pastor or leader

Keith Giles has a good post about the conflation of the concepts and tasks of pastor and leader such that we think they mean the same thing.  He writes in part:

Beyond the obvious misuse of the word, the real danger is that we’ve completely redefined the verb “to pastor” so that it no longer has anything to do with loving people, caring for them, serving them, feeding them, strengthening them, making sure they are spiritually healthy, or anything remotely close to what a “shepherd” would do to take care of the sheep. Instead, we have reduced the term “shepherd” or “pastor” into the most narrow function – leadership.

I think Keith is absolutely right, and honestly, I think this is why so many “pastors” are burning out of ministry never to return.  The church current addiction to the notion of pastor as a “strong leader” (usually this is code for controlling).  Its also because of the commitment of most churches to the “extrovert ideal” that you read about in Susan Cain’s book Quiet.  Unless someone in the pastoral vocation is a “strong leader” (aka: an extroverted control freak) then we think he or she is not too good a pastor – so then, to even get work, many are forced to continually operate outside their personality and giftings to the point that they burn out.

Now I want to be careful here – this is not to say the pastoral vocation does not involve elements of leadership – in truth, we are all leaders, we all lead each other in various ways and the pastor/shepherd leads the sheep pointing them to Christ.  It’s just that I think we need to keep in mind more biblical models of leadership as seen in the life of Moses, David, Paul, even Christ himself in how we both understand and do leadership in a pastoral context.  This is not to say current models of corporate business world aspects of leadership are not applicable, but I think they need to be subordinated to the biblical models.  For a good book on spiritual leadership and the pastoral ministry consider Reggie McNeil’s book: A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders (Joesy-Bass).  Additionally, the best book out there on Christian leadership is Henri Nouwen’s book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (Crossroad).

Blessings,

QOTD: Carson on Philippians

basicsThe Kindle edition of Don Carson’s book, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Baker Academic), is on a temporary $4 sale.

Here is a good quote from chapter one (worth the price of the $4 Kindle edition alone).

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much— just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture. I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races— especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. …

Carson, D. A. (1996-04-01). Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Kindle Locations 44-50). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I preached through a large part of Philippians when we were at the Grand Canyon and it sure was a challenging book to say the least!  I think its one that every church needs to go through verse by verse.  It so integral to the life and health of the congregation – what can be more important that building one another up in the faith and promoting unity for the sake of the gospel??  But and However, in order to get to that place, most congregations have a lot of work to do – you know – work out their salvation with fear and trembling.  No, silly, not trying to earn one’s salvation but learn to work out personal differences and setting aside personal agendas and following the model of Christ himself, the humble obedient servant, the one who’s attitude we must emulate if the gospel is going to impact not just our communities and the world, but also our own community of faith and our own hearts.  

That bears repeating – the ONLY WAY the gospel will go forth in our own hearts and in our own communities, really and truly, is for each person and for the whole congregation to take on the attitude of Christ, becoming humble obedient servants – to Christ, to one another, and to the gospel – SO THAT the gospel may go forth.  

St Paul was a man of singular passion – Christ and the gospel – that was it, nothing else mattered.  NOTHING.  

I wonder, is it the same for us?  Don’t tell, show me!  🙂  

Blessings. 

On John 20:19-23 and Acts 2

One of my NT professors from AGTS, Ben Aker has written what I would say is a tremendous article on the Biblical distinction between Regeneration and Spirit Baptism in reference to John 20:19-23 and Acts 2. Trust me, its really good!

Dr. Aker writes:

There are two Biblical texts that scholars often discuss, frequently misinterpret, and thus confuse regarding regeneration and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They are John 20:19-23 and Acts 2. In the first of these references the word “breathed” occurs. This study then will focus on the meaning and use of the word in John 20:22. I propose that “breathed” refers to regeneration and concerns an actual, supernatural event in which Jesus imparts eternal life to the first disciples through the Spirit. This paper will discuss“ breathed” under two main headings: its lexical and conceptual meanings and uses and the contribution of John’s theology to its meaning and use.

Well, it blessed me and I hope it will bless you too!

passage of the day: John 3:16-21

This really is such an amazing passage, there is so much here to take in:

John 3:16-21:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.

While I think there can be a few different ways to go with this passage, I like to look at it from the perspective of the missio dei.  I think it has much to contribute to how we know and understand the mission of God.  In fact, I like to look at a lot of the Bible as a whole in the light of salvation history and missio dei.  I don’t own the book but I know Howard Marshall in his NT Theology talks about how New Testament Theology is missionary theology.   I think he is exactly right!  And I think the whole thrust of John’s letters is missional through and through.  Sure there is Christology and other issues but I would say the overall theme of the book is a missional one – it is seen in God giving his only Son, that everyone who believes in his name may not perish but have eternal life.  

What is the missional focus?  God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son.  He sent him not to condemn, but to save.

I think the missional focus of the Fourth Gospel can be supported by the Letters of John.  First John tells us, 

1 John 4:9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.

So i think there is strong support for the missional elements of John (and I am sure the rest of the Gospels too).  It amazes me really.  Hebrews 3:1, too calls Jesus “the apostle and high priest of our confession.”   An Apostle is a missionary, one sent on the behalf of another to accomplish some purpose.  In the case of Jesus is was not to condemn the world, but to save it and see that all have a chance at eternal life.
This missional focus of John I think should be reflected in the mission of the church – that we go out not to condemn but to save.  Those who listen and believe on the name of his one and only son, they shall have eternal life and condemnation will not be on them.  To those who chose not to listen, they will be condemned already, and why?  This is the judgement, the verdict… Jesus has come into the world and those who like that will be drawn to him.  Those who don’t will resist and run to the darkness.
Would those who try to resist eventually be overcome because “light wins?”  Light always wins out over the darkness.  Jesus and his mission will be accomplished because like leven in the dough, the light will spread and the darkness will be overcome by the light (Christ).
Lots of interesting possibilities there!  It’s wonderful really.  🙂

 

Pope Francis I on ‘the Cross of Christ’

via Pastor Dan’s blog:

From Pope Francis I’s first homily:

Pope Francis praying at Rome's Santa Maria Maggiore basilica“We must always walk in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, always trying to live in an irreprehensible way,” he said in a heartfelt homily of a parish priest, loaded with biblical references and simple imagery.

“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly,” he said.

“We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord,” he said.

He said those who build on worldly values instead of spiritual values were like children building sand castles on a beach. “Then everything comes crashing down,” he said.

More HERE.

Sounds like things are already off to a GREAT start!

“once for all” in Hebrews 10:5-14

I have been reading J.V. Fesko’s Christ and the Desert Tabernacle (EP Books, 2012) courtesy of Shaun Tabatt.  In addressing the Altar and the Courtyard, Fesko puts forward something we all need to think about, especially folks from more conservative fundamentalist type church backgrounds (pgs 64-65):

One of the questions that we should ask is: Do we fully realize the significance of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ?

So often we give lip service to the idea of the sacrifice of Christ, but our conduct reveals our lack of understanding in our hearts.  Many claim to take refuge in the sacrifice of Christ, but they live in rebellion to the authority of Christ – they claim to love Christ but their lives demonstrate they are indifferent to the costly sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

There are still yet others who claim the name of Christ and look to him for the forgiveness of sins, yet they live as though we still worshipped at the Old Testament tabernacle.  In other words, they believe that their sin is too great for God to forgive, and so, like the Old Testament Israelites, they repeatedly come to God doubting his mercy and seek forgiveness of a sin, offering their prayers and repeatedly pleading with God for forgiveness for the same one sin over and over again.

Oddly enough, both types of sin are manifestations of pride – the former thinks too much of himself, which is arrogance, because he does not believe he needs forgiveness of sins.  The latter thinks too much of his sin and too little of the sacrifice of Christ, because Christ could never forgive him, or so he thinks.  We should occupy neither of these positions of arrogance and pride.

We should recall the costly sacrifice of Christ and rejoice that we can envision the horns of the altar smeared with blood, cling to them in Christ, and know that our sins accuse us no more.  If Christ gave his live so that we might live, then we must not live as though Christ never came, as though he never offered himself up on our behalf.  We must, as Paul says, walk in the newness of life, four our sinful nature has been crucified with Christ: ‘Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24).

At the same time, when we fall into sin, we even grievous sin, we are not beyond forgiveness.  Do not think that we can somehow atone for our sins if we ask God to forgive us many times.  We should rest assured and rejoice that when we ask for God’s forgiveness we have it because of the sacrifice of Christ.  As the psalmist says, ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us’ (Ps 103:12).  Rejoice, knowing that your heavenly Father forgives you on account of the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

Ephesians and the Drama of God

The other day I learned of Stephen E. Fowl’s recent contribution to the New Testament Library Commentary set, Ephesians: A Commentary.  I tweeted about it and asked if any one knew much about it since it was so new and I hadn’t seen any reviews.  Chris Tilling said to be sure to get it as Stephen is the real deal.   A little while later that day, a friend blessed me with a copy (Thank You!) and I can already tell it is going to be good and one you are going want to get your hands on!!   Dr. Fowl is a leading scholar on the theological interpretation of Scripture and he incorporates that into this work on Ephesians!  Michael J. Gorman calls it a “truly theological commentary.”

Well, for me at least, how do I know it is going to be good?  🙂  Feast upon this short snippet summarizing Ephesians chapter 1:

Following the opening greeting, Paul offers a blessing to the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” On the one hand, this directs praise to God and invites the Ephesians to likewise praise God. Moreover, this blessing also allows Paul to narrate God’s drama of salvation, a drama that was initiated before the foundation of the world and that reaches its climax as everything is brought to its proper end in Christ. This drama is cosmic in its scope and consequences.  In addition, God has graciously incorporated the Ephesians into this drama.  Indeed, the presence of the Spirit in the Ephesians’ midst confirms their incorporation into God’s drama of salvation (1:3–14).

This leads Paul to offer a prayer on the Ephesians’ behalf. The hope of this prayer is that the Ephesians will come to understand the significance of God’s drama of salvation and Christ’s particular place in this drama (1:15–23).

I love it!  Paul is narrating the great drama of God’s redeeming work in Christ to redeem all creation and especially to include us in that process!  A story that reaches back to the very beginnings of time and space!  A story that each one of us, who is “in Christ,” has a part in (he later talks about how Eph 2 tells more of our incorporation in to the great drama of God in Christ!)  A story that each one of us lives out in the different contexts of our own lives and situations and circumstances!

Yeah, this is gonna be a good one!  🙂

Blessings!