Songs for the Suffering
Here’s a list of songs that my family has found helpful and comforting as we’ve faced various forms of suffering:
It Is Well
Be Still My Soul
He Will Hold Me Fast
Lead Me To The Rock
I Will Never Leave You Alone
If you’re interested here’s my thoughts on singing songs of ministries that you disagree with.
*Photo by James Barr
Somewhat Random Reflections on Knowledge
Here’s some somewhat random reflections on knowledge if you’re interested…
How Can We Know Anything at All?
Wow. That is a super big question. And it’s a question that some people are not asking at all. That’s problematic. And in some ways ignorant. However, others are asking that question but they’re asking it in a proud way. That’s also problematic. And ignorant.
Let me ask you a question, how do you know your dad is your dad? Well, some of you will say, “He’s just my dad. He’s always been my dad. I’ve always known him as my dad.”
But I could say, “But, how do you know you know for sure he’s your dad?”
Others will answer, “I know he’s my dad because my mom told me.” But how do you know your mom’s not lying? Or, how do you know she knows the truth?
Perhaps the only way to know your dad is actually your biological dad is through a DNA test. But could it be the case that the DNA clinic is deceiving you? Is it possible that there’s a big conspiracy to deceive you? What if you are actually part of the Truman Show? Everything is just a big hoax for people’s entertainment?… How could you know without a shadow of a doubt that that’s not happening?
You really can’t. Not 100%.
We Can’t Know Everything
We, I hope you can see, can’t know everything. There’s a healthy level of skepticism, just as there is healthy humility.
Also, if we think our knowledge must be exhaustive for us to have knowledge, we will never have knowledge. And we will be super unproductive. I, for one, would not be able to go to the mechanic. And that would be bad.
Our knowledge is necessarily limited. We may not like it but that’s the cold hard truth, we must rely on other people. We must learn from other people. There’s a place for us to trust other people. Of course, we are not to trust all people or trust people all the time. But we must necessarily rely on people at points.
Philosophy and the History of Careening Back and Forth Epistemologically
John Frame, the theologian and philosopher, shows in his book, A History of Western Philosophy and Theology, that the history of secular philosophy is a history of humans careening back in forth from rationalism to skepticism and back again. One philosopher makes a case that we can and must know it all, every jot and title. And when they’re proven wrong, the next philosopher retreats to pure epistemological anarchy, claiming we can’t know anything at all. Again, when it’s found out that that view is wrong and we can in fact know things, we swing back the other way. And so, the philosophical pendulum goes and we have people like Hume and people like Nietzsche.
The history of philosophy shows that we should be both skeptical about rationalism and rational about skepticism. Both have accuracies and inaccuracies. Which helps explain the long life of both.
The Bible and Knowledge
The biblical understanding of knowledge takes both rationalism and skepticism into account and explains how both are partly right and partly wrong. And it explains that though we may not be able to know fully, we can know truly. It also explains that there are more types of knowing than just cognitive and rational. The Bible not surprisingly understands who we are anthropologically and so is best able to reveal the whole truth epistemologically.
The Bible also understands that there is experiential knowing, tasting—experiencing something—and knowing something to be true on a whole different level than mere cognitive knowing. When the Bible talks about “knowing” it’s intimate, tangible, and experiential knowing. For example, it says Adam “knew” his wife and a child was the result of that knowledge. That, my friends, is not mere mental knowledge. It’s lived—intimately experienced—knowledge. It’s knowledge that’s not available without relationship.
Job says it this way, I’ve heard of you but now something different has happened, I’ve seen you (Job 42:5). Jonathan Edwards, the philosopher and theologian, talked about the difference between cognitively knowing honey is sweet and tasting its goodness. It is a world of difference. The Bible is not about mere mental assent. It is about tasting. Knowing. Experiencing. Living the truth.
The Bible says and shows that Jesus is Himself is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is what it means to know the truth. He is the truth and shows us the truth. He is truth lived, truth incarnate.
The Bible communicates that some people don’t understand, don’t know the truth. There’s a sense in which if you don’t see it, you don’t see it. If it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense. The Bible talks about people “hearing” and yet “not hearing” and “seeing” and “not seeing.” Some people believe the gospel and the Bible is foolishness (1 Cor. 2:14).
How Should Christians Pursue Knowledge?
First, our disposition or the way we approach questions is really important.
How should we approach questions? What should characterize us?
Humility! Why? Because we are fallible, we make mistakes. However, God does not. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Also, kindness, patience, and understanding are an important part of humility and asking questions and arriving at answers. So, “Faith seeking understanding,” is a helpful and common phrase.
Second, where do we get answers from?
Scripture. Why is this important? Again, I am fallible and you are fallible, that is, we make mistakes. And how should we approach getting those answers? Are we above Scripture or is Scripture above us? Who holds more sway? Scripture supplies the truth to us; we do not decide what we think and then find a way to spin things so that we can believe whatever we want…
Third, community is important.
God, for instance, has given the church pastor/elders who are supposed to rightly handle the word of truth and shepherd the community of believers. We don’t decide decisions and come to conclusions on our own. God helps us through Christ’s body the Church.
Fourth, it is important to remember mystery.
We should not expect to know all things. We are… fallible. So, we should keep Deuteronomy 29:29 in mind: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” There are certain things that are revealed and certain things that are not revealed.
Fifth, our questions and answers are not simply about head knowledge.
God doesn’t just want us to be able to talk about theology and philosophy. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “that we may do…” So, God also cares a whole lot about what we do. Knowledge is to lead to action. We are to be hearers and doers.
My Ten Favorite Books I read in 2021
Here are my ten favorite books that I read in 2021:
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
It was my second time reading it but enjoyed it more this time.
Carl R. Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self
I found Trueman’s account very helpful and accessible. I appreciated the sweeping nature of the book, taking into account court cases, philosophers, pornography, and entertainment. Not exhaustive but a fair and I believe accurate overview. Overall, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self was definitely one of the best books I read all year.
J.P. Moreland, Scientism and Secularism
Moreland gave a helpful and accessible explanation of the problems with scientism.
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath transports you back to the sad and seemingly hopeless story of a family of “Okies” during the Dust Bowl. It paints a picture of what life was like for a lot of people and thereby cultivates empathy and understanding of other people and their varied journeys.
Paul David Tripp, Lead
Tripp is one of my all time favorite authors and now he has written one of my favorite books on leadership. I have a bunch of highlights in this book, perhaps more than any other book I read this year. Tripp offers a lot of timely wisdom for leaders in Christian ministry.
Randy Newman, Questioning Evangelism
Perhaps the only thing I think is a little unhelpful about this book is its title. When you read the title you might think the book is calling evangelism into question. That, however, is not the purpose of the book. The book is about the important place that questions play in evangelism. I found the book quite helpful.
Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation
I read a few books on the book of Revelation this past year and this one sticks out to me as the most helpful. I’m thankful for Richard Bauckham and his scholarship.
Sam Alberry, Why does Gos care who I sleep with?
Alberry wrote a very relevant and helpful book. I hope this book is read widely. I think a lot of people will be helped by it.
Timothy Z. Witmer, The Shepherd Leader
I recently transitioned to Care Pastor at my church and found this book very helpful in looking at what the Bible says on pastoral care.
Vivek H. Murthy, Together
I read the lion’s share of this book in 2020 but only recently finished it. It is a timely and well written book on the importance of relationships.
I try to track my reading on Goodreads. If you want to “be friends” on Goodreads you can do so here.
What does the Bible say about Biblical Womanhood?
The concept of “biblical womanhood” has gotten a “bad rap” outside and even inside the church. Actual biblical womanhood, however, is beautiful and provides a context for a bounty of good. Actual biblical womanhood is like a fortress that allows for flourishing.
Masculinity, femininity, and gender roles have sometimes been overly and legalistically defined. People have said in the past that men should drive the family vehicle and women should wash the dishes, but the Bible doesn’t say that.
Instead, the Bible calls husbands and elders/pastors to sacrificial leadership. It calls wives to submit to their husbands, and the church body—males and females—to submit to the church’s loving leadership (Heb. 13:17). That’s what the Bible says. The Bible doesn’t specifically spell out what that should look like and never says submit to abuse.
However, the Bible does, over and over again, show the worth of women. This is in great contrast
to the culture of its time. Rebecca McLaughlin has pointed out that “According to many ancient philosophies, men were more important than women. But the Bible tells a different story. God made humans—’male and female’—’in his own image’ (Genesis 1:26–28). Men and women are equally important. But they are also importantly different” (The Secular Creed).
The Bible shows the worth and defends the worth of women over and over in its pages. There are some 202 women listed in the Bible. This is significant, for example, because the Quran lists just one and the Hindu Bhagavad Gita lists none.
The Bible shows women in high roles of leadership, compliments them, greets them, and considers them fellow workers in the gospel. Jesus spoke to and cared for the outcast Samaritan woman at the well. Even Jesus’ disciples were surprised. “They marveled that He was talking to a woman” (John 4:27). Yet He was. Jesus loved and cared for women.
Of course He loved women. He created them. And He created women as part of His good design to image Himself through humanity. The world has fallen into faulty design, but Jesus always demonstrated His good, intended design.
So, part of understanding biblical womanhood is understanding that the Bible is emphatic that women have worth. Women are precious and made in the image of God. Women do not have less worth than men. Sadly, this has not always been understood or agreed with.
Within the Trinity, there is unity and diversity. God is three persons in one God, yet each member of the Trinity has different roles. God the Father sent Jesus the Son, and Jesus sent the Spirit as the comforter and counselor to be with us and help us. Therefore, within the Trinity, we see different roles but different roles do not communicate different worth.
Women are not one ounce less important than men because they are called to be helpers (Gen. 2:18). In the Bible, God Himself is described as a helper (Ps. 54:4; 118:7). Women are certainly not less important because they were created to be helpers.
It’s also important that we do not push unbiblical stereotypes, partly because stereotypes are often just based on the changing cultural climate and not on the objective truth of Scripture. Consider, for example, that pink has not always been considered a “girly” color; or consider that men in the 14th century were the first to wear “yoga pants” (i.e., tights that were sometimes even quite colorful).
By this, I’m not saying that we should disrespect societal norms. Scripture is our standard, not societal norms. So, for example, the stereotype that men aren’t supposed to cry is wrong. Jesus Himself cried. What about dancing and poetry? Are dancing and poetry more feminine than masculine? King David who killed wild beasts, slew a giant, and was one of the most elite soldiers that ever walked the earth also danced and composed poetry. Just because someone is different from society’s stereotypes does not mean that person is wrong or weird. God, not the ever- changing culture, should be our guide.
Therefore, nowhere is it written in Scripture that men must drive the vehicle, and women must do the dishes. Scripture gives us transcendent truths—truths that are true for all times and all places. Truths such as males and females are created different in order to together reflect the glory and goodness of God. The specifics of how these truths are to be lived out today are to be applied in love and biblical Spirit-led wisdom.
My Favorite Quote on Biblical Womanhood
“Because we are made in [God’s] likeness, it is our destiny to rule and reign like He does. But unlike kings and queens of the ancient world who ruled from lavish palaces, our God is a King who works. He is a King who rolls up His sleeves and gets down in the dust beside us. He is a King who makes Himself a servant and labors on our behalf… So being an heir to this kind of King means we are no fairytale princesses spending our days in ideal luxury. We are queens ruling creation under His authority. The very work we do, whether it is tallying numbers in columns of red or black or scrubbing red and black crayon off of newly painted walls, is an expression of God’s royal nature in us” (Hannan Anderson, Made for More).
Suggested Resources on Biblical Womanhood
- Andreas J. Kostenberger, God’s Design for Man and Woman
- Andreas J. Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation
- Claire Smith, God’s Good Design
- Hannah Anderson, Made for More
*Photo by ELEVATE
Laser Beam Focus on Jesus (not distracting speculation)
The world that we live in is riddled with evil. It’s full of foul and wicked plots. There are many theories and conspiracy theories that tell stories about this world that we live in. Many of these tales are attention-grabbing and even deeply disturbing. How should we respond?
God tells us how we should respond. Here are a few things He tells us:
Laser Beam Focus on Jesus
From the beginning to the end, the story of Scripture is a story about the Savior; our need for a Savior, the coming of the Savior, and the coming quick return of our Savior. Scripture says testify about the Savior! He is who the world needs!
The world does not need just more knowledge or secret knowledge. It doesn’t need to uncover all the plots of man or Satan. The world needs the experiential life-transforming knowledge of Jesus the Messiah and Savior.
Satan portrays himself as an angel of light. He’ll even quote God Himself. He’ll give what appears to be secret knowledge as he did to Eve in the Garden. But, that work of Satan is a distraction and diversion from the truth—from Jesus the Savior, answer, and solution.
Do you know who really knows what’s going on behind the scenes?! Not the person on YouTube; no matter what they say or how many followers they have.
We don’t want to be guilty of “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Instead, we want to follow Paul’s teaching, conduct, aim in life, faith, patience, love, steadfastnesses, and persecutions and sufferings (v. 11).
We also need to remember that all Scripture, all the promises of God, find their fulfillment and answer in Jesus. We need to see Jesus, not more videos on various theories. Jesus is the hope and protection of the earth, not some person with some so-called “secret knowledge” of what’s really going on behind the scenes.
That being said, there are evil and deceitful plots going on in the government—in every government. We should not be naive and think there isn’t. But there always has been. There was when Jesus physically walked the earth and Moses too. But what does the Bible say the solution is? And what should be our focus?
People clearly do follow “the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). This world is often a wicked place where people creatively carry out wickedness. That is true. But what’s the solution?
It is certainly true that “ we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Yet, the solution is not some secret knowledge. It’s being “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (v. 10). The solution is taking “up the whole armor of God” (v. 13), not knowing the intimate and hidden details of what the spiritual forces of evil are up to. Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus is the one who defeats the wicked powers.
Amid a crooked and perverse generation and while the antichrist or antichrists walk the earth, how are we to respond? How do we steel up ourselves to endure and persevere? It’s not through secret theories that we discover on the internet. No. It’s through holding fast to the word of truth, tenaciously seeking Jesus, and lovingly telling of Him and His goodness.
Jesus has the “words of life.” Jesus is our “first love” and it is He that we need to return to (Revelation 2:4). Notice what 2 Peter 1:3 says: “HIS divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of HIM who called us to his own glory and excellence.” It is in Jesus that “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). And the riches of blessing found in Him are limitless.
Thus, we need a laser focus on Jesus. Satan as the great deceiver and destroyer would have us distracted from Jesus by any means possible.
Don’t Waste Time on Old Wives’ Tales
1 Timothy 4:7-8 says: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths [some translations say, “Old Wives’ Tales.”]. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
In John 17:17 Jesus says we are made holy by the truth and then He says God’s word is that truth. It is all Scripture—not secret theories—that is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
We need the words of life to live the life we’re called to live. We need to consume that truth every day and be able to “rightly divide the word of truth” and be like the Bereans and weigh what is said against what the Word of God shows us (Acts 17:11). And we need to be in tight relationship with other Christians so we can be accountable and encouraged by them.
In 1 Timothy 1 Paul urges that people not “teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (v. 3-4). Paul goes on to say, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion” (v. 5-6).
In 1 Timothy 2 Paul tells us what we are to do instead of engaging in “vain discussion,” internet searches, and YouTube consumption: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (v. 1-2). So, instead of reading and watching conspiracies about the government, we are to pray for the government. That’s productive, biblical, and God-honoring. So, if you have concerns about what’s going on in our world and in the government—which you should!—the thing to do is pray, not feed on loads of news and theories about “what’s really happening.”
Paul says that when we pray in this way, it “is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (v. 3-6).
God loves people and wants them to receive salvation through Jesus. So, we pray for them and we share with them. We don’t waste time on speculation and silly myths. Instead, we should seek to be continually captured and enraptured by Christ Jesus, knowing there is solace, depth, mystery, and beauty there to sustain us a thousand lifetimes.
Spend Your Time on the Greatest TRUE Tale
Paul said, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” And Paul also said, “Him [Jesus!] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col. 1:28-29).
Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5. What Paul says there is the priority. That’s what “fighting the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7) looks like.
Paul strove and struggled to share the message of the Savior, not a secret message about something going on in the world. Satan would have us distracted from the good news of Jesus—the good news of hope and salvation to a broken and needy world.
When the chaos of wickedness ratchets up in the book of Revelation, what is it God’s people are to do? Protect the world and keep it from destruction through knowing what’s secretly going on behind the scenes and through sharing those hidden things? Is that how the book of Revelation exhorts us to persevere? No.
Revelation is about Jesus and the victory of Jesus. It’s the true story of His final triumph over every evil plot and wicked foe. It holds before us the truth that we are in a cosmic battle, that there is a god of this world who is presently working ruin, but also the truth that the Lion and the Lamb will conquer. That’s the “secret knowledge,” the revealing, the REVELATION we need. We need the true message of Jesus’ victory. We don’t need distracted by lesser stories. Instead, we need again and again to return to and be tethered to Jesus.
So many tales are a distraction from the true and greatest tale. Brothers and sisters, we don’t need new and secret knowledge. We need the old old story again and again. We need to be smothered with the truth of the Savior of the world, not suffocated by secret theories. The hope of the earth is Jesus, not some locked away thing we can learn about on a website somewhere.
We need laser beam focus on Jesus. And we need to share the true story about Him in love. We need to be evangelistic about the good news of Jesus Christ! Not any conspiracy theory.
 I think of Chuck Colson. If there was a theory about the watergate scandal it wasn’t just a conspiracy theory. It was true. But the answer wasn’t information, it was prayer. God brought Chuck Colson to salvation when he was in prison. Colson has gone on to lead a ministry to those in prison. So, prayer is powerful.
*Photo by Mika Baumeister
Care in the Church
The Conviction to Care in the Church
What does Scripture say about shepherding care?
First, the word “pastor” comes from the Latin word pastor, meaning shepherd. A pastor is a “shepherd” or “one who cares for a flock or herd.” That’s why “pastor” sounds like the word “pasture.” The two words are connected. “The concept of the leader as a shepherd is a theme with deep roots in God’s written revelation with its foundation in the Old Testament and fulfillment in the New.” We are going to briefly consider some of the passages about God’s call to leaders to provide shepherding care.
Care in the Old Testament
God has always shepherded His people (Gen. 48:15; Ps. 23:1; Ps. 71:17-18; 77:20; 78:52, 72; 80:1; 95:6-7; Is. 40:11; Mic. 5:4). Further, He has provided under-shepherds to lead and care for His people. He has told people that serve as leaders to shepherd His people (2 Sam. 7:7). Ironically, before Moses and David shepherded God’s people, they shepherded a literal flock of sheep (cf. Ps. 78:70-71).
God, for example, knows that unexperienced challenges come with age (2 Sam. 19:35; Eccl. 12:2-5) and He cares that His people are helped with those challenges. Scripture even says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15). God deeply cares for His people and wants to see them cared for.
When God’s people are not rightly cared for, He is upset. God says, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture” (see Jer. 23:1-4)! And Ezekiel 34 shows that God takes the failure of His under-shepherds very seriously. He pronounces judgment on them (Ezek. 34:1-10). He promises He Himself will care for them (Ezek. 34:11-22). And He promises that the Perfect Shepherd will come and care for them (Ezek. 34:23-31). This brings us to the New Testament and pastors serving as Jesus’ under-shepherds.
Care in the New Testament
First, is Paul’s powerful exhortation to pastor/elders to “pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). What a high, precious, and important calling! Pastors are to care for what Jesus bought with His very blood. If it is that important to Jesus, how can it not be important to us?
Paul himself provides a powerful example of pastoral care. Paul visited people to “see how they are doing” (Acts 15:36). And his letters showed his shepherding care. His letters were part of his care. So, Paul sought to make disciples and care for disciples. These are complementary callings of church leaders.
Paul shared pastoral concern for God’s people. He wrote “I have you in my heart” (Phil. 1:7) as well as “being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8). But Paul didn’t just write letters, he also visited people(Acts 15:36). So, Scripture would have us see the importance of ministry both “publicly” and “house to house” (Acts 20:20).
Second, Peter passed on what he heard from Jesus: “shepherd the flock” (John 21:15-17). Peter relayed the command that we are to shepherd the flock of God that is among us (1 Peter 5:1) yet Peter also reminds us of our motivation: that the chief Shepherd when He appears, will give us the unfading crown of glory (v. 4).
Third, Acts 6:1-7 shows us we must make plans, delegate, and ensure the practical needs of people in the church are taken care of. And Ephesians 4:7-16 shows us that it is not just pastors that are to do ministry, but a big part of pastoral ministry is equipping the saints to do ministry. The church is the body, and each member is to do their part if the body is to function as it is supposed to (1 Cor. 12:4-31). Each member is equipped with gifts from the Spirit (Rom. 12:3-8) and is supposed to employ them for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7). Sadly, a Gallup survey found that only 10% of church members in America are active in any kind of personal ministry.
Fourth, Jesus has compassion and cares for people when they helpless like a sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). Jesus holds church leaders responsible to care for His precious sheep. The leaders of the church are to keep watch on Jesus’ sheep knowing that they “will have to give an account” (Heb. 13:17). In fact, Jesus sees the care of those who are “down in out” as though it was done for Him. So, as we visit people, Jesus sees it as though we were visiting Him (see Matthew 25:35–36).
King David, before he was king, risked his life for mere sheep (1 Samuel 17:34-36). King Jesus gave His life for His sinful people. He’s the Good Shepherd that lays down His life of the sheep (John 10:11). And His under-shepherds are to lovingly and practically care for those for whom He gave His life (Acts 20:28).
Thus, in summary, we have seen King Jesus, the Great and Sovereign Shepherd, laid down His life for the sheep and calls the church to care for His sheep. So, we must do so.
Biblical Delegation of Care
As Acts 6:1-7 and Ephesians 4:7-16 show us, the delegation of care within the church is not only wise, practical, and necessary, it is also biblical. Exodus 18 also shows us the important of shifting care to the congregation. If the church is going to care well as God would have it, care cannot just be left to one pastor or even a team of pastors.
The New Testament teaches that God equips believers. It teaches the “priesthood of all believers” (1 Pet. 2:4-5). That is, those who are new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21) not only have access to God through Christ but they are also equipped to do ministry by the Spirit of God. Therefore, the care of the church is to be done not just by a pastor or pastors, but by the church itself. The pastor is to be the “lead carer” and to equip other “carers” but he is not to do it on his own. Nor can he. So, one of the many things Christian leaders must do, is equip the church to do the ministry of the church.
The church is described in various ways, but the main image of the church is body. And each part of the body is vital. It won’t work as it is supposed to without each part functioning. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). We are people in need of care, helping people in need of care.
The biblical and effective church will be the church that mobilizes, equips, empowers, and supports Christians in ministry. Many people can do most of what pastors do, pastors must do what most people can’t do. One of the main tasks of pastors is to equip people to do what they can do.
One Christian leader has said, “Caring for 30 people personally is possible. Caring for 230 is not.” So, we must structure bigger to go bigger. That’s essentially what Jethro’s advice was in Exodus 18. “The pastoral care model of church leadership simply doesn’t scale.” So, to care for the church well, as God has told pastors to do, we must do something biblical. We must “equip the saints for the wok of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12).
So, once again, the conviction to care in the church, must come before care in the church. I hope this has helped you towards the conviction part. In a future post, I hope to lay out the specifics of implementing that care.
 “Upon leaving seminary, many a young man discovers that his love for the Chief Shepherd does not extend to a love for God’s sheep. Without dispute, difficulties in dealing with people is the number one cause for ministry dropouts (85 percent according to one denomination)” (David C. Deuel, “The Pastor’s Comoassion for People, ”176 in Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Bibically.
 Albert Mohler, The Conviction To Lead: 25 Principles For Leadership That Matters (Bethany House, 2012), 53
 Mohler, The Conviction To Lead, 26.
 Timothy Z. Witmer, The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church, 9.
 The LORD says “I will…” twenty four times in Ezekiel 34. He will shepherd His sheep. The chapter also says “LORD” sixteen times and “Sovereign LORD” eight times.
 And remember, John longed to see his people “face to face.” He was not satisfied with letters. He wanted to visit.
 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 365-66.
 The church is a family (Eph. 2:19; 3:15), temple (Eph. 2:20-22), army (Eph. 6:11-18; 2 Tim. 2:3-4), and bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-32; Rev. 19:2-8).
 Taken from the subtitle of Paul David Tripp’s book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People In Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change.
 Robert E. Slocum, Maximize Your Ministry (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1990), 9.
 See Barry G. Lawson, “Lay Shepherding: Developing A Pastoral Care Ministry for The Small To Mid-Sized Church,” 13.
 Carey Neiuwhof, “How Pastoral Care Stunts the Growth of Most Churches.”
 Neiuwhof, “How Pastoral Care Stunts the Growth of Most Churches.”
*Photo by Antonello Falcone
The Bible on the Shortness of Life
What does the Bible say about the length of our days? It says are days are short. Here’s the Bible on the shortness of life:
“For we are but of yesterday and know nothing,
for our days on earth are a shadow.”
“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”
“The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.”
“As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.”
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
What hope is there in the face of death? In the face of the shortness of life?
*Photo by Scott Rodgerson
What explains the contradiction of humanity?
What explains the contradiction of humanity?
Quotes from Nancy Pearcey’s book Love Thy Body
Here are 10 quotes from Nancy Pearcey’s book Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids: Backer Books, 2018). It’s a really good and timely book.
“A worldview that says human life has no inherent value or dignity will never lead to utopia, no matter how advanced the tools and technology” (Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 101).
The Apostle Paul “would have seen prostitutes on the street and in the doorways of brothels. He probably saw slave auctions, where youths his own age were being sold to local pimps” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 187).
“From the beginning, Christians have not defended ‘traditional values.’ They have stood for truth against prevailing cultural norms” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 188).
“The biblical ethic says our sexual identity has the high honor of being part of the moral structure of the universe” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 189).
“Christians must once again become known as those who honor the whole person. The reason they speak out on moral issues should not be because their beliefs are being threatened or because they feel‘offended.’…. Christians must make it clear that they are speaking out because they genuinely care about people” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 190).
“People must be drawn in by a vision that attracts them by offering a more appealing, more life-affirming worldview. Christians must present biblical morality in a way that reveals the beauty of the biblical view of the human person so that people actually want it to be true. And they must back up their words with actions that treat people with genuine dignity and worth” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 190).
Pearcey quotes Jean Paul Sartre: “There is no human nature because there is no God to have a conception of it…. Man is nothing else but that which he makes himself.” So, in this view, as Pearcey says, “There is no blueprint for what it means to be human…. And if nature reveals no purpose, then it cannot inform our morality” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 206).
“Christianity assigns the human body… much richer dignity and value. Humans do not need freedom from the body to discover their true authentic self. Rather we can celebrate our embodied existence as a good gift from God. Instead of escaping from the body, the goal is to live in harmony with it” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 210-11).
“Those who respect science the most should also be the most pro-marriage” (Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 242). Why? Because “children of unmarried or divorced parents are far more likely to suffer emotional, behavioral, and health problems. They are at higher risk for crime, poverty, depression, suicide, school difficulties, unmarried pregnancy, and drug and alcohol abuse” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 242).
“Instead of moving out of the state of nature populated by lone, autonomous individuals, we are moving into a state where adults are isolated individuals, connecting with others temporarily and only when it meets their needs. We are regressing to a pre-civilized condition” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 248).