Friday, July 4, 2008

Give Me Jesus

Pastor - Please Put Your Family First

The demands of pastoral ministry can be tough on the pastor's wife and family. It may be tempting to put one's family on the alter and sacrifice them to all the demands of the church and ministry - but that would be a big mistake. You can't love your church if you are neglecting and not loving your family.

From 9Marks ministry here are 30 Practical Ways For Pastors to Love Their Wives and Families (Compiled by several pastors).


1. Take the initiative and establish a plan for family worship. Then follow the plan! (Don Whitney encourages "brevity, regularity, and flexibility" in family worship.)
2. Come home at the exact time you say you will be home; and prepare your heart to serve your family, not be served.
3. Take responsibility for your children's education and discipline — don't leave it to your wife to figure out.
4. Share with your wife and kids some of the good things that are going on in the church, and then thank them for helping to make that possible.
5. Use every hour of your vacation time. And take a vacation that does not involve extended family; restrict it to just your wife and kids.
6. Take a two week vacation.
7. Diligently guard your days off.
8. There are times when it seems like you have to choose whether to be a good dad/husband or a good pastor. Good pastors choose to be good dad/husbands.

9. Get up early and have your quiet time, so that you can take the kids in the morning while your wife has her quiet time.
10. Give her flowers and a hand written card when she least expects it.
11. Regularly schedule a date night and take the initiative on logistics, i.e. organize the baby-sitter, make reservations, and have a plan.
12. Make sure you know her favorite restaurant, meal, flowers, ice cream flavor, and movie.
13. Schedule a weekly time where you watch the kids and your wife gets out to do whatever she wants — not errands. When you can, give her a whole day off from the kids.
14. Decide together with your wife how many evenings you will be gone and honor what has been agreed upon.
15. On Sundays, leave for church a few minutes early to stop and get your wife her favorite coffee drink.
16. Ask your wife over a romantic dinner areas she wants to see you improve.
17. Take your wife to an encouraging conference.
18. Plan regular out-of-town personal retreats for just you and her. Plan time on your retreat to write down all the evidences of grace you see in one another's lives and then share them with one another. Later, spend time writing down your hopes for ways you want to grow as husband and father over the coming year (she doing the same for herself) and then share them with one another.
19. Respect and seek her opinion on things concerning the church.
20. Go for long walks.

Read the rest HERE.

I have also started a series of articles which are being published in the White Wing Messenger. You can view the first one by clicking and click on the "Family Room."

Spicing Up Your Worship Experience

Do you ever have trouble finding that right sermon illustration? Perhaps you need a Mother's Day video to honor the mother's in your congregation on Sunday. Or maybe you want to find a slick and fun countdown video leading up to the beginning of worship.

You may want to consider While I was serving at the Harvest Center, we developed the ability to show video during the sermon. But I wasn't sure where to find good quality and relevant videos. I stumbled upon SermonSpice during that time and have been using it ever since.

SermonSpice is a clearinghouse of video illustrations, backgrounds and countdowns. Certainly you can purchase video and backgrounds directly from the producers, such as BlueFish TV, Baked Pickles, or Vertical Hold. But with SermonSpice is mashes them all together in one convenient location.

SermonSpice not only offers a wide and varied selection of videos, backgrounds and countdowns to choose from, but they have a great search capability to find a video based on a genre (comic/dramic etc..) and topically/biblically.

SermonSpice is the first place I go looking for creative media. It has been a very helpful ministry tool, which I have recommended for several years. It saves me time and energy and the congregation always appreciates the creative and thoughtful videos.

Recommended Commentaries

Based on extensive research (I own only a small handful of these, so I am relying almost entirely on secondary sources), is my assessment of the best two commentaries on each book of the New Testament (my Old Testament list is still a work in progress).

Generally speaking I would recommend purchasing the first one listed before the second. Looking at this list, I can see that I have a lot of work to do to build even this basic collection. I hope you find the list useful.

Carson, D.A. Matthew (EBC), Zondervan 1984.
France, R.T. The Gospel of Matthew. NICNT, Eerdmans, 2007.

France, R.T. The Gospel of Mark. NIGTC, Eerdmans, 2002.
Lane, William L. The Gospel According to Mark. NICNT, Eerdmans, 1974.

Bock, Darrell L. Luke (2 volumes). BECNT, Baker, 1994 (volume 2).
Marshall, I. Howard. Commentary on Luke. NIGTC, Eerdmans, 1978.

Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. PNTC, Eerdmans 1991.
Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John. Hendrickson, 2003.

Witherington, Ben. The Acts of the Apostles. Eerdmans, 1997.
Bock, Darrell L, Acts. BECNT, Eerdmans, 2007.

Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans. NICNT, Eerdmans, 1996.
Schreiner, Thomas R. Romans. BECNT, Baker, 1998.

1 Corinthians
Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. NICNT, Eerdmans, 1987.
Garland, David E. 1 Corinthians. BECNT, Baker, 2003.

2 Corinthians
Barnett, Paul. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. NICNT, Eerdmans, 1997.
Harris, Murray, J. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. NIGTC, Eerdmans, 2005.

Bruce, F. F. Galatians. NIGTC, Eerdmans, 1982.
Longenecker, R. Galatians, WBC, Word, 1990.

Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. NICNT, Eerdmans, 1984.
O'Brien, Peter T. The Letter to the Ephesians. PNTC, Eerdmans, 1999.

Fee, Gordon D. Philippians. NICNT, Eerdmans, 1995.
O'Brien, Peter T. The Epistle to the Philippians. NIGTC, Eerdmans, 1991.

Colossians &Philemon
O'Brien, Peter T. Colossians, Philemon. WBC, Word, 1982.
Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. NICNT, Eerdmans, 1984.

1 & 2 Thessalonians
Wanamaker, Charles A. The Epistles to the Thessalonians. NIGTC, Eerdmans, 1990.
Bruce, F. F. 1 and 2 Thessalonians. WBC, Word, 1982.

Pastoral Epistles
Mounce, William D. Pastoral Epistles. WBC, Word, 2000.
Fee, Gordon D. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. NIBC, Hendricksen, 1998.

Ellingworth, Paul. The Epistle to the Hebrews. NIGTC, Eerdmans, 1993.
Lane, William L. Hebrews (2 Volumes). WBC, Word, 1991 (volume 2).

Moo, Douglas J. The Letter of James. TNTC, Eerdmans, 2007.
Davids, Peter H. Commentary on James. NIGTC, Eerdmans, 1982.

1 Peter
Davids, Peter H. The First Epistle of Peter. NICNT, Eerdmans, 1990.
Grudem, Wayne A. The First Epistle of Peter. TNTC, Eerdmans, 2007.

2 Peter and Jude
Bauckham, Richard J. Jude, 2 Peter. WBC, Word, 1983.
Moo, Douglas J. 2 Peter and Jude. NIVAC, Zondervan, 1997.

Johannine Epistles
Kruse, Colin G. The Letters of John, TNTC, Eerdmans, 2004.
Stott, John R. W. The Epistles of St. John, TNTC, Eerdmans, 1988.

Beale, G.K. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. NIGTC, Eerdmans, 1998.
Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation. NICNT, Eerdmans, 1997.

[Dr. Albert Mohler]

Pastors, Ministers, Clergy and the IRS

The church has every theological right to ordain whom they will, and has historically done so. But remember Paul, Barnabus and the multitudes following, did not have to contend with the IRS.

Ministries living and functioning in the US are subject to US tax laws. The question we will address in this article is what the IRS will look for, if the credentialed minister is receiving benefits which reduce his tax obligation. Such benefits include reimbursements for ministerial expenses, a housing allowance, which is free of state and federal income tax, and the privilege of exempting from social security, and paying taxes as a self employed person.

How the minister’s income is reported by the employing church is also a concern to the IRS. The IRS’s concern is in regards to the many “Scam” operations posing as a “Church,” that would issue credentials for the sole purpose of benefiting from the tax benefits granted to legitimate ministers by the Internal Revenue Code. There are three terms of credentialed ministry the IRS accepts: Ordained; Licensed; and Commissioned. The required prerequisite is that the credentialed minister, regardless of which term is used, be authorized to Marry and Bury,” in order to participate. Of course, they will also be interested in whether or not the credentialed minister is "In fact":

1. Administering the Sacraments [does he marry and bury];
2. Conduct "Religious worship." [entails the preparation, and the ministering of the word];
3. Does he/she have management responsibilities in the church or denomination";
4. Is he/she considered a religious leader by the church or the parent denomination?

Some of the key points that should be addressed by the “Ordaining Church.”

• Does the church require of the applicant to have completed a prescribed course of study, or has otherwise proven his qualification for ministry by virtue of having served in a position of “apprenticeship” under active and qualified ministry?
• Does the church have the necessary language in their By-Laws which clearly define how, or strongly alludes to, and under what conditions, the church will grant ministerial credentials?

Following are some basic suggestions to consider:

1. Qualifications of the candidate for ministerial credentials: *
• A period of time of having been with the church, that his character and family life is fully known;
• Preparation; By completion of prescribed course material; or his experiential requirements;
• Having a proven record of Ministry of the Word of God, and a good report from the community;
• Recommendations by additional seasoned “Senior” ministers, other than from the ordaining church;
• Upon application to the Board, the Minister would be evaluated to determine that he or she meets Biblical qualifications, with an assessment of his “Gifting, Anointing, Calling, and ability to minister.”
2. Does the church require an “Ongoing relationship of accountability” with the minister? Is their annually, a reaffirmation of identity on theological perspectives? Can this be proven by any documentation recorded in the church records? And then, based on that documented reaffirmation,
3. Will the ministerial relationship be reviewed and credentials be reissued every year?;
4. If there are different “Levels” of credentials, is it clearly defined what those differences are?;
5. For the “Ordained” minister, do the By-Laws [and his Ministerial Certificate**] clearly give him/her the authority to “Marry and Bury?”
* The Ministerial “Credential” – is a wallet sized card, issued annually, that says the Ministerial Certificate is current and valid for the year issued, because of his ongoing relationship of accountability with the church.
** The Ministerial “Certificate” – For the Ordained, Licensed, or Commissioned Minister, is that document issued by the church – and now hangs on the wall of his office;Credentials – as spoken of within this article – refers to both the Certificate, and the Credential Card.

Ordination - is for life (Unless the minister has been “Defrocked”), and may only need new credentials from another organization;

Oftentimes a church wishes to ordain it’s pastor, who had previously been credentialed with another organization or Denomination, but is now no longer relational. We suggest building a “Bridge” with appropriate documentation in the Minutes, using the previous documents (A copy of his previous Certificate of Ordination), as justification for the church issuing new credentials. This is proof that his ministry was recognized by others.

In all other cases, when a church decides to credential a minister, ordained or otherwise, documentation of as much of the above as possible would be wise.

CONCLUSION: The “Independent” * church, that chooses to ignore the above, may well be setting it’s newly credentialed minister up for some serious headaches down the road – and a disallowing of his previous tax breaks – possibly having to pay back taxes, penalties and interest.

* Oh how I dislike using that term, for we believe the Lord would have us all be relational, and accountable to one another.

[Ophelia Livingston]

Happy 4th of July

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Today's Prayer

Dear God, I want a REAL relationship with you. I want to hear your voice, to feel your presence, to walk with you each and every day. Help me to put you first in my life. Help me to minister in one accord with my brothers and sisters in Christ ... with the team you have assembled for your glory. Thank you for hearing my prayer and for working your will in my life. In His name I pray. Amen.

Servant Leadership

"Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt 20:26-28).

A rider on horseback, many years ago, came upon a squad of soldiers who were trying to move a heavy piece of timber. A corporal stood by, giving lordly orders to "heave." But the piece of timber was a trifle too heavy for the squad.

"Why don't you help them?" asked the quiet man on the horse, addressing the important corporal.

"Me? Why, I'm a corporal sir!" Dismounting, the stranger carefully took his place with the soldiers.

"Now, all together boys - heave!" he said. And the big piece of timber slid into place. The stranger mounted his horse and addressed the corporal.

"The next time you have a piece of timber for your men to handle, corporal, send for the commander-in-chief."

The horseman was George Washington, the first American president.

Whenever someone mentions your name does the word "servant" come to their mind? Jesus modeled servant-hood to twelve young men and changed the world. If you want to see others become servants you must model it yourself. George Washington was a great example of a Christian leader who was a great soldier and servant to those he led. No wonder God used this great servant to establish a new nation.

Moses was also a great leader of men. The Bible says that Moses was the most humble man on earth. That is why God could use him to lead hundreds of thousands out of slavery into the Promised Land.

Pray that God makes you a great humble servant leader of others.

[Os Hillman]