Don't Be Who You're Not

As I’ve been continuing to develop as a preacher (albeit slowly), one of the great temptations I’ve come across has been imitating other men. I mean, seeing these guys who are extraordinarily gifted by God to preach His Word—guys like my  pastor, Norm Millar, and guys like Driscoll, Chandler, Francis Chan, Piper, MacArthur, Platt—and it’s really tempting to want to be like them.

To say things the way they would say it. To act the way they would act.

But isn’t that dishonoring to God?

The other day, I came across this video where Matt Chandler reminds us of the danger of trying to be who you’re not:

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim 4:5)

Fulfill the ministry God has intended for you, not for someone else. Don’t be who you’re not.

HT: Zwinglit

Do You Want to Be Hip?

Seems like a funny question to ask, especially since I’m not one who is known for advocating “cool Christianity,” but follow me for a second.

Thursday Alastair Begg preached a challenging and edifying message at the Toronto Pastors’ Fellowship meeting, which I had the privilege of attending. One of the questions that Begg—who is know for referencing classic rock songs in his messages—is frequently asked is, “Do you consider yourself a hip pastor?”

His answer was profound.

Begg responded (and I’m paraphrasing), “Yes—I absolutely want to be the hippest pastor.”

Now here’s the thing; what he means by being “hip” is that he want to be known for three things:

Humility.

Integrity.

Purity.

These are the things all of us should striving for because it’s the pursuit of godliness.

So how are we doing? Are we pursuing humility, integrity and purity daily?

Men, would your wives, friends, coworkers or kids say that you’re increasingly evidencing these characteristics, even incrementally?

Ladies, would your husbands, friends, coworkers or kids say the same about you?

“The greatest need my congregation has is my own personal godliness,” said Begg. The same is true for all of us in our homes, our jobs and our schools. We must keep a close watch on ourselves and on our doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16).

How will you do this today?

"When Older Men Stop Investing in Younger Men, Younger Men Stop Caring…"

Watch the video and then order a copy of the book, Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission:

The Call by Gabe Posey

Photo by Matthias Wuertemberger

First a word of thanks to Aaron Armstrong for the opportunity to write a guest post here for him. 

And now on to the subject at hand. 

Being called is an interesting concept when it comes to the current church. Having recently spent a considerable amount of time in a fairly traditional Presbyterian church, I’ve found that they have a nearly formal way for determining calling. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a process of their tradition, but it is definitely more exacting than the tradition I was raised in. And I can say I prefer it better. 

Since coming into reform theology (not even knowing that’s what it was until it was far too late), I came to understand that one of the most critical factors is one of proof. Not necessarily dismissing or destroying or denying the power of personal experience, the reformers seek to look harshly at what is within the Bible and decide based upon what information is at hand what is truly there and not add to it based upon such experience for fear of exalting tradition above the scripture and end up in sola ecclesia. 

As I was raised, the primary qualifier for a person going into the ministry was an ability to passionately communicate and enough wit about them to play the political church game so as not to get eviscerated by people more cunning than they. [Read more…]

Around the Interweb (07/18)

The Problem with Pastor as Rock Star

Ed Stetzer recently produced this challenging piece over at Challies dot com:

You can just check the headlines. When a rock star pastor falls, the church rarely recovers. When they do, it is through extricating their identity from that of the pastor’s abilities and personality. No pastor is indispensable. It’s good for pastors to remind themselves, “Others filled the role before you were born and others will fill it after you’re gone.”

But the rock star pastor constantly needs more attendees, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers. In a twisted bit of logic, they work to make the gospel well-known through their own fame.

Some have pointed to the multi-site movement as an illustration of how the church has sold out to make rock star pastors famous. Personally, I am not anti-multi-site. When partnered with church planting, it has great potential. Nevertheless, while I’m not “anti,” I do urge caution. At times, I’ve joked about “rock star celebrity pastors beaming their graven image all over the country.” If you are a rock star pastor, perhaps you believe that the church can simply not go on without you. You would be wrong.

Pride was inherent in the fall of Adam and it rears its head whenever one person deems the church’s future to ride on their shoulders or voice. Multi-site, or any program, as a necessity derived from the attention needed by a rock star pastor, is idolatry.

Read the whole thing here.

In Other News

Jared C. Wilson: Your Church might not be a Church if…

Michael Krahn: How I discovered Chris Tomlin

Don’t Waste Your Life Sentence: A new film from Desiring God. Here’s the trailer:

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

True and False Worship, the sermon I preached at Poplar Hill Christian Church on July 11, 2010

A review of Mike McKinley’s new book Church Planting is for Wimps

People are imitating you; are you worth imitating?

David Platt on the South & Young Pastors

Dustin Neeley sat down with David Platt, Pastor of the Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL and author of Radical, at the Advance the Church 2010 Conference. In this video, he shares his thoughts about the Spiritual Landscape of the South, his counsel for younger leaders, and his “one thing” for pastors.

HT: The Resurgence

Truth and Lies: Mark Driscoll – Pastoral Care and One-ism

Mark Driscoll’s final session focused on how One-ism and idolatry’s effect on pastoral care. In this session, Driscoll offered five steps to pastoral care.

1. Uncover the Enslaving Idol

“Traditional counseling starts and stops at the level of behavior. [It’s] behavior modification instead of transformation,” says Driscoll.

Under all sin is idolatry, according to 2 Pet. 2:19. There is no freedom in sin. “Sin is simply choosing you master, but it’s not freedom.”

Addiction is the secular language for the biblical language of slavery. Those who commit adultery worship and are slaves to sex. Sluggards worship and are enslaved to comfort. Those who are proud worship and are enslaved to themselves. Gamblers worship and are enslaved to luck, which is the name of an ancient Greek god…

“We worship our way into idolatry and must worship our way out,” says Driscoll. “Martin Luther said, ‘If your heart cleaves to anything else… you have another God.’ You can have ‘a state of God’ rather than a real God. And when you face adversity, it’s where you go.”

2. Find the Demonic Lie

Jesus says that Satan is a liar and he is the father of lies. “Idols promise good, but they deceive,” says Driscoll.

[Your job says] ‘If you worship me, I’ll make you successful.’ So you worship your job. [Your hobbies and shopping say] ‘If you worship me I’ll make you happy.’ So you pour yourself into the recreational activity, buy the shoes, buy the car.

The lie says it will bring you closer to God. “If you sing these songs; go to this school; go to this church; read these books…  All these can become false saviors.”

Another is, “You need to be true to yourself.”  Driscoll comments, “While we should be authentic, sometimes we need to repent of being true to ourselves and be true to Jesus.”

You need to love yourself is another lie. But this, says Driscoll, is simply the cult of self-esteem. [Read more…]

The Latest on Matt Chandler

Very exciting news for Matt Chandler after the latest MRI. Watch the video:

Thrilled for the Chandler family and the Village Church.

Keep praying that God would completely eradicate this cancer.

HT: The Village Church

Update: Even as the Chandlers are celebrating this progress, it’s come to my attention that Zac Smith of NewSpring Church died recently. A few months back, he released an inspiring video testimony about his battle with cancer. Please be in prayer for his family.

Christian Faithfulness in the Last Days – Lessons from The Gospel Coalition 2010 Conference

On Saturday, April 24, 2010, I had the privilege of attending The Gospel Coalition’s first ever Canadian conference featuring D.A. Carson and Mike Bullmore as the keynote speakers.

Dr. Carson kicked off the conference with the message Christian Faithfulness in the Last Days – The Need for the Gospel Coalition.

He began with by giving us a bit of background on how the Gospel Coalition came together as he and Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian came together and realized they’d been reflecting on something similar: The centrality of the gospel was being lost in evangelicalism. “Today, people do what is right in their own eyes—with the gospel becom[ing] something assumed rather than central,” lamented Carson. The Gospel Coalition came together out of a desire “to be robust about Scripture [and] to hold up the centrality of the gospel.” And this is of the greatest import for those of us living in “the last days.”

While some have indulged in “a feeding frenzy of speculation over the end times,” Carson reminded us that, “The last days refer to the entire period between Christ’s ascension and second coming. Whether it’s three weeks or three thousand years is irrelevant. . . . All authority has been given to Jesus, and while it’s contested, the kingdom has still come. The old is passing away.”

This led to a study of 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8, first asking, “What does Paul see in the last days?” [Read more…]

Around the Interweb (02/14)

Centered on One or the Other

Via Ray Ortlund:

A gospel-centered church holds together two things. One, a gospel-centered church preaches a bold message of grace — so bold that it becomes the end of the law for all who believe. Not our performance but Christ’s performance for us. Not our sacrifices but his sacrifice for us. Not our superiority but only his worth and prestige. The good news of substitution. The good news that our okayness is not in us but exterior to us in Christ alone. Climbing down from the high moral ground, because only Christ belongs up there.  That message, that awareness, that clarity. Every Sunday.

Two, a gospel-centered church translates that theology into its sociology. The good news of God’s grace beautifies how we treat one another. In fact, the horizontal reveals the vertical. How we treat one another reveals what we really believe as opposed to what we think we believe. It is possible to say, “We are a gospel-centered church,” and sincerely mean it, while we make our church into a law-centered social environment. We see God above lowering his gun, and we breathe a sigh of relief.  But if we are trigger-happy toward one another, we don’t really get it yet.

…A gospel-centered church is a variegated collection of sinners. They come together and stick together because they have nothing to fear from their message or their culture. The theology creates the sociology, and the sociology incarnates the theology.

The one deal-breaker in a gospel-centered church: anyone for any reason turning it into a culture of legal demandingness and negative scrutiny.  Few would do that in the theology, of course.  But still, a church with a message of grace can stop being gospel-centered in real terms.

A major part of pastoral ministry is preaching the doctrines of grace and managing an environment of grace. The latter is harder to accomplish than the former. It is more intuitive. It requires more humility and self-awareness.

May the Friend of sinners grant beautiful gospel-centricity in all our churches.

Reading this reminded me how much I appreciate our pastor at Harvest. If it does the same for you and yours, maybe take a minute today and give him a bit of encouragement.

In Other News

Mike Wittmer (author of Don’t Stop Believing and Heaven is a Place on Earth) is reviewing Brian McLaren’s new book, A New Kind of Christianityintro, question 1, question 2, interlude and question 3. Darryl Dash also has a very helpful review up on his site.

A critique of Pagan Christianity. This is incredibly insightful and well worth reading.

John Hiscox is the winner of the Crave book giveaway. Congratulations, John! Look for another giveaway this week.

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Crave: Wanting So Much More of God by Chris Tomlinson and a Q&A with the author

A review of Forgotten God by Francis Chan

Spurgeon: “If you desire shame, desire pride.”

Around the Interweb (01/03)

The Gospel Coalition Launches the For the Love of God blog

The Gospel Coalition has launched a new blog—one that’s not really a blog at all, but a free digital version of D.A. Carson’s two volume devotional For the Love of God. For the Love of God is designed to walk a person through the Bible in a year with commentary provided by Carson. For example, January 2 you would read Genesis 2; Matthew 2; Ezra 2; Acts 2 and Carson’s commentary on Genesis 2. An excerpt follows:

WHAT A STRANGE WAY, we might think, to end this account of Creation: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Gen. 2:25). Hollywood would love it: what an excuse for sexual titillation if someone tries to place the scene on the big screen. We hurry on, chasing the narrative.

Yet the verse is strategically placed. It links the account of the creation of woman and the establishment of marriage (Gen 2:18-24) with the account of the Fall (Gen. 3). On the one hand, the Bible tells us that woman was taken from man, made by God to be “a helper suitable for him” (2:18), yet doubly one with him: she is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh (2:24), the paradigm of marriages to come, of new homes and new families. On the other hand, in the next chapter we read of the Fall, the wretched rebellion that introduces death and the curse. Part of that account, as we glean from tomorrow’s reading, finds the man and the woman hiding from the presence of the Lord, because their rebellion opened their eyes to their nakedness (3:7, 10). Far from being unashamed, their instinct is to hide.

HT: Justin Taylor


In other news

Ed Stetzer shares some new research on how Protestant pastors spend their time

Michael Hyatt asks seven questions to consider about last year

John Piper shares 10 resolutions for mental health


In Case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

My favorite books of 2009: Part 1 & part 2

A few books I’m looking forward to in 2010

A review of Spurgeon’s All of Grace

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Be Different from the World

Prayer for Matt Chandler

Update: An update from the Village Church on the pathology report that Matt and Lauren Chandler received yesterday:

Dear church,

In the first chapter of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes that whatever imprisonments, beatings and trials he may have suffered, they all “serve to advance the gospel” of Jesus Christ. We implore you to keep the gospel of Christ as the main focus as we walk with Matt and Lauren through this trial.

On Tuesday, Dr. Barnett informed Matt and Lauren that the findings of the pathology report revealed a malignant brain tumor that was not encapsulated. The surgery to remove the tumor, the doctor said, was an extremely positive first step; however, because of the nature of the tumor, he was not able to remove all of it.

Matt, who is being released from the hospital today, is meeting with a neuro-oncologist this week to outline the next steps of the recovery process. There is a range of treatment possibilities but the exact course of action has not yet been determined. He will continue outpatient rehab.

The Lord is calling Matt and Lauren and The Village Church body to endure this trial. It will be a challenging road for Matt, his family and our church body. The gospel is our hope and the Lord is our strength. Matt and Lauren continue to find solace and hope in Christ. They weep facing this trial, but not as those without hope and perspective. The gospel clarifies their suffering and promises more of Christ through it all.

You have done a wonderful job respecting the family, and we ask that you continue to do this. They are processing all of this together and need you to give them precious space. Please do not visit them at their house unless personally invited by the Chandlers. The best way to serve the family is to continue to be faithful in prayer. Specifically, pray for the following:

  • Wisdom for all the coming decisions
  • Strength and peace to endure
  • The kids’ (Audrey, Reid and Norah) hearts; pray the Lord is merciful as they process and that their little hearts do not grow embittered
  • The Chandlers and The Village would suffer well because of the gospel and for the sake of Christ’s name

As you hurt and weep for the family, do not do it alone. Gather with your home group and with other believers in homes and pray together. This is a time to walk together with others and to endure this trial in community. If you wish, send cards and letters to Matt and Lauren at 2101 Justin Road, Flower Mound, TX 75028.

We will continue to keep you informed as new information is made available. Please be patient with the frequency of the updates. May God strengthen us all and may His glory shine brightly through this.

Please continue to pray for our brother, his family, and his church.

Yesterday he wrote on his Twitter account: “Path report is 2ndary at best…good report doesn’t mean much, bad report doesn’t mean anything…my days r numbered and nt by ths report.”

Collin Hansen recently wrote in CT about Chandler’s trials: “When the Pastor Suffers.”

HT: JT [Read more…]

Prayer for Pastors

It’s been a rough week for pastors.

Thursday, Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle sent out a call to pray for Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Texas. Chandler suffered a seizure Thursday morning while at home; he hit his head when he suffered the seizure and was taken to the hospital by ambulance where doctors ran several tests. Thursday afternoon, he posted the following on Twitter:

Thanks for all the prayers…I have a small mass in my frontal lobe…[date] with the neurosurgeon early next week…I am His and confident.


Saturday night, Pastor Scott Thomas of the Acts 29 network sent out the following on Twitter:

My dear friend and Acts 29 planter Thomas Young tragically died last night. Hurting for his family and church.

The Sanctuary Fellowship, Pastor Young’s church, released at statement on their website:

As many of you reading this already know, last night Pastor Thomas was called to go home to be with his heavenly father. Erin and the children are physically ok and we ask that you fervently lift them up in prayer and surround them with love from our church family. We are grieved in this whole process. Many leaders from the Sanctuary Fellowship have been working hard since late Friday to minister to Erin and the children. Pastors and churches from across the country are calling, sending people to minister, and offering every kind of help possible. We are eternally grateful and count our Father faithful for all of it.

His last tweet:

God: He is so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in His immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in His infinity!

Amen.


The pastors and leaders of a small Chinese house church were unjustly imprisoned this week, according to the Examiner.com

In the article, China Aid President Bob Fu is quoted, saying:

“To punish an innocent house church leader for 7 years imprisonment is the most serious sentence since 2004 when the senior Henan house church leader pastor Zhang Rongliang received a similar length.” He added that, “We strongly condemn these unjust sentences, which are based on trumpeted charges. This case clearly shows the serious deteriorating situation of religious persecution in China. We call upon the Obama administration and international community to speak up unequivocally its concern about this case.”


And these are just the stories I’ve come across.

Please be in prayer for your pastor—and all pastors—today. Their calling is hard and too often thankless.

They and their families all need our support.

The regular Sunday Round-up resumes next week.

What do you appreciate about your pastor?

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how undervalued pastors can be.

Pastors have a hard job. A packed schedule of family obligations, weddings, funerals, couseling and all the other things that come with shepherding the flock God has entrusted to them.

On top of that, they have to deal with a disheartening number of books & speakers who suggest the office of elder/pastor is unbiblical. People taking offense to something they say (perhaps because it points out their sin or it’s a legitimately poor choice of words) and trash them, and on and on it goes…

It’s easy to see why Paul wrote, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Tim 5:17, emphasis mine).

There’s the big issue: Elders who rule well (in short, leading people in the example of our ultimate leader, Jesus) are worthy of “double honor.” In the context of the passage, it is talking about financial compensation—but it’s also talking about respect.

And that’s something I wonder if we’d do well to think about for a few minutes.

What do you appreciate about your pastor?

Have you ever had an opportunity to think about it? Honestly, it’s not something that’s often at the top of my things to consider list, but it really is important.

But it’s really worth considering. [Read more…]