Pastors and Elders; Is there a difference?

jesusisthegoodshepherdI write this article from personal experience. Whatever denomination you are part of, as a follower of Jesus Christ, your local church has a form of “government”. The English word “government” comes to us via Old French, according to Online Etymology Dictionary. The meaning is “control, direction, administration”. The origin of the Old French word is of course the Latin, “gubernare”. The Romans borrowed the word from the Greeks, modifying the Greek word “kybernan” (pronounced cybernan). It was a nautical term for steering a ship in the right direction. A local church is made up of redeemed sinners who still fight a moment by moment battle against their sin nature and as a result, they need to be guided through life. God created man to be led by Him. Once mankind rebelled against God, we traded God’s leadership for the leadership of others. We still need to be led, even to this day. Communities and relationships fall apart if there is not strong leadership. Your local church needs leadership. God has provided leadership in the local church, just like He has established leadership in local, secular government. When God set the guidelines for leadership in the church, He chose mature believers who had certain experience and spiritual giftings to lead. God chooses what spiritual girts we receive upon salvation and He also provides ministry (service) for those gifts in order to build up the body of Christ. Biblically speaking, people do not choose a path to leadership in the church. God equips them and calls them according to His desire. In order to understand church leadership, we need to examine a couple of passages in the New Testament, passages that were written under the inspiration of God and these passages are the heart of God when it comes to church leadership. Continue reading

Getting Connected with God through Christ

connect-with-godI have spent the better part of this school year teaching through the Gospel of Mark with my preschool teachers. We have all learned so much about our Lord and Savior, how He interacted with people to share the message of the Gospel with them in order to help them connect with God. All throughout the history of Israel, God had established spiritual leaders to help the common people connect with Him. For the most part, the spiritual leaders used their position and authority to lord over the people instead of help them connect with God. In Mark 10, Jesus reveals what people who are not connected with God are like. Most of the examples are the spiritual leaders. This is yet another opportunity for the spiritual leaders to admit their failure, repent of their mindset and actions, and connect with God through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, most of them were so caught up in themselves that they could not admit their wrong doing and therefore continued to live disconnected from their Creator. This same problem exists to this very day in all churches, no matter the denomination or creed. I would like to examine this idea of getting connected with God through the Lord Jesus Christ as presented by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10.  Continue reading

Fear vs. Faith

13962664_1092360710850344_5861196214084256199_nDear readers, I know that it has been a while since I have been able to write. It has been a busy summer and I am only now getting back into the swing of things for the school year. This Sunday, we are continuing our walk through the Bible in 2016. Our studies have centered on the ministry of Jesus over the past few weeks. This week, we are going to cover Jesus’ miracle of the calming of the sea. This is a crucial lesson for Jesus’ disciples both then and now. I have learned much from this lesson and I want to share it with you, as I think through the lesson in prep for teaching it. Our main text is Mark 4:35-41. Continue reading

Jesus explained by Isaiah

I am so excited about this week’s Sunday School lesson. Over the past couple of weeks, we have covered:

This week, we are going to study some of Isaiah’s prophecies about the first coming of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, there are over 300 prophecies about the first coming of Jesus Christ. These prophecies are given over a 4,000 year period. The prophet Isaiah lived and wrote about 700 years before the birth of Jesus. He reveals some great truths about Jesus, in his inspired writings. Let’s see what we can learn about Christ and ourselves from the prophecies that Isaiah wrote almost 3,000 years ago. Continue reading

The Apostle Paul on Leadership (Acts 20)

Leadership-2Yesterday, I was watching a video of a Bible study that our church leadership did a few years ago as we met and planned the upcoming year for us at that time. It was an amazing day. As a leadership team, we hiked about 18-20 miles, visiting villages, sharing the Gospel, doing Bible study, and planning. It was a great day of fellowship and brotherhood. We even found time to take a nap beside a lake under some shade trees during the hottest part of the day. All the memories came flooding back as I watched the Bible study session. I wanted to write an article with the teachings from Acts 20, given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul. I linked to the verses, or, you can open your own Bible and read the account, starting in verse 15 and going through the end of the chapter. As we studied the passage, we looked at what we learned about Paul and the commands Paul gave to the Ephesian elders. From these two aspects, we have much to learn about Biblical leadership.

I. Insights about Paul

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Let us learn to respect our spiritual elders

As a relatively young pastor, I have had to learn and apply this teaching to my own life over and over again. I am not teaching pure theory. This comes from years of practical application. As people, our sin nature does not like authority. Because of this natural state, it is very difficult for us to honor our elders. We have to be taught and reminded over and over again. That is why “Honor your father and mother” is a command. It is a command because it goes against our nature. Showing honor and respect to elders is not natural to anyone. It is a conscious effort that we must make, moment by moment, day by day. The command to honor has no time limit. Even when you are married and have your own kids, you are still to honor your father and mother. The same is true once you receive authority yourself, you must still respect the authority of those who are older than you are.

I. Walk humbly in authority

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Gideon, the courageous one

Lord, we need more Gideons in the church, with the exception of the way that he ended. He did not start well and he did not finish well but, we do have much to learn from his middle years.

Gideon grew up in culture similar to our own. In order to understand Gideon’s story, we need to read a couple of chapters from the book of Judges, 6, 7, 8.

I am preparing to teach this lesson to our kids next Sunday. I pray that the Lord will use this message to challenge the children to become Gideons, rising to the call of leadership that our churches and societies so desperately need. Continue reading

Engaged in good deeds

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of leading a retreat with my wife. We got away for a few days with my staff and studied God’s Word together, learned principles of time management, and planned the events, both major and minor for 2015. God blessed our time. We were in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, in a small ski town called Angel Fire. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was amazing. While we were there, we studied II Chronicles 34, learning about King Josiah‘s values and how he planned and acted according to his values. His impact in Israel was simply amazing. He changed the outcome of an entire generation and left a legacy that impacted several generations. We pray that as a Children’s Department, we will follow Josiah’s example and impact many future generations with the power of the Word of God. This study set the tone for our time. We discovered what our own values are and planned everything according to those values. Now we pray to follow those plans faithfully all throughout 2015 and beyond. Continue reading

Humbleness and Obedience go hand in hand

Last night, during our Philippians Bible study, we covered the idea of humbleness and obedience to the Lord. God, through His great wisdom, gives us an example of humbleness and obedience in the person of Jesus Christ. He also commands us to humble ourselves and obey Him. Not only does He do these two things, He also gives us a litmus test daily to show if we are humbly obeying Him or not. Now, is an example and a command enough? Let’s find out.

Our passage of examination is Philippians 1:27-2:11. Take a moment to read this passage. Now let’s examine what God has to teach us here. Continue reading