The title may be a little confusing, but one can clearly see the trend in the last one hundred years as countless numbers of individuals have come to faith in something other than Christ and called themselves Christian. James Adams presents some points on this matter in practice, theory and theology and remarks that many people are indeed being led astray by such things. A few weeks ago, I preached a sermon on the idolatry of “salvation experiences” and I would implore all to consider the gospel and the implications of the gospel by such practices. The following is the complete article by James Adams on the matter posted from here.
In the last month I have spent hours pouring through the pages of Foxe’s Acts and Monuments. The stories are more than just a glimpse into church history and the faith of the persecuted before us, but an opportunity to dig deep into the reality of God’s gracious breath of perseverance for His people who laid not in fear but stood in the faithfulness of Christ while they burned, drowned and had their heads removed. These writings are very difficult to find in print but Still Waters Revival Books has placed much of them as audio files on SermonAudio.com. Here is that listing, please enjoy. You can read for free the entire collection at www.johnfoxe.org
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God surely had some words through the mouth of Amos and I have found a few chills this early morning considering how close I have come to being the just recipient of God’s holy justice. Let the prophet’s words ring true in your hearts today as you pause and consider the gravity of sin and the glory of salvation. And on the other hand, let us all take the morn to posture ourselves in examination and consider that God has truly given us a heart for Him thus proven by our hearts for others including our enemies and most certainly those “outside the gate” who are rejected by all — just as our Savior was and is.
Hear ye the words of the Lord…
They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth. Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time. (Amos 5:10-13 ESV)
For His Glory by His Grace,
Pastor James Tippins
Someone stumbled upon the short post I published in 2006 after the baptism of my second daughter Grace, who at the time was five. Reading through it gave me moment of pause, first of gratitude for God’s grace in the matter of the salvation of my children and second, in the manner in which I place my trust in Christ, both for that and my own salvation. It was a good reminder that while my children are born again to their own confession, it is my responsibility to continue to grow them in the Lord and that one day, God will bring full fruit to His redemptive work in every aspect of their lives as He is continuing to do in mine. In reflection I was reminded by the Lord of Spurgeon’s sermon from March 6, 1890 about the simplicity of Salvation and its divine ineffability. As I read it again today I was reminded of how often we Evangelicals stab to death the processes and procedures of salvation making them an idol while either downplaying man’s belief and God’s gift of faith. The two passionately collide into a symphony of praise to the glorious Grace of God our Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. I now share it with all of you. Read well and pray better.
N. 2259 – C.H. Spurgeon Metropolitan Tabernacle 3/16/1890
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”—John 1:11-13.
As the Lord allows, I plan to release this book in January 2015. It chronicles my journey of faith, theologically, from birth to date and reveals just how harshly Reformed doctrine has affected me, my life and my family as well as my ministry. In the last ten years or so a movement has ensued that seems to be taking large groups of Evangelicals and dividing them from fellowship. I have experienced this first hand and in all honesty, have experienced hatred, hurt, death threats and the like while keeping quiet and tending to my own business.
My hope in this writing would be to allow the reader to journey with me, see what I see and then realize that everyone, no matter who they are, at one time or another has had a crisis of faith. During these times believers are to stand together, work with each other, pray for grace and reconciliation and see God work through it. Sadly, it hasn’t been the case. So, my crisis of faith resulted in major growth for my good, but it has been painful. Pray for me as I put the final touches to this text and pray that the message of the gospel would be paramount to it all.
For His Glory,
“I have to fix the internet!” This is a slapstick phrase I have heard many times in my own home and abroad when dealing with the idea that someone is wrong online and “I” or someone else, must make sure they know it and make it right. While there is something innately heroic about such things, it really comes down to being an opinion police or worse, trying to be the God of the world. Before I move on let me say that I use social media, I blog at times and I enjoy the occasional debate within my social sphere. Through it all, we believers are bound by power to do all things for the glory of Christ and to be humble, concerned and affectionate toward all people, even those who disagree.
While I desire to make everything right (in contradiction to this very article) in many areas, I understand that I have to just place what is on my heart in simple and succinct ways and that if I ever desire to do a Ph.D. in “Corrective Rightness” then I may need to fully disclose every angle of possible issues, outcomes and arguments from these points, but today, let’s just think about a few things.
For the most part, I think that at times we fail to see that we have an addiction to social things. We love to “check” our email, get a text, see our Facebook posts, count the likes, the shares, the comments and the number of “friends” we have. We enjoy seeing who cares, who sneers and who jeers at us along with the overwhelming desire to have our cronies back us up and begin to fight for us. In the end, we need to realize just what kind of evil idolatry rests at the root of such desires. We are selfish and want to be the center of things. Even when we are in good intentions, sometimes we are elated when something “blows up” online. We love it, we get up and go to bed with it on our minds and when this is true for us, we need to realize we have a true addiction.
This one is easy to see. We really think we have the answer and we really think that our thoughts and comments are what is going to set the record straight. Well remember “pride comes before the fall.” So, before we jump in to something that wasn’t even said to us or for us, let’s consider if we think more highly of ourselves than we should.
Money or course would come to mind with this word, but in this issue I think it’s more of a time management issue. Everyone I know is busy. They don’t have time to meet, talk, pray, study, serve, share their faith, spend time with their kids, work on their marriage, get in shape, learn a new trade, help their neighbor or just get the right amount of sleep; but they ALL have ample HOURS to update, comment, post, ping, tweet, insta”slam” and everything else. Who are we kidding? We have plenty of time, we just love wasting it on so-called “important” issues. Get real. Nuff said.
This is redundant from the “ego” area, but it has a more theological and spiritual implication. We must guard ourselves from seeking glory as the “winner” or the “warrior” and realize that what Christ has given through the Spirit is a humble and quiet resolve. A spirit of desiring truth without causing more problems. This is seen mainly in the “multi-faceted” areas of expertise that everyone seems to hold online and in truth, none of use are actually thinking rightly when we seek glory.
When it’s all said and done let’s ask ourselves, “What am I leaving behind?” Will it be honoring to me, my family, my community and my Lord? Will the battle reveal the power of God or something else? Am I spending my attention on things that are godless and counterproductive to my calling and my adoption as a child of God? If things like this don’t stop, there could be catastrophic outcomes:
- Depression. Yes, a continued desire to be the light of the internet world and shine on every problem from here to Helena will cause a deep emotional dissatisfaction that concludes in a depressed and broken mind and heart. But that’s what happens when we put our lives away for the sake of darkness instead of light.
- Division. How many “friends” are lost through silly and non-vital foolishness? Taking things wrongly and assuming the worst is not the fruit of God, but the fruitless work of darkness.
- Darkness. People will type things they would never say in public. There is something really wicked about this and for many, it changes their temperament and in some cases, proves them unbelievers.
- Delusion. Seeing what is not there to be seen and making one’s own mind dull because the gospel is not central and without glorious food, we all die.
- Death. The wages of sin is death. Sin and temptation is not just the sinful actions of debauchery, but the subtle attitudes of delight that we get when we engage to “correct” everything.
OK, please do not hear what I am not saying. There are times to correct, point out and make known darkness. Paul teaches us this in several places (Eph 5, Titus etc.) but he also teaches that it is the work and guiding of those who are spiritual for the sake of the safety and sanctity of the body of Christ. God is not in need of a defender and the purpose of these thoughts are for reflection not aggravation.
Now let’s settle our hearts and minds and follow some clear and practical things that will help us in our never-ending battle against the never-ending battle against the never-ending battle against …. you get the point.
- Pray that God will show us the way that is light and true and honorable.
- Be settled when something disagrees with us online and let it go.
- When we have to engage, be sure it is only because we know and love the person involved and we do it PRIVATELY.
- Block things and people who continue to cause division or derail our joy.
- Delete the medium that causes us sin; such as Facebook or Twitter. We don’t need them anyway.
This scripture preaches itself, so I have no need to explain it. Print it out, put it on your desk, make it your header, tattoo it on your hands and most surely your heart and you will have peace.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 ESV)
For His Glory by His Grace,
Pastor James H. Tippins
Are you Born Again? The gravity surrounding this question is unmeasurable and should be taken very seriously. In many conversations I find people usually come to this question at some time in their life as Christians. Whether it is because of doubt or a concern over sin or even a concern over someone else who seems to be slipping from the faith. While many have given some true wisdom on this subject from God’s word, today I want to focus on “ONE” element of true salvation that will be certain in the hearts and lives of all the children of God.
Jesus says that there is a law that summarizes the fullness of His entire nature, His essence, and His worth when He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV) To know and desire such a law in one’s heart is proof that he is born again. On the other hand, disdain toward these laws is proof that one has the spirit of the devil, not the Spirit of the Lord. This is proven in many places throughout scripture (John 13:34; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 John 4:7-21; 1 John 4:11; 1 Cor 13:13; James 2:14-17; Matthew 5:43-48; 1 Peter 4:8-9) and talks about serving, giving, suffering, dying, and giving up rights for the sake of others.
Scripture teaches that if one confesses a love for God but has no love for his brothers and his enemies, then that one is a liar and has nothing but a fear of judgment. Now, so often we can argue what love looks like and say, “well, I do love folks, but…” when in reality we love the “but” more than the people. This is proven because we would rather hate our neighbor so we can secure our right to have our microwaved popcorn. Maybe that is too harsh? Maybe it is just too true for some folks. When so-called Christians are blinded by self-preservation and are unwilling to lose everything they have for the sake of their enemies, then they are either living in rebellion or darkness. One could argue these are two in the same.
So, the utmost outward test of true salvation is that one has a heart for others; particularly those who are in need, unable to fend for themselves, hungry, running for their lives, being killed and given up for power and greed. When Christians see people anywhere (btw, there are more people in other parts of the world than there will ever be in the US) they have heart for them and their internal desire is to die for them that they might know the great unsurpassing love of God who stepped out of Heaven to die for the sins of His people.
How can we tell if we love people? Well, here are a few thoughts:
- Do we love them in our passions? Are we able to see a burden and draw toward others, no matter their circumstances, and a desire to give of ourselves fully for the sake of others?
- Do we love them in our prayers? If we love others we are prayerful for them. We plead with our Father to help them and even ask God to put us “outside” the camp in order to do what is necessary.
- Do we love them in our purse? What I mean is that it takes nothing for an abundance to be given away, but what about when all we have is what we absolutely need? Remember the rich young ruler and remember the widow’s mite. Love is love when it’s sacrifice. It’s all God’s anyway.
- Do we love them in our purpose? Are we caring more about “us” than “them”? Do we see God moving opportunities for ministry, Gospel-sized ministry and think it to be a burden that would “IMPOSE” on our lives? If so, then we are not loving.
- Do we love them in our presence? Do we care enough to “be there?” Do we care enough to not just say and pray but to also ‘stay?’
- Do we love them in our politics? We do know that ALL the children of God are in ALL the world right? Then why would we ever close our doors to anyone seeking to be with us, especially those running from harm?
- Do we love them in our pride? Do we love people who are or could be our siblings in Christ and take “pride” and honor toward them as our own body? No one hates his own body, but nurtures it and protects it, just as Christ does for His bride.
What do we do now? We pray for God to heal us of our pride, reveal our sinful and selfish hearts and praise Him for saving us from ourselves, our dreams, our ego, our idols and our hatred. God loves us and we do love others. Church, one day this nation will die and the only nation that will remain is a nation of priests from every tongue and tribe. We need to think to that end. So often people who claim Christ want to stand up against laws that hurt the unborn but when they “are” born, they need to be viable or they are worthless. Well, I am thankful that my God, who knew I was worthless, saw fit in His mercy to save me, an immigrant in the faith, an enemy of the King, a traitor to the crown who was helpless and blind and dead.
To all my brothers and sisters in South Africa, Russia, India, China, Mexico, Canada, America, Brazil, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel, and elsewhere, know that the God of Heaven doesn’t shut you out of His kingdom, for He is righteous and His people do not shut you out either. I am glad that those for whom we pray in foreign lands are willing to be felons for the sake of the gospel. I wish in place where it was legal to be faithful, people would. But hey, that’s how God works in the first place; when we are left to ourselves, we perish.
Praise Him for His glorious grace!
Pastor James Tippins
Well, if one had to know, I really have never written, just played around with some semi-quasi-halfway syntax and called it writing. The breath of my pen has exhaled with not even a vapor of expression remaining and at the end of this sentence I could stop and hit delete. Seriously, well… more like honestly, I don’t write much anymore because I have more drafts in books, files and on my blog than I actually have published. I look at everything I want to say and think, “I don’t really want to say it and if I did, I want it to be perfect.” To this I confess that I have a pride issue when it comes to writing.
Yes, pride. Not the, “look at my great prose and covet” but more like, “if I don’t get this perfect then I am a loser” pride. Yes, pride is the core reason I have not completed much of the writing that I really would like to publish. Two finished manuscripts, many pamphlets, articles galore and yet I sit here writing about how I don’t want to write. Now as I talk to myself about this issue I have several thoughts that are ringing in my ears that need to be pressed into the pad of this article. Why do I feel this way?
I believe the draw of “interaction” has overtaken the allure of intimacy in writing. Thorough and insightful script seems fruitless in today’s social sphere and if it can’t be said in 140 characters, it probably isn’t worth saying. No one is going to read it anyway.
BACKLASH AND NASTY PEOPLE
There is no more etiquette or politeness any longer among opinions and conversation has been devoured by the cookie monster of “hear me, hear me” to the point that most people with anything useful are fearful of having to deal with all the mess. Even if the comments are off, it doesn’t take the heat away. I especially enjoy the rebukes and wickedness poured over people’s heart-felt testimonies as if anyone ever asks for input in the first place.
YOU DIDN’T SAY THAT
In the end with everything being said, it’s hard to actually have an original thought. In today’s googley circles, nothing is precious and there are some out there that would rather steal words than anything else. Who cares? Well, let’s just say if someone who stands against everything you ever did stole your words then someone else found them in your mouth, you would be quoting them right? Meh.
LEARNING VS LAUGHING VS LOOTING
Writing for the sake of teaching is mainly what I enjoy, but it seems that people would rather laugh or take advantage of a controversy and “loot” the wave to the center of “likes” and “&^%$@#&^!@” listed on their blogs and social pages. Come on, who doesn’t enjoy having 4893 friends that they have never met comment and like what they didn’t even say to begin with but shared what someone else didn’t say about what someone else said about what their other friend who they never met said about what they didn’t hear anyone say. You know?
At the core of it all though is the fear that something is too precious and glorious to waste. That the object at the tip of the pen is so concerning with divinity and the beauty of ineffable majesty that no amount of paper and ink could do it justice. It seems that sometimes it just cannot be said rightly so is it better to not say it at all? I think this is truly where I sit, worrying about whether or not my service to the glory of God and His word, doctrine, et al in my writing is even effectual to the praise of His glorious grace. Is it even going to partner with His purpose to engage the mind of the saints to a greater seeing of His wonder?
You know what? It doesn’t matter. If nothing else, a partnering with God’s great work in small and piece-milled ways will outshine the grandest of debates on the most divisive issues of man. The majesty of Grace will devastate the minds of Americans who work to the end of their fingers to produce yet another wasted effort against the grain of the cross of Jesus Christ. The smallest drop of blood from the Savior is heavier and weightier than the chasm of the cosmos and the doxology of silence in the face of Holiness is louder than the highest gathering of the greatest people for the greatest cause.
So, I desire to write for the glory of God, for an audience beyond my knowledge and sight and to do what I can, if nothing else, to catalogue the Master’s fingerprint of my own heart as I encourage all the saints to do the same. What would happen if the children of God for one season all praised Him in their words? I cannot even imagine.
For His Glory by His Grace,
While it’s a common term and mission, discipleship as we know it in America’s church is dead. So dead that many believe that few are even being taught rightly by the scripture much less being brought into the Kingdom of God. Having a limited amount of time and a limited amount of webspace, there is no way one could attempt to revise and restore the biblical idea of discipleship, though many have tried. So, as a mark on the starting line, I hope to list a few things on my heart for the sake of future direction and discussion.
Discipleship is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the full and final revelation of God to man and in His ministry one can find the reality of what Jesus did and thus create a theology of growing others “to” the faith and “in” the faith. Jesus selected His disciples specifically, then He lived with them and taught them to invest in others for the sake of the kingdom. As they invested, they preached, proclaimed the good news of Christ and saw God save many through the hearing of the Word. (Rom 10:17) These who came to know God through Jesus Christ became part of the body, that is the church. The local church was governed by the Word of God through the apostles who “appointed elders (pastors) in every city to put in order what remained.” The flock was taught to “do the work of the ministry” to each other and teach others to do the same in the power and for the sake of the person of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. Nothing else.
Discipleship is evangelism.
“Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” This is a familiar song in the hearts of the church, but ever so often she refuses to hear this portion but rather hears the “Go ye into all the nations…” While the church is to go, what it DOES as it goes is to teach the Gospel of Jesus as God plants the church and saves people by grace through faith. So, reaching people is teaching people, these things are not divided but one in the same. Any attempt to make “reaching” apart from rightly dividing the word of God is another gospel and as Paul states, “no gospel at all.”
Discipleship is what the church does, period.
So the church hears, believes, trusts, hopes, lives, loves and learns at the feet of her savior, the living Word of God that became flesh and dwelt among us. So, the church is to hear the word, do the word, know the word, love the word, live the word, teach the word and all for the sake of the praise of the glorious grace of God in Christ. So, when the church thinks that “discipleship” is apart from the word, then she has forsaken her first love and must “do the things that she did before” so her Lord will not remove her lampstand (influence) from the world. The church around the globe is hard at work teaching people to understand and teach others the bible, but for some strange reason, the dominant church in the USA seems to have given way to personal growth, personal esteem, personal influence, personal ministry and personal preference instead of powerful purpose found only in God’s word. Just imagine, a people so hungry for power and never finding it because the grace of God (the power of God) is nowhere to be found because it is only given through the hearing and teaching of the word of God… Grace be with you.
Discipleship is personal, intimate and individual.
Widget companies can go the way of the assembly line just fine with identical outcomes having only a small margin of error. But when it comes to people, each one is unique and unable to be stamped as a cookie on a sheet. So why does so many congregations pour countless individuals into the same pot and then ask the question, “how can we get people to love the Lord and be committed?” They cannot be committed to the Christ they have never heard and they will not hear unless someone preaches to them and then they will not encounter the Christ-filled life without the church continually living together in the pursuit of God’s grace through His word. So, mass making of strong believers is like mass making of a bag of toenails. It’s gross and worthless. The preaching and the preacher should enable the body to do the work of the ministry while each one models unique but personal discipleship. There is no other way.
Discipleship is carried through teaching what accords with sound doctrine.
In the end the body of Christ will prevail as the holy and pure bride prepared for her groom. Until then she is to press and lean by faith alone on the promises of God through Jesus Christ who fully furnished and finished redemption by justifying a people for Himself through His blood having taken their guilt and debt and paid it in full. It is finished! So, let the church lives as the body of the Christ who bought her by growing as disciples who prove their adoptions as sons and daughters through the sacrifice of their living for the sake of glory that comes from God, not man.
The church will live eternally and she will do eternally what Christ has saved her to do because she no longer lives as her own but it is Christ who lives within her. Therefore, the perpetuity of sound disciples will make more and nothing will make this happen apart from the power of God the Holy Spirit through the simple and wonderful teaching of God’s word, not to the masses, but to the few who teaches the few who teaches the few.
For His Glory by His Grace,
Pastor James Tippins
This past week I have received dozens of questions but I had an email from a few weeks back that asked about challenges that pastors face and how they stand under the challenges. In a quick reply I realized that there are MANY challenges that could stand against shepherds and that they are too many to list and never-ending. Here are a few “thoughts” and then my reply.
- Spiritual Battles of the Enemy – any type of struggle causing any type of struggle.
- Spiritual Battles of the Flesh – this is obvious and would include temptation.
- Spiritual Battles of the Mind – these would include feelings, hurt, pride etc.
- Spiritual Battles of the Heart – the affections and lusts of the world vs. the affections of glory.
- Spiritual Battles of the Word of God
- Spiritual Battles are ALL for our good.
- Challenges come in the form of people
- Challenges come in the form of thoughts
- Challenges come in the form of temptations
- Challenges come in the form of time
- Challenges come and they always will
What challenges (both private & public) are ‘Pastors’ facing daily?
How do they cope? Your insight would be truly appreciated.
I could list hundreds, but off the top of my head, here are the most critical:
CHALLENGE OF UNDERMINING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY
Pastors face the challenge of undermining biblical authority. This means that in the world we live in, it is often the “norm” to just do things that draw people or create environments that would appeal to the masses of the world. In doing this, the pastor demonstrates that he has no faith in God or His power to save.
Let me explain: God’s word does not return void, it goes forth and does that for which it was sent. (Is 55:11) Hebrew 4:12 says that the word of God is living and breathing. 2 Tim 3 teaches that ALL scripture is breathed out by God and is useful for success to all the men of God. 2 Peter writes that all that is needed for life and godliness is given to us by God’s divine power and Paul in Romans 1 says that God’s word and His “gospel” is His power unto salvation. It is also very clear in Rom 10:17 that the hearing of Christ’s word alone brings salvation, nothing else.
John says that the word became flesh, so the word is Jesus who speaks truth as He is truth and Jesus reveals the eternal glory of God to the fullest. If you turn to 2 Cor 4 you will see Paul teaching that there is in no way cunning or tampering with God’s word with any attempt to draw, lure, engage, entice, or incite people to faith or interest. But he says that if people are not interested or cannot see the gospel they preach it is because satan has blinded their eyes and through the open statement of the truth of the gospel their eyes can be opened.
All through Jesus’ ministry people came from near and far to follow him but they perished in their sins because they wanted food, healing, power, encouragement and hope but they didn’t see Him for who He was and couldn’t because they did not have ears to hear. So, to make a long answer longer, the word of God alone is all we need as pastors to successfully shepherd, reach and minister to all the people of the world.
CHALLENGE OF THE PAIN OF THE HEART & PRIDE
Pastors face fear, rejection, temptation, loneliness and other personal issues because the job is demanding, overbearing and at times “prideful” when everyone seems to think highly of us. Therefore, Pride is a problem with many of us if we are not careful.
CHALLENGE OF TIME STEWARDSHIP & COPING
Time – we need more and that which we do have is mostly spent wastefully. We think that “living” with others in their circles and interests is better than prayer, study and teaching of scripture. But scripture has clearly called pastors to shepherd through feeding, not fellowship per se.
How we cope in these matters is surely back to the number one problem… we HOLD FAST to the word of God alone for our needs and desires. He read, meditate and pray.
Secondly, we must be accountable to other men who share the wisdom, maturity and insight of the role of pastor so we are not led to the slaughter by temptation.
Finally, we intercede for ourselves and our flock through prayer as often as possible many times in every hour. We care and we focus on knowing that God will do what He will do and that the outcome of our ministry is not how people respond or who is saved or how big things become, but the faithfulness of God. If Noah had no converts, then he wasn’t a failure because God used him to faithfully preach Christ (2 Peter).
So an added challenge would be to measure success by the world and not the word.
As I post this response, I am reminded that there are millions more and that these could very well each be a series of discussions and thoughts. What challenges do you face pastor? How do you cope?