Minister: You were dismissed from your ministry position and you are angry

God to Jonah: “Do you do well to be angry?”  Jonah: “You’re dadgum right I do! I’m so angry I could die!” (Jonah 4:4,9; my silly little paraphrase) 

A reader reacted to our article on “How to be fired and come out a winner.”

“I was fired from my position. The work was going well.  No reasons were given.  What am I to tell the kids and their parents?”

I began with this: “First, it wasn’t your position.”

That must have stung.

I know the feeling, friend. And have witnessed it a hundred times among colleagues.  You go in to  a church and build the program.  You are “in your place,” doing the best work you’ve ever done, and can sense the Holy Spirit has been preparing you for this for many years.  And suddenly, they terminate you.

How can that be of the Lord?  Surely someone is out of line here.  Haven’t I been mightily used of God?  Hasn’t He blessed my labors?  Don’t the kids love me?

All of that may or may not be true.  But it’s almost beside the point.

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Prayer for our next pastor

When a church is pastorless, no one knows who the next pastor will be. While we pray for the Pastor Search Committee regularly, has it occurred to us to begin praying for the object of their search?  Here is how I’m praying for our next pastor.…

Heavenly Father,

Please send our church a pastor who will be Thy choice first and foremost. Let him know it, let our search committee know it, and let the church be just as confident about it. May the pastor’s family be supportive also, and even excited.  And then…

–protect the pastor and our church from anyone who would rise up later and claim this was a mistake and try to oust him.  Dear Lord, protect Thy church.

Send us a pastor who will be loved as dearly as any pastor has ever been loved. This congregation wants to love its pastor.

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Pastor: A note from your guest preacher

I had the privilege of preaching in your church recently.  As a retired pastor, not far from my 80th year on the planet, I’m honored when a pastor invites me to fill his pulpit. Sometimes, as was the case last Sunday, the pastor is on vacation.  At other times, I’m leading a Friday/Saturday event for a specific group–leadership, deacons, seniors–and the pastor asks me to stay and preach for the Sunday morning service.  I’m always delighted to do so.

First, just so you’ll know….

I’m not coming with my own agenda for your people.  My entire aim is to honor Christ and bless His church.  From the time you first call inviting me to preach, I begin praying for the Father to lead me on what to do and how to do it.

Even if I preach something I’ve used in other churches, this is no so-called “sugar stick.”  I’m endeavoring to be obedient to the Lord with what He has given me.

As your guest, I will not be critical of how you are doing things in your church.  I will leave no suggestions on your desk on how to improve your worship service or ways to deal with certain problems in your church. You didn’t invite me as a “mystery shopper” and I’m grateful not to have that burden.  That said, however…

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Wondering what exactly “freedom of the pulpit” means

“Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). 

Marshall Ramsey, editorial cartoonist for our Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, told recently of his conversation with a colleague on another newspaper.  They were lamenting the rapidly dwindling number of editorial cartoonists. Marshall said, “When I got into this profession, there were less than 200 full-time editorial cartoonists. I’m not sure what an accurate count is today, but I’ve heard it’s a couple dozen.”

As newspapers go the way of dinosaurs–my friends say we who still depend on them for our news are the real dinosaurs!–they keep cutting back on staff.  Editorial cartoonists seem to have been some of the first to go.

Anyway, the two cartoonists were concerned over something that had just happened to a buddy on the staff of the Pittsburgh, PA Post-Gazette.  He’d been fired because his cartoons were “too critical of the President of the United States,” according to his publisher.

Marshall notes, “Saying an editorial cartoonist is too critical of a politician is the worst reason to fire an editorial cartoonist ever.  Critical editorial cartoons are as American as mom, apple pie, and Ben Franklin (he is credited with the first American one).”

So, how are things in Jackson between Marshall and the Clarion-Ledger, we wonder.  In his 21 years here, he says, “I’ve never taken an idea from an editor (or anyone else).  I have taken suggestions that might make the cartoon better or might make me realize I’ve done something really stupid.  That’s how editors edit.  The ideas are mine.”

His editors at the C-L, he says, do not want a cartoon they agreed with.  “They wanted the best cartoon I could draw.”  (see addendum)

Okay, fine. That started me thinking.

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Does your pastor have an advocate?

“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.

However….

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When pastors do not know their Bibles

I assume it’s a given that no one knows all the Bible.  And therefore, we can say with a reasonable sense of certainty that while all pastors and Bible teachers know many parts better than others, they know some sections hardly at all. It’s certainly true in my case.  Yours too, I’m guessing.  And that’s what has prompted the following….. 

A pastor said to me, “You can say all you please about your supposed-doctrine of once-saved-always-saved, but my Bible says, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.'”

I responded, “True, it does say that in the Old Testament (see Ezekiel 18:4,20).  But Romans 8:2 says, ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.'”

Here’s what that means to all of us…

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Accountability: The missing element in a thousand ministries

“Why do you do such things?  For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people.  No, my sons! for it is not a good report that I hear” (I Samuel 2:23-24).

What do you think of Evangelist Jesse Duplantis’ asking the Lord (or more precisely, claiming from the Lord!) a jet plane costing $54 million?  We’re told that he has owned several jets, but this one would literally take him around the world without refueling.  “It’ll save money,” he assured his flock.

When friends discussed the pros and cons of this on Facebook, most were horrified.  However, a few “true-believers” accuse naysayers of attacking a true servant of the Lord, saying he saves a lot of souls, does a great deal of good, etc., etc.  A pastor who used to serve a church not far from the Duplantis ministry just west of New Orleans said he often had to answer questions from seekers about the excesses of that work before they would listen to anything he had to say about the Lord.  Duplantis’ home on the shore of the Mississippi River costs something less than that jet plane, but still an astronomical sum.  “It’ll save money,” he told his minions. “We won’t have to pay hotel bills for guests.”

My contribution to the Facebook discussion was two questions: “Does anyone know if Evangelist Duplantis is answerable to a board or group in his church?  And if so, have they ever been known to shoot down any of his grandiose ideas?”  The answer to these two questions will tell the story on his authenticity and genuineness, I’m thinking.

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When you suddenly realize the pastor’s sermon is missing something

My wife was commenting on a sermon she heard recently.  “It was a fine sermon in many respects.  It called for the right kind of actions and spoke of the Holy Spirit.  And then it hit me.  Nowhere does this person’s preaching deal with the gospel, mention Calvary, or call for repentance.”

She said, “I suppose the sermon works if everyone is saved and obedient and has a sincere desire to serve God.  But what if they aren’t?  What if we are rebels, what if our hearts are in rebellion against God? What then?”

“Preaching like this sneaks up on you,” she said, referring to what that sermon was missing.

Much has been said about the sermon delivered by the Episcopal bishop at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19.  Most of us enjoyed hearing the sermon, particularly because it was so American and so typical of the African-American tradition we’re familiar with but which presumably the British elite crowd is not.

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When you are insulted in public

“…who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously….” (I Peter 2:23). 

Public speakers and entertainers know that hecklers can be their best friend.  By their response to someone interrupting and insulting, a speaker can win over an audience. That is such a given that some comedians have been known to pay hecklers to attend their performances and ply their trade.

In his book “Mud Hen in a Peacock Parade: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven,” retired seminary professor Dan R. Crawford tells of a put-down he received in the most public of gatherings.

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