All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of Godmay be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
After some 40 years of studying the Bible and some 25 (or so) years of teaching it, I can safely say I am more thirsty for it today than ever before. My prayer is that God will keep me ever more thirsty for it my whole life. So far, so good.
Today’s post begins a Summer Tuesday series on Spiritual disciplines which church leaders should be practicing and fostering. These are valuable habits in making and growing disciples…routines about which the church should be intentional. You should be teaching these disciplines and, in some cases, you should have a system in place for insuring their practice in the lives of your congregants. The first of these disciplines is Bible Study.
At my church, we call it our Re:Verse system. We all study the same passage all week long, meditating on it each morning, reading our pastors’ daily devotional thoughts on it. We study it again in our Sunday morning Bible Study groups, and we hear a sermon on the same passage in any of our Sunday morning worship services. Lastly, in the following week, we look back at the passage in our small accountability groups, gently pressing the truths from that passage into one another. Of course, the details of the system are not the point. Having the system in the first place is the point. It is important that a church’s structure and programming and culture all hold Bible study as a high value. Few spiritual disciplines will have a bigger impact on our people.
“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? Jeremiah 12:5
Church leadership, especially the pastorate, can feel a little like the plight of Sisyphus…forever pushing that boulder up the hill with little or no results to show for it. They won’t pray…they won’t listen…they won’t volunteer or help…they won’t commit. But, oh, how they will complain! Sometimes you just feel like giving up.
I think every pastor who feels oppressed and burdened and stressed to the point of giving up should take a break and study Jeremiah’s ministry…really try to crawl around in Jeremiah’s skin. I promise, you will feel much better about your own circumstances!
Jeremiah spent 40 years obediently delivering a message nobody wanted to hear. Nobody. At all. He pushed and he pressed. He obediently spoke, again and again. He was ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, and his own family scoffed at him. And through it all, to the very end, he was so very, very alone. And at the end of 40 years of these tireless efforts, he had not a single conversion to show for it. None. Jeremiah prayed and he begged God to change his assignment. He cried and he pled. He wished he had never even been born. And at one particularly low point of his depression, God’s response to him was something along the lines of “You think this is bad? The hard part hasn’t even started yet!”
But Jeremiah’s plight teaches us something important about how we measure our “success” in answering God’s call (and, just as importantly, how we should NOT measure our success). Maybe there will be amazing results to …
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12
I am pretty excited about a new series of posts I am starting for the Summer. I do not yet know how long the series will be, so no commitments along those lines, but I have a feeling the well of material for this series runs pretty deep. I will be writing about things I have learned about the church…from my Dad.
Some of you know my Dad. He blogs over at www.kencoffee.com. He recently marked the end of his 60th year in vocational ministry (read about that here). He has pastored and served on various church staffs over the course of that 60 years, but probably made his deepest and widest mark on the kingdom (so far, anyway) as a denominational leader/worker. Growing up in his shadow, it still seems to me that, no matter how many people know about me and my ministry, I will still be known by most of them as Ken Coffee’s son. And you know what? That is OK with me. 🙂
With Father’s Day coming up, I have decided to honor my Father in a special way. For the last few months, I have been working (off and on) compiling a list of things I have learned from Dad. This list was originally supposed to be a Christmas present to him, but it wasn’t ready. So now it is becoming a Father’s Day present…one that will last throughout the Summer, because the list is long. There are things about family and things about cars and things about vacations and things about finances and things about work and things about sports and things about, well, just about everything. …
Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
You know the rest of this trite little saying: “…until they know how much you care.” I can’t even begin to recount how many times I’ve heard it repeated in seminars and conferences over the years. When a saying gets repeated over and over again for a prolonged period of time, that is at least some evidence (though certainly not conclusive) that there is truth to it. In this particular case, eternal truth.
I don’t even know who said it first. In my own research, I’ve seen it attributed to dozens of people, from presidents to coaches. I suppose the earliest quote I’ve seen has it attributed to Thomas Watson, former chairman of IBM. Who knows? With information moving around the world in the volumes we see it happening today, it could have been repeated a million times by thousands of different people by now.
The reason this saying has stuck with us so long is that it contains an eternal truth. I know this because it is remarkably close to what Paul told the church in Corinth:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-2
In other words, you may be the most gifted proclaimer of God’s Word alive in the world today, but if the people you are teaching don’t know that you love them, you are just a bunch of noise. If they do not perceive …