Mark Driscoll Is Not Your Pastor

PreachingAn excellent article by Nick Nye, a pastor of a local church in Columbus, Ohio:

Mark Driscoll Is Not Your Pastor

Decapitation and starvation are ravaging though Iraq today. As I have followed the news and prayed for those trapped in the Iraq mountains, I have noticed the other big news feed. Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church has been removed from Acts 29.

I (as well as Veritas Church) have served with Acts 29 in some capacity from 2006-2012 and have a deep love for the network. We have planted, funded, coached and partnered with many Acts 29 churches and will continue to pray for their decision regarding Mark Driscoll. With Acts 29’s decision, the long history of blogs, confessions and calls to repentance have poured forth and are being reposted by people all over the world.

Maybe, these reposts are an inner-craving for justice or simply a case of celebrity Christian gossip. Whatever the motivation, I want to remind those of you not a part of Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll is not your pastor.

Here is what I mean…

Let us not project accusations against Mark Driscoll onto your local pastor. Because Driscoll is accused of his message conflicting with his character doesn’t mean your pastor is doing the same. I imagine many Christians reading these blogs, maybe even learning of Mark Driscoll for the first time are becoming suspicious that their pastor is on the same path. Seeds of doubt get planted that their pastor has deep ambitions to become mega and toss them out of the bus when they aren’t needed. These seeds could rise to unfounded accusations and projections that crippled the pastors voice in shepherding their church with true humility and Christ-like ambition.

There is little doubt that in your pastors heart of hearts he struggles with thoughts of being a big deal but nearly all of the pastors I know desperately reject those thoughts and want Jesus to be known and them to be forgotten. What we are seeing in our news feed ought to push us to praying for our church leaders. Despite fallen pastors, Jesus gives the church pastors (Ephesians 4:11-16). Your pastor is not Mark Driscoll, Noah (drunkenness and incest), David (sexual affair and murder), or Peter (denier of Jesus) but a fallen human in need of a savior, who is Jesus Christ.

Remember:
Jesus Christ is the apostle who plants a church (Hebrews 3.1).
Jesus is the senior pastor who leads the church (1 Peter 5.4).
Jesus is the head of the church (Colossians 1.4; 2.10, 19).
Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the church (Ephesians 2:20).
Jesus builds a church (Matthew 16.18).
Jesus even shuts a church down for becoming faithless and/or fruitless (Revelation 2.5).

Let us pray for Mark- a broken man and pastor like me, and let us rejoice that Jesus have given local pastors to help us all grow in Christ-likeness.

A Prayer in the Midst of Stress

A PRAYER FOR REVEALING JESUS WHEN LIFE IS STRESSFUL

By Scotty Smith

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.2 Cor. 4:7-10

Stress     Dear Lord Jesus, to compare my stressors with the apostle Paul’s would be like comparing my photography with Ansel Adams’s, my preaching with Charles Spurgeon’s, or my cobbler making with a 5 star French pastry chef’s. There is simply no comparison. When I consider everything he experienced as your servant, honestly, I have nothing to bemoan or groan about.

     Nonetheless, Paul’s honesty is a great gift to me this morning. His freedom to acknowledge both his anguish and his joy in the same paragraph, gives me tremendous encouragement and focus. Posing and pretending were crucified at Calvary. Despair and hopelessness were sabotaged by your resurrection.

     Jesus, help me to be far more preoccupied with the treasure within than with the pressures without. If your all-surpassing power will be shown most dramatically through my weaknesses, then I’ll boast in them. If your incomparable beauty will be most clearly revealed through my hardships, then I’ll stop my whining. If your redeeming purposes will be most fully realized through my brokenness, then I’ll humble myself and surrender.

     With my palms up, I offer you praise for the treasure of the gospel. The gospel will win the day, my heart, the nations, and the cosmos. Though there are seasons when throwing in the towel, finding another story, or just flat running away are incredibly attractive, where else would I go but to you?

     Jesus, you alone give the words of life, sufficient grace, and the hope of glory. May your voice grow ten times louder than any other voice, clamoring for my attention. In the coming hours, days, and weeks, demonstrate the wonders of your love and the sovereignty of your rule. So very Amen I pray, with hungry expectancy, in your trustworthy name.

Learning to Pray Aloud

Praying together

Praying aloud with others is a tangible way for you to carry your load – and bring encouragement.  If it’s hard for you to pray aloud in a group, begin by doing it when you pray alone.  Then start praying aloud with a friend.  Don’t compare your praying with others.  

William Gurnall wrote: “Sometimes you hear another pray with freedom and fluency, while you can hardly get out a few broken words.  Hence you are ready to accuse yourself and admire him, as if the gilding of the key makes it open the door better.”
(Ruth and Warren Myers; 31 Days of Prayer, p. 94)

10 Ways to Pray For Yourself

Ten Things I Pray For Myself

Prayer WorkoutAdapted from A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

  1. Guard my heart. Make and keep it pure. Protect me from the schemes and attacks of the Evil One.
  2. Fill me with Your love. Help me to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Make me compassionate and sensitive to the needs of others around me.
  3. Fill me with Your Spirit. May I be emptied of myself and filled with Jesus. Anoint my life and ministry with supernatural power.
  4. Clothe me in humility. May I be poor in spirit. May I esteem all others as better than myself. May I not seek to impress others, but only to please You.
  5. Make me a servant. Help me to serve You with gladness; to render each act of service as unto Christ; to joyously accept even “menial” or “unfulfilling” responsibilities.
  6. Guard my tongue. May I speak only words that are true, words that help and heal, words that are wise and kind.
  7. Give me wisdom and discernment. Help me to see all of life from Your point of view. May my life be ruled by the wisdom of Your Word.
  8. Give me a grateful spirit. Help me to give thanks in everything. Help me to acknowledge and express the benefits and blessings that I have received from You and others. Protect me from a discontented heart and a murmuring tongue.
  9. Help me to walk by faith and not by sight. May my life show the world how great You are. May I be willing to step out in faith when I cannot see the outcome, and may my life not be explainable in human terms.
  10. Teach me the fear of the Lord. Help me to practice the conscious, constant awareness of Your presence. Help me to live my life in light of the final judgment and as one who will give account to You.

Preaching on Sunday? Read This

preach-word

When preparing to preach on Sunday mornings, there is a certain level of nervous anticipation that arises.  On the one hand, there is a confidence that the Lord will bless your preparation in the Word and your prayers heading into the sermon.  On the other hand, there is the fear of misrepresenting the Lord or preaching a “dud” that seems to completely miss the mark for the congregation.

A certain level of anxiety is good because if you are completely confident in your abilities, you may be walking the line or have crossed over into self-confidence and self-reliance, rather than a dependence on the Lord in the midst of your preparation and preaching.  So, with the beginning of the college church season and the “back to church” surge within the United Sates, here is some encouragement heading into the new season:

PREACHING ON SUNDAY? READ THIS.

Darryl Dash

Pastors can always use encouragement. If you’re a pastor (or even if you’re not), here are some truths that you might find encouraging today.

  • God promises to use his Word (Isaiah 55:11). When God speaks, things happen. No matter how feebly preached, God honors the proclamation of his Word.
  • Our weakness displays God’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:7). Our weakness doesn’t diminish God’s glory. It provides greater contrast between us and the surpassing power of the God we serve.
  • God uses the “things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:28). If you and your church don’t look like much, you are just the type that God loves to use.
  • Your position is secure (Romans 8). There is no sermon that you could preach that would make you more acceptable to God. There is no sermon, however bad, that can remove you from the love of God.
  • Our imperfect churches display the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10). When God wants to display his wisdom to angelic beings, he points to the church. The fact that church exists despite our failings causes angels to marvel and to glorify God.
  • Your work is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). We often don’t see it, but because of the resurrection we can stay at it, knowing that our work isn’t wasted.

There’s so much more. Things may be tough. We may not see much progress. But God is at work. On Friday as we prepare to preach, we can rest knowing that all is well. There’s every reason to be encouraged.

Sometimes God Says “No”

Accepting “No” as God’s Will

By R.C. Sproul

I am astonished that, in the light of the clear biblical record, anyone would have the audacity to suggest that it is wrong for the afflicted in body or soul to couch their prayers for deliverance in terms of “If it be thy will….” We are told that when affliction comes, God always wills healing, that He has nothing to do with suffering, and that all we must do is claim the answer we seek by faith. We are exhorted to claim God’s yes before He speaks it.

Away with such distortions of biblical faith! They are conceived in the mind of the Tempter, who would seduce us into exchanging faith for magic. No amount of pious verbiage can transform such falsehood into sound doctrine. We must accept the fact that God sometimes says no. Sometimes He calls us to suffer and die even if we want to claim the contrary.

Never did a man pray more earnestly than Christ prayed in Gethsemane. Who will charge Jesus with failure to pray in faith? He put His request before the Father with sweat like blood: “Take this cup away from me.” This prayer was straightforward and without ambiguity—Jesus was crying out for relief. He asked for the horribly bitter cup to be removed. Every ounce of His humanity shrank from the cup. He begged the Father to relieve Him of His duty.

But God said no. The way of suffering was the Father’s plan. It was the Father’s will. The cross was not Satan’s idea. The passion of Christ was not the result of human contingency. It was not the accidental contrivance of Caiaphas, Herod, or Pilate. The cup was prepared, delivered, and administered by almighty God.

Jesus qualified His prayer: “If it is Your will….” Jesus did not “name it and claim it.” He knew His Father well enough to understand that it might not be His will to remove the cup. So the story does not end with the words, “And the Father repented of the evil He had planned, removed the cup, and Jesus lived happily ever after.” Such words border on blasphemy. The gospel is not a fairy tale. The Father would not negotiate the cup. Jesus was called to drink it to its last dregs. And He accepted it. “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

This “nevertheless” was the supreme prayer of faith. The prayer of faith is not a demand that we place on God. It is not a presumption of a granted request. The authentic prayer of faith is one that models Jesus’ prayer. It is always uttered in a spirit of subordination. In all our prayers, we must let God be God. No one tells the Father what to do, not even the Son. Prayers are always to be requests made in humility and submission to the Father’s will.

The prayer of faith is a prayer of trust. The very essence of faith is trust. We trust that God knows what is best. The spirit of trust includes a willingness to do what the Father wants us to do. Christ embodied that kind of trust in Gethsemane. Though the text is not explicit, it is clear that Jesus left the garden with the Father’s answer to His plea. There was no cursing or bitterness. His meat and His drink were to do the Father’s will. Once the Father said no, it was settled. Jesus prepared Himself for the cross.

Excerpt from R.C. Sproul’s, Surprised by Suffering.

A Prayer for Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

A Prayer for Preaching the Gospel to Yourself Right Now

By Scotty Smith

 I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:15-17

bible-preaching

Dear Lord Jesus, even as Paul was eager to preach the gospel to believers in Rome, so I’m eager to preach it to my own heart today. There was a time when I thought the gospel was only for nonbelievers—simply the doorway for beginning a relationship with you. I now realize believers need the gospel just as much as non-believers. From beginning to end, our salvation is entirely dependent upon the grace, truth, and power of the gospel. Indeed, there’s nothing more than the gospel, there’s just more of the gospel.

So I praise you today, Lord Jesus, that you’ve already accomplished everything necessary to completely redeem us, and restore us to your image. You’re not primarily our model to follow; you’re our substitute to embrace—not our second chance, but the “second Adam.” You lived a life of perfect obedience on our behalf, fulfilling all the demands of God’s law for us. And when you died upon the cross, you became sin for us—completely exhausting God’s righteous judgment that stood against us. Hallelujah, many times over!

Through faith in you, I know for certain, that all of my sins have been forgiven—sins in the past, present and future; not just the 4% I’m aware of, but the other 96% as well. And I’ve also been given the gift of your perfect righteousness—as though every good thing youdid, I did. Astonishing! God has already declared me to be righteous in his sight; and he cannot love me more than he does today, and he’ll never love me less.

In fact, because of your work for me, Lord Jesus, God now loves me just as much as he loves you, for he’s hidden my life in yours. Amazing! He’s adopted me as his child and placed his Spirit in my heart. The Holy Spirit constantly reminds me I’m God’s beloved child, because I’m so prone to forget. And he’s also present in my life to make me like you, Jesus, for I can no more change myself than I could’ve ever begun a relationship with God on my own.

As our great high priest, you are ever living to pray for us—praying what I would pray if I knew what you knew. As the resurrected and reigning King, you are working in all things for our good and your glory. All of history is bound up with your commitment to redeem your Bride from the nations and make all things new. Nothing is left to chance; all things are left to you!

One Day, (hopefully soon), you will return, Lord Jesus, and usher in the new heaven and new earth—the world of perfect peace, love and joy. My heart leaps and longs for that Day, when your people, every place and all things will exist for the praise of your glorious grace. Keep pressing this gospel into my heart. So very Amen I pray, in your priceless and peerless name.