Remedial studies in the work of the Lord

“By this time you ought to be teachers (but) you need someone to teach you again the first principles…” (Hebrews 5:12).

Sherrie Waller, a member of our church and wife of one of our deacons, teaches math at the local Baptist seminary.

She’s training the next generation of preachers and missionaries how to count the offering, I suppose.

One “school” in our seminary is Leavell College, where people can get a four-year bacculaureate degree.  And one aspect of that, as with any college in the land I expect, is that students/graduates have to have a certain amount of proficiency in a wide range of disciplines, math being among them.

I can appreciate that.

Most of what Sherrie covers is taught in high school, had these future preachers and missionaries been paying attention.

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What those who are in the flesh resent

“For the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not subject itself to the things of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:7).

It’s not that believers and unbelievers think in different ways.  Rather, it’s that spiritually-minded Christians and carnally-minded church members (Christians? Let’s assume they are, but it’s hard to know) think and act and value in opposite ways.

Let the church take notice.

In an article on sacrificial giving, I made a statement that attracted some attention: Those who are in the flesh resent being told they are in the flesh.

More than one reader reacted to that in anger.  (Thus proving the point, some might conclude.)

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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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Why race issues are so difficult for most Christians

“Work for the welfare of the city where I have sent you…and pray on its behalf. For as it prospers, you will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7).

America is having a racial crisis.  Again.  Or, perhaps more accurately, the same crisis we have had for decades continues to the present day.

Here are some thoughts on the subject regarding the Lord’s people….

1) If you and I are of different races, we will see racial matters differently.

2) If your racial group is dominant and mine is in the minority, expecting us both to feel the same about racial matters is unrealistic.

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Every pastor ought to see a counselor occasionally.

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise in later life” (Proverbs 19:20).

You need a counselor.

Particularly if your work is demanding, the stress heavy, your schedule filled, and you’re finding the needs around you overwhelming, it would be good to sit down and unburden yourself with a friend with gifts for wise counsel.

I don’t mean a shrink necessarily.  Perhaps it’s only a friend who knows the Lord and His Word, and has insight into human nature with a gift for discernment.  Usually, that means a professional counselor, whether they call themselves “pastoral counselor” or “adolescent therapist” or something else.

Don’t get hung up on titles. And don’t be overly impressed by framed certificates on the wall.  Wisdom is where you find it.  “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…” (Psalm 1:1).

I tease preachers about getting pedicures.  I’m in favor of it, by the way.  Some of them tease me in turn, saying I have to turn in my “man card” as a result of my monthly visits to the nail parlor in our neighborhood.

But I’m serious in saying every pastor would benefit from seeing a counselor from time to time.

So you will know, I came to this position late.

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Compounding our mistakes: Lying and denying

“If I had decided to say these things aloud, I would have betrayed Your people” (Psalm 73:15).

I fear for the souls of those who write and speak of their hostility to the Christian faith, to declare their atheism, and to denounce Scripture.

What if they change their minds?

It has happened.

And yet, that “thing” they wrote is out there, wreaking its havoc, doing its damage, spreading its slander.  Meanwhile, the author would give anything to have not written it and to get it back.

What some do, I fear is, rather than going public with their regret and asking for forgiveness, they compound the error.

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Why I rejected sound advice

“Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).  “Victory comes with many counselors” (Proverbs 24:6).

Sometimes the poor relationship we have with someone may color our reaction to something wise they share.

The challenge is to listen to everyone, even our severest critics.  Taking their counsel on something of worth may end up being the first step in building a bridge of reconciliation.

This particular church member had rejected my ministry and was working behind the scenes to oust me from that church.

So when he made a suggestion that actually made sense, I was not in the mood to accept it.  Had he suggested we buy giant-sized blizzards at the Dairy Queen, his treat, I’d probably have scoffed.

Here’s what happened..

He said, “Joe, look at old Mr. Mossback.  He has no business being a greeter in this church.  The man could star in a horror flick.”

He was right.

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The hazardous art of predicting the future

“And it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortunetelling….” (Acts 16:16)

Some culture writers and half-serious columnists do it for fun, giving forecasts on life in the future.  Some, like meteorologists, work at it seriously to protect human lives. It helps to know the hurricane in the Caribbean may be headed our way or that the tornado season is upon us.

But then, there are those strange individuals who believe they are endowed with supernatural gifts of prophecy and fortune-telling.

If you have such a talent, I have a word for you.

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The pastor said, “No, we don’t believe the Bible.”

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)  and “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17).

Let’s see what you do and I’ll decide for myself whether you believe the Bible.

My buddy Kris was commenting on meaningless questions some of our Facebook friends suggested should be put before pastor search committees (our previous article). Most, she said, are useless because they presuppose the answer.

Asking a search committee “Does your church believe the Bible?” is meaningless, because they’re all going to answer in the affirmative, and you’re no better off than had you not asked it.

“Wait a minute,” Kris said, interrupting herself. “I just remembered a time when my pastor answered that differently.”

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Things a believer decided long ago

“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

In the late 1980s when the country of Lebanon was trying to self-destruct and life was hazardous for everyone, President Reagan ordered all Americans out of the country. The edict included missionaries also. And that created a dilemma.

One of my missionary friends protested, “This is when we do our best work, in a national crisis when people are fearful and disoriented. They become open to the gospel. Please leave us here.”

Another missionary agreed. “Whether our lives are in danger or not, we settled this a long time ago, the day we accepted the Lord’s call.  This is no time for us to abandon these people.”

Matters settled long ago do not need constant rehashing.

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