Monthly Archives: May 2016

THOUGHTS ON BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP

What does the Bible say about pastoral leadership?

You may not have given much thought about this subject, but it deeply impacts every church and hopefully every Christian (who should be deeply committed to their church).

Over the last several years Greentree has changed its leadership structure to that of a plurality of elders (or pastors). This is different from a senior pastor as the final authority model we have used in the past, and it is different from congregation and board run churches that are also common.

We have talked about this change at times to the congregation (our plan is to teach on the broad topic of church leadership later this year). However, some of you may not be fully clear on this approach to leadership and why we would make the change.

A plurality of elders / pastors means that there are (1) multiple elders /pastors and (2) they all share the same amount of authority together. The role of each pastor is delegated to them by the whole elder / pastoral team.

There are two motivations behind this change:

 1.  We feel it best fulfills the biblical picture

 2.  We have found that this approach to leadership focuses us on our own character as we are work together in our decision making.

When the pastors of a church are committed to keep working on their own growth in godliness, it will in turn be used by God to encourage continued growth in godliness throughout the congregation.

Tim Challies’ blog recently posted this brief article which discusses why a plurality of elders in important. In the article you can also go to this link to watch a 12 minute video by Alexander Strauch who explains biblical pastoral leadership. In my view, Strauch is the best writer on this subject in the church today.

If you are short on time, go to the 6:50 mark in the video where Strauch specifically explains what is meant by a plurality of elders or pastors.

LEAVING FOR CHICHICASTENANGO

My class last year at ASESLI’s Bible Institute

Today, I am traveling to Chichicastenango, Guatemala, to be with our mission partners at ASELSI.

Our church has partnered with ASELSI (“Equipping the Saints International”), in Chichicastenango, Guatemala for a dozen years.

ASELSI has an impressive ministry among the Mayan people. Their medical clinic has been a wonderful means of outreach to Mayans who normally would keep their distance from outsiders. And their Bible training schools have spread to many parts of the country and beyond. More recently, ASELSI has added a therapy clinic and a school for children with special needs.

ASELSI is careful to keep the message and deeds of the gospel central to all that they do! You can learn more at their website.

ASELSI is headquartered in Chichicastenango, which is located in the mountains of Guatemala.  For centuries Chichicastenango has been a center of Mayan worship. This has put ASELSI in the middle of pervasive spiritual darkness. The spiritual warfare they encounter is distinctly visible.

Chichicastenango is at a key passage between the north and south, and boasts the largest outdoor market in all Latin America. On Thursdays and Sundays, thousands of Mayans take over the streets with booths selling all manner of goods. This in turn now brings tourists from around the world, which adds to the fun. It is colorful, noisy, at times overwhelming, and always fascinating to set out in exploration on Market Day.

One of the benefits of long term commitment with a mission partner is the opportunities it provides for growing relationships with people who are faithfully serving Christ. Each trip I give significant time to cultivating these relationships.

Another enjoyable part of these trips is sharing meals with God’s people, both Guatemalans and missionaries. It is meaningful to build upon existing relationships year after year and start new ones.

Most of my time will be given to these main activities:

(1)  Teaching the book of Romans at EBA (ASELSI’s training institute for pastors and church leaders)

(2)  Presenting Family Life seminars at ASELSI and in Churches

(3)  Spending time with pastors and preaching in their churches

(4)  Meeting with Eman Perez (the Executive Director of ASELSI) and the missionary staff at ASELSI

 Would you pray for this time in Guatemala?

 Ask God to fill me with . . .

wisdom,

humility

health,

energy,

and the power of God’s Spirit.

 Please follow my time in Guatemala via Facebook or Twitter (@pastorkylehuber), to read updates and prayer requests

I hope you will prayerfully taking this journey with me

HOW DO WE ENGAGE ROTTENNESS?

When I was a small boy, we had trash cans and a separate garbage pail for food scraps. I hated opening the garbage pail because of the noxious odor that came out and the disgusting writhing mass of maggots on display in it.

That childhood memory comes quickly to mind when I think of the course of our “culture” today.

There is a lot of discussion about engaging our culture, but I think I find more agreement with Carl Truman who recently pointed out that we no longer have a true culture to engage!  He writes,

Let’s face it: We now live in a world where refusing a man the right to expose himself in a woman’s toilet is enough to risk your city losing the right to host a football game.

Trueman who is a world class theologian and an excellent writer, refers to this problem as “The Rise of the Anti-culture”, which is also the title of this article.

The answer is not to withdraw our voices, but the Church needs to think more clearly about what it often calls cultural engagement. Too often this simply means trying to look enough like the world that they are comfortable with us. But how can we consider trying to be comfortable with a world whose values are looking more like my childhood garbage pail?

We cannot lessen our engagement with people despite their sin or brokenness, for Christ came to save them – and only by grace are we still not one of them. But the world has drawn lines of anti-culture that we cannot even come close to mimicking, let alone crossing.

If by engaging the culture, we mean talking to them about light – truth – and the gospel; then engage with all the gusto you can muster. But if by engagement, we think we can mix biblical truth with current cultural perspectives, we will end up with a confused mess of ‘spirituality’ rather than gospel clarity.

This is a confusion we cannot accept, for the gospel in its glorious purity alone has the power to save!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.23.16

A Biblical Understanding of Fasting

We are studying fasting, so that as a church family we understand how to think about and hopefully use this biblical discipline for spiritual health

Fasting in the Old Testament

Almost all fasting in the Old Testament was during times of great distress

King Jehoshaphat called for fasting when enemies were marching against them

The City of Nineveh fasted when God’s prophet declared judgment was coming

David fasted when his infant child was dying

Nehemiah fasted when Jerusalem remained in ruin and the people were oppressed

There is only 1 designated fast in the Mosaic Law, which was on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16)

On the Day of Atonement, sacrifice was made to pay for the sins of the nation

It was a solemn day in which having an attitude of repentance was the central theme

Most fasts mentioned in the Old Testament were “proclaimed” fasts

These were fasts “called for” by leaders during times of national distress

Individual fasts are mentioned less often, but the reasons given when individuals fasted, are similar to those of the “proclaimed” fasts

Fasting in the New Testament

When we reach the time of Jesus, fasting was part of the fabric of religious life

We read that the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist fasted regularly

In Matthew 4, Jesus fasted 40 days prior to beginning his public ministry

In Luke 2, Anna fasted often “worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day”

Fasting appears to have become a mark of people who were serious about devotion to God

Sadly, fasting had became a status symbol for showing righteousness

Pharisees had influenced religious culture of Israel with the emphasis on external practices

The result was self-righteousness that was devoid of true love for God

What we hear from Jesus on fasting, is an emphasis on confronting the misuse of fasting

He unmasks and corrects those who use fasting to feed their pride (Luke 18:9-14, Matthew 6:16-18)

The role of fasting looks different in the New Testament Church

The emphasis is no longer on times of distress and repentance; although it still could be

Fasting was used in seeking God’s involvement in life and ministry

In Acts 13:2, fasting was joined with worship by leaders of the church

In Acts 13:3 and 14:23, fasting was part of the church commissioning leaders

This difference is appropriate to life in the New Covenant

Christ has taken our guilt forever, so we no longer need to fast to escape judgment

This doesn’t minimize repentance, it reflects our standing in Christ

What Should We Understand About Fasting Today?

Fasting is not mandated or required by God’s Word

Fasting is not a command, so it is not sinful if we don’t practice fasting

When we do fast, there is no required length or specific way we ought to fast

Since fasting is not commanded, is fasting still for the Church today?

Jesus indicates his followers would fast after his earthly ministry was finished (Matthew 9:14-15)

In Acts, fasting does not seem to be an unusual practice in the church

The Church has always recognized fasting as an important spiritual discipline

Our primary motivation for fasting is from a heart for Great Commandment Living, rather than from fear of circumstances

What are the purposes and benefits of fasting?

1.  Develops self-discipline before God – the major obstacle to fasting

2.  Fasting is a form of humbling ourselves before God – this is always a significant need in us

3.  Helps to sharpen our focus in seeking God’s presence and reign

4.  Expresses our love for being sacrificial toward God – similar to being generous with our money

5.  Corporately, it is a way for churches to come together prayerfully – this seems to be what was taking place in Acts

These reasons all work cooperatively with other spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, giving and serving

Why is our church looking at fasting?

This is an appropriate time for our church family to come together in focused prayer

Taking this step together encourages those who have never fasted to explore this important spiritual discipline

AN IMPERISHABLE BEAUTY

I Peter 3 4 Ritaby Debbie Huber

 

Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  I Peter 3:4

The “hidden person of the heart” that is referred to in this verse is our true self.  We are to adorn this true self with a gentle and quiet spirit.  In her book, “True Beauty”, Carolyn Mahaney conveys that this simply means to trust.

A gentle and quiet spirit is a woman who meets hardship, insults, sickness, rejection, and loss with trust, or a calm confidence in God.  She trusts because Jesus has proven trustworthy when He suffered on our behalf. There is no situation where we cannot trust His love for us. 

When she is facing unkindness, even if it is unjust, she does not hold onto bitterness or strike back.  She knows and trusts that Christ endured unjust suffering – in our place – so she can endure when she is sinned against.  When confronted with fearful situations, she trusts because she knows He holds all frightening things in his hands.

The gentle and quiet spirit promotes the beauty of Christ as she adorns herself with good works.  She does not rely on her good works to improve her standing before God because we are able to stand before God only because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  She does good works because she has received forgiveness, not to earn forgiveness.  She is unafraid to step into the messiness of the lives of others because she desires to extend the love and grace she first received from Jesus. 

This trust and good works reflects the heart of God and shines His beauty to a lost and dying world.  And this imperishable beauty, “in God’s sight is very precious.”

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE TALK

 

We have all heard about, uncomfortably given, or even more uncomfortably listened to “The Birds and the Bees Talk”.

Our children need to have a healthy framework for information which they will eventually be confronted with and use.

However, pastor and blogger Tim Challies points out in this article, that there is now a new talk we need to have with our children long before the Birds and the Bees.

Parents need to have the “Tech Talk” with their children.

The lives of our children are permeated with technology which opens their tender lives to the entire world in all its rawness, brutality, carelessness and sin!

In the online world our children will be confronted with, pornography, predators and bullies.

As parents (and grandparents) we have God given responsibilities to equip and protect our children.

And they need us to provide this help.

I strongly encourage you to start developing a plan if you have not already done so by reading Tim’s article, “Before the Birds and the Bees”.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.16.16

GOSPEL FELLOWSHIP

by Eric Huber

During World War II Americans were galvanized around the mission to defeat the evil of that time. Every citizen had a shared part in the common goal, that common goal united them together.

If that is true of what is called the greatest generation, how much more true should it be for those united to Christ? 

We have been united to Christ.  We are part of Him and so part of one another.  And we have a common purpose in Him.  Jesus told us in Matt 28 to “go and make disciples of all the nations.”  That Great Commission was not just for the original apostles.  If is for the local church.  It is to be our gospel partnership, a shared responsibility given to us by Jesus Himself.

In Philippians 4, Paul rejoices that the church at Philippi is willing to partner with him.  He is thankful, not so much for their gift, but their willingness to be part of what God.  From the beginning they have shared in Paul’s ministry. Paul says in Phil 1:3-5, I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

The word for partnership, Paul uses again in Phil 2:1 where he speaks about participation or fellowship in the Spirit.  And again in Phil 3:10, Paul says he wants to share in or have fellowship in Christ’s sufferings.  This seems to be something deeper than just a partnership. The fellowship the Philippians have with Paul is a fruit of their fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. 

As Christians, we have union with Christ.  And in Him we are brought into the fellowship that He has with the Father and the Spirit. We are one with Christ as Christ is one with the Father.  And so in Him, we are part of each other.  And when we live out that unity, we show the world that the Gospel is true (Jn 17:20-23).

So what are some ways that we can live out our gospel fellowship?  The most basic way is that we can be active members of a local church. Our fellowship with the Triune God is a corporate identity.  The NT assumes a life of committed interdependent relationships in some specific church. When we commit to a local church, we give tangible expression to our fellowship in the gospel. Membership says I am responsible to and for these specific people.

The local church is the place where we use our gifts to serve and edify one another. To each believer is given some spiritual gift for the common good (1 Cor 12:7). Paul writes this to the local church and says gifts are given for the collective benefit of members of the church. 

Now, we can use are gifts in other good ways, but they are given to us first and foremost to edify other believers in our local body.  We each have a part to play in our church, and so we should seek to play our part well.

We give expression to gospel fellowship as our church partners with those outside our local church for gospel mission. To make disciples is bigger than a single local church.  Churches partner with other churches who share their understanding of the gospel and the church for the purpose of gospel ministry – in order to see pastors developed and churches planted.  We all cannot go, but we can all give, pray and help in any way that we can.

We express fellowship in the Gospel as we go to proclaim the gospel in our part of the world. 

We live Christ-centered lives. 

We pray for our friends and neighbors, seeking opportunities to speak gospel truth. 

We show hospitality. 

We invite people to church or our small group so that they can experience the joy of biblical community and come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Finally, we give expression to gospel fellowship by being regularly discipled our self.  We seek to grow in our faith and lead by our example. 

We come to church as an enthusiastic worshiper who wants to hear and apply God’s word. 

We commit ourselves to our church’s process of discipleship. 

We give ourselves to God’s Word and prayer. 

As we do, our hearts grow to love God and neighbor more, and we grow in our understand of the fellowship we share in Christ.

 

JOHN PIPER ON HAVING A PRODUCTIVE LIFE

We want life to have meaning

We want to look back and see that it was fruitful

But our life experience often feels as if we are spinning our wheels

We intend and plan on being a part of meaningful activity, but distractions by the bushel take over our days (I don’t actually know how much a bushel is, but it sounds like a lot).

Technology promises and does add to our potential for productivity. However those same technologies can easily take it away just as quickly.

John Piper recently gave a talk on productivity, in which he gave 10 principles to help our life to be as useful and fruitful as possible. You can either listen (11 minutes) or read the transcript here at the desiringGod website.

REAL HELP FOR DEPRESSION

9781781915387

Depression.

Being confronted by this word brings an instant desire for avoidance.

However, if you suffer from depression, you can’t run from it. And if someone we love is burdened by depression we shouldn’t try to run from it.

That still leaves us with the frustrating and exhausting problem of not knowing what to do!

Zack Eswine provides an outstanding resource for us in his book, Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who suffer from depression.

Eswine not only has personal experience with depression, he draws in the wisdom of Charles Spurgeon who was one of the most famous and fruitful pastors in history. Yet, Spurgeon struggled bitterly for many years with his own depression (that knowledge itself should provide some comfort for believers who battle depression).

I heartily recommend this book to everyone, because we all will either walk through depression or know someone who does. Eswine writes:

Diagnostic words like “depression” are invitations, not destinations. Once you’ve spoken them, your travel with a person has begun, not ended.

If you have read books that promised to help and found them to be frustratingly empty of real help, Zack Eswine and Charles Spurgeon combine gentle pastoral care with clear biblical wisdom.

HAVE YOU TRIED SHARED EVANGELISM?

I am reading through “Compelling Community” by Mark Dever for the third time (this time it’s with the pastors). Near the end of the book I was struck afresh by his reflections on the corporate witness of the local church.

Dever points out that fruitful evangelism should not be limited to church events or individual witnessing. He offers a third category of “community witness”. When a church practices vibrant biblical community, this is a very compelling witness of gospel truths.

Here are some of the ways Dever suggests we can put Community Witness into practice:

Talk about life at church

We easily talk about what is going on in our life during conversations with friends and acquaintances. Try salting those conversations with what is taking place in our church life. Let people hear about biblical community in action. It should be obvious that sharing complaints about church would be counter-productive to the gospel.

Mix our circles of hospitality

When you have neighborhood or family events, invite church friends. And when you have a gathering with church friends, invite unbelievers you know. When we are in a small group, we have a natural pool of people to include in these social events that are common to life. Over time they will build relationships with our family and friends.

Invite church friends to join you in evangelism

Include a church friend in a spiritual conversation you are having with someone at a coffee shop, or you can invite a believing friend, and an unbelieving friend to read the bible together with you once a week.

Connect church life to your neighborhood

Find ways to impact people in the neighborhood around your church or around your small group. Get together with fellow believers and discuss how you can share life within that community.