What is God up to When Pastors Leave the Church Local?

Confident Considerations of our Faithful, Covenant-Keeping God

  • The Eternal Church Entity was born of God apart from man and is built up by the Lord Jesus Christ through His entrusted stewardships and gifts given to men. No one person in particular sustains the pillar and support of Truth, which is the Church, but our Chief Shepherd, High Priest, Prophet, and King alone. This principle within the Church universal is also true of the true church local.
  • The Church is the Body of Christ and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, for He is the Sovereign Head over all affairs of men, as He acts daily as Lord and Savior of the Body by intercession as our Great High Priest who has bought us by blood unblemished, and sustains us by continued efficacy.
  • Jesus Christ has prayed for the unity of His people to be expressed through love and joy one to another even when confronted by difficult, potentially divisive, and unanticipated circumstances.
  • Man can never fully rationalize nor understand the infinite mind of God nor fully discern the hidden purpose of God from the limitations of our finite frame of reference. His ways are not our ways, and neither are His thoughts our thoughts. The secret things belong to God only.

  • God is always able to bring glory to His name through the most dire or painful circumstances. Difficult days are designed to show God strong through human weakness, failure, and fear. Trials ultimately refine Christian character, and when rightly received offer cause to rejoice in hope of glory and joy.
  • Pain and difficulty, challenge and suffering are all often associated with the perfect will of God. Our perseverance by divine preservation through our use of the ordinary, but primary means of prayer and the Word of God are foundational to validate the calling of God by the comfort and aid of the Spirit of God through use of these means.
  • We are members of one another and as such we are called to serve one another in love through the mutual ministry and exercise of spiritual gifts to the building up of one other in full maturity of Christlike behavior for the advancement of the kingdom of God.
  • It is through many tribulations that we enter the kingdom of God, but Jesus said take courage, that He has overcome the world. Should we never suffer tribulations we would have reason to question the legitimacy of the faith once delivered. Historically we know that God’s choice servants have always experienced challenges and hardships for purpose of glory and sanctification, that no man may boast but in the Lord.
  • The loss of a pastor is not the loss of the presence of God, nor does it diminish the purpose of God, nor does it indicate the displeasure of God, but rather it advances aspects of our journey of faith which were heretofore easily neglected, but now affirmed by a fresh sight of Christ alone who will “never leave you or forsake you.” Where all men fail, God comes in assurance of comfort and hope.
  • God is faithful in His universal call to all men, and we shall reap the reward of the inheritance if we do not grow weary in well doing by our responsiveness through faithful implementation of His particular call today to seek God in secret. Those who know the Father’s pleasure in secret are inclined to the place of public and corporate prayer. Few pray today and this accounts for the erratic and weak pulse beat of the Church corporate. “This kind only comes out by prayer.”
  • The Christian is never called to walk by sight but by faith alone, looking unto God with assurance of the covenant promises that He has made to preserve us even unto the end of time. God actively enforces His Covenant as He removes any potential idols which would hinder personal or corporate first-love obedience, which must be experienced primarily through personal and corporate communion with the living God.
  • Sorrow and pain are always calculated to drive us to a nearer dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Rock of ages, the Cornerstone. He learned obedience through the things which He suffered. The servant must be like his Master.
  • Loss is gain when accompanied by contentment of the knowledge that all God takes away in wisdom is restored in His gracious timing over and above our expectations for our growth in grace and faith.
  • The best of men are mere dust at their best and prone to err in discernment of God’s prompted or anticipated will. Despite the inherent weakness of the flesh and the clouded judgments of a heart that is Biblically described as deceitful above all else, the Church may rejoice in the sovereign, secret will of God that does continually prevail in the people of God. He brings good of our errors and wanderings through the weaknesses of our flesh and humanity. His Kingdom continually comes as it methodically advances without pause or fail. (Consider the Joseph narrative in Genesis.)
  • We should have every reason to believe that times of refreshing are upon SGBC as we expectantly wait upon the Lord to see His goodness in the land of the living. Light shines especially bright and with greater assurance of direction where darkness has previously prevailed.
  • As we by faith anticipate the good hand of the Lord to lead us in His triumph in Christ Jesus, so must the application of diligence to heed the voice of the Spirit be discerned by disciplined devotion to the totality of the Word of God in all of life and practice. Man’s wisdom is from below and earthy; God’s wisdom must be sought in faith from above and is pure, peaceable, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruit, unwavering without hypocrisy.
  • The life of the Church is hidden with Christ in God. We must seek Him and not man, nor search for Him or God’s man by the methodology of man.
  • Should all fall away and none go with you, would you still follow… no turning back? No turning back! Keep yourselves in the love of God, praying in the Holy Spirit! Grace can be received in vain; labor more than all the rest. Continue doing that which results in graces cultivated.
  • The unique manifest glory of God to a lost and dying world is the supreme desire and purpose of the Church of God through the calling out of the elect in all ages. Our Father neither slumbers nor sleeps, but is always vigilant for that people whose heart is stayed on Him. Grace prevails where faith remains vigilant.
  • When circumstances change, God and His purpose in Christ Jesus remain the same.

Joy in Loving God and Loving Stuff… 

Luke 16:15 (NASB)And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”


I think it important to distinguish between essential evil and idolatry. It is uncommon for a “thing” (anything) to touch and embrace essential evil or evil incarnate. Abominations are evil. We know they exist, and maybe we struggle with a few or more… By the contrary and confusing standard of stupid legalism Asceticism is deceptive and attracts the flesh in a perverse religious way as it enhances the illusion of righteousness… self-righteousness. That’s worth a lot in the “wood, hay, stubble” category. Stuff is generally neither an abomination in origin or essence. Stay with me please.

“All things are lawful to me but I will not be mastered by anything. All things are lawful… not all are profitable…not all edify…” (1 Corth 10) Yet, something greater is at stake. There is a greater governing principle a serious-minded Christ-follower must be confronted by. The Pharisee of all ages (times) refuses the greater principle as his preference is pleasure over glory to God. 

Idolatry is that which catapults a thing or thought to supersede beyond its boundary and into the arena of interference with foundational love for God by a subtle or overt attachment to the hidden heart. All such encumbering weights corrupt worship and are therefore detestable in God’s sight. Everything is on the table in such cases. Everything. Anything can be a help or hinderance. Take this iPhone for example…

The really strange thing is that all (most) things morphed to the detestable idol category in God’s eyes are okay and often essential things in their proper sphere. They certainly are permissible when used and even loved in proper context. God has provided to us all things in their proper place. He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift from above. (Spend time with the Preacher in Ecclesiastes for clarity… or confusion.)

Jack speaks to this in the Screwtape Letters.

Screwtape to Wormwood:

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made all the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable.” 


1 Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

  Herein lies not only a safety net but a driving principle of glory to a higher calling to Another’s standard and perspective that ensures joy without condemnation. 

We need never neglect the cross as the instrument of death that Jesus embraced for us and that He subsequently calls us to daily carry with Him.

Of Men and Dead Chickens

“All we like dead chickens are gone astray, we are every one turned into our own decay…”

(Vining allegorical paraphrase of Romans 3 and Ephesians 2 principles.)

I have on occasion opportunity to perform the dastardly deed of dealing with dead chickens. One thing for sure: when chickens die there is a total cessation of activity. They neither cluck nor clack, and no longer do whatever chickens typically do: eat, drink and make messes and merry with roosters… perhaps the latter point is more illustrative of the next-to-useless rooster’s perspective. Presumably some chickens are reputed to lay eggs now and again when not on strike as mine most certainly are at present. (The heck of it is that I have not to date received a grievance list in the empty egg basket.) 

When dead though, chickens stop ordinary functions and no longer serve useful purpose to their Sustainer in Chief, and it is then I reluctantly move them postmortem to the distant burn pile. They are cut off from all semblance of life and hope when found in this final predicament. The chickens are thereby committed to rest, their battle won with scarce a mumble of appreciation as they are tossed unceremoniously to the top of the pile. It is here they will stay until they decay or end up being burned with utter indifference to the quality of their works or number of laid eggs. These facts remain true unless the carcass is acted upon by outside forces. These forces often come by stealth in multiple forms just as a thief in the night… typically by buzzard, stray dog or nasty coyote. (My dog Jack gets a severe verbal rebuke for any attempt to consort with the dead. We are not that sort of folks out here on the Vining Plantation, and will not tolerate such behavior by domesticated animals nor humans alike. I think of Lonesome Dove and the warning sign, “We don’t rent pigs.Some things are well beyond profane.)

Ongoing research has led me to observe that dead chickens never become animated again regardless of the force or strength of entity that acts upon them. Even when varmint intervention occurs and they are forcibly moved they never achieve original animation, and are ultimately only consumed and spread across the balance of my 9 acres after due digestive process and transformation into varmint dung fertilizer. Here is the point: If we are really, really just as dead as dead chickens as I have intimated, these options sound pretty terrible to me as we approach the final goal line by entry into the “red zone”.

Quite candidly it’s the maggots that get me most of all. The putrid smell of death that surrounds these carrion-eating vermin works upon all sensory pathways, but most especially the olfactory pathways to trigger the “stink-sensitive” N&V regions of the brain. Frankly a writhing group of maggots does wonders to the eye gate also. (N&V is nursing lingo for hurling your toenails up.)

So my question is this: Does it even seem reasonable that this is the best we might expect… that this is what God has destined us to… we who were made a little lower than God, to rule and exercise dominion over the earth? Yes, even we who were made in His likeness and image? Not hardly, I think.
Rather as children we progress toward hope resolved with these words of comfort, “God has not destined us for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Glory. We seek saving glory and not decay. We seek another city whose walls and foundations are as eternal as our Master Architect. We pursue “life, life, eternal life” as much as Graceless on his initial dash toward the wicket gate before his name change to Christian upon entry. “This mortal shall put on immortality; the perishable, imperishable.” (Check out the hope of 1 Corth 15 for those who practice the things revealed in the earlier portions of chapter 15: Believe!)
Back on track…

In the meantime we are spiritually akin to dead chickens and must be acted upon by an outside Power, a Force or Entity. We are dead as dead chickens. Lifeless with no spiritual pulse, separate from God, without hope, without God in this world though we may be as rich and nutty as Gates or Trump, or even as a lone strutting rooster without competition surrounded by 2-3 dozen plus beauties without resistance to his every whim. God must move. God must rend the heavens. God must issue command beyond the general to the particular, secret, effectual calling of our name. “Lazarus, COME FORTH!” And he did, as we still do we. “All that the Father has given Me come…”

“But God…” must get involved in our deadness, our helplessness, our hopelessness through the gospel of free and sovereign grace. He raises the dead and animates them with power by His Breath, and in His pleasure for His glory. 

Lewis helps… with another of those memorable word pictures you never forget:

“This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there’s a rumor going around the shop that some of us are someday going to come to life.”

CS Lewis in Mere Christianity

Oh yeah, we must deal with the unpleasantries of this business about dung. (Philippians 3:8) That is what the Bible candidly calls your attempts to save yourself. Crap. You are covered in a veneer of crap that is a stench in the nostrils of Holy God. When is the last time you intentionally looked like crap and dressed like crap and smeared dung upon your self as perfume to fit yourself for the King to actually participate in His Son’s wedding feast? (Hunters in a passionate fit of eagerness to be stealth may rub fox urine or the like on their clothing to mask offensive human BO… but I have never heard of fox poo or the like being used.) Likely, you too have never so adorned yourself either, but if you have… when did you escape the sanitarium and what is their number? Babies do that though… paint in poo and think it is fun. (SPV) Are you still an infant attempting to finger-paint upon Self and surroundings to wear a facade of hypocrisy?? If you insist on saving yourself that is precisely what Scripture teaches you are and what you do. And you have plans to attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb dressed in what? (Remember the parable of the one at the Wedding Feast dressed inappropriately? It did not end well for him as he was bound and cast into Outer Darkness.) 

Really dead men, really do not walk and can only attain to animation when God acts and imparts life to them. “But God…”

We know the post-life evidences of this impartation are repentance and faith in response to the word of His power. 

Regeneration or the new birth is our Genesis of life. You don’t believe and won’t believe and can’t believe as a dead man. “But God…” first moves, then God imparts life and light as the Spirit bursts forth in the faint cry of adoption, “Abba. Father.” And we awaken to a life hidden with Christ in God. 

And He makes all things new.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB)

 Made Alive in Christ

[2:1] And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 

[2] in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 

[3] Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 

[4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 

[5] even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 

[6] and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 

[7] so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 

[9] not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

[10] For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Forgive me for the way my fried brain works. I really do look and listen to God speaking in all of life though, even when tending stinking, dead chickens.  

Spittle and Dust, Light from Darkness

“As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.”John 9:1


So here is a blind man. He has never seen the faintest flicker of light in the totality of his life. Not even a shadow. Not one ray of sunshine though he stared straight into the full noonday sun. No twinkling stars, no bright and full moon. Nothing. Blackness. Darkness is his dungeon and he has ever been swallowed and imprisoned therein. He is lost as any man apart from the illumination of divine Light. 

Unbeknownst to him in his blindness the Light of the world passes by in resplendent display of eternal glory, seen by some, yet missed by most. The Glory pauses to make clay of spittle and dust. The paste is applied to flawed eyes which were purposefully created imperfectly for this most perfect moment of the glory of God revealed. Something unseen happens, but not yet. Amazed wonder must sweep the crowd as the Ancient of Days advances His purpose. This feeble, fundamental obstacle of blindness becomes the vehicle of the works of God declaring Immanuel is with us. 

Do you see how this expands? Isn’t it absolutely stunning how visible hope, light and life are freely imparted to the hopeless, to the blind, to the dead? Help Personified comes to the helpless as a great Light dawns in the midst of our fading darkness… a Light of revelation, a light of hope. 

 “What causes you to differ?” Aren’t you formed of the same stuff? The same clay? What flaws and imperfections has God built into you that scream for His touch, His power, His glory in repair? Has He purposed to pause before you, to touch you, to heal you that your imperfections might manifest His glory through your weakness as He makes you strong in the strength of His might? His power is perfected not in your strength nor by your strength but through your exposed weakened frailty. If God scooped up a handful of dirt “in the Beginning” and created Man, then isn’t it reasonable that the Lord of life may be pleased in this case to take another handful of dust turned to mud and heal sightless eyes? Or heal whatever? He is not doing something new here. His act is not without precedence. “The works that the Father does, these I do.” The process of light from darkness is His way. “Let there be light.” Need He say more, for what He says is. His word is our command. 

When we look in the mirror each morning we see reflected flaws and little imperfect irritations of our creation. Did God err? Cry to Jesus! More significantly when we stop and listen to the voice that speaks to us from the Word of God, we hear God speak of our true need and our brokenness calls for His healing touch. Fly to Jesus! I think our right response ought move toward imitation of the Centurion who said, “Lord, I am not worthy of You to come to me. Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” I like that. The clay and spittle are optional, thank you very much… His mercy and grace and glory in His word and touch are non-optional; they are essentials. “He was born blind not for his sin, nor for his parents sin, but for the glory of God.” That’s a principle I suppose I need claim every day. What of you?

This blind man in obedient, unseeing but trusting faith responded to the command of Christ and went submissively to the pool of Siloam to wash his eyes. He returned seeing. After his subsequent rejection by the suspicious, hypocritical, unbelieving, religious professionals of the day, Jesus comes to him again. Jesus seeks him out. We need to learn something there. God seeks man, man in blindness cannot seek nor find that which is hidden from our eyes. “Christ is hidden too far in God for man to see Him unless the Father reveals Him.” (Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress)

Prayer: God reveal my life purpose then to me as that which is hidden with Christ in God. Show me the Son that the Son might show me the Father. Lord I come. (Col 3, Matt 11)

For the first time ever the blind man who now sees gazes upon the Light of the world, who further discloses His identity as the Son of Man. He who was blind now truly sees, he believes and he worships the King of glory. 

Our imperfections and struggles in this life call to the Light of the world. We need his touch now more than ever. We need light to see our way through this dark world as sin and stumbling stones abound and hinder. Thank God for our High Priest who understands, sympathizes, then heals and helps the downcast broken-hearted. Lord, you need not make the clay of spittle and dust, but that’s okay too. I really need you to just say the word and make me whole.

As the leper made request, “Lord, if You are willing, please heal me.”

“I am willing” and He stretched forth His hand and touched him. And he was made well. 

Photo courtesy of the modern adventurer and friend George Dobbs.