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Here is the text:

3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

Shepherds take care of, tend to, nurture, protect, guard, provide and guide sheep. That is why they are called shepherds. I will be candid here. Much of what goes over as pastoring isn’t what the bible defines as pastoring. First lets make one thing clear. Pastoring is a “gift of the Holy Spirit”. It isn’t something you learn in school, it isn’t something you read in a book, it isn’t something you are “promoted” to by others. As Paul says in Ephesians “When He  ascended He led a host of captives free AND gave gifts unto men”. If you drop down a few more verses in Ephesians 4 you will see some of those gifts highlighted one being “pastor” (among many) which is given by the Spirit.

With that said, what I see today isn’t pastoring. If it is then pulpits, conferences, pews and buildings are sheep. Since the bible never calls them sheep then what goes over today as pastoring really ain’t pastoring. Don’t believe see if you can find what is perpetuated as pastoring today in the scriptures. Many pastors spend more time with their bibles than they do sheep. As Alan says  “when the bible talks about teaching it means much more than articulating doctrinal truth”.  Here is a quote:

So, first, sharing these stories is a method of teaching – a method that is sorely lacking in many churches today. We have replaced this holistic method of teaching and discipleship with a method that relies almost solely on words. In fact, many future leaders are taught not to get too close to the people they teach, making it impossible for them to teach with their conduct.

It is funny that man who can articulate truth better than others get a pass on pastoring and the real pastoring is passed on to other man. False dichotomies are erected to defend such a position such as: Teaching Pastor, Singles Pastor, Discipleship Pastor……. . We more Reformed folks love to point our doctrinal error but for some glaring reason we ignore these erroneous dichotomies in the name of receiving good “biblical preaching”.

So on to the title. What will follow will be brief but I think important for us to consider. Lets start off by Paul’s charge to Timothy. Paul says ” anyone who desires”. So the first qualification is a desire. I won’t get into much there. Then Paul goes into some qualifications for those who desire. Whats funny is the only way for someone to be meet those qualifications is if they are ALREADY walking in them. So the guy must BE  a good teacher, a good husband, a good father…. hospitable.

These aren’t things that they should do once they become and Elder but things they should be doing for being considered an elder. Let me rewind a bit. What made David a good leader for Israel is that He was already faithful at tending to sheep! He was found faithful at shepherding so it was just the overflow of this which made him a great king for Israel. I think one of the problems is that most pastors are transplanted from school (they have good theory). The other problem is the false dichotomy of elders/pastors. These functions in the local body go hand in hand but I will stop there with that argument.

So why hospitable? Great question. One of the primary functions of an elder is to provide oversight, guidance and direction by teaching. The problem is today teaching is synonymous with discipleship clasess and preaching, instead of examples by living! You see a once a week discipleship class for a 1.5 hours or a man’s book club or a 1 hour sermon suffices for what the bible calls teaching. The problem is the bible never says that, our pragmatic practices force us to interpret “teaching” that way.

You see being hospitable could be defined simply as “open lives and open homes”. You see teaching me to be a good husband by giving me “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” or teaching me how to be a good husband by giving me “An Exemplary Husband” or teaching me how to be a good teenager by giving me “Do Hard Things” or taking a woman through a “Titus 2” class has provided a smokescreen that allows other to sneak out of their responsibility. When Paul says “Older women teach younger women”. This isn’t a weekly class but a daily peek into my life by being hospitable. “Older men teach younger men” isn’t a weekly/bi-weekly discipleship class. It is an open life and an open home in where I SEE YOU live these things out. Thus teaching in both WORD and DEED are inseparable in the scriptures!

Allowing people to text message you, send you an email, or allowing people a one hour a month “appointment” is insufficient my friends! As a faithful church goer and tithe payer (it is funny how jokers can tell you how to be a faithful servant but aren’t faithful to their call) you should demand more! Discipleship is always life on life! As Lecrae says “after the music stops what’s next”. I ask “after the preaching and church stuff stops what’s next”.

If you feel God has call you to pastor, then start pastoring! Not by lording over and building nice expository sermons, but by being hospitable, so I can see you live it out. So I can see how you handle conflict as a mature believer, so I can see you managing your household well, so I can see how your neighbors speak highly of how you serve them, so I can see your reputation with outsiders, so I can see your example!

If you are too busy writing books (or trying to get your book published) then stop pastoring. If you are too busy going to and speaking at different conferences then stop pastoring, if you are too busy to take care of sheep, please, pretty please, stop calling yourself  a pastor! Why? Because there a bunch of minnie me’s in seminary following your lead and they too will only perpetuate what they see, because you are all over Itunes, all over the book store and all over the blogsphere. We need shepherdly pastors, ones who by being hospitable are an example to the flock (that is what Peter says right?). We don’t need more professionalized men, who spend their time isolated from the ones they are called to provide oversight to!

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Many children are robbed every Sunday. How you might ask? By cute little stories derived (yes derived) from biblical accounts. I hate to say this, but I think those who disciple small children in churches (the primary responsibility lays at the foot of parents and particularly FATHERS), should take a biblical theology class, even if it is a crash course.

But I won’t stop there many Sunday goers are robbed of the truth and the weight of many old testament narratives. Jesus speaking to the disciples in Luke 24 took them through Moses and the Prophets showing them pictures, types and shadows of Himself. However, in the name of relevance sermons like “Casting Them From the Boat” (this was an actual sermon I listened to on how some people will bring you down and you must cast them out of the boat using the Jonah narrative) dominate the Sunday meeting.

So here is what I am going to do for you. Here is a sermon series by my favorite preacher on Jonah. Mr. Azurdia has blessed me tremendously every since Ced introduced me to his teachings.

Jonah
Jonah 1: 1-3
Jonah 1: 4-16
Jonah 1:17 – 2:10
Jonah 3: 1-4
Jonah 3: 5-8
Jonah 3: 9
Jonah 3: 10
Jonah 4: 1-11

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As I move to a different blog website (www.gospelin3d.com) I want to let you know what I have been wrestling with. Here it is in list format.

1. I don’t know if I believe in the sovereign and unconditional election of humans unto an eternity in hell or heaven. I believe the Gospel calling to be a genuine opportunity for mankind to repent and trust Jesus or reject Him and thus reject the God of the universe.

2. I don’t believe God predestines things like the collapse of a bridge as normative. I believe that God knows these things will occur; however, His foreknowledge has nothing to do with the cause/effect.

3. I do believe that God may cause such things to happen, but that is God interrupting history for His plan. Thus God is not limited by creation but allows it to run its course and the trouble and lost and pain we experience today is a result of the fall.

4. I  believe in the total free will of humanity other than when that free will would effect the plans of God. For example, Jesus could not die before the cross because the cross was the plan of God for the redemption of humanity and subsequently the world. However, God’s foreknowledge of Judas was due to Judas’ evil heart and God was not the cause/effect of Judas’ betrayal nor His subsequent hanging. In other words when a child is brutally molested, it isn’t because of the “sovereignty” of God but the free will of humanity. God did not cause this; however, God is also not oblivious to it.

5. I believe God’s mind can be changed. Just as in Genesis, Exodus and Numbers when God made a decision based off of human choice. In other words, God’s original plan was not the fall, not the flood and not the death of His Son. They were responses to humanity’s free will. Adam had total free will, God really was going to smash the Israelites but changed His mind due to the plea of Moses, and David was never to have his kingdom destroyed as it was and Israel sent into captivity. David’s sin caused the revolt of his son, Solomon’s pluralism the beginning of the end for the human monarchy and Israel’s disobedience got them sent into captivity. The consequences of their sin was genuine and God’s foreknowledge of such events have no bearing on the decisions and outcome.

6. I believe all the bible to be true and inspired; however, I believe that many of things we take as normative may not be, or things we should take as normative we don’t. I guess that really doesn’t answer anything, but I guess I am saying that there may be more flexibility in what we practice today than we allow.

7. I am struggling with reconciling the salvation of babies and mentally disabled with those who have never heard the Gospel. If I give one a pass I think both deserve a pass for me to be consistent. So I think I am little more open to those who don’t hear thus can’t make a decision (like those who were in modern America when the Gospel went forward). I think there is something to Paul’s statement in Acts 17, but I ain’t sure yet. However, I think my wife may be right on this. The bible never really doesn’t talk about those who have not heard other than Romans 10 but again I think there may be a bit more grace in that area than many Reformers give (Read Hodges Systematic Theology those who have will understand what I mean).

This is a start for me, but as you read the future blog I will wrestle with such topics.

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Dallas Homeless Outreach

Okay I know I said I would stop posting (again) and I will. However, I wanted to post some photos from our Dallas Outreach. I got to meet a good sister and theoblogger Javetta . I also got to reconnect with a lovely brother I met back at a homechurch in Denton named Ced. Finally I got to connect with another Organic Church Planter/Brother and the Church that meets in his home! Man it was fun, lovely, and heartwarming to see the need and to do this not as a program but out of the love for Christ was amazing. Our pastors didn’t tell us to do this, the media wasn’t there, and the fellowship and fun was amazing. I hated I had to leave early but I think the relationships established will last forever!

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Well I meant to do this a couple of months back. I actually posted about pausing. So this time it is official. Hey even Michael Jordan returned twice! LOL!!! Thanks for your support and please continue to write. Writing has done so much for my thinking and has allowed me to approach the scriptures with a fresh perspective. I have also got to talk with and even meet a few good people through this venue. Actually I have made some really good friends: Tyris, G-Dub, BLD, Alan, Dave Black, Celiciun Joseph, Mike Hutch and now a family who also lives close by though I haven’t met them yet (Javetta). Please leave your blog links in the comment section so that I can ensure that those who read here got some good stuff to read. Especially Steve-O, Javetta and Steven in New York.

Thanks again for allowing me to bounce thoughts off of you all, it has been a pleasure. Hey at least this is one place Jon Paden can’t post (that’s for you Hutch). Some of my favorite blogs are found in my feed list. Please check those guys out! Also if you are joining me this weekend please call me at 972-816-7024. God bless

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Its’ The Remix Baby #16

Matthew 23:37

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! but you were not predestined and elected, chosen by the Father in eternity past!

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In the picture above each way is up depending on the perspective/position! I think this picture describes Christianity to a tee.  As I read more and listen more and wrestle more, I have begun to see a trend that many of you may have noticed a long time ago. Maybe I was blinded by mind own theologicalcentricity. Or in other words I was right and the way I did things and what I believed was right and differing opinions were not just different opinions, they were misinterpretations of the bible. It wasn’t a chance that there may just be diversity on some theological issues. Either you were right or either you were wrong and a certain camp (mostly those with a Reformed Bent) were right.

I have start to realize something. The truth is that there is diversity within interpretations. My brother CJ has a really good post on this found in his post called “The Bible: Theocentric or Christocentric: God or Christ? (Part II)” . That diversity is driven by many factors. The type of church we were raised in, our experiences, our culture, our socioeconomic conditions…..

Not being able to agree on such diversity leads to what we have today. Words like Heretic, or liberal, or seeker sensitive, or Charismatic, or Fundamental or ______ fill in the blank become the norm. Oh, I forgot to mention emergent has now been added to that list as of late. These words are typically used to keep people at bay because they don’t agree with our theology. But I don’t want to take this paragraph any further.

I want to go back to the presuppositions. Let me give you an example. I currently uphold a Calvinistic position on how mankind is saved. I think it to be the most faithfully biblically (as for now). The problem lies when I meet a verse that contradicts that. I have one of two options.  1. I can say hmmm, maybe I need to reconsider my position (nooootttt!) or 2. I can make a theological category and thus say “well because Calvinism is correct this scripture can’t mean that”. 

Now if presuppositions drives my interpretation number 2 is the only viable option. There is no way the bible can disagree with Calvinism, well, because Calvinism is the truth thus those who take a different position than me because of a certain section of scripture is just “misinterpreting” the bible! Right?!! 

Well that depends on if there is diversity amongst the writers of the bible. Now one thing is for sure. All of the writers of the bible are building the story of God’s redemption in Christ. Thus the sum purpose of the bible is to reveal God sending His Son to redeem the world from the curse and defeat the god of this world, disabling him on the cross and destroying him with his second coming.

Could there be a possibility that the writers saw things differently from one another and that there is more diversity in the holy scriptures than we allow? It is funny that we sometimes allow (we wouldn’t call someone a nonchristian due to a different doctrinal slant) for such diversityamongst us but not with the scriptures. 

I again will try to sum this up with a brief perspective. If your theology drives your hermeneutic and not your reading of the scriptures then you will be robbing yourself of a fruitful work of the Spirit. If your bible is in a box or is interpreted with theological lenses you will never allow fresh perspectives to help illuminate the scriptures. Let me put it this way, your bible reading will always be a refresher course not something new God is teaching you through the work of the Spirit and the community of faith (a topic to come later).

I honestly believe our bibles become small, though I will say it is the safest way to read your bible. If my theological camp holds the truth and they are always right then I don’t need to wrestle with a specific text because it can’t mean what contradicts my theological camp. So it is like riding a bike with training wheels even when you are thirty. No, okay it is like riding a bike with training wheels, knee pads, a helmet, goggles, and a chest bad, in a grassy field. The chances of you scrapping your elbow just went from 25% to 0%! The same goes for presuppositions!

I am not saying that this is easy to undo! I think it is not only difficult but scary. Difficult because most times we don’t even know we do it, and scary due to the fact that we may have to question something we have held on to for years, or even question our prized theologians, maybe even a pastor or a friend that we respect and love dearly who may have it totally wrong regardless of their sincerity.

I close with this. The Spirit is our safety net! Jesus promises the disciples (and I believe us) that the Spirit when He comes He will guide us into all truth. I think for many of us it is time to take off our training wheels, knee pads, and goggles and allow ourselves to experience the bible in a new way. A living way. If this sounds “dangerous” to you then this shoe is a perfect fit for you. I promise you one thing for sure. Even if you start to go the wrong way, the Spirit has you safely in His arms, He won’t allow you to go to far off course 8)

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