Since moving from the city to the country 12 years ago I have noticed a big change in our churches. Many are moving from having a Pastor to Elders based church leadership. When we moved to the WA Wheatbelt most of the four larger churches in our region had Pastors. Over time this has gone from full time Pastors, to part-time Pastors, to no Pastor at all.
Some of this has been because of declining finances and ageing church population. At other times it has been because some Pastors do not want to work in country towns. On the surface not having a Pastor on staff can be seen as a bad thing. But I have seen having a group of mature Elders as the church leaders work really well.
Generally most of the churches in our region have people in the church who have had some Bible training, have attended church for a long time, have a deep relationship with the Lord and are considered by all to have good character. These people are great as Elders. They pray, seek and discern God’s will and lead the church well.
The church that I was Pastor for two years has gone back to an Elders based leadership team. Some preach, some lead service, and they all do pastoral care. It works well. The church I attend at the moment will not have a Pastor soon and they will have to decide which direction they go in. I am happy if they chose a new Pastor or lead with Elders.
If we think about Elders based church leadership for a moment, the first thing we see is it is Biblical. The Apostle Paul set Elders in place of the churches he planted. That way when he moved on to another area he has people in place to look after the church.
In my last church I looked at the role of Elders right throughout the Bible. Right throughout the Bible the Elders have led the people, made decisions for the direction of the group, sought God in prayer and overseen their flock. This is true in both the Old Testament and the New.
So from my perspective Elders based church leadership makes sense in our regional context. With declining finances and ageing populations and Pastors not wanting to work in smaller regional towns it might just be the way forward.
Hebrews 13:16 NLT – And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God
I like how this verse says, “Don’t forget to do good and share with those in need” .
By saying “don’t forget” it implies we can forget. It is easy to get caught up in our own lives and lose sight of those around us.
Let us purpose in our hearts to not forget today!
Colossians 2:13-15 NLT – You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.  He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.  In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
In this passage there are seven truths about our relationship to God in Christ…
- We were dead in our sin
- We still had he sin nature we were born with
- We are now alive in Christ
- Jesus took our sins on the cross
- We are forgiven and set free
- We have no further charges for sin against us
- The spiritual rulers and authorities of this world have no power over us.
In the lead up to Easter, I am so thankful for what Jesus did for us on the cross. We are free from sin, set free and alive in Christ.
One key foundation for us as Disciples of Christ is to know who you are and what you have in Christ. I mentioned this is previous posts earlier in the week.
Back in 1989 when I came to Christ, I had a very low, almost non-existent, self-esteem. I really thought I was a waste of space and not worth much at all.
Over time this changed to seeing myself through the lens of Scripture. I am now more interested in who God says I am, rather than the world or those around me say.
Every year that goes by I find my mind is being renewed more and more in this area. As a result I did a sermon for my church titled, “10 things God says about you in the Bible”. The summary points and verses are below.
- You are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27)
- You were chosen before the world was made (Ephesians 1:4-5)
- You were created and equipped for good works (Ephesians 2:10)
- You are adopted into His family (John 1:12)
- You have the Holy Spirit living inside you (Romans 8:11)
- You are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1)
- You are seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-7)
- You were knit together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)
- You are truly loved by God (1 John 4:9-10)
- You are free in Christ (John 8:36)
To read the full message with text, audio and powerpoint you can find it here https://www.passionaustralia.org/whoyouare.html
Today I just want to remind you that God made you wonderful. You are amazing. You are special. You are loved. You are priceless in God’s eyes.
Romans 15:1-2 is one of my motivation passages that keep me wanting to help others grow in their faith.
The heart of these verses is that the stronger and more mature people in their faith should be helping those who are less mature in their faith to grow.
It doesn’t matter where we are along the spectrum. We might be a Christian with a basic knowledge of the Bible or a Bible college professor, or somewhere in between, we all have a part to play in helping people grow and mature in their faith.
This is a major reason why I trained to be a Pastor and I have my website PASSIONAustralia.org. My heart is for people to come to Christ and grow in their faith. I want people to become lifelong followers of Christ.
My hope is that everyone I know would do the following things…
- Come to know Jesus in a personal way and find peace with God.
- Do some basic discipleship training.
- Attend and serve in a their local church.
- Undertake at least a year of Bible college to mature in their faith.
When we do these four things we give ourselves the best chance to live the life God intended for us. To be in relationship with God, to be assured of our salvation, to know who we are in Christ, to be obedient to God’s commands and to serve Him all the days of our lives.
How about you? What passages motivate you to help people grow in their faith?
I recorded a sermon for podcast today. It was one I did several years ago for the church I was Pastor of. On the day we had a problem with our sound recording software. As a result I have been meaning to re-record it for my website.
The title is “Four lessons from Psalm 139”. If you are interested you can listen here, or read the full text here.
Psalm 136:1-9 NLT – Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.  Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever.  Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.  Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever.  Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully. His faithful love endures forever.  Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters. His faithful love endures forever.  Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights- His faithful love endures forever.  the sun to rule the day, His faithful love endures forever.  and the moon and stars to rule the night. His faithful love endures forever.
Giving thanks to the Lord is a great foundation for our lives as Jesus followers. If we think about the above passage and reflect on our lives with God, we have so much to be thankful for. These are some of my things I thank God for…
- My salvation
- My family
- This world He created for us
- The hope we have in Christ
- Food in the fridge
- Clean water to drink
- A safe place to live
- People who love me
- My church
- A job that I can work at
- A mission in the world
- The ability to exercise
- Being healed of Rheumatoid Arthritis
These are just some of the things. My blog post would keep going all day!
How about you? What are you thankful for? I think it is worth reflecting on today.
Remember: Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
This is a picture from my ride this morning. Not on my cruiser this time, it is from my pedal powered version!
One of my my hobbies is fitness. I do weights and cycling. Sometimes I ride the exercise bike and sometimes it is out on my old faithful mountain bike. Today, the cooler morning and a light breeze made me want to hit the trails.
This old mountain bike has been riden since 1993. Every time I think about upgrading I look at my old bike and decide to stick with it a bit longer. It has served me well.
During my ride this morning I paused to take this picture. As I paused I thought of Psalm 65:8 NIV. It says, “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy”.
It was a nice moment with God. Remembering all He has done for us. I also got to enjoy His creation while getting some exercise too.
How about you? Have you got any hobbies that allow you to mix fitness with your love of God and His creation?
I was doing my devotions this morning and I was thanking God for the Bible. As I prayed I was thinking of reasons why I love the Bible. Here are 10…
- It teaches me about God.
- It reveals who I am without God.
- It shows me God’s plan for salvation.
- It shows I am wonderfully made by God.
- It tells me how to relate to God.
- It tells me how to relate to others.
- It shows that I was created for a reason.
- It gives us a mission in this life to share Jesus.
- It keeps my mind busy meditating on it’s truths.
- It give me peace knowing I am right with God.
There are so many more reasons, but these are some of the simple reasons I thanked God for this morning. How about you? What would you say?
Proverbs 4:25-27 NLT – Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.  Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.  Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.
In a world that is constantly throwing things at us that can easily sidetrack us, it is important to set a straight path for your feet. Setting a straight path for the Christian means to keep focused on God and His Kingdom.
We do this by…
1. Setting our hearts and minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-2).
2. Keeping God’s Word hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:11).
3. Focusing on the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
4. Running the race set before us by God (Hebrews 12:1).
6. Praying continuously for ourselves and our fellow Christians (Ephesians 6:18).
7. Regularly meeting together with other Christians for encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Marking a straight path and keeping focused takes time and effort, but the reward is a strong and mature faith that makes a real and lasting difference in this world.