We don’t always feel like rejoicing. Sometimes life is just hard. But there is an important distinction to be made between the reason for our rejoicing and the reality of our circumstances. This one points it out helpfully.
‘The church a pastor is called to serve may not meet his or his family’s longing for deep friendship, but this doesn’t mean his congregation doesn’t care. Nor does this mean friendships cannot exist within the church. Your church family may simply be unable to meet your personal longings for friendship. Should this occur, we as pastors must be careful not to project our frustrations as their failures. Rather, may we give God thanks for the friendships he has provided. May we ask the Lord to provide the desires of our heart, but recognize he may not answer in the way we expect.’
This is a particularly helpful one. Much of it would apply to other mental health issues too. If this is something you are struggling with, or you are seeking to support somebody else you know who has it, you may be interested in my book The Pastor with a Thorn in his Side.
‘Christian apologists give reasons that substantiate the faith. But sometimes Christians are the reason people find the Christian message implausible. People object to Christianity because of their sense—accurate or not—that the gospel doesn’t make people better and, in fact, seems to make some people worse… “If that’s how a Christian lives, then no thanks.” Perhaps we’ve heard it said about another Christian we know. Perhaps it has also been said about us. So how can apologists answer the charge of hypocrisy?’
‘Choosing to live for the approval of God, and not of man, will be costly in this life. Paul was hunted, beaten, robbed, imprisoned, and stoned nearly to death for his choice. And yet he could say, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Not worth comparing. That is the key to overcoming the fear of man. We will die to the comforts of people-pleasing when we realize, with Paul, just how much more satisfying it is to suffer for pleasing God.’
Dave Williams outlines what a vocational model of pastoral training might look like in order to train up a new generation of indigenous workers from deprived communities. I essentially agree with Dave’s outline and think something much closer to what he describes is required.
It is a common enough trope around churches to hear somebody throw out the line, ‘where two or three are gathered…’ and go on to insist that two or three people in a room together definitely constitutes a church. I have dealt with the fact that the context of these verses has absolutely nothing to do with what constitutes a church before. You can read those comments here. But there is a more immediate problem. There is a ground on which we can deny a church exists even without going into the detail of what Matthew 18:19f is talking about.’