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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Leading part 3

Welcome back as we look into what scripture says in regard to the church and its leadership. Last release we discussed the gender issue and today we will look at the second of several "qualifications", must be above reproach. This at first glance seems to be saying that everyone must like him and that if they don't he is disqualified from overseeing. Once again we must look at the context and the wording that is used. Although the NASB uses the words, "above reproach", it is a singular word in Greek, an-ep-eel-ape-tos. The idea is that the overseer will be blameless or unrebukeable. Now we all know that we as humans fight our fleshly desires to blast the horn at the person that cuts us off, or to badmouth the boss to a coworker when we get passed by on that big promotion. As we'll see by looking at the qualifications yet to come that a man in his own strength cannot fulfill the qualifications without err, if we could we would be deity. A man that never has a wrong thought or action only has one name and that is Jesus. Therefore what must this mean to be blameless? A man must walk with integrity on a daily basis, taking the high road in all he does. The emphasis here isn't how perfectly he walks it but that he is consistently walking in integrity. I know of men, leaders in churches, who lack the integrity and bring upon the local body the shame and concern associated with his daily walk and practices. Sure we will upset people and honestly the more integrity you have the more people will probably be upset with you. This is not the overseers option but the command to walk with integrity and give no one a reason to blame you, as it reflects on the body of Christ. This man must be upright and forthright in his business dealings, family life and recreation. A life that is lived out for the glory of God.
Now these things are crucial for overseers but should be the desire of every believer alive. How are you doing today?
The Word is the Way!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Leading part two

On my last report we briefly looked at 1 Peter 5 and noted that there are some "called" to a position of shepherding. After rambling about my sheep as a kid and discussing the challenges of shepherding I think it only proper that we see what it takes to become a shepherd. As was also mentioned previously scripture has much to say about these topics and this is not meant to be an exhaustive study but rather a quick overview and challenge. Two main portions of scripture thought to be the most extensive in regards to leadership are found in 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus chapter one. We'll look at 1st Timothy chapter three first. Two initial observations that as we proceed I would like to point out.
First, there are two positions referred to here, (we'll discuss pastors later). There are those who aspire to become overseers or in the Greek, Ep-is-kop-ay, and the second office is that of deacon, or in the Greek, Dee-ak-on-os. We will see that the functions are very different in the life of the church and the qualifications very similar. The bottom line is God has set expectations in place of who is "qualified".
Secondly, I will suggest that we allow scripture to do the talking. We all come with an opinion, preferences, and history and I encourage us to leave it at the door as we come into this text. We will begin to look sequentially at the "qualifications. As we jump into the text it is always good to look at the surrounding "context" in order to get a full picture. Paul has been addressing the women in verses 9-15 in the second chapter and ten goes into the third chapter with the phrase, ---"if any man aspires to the office of overseer".
This is important to note as the word for man here is "tis" in the Greek and not "Anthropos". This is significant because the former is specific to gender where as the latter is human kind. We see the same idea in the 8th verse of chapter 3. "Deacons likewise must be men of -----". Once again an alternate word for anthropos is used. This certainly is not to discredit women but is only referencing a two groups whose specific role is to lead and serve. I will also mention that in Romans 16 verse 1 Phoebe is mentioned as a "deaconess" in some versions and is from the same word as "deacon". When translating Greek, many of the words have multiple meanings and in this case although the same word is used in Greek, the context indicates a more accurate translation to English would be servant,(as in the NASB), whereas in 1Tim v 8 Deacon is accurate. With that we are set to move into even muddier waters as we look at the next qualifier, "above reproach" when we continue looking at overseers next time. until then keep it in the Word.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Leading part one

As I mentioned in my last update, Scripture has a lot to say in regards to church leadership and structure. For instance First Peter chapter 5, addresses the very fact that some are called to act as shepherds, proving to be examples to the flock. I must say that having had sheep as a kid I truly understand the cost that is involved in being a shepherd. The midnight noises that sheep make when a predator is around, or the constant baaahhhhing that tells of the next need. But ultimately sheep need three things. Security, safety and slop. A sheep will not lay down as the the psalmist says in Psalm 23, unless it is free of the worry of attack, both from within and without. Unity must be kept among the flock or many other issues will arise. Safety from outside attacks is just as important. It is interesting to think back to the first century church and that is the very challenge they faced. Attacks from outside and inside. Paul continually sent letters of encouragement and caution to some of these churches and encouraged them to take a stance against the heretical teachers and be warned of those looking to get in and devour those tender little ewes. Sheep, not being the smartest animal on the Ark also must be cautious when they lay down. If they get off balance they cannot use their feet to get right side up and will die as they suffocate themselves, or fry in the heat. These sheep need to know they will be fed and not poison. An element of trust must be present as well. Miss gadabout was a sheep who a farmer was pleased with and the two had a great relationship until she began to eat the grass on the "other side of the fence". Miss gadabout had eaten the entire perimeter of her pasture and so searched for a way out and eventually found it. The patient shepherd continually put her back in the pasture and began to notice that she was also teaching the other sheep to escape. Miss gadabout had to become lamb chops or risk losing the entire flock. The question for today is, "are you a miss/mr gadabout? Always looking for the bigger better deal. living contently until someone comes along with the latest craze. We all wander to a certain extent and yet God in His wisdom provided a design to deal with this. In my next post we'll expand on some of these things and explain what it has to do with the church, our leadership, and us. Until the next time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Leading for a change!?

So what exactly does it mean to lead for a change? Its one of those double meanings. One side seems somewhat negative and the other side seems to be referring to an end result. Only we can influence what side of the coin comes up. I was once told by a wise guy, not necessarily a wise man if you catch my drift, that when it comes to leadership it means to lead or get out of the way. As a manager for many years that seemed like a good thing to do and seemed to work, the problem was where and how to lead those entrusted into my care. To nurture and help them to discover was not a quality I really excelled at.
When it comes to church there are many different ideas floating around as to what leadership looks like, how it should respond and who exactly is leading? These range from the pastor makes all the decisions and does everything to the pastor should have no say he gets paid to do what we pay him for. I love these discussions as you can see the heart and the self motives in many of these interactions. Scripture fortunately has plenty to say in regards to this subject, and considering God is a God of order, has a clearly laid out plan for leadership. Let me first clarify that when I refer to leadership I am referring to the term most of America would consider pastors, elders, deacons, trustees or whatever you want to call them, but those who have come forward to answer a call to lead in a church setting. This is not to be confused with the many commands that we are all ministers of the gospel and are expected to share our faith and create disciples. We each are responsible to continue our growth and although people help us it ultimately comes down to what are we doing to grow personally.
Join me over the next few weeks as we look at what scripture has to say in regards to the church and its leadership. You will be amazed and challenged, and in many cases confirm what you may have already thought or known. Catch ya soon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

investment in your family

The past several months I have met with a group of people in a forum called "family matters". Kind of a double meaning. Of course the obvious that our families are of a significant importance to us is the foundation, but the subtle meaning of looking into the matters that families deal with day in and day out is less obvious but of substantial importance to our relationships under the same roof. I am bummed that tonight is our last night but we will be having the Dickinson police here to discuss the trends in the school and the issues that we as parents, aunts and uncles, gma's and gpa's may not be up to date on. Having a police presence on campus was always for inner city schools growing up so it is a harsh reality that schools across the nation have been locked down and enforcement brought in. Have you ever asked yourselves why that is, or even how exactly our kids experience at school differs from ours and what impact does that have on our families. Well its not to late to join us this evening at 6:30pm and we will allow a time of q and a for things that may not have been covered. Hope to see you tonight and thanks to the couples that week in and week out joined me in discussing these things.
Equipping the saints