Qualifications for a Pastor (and a reminder for the rest of you)

There are places in the Bible where the Apostle Paul describes the qualifications necessary to be a pastor (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:5-9).

But there are some additional characteristics I think every pastor should have if he wishes to survive until the next Easter service or deacons’ meeting… and believe me, I speak from experience.

This photo was taken at a bi-vocational pastor and wives retreat. These men were gathering around a fellow pastor who’s son who was a drug addict and missing.

Among other things, a pastor should have a thick skin, a broken heart, a humble spirit, and a hope that rests in the fact that Grace is there to pick up the pieces.

As for you, the congregations they lead, be reminded that the only perfect Shepherd was Jesus; the rest are human.

Pray that the light of Jesus will shine through the cracked vessel which is your pastor.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Faith, grace, ministry, Prayer, Preaching

The World Was Better When There Were Saturday-Morning Cartoons

It is Saturday morning, and believe it or not, I don’t even know what time it is. I know it is later than 6 a.m. because there is sunshine outside, our two little dogs have already made their pleas to go potty.

But had I been, let’s say, 10 years old (that was back in the 70’s), I could at least tell you what hour of the morning it was, and that would have been based on what cartoon was showing on one of only three – yes three – television channels.

For several years when I was young, my family did not own a television; it was considered too worldly. Unfortunately, what might have been a “tool of Satan” back then has now become nothing less than a porthole-window view of the sea of filth into which the ship of our culture is sinking. Just pick your channel (or porthole) – there are hundreds of them.

But back in the 70’s there were at least some good cartoons on the air, so my parents didn’t mind me staying over at my grandparents’ house on Friday night… so that I could wake up to Rocky and Bullwinkle the next morning… at 6 a.m.

Back in those days, there was no Cartoon Network or Adult Swim. Cartoons were only shown early on Saturday mornings, that was it. And if a kid didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn, he’d miss the best shows. The later the morning got, the more cheesy (even for that time) the cartoons became. If he woke up too late, the only thing he’d get to see would be local programming (gag!).

I miss the days of pre-Scrappy Scoobydoo; the predictable and comforting theme music drawing me into another rerun of Bugs Bunny; and the pre-scandalized Bill Cosby teaching me about junkyard life through the voice of Fat Albert. I miss thinking the dinosaurs actually looked real on the Land of the Lost, and I really miss learning about the Constitution and grammar from School House Rock – I can still remember the song that taught the Preamble… Can you sing it with me?

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, secure domestic tranquility-ee-ee-eeee, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare [and then], secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”

Kids used to wake up early on Saturday mornings, grab a bowl of sugary cereal, then sit down in front of a console television for a few hours in order to be entertained, even educated! Then, awake and on a slight sugar high, they would walk away from boring TV to run outside where they would ride bikes, build forts, throw lawn darts, shoot BB guns, or anything else to stay out of the house.

Saturday morning used to be a highly-anticipated treat, one from which you did NOT want to get grounded. Now it’s just another day – where the hours bleed into another…and kids sleep through it.

Change happens, but it’s not always for the better.

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, General Observations, Life Lessons

Things to Do In 2019: Avoid Anger

Start With Scripture

I know, you’re probably going to be tempted to skip over the verses below, but do yourself and me a favor by taking a few seconds to read them…

  • He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city. – Proverbs 16:32
  • Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger rests in the bosom of fools. – Ecclesiastes 7:9
  • Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. – Ephesians 4:31 CSB
  • Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: – Ephesians 4:26 KJV
  • If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18 CSB

Notice that the Bible addresses getting angry. And from what I read in the above verses, it’s generally not a good thing.

But let’s be fair, anger is not a sin; it’s selfish and unrighteous anger that’s a problem. That’s the type of anger I want to avoid.

Why Be Angry?

Look, I make no claim to be an anger management expert, so I’m not going to pretend to know every reason people have for getting mad. However, if I look at my own experience, it’s pretty easy to determine that I get angry over things I either can’t control or hurt my entitled feelings.

Think about it, how often is it that we are legitimately wronged by others? Are not many of the times nothing more than inconveniences? Delays? Obstructions to our plans? But if our plans have been given to the Lord, and He is the One who “directs our paths,” are we not then being angry while God is at work?

Now, being honest, there are some things which deserve a righteous anger, such as dirty politics, sex trafficking, divorce, abortion, etc. Heck, I might even have a right to get angry when people at Hardee’s never give me jelly when I order a “jelly biscuit,” even though “jelly biscuit” is clearly an item on their menu. But even a righteous anger can do us damage if we hold on to it and become bitter.

Avoiding Anger

The key for me this year will be to give everything to God and let Him handle it. I mean, even when I’m done wrong, is He not the one who is being sinned against? He’s the One who wrote the Law, not me.

And, sure, anger may come looking for me and leave me no other options, but it will be up to me as to whether I hold on to it and play God, or just be like Elsa and “let it go.”

But I must admit, I don’t know why they always ask if I want jelly with a sausage biscuit and never give me jelly for a jelly biscuit!

Calm down, Anthony. Let it go*.

 

*Go ahead and start singing the song…I know you want to.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, the future

What Just Let the Air Out of My Tires?

A lot of us can sympathize with Matthew Winters. It’s time to refocus on what’s most important, weed out the unnecessary, and put Jesus Christ first. I would add that sweeping our own driveways and parking lots of all the things that may puncture our spiritual tires is also vitally important.

Matthew Winters (Honest Thoughts from a Pastor)

Have you ever been at a point in your life where the “air was out of your tires”? I’m there right now. The energy of things surrounding the holidays has left me feeling lifeless as I begin 2019. The atmosphere is the same at work. I guess we are all worn out from our various life activities.

I’m glad it’s the weekend. This is a time to rest, reflect, and reboot. We all need to take time to slow down the pace and do some things we really enjoy rather than simply fulfilling responsibilities. One pastor wrote an article several years ago, describing this issue as going from duty to delight. I find that to be accurate. I want to be able to find delight once again in my duties.

As I write, I think about another “r” word I didn’t include in the last paragraph – refocus. Colossians 3…

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I Agree With “Clint Eastwood”

Sure, I don’t mind tackling controversial topics every now and then.

And when it comes to worship music, I’m a little more willing than normal to dive into the controversial pond.

Why?

Because Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus:

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them … For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…” (2 Timothy 4:3a; 1 Timothy 4:16a)
“[Hold] fast the faithful word as [you] hath been taught, that [you] may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (Titus 1:9)
“[Speak] thou the things which become sound doctrine:” (Titus 2:1)

And Jude wrote:

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”  (Jude 1:3)

Therefore, I couldn’t help but laugh and say “AMEN!” when I watched the video below.

Folks, I love music of all kinds, but when it comes to worship music – the kind we sing in the “congregation” – the words should be weighty with meaning and do more than make us feel good; they should contain sound doctrine and be able to exhort and convince.

So, I think I can say that I agree with “Clint Eastwood” on this, but I especially like the way he says it.

Yet, I’ll try to avoid telling our Music Director, “Go ahead, punk, play Oceans.”

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Filed under music, worship

Things to Do In 2019: Lose an “X”

Honesty Is the Best Policy

OK, I am going to be completely honest with you, dear reader, and the rest of the world – even Dr. Phil…

I’m overweight! 

If the truth be known, I could stand to lose 40 pounds and at least one “X” from my clothing. My current collection is 2 X’s, including an extra “X” for more casual occasions. Believe it or not, my first new suit in years had a coat size of 50R!  I should be in a 44, or less.

Needless to say, I am not as photo-worthy as the sleek version of myself in my header pic, that’s for sure. That’s why I haven’t changed it in the last 8 years!

Not My Temple

But the thing that is so hard to remember when I get a hankering for fresh-baked bread is that this body does not belong to me – it belongs to the Lord.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. – 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 

God not only owns my soul, but He owns this old (literally) body, too. My body is His temple, and I have never been given permission to build any extensions.

Therefore, it is my intention to restore the condition of this fleshly temple, making it more usable and more profitable for the One who owns it in 2019 and beyond.

To do otherwise would be a sin.

Literally.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin. – James 4:17

 

Oh, and I’ve got to average 83 views a day to break that 30,000 mark.

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Filed under clothing, Food, the future

Planning for 30,000!

I published my first posts on WordPress back in September of 2009 – all 4 of them. It was not until July of 2010 that I began to post more often.

But what bothers me is that I have yet to reach the 30,000-view mark. As a matter of fact, this year’s stats saw a dramatic drop, even though the number of posts I published were essentially the same (42 less than last year, and 9 more than in 2017).

So, being that this September will be my 10th anniversary with WordPress, it’s about time I break the 30K glass ceiling.

The following are my plans to accomplish the 30,000 mark:

  1. Pray before each post.
  2. Publish posts that are beneficial, not superficial nonsense meant only to score a few views.
  3. Focus on more in-depth series, like the 10-part one I’m about to do based on a sermon outline.
  4. Re-blog (share) posts from other bloggers on a regular basis.
  5. Read and comment more on other sites.
  6. Explore the “tags” and find new people to meet.
  7. Publish more than one post a day, even if the posts are shared posts or quick, encouraging thoughts, memes, or verses.
  8. Make myself available for doing guest posts.
  9. Keep a sense of humor and sanctified sarcasm 😉

If you have any other suggestions, I’d love for you to share them.

Blessings to you all!

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Filed under blogging, community, writing