“A certain slave girl possessed with a spirit….followed Paul and cried out, saying, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days.” (Acts 16:16-18)
When you decide to let your name be put up for an elected office–keep in mind, I write for pastors primarily–choose carefully your recommender.
The person giving the nominating speech can make you or break you.
It wasn’t so much that what the demon-possessed girl of Philippi said about Paul and Silas was wrong. It’s only that she was crazy, pardon the expression.
She was not qualified to be recommending anyone.
Her recommendation was the worst thing imaginable. People who knew her scoffed at the recommendation she gave these preachers. I can hear them laughing. “If she thinks they are hot stuff, we’d better be careful. They’re probably as looney tunes as she is.”
Some recommendations are to be eschewed. (After 14 years of blogging, this is the first occasion I’ve used “eschewed.” It’s about time!)
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).
Preachers log a lot of miles on their cars.
Most preachers tend to drive aggressively.
I’m a preacher. My little Camry, one year old this month, shows over 37,000 miles.
I work hard at driving well, but sometimes I wish someone riding with me would point out something I’m doing wrong or a bad habit I’ve fallen into, if they spot such.
Recently, on three occasions recently I found myself riding with pastors as we drove to their churches.
In each case, I did unto them as I want someone to do unto me. That is, I helped the pastor with his driving. (smiley-face goes here)
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (I Thessalonians 4:14).
If Jesus really did rise from the dead as Scripture claims and Christians hold, then nothing is the same and everything has changed forever.
The reason Christians are positively giddy about the Easter Event–the resurrection of Jesus–is that in walking out of that tomb and leaving it forever empty, He broke the stranglehold in which death had held humanity.
We are free. We are free forever. We are free to live forever.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
Everything stands or falls on whether Jesus rose from the dead that first Easter Sunday morning.
The deacon made no attempt to hide his disgust with his preacher. As far as he was concerned, preachers were the hired servants of the church. And, as a head deacon, that put him in charge.
“Preacher, I have some new rules for you.”
“You have rules for me?”
“From now on,” said the old man, “you will keep a written account of every copy you make on the copier. And you will keep a notation on every phone call you make.”
And that was not all.
“Furthermore, you are not to make any personal calls from the church office. If you have a personal call to make, you will go to your house and make it.”
Pastor: “What if I need to call my wife when she is at home?”
“Then, you will get in your car and go there and talk to her. But you will not call her from the church phone.”
This conversation actually happened, just this way.
Someone told a friend of mine, “You Baptists are so narrow. You think only Baptists are going to heaven.” He replied, “I’m narrower than that. I don’t even think some of them are going!”
In truth, I know of no one who believes only their denomination is going to heaven. (We may be narrow, but we’re not ridiculous.)
How narrow are we? Narrow enough to quote the following Scriptures and then to announce that we believe them and are ordering our lives by them….
“Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There is only one name of salvation. Only one: Jesus.
“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved: (John 10:9). There is only one door to salvation. Only one: Jesus.
“Faithful is He who called you, and He will bring it to pass” (I Thessalonians 5:24)
If God starts something, He will see it through to the end.
And that’s how I pray the way I do:
“Lord, these are your children. They would not exist without Your love. Had you not laid it on my wife’s heart to adopt a foreign child, and later pulled me to the same decision, their mama would still be in Korea and these three granddaughters would never have been born.”
“Therefore, Lord, I feel a special confidence in interceding on their behalf. They are your responsibility. They were your doing. They are yours.”
“So, I ask you to watch over them.”
Nathan’s father passed away a couple of months ago, after battling an awful disease for three or four years. They had the blessing of knowing in advance what was coming; they had the awful burden of knowing in advance what was coming. Recently, he and I were talking about what people say when your loved one dies. I asked for his experience on the subject. This is what he wrote….
Someone just this morning expressed her sympathy for the loss of my dad. It reminded me that I still had this partial thought process typed out. If it turns out that any of this is useful fodder for one of your articles that would be great to read. I always appreciate your point of view. (and I even agree with it occasionally) Actually I mostly agree. (Joe: Buttering up the web-host is always a good idea, Nathan.)
My first thoughts on this topic were based on the biblical accuracy of things that are said after someone dies. Do people really believe what they say? If they do, where did they get those philosophies? I’m not suggesting there is a list of approved biblical phrases to use in this situation, only asking that we consider why folks craft and continue to
perpetuate these flawed notions. I believe there is a danger turning faith into fairy tale for our own comfort. At the same time it may help us to approach someone with biblical truths after we understand their line of thinking.
I added some of my thoughts along with the things people say.
“He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14).
The Lord is under no illusion about us.
The Creator remembers He made us from the dust of the earth. He knows we are made of humble stuff.
And yet He loves us anyway and wants to do amazing things for us. How terrific is that?
He knows He got no bargain when He saved us.
No doubt He lowered any expectations He had concerning us from the first.
When we sin, the only one surprised is us.
“What would you like me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41)
A servant asks: “What can I do for you?” “How may I help you?” “Can I do anything for you?”
But there is one question a true servant (as opposed to an employee) is not allowed to ask:
“What’s in it for me?”
My opinion is that the typical church in this country lives by the maxim: “If it doesn’t make us better or look better or feel better, we will not do it.”
What’s in it for our church?
I’m thinking of a little family in dire need of a healthy church and what it could provide for them. Over the years, a relative who is a pastor made a point of putting them in touch with at least one church in the various communities where they lived. Several of the churches responded well at first, then promptly dropped the family. Once they learned this family was going to be difficult, that they were not “low hanging fruit” (meaning “easy pickings”) they moved on. Once they found out this family was complicated and was not ready to join anybody’s church, they had no heart for the game.
The typical church loves to reach people who are reachable, who will fit within their fellowship, and will not require a lot of maintenance or difficult ministry.
The typical church–I am well aware of the dangers of using such a nebulous term, but please allow me the freedom to do so–lives for itself. The Kingdom of God ends at the edge of the parking lot.
Now, as a pastor of 42 years, I know the problem.
“Somebody ought to do something!”
I was second in line at the traffic light. My lane and the one to my right were all turning left onto Dauphin Street in Mobile. The third lane was turning right.
We sat through through three sequences of lights. Meanwhile, the line of cars behind us grew longer and longer.
Clearly, the light was malfunctioning, but only on our side. Traffic from the other directions was receiving the correct sequence of lights. Our light stayed red.
I was traveling home from a revival in Selma, Alabama, and had stopped for a late-morning breakfast at the Cracker Barrel. After a fairly demanding week with 1500 miles of driving, I was relaxed now and willing to sit there in the traffic without getting impatient.
But not all day.
Finally, I had had enough. The light was not working and the cars in front of me were showing no inclination to move.
So, I got out.