Sleep & Eats… And other Required Desires & Duties that We Easily Fowl Up…

Do not love sleep, or you will become poor;  Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food.” (Proverbs 20:13)

Excess of some sort in its subterfuge is always in pursuit of us; even in the Required Instructions given us to sustain life itself. “Don’t handle! Don’t touch!” Geez…so so many rules! Coloring within the lines can become befuddling but that is not really the problem today… staying on the right page in the right book now seems the issue. But we begin with the compliance of dignified self-control in all things. Regardless.

So what is required for life can be easily become an indulgent practice as it creeps into our heart and soul space with tentacles that snare and choke other activity. Eventually even life itself can be entrapped with the fatal ease and misdirection of excess. (Sleep and eats are part of the package instructions printed in bold type and we do well not to neglect them as we guard our heart against dominance of them.) We all love sleep. We all need sleep. But we can train ourselves to not become as those sleep sluggards who choose to sadly, depressively, and excessively sleep their life away. Some things in life we must avoid regardless of the strength of their pull and the allure of our heart. 

On to the example of food now…

What is required and also desired can be neglected in the obvious provision at hand, as we are consumed in discontent rather than satisfied by our needs meet. It’s “the grass is always greener” principle. Ah yes, though there is always hell to pay for tearing out of one’s own fence (the boundary set by God) and into another man’s property line and sampling his wares…

Perhaps we do well to open our eyes to the abundance of blessings we have known in/by God’s wise and faithful provision so that we may escape the Romans 1 “Domino-Effect” of a progressive Fall to perdition because of ingratitude and lack of giving thanks, that results in a failure of worshiping the known God, and an consequential exchange of incorruptible glory for things tarnished and broken.
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God…”

Romans 1:21-22a


Maybe it’s time to wake up and worship God in the beauty of His holiness and faithfulness of His provision?

I think as always, if we but listen, our friend Jack can help with commentary from Mere Christianity?
“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
C.S. Lewis,

Mere Christianity


Think of the Cross.

Think of the city whose walls are broken down and it’s defenses are now weakened… so we too, if we lack self control, we are as that city and subject to being tossed to and fro.

Lord Jesus. Please send Your Holy Spirit that I might crucify the deeds and works of the flesh in my inner man by new desires recreated in righteousness, holiness and truth. 

A Political “If-Then” of Jesus that Helps Me Today

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting…”

We do well to remember the “if-then” of our Lord before Pilate only moments prior to full implementation of the Father’s eternal plan of Redemption at Calvary. The darkest hour for man was in fact destined to become the most glorious of all. Heaven and earth kissed when righteousness and peace joined hands: His kingdom came in power and in particular at the declaration of Sonship via the Resurrection. If we do not heed the “if-then” Kingdom clause of Jesus, we may well find ourselves in the least case distracted from the King’s true business, and in the worst case… we may find ourselves inadvertently positioned alongside Pilate as judge of the King and His business in a moment of clarity consumed by mob-rule insanity. It happens. I think we have recently lived, (are living?), through it?

Never underestimate the subtlety of the serpent to distract gospel-focus from the Light and souls of men, and make it all about the earthy.

We live in rapid-fire, culturally-charged, ever-changing circumstances that lend themselves to no one’s security and to ever man’s danger. But into this crazy world, amazingly Light entered, and the Father has said, “This is My Son, hear ye Him.” (This is what the Father pronounced in response to Peter’s plan to stay on the Mount of Transfiguration and construct three earthly tabernacles, one for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.) God “Deep-6ed” that plan before the words had scarcely stopped ringing. NO EARTHLY KINGDOMS! And we still are trying to construct both religious and political tabernacles and shrines and legacies…

Now today we have the Trumpers, we see the crestfallen Hillary disciples, we hear the disillusioned Berney followers, and there are multitudes of others who feel neglected or disaffected by earthly rulers and political parties and intrigues. Did we really think a political party or one person could offer a lasting change or a viable solution to an age-old heart problem? Well, unfortunately I suppose most do neglect the King of kings. The gospel of God and the Kingdom of God preached in power, lived in purity, and coming in glory is the hope of the Nations. We would be wise to heed the old song,

“Kings and Kingdoms may all pass away;

But there’s something about that Name.”

O Lord God, You have spoken to us in Your Son in these last days. Grant grace and principled obedience to treasure His words and build our lives upon the Rock of abiding obedience in Him that we may know joy in this dark world which we see to be filled with sorrow, yet with True Light shining… enough to see the King’s Highway. Grant that we recall and practice “Thy word as a lamp and light to our feet and path,” and as that abiding Rock that shall never pass away “though grass withers and flower fades.” Our endurance and preservation as the Sons of Adam can only be saved and reconciled to Thee in the One who said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” O Father! May we seek that King and kingdom!

If His kingdom is not of this world, then where is my heart and where is my heart’s treasure?

Lewis… illustrates the principle.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

CS Lewis

The Weight of Glory

I suggest you read or listen to this famous sermon or essay of Lewis. The Weight of Glory. 

Who Invented the Pleasure of Peanut Brittle & Stuff Like Sex?

I recall a humorous conversation we had at work a couple days back about peanut brittle, and all sorts of Christmas and holiday candies, cookies and seasonal delights, and of course spirits of sorts… all possibly being of Satanic origin, and likely concocted and manufactured by Lucifer himself in the bowels of hell itself. “No doubt he and his henchmen are working overtime turning out vats of elixirs and potions and notions, and boxcar loads of the sweet savory stuff in preparation for fattening up hordes of unsuspecting and nonresistant victims during this rapidly approaching holiday season…”

It is so blasted hard to “Just Say No!” to these simple tasty pleasures, and to be good and to do good when faced with such delectable delights, especially for me at this early time of the year… Great Horny Toads! I love the holidays! I am thankful! I love my childhood memories! My mother claimed she could not make candy but for some reason I remember her many valiant and successful attempts during my childhood. And here we are today, not even close to Thanksgiving, and SAMs, et al, are packed with shortbread cookies, and imported chocolates, and dainty morsels from places I cannot even pronounce. 

But then in great comfort to salve my guilty aching conscience (and swollen gut) over a weekend failure with my personal nemesis, peanut brittle, I recalled my friend CS Lewis, and the insightful wit and wisdom he gives us, as he draws back the curtain upon how the tempters of our flesh may really work in their diabolical ways of twisting and distorting that which is created “very good”. Below I quote Screwtape as he counsels his underling demon, Wormwood, of the dangers that lurk inherent when a fledging Christian begins to be “tempted” yet to know, to experience, to enjoy and to understand pleasure as a gift to be moderated, and not an affliction to be avoided. For true pleasure in its pure form and proper use can only originate from a good Creator God, and this Screwtape must acknowledge. Pleasure is a good gift which comes down from above, from the Father of lights.

As as sidebar illustration, one has well said, Adam and Eve are the only two individuals who have ever lived who knew unhindered, untainted marital bliss for they lived in union prior to the entry of sin’s blight of self-seeking misery after one’s own sinful pleasure. Go with that where you might, but it sounds reasonable to me. Sex “post-Fall” has always been tainted by sin, (I reference our natures and not the specific act in marriage), and could never be fully enjoyed to the complete God-given capacity as the gift was intended when first given. ( I know… this is deep water of a speculative sort, but it seems well founded to me.)

A believer armed with this knowledge of the enemy tactics is a threat to the tempter’s diabolical purposes of distortion, which has been the plan of the “father below” from time immortal. “Hath God said…” His perversion of true pleasures contrary to divine design is what is at stake. That is his game plan. It always has been. When believers begin to see and understand that joy is their right, and their Heavenly Father’s desire for His children, a new confidence and expectation of good from God becomes normative. We fear God, but we fear Him in love and hope with gladness of heart. All is lost to the tempters once true believers comprehend that in their Father’s “right hand are pleasures forever more.” 

Follow Lewis… and stand in the brilliance of his argument or the point he makes from the other side! Some folk we are reminded to continually thank God for, and I suppose almost daily. In some way I rejoice daily in what this Irishman did to change my world in the gospel as he enlarges my understanding of God in the world. 

Uncle Screwtape:

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s (God’s) ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His (God’s) invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which he has forbidden…. An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula…. To get a man’s soul and give him nothing in return—that’s what really gladdens Our Father’s heart.”

Uncle Screwtape to Wormwood in “The Screwtape Letters”

CS Lewis

For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside…” Psalm 84

That Most Awkward Moment of Birthing the Baby with No Brain

Years ago we often read to our boys from a Picture Bible Story Book. There were basic but vivid pictorial accounts of many common Bible stories. Blind Bartimaeus was a favorite and always gave pause as he was depicted to lack visible eyes. I still today recall his portrayal as our boys would often cry out in shocked wonder, “Look Mom! No eyes! Poor Bartimaeus, He has no eyes! He has no eyes!” We know it eventually ended quite well for Blind Bart as he cried to the passing King with increasing intensity and frequency, “Jesus, Thou Son of David! Have mercy on me!” It no small disturbance that arose as the crowd attempted to hush him to silence. (Ever noticed how often those who cry to the Lord tender an accusation of disruption?) We know in this case the passing Lord paused, called him over as He requested the manner of his petition, and of course Jesus subsequently granted his request by imparting sight to see what his faith already believed. And he followed Him to Jerusalem. (As a side… I am most thankful where intangible faith is visible to only His all seeing eyes, though scorned by others, His sensitivity to our needs never diminishes, and the King performs acts of tenderness where others only ridicule.)

And I was thinking and praying this morning for that young couple I was honored to care for some months back, as they carried for nine months, and then delivered a known anecephalic baby to love in this world for only an hour or perhaps two at most. They chose the joyful pain of a brief life but not a fruitless extra-ordinary life sustaining effort that would have yielded no final profit but perhaps a few more heart-wrenching hours. The indelible mark they made upon each of us by their life-choices made months previous swept over the C-Section operating room by a manifested weight of bonding, care and tenderness which was modeled in love before family, friends and staff. As the newly delivered baby boy struggled for breath and life, he seemed to know some degree of resolution and comfort as he was immediately taken from mom’s surgically opened uterus to her awaiting warm loving arms and breasts as she washed him in tears and comforted him in tender care. Maybe some tears were mine? I cannot be sure for the pain and weight of glory was very heavy on me that day as I fought the impossibility to retain my composure. 

A short time later in the post-op recovery room Mom, Dad and Brother each held and shared their brief gift of God-given bundle of painful joy. It was then I began to see more clearly the power of love modeled before their three year-old son, and the preeminent glory of God granted in this fleeting but eternal gift who struggled for life, all bundled and wrapped as he tarried but a few moments more… his angels, no doubt, patiently stood near by awaiting his final fleeting breath that they might gloriously usher him to a most Perfect Setting.

It was truly a moment of overwhelming consequence for me that was not without tears. But tears should always bring us to joy as now in reflection. I know Mom and Dad still have hearts that hurt, for mine afflicts me in this random Lord’s Day morning recollection. They chose life, if it was only for a few minutes or a couple of hours at the most. The strength required for mom to carry her baby for those nine months was remarkable. But the grace  demonstrated over the latter half of her pregnancy after she learned that she would only hold her terribly deformed son a few fleeting moments before he departed life, this grace rises to a level beyond description.

“Who sinned that he should be born this way…?” “It was neither that he nor his parents sinned, but for the glory of God.”


I don’t know guys. I don’t know but that is a different type of grace and love, that I can not fully know, but I see it and admire it. And I can thank God for the way He spoke to me that day. Love without the reality of pain is an illusion, and a counterfeit, don’t you think? Fundamentally, our hearts are dangerously exposed to pain when we love. All that we are must be layed upon the table to know love and to give love. Sacrifice of self for the good of others with a view of the glory of God defines love. “Here is love. Not that we loved God but that God loved us and gave…

“Let the little children come to Me.” (Jesus)

Below you will have opportunity to see again why I often point to Jack as one who easily articulates what I struggle to put into words. If you have never taken the time to listen to the audio version of CS Lewis reading from his hand written manuscript copy of “The Four Loves”, you have missed a lot. I can encourage you to consider trying  Audible.com then download the updated, Chuck Colson commentary version. At a minimum pick up a copy of the book at the local library. 

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

CS Lewis

“The Four Loves”

Prayer: The GOD-Required Original Persistent Irksomeness

“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”

Luke 11:8-10

#PersistenceInPrayer is a primary point. God is there. God is faithful. God gives access. Men ought always to pray. Prayer is a chief evidence of saving faith. When Jesus returns He will search specifically for the Intercessors. “When the Son of Man comes shall He find faith in the earth?” On any given ordinary day could you produce enough evidence to convince the Court of Heaven?

There is an irritability component of prayer which cannot be ignored, if you have prayed, you know what I mean… That is, we become irritated by the required persistence demanded in all true prayer, for we know He has said, “He knows our needs before we ask.” Ok. Remind me again WHY we are asking, dear Lord? Well one reason: “To obey is better than to sacrifice.” Because He said so. It’s good to pray. Jesus modeled prayer for us. And who can recount the 10,000 or so other reasons we ought pray? It is the chief component of ANY day regardless of where the fire is or what needs are screaming or snapping at our heels. One too cannot help but ask, “Why so many times Lord?” Why so many tines must I repeat this same needed request? But our heart cries, “I come again Lord,” on this another day.

Below enjoy another #CSLewis quote on prayer in his masterful work, “Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

“Well, let’s now at any rate come clean. Prayer is irksome. An excuse to omit it is never unwelcome. When it is over, this casts a feeling of relief and holiday over the rest of the day. We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish. While we are at prayer, but not while we are reading a novel or solving a crossword puzzle, any trifle is enough to distract us…. Now the disquieting thing is not simply that we skimp and begrudge the duty of prayer. The really disquieting thing is it should be numbered among duties at all. For we believe that we were created ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ And if the few, the very few, minutes we now spend on intercourse with God are a burden to us rather than a delight, what then?… The painful effort which prayer involves is not proof that we are doing something we were not created to do. If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be a delight. Someday, please God, it will be.”

Lewis captures with beautiful poignant honesty that which many of us battle with: We struggle to discover Prayer as that which morphs into a delightful duty which grants us greater satisfaction in joy by seeing our Lord (our Friend) more than receiving the request for we asked.


Sweet Hour of Prayer by Casting Crowns


Is it OK to Keep an Offensive Shot Chart?

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Matt 18:21-23

Oops! Here it is again. Forgiveness. Or the real and potential lack of it: Unforgiveness. As I read for probably the “umpteenth time” Peter’s self-proclamation of spiritual excellence by aspiration to forgive up to seven times it occurred to me that if we are keeping a shot chart we are probably in failure mode anyway. I mean really? If I am looking at the bean jar and see that this clown only has one bean left, then he had best toe the line, for after that I am licensed to cultivate bitterness in my heart by harboring unforgiveness for repeat offenses. Now that really makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? I trust my sarcasm is apparent.

2016-08-28 (2)

Jesus moves beyond the ordinary sized “bean jar” and makes us calculate not by addition and subtraction of beans, but by multiplication: 7 x 70 = 490, and that means I am assured to lose count and will have likely forgotten the original offense anyway, so let’s just forget the whole blooming thing! Maybe that’s the point?

CS Lewis talks a lot of this in his life struggles and in his works: Mastery of forgiveness of the offense and of the offender is a given when once it is done, on that initial occasion that grace is discovered, but when it is convenient to dredge it up again to utilize the offense for manipulative purposes in the present, that original offense reoccurs in the mind just as real and readily as before. Lewis then accurately identifies the quality of “re-forgiveness required to be just as real as the original forgiveness because just as much grace is demanded to satisfy our sinful hearts as before. You did not think your flesh had improved in the last few weeks did you? Not hardly. Lewis was especially helpful to me to be watchful for the “replaying” of previous offenses whenever I find myself idle or it seems convenient such as when I encounter an occasional friend who challenges my grace of love and forgiveness. The tendency is to immediately run back in my mind and say to Self, “Do you remember when!?” And we justify our coolness of response for his previous offensive word, deed or attitude. There are real life struggles here for offenses are experienced every day. They are in my world anyway.

Thoughts & Recs:

  1. Burn the Shot Charts and Accounting Ledgers… They are only good if you desire to feed bitterness and to ensure YOU fall into painful heartache. In fact I would say that if we are holding onto an account of offenses we are not truly forgiving by turning over the offender to the Almighty to be the one who recompenses: we are desirous to reserve the right of retribution if and when required and convenient. Remember: “Vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay.” Biblical forgiveness liberates us from having to fix the wayward wanderer. Our forgiveness may very well mean in a real and painful sense that we hand the scope and rifle to God and say, “Here, you take the shot.” “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful…”
  2. Remember the standard: “Be kind toward one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
  3. We are all debtors to grace. If we believe we are better than the caught sinner we lie to ourselves and have a “Pharisee-complex”.
  4. The presumption in Peter’s hypothetical is that “brothers sin” against one another. Don’t be shocked, but good men have bad fights. It happens. Remember Forrest Gump as he ran? “It happens.” Yep. Got several Tees and some folks we do well to simply stay away from, even brethren. Let’s pray for them and love them from a distance. I have no doubt that Paul loved Barnabas and Barnabas loved Paul, but their ministry philosophy seemed to be at an impasse. That happens. That doesn’t mean these guys are against one another. God simply has them in different fields.
  5. Now. How about a time-out? “Take 5” and quietly sit alone without phone or distraction and truly ask God to reveal all those you are embittered against. “Making a list, and checking it twice.” Then deal with it however He leads.
  6. Review the “one another” commands in the New Testament, and figure out how the heck to practically implement them. Positive action of “faith working through love” has a way of removing offenses and squelching future occasions for sin. It’s hard to hate on someone you are serving with.

I noted with interest in my “one another” search that the first “one another” in the epistles deals with love and preference to one another, and the final reference speaks of the judgment of God upon unrepentant man as we devour “one another”. There could be a subliminal message there? Just kidding… or maybe not? Some segments of society are excelling at the latter scriptural observation, yet we as believers are guilty too of lagging in diligent love toward one another. Our goal ought be to out do one another in love to His glory by His grace. Then “the world will know we are His disciples when we have live one for the other.”

May the Lord help us to heed His holy, sufficient and relevant word today, and speedily at that. Don’t you sense time is short? I do.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…” Rom 12:10-11

“And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” Rev 6:4

A Plethora of Some Relevant Questions for a Pastor by a Visitor Interested in Bilateral Committed Church Membership

Questions…if I might, & if you please?

 

  1. How did you come to know Christ?
  2. What have you discovered to be essential to maintain your walk with God? Contrarily what trips you up most readily?
  3. What is your besetting sin and do you find grace sufficient to overcome?
  4. Do you distinguish between personal devotion and sermon preparation? What is the difference? How do you practically guard your personal time alone with God so as to not to allow sermon prep or ministry challenges to intrude into your heart preparation of your walk before God?
  5. What role does personal holiness play in your public ministry? What makes a man holy?
  6. When you preach do you preach from your head or your heart? What is the difference?
  7. Do you consider yourself a man of prayer? What role does prayer play in your ministry, and what practical evidence do you point to that demonstrates its essential centrality to your ministry?
  8. How do you show the love of Christ to your wife and your kids? Does she generally validate your calling and affirm your witness? Would you eagerly call her as your first witness to testify of your secret life before God or cringe to think of what she might say?
  9. Do you delight to pray with your wife? How do you overcome hindered prayers?
  10. Who are your favorite authors? What books are you reading now? How many and what types of books do you read every month? What authors have most influenced your life, your marriage, your ministry and your personal walk with God? These are likely different authors.
  11. If you were marooned on an island with your Bible and one other book, which book would it be?
  12. If you picked one book besides the Bible to give to your children which book would it be?
  13. What do you think of the 9 Marks Ministry and their accountable approach to Body life and ministry?
  14. Do you believe church discipline to be a relevant Biblical doctrine for the church today? Have you ever excommunicated or participated in the excommunication of an unrepentant believer? What is at stake when the church tolerates known, public, willful, blatant, unrepentant sin?
  15. What steps would you take today to implement the recovery of a wayward saint? Do you believe Biblical discipline correctly implemented is an act of love and hopeful restoration? 
  16. What do you think of Pink and the Sovereignty of God? Of Martyn Lloyd-Jones? Of John Piper, Of Alistair Begg? Of RC Sproul? Of Walt Chantry? Of Albert N. Martin? Of John MacArthur? Calvin? Edwards? Of Spurgeon? Of Wesley and Whitfield?
  17. Do you read CSLewis, and what is your favorite book of his and why?
  18. Who is your favorite contemporary pastor and why?
  19. Who is your favorite pastor of the past and why?
  20. What are essential components of a successful sermon? What are the essential components of a successful pastor?
  21. What is your view of Confessional Christianity? Do you hold to any particular confession? Why or why not?
  22. Do you see the need or have the desire to move toward Confessional Christianity for both historical and theological stability, and for accuracy and the general safety of the body of truth?
  23. Do you catechize your children and your converts? Do you see this as helpful?
  24. Many believe in the profit of the systematic reading of the Psalms as a fundamental part of the call to worship. Do you have thoughts?
  25. If you see and believe in and value a historical Christianity why do you rarely reference the old writers such as the Puritans, and very rarely have the great hymns of the faith been sung? I speak of Wesley, Cowper, Watts, and others. (I refer primarily but not exclusively to hymns of the 1600’s through the 1800’s, not the modern “hymns” of the 1900s which generally lack depth of theology as they generally became more man-centered and needs-oriented.)
  26. Do you actively and normally participate in the weekly selection of appropriate hymnology material with thematic elements to validate and coincide with your sermon topic? Should you participate for sake of order and decency?
  27. What system do you enact to ensure that you fulfill the divine mandate to “keep watch over the souls of those entrusted to you as one who will give an account”?
  28. Do you envision ever having a loving type of shepherding oversight of members at large so that you and other staff may actually ensure how it goes with the souls of the brethren entrusted to your care? Do you see yourself as being accountable for implementation of this principle of watchful accountability?
  29. How do you define a successful ministry and how is that to be measured practically and biblically?
  30. Are you responsible to establish and maintain relationships with the membership at large or is it permissible to stay aloof from more intimate relationships with the general population? When and how do you intend to implement a closer, more aggressive relational pursuit of others?
  31. Why are you in the ministry and can you satisfy your calling by occupation of the pulpit alone or must you pour out your life into others to fulfill your calling?
  32. Have you ever preached a good sermon that gave you total satisfaction? When have you fully discharged your gospel duty? If the glory of God is the end of preaching, what part does man’s response have in the successful preaching of Christ?
  33. What role does prayer have in your life? In your ministry? In the church? When does this church pray corporately? Are we meeting a minimum or acceptable Biblical standard of prayer today?
  34. What are the central components of corporate worship?
  35. What are the ordinances of the church?
  36. When was the last Communion service at SGBC? Why are they so infrequent and is something lost in their absence? What has taken the place of Communion?
  37. How would you distinguish your calling to the ministry from another’s job? What are the inherent dangers of seeing yourself as an employee on the clock? Why is it important for you and staff to be visible at most services? With the new schedule do you intend to exercise a sort of liberty of absence?
  38. Who do you work for and how do you answer to them? Why should your intended absence be previously announced to the church at large beforehand and not to a select few?
  39. What happens when you don’t get your way or when things don’t go your way? Do you see yourself as a man under authority?
  40. When was the last time you were told “NO!” (I am not referencing a NO by your wife.) Perhaps by staff? How did you respond? What was the last occasion that you publicly confessed sin to your fellow staff members in the ministry? 
  41. What is the process whereby decisions are made in the church and how is the church body involved? Are we elder ruled, deacon ruled, elder/pastor ruled by congregational consent, or does the preaching pastor generally get what he wishes? I really don’t know and I would like to know how the practical functioning of government and decisions are fleshed out.( I have witnessed abuse by an authoritarian style of ministry in the past.)
  42. How can three separate worship services promote unity of one Body with one mind, in one voice and in one accord? Is that wise or even possible and will it not possibly result in the essential formation of three separate churches rather than one Body?
  43. What in your opinion is the greatest need of the church today? What is the greatest threat to the church? What is the greatest danger to your ministry personally? (Please don’t say these questions or one who asks them.)
  44. What steps are you taking to avoid a simplistic event-oriented Christianity that emphasizes an aesthetic or entertainment value over an encounter-participatory worship experience that actually encourages communion with and transformation by the living God? One is spectator-oriented and the other is participatory that sees God.
  45. Which of the calling requirements (Timothy/Titus) to ministry as elder/pastor causes you the most angst and why? How do you, and who honestly assists you in your ongoing evaluation of continued personal fitness for the ministry? How often do you open yourself up to scrutiny by others? The real question here is, who pastors you and your family? Do you believe a pastor needs a pastor?
  46. Statistics indicate many pastors struggle with pornography and we know it is ubiquitous. (They have solitude, access and opportunity.) How do you guard your heart/eyes, and who holds you accountable?
  47. Do you take criticism well? Would you like some constructive criticism? Do these questions anger you? That is not my intent.
  48. What part of man was affected by the Fall and to what extent? What are the implications of this corruption and curse?
  49. What role do we have in salvation by grace? How do you communicate man’s responsibility but hold to God’s sovereignty?
  50. How does a dead man of Ephesians 2 come to Christ? What are the conditions of salvation? Does the new birth precede repentance and faith, or do repentance and faith move God to grant the new birth? (This is really not the proverbial chicken/egg question and is actually very crucial in your practical methodology applied to men in the Gospel call.)
  51. How do you explain Philippians 2:12-13 to a new convert? To yourself? To me?
  52. Why do you believe and why do you preach? What will you do if all you hold dear is taken from you? Would you be content with God alone? “ He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God and nothing.” (GKC) Is this true?
  53. Do you struggle with options or with the temptation to implement an apparent viable Plan B in a secular world to find more temporal happiness or security?
  54. Describe worship in spirit and truth, and what are its signs that we have arrived or are at least that we have begun the journey off the mount or out of Jerusalem back to the Father?
  55. What is the multifaceted goal or ultimate end of your ministry at SGBC in particular?
  56. Finally: Have you read, and if not, would you and your staff purpose to read and interact over…
    Preaching and Preachers by Lloyd Jones
    Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp
    Lectures to My Students by Spurgeon
    Preaching by Keller
    Brothers, We are Not Professionals by Piper
    The Reformed Pastor by Baxter
    Power Through Prayer by EM Bounds