It was one of the most uncomfortable meals of my life. I had called a semi-local likeminded pastor in order to make him aware of a situation that may impact his small, rural church. After a brief phone conversation, we agreed to meet for lunch the next week. And after some initial pleasantries, he thanked me for calling him, and then he began to weep, and he kept weeping for well over an hour. The reason he wept was this, he felt utterly alone in ministry and his small little church, only a little over an hour away from us, felt utterly isolated from the universal church.… Continue reading
Entirely foreign to every sentence of the Bible is the concept that spiritual leadership is a place of power. Though this concept is widely embraced, it is entirely contrary to Scripture. Sadly, it seems to me that a great many Christians and even a great many Christian spiritual leaders have in one way or another failed to understand this. In a typical Bible-preaching evangelical church in the United States, the pastor of the church is not uncommonly regarded by a healthy percentage of its members as the president and/or CEO of the church. Sadder still, this is often how pastors in local churches have come to view themselves.… Continue reading
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? (Psalm 56:8)
Yesterday evening my heart was grieved to read the news of the death of Jarrid Wilson; a high profile, 30-year-old pastor from California, who took his own life Monday evening after a long battle with depression. News like this is as tragic as it comes. The darkness of depression is very real, and Christians are in no way immune from experiencing it. Neither are pastors, as Wilson’s death demonstrates.
I didn’t know Jarrid Wilson or know much about his ministry, but I have experienced something of the darkness of depression and deep discouragement in pastoral ministry, and I know that depressed and discouraged pastors are far more common than many understand. … Continue reading
I recently finished up the first part of a two part preface to a planned verse by verse exposition of the Gospel of John and this past Sunday, I started on part two. I don’t think that is so unusual, especially among churches where preaching and teaching is taken seriously. In churches devoted to expository preaching introductory messages are often preached before a new sermon series. What is unusual is that part one of this preface was a verse by verse exposition of all of the Servant songs of Isaiah and part two will be an exposition of all of the songs of ascent, Psalms 120-134. … Continue reading
One of the oddest questions I get asked is how I knew I was called to ministry. I say it is odd because it assumes some kind of mystical experience by which I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was set apart by God to minister, in a vocational sense, to His people. Simply put, there is nothing in Scripture that indicates that is the way God tells people to pursue vocational ministry.
Now some do have some kind of experience where they suddenly have an overwhelming feeling that they should pursue vocational ministry. But, as in all things, feelings are never to be regarded as authoritative or even necessarily true.… Continue reading