“For we walk by faith, not by sight” ( 2 Corinthians 5:7).
A friend said, “I have atheist buddies who say they live by science. They like a lot of things about Christianity and what we do at church, but they just can’t do faith.”
I replied to her, “They may think that, but it’s not so. They do a thousand things a day by faith, just like all the rest of us. If they get in a car and drive on the interstate, they are showing great faith in the people who build and maintain the highways and the motorists all around them, none of whom they know. If they eat in a restaurant, they are demonstrating faith in those who prepare the food, people whom presumably they do not know and will never meet. And yet they open wide and swallow. They go to a doctor, he diagnoses something they never heard of, writes a prescription they cannot read which they take to the pharmacy. They may never see the pharmacist who chooses what goes into the pill bottle, but when they get home, they do what the rest of us do–pop a pill or two in our mouth and wash it down with water. It’s all of faith!”
We all live by faith, believer or not.
My friend has stirred up a furor.
Writing on Facebook, my friend Stan told of a pastor search committee that has just angered him by their treatment of a wonderful young pastor.
According to Stan, the committee and the pastor met on several occasions, they heard him preach numerous times, and it was clear that “this was of God.” The process worked itself out over several months. The committee voted unanimously that this pastor was their choice. The pastor himself agreed.
All was well, it seemed.
And then one day, the chairman phoned the pastor. “I have bad news,” he said. “While everyone is unanimous that you are our choice for the church, however, when we voted on bringing your name before the church as our recommendation, two members of the committee voted ‘no.'”
The vote was 7 for and 2 against.
Since search committees are expected to bring only unanimous recommendations before the church, the chairman felt he had no choice but to accept his committee’s actions and shut down their dealings with that pastor.
You can imagine how the pastor felt after hanging up the phone. Disappointment. Anger perhaps. Frustration. Puzzlement.
“The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).
A friend posted the campaign video from a lady in Round Rock Texas who is running for Congress. He said, “She’s got my vote just from the video.” So I clicked it open to see what MJ Hegan was saying.
According to the video, MJ Hegan, an attractive brunette perhaps in her late 30s, served three terms flying helicopters for the Air Force in Afghanistan. During the last assignment, her helicopter was shot down and she was injured. Doctors refused to let her fly again. That’s when she found that the military, which had been so welcoming to her, now closed the door on further assignments. When she worked to get Congress to address this, she found Washington’s doors closed. Politicians refused to talk to her, she says, because she was not a contributor. Her own congressman refused to meet with her. And that’s why she decided to run against him. She is beating the pavement and knocking on doors determined to unseat the incumbent and take his place.
The video was sharp and witty and clever. With nothing further to go on, it’s easy to see how someone viewing it could want to stand up for this lady.
But wait just a minute.
“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
It often comes as a surprise to believers new to the faith that there are among us, in the Lord’s family, a small but vocal contingent who insist that true Christians should be worshiping on the seventh day of the week and not the first day, “The Lord’s Day,” as we call it.
Recently, on this page I told of a recent full-page ad in our local paper–and presumably in newspapers across the land–warning of the imminent fulfillment of the “seven trumpets” prophecies in Revelation. The world’s population would soon be divided into two groups, said these doomsdayers. But whereas we would have expected the groups to be the faithful and the unfaithful, the sheep and the goats as Matthew 25 puts it, or something such, it turns out the single thing differentiating the two groups is one worships on the Sabbath, the seventh day, and the others on the first day of the week. That’s it.
Truly amazing how much emphasis they put on a single command. And they’re not alone. Many who belong to denominations with “seventh day” or “Adventist” in their names promote seventh-day worship and rest and are constantly after the rest of the Christian family to get with the program.
“If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (I Corinthians 14:8).
A woman in a friend’s Sunday School class took exception to his reading a passage from The Message, the paraphrase of Scripture from the highly esteemed Eugene Peterson. “It’s evil,” she said. She will not be back to that church.
And if you think she’ll be spreading the word that that church is liberal and has gone over to the dark side, I’m betting you’ll be right.
An evangelist asked a man what translation of Scriptures he was reading from. “The NASB,” he said. “The MacArthur Study Bible.” “That’s a terrible translation,” he said. “It’s wrong. And wicked.” Just so easily does he dismiss the work of hundreds of biblical scholars who know far more about Hebrew and Greek and the ancient manuscripts than that evangelist (or this preacher!) can learn in several lifetimes.
One of two things is true. Either the attacker is correct and the overwhelming majority of God’s redeemed are deceived. Or, the attacker has been deceived, is seriously misguided, and is now slandering a huge part of the family of God. The latter, I believe, is the case.
Speaking of deceiving and being deceived…
The Friday June 22, 2018, issue of our Clarion-Ledger carried a full page advertisement from some end-of-the-world people who did not name themselves other than to give their website– www.worldslastchance.com.
“Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services” (Nehemiah 13:14). “Remember me, O God, for good” (Nehemiah 13:30).
In the 18 months since I moved back to Mississippi, twice I have had men approach me, introduce themselves, and thank me for something I did over three decades ago.
After graduating from seminary in New Orleans in 1967, my young family and I moved to the Mississippi Delta region where I pastored a church for three years. Then, we moved to the capital city of Jackson where for another three years, I served on staff of the great First Baptist Church. Following that, we lived in Columbus, Mississippi for nearly thirteen years as I pastored the First Baptist Church. Then, we moved away.
That was thirty-two years ago, 1986.
To those who insist Scripture knows nothing about pastor search committees–or any other kind of committee for that matter–we respond, “Scripture was never intended to be a strait jacket hampering the movements and flexibilities of God’s family, but a light to our feet, nourishment to our souls, and the basis for all that we believe.” Anyone saying committees are not found in the Word might need to be reminded that neither are cushioned pews, stained glass windows, and toilet seats. But we have them and are glad to do so.
To friends newly assigned to serve on a pastor search committee, we say, “You can influence the direction of your church for generations to come by doing this job well. It’s a wonderful, scary assignment. So accept it gladly and go into it humbly.”
First, my credentials for speaking on the subject: In over 55 years of ministry, I have talked with a minimum of 100 pastor search committees. Some were in an advisory capacity but most were as the object of their inquiry at the moment. During one three-year period, I counted exactly 36 committees I’d had contact with. (Okay. I was in my early 30’s, on the staff of the greatest church in the state, and most of these contacts consisted of my telling the committee “thank you, but I’m right where the Lord wants me.”)
As we approach Father’s Day, perhaps I could tell you about my number one son from his father’s perspective. Incidentally, he’s an excellent father himself to Grant, Abigail, and Erin.
Neil McKeever is a junior. Joe Neil McKeever, jr., to be exact. He lives in Mobile and works in Pascagoula at the shipyards, in the HR department. He and Julie and my three grands are faithful members of the great Cottage Hill Baptist Church, and Neil often teaches a Sunday School class. Julie is the financial secretary for a nearby church.
Neil is a deacon and has been chairman (in their previous church). He is a singer and has often taken leading roles as singer or narrator in pageants.
But he wasn’t always rightly connected with the Lord. This is about two instances in his adult life where the Lord stepped in and remedied that. Big time, too.
“….you honor your sons more than Me….” (I Samuel 2:29). Eli was an indulgent father, and God held him accountable for it.
“O Absalom, my son. My son, my son Absalom. Would God I had died in your place! O Absalom, my son, my son” (2 Samuel 18:33). David could be a wonderful father at times and an absentee parent at other times. A lot like us.
Often when doing the funeral of an older man, I’ll see adult children showing varying degrees of love and sadness and even anger. So, sometimes in the service I will say, “Fathers are human. Sometimes they get it right and leave great memories and bless their families. And sometimes they get it wrong, just as the rest of us do. May I suggest that you appreciate your dad for what he did right and forgive him for what he failed to get right. Surely, you will want your children to do that with you.”
Love your dad. Appreciate what he got right. Forgive him where he didn’t.
“The laborer is worthy of his hire” (Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7; I Timothy 5:18). “Those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (I Corinthians 9:14).
The pastor deserves a decent income. That is a given. It is scriptural and reasonable.
In order to make that happen, some churches need to change their ways. And for that to occur, every pastor needs an advocate. At least one, and ideally several.
An advocate: Someone who will stand up for him, speak out for him, be his voice.
Yes, we have an advocate in Heaven’s throne room. “…we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1). So, in Heaven, One is speaking up for us. Are we blessed or what?
We thank God for Jesus, our Heavenly Advocate.