Pastor Survey Thanks

Thanks to Alastair, Brian, Don, and Milton for taking the time to humor me by answering my questions. As a public service I will enclose links to their blogs, all but Don has one. Give em a click.

Brian’s Blog–includes thoughts on Christianity and episodes of Lost.

Alastair’s Blog–includes many thoughts on church work, ministering to others and general Christian thinking.

Milton’s Blog–one of the finer Christian blogs out there with links five days a week to Christian content on the web.

Anti Itch Meditation’s Pastor Survey

Here is the final installment of the Pastor Survey, a list of questions sent to various pastors I know.

Jeff Weddle’s answers
Alastair McCollum’s answers
Brian Nicklaus’s answers
Don Gentry’s answers

Name: Milton Stanley
Church: between churches (attending Shady Grove Church of Christ as a member)
Location: Mud Creek, Tennessee

 

1) How do the qualifications for a pastor in 1 Timothy 3 make you feel?
My tradition (a cappella Churches of Christ) makes a distinction between preachers (ministers, often paid staff members) and elders (pastors, usually not paid staff and holding office only in groups, not as a single pastor). Therefore, while I think I have the qualities of an elder or pastor, so far I’ve served congregations only as a minister or preacher. I sometimes wonder if it’s not asking too much of elders when a grown child falls away from the faith and a church considers the father therefore unqualified to serve. I also feel humbled and grateful that God has blessed me with faithful children.

2) What criticism of you are you most grateful for having heard?
One of my preaching mentors really hammered me about saying  “uh” when I preached. Obviously I didn’t like it at the time, but it really helped me not do it so much.
3) What question are you tired of being asked?
None, really. I wish people would ask me more questions. I’ve prayed and studied for years and feel like I have something to offer, but I’m not one to offer much unsolicited advice.
4) What Bible character ticks you off the most?
None come to mind. 
5) If your next sermon were your last, what passage would you preach on?
1 John 2:1-6
6) When are you happiest as a pastor?
When I’m studying the Word of God and when I’m helping others come to faith or grow in Christ.
7) How many Bibles can you see from where you are sitting?
4 whole Bibles, 2 New Testaments
8) What word would your wife use to describe you on a Sunday afternoon?
Home
9) What question would you like to hear other pastors answer?
Do you preach more from your strength or your weakness?
10) What biblical miracle would you most like to do?
Like Peter in Acts 2, preach the Word and have 3,000 new believers be baptized
11) If there was only one point you could convey to your church, what would it be?
We are saved by God’s grace through Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected.
12) What’s one thing you really hope you get to do when you get to heaven?
Praise God, of course.

Anti Itch Meditation’s Pastor Survey

This is a list of questions I sent to a few pastors. Enjoy the answers.

Jeff Weddle’s answers
Alastair McCollum’s answers
Brian Nicklaus’ answers

Name: Don Gentry
Church: New Hope
Location: Camden MI

1) How do the qualifications for a pastor in 1 Timothy 3 make you feel?
They give me a standard in which to abide by. I think they are just the starting point of a fully devoted life. I think they are a good litmus test. If we can’t pass that test we really ought not think about the ministry or service in a leadership position.

2) What criticism of you are you most grateful for having heard?
When the Lord chastised me and revealed i either needed to learn how to follow if I ever expected him to let me lead.

3) What question are you tired of being asked?
What are we doing again?

4) What Bible character ticks you off the most?
Satan

5) If your next sermon were your last, what passage would you preach on?
If I knew it was my last i would preach on salvation.

6) When are you happiest as a pastor?
When my church is moving forward in a spirt of unity to reachour community with the gospel of Jesus Christ and we are willing to sacrifice everything for the cause.

7) How many Bibles can you see from where you are sitting?
4

8) What word would your wife use to describe you on a Sunday afternoon?
exhausted

9) What question would you like to hear other pastors answer?
what is your passion for ministry?

10) What biblical miracle would you most like to do?
Raise someone from the dead like Paul.

11) If there was only one point you could convey to your church, what would it be?
There is no tradition, no name, no worship style, and no ministry so sacred that we should not be willing to give it up if if means reaching more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

12) What’s one thing you really hope you get to do when you get to heaven?
see my dad and know who my dad is.

The Pirate Pope

Pope John XXIII (not the latest one, but another John XXIII, one of the “antipopes” of the 15th century. In fact, one of the reasons the more recent John XXIII took the XXIII and not the XXIV is precisely to eliminate this guy from memory and disparage his claim to popedom.) was a pirate before he became pope.

Reportedly he never once did confession or took part in the sacraments. He was also charged with rape, murder, simony and incest.

But don’t worry, the popes today are nothing like this. At all. Ever. Rest assured and drink in every word they speak. What could possibly go wrong?

Christian Rebellion

Church History is fun. Here are a few examples of Lollard rebellion under the ridiculous reign of the Catholic church.

**Eleanor Higges of Burford got busted for taking home some of the sacrament of communion and putting it in her oven and eating it.

**Two Lollard chaplains at Leicester used a wooden statue of St. Katherine for firewood to cook a meal.

I wish I had been born in another age. Andy, yes, I also wish I was from Burford.

Bible Translations

Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Georgian and Aramaic versions of the Bible all existed for a thousand years before John Wycliffe.

We have the idea that no one in the world had the Bible in their own language before English translators released us from bondage. T’aint true.

This should not undermine the work of Wycliffe, I’m just saying, history is often different from our theories.

Crusades and Revivalism

Christians are embarrassed over the Crusades. They seem very odd, almost comical to us. Oh sure, no one takes responsibility for them now, “It wasn’t my church, man.”

The Crusades kicked off in about 1080 and the crusader period ran several hundred years. The initial concern was for heathens taking over Jerusalem.

Eventually the crusades developed a feel of their own. When crusades failed the blame was shared among the soldiers as well as the “believers” back home. Someone had dropped the ball and God was mad.

Crusades became expensive and took men from their families for long periods of time, sometimes even forever. It became harder to convince guys to do it. The church began taxing its members to pay for war.

To convince guys to go, crusades were chalked up as a way to get saved. Some popes went on preaching circuits for recruits. Popes like Urban II, Innocent III along with other Catholic officials made the rounds, preaching “the cross,” which was code word for crusading.

These guys would work the crowds up with emotional appeals and how much Jesus needed them to restore Him to His Land. Your sins will be forgiven if you join us. Here is a description of one of these services.

“So as a preacher bellowed out his passionate appeal a choir would strike up and would presumably continue singing as men came forward to commit themselves publicly.”

Hmm, makes a guy wonder. All we leave out today is the war.

(Info and quote taken from The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam by Jonathan Riley-Smith.)

Anti-Itch Meditation’s Pastor Survey

The following is a list of questions I sent to a few pastors with their answers.

Jeff Weddle’s answers
Alastair McCollum’s answers

Name: Brian Nicklaus
Church: Echo Lake Church of Christ
Location: Westfield, NJ

 

 Brian’s Disclaimer:
our tradition makes a distinction between Pastors/Shepherds/bishops/Elders (I lump those together as nuances of the same role because of Acts 20 and 1 Peter 5) and the Evangelist/Preacher. I think McKnight’s NIGCNT on the Pastoral Letters makes a similar distinction. Personally, I don’t refer to myself as a Pastor. churches of Christ usually have a plurality of elders/pastors/shepherds and then a Preachers/Evangelist/Minister.
Anywho, that might color my response to your great survey questions, so I wanted to share that.

1) How do the qualifications for a pastor in 1 Timothy 3 make you feel?
(especially this one) I see them at a standard that I am always striving to achieve, whether my role in the future includes Pastor, in addition to Minister or not. (btw-I don’t deny pastoral responsibilities as a preacher)

2) What criticism of you are you most grateful for having heard?
i would actually like more criticism

3) What question are you tired of being asked?
Can I be sure I am saved?

4) What Bible character ticks you off the most?
Ahab

5) If your next sermon were your last, what passage would you preach on?
Romans 3:23ff or Ephesians 2:1-10

6) When are you happiest as a pastor?
When someone becomes a Christian (most relaxed? Sunday night)

7) How many Bibles can you see from where you are sitting?
15+

8) What word would your wife use to describe you on a Sunday afternoon?
Tired and busy

9) What question would you like to hear other pastors answer?
How to balance everything/ practical ministry stuff

10) What biblical miracle would you most like to do?
water to wine. cabs and chiantis can get expensive. (sorry, I really couldn’t decide on a serious answer)

11) If there was only one point you could convey to your church, what would it be?
meaning of discipleship

12) What’s one thing you really hope you get to do when you get to heaven?
see/experience somehow the events as they really happened in Scripture

Ash Wednesday and Why My Sister Doesn’t Observe It

The following post is a public service that was requested of me to post.

Ash Wednesday is a day of mourning and repentance. Its date is forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays, what with the metric calendar and all).

A cross of ashes and oil is placed on the forehead to remind folks of their condition as lowly sinners. Sometimes Psalm 51 is read during the service. It marks the first day of Lent with some form of institutional fasting. Here is a poem about Ash Wednesday by T. S. Eliot.

The reason my sister does not observe Lent is many fold.

1) She does not attend a Catholic or Reformed Church or probably even a church that thinks a person should be mournful or repentant at any point.

2) My sister would not stoop to putting “gross dirt” on her forehead.

3) Fasting is not exactly “up my sister’s alley.”

4) Until recently she thought this was National Clean Your Fireplace Day.

5) It bears noting that she has no concerns about observing Fat Tuesday.

6) My sister is still trying to figure out if there really is a metric calendar.

Anti-Itch Meditation’s Pastor Survey

This is a list of questions I had a couple of pastor’s answer.

Go here for Jeff Weddle’s answers

Name: Alastair McCollum (The Rev’d, apparently)
Church: The Five Alive Mission Community
Location: Dalwood, Kilmington, Shute with Whitford, Stockland and Yarcombe, East Devon, England

1) How do the qualifications for a pastor in 1 Timothy 3 make you feel?
Glad that this work is by grace and not in my own strength. Wondering what exactly being ‘serious’ means – assuming it means serious of purpose rather than lacking humour – and wondering how much wine is too much!

2) What criticism of you are you most grateful for having heard?
That I needed to take more time pastoring and less being a theologian.

3) What question are you tired of being asked?
Why aren’t you at OUR church more often? (I have five fellowships I serve)

4) What Bible character ticks you off the most?
None, I think we learn as much by the bad examples in Scripture as the good.

5) If your next sermon were your last, what passage would you preach on?
John 3 v 16

6) When are you happiest as a pastor?
In worship.

7) How many Bibles can you see from where you are sitting?
About ten

8) What word would your wife use to describe you on a Sunday afternoon?
Tired, and probably ‘unhelpful’

9) What question would you like to hear other pastors answer?
How do you fit everything in to a week and not feel like you’ve achieved very little!

10) What biblical miracle would you most like to do?
Slowing down time

11) If there was only one point you could convey to your church, what would it be?
God loves you, and those outside the Church so get out and let them know about it.

12) What’s one thing you really hope you get to do when you get to heaven?
Worship God, a lot.

Not as All-Powerful as Previously Thought

God has infinite power. He is the Creator and sustainer. If anything happens in life it’s due to God’s guidance, allowance or provision. If God says something is going to happen, it’s going to happen.

Except now. Now we don’t believe that so much. God has been quiet for some time, we hardly take Him seriously anymore. The idea that believers are actually new creations, that their old man has been crucified, that they are now in new life where all things are new, that they now have power over sin and death, that’s just too silly.

When Moses was up getting the Law from God, the people of Israel went nuts. God wanted to kill them all and start a new nation with Moses. Here’s what Moses said:

“why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.”

If God kills Israel now the heathens will blaspheme. God was strong enough to get them out of Egypt but not strong enough to put up with them.

Today the heathen blaspheme our God because they see us. “Hmm, something must be off with God lately. His people all claim to be delivered but not much has happened since.”

We believe God is strong enough to save us; we doubt highly He’s strong enough to actually, truly, right now deliver us from sin and have the new life of Christ be seen in us. It’s as if Titus 2:11,12 were never written.

The immediate reaction is: “Oh, wow, Jeff says believers don’t sin.” Nope, not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that a new life takes place where there is sanctification and growth.

Sanctification and growth sound good, but unfortunately, it means your flesh can’t keep having fun all the time. That’s no good. So we sit and BE instead.

Unfortunately, the Bible is quite clear that all believers will grow. If there’s no growth guess what? “Depart from me I never knew you” is more than likely what you’ll hear on the Great Day.

Stop Doing; Start Being

This is how many people view Christianity. Get in touch with a higher force, close your eyes, sit and be. We all know it doesn’t really work. We all know it’s actually Eastern Religion, New Age philosophy.

And yet, it sure sounds cool. Wouldn’t it be sweet if it actually worked?

Anti-Itch Meditation’s Pastor Survey

Recently I asked a couple pastors some questions and I will be posting the answers this week. I will go first so as to not inflict others with what I am unwilling to do.

Name:Jeff Weddle
Church:Rhinelander Bible Church
Location:Rhinelander, WI

1) How do the qualifications for a pastor in 1 Timothy 3 make you feel?
It is a good goal to strive for. They are there for a reason. If the glove don’t fit you must quit.

2) What criticism of you are you most grateful for having heard?
Annoying things I do while preaching that I can eliminate. Being told I was getting fat.

3) What question are you tired of being asked?
So, how does that predestination stuff work?

4) What Bible character ticks you off the most?
The Pharisees and scribes

5) If your next sermon were your last, what passage would you preach on?
Numbers 11:15 with Philippians 1:20-23

6) When are you happiest as a pastor?
Teaching God’s Word to people who want to hear it and apply it

7) How many Bibles can you see from where you are sitting?
8

8) What word would your wife use to describe you on a Sunday afternoon?
I don’t know. I asked her and she said: Dead. Drained. Emotionally Unstable. (She doesn’t count well)

9) What question would you like to hear other pastors answer?
Why are you doing this? Which, of course, is one question I didn’t ask in my pastor survey. Hmm.

10) What biblical miracle would you most like to do?
Calling down fire from heaven to destroy people like Elijah

11) If there was only one point you could convey to your church, what would it be?
Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed and Christ is your only hope of that.

12) What’s one thing you really hope you get to do when you get to heaven?
Go on long walks on long trails through beautiful woods talking things over with Jesus, getting to ask Him if I was ever right at any point in my life on anything ever and learning all the stuff I wish I knew now.

Antichrist and Rent Control

Back to reading Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics. He has a short passage on Job Discrimination (pages 139-143) where he convincingly contends that increased government regulation leads to more racism and discrimination.

Idea runs like this. He uses rent as an example. A racist landlord will put himself financially in trouble if he actually rents to only approved people as his apartments may remain vacant. Whereas, if government has rent control (reduced prices forced on landlords) it won’t cost him as much so he can more economically be a racist jerk (demand for rental property goes up under rent control meaning there are more renters per open space making it less likely our racist landlord’s apartment will remain vacant).

This got me to thinking about Antichrist and his one world economy which coincides with huge levels of anti-semitism.

Hmmm.

Moses’ Bride

Moses was an Old Testament type of Christ. Deuteronomy 18:15 tells us that Messiah will be like Moses. Here’s a cool little likeness.

Moses married Zipporah, a Midianite woman. Midianites were related to Midian, the fourth son of Abraham by Keturah (wifey #2). Midian was exiled and intermarried with foreigners.

That being the case, Moses married a mostly Gentile bride, with some Jewish in her.

Jesus Christ, in the likeness of Moses, is taking to Himself a bride even now, which is also mostly Gentile although has a Jewish remnant in it.

I thought that was cool.

Verses that Cause People to Flip Out

Deuteronomy 8:2
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

2 Chronicles 32:31
Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.

Genesis 22:11,12
And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God.

Prayer and Tomorrow

Everyone has theories on prayer and what it’s for and how it works. No one has any idea what they are doing, even the Bible says that (Romans 8:26).

I think prayer is a very individual idea. If it’s supposed to mainly take place in a closet who cares how other people pray anyhow?

Most people, when they share their opinion about making prayer work, are doing it to be helpful, but generally slip into commanding others how to do it “just like them.”

I share the following as just something I’ve been trying out and have found it to be helpful. Take it or leave it. My closet will survive.

I was thinking about Jesus’ words that we should not worry for tomorrow for sufficient to the day is the evil thereof. Mostly when I pray about tomorrow what I’m doing is worrying, the exact thing Jesus tells me not to do.

Not long ago I decided that I would only pray for today. I wouldn’t even bother mentioning tomorrow until I woke up in the morning. I have found that I worry less, I get worked up less.

Inherently trusting that God will take care of tomorrow rather than assuming my prayer will take care of tomorrow has really helped me relax and trust and let go of worry.

I know, this sounds pretty holier than thou. I don’t mean it that way. I’m just sharing an insight. You can do what you want in your own closet. For many reasons, I hope we all stay in them.

Jesus and Malcolm Gladwell

Just finished reading Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers. A good book. Gladwell always provokes thought.

The book’s premise is that success is not about a guy pulling himself up by the bootstraps, it always involves a certain amount of who you know and being in the right place at the right time.

At the same time, success never occurs without tons of hard work. Gladwell’s main application is that we should provide more opportunities for hard working people to rise up.

Several thoughts from a Christian perspective:

–Gladwell’s premise is largely based on his definition of success, which is based on education and making money.

–People base decisions on arbitrary facts, which often lead to huge and unfair implications for others down the road. A simple examination of our arbitrary rules may edify more people. Like leaving traditions that no one has any idea why they are there.

–Hard work is the key to becoming an expert at anything. Ten-thousand hours is the baseline measure for expertise. It’s no wonder Christians are so inept today seeing as how we “don’t have to work” period.

–The proper working of the Body of Christ should enable all members to “succeed.” Gladwell repeatedly points out how the kindness of someone else lead to the success of others. How great would it be if the Body of Christ actually tried doing what we’re here to do?

–Any success owes thanks to the folks who laid the foundation for them, who gave them the breaks and encouraged them. No believer ever rises above the wonderful work of redemption labored over by Christ.

Priesthood of Believers

Many say that they do not need a pastor because all believers are priests, we are the priesthood of believers.

First this is silly because Ephesians 4 says you do need a pastor.

Second this is silly because the role of pastor is not equivalent to the role of a priest.

Third this is silly because the word “priesthood” doesn’t mean “priest.” It’s a whole other word.

Fourth this is silly because Christ is our high priest.

Fifth this is silly because in the Levitical priesthood, all Levites were in the priesthood but not all were priests.

Sixth this is silly because, seriously, just go ahead and admit you have a hard time listening to a guy you think is a dork.

Malcolm Gladwell on Joseph

It frequently annoys me to see books address Bible subjects and completely botch what the Bible actually says. I found another one yesterday in Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers.

In writing about the common notion that famous people pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps through pluck and determination, he lists Joseph as an example and says,

“In the Bible, Joseph is cast out by his brothers and sold into slavery and then rises to become the pharaoh’s right hand man on the strength of his own brilliance and insight.”

Sort of an unfortunate example by my Book.

Soup Kitchens

I am reading Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics once again. What a great book. You should read it if you want to know why the economic stimulus bill is going to doom us all. Doom us all I say!

Anyhooo, here’s a nice quote.

“The real cost of anything is still its value in alternative uses. The cost of watching a television [show] is the value of the other things that could have been done with that same time.”

Therefore, me watching TV on Sunday afternoons is a great usage of television since I’m no good for anything else at that time. However, watching it at 8:30 on Tuesday mornings is a waste.

It also explains why some guys trade birthrights for soup.

The First Economic Downturn

“Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses.”

That is how Lionel Robbins, a British economist, defines economics. Economics tries to find the most efficient way to use the available resources before they run out.

Stuff running out is the result of sin. Economics is the study of sin’s effects upon a dying world.

In the Garden of Eden there was no economy because there was no scarcity. Want more stuff? Go get it! Economics began when sin entered.

Israel in the Wilderness had some problems, yet God always promised provision. Manna from heaven and quails appeared in abundant supply. All you had to do was listen to God and more would come. Israel defied economics.

Are believers today bound by economics? I suppose it depends on how you interpret verses like Ephesians 3:20; Matthew 6:25-34; 1 Timothy 6:17.

Pay Attention

My mother sent me a link to this video where you pay attention to how many passes a team in white made with basketballs. Don’t miss anything.

Then I saw this article about the lady who reportedly swam the Atlantic Ocean that was on the news last week. Some people did the math and found out her story was impossible. By paying attention to the details, it has now surfaced that she only swam 250 of the 2,400 miles across the Atlantic.

Frequently I remind the folks in my church to check the context. If a guy says you should run your church services according to 1 Corinthians 14:1-33, check and see what verse 34 says.

If a guy “quotes” the Bible and has “. . .” somewhere, look it up to see what the “. . .’s” mean. What does the next verse say?

You gotta pay attention out there. People are throwing all sorts of info at you and most of it is not true. Just trying to help.

Nice Guys

When I learned about Jehoshaphat in Sunday School, I thought that was the greatest name ever. Now that I’m older and more mature, I want to name my next child Jehoshaphat.

Jehoshaphat was a nice guy, a little too nice. He made pals with two bad kings, Ahab and Ahaziah. God judged Jehoshaphat for going to war alongside stupid Ahab and then busted up the ships he made with Ahaziah.

God doesn’t want us to be nice with everyone. 2 John 10,11 warns about wishing well to false teachers. Paul, the apostle of grace, really laid into Peter in front of an audience, even wrote to us about it.

This is a tough concept. We’re supposed to love and treat others with grace, but we’re not supposed to throw our love and grace before swine who will trample it underfoot.

Ever struggled with this?

Vegetarian Sex

No, this post has nothing to do with Veggie Tales.

PETA had an ad banned from the Super bowl. Apparently the ad was about vegetarians being able to have better sex. NBC thought it went over the top.

Freakonomics blog wondered what this assertion was based on. Here is their conclusion, a quote from the PETA web site:

“Research has shown that vegetarians enjoy greater amounts of the nutrients that help boost sexual health and performance — such as vitamins A, C, and E and potassium — than meat-eaters do.”

Freakonomics argues that this is far from proof, but I’ll leave the economics to them. However, it got me to thinking about the only time our world was vegetarian, in the Garden of Eden.

We have no idea how long Adam and Eve lasted in there before sinning and thus creating prime rib, which seriously, the Fall wasn’t all bad.

Anyhoooo, Bible readers often wonder where all the people came from that seem to be all over the place soon after the Garden. Is it possible that Adam and Eve were quite industrious in their procreation due to their diet?

Carrots anyone?

Best Christian Song Ever

I don’t know what made me think of this song today but it got me to thinking about the best Christian songs of all time.

Most people would lead the list with such greats as

Amazing Grace
How Great Thou Art
Come Thou Fount
Great is Thy Faithfulness

Although these are fine choices, they are not the best song ever. Luckily for you, not only have I located the song, I’ve even found the video.

Behold, the greatest Christian song Ever.

Spiritual Gifts

A new Barna survey reveals that 21% of “Christians who have heard of spiritual gifts” claim to have a spiritual gift that is not listed in the Bible. This is brilliant!

I have long been annoyed with Christians who claim spiritual gifts that are not spiritual gifts. Most think spiritual gifts are talents, like singing. Spiritual gifts are things you are not naturally good at that suddenly take place now that you are Spirit indwelt.

Spiritual gifts are things that edify others. Just because you are “good” at something does not mean the church has to sit around and watch you, like interpretive dance. Here’s my interpretation, “Go home.”

The funniest non-biblical spiritual gift claim was “compromise.” Nice.

HT: strange herring