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Thursday, September 23, 2004

a prayer

A brother sent this to me--enjoy!

"Thou art the blessed God, happy in Thyself, source of happiness in Thy
creatures, my maker, benefactor, proprietor, upholder. Thou hast produced
and sustained me, supported and indulged me, saved and kept me; Thou art in
every situation able to meet my needs and miseries.

May I live by Thee, live for Thee, never be satisfied with my Christian
progress but as I resemble Christ; and may conformity to His principles,
temper, and conduct grow hourly in my life. Let Thy unexampled love
constrain me into holy obedience, and render my duty my delight. If others
deem my faith folly, my meekness infirmity, my zeal madness, my hope
delusion, my actions hypocrisy, may I rejoice to suffer for Thy name.

Keep me walking steadfastly towards the country of everlasting delights,
that paradise-land which is my true inheritance. Support me by the strength
of heaven that I may never turn back, or desire false pleasures that will
disappear into nothing. As I pursue my heavenly journey by Thy grace let me
be known as a man with no aim but that of a burning desire for Thee, and the
good and salvation of my fellow men."

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Boots

This is (I believe) one of the greatest poems ever written. Just wanted to share it with you:
*****************
BOOTS by Rudyard Kipling

We're foot-slog-slog-slog-sloggin' over Africa -
Foot-foot-foot-foot-sloggin' over Africa -
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again!)
There's no discharge in the war!

Seven-six-eleven-five-nine-an'-twenty mile to-day -
Four-eleven-seventeen-thirty-two the day before -
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again!)
There's no discharge in the war!

Don't-don't-don't-don't-look at what's in front of you.
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again)
Men-men-men-men-men go mad with watchin' em,
An' there's no discharge in the war!

Try-try-try-try-to think o' something different -
Oh-my-God-keep-me from goin' lunatic!
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again!)
There's no discharge in the war!

Count-count-count-count-the bullets in the bandoliers.
If-your-eyes-drop-they will get atop o' you!
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again) -
There's no discharge in the war!

We-can-stick-out-'unger, thirst, an' weariness,
But-not-not-not-not the chronic sight of 'em -
Boot-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again,
An' there's no discharge in the war!

'Taint-so-bad-by-day because o' company,
But night-brings-long-strings-o' forty thousand million
Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again.
There's no discharge in the war!

I-'ave-marched-six-weeks in 'Ell an' certify
It-is-not-fire-devils, dark, or anything,
But boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again,
An' there's no discharge in the war!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

What Is the Difference...

Between the atheist who would not dream of financially supporting the church and the Christian who will not financially support the Lord's church?

Between the skeptic who does not believe the Bible and the negligent Christian who never reads it?

Between those who do not believe in Bible classes and those who choose never to attend a class?

Between the atheist who does nothing to build up the Lord's church and the Christian who finds fault with others but does nothing himself?

Between a man of the world and a person in the church who lives like a man in the world?

Between a man of the world who lives for self, and a person in the church building who lives for self, not God?

These are tough questions for Christians who live in a tough world. The fact is that Christians make no difference until they are different.

So, what's the difference?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Being God's gift to mankind.

We are familiar with the quip, "whaddya think you are, God's gift to man?" Would you believe that the remark actually came from someone's definition of "ministry?"

What does “ministry” mean?

"An office and function whereby one proclaims the mystery of godliness. A work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of church leaders that informs theology and practical implementation." (Stitzinger, James. “Pastoral Ministry in History.” TMSJ 6/2 (Fall 1995) 143-80. All quotes hereafter come from this summative article.)

FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT:
The shepherding love, care, mercy, discipline, compassion and delight of God toward people.

FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT:
Same as OT plus the wisdom, glory, power and humility of Christ; laying down life for sheep.

Elder (presybteros): Administration and spiritual guidance of the church;
Bishop/overseer (episkopos): guidance, oversight, leadership in the church;
Shepherd/pastor (poimen): position denoting leadership and authority, guidance and provision;
Preacher (kerux): public proclamation of the gospel and teaching of the flock;
Teacher (didaskalos): one responsible for instruction and exposition of scripture; teaching as instruction and correction.

THE EARLY CHURCH (100-476 AD):

Clement of Alexandria (155-220): Ministers are those who are chosen to serve the Lord, who moderate their passions, who are obedient to superiors, and who teach and care for sheep as a shepherd.

Origen (185-254): . . . the one representing Christ and his house (the church) and teaching others of these truths.

John Chrysostom (344/354-407): The nature of ministry is the method and way of healing by the powerful application of the Word . . . cauterizing, cutting, “and if it be needful to sear and amputate . . . roust the soul when it sleeps and reduce it when it is inflamed . . . cut off excesses and fill up defects, and perform all manner of other operations which are requisite for the soul’s health.” To live by example with the ambition that the Word of Christ would dwell in men richly.

Augustine (354-430): The office most easily desired and most to be feared; the challenge of God’s divine city with an earthly city.

THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD (476-1500 AD)

The Book of Pastoral Rule. Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604): The “supreme rule” and how well it is lived out in teaching; “the government of souls [as] the art of arts.”

Note these two views with the rise of Protestantism:
1) Schismatics, heretics and divisive people; usurpers of authority.
2) Shepherds, preachers, caretakers, administrators of the sacraments, edifiers.

John Wycliffe (1324-1384): A whole [holy] person with wholesome teaching; a deserter of temporal living and a person of care, “resplendent with righteousness of doctrine before his sheep.”

John Huss (137-1415): One who oversees the church in the pattern of the apostles and true priests did before the office of pope was introduced. (E.H. Gillett summarizing Huss. “Not the office makes the priest, but the priest the office. Not every priest is a saint, but every saint is a priest.”)

THE REFORMATION PERIOD (1500-1648 AD)

Biblically based and patterned.

Martin Luther (1523): Preaching of the Word, baptism, administration of sacraments, binding and loosing sin, sacrifice and pastoral care.

Martin Bucer (1491-1551): “1) A diligent teacher of the Holy Scriptures; 2) an administrator of the sacraments; and 3) a participator in the discipline of the church (life and manners, penance and sacred ceremonies, care for the needy.)”

John Calvin c. 1540: “A pastor needs two voices, one for gathering the sheep and the other for driving away wolves and thieves.” One who divides the bread into small pieces to feed his children, who administers sacraments and visits the sick.

An Anabaptist idea: One who enters into the brotherhood of discipleship.

The Schleitheim Confession of 1527: “This office [of Pastor] shall be to read, to admonish and teach, to warn, to discipline, to ban in the church, to lead out in prayer for the advancement of all the brethren and sisters, to lift up the bread when it is broken, and in all things to see to the care of the body of Christ, in order that it may be built up and developed, and the mouth of the slanderer be stopped.”

THE MODERN PERIOD (1649-present)

Richard Baxter (1615-1691): Acts 20:28.

The centrality of the Word, the spiritual reality of the church, the role of all laity in church and participation of simple worship.

William Perkins (1558-1602): The minister is first an angel of God to the people, an interpreter “who is able to deliver aright the reconciliation, made betwixt God and man. . . a double interpreter, God’s to the people and the people’s to God.”

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758): Being God’s gift to man.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892): Serving the spiritual needs of the people.

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones (1939-1981): Engagement in the spiritual help of individuals (over psychological help).

Jay Adams: Confronting sin with biblical teaching.

John MacArthur: Biblically leading a flock with preaching, teaching, worship, discipleship, fellowship under the head of the person and work of Christ.

A FEW CONTRIBUTING THOUGHTS BY FRIENDS (INCLUDING TEACHERS AND STUDENTS):

“A cup that overflows . . .”

“. . . an individual who has been called upon on to act, by the Holy Spirit and in the Holy Spirit, performing as if God Himself were acting dispensing God's grace, mercy, instruction, teaching, and discipline towards another person for their benefit. If someone is called into full time ministry, short term ministry, a one time ministry, or a single moment ministry the equation remains the same. God calls us unto Himself for relationship and fellowship, we discover His heart, we desire to please Him, we listen for His voice, we act in faith, the result is God administers to His people through His people.”

“. . . one who does some of the officiating in a service . . . that may deliver the sermon not to be confused with Pastor [a spiritual overseer, considered the leader of some churches]. Some are referred to as the leaders of a church or parish, and considered the superior of one of several religious orders.”
“1. Properly, a chief servant; hence, an agent appointed to transact or manage business under the authority of another; in which sense, it is a word of very extensive application. “Moses rose up and his minister Joshua.” Exo 24.
2. One to whom a king or prince entrusts the direction of affairs of state; as minister of state; the prime minister. In modern governments, the secretaries or heads of the several departments or branches of government are the ministers of the chief magistrate.
3. A magistrate; an executive officer. “For he is the minister of God to thee for good.” Rom 13.
4. A delegate; an ambassador; the representative of a sovereign at a foreign court; usually such as is resident at a foreign court, but not restricted to such.
5. One who serves at the altar; one who performs sacerdotal duties; the pastor of a church, duly authorized or licensed to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments. Eph 3.
6. Christ is called a minister of the sanctuary. Heb 8.
7. An angel; a messenger of God. “Who maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flaming fire.“ Psa 104.
MIN'ISTER, v.t. [L. ministro.] To give; to afford; to supply.
“He that ministereth seed to the sower”--2 Cor 9.; “That it may minister grace to the hearers.” Eph 4.
MIN'ISTER, v.i. To attend and serve; to perform service in any office, sacred or secular.
I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office. Exo 29.
1. To afford supplies; to give things needful; to supply the means of relief; to relieve.
“When saw we thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” Mat 25.
2. To give medicines.
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?
In this sense, we commonly use administer.
If one is considering further study of this topic (minister), I would highly recommend the following works:

Adams, Jay, Shepherding God's Flock. Zondervan, 1986.

MacArthur, John, F., Jr, Richard Mayhue, and Robert Thomas, L. Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry : Shaping Contemporary Ministry With Biblical Mandates. Electronic ed. Logos Library Systems. Dallas: Word Pub., 1995.

MacArthur, John. The Master's Plan for the Church. electronic ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1998, c1991.

some others might be;

The Reformed Pastor, Richard Baxter
The Christian Ministry, Charles Bridges
Biblical Eldership, John Piper
Brothers, We are NOT Professionals, John Piper
Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch

Web resources:

1. http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/topic/leadership.html
2. http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/topic/godlylife.html
3. http://www.tenth.org/articles/servantheart.pdf
4. http://reformedperspectives.org/files/reformedperspectives/practical_theology/PT.AP9.02.2.pdf

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