Monthly Archives: June 2019

A bishop must not be a bully

1 Timothy 3:3 – God gives authoritative teaching on who is to be ordained to church office. It would be good to refresh yourself with this list.

One of them always strikes me: not a bully, (or “striker” in the KJV). A bully is pugnacious, always looking to tear someone down with his words. He is not concerned with learning, growing, understanding; he is only concerned with winning. Everything is competition, and he must come out on top, even if it means the destruction of everyone around him.

He loves to fight. He loves to watch someone wither under his words or his fists, for it gives him a sense of power to be able to exercise dominion over someone else.

You can spot a bully easily enough. It’s how they speak to the server in the restaurant, especially if she is a woman.

You can spot them when they speak to other Christians on social media. They aren’t afraid to use obscene language, insults, even blasphemous words; they don’t tremble at calling you RACA, or tearing you down with withering contempt if you disagree. They will not submit to God or anyone. Their words are words of death and pain; they are full of corrupt communication. They will offer you friendship only on their terms, only if you submit completely to every view they hold, or they will destroy you through gossip and slander.

You can spot the bully in the body language of his family. His wife is downcast, stands behind him in church. She’s not used to being addressed without him present. His kids are very “well-behaved”. They don’t act up like other kids, they look at the ground, sit very still in church, because they are terrified. A man leads his family. A bully terrifies them. He likes it that way. He enjoys the look of fear on the faces of the ones he is supposed to love. A bully is without “natural affection”.

This is why Paul commanded Timothy to also look at the kids. How a man manages his house is a clue as to how he will manage the church.

A bully seeks to control others by pounding them with the law and its consequences.

He is not fit for church office and must be removed if he has been ordained, or the whole church will suffer.

The church is a community of grace, love, salvation, peace. Bullies never allow anyone to rest.

Could this be why the church has lost its witness in the world? We have been controlled by bullies far too long. How can we expect God’s favor when we stridently and obstinately refuse to obey him?

Let your gentleness be known to all men. This is what the Bible says. But instead we extoll and exalt the bully. We ordain the one who wins at all cost, the one who terrifies the children into submission and fills the church with other bullies. We ordain the one who knows how to keep the uppity women in line and how to win arguments. But no matter what title we give them, to God they will always be false shepherds. For only God can raise up shepherds for the sheep. He tells us how to spot a shepherd. Do you think we should start paying attention?

But Christ is coming. And he will deliver his people from the ruthless reign of the righteous bully.

In the meantime, cast them out. And strife will cease. Amazing how that works.

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Filed under Pastoral ministry, Qualifications for office

Shattering words and crying to God

This morning, I was meditating on Psalm 42.

9 I will say to God my rock, “Why hast Thou forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
(Ps. 42:9-10)

These two verses in particular struck me. The first thing is the Psalmists righteous determination to cry out to the Lord.

Those of us who were trained with the books of Jay Adams were taught to always be aware of manipulation and complaining. He warned us that the people we are counseling will often seek to manipulate the conversation with tears and a lot of words.

O how glad I am that God does not treat us that way! How many of you have been told by pastors (or even spouses) to stop crying, quit manipulating, and cease complaining. How many of us were told that our tears were simply trying to change the conversation or that our complaining was unthankful and ungodly!

The woman with the issue of blood touched Jesus robes and was made well. He said, “Who touched me” so that she would talk to him. God delights when we pour out our troubles on him and call upon him in distress.

So much of scripture is filled with God’s delight in the prayers of the saints, and his curse on those who did not call upon him, who refused to seek his aid.

Contrary to the American popular religion, God’s blessing is NOT on the one too proud to seek help. It is not on the one who lifts himself up by the bootstraps, but on the one who has no help, no hope, no strength and knows it.

Take heart! God hears our tears, even when surrounded by mockers and revilers!

The second thing I noticed is that the Psalmist compares the reviling of his enemies to a shattering of his bones. How many times have we heard pastors and elders say, “But it really wasn’t abuse, though. There were no broken bones, no one went to the hospital. He didn’t lay a hand on her.”

We have even been taught that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Cute – but it isn’t biblical. In fact, the uniform testimony of scripture is that words hurt and destroy far more that any physical violence. We actually heal from physical scars, but scars of ugly words last a lifetime.

Jesus warned that hateful, reviling words cause one to be liable to hell-fire.

And the Psalmist pours out his complaint to God for the reviling and mocking of his enemies. And his prayers are heard.

God sees every sneer, every contemptuous smirk, every wink of the eye. He hears every reviling word, every “Raca” and every “You are so stupid. You are such a fool”.

And when the altar of God is covered with the tears of those with whom you dealt treacherously, God hears and will come in judgment (Malachi 2:13).

So keep speaking, you who are oppressed. Keep weeping, those who have been reviled. And remember that God will wipe away every tear and will come in vengeance. And remember God’s promise.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

So as the Psalm ends, we read this, even in the midst of tears:

Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance, and my God. (Ps. 42:11)

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Filed under Abuse, Prayer

My Two Bits–in no particular order

It may surprise you that I have random opinions. Sometimes they are pretty good. Sometimes they can just be deleted. But thinking about things never hurt anyone. So here are some more of my opinions. I have a bunch of them, as my wife can attest.

  1. The foundation of the nouthetic counseling movement is a book called “Competent to Counsel” by Jay Adams. The theme of that book is that every single Christian is indwelt with the Holy Spirit and competent to counsel anyone, no matter what the issue is. A companion book was “The Big Umbrella”. The theme of that book is that psychology is very, very bad and you must never go to a psychologist, even if the psychologist is a Christian.  These two books have contradictory themes. Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…THERE it is…
  2. Completely unrelated, which is the why these are random thoughts: Scripture teaches that God uses tyrants to control and judge nations when the nations prove incapable of controlling themselves. For decades, the visible church has succumbed to reviling, cursing, and mocking the world, the left, the democrats, the gay community, the poor, etc. Don’t tell me they haven’t. You know it, and I know it. Could it be that the modern “politically correct” speech police is a Tiglath-Pilesar or Nebuchadnezzar sent from God to teach us to control our tongues with the whip? (See Habakkuk 1:2-11 and Isaiah 8:6-7). Remember that there are no laws against the fruit of the Spirit, nor can there be (Gal. 5:22-23)
  3. Whenever I read what “biblical counselors” tell women that they must do to avoid sinning, I realize that we have created our own Talmuds – and we have done it for the same reasons that the Pharisees did it: to make sure women and sinners don’t get out of control. But it is wicked and godless, and we must stop. (a good critique is here)

Wow. Just three random thoughts today. It is probably because I have work to do and need to go now.

Hold firmly to the gospel of Christ. Don’t let the devil lead you astray through the righteousness that is of the law, for it can never justify a sinner.

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matt. 15:9)

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Filed under Random thoughts