"HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?" Francis Schaeffer

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Pastor's Burden

One must always be careful of stats but.... from Focus on the Family research

* 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, contention in churches, or spiritual burnout.
* 50 percent of pastors will be divorced by the time they leave the ministry.
* 80 percent of pastors and 84 percent of spouses feel discouraged or unqualified in their roles as pastors.
* 50 percent are so discouraged they would leave if they could but have no other way to make a living.
* our out of five seminary and Bible school grads who enter the ministry will leave it in the first five years after graduation.
* 80 percent of spouses feel their spouse is over-worked. 80 percent wish their husbands would leave the ministry.
* 80 percent of pastor’s wives say the most destructive event that ever occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered ministry.
* 70 percent of pastors fight depression.
* 40 percent have had an extramarital affair since starting ministry.
* 70 percent of pastors say that the only time studying the Word is when they are preparing a sermon.

That is troubling to say the least.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

If You're Depressed & Hopeless

If your depressed and hopeless there's some good stuff HERE

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It'll only get worse

Found on Breitbart.com

Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year, government health officials said Tuesday.

While out-of-wedlock births have long been associated with teen mothers, the teen birth rate actually dropped last year to the lowest level on record. Instead, births among unwed mothers rose most dramatically among women in their 20s.

The overall rise reflects the burgeoning number of people who are putting off marriage or living together without getting married.

Children without a Daddy. It guarantees a burgeoning society of sociopaths.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Not the Democrats but God

from Russell Moore

"The news networks tell us that the new majority in the United States House and Senate is the result of a "wave" of Democratic Party voters. From a human and historical vantage point, that's true. But as those who believe in the providence of God, it is also true that "there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God" (Rom 13:1 HCSB). For whatever reason, this past Tuesday God decided that Nancy Pelosi will be sitting behind President Bush at next year's State of the Union address. And God decided that outgoing Speaker Denny Hastert would not be seated there."

God's purposes were served by this weeks election. He has not lost control of the Congress of the United States. From God, it could be punishment or it could also be preparation.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Power of Francis Schaeffer

( He had immeasurable impact on evangelical Christianity) Challies.com

"Francis Schaeffer was given many gifts by God to bring blessing on the Church, but I think that most of those who worked with him would agree that his two greatest gifts were the way he led discussions and answered people’s questions and his preaching. I will never forget some of the sermons I heard him preach. The fact that his voice was high and often would crack as he emphasized a point, the reality that no-one could describe him as ‘charismatic’ or ‘strikingly handsome’ in appearance - these things were completely unimportant. I would listen to a message, often for well over an hour, and be captivated by the truth from God’s Word that was communicated with such clarity and power and with such relevance to our own moment of history and such immediate application to my life. One sermon on Rahab often comes back to me: ‘we are all harlots’ Francis declared, ‘we have all prostituted ourselves constantly to other gods.’ There are many others of his sermons that have left this same indelible impression on my mind."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Maintaining the hedges for a pastor

(From Pastor Mark Driscoll's blog)

Evangelical Leader Quits Amid Allegations of Gay Sex and Drug Use

The news has been abuzz with controversy surrounding the allegations that Ted Haggard had a three-year homosexual relationship with a male prostitute that included drug use. Haggard is pastor of a 14,000-member church in Colorado, president of the National Association of Evangelicals that has some 30 million members, friend of men like George Bush, and outspoken opponent of homosexuality and gay marriage.

The news broke in a television interview with the homosexual prostitute.

Pastor Haggard answers questions about allegations. 9NEWS.com November 3, 2006

A follow-up article by the Associated Press said that Haggard purchased methamphetamines from the gay prostitute but claims he never used them. He also admitted to getting a massage from the gay prostitute but denies any sexual activity between the two.

Of course the media is having a field day with the scandal, particularly since Haggard’s home state of Colorado is on the brink of a highly charged political vote regarding homosexual rights. It will likely take weeks to untangle the truth in all of this very devastating news. In the meantime, let us pray that his wife and five children will be loved and supported through this incredibly difficult time. The horror they must be experiencing is likely unbearable.

As every pastor knows, we are always at risk from the sin in us and the sinful temptations around us. Pastoring in one of America’s least churched cities to a large number of single, young people has been an eye-opening experience for me. I started the church ten years ago when I was twenty-five years of age. Thankfully, I was married to a beautiful woman. I met my lovely wife Grace when we were seventeen, married her at twenty-one, and by God’s grace have been faithful to her in every way since the day we met. I have, however, seen some very overt opportunities for sin. On one occasion I actually had a young woman put a note into my shirt pocket while I was serving communion with my wife, asking me to have dinner, a massage, and sex with her. On another occasion a young woman emailed me a photo of herself topless and wanted to know if I liked her body. Thankfully, that email was intercepted by an assistant and never got to me.

My suspicion is that as our culture becomes more sexually rebellious, things will only get worse. Therefore, as a means of encouragement, I would like to share some practical suggestions for fellow Christian leaders, especially young men:

* The only way to stay away from sin is to stay close to Jesus. Colossians says that we are prone to making a lot of rules but that if we don’t deal with the issues in our heart, we are fooling ourselves; holiness cannot be obtained by the sheer force of white-knuckled will power. More than anyone, a Christian leader needs time with Jesus in repentance, for their own soul and not just to make them a better leader or teacher. Death comes to every Christian leader who goes to Jesus and Scripture for purely functional and not relational purposes.

* Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.
* Every pastor needs a pastor. Too often the pastor is seen as a sort of little God and his wife as some glorified First Lady. Every pastor needs a pastor with whom he can regularly have accountability and the confession of sin. Every pastor’s wife also needs a godly woman chosen for her maturity and trustworthiness.

* No church should tolerate sexual sin among its leaders. Christians cannot be guilty of playing plank-speck with non-Christians on matters of pornography and homosexuality and be guilty of going soft on sin in their own leadership. As Paul says, nothing can be done out of partiality or favoritism.

Pastors should have their office at the church and their study at home. There is no reason a pastor should be sitting alone at the church at odd hours (e.g., early morning and late evening) to study when anyone can drop in for any reason and have access to him. Instead, a pastor should come into the office for scheduled meetings and work from home on tasks such as emails, planning, studying, sermon preparation, etc. I spend the vast majority of my time working from home. Some years ago when I did not, I found that lonely people, some of them hurting single moms wanting a strong man to speak into their life, would show up to hang out and catch time with me. It was shortly thereafter that I brought my books home and purchased a laptop and cell phone so that I was not tied to the church office.

* Pastors have the right to protect their own home. This means that if someone keeps dropping by unannounced and is unwelcome, or a flirtatious woman shows up to a Bible study at the pastor’s home, the pastor and his family have the right to request that they never return. The pastor’s home simply cannot be viewed as yet another piece of church property that is accessible to anyone who desires it. Rather, the pastor’s home must be a safe place for the pastor and his family without the wrong people rudely calling and dropping by.

* Churches should consider returning to heterosexual male assistants who are like Timothy and Titus to serve alongside pastors. Too often the pastor’s assistant is a woman who, if not sexually involved, becomes too emotionally involved with the pastor as a sort of emotional and practical second wife. I have been blessed with a trustworthy heterosexual male assistant who can travel with me, meet with me, etc., without the fear of any temptations or even false allegations since we have beautiful wives and eight children between us.

* Pastors need to protect their email and have it screened for accountability. For me, this means that no email but an email from one of our pastors comes directly to me. This also means that I leave my email account open at home and my wife regularly checks it to get schedule information, etc., because I have nothing to hide. I also do not have a secondary email account from which to build a secret identity.

* Pastors need to carefully protect their cell phone number. If that private number gets out, too many of the wrong people have access to the pastor. Not only should the cell phone number of a pastor be given out to only a few people, he should also consider eliminating his voicemail and simply have calls forwarded to his assistant. In this way people will not become too informal with the pastor and if the pastor knows someone is trouble (e.g., a flirtatious woman), he can see that on his caller ID and simply refuse to answer the call or have to deal with a voicemail.

* Pastors must speak freely and frankly with their wives about their temptations. Without this there really can be no walking in the light and sin always grows in darkness.

* Pastors must not travel alone; the anonymity and fatigue of the road is too great a temptation for many men. A pastor should take his wife, an older child, an assistant, or fellow leader with him. If this cannot be afforded then travel should not be undertaken.

* Any pastor who is drifting toward serious sexual sin should have the courage, love for God, devotion to his family, and respect for his church to simply fall on his sword and resign before he goes down in flames. He must get the professional help he needs without fear of losing his position as a pastor. It is much better to be an honest Christian than a wicked pastor.

* Lastly, the big issue is a love and fear of God. Only a man really knows his heart and whether or not he loves and fears God above all else. Without this a man will fail to live for God’s glory, and it is only a matter of time.

In conclusion, I say none of this as moralism. Indeed, this is a deeply rooted gospel issue. How can we proclaim that our God is a faithful Trinitarian community if we are not faithful to our marriage covenant and family? How can we say that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us if we have no holiness in our life? How can we proclaim that we are new creations in Christ if we continually return to lap up the vomit of our old way of life? How can we preach that sin is to be repented of if we fail to model that ongoing repentance? How can we say that God is our highest treasure and greatest joy when we trade Him for sin that defiles our hands and defames His name?

I do not know the guilt or innocence of Haggard. But I do know that this is a sobering reminder to take heed of, lest we fall.
Mark Driscoll

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Future of us All

Martin Lloyd Jones being interviewed years ago. More

Q: What do you think Christianity ought to say to the economic situation today?

A: I think the great message we must preach is God's judgment on men and on the world. Because man is a sinner, any human contrivance is doomed to fail; the only hope for the world is the return of Christ—nothing else. It amazes me that evangelicals have suddenly taken such an interest in politics; to do so would have made sense 50 or 100 years ago, but such efforts now seem to me sheer folly, for we are in a dissolving world. All my life I've opposed setting "times and seasons," but I feel increasingly that we may be in the last times.