≡ Menu

Patty Cake Reorg

With my fifth child and fourth daughter I found myself thinking it odd to sing “Patty Cake” to her calling her a baker man.  So I changed it up and thought I’d share it.

Patty Cake, Patty Cake Baker Girl

Pit em and Pat em and give em a whirl

Throw em in the oven on the baking rack

And in a few minutes we’ll have a snack!

The hand motions are about the same, but in a few minutes we touch our watch and with “we’ll have a snack”, we rub our belly.  She likes it. Maybe I’ll put it music and sell a CD.

God is good, even in crazy little creations like these.

James

{ 0 comments }

The Only Fear in Death is Fear of Life

aacoffin_blackSitting here listening to the ringing of my four oldest children as they play together gives me a moment to contemplate the amazing and glorious gift of God of my family.  At times I feel as though I am truly the richest man that ever lived.  Even in the aggravation of life, I can honestly attest to the reality that our family and our home is a haven of worship, a place where constant reminders of God’s grace sing through the echoes of memories and madness.  A place where there is a people at the heart of it all, a people for God’s glory by the power of His mighty grace.  I’m reminded of the gravity of being a father often, especially in this season as it has been one hard lick after another with “something” just around the corner.  Whether it be problems with our house (firstworld) not coming together or financial strain due to emergencies or the 29 visits to a doctor in 2013 and the related joys that tag along, it all comes in a very small manner, painful but joyful and God is truly using it all to sanctify us.

Our fifth child being born in October has brought a few more experiences, beginning with Robyn, my wife, who had a very difficult pregnancy and bed rest the latter third.  Then the birth in itself was a gift of God’s mercy pushing the physical and emotional limits of our hearts to the peak of failure and even death and all the while, the Lord was there, holding it all together by the Word of His power.  So this day, not yesterday and not the hope of what tomorrow brings but this day is the day for us now.  Now is the time of faith, now is the time of rejoicing and now is the time when all things are for the Glory of our Lord.  My children remind me of this and keep me ever working and hoping, not in a wishful way, in a certain and guaranteed confidence that only comes from God, that His purpose is good for me.  Fatherhood is dear to me, it is something that even as a young boy I desired and I am thankful that the Lord has given me the best and most excellent wife and five wonderful sinners, that by the Lord’s grace, believe on Him (well four at this point).

In this little moment there isn’t much of an argument for me to declare or theological paradigm to proclaim but a small reminder, a big smile and a wonderful glimpse at the Father’s love.  Hearing them play, sing, talk, and work through their own struggles brings me back to my childhood when one of my only fears was the loss of my family.  It really was, I lived in a pretty faith-filled place but when it came to considering one of my parents or grandparents dying I was shaken, not just pouty, but fearful.  I hear my children play and think, “is that their fear?”  Many times in the last 16 years of fatherhood each of my children have expressed this fear.  Daily they all affirm their love for me and their mother through obedience and affection and I know that there will come a day when they will face the reality of the death of their parents.  That day when I or their mother will depart this Earth to receive all that we have longed and held fast for in our lives.

While death is such a sweet and glorious blessing that brings with it no fear, pain or suffering, I have just realized that there is a small amount of fear in me still.  The fear that my children may fear as I feared at their age.  A fear that they would consider life wrecked and hopeless if we died.  And with that thought I can still feel the warm hand of fear in my own soul.  At the same time I rejoice, not because I love the macarbre but mainly because I am satisfied.  I am satisfied that they have the fear of children because they recognize their affection and dependance upon us and because we are their salvation in so many ways.  I know not every family has this that we enjoy and I would be a fool to think it could never end.  But for now, it is what we have and it is to this that I speak.  I am satisfied that the God of my salvation, Jesus Christ has attended to me and will in fact attend to my children.  I am satisfied that true hope is available through the Spirit of Life to them and that we teach them about the reality and certainty of physical death and how it is NOTHING in relation to the death of sin.

I am satisfied to know that my children, even if they are not aware, are prepared by God to face each day He has given them and that with all that I have within me I pray they hold fast to Him forever as He has held fast to them.  I am satisfied that there is no fear in death and that my fear and theirs, even in grief, will be brief and tied to a glorious outcome for their good.  I remember countless death room experiences, some of my own family where the dying would fear what would happen to those left behind.  It is natural, but our life in Christ is above natural, it is above comprehension because it is born of God.

I know that the God of Heaven has established all the days of my life and theirs and that nothing my children accomplish in life will ever make me proud or fulfill my greatest dream or reach their greatest potential except for them to trust fully in the perfect life and finished work of Jesus Christ the Righteous!  I am satisfied knowing that the Lord who began the good work in them will complete it, even if my death in their young lives is part of His glorious grooming and purpose.  But until that day, we fix our eyes not on that which is seen or feared, but the One who is unseen and revealed to us by the Spirit through the Word.  He alone is our peace, He is our comfort, He is our glory, He is our redeemer, He is our sufficient High Priest and He is sufficient to see my children be raised up to lay down their lives for the Gospel.

May the God of all gods and the King of all kings reign supreme in our home and all the days of our lives and God, may the legacy of these parents be one of Christ exalting glory!

Amen.

Pastor James

{ 0 comments }

Babies are Murdered Here | Abortion and It’s Truth

Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 12.35.09 PMThis discussion and debate has and will always be with us. Let’s just be sure that the church of Jesus Christ knows how to be prepared and properly respond; biblically; in the power of God through the Holy Spirit. Watch this, it will help you.

{ 0 comments }

The Selfish Always Have An Excuse

corporate_slaves31Let me just begin these short, pointed thoughts by saying that I do not have a political passion for much at all.  In the scheme of things I have given very little thought to pop-culture, entertainment, politics or anything else really outside of my very myopic world-view that rests in the powerfully satisfying person of Jesus Christ who is the God of Heaven.  But today I have to readily admit I should have been paying more attention to many things.  Not because I could change them, have been called to do anything or would become an activist, but mainly because I love and care for humanity.  I really do have a strong God-grace-size heart for people and can understand their pain.  At the same time I know that all the bread, dough, power, money, health and water in the world will not satisfy the soul of man, nor will it truly make “life” worth living because Christ is the highest hope and treasure that all of the world needs.  I am also here to remind my readers that I am not a proponent of “relational” or “benevolence” evangelism that requires friendship or food prior to one being “open” to the Gospel.  I can readily show anyone that scripture is devoid of such teaching on purpose.  So, my thoughts here are not to point to anything ultimate, but are to point out something that is important.  If nothing else, it is common good citizenship and concern for our fellow man.

In the wake of horror and destruction Americans love to pile into the ditches and help drowning people get back on their feet.  Some people do it because they see a camera, but I believe that there is an innate passion for helping others in the world and so when disaster hits, we love to come to the rescue and in most seasons, many feel good about being able to give and serve their fellow man.  When tragedy comes the lines of economic and ethic division do come down to some degree, but as the dust settles, these walls can rise back around the plenty while the “have less” are laying in a cesspool of decay.  Now I want to diffuse the rhetoric and the bigotry that would angrily reply, “you don’t know what you’re talking about” or “it’s people like you that think every body else should take care of people.”  Or even those who would say, “why don’t people try harder, work harder and save more.”  Well, to this I reply, “hush,” no one wants to hear your sissy rants about things that you are too ignorant to comprehend because my friends, you don’t know what you are talking about.

See how that sounds when I reply like that?  It isn’t nice, it isn’t civil and it doesn’t show concern for one who may feel that way.  So, the above statement as an example could fit two left or two right feet at the same time if one would take the time to bake them in the oven of thought rather than vomit out the special sauce while saying it was truth.  What I mean is that no one has ever has ever stomped their feet at Lord Byron about his experiential endeavors to poetically express the Battle of Waterloo and other historical events.  Why? Because “we” were not there.  We did not hear the stories he heard nor did we see the sights he saw.  Therefore, in these matters, the opinions of all are nothing in light of the truth of experience for the many.  I have heard all the fallacies, I have heard all the rants, I have heard the statistics and they are just not true.  Don’t take this at its word, just research or “fact check” everything you hear.  Ask the question, “how do I know what I am saying is true?”  If you cannot, then hush.  (My earlier point.)

WHAT are you talking about you might ask?  Well, I am talking about the countless individuals who work harder than me, longer than me, have more experience than me and no matter how many hours they live on the planet or how many times they have open doors to opportunity, they will never overcome poverty.  Yes, there is poverty because of sorriness, but that is not the topic of our monologue today.  I want to address my thoughts and experience on the ideas of greed.  Some people call it capitalism, but even that system doesn’t have to be fueled by greed, it can be fueled by a spirit that includes concern for others.  So, when one runs, owns and operates a business they are the primary person who puts their future on the line.  Someone has to take the risk.  But the problem isn’t that no one recognizes the risk or the skill or the creativity to produce something that the world loves or needs, it’s the problem that for so many of America’s poor will never be enough.

Let’s ask a few things.  Where would the big businesses of America be without the producers, laborers, shippers, customers, maintainers and the like?  Where would the widget designer be if no one would work for him because he was a cantankerous old scrooge?  Where would stock holders be if no one bought their services or products?  They would be poor, hoping someone would give their skill and intellect a chance to be part of a system that would grow a community of supported servants.  Yes, even the CEO is the servant and companies all over the globe are servants.  But why again do so many in America live in abject poverty?  Greed.  Power. Lust. Lies. Wickedness.  Seriously.  Let’s look at the reality of the daily fast-food worker.  He gets up early, goes to work, stays there for ten hours doing that which he is supposed to do FOR the boss who works for his boss and so on.  Then the owner makes some profit who then gives some profit to the people who gave him the money or bought into his company to make it happen.  It is now that everyone begins to see that there is no single success in the island of capitalism, it is a dependent machine sucking from the breast of community.

So on with some more great metaphors… This employee gives himself for the sake of the profit of the company.  Without him, the company would fail.  (Now some here would say, “I’ll find someone who would.”  You are right and this is what this article is about.  YOU)  Yep. This guy is the gears that make it all work.  The one who puts the motion in the mission and for many like him (the fast food worker) he lives in poverty.  He leaves ten hour from this job to join his night job, working 60 to 70 hours per week for another entity who promises him a living wage.  Well, he makes so little that he lives in poverty, has to be on public assistance, has to live in dangerous neighborhoods and then has to worry about how he is going to have time to take his child to a doctor much less himself.  Not just the time, but the funds to pay for it.  In the end, this guy gives his life away so the company he works for can amass great wealth with little or no care for this guy.  Let’s think about this some more.

The company pays this man as little as they are required by law.  And when the law make the minimum higher, they just raise the price of everything because all the way up, everyone else is raising their costs.  The real issue though isn’t that they cannot afford to pay people a wage that they deserve (for them to eat, be housed, have medicine, and have clothes etc.) but that they will NEVER dig into their massive profits to pay the people who gave it to them.  Sad.  It really is, because so many trolls with bad breath will burn this to the ground most likely.  It’s sad because in the name of freedom, the company actually gains absurd freedom financially because they have legal slaves.  Yes, the man who works for a company that profits 100’s of millions of dollars and lives in the street is a slave.  He is a slave because he has to work there because it’s his only option.  He is a slave because he cannot afford to go to work but much less can he afford not to.  He is a slave because as he saved for months for a better future for his family in regard to basic needs, he contracted the flu at work, serving the customer and missed a week of work.  He is a slave because he is not compensated for his part in the profits of the beast while the upper level bosses dance on his grave and sing praises to the god of money.

Sounds harsh because it is.  This is not OK.  No matter what your “faith”, the basic and common human idea of community is not seen in this picture.  The cap in capitalism should be the difference between the amount of profit and the cost of setting the slaves free.  Set them free.

Now I have voiced a concern, revealed a problem (that has been around for years), and will begin to hear it again about how wrong I am.  Well, if sitting in the highest place on earth never having a care in the world while I throw away leftovers that could feed an army while the people who put money in my pocket stand outside the gates of my city begging for bread is right, then I want to part of it.  If I am wrong then why does scripture teach that man cannot serve both God and money?  Why does Jesus continually and dogmatically command the people of God to CARE FOR the needs of others?  Why do so many of these large corporate whores cheat on Jesus Christ as they serve as Deacons and teaches in churches while treating their employees as though they should be thankful they were employed by them?  So for the world, the lost, the wicked who stand before the rest of America and say, “look at my wares! I did it! and I don’t care!”  Good for you…  BUT if you are one who claims the name of Christ, you cannot do these things.  The profit from those who labor for you is for you to share with them.  Not that they become rich and sit hight, but that they can have a table at which to sit and eat!  What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?  What believer sees his brother in need but closes his heart to him?  What person knows that his neighbor is hungry and in need and roasts a pig and throws a party while the neighbor looks starving over the fence, then says, “I can’t help you.”

This must stop, but sadly it will not.  It won’t stop all together but it can slow down.  It can slow down if the church of Jesus Christ who have been given the riches of Glory will stand up and say no more.  It will stop if the gospel would be preached from pulpits and live would be changed making the greedy benevolent and caring.  It would reduce as the glory and treasure of Jesus springs forth when corporate Christians say to their boards, “this is enough, look at our people, it belongs to them.” It would slow down if Christians voted their conscience instead of their party.  It would slow down if the youth of American would not buy in to the lie of Satan.  It would slow down if generations would teach their children that they are not deserving of anything and that all who have must be honest and generous with those who have not.  It would slow down if I WOULD take a good hard look at my own wealth and see how I could use it for the purpose of God in the lives of others and stay awake on this point for years to come.

So, in the end all we have here is just another commentary on a problem that is bigger than anyone.  So why mention it?  Because CHRISTIAN, you need to be aware that many people starve at the hand of corporate greed and the leaders (who have been established to serve people) who take the food from the mouths of children so that their jets can be ungraded with a better kitchen.  Take it for what it is, the church needs to realize that our faith is not a segmented function of a spiritual side of things but that as believers, we make God a liar when we feed the beast of Babylon by allowing her to keep her slaves on a short, bound and death-filled chain.

 

{ 0 comments }

Tony Miano’s Arrest in Dundee Scottland | Open Air Preaching

 

Cross Encounters Ministries

Via Twitter @tonymiano

A humble and biblical response to the suffering for the sake of the gospel.

{ 0 comments }

Why Do Holidays Bring out the Worst in Family?

angerxmasIt never fails, for many during the holiday season comes the “Jerry Springer” show right to their front door.  It really is a fact and for so long I wondered what made relational conflict so abundant during the time when people are off of work, enjoying friends and family and receiving so much in way of food and gifts.  Then one day it hit me, the reason that “domestic” issues arise so often in the this season is because people are actually together.  So there it is, the answer to the life-long mystery of why fighting is greater during the holidays… because when sinners get together, they compound exponentially their sin quotient.  What else can you expect?  I mean, when one dog is playing in the yard it’s fun but throw three more in there, well someone is going to get bitten or run over.  Sorry for the silly metaphor but in all reality, the reason that the holidays bring less than joyful relational conflict is because I believe that being around others brings out the TRUENESS of our character and heart.

It is simple and easy to maintain good relationships when you email, text, tweet, card, share, facebook, and other things sporadically throughout the year.  The sad reality is that without the power of the gospel in our lives, all of us would spend our days in silent or showcased aggravation and animosity.  The good news is that Christ empowers His people to walk in unity and power and forgiveness.  When one claims to be in Christ but cannot walk in holy affection, it really calls into question as to whether that “one” is truly born again.  We can all blame others on our feelings and sad times and say that “we don’t know what it’s like to have an uncle like that” but the root of the problem is sin.  It is at the core of every human heart and until the gospel of Jesus Christ reaches that heart and the spirit of God transforms that heart it will always have problems.  For believers though, we are able to overcome such things as we bear the sins of others, forgive those who sin against us and realize that no one has sinned toward us as grossly as we ourselves have sinned against God.

He alone is holy and we are not.  But, we are made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ who makes certain that all who believe are free from the bondage and consequence of sin in the face of God’s wrath.  Therefore, we are able to work through differences, heartaches, bad times and bad holidays.  When you feel that urge to break into the Christmas Spirit of throwing a fit and saying that one thing that shouldn’t be said, remember that Jesus remained silent when He was accused of sin.  He became sin that we might become the righteousness of God and for that we are forever made right and able to forgive others.  Seek peace as long as it is up to you and hold fast to Jesus who made you.  Make this “Christ”mas truly about the Christ by portraying His heart and attitude in our dealings toward others.

Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

For His Glory,

J

{ 0 comments }

It Doesn’t Get Any Better than This… or Does it?

“It doesn’t get any better than this…” I thought as I looked at my infant daughter surrounded by my four other children and bride of 18 years. Something wells up inside when I see the glorious beauty of my family and in the best of humility, I praise God for them and for His grace to afford me such joy in their lives and learnings. Holding an infant is one of those rare opportunities that few people actually do experience. I know for my other four children, their infant stages are a blur, mainly due to my double time activity schedule and pressure of ministry and the hail storms of expectations I placed on myself during those seasons. But this time it’s different. We are not burdened under a yolk of worldly expectations, but under the yolk of Jesus Christ. Therefore, this season in life is superb and grand in the scheme of them all and for this I am very thankful.

On the other hand, as I peel through the layers of what it all means and discern whether my esteem is idolatry or Christ-centered gratitude, it struck my heart, that this is NOT the best of times and that even though it comes easy to say that “it doesn’t get any better than this” I have fallen prey, just a moment, to the wrong point of focus. I know can hold my family and look wonderfully and joyfully into the reality that is God’s gracious mercy in them and say, “It Surely is gonna get better than this!” I have to think through this carefully so all can follow my thoughts. No better place to start than the beginning…

A Wedding

That wonderful Spring day in 1996 was the first time that I felt such things when as the doors of the vestibule opened for my eyes to gaze upon the bride of my soul.  Her beauty lodged glory into my heart that quickly grew in my throat as I was unable to swallow and I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this…”  All the dreams and hopes and visions of what will be and for the most part, sans a few pebbles (and larger stones) along the way, it has be greater than I could ever have imagined.  But in all reality as Christ has revealed Himself more and more I see that the fullness of joy that came that day is a taste, a very very small taste of the complete and eternally full joy that will come when Christ and I are together along with my bride and my family, not as we are today, but as siblings in the same body!  The marriage of man and woman is a myopic pointer to the day of Christ’s return for His bride for whom He died.  My bride stood, and still does, at the door of that church in all beauty and splendor and one day, I too will stand as she stood, not just in dress and intention, but in pure righteousness.  It does get better than this, but this is good because it shows us just what we have yet to see! (Ephesians 5:25-)

Birth

Now having five children may seem like excess, but among our circles of friends across the globe, we are the minimalists and are about 40-60% complete as some would say.  But just in my introductory thoughts, the birth of a child is an amazing thing.  It reveals so much about the majesty of God’s power and how He alone can put all things together. (Col 1)  The miracle of life is so much more than just being well loved and having great and deep affection for a child; it bears the image of its Creator, a God who gives birth, not just physically to His creatures, but Spiritually as well.  Scripture teaches us that through suffering comes glory.  This is true in the whole of Biblical history and most specifically, it is true for the Christ, the Son of God who came to die in order to perfectly save sinners who were already dead.  Six weeks ago today we had just ended a 21 plus hour induction with cesarean and the fear at times was overwhelming and inexplicable. God’s grace carried us through and through all the suffering, all the darkness, all the fear, all the “dashed” dreams came LIFE.  A new life, not just one working out kinks and trying to be better or different, but NEW.  Completely fresh, a new beginning in this world.  I reflected on all the other four births and likewise, they all came the same way, though with different circumstances, they all had the same song: suffering yields life.  Jesus Christ came to suffer to bring life and the apostles tell us clearly that we who are in Christ will suffer like He suffered but in the end: Glory.  See 1 Peter chapter 1 for more on this.  In this way, my wife suffered so that life could emerge.  Jesus saves His own through His flesh and blood.  How amazing our God is to help us see His glorious good in our suffering.  We come out on this side, joyfully aware of this little blessing of life and joyfully aware of the grave suffering that our Lord endured for us.  “Light Momentary Affliction” prepares us for a weight of glory.

Rejoicing

So now the glorious part of all of this.  “It doesn’t get any better” fits really well here.  I smile, my wife smiles, my son smiles, my three other daughters smile and life is grand.  3 AM…. not so grand, but we still smile at the prospect of going through all of this again.  But no matter how good it is, it is only a small picture, a snow-globe of the real that we are just shaking through awaiting the full joy.  We are amazed at the love we have for this new child when we thought that there was no more love in us 🙂 we find more.  The birth of our new baby has rekindled the superb affections we have for our other children and each other as husband and wife and if we are not careful, we will lose sight as to why: so that we can see the love of God for us in a deeper way as His children.  The love God has for us is immeasurable in comparison and it blesses my soul to realize that the amazing love that I feel toward my children is nothing compared to the love that God has for us revealed gloriously in Christ Jesus who came to live righteous and holy and die willingly in order to justify us before the Father.

What does it all mean?

It means that no matter how good it is, it is only a small fraction of nothing of the goodness of the true One to whom it all points!  God’s faithful and certain promise to save His children and His amazing “great love” with which He loves us cannot be fathomed.  So until that day when we stand with Him and our Lord Jesus Christ and see for ourselves, we must look ever so carefully at the small glimpses of such things.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21, ESV)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39, ESV)

{ 0 comments }

When the Gospel Doesn’t Work

This series contemplates the reality that in so many circumstances, the people of God act and live as though the Gospel has no power in their lives and in as much, the Gospel must not work.  Over eight weeks in preparation for the “Horrors of Christmas” (wrath, judgement, horror and hell) series, we have discovered that the Gospel IS power in the life of the church and when we fail to rest by faith in the gospel of Christ, we are the problem, not Christ.  Worship with us through this look and pray as God prepares us to move into Titus in January.

 

{ 0 comments }

Gentle Shepherding, A Few Thoughts

Considering sheep as an animal helps pastors understand much about God’s instruction to us as we shepherd His flock.  One main reality that is continually driven home to my heart is the reality that sheep are most of the time very timid and easily frightened.  Because of this, I believe Peter understands the need to admonish Elder/Teacher/Pastor/Shepherds to consider the kindness of the Great Shepherd when tending to His sheep.  Often times Pastors consult with other pastors and one thing leads to another and the realm of oversight of the flock becomes an “us” vs. “them” battle whereby the shepherds begin to feel like they alone are wise and the sheep are all rebellious herds railing toward destruction and must be beaten into submission.  All to well, those of us who have pastored for any length of time understand that this mindset is easy to allow to settle within and also would readily admit that we have damaged some sheep because of it.  So, I want to take just a moment to share a fresh remembrance out of our Elder training today from 1 and 2 Peter.

 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:1-5, ESV)

As we closed with this passage, it became very apparent the reflection of oversight was governed by the gentleness of the Chief Shepherd who lays His life down for the sheep.  The good shepherd, as should the pastor, provides comfort, protection, food, hope, grace, and humility to the flock of Christ and therefore reflect the power of God in the Gospel.  Even when rebuke and correction is required, it should be done, toward the sheep, in a gentle and corrective manner, not a condemning manner.  It appears that most believers are intimidated by the Pastor, mainly because the pulpit is so protected and bold and “up there.”  But, the demeanor of the preacher should not be bold and ruling when down from the platform, but gentle and eager to hear and lead.

Sadly, I have failed in this area more than I would like to admit, but God is faithful and gracious and if nothing else, in my error, I can lead other men to right shepherding and save the pain of shearing the sheep to closely with the blade of correction.  Pastors sometimes feel that they must “make the sheep see”.  But everyone knows it is not the mouth that opens the ears and eyes, but the Word sent by the Spirit that makes men see and believe and walk upright before the Lord.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21, ESV)

Peter is clear that the instruction of God is not myth but a proclamation of what they had witnessed.  However, it is not the experience of witnesses that matter to the fullest, but the sovereign word of the living God that creates the testimony of God through Jesus Christ.  Peter explains that their witness is to that which the Word indeed pointed, so that the word of the Lord will indeed to all that it was intended to do.  So, when shepherding, do so in a loving manner because the scripture will be harsh enough as it says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

So, just as before in answering the question, “What Should a Pastor Really Be Doing?“, I would make sure that the “how” a pastor does what he does in regard to the sheep is in a gentle and humble spirit.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James

{ 0 comments }

Damage Done by Sinners Among the Church

In the last few weeks a surge of what seem as personal attacks in regards to doctrine, polity and purpose has raised a few eyebrows.  These attacks have been primarily at me and our fellowship and now have bled into other congregations.  For some reason the people who have concerned themselves with creating havoc among two churches in the area decided to make a public display of force against what they call, not “like faith and order”.  The details of these accusations will be forthcoming, however, today after receiving nearly fifty calls and emails from a bi-county wide letter that was mailed in regard to accusations, I am stating a few not-so-obvious results from the issue, namely, the effects of this sin by these men on the body of Christ, the home, children, families and the community at large.

It must said for clarification that personal discussion, reconciliation and outside mediation has been attempted to no avail and that this is a matter for the church of Jesus Christ, not just GTC or the other churches close to her, but the body at large.  When attacks from the world come, it is expected.  Paul told Timothy that anyone who desires to live a Godly life will be persecuted and we can see that all throughout the ministry of Paul in his pastoral writings, that he named many who had caused him and his ministry great harm in an attempt to secure peace but mostly to warn the churches of their sin and evil.  These matters are not matters of fact but of opinion in as much as the catalyst of the accusations admitted today in an interview that he had “no evidence” to back up these claims but that he can sense or “hear” these things in talking with me and others.  Therefore, he has told me that God instructed him to do what he has done by highjacking two church meetings and publicly making these accusations in complete disagreement with the word of God on how to handle conflict.  One of the other pastors were told in my hearing that Matthew 18 did not apply to him and last evening, this pastor was told directly in front of his church that the scripture did not apply to him in this manner because he was the pastor of the church.

So, on with the show, let us all take time and guard our hearts and pray for repentance and healing and genuine affection toward these brothers who are doing the work of the devil.  But let us also take heart and God is over all things and just as He asked Satan to consider Job and gave the devil the power to mess up his life, God is faithful to His children and has all of this for the good of all the church.  Be safe brothers and sisters not to fall into bitterness.  “Then why write in the first place?”  Well, because of the continual public outcry in response to these allegations and the sinful manner in which this was done.

The Effects and Damage

  1. To the Church – the number of pastors who have called us is overwhelming.  Not only local pastors but some from the Atlanta area and beyond the borders of our state have heard of these events and called to pray and exhort us to humility and prayer while standing for truth.  Nearly eight churches on record are having problems now because of the mass mailing which has caused people to question me and my teaching and those who know me, to question how their pastor is going to respond to the correspondence.  Not only there, but at a local church this past Lord’s Day, where this man preached not exposition, but in a passionate anger forcing several errors in his own hermeneutic that has caused concern from the National front.  I heard from two people today that if this is not resolved, they will leave their church.  Several community leaders have asked me what to do as they feel that the whole of the local SBC Association is corrupt and wonder if everyone would be better associating with neighboring groups.  The sheep are hurt worst in this matter where I have had over a dozen conversations about doctrine whereby this sin has caused doubt in the hearts of several church members from several different congregations.  Scripture tells us that those who cause the sheep to stumble would be better off drowned in the sea. IN an attempt to so-called “protect the churches” these men have damaged them, the sheep, the message of the gospel and the unity of the faith. Some young pastors are confused as to what these allegations even mean and two others are moving to leave the association all together over this as they feel this person Christians do not do these things.
  2. To the Family – Not just the stress this is causing among the accused but outside of it.  For instance, a recent marriage problem was caused over this because an individual could not believe that his pastor would affirm such actions and thus, even in sin, he made comments that he would leave his church to which his wife disagreed; now a full issue is at hand and emotions are high.  Several young people have commented that they are scared for their family and the peace in their homes as this has raised several arguments among parents and a few more young men have stated that they are doubtful that these “spiritual leaders” are true believers.  This is causing greif within one church due to the reality that so many family members are members of the fellowship and now are pitted against one another.  Several pastors are on the brink of being fired from their churches and they have small children who depend on their father’s role as pastor for food.
  3. To the Community – Several of the unchurched has been grieved as they are unsure as to what to think and wonder what motivates someone to do such a thing which is concluded by judging the motives of these men which is unbiblical; causing harm to their own worship.  The testimony of the church is damaged in several people’s minds as they have commented, “it’s normal” in regard to Christians being liars and being hateful.  Community leaders in their churches are at odds with the issues and a few of them are broken over the fact that these things have taken place and want resolve.  All the time we have spent on this matter has taken us from the call to preach the gospel and make disciples.  However, it is a disciple-making reality due to the number of people who have called for help, counsel and prayer.

So, from pastors who want to leave the church, members who hate each other, churches who are confused and scared, sheep who doubt their faith, children who witness fighting in the home, young men who are growing apathetic, marriages who are on the blink, the public who says, “I told you so” to a long list of other things that result from such things; this whole thing is a big grand sinful and wicked mess.  BUT God is faithful and He will work this out for the good of His people.  Pray for God’s glory to be seen and that His people will be gentle as they stand up for truth.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }