by pastor david
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
It has been my privilege to be engaged in full-time, vocational ministry since 1975. After I served for eight years in Youth Ministry, my Pastor and mentor sensed the call of God to start a new church in Phoenix, Arizona. So on January 1, 1983, at the age of 31, I began to serve as the Senior Pastor of my home church – the church in which I grew up.
Being new to the role of Senior Pastor, I realized I needed to develop a Biblical Philosophy of Ministry that would stand the test of time and the challenges that a changing culture would most naturally bring. Consequently, I spent a great deal of time searching the Scriptures, discovering exactly what a Church ought to be and what a Pastor ought to be and do.
The result of my studies was a multi-page document, which has served as a guideline for my ministry all these years. It begins as follows:
“The expectations held by a congregation of its Pastor are often rather obscure and vary from member to member and from Church to Church. Therefore, I have undertaken the task of outlining the Scriptural goals and principles upon which I intend to serve this great Church.”
What followed was a list of thirteen principles that serve as a roadmap for ministry. Here is the first.
1. I will seek in my entire ministry to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and to promote loyalty to Him before seeking loyalty for Church, Denomination, or self (Colossians 1:18).
As I read that again, after all these years, I must ask myself, “Is this still true of me? Am I still seeking to exalt Christ in all my ministry and that above everything else? Is Christ still preeminent in ‘all things’?”
I am reminded of Matthew 6:33, where Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”. Am I seeking His kingdom or mine? Am I trying to build His kingdom or my kingdom?
The Greek word translated “preeminence” in Colossians 1:18 is, “prōteuōn”, which means, “holding the first place”.
It was the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, who said, “Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all”.
I hope you will do as I have been doing today and search your heart. Is there anything outside of the Lordship of Christ and His Kingdom? Is Christ preeminent in all your life? Do you love Him supremely? Are you loyal to Him and Him alone? If the answer to these questions is yes, then rejoice and give God the glory for the opportunity you have to surrender to Him.
(1 Thessalonians 1:2 NKJV)
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.”
A gentleman reportedly came to Charles Haddon Spurgeon looking for the perfect church. The famous preacher told him he had many saintly people in his congregation, but a Judas could also be among them. After all, even Jesus had a traitor in the company of His Apostles. He went on to say that some might walk disobediently, as had been the case among the believers at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, and Sardis. “My church is not the one you're looking for," said Spurgeon. “But if you should happen to find such a church, I beg you not to join it, for you would spoil the whole thing."
The church will never be perfect until she gets to Glory.
A man once said to me, " Well, I'm not going to church because there are too many hypocrites in the church.” I wanted to say; “There is always room for one more". Instead, I said, “Well you had better not go to hell then, because hell is full of hypocrites.”
Since local churches are made up of sinners saved by God's grace, no church is perfect but some churches are closer to the New Testament ideal than others. The church at Thessalonica was in that category.
At least three times in Paul’s letter to them he gave thanks for this church and the way it had responded to his ministry. (Read 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 2:13, 3:9)
They were examples or models of what Christians and church members should be. (1 Thessalonians 1:7) “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place.”
May I ask you a personal question? Are you thankful for your Church? Are you appreciative of your Pastor(s), your fellow members, and your faithful workers who serve your Church?
More importantly, do you pray for your Church, its leaders, and its workers? Are you the kind of member that any Pastor would love to join his Church?
No, our churches are not perfect and never will be until Christ returns but in the mean time, let us say with the Apostle Paul, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.”
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.”
One of the things we seldom say to each other is, “I’m afraid”! This is especially the case with men. Even when it is true, we are unwilling to let others know what we are feeling. Perhaps it is our pride that keeps us from being honest and seeking help for our anxieties.
Nevertheless, God knows the things about which we are fearful and has provided everything we need to face our fears! The text above is just one of many such exhortations.
Notice that the “peace” God offers is first…
We see this clearly in the personal pronouns used in the text, “You” and “him”. This is a personal peace offered to you from God, Himself. Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd” (John 10:11), indicating that He loves and cares for us and proved that by giving “his life for the sheep”. He desperately wants to lead you “beside the still waters”. (Psalm 23:2)
Note also that the “peace” God offers is…
The “peace” God gives is “perfect”, not partial. It is constant, not intermittent. It is continual, not occasional. It is a “peace” with which we should and can be living each day.
However, there is a condition attached to this “perfect peace” and the condition lets us know that the “peace” God offers is also…
Two practical conditions are mentioned here.
• One has to do with our Focus: “whose mind is stayed on You”.
• The other has to do with our Faith: “because he trust in You”.
This “perfect peace” is available to those whose focus and faith are upon Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us that we can “run with endurance the race that is set before us” by “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). The phrase, “looking unto Jesus” is literally, “fixing our eyes upon Jesus”. Therein lies the secret to our “perfect peace” – letting our focus and our faith rest in Christ.
Years ago we used to sing a song called, “Peace in the Midst of the Storm”. The lyrics are applicable to the text we are examining today.
There is peace in the midst of the storm-tossed life
There is an Anchor; there is a Rock to build my faith upon
Jesus Christ is my vessel so I fear no alarm
He gives me peace in the midst of the storm[i]
When you are going through a storm, today or in the future, remember that God wants to give you a “peace…which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7). Ask Him for that today.
[i]Peace in the Midst of the Storm, Stephen R. Adams © 1978, 1981, 1998 Pilot Point Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
Did you ever ask a child why he did something he should not have done? His reply is usually, “I don’t know” or he simply shrugs his shoulders and gives you that bewildered look.
When you ask a believer why he did something he should not have done, he cannot say, “I don’t know”. He knows why or at least he would know why, if he thought about it for a few moments
The reason the believer sins is because he is selfish. He is thinking only about himself and his pleasure. He is giving no thought to the pain his behavior will cause others or how his misdeeds will break the heart of our Savior who died for him and for his sins.
The text above reveals one of the ways God deals with His children. When we think about how good God is to us, it should lead us to abandon our sins and to determine not to return to them. That is true repentance.
Sometimes difficulties cause us to repent of our sins. When we begin to reap the consequences of our wrongdoing, we are prone to turn from our sin.
But would it not be so much easier on our families and us if we responded to the goodness of God, instead of waiting until God had to discipline us?
Too often we force God to work in our lives in drastic ways instead of responding to His goodness and grace in our lives.
This stubborn response reveals the ingratitude of our sin. We sin because we are not appreciative of all God has done and is doing in our lives. If we could only see all He does for us, all the things from which He protects, all the things He provides for us, and all great things He has planned for us, we would, from a heart of true gratitude, live in such a way as to please Him.
It is the epitome of thanklessness to disgrace the Name of our Lord Jesus by our deliberate and disgraceful sin.
I am thankful today for God’s goodness! If we simply keep Christ and His goodness and grace in our minds when we are tempted to sin, we will be much more successful in saying no to temptation and will enjoy sweet fellowship with our Lord.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Every time I spend time with my children and grandchildren I am reminded afresh of the awesome and humbling task of parenting. Watching my children holding their children causes me to wonder if, by my example, I had properly prepared them to be good parents. Would they think back to their days as children in our home and glean profitable information from that experience or would they, without realizing the source, simply and naturally know what to do and how to love their children, or would they, like millions of other parents, be clueless about this task that has eternal consequences?
I could write a book recounting all the mistakes I made as a father and volume two could detail the high cost of those blunders. But rather than writing about all my faults and failures, it would be more profitable to try to share with you one of the things I was able to do correctly. My Pastor and mentor, Paul Thompson taught us to fall in love with the Word of God and having done so, I made it my intentional and emphatic goal to pass that truth along to our children. I knew this would be something that was both taught and caught. This was something our children would have to see in me and not just hear from me. To accomplish this, I turned for instruction to the very book I wished to communicate to the children.
There I learned that I needed to have a personal and private time each day with the Lord in Bible study and prayer. (Joshua 1:8)
Every relationship has a cascading effect upon the relationships below it. If my relationship with Christ were vibrant and vital, my children would be well aware of it. I knew I could not lead my children someplace with which I was unfamiliar.
From the pages of Scripture I learned that it was also my responsibility to teach my children God’s Word in an effective and efficient way. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
God plainly says, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
To accomplish this I began reading God’s Word to our children long before they could even talk. Reading a Bible story at bedtime and praying together became a nightly routine. Additionally, reading the Bible and praying also was part of our morning tradition. At breakfast time, before going off to school and work, we spent a brief period of time in God’s Word followed by prayer.
What was the goal? It was to saturate the children with as much truth as possible. This is such a daunting task that I knew I needed help. The solution?
The Scriptures clearly and concisely taught me that church attendance and involvement in various teaching environments must also be a priority. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
It was obvious that attending church and Sunday school could not be something we would do only when it was convenient or when there was nothing else on the calendar for that day. It had to be a real and fixed priority in our home. Keep in mind that the church cannot be a substitute for teaching our children but it is an invaluable supplement to what we are instilling in them. For many parents, church attendance and involvement are never high on their priority list and then they wonder why, when their children are adults, they have no interest in the church or in the things of God. If the Church, founded by and upon our Lord Jesus Christ, is going to be a priority for our children when they are adults, it must be an unchanging priority for them as they are growing up.
Following the example of our Heavenly Father, I made it my goal to love my children unconditionally. (Romans 5:8)
I have often said to the children, “I love you but I hate what you have done”. This expresses our “love for the sinner and hatred for the sin”. When we discipline or even spank our children, we are expressing our love for them. We are saying, “I love you so much I am not going to allow you to go astray!” Hopefully, the children never felt unloved or even questioned our genuine love for them.
When we brought the children home from the hospital, I realized that parenting is nothing less than discipleship.
It was my responsibility to lead them to faith in Christ and to disciple them during the few formative years they were in our home. This was a task I could not relegate to my wife, the Church, the Christian School, or anyone else. This duty was squarely on my shoulders as their father! By the abundant grace of God and the example of my own parents, along with the help of many other people and resources, our children have come to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and they are leading their children to do the same! For this, all the credit and all the praise must go to the Lord Jesus Christ!
For most of you reading this, these truths are not new. You have probably heard them many times but, as I grow older and my children grow older and have their own children, I am reminded of the incalculable importance of these God-given imperatives.
God, please help us to be the Godly parents you have called and commanded us to be.
1 Kings 3:10
“The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.”
In First Kings 3:5, the Lord said to Solomon, the new King of Israel, “Ask! What shall I give you?” In response, Solomon said, ”Give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people”.
Then, the Bible says, “The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing”. (First Kings 3:10)
This incident caused me to ask this question: For what kinds of things do I ask from the Lord? Is He “pleased” with my requests?
It is almost impossible to pray without including some personal, and perhaps, self-centered request. God certainly wants us to pray about personal and individual matters but the question is: If God answered my prayers the way I want Him to, would that bring glory to Him and further His Kingdom?
On two different occasions, when Jesus could have prayed a very selfish prayer, He said instead, “I want Your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39, 42 NLT). This statement was preceded by a very personal and intimate request but in the final analysis, Christ prayed for His Father’s will to be done instead of His.
I am not suggesting that we glibly tack on to our every request the, “not my will but Thine be done”, clause but that our hearts truly embrace a sense of God’s will for our lives and every aspect of our life.
“What is God’s will for my life?” you ask. To simplify a very complex issue, God’s will for your life is for you to be Christ-like!
(Romans 8:29) “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son.”
Any prayer that does not have that goal in view will likely be a selfish prayer and not one that brings glory to God.
My concern today is that we could put aside our self-centered requests and fill our prayers with praise and petition that will glorify Jesus Christ and Him alone.
May it be said of our prayers what was said regarding Solomon’s prayer, “The speech (prayer) pleased the Lord”. (First Kings 3:10)
“Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you’.”
Chapter twenty-two of the Book of Genesis is one of the most confusing and challenging chapters in the Bible. The opening verses of the chapter are shocking! By the time you get to the end of the story, there is revealed a profound principle that every Christian needs to understand.
God asked Abraham to offer his only son as a burnt offering, in an act of worship. After Abraham stepped out in total obedience to do exactly what God commanded, the Lord provided an animal substitute to take Isaac’s place. In this astonishing story there is revealed a high-definition picture of the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ, whose substitutionary death would provide salvation to all who put their faith in Him.
Besides this great theological truth visualized for us in this story, there is a very practical, living-level application here as well. Evangelist Tom Hayes captured the thought so well in the following simple but emphatic statement.
“God does not want your Isaacs. He just wants more of you.”
It is an encouraging doctrinal truth to know that when we receive Christ we get all of Him. But the question remains, does God have all of you?
You have all of Him – does He have all of you? Is there any area of your life that is outside the domain of Christ’s Lordship? By that question, I am not necessarily referring to some overt sin (although that might be the case) but, rather, to some uncommitted, unconsecrated part of your life. I have in mind some area that you are withholding from Him. May I remind you that God wants more of you!
When you hear that, you might be thinking, “I know that to be true but I find the notion very scary”. Well, so do I at times but it is then that I remind myself of passages like Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”.
I like to think about the fact that God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
When the fear of what a fully-surrendered life might look like sets in, James 1:17 comes to mind: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights”.
We do not have to fear surrendering all of our life to Christ because, as He proved in the life of Abraham, “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
When we are tempted to ask God “Why?” we can claim the promise of (Romans 8:29) “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son”.
It is true. God wants more of you! Are you willing to present every area of your life to God as, “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1)?
2 Corinthians 12:20 (NLT)
“For I am afraid that when I come I won't like what I find, and you won't like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.”
“Did you hear?” “Guess what!” “I hate to say anything but...” “Don’t tell anyone else but…” These and many similar phrases are often used to tell people things that we know should be kept to ourselves.
When we, or others, hear these tempting morsels of inflamed information, our curiosity is peaked and the conversation continues. The Bible calls this, “gossip”, “tale-bearing”, and “whispering”. The official dictionary meaning of gossip is, “Idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others”.
Bill Gothard gives us a more comprehensive definition in these words, “Gossip is sharing detrimental information with someone who is not a part of the problem or part of the solution”. Many gossips will argue, “But what I said was true!” Perhaps so but if what you said was detrimental and you were not part of the problem or part of the solution, you were gossiping.
Let’s be honest. We have all been guilty of sharing information unnecessarily and perhaps even unkindly. There is a curious nature within us that seems to be awakened when we hear a juicy tidbit that might cast someone in an unflattering or unfavorable light. I suppose we think we can build ourselves up by putting others down but just the opposite is true. We hurt our reputation, our Christian witness, and ourselves when we engage in malicious gossip.
Unfortunately, the Church in Corinth was filled with gossips, as the verse above indicates. Sadder still is the fact that many evangelical churches today are also filled with blathering busy-bodies who would rather hear or share injurious information about another believer than share the life-changing message of the Gospel with an unbeliever.
Oh how I wish we were as anxious to gossip the Gospel, as we are to talk about the latest tragedies and traumas, the failures and faults, the mistakes and misunderstandings, and the sins and situations of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We desperately need to hear the words of (James 3:10), “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so”.
I suppose one will never completely understand the effects of such painful prating until they have become the object or subject of such cruel chatter.
Let’s ask God the Holy Spirit to forgive us and convict us of our sin of gossip and pray with the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
“Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
At least 24 people -- including nine children -- were killed when a massive tornado struck an area outside Oklahoma City, on Monday afternoon May 21, 2013. The tornado was 1.3 miles wide as it moved through Moore, in the southern part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The estimated peak wind ranged from 200 to 210 mph -- which would make it an EF5, the most powerful category of tornadoes possible. About 2,400 homes were damaged. Some 10,000 people were directly impacted by the tornado. [i]
It is at times like these that we begin to ask a question similar to the one posed by the disciples of our Lord Jesus on that fateful night in the midst of the stormy Sea of Galilee: “Lord, don’t you care about me and what’s happening to me right now?” Most of us have felt that way, even if we did not verbalize it.
When faced with these feelings of despair and abandonment, it will be helpful to remember three important truths – Biblical truths that will enable you to face your problems head on. When you are in those precarious situations, remind yourself that...
1. The Providence of Christ Brought Me Here. (4:35)
Why would our Lord allow His followers to face such dangers and possible disaster? Remember, everything God does or allows in the life of the believer is to drive him to a greater dependence upon Him. Jesus said, “Let us go over to the other side” (4:35).
In His providence, He intended His disciples to arrive safely on the other side of Galilee. Everything that happened was part of God’s plan for His fearful followers. He was creating a greater sense of dependence upon Him.
Remember also that…
2. The Presence of Christ Accompanies Me Here. (4:36-38)
They accused the Lord of not caring about what they were facing. Why would they doubt him? After all, they had already seen Jesus conquer devils, disease, and depravity in (Mark 1:22-2:12). Now, they are faced with a storm and they are afraid. They should have known that a puff of wind on a little pond could not thwart the omnipotence of the sovereign God!
Do you know what their problem was? They were looking at the situation and not at the Savior. He was right there with them, in the same wave-tossed boat. They had their thoughts on the facts and not on faith.
Before we come down too hard on these men; perhaps we should consider our own hearts. Have there been times, when the storms were raging in your life, that you questioned God’s concern for you? You might not have said it out loud, but I am sure there have been times when your flesh has cried, “Lord, don’t you care about what is happening to me?!” We’ve all been there!
I just want you to know today that He does care! He cares more than you could ever know and He has promised to walk with you every step of the way. (Hebrews 13:5) “For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." When the Lord is in your vessel, you have an advantage. The Bible says in (Mark 4:36) that there “were also with him other little ships.” There were many boats on that sea that night, but only one contained the Lord of glory. That boat was the place to be. Amen?
Having Jesus in your vessel makes all the difference.
A third truth to keep in mind is that…
3. The Power of Christ Protects Me Here. (4:39-41)
This storm, that so terrified these men, posed no problem for the Lord Jesus. He rebuked the wind and spoke to the sea. When He did, the winds fell silent and the sea became as a sheet of glass. Just as easily as He had healed the sick and cast out the devils; He was able to control the storm.
The Lord we serve still has that same power today, (Matt. 28:18; Gen. 18:14; Eph. 3:20). Your storm is no problem for Him! He can silence it with a word, if He so desires.
He may, however, desire to allow the storm to rage. When He does this, He is well able to protect you in the midst of the storm. Just ask Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace – Daniel chapter three. Just ask Daniel in the lion’s den – Daniel chapter six.
While the disciples were fretting and fearful, what was the Lord doing? He was sleeping! Why? He knew that He was in the center of His Father’s will. He knew that He would die on a cross and not in a shipwreck. He could sleep during the storm because He trusted His Father to take care of Him. If a situation doesn’t rattle the Lord, we shouldn’t allow it to rattle us either! And, nothing rattles Him. God is in control. (Psalm 121:4) “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”
An old song brings all of this into sharp focus.
My boat of life sails on a troubled sea.
Ever there’s a wind in my sails.
But I have a Friend Who watches over me
When the breeze turns into a gale.
I know the Master of the wind.
I know the Maker of the rain.
He can calm the storm, make the sun shine again.
I know the Master of the wind.[ii]
[i](CNN U.S. May 22, 2013)
[ii]Recorded by The Hemphills on Together Copyright @ 1984 Heartwarming Records
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
I was born and grew up here in Ohio. I have lived in Columbus / Grove City all my life and I must go on record as saying that I love Ohio.
I hear lots of people complain about the weather in Ohio. They say it’s too cold or too hot or too something. You have heard the statement many times, “If you don’t like the weather in Ohio, just wait a few minutes and it will change”.
But that, to me, is the beauty of Ohio weather – its variety. The warm weather is slowly returning and the brilliant green colors of spring have begun to appear. Then, before we know it, the hot weather of summer will be upon us, beckoning us to the swimming pools.
Then, just before the hot, humid weather becomes intolerable, autumn is here with its cooler temperatures and stunning colors that dazzle even the greatest artists. The cold blast of winter then returns. Thus, the cycle continues.
But, therein is its beauty – its variety. When God created and put this universe into motion He declared that, “indeed it was very good”. In other words, variety is a good thing. God likes variety.
What if every Christian was the same? What a boring Church ours would be. You see, the beauty of a local church is in its variety. In our Church we have the wealthy and the poor, the healthy and the ill, the young and the old, the large and the small, the spiritually mature and the spiritual babes, the challenged and the challenging, the happy and the sad, the extroverts and the introverts, the loud and the quiet, etc., etc. But, that is what makes the Church beautiful – its variety.
God did not make all of us the same and He does not want us to be identical. He loves variety. I think He would enjoy living in Ohio.
Too often, we try to make little “cookie-cutter Christians” with all of us looking and acting just alike but that is not God’s will.
The beauty of His infinite creation is in its variety. What if every tree looked the same and every mountain range was identical and every baby’s smile was indistinguishable? God loves the variety of His people and His churches. Therefore, each of us is of equal value in the eyes of God. (John 3:16)
It is my prayer that you will always feel that you are valued by God, because you are, and that you understand that your identity is in Christ and in Christ alone.
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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