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Monday, October 4, 2021

Calling a New Pastor or Priest?

 


What should a search team look for when calling clergy? Besides the practical concerns of compensation and the denomination's requirements for service, the search team should evaluate the candidate's educational preparation, record of service, and spiritual maturity. 

The candidate who is expected to bring prestige to the church should not automatically go to the top of the list.

The candidate who seems eager to change "everything" should not be dismissed from consideration.




Many churches follow a corporate model when searching for a new pastor or priest. This begins with determining the wants and needs of the congregation (developing a parish profile). The most desired traits are usually compassionate pastoral care and good preaching.

Discover whether the candidate is comfortable with and can commit to your church's mission statement. (Read more about Mission Statements here.)

Additional traits and commitments that should be considered include:

  1. Humility
  2. Love of Scripture
  3. Eagerness to bring people to the saving knowledge of God Father, God Son, and God Holy Spirit
  4. Ability to delegate to tested members of the church
  5. Commitment to Christian formation of all ages through Bible study, retreats, youth events, and discipleship programs

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Our Redemption Draws Near




Spiritual immaturity, moral failure, apostasy, and occult involvement seem more common in our society. The life of the disciple is increasingly at odds with the world. The pressures are great to concede spiritual ground, and to be less than steadfast in the Faith once delivered. 

Mothers are distressed over the demonic entanglements of their children. Fathers are not honored, much less loved. National leaders endorse the killing of the unborn. Pastors invite shamans to perform animistic rites in their churches. 

It is easy to become discouraged. However, Christians “are all the children of light”, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, . .” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). We are told to “look for your redemption is drawing near!” and we are reminded that “the day of the Lord” draw near. 

The Apostle Paul gives us direction: “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). 

The Apostle Peter tells us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8, 9). He assures us, “. . give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:10b).




Monday, July 12, 2021

Our Hope of Perfect Peace




Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.


“Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10)

This verse speaks of reconciliation which is what Jesus' Gospel accomplishes. This applies between God and man, and between people who are reconciled with God.

Crosses are pictured with two pieces of wood, one vertical and the other horizontal. The vertical speaks of God in Heaven, and of His righteousness. God extends His righteousness to earth just as the vertical beam goes into a hole in the ground from which Adam was made.

The horizontal member speaks of God’s love expressed in peace. In death and his resurrection, Jesus Christ joins heaven and earth, bringing true peace, or shalom. As the Psalm says: “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”

God’s righteous judgement and His love have been satisfied by the work of Christ. The work of Jesus is the basis of peace between God and humanity to those who receive it by faith.

Those who embrace the Faith come to know that peace is won at great cost. As the Apostle Paul testifies: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Romans 6:6)

The day is coming when His glory shall be over all the earth and the lion and the lamb will abide together in peace. Isaiah 11:5-9 describes this expectation.

Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
   and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
   the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
   and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
   their young shall lie down together;
   and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
   and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
   on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
   as the waters cover the sea.


This is our Christian hope. Those who are in Christ will enjoy that eternal kingdom of peace. Thanks be to God!




Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Faith That Overcomes



Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.


The key verse for this study comes from 1 John 4:9 - "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."

This verse provides a clue as to how faith overcomes the world cultural system. John writes a good deal about the world, by which he means fallen humanity, bondage to the flesh and to this world under Satan's rule. While God made humans with an innate need to worship, the world remains ignorant of saving faith in the Son of God.

Indeed, the world promotes all sorts of idols and idolatrous worship. Ideologies, false religions, and materialism are tools in the hands of rulers to manipulate their people. Karl Marx was correct in describing these non-biblical religions as an “opiate” to give people false hope and a feeling of security. 

Many have an “unknown god” often described as “the man up stairs!” Sadly, they confuse their “man upstairs” with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. They want him to come to their aid in times of trouble, as if He were an lucky charm to ward off evil. They do not have a real relationship with Him and so He can be blamed when things go wrong. 

This describes millions of people. They are in a condition of spiritual deafness. They cannot be classified with the immature Believers to whom John directs his epistle. May they hear the Good News of God's love and forgiveness at least once in their lives, though the preaching of the Gospel seems to have grown cold in our time.

John is writing to believers who lack a strong foundational faith. He wants them to know, adore, and serve a Living Lord, and to have full assurance of salvation (1 John 5:10-13). In a detailed way, he is repeating wthe witness of John the Baptist: "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

John points to Jesus Christ as your anchor. By Him and by His blood you are able to overcome. Biblical faith is centered in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. As He overcame the world, so those who are in Him will overcome.


Related reading: Freedom in Mature Discipleship; His Power Within You


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Freedom in Mature Discipleship



“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity...” (Hebrews 6:1)


Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.


The Greek word "disciple" in the New Testament has the sense of being an apprentice who works with his teacher until he has mastered the skill. He then becomes an agent for his master, and his skills and knowledge would reflect those of the Master. This is a picture of the growth of a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

We are trained by Him through the Holy Spirit, prayer, and Scripture. However, we are always His servants and disciples. He is ever the Master and Teacher.

The Apostle Paul uses a similar analogy for the Law. It was given to train up a child, that the children of Israel might learn obedience. 

"Before this faith came, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law became our guardian to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian." (Galatians 3:23-25)

Through obedience the Gentiles would be influenced to know the Lord also:

“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:47, cf. Isa 49:6).

The Lord Jesus said that a true disciple is one who allows the ministry of God’s Word to make him free from the bondage of sin (John 8:31–36). Sadly, many think of Christianity as a religion of rules, however, it is fundamentally about true freedom.

The Master's teachings and the worship of Him as the long-awaited Son of God, are to be faithfully received and faithfully passed along to the younger generations. 

The Apostle Paul made this the point of his final instruction to Timothy: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2,3).


Related reading: The Distinctive Disciple's Desire; Responding to Jesus' Authority; Get a Grip! Be Steadfast

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Responding to Jesus' Authority

 

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.


The Marine drill instructor repeatedly said: "I don't hear you!"

The trainees responded with louder voices. Military training teaches us to respond appropriately to authority.

How does that work for soldiers of Jesus Christ?

His followers hear and recognize His voice. To them He promises: “...I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27, 28)

They take up the cross and follow where He leads. They comprize the Church Militant.

They put on the armour of God. Ephesians 6:11: "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

At the end of their days on earth, they are assured by His words: "Well done, good and faithful servant," which is Jesus' gracious acknowledgement: “I heard you! You followed as my disciple!”


Sunday, April 11, 2021

How Do You Identify Yourself?

 



As Jesus spoke these things, many believed in Him. So He said to the Jews who had believed Him,“If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
(John 8:30-32)


Christian education programs are not discipleship. They help to form people in the Christian Faith, deepen their understanding of Scripture, and strengthen them for the trials of life. Usually, the programs do not help people develop the skills to make disciples as the Lord commands his followers to do. 

The word “Christian” is used only three places in the New Testament, but the term “disciple” is used 372 times. Granted, the term "Christian" was not in general use at the time of the Apostles. Today, being a disciple of Jesus Christ is of greater importance than being designated a "Christian."

In our time, "Christian" holds a range of meanings. Some who call themselves "Christian" do not live in obedience to the Bible. They endorse practices that the Bible condemns, often because they have not be wellinstructed. Some practices that have been endorsed by church leaders are either a violation of the order of creation and an affront to the Creator, or they are spiritually and often physically dangerous to the individual. 

If asked about your religion, how do you respond? Do you call yourself a "Christian" or a "disciple" of Jesus Christ? The disciple is one who "continues" in His life-giving word. Obedience is the key, even when we do not understand. Abraham did not understand what was going to happen on Mount Moriah, but he was obedient and acted on his faith in God (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 22; Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23). This is the path of justification.

Holiness and purity, obedience and service, embrace of the biblical worldview... these are the marks of a true disciple. Being Jesus’ “disciple indeed” is the standard of one who has genuine faith! 


Related reading: Two Obedient Servants; An Obedient Servant of the Lord; Formed and Informed by the Bible