Posts filed under: Church/Ministry

At the church where I serve as Pastor, we have been studying 1 Timothy on Wednesday nights. This has been so good to look at for our church. This letter was written by an experienced pastor (Paul) to a younger pastor (Timothy) to encourage him.

As you come to the second chapter, one can see that Paul makes a shift in the focus.  Chapter 1 focused on the gospel and battling false teachers from outside. In chapter 2, Paul turns his attention to the work within the church.

When you think about all of the “ministries” that could be in the local church, it can be a little overwhelming. There can be ministries of preaching, teaching, small groups, youth, children, senior adults, music, and on and on…  What is the most important ministry of the local church? What would be the one ministry that the church could not do without?

Paul starts 1 Timothy 2 out with a very clear phrase: “first of all” (NASB). Paul uses this phrase to show the importance of prayer in the local church. It is interesting to me that he did not mention any of the other “ministries” right here, but he centered in on prayer. It’s not that other ministries are not important. It is the fact that if the church isn’t praying, the other ministries will not function properly.

It is sad that in many cases where a local church has different services throughout the week, the one that is typically least attended is the prayer meeting. There are various excuses that people give, but what I’ve heard most is that “there’s not much going on in the service.” I believe that this reveals a consumeristic mindset that is present in many congregations.

The truth is prayer is so much more than a filler or tradition. Prayer is the power cord of the church. Without the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the church cannot do anything. They may go through some motions, but for anything to truly happen, the Holy Spirit has to be behind it. The way this happens is when the church prays faithfully. Paul knew  this and reminded young Timothy to prioritize prayer in the local church.

Does the local church that you are a part of prioritize prayer, or is it more of a religious filler? 

On Wednesday nights at Bethany Baptist Church, we have started a series where we are going through the New Testament letter, 1 Timothy.  I thought that I would share a little of my notes from what I shared with our fellowship.  This is what we talked about this past Wednesday.

In the passage that we will look at tonight, we will see how Paul focuses on the truth of God’s gospel.

1 Timothy 1:12-14 = Gratitude for God’s grace

In verses 12-13, Paul gives thanks to God for the grace that has been shown to him in his life.  Paul remembers how Christ came to him and showed him great grace.  You may remember that Paul was on his way with papers in hand to arrest Christians when Jesus confronted him on the Damascus Road.  Not only did Christ save Paul, but He also called Paul to be His servant taking the gospel to people who had not heard it.

Paul admits that he was the last person whom God should have extended grace to because he blasphemed the name of Christ and persecuted the church.  That is the beautiful thing about grace.  It is getting what we do not deserve.  Paul reminds Timothy (and us) that we did not deserve God’s grace, but He extends it anyways.

As we are reminded about the amazing grace of God shown to us, are we thankful?  Does our lives demonstrate a gratitude for this grace that has been shown to us?  Do we take this grace for granted, giving a tip of the hat towards God and then going on about our merry way?  We should take time frequently to remember the grace shown to us and live a life of gratitude because of it.

Illustration: Dog adopted from the pound.  There was a boy that was taken by his father to the local pound to get a new dog.  When he saw this little puppy, the boy knew that it was the one.  He gave $50 and took the dog home.  The boy would take the dog to a local park and play with it often.  Many people would comment at how well the dog was trained.  The boy would reply that he had no obedience class training.  This dog would wait by the door for the boy to get home from school each day and would jump up and down when the boy got home.  This dog showed his love and appreciation to this boy because he rescued him from certain death.  If a dog can grasp this concept, shouldn’t we?

1 Timothy 1:15 = The Gospel in a Nutshell

In this verse, Paul gives one of the simplest presentations of the Gospel.  He states that Christ came to save sinners, and I am the worst of them all.  Paul is reminding Timothy to remember the mission.  Helping people realize their need for Christ is hard sometimes.  We may want to try different gimmicks, but it all comes to remembering that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, and Christ has come as that Savior.

This was also a means of identifying the false teachers that were trying to destroy the church.  If a person does not recognize their sin and the fact that Jesus Christ alone is the Savior and answer, then one should not give them any time.  Those who want to add things to the gospel like earning God’s favor by doing good works or other things are not from God.

God has given us a gospel that, though it is simple, is sufficient.  The grace of God shown through Jesus Christ coming to save us from our sins is all we need.  That is the message that God has given to His church to experience and share with the world.

1 Timothy 1:16-17 = God’s Purpose in Mercy

Not only did God show great grace towards us, but He also has shown great mercy.  Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.  In verses 16-17, Paul shows Timothy (and us) God’s purpose in mercy = to be an example to show others.

Our sin deserves the full wrath of God.  God has chosen to pardon those who come to faith in Him through Jesus Christ.  This mercy is not just for our benefit though.  It is to show others around us that God is patient and can turn anyone’s life around.  The mercy that God has shown to you is a testimony that someone around you needs to hear.  It is the answer to someone’s question about “Can God do that for me?”  Are we allowing the mercy that God has shown to us to be shared with others so that they can experience this wonderful gift?

1 Timothy 1:18-20

In the final verses of chapter 1, Paul encourages Timothy to fight the good fight.  It is interesting because here Paul talks about the good fight at the beginning of Timothy’s ministry, and Paul will share about the good fight in the last letter that we have that he wrote – once again to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:7 = I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.)

The life that God calls His followers to live is not easy; it is a fight.  It is a fight against the flesh, sin, and the forces of darkness in this world.  You do not experience victory in a fight by just standing around.  You have to fight.

In verse 19, Paul shares how we are to fight this fight.  He simply says to cling to your faith in Christ.  The word “cling” in this verse means “to seize or hold strongly in one’s hand.”  This would be like the young child who holds on to his or her “comfort toy.”  You do not easily pry it away from them.

Paul shares examples of two men who did not hold tightly onto the faith and who were removed from the church (Hymenaeus and Alexander).  We are not told as to what exactly they had done, but they apparently were not clinging to their faith in Christ and paying the price for it now.

If we want to experience the victory that Christ has given us in Him, we must cling to Him and follow Him with all that we have.  You cannot go into a battle half-hearted.  When someone does, that is when they fail.  The Bible calls us more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), and if we hold to the faith that saved us, we will experience that victory.

Recently, I was asked to check out a new book that was written for church leaders.  I love to read.  I love the church.  Reading a book that talked about how to develop leadership both within and outside of the church?  Now you got my attention.

41mpzgq5sl-_sx331_bo1204203200_This book was Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck’s Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development.  

Eric Geiger serves the local church in a couple of ways.  First, he is the Senior Pastor at ClearView Baptist Church.  Second, he serves as one of the Vice Presidents of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Kevin Peck is the Lead Pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX.

In this book, Geiger and Peck look to address the issue that one reason for which the church was created is to be a springboard of leadership.  This leadership was not just intended to impact what took place in the “walls of the church,” but it was to effect every aspect of life.

Local churches should not be outpaced in developing leaders who bless the world and advance His Kingdom. (p.9)

I think that this is one major thing that set this book apart from many that would fall under the heading of “church leadership.”  Many books share about ways in which churches can do better at doing church the way that it has been done for a while now.  Some of these books are helpful in developing some leadership skills in pastors/servants, but others are… let’s just say not so helpful.

Designed to Lead was intended to show that the church is not supposed to be about what takes place “inside the walls,” but that the church is supposed to impact the world around it. I really believe that this is an important thing to look at for the church today.  There are too many churches that are trying to run away from the world instead of impacting and redeeming it with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Geiger and Peck put forth a framework to help churches work on developing leaders that lead both within and outside the church.  This framework begins with conviction, moves through the culture, and creates constructs to make it happen (p. 14-15).  These three elements make up the three major sections of the book.

If you are a leader in the local church and have been feeling that there has been a leadership vacuum both within and outside of your church, then I would encourage you to check out Designed to Lead. Geiger and Peck have written this book for leaders to reproduce leaders and impact this world for Jesus Christ.

Giveaway

I have received a few copies of Designed to Lead, and I would like to bless some church leaders with this book.  If you would like to be considered for this giveaway, please leave a comment in the comment section of this blog (not on Facebook).  I will choose from the comments the winners on Monday, September 19th.


Weddings are one of my favorite things about ministry. I have had many ministers tell me that they would rather do a funeral than a wedding. I still do not get that because I would much rather do a wedding than a funeral myself.

Weddings – for the most part – are joyous occasions. Not only are they special events in a couple’s life, but they are sacred events. God Himself created the institution of marriage. We read about it in the very first book of the Bible.

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:21-24‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Because marriage is a creation of God, it has a purpose and proper way that it should be done. It is for this reason that I require any couple that I officiate their wedding to go through Christian-based premarital counseling.

I hate to hear the news of another couple that have come to a decision to call it quits and divorce. Many times it is over issues that could have been prevented by preparing on the forefront of the marriage. I know that just because a couple goes through Christian-based premarital counseling it does not guarantee that everything will work out. I do know though that the likelihood that the relationship meets a disappointing end is much higher without it.

A Recent Session

I recently met with a young couple who is looking to get married and they asked me to do their wedding. I informed them that in order for me to officiate the ceremony, they would have to agree to do premarital counseling. They agreed and we set up a time to meet together. In our first session, I spoke with the young couple about what is marriage and the proper foundation for a marriage.

It was in this session, while we were talking about the foundation for a healthy marriage, I came to realize that this couple did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I shared with them how it would be impossible for them to do their marriage according to God’s plan without them personally having a relationship with Him first. It was at that moment that I had the privilege of sharing the gospel with this young couple and seeing both of them make a commitment of themselves first to Jesus Christ. Now they can start their marriage off with a firm foundation of the solid rock of Jesus Christ.

If I were to have just looked over the deal of premarital counseling with this young couple, I would have missed many opportunities here. First, I would have missed the opportunity to see two people be born again right before my eyes by the power of the Holy Spirit. Second, I would have done this couple a great disservice by not making sure that their upcoming marriage was started on the right foot.

If you are a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would strongly encourage you to see premarital counseling as a great opportunity to minister to people. It can be easy to look at this task as another “hoop to jump through.” It is anything but just a “hoop to jump through.” We are called by God to lead people closer to Him and to help them on their journey.

If you are young couple on the verge of one of the biggest decisions of your life (getting married), I would strongly encourage you to seek out Christian-based premarital counseling. There are so many things that lie ahead of you and your soon-to-be spouse. You would be wise to seek out counsel and get a good start on a great marriage.

I came across a Bible verse the other day that really hit me hard in the gut.  Have you ever had that happen?  Ever had a Bible verse that you know that you have read over many times before, but all of the sudden… BAM! Right in the gut.  That was me.

God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law. (Proverbs 28:9 NLT)

When I read that, I was like, “Did I read that correctly?  Maybe it is a translation issue…”  So I checked out other trusted translations…

He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (NASB)

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (ESV)

Anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law – even his prayer is detestable. (HCSB)

It did not take long to realize that there was no issue with translation.  The Word said what it meant. There is such a thing as detestable prayers.
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It is hard to imagine that God’s stomach might turn at that some prayers that are offered, but that is exactly what that verse is saying. It is in those times – the ones where what you read cannot be right in your mind – that you begin to put it to the context test. How does this verse measure up with the rest of Scripture? When you do that and remove your thoughts from the equation, it is easy to see why this verse is here.
Proverbs 28:9 says that these detestable prayers are offered by those who have ignored God’s laws. These are those who have already heard from God but chosen to ignore what He has said. How many times do we hear/read God’s truth from His word and choose to ignore it? When we do that and then come to God expecting Him to answer our prayers as we wish, we play God for a fool.
I do not like it when people ask me for advice and refuse to do anything I advise. When that person comes again needing some advice, what do you think is going through my head? Could it be that God goes through the same thing when people come to Him to bail them out or help them but have refused to do ANYTHING that God has previously commanded?
I believe that God hears our prayers. It is not a question of ability. But do our prayers bring detest or delight?  The answer to that question is determined by what we have done with what God has already given us. It could be that before God answers our prayers, He needs to get us into position for the answer. That position comes from obedience to what God has commanded prior to the request.
There have been many false teachers that have come on the scene using verses like “But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (John 15:7 NLT) to float the thought that one can make God do what they want. This makes no logical sense whatsoever to me. Who do we think that we are talking to when we pray? If we are praying to the God of the Bible, then maybe we should revisit Revelation 1:12-18to get a glimpse of exactly who we are praying to. He is the living God of the universe and answers to NO ONE!
If you look carefully at John 15:7, you will notice that there is a similarity with Proverbs 28:9. Both passages talk about the importance of obeying what God has already said in reference to what we would like those Him do in the future. If we want to see God do even greater things in our lives, we need to make sure that we are already doing what He has shared with us.
Are the prayers that you are praying today detestable or delightful to God?