We’d like to congratulate Ken graduating from ODS!!! Now if we can just get the Navy to implement good coffee
I’m noticing a trend in pastoral ministry that may not be new but it may not be valid. When reading Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor some years ago, I was struck with an aspect of his care for his fold. There would be constant visitation, constant prayer, and constant studying of his word to care for the sheep. I am noticing a trend. The pastoral office is moving away from time in a chair and time with people to a rally-leading, church organizing, administrator who preaches.
Now I know full and well there is an amount of administration that needs to be finished by the weeks end. There is an expectation of the Pastor to constantly organize new events, new programs, and new innovations in order to reach unbelievers. This trend, if I’m seeing it correctly, is not a healthy vision of the ministry. The reason does not reside in the Pastor doing administration, organizing events, etc., but in the Pew’s expectations of the pastor. It’s the pastor’s job to reach the unbeliever. It’s the pastor’s job to organize next months Easter program. It’s the pastor’s job to “you name it.”
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This will be our first Sunday that I will be able to tell my wife “Happy Mother’s Day.” It will be exciting, especially after being married for almost four years. I can look back over these past four years and see the joy that my wife has given to me. Moreover, the excitement of the future thrills me as we are able to begin bringing children into this world.
However, what the past four years has taught me is how to view days like today. There is always the excitement to see local churches recognize motherhood, give them a rose, and encourage them in their motherhood.
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Today, Andrew Callaway, from Cow Creek Community Church, joins the discussion.
Andrew is a Shepherd at heart, loves the local church, and will eventually become a pastor’s “Pastor.”
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The Other Side of Thankfulness
As Americans, the fourth Thursday in November is usually the time of year that our minds focus upon giving thanks. However, such an attitude of gratitude should not be seasonal for Christians. Thankfulness is to continually and habitually mark the follower of Christ all year round.
True thanksgiving is joyfully offering praise to God in acknowledgement of His hand in our lives. It is the attitude of a true worshiper- one who knows that all good things come from God (James 1:17), but also knows that none of those good things whatsoever is deserved.
God commands a grateful attitude. The Apostle Paul wrote that giving thanks is to be done “in” everything we experience, “in everything give thanks.” Such gratefulness is “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Not only that, but Paul commands us in Ephesians 5:20, “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;” Putting those verses together, we are to give thanks in everything, at all times, for all things! There is no situation we are in, either “good” or “bad” in which we are not to offer thanks to God for His abundant and unmerited kindness in each circumstance.
Undeniably, God has given believers so much and done so much for which we should be thankful. But is there anything that He has withheld or withdrawn that should be a cause for thanksgiving? Is there anything that God does NOT do to us or for us that we should thank Him for?
Indeed there is. Here is a sampling of the “other side” of thankfulness- not what we should be thankful for that God has given us, but what we should be thankful for…that God has NOT given to us.
First, we should be thankful to God that He will NOT punish us as our sins deserve. Scripture repeatedly affirms that we are sinners. If we could see each of our sins collected and written down in a book, there would be libraries full of the records! Due to our sin, there is an eternal rift between us and God. We are at enmity with Him in our natural state and each of us should be immediately and eternally damned for breaking His laws.
Second Corinthians 5:19 says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” This verse shows what God has “not” done in order to bring about forgiveness and reconciliation-“not counting” men’s sins against them. The word for “counting” is an accounting term that means “put something down on someone’s account.” When we trust Christ for salvation, God no longer sees our “account” with a long list of our trespasses by which He should punish us. We are no longer viewed as having a library of books full of our sin, but are instead credited with the righteous deeds of Christ. Our sin is not simply overlooked but paid for by a Substitute. In Christ He withholds His rightful judgment on us and punishes Christ in our stead.
The prophet Isaiah writes of the Lord, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25). Again in Jeremiah 31:34, the Lord declares that He will, “forgive their iniquity, and their sin [He] will remember no more.” In both passages God is said to not “remember” our sins. God’s omniscience requires Him not to forget anything as if it never happened. In forgiveness, God does not forget, He chooses not to remember.
Through faith in Christ, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10) and thus there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). We can be thankful that through the sacrifice of Christ, God has not counted, not remembered, and thus not condemned us due to our sin.
Second, we can be thankful to God for NOT leaving us. In Hebrews 13:5, the author quotes the OT and writes, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” This sweet promise is repeated multiple times throughout Scripture (Gen. 28:15; Deut. 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5-7; 1 Chr. 28:20) and signifies God’s faithfulness and assured presence with His people. It was first given to Jacob as he searched for a wife (Gen. 28), then also to Joshua as he took leadership of Israel and so on. In each case, God’s children were in a position of uncertainty and were offered assurance of God’s presence to comfort them. He would NOT leave them.
Similarly, God will not leave us to fend for ourselves when we encounter temptations and trials. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
The word for temptation is translated both trial as well as temptation. The difference is seen in the fact that God sends trials to test us; Satan sends temptations to trap us.
Our temptations are not unique. Nothing happens to us but what is common to human experience. Millions of other men and women of history have been tempted in similar ways just as we are. The details may change but the challenges are the same.
Though temptations and trials are unavoidable, they are not unbearable. We serve a God whose faithfulness guarantees His strength to combat any temptation successfully. A temptation will not be more than can be handled, because His grace will be more than enough to assist. Through His presence and help we may find strength for endurance, not an escape hatch to avoid the trial. No temptation or trial is stronger than our spiritual resources that are close at hand.
We can be thankful that God is reliable and will not leave us, will not forsake us, and will not abandon us so that we are unable to persevere in trials.
As you consider what you should be thanking God for, consider the other side. We should be grateful for what our gracious Father has done but also rejoice in what He has NOT done and what He will NOT do for His children.