Author: tmart2007

Blogger on RhetoricandHomiletics.org

“Desiring God” — It Is Getting Bizarre-errrr!

If you think the previous article by “Desiring God” ministries was a one-off, let me resolve any doubts! [1]

Listen to or read — Episode 1830,
So much could be said but let me make two simple points.
#1 – Dissembling:
“I want to say loud and clear that there is grace — there is great grace — for that situation. Even grace for flourishing in it, not just coping with it. And there is great reward forever and ever for those who endure in a godly, Christ-exalting way the disappointments of this life. Now, that’s not what she’s asking, but I felt it’s important to say it. She’s not asking how to cope with disappointment, but rather what strategies are permitted or encouraged for a godly wife to seek change in her husband who’s living in sinful ways. So, let me offer a few clarifications of what I hear in this question.”
While Piper states, “that’s not what she is asking,” that is still what he says in response!  Why? Because for some obvious reason, Piper says he “felt it’s important to say it.”
Likewise, Piper cites I Peter 3:1-6; 4:17, and while he states that it is not applicable to her situation since her husband is a believer, he still references I Peter.  It is obvious what is being done since, later on, he specifically cites I Peter 3:7 to support “submission.”
It is a way to exonerate oneself — “Look, I stated that it did not apply.”
But it was still purposefully stated and/or applied to make a disingenuous point about submitting to your husband, regardless of the length of time and/or the continued reasonableness of further inaction.
Piper set up the context for his advice which is to adopt “a meek and quiet spirit,” to be like Sarah, who called Abraham lord — “but I’m not saying I Peter applies to this situation!”
^
#2 – Tortuous Ideology: 
Piper repeatedly states and connotes in his answer that the wife has a responsibility to submit to her husband’s leadership.
“What strategies are permitted or encouraged for a godly wife to seek change in her husband who’s living in sinful ways.”
Piper’s advice — You should address the situation again with your husband and ask if he is willing to get some meaningful help. [2] [3]   If not, live with it and represent Christ in the marriage as you suffer for God’s glory!
“Submissive Confrontation”

“speaking to a husband about her concern she would necessarily be acting in an insubordinate or unsubmissive way. She might be if her attitude is wrong, but I think a mature, godly, Bible-saturated woman knows the difference between nagging a husband in a pushy or insubordinate way, on the one hand, and humbly and wisely bringing to the husband her concerns and seeking with him a way forward toward relational health that would make both of them and the children holier and happier. . . . .

If they can’t seem to make progress together, then it might mean seeking the husband’s agreement that they would bring a wise biblical counselor into their lives.

^

That is what the Scriptures teach about the covenant of marriage after seeking to address the issue, with a little-to-no reasonable response by her husband after 20 years?  — “seeking the husband’s agreement.”

Have we gone mad! [4]

This “Tortuous Ideological Complementarianism” imprints what has happened at BC&S, many a ministry that has unquestionably adopted the thinking of John Piper, and so many of the teachers/preachers who follow  Desiring God writers!

Some have left their biblical sensibility and sanity!  Others have gone over the cliff with Piper by failing to challenge such teaching/preaching.  Piper’s positions are ideologically driven and flows out of a commitment to an unbiblical principle that “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him and ‘His will’ for our lives.”  For Piper (and many other Bible teachers and preachers) all other Scriptural truths and principles revolve around that stated ideological hub. [5]

“Satisfied in Him,” seemingly means that a wife submits to and ultimately accepts all that happens to her in her marriage.  Apparently, calling her spouse to account, directly speaking to her pastor or a counselor with or without her husband’s knowledge or permission, is not being satisfied in His will and way.

After 20 years of her working through and living with this situation, my advice as a pastor is far different! Sin, selfishness, wickedness, and unrepentant evil are not something you allow to continually uproot the covenant of marriage.

It is consequences that are designed to humble, and when the consequences are removed, there is little hope for any humility and change.  What no consequences do produce is hard-heartedness. [6]

Check out “Loammi” Hosea 1:9-10, 2:23

^



^

2. By the way, what a pathetic description of 20 years of pornographic addiction by your husband — “. . . a long-term marital disappointment. . . . . !”
To even use those words to describe what this wife is experiencing in her marriage in the same category is shocking — at best!
“Disappointment” in marriage is when your spouse has you mow the lawn, fails to wash the dishes, vacuum the carpet, or share in the household tasks that come with living together.
3. How about this statement as well — “but that she may be empowered at any given moment for some perfectly suited gift from God for what that husband needs.”
4. I remember talking to a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  As most realize, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will not serve in the armed forces, give allegiance to the United States flag, or be involved in law enforcement.  In our talk, I asked him what he would do if someone broke into their home and was attacking his wife or his daughter — assaulting them physically or sexually.  His answer was — “I would pray.”My response to him was . . . .

If you are saying that you represent what the Scriptures teach as the righteous and proscriptive will of God, as found in the Bible, then I have good reason not to believe anything you say as being biblical.  If you can so twist the Scriptures to allow for that kind of response — “I would pray” —  then you have the ability to twist Scripture to mean anything!

I remember talking to an individual who was a pastor/Bible teacher/reformed theologian/and-or Calvinist who repeated that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him and that such should be the principle that guides the response of a wife to 20 years of her husband’s pornographic addiction. . . . .
[You can finish it!]

5. Tell the families of Uvalde, Texas, whose children were killed, the parents of a young five-year-old child who was sexually molested, the wife whose husband has shattered their marriage, and the friend of mine who is dying of cancer (likely due to the unsafe environmental factory conditions) that what they are going through is a blessing, a blessing FROM God!

The underlying ideology of this kind of thinking and such statements has led to all kinds of passivity and inappropriate actions.  Poor-to-terrible counseling, wrong-doing, social injustice, and horrific abuse have been left unaddressed (and even justified as biblically appropriate and justified) because of this type of thinking — “We need to see this as from the hand of God.” [2]

Yes, I understand that God uses sin, sinlessly.  That God can still bless us, and does, midst our sin and the sins of others.  But the sin was sinful, it is not therefore acceptable to be left unaddressed, and it is not a blessing from His hand.  Any attempt to promote some passivity towards the sinful actions of men is but an argument to allow it to be more acceptable and/or for it to continue unaddressed!

6. Moses allowed divorce a writ of divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts!

Alistair Begg Probably Has It Right . . . . But

With my love in the Lord Jesus,
Alistair Begg

^

A great short read by Alistair Begg, and he probably has it right.  Notwithstanding, his sermons on the Sabbath and this post probably aren’t changing the practices of most believers, pastors, or churches.

Why?

Perhaps because we are not as spiritually malleable as we think and say we are!

As a matter of fact, many churches have canceled the evening service,  with the “shepherd’s approval,”  if not instigation!   The Lord’s Day now becomes “Our Day” around noon!   And then some pastors decry what is happening in our culture and society — shamelessly!

 
 

1. From Begg’s Sermon . . . 

Now, we can highlight this in a number of ways. Let me do so by quoting from the Civil War. I think it’s the Civil War, isn’t it? Stonewall Jackson? General Jackson is a legend in American history. Any of you who have read of Jackson will know that he was a man of extreme principle and character. At the very heart of this was his conviction of faith in Jesus Christ. And his extreme rigorous character attached itself also to the observance of the Sabbath. And writing in his biography, his widow says,

And writing in his  biography, his widow says,

Certainly he was not less scrupulous in obeying the divine command to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” than he was in any other rule of his life. Since the Creator had set apart this day for his own, and commanded it to be kept holy, he believed that it was … wrong for him to desecrate it by worldly pleasure, idleness, or secular employment, as to break any other commandment of the decalogue. Sunday was his busiest day of the week, as he always attended church twice a day and taught in two Sabbath schools! He refrained as much as possible from all worldly conversation, and in his family, if secular topics were introduced, he would say, with a kindly smile, “We will talk about that to-morrow.”

He never travelled on Sunday, never took his mail from the post-office, nor permitted a letter of his own to travel on that day, always before posting it calculating the time it required to reach its destination ….

One so strict in his own Sabbath observance naturally believed that it was wrong for the government to carry the [mail] on Sunday. Any organization which exacted secular labor of its employees on the Lord’s day was, in his opinion, a violator of God’s law.[2]

And so his life was marked by a rigorous obedience to the law of God.

Now, loved ones, here’s the question: Is this quote from Jackson an anachronism? In other words, if Jackson was right, where does that leave us? ’Cause if we’re right, most of us, he was wrong. But one thing is for sure: we’re not both right. So we need to go to our Bibles, then, and determine who approximates to the instruction of God’s Word closely. Is it us, in our libertine rejection of the Lord’s Day, or is it Jackson, in his rigorous obedience of it?

The Three Real Reasons That Cause People Not To Come Back . . . . Though Often Unstated

All of us may have given secondary reasons for not coming back after visiting a local church —  “It’s a little too far away from where we live.”  For many, distance is a secondary factor!  We all know that finding a good church ministry is worth the drive.

In fact, I might well suggest that many of the smaller factors are crossed off the list of reasons not to return when these three factors are resolved.

#1 – Mediocre Sermonizing:  People stand in long lines, sometimes for hours, if they are convinced they will experience a good meal. When the sermon is mediocre-to-terrible, they ain’t coming back.  While other factors may cause them to come back a second time to see if the sermon was representative, it is over and done if there is little-to-no significant difference.

I have often asked pastors if they think they can grow a church on good preaching.  My answer was “ALMOST.”  While other factors can enter into people joining a local church ministry, the “meal” matters most — “All-Most.”

After spending a week in the real world, people want a hearty “meal.”  They come to be fed, and blaming the listeners [1] for not enjoying a “weak-to-poor-to-terrible” meal may make some pastors feel better, but it doesn’t lead to church growth.  It sure doesn’t work in the real world.

^

#2 – Pastorally Aloof:  I have known, attended, and seen churches with “average-to-above average” pulpit ministries thrive and grow.  Over the years, my observed read has been outstanding relational contact with God’s people.

In contrast, there are pastors who . . . .

  • are uncertain of the names of members and family members
  • fail to know names of repeated visitors over a period of weeks
  • do not take the time before and/or after a service to sincerely show interest and concern
  • do not know if a member or family is or is not in the church service
  • unwittingly imply that they know little or nothing about a family’s situation
  • unwittingly communicate that they were not listening the last time they interacted [2]

“Well, some are just good at the relational!”

No, relational pastors work at it, and they genuinely care! 

They work at remembering names, and that is why they remember.

They sincerely care about what is being said, and that is why they ask about it again.

They personally visit God’s people and talk and pray with them so that they model and reflect the love of our Lord to God’s people.

They don’t just care for some, but instead genuinely try to show care for all and any! [3]

They set aside their schedules, agendas, free time, “like to watch or attend a social/sporting event,” and personal aches and pains to be present when God’s people are present. [4]. They care and are naturally “highly visible” and present for all the various parts of church life!

^

#3 – Unremarkable Ministry & Outreach: God’s people know, and have been taught to know, that the mission of the church is others, not them.  When a church’s focus is inward and not outward, the events and activities of the church reflect that.

“A Dead Chuch” means that they are doing “little-to-nothing” regarding Gospel ministry.  Few people, and surely not God’s people, want to identify with a self-absorbed and/or dead church.  We want to, personally and corporately, accomplish something that is meaningful, a ministry that matters and makes a difference.

^

^

While kinder and/or smaller reasons may be given for why this-or-that family is not revisiting or has decided to leave, the reality may be that . . . .

  • the preaching is mediocre at best; it fails to lift up those who lived in the real world this past week
  • the pastor is self-absorbed; he reflects a lack of personal care and interest in others, or
  • the church is dead in the water; it seems to be going nowhere.

^



^

1. Pastors are known for pointing to God’s people when they say they are not being fed.

  • “If you are not being fed, then it is probably you.”
  • “I just preach the Word, and the rest is up to you!”
  • “We just lay out the truths of God’s Word, and whether you listen and follow what the Bible says is your responsibility.”
  • “There are two sides when preaching, and the radio needs to be tuned into the right frequency to hear what is being said.  They need to get their hearts right!”

While all such statements may have a kernel of truth to them, the reason some churches are well attended is because of the “meal” that is served.

It is counter-intuitive to believe that the same-old week after week builds believers. The same, predictable, or “down-in-the-pits” sermon, week after week, attracts few and edifies fewer.

There are “Great-Very Good-Good-Average-Mediocre-Weak-Poor-Terrible” preachers!

And, not all pastors are effective and/or successfully work at improving!

P.S.
Reading your sermon is like serving a frozen TV dinner on a dinner plate!

2. Have you heard this said?

  • “Are they here this morning?”
  • “I haven’t talked to them about it over the last week or so.  Does anyone know?”
  • [Baby dedication] — “How do you say your name?”
  • “I think it was her grandmother . . . . or was it his mother-in-law.”
  • “Oh, you are here today.  It’s good to see you here.”
  • “That’s right; you did tell me that last time we talked.”
  • “I haven’t heard if they are getting out of the hospital this week or not.”

3. Let it become obvious that you only know and care about a small circle of people, and see how that plays out over time.  Some pastors unwittingly and unknowingly communicate just such a message by who and how often they reference and recognize them.

4. If you don’t get to know God’s people before and after the services of the church, you won’t get to see most all of them during the week.  They are at work, not church!  They truly want to know their pastor and desire to know that their pastor knows them!
P.S. Thank You “Pastor Dan Gelatt”

“Desiring God” — It Is Getting Bizarre!

Here is the link to the article, put out by “Desiring God,”  one of the ministries of John Piper. Read it yourself if you have doubts about how bizarre this is becoming!

LINK: O Beard, Where Art Thou — August 22, 2022

 #1 – Saying it, but not saying it: That is the way these kinds of articles protect themselves from legitimate criticism.  They are really saying it, but they make sure they include caveats that they can then point to in order to argue that they are not saying it — “Look, I said in the article that . . . . ”

Make no mistake; the article is making a point and saying it while denying that they are saying it.  No, growing a beard is not God’s will for all men, but it is the way God created men, in contrast to being a child, or a woman . . . .

“Why did God make men with the capacity to grow beards? Why grow beards at all, or why not give them to children and women. . . .”

I’m not saying that beards are God’s plan for all men, some men have difficulty growing a beard, but God did put it into your created DNA . . . .

“He shaded the man’s face with his pencil from the very beginning.”

“What ecstasy of Adam observing the beautiful and smooth face of Eve.”

I’m not saying you have to don a beard — but look at all these Bible verses (for whatever reason?) I have cited! [1]

^

#2 – Lost Credibility: Regardless of the fact that the Scriptures nowhere (nada — zippo — zilch — zero)  makes any argument for or against facial hair, such “theological scholars” will find verses in the Bible that address that issue for an application today.

There is no doubt that there were ways to shame men by shaving their beards, stripping them naked, mocking them publicly, or pointing out one’s inconsistencies. [1].

Nevertheless, to call up various biblical references about facial hair and then seek to apply it to God’s people today is ludicrous — at best!  At worse, it reveals one’s ability to make the Bible stay whatever you want it to say.  Such articles only bear witness to how easily they can contort the Scriptures!

^

#3 – Shameless Motivation:  The motivation of such an article is clearly stated by the author . . . . .

That makes literal beards, in my opinion, worth having. Beards protest against a world gone mad. In other words, beards beard. They testify, in their own bristly way, that sex distinctions matter, that manhood will not be so easily shaven, shorn, or chopped by the Hanuns of this world. Its itchy and cheeky voice bears witness, “Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). [3]

This is an attempt to use the Bible . . . .

  • to provide a “biblical” and useful line of argument [4]
  • to encourage the use of facial hair as a means of protest in our world [5]
  • to be scripturally, AND politically and culturally relevant [6]
  • to counter the political and cultural trends of today [7]

^



^

1. Per the citing of the movie “Braveheart,” he had no beard, but he did have very long hair!  Even though the author states that “Rome’s men were clean-shaven in biblical times,” in the movie “Gladiator,” as cited, he has a very short and sleek, styled shadow beard.

Also, I have never seen a picture of a bearded John Piper.

Also, in the ’60s, a beard was considered “nada” for God’s people.

Yes, this is how twisted it gets in reformed circles!

2. Paul even publicly shamed some of God’s people for their biblical ignorance, hypocrisy, or inconsistency — I Corinthians 6:5; 15:34; II Thessalonians 3:14-15

3. Again, I’m not saying you should don a beard, but hey, if you want to stand and protest in support of God’s design, you should think about this, but don’t misunderstand me since I did say that you don’t have to be bearded to be biblical.

4. This “biblical” reasoning will be repeated and repeated “to say, but not say.”  Whatever the issue, this handling of the Scriptures, and this duplicitious approach is being taught by example to ministry leaders and pastors across the reformed spectrum!

5. Rather sad, isn’t it?  That is how we counter our culture — “by this shall all men now that you are my disciples?”

6. It is all part of the distorted view about the “sufficiency of Scripture.”  You see, the Bible even addresses facial hair and cultural protest.

7.  As stated, these kinds of articles are part of today’s evangelical church life, which desires to weigh in on just about any and all political, cultural, economic (i.e. student debt forgiveness), or sociological issues on the front pages.

^

P.S.   This “I’m not saying, while saying it”  is how the argument is made on other issues that are just as questionable, such as eternal security.  Caveats are included to protect, not to clarify.  In fact, they fog the issues by saying what they really believe and then adding that they are not saying what they just said.

There Is A Different Way To Look At It . . . And It May Make A Difference!

There are different ways to view an event, a situation, or an experience.

That is obvious when we speak to our doctor about a problem we have been grappling with for a period of time.  We have a vantage from the inside out, and the doctor looks at it from the outside in.

Often, a patient’s thinking is dismissed, immediately corrected, or even silenced when offering his/her perspective on what has been happening.  They are the patient, not the professional.  “Did you see my sign?”

Warning:
Patient will be charged EXTRA
for annoying the doctor
with self-diagnosis.

It is clear that there are times when we look at what is happening from a different vantage, and many who are in the medical profession have little-to-no interest in what we think is happening or causing the symptoms.  We are not the “professionals.”  What is happening can only be known and understood by those who are the specialists.  There is little room for the layman to offer some possible insights from a different vantage.

The reality is that we will identify problems dependent on our vantage.  The value of different viewpoints is acknowledged in a number of ways . . . .

  • Outside consultants are paid big dollars to look at an organization or business to evaluate what is actually happening.
  • Questionnaires are given to new customers or visitors to get their perspectives.
  • Feedback emails
  • Suggestion boxes at retail stores.
  • “YELP”
  • Outside executive hires are considered because they bring a new vantage, instead of the same institutional perspective.

Sometimes it is said this way . . . . “We need a fresh set of eyes to look at this.”  Because over a period of time . . . .

  • We begin to “believe our own press.”
  • An “echo chamber” develops where we hear back what we have been saying.
  • Other leaders begin to “drink the cool-aid” and fail at providing the needed controls.
  • Relationships become more important than speaking the truth about what is happening.
  • The “same-old” is the “same-old” because there are no fresh eyes looking at the situation.

While the value of seeing a situation from another vantage is acknowledged, the fact remains that discordant or “non-professional” vantages are often dismissed or immediately refuted with professional jargon.  Outside opinions — and they must be considered non-professional OPINIONS — may be given a nod of possible consideration, but they carry very little meaningful attention or weight!

Laymen vantages are often labeled “annoying”  . . . . and such people “will be charged extra for annoying” the leader with their vantage.  The “charge “is usually a relational disparaging, a cavalier indifference, and/or even the rude and ungodly ghosting of brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Results: The results are a combination of a steady decline in attendance, weak finances, low morale, little real outreach, and/or the loss of that ministry’s influence and reputation.  The professional viewpoint controls and the patient’s health declines further.

A better diagnosis of what is actually happening is squashed, and/or the “prescriptions” for the needed changes are never written.

The patient takes the “professional advice” only to return with the same problems for the next visit — and again he/she attempts to suggest his/her insider viewpoint.

Like was said by Hemingway . . . .

How did you go bankrupt?
Two Ways . . . .
Gradually, Then Suddenly

If You Think Who Your Pastor/Teacher Regards Doesn’t Matter . . . . .

If you think who your pastor/teacher regards, follows, imitates, promotes, admires, emulates, or reads doesn’t matter, you might not grasp how it impacts a ministry!   How it can and does change a church’s DNA.

Here is but one example!!!! — and I mean but one example — from one of the most prolific leaders in “reformed” theology.

^

This article is based on . . . .

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. (Ephesians 5:25–26).

Let me just point out that the article is hardly an exposition of what this passage teaches!

It is BIZARRE Theology that will be repeated by others of the same stripe and thinking!
And some wonder why we have lost our platform and influence!

One of the appropriate responses was . . . .

^

There are pastors and teachers across America who have been following the writing, preaching, teaching, books, conferences, and publishing of DesiringGod ministries and John Piper for decades!  It is his theological-ideology that undergirds such a bizarre statement!

How’s that been working out?

Church Been Growing? [1]

Part of what we are seeing in many local churches — a continued decline in growth — is the product of a “renewed” emphasis on an extreme Calvinistic ideology propagated for decades!

As recorded in the book of Acts, the early church never got caught up in this extreme theological-ideology, and souls were “added to the church.”[2] I know, “numbers don’t matter,” even though the repeated mention was part of the inspired record for a reason! [2]

God causes His work to GROW.

GROWTH has been part of His DNA since the Creation of His world.

^



1. Yes, there are many other factors to examine in church ministry, and all of them should speak of a growing church!

  • Believers marked by increasing faithfulness & service?
  • Greater separation from the things of this world?
  • Teens and young adults staying connected?
  • More outreach?
  • Are disciples effectively sharing the Gospel?
  • Discipleship resulting in consistent personal evangelism?

2. The most obvious are Acts 2:41 (3,000) and Acts 4:4 (5,000).  However, the Scriptures repeatedly speak about the many who responded to the Gospel!

Acts 4:4 —  b
Acts 6:7 – and many
Acts 9:42 – and many
Acts 11:26 – a great many people
Acts 12:12 – where many were gathered
Acts 13:48 — and many followed
Acts 14:21 – had made many disciples
Acts 17:4 – a great many
Acts 17:12 – and many believed
Acts 18:8 — and many heard, believed, baptized
Acts 21:20 — and many thousands

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

How about this one . . . .   Yep — this is what “precious stones” means!

3 Indicators Of “Church Stall”

In the field of aerodynamics, an airplane “stalls” when it can no longer produce lift. It has nothing to do with the engines but with the wings. The engine or jets can exert full power, but the wings are no longer properly cutting the air and producing lift. In fact, in commercial airlines, an alarm goes off when a stall takes place or is about to take place. [1]

You see a stall take place at an air show when a small aircraft begins to pull up in a sharp climb, and at a point, it begins wobbling in that upright position. The air is no longer breaking across the wings properly. It begins to fall out of the sky like a rock. No aerodynamic lift is exerted on its wings. Now, the pilot’s job is to regain lift by navigating the airplane into a position, so the wings cut through the air at a forward “angle of attack” and again produce lift on the wings.

When I took flight lessons, one of the most important parts of the training was understanding “lift.” Flight instructors would purposefully put the plane into a stall, and your job was to regain lift. Actually, most all flight instructors put the airplane into a moderate stall because of the dangers that a serious stall poses, especially when you lack the altitude needed to recover from a serious stall. Instructors have died at the hands of student pilots who made the test stall worse because the flight instructor lacked the time and altitude needed to recover.

Churches stall as well. They lose lift and begin wobbling. The leader’s job is to regain lift by navigating the ministry in such a way that it doesn’t crash. 

Many do crash and have crashed in the last two years. The crashes do look very different at times. Sometimes the “passengers” survive the crash and seek a new pastor. Other times, the church closes or merges under another “pilot.” Sometimes the pastor learns quickly and is able to do an emergency landing, all to fly another “day.” Far too often, the “pilot ” walks away from a crash unharmed and begins piloting yet another aircraft. It wasn’t his fault. It was the “craft,” the “crew,” or the “passengers.”

Many churches experience an “aerodynamic stall” over time! It is part of learning and the immense time “in the air.” It is just part of reality, and pastors ought to be taught what to look for when it is about to happen or happens.

^

 There are “alarms” that will go off.^

#1 – Interest Wains: There are ways, legitimate and creative ways, to build and grow a church ministry ( no less a school in today’s culture, but that’s another issue). The proof is found in the local churches around an area that are doing it. 

The handful of mega-churches across America is not the issue or concern. But the many area churches that are experiencing growth are! When interest in visiting, attending, faithfully attending or joining a local church ministry wains, an alarm ought to go off. 

Sporadic attendance is also part of the lack of interest. If members and friends of the church are not consistent, why? Why have those who are “connected” lost interest, commitment, or appreciation?

Attendance and giving are legitimate independent indicators of where a church is in flight. Both are legitimate indicators of care and concern of a ministry! Pointing to one over the other is a way to ignore the alarm that is sounding.  

Unfortunately, most also realize that a meaningful drop in “giving” will be the loudest alarm alert given due attention. 

^

#2 – Reality Is Ignored Or ^Denied: “How did they not see what was happening?” Probably, you have heard that said or said it yourself. It was obvious what was happening, and no steps were taken to address it. 

  • Attendance dropping, or 
  • Finances getting tighter, or
  • People leaving, or
  • Weak Gospel outreach, or
  • Few visitors, or
  • Fewer new members, or
  • Long-time supporters left, or
  • More difficult to find lay help, or
  • Sporadic attendance, or
  • Lost “excitement” about our church, or
  • Any number of the above . . . . 

I understand the language that accompanies the disregard of the alarm — “We are growing deeper, not greater.” One might argue that deeper and greater work hand in hand. Depth should also result in breadth.

The language of failure is invoked and used to explain or divert what is actually taking place. This may be the first alarm that goes off when what is happening is avoided or denied. “We are not interested in numbers but faithful followers!” “We want to see disciples made, not just people who attend church on Sunday” — as if it is “either-or.”

The wording changes to divert attention away from what is actually happening.

^

#3 – The Cost Of Staffing Overrides The Budget: You may have heard it said this way . . . . “We are too heavy on administrative costs.” The organization is top-heavy. A high percentage of the income covers salary, benefits, and supporting staff. What is a “high percentage” or “top-heavy?” 

You may find out the answer to that question when the “overhead” costs begin to weaken ministry, when money gets tight, and the ministry struggles to do what it was called to do. 

An alarm ought to go off when you total the cost of salaries, support staff, and various elements of compensation far exceed the total of all other monies used to minister to and through God’s people and the programs in which they serve. 

^

Churches do stall, and some crash because they lack the altitude needed to recover.

There is a reason that long-term Sr. Pastors are able to avoid a fatal crash. It is not that they don’t find themselves in any “stalls.” Rather, they don’t ignore the alarms.  They adjust and are able to navigate back into forward flight. 

Those who have been in the position of Lead Pastor for only several years, and ignore the alarms that accompany a “stall,” are likely to walk away from a crash, leaving the passengers to deal with the wreckage — an unfinished building program, financial troubles, hurt and damaged believers, a failing school, a bloated staff, struggling ministry programs, fewer members, low morale, poorly supported missionaries, dwindling bank accounts, etc. 

Yet others will continue to stay seated in the cockpit while the alarms sound, offering a very bumpy ride and maneuvering to stay aloft.

There is a “reality stall wall” that a church will hit when the alarms are ignored. When the alarm can’t be ignored or denied any longer, then, suddenly, everyone sees what has been happening and may even profess having had prophetic ability — “I saw what was happening and I should have said something.”

C.S. Lewis

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1. https://simpleflying.com/aircraft-stalls/

Perseverance of the Saints

There is a broad spectrum of beliefs and positions when we talk about “Calvinism.”

While few, if any, would ever accept the label of being a “hyper-Calvinist,” such a category exists!  There are those who are theological-ideologues and are on the EXTREME edges of Calvinism.

Typically the “extremes” revolve around the “L” and the “P” of “T-U-L-I-P” — “Limited Atonement” and (more damagingly) “The Perseverance of the Saints.”

The damage is caused by a fogging of the biblical truth that one is secure in Jesus.  That fog is the result of stating that one cannot lose their salvation, that they are secure, and then implying that one can lose their salvation.

The damage is that God’s people are continually shaken in their confidence that the Lord saves and keeps them!

Here is an example of just that, from one of the most prolific writers of our day, and an extreme Calvinist.

“It follows from what was just said that the people of God WILL persevere to the end and not be lost. The foreknown are predestined, the predestined are called, the called are justified, and the justified are glorified. No one is lost from this group. To belong to this people is to be eternally secure.”

That statement is followed by this . . . .

“Our faith must endure to the end if we are to be saved. . . . Nevertheless, we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith.”

(If you want to read these statements in their full context,
here is the link to the total statement of faith.)

How does put together “eternally secure” and the words “if” and “contingent?

(If you read the whole statement of faith,
you will see that fog & tension throughout!)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones does a masterful job of revealing the extreme nature of this Calvinistic position and, as he states, the ridiculous nature of such a position!

Here is an audio clip taken from Lloyd-Jones’ message on eternal security.

AUDIO CLIP

As Lloyd-Jones indicates . . . .

“The main purpose of salvation is the glory of God, the vindication of His glory, and the sovereignty of the character of God. This ultimate purpose, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, changes everything, namely the assurance of the outcome of God’s glory. Moreover, there are opportunities for pride as those who deny the final perseverance of the saints are forced to deny that it is ultimately God who causes endurance until the end, and instead must affirm that there is some quality inside those who are received into glory that is different from those who fall away.”

“The glory would have to go to you for holding on!”

It is to our glory if holding onto our salvation is up to us!



Link To Lloyd-Jones’ Full Message

External Link To Lloyd-Jones Full Message

https://jameslau88.com/2020/05/10/the-doctrine-of-being-saved-eternally-by-martyn-lloyd-jones/

♦♦♦♦♦

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Eternal Security . . . .

“If this doctrine (Eternal Security) isn’t true, well then if you ever find yourself in glory, the glory will have to go to you for holding on.

The position would be this — that you like a number of other people, have been given the same gift of salvation and eternal life — They foolish didn’t hold on it, but that you did.  And therefore the glory goes to you for holding on.

But that’s a blank contradiction of the teaching of the Scriptures everywhere. . . . Man has nothing to boast of at all.  And when you and I arrive in heaven — my dear friends — we realize that we are there not because we held on while others gave up — but because He held on to us. . . . and we’ll give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory.”     

How Do You Know If It Is The Pharisees Running The Institution?

#1 – More Focused On Their Preservation Than The Needs Of People — Luke 16:1-13, 14-31

When money is easily spent for the pastor(s) or leadership’s preferred programs or projects rather than on needed raises for staff members who are knowingly underpaid, or on God’s people or others who would be personally or spiritually benefited, you are dealing with the spirit that worked in the hearts of the religious Pharisees — self-serving, selfish religious leaders.

“For me, but not for thee.”
“For ours, but not for them.” 

I often said . . . . “Let’s just close the doors if we can’t help . . . .

  • teens or children go to snow/summer camp
  • buy a handbook or vest for a kid in AWANA
  • cover the cost of ladies who want to attend a retreat
  • give away free “cassettes” / CDs of the message
  • pay for 300-400+ kids at VBS,
  • pay for an over-the-road bus for the 60-120 teens who want to go to snow camp
  • cover the cost for all visitors at the golf outing
  • faculty and staff earn a decent and honest living with some sense of equity etc.

^

#2 – Think They Are Above Others – Luke 18:11

When there is a spirit of superiority, speaking and acting as if one is above others, you are dealing with a pharisaical heart. The attitude of superiority can often be subtle because it can be a covert sermonic message being sent and received as one exhorts others about Christlikeness. A lack of authenticity that fails to acknowledge a shared striving for greater Christlikeness, and/or worse yet, a belief that he has attained, conveys the message that he himself has achieved. The sermon is for those listening, spoken by one who knows spiritual accomplishment — It is pharisaical pietism!

^

#3 – Don’t Do What They Ask Others To Do — Matthew 23:3

Serving, going, helping, being present, calling, visiting, working, forgoing this-or-that, giving, taking the time to talk/know, et al. are all part of the pastoral exhortations of church life.

When these responsibilities are left undone, or passed off to others on the staff or among the lay-leaders, you are dealing with a Pharisee who tells others, but does not do!

Pharisees do what they enjoy doing and what brings them praise and attention.

Refuse and reject all the excuses of why someone else should be or is doing what a pastor has been called to do — which is to shepherd the flock of God!

Pharisees don’t personally visit, call, send a card, show up at the wedding, funeral, shower, all church events, graduation party, special services, school events, etc. — but some do “text” in order to be able to say that they have been “talking” with so-in-so, when questioned.  Because appearances are what matter!

^

#4 – Burden The Souls Of Others — Matthew 23:4

Instead of lifting the load, they create and/or add to the weight.  Rather than. . .

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
 
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

. . . . they burden down the souls of men with questions as to their salvation, God’s love of them, His great mercy and kindness, His everlasting love and commitment to His people.

While nothing can separate us from that love, the Pharisees make some feel like the prodigal’s brother — deserving because of his faithful service, not because of the Father’s grace.

^

#7 – Expect and Accept Privileges Others Don’t Get — Matthew 23:6

Going into the ministry does not entitle you to a lifestyle that God’s people don’t have. A Lifestyle that God’s people don’t have. Those in ministry are not the privileged class but are called to forgo those “seats” for others.

“Powering under” is a popular and hackneyed phrase of our day. While it is preached from the pulpit, it is often not reflected towards those in the pew or the local community.

Looking for favors from businesses in the community, accepting money and honorariums for doing what you are paid to do as a pastor, and pressing the envelope regarding the many freedoms accompanying ministry are all too prevalent.

^

#8 – Lack Compassion — John 8:3

The woman taken in adultery is a sufficient example of that lack of compassion for those suffering and even those sinfully suffering.

Let it be them or one of their loved ones, and you will hear about it over and over from the pulpit. Some will use the pulpit to elicit pastoral sympathy during difficult days of health, ministry, family rearing, and finances.

^

#9 – Love The Praises Of Men — John 12:43:

To see this one in operation, just offer some constructive, legitimate, or illegitimate criticism. The response reveals how much the praise of men is loved. Accusations of sowing discord, gossiping, being unloving, and causing disunity will be quickly launched — DARVO!!

Apparently, “dying to self” doesn’t apply in these situations. Instead of understanding how others think and/or why they disagree, some are more likely to be labeled the troubler of Israel — as Elijah.

No, this really is about loving “the praise of men.”
To be in the ingroup,
praise is the only coin of the realm.

The results of all this are being seen in church attendance and giving.

People were never attracted by or to the Pharisees — then or now.

As C.S. Lewis Stated . . . .

 



A Worthwhile Listen 

“Those who love us the most have the potential to undermine our integrity!”

July 2022: Integrity in the Life of a Leader

The Bottom Line When It Comes To Church!

The bottom line when it comes to church is — the sermon!

Church attendance reflects the pulpit!  We see that reality when a congregation knows that so-in-so is speaking tonight or next week.  You will see attendance go up or down based on the sermonic expectations. [1]

As I listen to Alistair Begg, I am reminded again how crucial effective preaching is in ministry.

There is a reason those like Pastor Begg are so oft listened to by so many, and it is because not all preachers/teachers are effective.

I use the word “effectiveness” and not “successful” for a reason.  We are called to be effective communicators because there are situations where one is effective but not successful.  The field of endeavor is a challenging and complicated place to be successful–  if “successful” means having a meaningful impact.  There were situations where Paul was not very successful, but he was effective.

Some like to say that they are preaching to an audience of one — and that is accurate regarding the content of what is being said.   We are called to preach what the Scriptures teach, not what God’s people would like to hear said.

Nevertheless, the truth is that none of us are preaching to only that audience.  Rather, we work hard at message preparation because we know that there is an audience beyond that One.

Some preachers, like Alistair Begg, are consistently excellent — highly effective!  They are clear, thought-provoking, insightful, easy to listen to, and concise.

AND . . . . there are preachers-teacher who are far from effective!

There is a continuum ranging from . . . .

“consistently great – repeatedly great – really good – good – adequate – mediocre – poor – bad -terrible.”

. . . and there is a test by which to evaluate where one is on that continuum!

— “Retellability” —

Are there those who “retell” what was said?

Are there those who remember, repeat, or “retell” what was said?

That is why Alistair Begg’s sermonic clip has gone viral!

What was so effective said by Alistair Begg challenged, moved, explained, clarified, and/or captured a truth worth retelling one’s self . . . .

. . . . and “retelling” others — “You have to listen to this!”

^



^

1. Church attendance may also reflect what is happening in church life.  When serious issues are front and center, as is the case with many SBC churches, attendance is also affected. Dissatisfaction with decisions and leadership also impacts attendance.

Add to that, the presence of a good youth program, the variety of opportunities to serve, other spiritually beneficial programs (such as AWANA / Senior Saints / VBS), personal relationships, and pastoral care and concern.  These, and others, all impact attendance to varying degrees and age groups.

Response:

“I kinda understood churches were for mutual encouragement and exhortation, not simply recieving from a single teacher, professional as they may be. I suppose I am in need of finding the purpose of the church as I read the New Testament”

My Response:

I understand your viewpoint and appreciate it — I totally agree — and should have said what I have often said — there are two wings on the church airplane, preaching and fellowship.

No preaching/teaching, it is not a church, it is merely a social gathering.

No fellowship, it is not a church merely equal to streaming.

Both are as basic as you can get to be called a NT church.

Let me go on to say that no matter how great the fellowship is in any restaurant, if the meal is lousy I’m not going back and investing my time or money in a meal I find continually bland to terrible.

“The bottom line” — not the only line —  has to be the preaching and teaching of God’s Word which also preaches and teaches fellowship and improves the fellowship.

But great fellowship will not improve the preaching/teaching!

I can be part of making fellowship, fellowship — but I can’t do much about bad preaching.

Nevertheless, your point is well taken and I will add this to the bottom of my post!  It is a point worth making!