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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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John Piper On The Indifferent Minister

John Piper

Quoting John Piper:

Gladness and gravity should be woven together in the life and preaching of a pastor in such a way as to sober the careless soul and sweeten the burdens of the saints. I say “sweeten” because it connotes some of the poignancy of the gladness I have in mind, and sets it off from the glib and petty attempts to stir up lightheartedness in a congregation. Love for the people does not take precious realities lightly (hence the call for gravity), and love for people does not load people with the burden of obedience without providing the strength of joy to help them carry it (hence the call for the gladness).

Gladness in preaching is an act of love. It continually amazes people when I say that if a pastor is to truly love his people he must diligently pursue his happiness in the ministry of the Word. People have been taught consistently that to be a loving person you must abandon the pursuit of your own joy. It’s all right to get it as an unexpected and unpursued result of love (as if that were psychologically possible), but it is not all right to pursue your happiness.

I assert the opposite: If you are indifferent to your joy in ministry you are indifferent to an essential element of love. And if you try to abandon your joy in the ministry of the Word you strive against God and your people. (The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Baker, 1990), 52-53)

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“Welcome Our New Pastor” And Be Comfortable!

Imagine: Your church has selected or been assigned a new pastor. As part of your church’s community outreach, you want people living in the area to know that you have a new pastor. After all, they may have visited your church before and did not like your old pastor.

As one way to communicate with the local community, you decide to put a message on the marquee in front of the church so that people driving by will read about your new pastor. Now, one very important question is going to be: “What do you say about your new pastor in such a limited space?”

Would you describe him as – “a mighty man of God?” How about describing him as “a man of God”, or “a biblical preacher”, perhaps even “a man who loves God”, or “a man who demonstrates God’s love for His people”? Of course, your imagination is the limit – as long as you are truthful and concise.

If you were called to be the pastor, what would you want the few words on the sign to say about you? If I were called to be a pastor, I would be greatly honored to be called “God’s man” or “a man who has experienced the grace of God.” Whatever is said, I would hope that the words would convey that this church and this minister are all about God, Jesus Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and God’s mercy and grace toward us who are sinners.

While driving home during the past couple of weeks I have noticed a marquee announcing a new pastor at a neighborhood church. The sign reads:

WELCOME OUR NEW PASTOR!

DR. JOHN SMITH (name changed)

“HE’S A CASUAL DRESSER!”

What would you assume is important to this church?

Honoring God By Honoring Your Pastor

Pastors are servants who have been called by God to shepherd His flock. It is not an easy job to undertake. Pastors need encouragement and support from their church members.

One of the most important things you can do for your pastor is to pray for him. The pastor, his family, the elders and deacons are often targeted by satanic schemes and strife. The devil’s objective is to strike the pastor (shepherd) and scatter the flock. This is often accomplished through members of the pastor’s own church. It is, therefore, important that the church leadership and members of the congregation stand in the gap with consistent prayers for the pastor’s protection.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Speak words of encouragement to and about your pastor. Talk well of him. Embrace his ministry to you as a gift from God. Do not allow your words to reveal an immature relationship with Christ in your life. Do not allow your tongue to speak evil when the Word of God is preached to you.

“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:5-10)

God honors his shepherds and commands us to do the same. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17) It is worth noting that the Bible mentions other groups to honor but only one group worthy of double honor. You may not agree with every opinion your pastor holds or like every sermon he preaches, but you must take into account the spiritual importance of his work in your life. Maybe you have unrealistic expectations for him to be something other than human. Remember, his position is worthy of “double honor.” It must be esteemed because to do so is to honor God.

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