Apr 152014
 

First, thank you folks who use the Amazon links to make your purchases.

A small percent comes back to me and it helps out a lot.

You can purchase ad space on the blog from Beacon…inexpensive space on a highly rated blog.

You can also make direct donations via PayPal.

We covet your continued support and your prayers for what we do here.

I can always be reached at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com with your questions or concerns.

Thank you!

Apr 152014
 

links_image1Reporter escorted out of CC Ft. Lauderdale…

Mars Hill’s Sham Board of Accountability…

A Generation of Hams…

John Hagee’s “Blood Moons” moneymaker…

David Barton still full of it…

Christians are gullible…

Wenatchee the Hatchet on prophets…

The polarization of biblical Christianity…

Carl Trueman on tragic worship…

Three kinds of shame…

Excellent word from Sarah…

How we feel about the Bible…

Pew Research on the “Next America”…

Gay bishop to lead White House Easter prayer…

Steve Brown on crosses and crowns…

Boz on child abuse in the church…

The internet and Eastern Orthodoxy…

Doug Phillips accused of using nanny as sex object…thanks, Glenn for the tip.

This woman is crazy.

Apr 142014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. Satan has been getting some bad press in the last week. According to Bob Coy’s peers and supporters the evil one is to blame for everything from Coy’s inability to keep his pants on to the fact that some people feel a responsibility to report on the results of his failure to do so.

 

Poor ol’ Bob is victim of the the devil and his henchmen, bad women and evil bloggers.

Bob, the victim.

What a crock.

Let’s get some things straight here.

Bob Coy is responsible for this situation.

The devil may have taken him to a high place and showed him the kingdoms of this world, but it was Coy who accepted the deal.

The devil made the offers, Coy took the deals…and God exposed it.

God.

The victims here are his family, the women he chose to share in his sin, and the congregation he failed.

Coy was the willing victimizer.

Period.

2. “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit to be guilty of moral failure and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” (Acts 5:3 ESV)

3. The mainstream and online Christian press is as bought and sold as the secular media. They will never write and publish a story that might affect ad sales negatively. God has to use bloggers who can barely pay their bills, but value the truth. I have yet to hear the peers and supporters of Coy ask for prayer for us as we do the work the hirelings refuse to…

4. “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife is guilty of moral failure.”(1 Corinthians 5:1 ESV)

5. Despite current cultural beliefs to the contrary, shame is a good and necessary reaction to sin. We have become a shameless culture and the church is following suit.

6. The biblical illiteracy in this country is astounding.

“Judge not!” the idolaters howl.

Paul said,  “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.””(1 Corinthians 5:11–13 ESV).  Jesus said, ““Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”(Matthew 7:1–2 ESV)

Is this a contradiction? Hardly. I’ll let Calvin explain it to you from his commentary on Matt 7;

“We now see, that the design of Christ was to guard us against indulging excessive eagerness, or peevishness, or malignity, or even curiosity, in judging our neighbors. He who judges according to the word and law of the Lord, and forms his judgment by the rule of charity, always begins with subjecting himself to examination, and preserves a proper medium and order in his judgments. Hence it is evident, that this passage is altogether misapplied by those persons who would desire to make that moderation, which Christ recommends, a pretence for setting aside all distinction between good and evil. We are not only permitted, but are even bound, to condemn all sins; unless we choose to rebel against God himself,—nay, to repeal his laws, to reverse his decisions, and to overturn his judgment-seat. It is his will that we should proclaim the sentence which he pronounces on the actions of men: only we must preserve such modesty towards each other, as to make it manifest that he is the only Lawgiver and Judge, (Isaiah 33:22.)”

7. While I’m at it… “all sins are the same!” No, they are not…

“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:13–20 ESV)

8. “I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority . So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.” (3 John 1:9–10 ESV)

9. In #2, #4, and #8, I took the liberty of correcting Scripture to make it more “biblical” according to current standards. You’re welcome.

10. When we deny the depths of our sins, we forfeit the full measure of the grace of God for them. If we do not fully confess our sins, we cannot fully repent…and that shame will linger instead of being washed clean by the blood of Christ. The discipline of God toward His children is always rehabilitative, never retributive…but when we refuse to fully repent or enable others to avoid doing so, we become our own jailers.

Contact me…phoenixpreacher@gmail.com

Apr 122014
 

thumbnail.aspxWe regularly say: “We proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

In our primitiveness, we do not doubt your coming, soon, powerfully, decisively.

In our settledness, your coming is not too urgent or real, because we are venously entitled, privileged, protected, gated.

In our rationality, the “until” of your coming makes little sense to us, so we mumble and hope no one notices.

 

In these last days, In these latter days, In these final clays, In these very late days, We draw closer to your promised “until.”

We draw closer in fear, in hope, in gladness, in dread.

So we do proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes,

until he comes in peace against all our violence;

until he comes in generosity midst all our parsimony;

until he comes in food midst all our hunger;

until he comes in community midst all our alienation.

We are your faithful hopers,

distracted by despair,but hoping,

distracted by affluence, but hoping,

distracted by sophistication, but hoping.

Come soon, come Lord Jesus, come soon while we face afresh your death, until you come soon and again …again and soon.

Amen.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 169). Kindle Edition.

Apr 112014
 

155547_468929542642_7884233_nToday, I just want to thank all of the people who contributed to this incredibly busy week on the Phoenix Preacher.

Our hope is that we shed some light through a dark situation.

Thank you to our writers and readers who helped to edify and educate us all.

Bob Coy Removed For Moral Failure

Bob Sweat sermon on falling and restoration

Crushed Roses, the story of a fallen pastors former wife

The New Simonists…a look at the philosophical questions per megachurches

The Superpastor…the decline of the celebrity pastor system

Restoring Fallen Pastors: Alan Hawkins

10 Keys To Pastoral Ministry

Steve Wrights 10 Keys in Word, PDF

 

Apr 112014
 

Um-Bom-PastorWe finish strong this week with this article by my friend, Pastor Steve Wright. It’s not enough to point out the bad, we must facilitate the good. This list is both practical and priceless. I will be making it available in PDF and Word formats later today.

(While not an exact transcript, the following represents the substance of a one-hour talk given to a group of ministry students one week ago. Before the news of this week, Michael had suggested a written post summarizing the talk. I considered postponing its publishing, but Michael suggested it would be even more helpful today. Thus, it is not offered in response to the recent news, but I do not apologize for the timing either. – Steve Wright)

My salvation came after reading the Bible alone for many months, with a couple other Christian books. I did not have a Christian church, but once born again I found Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa – my first church home. This was 21 years ago. I worshipped and served there my first eight years as a believer, and was ordained in 1998. I have had a variety of ministry opportunity over the years, both inside and outside of Calvary Chapel circles, and presently pastor in Lake Elsinore, and have for the last six years. For brevity these ten areas are only summarized, and not meant to be exhaustive. They do reflect a personal philosophy of ministry that compliments the broader Calvary philosophies and retain the independence of the local church. They are offered by one with a passion for the Calvary Chapel movement, and a desire to see our churches grow in health and loving, faithful ministry to God’s people in the years to come.

1) ACCOUNTABILITY – I do not consider pastoral accountability to be having breakfast once a week with four other pastors. By accountability, I mean something in writing, publicly declared, that explains how the Senior Pastor can get fired. Our guidelines are on the website, and cover the different groups of church servants – pastors, employees, volunteer leaders and workers. This also provides protection for these individuals, especially to employees who also support their families through the church, so that they cannot be arbitrarily dismissed on the whim of the pastor.

2) CHILDREN/YOUTH – Churches must be vigilant to protect our children. Background checks must be secured for those working with minors, and I believe should be mandatory for all the workers of the church no matter the service. The expense is not a factor. The electric bill is expensive too, but nobody thinks of trying to run a church without electricity. We mandate a minimum of six months of attending the church before being eligible to serve in any capacity, which at least helps deter those who are seeking chaos and quick access to children. In addition there must be rigid rules that everyone is subject to, no matter how trusted. This is especially true for the teenage youth that typically have wider access and ministry opportunity with adults than the small children and infants. For example, no private, closed-door meetings, no personal car rides home after an event. Violations must be dealt with swiftly. No matter the laws of the state, every church should consider itself mandatory reporters when there is the possibility that physical or sexual child abuse has taken place. The church should not take for itself the role of trying to determine the truth of such accusations, but rather report the suspicion to the authorities who have the responsibility and resources to determine if a crime has been committed.

3) COMPENSATION – Once the church is large enough to provide a full time salary for the pastor, he should manage his finances like the congregation has to. People can’t approach the boss and ask for more money because an unexpected expense arrived. They have to budget, save, and manage the financial uncertainties of life. Why should the pastor be granted his financial request because of an unexpected house repair or medical bill? Does the entire church staff have that same privilege? Allowances for special items like books or gas are dangerous. Establish a salary that is sufficient to meet all those needs, plus other needs in life such as retirement, and healthcare. If the church is large enough to provide group benefits to all employees, that is different than the pastor alone getting lots of unique perks beyond his salary. The pastor should not expect the church to take care of him when he no longer can work, just because he failed to prepare for the future.

4) MESSAGES – Preparing and delivering Bible messages is a major part of the pastoral job description, especially within Calvary Chapel. It is (in part) what we are being paid for. Those messages belong to the church that employs us, not just ethically but most likely legally if someone actually went to court to fight over them. Any packaging and selling of previously recorded messages should result in income to the church, not the pastor. Of course, if the pastor has an outside project such as writing a book, those profits would properly be his. However, there the key term is “outside project.” It is not right to ignore church needs during the time normally spent with church activity, or to use church staff to edit, type, or otherwise assist in a work that is going to be the pastor’s sole financial benefit. Once more, the standard is what our congregation experiences. In the normal world it is quite rare for employees to use work time, equipment or supplies for personal projects to supplement the income.

5) LIMITATIONS – As an insurance agent I used to bristle when a client told me their plumber said their insurance is supposed to cover his bill. I jokingly would respond, “Would you trust your insurance agent to come and fix the plumbing?” A pastor may know some things about the law, taxes, investment, or medicine, but he is not a licensed, educated, professional in those fields. However, people may think, based on a pastor’s words, that he is an authority on anything to which he speaks, and not just the Scriptures. We also need to make sure others in the church leadership are not abusing their positions of authority in this area.  A special word concerns counseling, as this is a legitimate role of the pastor in certain circumstances. However, here too, Christian counselors invest much in time and expense to properly become equipped to minister in this area. My seminary also has a significant counseling school at the graduate level – it is a different degree, different emphasis of study. Pastors and counselors are two different roles in the Body of Christ. We must know our limits when faced with a complicated and sensitive counseling issue and humbly admit we are out of our depths to help such a person. The loving and proper thing is to refer to one qualified, and not to waste the person’s time or even worse, to do additional damage because of our inexperience and incompetence.

6) DEPENDABILITY – This is more than just not being a flake, showing up on time, keeping promises etc. By dependability I mean that weekly faithfulness to bring the word of God to the people, without personal agendas of any sort. The pulpit is sacred ground, and the message is sacred time. To use them for partisan political rants, self-indulgent personal stories or complaints, or mocking of others for an easy laugh or amen from the majority is a dishonor to the office. Obviously a message can be illustrated with a current event or personal story, but only if it truly is an effective way of teaching the passage. The people need to know that they can bring their lost friends, and their pastor will not unnecessarily say things that are offensive or take the focus off Christ and Him crucified. The message of the cross is plenty offensive and will insult and drive away lots of visitors over time. However, that message also contains the power to save. Our personal rants or jokes do not.

7) AVAILABILITY – Be visible and available after service for as long as people would like to see you. Circulate among the people. With multiple services (and we have four) there is a time to break off small talk and get alone for a moment before the next service, but not at the expense of the people who really want to talk to you about a serious matter. Be available during the week too. We have a fairly large number of people that look to us as their home church and me as their pastor. In a healthy church, the people will be ministering to one another and not always looking to the pastor to do everything. Therefore, those who do specifically ask for the pastor can likely be accommodated. They should be. The requests will not overwhelm until the church grows to a very large size, and that likely will not happen to almost all pastors. Availability also applies to our families. I do not feel a need to participate in many of the church ministries, so that I can have that time with my family. Thus, the family also understands when there is a special need to go to the hospital, perform a funeral, or meet with someone in an emergency.

8) DELEGATION – In Calvary it is common to hear that we must forsake church growth programs and other human efforts, and trust the Lord to add to the church, as we faithfully serve and proclaim the word. I agree but I also believe the same is true for church health and unity within the local fellowship. The pastor can strive and set a bunch of rules, force everything through his approval process, every teaching subject to his personal notes, run out of the church those unwilling to get with his program…or he can trust the Lord. Delegate the work of the ministry to those we are equipping in the word each week. They have the same Holy Spirit to guide their service. Besides, why would God give me special insights about how to run the nursery or womens ministry? He is going to guide those who serve in these ministries. I want to use my position to facilitate, give them needed resources, make announcements as warranted, while empowering God’s people for their service. They serve Him, by serving the people of our church. They are not my servants, but co-laborers; different members with different gifts yet part of the one Body. If someone is teaching true heresy, or creating problems they cannot handle, I’ll find out about it and can deal with it then. But as a pastor, I have the pulpit twice a week. I do not need to fear a mutiny because someone has the freedom to teach a passage in one of the various ministries in a different way than I do. I choose to trust the Lord to produce and maintain a united, healthy, church environment.

9) DEFENSE – There is a difference between defending the flock of God entrusted to us as pastors, and defending ourselves. We need to know the difference. There may be a time when the church needs defending from the attacks of outsiders, and the pastor/shepherd must be on the front lines in that defense of God’s people. However, let the Lord defend you personally. Pastors are human and we may find certain people more difficult than others, but there is no justification to kick someone to the curb just because they disagree with the pastor. Develop thick skin. Sometimes conflict may be within the church. I am certainly going to give more credence to the testimony of someone I have known to be a humble servant in the church for years, versus someone who has been around for three weeks. However, this is why the accountability guidelines are necessary. People in the inner circle are not given preferential treatment by the pastor when there is a written, agreed-upon, method to handle accusations against leadership.

10) DISCUSS – I was at a pastors’ meeting and commented that I was a Calvary Chapel pastor because I believed Calvary Chapel was the “best thing out there.” Of course, if any of us find a better fit in personal doctrinal beliefs and ministry philosophy within another group or denomination, we would join that group. The Lutherans think they are “the best thing”, the Presbyterians the same and so forth. However, at that meeting my comment was responded to by one of the men in Calvary, with about 40 years compared to my 20 years. He said, “Steve, it is not just the best thing, it is the only thing out there.” There is a huge difference between my comment and his, and recognizing that difference will go a long way towards the future of Calvary Chapel. We must recognize the greater Body of Christ as the brothers and sisters they are. We must get outside our Calvary bubble and interact with others. And we must recognize that a lot of people have had bad experiences in Calvary Chapels, due to no fault of their own. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and we are to be servants of Him, not the affiliation. Interact with the hurting, not as a Calvary apologist but as a servant of Christ. There may be a cost, especially in this internet era, but if our service to Jesus is not costly in some manner, it probably isn’t worth much.

Apr 102014
 

restores1Simple premise; a pastor who falls into sin that brings disqualification from public ministry can be restored again.

This assumes that eldership as described by Paul includes the pastoral office and requires public release and ordination into a ministry. We are dealing with this matter in the abstract and not in relation to particular incidents. Every incident requires oversight by others and a process whereby restoration can happen. The myriad of circumstances cannot be covered by a short article but the principle can be examined.

Nothing more clearly describes the Christian faith than the forgiveness of sin. Nothing magnifies the forgiveness of sin more fully than restoration. Forgiven sin does not guarantee restored privileges but it is the bedrock upon which that can be possible. Restoration to public ministry is the culmination of a process with an intent to bring reconciliation and recompense to all parties. It would end with a recognition that the offender is once again considered to be tested and found qualified for eldership.

The process calls for spiritual leadership. (Galatians 6:1) ‘Restoration’ is from the Greek root ‘katartizo’ which describes the mending of a fishing net or the setting of a broken bone. The picture clearly depicts restoration to usefulness. We find a form of the word used in Ephesians 4:12 as well. There it tells us that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are given to ‘equip the saints.’ Interestingly it could easily be translated ‘to restore the saints.’ That would concur with the Galatians passage calling for spiritual ones to restore those caught in a trespass.

The objections to returning someone to ministry are abundant. Let me just propose a few concerns that must be addressed. The full nature of the sin must be faced and owned by the offender. The restoration of the pastor’s family must be of foremost concern and just as in the beginning the spousal support is foundational to return. The complexities of returning to the same congregation are unlikely to be solved but a blessing from the former congregation would be preferable before beginning again. Nothing would testify more powerfully to the witness of the Gospel of grace and mercy than such an endorsement. However, I would not consider it mandatory as it is so difficult to accomplish because of our punishment mentality. Also all direct victims should have to have their concerns addressed and resolved as much as possible.

When a pastor is removed he has broken trust. He has broken covenant. He has violated the sacred vows that attend to appointment and ordination. These things cannot be undone, the wrongs cannot be expunged. However, they can be redeemed. Too often the pastor and his memory are expunged from the public witness of the church. Nothing is more opposite to the message of the Gospel. When a church has a fallen pastor that church has an opportunity to show the truth of Jesus to the world by reframing their message around the cross rather than banishing the memory of a offender. God does not forget us but our sin.

A fallen and restored pastor is a walking testimony to the grace of God. He then exists to tell the world how merciful and kind God is and how wonderful his love is for those who receive it. All illusions of personal accomplishment and success have vanished. What remains is simply a broken and renewed vessel. Or as Galatians puts it so well, “if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing he deceives himself” (6:3) That deception is shattered by a fall and the returning minister comes back not as a conquering hero but as a servant washing feet.

The whole thing takes time and cannot be entered into without great care and with the fear of the Lord. But to call it impossible seems to deny the Gospel itself. When someone asks why God would use a man like that there is an answer. He doesn’t have any other kind. The minister who is not publicly fallen knows that his heart would fare no better in the light of God’s holiness than the life of the minister who was exposed in his worst moment.

When I began in ministry I made vows to the elders that if I ever fell into an adulterous relationship they would not have to catch me that I would turn myself in. I had a firm policy that to commit such sin was to forever forfeit the privilege of Gospel ministry. After all these years I had to confess that I was afraid of my weakness and wanted to build a high wall against it. In other words I wanted my own little law code of righteousness. Such means never produce a pure heart. They never accomplish the righteousness of God. Ultimately, every minister who stands before the people or oversees a congregation knows that he has not deserved the mercy he has received.

Let’s get our fallen ones and bring them home to the Savior and home to their loved ones. If it is in any way possible let’s bring them all the way back into gifts and callings that propelled them forward in the beginning. It glorifies God and bears witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Have they betrayed Christ? Indeed they have. Can they feed the flock once again? Indeed they must in answer to his call. Let the spiritual ones do this hard work of restoration. Let the kingdom come on earth as in heaven.

Apr 102014
 

this-is-what-it-would-look-like-if-superman-had-a-gopro-cameraToday, we present the views of veteran mega church pastor who has seen it all…and has managed to navigate these waters with integrity and honor.

The Superman model of ministry so prevalent during the last 40 years is being tested.

 

It’s “one man, one show” person centric philosophy is being challenged by age, lack of transition plans and unchallenged sin nature.

For the Superpastor the “Kryptonite” to fear and respect is still original sin.

Sin nature is still abundantly available here on earth for Super-Christians who want to partake of it. The celebrity model of ministry during this media driven age has put many a face on the TV screen and radio waves. Gone are pink hair, bad comb overs and laughable stunts of TBN and Tammy while we welcome the newer, youngish, hipper and more relatable crew that cater to our Christian consumer needs through the mass of available outlets.

Don’t get me wrong, this style of leadership has given us some great ministries that have accomplished much for God’s Kingdom.

However, time tests everything and the mega church model is becoming the “old gray mare” and she “ain’t what she used to be.”

Let’s say we are capable of a couple of bad decisions a year for a couple of years, that’s not much. But if you make two bad decisions a year for several decades you have an accumulation that may alter your world, or worse someone else’s. The older the philosophy of ministry is, the greater the likelihood of weakness.

The era of the “benevolent dictator” as pastor is under fire.

Accountability, and the lack thereof, are words thrown around like  Ninja weapons to accuse leaders of any number of self centered sins.

However, in the context of the personal isolation that celebrity life inevitably brings, accountability to friends, family and understanding peers can be a lifesaver. The Bob Coy tragedy and the Mark Driscoll dust up are just signs of a weakening construct of a ministry philosophy that ultimately does not work long term. To build on one mans talent and gifting ultimately stacks the weight on one mans weaknesses whether they be major or minor flaws. You add years to those flaws and the potential for failure increases.

If we were to take a walk thru scripture beginning with Moses’ “Captains” of Exodus 18 all the way through the partnerships of Paul with Barnabas, Silas,, Priscilla and Aquila to Timothy and his team of deacons and elders,  we see that leaders don’t lead in isolation. We see good listeners like Timothy and Titus soaking up wisdom from Paul, not the belligerent, self-reliant bullies that dot today’s pastoral landscape.

I don’t see any lone wolfs in Scripture.

I think this philosophy of church planting and subsequent ministry starts with the idea of chairs facing one direction listening to one man talk and never progresses beyond measuring the size of the audience. Hence the often asked question at pastors conferences, “how many you runnin’ on Sundays?” Super success means you still have the solo leader shouldering the celebrity power that fuels multiple services, the satellite locations, the big screens and the added plethora of media. It works when it works but the chairs are still facing the same direction when Superman fails. It just gets crazy trying to keep up.

It seems that Superman’s strength is waning these days and the definition of “crazy” is still “find what doesn’t work and keep doing it.”

Apr 092014
 

Today is Trey’s 12th birthday, so I’ll be out most of the day.

We’ve had some great resources this week in light of the Bob Coy scandal.

Bob Coy Removed For Moral Failure

Bob Sweat sermon on falling and restoration

Crushed Roses, the story of a fallen pastors former wife

The New Simonists…a look at the philosophical questions per megachurches

As always, you can request prayer and pray for others…

More coming…thank you for reading and participating!

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