Musings on Spiritual Matters

by Matthew Morine

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Matthew is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada. He has a beautiful wife named Charity. Matthew has two wonderful children, Gabrielle and Noah. He has graduated from the Brown Trail School of Preaching, Heritage Christian University with his Bachelors of Arts in Biblical Studies, Lipscomb University with his Master's of Arts in Biblical Studies and Freed-Hardeman University with his Master's of Divinity. Presently, he is working on his Doctorate of Ministry at Harding Graduate School of Religion. His articles have appeared in the World Evangelist, the Highway to Holiness, The West Virginia Christian, The Christian Echo, The Firm Foundation, Church Growth, and the Gospel Advocate.

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Relationships With Christians

Posted By on July 23, 2014

Everyone has struggled with a relationship within the church.  It will always be a matter of time before you have a conflict with a brother or sister in the Lord.  There are numerous ways and reasons that conflicts start within the church.  Sadly, people seem shocked when conflict happens.  People have a neurotic expectation that Christians should never have tension in a relationship.  People have a Pollyanna view that Christians should always get along.  How do people response to interpersonal conflict within the church?

  1. Run.  Yes, sadly, this is sometimes the most common reaction to interpersonal conflict.  Instead of dealing with the conflict, and growing from the tension, the person runs away from the conflict.  There are two reasons typically for this response.  The first is shock.  The people think that conflict should never happen and refuse to deal with the reality.  The second is blame.  Instead of looking introspectively, the individual merely blames the other party and withdraws from the relationship.
  2. Deal.  This is the better response.  The person goes to his or her brother or sister in Christ.  The person seeks to deal with it.  Sadly, though the individual is often “stonewalled.”  This means that the conflict with is a reality is denied.  The person covers up the conflict instead of maturely handling it.  Even though the person might not response well, the mature Christian response according to the pattern in Matthew 18.
  3. Patience.  Most conflict will be dealt with in time.  In every relationship, there are ups and downs.  Sometimes there will be tension, but by staying within the relationship means that there is an opportunity for hope and healing.  The best approach in conflict is to be Christian and classy during the tension.  No one has ever regretted doing the right thing.
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Alignment and the 200 Barrier

Posted By on July 22, 2014

Castle Rock continues to grow.  The average attendance has grown from 171 to averaging 240 during the last couple of years.  With this shift, we are dealing with breaking the 200 barrier.  There are various elements involved with this issue.  But the biggest struggle is creating congregational alignment.  At a smaller size congregation, there is plenty ideas for various works, and an idea is given equal weight.  As a congregation grows, the ideas become numerous, but the volunteer help is already maxed out.  You hit this wall of volunteer time, money resources, and talent.  You have opportunity, and sometimes this opportunity grows too fast, and creates burnout for people.  Instead of having various pots in the fire, it is best to create a strategic alignment for a church.  You ask “What do we do?”  You cannot do everything, and with the cap on resources, you cannot do much well.  If you invest in the wrong areas, you will sidetrack the congregation, and ultimately fall back to the size of the awkward congregation.  The eldership and I are moving forward with this dynamic.  We are looking at aligning the work of the church into strategic areas to accomplish the maximum amount of good, but still understanding the need for channeling resources.  We have not reached the tipping point yet, and much care has to be given to proper alignment.  Here are some questions to ask:

1. What can we do well?

2. What are the essential features of a church?

3. What ministry are the most strategic for this season in ministry?

4. How can we invest in works that provide the most spiritual blessings for others?

Until you look at the work of the congregation, all of it, you will struggle with aligning the church toward a focused mission.  Too often in a 200 member congregation there are too many directions, but no one knows the goal.

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Review of “The E-Myth”

Posted By on July 21, 2014

This book is about building a business.  This might be a odd book to read as a minister, but there was many connection points that were helpful.  In regards to the organization of a congregation, this book was a valuable resource.  The best insights from this book was the role of the business owner.  The business owner works the business, much in the same way that the minister works in the congregation.  This is why congregations that have a pastoral mindset stop growing at 200 members.  The minister cannot do anymore for the people.  He is maxed out.  The next step is that the minister works harder, helps the congregation grow, but than there is conflict.  He no longer can be at everything, people expect him at everything, and there are hurt feelings.  The same quality of service is no longer there.  Disappointment sets in.  People leave, and the congregation falls back to the normal size.  This book helps you think through these issues.  Instead of just working in the business, you need to work on the business.  This is probably the biggest shift for a preacher.  We are trained to work in, and not on.  One of the best steps for a successful business is building a system that can be duplicated.  This means understanding who is doing what.  If you do not have a flow chart, or an organizational chart, you have a mob, and mobs destroy things.  This is a good book for understanding how an organization works.  Everything might not line up with how a church works, but there is a lot of good advice, and a good read for the topic.  Good stuff.

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False Role of Holiness with Ministry

Posted By on July 18, 2014

This is another part of the book for ministers.  Hope you enjoy this short section.  It is part of the beginning of the text.

In addition to the false concepts of the preacher’s role invading the church, there are circulating erroneous views of a minister’s holiness.  There can be debate over what constitutes acceptable morality or ethics for a preacher, but there are often expectations of flawless perfection, which means that the preacher can have no bad habits, temptations, or weaknesses in character or conduct.  He is expected to be constantly vigilant about his speech and dress.  He should never have a word in anger, a comment interpreted as rude, or an insulting word to another.  The minister’s expected level of holiness is derived from an ethic of avoidance.  He should not watch television, movies, sporting events, or any form of entertainment.  The preacher is expected to avoid all areas of the public that could be considered “sinful.”  A minister can become paranoid trying to meet the neurotic expectations of the members because the ideas of a minister’s godliness are vast and inconsistent.  There are numerous ethical and value judgments that can be placed on a minister.  Recently in a congregation, the pulpit minister was dismissed (according to the elders) because he mentioned the word “pregnant” from the pulpit.  Some of the members were offended by this use of the English language.  In this particular congregation, there was an unbiblical expectation that a godly minister would not use “pregnant” in public.  This is a case of people binding practices of supposed godliness on ministers, which is the problem in the preceding verses of 1 Timothy 4:1-5.  Any time worldly wisdom supplants godly wisdom, there is going to be confusion over the role of a minister in the church.  This is why the role of the preacher must be rooted in scripture.  Only through God’s holy instruction will the minister fulfill God’s purpose for him in the church.  Fortunately, 1 Timothy 4:6-16 provides the essential character disciplines for a godly minister to develop and practice.

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Commandments of Dating

Posted By on July 16, 2014

I pulled off the shelf this old book.  It is called “The 10 Commandments of Dating.”  I remember buying it one summer to teach a class to teens on the topic.  I was a single intern for a congregation that summer, and since dating was plainly on my mind, I decided to have a class on the topic.  The book was written in 1999, so before cellphones were hugely popular, the internet was still a baby, and there was no such thing as social media.  But looking after the commands, it made me realize that these rules for dating have not changed.  So I would like to share them with everyone.  More than likely, the teens do not read this bulletin, so you might need to mention this article to them.

  1. Thou Shalt Get A Life.  I like this rule.  The rule states that dating should not be the priority in your life.  You should not date out of desperation, dependence, and depression.  In this chapter, there is a section about media dependence in which the person relies on “our high-tech society” “for meeting emotional and relational needs.”  The advice here is to “get a life.”  This is true.  The author notes that you can hide out behind technology.  Of course, his idea of technology is “in front of a screen, at Blockbuster, in a chat room, and at the local CD exchange.”  The tech has changed, but the issue of being addicted to media has not.
  2. Thou Shalt Use Your Brain.  This is a good chapter too.  The author notes one mistaken concept in dating which is called “spirit-driven dating.”  He mentions those who listen to the voice on high instead of common sense.  Sometimes young people spiritualize emotions and sexual urges.  People who automatically believe that God has ordained them to be together or those who are trusting in subjective emotions, to dictate the selection of a spouse are refusing to think through the situation.  It is best to use your brain in selecting a spouse instead of uncertain spiritual feelings.
  3. Thou Shalt Be Equally Yoked.  This is another great rule.  You are to find someone like you.  The author notes the problem with missionary dating.  A guy or girl will date someone, but will justify the relationship on evangelistic grounds.  If you must flirt to convert, you are falling into a dangerous area.  You are looking for someone you are spiritually compatible with already.

Even though this book is old, the wisdom in the pages are still relevant for young people today.

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In House Love

Posted By on July 3, 2014

The Gospel of John focuses the love commandment on the community within Christ (13:34-35), while the other gospel accounts exhort disciples to love their neighbors and even their enemies (Mark 12:28-32, Matt. 22:34-40, and Luke 10:25-28).  But John speaks of in house love, calling Christians to love one another.  We could assume that this is the easier command.  But before dismissing the ethical seriousness of loving one another, one should quickly survey the history of churches.  Sometimes it could be easier to love one’s enemy that to love those with whom one loves, works, and worships day after day after day.  The intensity of the conflict can increase with the added exposure.

In contrast to the common Christian wisdom of loving the world to prove to be disciples, John’s gospel focuses on the public witness that Christians can have through loving one another.  The world is not likely to be impressed by Christian love for outsiders, however expansive, if those who claim to be Christians have hatred for one another.  All of the love for the world is useless without first having a genuine love for each other.  The quality of the life together is the most convincing witness to the truth and power of the gospel.  John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 17:20-21 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  The most persuasive way for Christians to invalidate the message of the Gospel is to practice dislike and hatred toward one another.

The essential element in creating love for one another is not through feelings or similarity, but rather through mutual discipleship.  Unlike some other writers in the New Testament, John uses the Greek word for friendship love and divine love interchangeably.  He makes no distinction between the two.  When Jesus calls his disciples friends he is literally saying “one who is loved.”  The commonality that holds Christians together in love is practicing discipleship with one another.  John 15:14-15 “You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants…but I have called you friends.”  Without the bond of discipleship, love is too easily diluted through feelings and commonality.

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Organization, Mobs, and Churches

Posted By on July 1, 2014

Churches must have organization.  People need a structured congregation.  This means that having elders, deacons, and ministers are valuable.  One of the major reasons is consistency.  You have to have order in a large group of people.  This brings security to people.  Even those who refuse to have order, often are only rejecting the present order of a church.  In reality, these individuals desire to run the church instead.  These people want to be in charge, but will fight against authority, and create issues all as a attempt to circumvent the present structure of the church.  The reality of those who stay in churches seeking to remove the eldership or minister or deacons are in a fools errand.  These people want to remove the leadership and replace it with what.  Often, themselves.  It is a powerplay.  There is a peace in having a structure in a congregation.  God knew this, he established this.  People must know who is the decision maker in a given area.  Who has the right to make the call?  In some cases, the deacon does, and those who disagree need to summit this his choice.  In other areas, it is the elders, and people should submit to the choice.  At other times, it is the preacher, and people should submit to that choice.  To have a healthy system or structure, everyone must have a understanding of who makes the choice at the end of the day.  If the preacher has been empowered in a given area, he is to make the call.  If a deacon, he is to make the call.  Often the elders are the ones who define the boundaries of decision making.  But once a boundary is defined, it is important for the elders to honor that call.  Changing the rules of structure is painful and destructive to a congregation.  The better you outline the organizational flow chart, or the structure of the church, the better things will go.  People must respect these structures, and submit to them.

The opposite of structure in an organization is the mob.  There is no order.  There is no line of command.  There is no agreed on leaders.  It is a free for all.  Structures built.  Mobs destroy.  A congregation that allows the chain of command to be destroyed, or taken over is unwise.  A congregation that does not establish areas of choices creates stress.  No one can trust the system, and no one can count on the system.  You cannot count on a mob for the future.  No one knows what will happen.  When people cannot trust the structure, people will flee the building.  You might not always agree with the choices of leadership, but you can count on them to make choices.  You cannot count on a mob to be wise.

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Review of “What Most Women Want”

Posted By on June 30, 2014

The conversation concerning the role of women in the church is popular.  Over the last few years, some of the lectureships within the churches of Christ have used a lady as a keynoter, or will be using a lady as a keynoter.  I must admit that this is shocking to me.  I would not have imagined this shift, and for this shift to happen so quickly.  Congregations have changed on various understandings of the role of women in a church.  I have listened to some of the forces behind the scenes here.  Sadly, I have seen some of the forceful attends to move in this direction, and to force leaders into this direction.  The leaders of “One Voice” had the intended mission to use power to twist arms to have women on these lectureships.  Fortunately, my spectrum in the churches of Christ is pretty large, and I have seen some of the inroads that were happening that now are being seen more publicly.  So with this all said, I have been on a search and been busy studying the role of women in the church.  This is the next, if not, the now dispute in the churches of Christ.  I see two perspectives taking place.  One is the complete refashioning of Biblical interpretation.  There is the changing of the meta-narrative of the Genesis account.  And there is the atomistic interpretation taking place.  This means that all reference to the role of women are merely localized instead of applicable to the universal church.  On the other hand, some of the conservative response are simplistic.  Instead of looking at context, or even the theology of what is happening, there is simple proof texting that those with a progressive intend merely response, and make the ultra conservative response look uneducated.  For an example, the 1 Timothy 2 text, about women being quiet, is countered with, do your women braid hair and wear jewelry, yes is the response, than why is this cultural and women being silent is not.

Of course enough of the conversation, and on to the book. I liked the book a lot.  It is not written in a scholarly way, but you can tell that behind his easy to read prose, he has read the materials on the debate.  He has provided a good counter to much of the progressive argumentation on the topic.  If there was something that was lacking, was perhaps some conversation on the deeper elements of the Genesis meta-narrative of the pre-fall state of women, but I believe there was role clarification in the very beginning.  I am noting going into all of the material, but recently, there was conversation about Gal. 3:28, and Lagard does a excellent job of talking about this text.  He handles it well, and proves that it is not the “monkey wrench” of totally equality in roles within the church.  This is a great starting point in those who desire to study this topic.

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Godly Discipline as the Focus in Ministry

Posted By on June 26, 2014

A little background.  This chapter is from a book I wrote some years ago.  It was mostly my Thesis from my Freed-Hardeman days.  Having a preacher book published is hard work because of the limited audience, but looking after it, it seems to have some good things to say.  Here is a chapter from it.  Also, there is a reflection section done by my dear friend and mentor Burnice Wesbrooks.  He passed away a few years ago.  Sorry for the poor Greek change over from the word document to the blog.

Instead of being like the false teachers, who engage in the pursuit of worldly fables, Timothy is to “discipline himself for the purpose of godliness.”  Paul introduces an athletic metaphor in verses 7 to 8.  Timothy was to train himself in the art of godliness.  Paul uses the term “yumnavzein,” which means literally to “exercise naked, train, and can be used of mental and spiritual powers” (Knight 197). This is customary of Paul’s writings.  He uses a athletic metaphor in 1 Timothy 6:12, which says, “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  He uses it in 2 Timothy 2:5, “And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”  And Paul again applies the athletic metaphor in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

The athletic imagery would have been familiar to Paul’s audience.  He alludes to the sort of training that was undertaken by Greeks who were participating in the games at the gymnasium, which was the center of civic life in Hellenized towns.  The athletic image was typically used by Greco-Roman moralists and philosophers in their instruction (Keener 614).  Everyone would have been cognitive of Paul’s illustrative metaphor of athletes training.  There was no institution more characteristic of Hellenic culture than the gymnasium, which is derived from the Greek word for “physical training.”  All the young people in the schools were subjected to a rigorous course of athletics.  Also the gymnasium was essential for military training.  By the New Testament times, a few noble Greeks would enter the Roman army, but most would simply practice the physical arts at home in the city-state.  The physical discipline in New Testament times had degenerated into the practice of “body sculpting” (Baugh 465).  Most of the young Greek men were constantly training for the perfect body.  This training was difficult, hard, and time consuming.  The Greeks trained for the perfection of the body, but Timothy was to train himself for the perfection of the character.  As the physical training was intensive, so must be the spiritual training.  It would require a daily habit of exercising his spiritual senses.  The body was not perfected in haphazard training, and neither would spiritual development be completed by a lackadaisical program.  By comparing the process of growing in godliness to the process of athletic development, Paul is informing Timothy of the difficult and strenuous process that will be required for spiritual transformation.  Godliness is a journey of discipline.

But instead of disciplining oneself for bodily development, Timothy is to exercise to gain godliness.  Paul uses “ga;r” in verse 8 as continuative, not enthymematic, as in the sense of extending the comparison of a good Christian servant’s conduct with an athlete’s habits (Campbell198). Paul says in verse 8 “for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things.”  This section of the verse is parallel.  There is the contrast between bodily discipline and godly discipline (Mounce 252).  But what does Paul mean by bodily discipline?  He uses the phrase “swmatikh; gumnasiva,” which has typically been interpreted in three ways.  First of all, it has been argued that Paul means that this physical exercise is referring to the asceticism of the false teachers.  In this interpretation Paul is not casting off completely ascetic practices, but states that these actions only profit a little (Spain77-78).

There seem to be problems with this view because previously Paul denounced the ascetic practices of the false teachers in verses 3-5, so it seems odd that Paul would even condone any form of denial that the false teachers were advocating.  Another view is that “bodily exercise” is a call for some physical exercise.  This command to Timothy could be seen in the same light as 1 Timothy 5:23 which says, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”  Maybe this is some instruction to help Timothy’s health.  But this view appears to ignore the context.  Nowhere in this section of text does Paul seem concerned with Timothy’s health.  In reality, Paul is reacting to the practices of the false teachers, not wanting Timothy to be physically healthy.  The third view of this phrase states that this is a mere literary foil against which Paul wants to say that godliness is of value for all things.  It is seen as simply a creation for poetic wording.  It is not even meant to encourage any type of physical activity, but to strengthen the impact of the command to develop godliness (Mounce 252-53).

Probably this view is correct because it respects the context and follows Paul’s thought.  Paul is helping Timothy to see that while an athlete will accomplish a great deal through training his body, which will be beneficial for his present life, on the other hand, discipline for godliness has value for all things.  Where bodily discipline helps in some ways, godliness discipline helps in every way (Moss 90).  This is why Paul mentions that godly exercise helps “since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Creating a Healthy Life for a Healthy Ministry

In verse 8, there have been misguided interpretations of this verse.  The verse has been interpreted as Paul’s rejecting physical discipline when spiritual discipline could be practiced.  This creates a false dichotomy.  Instead of viewing the verse as an either/or situation, as previously noted, it is using the physical discipline phrase to emphasize the need for spiritual development.  The Bible teaches more of a holistic approach to mankind.  Paul will argue against sexual morality because of the defilement to the body, which is the casing for the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO WILL BECOMEONEFLESH.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians6:15-20).

In no way was Paul teaching that the care for the body was not important.  The physical self and the spiritual self work in conjunction with, not separate and apart from, one another.  The better one cares for his or her body, the more effective that person can be for the Lord.  If the body is ill, weak, or unhealthy, this will seriously limit the amount of labor a Christian can perform for the Lord.  A minister being physically unhealthy will slow the progress of the work of the Lord.  One can see the misinterpretation by some ministers of verse 8.

Too often the preacher is so involved in the Lord’s work and the myriad of activities at the church that he does not take adequate time to tend to the needs of his own body.  Unfortunately, the message loses credibility because of the poor health of the messenger.  Some ministers feel spiritually superior in minimizing physical fitness because of the excuse of being too busy serving the congregation.  The body is the vehicle God uses to communicate His word to men.  It is difficult to preach the message of God when the physical body has little strength or energy to deliver an enthusiastic lesson to a congregation.

Taking Care of the Body 

The minister must spend numerous hours each day devoted to study for sermon preparation.  These hours are mentally intensive but physically limiting.  The minister’s study time is sedentary work, so that the minister needs a regular routine of exercise.  This exercise should be thirty minutes per day for at least three days a week.  Whatever this exercise routine is, it should focus on maintaining a healthy body and heart.  In a section concerning time management of a minister, Sisk emphasizes the need to discipline oneself in a regular exercise routine.  He says that “the most serious challenge is adhering to the schedule we say we have” (71).  Sisk also notes that if we need not have proper rest and exercise “we will damage our effectiveness in virtually every area of our lives” (71).  As well as exercising regularly, the minister must eat correctly.  A minister with numerous eating appointments each week can be at risk of being overweight.  The minister must focus on practicing a balanced diet and proper eating (Vines and Shaddix 78-80).  The comparison of the body to thetempleofGodis just as valid in eating right as in avoiding drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol.  Taking in unhealthy foods can be as destructive as taking in the typically banned substances that many Christians consider off limits.  The proper care for the body is not an option for a godly minister.  Providing for the body is part of the spiritual discipline of the minister.  A godly minister cannot reflect the light of Christ when he is confined to his bed because of excessive sickness.  For the godly minister to be busy modeling faith to his hearers, he needs to have an active mindset in caring for his body.  Paul does not want the minister to neglect his temple.  Paul makes himself clear that he is not talking about neglecting the body in order to feed the soul because in 1 Timothy 4:10 Paul uses the terms “labor” and “strive.”  It is incredibly difficult to labor in thekingdomofGodwhen the body is weak.  Paul says, “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”  Instead of looking at each individual situation in ministry as to whether the minister should work out physically or practice a spiritual ministry, the minister should see these two aspects as working jointly to accomplish the work of the ministry.  If the minister does not do this, he will constantly choose the spiritual work over the physical work to the neglect of his body.

The phrase “promise for present life” is a causal clause.  It boasts the significance of godliness over bodily discipline.  If one develops godliness, he or she will be blessed in the present life as well as the life to come (Knight 201).  This is reminiscent of John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”  Elsewhere in the inspired text there is this association between godliness and the quality of the present life.  In Ephesians 6:1-3 there is a correlation between honoring parents and longevity.  In this verse Paul highlights the need to obey one’s parents because this is a commandment from God.  But with the commandment, there is a promise.  The promise is that a person will live long on the earth.

Ultimately this life that is given to Christians is rooted in Christ Jesus.  2 Timothy 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus.”  And 2 Timothy1:10states, “but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  Jesus could have been the originator of this idea of present-future reward because in Luke 18:29-30 he says, “And He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.’”  In Christ one learns to live life to the fullness of existence which will also transcend earth and time through eternal life.  Christians are already participating in eternal life on earth while they are waiting for the fullness of eternal life in the future (Knight 200).

A Trustworthy Statement

In verse 9, Paul indicates that verse 8 is an accepted saying in the community.  Paul mentions that “for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.”  Of course there is some controversy concerning if verse 8 or verse 10 is the trustworthy statement.  Knight, based on the punctuation of the text, indicates that he believes verse 8 is the trustworthy statement in view (201-202).  Moss provides four alternatives for the trustworthy state.  He mentions that Paul may be referring back to all of verse 8, or Paul could have just the last part of verse 8 in mind.  He also suggests that Paul is considering all of verse 10, or Paul is just thinking about the end of verse 10, which would mean that he is referring to “because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men.”  Moss believes according to the language and syntax that all or part of verse 8 is the trustworthy statement (90-91).  Moreover, this is not the first occurrence of this phrase “trustworthy statement” in the Pastoral Epistles.  It occurs four other times: in 1 Timothy 1:15, “is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” 1 Timothy 3:1, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.”  2 Timothy 2:11-13:

It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.

He also has another trustworthy statement in Titus 3:4-8.

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement….

The use of the phrase “trustworthy statement” seems to be a marker for Timothy to take note of some of the classic expressions of the faith.  These “trustworthy statements” must have been well known throughout the faith community.

The Hard Work of Godliness

In verse 10 Paul continues with the athletic metaphor in using the terms “labor and strive.”  The New American Standard Version translates the beginning of the verse as “For it is for this.”  This is the “eivV tou:to ga;r” construction.  The phrase “for” is looking back to the faithful saying and the “for this” is indicating the reason for the labor and striving, which is “because we have fixed our hope on the living God.”  Paul shows that in this phrase he is looking both forward and backward in the verse (Liefeld 159).  This work of gaining godliness has not been easy for Paul.  The term “kopiw:men” means “we toil.”  It is used as an athletic metaphor, which continues the same imagery from the previous verses in the section.  In the next term “strive,” Paul means “we are struggling.”  This phraseology is also used in Colossians 1:29: “And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”  It also contains athletic overtones.  In fact, it refers to the struggle of an athletic contest (Mounce 255).  Christians continue to strive for the faith because of hope.

Paul states in verse 10, “because we have fixed our hope on the living God.”  The idea of hope in the Bible does not refer to a future possibility that may or may not come to fruition.  The idea of hope is one of confident expectation.  Paul uses the “perfect tense here to describe a past action with a continuing significance” (Knight 202).  But Paul’s hope is not on himself but on God.  He uses the “evpiv” to indicate that his faith is “on” God.  He trusts the living God to fulfill his promise to Paul.  The use of the “living God” is also found in 1 Timothy 3:15, which says, “but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”  The idea of the “living God” anchors Paul’s hope in the Lord.  Goodwin indicates that this phrase has been interpreted in the past as referring to verse 8.  The phrase “living God” is seen in a causative way, in which the living God makes the promise of present life and eternal life to the Christian.  This fulfilled living is realized because Christians serve a living God (65-66).  But Goodwin does not see this as the correct interpretation of the verse.  He attaches the meaning to Colossians 1:29 in which Paul is discussing his mission work (71).  He perceives Paul’s use of “living God” as a theme of missionary significance.  The author states, “the important point is that the Savior-title in 1 Timothy4:10implies the missionary role of Paul” (74).  Goodwin seems to be bringing the Colossians 1:29 verse to the forefront over the original context.  For someone who believes the Pastoral Epistles are post-Pauline (67), it would seem inconsistent to interpret verse 10 in light of Colossians 1:29.  More than likely, Paul is placing his hope in the living God who promises life in the present and in the ages to come.  Since God is living, He will certainly bring to pass all that He promised to the saved.

 

Chapter Six

GODLY DISCIPLINE AS THE FOCUS IN MINISTRY

Reflections and Applications

A preacher who was weak in godliness invited an elderly man to come and hear him preach.  The man accepted his invitation and was in the assembly the next Sunday.  At the conclusion of the service, the minister shook the visitor’s hand and asked, “What did you think of my sermon?”

The man replied, “It was difficult for me to hear what you were saying because who you are kept thundering so loudly in my ears.”

The Bible teaches a holistic approach to life.  True godliness and the disciplines necessary to obtain and maintain it must be present in all areas of a minister’s life.  It is essential that a minister be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  That will not be possible if the preacher’s sermons and his daily life are not harmonious with one another.

An effective minister must be like Jesus.  He “…increased in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and men” (Luke2:52).  This intellectual, physical, spiritual and social health will require godly discipline as a major focus in ministry.

 

Meditations

At first a minister may consider some godly disciplines as duties rather than desires.  The challenge is to convert those duties that God requires into our desires.  How can this happen?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Just do them until they become a normal and cherished lifestyle for you.
  2. Pray daily about them.
  3. Consider how these disciplines are blessings to your life.
  4. Look for ways that these disciplines are helping you to bless the lives of others.

Eventually, you will be able to say as a wise philosopher said in his later years, “I can do everything I want to do.”  To so tune our wills that eventually everything we desire is what God desires is a worthy Christian goal.  Daily practice these four steps and your ministry will be enriched.

There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart.               Focus on and pursue those that catch your heart.

Backsliding begins when knee-bending stops.

Burnice Wesbrooks

 

 

 

 

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Most Important Skills for a Preacher

Posted By on June 24, 2014

This is an important question.  What are the most important skills for a preacher.  I would also guess that the skills change according to the congregation.  Also, the skills during one season of the congregation would change as the season changes.  The skill set of a minister in a large congregation would be different than in a smaller congregation.  So I guess right now, this is good reflection for me.  We are breaking out of a growth barrier, and the skills that helped us get there might change to skills that will help us be a larger church.  Here is my list.

The top one is discipleship.  If this goes, all goes with it.

1. Preaching.  It is still, will always be, number one.  This is the most important area of development and influence.  A friend and I are planning on going to a preacher conference to continue to work on this skill.

2. Leadership.  This is one that is important.  Helping the elders, working on the church systems, developing wise servants.

3. Writing.  This can make a huge impact, and one that continues after you are gone.

4. Conflict Management.  Yes, sadly, you will use this often.

5. Interpersonal Skills.  It is a people world we live in, and dealing with people wisely always shows dividends.

6.  Counseling.  I still do this, but it is not a major part of my ministry now.

What would you add?

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