Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
How do I evalute a church member I suspect is unconverted?some of oyu will hate this article, thinking we cannot judge a persona conversion but I believe we do have the ability to judge and weigh somoenes conversion with caution. This came from Practical Shepherding by Brian Croft.
Sometime back, I had a pastor write me and ask that I address this issue. Even though I have sadly dealt with this on more than one occasion, I tremble to communicate in any way that I have all the answers on this matter. Nevertheless, it is a reality and it is especially so for anyone who goes to pastor an established church whose previous patterns of taking in members were less than healthy and biblical. So, here are a few “suggestions” as you wrestle with this all important and very difficult issue in your church.
Recognize you are not God. Make sure you start here. It is common to jump quickly into conclusion about a church member’s spiritual state based on his disapproval of you and your vision for the church. It is often times not that simple. We are not all-wise and omniscient (knowing all things). Therefore, if you begin to evaluate and despairingly conclude spiritual blindness about someone in your church without fear and trembling in your own heart to do so knowing you are not God…do not proceed until you come to accept those limitations.
Know we have ways of examining the spiritual state of our people. Although we are not God, a common default position in broader evangelicalism is to conclude we are unable to evaluate a person’s spiritual state. Yet, Scripture gives us plenty of observable realties we should see in one another in the church to affirm we actually belong to Christ. Is this person bearing spiritual fruit? Do they love Christ, His Word, and His people? Is there a hatred of their sin? Is there a desire to share the gospel? Is there a longing for the things of God? Is there a desire to learn and grow? Whether it is a current member or someone who comes under your watch, we are called to be watching our “life and doctrine” and a complete disregard for these things in a church member’s life should at least cause concern for them, regardless the position and power they hold in the church.
Consider whether you have something personal against the individual that would sway your judgment. An easy trap for any pastor to fall into is to evaluate a person’s spiritual state on the basis of that person’s affirmation of your ministry, or lack there of. To conclude a 75-year-old long time church member old enough to be your grandpa is unconverted because he doesn’t like your preaching and he may place too much focus on how many people are at church (or not at church), is reckless and a pre-mature judgment on your part. Evaluate your own heart first, before evaluating others to avoid making a judgment on hurt feelings and a bruised ego, not biblically objective evidence. This scenario may simply reveal the need for you as a pastor to patiently pursue that older member and show a loving concern for him and his soul.
Don’t act alone. Because our single judgment can be swayed by a lack of support or conflict with certain people in our church, we MUST have others around us who know these same people as well as we do who can objectively evaluate also. This is one of the many benefits of having a plurality of pastors/elders in your church. However, if you do not have other pastors in your midst, involve other godly men who know you and the person in question to help confirm whether your concern for a certain church member’s spiritual state is valid.
If you and others in the church have strong concerns about the spiritual state of a church member, as the appoint shepherds you have the responsiblity to inquire and pursue that individual and find a way to communicate your concern for their soul. “That process” would need to be a different post. My hope with this post is that you would make sure your evaluation process is thoughtful, deliberate, patient and with others, for if there is one area I don’t want to be quick and careless about…it is this one.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I have worked with individuals who are steeped in this heresy and those who are attempting to recover from its devastating effects. Variants permeate all level of evanglicalism! I found this blog on Modernmarch.com
What the Prosperity Gospel Does to the Gospel
I was reminded tonight by a local TV preacher (asking for money in exchange for prayers, of course) how badly the prosperity gospel distorts the actual Gospel. Here are three major things that I think the prosperity gospel does:
1. Cheapens Grace
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is built upon the fact that God’s wrath needed to be satisfied by the shedding of blood in order for sinners to be taken out from under this wrath. Jesus did not have your material wealth in mind when He died on the cross. No, Jesus had your eternal soul in mind. Your wealth on earth is judged by others, but your soul is judged by God. Grace is poured out because you are born in spiritual poverty with no hope, not because your 401k is lower than you’d like.
2. Glorifies Materialism
One of the grossest sins in America is the infatuation with money and reputation. I live in Dallas where everyone is in debt up to their eyeballs in order to be seen as one of the North Dallas elites. It doesn’t matter that you make $35,000 per year as long as people think you make $200,000. It’s a scary place to be to think that God wants your wealth because He is ultimately concerned with your renown and happiness. There is a reason that faithful believers in the Bible struggled at one point or another by earthly standards – God was teaching them to refocus their standards according to His.
3. Elevates Moralism
It is pretty clear in any prosperity sermon that you are blessed if you are wealthy. A key phrase for a prosperity preacher is, “Are you broke? Does your car need new tires? Did you only get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch this week? It’s because you haven’t unlocked God’s ultimate plan for you!” He (or she) proceeds to tell you that if you do this and that, God will bless you. What is this blessing? MONEY. Duh. What more could you need to be happy? Forget reckless abandon for Christ and His Kingdom, as long as you got Chili’s instead of tuna salad this week. God’s blessing is Him. You get Him with no stipulations.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I read these form Perry Nobles blog and thought they were worth passing along.
#1 – Am I reading my Bible for information or transformation? (James 1:22-25)
#2 – Am I allowing people or circumstances to steal the joy that Jesus promised to me? (John 10:10)
#3 – Is there anything in my life that God is consistently dealing with that I am trying to ignore? (Ezekiel 14:1-5)
#4 – Who are the people in my life that God has placed around me for the purpose of me sharing Christ with them and/or inviting them to church? (II Corinthians 5:16-21)
#5 – Is there anyone I need to apologize to? (Ephesians 4:25:27)
#6 – Is there anyone I need to forgive? (Ephesians 4:32)
#7 – Is there a sin I need to confess to others and ask for help? (James 5:16)
#8 – Am I fully utilizing the gifts and abilities that God has blessed me with…or am I simply choosing to waste my life? (I Peter 4:10)
#9 – Do I know more lines from the movies that I love than verse from the Bible that I read? (Psalm 119:11)
#10 – Is there anything going on in my life privately that, if it became public, would cause me and/or the body of Christ to be embarrassed? (I John 1:9, James 5:16)
Friday, September 10, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Even in his birth, Jesus there was no room or space given for Jesus among his people. The rejection of Jesus is reiterated in chapter four of Luke when he is rejected at Nazareth. After reading from Isaiah and stating that he is the fulfillment of the scriptures he read (21) they marvel at his word (22). When they realize he is Joseph's son he predicts his rejection and then goes on to describe three Old Testament instances when Gods people reject God prophet, God sends them to Gentiles!. Though they are spiritually blind, the see the implication of these examples - God is rejecting them!
Thought we may not reject him as our Lord and Savior, I wonder how often we reject his ministry, his Lordship in our lives life on a daily basis and miss the grace for change?
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Preaching Christ or preaching about Christ? – Ray Ortlund