Tag Archives: Paul

A Thrice-bound Cord

A Thrice-bound Cord

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? [Amos 3:3]– And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken. [Ecclesiastes 4:12]. When we look at Revitalization and the necessary elements for success; it becomes quickly to our attention that revitalization cannot be done alone. Revitalization work by itself is tedious and strenuous; couple revitalization with ministry and revitalization becomes almost insurmountable. The problems and conflict connected with revitalization efforts could be partly to explain why so few revitalization attempts are successful and even more not even attempted. If revitalization is going to have an opportunity to be successful there must be a cadre of people for support and encouragement along the way.

I have heard many times that every successful person has to have at least three people in his life: a Paul as mentor, a Barnabas as encourager and Timothy as a protégé. In this article I will discuss these three necessities, plus add two of my own “friends” to the list – A Cohort and a Critic.

While there are different models/methods of accomplishing revitalization, it will come down to a catalyst in place trying to implement a strategy that will bring life back to the Bride of Christ. Some may call this “an organic” method of revitalization. I point this out because while other methods may focus on a Revitalization Team or Covenant Board; the leadership at the Church will have to implement the strategy. Conflict in ministry is a norm; adding change to the mix makes it volatile.

Beginning with the Paul friend – he is the mentor; the one who will be instructing the leadership. Just as we find that Paul became the Team leader with Barnabas and Silas, there must be someone who is ultimately guiding the process. This person has to be versed in the work of revitalization; this will keep the leadership and church on course to the intended goal.  You could call him the expert; one who has done the work, a practitioner, not a theorist.

The next person is the much needed person – a Barnabas as the Encourager. This is a vital person in all of our lives, even more so in a Revitalization scenario. Acts 8 tells of Paul’s conversion; a great miracle in itself, but Paul was a persecutor of the Church, and His own testimony in Galatians that he did not affiliate with the Apostles. The people looked upon Paul as an outsider even after his salvation. Enter into Paul’s life was Barnabas, who took a chance and embraced this one who breathed threats and persecution on believers [Acts 9]. Barnabas was more than a friend; he became THE advocate for Paul in ministry. When we looking at Acts 11:19-26, the Church is being persecuted, yet growing at a phenomenal rate. Barnabas seeks out Paul and brings him to Antioch, and Paul becomes a leader in discipling believers. We all need a Barnabas in our lives to be our advocate and encourager for us to keep believing and trusting in the work the Lord has for us. It is through the influence of Barnabas that Paul becomes the accepted leader for establishing churches within the Gentile community. Barnabas believed in Paul; but more so believed in the God in Paul. Every Revitalizationist needs this person.

Then there is the Timothy or protégé person. Revitalization must be taught and lived out before others; especially the next generation of ministers and believers. Paul is the “father figure” for Timothy – who had a Greek father that appears to be missing in his life. Paul calls Timothy his “son” in the ministry. As we experience revitalization events, success and failures, the Revitalizationist needs to teach the stumbling blocks and success on. Paul was an example to young Timothy. It is interesting that Timothy is left at Ephesus; this well established church that was in need of revitalization, for it had lost its first love. Through the Pastoral Epistles written to Timothy, Paul admonishes and teaches Timothy about the truths of ministry. As ministers and pastors, we have obligation to pass on to others the lessons we have learned.

A person on my list is the Cohort – this is someone who is also going through the revitalization process as well. I know misery loves company, but in our world, walking with someone who is walking in the same situation as us is encouraging and helpful. We are able to talk and philosophize about how to accomplish our work. In this relationship – the verse “Iron sharpens Iron like one brother does to another” is so applicable. [Proverbs 27:17] During my seminary days I found that having others going through the same regiment that I was an encouragement and a much needed voice in attempt to master the classes. Often we can attempt to do something we think is right, only to find out that we didn’t even get the assignment right. So a person who can bounce different ideas and techniques off of is a great someone to have. This actually works both ways. While we need a Cohort, we need to BE a cohort as well; a much needed voice into our thinking and ministry.

The last person is the Critic – I know you are already saying I have enough of those in my life already, why do I need another one? The word critic doesn’t carry a negative connotation. A critic is someone who acts like a critique of what is being done. I like to call this person an Overseer. They are the one who will be a clear voice of analysis and evaluator of whether the Revitalizationist is accomplishing what he thinks he is doing. A set of eyes removed from the intimate details which can objectively look at the work, and give a true assessment.

If a revitalizationist has these five friends in his corner, he is well on his way to “staying the course, finishing his race” and making the right decisions about strategies and their implementation which will accomplish the goals initially set out to achieve. What is the song Hanks Williams, Jr. sang, “Getting a little help from my friends!” We all need our friends because revitalization work is hard, lonely and discouraging; but well worth the time and energy to achieve New Life for the Bride.

 

 

Jim Grant, DMin

Heartland Baptist Church

Blog: preachbetweenthelines.com

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And Before I Go

2 Timothy, Paul already knows that his time is short, he has ran his race, and knows that he is going home soon. But before he goes he has more to say to his “son in the Spirit” – Timothy. At this point I would like to include Titus as well, for much of the instruction given to Timothy is given in Titus also.

This blog will take all the “R’s” into consideration. the first is found in chapter 1, Retain  [1:13] Paul has suffered much because of his unwavering stance on the Gospel. Timothy is instructed to pass on the things he has heard from his mentor to faithful men – so that they can then pass on to other faithful men. Paul begs Timothy not to be ashamed of him or the spectacle that has developed around the persecutions for His faith.

Secondly, is the word Remember [2:8]; The essence of the Gospel, Paul admonishes Timothy not to forget the most important thing of all, which is Jesus Christ – who He is and what He has done. Those things Christ has accomplished cannot be changed, but can be forgotten. It would make sense that we remember even in our day the truths which cannot be changed – for as Paul declares the sufferings and hardships he has faced, we to one day may be called upon to face such things. If we have forgotten our faith and eh “author and finisher of our faith,” we may become bankrupt. Jesus came according to the ordinate plan of God. His life, death, burial, and resurrection were no mere accident or coincidence.

Third, word is Remind [2:14], Timothy has word to do, his testimony and actions reflect his character; but the pressing task is reminding the church of not being pulled into meaningless conversations and battles of words. I have often in my younger days displayed a zeal of argument thinking that I was “witnessing”, when in fact I was pulled into an argument that could not be won. Paul is one who will name names when it is necessary; throughout 2 Timothy, he identifies those who lives have been distracted by the adversary – in this case Hymenaeus and Philetus are mentioned. Paul carries this instruction further in verses 23-26; much is said about not engaging in such talk, I can only think that there were many zealous but maligned believers being pulled into such waste of time.

Fourth is the word Realize [3:1]; the believer must be on alert and have the discernment of the times and seasons. Too many times people are caught unaware of the reality of an event or worse, duped into believing some strange group who promotes “the coming of the Lord” without credence. The coming of the Lord will happen sooner than later; but has been a topic of many these days. The “last days” have been the last days since the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Many are trying to predict when He is coming back – yet forget the admonition that “no one knows.” Last week we had the “Super-moon, and the eclipse, many still proclaiming the accuracy of the 4-Blood Moons scam. People are looking for the end to occur, yet are not looking for the Savior of the End! I am sure that with the condition of our society and the mass killings and political chaos, the predictions and preaching of the “end is near” will continue. My bible tells me, that “as it was in the days of Noah, so will my coming be” – to me I think when everyone is at peace and happy and least expecting His return, that’s when Jesus will come – catching so many unaware and unprepared!

The fifth and last word is Ready [4:2]; with all that Paul had to tell Timothy before he departed earth, the last thing he wanted to make sure Timothy heard was – Be Ready! Not just ready for the “Day of the Lord” but to be ready always to preach the Good News. Timothy was to be like Jeremiah in the Old Testament – preached when no one would listen; no were converted during the 50 years of Jeremiah’s preaching. Even so, we all must be ready to preach the Gospel, even when they try to squelch us. The clarity and concise gospel must be preached without compromise. We in America are subjected to all kinds of preachers, on TV and the radio. Frankly, I am shocked that anyone comes to church anymore when they can sit at home and listen to four or five preachers! But even though the preachers may say the are the messenger of God, they often put forth a Gospel of “Good Works” or “Name it and Claim it.” [Olsteen comes to mind] Yet people want to hear that all is good, and God wants you to have all the things that make up this world. My Best Life is NOT now, it will be when I am in the presence of my Lord Jesus! Paul closes with some more names of people , some to glory others to shame.

May we all heed the words of Paul as we live and have our being here in America – Difficult days are coming, but they do not have to be disastrous for us.

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Timothy My Son!

1 Timothy 1-5; the beginning of what has been called “the Pastoral Epistles.” Paul the Apostle and missionary is writing to his Son in the faith – Timothy. Timothy joined Paul’s missionary cadre in Acts 16. His mother is a Jew and his father a Greek. We know that Timothy was well taught the Gospel by his grandmother [Lois] and his mother [Eunice], Paul took Timothy in as the two became like father and son. Paul has left Young Timothy at Ephesus. The Church at Ephesus was a strong established church. It must have had an older contingents of congregational people, for there was a problem of Timothy’s youth. [1 Tim 4:12] So as we look at this church we actually find that it is a tough church to pastor. It is a second generation believers church; yes there were charter members still alive; but the original “core” was passing away. They could remember the glorious things that had been done in the establishing of the work in Ephesus. In Fact they could boast of Apostle Paul as the church planter, the beloved Timothy as the first pastor, then having the Patriarch John the Beloved Apostle and Jesus’ own mother part of the church. What a grand heritage! Yet we find in Revelation 2, that Ephesus had grown into a very orthodox church, looked good, believed all the right things, but they had lost their passion and first love. Imagine a church with all the things 1st Baptist Church Ephesus had going for it; yet it had lost its love for Christ.  I see Ephesus as a church that needed revitalization. It had been hot after the things of God, but was languishing in what HAD been done rather than what COULD be done. Now place a young 30 something pastor in that midst, and can you see the problems he had to face. “We have never done it that way before, that now the way we do things here.”  I am convinced that the church environment at Ephesus caused ulcers for Timothy. I am sure he tried to pastor and resolve conflict, but all this was taking its toll on him. “No longer drink just water, drink some wine for your stomach.” [1 Tim 5:23] Wine would be a stomach soother for the gastric acids of stress and worry.

These pastoral epistles have become of most importance for preachers and church ministers. How to deal with church people and problems. Often the established church is a buzz-saw for young fresh seminarians. Often they last less than 18 months, having been chewed up and spit out by staunch resistant congregations.

Paul must have been familiar with timothy’s struggles and writes to advice him on many church dynamics. It is clear that young Timothy is a called man of God. He has been discipled  by his family and Paul. Timothy having escorted Paul of his 2nd and 3rd missionary trips was intimately aware of ministry pitfalls. It is one thing to move from place to place starting churches, quite another being in one place for an extended time. Revivalist can get away with saying things that the home pastor would never even consider speaking.

In these first chapters we find a sort of laundry list of items that an established church must put in place for the organizational structure. First is the necessity of an Elder/Pastor/Bishop. In various denominations these are all still the same person, so I will use the name Pastor to identify this leadership position. The Second is the establishment of deacons. We have seen that Paul placed, overseers at the churches, and the necessity in Acts 6 for deacons to do service to the people. The character traits of both are almost exact. The leadership must have an “above reproach” personal life both in and outside the church.

Inf one was to look at Chapter 2: 9-15; you would think that Paul was sexist and against women. He said the same thing to the Corinthians. Obviously there must have been a similar problem. Paul spends chapter four is describing how women are to be in the church, and what services should include. In Chapter 5, the care or relief of widows is clearly outlined as far as who and what that ministry should look like.

Paul the “spiritual father” is instructing his son in pastoral ministry. In closing this week, Paul knew that Timothy could not do the work alone; he had to have help. chapter 1:18, invest in like-minded men who can take up the good fight with you. This enables Timothy to gain some much need relief, but also creates a legacy of passing on the Gospel. Oh Pastor listen today to the sage advice of an Elder statesmen of the Gospel – you can’t do it alone!

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No More Mr. Nice Guy

2 Cor. 9-13 is our passage for the week. Paul has come full circle with the Corinthian church. He has been there extensive time on two previous visits. He has written [I think 4 letters] at least two canonical letters to the church to try and correct behaviors, sin issues and squabbles. He has in my opinion tried to be a “Nice Guy” apostle and give both grace and mercy to them. However, they have continued to be arrogant and carnal in attitude and behavior.

His first issue was with the benevolent offering for the persecuted church in Jerusalem. It had been a year that the church said they would give an offering; yet they had fallen short of doing anything but talk. Paul admonishes them and challenges them with the testimony of the churches in Macedonia [Philippi] who had through great strain asked to be included in the offering; yet were contributing more than money, but devoted themselves completely to the Lord over it. The stark contrast between the Corinthians and the Macedonians is glaring. One is high and mighty, while the other is characterized by great humility and service.  Paul essentially tells the church – Get with it so you nor I will be embarrassed because of the boast I have made about you, then you doing nothing except talk. Obviously great pressure is being applied by Paul for the church to measure up and back up their talk with a considerable offering.

Paul and the church seems to have a very hot and cold relationship. When he is present with them, it seems they are will pleased, but absent with only his letters to them, they become mouthy towards him. In chapter 10, Paul addresses his Apostleship and his credentials. The word “BOAST” will dominate the next three chapters; over 20 times Paul uses the word. Paul boasted in the churches, Christ and in the Gospel. Rarely did he try to bring glory to himself. Yet he wants to make sure that the church knows that he is not inferior to the more eminent apostles. In 2 Cor. 10-11 Paul defends his ministry to the church. I really think it has become a condition of “to familiar ” with Paul where it lessened the strength of his message. I always had to keep in mind the church was in one of the grossly immoral places and at times rivaled Ephesus and Athens with its cultist gods worship.  Paul has a way in these chapters of indicting the church for its attitudes, but brings it in such a way that it makes them “feel guilty” about what they were doing.  Paul has had enough of the criticism and conflict, he tells the church “I am not going to spare anyone when I come.”

The church was embattled with “Judaizers” and other false teachers that had captured the vain minds of the Corinthian Church. Paul is defending his Gospel, His message, reputation, character and calling to this church. Much like the Galatians who were taken in by “smooth talking preachers,” the church was following a false Gospel.

In presenting his case, Paul brings the evidence that he has not taken anything by way of support from the; and admits that it may have been wrong not to do so.  He still hopes that they will invest in Him as he carries his message and Christ’s Gospel to further regions.

In 2 Cor. 12 – we find a controversy over what are the “3 heavens” Paul is talking about. This can be understood better when we look at creation in Genesis 1&2. The three heavens consist of the earth atmosphere, the realm of space and finally the 3rd heaven is the abode of God. It is in the 3rd heaven that Paul speaks of getting his revelation.

Paul has had a ministry that is difficult and filled with hardships, beatings and persecution. Paul also had a thorn in the flesh, he asked God to remove it three times and the answer was no. “My Grace will be sufficient for you.”  We can wonder why God would not relieve the pain of this “thorn” from Paul; however if Paul would have been healed, it could be construed that God would have lost Paul through Pride issues. With the thorn, Paul was kept humbled before God and made to recognize and deal with his own strength limits.

We don’t know if Paul made it one more time to Corinth to pick up the offering that Titus and he would bring to Jerusalem, but we do know if he did, things would be different for the church. No more Mr. Nice Guy – enough of their foolishness. It was time for them to grow up and be who they were called out to be. I find that through talking to other Pastors, our ministry today in the church has similar issues with “finishing the task” and respecting the authority of the Ministers God has placed in the Church.

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