Consumed by Fire: “He Waits for Me”

There’s a place I go
when I need a getaway
there’s a peace I know
that sooths the soul
And this life I’ve found
I know it’s not my own
so when I run to you
it’s like I’m running home

where I find peace
I find my way
down by the water
He waits for me
where I find strength for each and every day
joy in the midst of any pain
I believe down by the water
He waits for me

so if you’re rollin’ the dice
and just tryin to make it through
there are hands that are reaching out for you
and if you’re holding back tears
and just trying to be strong
there’s a place that is calling out for you
this is the place that I’m always running to
yes it is

where I find peace
I find my way
down by the water
He waits for me
where I find strength for each and every day
joy in the midst of any pain
I believe down by the water
He waits for me

yeah
oh there is peace
here down by the water
lay it down
here down by the water
lay it down
here down by the water
He waits
He waits
He waits for me
here down by the water
just lay it down
here down by the water
lay it down
here down by the water
He waits
He waits
He waits for me
here down by the water
There is joy
here down by the water
And there is strength
here down by the water
He waits
He waits

where I find peace
I find my way
down by the water
He waits for me
where I find strength for each and every day
joy in the midst of any pain
I believe down by the water
He waits for me

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The Mission of the Church: Wrapping Up, Part 1

Eucharist-Mission1So it turns out that the mission of the church is a huge topic. How does an eldership respond to this in their leadership of the church? Here are some thoughts. I’m open to other suggestions. After all, I can’t claim to have done all this and seen how well it works in action.

Step 1: Encourage God’s reign within the church

  1. While the atonement, Plan of Salvation, and such like should be preached, these should not be at the center of preaching and teaching to the church. Church is not about going to heaven when you die. It’s about the the Kingdom becoming more fully realized, beginning with the church. It’s about the “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” coming true in your church. It’s about the church learning to live the Sermon on the Mount, Rom 12 – 15, and other central, ethical teachings. It’s about the church becoming the church.
    1. To accomplish this, I’d look closely at the sermons, Bible classes, and small group materials to be certain not only that these kinds of questions are addressed, but that they’re addressed in terms of life in the church as a community, rather than solely as individual virtues.
    2. I’d particularly point out that if we were doing our jobs as leaders, our oldest members would be the most sacrificial, most submissive, and most willing to serve others. I’d make becoming like Jesus a stated goal.

Continue reading

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Advice to a New Elder: They Smell Like Sheep, Part 7 (Boundaries)

shepherd3At last we get to the pastoral part of an elder’s job description. First, a few boundaries —

Power under submission

There is no reason to insist that all elders take on pastoral duties — unless you also insist that all elders teach and all elders participate in administrative decisions.

There is simply no scriptural warrant for putting our understanding of “shepherd” above the equally biblical terms “elder,” “overseer,” “leader,” and “ruler.”

(1 Tim. 5:17 ESV) Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

BDAG defines the Greek word translated “rule” as “to exercise a position of leadership, rule, direct, be at the head (of).” Liddell-Scott gives “to be set over, be the chief power.” Continue reading

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Josh Garrels: “Hiding Place”

Somewhere out there
Can anybody hear my prayer
Save me

From this dark land
If I had wings
I would fly away from everything
That hurts me and tears me down

Is there a home for a mother and a child
In the world with no place left to hide
We will run though the way is dark and long
We will sing
You’re our hope, you are our song

Lord, take my hand
Lord, help me stand

Days are getting colder
I can see the soldiers marching up to burn us down
I take my mama’s right hand tears are on my face and
She says son it’s time to summon the courage and
Run for your life, child
Flee into the night while
We still have the chance to make it out here alive
Even though we walk through the valley of death you feel no evil
You will survive

Cuz there’s a home for a mother and a child
In this world, only one place left to hide
So we will run though the way is rough and long
And we will sing Alleluia to our God

Lord, you’ve overcome
Lord, lead us home
Lead us home

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The Mission of the Church: Leadership

Eucharist-Mission1Thompson has a fascinating chapter on church leadership. We don’t normally think of leadership as a missional topic, but Thompson makes the point that how we’re led is governed by the church’s mission. If we don’t get the connection, we miss some important understandings of congregational leadership.

Thompson first notes that Paul asserts a very high level of authority arising from his own apostleship —

As an apostle, [Paul] equates himself with the prophets. His claim that he has the authority to build and not to tear down (cf. 2 Cor. 10: 8) is reminiscent of Jeremiah’s appointment “to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jer. 1: 10) and God’s promise to “build them up, and not tear them down” (Jer. 24: 6). Thus Paul commands the church to expel a member who undermines its moral cohesiveness (1 Cor. 5: 2– 5) and has the apostolic authority to punish a disobedient church (1 Cor. 4: 14– 21; 2 Cor. 13: 1– 10). He speaks for God, and reconciliation to him is reconciliation with God (2 Cor. 6: 1– 2). Because instructions are nothing less than the will of God (1 Thess. 4: 3), to reject Paul’s commands is to reject God (1 Thess. 4: 8).

Thompson, James W.. The Church according to Paul: Rediscovering the Community Conformed to Christ (p. 224). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Continue reading

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Advice to a New Elder: They Smell Like Sheep, Part 5 (What is “administration”?)

shepherd3But doesn’t the Bible say that elders should be shepherds rather than administrators?

No, it most certainly does not. In fact, administration is listed as a gift of the Spirit in 1 Cor 12, and leadership is a gift of the Spirit in Rom 12.

Ancient kings were referred to as shepherds of the people — and they also had very real administrative duties. The two are not inconsistent in biblical thought.

Consider such passages as —

(Heb. 13:17 ESV) 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

(1 Thess. 5:12 ESV)  We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,

“Are over you in the Lord and admonish you” and “obey … and submit” clearly imply very real positional authority (even if you prefer to translate “obey” as “lead”). Continue reading

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The Mission of the Church: Creation Care, Part 1 (The Old Testament)

Eucharist-Mission1If the mission of the church is to get people to heaven when they die, then the church has no reason to care for the Creation or human flourishing or abundant living (John 10:10) in general.

The scriptures don’t emphasize environmental concerns as much as you might expect, but then humans had much less ability to injure the environment in biblical times than they have now. It’s now very much within our power to completely destroy the planet, should we be so foolish. That wasn’t true 2,000 years ago.

But the doctrine of Creation Care is plainly revealed nonetheless. Continue reading

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The Mission of the Church: Justice, Part 7 (Conclusions)

Eucharist-Mission1

Christian mission through the government

So we no longer live in the Constantinian world in which government works with the church to direct society, and no matter how many books you buy and read arguing that the US is a “Christian nation,” this is not going to change anytime soon. But we do live in a democracy in which the church and Christians have considerable influence.

I believe part of the church’s mission is to speak up for the weak and vulnerable of society, and the more voiceless the person, the more important it is that the church speak for them. This makes abortion a particularly important issue for the church, as the unborn have no voice at all. But orphans, widows, the poor, immigrants, and many others marginalized by society should expect the church to speak up for their legitimate needs.

This must alway be done (1) in the name of Jesus and (2) for the sake of others. This is not at all about making the United States a nicer place for Christians to live — an entirely selfish motivation. It’s about speaking up for others — who may be Christians or not.

Part of it is Jesus’ call for his followers to be perfect as his Father is perfect. Part of it is love. Continue reading

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The Afterlife: Lesson 3, focused on Isa 65-66 and 2 Cor 5:17 (June 26, 2016)

heavenhellI was out last week under the weather, and so this is class 3. We started in Isaiah and went from there to 2 Cor 5:17 and a few other passages.

Here’s the downloadable mp3:

June 26, 2016 Class 3 on the Afterlife Right click and select “Save Link As” to download. (If you left click, it will stream.)

Here’s the streaming version:

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Advice to a New Elder: They Smell Like Sheep, Part 4

shepherd3I keep promising myself that I’m going to get to the They Smell Like Sheep part of the series — that is, pastoral care by elders. But not quite yet.

It remains true that most elders have far more work than they can manage, and so the pastoral part of the job gets postponed while countless personnel and other administrative emergencies get dealt with first.

I’ve presented one approach — the Ministries Team — that works in some settings — but not all. We need to consider a few alternatives.

Rule 1: Great churches are great because they tap into the giftedness they receive from the Spirit, not because of their glorious organizational charts. However, a bad organizational structure can frustrate the work of the Spirit in your church. Continue reading

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