Calling a Pastor

Calling someone to come and be the Pastor of your church can be an interesting time for a congregation. I have been part of a church who have called someone to come and do the job and I have actually been on the other end when the church called me and my family.

Throughout this process of initial conversations, interviews, guest speaking spots and meeting the members both parties try to get to know each other to see if the Pastor or Minister will be a right fit for the congregation.

Now most church goers have our own preconceived ideas of what a Pastor should or shouldn’t do. If I am looking for a Pastor here’s a few things I would look for…

  • Someone with a  strong personal relationship with God and follows Him daily
  • Someone who prays regularly for themselves and others
  • Someone who has an understanding of and can teach from the Bible
  • Someone who has a real love for people and wants what is best for them
  • Someome who is committed to evangelism and making disciples
  • Someone who walks in intergrity and can be an example to others
  • Someone who can lead a church as part of a leadership team
  • Someone who has a track record of service and caring for others
  • Someone who sees everyone in the congregation as ministers and tries to equip them for service
  • Someone who feels called to the region and the church (especially important in country areas)

Now these are just some things off the top of my head. But these are the things I would be looking for in a potential minister. However, not every sees all of these as important and many would have their own list.

I think the key when selecting a potential Minister for your church is to pray and ask God that the right person would come and that you would recognise them.

When selecting a Minister we need to remember the story of Samuel and David (1 Samuel 16:1-13). Samuel had to look through all Jesse’s sons until he came to David. When he saw David and God said annoint him, he did.

Why I love the Old Testament

For Christians I think it can be hard to read and study the Old Testament (OT) at times. There are so many things that we don’t understand or that don’t relate to our 21st century culture. There are lots of rules that seem impossible to follow and there is the animals sacrifices.

I was one of theose people that struggled with the OT and although I read it ocassionally I didn’t really dig into it in the same way I did with the New Testament (NT). However I have come to really love the OT and these days I spend as much time in it as I do the NT.

Here’s a few reasons why I love the OT…

1. Creation account – the first pages of the OT tell us how we got here. It tells us that God created the world, that He made all the animals and that He made humans to love and be in relationship with Him. So many people struggle as to why we are here and how did we get here. The OT answers those questions early on and moves on to others things.

2. God’s miraculous intervention – numerous times throughout the OT we see God miraculously intervening to save His people. In the NT most miracles are for the individual person. In the OT the miracles are huge and save a nation. Just looked at the parting of the Red Sea. That is a massive miracle that shows God is not a far of distant God who does not get involved. He is right in the middle of things.

3. Jesus’ backstory – if we want to truly understand who Jesus is we need to put it in context of the OT. Jesus is the Saviour of mankind. If we don’t read the OT we don’t get the full picture of why a Saviour was needed. Also when we read the OT we also see the hundred of prophecies that tell us what the Saviour would be like when He came. When we look at Jesus we see He fulfilled over 300 of those prophecies. There can be no doubt that Jesus was the Saviour the Jews were waiting for.

4. Flawed heroes – when we read the Bible we read about some great heroes that did some amazing things for God and His people. However when we read the OT we find that while these heroes did some great things, they were also  flawed characters who stuffed up big time. When I read that David was a man after God’s own heart, but commited adultery and murder, it gives me hope that I can be used by God to do great things too.

These are just some of the reasons why I love the Old Testament. There are so many more, but I thought these would give you a glimpse of my appreciation of the OT which comprsies two thirds of the Bible’s pages.

If you have struggled with the OT in the past, perhaps it might be time to give it another go again soon.

Jesus’ example in hard times

As I am reading through the Book of Luke I am noticing something amazing about Jesus. In the midst of hard times and suffering that would devastate most of us, Jesus still continued to look out for others. Here’s a few examples from Luke 22 and 23.

1. At His arrest – In Luke 22 we see that Jesus was arrested. One of His followers tried to fight off the officials and chopped off the ear of the High Priest’s servant with a sword. In verse 51 we see that even while Jesus was being arrested He healed the man’s ear.

2. Asking forgiveness – In Luke 23 we find that while Jesus is hanging on the cross and the soldiers are casting lots to see who would get His clothes, He asked for God to forgive them. As Jesus hung there He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

3. The thief on the cross – In Luke 23 we read that Jesus is being crucified on the cross. In the midst of this He was still offering salvation to the thief next to Him. In verse 43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”.

These events remind me of Jesus’ great love and compassion for us all. In the midst of terrible suffering Jesus still looked out for those around Him. He was healing, praying for forgiveness and offering salvation, even in the midst of His own arrest and crucifixion.

Letting the Bible speak

One of the things I do when I am trying to learn what the Bible says on a particular subject is to let the Bible speak. By letting the Bible speak I mean I look up a subject in a topical index (the topical index I typically use is in my Pradis Bible Software). This gives me a list of Bible passages on a particular subject.

I then look up all the passages under the heading, copy and paste them from the software on to a page and prayerfully read them a number of times over two or three days. In doing this I allow the Scripture to speak to me and I allow the Holy Spirit to help me understand what the Scritpure is saying.

A simple example of this is a message I did several years ago on the subject of prayer (you can see a cut down web version here). I simply pulled out all the verses and listed them on a page. After looking at them for a few days I began to get a general picture of what the Bible says about prayer. I started to see who we should pray to, in whose name we should pray and what sort of attitudes we should have when we pray. I started to get a small glimpse on how we should approach God in prayer.

The key when doing this sort of Bible study of course is to let Scripture speak to you and not trying to read something in to the passages that is not there. We need to remember that we all have our biases or preconceived ideas when approaching the Bible, the key is to prayerfully approach the Scriptures and ask God to show what is says and how you can apply it our own life or teach it to others.

If you want to know what the Bible says on a particular subject, try this method of using a topical index and then prayerfully let the Bible speak to you over a few days. It has really helped me a lot and I hope it helps you too.

God Bless,

Dave

PS. If you want free access to a Bible with a Topical Index, you can access on here on BibleGateway.com

My daily devotional plan

Several weeks ago I shared a simple daily devotional idea for Christians. It involved reading a chapter of the Bible, refelcting on the keys parts that spoke to you and praying a simple prayer at the end. Today I thought I would share my current devotional plan that I do.

Essentialy my daily devotional revolves around prayer and Bible reading. To keep track on my devotion time I use a journal. On a new A4 page I rule a cross on about half the page. This divides the page into four sections. At the top of each section I write one of the following headings – praise, petition, intercession and listen.

These are as follows…

  • Praise – under the praise heading I write some things I am thankful to God for. For each one I express my thanks to God prayerfully.
  • Petition – this section includes my current prayer needs for myself and my family.
  • Intercession – I write things that people have asked me to prayer for or things God places on my heart. Each one is prayed specifically and as God leads me to pray.
  • Listen – finally I take a few moments to ask God if He has anything to say to me. If He speaks quietly to my spirit I write it in this section so I can remember what He says.

Next I move on to my Bible reading. This has varied over the years, but this year I am reading one chapter of the New Testament per day. I read the chapter and reflect on the key points contained in it. I then record some of them in my journal so I can remember them later.

I find this plan is good for me spiritually and it helps me to connect with God. It usually takes between 20 to 30 minutes to complete. However, that can change depending on the amount of prayer or how long I reflect on the Bible reading.

The impact of the 72

In Luke chapter 10 Jesus sent out 72 of His followers in to the harvest field. His instruction was to go out in pairs and to preach God’s Kingdom and heal the sick wherever people accepted them (Luke 10:1-12).

When they returned, the followers where excited about the impact they made. They were most excited that they had been able to caste out demons from people in Jesus’ name (v17). Jesus’ response in verse 18 in very interesting. He says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”. By this Jesus was saying that Satan’s power and kingdom was being toppled.

I believe this is what happens when we as Christians take up our cross and really follow Jesus. When we stand up and do the work that Jesus has called us to do, we increase and advance God’s Kingdom and we reduce and decrease Satan’s impact.

What exciting things will you be doing in the next few weeks that will bring God’s Kingdom to others and reduce the effectiveness of Satan’s? It doesn’t matter if it is big or small in our eyes. The most important thing is we are doing God’s work and increasing His Kingdom.

Why I love Luke so much

The Book of Luke is my favourite NT book. It was the first book I read as a new Christian many years ago and it is the one I recommend to to new Christians today. Here are a few reasons why I love Luke so much.

1. Jesus’ whole life – Luke starts with the announcement of His birth and ends with Him ascending to heaven. It covers Jesus life, ministry, teachings, relationships, miracles and commitment to the Father’s will all the way through.

2. God’s love for the one person – Luke is the only gospel that records the parables of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7), the good samartian (Luke 10:25-37) and the lost son (Luke 15:11-32). This shows us God’s love and concern for the single person. It shows His heart to restore them to wellbeing and to fellowship with Him.

3. Prayer – Luke shows how important prayer was to Jesus and how often Jesus prayed. He prayed after being baptised (Luke 3:21), before chosing the disciples (Luke 6:12) and from the cross (Luke 23:34, 46). Jesus also taught three times about prayer in Luke 11:5-9, 18:1-8 and 18:9-14).

4. The Spirit – Luke mentions the Holy Spirit more than the other NT writers. He emphasises the Spirit was with John from birth (Luke 1:15), the Spirit’s role in Jesus’ conception (Luke 1:35), Jesus following the Spirit’s prompting (Luke 4:1, 14, 18, 10:21) and that Jesus taught the Spirit was God’s gift to us (Luke 11:13).

5. The poor – Luke shows Jesus’ concern for the poor. We see the gospel is preached to them (Luke 4:18, 7:22), they recieve God’s blessings (Luke 6:20), they are invited to the great feast (Luke 14:13,21) and Lazarus being taken to heaven by Angels (Luke 16:20,22).

6. Jesus was really raised – Luke is the only gospel to point out that Jesus ate some fish after He was raised to life (Luke 24:42,43). This was done to show that Jesus was not just raised spiritually or was a ghost. He was raised back to life.

7. It has a sequel – Like any good story it has a sequel. Luke’s sequel is found in the Book of Acts. If you are wondering what happened after Jesus returned to heaven and what His followers did, you can turn to Acts just two books later. This records the story of the early church.

So there you have it. My reasons why I love the book of Luke so much. Looking back now I can see how it has shaped my life and ministry so much. Many of those things mentioned above have been imparted into my life and changed me forever.

If you don’t have a Bible and would like to read Luke you can find it here on Biblegateway.com.

Return home and tell

When Jesus does something amazing for us that really changes our lives, many people respond by wanting to give up everything to follow Him unto the ends of the earth. While this is a nobel thing, it is not always the best way for God to receive all the glory.

In Luke chapter 8 (Luke 8:26-39) we see the story of a demon possessed man. He was separated from society and was living in a graveyard amongst the tombs. When Jesus came to that place He caste the demons out of him and the man returned to normal. With that the man tells Jesus that will follow Him anywhere. What was Jesus response? “Return home and tell how much God has done for you” (v39). The man did what Jesus said and told the whole town.

The interesting thing I find about this story is that God would receive the most glory if the man went back to his own town. If this violent demon possessed man suddenly turned up in his right mind, people would ask why and God could be glorified.

Like us today, when God does something great for us and changes our lives, we can make the biggest impact often right where we are. Our testimony of God’s love, grace, healing and/or mercy towards us might be the best way to glorify God and bring people to Him.

Then in time God might call us on to something else. Which might just be the ends of the earth.

An encouragement folder

The Bible says in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”.

If we are honest with ourselves and others, “doing good” can make us weary at times. We can just get plain tired and want to give up. It might be overwork, it might be not seeing any real measurable results or it might be as a result of something someone has said to to us or about us.

In these times I think it is important to have some things we do to help us keep on track and energised. Of course we should read our Bibles, pray and get around encouraging people when we feel weary, but one thing I do is read through my encouragement folder.

My encouragement folder is in my email program. It is simply called “encouragement”. Every time I get an email from someone that says something positive or talks about how my work has impacted or changed them, I copy it into that folder. And I keep it there for a raining or gloomy day.

When I am feeling flat I traul through and I quickly find that my spirit lifts and my slumped posture straightens up. It lifts me and encourages me that I am making a difference and it sparks me to continue doing good. It also helps me to push on to the harvest that WILL come at the right time.

Today I would encourage you to start an encouragement folder of your own!

God Bless,

Dave

PS. In the last week I have had two emails from people that have been put in my folder for future reference!

Bible reading help

A blogging buddy of mine John Finkelde has written a plan to help people with reading the Bible. It is called, “60 Days in the New Testament” and includes a number of readings from the Bible.

Each reading has a short introduction to explain the background of the chapter and has some key verses to reflect on as you read. The pages can be downloaded to your computer to use or they can be read on the website (C3 Hepburn Heights). The page also has eight short video that gives you tips to help you maximise your Bible reading.

If you are someone who finds it hard to read your Bible or perhaps you have never looked at the Bible, this would be a great place to start. I really believe that reading the Bible is one of the best things we can do in our life. Not only is it a great read, but it has the power of God contained within it to change our lives and the lives of those around us.

Here is the link to the C3 Hepburn Heights website as access the reading plan – Click here!