Reblog: What does the pastor do?

How does the pastor spend his time? That is a question that sometimes arises from some who are critical and most who are just curious.

Medieval monks would spend their time at appointed hours praying, singing and chanting at their home, while transcribing texts in the intervening hours.

At the Reformation, so little of the previous centuries work had been dedicated to preaching, that the Reformers stood out for their emphasis on the pulpit.

The consistory of Geneva spent a great deal of time reviewing pastoral care issues, thinking through them biblically and apply counsel to people and situations. Sometimes the counsel and care was disregarded and some Genevans preferred to be disciplined out of the church, than to be discipled in the church. All of this took organization and care. But the primary driver of the ministry was the Word work. Calvin’s preaching through the bible provided the basis for doctrine in the church in Geneva, and the surrounding village churches that worked together with Calvin’s, seeking counsel from Calvin’s elders, even making requests for pulpit supply.

Some things have changed, but others have stayed the same.

Word Work & Prayer Work

Today the work of the Word and Prayer (cf. Acts 6:4) are the two greatest tasks which the pastor must undertake. Both of these are work. It is not enough to tell the congregation that you just didn’t ‘get anything out of the Word’ this week. It requires mental and spiritual ‘sweat’. It is taxing. It makes you tired like all work does.

The Word work and Prayer work  have the added problem of being difficult to measure. Prayer is done ‘in the closet’. Word work is  done ‘at the desk’. But consider that the person who is in the closet or at the desk is largely out of sight. That means that it can appear as if the faithful pastor is unaccountable or unavailable or invisible.

What is the measure of the Word and Prayer work? It is seen in the fruit of the ministry. It is seen in the healthy diet which people feed upon. It is seen in the Spirit’s illumination of people to understand God’s word better, to be helped by God’s truth, to glorify God’s ways.

The weakness of the pulpit speaks to the emptiness of the closet and the barrenness of the desk.

Pastoralist Work

But there is another aspect to the pastoral ministry that must have a part. It is the pastoralist part. That is, it is the awareness and care for the condition of the sheep. The pastor must know the people he is feeding. If he doesn’t know what their condition is, then the diet he offers will be too thick or too thin, too spicy or too sweet.

So the pastor exhorts and teaches personally in his interactions with people. He hears their anxieties and cares. He points them to Christ. This is the pastor’s task also.

Not Shopkeeper Nor Therapist

Sometimes people can get confused about their expectations for the pastor. Pastors can be viewed as shop-keepers or therapists.  Some sheep don’t wish to be led to feed in green pastures, but wish to be treated like a pet in the shepherd’s home.

As David Wells has pointed out, our era is a Therapeutic Age. And this emphasis has dominated the thought of pastors and church members. The people expect the pastor to be a therapist, on call to fix them, and the pastor moves increasingly to be responsive to the ‘felt needs’ of the people. This mindset came to dominate the pastoral style of the seeker sensitive movement. And with it, the sufficiency of the Scriptures was lost as desks and closets were left empty.

So there is a constant struggle which the pastor faces. He must be jealous to guard the desk and closet time. As John Macarthur said many times, “the task of the pastor-teacher is to keep his rear-end in the chair until the job is done”. On the other hand, the pastor must know the sheep, and be able to offer feeding and protection according to their needs. He must do this without subtly giving in to worldly expectations of his role which come from the people or from himself.

Re: Vimeo: How Many Stars

The question is timeless. Pondered, throughout history, by human beings of every culture, age, and nationality: how many stars are there in the universe? This fascinating film explores worlds gigantic and microscopic to reveal answers that challenge our perceptions of creation. Travel with us through galaxies and grains of sand; molecules and atoms, to count the stars and marvel at all that God has made.

Reblog: How (What) to Pray for Your Grandchildren (Answers In Genesis)

Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations. (Psalm 119:89–90)

Are you a grandparent or do you hope to be one someday? Are you an “empty nester” or do you still have children in your home? No matter where you are in life or who is currently living in your home, there are children who would be blessed by your prayers. I hope to encourage you in the joy and privilege of praying for and with your grandchildren, surrogate grandchildren or future grandchildren. In today’s culture the authority of God’s Word is eroding and our children are facing the consequences of turning to man’s word as the authority (evolutionary takeover of creation, disregard for authority, gender confusion, etc.), it is more important than ever to pray for our future generations.

Just a few years ago I remember praying that my husband and I would be grandparents one day. Within five years of that prayer we were blessed with five children that would call us grandpa and grandma. Each child is a unique and special gift from God and we not only have the joy of having them as part of our lives, we also have the privilege and responsibility of praying for them.

Find the rest of the article here.


TED Talk: Want to change the world? Start by being brave enough to care

Artist and poet Cleo Wade recites a moving poem about being an advocate for love and acceptance in a time when both seem in short supply. Woven between stories of people at the beginning and end of their lives, she shares some truths about growing up (and speaking up) and reflects on the wisdom of a life well-lived, leaving us with a simple yet enduring takeaway: be good to yourself, be good to others, be good to the earth. “The world will say to you, ‘Be a better person,'” Wade says. “Do not be afraid to say, ‘Yes.'”

Reblog: Why Kids Need Rules and Consequences

But They’ll Be Mad at Me: Why Kids Need Rules and Consequences

by Katelyn Alcamo, LCMFT

It will come as no surprise that in my work as a middle school therapist, I come across kids who test boundaries, break rules, and make poor choices. It is also not uncommon to meet with parents at a loss for what to do and how to regain control.

Raising an adolescent is one of the most challenging jobs a parent will have. Suddenly you go from raising a sweet and affectionate child to managing a moody and rebellious teen. You might wonder what happened to the child you once knew. You also might find that the parentingstrategies you once relied on no longer work.

While it is not all bad, it is easy for parents to get overwhelmed by the social, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen during adolescence.

Many parents don’t reach out for help until things have gotten out of control. When I meet a family for the first time, I am often meeting desperate parents who have tried everything in their bag of tricks to improve things, to little or no avail. By that point, the family has become quite entrenched in negative patterns.

During the first session or so, I explore with the parents the strategies they have used to address any concerns. Often parents report that they yell, lecture, threaten consequences, or try to rationalize with their teen. I follow up by asking which strategies have worked and which have not. No surprise, yelling often leads to escalation; lecturing doesn’t garner the desired response, and how can one rationalize with an irrational teenage brain?

Despite their desperation to change things, many parents tell me that they don’t often follow through with any threatened consequences. And why not? “Because they’ll be mad at me,” I’m inevitably told.

I am often incredulous. Of course teens will be mad when there is a consequence, especially a meaningful one. Trying to prevent a teen from being mad at you is like trying to prevent a baby from crying. Good luck.

So why this avoidance of angering a teenager? I believe the reason is both selfish and selfless. First, what parent wants to deal with a sulking, bitter, angry teenager? No parent I know, including me. And it is understandable for parents to want to be loved by their children. We sacrifice so much and work so hard to love and care for our kids. It is validating to get that love in return.

We are programmed to want to make our children happy. This desire often translates to avoidance of anything that makes our child upset, including enforcing consequences for negative behaviors.

Why would we want to make our child upset when there is enough adversity in the world? Let me tell you.

Rules and consequences are important for every child. Despite how they may act, teens need rules and boundaries so they can both test them and feel protected by them. Creating structure and having predictable responses helps teens learn to self-regulate. It also helps them learn from their mistakes.

Raising a teen is like bowling with bumpers. Sometimes the bumpers take the form of support and validation and sometimes they’re in the form of rules and consequences. Regardless, they serve to gently guide teens down a healthy and successful path. Not having rules and consequences is like removing the bumpers before your teen has developed the skills to function in the world.

Allowing your child to express anger in a safe environment also helps them to develop emotional intelligence. If you are constantly shielding them from frustration, anger, or sadness, they may not learn how to regulate these emotions or how to express them in socially appropriate ways. It is important to remember that parenting isn’t about being liked. Giving in on rules and consequences makes it harder for teens to engage in a world where there are rules and consequences.

Read the rest here.

Reblog: Women Are the Talk of 2018’s Southern Baptist Annual Meeting

by Christianity Today (Kate Shellnutt) June 12, 2018

Both officially and unofficially, leaders of America’s largest Protestant denomination turn their attention to better responses to sexism and abuse.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has a lot to talk about at its two-day annual meeting kicking off today in Dallas. This year, amid the standard business of elections, entity updates, worship sets, and messages, leaders of America’s largest Protestant body have brought unprecedented attention to the women in its churches and its pastoral response to abuse.

2018 also marks the 100th anniversary of women attending the SBC annual meeting as messengers. At least two proposed resolutions up for consideration directly address the role of women in the complementarian denomination. But unofficially, the conversation is much bigger than that.

Many have awaited this national Southern Baptist gathering—the first since what some have deemed the #MeToo movement’s entry into evangelicalism—as grounds to engage an issue its leaders can no longer downplay.

At the start of the year, Southern Baptists watched as a decades-old, unreported sexual assault at a Houston Baptist congregation led to the resignation of two pastors, including the perpetrator Andy Savage, who went from being infamously applauded by his congregation to apologizing for his past immorality in a matter of weeks.

Months later, Executive Committee president Frank Page vacated the SBC’s top leadership role over an inappropriate relationship. And in recent weeks, longtime SBC figurehead Paige Patterson was forced out of his presidency at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary over his mishandling of abuse allegations after weeks of controversy over his past remarks toward women.

Like Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler, who wrote last month that “judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention,” prominent leaders have pushed each other to speak and act during this public reckoning for their movement.

“The world is watching. We need to convey to the world that we care for women more than we care for our positions of power,” said Austin pastor Matt Carter, speaking Monday on a panel on abuse in the lead-up to the conference. “The church has hidden behind those power structures for too long.”

A pastor who oversaw Savage stepped down this year from Carter’s church, The Austin Stone, after the allegations became public. Carter appeared alongside Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore and Bible teacher Beth Moore, who last month called out sexism in the SBC in a viral open letter.

The popular author and speaker—herself an abuse survivor—commended Carter and Russell Moore for their resolute positions on reporting allegations to authorities, offering more resources for women to seek counsel, and spotlighting the stories of women who have undergone abuse.

But she also acknowledged the barriers that keep victims from trusting the church, even as leaders grow more open and more eager to help.

“In every case of abuse or assault is a misuse of power … it has turned on her and has done her wrong,” she explained. “By the time you’re in a church context, she’s already intimidated by power. Especially if there are not female voices, it’s just exaggerated the fear she might not be understood or not be heard.”

As they attempt to assure that the women within their denomination will be trusted and cared for, Southern Baptist leaders have been forced to recognize that this hasn’t always been the case.

“Sinful men have in Scripture and the history of the church wronged women, abused women, silenced women, objectified women by ungodly comments and ungodly acts, preyed on women, left women unprotected, failed to report injustices and evils committed against women to civil authorities established by God, and failed to act out of the overflow of the image of Christ,” reads one popular resolution submitted for today’s meeting, written by Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Allen’s submission, entitled “On Affirming the Dignity of Women and the Holiness of Ministers,” condemns comments and behaviors that disrespect women within the denomination and calls for better responses to misconduct.

“Especially as we reel from events of recent days, the value of women inside the SBC needs to be proclaimed from the biggest stages we’ve got,” said Sarah Short, who’s attending the meeting from the Summit Church in North Carolina. (Her pastor, J. D. Greear is running for SBC president). “Our brightest and most revered leaders need to say it with their mouths and our convention needs to adopt it as a resolution. It’s time.”

Another line of the draft text states, “To the shame of the Southern Baptist Convention and the very obscuring of the glory of God, a number of Southern Baptist leaders, professors, and ministers have since our last annual gathering sinned against the Lord and against women by their ungodly behavior and language.”

Read the entire article here.