Friday, January 29, 2016


There is no one, universal church polity in the Bible. Different churches operate in different ways. As long as churches do not violate Scripture, are effective, and meet congregational approval, I’m sure there is merit to them.

However, in recent times, elder rule has become the “new wave” among churches that, at one time, were more pastor-led and congregationally approved. I have heard lectures on the reasons for the change, and in my spirit, I have some sincere concerns—especially with the reasoning.

Let me say that I am not seeking more authority in my church. Our church is well structured, I believe, both scripturally and practically.

That said, here are five reasons why I cannot support elder rule.

1.  Elders being appointed lay volunteers is not in Scripture. The office of elder, bishop, and pastor is the same office in the New Testament. In Acts 20:28, Paul says, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [bishops], to shepherd [feed] the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” The new role of lay elder seems very much like the old deacon role still found in some churches today.

2.  Lay people are not always equipped to deal with the myriad problems in the church. Even pastors trained and called to ministry sometimes succumb to pride and control. Once given power, it can be difficult to manage that power in the heart.

Historically, we find that like deacon rule, many would-be elders may seek the office in order to have a measure of power in the church. Some will be asked to serve based on their affluence or influence, rather than their walk with God.

3.  Lay people have their weekly jobs. It’s difficult to be up to speed with the daily challenges of a church if you do not live with it every day. This may result in the pastor having a great deal of influence over the elders, who then have influence over the church body. The pastor becomes the authoritarian through the elders. This centralizes the power to a few, and decentralization of power is often a reason given to have elders.

4.  The reason often given for adopting elder rule is that too much power in one person (the pastor) can lead to corruption or dictatorship. Using this reasoning every college should have two or three presidents, every business several CEOs, every family multiple dads. There is, after all, a chance of corruption in any position of leadership. The church, it seems, is unjustly targeted for the sins of a few, and is the only institution called upon to have multiple heads.

5.  Biblically, the pastor is the leader of the church. Paul wrote letters to Timothy and Titus, pastors of the New Testament. The seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation were written to “angels or messengers” – the pastors of the churches. Churches need to call a pastor trustworthy and continue to trust him as he leads.

Of course, there must be checks and balances in every church and the pastor should welcome them. However, the pastor will always be the one who must answer to God and the people for the health of the church. If he is going to have the weight of responsibility, he needs to be given the authority to carry out these responsibilities.

What do you think?

Friday, January 22, 2016

10 Things I want My Children to Remember Forever

Part 2

If there were only a handful of things you could teach your children, what would they be? As young parents, my wife and I centered on 10 things we felt most important to impart to our children. Last week I shared the first five. Here is the rest of my list.

6.  Forgive others. Relationships are of great importance in everyone’s life. Without forgiveness, long-term relationships are not possible. People make too many mistakes, lose their temper, say and do the wrong thing, and fail far too often. Matthew 18:21, 22 teaches, Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven...”

7.  Do the right thing. 1 Peter 3:17, For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.” The key to doing the right thing is found in the Bible, where we should gain our strongest convictions.  Doing right both reveals and produces integrity and high character.

8.  There is always a price to pay. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” The law of the harvest teaches we reap what we sow. We can either pay the price up front (education, preparation, pay cash) or pay the price later (lack of career choices, credit card interest, etc.) There is always a price to pay.

9.  Never give up. Hebrews 10:36, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” We cannot accomplish much if we quit. Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

10.  Follow Christ. Obviously, that’s most important to me. Many children have joined the church and have been baptized. Too many parents relax after these events, believing their child “made it in.” But, was there really a life change? Is Jesus their Lord? There is nothing more important than your child receiving Christ and following Him.

What are you teaching your children? What would you add to this list?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

10 Things I Want My Children to Remember Forever

If there were only a handful of things you could teach your children, what would they be? In last week’s blog, I mentioned that we often err in our approach to problem solving because we believe in the basic goodness of man. Yet, the Bible teaches us that we have all sinned and are in need of help. This is why there is so much teaching in the Bible on how we should raise our children. 

The Bible says, “…foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” (Proverbs 22:15). It teaches us “…to train up a child in the way he should go…”(Proverbs 22:6). What do you teach them? You can teach your child many things, but there are only a handful you can emphasize and plant firmly in their hearts.  When we were young parents, my wife and I centered in on these ten things:

1.  Love God supremely (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5). Who we love greatly determines our goals, interests, passion, and priorities in life.

2.  Place God first consistently (Exodus 20:3). Every gift of God is a potential idol. It’s easy to worship the gift more than the One who gives it. Idols can vary from money, fame, popularity, family, or career. Idols will always let you down.

3.  Believe the Bible completely (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7). The early Jewish nation was instructed to teach the Bible to their children. Why? Because the Bible is God’s Word. It gives us instruction, wisdom, and leads us to know God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

4.  Trust God tenaciously (Proverbs 3:5-6). My kids needed to realize that they were always better off trusting God than going their own way. Sometimes what we see, hear, or experience seems to contradict our faith. Our children need to understand we do not know the whole truth on any matter. Only God knows the whole truth. We must trust Him to receive the blessings He has for us (Hebrews 10:36).

5.  Stand alone courageously. Research shows that nine out of ten children do not possess the natural courage to stand against the crowd. People often form their beliefs based on the beliefs of the group they most want to be a part of. Therefore, if we do not teach our children to stand alone, it does not matter what else we teach them.

6 – 10 coming in next week’s blog…

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Gun Control

Recently we have seen the escalation of terrorism and random shootings in America. Two hundred and ninety-four mass shootings have occurred in our nation over this past year.

There are those who say the problem is a lack of gun control. The argument is, if we take the primary instrument of killing out of the hands of people, we can greatly control, or even stop the shootings. The opposing argument is, if we take guns away from law-abiding citizens, then only criminals and mentally deranged people will have them.

However, we need to see the fundamental logic used for gun control. The premise is that mankind is basically good. If a person acts in a violent manner, then it must be something outside of him/her that causes the dangerous behavior. These outside forces may include religion, weapons, upbringing, culture, or poverty. Are we basically good? Is it really a gun problem? Let’s consider these arguments:

1.  In 1960, about half of all American households had a gun. Today it is down to 45%. Yet, violence and random shootings have skyrocketed this century.

2.  The Bible teaches in Romans 3:23, “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”   That means we all have a sin nature. Something is missing in our hearts. Socialist, Beatrice Webb, considered the founder of socialism in the United Kingdom, once had an epiphany and revealed her frustrations with the socialist movement by admitting that there is something evil in the heart of every person that keeps them from consistently doing the right thing.  History testifies to war and violence long before guns were invented. The problem of violence is not the instrument in the hand, but the darkness of the heart.

3.  The recent occurrences of violence have centered on our younger generations. These are the most educated, enlightened, and blessed generations in American history.  Part of the answer lies in the way they have been raised. They have been taught, “Believe in yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to.” While this sounds encouraging, it is very misleading. We cannot do anything we want. Believing in yourself has limits. Many parents, have “been there” for their children, and have done so to the point of producing over-protected, over-privileged, and under-accountable children. We have tried to protect them from every disappointment and when these children progress into adulthood, they find that the world is not as compliant as their parents. This leads to them becoming discouraged, frustrated, and often depressed, producing anger and a greater chance of violent behavior.

4.  Their culture teaches there is no absolute right or wrong. God is in doubt; His rules do not apply—do as you please. With God out of the picture, there is no purpose or meaning to their lives.

The only solution is to change the heart—to change our center of being, where we operate in life.

Jesus Christ offers that to everyone – Romans 10:9, 10 teaches us,

“…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

What do you think?