Slavery is a wicked evil that has been present on earth since the earliest of times. Continue reading
Yesterday, a friend of mine posted the following video on his Facebook page-
As I watched this video, I experienced a number of emotions: anger, sadness, bitterness, and one thought that kept rising to the top. Continue reading
I’ve been away.
Our daughter got married last weekend in the Springfield, Illinois area and I just moved my family to Worthington, Minnesota from Naperville, Illinois.
I’ve been in Worthington since the end of May in my new calling as Associate Minister of Family and Youth at Worthington Christian Church.
Next week, I’ll return to posting on the pastoral letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus.
Paul has the understanding that character matters not only for all believers, but for the leadership within the church in particular. Paul writes to Timothy in Ephesus that he is to raise up men strong in Christian character for the roles and positions of elder and deacon. To make things clear, he outlines specifically what this character looks like. Paul returns to elders in 1 Timothy 5:17-25:
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’ Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine for your stomach and your frequent illness. The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.”
This is a fairly straight forward text. Paul is stating that elders within the church are valuable and worthy of honor. This is not due to their position, but their character. Jesus talked about the difference between worldly and godly leaders in Matthew 20:25-28. Let’s bear in mind what Christians believe about scripture; scripture comes from God and is inspired. These are not just Paul’s words, but God’s- which is a bold statement. If, then, these are God’s instructions to the church, then the church needs to follow them in raising up proper leaders. Leaders who have been properly vetted, meeting the stringent qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3, are the ones worthy of double honor. Suppose someone has an accusation against elders. How are these to be handled? Continue reading
I believe that one of the key struggles in the American/Westernized version of Christianity is that while we believe the Bible is true, we often do not act as though it is sufficient. One of the markers of the early church was the way that they cared for others, especially other believers in time of need. Specifically, how the church dealt with widows. There are 2 key texts, Acts 6, and 1 Timothy 5:1-16. Let’s discuss these texts:
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men form among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
We can learn several things from this text:
- People were being reached for Christ
- There was racial discrimination in the early church that led to needs not being met
- The early church met the needs of people, specifically widows
- The role of Elders (whom the Twelve essentially were) was to proclaim and teach the scriptures
- They called a meeting of ALL of the disciples and discussed the issue
- They named seven men who had BOTH the Holy Spirit and the gift of wisdom to manage this process
- After this was handled, verse 7 tells us, “So the word of God spread.”
Here’s how God is speaking to me right now:
“remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men…I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone”- Titus 3:1, 2, 8b (NIV).
You know what is unprofitable and useless?
-Foolish web postings, tweets and blogposts
-Arguments and fights about who the real believers are, how God’s rules are followed and His grace, who is a receiver of it and who is not, over the definition of words like “worship,” “love,” “reconciliation,” and “peace.”- Titus 3:9, John Mulholland paraphrase).
“At one time we too were fools, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by our brutally sinful passions and desires to do one thing: to be right. We didn’t care about repentance, reconciliation or restoration. We wanted it our way and this lead to hate, hate and more hate, you hating me, and me hating you. We were jealous, angry, bitter. And this lead to more posts, and responses and filled me with…nothing, actually. It left me empty.
But… Continue reading
Here’s Paul’s argument from 1 Timothy…
Chapter 1- There are false teachers, and the LORD chose Paul, who was one, by his grace to teach Timothy how to be faithful.
Chapter 2- Timothy must be faithful in teaching people what authentic, grace-filled worship looks like.
Chapter 3- Timothy then must raise up leaders, men of godly personal character, who are already living out personal transformation of the gospel.
The leaders in our churches must be men of godly and solid personal character, built on Christ, the pillar and foundation of truth. Why?
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (4:1, 2). These “hypocritical liars” are those within the church who teach “godless myths and old wives’ tales” (4:7), “false doctrines…myths and endless genealogies” (1:3&4), “meaningless talk” (1:6). Paul’s instruction to Timothy is clear, “a good minister” is the one who makes people aware of the false teachers. Paul tells Timothy that he will know who the false teachers are because Timothy can simply compare their teaching to “the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that he followed.” There are some in positional authority in the church who have told so many lies, have deceived and manipulated the truth to such an extent that their very consciences are seared. Therefore, everything that comes from their mouths should automatically be suspect. Sadly, they will be followed.
But this is not the way of Timothy, and ought not to be the way of leaders today. The way for Timothy is to set the personal example for the believers in his speech, life, live, faith and purity, to devote himself to the public reading of scripture and to preaching and teaching. This was and is about his gift; only by being alert and aware will people a) see his spiritual growth, and b) protect others, saving them.
Leaders in the church must be ever-alert for false teachers. These will come from within and can be identified as we compare the narrative of their personal lives with the truth and hope of the gospel. May we stand on the pillar and foundation of the truth.