quote and the "b" part of Rom 6:23 (but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord) demonstrates God's unlimited and incomprehensible love.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11). After reading the list of these sins, notice verse 11 -- such WERE some of you. That is who you and I were, but because of the love of God in Christ, I am no longer such.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; (2 Cor 5:14) Just grasping the basics of the love that Christ has for us and what he did for us because of that love drives me to attempt to return that love.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21). This verse is the GOOD NEWS in a sound bite. God did for us in Christ, what we could not do for ourselves -- provide for our salvation.

But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Co 15:57). A theme for those who are redeemed -- shout it from the mountain tops -- THANKS BE TO GOD FOR THE VICTORY HE GAVE US IN CHRIST!!!!!!

In Christ,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lessons from the Rain

Here in the SE United States the rain set in about 15 days ago and is still here. Above is a comic strip drawn by my cousin. You can visit his web coming at Seth and Buddy

Fighting Apathy . . . Maybe.

When I was a teenager, I was reading through a BC Comic book. In one particular strip, Peter and Curls were discussing an upcoming election. Peter asked Curls if he was voting for the Apathy Party or the Lethargic Party. Curls replied, "I don't know, I just don't see any difference any more."

Apathy is a real issue not only in politics, work, or school, but apathy invades the church as well. An attitude of apathy can destroy efforts to do what needs to be and should be done. The wise man recorded, "Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys," Prov 18:9 (ESV). Apathy reveals itself in our lives and actions. Below you will find a list of symptoms of apathy. If you see more than one in your life, take time to pray and to refocus.

Symptoms of Apathy Toward the Work of God and Christ:
1. Irregular Attendance. If I struggle to be motivated to attend worship and other church events, my actions suggest I do not care.
2. Lack of Participation When I am Present. I will come to worship, but not to Bible Classes. I am here, but I will not participate in class discussions. I am here, but I will not open my mouth to sing praises. I am here, but . . . Well you get the picture.
3. Consistently Arriving Late. Tardiness indicates that an event (church in our discussion) shows a lack of concern. If I am truly excited about an event, I will arrive on time - if not early.
4. Waning Effort to Teach the Lost. This may be one of the early indicators of apathy. If I do not care about others or about the cause of Christ, I will not share the message.
5. Few (if any) Private Devotionals or Personal Studies. This is the first cause of alarm. If I am not spending time growing in my relationship with God, my lack of effort communicates that I no longer care about being with God.

Just somethings to think about. Now we need to look for motivation to get moving. That's another post.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Why I Believe . . .

As I drove through the rain this morning, a passage from the New Testament kept running through my mind, "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Pet 3:15 ESV)." I decided to give my readers an introduction to "Why I Believe."

1. The order of creation shores up my faith. The universe, our solar system, this earth, and our bodies are too organized and efficient to be an unintelligent accident.

2. The text of the Bible has stood the test of time and the onslaught of attacks through the centuries. Doubters, skeptics, and opponents of the Bible as the word of God are not new. They may never go away, but in my studies and research, the Bible holds up as more accurate and better preserved than any ancient text.

3. As an historical writing, the history and science recorded in the Bibles pages stands out as true. If then the history and science are true, the rest of the text is true -- including the passages about Jesus.

4. Jesus is an historical figure, and as such, the Bible claims him not to be madman, nor simply a prophet, but the Messiah of the Jews, the Christ that mankind needs. Through the sacrifice of Jesus as Christ, our loving God offers forgiveness of our sin that sentences us to hell.

5. The example of the historical figure Saul or Tarsus (a.k.a Paul) solidifies my belief. Here we have a man who was the biggest opponent of Christ and the Way of Christ than any of his peers. He was zealous to stop this movement. His conversion as recorded in Acts 9, Acts 22, and Acts 26 show his complete turn around to become one the most prominent heralds of the Good News of Jesus as the Christ.

These are just a sample of why I believe. Why do you believe?


Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Guest Blog

Don't know how many who read here read Faughn Family of Four, but I wrote the guest article there today. Take a look at my words and the other posts including Adam Faughn and his other guest writers in the series, "The Church and . . . ."

Top 10 Things You Won't Do in Heaven

Today's Top Ten List comes from notes taken during the last lesson in our Revival. Levi Sides asked the question, "Do You Really Want to Go to Heaven?" During the lesson he mentioned about 7 or 8 things we did or will do this week that we will not do in heaven. Thinking about that this morning as I drove to my study, I added a few to make it a Top Ten List.

Top Ten Things You Did This Week That You Will Not Do in Heaven . . .

10. You drove by a cemetery (Rev 21:4). There is no death in heaven.
9. You turned on a light switch (Rev 21:23). God is the light in heaven.
8. You faced temptation (Rev 20:10). Satan is banned from influencing heaven.
7. You visited or called a sick person (Rev 21:4). No sickness there.
6. You locked your door (Rev 21:27). No crime or evil in heaven
5. You aged a little - grew older, found a gray hair (Rev 21:4). All former things like aging will cease.
4. You shed a tear (Rev 21:4). No tears in heaven.
3. You took pain medicine (had a headache, back ache, etc.) (Rev 21:4). No pain in heaven.
2. You worked to earn a living or to serve your neighbor (Rev 14:13). You will rest from your labor.

And one more thing you did this week that you will not do in heaven . . .
1. You said a prayer (Rev 22:4). You will speak with God and Christ face to face.

Have great day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Do You Still Have Your Crown?

Tuesday night was the next to the last lesson in our series of Revival messages from Levi Sides. He challenged each of us present last night with the message, "Don't Let Anybody Take Your Crown."

He described our crown using Bible verses as:
  • Incorruptible - 1 Cor 9:24
  • Never Fading - 1 Pet 5:4
  • Indescribably beautiful - 1 Cor 2:9
  • A Prize of High Calling - Phil 3:14
  • A Rest - Heb 4:9-11
  • Eternal - 2 Cor 5:1
This Crown of Glory (1 Pet 5:4), of Righteousness (2 Tim 4:8), of Rejoicing (1 Thess 2:19), and of Life (Jas 1:12) is the symbol of a victorious king and belongs to the one who overcomes (Rev 2:10-11).

We must guard our crown against the one who would see us lose it. We must guard against the schemes of the devil. Certain Galatians (Gal 5:4) and Demas (2 Tim 4:10) are examples of some who forfeited their crown by returning to their old ways or by loving the things of this world more than the things of God. When we stand strong and endure to the end (Matt 10:22), we have the assurance of that Glorious Crown.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Our Revival continued yesterday evening with an challenging reminder from Brother Levi Sides. He reminded us of the Amazing nature of God's Grace. Through the years many appropriately defined Grace as God's unmerited favor toward us or in the form of this acrostic: God's Redemption (Riches) At Christ's Expense. Bro. Sides gave us a new acrostic to consider as Pillars of the Grace of God:

G - Goodness of God: God's goodness is all around us. The simple fact that the earth, when tended and cared for, provides what we need. God's goodness is especially evident in His gift of His Son.

R - Redemption of God: Redemption is a great theological concept that many of today's generation do not fully grasp. Levi gave us two great examples; 1) Captured African Natives bound for the US and Great Britain in the 1800's being bought back by family before the ship left port. 2) A man whose family gives all they have emotionally to keep him from leaving them for a lover. As I thought more about this illustration on my Morning Drive, I kept thinking of the prophet Hosea and his bride, Gomer.

A - Acceptability of God: God longs for all to be saved. He is not willing that any should perish, He is not a respecter of persons. There is nothing you can do that will prevent God from wanting to save you, nor keep Him from being able to save you. Consider Saul of Tarsus.

C - Conditions of God: Grace is God's offer, yet there are simple conditions of acceptance. These conditions are those of active obedient faith.

E - Enjoyment of God: Once we experience God' Grace, like the Ethiopian in Acts 8, we continue on our way rejoicing in our life in Christ.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Notes from our Revival

We are in the middle of our Fall Gospel Meeting at Parrish. This year our theme is "The Road to Revival." Our focus is to renew our own zeal and dedication. Levi Sides (pictured at right) is the guest speaker for this series of meetings. He presented three great lessons Sunday, and we are looking forward to the next three tonight through Wednesday. Drop by if you can, services start each night at 7:00 - you can even join us for a meal at 5:30.

During our regular Bible Class hour yesterday morning, Bro. Sides presented a lesson on The Lord's Supper. He stated that remembering what Jesus did for us on the cross is the beginning of revival. He suggested that each Sunday as we partake of Communion we should have individual (and therefore, congregational) revival as we each examine ourselves. He also reminded us that as we gather for the privileged of communing with the Lord in His supper, we are not coming to a SHRINE, or to an IDOL, nor are we making a PILGRIMAGE, but we are coming to the LORD'S TABLE as His invited guest.

Consider the following quote from Levi Side's outline: "It is the DUTY and PRIVILEGE of the LORD'S PEOPLE on the LORD'S DAY to gather around the LORD'S TABLE in the LORD'S KINGDOM, to eat the LORD'S SUPPER in remembrance of the LORD'S DEATH until the LORD'S COMING."

Christ has set His Table, prepared His guest list, and participates with us as His Supper is eaten.

Did you commune with Christ this Sunday?


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another Eye Chart

Philippians 4:4.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Top Ten Human Relationship Tips

From the bottom of a pile of papers on my desk comes today's Top Ten Human Relationship Tips (a.k.a Top Ten Ways to Make Friends or Keep Them).

10. Speak to people: There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting - Phil 1:3

9. Smile at people: Some suggest it takes 72 muscles to frown and only 14 to smile - Phil 4:8

8. Call people by name: The sweetest music to any one's ears is the sound of his or her own name - Matt 7:12.

7. Be friendly and helpful: If you would have a friend, be one - Prov 18:24.

6. Be cordial: Speak and act as if everything you do is a genuine pleasure - Eccl 9:10.

5. Be interested in people: You can like everybody if you try - Gen 1:27.

4. Be generous with praise while cautious with criticism: Praise when you have opportunity - Prov 3:27 and season all your speech - Eph 4:29ff.

3. Be considerate of the feelings of others: They will appreciate it - Eph 4:32.

2. Be thoughtful of others opinions: You are not right 100% of the time, so listen to them - Phil 2:3-4.

And the NUMBER ONE Human Relationship Tip. . .

1. Be ready and willing to SERVE - 1 Pet 4:10.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Space, the Final Frontier

Just wanted to share a pic from yesterday's trip to Huntsville, Alabama. Amy and I took Andrew and his friend Hunter to the Davidson Space Exploration Center and Space and Rocket Museum. There was a lot to see and explore, if you ever get the opportunity stop in.

I spent a little time reflecting on the vastness of space. One exhibit was a 52" HD TV with pictures from Hubble. I stood amazed at not only the quality of the photographs, but the glory of God's creation. The order, the beauty, etc. can only come from the hand of the Creator!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Larry and Lecil

This morning halfway through my walk I stopped at the local Veterans' Memorial and talked with Larry and Lecil. They have been friends since childhood and now are retired from underground mining. They had great stories to tell and some good advice to share. Their advice had to do with work and what they considered a dying work ethic.

For Larry and Lecil life was hard as they were growing up. Their parents worked at a job all day and in the field all afternoon and every weekend just to scratch out a living. They had it a little better than their parents. UMWA made certain that miners were taken care of. They gardened in the afternoons and on weekends to supplement their diet with fresh vegetables and to put some pack for the winter. Store-bought stuff just isn't as good. What they see today in their children's generation (and I am the same age as their children) is laziness. We have a good paying job, many of us sit at desks, then we go home to climate controlled houses and watch TV, we rarely go outside, we pay someone to tend our yards, we buy market fresh vegetable at the store or from a weather-beaten wearied farmer on the side of the road. Larry and Lecil's concern is about what we will do if: What will our generation do if the economy continues to slide? Do we have the skills or the desire to labor for our needs and not our desires? They shared some advice with me that I am taking to heart:

1. "Work the land." Grow a garden, not just peas to attract the deer, but vegetables for your family.
2. "Don't be idle." When you get home from your job, keep working, inside and outside the house.
3. "Find something constructive to do." They are planning to replace the clutch on Larry's tractor this weekend.
4. "If you stop working you die early." When you retire, don't sit around, get busy. Their plan for today was to mow the grass, trim the landscaping, and weed-eat around the Memorial. They also planned along with other retiree's to poor concrete, and set up a miniature (8 ft tall) Statue of Liberty on a five foot pedestal next to the Memorial.
5. "Teach your children to think for themselves." Do not do for them what they can do for themselves.

Lots to think about . . .


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Can You Read This?

hint: Psalm 118:24