The Story Of — “It Is Well With My Soul,” as told by their daughter Bertha Spafford

“Bertha Spafford Vester ” was born to Anna Spafford on March 24, 1878, after the loss of her daughters in 1873.

She Authored A Book Titled — “Our Jerusalem.”

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The original manuscript has only four verses, but Spafford’s daughter, Bertha Spafford Vester, who was born after the tragedy, said an additional verse was later added and the last line of the original song was modified. The music, written by Philip Bliss, was named after the ship on which Spafford’s daughters died, Ville du Havre.”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

(Refrain:) It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pain shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

And Lord haste the day, when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

PDF Link to Her Book.

Beginning on page 30 — the story behind the hymn is shared, as told to her by her mother,

Also the  Link To  video presentation of that story.

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The Difference Between “Mush” & Sic’Em”

Musher- sled dogs

. . . 

The difference between saying . . . .

Mush & “Sic’Em”

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Why is church life becoming more and more difficult?

It is — and you probably already know that.

I should say early on, some of that is self-inflicted!

I will venture out and say . . . .

Church life will never be the same after 2020.  In fact, 2020 is flowing into 2021 BECAUSE  2020 has changed life and living.  2020 is flowing in 2021 because a “sea-change” has taken place.  We are not going to b returning back to the regular order of “2019.”

When I read what I thought were reasonable and disarming comments of a well-respected and effective pastor who worked alongside me for six years, I settled into this opinion.  Even those prudent, equitable (Can I use that word anymore?), balanced, wholesome, and wise comments quickly came under assault.

Pastors and church leaders are discovering that the influence they had — or believed they had — in affecting the lives of God’s people in good and right directions, is fading and perhaps, in some cases, is gone.  Disagree with God’s people — socially or politically — and you may well find yourself absent some members and church friends on the next Sunday morning.

In fact, even disagree medically  — “mask or no mask” — in areas in which neither side has any expertise and about which the “scientific opinions” differ widely — and “you are looking for a fight” — or a different church!

There are those pastors who have chosen to wade into the polarized waters of political discussion.  To them, I say, “You did it to yourself!”  It is a lose-lose decision to speak to a broad spectrum of people from “the pulpit.” — the pulpit of the church sanctuary, or Facebook, Twitter, et al.

If you don’t believe that the church congregation reflects a wide spectrum of viewpoints, opinions, thinking, then you are not in the pulpit, [1] you are in the pew.  That is a part of what makes pastoring complicated.  By design, the composition of the church congregation reflects a wide spectrum of individuals.

However, I have seen some of the sanest attempts of pastors to take a reasonable biblical-church-theological position crash and burn as they have simply argued for carefulness and restraint.  As pastors have suggested that the church needs to keep its focus on its calling, even “careful,” “balanced,” “prudent,” and/or “proportional” words have resulted in — “sic’em” — by those who do not like any such words of restraint.

The culture has caught up to the church.  The culture has long infected the church, and it has only been revealed in all of its brassy bold print.  Discussion with people who see things differently, even as to “carefulness,” may quickly devolve from a rational conversation into ad hominem and dismissive comments — “You are just stupid to think that!”  / “That’s just ignorant!”

We don’t like to have discussions with people we disagree with, and the proof is becoming more and more manifest.[2]  The previous proof was the many different churches that keep popping up.  The new present-day evidence is (and will continue to be) . . . .

  • people looking for another church
  • many staying with online watching,
  • a percentage dropping out of church life altogether
  • more and more church hopping
  • pastors switching ministries [3]
  • less effective evangelism
  • front and back door membership [4]
  • unstable church staffing, and/or
  • unsettled finances because of some who no longer financially this-or-that ministry.

More and more, the word “Mush” seems to sound like “Sic’Em.”

If the church doesn’t offer something different from what has been happening in culture, the Gospel will no longer be what we are fighting for.  Rather, we are “witnesses” to the reality that we cannot even tolerate each other’s differing vantage, no less those who do not even share our hope and faith in Christ. [5]

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1. Talking to others who well-agree with your vantages is far different from talking with those who hold meaningful differences.  And, while others might say to those on the other side of an issue, in some form or another —  “Pastor agrees with me.” —   that is far different from you personally disagreeing with those individuals.  There is a lot of “pastoral grace” is given by the members and friends of a congregation, but not after an in-person disagreement.

2. Most all of us avoid conflict.  I realize that some must like it.  Nevertheless, I well imagine that anyone involved in a disagreement would rather avoid it — especially after it is over – ugh!   Yes, there are times when strong and needed disagreement needs to be voiced to leadership, but as loyal opposition, because loyalty must never outweigh integrity!  It is “integrity” that calls up loyalty!  And, like you, I “hate” going down that road, but it is only because addressing wrong-doing, and wrong-doers cannot be silenced!

3. Some pastors have already said too much.  Who wants a pastor who is “so stupid.”  We don’t like people who are so wrong in their viewpoints.

“Relevance”:  I know that there is a tendency to claim that preaching and churches need to be “relevant” and address these socio-political issues.  A better time to address the issues of the day might be later than sooner.  A better time for such an endeavor might be after the water has receded, and a better perspective can be had. Perhaps, even what the truth is has been so muddled that it is unwise to socio-medically-politically pontificate.  Let’s ask the great Apostle Paul — I Corinthians 6:12; 9:22.

4. New members found a place where they are more comfortable until the pastor or even others say something that stirs the socio-political waters.

5. There is a parallel “cancel culture” spirit, which can be found in too many churches.  Disagree, and you are charged with “disunity.”  That has been part of the church culture for years in far too many churches.  “Sowing Discord” is the church’s cancel culture mantra used to squelch needed, candid, and truthful criticism.  There is little-to-no place for the loyal-opposition* to challenge the self-serving decisions and actions of those in power and influence positions.

* “Loyal Opposition“:  Those who have given their time, talents, and treasure to the ministry for years and have genuinely sought to support the leadership but now have put “integrity” over any such loyalty.

A New Trend In Church Music [& Roy Orbison]

crying roy Orbison

In 1964 I went to college — lost.  I was saved under the evangelistic ministry of Harvey Springer [1] — a cowboy evangelist.  Years later, my mother accepted Christ as her Saviour, at the age of 60.  She would often say . . .

“I love reading the Bible in German.  It speaks to me so differently. 
“German” says it differently to me than the “English” words.”   

German was her native language!  It was her childhood language for 16 years – plus.

Mom came to America at the age of 16.  She was sent over by her parents during the rise of Hitler.  Her parents have serious misgivings and fears of where her country was going as it saw the rise of his power and the rise of wars.  She was sent to live with her uncle — “Uncle Louie” — a German tailor who lived in North Jersey. 

During the years of raising us, mom and dad often spoke German.  They attended a German-Methodist church where the adult services were in German.  Throughout her life, she was fluent in speaking “High German” [not “Platt·deutsch”/Low German, like dad, who was raised on a farm in Bremerhaven, northern Germany].    We “always” heard mom speak German to others who knew the language — and in North Jersey, there were many!

She was always self-conscious about her ability to speak English, though we never understood why.  In fact, in her early years in America, she became a legal assistant for an attorney.  Then in our pre-teen years pursued an education and career in nursing.  She worked as a nurse at Paterson General Hospital into her 70’s.

Again, she would often say that she loved reading the Bible in German.  Why?  The fullness of meaning and word usage that accompanies a learned language and culture were part of what made reading it rich in German.  Language is not merely words, but a culture, an upbringing —  an emotional diary of events and personal historical nuances.

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“Music” Two Artforms: 

“Music” is a combination of two elements — two artforms — the poetry and the musical score.  There is an obvious trend that is occurring today, and it can be heard when listening to Christian music on the radio and in the church.  Different musical scores are being used when playing and singing well-known hymns of the faith.

I am not addressing the “arrangements” of great church hymns.  “Arrangements” of the hymn, which typically follow the original musical score, or arrangements which “begin–vary–come back” to the original musical score, is not my contention.

Nor am I making the argument that “changing up the musical score” has no merit, but there should be clarity and understanding as to the ramifications.  The frequency and breadth of this trend may well be indicative of such a lack of understanding of the ramifications — or just a disregard of them regardless.

Church music, like a native language, carries with it an experiential history. [2]

“Music” is more than words; it like a “childhood learned language” carries with it the emotions, the experiential and cultural chronicle, and the original congregational worship context.  Sing “The Old Rugged Cross” to a different musical score and then sing “The Old Rugged Cross” to its original musical score and tell me that it is the same musical experience!

Again, that is not to contend that there is no merit in changing up the musical score.  Nevertheless, do not do so thinking that the “ministry dynamics” have not changed. [3]. Do not believe that nothing has been lost in regards to the worship value for those who learned that music in their “native tongue.” 

Let me also argue that variant musical scores often disregard the creative “musical” elements that went into the original creation of that hymn.  The musical score works with the poetry for it to reach its fulfillment and become a well-known and liked hymn over centuries.  The proof of that is seen in listening to some versions of “It Is Well With My Soul” played in a minor key.  When I hear those versions, I often say — They messed up that hymn.

To go to the metrical index of the hymn book, and attach the “hymn” to an alternate “musical score,” disregards how the music draws out the fulness of the poetry, and the “emotional diary of events and personal historical nuances” which ARE all part of that hymn. [5]. This trend of taking the words and attaching them to a different musical score is to — “Read the Bible in ‘English’ when the native tongue is ‘German.’ ”  That is why people say — “I miss the old hymns of the faith!”

Worse than this trend is the trend to repeatedly choose and use musical scores that repetitively bear a particular composer’s marks.  The revisionist music begins to all sound the same.

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1. Harvey Springer — see below


2. Not only church music, but all “music.”  That is why those who lived in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s still love listening to the music of their era.  It carries the overtones of that age.

3. An easy way to make that argument is to ask — Where do you see this happening in the secular musical world.  They understand how the musical score affects the significance and appreciation of the song — I have not heard the classic Roy Orbison song — “Crying” attached to a different musical score.  Has anyone done a musical score “remake” of the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” — There are arrangements, but no “remakes” where the words were put to a different musical score!  

“Crying” (1961) was a popular song on “American Idol.”  Carrie Underwood sang if on her finale night!  None of the singers “changed” the musical score –Kree Harrison / Billy Gilman
— (Crying, Roy Orbison – 1961 — Remember — I was saved in my late teens.)

Even the Spanish version preserves the musical score!

4.  Take a hymn that little-to-no-one knows or has ever sung, change up the musical score, and nothing is lost.  Why?  Because it has no experiential history.  Sing that hymn using that variant musical score for months, and it develops its own attachment to that musical score.  Now, have the choir sing it as written in the hymn book.  

5. I have heard some old hymns of the faith put to a different musical score, and it worked.  At times, it drew out some of the elements of “poetry,” which lacked that musical color.  But that has been rare in my humble experience.  

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Fiery Evangelist Harvey Springer Dies

The Rev. Harvey H. Springer, fiery fundamentalist evangelist who built the Independent First Baptist Church and Tabernacle of Englewood into one of the largest congregations in Colorado, died at 11:50 p. m. Friday in Swedish Hospital after a heart attack. He was 59. Rev. Mr. Springer was stricken at Silver State Youth Camp in Jarre Canyon near Sedalia, which he operated during the summer. Some 3500 children are attending this year’s camp session at a rate of up to 400 a week. The pastor, who long referred to himself as the cowboy evangelist. addressed the campers Thursday night and again at the noon meal Friday before he was stricken. Rev. Mr. Springer headed the Englewood church, which is independent of other Baptist churches, for 30 years. He made many radio broadcasts, published a weekly newspaper and wrote and published numerous books and tracts. Rev. Mr. Springer was a hellfire and brimstone preacher who often made tours of the South. He was a shrewd businessman who formed many organizations to foster his activities.

Rev. Mr. Springer was an executive officer of the ultrafundamentalist International Council of Christian Churches. Rev. Mr. Springer for years published the weekly, “Western Voice From Out of the Rockies”. He was born January 18, 1907, in Oklahoma Indian Territory, the son of Otto W. and Delia Phelps Springer. He spent most of his earlier years in Oklahoma. In 1925 he married Miss Evalena Shaffer, daughter of the founders of Shaffer’s Crossing southwest of Denver. He appeared in Englewood in two evangelistic campaigns, then became pastor of his Englewood church in 1936. Funeral services were at 2:00 p. m. Tuesday in the Independent First Baptist Church and Tabernacle, 3170 S. Broadway, Englewood. Burial was in Littleton Cemetery. The Rev. Victor Sears of Ft. Worth, Texas, pastor of Castleberry Baptist Church, and the Rev. Sam Morris, a San Antonio, Texas, evangelist, will conduct funeral services. Surviving, in addition to his wife, are a sister. Mrs. Ruby Riley; a brother, Byron E. Springer: a nephew and four nieces, all of Denver. Silver Heights, north of Castle Rock, along with the Silver State Youth Camp and the Silver State Nursing Home, all in Douglas County, were products of the dynamic leadership of Dr. Springer.

The Rev. Harvey H. Springer — 1907-1969 

4 Reasons They Come To Hear You!

active volcano 1

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One subject which floats around the “expository preaching community” revolves around “felt-need” preaching.  With pastors, it comes in second (it may be first) only to church music.  One of the first articles addressing it in a real way was y Al Mohler, in 2006 — and is still very turbulent today.

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One of the reasons that it is active and still erupting fifteen years later is because some of the preaching ministries of some of the most effective preachers are marked by the words “felt-need.”

With all the superficial talk about preaching — or not preaching — to the “felt-needs” of the audience, the reality is that much (I think most) preaching addresses “felt needs.”  They reject the label, but not the reality  because addressing real needs was built into the DNA of preaching.

“Felt needs” is one of the motivations for attending  — week after week, and listening to the same person preach to them from God’s Word.  They know and understand that they don’t have the answers to all that the week has thrown at them and are looking for some biblical help.  They are looking for help in both thinking and action when it comes to . . . .

  • child-rearing
  • a marital issue
  • financial difficulties
  • pestering habits
  • a prodigal child
  • a very uncomfortable disagreement
  • thinking about political issues
  • a shaky job situation
  • making a major change or move in life or the life of the family
  • consistency regarding various biblical disciplines
  • et al.

In fact, introductions are typically designed to establish the relevance of the message to life and living.  Add to that the fact that sermonic application is aimed at speaking to real needs.  AND not to mention that we as pastors state that God’s Word speaks to all the needs and demands of life and living — “throughly furnished!?

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There are typically four primary reasons people — members, regular attenders, and visitors [1] — attend church — especially on Sunday morning . . . .

1 – To Act Responsibly: It is what God’s people ought to faithfully practice. The preaching of God’s Word and fellowshipping with God’s people is who we are as believers.  It is a matter of faithfulness!  [2]

2 – To Acquire Information: God’s people do what to learn what the Bible teaches.  They do want to understand the Bible and learn what it has to say.  “Theology Proper” — who God is — is important to them!  “Theology” may not be as important to them as those who have been called to the ministry.  They may not be interested in some of the technical discussions pastors and seminarians get involved in or even preach-teach about.  Nevertheless, for many, Sunday morning is the most concentrated exposure to biblical truth and principles. [3]

3 — To Untangle Life: Life is often confusing. Have you ever heard someone say — “What is that about!”  They have witnessed something or heard something and were perplexed, confused.  “Why did she just blow up like that when Bill asked them that question?” /  “After 25 years, she says she wants a divorce!  You are kidding.  What is that about?”

  One of the aims of preaching is to give coherence and understanding about life and living — in a fallen world — from a biblical vantage.  After Saul throws a spear at his very effective warrior, David, there needs to be an explanation, and the explanation is jealousy.  That does not just happen in history; it happens today and helps people understand what is happening and how irrational sin is.

Part of preaching is helping God’s people explain and understand what happens in life — i.e. — The pride, ego, and self-centeredness of men drive them to carry out all kinds of twisted plans.

4 — To Resolve Agitation:  Who of us has not experienced “mental agitation?” When thoughts clash, we seek to make mental peace.  Just like when the body ingests too much sugar, the body immediately begins to bring everything back to a proper balance and releases the appropriate amount of insulin into the system.  The body is meant to operate with everything in balance.

Likewise, events take place, words are spoken, new information is introduced, and there is a mental disruption.  When people or events throw things out of balance, the mind seeks to bring things back into balance.

    • “I didn’t know that!  Are you sure that is true?  If it is, then I am starting to take an aspirin a day.”
    • “I can’t believe that they said “no” when I asked them if they could help me out next week.  How many times have I given my time and energy.  You are kidding!  I thought  . . . but I don’t think that way anymore.”
    • “What do I do now?  My son-or-wife-or-husband walked out the door!  How do I deal with all the anxiety, fears, and thoughts which refuse to quiet down?
    • “My doctor just told me that I have colon cancer!”
    • “My daughter was just arrested on a drug charge.”
    • “I can’t even tell anybody about it.  I am too ashamed!”

Whether it is by . . . .

    • adjusting ( taking an aspirin a day),
    • seeking out more information (reading everything about that form of cancer),
    • looking for different information (getting a second opinion),
    • refusing to listen to -read-watch “upsetting” sources of information (turn on a different channel, I can’t listen to them!),
    • shutting down and cutting off people (I’m through with them!)

. . . . all are avenues for regaining our mental equilibrium.

People come to church looking for answers!  They are trying to find the path that leads back to mental and emotional peace, to mentally re-balance.  Read the Psalms, and you will see. David working through that process — sometimes he makes it, and other times he utterly fails — I Samuel 27:1

Believers, and those who know not Christ as their personal Saviour, come to church expectantly because they need some re-balancing, and/or life has thrown them a serious curve this week.  Part of preaching —  and shepherding — is to help people meet that need for balance by understanding Scripture’s truths and principles.

Who of us have not heard a message which gave us understanding, or a competing needed truth, or the direction necessary for navigating the rapids — and thereby the peace of mind was restored!

God’s people do not merely attend out of a sense of sincere spiritual responsibility or to become more theologically educated.  They come because there are some real felt reasons.  “Some” are there because they are trying to untangle life and living as a Christian.  “Some” are there because events have agitated their minds and hearts, and they need some help, some answers, or at least part of the answer.

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1. Obviously, “visitors” may attend to please the person who invited them.  Nevertheless, most do not respond to such an invitation.  How many of us have been told  —  “They are going to try to make it.” — but they never show up.  When there is a real need in their lives, they sincerely respond to an invitation and even show up.

If a pastor assumes that visitors will respond to an invitation (personal or mailed) regarding upcoming evangelistic services through a personal request or a mailed-out postcard,  he will be disappointed.  Too many distractions, alternative demands, and felt-needs are vying for the time of individuals and families.

The proof of that is seen in what is usually connected with the event — “A barbecue rib dinner with all the trimmings!”  Which, by the way, is addressing “a felt-need.”  Along with dinners, the advertising is also aimed at addressing felt-needs — “These special services are for husbands and wives (or moms and dad) who are seeking to make marriage all it can and should be!”

2.  That sense of faithfulness marks those who attend beyond the “Sunday Morning Service,” and even if there is little-to-no personal benefit per the topic, or even if the preacher is consistently ineffectiveness.

3. “Informational” is one of the main reasons new believers are so consistent in their church attendance — and their Bible reading.  The earliest days are marked by an intense interest in what they have little-to-no knowledge about, till now!

“Informational Preaching” works for new believers.  However, over time it takes a turn and those new believers, who were sitting under “informational sermons,” begin looking for something more.  That is why some churches become and are “feeder” churches to other local church ministries.

There Is A Word For That: It’s Not Shepherding

crime scene

I understand that anecdotal evidence is just that, an example, a single account that may not represent the whole.  “An independent statistical study” needs to be conducted to arrive at “certainty.”   Some would rather quote “Barna” — as if the “Barana Group’s” polling is any more reliable than anecdotal evidence [1].

Nevertheless, here are two disturbing accounts . . . . 2021 accounts.
(If you want to see it on a corporate level, a third example found below. [2] )

Case #1

Me:  Hi Pastor ______, how is it going at the church.

Pastor:  Doing good . . . . strange and challenging days to be pastor of a church.

Me:  That it is!

Pastor:  I am on zoom calls with about 10 other pastors, and it is surprising what pastors say . . .

We still got the money coming in . . . . we’re good — we’re okay . . . .

When I question it, they say . . . .

“Come on ______, you telling me that you don’t like this –You know you do.

We don’t have to preach as much, or deal with people and issues and we still get paid.”

Me: Wow . . . That’s shameful

Pastor: I have been visiting the members and offering “communion” with them at their homes.
At least we can take the time to pray with them!

(“I’ll leave it there, but it gets worse!)

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Case #2

Me:  Hi, “Bill, I wanted to touch base with how things are going in your life.  Are you still meeting with Pastor _________?

“Bill”:  Things have kind of trailed off.  He rarely calls me or contacts me anymore.

Me: How can I help?

“Bill”: It’s just good to hear from you.  Nobody has ever checked on me before. 

Me: Listen, I can help, if you need someone to talk to.  I know that over the phone is not the best way to do counseling, but I am here if you need to talk to someone.  In fact, I will even fly there for a day or two if that would help — or you can fly down to Florida — whatever works best. . . . . Did you get the book I sent you?

“Bill”: I pulled out the book again today — Gentle and Lowly — the one that you sent me.  When I read it, it moves in a way that I don’t understand.  I have come to enjoy reading it!

Me: That’s good! . . . . . It talks about a Saviour which is far different from the one found in many a church ministry — one that deeply cares about us …  and deeply loves us . . . . Not a Saviour who is looking to find fault, but to cover our faults and failing with His blood . . . . One who wants to bring us home forever.

“Bill”: I appreciate the book . . . . . . . It seems like the times I get together with him — when and if we do get together —  there is only one subject . . . . ‘Am I saved?’  And I am.  I am trusting Christ as my personal Saviour . . . but I don’t know if he believes me.  But I am making it — reading my Bible — but struggling. . . . .

(Again, I’ll leave it there, but there are many more heart-wrenching comments!)

I know, these are just two stories!  They do not represent the ministry.  No, of course they do not.  But they do represent some ministries — and far more than these two.  We will have to wait for someone to do a “double-blind test.”  Or we can hope that Barna will do a poll where pastors anonymously and honestly confess to such attitudes and responses.

With some pastors, fewer preaching demands, less church activity, and steady or increased income has not lead to more time and concern for the sheep.  It has lead to more time off, less preaching (temporarily and maybe permanently), and a greater failure to exhibit the grace and love required, and indeed expected from those who claim the title of “shepherd.”

I can say with certainty, there is far too much self-serving and shameful pastoral decisions and responses than some might like to admit, and which have been brought to the surface by the Covid and political crisis across America. With some, as long as the books balance, the bills are being paid, and no one on staff is missing a paycheck, all is well.

“Expositing the Scriptures” doesn’t mean that you have provided green pastures for the sheep.  Pastors who congratulate themselves on “exposition” may think they have thereby fulfilled their highest duty and in fact, hide their mediocre-to-weak-to-poor-to-terrible shepherding behind fulfilling that duty.  “Expositing the Scriptures” includes exhibiting the love, care, concern, patience, and compassion which”men of the  Book” preach the Scriptures require of His people — no less its leadership.

Lee Eclov states . . . .

Pastors, like all believers, are agents of grace.  But we dispense the grace of Christ as no other believers do.  We are shepherds.  Search as we might for a word more suited to our contemporary culture, shepherd is the only word that will do.  If we hope to understand what we’ve been called by God to do, we have to step into a foreign world of sheep and pastures, folds, and staffs, night watches and wilderness searches . . . . Patient, long-suffering, committed to the often lonely routines of care.  That’s. how God wants us to see ourselves.  In fact, that is one way God see Himself. [3]

Don’t take my word for it, just ask church members — particularly those who have not felt the freedom to return to the in-house church services, those who have been and are marginalized for being fearful — “How often has your pastor personally talked to, called, and/or prayed with you.”

When you hear their answer, you will be able to add a few more anecdotal stories to my point.

With some pastors, and more than imagined or is right, the ministry really is about them.

The word for such is not “shepherds.”

1. The Barna Group polling of “Christians,” “pastors,” “churches,” and “disciples” is as subject to gross inaccuracy to most all polling is.  “Polling” is DEPENEDENT ON who you poll (Christendom is not Christianity) , where you poll (the Northeast is not the South), when you poll (comparing the 50s-60s to 2021), and how you poll (the questions you ask give you the answers you want).

“Barna” results are used to argue for all kinds of trends, positions, and warnings.  There is one certain truth which all the Barna polls repeat in a variety of different ways.  It may be the only trend that Barna polls are picking up — the world is moving from Christ to a day of His return.

By the way, Barna now reports that most church members really don’t care about their pastors and that pastors lack credibility in the eyes of most members (whoever the  “they are” who have been polled).  That was in 2017 — Imagine today!

2. Dave Ramsey email To Bob Smietana
also — “And if you don’t like that, this is your cue . . . Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.”

3. Lee Eclov:  “Pastoral Graces” — pg. 12

Another beautiful quotation from his book . . . .

“. . . we must also remind them often, in full biblical detail, that Jesus will come back in glory. Pastors grace God’s people with the stories of what is yet to come. We keep their chins up, looking for Christ’s return. In this clinging and cloying world we urge them not to put down their roots.

I imagine a pastor being like an elderly uncle of refugee children. He often gathers them to himself and tells them stories of the homeland they have never seen. He tells them that on the day they go home they will be a beautiful bride coming down the aisle of the skies to meet her Bridegroom. The homeless children listen wide-eyed as he tells them that their homeland is a kingdom bright and righteous, where Life runs in the rivers and grows on trees. “Our King is the king of all kings,” says the uncle. “He rides a mighty charger and the armies of heaven follow Him. He knows your name and he himself is waiting to be with you.” The uncle tells these stories again and again because if he doesn’t the children will forget who they are and put down their stakes in Babylon. The challenge isn’t how to get them home. The King will take care of that. The uncle’s challenge is that he cannot let the King’s children forget their home.”

An Argument For Christian Education

kids snow skiing dadHow often I have heard it said and argued, in regards to Christian education and /or in discussions concerning raising children . . . . 

“You are sheltering your children from the real world
which one day, down the road, they will have to face.”

Parents contemplating enrolling their children into our Christian school expressed how they had heard that argument made by parents who chose a state education. Parents who sought a moral atmosphere, wholesome activities, and desired a circle of Christian friends for their children, were faced with the charge of “over protecting your children” — “You can’t raise your children in a Christian hot-house.”[1]

Even potential (and employed) youth pastors argued for greater “Christian liberty” regarding exposure to this world’s culture. Some oscillated as to what they should encourage-discourage in regards to music, reading materials, television, friendships, dating, school activities-proms, schools, et al. — I imagine today we could add “social media.”

However, when it comes to passing down a love to our children — be it secular or sacred — that we want to prevent the possibility of them never finding the joy in it.  Let me illustrate that by using what many fathers enjoy and want their children to enjoy.  I could easily do the same with mothers. [2]. If you as a father love and enjoy a sport (i.e. baseball), a hobby (i.e. woodworking), or an activity (i.e. water or snow skiing/or snowboarding), if you don’t make the first experiences pleasant, your love may never become their love.

If their first experiences are filled with difficulties, criticism, impatience, and/or failure, such will become a road-block to further engagement.  If you look forward to the day that your children will step onto the beautifully powered ski slope, excited about their first experience of making their way down the “kid-friendly trail” (The Magic Carpet – Chipmunk Corner) you may find yourself alongside them, doing all you can to make it a pleasant experience.  Why?  Because you want them to love and enjoy what you have come to love and enjoy.

The various snow-ladened-trials can be a punishing place for first-time and/or young “attemptees.” Newcomers can easily become discouraged by skis that won’t cooperate, stopping maneuvers that seem ineffective, and speeds contribute to a pounding. Their first attempts can give them the feeling that they never will get the hang of this and never enjoy this. The cold snow can even give them such a beating that they never really want to go for another weekend winter trip.

Be it snow skiing, snowboarding, water skiing, or surfing — their experiences matter and those who want their children to love and enjoy what they love and enjoy will take the necessary steps to make sure that the “first trip down the kiddy trail” is smooth — at least as smooth as it can be — especially for those who are less adept or “athletic.”

One day our children will have to learn how to maneuver in this world as a believer. They will have to get on top of that trail on their own, without us alongside, and on far more challenging trails than “Chipmunk Corner.” The world — the society and culture — will be far different from the days we first went down the kid’s trail. The temperature will be far colder, and the snow will not be powered. This world can be a demanding, tough, and dangerous “hill” to navigate.

  •  There will be children who struggle because they are not at all naturally athletic.
  • A number of children will find it a very unpleasant experience — as have many adults. [3]
  • Some children will be expected to pick it up like dad has/had, but can’t — as quickly — or won’t.
  • Still. others will rank themselves as dabblers, realizing that they are far from competent.
  • Many will go with those who suggest a day on the slopes, but primarily as observers who take on the appearance of fellow lovers and enjoyers.

If their attempts are repeatedly difficult and clumsy — or even distasteful —  they may never come to love and enjoy what dad has come to love and enjoy.

  • Yes, some will master it quickly and come to love and enjoy it as much as dad.
    and yes . . . 
  • Many may join those who suggest a day on the slopes, but they travel primarily as observers who take on the appearance of fellow lovers and enjoyers.

Some parents are oblivious to the unpleasant experiences that young children face in state education. While the trails might not be “Black Diamond” (although some might quickly debate that these days), they are far from “Chipmunk Corner.” The youngest of children may face an educational pounding during those 30 or more hours a week.

A Christian education in the elementary years of life may provide the time, growth, and experiences needed before those demanding teenage years of parenting. As a parent, not to speak of being a parent today, I might want to buffer my children from some of the terrible educational trails that the world is offering to the newest and youngest of skiers to attempt.

When it comes to your most precious possession,
Your Children,
There is an alternative to state education!


skiing rescue

1. Not sure why.  It works well with young and tender plants!

2. My wife has always enjoyed sewing. One of our daughters-in-law has a real passion for cooking. I think I can safely say that both would hope that their love of sewing or cooking would be had by their children and grandchildren. However, if a child’s first attempts at either, prove to be difficult, embarrassing, or filled with disappointment, or if their early attempts are discouraged by others’ words and responses, those hope will be smothered.

3. To expect that our young children will do better than we did (or do) when it comes to standing for the faith,  defending our beliefs-practices, or sharing our faith, in the state schools (no less today’s public schools), is thoughtless.  Some parents are expecting their children to face what they themselves struggled at to this day.


America’s Churches: ?? “A Coming Storm”??


. . . . . . 

Recently, I was listening to “Charlie Renfroe,” a Christian businessman [1] who wrote the book — “What Are You Working On Big?” He shared the story of being in business during a looming recession.

. . . . . . 

. . . . . . 

“We saw a storm coming, and it was going to be a big storm!”
— audio clip —
(other links below)

As I listened, I thought about the storm, which may well be ahead for some local church ministries.   Don’t know when it will hit —  sometime in the next three to six months — but I think a storm is coming, and I think it will be a big storm!

When the storm comes, only those who are . . . .

  • seriously concerned about it,
  • alert to its potential gathering on the horizon, and
  • willing to address it by making the changes and adjustments needed today

. . . . will be ready for its full impact.

I do not claim to be the only one announcing this  “weather alert.” Many others are warning ministries and churches about the same potential storm.  My vantage may only be distinct in that I see it from the vantage of one who is now watching from the other side of the pulpit and the other side of a professor’s desk.

Charlie Renfroe’s words might excite some to open up the cage of the 500 lb. Gorilla and face it straight on, rather than thinking that somehow they will be able to ride out the storm until it returns back to normal.

. . . . . . . 

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 9.27.31 AMOne Pivotal Indicator:

. . . . . . . 

In recent weeks, I have had several regular church-goers say this to me  . . . .

“I’ve been listening to “Pastor _________” on Sunday, and we have really enjoyed his preaching/teaching.”

“I don’t listen to my home church’s Sunday streaming.  We listen to ___________.”

“Haven’t been attending, though services are open — primarily because we enjoy hearing the online Sunday service from Pastor ___________.”

There will be a good number of regular church-goers who will come to the realization that listening to “mediocre-to-poor-to-terrible” preaching was not one of the spiritual disciplines or part of God’s plan for developing patience. [2].

As Tim Challies states,  There is . . . . .

no excuse for preparing bad sermons

But here’s the problem with that: An over-reliance on the built-in tools can keep us from learning the fundamentals of photography and without those fundamentals it’s tough to be better than decent. The photography field is now stuffed full of amateurs who can get some pretty good results with their automated cameras and their processing software, but it seems there are fewer professionals who really study the art and science of photography and whose work displays true excellence. (And, to be clear, I put myself firmly in the ranks of the amateurs…)

It occurs to me that what is true of photographers is, to some degree, true of preachers. Just as the modern era has given us such good tools that we have no excuse for taking bad photos, it’s given us tools that leave us no excuse for preparing bad sermons. Today’s tools are just too inexpensive and too good and too widely available for that.

Many a member and attendee of local churches across America will come to realize that he/she needs a real spiritual meal on Sunday!  They have or will come to realize that a meaningful biblical message is available, but not at the church they have been attending.  While their church may provide good fellowship, the other “wing” is broken and unable to land them into “Monday Morning’s” broken world.

I think that storm is coming!

Because . . . .
There is no excuse for poor preaching!

1.  “What are you working on Big? “– by Charles H. Renfroe

“Hometown Tuscaloosa Alabama, attended University, worked my way through with “Charles’s” Lawn Service”…joined billboard company of Lewis Mandersons Creative Displays started “Outdoor West”..wrote book “What are you working on Big?”

That my children and grandchildren and those special close friends would know me as more than a successful businessman entrepreneur; but rather a good father, grandfather, husband and friend!…and that I would quicken the step of all that I encounter by my encouragement to them… and have them know that this world is not our home but that we are predestined to be at one with our Father who sent His Son to be a sacrifice for all that we had boogered up on! Praise the Lord!”

— link to 500 lb. Gorilla audio clip

— link to full audio interview.

2. Multiple articles on the state of preaching today . . . .

No Excuses for Preaching Bad Sermons

Three Types of Bad Preaching (And Their Remedies)

Why is So Much Preaching So Poor?

Bottom Line: It Has Complications, Some Self-Inflicted

the bottom lineI know that we as pastors would like to believe that it is “expository preaching” / “preaching-teaching what the Bible teaches,” which should be is reason enough for God’s people to walk in its truths.

While God’s people are committed to what the Scriptures teach and it is their guide to faith and practice, they are not convinced that what you (or me) are preaching-teaching is taught in the Bible. . . .

  “Well, they should . . . . It says that right there in the Bible!”

√  Part of the complication is that God’s people have been unwittingly taught that what is stated “in black and white” may not be what the Bible actually teaches.  The words may not be, may not mean, may not be saying what they seem to say and teach.

I saw “unwittingly” because preachers and teachers state and/or imply that what is written is not what it actually says. The simplicity of what most Bible passages state has become complicated and indistinct because preachers and teachers of Scripture complicate and cloud that simplicity. [1]

While the Scriptures simply state . . . .

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

. . . . The understanding and preaching of that parable can become so serpentine (in more ways than one) that the simple truth for which the parable was given is lost, or worse, questioned.

√  Add to that, the repeated announcement by a pastor/teacher that there are different interpretations of what a passage is teaching — not different applications, but diverse and even radically different meanings. [2]

Let me make a few points before the push-back . . . .

      • There are different interpretations or understandings of some passages.
      • Applications are not interpretations.
      • Pastors-teachers ought to repeatedly point out that the words are clear, simple, in black and white, and we know what they state.
      • Pastors-teachers ought to frequently make the point that some do not want to hear what this passage teaches because it cuts across their thinking and position.
      • There ought not be as many supposed interpretations as there are, involving far too many Scripture passages, which are clear and simple! [3]

Pastors-teachers create distrust by repeatedly interjecting their own contextual thinking about a passage, [4] and/or variant, and even bizarre, interpretations of simple and clear passages.  “Make the argument” for what the passage teaches by laying out the flow of the passage, not by turning the sermon into an announced argument for your position. [5]

When pastors call up the possibility of being wrong (or one-among-many) regarding what the passage teaches, more biblical uncertainty is the by-product.

After 2000 years and endless books and articles on this-or-that book of the Bible (or passage), it seems like some pastors and Bible teachers are still uncertain as to what most Scripture teaches.

√ A third complication is that people, no lest sinners, no less stubborn sinners who do not want to (or know how to) change, are not readily committed to believing that what is being said is true. If it is, that has some down-to-real-life and psychological (guilt, regret, shame, embarrassment) implications.

√  Another complicating factor is poor preaching, which so clouds and confuses the truth that the listener is not even sure what was said and/or if it has any value or application to life and living.

√  Add To That — Presently — at least in our age — the task of preaching is crisscrossed by many other voices.  Some are preaching and teaching what the Bible does not say, or what the Bible says but is applicational twisted, or what the Bible might say but sounds more self-serving than credible.

√  Finally — Bottom Line — all speaking and preaching is relational!  It is the personal relationship a pastor has with those listening which correlates with one’s influence in individuals and families [7]. Preaching is hard on the listeners’ ears when they believe that the ministry is about the pastor, not about them.

Caring pastorally” is what gives strength sermonically!

Surmount all the previous complicating factors — and most can and do — every week — and for years! There is a relational factor that outweighs all the above complicating factors and makes it all work at the end!

There critically is a human element, a relational factor, which is also operating in all preaching and teaching! The mere fact that one “turns on this channel and not that channel” proves that principle. Individuals and families voluntarily come and listen for hours a week primarily because of their confidence in and relationship with the pastor or teacher.

People do not follow what we are preaching-teaching if they do not regard the source of the communication as credible, authentic, honest, and/or genuine.  By “follow,” I mean change their thinking and their lives. The purpose of preaching is to instruct and exhort, correct, reprove, and rebuke.

It requires, as Scripture indicates, “long-suffering” because change takes time, experience, and exposure.  It does not happen because one is “exposed” to what the Scriptures say! — “It says it right there in the Bible!”  Change happens over time through the words of one who is credible, genuine, and who sincerely exhorts, corrects, reproves, and rebukes — week after week, year after year — with all long-suffering.

Your credibility, [6] as a speaker and as a pastor, matters!  If that were not true, there would be no purpose behind some of the qualifications of the office of pastor.  Some of the qualifications are included because “who you are as a person” impacts what you say and whether you are heard.  They affect and reflect your influence in the lives of those who are there, voluntarily listening!

COVID-19 will prove that far more true and accurate than words.  When the dust clear, the pews will reveal who really cared about God’s people, or who were those who were just mouthing the words, and/or unloaded that very personal responsibility of pastoral caring and concern onto the shoulders of others —  or not at all!

I am not a prophet, but I am an observer — Pastors, Brace Yourself For Impact!

There is going to be a significant “sea-change” when this is all past.
COVID-19 has been a reagent, revealing the pastors who are genuine and authentic.

Don’t complain when the results come out.  It isn’t their fault that they no longer care to listen.  The qualifications for shepherding were given to you, not to the sheep!

¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤

Screen Shot 2021-01-08 at 12.32.23 PM

Screen Shot 2021-01-08 at 12.32.37 PM

— Lee Eclov, “Feels Like Home: How Rediscovering the Church as Family Changes Everything” — 

pgs. 23-24

1. Some of God’s people have been taught to believe that a pastor has “secret insights” into what the Scriptures teach because of their education and biblical experience — kind of like the Roman Catholic faith taught/teaches.  They cannot just read the Bible and know what it is teaching without a Bible teacher who actually knows what it is teaching.  Apparently, the layman is still in need of help when it comes to most of Scripture.  They have to know the Greek & Hebrew language to know what it actually says.

Obviously, there are some difficult passages of Scripture AND some Greek & Hebrew words which clear up some of the difficulties for this-or-that passage.  However, is that reflective of most of Scripture?

2. “Some commentators suggest . . . . ., other believe that the passage teaches . . . . . , I believe, and my position on this passage is, that it is saying actually that . . . . . ”

Again and obviously, there are some difficult passages of Scripture AND some Greek & Hebrew words which clear up some of the difficulties for this-or-that passage.

Also,  I would suggest that one of the most challenging tasks of preaching-teaching is not understanding what the passage teaches, but how to best communicate what it teaches in a clear and impacting manner.

3.  We say “one interpretation, and many applications.”

Some argue for a clearer and stronger original understanding of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, than for the clear understanding and wording of Scripture.  At times, what a book or article ways is subjected to less interpretation and/or debate.  At times, “letters” we receive from family, friends, or critics are deemed to be marked by more clarity than those of Paul, Peter, and John.

4. “I think Joseph never imagined that things would and could get even worse, that he might end up in prison when he began serving in Potiphar’s house as a slave in Egypt.”

5. I can be “making the argument” for what the passage teaches, without calling up the fact that there are different (and some crazy) Bible teachers and preachers who miss or twist what this passage is teaching.

For instance, some preachers have misread what “Mrs. Potipher” said to Joseph —  “Lie with me.”  It does not mean “lodge with me,” or “be buried with me,” or “to take a nap,” or “hugging for warmth,” or “to lay next to with no sexual intent,” or . . . or . . . .   — though the word is used those ways in Scripture.  It does not mean “to tell a lie.”  I do not need to bring any of those understandings into my sermon, but merely point out that it was a euphemistic statement of immoral behavior.

Just state what it teaches, without conflicting fanfare.  “Expose the truth” and obvious understanding of the passage.

6. In classical rhetorical theory, it is labelled “ethos.”  That is why, “caring pastorally” gives strength sermonically!

When Is It Time To Leave?


Being involved in some ethical, moral, or sexual [1] impropriety is not the only basis for “temporarily stepping away from,” [2] resigning, or being removed from ministry.  A pastor, or even a lay ministry leader, may need to consider resignation or need to be removed from ministry for other often disregarded considerations!

A distinction should be made between resigning from, or being removed from, the pulpit ministry, and removed from any and all local church ministry, or even from all para-church ministries.

We could also draw a distinction between “full-time-paid” and “volunteer-lay ministry.”  Some lay leaders might need to “step-down” or even be removed from local church ministry.

Nevertheless, at least two other considerations for resignation or removal are often unacknowledged.  I am sure that there may be other typically unaddressed causes beyond these two. [3]

. . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . 

The Qualifications:  Obvious, a pastor ought to leave or be removed from the local church ministry if he fails to meet the qualifications outlined in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. [4].

However, some of the qualifications are not “long-term indicators.”  The qualification may no longer be very helpful in the long-term span of pastoral ministry.

√  “Not a novice” is no longer an issue after years of ministry.   It is not a “long-term indicator.”

√  Ruling one’s children well may no longer be applicable (while that factor may be more visible in many different ways after the children leave home and establish their own families.). Nevertheless, it is not a “long-term indicator” if you mean by that, the ability to observe the wisdom and godly competence of parenting.

However, some of the qualifications are
“long-term” indicators.

Some of the qualifications are “long-term indicators,” in that they can change over ministry years. Long-term indicators span the years of pastoral ministry, unlike “novice” or “wise and godly parenting.”  Long-term indicators should be present from the beginning to the end of ministry, but may change and/or be seen as changing.

These two may indicate
a need to step-down or be removed!

. . . . . . . 

√  Given to hospitality: In both Timothy and Titus, “given to hospitality is mentioned. Pastors can slowly and subtly move away from this qualification. After years of ministry, pastors can begin to hide out. A “withdrawal from people” can mark the pastoral ministry. The ministry is about people! Over time, pastors can retreat to a small group of supportive friends, or they can grow weary of people (and their problems, attitudes, and viewpoints) in general.

When a pastor no longer enjoys being with people, it is time to pack it up; it is time to retire (no matter what your age).  Or, if that is your pastor, it is time for the membership and the leadership to ask their pastor to resign or step-away from the pulpit ministry! [5]

It Can Be Seen!  It is all too obvious to anyone observant — when pastors no longer mix with God’s people before and after a service, are last to arrive and first to leave events, no longer value visiting, infrequently have people over to their homes or invite people out,  more often than not decline invitations, seclude themselves in their office study theological ivory tower, make it difficult for people to stop by and talk, only know what is happening in the lives of a small group of people, don’t know names, forget what they ought to remember about the family or its members, do little counseling, pass-off calls and visitation to other pastors, repeatedly mix with a select few, do not know what they ought to know about the needs and health of the sheep, etc.  etc.  etc.

. . . . . . . 

√  Apt to teach: “Apt to teach” includes and requires a continued love of preaching and teaching God’s Word.  When there is a loss of passion for communicating the truths of Scripture, it affects preaching and teaching ministry.   While few or any pastor would ever state that he does not value and enjoy the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, the reality is that the continued demand can easily take its toll.

At times, a pastor can feel like a “sermon mill” and lose the joy of sermon preparation and presentation.  It can become a demand and no longer a desired ministry opportunity to meaningfully speak into the lives of God’s people!

When a pastor no longer enjoys preaching and teaching, it is time to pack it up; it is time to retire (no matter your age).  Or, if that is your pastor, it is time for the membership and the leadership to ask their pastor to resign!  Their pulpit ministry will be affected and slowly become ineffective,

Again . . . .

It Can Be Seen!  It is obvious when pastors pass-off opportunities to preach and teach, pass-up worthwhile request to speak (i.e. by a funeral home looking for a minister), frequently replace a preaching service with an “event,” only prepare a brief devotional for a time when much more would be worthwhile, ask another to speak when the nature of the service calls for hearing from “the pastor,” obviously haven’t prepared adequately, frequently and/or opportunistically cancel services, regard speaking elsewhere higher than “therewhere,” preach-teach less, etc. etc. etc.

. . . . . . . 

Some pastors may need to come
to the stark realization that they no longer have
the passion that ought to mark the calling!

Yes, it is difficult to face the unpleasant realization that you have lost your heart for God’s people and/or for preaching God’s Word, and then purposefully choosing to leave the local church ministry. [6]

Yes, the removal of a pastor from the pulpit ministry has long-term effects on a church and the pastor and his family. That is why these issues need to be addressed early on, before they become so obvious and entrenched. They ought to be addressed well before little meaningful and/or generous action can be taken to remediate the situation. When it happens, a caring and responsible parting of the ways should be discussed and arranged to the church’s benefit and to the pastor. [7]

Yes, it is hard on all involved!  Nevertheless, two of the most important responsibilities of a pastor is to genuinely care for the fellowship of believers, and to passionately preach and teach the Scriptures.

When the passion is obviously missing and lost
it is time to make a change!

1. Shockingly At times, even sexual impropriety is covered up by fellow pastors, associates, local churches, ministries, and church leaders. The Ravi Z situation is irrefutable proof that even leaders in ministry will cover for one another until they are forced to take action.  Such ministry leaders ought to resign as well!

2. Stepping Away From:  Sometimes, these are announced as “an extended time away”, “a much needed vacation,” “a change of ministry responsibilities,” “some needed family time and evaluation,” or a “sabbatical leave.”  Such individuals are still on the payroll while an attempt is made to see if the situation is recoverable or “coverable.”

3. When The Spell Is Broken: The Roy’s article reveals another cause for resignation or removal, which is all to typically unaddressed. In Roy’s interview, accountability only arrives after leadership comes to the realization {i.e. as the article states, the spell is broken] that there are others who have experienced or witnessed the truth of the situation. . . . .

. . . . the whole purpose of gaslighting is to make the person who says there’s a problem feel like, Oh, you’re the only one. What’s wrong with you? Why do you have a problem with this? Nobody else does.  . . . . [Until it becomes clear that] Oh! My goodness! I’m not the only one. Because you’re often made to feel like you’re the only one who feels that way. . . . [Wade Mullen] he’s found there’s a pattern that Evangelical organizations follow almost every time they get caught in a crisi. And very rarely is it to own all of their mistakes and say what a leader did and what’s wrong. Instead, it’s usually to kind of obfuscate it and not really give much credence to what the victims are saying.

. . . they were firing Steve Timmis at the same time that this article comes out with a lot of your accounts. Very specific accounts of abuse by Steve Timmis. And again, to appeal to Wade Mullen, he’s found there’s a pattern that Evangelical organizations follow almost every time they get caught in a crisi. And very rarely is it to own all of their mistakes and say what a leader did and what’s wrong. Instead, it’s usually to kind of obfuscate it and not really give much credence to what the victims are saying..


4. Timothy and Titus:

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

5. “Relationships” are connected to the effectiveness of a pulpit ministry.  One of the reasons God’s people listen to a pastor is because they believe that he cares about them, that he is concerned and interested in their life and lives.  While it may be argued that effectiveness in any area of ministry is connected to one’s love of people (and I would agree with that assessment), the pulpit ministry demands a personal love of God’s people in order to be effective in the pulpit!

6. I should state — I imagine that some will push back on this if I leave this unsaid — that leaving a local church ministry, moving on to another ministry, or retiring from ministry is not reflective of such a loss of passion for people and for preaching.  It may be God’s plan for the local church, or a pastor-family.  Health, age, situations of life all play into the decisions for a needed change.

7. Interestingly, it is only when a pastor is asked to step away from the pulpit ministry or step down from any and all ministry that he understands how others were affected by their same or similar decision involving others’ lives. What they feel, they have done to others with little to no self-awareness — as again highlighted in the Roy’s report regarding Steve Timmis . . . . .

Julie Roys: He [Steve Timmis] writes, “As you well know, the impetus for the review, (speaking of that investigation that was done), emerged from a deeply unhelpful place. It was a response to a Christianity Today article that was unkind and profoundly unbiblical in its approach. I cannot begin to explain to you the distress the article, and the fallout from it is brought to me and my family. I have been labeled a spiritual abuser. And unlike a court of law, I have been accused, tried and judged guilty by social media with no opportunity for either engagement or defense. I believe that the elders in The Crowded House responded to that article in fear and without regard or do care for my family or me the necessary time in the immediate aftermath to think through a response from a biblical standpoint just wasn’t given”. . . .

Steve McAlpine: But it’s also the experience of every person who had to leave. Everything that’s they’ve said about himself and his family happened to them. That that would be what I’d say is I, your concern for your well being was not matched by your concern for the well being of people that suddenly just disappeared off The Crowded House page with their families, and their livelihoods and their jobs that they’d moved from the UK to the US for. . . . . .