Where do we find all these church jobs in Scripture?

A friend messaged asking for my “take” on all the different pastors in the church these days. Senior pastor, student pastor, worship, adminstrative, children’s, and executive pastor–the list is endless.

He said, “Why don’t we have just one pastor?”

The quick answer, of course, is that pastor means shepherd, and these various ministers are shepherding a part of the flock. The larger the flock, the more shepherds are needed.  It’s a noble concept and has the full support of scripture.  Whether one could blame the Bible for the “senior” business or “executive pastor” thing is another question. (But if a church wants to label its ministers that way, personally I’m good with it.)

I do think it’s almost funny how the pastor of some tiny flock somewhere will list himself as “senior pastor.”  But we laugh only to ourselves.  It’s his business and not ours.

An angry commenter–responding to something someone wrote about the “administrative assistant” in their church–took off on the unscriptural nature of that position.  “Show me an administrative assistant in the church,” he said, with the complete confidence they couldn’t do it.

He didn’t ask me, but I could have.

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Playing our little preacher-games with Holy Scripture

“I did not send these prophets, yet they ran with a message; I did not speak to them, but they prophesied” (Jeremiah 23:21).

What if we sliced off a bit of scripture here, pasted it in there, omitted a reference over yonder, and pretended the result is what Jesus actually said?

That happens.  (Fortunately, it happens rarely.  But it is done often enough to make it a concern to those who value God’s word and our integrity.)

Here’s my story….

At a preachers conference, we heard a stem-winding brother drive the several hundred of us to our feet in a shouting, hand-clapping final eruption of praise and joy.  He was good, I’ll give him that.

His text was Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  His theme was that God’s people today have no trouble with Jesus Christ being “the same yesterday”–His birth in Bethlehem, His miracle-working ministry across Galilee and Judea, followed by His sacrificial death and His divine resurrection–and no trouble with Jesus Christ being “the same forever”–as we proclaim His return to earth, the judgment, and His forever reign.

The problem present-day Christians have, said the preacher, is with “Jesus Christ today.”

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Some things the New Testament does not tell us

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable….that the man of God may be complete” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Those who demand a Scripture verse for everything they do place an intolerable burden on the Christian life never intended by the Heavenly Father.

Some among us have all the answers about the Christian life and have solved all the mysteries of doctrine and theology.

Is there a verse of Scripture on that?

Stay tuned.

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Things that do not stick with me

When my friend Freddie Arnold told me that a certain solution was exactly what I needed to take care of the mildew in my concrete, I wrote it down.

And promptly forgot what I had written.

Over the next several weeks, when I would be out and about and could have run by Home Depot or Lowe’s and picked up that item, my mind would not recall it, try as I might.  So, eventually, I dug out my note and determined I would remember it the next time.  And forgot it again.

It would not stay in my mind.

Shock Wave, it’s called.

And even now, I had to work at finding those two words in the cluttered file system of my mind.

Some things just will not stick with me.  You can tell me and I walk away without remembering one word of it.  It’s like the brain has no cells in that tiny portion of gray matter and we have to find another mental refrigerator on which to apply the magnet containing that piece of information.

Medicines are like that.

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The need for a traffic cop

Someone has to be in charge.  Don’t they?

On the highway, in the classroom, at the factory, during the ball game, and in the Christian life, nothing works without someone present being empowered to say, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).  Right?  Or not?

Here are a few thoughts to begin a conversation around your dinner table on the subject of authority….

In “The Story of Ain’t: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published,” David Skinner describes the hostile reaction that greeted the release of “Webster’s Third Edition” in 1961.  The incident makes a great point for all of us, particularly church folk.

But first, the context.

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Revelation, fabrication, and making it up as you go.

“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses….”  “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:16,21).

I’ve been reading books again.

That explains a lot of things.  It explains where my mind is these days, what’s been bugging me, and where I’ve been searching the Word.

I’ve been reading “The Story of Ain’t.”  This is mostly the story of struggles to decide what goes into dictionaries, culminating in Webster’s Third Edition.  Author David Skinner brings us into the inner offices of G. and C. Merriam Company and tells how decisions are made concerning the English language.  If you like that, you’d love watching sausage being made.  (It’s a difficult book to read and only the wordsmiths among us should “rush out and buy this book.”)

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The best of Deuteronomy (Part 5. Final)

(The final installment covers 21-25  of the ‘best’ things in Deuteronomy.)

21) NOT EVERY ABLE-BODIED MALE IS ALLOWED INTO BATTLE.  (Chapter 20)

“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you….” (20:1)  “Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them….” (20:3)

Fear is contagious.

One of the oddest aspects about Israel’s armies is that certain people were exempt from conscription.

–A man with a new house that has not been dedicated may stay home (20:5)

–A farmer with a new vineyard from which he has not eaten may stay home (20:6).

–A groom who has not finalized his marriage may stay home (20:7).

–And then, there is this one: “What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his home, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart” (20:8).  If you’re afraid, you may leave.

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The best of Deuteronomy (Part 4)

(Following are 16-20 of “the best things in Deuteronomy.” To see the earlier ones, go to www.joemckeever.com and scroll back a few days.)

16) THE LORD IS YOUR INHERITANCE. YOUR PORTION.  (10:9 and 18:1-2).

“The Levites will not be getting a portion or inheritance in Canaan; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God promised him” (10:9).

In Numbers 18:20, the Lord told Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land (i.e., Canaan), nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.”

Members of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 18:2), Aaron’s descendants were the priests for all future generations.  All the other tribes of Israel received territorial allotments when Joshua led them to conquer Canaan. But not the Levites. The priests were to scatter throughout the countryside, live among the other tribes, and receive their living from the tithes and offerings.  (Sound familiar, preachers?)

Israel’s songwriters liked the concept of the Lord being our portion, and worked it into three psalms (Ps. 73:26; 119:57; 142:5).

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More of the best of Deuteronomy (Part 3)

(The earlier 10 “best things” can be found on our blog, www.joemckeever.com, by scrolling back a few days. Permission is given to use any of this in any Christ-honoring way you please.)

11) BLESSING AND CURSE SET BEFORE YOU.  YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE.

You get to choose; you have to choose.  Every generation lines up and repeats the process.

“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse; the blessing, if you obey…and the curse, if you do not obey….” (Deuteronomy 11:26ff.)

When Israel came into the Promised Land, they drew near to Jacob’s Well and parked for a religious ritual.  One group of priests walked over to Mount Ebal while others walked over to nearby Mount Gerizim.  The mass of citizens stood around in the middle, close enough to hear both groups.  And the priests did a reading.

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The (next) best things in Deuteronomy (Part 2)

(Points 6-10 of the best things in Deuteronomy follow a short digression.  Feel free to skip the first part.)

Since Deuteronomy will be taught in Southern Baptist churches across the land this winter, this is a good time to talk about effective teaching…..

First: Get your people to read Deuteronomy.

I imagine the most common error of Bible teachers and pastors is to teach something no one has read.

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