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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Church

Nine Important Functions of the Local Church

A great post here on the importance of the local church from the Isaiah 53:5 Project

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By Aaron Dunlop from think GOSPEL.com

1. The Christian’s worship center. The local church is the center of the Christian’s worship. This is where our sacrifice for sin—our altar—is presented and understood (Hebrews 13:10; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23). This is where our worship begins and flows out into the life. We damage the growth of Christian graces in the life if we neglect the assembling of the church (Ephesians 4:11–16; Hebrews 10:24–25).

2. The Christian’s schoolroom. Next to worship, teaching is the most prominent function of the church—they rise or fall together. The pastor and elders teach (2 Timothy 2:2), the people teach one another (Titus 2:4; 1 Timothy 5:1–2), and as a body we all teach the angels (Ephesians 3:10, 1 Corinthians 11:10) and the world (Colossians 4:5).

The learning experience of the church is not independent learning—sermons and lectures downloaded from the Internet do not serve this function of the church. The church as a schoolroom depends on the submissive integration and gracious interaction (Hebrews 13:17; Philippians 2:2–4) of Christians. They learn and teach at the same time as they interact with others in the church.

3. The Christian’s counselling room. The Spirit of God uses the preaching of the Word in a remarkable way to penetrate into the hearts and minds of the hearers (Acts 2:37). There is a mysterious element in the preaching of a single sermon. It can rebuke one and comfort another. One can be left in darkness and another illumined (Mark 4:11). “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him” (Psalm 25:14). He knows your heart—the trials, fears, and anxieties you struggle with. The Word of God“is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). He is then the greatest psychiatrist, the Great Physician……read the rest of the post here: Nine Important Functions of the Local Church

God’s Garden-Turnip For Church-The Finale

My post from yesterday on the Isaiah 53:5 Project and the last post in this series. Blessings and enjoy!


 

Seen On a Church Sign

lettuce

Turnip For Church-Turn Up For Church

I had said earlier that my intention here was to do a full out, in depth of the importance of the local assembly of believers in the life of individual believers. I have been away from this series for a couple of weeks, because frankly I have been stuck. Nothing has come into my heart or mind to write about this subject. That can only mean that I am suffering from the inability to write, or we are done. Since I normally don’t lack for words, I can only conclude the Holy Spirit is requesting that I not belabor the point any longer. So, we will conclude with some gatherings from other thoughts I have had on this subject, then move along to something else.


To say that the act of worshiping God in church on Sundays has become less popular over the years would be an understatement. On any given Sunday, on a good day, perhaps half of the people who claim membership in any given church will be present for Sunday morning worship. If you happen to be around Sunday night or Wednesday night, the number is even more drastically reduced.

Where is everybody? It seems that everyone has a million good reasons why they don’t attend church, so we cannot even begin to list them all here. For today’s article, we are going to cover some really good reasons why we should be in Church Sunday morning, and then we will cover and rebut some of our lousy excuses for not going.

Reasons to Come To Church Sunday

  1. Because God said so. That’s pretty simple, right? Rather like your parents telling you “Because I said so!” when you questioned them. Only in this case, it is the Creator of the Universe saying so, which carries a lot of weight. In fact, ignoring what God clearly tells us to do is a very risky proposition to be honest. Hebrews 10:25 is the clearest, most up front message from God concerning how He feels about us meeting for worship. There, Paul was inspired to tell us about “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” In other words, don’t skip church, like some people do!
  2. It’s what Jesus did. We talk often about becoming Christlike, which means we are to strive to be like Jesus. Well, Jesus attended church regularly. In Luke 4:16 we are taught that Jesus attended worship regularly in the Synagogue.  The believers in the early church certainly followed Jesus’ example, as we see in Acts 2:42: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers
  3. We need to go to church and bring our lost family and friends with us. Primarily here I am speaking to saved persons who have unsaved family members around who would go to church if they did. What I am about to say may sound harsh, but it is true.  If we are saved, how can we stand idly by while our children, husbands or wives drift off into an eternity separated from God in Hell? If we understand what salvation did for us, and the consequences of not being saved, one would think we would literally drag those people to church with us. An observer might question our love for our unsaved family members when we allow this to happen. It might even be a sign that we might do a salvation check of our own if we so lack understanding of what salvation means that we don’t bring our unsaved family to hear the Gospel.
  4. It helps us grow. Of course, we can read, study and meditate on God’s word outside of church, and we should.  But there is nowhere we can get as much good Bible study poured on us in so short a time as we can at Sunday School and Church.  There, we are given the gift of Preachers and Teachers who have spent substantial time preparing just to provide the rest of us maximum learning and growth in the minimum amount of time.  What they give us in perhaps a half hour would take us hours to study ourselves.
  5. We can fellowship with other believers. Really, fellow Christians are the people we should have the closest relationships with. God actually tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Not that we should turn our backs on non believing friends, but our primary relationships should be with fellow believers. And, obviously, the best place to be with other believers is in Church. Why would we make a conscious decision to NOT be with people who will love, encourage and support us?

Our Not So Good Reasons for Not Going to Church

Here are some common objections for not regularly worshiping in God’s House, and some reasons why they really aren’t very good objections:

  1. “I can worship God just fine in my fishing boat.” (or golf course, ball game or even my Sunday drive. No, actually, you can’t. To be cliche, we can’t truly worship God in a fishing boat anymore than we can fish in a Church house. Church is primarily for worship of our God. And worship is not worship if it is shared with anything else.  Trying to worship in a fishing boat would only be a lot of fishing with some vague thoughts about God tossed in.  The Bible teaches us that God is a jealous God; He wants all of us, not just a leftover. How are we to love God? Matthew 22:37 tells us to”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind
  2. “The church if full of hypocrites.” Yes it is and there is room for one more.  That’s between them and God, not you and them. That’s like saying, “I’m not going to the gym because there are too many out of shape people there,” or “I won’t go to a doctor, there are too many sick people there!”
  3. “Those people are worse than me anyway!” See the last point. That is between them and God, not them and you. We are judged by God’s standard only for ourselves. We are not judged in comparison to any other person.
  4. “They just want my money!”. Who doesn’t?. Not to be flip, but anything we involve ourselves in is trying to get in our wallets; why don’t we stop doing all of those things? God doesn’t need our money; actually it’s all His anyway. If we have it, it is only because He gave it to us. We are merely His stewards of what He gives us. God’s work, however, does take financial support. So, yes, occasionally we may be reminded about what the Bible says about giving to support the work of the Lord. Sadly, some greedy TV preachers have made all churches appear corrupt. Your giving, however, is between you and God; it is not between you and where you go to church. If that’s not true,  find a church where it is true.
  5. “Sunday is my day off and I like to sleep in and just rest.” You know, Jesus got up early one Sunday morning about 2000 years ago. Only, He didn’t wake up from bed, HE WOKE UP FROM BEING DEAD! Had that not happened, where would we all either be or headed? Without the Resurrection, our salvation would be incomplete and eternity in Hell would be our only option. I can promise you from personal experience, if you give God His day even on your day off, He will give you all the rest you need.

We could go on and on for pages with many more good reasons we should attend church regularly; we could do the same with the myriad reasons we do not attend church regularly.  These are just some of the bigger reasons for going and bigger not so good reasons.

My prayer is that anyone reading this who, for whatever reason, no longer sees the need for regular worship in God’s house will come to understand that God does want us to do that. Further, I pray that they and the Holy Spirit can work through the issues that hold them back from this wonderful gift God has given us.

Read more great posts here on the Isaiah 53:5 Project

 

God’s Garden-Turnip For Church-Part 2

Originally  posted yesterday by Wally Fry on the Isaiah 53:5 Project

Seen On a Church Sign

lettuce

Turnip For Church-Turn Up For Church

I want to begin our series on Church by just previewing a bit what God’s Word teaches that church is. I won’t really be talking about any of these points in great detail, as we will do that in later posts; for now this is something to digest, study, and consider. At the end of the post are some scriptures to read and meditate on before we move further into our study

I also want to add a little something here. The things which will be discussed here are what I believe, and they represent what I believe the Bible teaches about church. I could be wrong; so could you. God, when He inspired the Scriptures, meant something with every single word He inspired. I believe He meant one thing in each case. The question only remains: have we arrived at the correct thing? We may or may not arrive at the same conclusion, and we can arrive at these different conclusions and nobody has gotten out of bed a heretic, and nobody is suddenly getting their salvation revoked, and so on. In other words, we can discuss these things like grown ups and the Christians we purport to be.

Jesus Christ established His church during His ministry on earth. Many teach that the church came to be at some later time, such as the day of Pentecost; however, Jesus personally called and formed His church on the shores of the Sea of Galilee during His time with us.

The church is always a local, visible assembly of scripturally baptized believers in covenant relationship to carry out the Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is local, and it is visible. What about the “invisible” church? Of course, there are thousands upon thousands of believers who have no affiliation with a local, visible assembly of believers. I believe that I will be in heaven with those believers some day. I don’t believe they are part of some invisible church. Those folks, for whatever reason, are unchurched believers. There is no offense or slight intended there, but simply what God’s Word teaches.

Each church is an independent, self-governing body, and no ecclesiastical body may exercise authority over it. How do we define the body of millions of believers world wide who are part of local churches world wide? What about the millions of believers who are not part of a local assembly? Is there a “universal” church? What about the previously mentioned term, “invisible” church? These terms can be debated for endless hours, for sure. However you want to define the terms, however, there is not a Biblical precedent for any sort of central ecclesiastical authority for this worldwide body of believers.

The Great Commission was delivered only to the New Testament churches. Just previously, we clearly stated the lack of central authority among the churches of Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, it was and still is, the local churches which send works out to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  More on missions, missionaries, and church planting later.

Jesus Christ promised the perpetuity of His churches. The church that Jesus Christ formed personally during His time with us never died. Let me say that the Protestant Reformation was certainly a major and hugely important event. Let me say that again. However, the Reformation did not bring back to life something that had died. The New Testament churches never died. Jesus promised that, and He had the power to see to it. If that has aroused interest, there will be more later on that.

Some Scripture to read, study, and meditate upon

Matthew 4:18-22

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.Immediately thy left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 16:18

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hellc Marshall not prevail against it.

Matthew 28:19,20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Mark 1:14-20

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

John 1:35-51

I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesusi was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Ephesians 3:21

to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Read the original post here on the Isaiah 53:5 Project

Calling All Preachers!!!

This post is about a year old, but since I have been listening to young preachers preach all week, it seemed fit to run it again. So, the today referred to was a while back. I think we all need to remember how our future leaders and pastors come to be; they are called by God to preach His Word, and lead His churches. We need to recognize that fact, and ensure that we do all we can to teach and develop the ones who are given that call.

Today my wife and I, along with another church member, made a visit to the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas. Tuesday is Chapel Day at the Seminary, and in the mornings that day they have a worship service, normally attended by both students and teaching staff, and oftentimes various visitors; the sermon is delivered by a guest speaker chosen by the Seminary.

But we were not there just because it provided a chance in the middle of the week to attend worship; we had a very specific reason to visit the Seminary, and we try to attend Tuesday Chapel Service when we can. Several years ago, we were given the blessing, honor and great responsibility of raising a young man who was called by God into the Gospel Ministry. Of course, we already had the responsibility of raising him, but some very important things changed the day when, at Church Camp several years back, he answered the call to preach.

To say this was something we never saw coming would be quite the understatement. My wife has been in church her entire life and was saved at a very early age, but certainly never thought she would be raising a preacher. We are a blended family, and the first time I met this young man I was an unsaved heathen to be perfectly honest. I certainly didn’t expect to be raising a preacher, I really didn’t care for preachers much to tell the truth. But, that’s another story altogether. The end result is, we did raise a preacher, and now he has graduated from High School and is in his first year as a Seminary student. That is the real reason we were at the Seminary today.

Getting to go to the Seminary and be with the predominantly young men who have been called to preach God’s Word is a joy almost beyond describing; so is having some of them come visit us as well(apparently Southern food is very well appreciated by hungry seminary students.) We have even had three of the students from the Seminary preach for us at our church as guest preachers; that is an opportunity they cherish and crave.

It is a joy simply because they are there in the first place; it is a joy that young men are still answering the call to preach when God calls them. Just to see them there is something that lifts one’s spirits. The truth is that there are too many churches which do not even have a pastor; yet some are answering the call still!

It is a joy because they are so enthusiastic. These are young men who have great fervor and energy for The Lord’s work. They put everything into it. Some have come from foreign countries just to study in our Seminary. There is one young man from Peru and another from New Zealand studying there at the moment. There is even a young man from Detroit, which is only a foreign country if you are from Southeast Arkansas like we are. The point is, these fellows are serious and pumped up about the work they are embarking on.

One note: I make references to young men, as it is the young men who have been called to preach. But, there are also several young preachers who have come to the seminary complete with young families. I don’t mean to exclude their sacrifices for The Lord’s work by any means.

We have learned so much during the last few years as we raised a young man who had been chosen and called by God to be one of His pastors. And I want to share just a few simple observations and things we have learned along the way that perhaps might be of some use to a family or church in this situation. Don’t misunderstand me, we are far from done with this mission of raising this young man; he is really just beginning.

Preachers are called by God, not by people

Preaching is not a vocation in the sense that one just wakes up and decides that preaching sounds like a cool way to make a living. It’s certainly not what a person would choose trying to become rich and famous (Okay..that’s not true, as some do it for just that very reason.) Preachers are not chosen by families, churches or guidance counselors because they display some trait or leaning that seems to indicate they would make good pastors.

The Bible is replete with instance after instance of people being specifically being picked out and called by God to perform some mission or work. The Bible clearly shows us examples of men being called to preach His word. Want a list? Read the titles of every single one of the Major and Minor Prophets; those were all men called by God to proclaim His Word. Does anybody remember a fellow named Moses? God called him from a burning bush if you remember. My favorite calling in the Bible is the calling of Jeremiah, as it seems rather similar to what I observed in my own household. That story is found, of course, in the opening chapter of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 1:4-10 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Now that is one great story; it is also a great story that teaches us some things. That passage teaches as clearly as anything that God had chosen the Prophet Jeremiah to preach His word; not only had He chosen him, but He had chosen Jeremiah before there was even a Jeremiah!

God, in His sovereignty, picks who He has chosen. We often seem to want to do the picking based on the faulty human criteria we would use to pick any other job or vocation. We are blessed beyond measure in the church I attend in that we have three young men who have surrendered to preach the Gospel. Had the choice been up to me or the congregation to do the picking, it is likely that the three would not have been first round picks in the preaching draft. But, God knows what He wants to accomplish, and who He chooses to accomplish it with.

What’s my point? My point is exactly this: God picks and we don’t. If God has chosen we really don’t have the right to question or interfere. If some young man was not truly chosen by God and yet professes to have been, that is really between the man and God. We have every right to teach, train and even correct and rebuke if necessary, but not to second guess God’s choice of any man.

It takes a village to raise a preacher

Don’t throw rocks at me; we know where that quote originated. But, to a certain extent it is a true statement. I will use my own household as an example. The first time I ever met my young preacher, he was barely ten years old and I was a raging heathen. I have obviously since been saved and he has since been called to preach. It is a challenge to raise a young man in Godliness when you are learning it yourself. We have another young called preacher in the same situation. His blended father is just coming back into The Lord’s service himself, and now he is raising a preacher. The other young preacher in our church has no man in his household at all.

We are just a small country church, so our actual pastor certainly cannot oversee the complete spiritual development of three young men all by himself. Let’s add another issue to the mix; called by God or not, young men are still young men. Any young man, preacher or not, is still driven by the same desires and influences which can drive any young man to sin and irresponsible behavior. In the case of men called by God, the danger may be higher, as Satan certainly has them in his sights. They might as well have a target on their foreheads that says, “tempt here.”

So, to a certain extent, raising preachers can be a group effort. It takes the love, guidance, teaching and perhaps correction of Godly men and women surrounding these young men to help guide them successfully through the most troubled years in any person’s life. These are the years when the mistakes are made, or the foundations laid, which decide entire futures.

Perhaps no other influence on the life of a developing young preacher is the example he sees acted out by the men in his life. If we want a young man to learn to be the kind of man and pastor we ultimately want leading and teaching us, then we have to literally show them how it is done. We have to teach them how to be that man by being that man ourselves. We really can’t hold it against them if they develop into the kind of pastor we love to hate if that is how they saw us act, now can we?

It takes support to raise up a Preacher

Now you get the chance to hear somebody besides your Pastor talk about money! That is not the only kind of support we are going to talk about, however. Being a preacher is not an easy life. Anybody who has taken even a tiny little bit of time to involve themselves in the life of their Pastor should know this. Preaching and pastoring faces any man and his family with a very unique set of life circumstances and challenges. If being a Pastor is difficult and challenging, then becoming one certainly is.

We need to specifically pray for our developing preachers. We all know that God responds to prayer. The list of things we should pray for on behalf our young preachers is almost endless. Some of us can offer nothing besides prayer for them, and the rest of us should pray in addition to whatever else we can do to help.

We should support them with actual encouragement. Instead of rolling our eyes about some particular young man who seems to have no promise, we should assume God is in control, has made the correct choice and behave accordingly. Our place is not to question God’s choice, but to support it wholeheartedly! Do you live close to their location? Go visit them and see how things are going. Do they come visit their home church? Take the time to talk with and encourage them.

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The average Missionary Baptist preacher has not gone into the preaching business to get rich; if he has he might be a little slow to tell the truth. And training to become a preacher is not that different from anything else a young person pursues in life; it comes with expense associated with it. It’s almost depressing to see that there are actually students at the Seminary whose home churches provide absolutely no financial support to them whatsoever.

The Bible clearly teaches that we should support the men God has chosen to lead us, and that means it clearly teaches we should probably support them as they become our leaders. Should families help their young preacher students? Of course they should, even if they have to sacrifice. Should young preachers be somewhat self sufficient as needed? Of course they should. Remember Paul making tents by day and preaching by night? But, circumstances sometimes don’t allow either of those things to fully meet the very real financial needs young preachers face as they learn and train for their God appointed work. If we are truly concerned with the future of God’s work here and want to see it continue and flourish, we simply cannot ignore this part of the work.

I’m going to close this post with a scripture that hopefully will cement in readers minds the importance of the work of raising up and training preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:13-15

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

 

6 Reasons Why Membership Matters

I like to post something on Sunday mornings about the need for church attendance, membership, and Christian service in general. I found this great article on the Already Not Yet Blog, and felt it was worth sharing


Kevin DeYoung:

“Why bother with church membership?”

I’ve been asked the question before. Sometimes it’s said with genuine curiosity-“So explain to me what membership is all about.” Other times it’s said with a tinge of suspicion-“So tell me again, why do you think I should become a member?”-as if joining the church automatically signed you up to tithe by direct deposit.

For many Christians membership sounds stiff, something you have at your bank or the country club, but too formal for the church. Even if it’s agreed that Christianity is not a lone ranger religion, that we need community and fellowship with other Christians, we still bristle at the thought of officially joining a church. Why all the hoops? Why box the Holy Spirit into member/non-member categories? Why bother joining a local church when I’m already a member of the universal Church?

Some Christians–because of church tradition or church baggage–may not be convinced of church membership no matter how many times “member” actually shows up in the New Testament. But many others are open to hearing the justification for something they’ve not thought much about.

Here are just a few reasons why church membership matters.

via 6 Reasons Why Membership Matters | Already Not Yet.

Calling All Preachers!!!

This is an older post, so the today referred to was actually many todays ago.

Today my wife and I, along with another church member, made a visit to the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas. Tuesday is Chapel Day at the Seminary, and in the mornings that day they have a worship service, normally attended by both students and teaching staff, and oftentimes various visitors; the sermon is delivered by a guest speaker chosen by the Seminary.

But we were not there just because it provided a chance in the middle of the week to attend worship; we had a very specific reason to visit the Seminary, and we try to attend Tuesday Chapel Service when we can. Several years ago, we were given the blessing, honor and great responsibility of raising a young man who was called by God into the Gospel Ministry. Of course, we already had the responsibility of raising him, but some very important things changed the day when, at Church Camp several years back, he answered the call to preach.

To say this was something we never saw coming would be quite the understatement. My wife has been in church her entire life and was saved at a very early age, but certainly never thought she would be raising a preacher. We are a blended family, and the first time I met this young man I was an unsaved heathen to be perfectly honest. I certainly didn’t expect to be raising a preacher, I really didn’t care for preachers much to tell the truth. But, that’s another story altogether. The end result is, we did raise a preacher, and now he has graduated from High School and is in his first year as a Seminary student. That is the real reason we were at the Seminary today.

Getting to go to the Seminary and be with the predominantly young men who have been called to preach God’s Word is a joy almost beyond describing; so is having some of them come visit us as well(apparently Southern food is very well appreciated by hungry seminary students.) We have even had three of the students from the Seminary preach for us at our church as guest preachers; that is an opportunity they cherish and crave.

It is a joy simply because they are there in the first place; it is a joy that young men are still answering the call to preach when God calls them. Just to see them there is something that lifts one’s spirits. The truth is that there are too many churches which do not even have a pastor; yet some are answering the call still!

It is a joy because they are so enthusiastic. These are young men who have great fervor and energy for The Lord’s work. They put everything into it. Some have come from foreign countries just to study in our Seminary. There is one young man from Peru and another from New Zealand studying there at the moment. There is even a young man from Detroit, which is only a foreign country if you are from Southeast Arkansas like we are. The point is, these fellows are serious and pumped up about the work they are embarking on.

One note: I make references to young men, as it is the young men who have been called to preach. But, there are also several young preachers who have come to the seminary complete with young families. I don’t mean to exclude their sacrifices for The Lord’s work by any means.

We have learned so much during the last few years as we raised a young man who had been chosen and called by God to be one of His pastors. And I want to share just a few simple observations and things we have learned along the way that perhaps might be of some use to a family or church in this situation. Don’t misunderstand me, we are far from done with this mission of raising this young man; he is really just beginning.

Preachers are called by God, not by people

Preaching is not a vocation in the sense that one just wakes up and decides that preaching sounds like a cool way to make a living. It’s certainly not what a person would choose trying to become rich and famous (Okay..that’s not true, as some do it for just that very reason.) Preachers are not chosen by families, churches or guidance counselors because they display some trait or leaning that seems to indicate they would make good pastors.

The Bible is replete with instance after instance of people being specifically being picked out and called by God to perform some mission or work. The Bible clearly shows us examples of men being called to preach His word. Want a list? Read the titles of every single one of the Major and Minor Prophets; those were all men called by God to proclaim His Word. Does anybody remember a fellow named Moses? God called him from a burning bush if you remember. My favorite calling in the Bible is the calling of Jeremiah, as it seems rather similar to what I observed in my own household. That story is found, of course, in the opening chapter of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 1:4-10 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Now that is one great story; it is also a great story that teaches us some things. That passage teaches as clearly as anything that God had chosen the Prophet Jeremiah to preach His word; not only had He chosen him, but He had chosen Jeremiah before there was even a Jeremiah!

God, in His sovereignty, picks who He has chosen. We often seem to want to do the picking based on the faulty human criteria we would use to pick any other job or vocation. We are blessed beyond measure in the church I attend in that we have three young men who have surrendered to preach the Gospel. Had the choice been up to me or the congregation to do the picking, it is likely that the three would not have been first round picks in the preaching draft. But, God knows what He wants to accomplish, and who He chooses to accomplish it with.

What’s my point? My point is exactly this: God picks and we don’t. If God has chosen we really don’t have the right to question or interfere. If some young man was not truly chosen by God and yet professes to have been, that is really between the man and God. We have every right to teach, train and even correct and rebuke if necessary, but not to second guess God’s choice of any man.

It takes a village to raise a preacher

Don’t throw rocks at me; we know where that quote originated. But, to a certain extent it is a true statement. I will use my own household as an example. The first time I ever met my young preacher, he was barely ten years old and I was a raging heathen. I have obviously since been saved and he has since been called to preach. It is a challenge to raise a young man in Godliness when you are learning it yourself. We have another young called preacher in the same situation. His blended father is just coming back into The Lord’s service himself, and now he is raising a preacher. The other young preacher in our church has no man in his household at all.

We are just a small country church, so our actual pastor certainly cannot oversee the complete spiritual development of three young men all by himself. Let’s add another issue to the mix; called by God or not, young men are still young men. Any young man, preacher or not, is still driven by the same desires and influences which can drive any young man to sin and irresponsible behavior. In the case of men called by God, the danger may be higher, as Satan certainly has them in his sights. They might as well have a target on their foreheads that says, “tempt here.”

So, to a certain extent, raising preachers can be a group effort. It takes the love, guidance, teaching and perhaps correction of Godly men and women surrounding these young men to help guide them successfully through the most troubled years in any person’s life. These are the years when the mistakes are made, or the foundations laid, which decide entire futures.

Perhaps no other influence on the life of a developing young preacher is the example he sees acted out by the men in his life. If we want a young man to learn to be the kind of man and pastor we ultimately want leading and teaching us, then we have to literally show them how it is done. We have to teach them how to be that man by being that man ourselves. We really can’t hold it against them if they develop into the kind of pastor we love to hate if that is how they saw us act, now can we?

It takes support to raise up a Preacher

Now you get the chance to hear somebody besides your Pastor talk about money! That is not the only kind of support we are going to talk about, however. Being a preacher is not an easy life. Anybody who has taken even a tiny little bit of time to involve themselves in the life of their Pastor should know this. Preaching and pastoring faces any man and his family with a very unique set of life circumstances and challenges. If being a Pastor is difficult and challenging, then becoming one certainly is.

We need to specifically pray for our developing preachers. We all know that God responds to prayer. The list of things we should pray for on behalf our young preachers is almost endless. Some of us can offer nothing besides prayer for them, and the rest of us should pray in addition to whatever else we can do to help.

We should support them with actual encouragement. Instead of rolling our eyes about some particular young man who seems to have no promise, we should assume God is in control, has made the correct choice and behave accordingly. Our place is not to question God’s choice, but to support it wholeheartedly! Do you live close to their location? Go visit them and see how things are going. Do they come visit their home church? Take the time to talk with and encourage them.

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The average Missionary Baptist preacher has not gone into the preaching business to get rich; if he has he might be a little slow to tell the truth. And training to become a preacher is not that different from anything else a young person pursues in life; it comes with expense associated with it. It’s almost depressing to see that there are actually students at the Seminary whose home churches provide absolutely no financial support to them whatsoever.

The Bible clearly teaches that we should support the men God has chosen to lead us, and that means it clearly teaches we should probably support them as they become our leaders. Should families help their young preacher students? Of course they should, even if they have to sacrifice. Should young preachers be somewhat self sufficient as needed? Of course they should. Remember Paul making tents by day and preaching by night? But, circumstances sometimes don’t allow either of those things to fully meet the very real financial needs young preachers face as they learn and train for their God appointed work. If we are truly concerned with the future of God’s work here and want to see it continue and flourish, we simply cannot ignore this part of the work.

I’m going to close this post with a scripture that hopefully will cement in readers minds the importance of the work of raising up and training preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:13-15

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

 

5 Reasons to Attend Church Regularly

I found this great article by Pastor Rick McDaniel, providing some very good reasons why we should all be in God’s House Sunday morning.


 

There is a disturbing trend I am noticing in churches. Maybe it is more in larger, contemporary churches than smaller, traditional churches. But since the majority of all churchgoers now attend larger churches this is of real concern. The trend is the decline in percentage attendance. In other words there are less people attending each church service in comparison with the number of people who call the church their home. For years a good percentage would be around 75%. Three out of every four people would be in church on any given Sunday. Now that number may well be 50% or even worse. Regular church attendance is extremely valuable, is very important and should be practiced by anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. A Christ-follower needs to regularly attend church. Not counting the times that you might miss for vacation or sickness or a particular work commitment you should be in church.

Church is not something that you do individually it is something that you do collectively. To be a follower of Christ is not just what you do by yourself it is what you do together with other people. We are what the Bible calls the “family of God.” A family is by its very nature inter-dependent. What it means to be a part of a local church is that you’re inter-dependent with other people in your church. There are strong reasons why you should come to church regularly.

Please follow the following link for the rest of this great article.

via 5 Reasons to Attend Church Regularly.

The Baptist and The Bar

Quick Thought for a Sunday Morning

That is a great thought for a Sunday morning!

Kim's Blog

If you’re going to church today, don’t do it out of duty or as just another thing to check off your list. Let God in, let Him change you. You’re already there, might as well open up and let God do what He does best! Be reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made and let that sink in for a little. Let the Spirit begin to work in and through you.

If you believe it’s real, act like it!

Let’s not just sing, but worship our amazing redeemer together as one body of Christ. What a privilege!!

The way to begin to be more Christlike is by first allowing Him full access to your heart.

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Happy Sunday!

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