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Church Discipline | A Welcome Idea but a Rejected Reality

Because of the lack of true purity in the body of Christ through the decades, church discipline has been reserved for the mass murderers and public mass abusers of children.  Everyone else seems to be immune, especially in their own hearts, to any time of accountability to holy living.  In the last four years we have taught and taught on church discipline to the congregation and other pastors.  We have taught the holiness of God, the call and purpose of the church and the effects of sin on the individual and the body of Christ.  With all the right teaching, direction and instruction it seems that people would be welcome and ready for the true practice of discipline within the church, and for the most part they are as long as it is done in a counseling arena, helping people feel ok about their sin and just keep it to themselves. (Sarcasm)

When discipline actually becomes visible; when a person is actually brought before the church; this is when the true nature and power of the gospel is revealed in many hearts.  In an attempt to disciple and settle so many confused minds and hearts concerning this issue, Dr. Sam Storms provides a really well developed question series on this issue that I have pasted below.  I would love your comments as we all strive to continue in the faith for the Glory of God.

First, why is church discipline so neglected, if not ignored altogether, in our day? Among the many reasons that could be cited, here are a few. Perhaps the principal cause is a pervasive ignorance of biblical teaching on the subject (many believe that it is infrequently mentioned in Scripture and therefore unimportant; others are ignorant of the purpose of discipline and see it only as destroying the person).

Another factor is calloused, insensitivity toward sin; a failure to take seriously the offense of sin and a tendency toward unsanctified mercy in our treatment of the unrepentant. Undoubtedly the spirit of individualism also plays a role. We have lost the sense of community and mutual responsibility one for another. How often has it been said, as a way of justifying our passivity toward sin, “Well, it’s not really any of my business, is it?” Discipline is costly because my brother’s/sister’s business now becomes mine.

A misapplication of our Lord’s words in Matthew 7:1 (“Judge not, that you be not judged”) has certainly put hesitancy in the hearts of many in regard to dealing with sin in the local church. The fear of rejection also comes into play (i.e., the fear of being told by the offending party: “Mind your own business. You have no authority to tell me what I can and can’t do”).

I strongly suspect that fear of legal reprisal in the form of lawsuits has paralyzed many. Many people (even church leaders) simply dislike confrontation. Talking directly about personal sin with an offender is difficult; it makes us feel uneasy and uncomfortable; so why rock the boat? Many think that if we simply ignore the problem, in time it will go away. “Time heals all,” or so they contend.

I’ve known instances where discipline stalled from fear of driving the person away, especially if the offender is a major financial contributor to the church! Related to this is the fear of dividing and ultimately even splitting the church over whether and how and to what extent discipline should be applied (invariably many think the discipline was too severe, while others are convinced it was too lenient).

Many struggle with a false concept of discipline because of observed abuses. In their minds discipline is associated with heresy hunts, intolerance, oppression, harshness, mean-spiritedness, self-righteousness, legalism, etc. Related to this is the fear of being labeled a cult if we insist on too strict a code of conduct for our members.

Others resist taking disciplinary steps because it entails change. In other words, the power of tradition is hard to overcome: “We’ve never done it before and we’ve done o.k. Why risk messing things up now?” [click to continue…]

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Over The last few months God has been showing me more and more just how much I need to be squeezed.   I’m not talking about the squeeze as in the affectionate hug,  I’m talking about a squeeze as in a cleansing squeeze. You know, like a sponge you are trying to rinse after washing the tires on the car.  I’m talking about a pressing, molding, kneading by the hand of God to the point that I am no longer the same man I was before.  Not that any of us really think we have arrived, but sometimes we think we have at least began to see the destination in some areas of our lives.  It is at that moment that God reaches down and rinses some of that self-reliant dirty water out our minds and souls.

God is showing me how His squeezing removes from me things that have been stored up inside for some time.  Those areas of ministry, family, study etc, that just stay where they are and I’m fine with them.  I understand them just fine and they love me.  Not that they are wrong or sinful, well not all of them, but they are content.  But what I am learning is that if I am to expand in my faith, I must be willing to feel the burden of being rinsed so that there will be “room” for growth.

Just like a sponge; we are ready to absorb when we are dry, but a damp sponge can never fully absorb a “new” liquid, until the old liquid is finally ringed out.  And don’t think of this metaphor as me saying that what we already have or know from God or His word is dirty, but it can become stale.  We can get to where our testimony of God’s hand in our lives starts out with, “last month God showed me…”  That’s a sad choice of words for a child of God.  What is God showing us right now?  Well, for me, God is showing me that sanctification comes in all shapes, sizes, ages and smells.  Most of all, He brings about sanctification through trial and burden.

God’s sanctification of His children, though not pleasant at times, is always joyful.  It’s joyful because the more He rinses us in His grace, the more like Him we become.  Then our hearts grow weary of the flesh and the world and we crave for more of His holiness in our lives.  We strive to run from sin and jump into His hand of discipline that shapes us into the saints that He has declared us to be.

The reality of growing in our walk with Christ comes through the squeezes or the rinses of trial, fire and sin.  When we sin, God disciplines us, corrects us and shows us our wickedness and reminds us of His grace given through the flesh of Jesus Christ.  When we face a trial or temptation, God provides us with the power to overcome the world through Christ.  We are people created for His glory and His workings in our lives are forever near.  The pressures of this world are not really something that we should pray against, for God to remove, but rather endure and run into the fire so that God would be shown glorious!

Through fire, the dross is burned and new growth emerges.  Through death, a seed brings forth life.  Through the tearing down of muscle comes great strength, such is the outcome of our faith when it is tested, burned and tried.  Christ is our hope, He is our resolve, His grace is sufficient, but we would never know the reality of such glorious power without the burdens of this world to test our affections, actions and attitudes.

Be strong in the Lord today, hold on as God squeezes more and more of the world out of you to form you into what He has already declared you to be: holy.  When we are fully dry and empty of our flesh, our sin and the affections of this world, then He dips us ever so deeply into the flowing blood of Christ to experience the remarkable and extravagant grace of His ineffable love.

Hebrews 12:4-11
4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

For His Glory by His Grace,

James Tippins

 

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Feeding the Flock | What is True Spiritual Food?

A few weeks ago I jotted down five areas where a pastor should spend most of his energy, time and passion.  As promised, I wanted to come back to these five things and talk about them a little more detailed.  The first of the five was “Feeding the Flock” and in my opinion, is the primary reason pastors are called, equipped and breathe air.  Putting aside my opinion and dogma, let’s visit the scripture in regards to this thinking.

Let’s peek into John’s gospel for a brief moment:

John 21:15-17 (ESV)
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

In the New Testament, we see the calling of Peter to feed the lambs and the sheep.  To tend to their well being and secure their existence through proper food.  In John’s gospel we can discover what a pastor is actually supposed to feed the sheep.  Some would say that feeding the sheep is ministry programs, good leadership skills, etc., however, Jesus has another thought about food.  After Jesus radically saves the woman at the well in John chapter four, the disciples come back with food.

John 4:31-34 (ESV)
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

As Jesus explains later in John 6, He is the food and His food is to “be food” per se.  We see that after Jesus feeds the multitudes in John 6, He escapes and they find him the next day in Capernaum.  After they catch up to Him, this is the dialog.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?
John 6:25-30 (ESV)

Jesus exclaims that HE is the true bread that comes down from Heaven.  He is the only real food that matters and that His food, bread (words) will bring life to the dead and joy to the down trodden.  Thus, we must greatly understand that the primary and over-arching purpose of the pastor is to feed JESUS to the sheep.  Everything else is way down the line of importance.  Christ is the preeminent one in all things, thus, He is the preeminent food for the church. [click to continue…]

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Although there is much that will be said and speculated.  The call of the church is for her to petition the Lord of all things for His sovereign grace in these matters with Pastor Mahaney as well as with all of us.

Mahaney’s board has stated:

“The charges against C.J. are serious, but his response has been one of self-examination and, when possible, specific confession to those sinned against.  However, given the numerous events, people, and perspectives involved, the work of an independent panel will be vital to fully examining these charges and arriving at an objective conclusion, especially on those charges with which the board does not agree.”

Mahaney issued his own lengthy statement here.

“These charges are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety, but this doesn’t minimize their serious nature, which include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.”

“I believe God is kindly disciplining me through this. I believe I have by the grace of God perceived a degree of my sin, and I have been grieved by my sin and its effects on others.  I have had the opportunity to confess my sin to some of those affected in various ways by my sin.”

In light of this, let us pray for our brother, his ministry and greatly for the glory of God to be revealed through His grace.  Let us also reflect continually on our own hearts, our own pride, our own wickedness and sin and resolve to tremble before the mighty hand of God who gives grace by His own desire, not of human decision or merit.

1 Peter 2:18-25 (ESV)
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.
19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.
20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

An article detailing this can be read here: http://blogs.courier-journal.com/faith/2011/07/08/serious-charges-vs-popular-pastor-author-mahaney/

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In considering what pastors are and are not supposed to do, if twenty people are asked, chances are one might receive sixty different answers. As I reflect on my own years in ministry, I too have changed that answer several times in many seasons and for many reasons. It goes without saying that culture, tradition, dreams, example and the like mold one’s view of pastoral leadership. In the corporate world of mega-church mentality and the “professional” pastor, it’s easy for many skewed views to surface surrounding the office of pastor and his role to his family, his flock and his faithfulness.

For reasons that need no explanation, I hope to shine a brief light on my own thinking as well as help one who might read this have adequate food for thought. With that, I leave the presupposition that all who would journey to these words would sum the whole of the argument does and should come from the scriptures and therefore, this article reasons in that light.

So, what are the top five duties of a pastor? Let’s see…

Feeding the flock.  This sounds very trivial, but the primary role of a pastor is to feed the people who God has put under his care.  This feeding is through the right teaching of the word of God for their joy, edification, doctrine, exhortation, admonishment and maturity.  Everything that the church is supposed to do comes primarily through the teaching of the scriptures from the pastors.  A church that is not fed the truth is malnourished and finds other meals to eat.

1 Timothy 3:2 (ESV) 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…

2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV) 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [click to continue…]

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Never Forget Part 1 AUDIO

Today has been one of those days that has got me thinking as I ponder the reality of Christ and His glorious revelation of God the Father to and through us.  I really don’t think the average believer spends enough time thinking about the Eternal Son of the living God and I can honestly say that for a long time, I thought too much about thinking too much rather than just meditating on the Word.

In my rapid and refreshing thoughts today I began to write down some things that I don’t want to stop thinking about in my walk with Christ as a father, husband and pastor.  Some of them I have listed here and now feel inspired to reflect on them individually over the months to come.  For today, I have just listed a few.  If you have some that God has revealed to you, please add them to the list as we journey through these things together for the glory of God.

  1. Never forget that it is the WORD of God alone that builds the church, draws the people and saves them.
  2. Never forget that we should desire to see more people come to faith much more than we desire to see people come to church.
  3. Never forget that the foundational command of each Christian and each church is to make disciples, period.
  4. Never forget that Christians should be thinkers and wrestle with the scriptures daily and grow in their knowledge of God and His eternal grace.
  5. Never forget that multiplication of the Kingdom is not bigger congregations but more congregations in every town, city and community; church planting is the call of scripture for every church.
  6. Never forget that the community of believers are supposed to exercise discipline over counseling so that God’s word and His worth are clearly displayed.
  7. Never forget that God is HOLY and Sovereign and has established Himself as the END of all things.
  8. Never forget that the chief end of mankind is to GLORIFY God and ENJOY Him forever.
  9. Never forget that the church is a present and visible body created to display the glory of God and HIS eternal power.
  10. Never forget that Christ is the head of the church.
  11. Never forget that Love is the evidence of the church.
  12. Never forget that Jesus is LORD and the consequences thereof.
  13. Never forget that DOCTRINE means teaching and ORTHODOXY means right thinking.
  14. Never forget that we are all called to study, worship and teach the gospel.
  15. … more to come by all who share in the FAITH!

For His Glory by His Grace

Pastor James

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73 Minutes Worth Spending | A Word for the Church

I was presented with this message today in a sound bite and would love to share this with all. Please take a moment and listen when you have 73 minutes, you will be glad you did.

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Brothers and sisters, this is a good video, please find a few minutes to watch. Created by a brother in Christ “Identity313” on YouTube.

Related Media

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Hallowed Be Thy Name

This is a wonderfully short message to pastors at the SBC’s Aspire Conference this week. You can find some good notes on this message HERE at Ben Terry’s blog. Thanks Ben!

ASPIRE Msg: John Piper from Hope Baptist Church, Las Vegas on Vimeo.

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Harold Camping | Family Radio

As we can now see, nothing happened. Why? Because God has never and will never reveal His judgment day to the world. It is not for the church to count the days and preach such things but the church has a call to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ!

This video is a good response to Camping’s prophesies. Let us pray for revival through the power of God and HIS gospel!

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