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  1. Michael says:

    Maybe I’ll get lucky and no one will read this one… 🙂

  2. Erunner says:

    Thank you Brian.

  3. BrianD says:

    ERunner, this is Michael’s post.

  4. Michael says:

    I forgot to fix the name, my bad.

  5. Rob Murphy says:

    BrianD doesn’t want any part of the shrapnel, E . . . just kidding BrianD, you’re the bestest!

  6. Nomansapologist says:

    Many of our beloved wounded will have to camp here for a while and maybe even wrestle a bit… But I believe that re-establishing this truth and biblical principal is cardinal in a complete healing. Excellent word, Michael

  7. Michael says:

    Nomans,

    You have discerned the point…as usual. 🙂

    Thank you for hearing…

  8. Lutheran says:

    Does this passage also apply to secular authority? Or would that be the passage in Rom. 13?

  9. Michael says:

    This passage is concerned with the church.

    Here’s the context;
    Ҧ Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
    Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
    Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
    We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.
    For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.
    So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
    Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
    For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
    Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
    Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
    ¶ Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
    ¶ Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
    I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.”
    (Hebrews 13:7–19 ESV)

  10. jlo says:

    Michael, I’ve been wrestling with this for awhile now, your post lets me know I’m not done with it yet.

    Actually reading here has allowed me to at least be able to respect the Pastors that participate, just the first steps in the journey.

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I just ran across a good example of this. I was listening to Wayne Grudem doing his Bible Study class. they were about on the 100th week of doing his systematic theology book. He was on the part about spiritual gifts particularly tongues. He went through the lesson as he always does saying what the Bible say, with very little editorializing.

    Well, a question was asked about tongues today and how he would advise someone to get started using their gift? He replied (and here is the connection to your article) that he had not gotten permission from the church leadership to go any further than he did – that he was under their teaching authority so without asking permission to get real personal, he would have to pass on the question.

    I thought that was kind of cool.

  12. Michael says:

    jlo,

    A lot of us wrestle with this one…my prayer is that we can come to a place of godly wisdom and understanding both as a community and as individuals.

    Thank you for hearing me out. 🙂

  13. Michael says:

    MLD,

    That is an excellent example…not only of the point we’re trying to establish, but of humility in living it out.

  14. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael,
    I am pretty sure that his church in Scottsdale is non charismatic and that he respects there position to not teach in an opposing manner.

  15. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I’ve heard that as well.
    Perfect example of agreeing on essentials and having charity on the rest…

  16. pineapple head says:

    I thought it was pretty cool when Daryl Delhousaye brough Grudem to Phoenix Seminary. DD came out of MacArthur’s GCC, where I don’t think they would hire a janitor who claimed to believe in the tongues gift for today. Phoenix Seminary brought on a clear theologian to their staff. It would be interesting to see how they handled that, and why they were willing to do so.

  17. Em says:

    “¶ Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor…..”
    Perhaps if the standard that God has set for the office (ruling well) were understood before the fact, there would be less elevating of personality over substance and then “we” would be comfortable and respectful of the men as a group. The “many” who are called could be chosen from a bit more carefully… Whose responsibility is it to do this?

    That said, the men who hold the title of pastor who come here… aren’t you respected here? Don’t your words vindicate your hearts here?

    It is a sad but true fact of contemporary Christian church circles that the banner is being flown noisily by some self absolved, flaming, flagrant sinners. And it spills onto all of us. I’m not out in front, but I, like many, continue to pray for those of you who are and, like many, am hungry for your good counsel. There’s blessings here – thank you, one and all

  18. Another Voice says:

    Thanks for writing this Michael.

  19. Michael says:

    Em,

    To be blunt, most of the time it seems that “pastor” and ‘scoundrel” are interchangeable nouns here. 🙂

  20. pineapple head says:

    The trouble comes whenever the pastor points someone to anything other than Jesus. Pastors are supposed to eliminate the middle man, but that is often what they become. It becomes even more difficult because many people what the pastor to be the swami, guru, whatever in a person’s life.

    I study the Word and teach it to help people better understand what Jesus wants, not what I want. And believe me, there are times when I am tempted to teach what I want!

    I have to remind myself that really, I am much more a sheepdog then a shepherd. There is One shepherd…

  21. sarah says:

    I hope that this word brings some encouragement to our faithful pastors.

    amen to Nomans point above as well. when we can get to the point that our wounds inform our compassion while not so impairing our vision of those who are our friends in authority, I think we`ll be in aplace of great freedom to minister.

  22. Xenia says:

    I think a lot of pastors are perceived as scoundrels for the following reasons:

    1. Some of them are genuine scoundrels.

    2. Some of them teach and practice a type of antinomian Christianity that results in a rather worldly, fleshy lifestyle which, while not exactly sinful, is irritating to those who expect better from their pastors. When you resent your pastor’s posh lifestyle you expect him to be a scoundrel.

    3. Americans hate authority, period.

    4. Evangelicals believe they are just as able to interpret Scripture as their pastor. This being the case, the pastor is believed only as far as his personal interpretation lines up with the congregant’s personal interpretation.

    5. That old “We are NOT Catholics” tape that’s continually playing in the background of many Evangelicals’ brains prevents them from revering their pastor too much. They don’t wanna be kissing his hand or receiving his blessing or calling him Father. They want to slap him on the back and say “What’s happening, Bro!”

    6. No apostolic succession. Who ordained this guy, anyway? I think the casual way many Evangelical pastors are ordained detracts from them receiving the respect their position requires.

    7. The media brings all kinds of atrocities to our attention that otherwise we would never hear about. I would never have known about Bentley, the Beach Cities guy, Ted Haggard, etc. etc. if it weren’t for the media. I would only be concerned about local scandals, which I would consider tragic but not epidemic. When you hear about pastoral failings all across the country on a daily basis you come to think all pastors are scoundrels- probably even your own, even if he’s not.

    8. I think it is just ingrained in Protests to…. protest.

  23. Xenia says:

    >>8. I think it is just ingrained in Protests to…. protest.<<<

    Should read:

    8. I think it is just ingrained in Protestants to…. protest.

  24. Em says:

    Michael,To be blunt, most of the time it seems that “pastor” and ’scoundrel” are interchangeable nouns here”

    then we need more affirming words posted, more umbrage taken when we see that sentiment – speaking for myself, i don’t come here for the scandal, but for the wise and God-fearing posts – maybe, it’s not true, but in my mind the words of God-fearing, office affirming pastors predominate here … i’ve tried to curb an impulse to chide (believe it or not), but something struck me earlier … there’s a generation that was carefully indoctrinated to disrespect authority – most who come here are in that age bracket i think … maybe it’s a hard thing to get perspective on …

  25. Michael says:

    Em,

    I think you and Xenia have spoken well.

    It was just time to be clear on this issue, so the Holy Spirit could work truth in all of us.

  26. pineapple head says:

    When it comes to authority, a person must know what they are “authorized” to do…and what isn’t any of the business.

  27. pineapple head says:

    …that would be: their business

  28. Kevin H says:

    God bless all the pastors who are humbly submitting themselves to God’s calling on their lives and are serving His people. I would imagine it is often an uneasy and thankless task to continually do this. Although I don’t personally know any of the pastors who interact here, it would appear to the best that I can tell that many, if not all of you, are earnestly trying to do this. And as a “sheep”, I really appreciate all of you for faithfully following the Lord’s leading.

    I guess it is easier for me to say this than many others here because I don’t come from a past where I have been abused or mistreated or significantly hurt by a pastor, or any church leader for that matter. I stumbled across this site for other reasons but was fascinated by it and decided to hang around. I do feel for those of you who have been hurt. But I just wanted to encourage the pastors a little bit and let them know they’re cool with me.

  29. Hop-Along says:

    I believe, sadly, that we perceive pastors as scoundrels, because, if we are honest with ourselves, we are all have the ability to a scoundrel as well. We would all like to believe that these pastors are significantly different than each of us. Yes, the Word teaches that the Lord holds those in leadership to higher standard, but our temptation becomes to take this function of God upon ourselves. Usually, because we feel that God isn’t handling it as we would like.
    Don’t get me wrong. I believe that a shear void of spiritual leadership has plagued the church, and, frankly, our culture as a whole. And even King David was held accountable for his actions by those God sent.
    Yet, I think that the heart we find illustrated in Micheal’s post is that we need to understand that submission is as essential as leadership. PH touched on it well in understanding that anyone in leadership must understand his obligation to submission. Jesus did.
    As to pointing to Jesus in leading, this is spot on. I have often thought about the idea of transparency in leadership. We so often want translate “transparency” into knowing everything we can about those who lead over us. Not a bad goal, but not realistic, unless we are willing to go there as well and be a safe place. It hit me not long ago that the word transparent refers to being seen through. So, maybe we are to transparently lead, so that people see through us to Jesus.

  30. Michael says:

    Great post, Hop-person!

  31. Dusty says:

    hmmmmm

    ” Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.”

    “for they are keeping watch over your souls” – how are they doing this? I don’t know how this is supposed to look to even know if someone is watching over mine or anyone’s.

    ” Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

    With joy and not with groaning…

    ” Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.”

    We are praying, have been praying, will continue to pray….

    Are we showing dishonor? How?

    Is this just a reminder, or are we in trouble for something? did I miss something?

  32. Michael says:

    Dusty,

    No one is in trouble. 😉

    I have a responsibility before God to be both clear and biblical to the best of my ability.

    My impression has been that not only is there little respect for the office of the pastor here and elsewhere, but that it has deteriorated to disrespect in many places.

    So, I made a clear statement and I hope a biblical one about what our attitudes corporately and individually should be in this matter.

  33. Dusty says:

    “No one is in trouble. ” – oh good. 🙂

    I know you write well and know what you wrote seems clear to some…but I still have questions and am confused (as usual) …is that ok?

  34. Michael says:

    Ask…but quickly.
    I have to pick up Trey in a little bit.

  35. Dusty says:

    I guess one thing where I am confused is…in the respect area…I respect you…but I don’t respect my old pastor…I did, but he showed me that he should not be respected….does that mean I have disrespect for the office of pastor? Isn’t it possible to have lost respect for those who are not acting in a way to be worthy of keeping that respect without being disrespectful to the office?

  36. Michael says:

    “There are men who fail to honor the office when in it…the Bible says to mark and rebuke them and we do.”

    So we do not owe those who fail to honor the office with care and dignity respect for what they forfeited.

    We must be cautious in extending that to others who toil faithfully, however.

  37. Sister Christian says:

    “My impression has been that not only is there little respect for the office of the pastor here and elsewhere, but that it has deteriorated to disrespect in many places.”

    saying this respectfully 🙂

    Those who I know personally whom you all might think are being disrespectful of pastors; have been under men who have been less than respectful… have not cared for the souls of the saints, well lets say, they may have cared for the souls of some, but others they could care less…

    I have seen many people dashed on the rocks,
    by empty words and broken promises made by Pastors that were never intended to keep.
    Mis-set expectactions, made on purpose, to save face, later to be abandoned
    one thing said in public, a different story in private.

    The only way they are going to overcome that bias, is to encounter those who truly do care for their souls

  38. Dusty says:

    ok…so I am not being sinful for my lack of respect to my former pastor-because of his behavior…but if I disrespect you because of it than I am…right?

    that makes sense.

  39. Dusty says:

    should have read….”but if I disrespect you because of his behavior than I am…”

  40. Hop-Along says:

    Very well said, Michael.

    It is one thing to no longer have respect for someone as a result of their actions. It is something else to allow our actions to become respectful because of our hurt.

    It is a delicate balance for sure. It why we must allow the Spirit of God to search our hearts and check it against His Word.

    Remember, pastors are not a food group.

  41. Michael says:

    Sis,

    I hear you and I do understand.

    What Kempner is doing to the flock for example, is reprehensible.
    I’m doing all I can to help remedy that situation.

    Here is the hard part.

    Our beliefs and attitudes have to be shaped and informed by the bible, not just our personal experiences.

    I am gently and respectfully suggesting that we have to hold both in tension, the negative experiences we’ve had and the admonition to respect the offices that our Lord established.

    It’s not easy, but I believe it’s needful.

  42. Michael says:

    Dusty,

    That’s pretty much it…I’m very queasy about telling anyone to respect me, but if I have done nothing break that trust and respect then it is due my position.

    If I become an abuser, mark and rebuke me.

  43. Isaiah56:1 says:

    It seems to me that the mere fact that we are shocked when a particular pastor does not honor the calling, shows that we still have a respect for the office.

    If you tell me that an actor behaves like a diva or secures the services of a prostitute or something of the kind I may be sad for the news, but I am not shocked. It is not only accepted but sometimes seems like it’s expected in that profession. If you tell me that a lawyer is known for twisting the truth, framing things to his advantage, or justifying awful actions, I am not shocked, I assume he is successful.

    It is because I esteem the position and respect the calling that I am more likely to be hurt and/or angry by those same actions in a pastor.

    It’s strawberry season here. When I buy a basket the first thing I do is inspect the basket and remove any rotten pieces, so they don’t affect the others. The fact that a piece or two of the fruit is bad does not ruin my enjoyment of the good pieces, as long as I learn to recognize the signs that differentiate the two.

    For many of us this site has not only pointed out a few rotten pieces of fruit, but helped us see more of the heart of pastors who demonstrate the true qualities we want in a pastor (caring, loving, directing us to Jesus and His Word, and correcting us when we get off track.)

  44. Dusty says:

    because we have not been taught…or taught wrong…how should we view the office of pastor? What would it look like to honor and respect that office?

  45. Dusty says:

    Michael, your 2:01 really helps me understand a lot better what you were saying at the top of the post….now I am hearing what your heart is saying.

  46. Sister Christian says:

    “Not only is the perception of the clergy wrong, it’s sinful.”

    So…Okay, this seems close to (what some here) call a ‘broad brush” statement?

    I think you are speaking in a general sense?
    of those who think all clergy are scoundrels?

    Is that even fair to say,? because, who thinks ALL clergy are scoundrels?
    and if they do, does any one here think they might, just might have good cause?

    If someone has truly been under a scoundrel, or several for that matter
    and as Xenias #1 ” Some of them are genuine scoundrels”
    its not a “perception”, for them it is a reality
    not for all pastors, but in regards to the ones they have encountered.

    “let those who rule over you well…”

    Submission is a very delicate prescription to measure out.
    and should be done so with the uttermost care.

    Personally, I Thank God for each and every Pastor who has a heart of love and compassion for Gods people, who truly care for the souls of those in their congregations,
    for those souls whom they meet in the every day encounters. Who have a love of God and a hunger for His word, and desire to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.

    But there are many who have had such terrible, and I do mean terrible experiences in the church, under the influence of less than respectful men, they really dont care to place themselves in that vulnerable position again.

    i dont know, its sad really, and I often times dont know how to encourage them…
    except to tell them to draw near unto Christ and keep looking for a different kind of church.

    it doesnt seem altogether different than a woman who has had terrible experiences with men, even so called Christian men who have burned and abused them. a couple ladies I know at the moment…are so down on men, they say they dont want anything to do with them ever. ( that could be said of men with women too i suppose)

    whats to overcome that? Building a friendship over time with a man who IS trustworthy and genuine, caring and loving,
    But in the mean time, do we blame her for choosing the wrong kinds of guys?
    are we to blame those who have been in abusive church situations and are sour on clergy for choosing the wrong kind of church?

  47. Em says:

    “I’m very queasy about telling anyone to respect me” … well, if i/you wear the mantle of pastoral authority, then i/you respect that position and i/you can expect others to respect me/you because of **my**/your( respectful) conduct while wearing said mantle ,,, whadshesay???

  48. Sister Christian says:

    “We must be cautious in extending that to others who toil faithfully, however.”

    Michael,
    How has that line been crossed?
    or in what ways do you see that happening?

  49. Sister Christian says:

    “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls…”

    Pastors,

    What does keeping watch over the souls of people mean?

  50. Another Voice says:

    Michael can speak for himself, but there was quite a discussion on here several days back as to whether pastors should be paid by the church. The Scriptures that were presented were dismissed in favor of the idea that a real pastor would be an example by working outside the church – like Paul did.

    From my participation in that thread I sensed a ‘vibe’ among some akin to what Michael is talking about here.

  51. Believe says:

    The trick is finding someone worthy of leadership and your subsequent submission to it.

    Should you pay respect and submit to a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing? Certainly not.

    This type of message was once used by Jim Jones…and has been used by many Cult leaders and manipulators throughout history.

    While we are to submit to spiritual authority…we are to discern the spirits.

    That fact is why pastoral integrity and proper stewardship is so vitally important…and why 1 Timothy 3 and 1 Timothy 5 are so important.

    It is also why it is important for a System to take a firm stand and protect the flock from a rogue pastor…with as much or more vigor as they protect a pastor from the flock.

  52. Em says:

    SC posed the question to the pastors as to what it means to keep watch on the souls of the flock – i don’t know what it means exactly, and looking forward to reading the thots on that,

    but i think i can tell where they’re not doing so…
    when i hear the words: “I sense a might work of God about to break out” i start backing out.. 🙂

  53. Another Voice says:

    Sister Christian,

    Imagine a person who attends the same church for years and there is definitely a ‘pastoral relationship’ in place. This one asks the pastor one day to marry him/her and the pastor begins some premarital counseling and feels strongly from the Lord that it would be unwise for the marriage to take place, at least at this time. He does not tell them to end their relationship, or otherwise get involved in their personal lives – but he does advise he will not perform the marriage now.

    They choose to hire a stranger who will legally marry them anyway.

    I think that serves as one modern example.

  54. Michael says:

    Real quick cause it’s Trey time…
    “But in the mean time, do we blame her for choosing the wrong kinds of guys?
    are we to blame those who have been in abusive church situations and are sour on clergy for choosing the wrong kind of church? ”

    First we take the word “blame” out of the equation.
    We counsel from the Scriptures and by the Spirit, praying for healing and holding to the truth.

    ““We must be cautious in extending that to others who toil faithfully, however.”

    Michael,
    How has that line been crossed?
    or in what ways do you see that happening?”

    It’s just a gut feeling I have here and I see it in full flower in other places…I don’t want that to happen here.

    “What does keeping watch over the souls of people mean?”

    Great question…but I have to go celebrate…back tonight.

  55. Hop-Along says:

    Party on, Micheal!

  56. Dusty says:

    Another Voice, your example….an example to what? disrespect? looking out for their souls? I don’t get it.

  57. Another Voice says:

    Example for your 2:33 question about ‘obey..for they watch..’

  58. Sister Christian says:

    Michael,

    Thank you! Have a wonderful time with Trey!!!!

  59. Sister Christian says:

    Another Voice,

    Are you saying, that to disagree with a pastor is equivalent to disrespect?

  60. Another Voice says:

    On an even more general level – do you think there is anything legitimate about pastoral counseling?

    Yes, I know about the problems with abuse and the like.

    But, assuming we are talking about a caring Pastor walking with the Lord, should he EVER counsel people? EVER?

    If so, then should they submit to his counsel?

    Again, it is assumed they come to him – not the pastor looking to ‘lord it over’ the flock and delve into the personal lives of the people.

  61. Another Voice says:

    Are you saying, that to disagree with a pastor is equivalent to disrespect?
    —————————————————
    The whole respect/disrespect thing I will let Michael explain. They are his words. I am answering (trying to) your other question.

  62. Dusty says:

    Another Voice, how is not agreeing with the pastor…they could lose their soul because they disagreed with the pastor?

  63. Another Voice says:

    they could lose their soul because they disagreed with the pastor?
    ——————————————————————————-
    Is this a serious question?

    Life is not just about salvation. The TRUE pastor/shepherd (the one who seeks to model Jesus) does not just want to produce sheep (evangelism) but care for and nourish the sheep already in the flock.

    Souls can be badly damaged out there in this fallen world, without being lost. That should go without saying around this blog.

  64. Reuben says:

    Great post! I agree with Nomans up there @6. Watching my own pastor teach through this recently, it was like watching any seasoned pastor talk about tithing, a very uncomfortable topic, and one that takes quite a bit of humility to present. I have experience with the whole shepherding mentality, and this verse can be butchered.

    I don’t like the title pastor, I prefer “Utility Player”. Thats what I am anyway, so I like it better. I will do what needs to be done in service to the Body of Christ, be it preaching, teaching, picking up the people who can’t drive to church, making coffee, cleaning carpet.

  65. Dusty says:

    Another Voice, I am asking seriously….I am trying to figure out what is being taught…

    A pastor has every right to refuse to perform the ceremony. But I don’t understand how a pastor should have the final say over a life decision of another person. Are we to assume a pastor has more of a connection to God concerning our life? Did I read that wrong?

  66. Another Voice says:

    However, successful counseling is based on guiding people to make their own decisions based on their understanding of a biblical worldview and hearing God’s voice on their own.
    —————————————————————————
    Very true in most cases. I could not agree more, and why I try to not get too personal in a lot of counseling situations. It has to be their call.

    Sometimes however, the Scripture is quite clear, and just needs to be declared (and the passage shown). The last thing there is to encourage them to hear God’s voice on that one. God has already spoken – now the need is to obey God’s voice.

    These tend to be far shorter ‘sessions’ – Sometimes people WANT to do what the Word says, they just don’t know what it says. I can show them, they will say ‘OK’ and we pray.

    If they want to fight what the Word says, because THEIR situation is different, it really is hard to justify spending a lot more time on the topic.

  67. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I wonder how many people go to their pastor and say “what should I do…?” and then ignore his word? It seems to me, if you are going to ask, you should already have your mind set to do what he says whether you like it or nor – or else why ask?

  68. Another Voice says:

    But I don’t understand how a pastor should have the final say over a life decision of another person. Are we to assume a pastor has more of a connection to God concerning our life? Did I read that wrong?
    ——————————————————————————-
    First, lets remember the Scripture is talking to the congregant, not the pastor. The point being one of a pastor who cares for the people, and who drawing on years of experience coupled with the guidance of Scripture, suggests that the marriage wait for 6 months.

    Do you then listen to him or not.

    The rest of your conclusion does not follow. It doesn’t mean the pastor has the FINAL SAY over a life decision. I can’t MAKE somebody listen to me, nor enforce anything on them. Nor does it imply that the pastor, because of the office, hears God’s voice more clearly than the individual. I would NEVER say that.

    However, sometimes we are a little blinded to things, especially in an area where we have no experience. Someone who was walked where we have years before, and can draw on experience can be quite an asset – and note, that does not HAVE to be a pastor either. This is why the Bible tells the older women to teach the younger for example.

    I have to run now – but unlike Michael there is no birthday cake in my future.

  69. Reuben says:

    MLD @69,

    Man, I can’t even begin to tell you how true that is from experience. Especially with people on the verge of divorce. When I talk with teens, I start by asking them, “What are you planning on doing?” More often than not, they have their minds made up already.

  70. Dusty says:

    I fear we are talking in circles Another Voice…my conclusion was only based on your statement that you exampled of a pastor caring for the soul of another…I still fail to see how this is answering the first question…and you seem to be adding in more detail to your example to make your statement more true – that the pastor in this case was right and the couple was wrong…but it is not helping me to understand it any better.

    What does it look like for a pastor to keep watch over our souls…What does keeping watch over the souls of people mean? What does souls mean?

  71. Dusty says:

    pastor, pastor, I like what you said in your 3:33 comment.

  72. Believe says:

    Ҧ Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
    ¶ Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.”

    I have found a pastor and a fellowship I believe meet the other end of the bargain in the relationship described above.

    If ever I discover they do not meet the standard…I’ll leave.

    Don’t get the wrong impression…I do love pastors and leaders…and have a deep respect for those who are honest, have integrity, are servants and good stewards.

    Unfortunately, it is not as common as some promote on here, in my experience. I’m happy for those who have had nothing but a good experience. I’ve had some discussions with my pastor and his dad who is a pastor. These kinds of things are foreign to them (though they’ve heard it is rampant within CC’s…they are not CC).

    They have never told me to stop being vigilant about my distaste for what I’ve experienced…quite the opposite. I don’t have these discussions at my local church…because they are doing what they should.

    The PP is a public venue…and a large part of its identity…and its original purpose…is to speak to these kinds of issues.

    This is an appropriate venue for such discussions and sharing of negative experiences.

    It takes a lot of grace to be a pastor on this forum…I admire the self-control and the heart most of you have on here to have to listen to the pain, the admonishing, the venting on here from those of us who have (and are) struggling from bad experiences.

    I appreciate your input and your discussions. You’ll be patient and you’ll be gracious…because you are the real thing.

    You’ll also hear certain things and take warning because you are wise.

    You’ll offer good advice, encouragement and instruction because you care.

    In a sense, Michael is one of our pastors now. I respect him and will submit to his authority on this forum…he’ll just have to be very direct…so I don’t misinterpret things.

  73. Michael says:

    OBEDIENCE (V. 17)
    Obedience Commanded
    The writer’s wisdom was two-fold, the first being an admonition to obedience: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
    “Clearly, all Christians are called to obedience and submission to authority—a call that demands careful definition. We must understand that this does not mean unqualified blanket obedience—the kind that made it possible for Jim Jones to murder 800 of his followers by ordering them to drink poisoned Kool-Aid. Neither does it provide the basis for authoritarian churches, like some of the contemporary house-churches whose members submit virtually every decision of their lives to the elders. I have seen this type of authoritarianism take the most draconian forms, as in one instance the leader ordered all members of the church to cease wearing any modern blend of fabrics, such as dacron and cotton or wool and rayon, because Leviticus 19:19 ordered the Israelites, “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” “About that shirt, Brother Hughes… let’s see the tag.”
    Of course, this call to obedience was never meant to entice anyone to contradict Biblical morality or individual conscience. It was, instead, a call to an obedient heart, as we shall see.
    Why Obedience?
    But before we consider that, it is helpful to consider the reason for this emphasis on obedience. The answer, first, is that leaders are accountable to God—“They keep watch over you as men who must give an account” (v. 17b). The sense here is that “they and no other keep watch over your souls.” In addition, the words “keep watch” literally mean “to keep oneself awake.” So the idea may well mean that some of the leaders had lost sleep over certain people in the church.2 Thomas Aquinas cited the shepherds in the Nativity story as an illustration of such care—“keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:8). The pastors to which the writer calls his people to submit were good, energetic, conscientious, caring shepherds.
    Moreover, their watching over their people was motivated by the awareness that they “must give an account” to God for the way they care for the flock. The sobering fact is, spiritual responsibility brings with it a higher level of responsibility and judgment. As James wrote, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).
    How and why do teachers incur greater judgment? The answer is, if we claim to have an informed knowledge of God’s Word for God’s people, and further claim that we are charged to deliver it, we are more responsible to deliver it clearly and to obey it. I, by virtue of my professed calling and study of God’s Word, will undergo a stricter judgment than many Christians. Increased responsibility means increased accountability. Jesus followed up the Parable of the Foolish Manager by saying, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).
    Every one of us—no exceptions—will stand before the Bema, the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear that while believers will not stand in judgment for their sin (Romans 8:1), and salvation is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8, 9), the works of believers will nevertheless be judged. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). The picture the Bible gives of this judgment is one of individual believers presenting their lives’ works to Christ in the form of buildings. The eternal foundation of each building is Christ, but the structures vary. Some are made totally of wood, hay, and straw. Others are of gold, silver, and precious stones. Still others are composite structures of all the elements. Each life will be publicly subjected to the revealing torch of Christ’s judgment, and with the flames will come the moment of truth:
    If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:12–15)
    While all Christians will be at the Bema, professed leaders and teachers of the church will undergo a stricter judgment. Leaders will answer for their care of souls.
    So we see that the rationale for obedience was very clear for the Hebrew church. 1) Their leaders were so committed to watching over the souls under their care that they lost sleep. And 2) they were doing this with the powerfully motivating knowledge that they would answer to God for how well they did it. Such care invites obedience from God’s people.
    And if that is not sufficient reason, the author gives another, which is that obedience will make life better for all concerned: “Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (v. 17c). The fact is, leadership can be a pain. The words “not a burden” literally read, “not a groaning.” I am sure Moses groaned over the disobedience of his people when after the Exodus he brought them to Rephidim where, being out of water and supplies, they began to rebel (cf. Exodus 17:1–7). But forty years later when the same thing happened at Kadesh so that the people seemed to be lip-syncing their earlier rebellion—“Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here?” (Numbers 20:4)—his old bones must have really groaned!
    All leaders know this pain. Phillips Brooks, one-time Episcopal Bishop of Boston, said:
    To be a true minister to men is always to accept new happiness and new distress.… The man who gives himself to other men can never be a wholly sad man; but no more can he be a man of unclouded gladness. To him shall come with every deeper consecration a before untasted joy, but in the same cup shall be mixed a sorrow that it was beyond his power to feel before.
    A heart that can know and accept such pain is a glory to God.
    O give us hearts to love like Thee,
    Like Thee, O Lord, to grieve
    Far more for others’ sins than all
    The wrongs that we receive .
    But along with the pain comes joy from obedient charges. “Obey them so that their work will be a joy.” The Apostle John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). Paul expressed much the same when he encouraged the Philippians to live for Christ in this world “in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing” (Philippians 2:16). Later in the same book he referred to them as “my joy and crown” (4:1). Ministry can be a pain—but its pleasures are incredible.
    Of course, obedience is good for the people as well, as is implicit in the writer’s negative understatement regarding disobedience: “For that [i.e., being a groaning disobedient burden] would be of no advantage to you.” It would not be an advantage in this life because the strife that comes to the church through disobedience would not only impede the leaders, but everyone’s spiritual growth. And at the Judgment Seat of Christ the disadvantage would be monumental!
    So the reasons to submit to spiritual authority are substantial: 1) God-appointed leaders are fulfilling the high charge of watching over their congregation’s souls. 2) Such leaders must answer to God at the Judgment Seat for their work. And, 3) believers’ obedience will bring joy instead of pain—and will work to preserve their soul’s advantage. Slavish, blind obedience is not called for here, but a respectful, submissive spirit is. Christians are to be discerning in their hearing of God’s Word. They must never accept something as true just because a preacher or leader says it. At the same time, they are to be eager to obey and to submit to authority. Such ought to be one’s first impulse when the leader and the people are right with God. Such churches will sail well, because all hands will be coordinated to point the ship in a single direction.
    Hughes, R. K. (1993). Hebrews : An anchor for the soul. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

  74. Xenia says:

    I think “watching over the souls” of the parishioners would include the following:

    1. Praying for them all by name. Maybe not everybody everyday, but at least get through the whole congregation at least once a week.

    2. Hearing their confessions.

    3. Being alert enough to notice when people seem to be straggling and struggling.

    4. Preaching the truth.

    5. Keeping an eye out for wolves.

    6. Feeling a sense of responsibility for each and every person in the parish.

    I don’t think a pastor can do this very well if his church is too large. And if all a pastor wants to do is give Bible studies and neglect the rest…. I don’t think he’s called to be a pastor. He will do more harm than good.

  75. centorian says:

    “Our beliefs and attitudes have to be shaped and informed by the Bible, not just our personal experiences.”

    This is our mandate as Christians, whether the other party is following scripture or not. I have suffered at the hands of pastors who acted like anything but a Christian. My response had to be according to scripture and not use my personal experience, convictions, or desires to effect my actions…

    Many counseling sitiuations require simple life skills like don’t yell at your kids, don’t beat your wife (and if you do it again, I’ll beat you), get off the couch and get a job, etc. They are not always at a place where they can receive God’s word or else they want to twist it into their own liking. It can be a subtle dismantiling of the lies that Satan has whispered and they have believed.

  76. centorian says:

    great list Xenia…… well, except for #2…. although I end up doing plenty of that…

  77. Xenia says:

    Centy, yep. I think a lot of Protestant pastors hear a lot of confessions although in a more informal way.

  78. brian says:

    What was rather funny, when I was like that, not grumbling obeyed my spiritual leaders etc it made them resent the heck out of me. I am a man pleaser, I am manipulative, I need to grow a pair etc. Personally I have given up on that part, well most parts of faith groups. I really dont know why it comes out this way.

  79. Dusty says:

    Xenia, (4:12), don’t we all(most of us, some of us?) do those 6 things anyway…I can name at least 6 women here who do that …how is a pastor’s watching different to become an office?

  80. Michael says:

    “how is a pastor’s watching different to become an office?”

    We’re accountable before God for it.

  81. Bob says:

    This is one of the best if not the best comment here today:

    “The trouble comes whenever the pastor points someone to anything other than Jesus. Pastors are supposed to eliminate the middle man, but that is often what they become. It becomes even more difficult because many people what the pastor to be the swami, guru, whatever in a person’s life.

    I study the Word and teach it to help people better understand what Jesus wants, not what I want. And believe me, there are times when I am tempted to teach what I want!

    I have to remind myself that really, I am much more a sheepdog then a shepherd. There is One shepherd…”

    This is one of the worst:

    “Evangelicals believe they are just as able to interpret Scripture as their pastor. This being the case, the pastor is believed only as far as his personal interpretation lines up with the congregant’s personal interpretation. ”

    Both are worth repeating.

  82. centorian says:

    Bob,

    This is one of the worst:

    “Evangelicals believe they are just as able to interpret Scripture as their pastor. This being the case, the pastor is believed only as far as his personal interpretation lines up with the congregant’s personal interpretation. ”

    The worst? I’ve actually found that to be true more often than I would like. There are some that just want a talking head at the podium that agrees with them.

  83. ryan couch says:

    MLD,

    I am a big fan of Grudem…a theologian who has bridged the gap between the Charismatics and the Reformers. That isn’t easy to do…he’s brought a whole new look at the Holy Spirit and the gifts within the Calvinist camp.

    I use Grudem’s stuff (including those podcasts) for developing leaders and discipleship.

    His son (Elliot) is a Presbyterian and A29 pastor in N.C. – I would love to hear Wayne and his discuss infant baptism.

    🙂

  84. David Sloane says:

    I have to disagree with the male only ministry model/position. There are examples in the Word of female ministers. My point is to long to type here so I put it on my blog over here:
    http://shekinahfellowship.blogspot.com/

    As always the Word of God is the plum line by which we gage these things.

  85. Xenia says:

    Dusty, I agree that we can all do the things on my little list but the Scriptures say that the pastor is accountable to God for doing them. He is given watch over a group of people who are especially in his care. At least, that’s how I see it.

  86. Believe says:

    Michael…liked your 4:07pm very much.

  87. papias says:

    Piney,

    Your 11:29 post was spot on!

    I love the sheepdog angle.

  88. Another Voice says:

    Dusty, let’s try it this way. What do you think the Word is telling you? In what areas can you see a requirement from God to obey the spiritual leadership.

  89. Believe says:

    Someone posted, “Evangelicals believe they are just as able to interpret Scripture as their pastor. This being the case, the pastor is believed only as far as his personal interpretation lines up with the congregant’s personal interpretation.”

    Here’s another take…we are to be Bereans.

    Acts 17:11

    Sometimes you pastors are wrong…and your attitude, when confronted by someone from your flock who has questions or disagreements with your interpretation…should be one of humility…not yelling at them (drawing from testimonies of women who were spiritually abused by my step-dad).

    You’re never going to “please” everyone. Never. Don’t (Bob) sweat it.

    It’s more important how you treat the people who get miffed or question responsibly.

    You can me totally in the right as a pastor…yet be so wrong in how you handle the situation. How you handle the person is more important to God, IMO.

  90. Believe says:

    me = be

  91. Michael says:

    “Sometimes you pastors are wrong…and your attitude, when confronted by someone from your flock who has questions or disagreements with your interpretation…should be one of humility…not yelling at them (drawing from testimonies of women who were spiritually abused by my step-dad).”

    I’m not your step-dad.
    He’s not here.

    Most of “us pastors” will spend as much time as is necessary to explain anything we are asked.
    Most of “us pastors” have spent and continue to spend thousands of dollars and that many hours to be able to speak with understanding and authority to those God has trusted us with.

    No damn wonder more people are leaving the ministry than are going in…

  92. Another Voice says:

    Believe, I’m obviously not supporting the idea of yelling at people with questions…that is insane.

    But the Bereans received the Word and THEN went and checked it out. I don’t read of the Bereans challenging Paul after service, do you?

    Humility works both ways. I think the pastor earns a degree of clout in his understanding of the Bible – but it does have to be EARNED.

    Once earned, storming up after service to say you disagree because your favorite TV or radio preacher teaches it differently, is not being a Berean. It is what Michael and I were mentioning in the other thread. And yes, it is hard to express this without sounding arrogant.

    I can only lead by example in this. I give people an open ear, and am kind to all, but I’m not going to argue with someone who I know has not really studied the issue and is just talking out of their backside. At some point I will shut it down, and I will probably be accused of not being ‘humble’ when I do so.

  93. Believe says:

    And this ““The trouble comes whenever the pastor points someone to anything other than Jesus. Pastors are supposed to eliminate the middle man, but that is often what they become. It becomes even more difficult because many people what the pastor to be the swami, guru, whatever in a person’s life.”

    This is most often the case in my many experiences.

    People are by nature suck ups when around people of celebrity and / or authority.

    Our culture worships at that alter…and the church is permeated with our culture…it wreaks of it.

    Certainly there are detractors in the church…but they are a part of the Body. I have often found the antagonists and the questioners in the church to do more good for the Body than the Sycophant butt kissers.

    LHT and the ODM’s play a part in the Body. They may be small-minded legalistic illogical twits at times…but they’re likely saved…and often rail on issues that should be discussed (often with a different answer than they come up with). Not saying I agree with them…and they should be confronted…but what I’m learning is that we all have a part to play in this Divine Story.

    The devil was created by God for a purpose. Man was created with the capacity for evil. Why is that?

    God is in control…yet He allows evil…in fact created men and the devil and the fallen angels…with full knowledge of their capacity for evil…and foreknowing the evil they would do.

    God is the Creator of all…but only the Father of His people.

    Everyone, every being, every thing…serves a purpose that ultimately pleases God and brings Him glory….

    …LHT, my step-dad, Kempner, Heitzig, Bentley, all of us, even unregenerate bastards and even the devil himself.

    Even Judgment brings God glory…as much as obedience and repentance?

  94. Believe says:

    …either that or God is Self-Limiting…an interesting theory.

  95. Dusty says:

    Another Voice,

    the word obey does not mean to do every thing they say…it can mean trust, , have confidence, make friends, persuade, yield…I do all those things with many of the pastors here…I have made friends with them, I trust them, I have confidence in them, I yield to them, I sometimes persuade them 😉

    I think I honor them by trying to learn what they are teaching, and by praying often for them and reaching out to them, but I guess they will have to verify the truth of that.

  96. Dusty says:

    also, for me to completely obey another man in every area of my life I don’t think would be Biblical…I am married to a Godly man whom I do obey completely in every area.

  97. Believe says:

    Michael said, “No damn wonder more people are leaving the ministry than are going in…”

    That might be a good trend. Right now, there are too many who shouldn’t be in ministry, IMO…

    Maybe God is working by doing some pruning.

  98. Dusty says:

    Michael, I can understand your frustrations.

    I hope my questions are not adding to that. Please know my questions are only to try to better understand what you are teaching and in know way questioning your integrity or leadership.

  99. Bob says:

    Cent:

    My point is people will stand on their own before God, there will be no free ride because the pastor instructed them wrong. But of course if pastors teach people wrong there will be a price for their actions.

    No where in scripture do I see God saying, “I know that horrible priest misled you, here’s your free ticket, come on in.”

    I say more power to those who question what they hear. God wants people who love Him with all their mind soul and power and He commands us to teach the same to others.

    Bring on the Bereans! Praise God, for He reigns above all (not some man led organization(s)).

  100. Believe says:

    AV said, “Believe, I’m obviously not supporting the idea of yelling at people with questions…that is insane.”

    Believe says: Yes…I know you’re not…(straw man).

    AV said, “But the Bereans received the Word and THEN went and checked it out. I don’t read of the Bereans challenging Paul after service, do you?”

    Believe says: OK. So if people don’t follow this example…so what? You are to forgive 70 times 7. You are to example Christ. You say you meet the standard to be a pastor. So meet the standard and quit whining.

    AV said, “Humility works both ways. I think the pastor earns a degree of clout in his understanding of the Bible – but it does have to be EARNED.”

    Believe says: Earns a degree of clout? ROTFLMAO! Good luck with that attitude. God’s going to humble you.

    AV said, “Once earned, storming up after service to say you disagree because your favorite TV or radio preacher teaches it differently, is not being a Berean. It is what Michael and I were mentioning in the other thread. And yes, it is hard to express this without sounding arrogant.”

    Believe says: I agree with you about the sounding arrogant part.

    AV said, “I can only lead by example in this. I give people an open ear, and am kind to all, but I’m not going to argue with someone who I know has not really studied the issue and is just talking out of their backside. At some point I will shut it down, and I will probably be accused of not being ‘humble’ when I do so.”

    Believe says: Then lead by example and don’t argue with them. Hear them out. Be respectful…gracious…exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. You’ll be accused? Count it as joy. Take it. If you want to be a pastor…you are to be like Christ! It is a HIGH calling.

  101. jlo says:

    Most of the Pastors on PP take the time needed and the patience needed to answer our questions, which is one of the many reasons I lurk and learn here.

    I’ve written and deleted soooooo many post today, all of them chronicling the shoddy treatment we received at our ex CC. The post on marriage counseling by Another Voice really set me off because it so closely mirrored my experience. I was ready to really light into him with the pain and anger I still sometimes feel about it. I’m kind of agreeing with what Dusty is posting, but I think that Another Voice is not coming across as he would like or maybe this is just one of those things that I won’t agree with him on.
    But you know a funny thing happened as I was proof reading my post, I remembered how often I am encouraged by what he has posted, and wondered if perhaps I was too close to his illustration point to be objective about what he was trying to say. Sorry Another Voice.

    Maybe it’s a good thing that I am such a poor speller and have to proof what I write very closely. 🙂

  102. Xenia says:

    Why can’t this mean what it obviously appears to mean?

    >>Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account<<

    It says to obey and submit to our leaders. Why? Because they are keeping watch over our souls and they are going to have to explain their action or inaction to God at the end of the age. We should behave towards our leaders in such a way that watching over us is a joy, not a drag.

    What is there to argue about? Sure there's scoundrels in the ministry but that's the exception, not the rule. I've been a Christan for over fifty years and have attended all kinds of churches and I never had a pastor who I would call a scoundrel. While I'm a member (or attendee) of a particular church, I try to obey the pastor. That's what the scripture says I should do. If I can no longer, for reasons of conscience or conflicting theology, obey the pastor anymore, it's time to move on.

  103. Another Voice says:

    Dusty,

    A distinction without muh difference if you ask me.

    First, I never said ‘do everything they say’ so I’m not going to defend a point I never said. I’ve done that three times in this thread already.

    But once more, the command is to the member, not the pastor. What do YOU think the Bible is commanding you to do?

    So if you trust me, have confidence in me, yield to me…sounds like you will probably do what I suggest. If you don’t, it really is not my issue – it is your issue.

    Like MLD said, why ask me in the first place? A lot of people ask around until they find one person who says what they already decided they were going to do – except now they see some sort of pastoral validation in it – even if it took six pastors at four churches to find the one that would say what they want to hear.

    Since you are bringing out an exegetical point about the word, obey, I would note that the whole verse also includes ‘rule over’ and ‘submissive’

    17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Heb 13:17

    Sometimes, obey means obey. – even in Greek 🙂

  104. Dusty says:

    gosh Believe…do you realize how harsh you are sounding? 🙁

  105. Bob says:

    jlo:

    My impression of AV is he is a CC pastor but I have to agree with him that to disagree with a pastor’s teaching and then disrespectfully challenging him (or even her) is wrong. I can’t think of one pastor teacher I agree 100% with but that has never stopped me from respecting them and listening to their teachings (even head strong CC “Moses” types).

    What is wrong from a pastoral stand point is to demand respect and subservient behavior from others because of his/her position. This, I believe, can lead to abuse and Jim Jones kind of behavior. There is no requirement to “drink the kool-aid and eat the jello, faith and church should always be a voluntary thing and when the drinks and desserts just don’t smell or taste right it’s time to do something. Sometimes confronting the leaders in a respectful way is necessary. But please be gentle because the age old sage has said, “what goes around comes around.”

    Bob’s out of here!

  106. Another Voice says:

    Quite a contrast in two posts.

    jlo apologizes to me for something that never actually got posted. (Thanks jlo)

    believe, who has never met me, rebukes me on the right way to be a pastor and predicts my humbling by God.

    Fascinating..

  107. Michael says:

    Believe,

    You’ve now completely exhausted my patience.

    Let me tell you about pruning…the guys like your step father never leave.

    The ones who leave are the ones who finally get enough of the bulls.. you just threw all over AV and decide to let people have exactly what they deserve.

    You have no clue…NONE…about what it takes to do this job.

  108. Dusty says:

    Another Voice, are you taking offense at my questions? I am not trying to trip you up…I am trying to learn.

    Even when obey means obey, rule over and submit…I obey, submit….

    so what do I think God is commanding me to do is not good enough if God has appointed a pastor to teach me the correct interpretation of the verse…

  109. Another Voice says:

    Bob at 7:39 gets it totally.

    Thanks Bob.

  110. Bessarabian says:

    So! Do you think there might be a crisis of trust in the sheep/shepherd relationship? Don’t stop now. You who are pastors, please tell me how you plan to gain our trust. I have never claimed to be called by God, you do. How would you prove that or do you not have to? I have great respect for the “office” of pastor. Sadly, in 45 years as a believer have I seen anyone worthy to occupy the space. I really do not know a pastors heart until I make mine vulnerable. Been there/ done that. Yes, pastors are held accountable by God
    and may God have mercy on them. As for me I wait and watch.

  111. Michael says:

    I’ve used my “pastoral authority” three times in the last 11 years.

    Twice to make people go to the doctor and once to allow the church to pay for a surgical procedure.

    What a despot!

  112. Dusty says:

    Xenia, I am not trying to argue…I am trying to learn.

  113. Believe says:

    Michael, as my pastor on this forum…I accept your rebuke and apologize and ask for forgiveness.

    Should I take a time-out from posting for awhile?

    I believed in sharing what I wrote…but you are the leader of this online church…and I do believe in the scripture you referenced in the thread when it is applicable.

  114. Michael says:

    This isn’t a church.

  115. Dusty says:

    Xenia, I am glad you have never had to deal with a scoundrel.

  116. Michael says:

    Bessarabian,

    No one has to prove anything.

    We are called to teach and shepherd faithfully and live our lives coram deo.
    If thats not enough, start your own church.

  117. Another Voice says:

    No Dusty, no offense at you personally. Sorry if it came off that way.

    In fact, the reason I jumped in is because when someone says ‘what does this verse mean’ I can’t help myself. 🙂

    I do think there is value though in wrestling with it a little yourself. Likewise, I’m not trying to trip you up either.

    It is a tough verse given the poor experiences of many (and I think you are one of them if I remember earlier posts) at the hands of abusive, ‘submit to me’ pastors.

    If you knew my ministry ‘in action’ you might find it humorous to see me getting into this discussion. I really am not a counsel-pastor. I would rather send you to pastor,pastor’s qualified wife he mentioned earlier.

    I definitely do not think my position alone deserves respect.

    One thing about studying hard each week, giving good messages weekly, as I try by God’s grace to do, is that you limit the number of ignorant challenges – so a lot of this stuff doesn’t even come up. Its not people being afraid to ask..

    Its they know that I studied and prayed over the passage a lot more than they did that week, and so I probably have some solid reason for teaching what I did, even if they do choose to disagree. Quiet disagreement is quite different than telling the pastor he is “wrong” on that passage.

  118. jlo says:

    Hey Bob, I agree that disagreeing with a Pastors teaching should never be done in a disrespectful manner. Just wanted to be clear on that.

  119. Nomansapologist says:

    I feel pressed to share a little bit about my struggle here. In my life, every spiritual “headship” has harmed me. My father, an evangelical minister, abused me growing up, and accused me of being the daughter of satan when I gained the strength to confront him. I have had many deeply painful experiences since then from my husbands betrayal (followed by a complete restoration) to my most recent pastor, who I called my spiritual father completely cutting me of because of my involvement on this blog. If I am being honest, the only pastors who have demonstrated a genuine Spirit born care for my soul have been Michael, Baby D and Dave Rolph.
    My flesh expects pain from those who are called to care for me…
    But that does not negate the truth of Gods Word.

    It remains good and true.

    The truth is this:
    Every shepherd granted wound has been “Gods’ devil” in my life.
    Excruciatingly painful upon infliction, yet indescribably useful in the kingdom.

    Had I not been afflicted…
    Well, you know the rest.

  120. Michael says:

    I’m over the top disgusted, so I’m off for the night.

    Thank you AV for your interaction and irenic spirit.

    My apologies to those offended by my cussing.

  121. Michael says:

    Back just to bless Nomans…again, thank you for hearing.

  122. Believe says:

    “This isn’t a church”

    In some respects…it is part of “the” church to me.

  123. Xenia says:

    Hi Dusty, I know that you are not an argumentative person and you are not arguing about this. I think you want to obey the simple meaning of this verse but have had some terrible experiences that are causing you to want to tread carefully.

  124. Believe says:

    Michael, your “this isn’t a church” comment brings up some questions…

    So what is a “church” then?

    There is “a” church…and there is “the” church.

    Do the leaders referenced in the scripture you cite…are they part of “a” church…or “the” church?

    Do you understand what I’m getting at?

  125. Nomansapologist says:

    Bless you, Michael…

  126. Dusty says:

    Nomans said, “My flesh expects pain from those who are called to care for me…
    But that does not negate the truth of Gods Word.”

    That is it!!! I so relate to this. And to the fact that the only pastors who have demonstrated a genuine Spirit born care for my soul have been from PP – Michael, DMW, Oden, …

  127. jlo says:

    Michael, it’s never easy when the sheep are stirred. Frankly I was challenged and very blessed to be able to process all of this today, thank you. Praying for a peaceful night for you this evening.

  128. Dusty says:

    hi angel voice.

  129. Nomansapologist says:

    Oh Dusterooo…
    My soul weeps for the things you have endured 🙁
    These men here, are Gods true voice.

    You are worth fighting for.
    You are worth so much.

    You are the very joy that was set before your Jesus when He chose to lay His life down freely…
    For you.

    Beloved daughter.

    How precious and valuable you are…
    Could you ever truly know?

  130. Sarah says:

    I’m genuinely curious….Believe and the others who have only experienced shepherds who abuse…how many churches have you been a part of? Not baiting, not judging, just honestly trying to understand.

    I’ve been a part of 9 congregations, due mainly to moving to different cities. Of those 9 I have known all of the pastors. All but one of the pastors have eaten in my home, and I’ve had extended conversations etc with. Only 3 would I really consider “abusive”. Three are godly men I trust and respect, and the other 3 I respect although I wouldn’t be able to say a lot about their integrity beyond knowing them mainly as a congregant.

  131. Sarah says:

    I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m minimizing the pain many have endured.

    I am praying that God will protect and increase the compassion and strength of pastors with integrity and love for their flocks. Praying as well that He will use the wounds we have experienced, and that we carry, to soften us and not harden us.

  132. Dusty says:

    as an adult? 3

    The first had been there since I was 14…left because we moved too far way
    second – was CC for 6 years…
    third – still attending.

  133. Dusty says:

    angel voice, love you.

  134. Sarah says:

    Dusty…thanks.

    Genuinely praying for each tonight.

    Praying for God’s grace and mercy.

  135. BrianD says:

    I am one who believes he has reason to be angry at pastors and to totally distrust them.

    I can bring up a legion of reasons, from abuse of church discipline to teaching pastors who preach community and never enter into it with the rank and file to the simple fact I don’t want someone to tell me what to do.

    I can emphathize with those of you who have similar issues with the office of the pastor and the men who held that position in the churches you were involved in.

    But Michael is right when he said what he did in the main article of this thread.

    Christianity is a community, with God leading us all and placing men (and women) in charge in various offices to help lead each local expression of the body.

    While I would not encourage you to stay in a church where you are being abused and the leadership is ignoring or enabling (or doing) it, the fact is there is a structure not only what the Bible calls church (the body of Christ), but what we traditionally call church (the gathering of believers in a certain place each week).

    There are bastards in all churches. In some of them, the jerks get into positions of power, and authority, and influence, and abuse those positions, and abuse people like you.

    This does not make all people in authority over you in a church suspect.

    Sometimes, because of my own experiences and what I have read here over the years, I am tempted to run like hell from the church I’m presently at.

    I stay there and respect the God-given authority of the men who lead that church and help pastor me.

    At some point, you have to respect that authority.

    Not that abusers and asses must be obeyed because of their status; in fact, their actions lessen their authority.

    I do not want to lessen the pain and anguish many have felt here.

    I only want you to hear the heart of Michael on this matter…and not let your anger at the jerks who abused you prejudice you against the good people in the ministry and cause you to offend and harm those people.

  136. Nomansapologist says:

    Sarah,
    4 Churches in my 20 years walking with the Lord. 2 imploded, and one was a long distance move.

  137. Nomansapologist says:

    Dusty, I love you.

  138. BrianD says:

    Believe, from dictionary.com:

    –noun
    1.
    a building for public Christian worship.
    2.
    public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.
    3.
    (sometimes initial capital letter) the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom.

  139. Dusty says:

    I knew each of the pastors, spent time with them and their families outside of church….

  140. Dusty says:

    Have a good night everyone. Sleep well.

    I will say a little prayer for each of you.

  141. centorian says:

    I live in an area where independence is on steroids. Many here believe church to be a contact sport. This place ( that where I live, not the PP) has a reputation for it. I am still learning to be a gentle shepherd even when they do not deserve it. I’ve had to eat a lot of dust, but the alternative to that is far worse for the people involved as I run the risk of setting up a false image of the God-created office of the pastor. And to some, that image becomes an idol that they pay obeisance to whenever they want to assert their own self will. I had a friend who had issues with his former pastor and he eventually saw me through that same lense because he bowed down to the idol of self.

    Bob,
    Your 7:24. I would agree. I was an assistant to an abusive pastor and I heard numerous complaints about him. One time a man was complaining to me about the pastor and I stopped him dead in his tracks and confronted him about his backslidden condition. I told him that he could not excuse his carnality because of the pastor.

    Jlo,
    Reading your posts and laughing with you.

    Nomans,
    Rejection because of the blog… another reason (Chris) why I stay anonymous. Thanks for your prayers, btw.

    Bessarabian,
    How am I going to gain your trust? Nothing different than what I’m currently doing. It is either enough or it is not. Some people have trust issues, hell, I do…… but I trust God to be faithful, and He is.

  142. Michael says:

    Ok…having received a gentle rebuke and a very strong drink I’ll finish up here.

    BrianD, thank you…you nailed it.

    jlo…thank you for hearing.

    Dusty…it’s ok to ask questions… it’s good for all of us.

    A church is where you worship corporately and receive the Word and sacraments.

    We haven’t found a way to serve the Eucharist yet..

  143. Another Voice says:

    FWIW

    I’ve NEVER used the word ‘submit,’ ‘obey,’ or any similar terms in a discussion with my wife.

    I’ve NEVER used the word ‘submit,’ ‘obey,’ or any similar terms in a discussion with anybody (staff, volunteer, member) at the church I pastor.

    (No, it’s not a boast)

  144. centorian says:

    AV,
    didn’t take you for a pastor. you CC?

  145. Nomansapologist says:

    Centy, unfortunately I would advise you to maintain your anonymity…
    prayers going up without ceasing

  146. jlo says:

    Sarah, very interesting question. I personally have been involved in three congregations. One as an adolescent, my father quit due to over aggressive tithing practices. One as a teenager, left due to teenage rebellion and mad at God for taking my father. One as an adult, it was the one as an adult that I experienced the abuse of control; I had a closer glimpse than most. I traveled on mission trips with the pastor, saw him lose his temper, but made excuses for it. Had meals with him where the lordship I’m the pastor and say so was evident (in hindsight) which I chose to ignore at the time. And of course my husband was on staff and saw many many other things.

  147. Michael says:

    The Bible asks me…commands me …to do many difficult things.
    Impossible, without His Spirit.

    I am not a nice man…

    I do fear God, however…and He’s been so strangely good to me I want to please Him.

    My intent in posting this was not to rebuke anyone…but to expose what I perceived was a root of distrust, and yes, bitterness…that I believe could be keeping some of us from the healing God has for us.

    That’s my job.

    To talk to people about things that hurt like hell and tell them what God says.

    I did that.

    If anyone wants further help, we’re here.

  148. Another Voice says:

    didn’t take you for a pastor
    ———————————-
    Centorian, around here that just might be the highest compliment one can get. 😉

  149. centorian says:

    Sarah,
    just for fun I’m in my 10th congregation in over a 40 year time span. Four were SBC….. with some interesting scandals and dynamics. Six CCs, two were megas, one was about 500, the other three were relatively small. It was the small CCs were I encountered the worse abuse, both personally and to others.

  150. jlo says:

    Michael, you have already helped me immensely. Thank you for being true to your calling.

  151. centorian says:

    AV,

    lol. RU CC?

  152. Sarah says:

    I wish there were some words that could be offered that would bring peace to souls that still struggle with wounds…wounds that cannot be put aside because they are too deep and memories keep them fresh.

    I wish there were some words that I could offer that would show that God does raise up men who are strong and who love His Body in a self-less, honorable way. Men who sacrifice and give for their flocks, with little acknowledgement.

    I wish that there were words I could offer that would make sense of suffering that each of us have experienced, or are even experiencing right now.

    That is what this place is, after all…a place of words. Words without tone, without flesh that can hold and without the space of silence to just be with another. Maybe that’s why I don’t think of this place as a church…there is much that can be done in person that simply cannot be conveyed in type.

    So, I’m sitting here tonight at a loss for words. Words that would rebuke when we disrespect….and words that would soothe when we have been hurt. Words that would encourage those who are serving faithfully, and words that would convict those who take lightly the calling of caring for God’s children.

    I don’t have the words.

    There is one who has the power to breathe into our words life, though. We can speak to each other and see the Spirit work here. We’ve seen it before, and by God’s grace we will see it again and again. Times when we will be able to speak not at each other, but when the Spirit enlivens our words to reach where mere type cannot.

    So I go off to rest with a prayer on my lips and in my heart. Prayer that God will guide our words here and we will be whisper a prayer that God will breathe life through our words, even here.

    I pray as well that as we talk of these things and memories and pain are raised in many of us, that He will comfort and hold close. I pray that He will even begin to give wisdom and vision for the purpose of those wounds.

    I also pray that He is working even tonight in the midst of those at BCC who will meet tomorrow. I pray that there will be a turn that will surprise us all, and that we will see that God is still in the midst of his people.

    He love us. He gave us each other to know Him more clearly. We learn about Him through each other. May He be gracious to us as we try to understand how we are to walk this journey together.

    God’s peace to each tonight.

  153. Another Voice says:

    Yes centy..

  154. centorian says:

    AV,
    well if ya ever wanna talk off-line cntorian@yahoo.com

  155. Another Voice says:

    Thanks (annonymous) brother. I enjoy your posts around here.

  156. Nomansapologist says:

    I pray that He will even begin to give wisdom and vision for the purpose of those wounds.
    Ah…
    And the very crux of God prompting this thread…
    Psa 119:66-69
    Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.
    Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
    You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.

  157. jlo says:

    good night all.

  158. Bob Sweat says:

    AV

    I would like to talk off line sometime when you have the chance.

    rasjr826@yahoo,com

  159. Nomansapologist says:

    Night, J lo <3

    It is time for each of us to be released from the pain into the purpose.

    Good night beautiful blog family.

  160. Bessarabian says:

    Michael, I mean you no disrespect. Start my own church? I have 40 to 50 people in my living room every Sunday morning, people who have been sexually fondled, slandered, had their most private confidences spread in public, and they all were thrown under the bus. In the case of two women who were fondled by their pastor, they were asked to leave the building on Sunday morning service for maligning the character of the pastor.The denomination, one of the Baptists, sent a letter to every church in the area warning them to deny fellowship. Every Sunday morning I try to build trust in God back into these people . It is only the grace of God I don’t snap a few necks. So you don’t have anything to prove? Policemen and firemen prove every day their commitment to serve and protect with their lives. Pastors apparently, not so much. Are all pastors “scoundrels”, no.
    Do I think pastoring is a hard job, no, just very painful. I have been called many things for caring for the wounded, all bad. Do I believe pastors see themselves accountable to God?
    Well they say they do. Sorry I don’t see it and they don’t think they need to prove it.

  161. Erunner says:

    Most everyone who participates on my blog has been deeply hurt in their lives. Quite often by pastor’s but also by your run of the mill believer. There’s a different dynamic for sure but the bottom line is there are brothers and sisters who are in varying degrees of pain.

    Those who visit my blog are dealing with depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety issues, etc. I host the blog because I can relate to these people as I have suffered with agoraphobia and panic disorder for years.

    When a Christian becomes afflicted with any of the above their world is turned upside down. They question their faith. They agonize over why. They pray continually for relief. They repent for every known sin they have ever committed. They become ashamed of who they are because Godly people don’t experience these things. Many times they retreat into the shadows and try to cope as best they can.

    When their world is as dark as one can imagine some of these people decide to share their story with a pastor or maybe a good friend. What happens many times is they are told they are in sin. They are told they aren’t trusting the promises of God. They are told to exercise their faith. Some even experience being told they are demonically possessed.

    Imagine a cancer victim being told any of the above and try to imagine how they might feel. As you might suspect many are devastated and their faith is all but shattered. Imagine some terrible scenarios and I will tell you they have probably taken place.

    Many lurk at my blog because I believe they are too ashamed to share. Many will not post because reliving the memories is too difficult for them. People have not shared their stories because of the pain it involves.

    I share the stories of others because it offers hope to the hopeless. If people can see there is hope they begin to believe God hasn’t deserted them. They need to know God offers them His strength when everything says it’s not possible. People need to believe that nothing is ever so bad that God can’t trump any type of evil by the power of His spirit.

    For some reason people don’t have anything controversial to say. They just want to experience God in the midst of their pain. Because I have been there my heart breaks for these people. I do all I can to make my blog a safe place for them to come and hang out and read.

    Michael can relate to those who are broken that come here for relief. He tries to provide a safe place for people to work through things so they might experience the power of God to heal their wounds. At the same time he is also among the ranks of those who have caused so much pain for so many innocent people.

    I have watched God’s power on display as Michael has become a different man these last five or six years. I believe he came to a fork in the road and was confronted with a choice. He could be Michael the pissed or he could seek to become Michael the bridge builder and healer while still being a bit pissed.

    During the same time I was changing from being the most disliked person here to somebody people could trust a bit. I’ve had a few folks tell me over the years one of the biggest miracles they saw here was the change in relationship between Michael and myself. We went from enemies to being good friends and it was Michael that was big reason my blog exists. Whatever good comes out of my blog Michael shares in that.

    Today Michael dared to challenge people to look down deep. Is it possible we have allowed our story to become bigger than the healing power of God? I say this as a man who is to this day guilty of doing the very same thing although in different circumstances.

    From experience I know it’s easier to hold onto the pain. I also know that as a victim I allowed my pain to turn to bitterness and unforgiveness.

    For a year Oden was my Pastor. I got to know him and learned how horribly he had been hurt along the way. I don’t think I could have made it through but that’s why God allowed it to happen to Oden and not me. Yet for that year I never heard or saw anything but the most extreme grace come from him, even towards those who wanted evil to befall him.

    When Oden shares here everybody listens. Because he is the real deal. Oden may not be a CC but it’s in his blood just as much as any CC Pastor here. There are other men here who can be trusted just as much as Oden. If we can’t believe that what are we left with?

    Pastors here have been put through a grinder more than once. CC might be a cult. You won’t leave CC so you’re guilty of the crimes of others. Your governance system is evil. Come out of it. No wonder some may have left. Men that wanted to make a difference were pretty much shown the door.

    Are you bitter? Are you harboring unforgiveness? Has that become who you are? Is God not able to heal you? Very sobering questions. But they can’t be considered out of bounds. If they ever are some of us may never experience what God so mush wants us to have.

  162. Michael says:

    Erunner,

    Thank you for that…you are and will always be my very good friend.

  163. Nomansapologist says:

    E
    So many treasures in that post
    May God expand your boundaries and enlarge your tent…
    For His glory and Namesake.

  164. Erunner says:

    Thank you Michael and Nomans. God bless.

  165. Another Voice says:

    Bob,
    UGM

  166. Believe says:

    E…great post. Thanks for sharing that.

    Michael should share what he did. It is Biblical.

    The push-back and questioning is also valid. It’s part of a greater discussion.

    The exchange with AV…him being a CC pastor….was also valid. Maybe not pleasant for some, but valid…and raw…and honest.

    When honest exchange…good or bad…is feared (and I don’t fear it 🙂 ) it fosters an environment that is unhealthy. As a former victim…God has shown me, and empowered me…not to give that control to others. I am also not afraid to share honestly…good or bad…right or wrong…as I believe God uses it somehow for His purposes.

    When “man” convicts me of sin to suit his agenda…I reject it.

    When the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin…quite another story.

    I hope I am able to discern the two…but if I am wrong, God will adjust me eventually.

    AV may be a righteous man…a good pastor…dunno. Not my call. If he is…he will forgive 70 times 7…he will exhibit the fruits of the Spirit…even in extreme adversity…and comments and discussions on the PP are light weight compared to real-life confrontations with people in his church.

    Matthew 18:1-14

    This message was from Christ to Church Leaders.

    Good guys…you need to keep this in mind constantly so you don’t grace these pages as one of the bad guys.

    Am I a ministry? Yes. But there is a lot of misunderstanding, IMO, about my participation on here. It is more complex and much bigger than my personal struggles. Remember, I am in counseling, I attend a local church.

    And, part of my healing is from the PP, as well…but that’s not the only reason God has brought me here.

    As a place where pastors participate, I believe God has prompted me to share some raw and honest stuff…so you can avoid making major errors I’ve personally witnessed.

    It may not be pleasant at times…it may royally piss you off at times…but, you are the ones who have the “calling”…and if you really truly do…you need to be reminded that to be “greatest”…you must be the servant of all…to every last jerk in your flock.

    The one lost sheep…is so important.

    From my many experiences…it is easy for pastors to soak up the love and admiration of the 99…and that is a wonderful thing when it is not Sycophantic or idolatrous…but be careful…don’t get puffed up…and if you find yourself with a difficult person in your flock…remember, God sent them your way as well as the 99 who love you and respect you.

    It’s easier at times to say the words and to preach the words…and profess belief in the words…than to actually live the words.

    “Well, I have to shut it down…because I’ve got to move on to my other responsibilities…I have a church to run…”

    That type of attitude concerns me. It does not match up with what I see in scripture.

    That “uninformed trouble-maker” has been sent to you by God…either as a trial…or as sheep who needs a good shepherd…or both.

    Wash that person’s feet. Bless them. Leave the 99 and save the one. Or, are you too busy? Is there a special event you have planned that requires your attention? Is there a pastor’s conference you have to prepare for?

    I hope some who read here are understanding. This isn’t about bitterness…or being unforgiving…God knows I’ve had my struggles…but He also knows my heart.

    This is about challenging…and warning…and hoping that some good can come from all of my negative experiences.

    Let me give some positive examples…since the negative can be difficult to process all the time…

    Learn to say, “I love you”….and really mean it.

    I have been blessed by two men on the PP…two men who (as long as they weren’t intentionally faking it) showed me their pastor’s heart when hit with me being a jerk.

    One said, “I love you” and the other said in essence the same thing.

    I am confident that if I were a jerk to them again…70 times 7…they would respond the same way…again and again and again.

    If you are a pastor…and you don’t have the Spirit to do that…you should go before the Lord and do some soul searching.

    This stuff isn’t a game. It’s not a contest of who is smartest or has the best doctrine…or coolest church…or the most awesome blog.

    You pastors who come here to hash things out…and help the wounded…that is great. This is also an opportunity to be reminded of what you signed on for…what you really signed on for…not the “me” show stuff.

    And so you know…I take this stuff seriously…and that’s why I’ll never be a pastor. I don’t have the Spirit to meet the high calling…and neither do many pastors out there…that’s why the church has (partly) so many problems.

  167. Sarah says:

    Believe….good comments, the only balance I would offer is that many of the pastors who hang around here have been hammered on for years. This place, or at least the .com, has softened significantly from the earlier days. Everything CC was hated, and this place was known for that….for being completely anti-CC. Others came in to defend CC or specific pastors and there was pretty heated argument. I don’t know how much of that you have read.

    All I’m saying is you are not the first person to be being this honest with the pastors here. They have handled a lot in the 4+ years that I have been here. If they do not seem to respond the way you want, know that this is not a new revelation to them. They have taken the scorn for others who have misused the role of pastors. I think this thread was an affirmation of them and a simple check for us to align our hearts.

    We have to learn to not be led by our wounds, but by the Spirit…when we confront or challenge with respect it is heard more than when we just lash out as wounded people. It is easy to be ignored if someone thinks it is just 40 bitter people talking to each other 😉 (that’s how this place used to be viewed).

  168. Captain Kevin says:

    Michael: “If I become an abuser, mark and rebuke me.”

    Well, there was this one time… 😉

    Thank you for this post Michael. This is something I’ve been gently trying to teach my family. Every week on the way home from church, someone wants to eat roast pastor, and I don’t want my children to develop a hunger for this. Struggling…

    I have the utmost respect for you, Michael, as well as the many pastor friends I’ve made here at the PP.

  169. Believe says:

    Sarah, I’ve read much on here from the past..and I realize all of what you just said regarding it being nothing new. The Heitzig threads…to say “heated” is not strong enough…more like “nuclear”.

    However, it is not a settled issue, as recent events within CC show. Man sins continually and needs continual reminders, lest they fall into sin. Nothing new under the sun, yet pastors keep on teaching the same messages year in and year out. We all need the constant reminders.

    The other thing to consider is that the PP has evolved tremendously. It is not “40 bitter people”…my step-dad acknowledged reading this forum…another CC pastor who is on his board reads it…many others who will never post on here…many from other denominations..read here as well.

    Even your post shows the growth that has occurred here. Rolph and FYI’s responses in private show the kind of character…the forgiving 70 times 7…the servant of all…and are hurricanes of fresh air to me.

    I am not 4 years into this process…not even 1 year.

    I do agree that it needs to be done respectfully. I keep struggling with that one…probably always will….but will hopefully grow and heal as many of you have over the last 4 years.

    Thanks for the reminder…I’ll try again.

    Another thing to consider is that Public Opinion plays probably the most important role within our Society and within our Church (in this day and age)…if you want things to “change”. You must successfully influence Public Opinion.

    Just the way it is in this day and age. Probably shouldn’t be that important…but the new cliche applies…”it is what it is”.

    For example…left in secrecy…the status quo continues or gets worse. Look at all the church scandals…cross-denominational.

    When the “stuff” hits the Media…and people get engaged…it affects money, attendance, and “power”…and things get done.

    Is this Spiritual? Sounds pretty carnal to me…but it’s what we’re left with today…in Systems, denominations, often local churches, you name it.

    I don’t presume to know “exactly” how God works…but I do know He does.

    When a pastor does a big push to raise funds for a particular project…he uses all means necessary to influence “public opinion”. The “need” is expressed…and often expressed as “not begging” begging…messages on giving are taught…the need is shared and prayed over…over and over…updates are given…more prayer…more highlighting the need. Then, when the money inevitably comes in…

    “Look what the L o r d…has done!”

    OK.

    I’m sure God has done something despite ourselves…but c’mon.

    So, my point is the dynamic. The sheep often are encouraged when change is needed to “go and pray” and leave it to God.

    OK. But, that isn’t how things are done in the church. Not really.

    I have yet to see one single pastor or ministry in my entire life…and I’ve been exposed to many…really simply share a need and then let it drop and commit it to prayer. It is always a form of a campaign until the goal is accomplished.

    Is this wrong? No, I don’t believe so.

    But, it is an example of how things get done.

    You want a System to change? You want the church to change?

    You need to act like the church when it comes to raising money for a “need”…you need to use everything within your means and influence to effect the change.

    The “go and pray and leave it to God” model of effecting change…is not being a good steward, IMO….for those of us who see some real issues and see the problems that result.

    I’ve wrestled with whether or not this is the right venue or an effective venue in doing this…then I read the old posts…I remember how many pastors and leaders within CC…and how many current board members and current attenders…and past hurt attenders, etc are reading these pages.

    This is an appropriate venue…and has shown to be a good thing ultimately. Both for people like me who need healing…and for pastors and Systems who need change.

    It may be incremental…but it’s still something (on all levels).

    I know there are more cars in the parking lots…and more butts in the seats at some of these guy’s churches. It wasn’t that way for a time. Could it be that God dealt with them and they are different today…than they were then? Maybe they’ve learned some lessons and are better for it. Dunno.

    How many pastors have seen the pain they caused and read the details of what was done and have taken safe-guards to not repeat the same mistakes?

    I love the Theological discussions on this site, I love the healing that goes on here…I also am convinced that this is a place of warning and a place of accountability for church leadership…a “Light” to expose issues that need exposure.

  170. justified says:

    I’m a pastor…used to be a CC pastor.

    Have been treated badly by pastors, let down by my mentor, stabbed in the back by partners in ministry, and ran out of a CC church because I simply asked a question, of the Senior Pastor, in an elder meeting when I was the assistant pastor.

    I have much reason to be pissed at the local church, pastors, and the CC system of leadership however I continue to serve His bride because 20 yrs ago Jesus picked me off the trash heap and said, “follow me”

    What choice do I have? What choice do you have?

  171. justified says:

    looks like I used the wrong email and my mug showed up anyway…oh well I’ve got nothing to hide. 🙂

  172. Captain Kevin says:

    Hi Justi-couch-potato,
    Think of and pray for you often, my friend.

  173. Sarah says:

    I like Justi-couch-potato…that’s a great name 😉

    Kevin….good to see you here, and praying that you are feeling some better.

  174. Captain Kevin says:

    Thanks Sarah. Yes, feeling “some better.” 🙂
    How are things with you?

  175. Sarah says:

    Life is really good, Kevin. I’ve obviously completely bombed at having a year of being more silent, so I’m trying to understand better what God is calling me to this year. It’s been a frustrating time for that. When you think you know what it is God is calling you to and then it just doesn’t seem to come together. Hmmm.

    Other than that things are good though. I’m headed back to NM in a couple weeks for the next stint with mom, so gearing up for that.

  176. Isaiah56:1 says:

    Believe,
    We have similar stories, except I was spared the physical abuse, for which I am thankful. Yes, your stepdad was your pastor, which meant he betrayed both roles, father and pastor. From what you have shared, you have found a way to see that not all fathers behave that badly to their kids, you certainly do not. It sounds like you trust your wife not to passively let your children be abused even though your own mother did.

    Some parents are louses. They disgrace the name. They don’t deserve the tremendous privelage of parenting. They do not live up to the high calling. But just because they are bad, it does not not mean that we want to challenge and make life more difficult for those who are parenting in love. It would make our jobs as parents so much harder to live under that constant microscope/scruntiny because it’s a challenging role and we need grace and forgiveness to survive and minister to our kids well (I have 2 teenagers.)

    I think these pastors are the same. They have not said or done anything to indicate that they have the same tendencies/sins/arrogance of your stepdad or any of the other pastors who have sorely shamed the title that we know. One of the few things they have in common with them is the title/position/calling of pastor.

    It would be a tragedy to assume that all parents are suspect just because we know of the horrible (and very real) stories of some. It would be unfair to treat a man as if he is abusive to his kids, just because he goes by the name “dad”, identifies himself as a “dad”, and there are some other very bad people who do the same.

    It’s difficult for me sometimes when I am just getting to know a pastor, not to overlay my past experiences on them, but I want the grace to believe most men who choose this noble position do so with a great fear of God and love for the people they serve, just like I choose to believe that most parents accept the role with a healthy mixture of a little fear (do you really know what you are getting into?) and huge heapings of love.

    Sometimes I do see hints of my dad (not the best side) in a pastor, but sometimes I see hints of him (not the best side) when I parent. We all need grace. I don’t want to jump to conclusion unfairly on them or me. I don’t want to paint with a broad brush.

    Your stepdad twisted the role of pastor, just like he twisted the role of parent. What Michael is offering us is the chance to change our lense and see that there is a proper Biblical relationship available with a pastor. Yes there is obedience and submission involved, but there is a reverent and holy respect for the authority too, and it resembles the beauty of a proper marriage relationship/parent-child relationship. When such love and care is showered, why would I not want to trust?

  177. Michael says:

    Last time I checked this was my site and my responsibility…and the events of last night have left me so burnt out that the people I really pastor and my family will suffer for it.

    Expect changes.

  178. Michael says:

    “That type of attitude concerns me. It does not match up with what I see in scripture.

    That “uninformed trouble-maker” has been sent to you by God…either as a trial…or as sheep who needs a good shepherd…or both.

    Wash that person’s feet. Bless them. Leave the 99 and save the one. Or, are you too busy? Is there a special event you have planned that requires your attention? Is there a pastor’s conference you have to prepare for?”

    How about I’ve got a whole bunch of other people whose problems are as big or bigger than yours and your sucking every last bit of time and life out of me?

    How about I have a family of my own that is my first responsibility?

    How about I take preaching Gods word seriously and I have to study and prepare to feed the flock?

    How about I’m human too and I didn’t make this mess, I’m just trying to clean it up?

  179. Sarah says:

    Something Michael has said repeatedly here and at .com is sticking in my thinking this morning. It is much more difficult to discount someone when we know them, when we know their story.

    Every one of us here has a story that informs our perception and our ideas, and our goals. We have experiences that have shaped how we view authority, and how we engage. We want people to know that we have experienced things that are important to us…that the things we have been through mean something. They are there for a reason.

    There are times that when we feel we are not being heard, we talk a little louder. We pound a little harder. When I do that, I realize that I can’t hear the others very well.

    There is a huge maturity in being able to really listen to those we disagree with. I’m not terribly good at that. I realized this morning though, that I do not know many of the stories of the pastors who are here. They don’t spend a lot of time telling their background, their wounds, their stories. They spend a lot of time listening to us and trying to speak into our stories.

    The fact is all the pastors who engage here do so because they care. They love the Body of Christ. They take the heat here and they listen, and they do try to help. Sometimes they help by ministering to their flock more compassionately, sometimes they help by pushing us a little. Sometimes they help by just showing up here and being around.

    Jim Kempner is not going to hang out here. Nor is Skip. Nor Believe’s dad. They may read, or have others who read and tell them about this place, but they are not going to engage.

    So, and Believe this is mainly directed at you because you are the most vocal….we need to be aware of that dynamic. We need to tell our stories and be honest, and vent when we need to, but we also need to listen. The guys who really need to change are not going to respond….so when pastors here do respond we need to listen to them as friends. We need to not beat them up for the things others have done.

    All of our stories are made new and given meaning only through Christ. If all the pastors on here ganged up and went down to CC Visalia and took Believe’s dad out back and bullied him until he caved…..Believe’s story would still be the same. He might feel vindicated, but his story would still be the same. His perception would still be the same.

    Only through Christ are we made new. Only through Christ are our wounds bound and cared for and are we healed. The scars and the lessons will remain, but only through Christ will our stories become the foundation for our ministry and not the lens through which we see.

    I’m not sure this is making any sense….

  180. centorian says:

    Michael,
    your 9:33am.

    To busy ? Yes, but with events and conferences? No. Pastor’s conference? I attend one every 1-2 years…. Special event? We don’t have them often , but in a small church, I need to be involved or they don’t happen.

    Actually I’m too busy listening to the unfocused, unemployed 20 something who is convinced God has called him to be the next Billy Graham and he needs a severe rebuke and reality check.. Or the distraught parents of an older teen who is in total rebellion, or the older woman who still believes she is possessed by demons, or the young woman who lost the love of her life to cancer, or the drunk woman who just had a fight with her husband while they were coming home from the bar and doesn’t care that it’s after midnight and calls me anyway…. and I can go on

    so add to that the uninformed individual who wants to pick apart my word usage in my messages because there could be a trace, yes a trace of any thing that may possibly have some NewAge/metaphysical/emerging/reformed/catholic/ODM/charismatic/baptist/historic premillenial source that would so happen to disrupt their own world view that they call “biblical”…

  181. Michael says:

    Sarah,

    That was anointed.
    Let those with ears to hear…

  182. Michael says:

    Centy,

    Your reality is the reality of most…and I’m done with the constant hammering on men who have already been beaten up enough.

  183. Michael says:

    I’m teaching through Luke 8…and all the encounters of Jesus with the powers that would defeat us and destroy us…we need a new encounter with Jesus here…

  184. Captain Kevin says:

    “…we need a new encounter with Jesus…”

    Bring it on, LORD!

  185. Captain Kevin says:

    “I’m not sure this is making any sense….”

    Makes perfect sense, Sarah. The pastors that truly engage here are on our side.

  186. Michael says:

    CK,

    Sarah got me thinking…and I’m working this text…and we’re always telling people to “just focus on Jesus” and” just keep your eyes on Christ” which usually means that we don’t know what the hell to do about your problem and you’re wearing me out.

    The reality is that we’re called to look to Him because he CAN work in our lives…that there is nothing beyond His power, authority, and love.

    He’s the only One…

  187. Michael says:

    This little synopsis of Luke 8 is too rich to keep to myself:

    The combined miracles of Luke 8:22–56 attest to Jesus’ power over a variety of forces, whether they be forces from without (nature or demons) or within (disease or death). Here, Jesus is able to heal disease. But when one considers the woman’s action, an additional note is made: faith, even timid faith, has importance and can mobilize God. This woman was careful not to draw attention to herself, but she also knew that Jesus could heal her. Her faith was more important than her timidity. She eventually relied on him. When confronted and exposed, she openly spoke of what Jesus had done for her.

    More interesting is Jairus’s perspective. Imagine the faith that he was called on to have. He hoped that Jesus could do something. However, the interruption and delay had seemingly caused all to be lost. Yet, Jesus still called on Jairus to trust. The timing may not have been what Jairus desired, but events were still in God’s control through his agent. Others may have thought all was lost—and by all appearances they were. Nevertheless, Jesus had—and has—the authority to reverse appearances and to render the delay meaningless. Several issues stand out in the Jairus account: Jesus’ power, faith’s importance, and the patience of the one who is called to trust in God. God will do his work in his time. One can be amazed at how God works and the timing that he uses. Jesus’ power eventually honors Jairus’s patient faith.

    In fact, when one considers the four miracles of 8:22–56, it is Jesus’ comprehensive power that stands out. This power provides the opportunity for people to see God. Such power exposes the impotency of the forces that oppose God and humanity. The forces may be natural, demonic, disease, or death; yet Jesus is able to reverse them all. The last miracle of resurrection properly comes at the end, for if Jesus has power over death, then one eventually must deal with him and with God. The call in three of these miracles relates to faith (8:25, 48, 50). Jesus is worthy of one’s trust. Be assured that what he promises, he eventually will do (1:1–4). Know that God’s power is absolute. Death is not the chief end of humans. Facing and knowing God is.
    Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (805–806). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

  188. Michael says:

    “In a sea of a million hands, Christ will see the one that is raised in faith. Are you sensing within you the stirrings of faith? By God’s grace, move toward him. It will not go unnoticed by the Master.”
    Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke : That you may know the truth. Preaching the Word (318). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

  189. nancy says:

    Isaiah 56:1
    “It seems to me that the mere fact that we are shocked when a particular pastor does not honor the calling, shows that we still have a respect for the office.”

    Agreed! Not only shocked but it hurts because we care so much about the position. It is one of the many reasons I have stayed a part of PP over the years. It may seem like we are anti pastor at times but when we speak up about wrongdoing being done by some leaders in the hopes that it will be corrected … in reality we are trying to protect the position of pastor … for ALL pastors. It’s never been a sheep verses pastor thing … it’s about keeping the wolves out. Without real accountability … we could all have wolf like qualities. When we call for accountability & the upholding of high standards required … we are calling for protection of all pastors out of respect for the high position.

  190. Michael says:

    I frankly don’t know anyone who could live up to the standard that Believe and others have set.

    I can’t, won’t, and if that’s what it takes I’ll go into some other line of Christian service, probably through vocation like most folks.

  191. nancy says:

    “This site , for the most part has become anti- pastors.”

    I respectfully disagree.

  192. BrianD says:

    Michael, in that case I have good news for you:

    1. Neither you nor the other 6 billion people can live up to those standards – so live up to the standards your Father has for you. His yoke is easy, His burden is light, and His Spirit is there to enable you to do what you can never do in yourself (also, He has sent others to help you along the way).

    2. God might just decide to send a giant fish alongside you just in case you decide outside of His will to leave Nineveh 😉

  193. Hop-Along says:

    Nor should you, Michael.

  194. nancy says:

    Michael,
    The standards are listed in scripture … as for wrestling with how they are to be applied … well … that is part of what we do here. That said … usually the pastors that make headlines & we talk about here are way over the line of wrongdoing so there is much work to do even if the standards are set relatively low.

  195. Michael says:

    BrianD,

    You are closer to God than you have any idea…#2 is the whole story for me today.

  196. nancy says:

    Michael,
    I would recommend that you skip the part about getting thrown in & being swallowed up … just go right to the crying out to God part. Much better to learn from history then repeat it.

  197. Dusty says:

    Nancy said, ““This site , for the most part has become anti- pastors.” I respectfully disagree.””

    I totally agree with Nancy…She and I are a part of this site and we are being ‘broad brushed’ and lumped into that comment but we are most defiantly not ‘anti-pastor’…so there 😛 😉

  198. Dusty says:

    Not sure if anyone realizes it or not but some of you PP pastors are the ones who have raised the bar….set a high standard for the way we view other pastors… not many others quite measure up to our PP pastors.

  199. Dusty says:

    “This site , for the most part has become anti- pastors.”

    Nope I don’t see it…if you list the names of everyone who fellowships here…on a regular basis….only one or two seem to be very vocal against pastors….many of us have questions…but you know us…and how much we love you all…and pray for you all…and respect you all….

    Sometimes it seems our questions get read as if they are one with the louder posts ….and seem to fuel the frustration, aggravation, and sometimes anger.

    How can we still ask questions…without them being confused with the antagonistic comments…?

  200. Em says:

    Something may be sorting out on this blog right now – pastors are going to need defending in the days to come – we’ve got to line up our thinking/attitudes(?) – how will we defend, strongly defend their honor and their calling as the world sees that even the Pope seems to be willing to sacrifice sheep for the good of the institution ?
    how do we get clear the turth that we are shepherds and sheep and are not an institution? Not a Crystal Cathedral or a Presbyterian USA or a Lutheran even. Where we congregate is not what we are. How do we identify and focus ourselves and what we defend?
    it is my opinion that when the dust settles on this outbreak of sexual moral failures the result will be, not a compassion, but an acceptance of the sin or, as worse, a distorted phony puritanism (denial). And the true Church is going to feel llike they’ve just finished riding out the spin cycle in a washing machine.

  201. Em says:

    re: what Dusty is saying – listen up – clear thinking… won’t even bother with the ‘IMO’ caveat

  202. nancy says:

    Dusty,
    I agree … the broad brushing & misrepresentation of those of us who are part of this place as being anti pastor is wrong. The standards for the position of pastor that I have seen that are being asked for by most over the years on PP are very doable. Not easy but doable. Most of the pastors I know personally are living up to those standards very well. Only one that I know personally is falling short.

  203. A E A says:

    Some chafe at the obedience, but look ahead.

    …as those who will have to give an account…
    that is so sobering, and has always bothered me.

    Now think about the Bentleys etc. YIKES!

  204. nancy says:

    Plus … the tarnishing of the position of pastor is happening not because people like us who have been hurt by wayward pastors are speaking up … but because the wayward pastors continue to hurt without interruption.

  205. Dusty says:

    yeah, what Em said… listen up 😉

  206. nancy says:

    Interrupting to ask for prayer … I have a very nasty chest cold. I’m very weak & coughing like crazy. I don’t usually get this sick & my mom is getting the better of me. I’m here at home with her alone because my husband is putting in a handicap bathroom in Philly for his brother … my daughter is visiting her uncle. Anyway … mom keeps getting into trouble. 😉 Please pray … I’m a mess & things are falling apart quickly. Thanks.

  207. Another Voice says:

    Sometimes it seems our questions get read as if they are one with the louder posts ….and seem to fuel the frustration, aggravation, and sometimes anger.

    How can we still ask questions…without them being confused with the antagonistic comments…?
    ———————————————-
    Dusty, just want to repeat once more that I held no illwill against you or your questions in yesterday’s discussion….want to make sure that is clear. If I came off that way, I again apoogize.

  208. A E A says:

    You got it Nancy.

  209. nancy says:

    I think something else gets lost in situations where people point out sin in leaders … and call for much needed change. Not only is it for the protection of the members of the congregation & other leaders but also for the ones who are off track. Just because we are pointing out harmful wrongdoing … doesn’t mean we don’t care about the person who has done wrong. The best thing for everyone is for a course correction to be made. Letting someone sail on way off course without trying to warn them shows very little … if any … compassion in my view. It may seem easier but that doesn’t make it loving & right.

  210. nancy says:

    Thanks AEA. I’m trying so hard to stay away from my mom so she doesn’t get this nasty thing … but … yikes!

  211. Sister Christian says:

    Nancy,

    praying for you even now…

    Really like your 1:11, 1:38
    and Dustys 12:55

  212. nancy says:

    Thanks Sister!

    I really like Dusty’s 12:55 too.

  213. Dusty says:

    Another Voice, I really appreciate that, a lot. thank you.

    I really do want to know how can we better talk these things though? It is difficult to do when there is an argument brewing or even blowing around in the same room…but I don’t think it best if I keep quiet in my questions…but I also don’t want to hurt those I love if they read my comments but hear them with someone else’s heart/voice attached. You know…here you can read a comment from me and it comes off ‘sounding’ one way but read it with someone else’s name attached and it sounds completely different.

  214. Dusty says:

    Nancy, I’ll be praying too. (((hugs)))

  215. Dusty says:

    hi Sis. love you.

    sorry gang…got to run…hope to pop in a little later.

  216. Sister Christian says:

    “Yet, Jesus still called on Jairus to trust. The timing may not have been what Jairus desired, but events were still in God’s control through his agent. Others may have thought all was lost—and by all appearances they were. Nevertheless, Jesus had—and has—the authority to reverse appearances and to render the delay meaningless.

    …the patience of the one who is called to trust in God. God will do his work in his time. One can be amazed at how God works and the timing that he uses. Jesus’ power eventually honors Jairus’s patient faith.”

    and to render the delay meaningless…
    How very very true!

    Michael,
    so glad you shared that treasure to rich to keep to yourself!
    it was a great encouragement to me.

    May God grant us patience to wait through the delay:

    to not grow weary,
    to not loose heart
    to Trust and Obey
    to both will and to do His good pleasure
    God will do His work in His time..

    But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
    In due season we shall reap and not grow weary

    Nonnies shared testimony of her parents and Gods grace in their life is a shining example of such faith, patience and trust.

  217. Dusty says:

    hear that guys…that makes four of us ladies who love you and pray for you and respect you…

  218. Sister Christian says:

    Hi Dusty!
    Much love and prayers to you!
    May your day be greatly blessed and full of joy!

  219. Sister Christian says:

    Dusty…
    many years of prayers…

    God is good.
    He listens to the prayers of His children

  220. Sister Christian says:

    There has been many answers to those prayers over the years…

    Dusty your comment has reminded me of yet another encouragemnt
    to continue patiently in faith
    and perseverance in prayer

  221. jlo says:

    nancy, praying.

  222. Sarah says:

    Nancy….praying for you and for your mom.

    Stepping away for awhile as well, have some things offline I need to tend to. Praying for our pastors and congregants today.

  223. Another Voice says:

    Dusty,

    (For when you come back)

    It is my responsibility, and the responsibility of anyone who interacts online, to keep a distinction between who is writing. If I fail therein, I like to think I can recognize it, or it will be pointed out and I can make amends. It is hard enough to be understood properly in this medium.

    In many ways, not much different than the real world. If a man has a lousy day at the office, he doesn’t take it out on the wife and kids.

    So it’s all on me. Keep asking what you want to ask, and if I am involved in the discussion, I will make extra effort to distinguish the competing voices. I never want frustration at another to affect discussions with yet another.

  224. nancy says:

    Anyone else think it’s funny that the pastors of PP have taught us not to tolerate broad brushing. See … we do respect you & we are trainable. We have proof. 🙂

    Ok … back to my coughing ….

  225. Not Alone says:

    We all need forgiveness here at times. I am praying for Believe and everything he is going through. Remember, he was victimized for many years, you guys helped build him back up and restore his faith. He seems to be strong and it stretching his discernment wings. We all do that after we have been set free from a spiritually debilitating situation. I have done it many times here, it wasn’t until I had a heart to heart with Michael that I saw who he really was and respected him more because of it.
    What I came away with most out of that conversation was this…don’t jump to conclusions and construct theories based on a few words on a page. The heart of a man can be heard better through his voice. Sometimes it’s the initial response to a misunderstanding, that sends us downhill at a breakneck speed.

    Praying for you all.

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