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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says - Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What the Bible Says, Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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Concerns about religious liberty are one of the chief obstacles to passage of “non-discrimination” laws that would make “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (“SOGI”) into protected categories at the local, state, and federal level. Only 20 of the 50 states have enacted SOGI protections for both employment and public accommodations, and a comprehensive (and radical) federal bill, the Equality Act (H.R. 5), has stalled in the Senate since its passage in May by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.Utah Rep. Ben McAdams, a Democrat who voted for the Equality Act, recently told that state’s Deseret News that he thinks the bill “still needs work”—and he supports a so-called “compromise” called “Fairness for All.” The theory is that both “LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights” and “religious liberty” could be protected by enacting a single bill that includes both SOGI protections and religious exemptions.The model for “Fairness for All” proposals at the federal level is the “Utah compromise” that was adopted by that state’s legislature in 2015. It added SOGI protections to the state’s nondiscrimination laws regarding employment and housing (public accommodations were omitted), while creating exemptions for religious non-profit organizations and protections for some employee speech.Unique factors in Utah—notably, the power and influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which endorsed the “compromise”—make it doubtful whether this approach could be replicated elsewhere. LGBT groups at the national level seem determined to press forward the existing Equality Act, which contains no religious liberty protections and explicitly strips away those that might be asserted under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).Nevertheless, because some may be tempted to believe that such a “compromise” provides a “win-win” solution in the clash between LGBT rights and religious liberty, it is important to reiterate why we believe this would be a serious mistake.First, the fundamental presumption behind “Fairness for All” is that there is a balance or symmetry between “rights” or “protections” for people who identify as LGBT and “rights” or “protections” for people of faith. This is a fallacy. The “free exercise” of religion is guaranteed by the First Amendment, but there is no provision of the Constitution that references sexual orientation or gender identity.The fundamental rights found in the U.S. Constitution—such as freedom of speech and the press and the free exercise of religion—do not place any limits on the actions of private individuals and organizations; on the contrary, they protect such actions against interference by the government. “Civil rights” laws that bar discrimination in employment and public accommodations, however, do not merely limit the government; they place a restriction upon the action of private entities (such as small businesses) in carrying out their private activity.There is a place for non-discrimination laws (especially regarding characteristics that are clearly inborn, involuntary, and immutable, such as race). However, the burden of proof in every case must rest on those who seek to increase the number of categories or characteristics protected under such laws. That’s because the extension of laws against private discrimination is less a “win-win situation” than a “zero-sum” game. When one (such as an employment applicant) wins more protection, another (the employer) actually loses a corresponding measure of freedom.The most publicized cases highlighting the clash between LGBT non-discrimination laws and religious liberty in recent years have involved businesses in the wedding industry that are owned and operated by Christians who prefer not to participate in the celebration of same-sex weddings. (Although one such business, Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop, won an important decision at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018, the decision was on narrow grounds and did not settle this area of the law.) It is not clear that religious liberty protections in any proposed compromise legislation would protect these businesses.The wedding industry cases are by no means the only context in which this conflict arises, however. There have been cases challenging the right of Christian adoption agencies to decline to place children with same-sex couples; cases where Christian counseling students were punished for declining to affirm and support homosexual relationships; and cases in which Christian employees of government agencies were fired for privately expressing disapproval of homosexual conduct. It is not clear that any of them would be protected by such “Fairness for All” proposals.Further, “gender identity” protections would undermine the rights of organizations and businesses to set dress and grooming standards or have separate private spaces (e.g., in bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, dormitories, etc.) for biological men and women. These rights stand ready to be compromised by “Fairness for All” proposals.Family Research Council believes that combining religious liberty and special privileges for sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI) is unsustainable, for three primary reasons.1) It is wrong, in principle, to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories, because they are unlike historically protected categories such as race. Historically, protections were reserved for characteristics that are inborn, involuntary, immutable, and innocuous, such as race, and/or in the U.S. Constitution (such as religion). None of these criteria apply to the choice to engage in homosexual conduct or the choice to present one’s self as the opposite of one’s biological sex.2) There is no religious exemption that would be acceptable to LGBT activists and would also be adequate to fully protect against all the likely threats to religious freedom.3) Non-discrimination laws always implicate moral beliefs. They send the message that it is morally wrong to disapprove of homosexual or transgender conduct. For such laws to be endorsed by citizens who believe that it is morally wrong to engage in homosexual or transgender conduct is a logical contradiction.What would truly reflect “Fairness for All” would be to reject SOGI laws containing special privileges, and allow real religious liberty—the freedom to hold to one’s personal beliefs and to act on them without government interference or coercion.
It's great to have online influence, but not at the cost of our family or the congregation we've been called to lead and guide with love.Last week, I came across a wonderful Twitter thread. I asked the writer, Matt Henslee, if he would edit it into a blog post that I could use here. He had just done so for his own website, but he also gave me permission to pass it along to you. (Karl Vaters)The Distracted PastorThere was a season when I got into the office at 7am, Rebecca would bring dinner around 6pm, and I’d go home around 10, Monday thru Saturday.I was having to fill every role in the church during a pastor’s illness, but I not only neglected my first love, Jesus, I also neglected my wife.But it was “‘for the church"So I tried to excuse it by thinking it was “for the church.”It was a breath of fresh air to move on and solely focus on my marriage and student ministry for a time. We went to counseling, I was mentored, and God worked mightily in every area of life.But it was “for my family”Many years later, I found myself back in Dallas / Fort Worth and working a full-time job at a non-profit for adults with special needs, a part-time job selling shoes, and serving part-time at a church plant as a worship leader.It didn’t take long for me to notice some of the hours racking up near what they were many years prior. "But it was for my family,” so I tried to excuse it because I was the provider.While I’d learned so much from the previous season, I was intent on not making the same mistake and neglecting my wife, so we grew far more creative (and with odd hours) to make dates nights happen. Nevertheless, it was still a breath of fresh air to no longer have three jobs and return to full-time ministry.Fast forward to today; wife, four kids, and pastoring a church in the middle of nowhere, ...Continue reading...
Temple Baptist Church - 7-7-2019Romans 16:1-2Introduction: A. The Office of the Bishop or pastor and the Office of a Deacon are always to be male in gender. There is no such thing as a pastor or deacon in a church being a woman! The qualifications along with the disqualifications are found in 1 Timothy, chapters 2-3, and in the Book of Titus. These are 2 of the 3 Pastoral Epistles: 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus.1. The Key Verse of 1 Timothy is 3:15: “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”2. The Disqualifications of the Woman: 1 Timothy 2:9-15 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; (10) But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. (11) Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. (12) But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. (13) For Adam was first formed, then Eve. (14) And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (15) Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.3. The Qualifications of the Man: 1 Timothy 3:1-13 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (2) A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; (3) Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; (4) One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (5) (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall hetake care of the church of God?) (6) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. (7) Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (8) Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; (9) Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. (10) And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. (11) Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. (12) Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (13) For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.B. Though the Bible is perfectly clear on the qualification of the Bishop (Pastor) and Deacons, it has become an area of contention in these last days of the unisex and equal rights movements. C. God has made a definite distinction between male and female physically, emotionally, and in various positions such as the home and the church. D. We live in Laodicean times and the very word itself carries the meaning of “The Rights Of The People.” What are our rights? Our rights are as believers are found in the liberties and limitations placed upon us by the Lord. E. Verses 1-2 mention a godly lady in the local church who “succoured” many including the Apostle Paul. Along with the liberties to serve that the Lord has given to women, He has also placed certain limitations upon them. Tonight, I want to look at the misconceptions, limitations, and blessings of women in the local church.F. The liberal Bible scholars have caused a lot of confusion in verse 1 because of the Greek word “διάκονος, pronounced diakonos,”G. In all cases, the words “deacon-diakoneō” are interpreted 3 ways: “servant” in our text, “deacon” and “deacons” in other places.H. What do the words “diakonos” or “diakoneo” mean? The words mean “to be an attendant,” “to run errands,” or to “wait upon a table.” Thus, a “diakonos-diakoneo” is a servant! When translated in Romans 16:1 and speaking of Phebe, it is rendered “servant.” I. When the Bible refers to the Office of a Deacon or the deacons of the local church, it is rendered deacon or deacons. The Scofield Bible also aids in the confusion by placing, in the center margin “Lit. deaconess.” Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons(diakonos):1 Timothy 3:8 Likewise must the deacons (diakonos) be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;1 Timothy 3:12 Let the deacons (diakonos) be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.1 Timothy 3:10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon (diakoneō), being found blameless.1 Timothy 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon(diakoneō), well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.1. Paul's commendation of Phebe. “I commend unto you.” First, I want to commend the ladies of our church. What a great bunch of ladies we have. I can honestly say, though most churches cannot, that none of our ladies have given me a problem. I could recommend any one of you to another church, but I WON'T! I am completely satisfied to keep you all right here.2. Paul's recognition of Phebe's Christian character. “our sister.” Common misconceptions concerning women in the local church.a. That God thinks more of the man than He does the woman. God loves women as much as He does men. In Jesus Christ, women enjoy the same spiritual position and blessings before God as men do.b. That the woman is in a place of inferiority in the church. Women are as important to the home, church, and society as men are.c. That the roles of men and women are equal and, therefore, should be the same. There is to be a difference between men and women in both their appearance and roles. There is a basic truth which needs to be restated in the church and society today: Men and women are different!d. Sisters are greatly loved, appreciated, and all so important to a family. I have one sister and she is so special to all her older brothers. Though all our roles may be different, our love for you ladies is great!3. Paul's knowledge of Phebe's labor of love in the church. “a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.” Phebe was a true servant. Her name means “to shine or make manifest as light or fire.” I enjoy watching the ladies work, not just in the kitchen, but in other things also. They put a lot of tender, loving care and detail to what they do. They often work in the background but do not go unnoticed. Ladies with a servant's heart are rare commodities in these last days.4. Paul's great appreciation and gentle treatment of Phebe. “receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints.” Ladies are to be treated with and handled with great respect and gentleness. Receive them in the Lord, as becometh saints. A jewel of great price is the woman that has a servant's heart.5. Paul's assistance to Phebe. “assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you.” Make sure that the ladies have all the male help that is needed. She does have some physical limitations and needs to be watched over for any sign of need. Paul admonishes the churches to assist her in any way that they can.6. Paul's help given to him by Phebe. “for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.” “Succourer” is one who stands before another and makes themselves available. They do not always have to be enlisted, though they are ready to be, but they make themselves available to be used for God's glory.Conclusion: It is of great importance to see that Paul, when he ended the Book of Romans, commends a lady in the church before commending anyone else.
If your schedule is anything like mine, from Thanksgiving to early June is booked. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, starting off new school semesters, winter revival, stewardship emphasis, Easter, graduations…. It fills up pretty fast.Because I know this happens every year, I have adjusted my personal goals for study and growth to be primarily concentrated in the summer months.Summer often allows for a little extra downtime that sometimes the schedules of the school year prohibit.However, this kind of growth doesn't happen automatically. It takes intention.If you, too, are looking forward to some extra opportunities for growth this summer, here are ten ideas—in no particular order—to help you:1. ReadI keep a growing list throughout the year for summer reading and typically read a couple dozen books from June through August.2. Bible StudyThis is a great time to delve into a particular topic, book of the Bible, doctrine, or area of contemporary theology. I work a book or two on whatever topic or doctrine I want to study into my summer reading.3. Learn or Enjoy a HobbySometimes those of us in the ministry forget to live with rhythms of work and rejuvenating. A healthy hobby can help bring balance to our over-extended lives.4. Listen to PreachingWhether it is when you are visiting another church on vacation or listening to messages on a morning jog, it's encouraging and helpful to hear other preachers. Those of us who preach multiple times each week especially benefit from time to simply hear God's Word preached for ourselves.5. Spend Extra Time with the LordGet up an hour earlier one day each week to get out in nature and spend time in prayer. Block off half a day or a whole day to just read your Bible and pray. Perhaps there is a spiritual discipline you noted at the beginning of the year you want to grow in. Take some specific steps toward that growth this summer.6. Spend Extra Time with Your FamilyTake advantage of the later hours of sunlight for family time. Make memories with your wife and children. Take a day trip to go fishing or hiking. Get outside together, and have fun.7. Invest in FriendshipsSchedule coffee with a friend. Plan to read the same book with someone and schedule time to connect to discuss it. Think, too, through who you could invest in as a encourager or mentor this summer.8. Evaluate Ministry NeedsThis is a good time to step back and with some clarity look at the processes, trends, or roadblocks you may be experiencing as a church family. God promises wisdom when we ask Him for it (James 1:5), but His wisdom often comes through insights as we step out of the current long enough to hear His voice.9. Study a Specific AreaThis also relates to summer reading. Consider any personal or family needs or an area of need for your church. Find two or three highly-recommended books on those topics, and commit to studying and learning.10. Attend a ConferenceAttending a conference like Spiritual Leadership Conference gives three days of preaching, fellowship with other pastors, ministry-specific training, and resources. If you were not able to attend the Spiritual Leadership Conference, you can still listen to the sessions online or make plans to attend next year.Perhaps the most important tip for summer growth is to plan for it. If you're not careful, summer will come and go, and it will be the end of August before you realize you missed the opportunity for focused growth.
Sunday, June 2, 2019 was my final day as the pastor of the Cleveland Baptist Church. So on that Sunday evening, after forty-one years of ministry (12 years as an associate, 5 years as co-pastor, and nearly 24 years as the senior pastor) we passed the mantle of pastoral leadership to the next pastor.I wasn't involved in the planning of the day other than preparing to preach my final message as the pastor. The leadership of the church planned the day, and they couldn't have scripted it any better. Our folks showed my wife and me honor and loved on us in ways we could hardly comprehend. Since that Sunday, the church has gone on and has quickly gravitated their love and affection to their new pastor. They haven't missed a beat, wondering who was going to be the next pastor or how were they going to function.It is such a blessing when a church transitions well from one pastor to the next. I realize what we experienced at Cleveland Baptist isn't always the way things go when it comes to a resignation or retirement of a pastor. It isn't always a smooth transition to the next man to lead and serve a congregation. So please allow me to share a few thoughts about this important matter.1. It is important for the pastor to realize the church doesn't belong to him.If you are one who God has called to pastor, and you have been given the responsibility of overseeing a flock, you must remember who the Chief Shepherd is. The church is the body of Christ and that body belongs to Him. While I was privileged to be called the pastor of the Cleveland Baptist Church, I realized I was just a steward of a church that belonged to another. Therefore, decisions and choices weren't really mine to make. Those decisions needed wisdom from the Lord to know His mind and heart.2. Every pastor should see himself as an interim pastor.Up until June 2, our church had just two pastors in their almost 61-year history. My predecessor, Dr. Roy Thompson, started the church and pastored it for 37 years. He built a great work for the Lord, yet, at the age of 62 on September 3, 1995 he relinquished his leadership of the church and transferred that responsibility to me. I was 37 years old and God enabled me to pastor these wonderful people for nearly 24 years. I am just 61 years old and I have turned the church over to the next pastor.Both Dr. Thompson and I sensed that while we could physically continue to pastor the church for a time longer, our time of leading that congregation was over. God made that abundantly clear to me, and I know that was also true from Dr. Thompson's testimony. Every pastor reading these words should understand that at some point, unless the Lord comes, someone is coming behind you to take your place. Prepare yourself and the church for that moment. Don't be foolish with the Lord's church. Men have hurt and even systematically killed a vibrant church by staying too long. It is your responsibility to make the church ready for the right man to come and succeed you.3. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit about the moment of transition.I had planned to serve Cleveland Baptist until my 25th anniversary as their pastor, which would have been September 2020. Yet about two years ago, the Lord spoke to my heart about my timeline, stating it wasn't His plan. He clearly stated that He wanted me to move it up by a year and a few months. So, I announced to our church on the last Sunday of May 2018 that I was entering my last year as their pastor. I would have never done that if I wasn't sure the Lord was leading me.4. Help the church by preparing your successor.Dr. Thompson prepared me and the church for the day he would step away. He spoke to me twelve years before I became his successor, sharing that he thought God was going to have me be the next pastor of Cleveland Baptist Church. He asked me to pray about it and to seek the Lord's direction. He began mentoring me and spending more time with me. He took me on sensitive calls and brought me into important meetings about the workings of the church. He also spoke to the leadership of the church about what he was sensing. At one point, he asked them to confirm it and they did. Then in June of 1990, the church voted as to whether or not I would be the co-pastor and succeeding pastor. The church approved this matter by a 98% majority. When Pastor Thompson's final Sunday came, there was no new vote, they already knew who their new pastor was. The church continued on without a hiccup.In my case, God shared with me that my middle son Peter, who had joined our staff overseeing the youth in January 2001, was to be my successor. However, because he was my son, I needed to deal with this matter a bit differently. I shared with him what I believed the Lord was going to do, and I asked him to pray and seek the Lord. Because I traveled some and preached out, there were ample opportunities for our church to hear Pete preach. I would return and folks would share what a blessing he was.He was serving as youth pastor, and when we had an opening for the Senior Associate Pastor position, our deacons encouraged me to place Pete in that role. I shared with them that I thought that was an excellent idea and we did. When I announced to our deacons what I sensed about my timeline as their pastor, they again initiated the thought that perhaps Pete could be considered as co-pastor and then my replacement. I shared that I thought that he was the man. They then worked through a process to vet him. They then as a group voted to recommend him unanimously to the church to be co-pastor and the next pastor upon my death or resignation. The church overwhelmingly approved this by a 97% call. That was in November of 2016, so when June 2 came, Pete was installed as the third pastor without another vote.At the end of 2018, I had shared with Pastor Pete that since the transition was taking place halfway through the year, the vision for the church in 2019 was his. He preached vision night and poured his heart out to the church. I allowed him to do most of the preaching as I was gone a lot during the first half of 2019. He in reality was pastoring the church, and I was just there to help. Therefore, when June 2 came, it wasn't hard for the church to transfer their heart to their new pastor. He was already leading them.5. Don't wait too long.Some men wait too long to resign or retire from ministry. I don't know that there is a fixed age. Yet, I would say that if you look out on your congregation and you don't see any young people or young families, you have waited too long. People won't stay in a church when they don't see a future. It might sound noble to say you are going to pastor a church until the Lord calls you home, but that isn't wise or healthy for a church.With that thought in mind, you must prepare financially for life beyond the pastorate. Get your financial house in order. Some men don't and therefore refuse to resign or retire and their church pays the price. I would encourage deacons reading this to set-up some sort of retirement fund for your pastor.6. Have some new ministry to focus your time and heart on.One of the most difficult things for pastors to do is to let go when they resign or retire from the pastorate. This is especially true if you have a long history with that congregation and you aren't leaving to pastor elsewhere. We have all heard the horror stories of men that resign or retire but who can't let go. They become a problem to the new pastor. They become jealous or perhaps allow disgruntled people to come to them in regards to the new pastor. It isn't good.It is wise to have a new ministry pursuit. I don't think a man needs to necessarily move away, in all cases. However, that should be considered. We didn't, and aren't planning to leave Cleveland. I do have a new passion and calling as the North American Director of Spiritual Leadership Asia. Since my resignation, I haven't taken any time off and I immediately transitioned into my new ministry calling. So, while have retired from the pastorate, I have in reality been reassigned in ministry. This new ministry has helped me to stay focused and keep my mind directed toward something important in the Lord's work. Since I represent a ministry, I am not around much at Cleveland Baptist Church, which gives my son the opportunity to pastor the Lord's church without his dad lingering around.It is a wonderful privilege to serve the Lord and His people. The Lord's church needs to continue to thrive and go forward once a pastor resigns or retires. In order for that to happen, those that lead and pastor, must prepare themselves and the church for the day of transition. Not to do so is tragic, and I believe it is something for which God will judge them.In conclusion, I recommend that every pastor reading this get the book Next: Pastoral Succession That Works by William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird. You can find it on Amazon. It is a fascinating study of churches where the pastoral succession worked and where it was a miserable failure.
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