Simple Not Simplistic

Making things simple isn’t the same as reducing a thought or truth to a simplistic point. Oversimplification of a truth makes it shallow. As Albert Einstein said, “Make things as simple as possible but no simpler.” He also said, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

My first pastor, Chuck Smith, knew how to do this when teaching God’s Word. He advised those who felt called to teach the Bible to “simply teach the Word of God simply.” But it’s not as easy as some think and I’m afraid Pastor Chuck’s advice gets reduced to a cliché instead of a wise guideline for teaching.

In a previous article, I spoke of the biblical ignorance in America in spite of the abundant resources of Bible teaching and study helps available to Americans. I believe one factor contributing to this ignorance is the assumption that verse by verse teaching is equivalent to expositional teaching. It’s not.

Faux exposition

More and more pastors and teachers pass off a loose, rambling verse-by-verse commentary of the Bible as exposition. But this is not true exposition, it’s more of a Bible knowledge dump. Just giving information or commentary about a Scripture text doesn’t help people understand the truth of the text itself.

Expositional teaching opens up the truth of a text so it can be understood. It is not a style or method of teaching but the process of making the truth of a text clear and understandable by those who hear the teaching or preaching on a biblical text.

Hear how a few proven authorities of exposition explain what it is—

John RW Stott– “If by an “expository” sermon [message] is meant a verse-by-verse explanation of a lengthy passage of Scripture... this would be a misuse of the word. Properly speaking, “exposition” has a much broader meaning. It refers to the content of the sermon [biblical truth] rather than its style [a running commentary]. To expound Scripture is to bring out of the text what is there and expose it to view. But the text in question could be a verse or a sentence or even a single word. It could equally be a paragraph, a chapter or a whole book. Whether it is long or short, our responsibility as expositors is to open it up in such a way that it speaks its message clearly, plainly, accurately, relevantly, without addition, subtraction or justification.” (words in brackets are mine) [from Between Two Worlds by John RW Stott]Haddon Robinson– “Exposition is drawing from your exegesis to give your people what they need to understand the passage.” [from Peter Mead’s blog, Biblical Preaching]Dr. Billy Graham– “Effective preaching must be biblical preaching, whether it is the exposition of a single word in the Bible, a text, or a chapter. The Word is what the Spirit uses…Thousands of pastors, Sunday school teachers, and Christian workers are powerless because they do not make the Word the source of their preaching or teaching.” [from Preaching Life blog]

Just giving information or commentary about a Scripture text doesn’t help people understand the truth of the text itself

Teach the Word Simply

The quotes above from preaching greats John RW Stott, Haddon Robinson, and Billy Graham underscore what Pastor Chuck Smith meant by “simply teach the Word of God simply.”

I remember how Chuck opened up my understanding as he opened up God’s Word in his messages on Sunday mornings, and as he taught through chapters of the Bible on Sunday nights, and his in-depth teaching on Thursday nights. Pastor Chuck was the living example of good expositional preaching and teaching in those early days that provided my foundation and grounding in God’s Word.

I remember Chuck sharing at a pastor’s conference his biblical guideline for exposition found in Nehemiah 8:8—

So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

This is the work of genuine exposition—reading and “giving the sense” of God’s Word so people can understand. The Scripture text itself needs to be our source for exposition, not what someone says about it.

Sound exposition requires solid exegesis—an accurate, faithful study of the Scripture text itself guided by the Holy Spirit. This is far more valuable and life-giving to teach in an expositional way than relying on what other teachers and commentaries say.

Sound exposition requires solid exegesis—an accurate, faithful study of the Scripture text itself guided by the Holy Spirit

Next, I’ll look at the critical link between solid exegesis and genuine exposition. Until then, here are a couple of resources for exposition, including Chuck Smith’s notes on Nehemiah 8:8.


Simply Teach Simply

—Pastor Chuck Smith’s notes on Nehemiah 8:8

Biblical Preaching

—blog of Peter Mead (some excellent guidelines for exposition)

Nuts and Bolts of Expository Preaching

—a good, basic workshop by Pastor John Miller

Biblical Knowledge or Biblical Ignorance?

I came to faith while reading the Bible. I was challenged to follow Jesus while reading Matt 7:13-14. I realized I’d been traveling through the wide gate on the easy road that leads to destruction.

Sitting in the 24 foot trailer I rented while living in the Mammoth Mountain area of California, I chose the narrow gate and hard road that leads to life.

I took this as a personal challenge that few go this way and find life. Since then, reading and studying the Scriptures has been an important foundation for my faith and my personal journey of faith.

Understanding why I believe what I believe

I am not a fundamentalist nor am I fond of the saying, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” I want to understand why I believe what I believe. Anything less tends towards biblical ignorance and spiritual dullness.

As with most things in life, I approach the truth of God's Word with questions. This helps me process what I read so I can understand it. This was my learning process early in life and matched what I learned about Inductive Bible Study (IBS). I continue to be a proponent and teacher of IBS as a means of practical exegesis. When I don't understand something in God's written Word, I don't just accept it or reject it, I set it aside till the Lord gives me insight to understand it.

Questions were an important element of my spiritual search for truth as I as wandered through the maze of the psychedelic sixties. After asking many questions about the Christian faith and theology, I was sent packing out of a church in Southern California because I dared to challenge a so-called Bible expert.

I sought the truth but it was seen as a challenge and disruption. Each question was answered with a Bible quote but without any explanation. The use of such knee-jerk reaction tactics isn't defending the faith it's erecting a wall of ignorance. I found out later that the supposed Bible expert was asked to move on because he was a false teacher.

Knowledge isn’t understanding

Biblical knowledge is abundant in America but so is biblical ignorance. You might wonder, how can this happen when so many study resources are available online, in print, via podcasts and video, and various conferences? It's simple. We've mistaken Bible knowledge or knowledge about the Bible for biblical understanding.

Force-feeding people Bible knowledge doesn't produce biblically sound, well-grounded believers. Believers need to understand what they are taught to become spiritually healthy.

Believers need to learn how to discern the truth of God's Word for themselves so they can grow into spiritual maturity. Otherwise, they are dependent on whatever they are told, like baby birds waiting to be fed what is partially eaten and regurgitated into their mouths.

You can disagree with me about this but you'd be wrong. Not because I say it's so but research points this out. Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: “Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.” (see links at bottom)

Integrity—walking the talk

This is further confirmed by a continuing decrease of the church's influence for good within our nation. A significant characteristic of the Jesus Movement in the late sixties and throughout the seventies was the moral and ethical counter influence it had upon American culture.

Counter-cultural influence doesn’t take place because of more knowledge or public protests, it requires something much deeper—integrity of character.

Integrity isn’t learned in a classroom or by hearing a message. It’s gained through life experience and the influence of others who have integrity. This is the impact of relational, intentional discipleship.

We need to “walk the talk” so those we teach and disciple can “walk the walk.” Our life needs to match what we teach and preach in the same way we see Jesus’ early disciples did.

When we teach and preach, we need to do it well so people are challenged with biblical truth and understand why and how they need to put it into practice in their life.

[this is the first in a series of posts on expositional teaching and preaching]

[for footnote]

Pastoral Transition Discussion

Poimen Ministries has focused on the subject and process of pastoral transitions, as more and more pastors are moving into other areas of ministry or are unable to continue in their present situation.
We hosted an online seminar recently, dealing with this subject. Unfortunately, it was only partially recorded. But it still provides some idea of some of the issues involved.
Hosting the seminar were pastors Bill Holdridge, Pat Kenney, and Al James.
Click HERE to listen to an audio version of this session.
Bill Holdridge

The Art of Dying

Dying is not a favorite topic for most of us. We want to avoid talking about it and would like to circumvent death itself. But it's inevitable here on earth.
As a pastor, I often saw how awkward most people feel around the survivors of loved ones who've died. What do we say or not say to them?
This is especially true in American culture. Most other cultures have specific customs and beliefs about death. Grief and mourning are natural, not something to ignore or avoid.
Insulated or in touch?
Sadly, some cultures and places in the world, even certain neighborhoods in America, are well acquainted with death and grief. There is respect for those who die and those who grieve.
It may be hard to accept, but many cultures have a healthier attitude towards death and grief than westerners who insulate themselves from death and dying.
In contrast, a favorite subject we Americans dwell on is our self. We do selfies and post them on social media. We also have an unhealthy self-focus on comfort, pleasure, and convenience, and an equally unhealthy penchant for self-introspection.
Following Jesus and dying
I believe our trouble with the subject of death and dying, and our obsession with self, is a major reason many Americans, perhaps most westerners, have difficulty with the simple, conditional statement of Jesus to those who would follow Him.
"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
Jesus addressed the topic often, and yet it was not His primary focus. He saw death as a means to an end. Rather, Jesus saw death as a path to the beginning of life. Not in a philosophical sense, but in its truest sense.
Here's another statement of Jesus about death—
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)
A casual reading of the verse seems to apply only to Jesus who would soon die on the cross, but that's not true.
What Jesus says in the following verses mirrors what He says about following Him (Luke 9:23-26)—
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:25-26)
This idea of dying and bearing fruit is intended and true for all of us who would follow Jesus.
Missing the mark
Death is unavoidable. Not just physical death, but a dying to self, if you're going to follow Jesus. This is the art of dying.
Denying our self and dying to self may not be what you think. Perhaps you have a caricatured idea what this means.
If you have in mind a person with a dour face and subdued personality, you'd have it wrong. Maybe you envision the idea of life in a monastery—isolation, silence, work, prayer, chanting. Or, there's the overly pious person, like the Pharisees who opposed Jesus.
No, all of these miss the mark.
It should be obvious, but it isn't
It should be obvious, but Jesus is the example we need to have in mind.
Jesus was loved by the people for His compassion, authority, and genuineness. He was scorned by the religious leaders and those with political power. Even one of His chosen followers betrayed Jesus because He didn't meet their expectations.
Those closest to Jesus often didn't understand what He said, what He did, and who He associated with, let alone those who followed at a distance.
Difficult to grasp?
Why is this basic call of discipleship to follow Jesus difficult for us to grasp? As with so many things, we overanalyze it, complicate it, and have our own jaded views of it.
A simple rewording may help—
deny your self— deny or say no to your selfish naturetake up your cross— die to self, or as said in another place, crucify your self (Rom 6:6, 11)follow Me— surrender your will and life to Jesus
Again, this is made more clear by what Jesus says after His call to follow Him—
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matt 16:25-26 NIV)
If we want to follow Him, Jesus says we need to—let go of our life to receive life, so we can exchange our life for the life He will give us, and what may appear as humiliation will actually bring honor.
This may be what we're called to do, but how do we do this day by day? What would this look like for each of us personally?
Of course, we're not all the same. But when we understand and begin to do it, we'll all be traveling on the path that leads to life.
Next week, we'll look at how we can learn and appreciate the art of dying to self.

Why Do You Believe This?

What's the most visited page on a website? The About (Me/Us) page. It's true for my site, as it is for most others. Is it because our culture is so voyeuristic?
While this might be true to some degree, mainly it's because we want to know someone before we trust what they say. Christian believers also need to know the validity of what they say they believe.
Over the next several weeks, I want to take a look at why we believe what we believe. This includes a look at the 5 Solas, the basic pillars of the Protestant Reformation, from my own point of view as a follower of Jesus.
A very brief history
Every evangelical church, or evangelical community of believers, is rooted in the Protestant Reformation. Many people in evangelical ministries may not realize this, or if they know it, may not know why.
The Protestant Reformation (PR) started when men such as John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, Huldreich Zwingli, and John Calvin, over a period of 200 years, objected to the sale of indulgences (kindnesses) and other practices of the church.
As a means of raising money, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) provided a way to pay for forgiveness, even for people already dead. There's more to what paying for indulgences includes, its origin and history, but it worked like a get-out-of-hell-free card.
This led to a movement that set out to reform the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). When it was clear the church—the only recognized church at that time—would not change, the Protestant movement separated from the RCC.
Initially, three primary churches developed, then a fourth, for mostly the same reasons—
The Lutheran Church— started by followers of Martin Luther's leadership and influenceThe Reformed Church— started by John Calvin's followersThe Presbyterian Church— started by John Knox in ScotlandThe Anglican Church— this included the Reformers in England, but was formalized when King Henry the VIII broke away from the Pope
Although many people had similar concerns, Martin Luther is most well known for his Ninety-five Theses posted on the door of the church in Wittenberg. Luther was a monk who taught moral theology at the University of Wittenberg.
The original intent for his 95 Theses was to promote discussion not dissension, but the church didn't see it that way.
There's much more to the story, but the essence is that Luther and other reformers challenged the authority of the pope and certain practices of the church that were not biblical.
The driving force of the Protestant Reformation was to bring the church back to its biblical roots. The Scriptures are to be the final authoritative basis governing all doctrines and practices of the church, not the pope nor other church leaders.
The roots of Protestantism
Protestantism is a broad term that includes churches or communities of believers who are not part of the RCC, but who hold to a biblical foundation of faith.
Other churches grew out of the four primary ones mentioned above because of other distinctions in theology, doctrine, and practices, but the essentials of the Christian faith remain the same.
The primary tenets of the Protestant Reformation are summarized in the 5 Solas (originally in Latin)—
Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone – The Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and practice.Sola Gratia – Grace Alone – “Salvation by Grace Alone.” Salvation is proof of God’s undeserved favor; we are rescued from God’s wrath by His grace alone, not by any work we do.Sola Fide – Faith Alone – “Salvation by Faith Alone.” We are justified by faith in Christ alone, not by the works of the Law.Sola Christus – Christ Alone – “In Christ Alone.” Salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone; no one and nothing else can save.Soli Dei Gloria – Glory of God Alone – “For the Glory of God Alone.” Salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God for His glory alone.
Why we need to understand what we believe
We need to be aware of deceptions perpetrated by the enemy of our soul (the devil). As Paul points out, we need a pure and undivided devotion to Jesus.
But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. (2 Cor 11:3 NLT)
It's always about Jesus! He's the Head of the Body of Christ—the church. He's the Core of the Gospel. He's the Alpha (first) and Omega (last). He's the only Son of God—Savior, Lord of Lords, and Returning King.
Our relationship with the Lord Jesus needs to deepen so we're not so vulnerable to clever arguments, deceptions, or anything else that would draw us away from a pure, uncomplicated commitment to Him.
I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments... And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him... Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. (Col 2:4, 6, 8 NLT)
We need to pursue spiritual maturity, not by gathering more theological knowledge, but through deepening our understanding of Jesus—who He is and what He's done to redeem and restore us.
This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. (Eph 4:13-14 NLT)
It's who you know, not what you know
We need to be rooted and grounded in our relationship with Jesus, not just gain more knowledge about Him. We need to understand what He says.
The four gospels are the bedrock for our faith, as they were for the early church. Jesus is the one who interprets the truth of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms for us. He did this personally for the apostles (Luke 24:44), and He will do it for us by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27).
Jesus is the Cornerstone of our faith (1 Cor 3:11; Eph 2:20; 1 Pet 2:4-6).
Jesus is our plumb line, our spiritual point of reference. As Jesus said to His closest followers—
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63)
If the truths we hold about Jesus and the Christian faith don't line up with what He says, then we're on shaky ground.
Do you understand why you believe what you believe?

Who's In Charge of the Church?

Who's in charge of the church? Who's in authority over the church? The pastor? A bishop? A priest? Elders? A board of directors or deacons? The pope?
The correct answer—the biblical one—is none of the above. Jesus Christ alone is the founder and Head of the church—the Body of Christ.
However, the New Testament speaks of priests and pastors and bishops. Are certain people given special places of authority over people within the church? Well, yes and no.
Body ministry
A characteristic of the early church, and almost every period of revival since then, could be termed organic leadership. This would include leaders who either break away from existing institutional leadership, or rise up in spite of or in defiance of the institutional leadership.
This was true of the Neo-Pentecostal movement at the turn of the 20th century. It was also true at the beginning of the Jesus People Movement in the mid-sixties into the early seventies.
Along with fresh new leaders, many believers were empowered to step up and serve within the church in various ways, which became known and described as body ministry. People within the Body of Christ—the church community—were empowered to do ministry or service.
This was an important principle of the Protestant Reformation, a reforming of the church back to its biblical foundations based on the 5 Solas. What we call body ministry now was known as the priesthood of all believers.
Do you want to see revival?
The 5 Solas provide the bedrock of theology for the church—the Body of Christ—to function as Jesus intended. What does this look like in action?
The early chapters of Acts provides some good insights, and later in the book of Acts when new people groups were reached with the gospel and new churches were established.
When I hear believers say they want to "see revival," I wonder what they mean or expect. What is seen in the book of Acts is taking place in many parts of the world now. However, there is a caveat.
A fresh work of God produces new leadership, but these new leaders need equipping.
This is why Paul spent a year in Antioch (Acts 11:26), a year and a half in Corinth (Acts 18:11), and two years in Ephesus (Acts 19:10) teaching the believers, while reaching out with the gospel in surrounding areas.
The need for equipping
New leaders and believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit for the ministry God calls them to do, but they need the example and guidance of more experienced leaders.
By the same token, those of us with experience often need the influence of the fresh new life and vision of young leaders.
The Holy Spirit gave the apostle Paul vision for this need of equipping God's people for the work of the ministry in Ephesians 4:11-16. In that text, Paul outlines why leaders are needed for a healthy church body (community)— equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:12-13 NIV)
This is not a New Testament concept. It's always been God's design for His people to be a kingdom of priests (Exo 19:5-6). But Israel chose to reject this by telling Moses they didn't want to hear from God directly (Exo 20:19).
The church, the community of God's people, can't afford to make this same mistake.
If you want to see revival, a continuous equipping of God's people and young leaders needs to take place. Not just in America (or wherever you are), but throughout the world.
This is a huge need in many nations where God is already moving in a fresh way.
A priesthood of all believers
It was never God's intention for there to be a formal distinction between God's people and their leaders. The terms clergy and laity are not found in the Bible, they're manmade.
The basis for a formal priesthood or leadership is never seen in the New Testament, except to explain the distinction between the Old and New Covenants (Testaments).
This is made clear in the book of Hebrews, especially in chapters 7–10. Even when Jesus is called our High Priest, it's in a different sense than the priesthood of Israel (Heb 8:6).
A clear, biblical view of the priesthood of all believers is found in the first epistle of Peter—
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:4-5, 9)
This is also echoed in the book of Revelation (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).
All believers don't have the same calling, gift, or role within the Body of Christ, but one thing is clear—Jesus is in charge of His church.
The 5 Solas and the priesthood of all believers
So, how do the 5 Solas factor into this principle of the priesthood of all believers? Here's my own brief summary—
Soli Deo Gloria— the primary purpose of the church is to glorify God as His living testimony on earth, as the Body of Christ (Acts 1:8; 1 Pet 2:9)Solus Christus— there is only one mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5) and Jesus, alone, is the Head of the Body of Christ (Col 1:18)Solo Gratia— it is only by the grace of God that we're included into the church and how we are to serve the Lord in whatever way He gifts and calls us (Rom 12:3-8)Solo Fide— the church is not an institution, but an organism—a living body of believers—who are to begin and continue in faith (Gal 3:1-3)Sola Scriptura— the Scriptures (the Bible) are the sole basis of authority for all matters of faith, and this includes how the church is to function as the Body of Christ (John 6:63; 8:31-32; 17:17; Eph 4:11-16)
As said before, God's intention is for all believers to be involved in the church as part of a community under the direction of the Holy Spirit and the leaders God raises up.
Do people within a church need to submit to recognized leaders? Yes, as long as the leadership doesn't violate the essence of these 5 Solas and become abusive and overbearing.
If you've experienced some form of abusive leadership connected to church, then I encourage you to not give up on the church. Seek out a community of believers and leaders who genuinely and humbly honor the Lord, and the truths of these 5 Solas.
Sure there are failures and problems, but the Body of Christ is what Jesus established. When things are not right, He will bring reform and revival.
If you love Jesus, be ready for what He wants to do on earth, and ready for His return. The time is short and there are billions who still need to hear God's story of redemption.

Common Mentoring Myths (myths that mentors might believe)

No one has all the answers. I’m wary of anyone who thinks they do or thinks someone else does. Sometimes we just get things wrong, I know I do. If you don’t think you do, you’re setting yourself up for a fall and will probably take others with you.
The topic of mentoring has become more popular over the past few years, but it’s not always what some people make it out to be.
Authoritarian or authoritative?
A while back I came across an article posted on Facebook about authoritarianism. It was related to American politics but it got me thinking.
An authoritarian leader is quite different from an authoritative one. I’ve worked under both and sadly, at times I’ve acted more like the first than the second.
What’s the difference? King Saul of Israel was an authoritarian leader, while King David was more of an authoritative leader. An authoritarian leader acts more like a bully, while an authoritative leader sets a confident example. An authoritarian leader is quite different from an authoritative one.
King Herod was a bully and tyrant (Matt 2:13-18). Herod wielded his authority out of insecurity. He didn’t trust anyone and tried to kill anyone deemed a threat, including Jesus.
Jesus led by example, yet His authority was well-recognized—
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29)
Mentors are not masters
One of the graduating classes from the Bible college in the Philippines gave me a poster filled with their thoughts and thanks. They called me their beloved “Tor-mentor” because their studies were difficult and I could be a tough teacher.
But mentoring is not about being a taskmaster, or any form of master. There may be a time and place to be authoritative, but this excludes using authority in an overbearing way.
Perhaps a more appropriate way to look at being a mentor is to see ourselves as journeymen (or is that journey-persons?). Mentors are people with experience and expertise who aren’t stuck on themselves.Mentors are people with experience and expertise who aren't stuck on themselves.
Mentors have something to offer because others have poured their experience and expertise into them. Here is a simple way to look at discipleship—we (mentors) pour into others what God poured into us.
3 common mentoring myths
Here are three mentoring myths that get in the way of mentoring well. They may not be spoken out loud, but are often latent attitudes among those of us who would be mentors.
I have the answers to your questions— you may have answers to their questions, but they don’t need to be given at the expense of the relationshipYou need to know what I know— this may not be true at all, especially if connected to an air of superiority or arroganceI’m a fount of great wisdom— wisdom can be gained from many sources, you nor I have a corner on wisdom
Perhaps there’s some truth in these opinions, but they do more to offend than help. A common reason for generation gaps is an unwillingness to listen. If we, the mentors, aren’t willing to listen, then why should anyone listen to us? Jesus understood this (Luke 2:46). If mentors aren't willing to listen, then why should anyone listen to them?
Here’s a reframing of those three common attitudes—
You don’t have all the answers— You may have answers to many questions, but sometimes you need to admit that you don’t know something. This may open the door for a mutual pursuit of an answer.You’re not always right— I learned this with my wife and children first, but also with staff and students—I need to admit it when I am. This may be humbling, but it brings opportunities for a more open and healthy mentoring relationship.Your advice isn’t always needed— This may be hard to swallow at times, but it’s true. If you’re not asked, don’t feel obliged to dispense whatever wisdom you think you have. This is especially true if you’re a Boomer like me.
Good mentors are not experts looking for opportunities to dispense their wisdom, but people of experience and expertise with humble attitudes.
A different perspective
One thing that helps me is to level the relationship between me and whoever asked me to mentor them. I make a point to not insist on a role of superiority, and don’t want to be addressed by any title, such as pastor. I may have experience and expertise someone else doesn’t have, but it doesn’t make me better than others.
When I make mentoring a mutual relationship at least two things happen. First, I make it clear that whoever I’m discipling know they have value and importance to me. This encourages a much more engaged and committed relationship.
The other benefit is being open to learn from those I mentor. Often I’m able to see things differently because the relationship is more open. This helps me mentor more effectively.
Are there any mentoring myths you’ve seen or run into?

Fuel for the Soul — Part Three

Fuel for the Soul—Part Three
I had two interesting conversations this week. They covered two ends of the spectrum on what can be a polarizing subject.
Earlier this week I sat across from a millennial-aged believer who had questions about the Bible and Jesus. This weekend I talked with another believer in his late 40’s among a group of men. We were discussing whether or not another men’s Bible study was needed in our church.
The younger man showed great interest, but found resistance from other Christians when he questioned specific teachings. The other man seemed to prefer talk about life issues over Bible study and discussion. In which conversation would you be most engaged?
Here’s what I think
America has a surplus of biblical resources, literally. A Christian leader from a developing country (MOTROW) visiting a LifeWay Christian bookstore would be like a child entering a candy store.
So, back to my conversations, what do you think? Is there really a need for one more Bible study for men? Also, is there any place for preaching in our post-modern world?
I admit that I gravitate toward the younger man than the older, and here’s why. I came across a post this week that resonated with my heart—3 Ways You Can Be the Church for Millennials.
Those of us who have a grounding in God’s Word have a responsibility to mentor younger generations.
Preaching and teaching
This is the third part in a series of posts titled Fuel for the Soul. Last week, I started to look at Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13, where we looked at public reading of Scripture. As I said last week, it is a lost art, in my opinion.
Here are a couple more links to check out—
One Year Bible Online AudioDaily Audio Bible
This week we’ll look at the place of preaching and teaching of the Bible as a means of nourishment for our soul, both personally and within the church. “...devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1 Tim 4:13).
Before we dig into these, another point why these are important. The first verse provides some context, as do my two conversations this week—
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (1 Tim 4:1)
Preaching and teaching can play an important part in keeping people from abandoning the faith.
What’s the difference?
Is there a difference between the two? Is preaching any different from teaching? Yes. Here’s a simple way to distinguish them.
Preaching is persuasive in nature, and aims to stir the heart to respond in some way to the message preached, to be moved to take action.Teaching is instructive and intended to provoke thought. The purpose of teaching is to explain the truth so it can be processed and internalized.
Both expressions of communication have various styles, depending on the training and personality of the person presenting the message. Most pastors do a little of both, but not everyone.
Some people are more predisposed to preaching and exhorting people. Others like to lay out the truth in a linear, systematic way.
The place of preaching
Preaching is what most people are exposed to in church services. Many pastors are trained through homiletics courses and develop certain styles of presentation. Of course, there are plenty of stereotypes from judgmental broadsides delivered by fiery preachers warning them to repent, to the eloquent pontification on a certain topic.
The typical American evangelical church features more toned down or conversational messages. There are three general styles commonly used—topical, textual, and expositional. Here’s a very brief and general description of these—
Topical messages are just that, focused on a topic, and often include several different Bible texts.Messages that use a certain text to launch from to discuss a topic or theme are textual.Expositional messages are tied to a specific Bible text of varying lengths. These focus on bringing the truth out of the text in a persuasive manner.
Did Jesus preach? He did! We see Him preach in public and in the temple area throughout the gospels.
One thing He did that may not seem like preaching is telling parables, stories with a simple truth. We can find seven parables in Matthew Chap 13, and three related parables in Luke 15.
He spoke these to stir the hearts of the people, as well as their minds. Did it work? Most definitely, as we see by the reaction of both the crowds and the Jewish leaders (Matt 21:45-46).
Biblical storying is a natural way to preach, and is very effective because stories engage our hearts, not just our minds. I’ve found biblical storying quite effective as a prelude to preaching, rather than just reading a text. I’ll include an audio clip below this post as an example.
The usefulness of teaching
When it comes to teaching, Bible study comes to mind. There are many different styles and approaches to teaching the Bible.
A common way the Bible is taught in churches is what I call the “stand and deliver” approach. One person, the teacher, delivers their teaching in a linear, one-way conversational manner.
Often this becomes an information dump of biblical knowledge. Does this engage people well? Perhaps if it’s short, but not if it goes on and on. Why? Because there’s no dialog, no opportunity for people to ask questions when things aren’t clear to them.
Is there a better way? I think so. Questions can be used, as long as they are genuine inquiries, not just posed for straw man arguments. Then the teaching needs to clearly answer those questions.
This is more of a socratic teaching approach. It also helps to be willing to answer questions after the teaching is finished.
My preferred way is using this socratic method in an interactive discussion with those gathered to learn. It’s how I lead the three Bible studies I’m involved with each week. It’s also how I taught in our Bible school in the Philippines.
What is your preferred way to nourish your soul with the truth of God?
Have you had a memorable experience with preaching or teaching that blessed you?

Fuel for the Soul — Part Two

Fuel for the Soul—Part Two
Each generation, often each decade, new advancements and discoveries take place. We call it progress. But progress often creates unintended consequences.
Some consequences are responded to and resolved, while others are accepted as the cost of progress. One simple example is pollution related to industrialization with all its inventions.
In America, we’ve dealt with the plague of smog fairly well, but urban sprawl continues to encroach upon our landscape and environment.
In a similar way, the advancement and progress of the church brings unintended consequences for God’s people and kingdom on earth.
2 Questions
In Fuel for the Soul—part 1, I asked two questions—
What do you think is the best way to be nourished in the truth of God?
What role is the church to be involved with this?
In this post, I want to give you my thoughts on this based on the advice given to a young elder named Timothy by the apostle Paul—
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. (1 Timothy 4:12-13 NIV)
I highlighted two important parts of this advice—setting an example, and the priority of Scripture in the ministry of the church.
The role of the church
A lot of people have a lot of ideas for what the role of the church should be. Most of the ideas are subjective. That is, they are based on a personal perception or need.
Since Jesus is the founder and head of the church, it makes sense to go with His overarching purpose for the church. It’s called the Great Commission, parts of which are found in all four gospels and in Acts.
Paul’s advice to Timothy of setting an example is emphasized throughout his pastoral epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus). It was also the cornerstone of Jesus’ public and private ministry with His followers.
Importance of the Scriptures in ministry
In the text above (1 Tim 4:13), Paul sees public reading, preaching, and teaching of the Scriptures as a priority for Timothy setting an example for the believers. Are there other important elements in the church’s role of nurturing God’s people? Of course!
But the place of the Scriptures in the ministry of the church has suffered over the years.
This happens when the church tries to reach people by embracing the surrounding culture. It is not new to our time, but it’s a tactic that often has unintended consequences.
Foundation for our faith
In many traditional or liturgical churches, the lectio divina is used as a guide for reading and praying through the Scriptures. It can be a helpful guide.
Less traditional plans for reading through the Scriptures have been around for years, and digital reading plans have flourished via electronic or online Bibles. Just google Bible reading plans!
I shared my own experience, in a prior post, of my initial involvement with a church that continues to emphasize teaching through the Scriptures. This was foundational for my faith.
The Scriptures are a vital part of growing in the Christian faith. They can not be neglected. Neglecting God’s Word dishonors God, and is unhealthy for us and the church. As Christians, the Scriptures are fuel for the soul.
How can you incorporate the Bible in your own personal relationship with Jesus?
Let’s look at the three things Paul spoke of—public reading of Scripture, preaching, and teaching.
Public reading of Scripture
In most of the churches I’ve been involved with or led, public reading of the Bible was a regular part of the service.
Before we planted a church, my wife and I served in a church and retreat ministry in the low desert of Southern California. One of the pastors had a strong Lutheran background, so each Sunday he would read from the Bible.
He did it well. His voice was strong, yet he modulated his tone and volume to fit what he read. When he read the Scriptures it was engaging and understandable.
A lost art
I think public reading of the Scriptures is a lost art.
I cringe when I hear someone reading monotone through a Bible passage. It’s boring and uninteresting. Likewise, hearing someone rush through a text so they can share their own thoughts grieves me.
When I taught homiletics in the Philippines, I worked on this with the students. I would demonstrate reading with thoughtfulness, feeling, a natural pace, and reverence. Then I gave them an opportunity to do it.
I would critique and correct them when they did it poorly, and I encouraged them when they did it well.
Public Bible reading may be the only time someone in church hears the Scriptures. It needs to be done and done well.
Jesus our example
Again, we look to Jesus as our prime example. Reading the Scriptures was central to worship in the synagogue, and we see Jesus honoring it (Luke 4:16-21).
We also see Jesus giving people a correct understanding of the Scriptures, as He taught them in the open (Matt 5:17-20) and in the temple area (Luke 20:1-8).
One advantage of our digitized world is how many resources there are for listening to the Bible read by a good reader. Again, just google audio Bibles!
Many people neither read well or like to read. Today, if people do read it is often reduced to scanning. So, hearing the Bible read is valuable and needed.
But even for those of us who like to read, hearing the Bible can be powerful and a great aid to meditating on God’s Word.
What’s your experience with listening to the Bible?
Do you regularly listen to the Bible more than read it?
Next week I’ll try to look more closely at preaching and teaching—both the church’s role in these, and how both can be incorporated into our life of faith.

Fuel for the Soul — Part One

Fuel for the Soul—Part One
What makes humans different from all other mammals? We have a soul, that is, we are a soul with a body—a spiritual soul. We don’t live by instinct, but reason.
We have emotions connected to our thoughts, which effect our behavior. We are moral beings and are made like our Creator.
Generally speaking, we know right from wrong. We reflect on the past, imagine the future, while living in the present. And we need something more than just food, water, shelter, and other basic necessities. We need nourishment for our soul.
A need to know
The first human was created in the likeness or image of God, as are all humans. Humankind was created to rule over all other creatures on the earth, in the sea, and the air (Gen 1:26). This was the original design.
God also gave the first humans responsibility and purpose (Gen 1:28-30). He also gave us the capacity to think and reason (Gen 2:15-17), along with the need for companionship (Gen 2:18-25).
We also have the capacity to be wrong. This is made clear in Genesis 3. We have an innate need to know the truth, which spurs our curiosity and imagination. This enables us to be creative and productive.
“What is truth?”
But what truth do we need? Many claim to know and understand the truth, but all truth is not the same. This is revealed in the dialog between Jesus and Pontius Pilate, where Pilate asks, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38)
I was somewhat like Pilate earlier in my life. I sought out truth from various sources including the Bible. Along with other religious and philosophical books, I read the Bible every day for about two years.
Did I understand what I was reading? No. I was like the Ethiopian reading from Isaiah whom Philip encountered (Acts 8:30-31). I needed some guidance, but where would I go and who could help me?
Fuel for my soul
Right before 1970, I was invited to a church where the Bible was taught in a simple, clear way. This church became a reference point for me.
I still wandered a while longer, but returned there, made a commitment to be a disciple of Jesus, was grounded in the truth, and began serving in God’s kingdom.
What was the key? The truth of God’s written Word. I realized it was the fuel I needed for my soul to grow in a healthy way. It was the nutrition—the food—my soul longed for and needed.
Spirit and life
As pointed out by many, when jesus was tempted by the devil, Jesus answered him with the truth of Scripture (Matt 4:1-11). The devil’s first temptation appealed to the Lord’s hunger, after a 40-day fast.
Jesus’ answer was, ”‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt 4:4). This is a reference to Deuteronomy 8:3, where God reminded His people that our spiritual need is greater than the physical.
This is what struck a chord in my heart. God’s truth is spiritual in nature and is the only thing that satisfies my soul.
Jesus made this clear to His first followers—
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63)
But not everyone either accepts or realizes this, only those with a personal commitment to Jesus. Here is Peter’s testimony about it—
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)
What do you think is the best way to be nourished in the truth of God?
What role is the church to be involved with this?
We’ll look at answering these two questions in a follow-up post soon.

Pastor, Where's Your Timothy?

Mentoring is a hot topic these days. Access to information, even for repairs and DIY projects, is unprecedented through the world-wide web. A whole new industry emerged over the past decade—online entrepreneurship. It’s spawned a new generation of experts.

A new wave of experts has rippled through the church, as well. New, trendy, cutting edge churches are launched every week, at least it seems so. Notice I said launched, not planted. But something is missing.
The need for mentoring is great in the church, but for more reasons than you might think.
Experience needed
The older generation in churches are a valuable part of the church. They provide stability and commitment, and are often the most consistent and generous givers. But many with gray hair have more to offer than consistent giving and commitment.
They have experience, and that experience is valuable and needed.
Older pastors and leaders can be valuable mentors for young leaders and potential leaders. They are a living resource for the church. And what do young leaders lack? Experience!
Responsibility of the church
Discipleship is more than a buzzword, as is the idea of being missional. I’ve heard many pastors and leaders speak on equipping the church, but I don’t see it happening enough.
Oh sure, Bible colleges, seminaries, and other ministry training options exist, even discipleship curriculum. But the church lacks well-equipped leaders ready to lead the church into the next decade or two.
Equipping does not take place through teaching or training programs. None of those existed for the early church.
What did they have? Leaders who discipled in simple ways. Their goal was to personally transfer their own relationship and experience with Jesus to others (2 Timothy 2:1-2), as Jesus did with His followers.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:11-13 NIV)
Example was a key element of discipleship and leadership development in the early church (1 Cor 11:1). They were on a mission, the Lord’s mission (Matt 28:19-20).
New wine, new leaders
A healthy physical body requires new cells to replenish and promote continued health. In a healthy church, those new cells are young people. They are potential leaders.
I say potential because they need to be equipped and trained up, as Jesus did with His first followers, and as we see the apostle Paul did with Timothy and others (John 13:15; 2 Tim 1:13).
In a dialog with some religious leaders, Jesus said that new wine needed to be put into new wineskins. In that context, He was speaking of the New Covenant—a new way of relationship with God.
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved. (Matt 9:17 NET)
Many of us want God to bring revival, a new outpouring and moving of God’s Spirit. But are we ready for it? Not if we aren’t training up Timothy-type leaders and releasing ministry to them.
Many of us want God to bring revival, but are we ready for it?
If you’re a pastor or in a place of pastoral leadership, you need to ask yourself an honest question— Pastor, where’s your Timothy?
What’s a pastor to do?
Personally disciple people— those who have a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus and those who seek HimGive people opportunities— those who are both faithful and ready to step out in faithProvide further training— for those who show commitment and aptitude for leadershipEncourage and equip all the people— not by yourself, but through those raised up in leadershipBe an example of a servant-leader— Jesus’ is our prime example, as in John 13:1-17Find a Timothy—a son in the faith—to pass the responsibility of ministry on to them

Transitions in Life and Ministry: Opportunity or Obstacle?

The past several months brought the reality of transition back into focus for me. Ten years ago, I began a long, even difficult time of transition—in life and ministry.
Living on the other side of the world, life seemed more simple. It was often busy overseeing two full-time ministries, with leadership involvement in our local home church.
It was a full life with plenty of challenges, yet it was simple. My purpose in life was clear.
A major change in life
Life on this side of the earth (FL) was full of busyness, but my purpose was not so clear. Some things were quite clear. We moved back to the US to care for my parents.
But I went from a person of importance in ministry to near anonymity. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t doing what I was gifted and called to do by God, or so it seemed. I also wasn’t in charge of any ministry except at a distance.
After about a year or so, I found a place to serve in a local church body. Finally, I was able to employ some of my ministry gifts, which was good. But our first year back was very difficult. At least three different full-time ministry opportunities evaporated.
Learning a new thing
After a few more years, I began to write and eventually self-published a book. This was something I wanted to do for many years, but it also was a great challenge. I found out that writing is a lot different from speaking.
I learned a new craft and it was a sharp learning curve for me. I also went out to search for a regular job to pay the bills, which also was a challenge. I found out there wasn’t a big market for a former church planter and missionary like myself.
Learning a new way
Presently, it seems I’m in a new time of transition. I’m learning a new way of putting to work the gifts and calling of God. It’s a new phase of walking by faith.
Right now, I’m enjoying it. I like the challenge and have a renewed sense of vision. I work at keeping expectations realistic, which includes managing my time and energy in a different way.
The nature of transitions
This seems to be the nature of transitions. They are a time full of challenges and change. Things are different, unfamiliar, and sometimes bewildering.
Handling transition well is both simple and complex. A big part of doing it well depends on our attitude and outlook. Do we see transition as an opportunity or obstacle?
A balancing act
Over the past several months, I’ve been helping others navigate transitions. My role requires an objective view of things, while drawing on past experience. It’s kind of a balancing act. I can’t just fall back on how I’ve done things before, but I still draw from my experience.
I’m learning that a good mentor or coach needs to learn how to adapt what they know from experience and apply it in different ways, different situations, and with different people.
We’re all different. We have different gifts and skills and experience. And yet, many things are similar. Management is management in various fields of work or ministry. People are people, work is work, and God is ever faithful.
Navigating transitions in life and ministry requires a genuine walk of faith, if we want to do it well.
What are some of the life or ministry transitions you’ve gone through?
How have you navigated them so far?
What would you do differently or wished you’d known going into a transition?

Ministry Coaching?

Bio of Terry McNabb: Pastor Terry McNabb has served as the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Portland since 1993. He was born and raised in Southern California where he became a Christian as a teenager and was able to witness the beginnings of Calvary Chapel and the Jesus Movement. In the 1980s Terry was involved in music ministry and teaching small groups at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, which is where he felt the call to be a pastor. He loves pastors, and is passionate about helping pastors fulfill their calling.
Have you ever heard of ministry coaching?
In the past fifteen to twenty years Life Coaching and Business Coaching has become a popular method of training and developing leaders and employees within companies and churches. While coaching takes on many forms, it is basically a mentor relationship that helps one assess specific strengths and weaknesses and form an action plan that leads to the best use of strengths, to the developing beyond weaknesses and the ability to push through obstacles.
Now this approach is available for senior pastors and for those in the ministry to Christ’s body.
In Sports
Coaching is more obvious in sports where a coach assesses an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses and puts him in a place where he can win. In basketball the coach would never take five players and say, “Just go play basketball.” By watching them practice and by putting them through drills the coach is going to assess a players athletic ability and decide the best position he should play. The coach is also going to get the player to strengthen the weak areas of his game. In other words the coach makes the players game change from being just a basketball player to a point guard or a forward or the position that best suits his athletic abilities.
In Ministry
In ministry we often begin with a very general approach. We say, “Let’s go do ministry and see what God will do.” While that is a good place to start, after time we begin to see what God has called us to do, how God has gifted us, how we are to minister and how God is going to reach our city or neighborhood. Our ministry has to change from just being a minister to a pastor-teacher or an evangelist or a missionary or whatever God has called us to be. Often in times of disappointment and fatigue we pastors feel like quitting what we actually need is to assess our circumstances, look at what God has done, make a new vision and decide the actions necessary to focus on what God has gifted us to do.
What does the Bible say about training?
Paul said to the Corinthians to run in such a way that we may obtain the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24).
When Timothy became discouraged, Paul wrote “Exercise yourself toward godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7) and “Do not neglect the gift that is in you” … “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all … for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:12-16). Run … exercise yourself … meditate on these things … give yourself entirely to them; these are statements that speak of the training and focus needed to become and accomplish exactly what God has in mind for our lives and ministries.
Do you need help?
A ministry coach can see what you can’t. He can ask the right questions to help you think differently and see what you are overlooking. He can get you to play to your strengths and start seeing results instead of ruts.
“We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Note: Pastor Terry McNabb has made himself available for this process, as have the pastors of Poimen Ministries.
If you’re interested in learning more about how such a relationship works, or to begin the process of ministry coaching, go to the Contact Us page ( and fill out the basic info and we’ll get in touch with you very soon.
Note: Pastor Terry McNabb has made himself available for this process, as have the pastors of Poimen Ministries.
If you’re interested in learning more about how such a relationship works, or to begin the process of ministry coaching, go to the Contact Us page ( and fill out the basic info and we’ll get in touch with you very soon.

Who Should Be Empowered to Lead the Church?

In all my years of pastoral ministry, I’m pretty sure I’ve made enough leadership mistakes for several men. But I also have learned much—from my mistakes, but also from sound biblical principles.
We at Poimen Ministries field many questions about the pastor and his connection with his leadership team. How does pastoral leadership work? What is the best structure? How do you raise up healthy leadership? There is much to say in response to these (and other) questions, but here are seven absolutes which I offer as starting points:
You can find men from the business world who will run things, but it is best to find men with business acumen and a pastor’s heart. Do your leaders have a heart for ministry? Do they love people? Can they grasp ministry principles and truth? Beware of choosing men who are only number crunchers or system organizers. They may operate well in the secular arena, but they will secularize your ministry to death if you let them. Allow the Lord to help you train and recognize the right kind of men—men who have a shepherd’s heart.
How do you choose? It’s not as hard as one might think. In the words of Yogi Berra, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” Remember the old adage: “It is easier to hire leaders than it is to fire them.”
Here are four ways to know if a man is truly called by God:
A. Does the pastor point to himself as being called? In other words, does he have a sure calling; does he know for sure that God has appointed him to lead God’s people? Does he have a strong testimony of his calling?
B. Does the Holy Spirit point to the man as being called? If the Holy Spirit is pointing to him, this man will have character qualities and a gifting for the ministry. Do not overlook the measurement of the man as in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. WARNING: Do not select a man on the basis of his gifting alone. Giftedness without godly character is like the tongues speaker who has no love (1 Corinthians 13:1). He may make noise, but that is all. Remember, Lucifer was gifted, so was Solomon, but their falls contributed to the ruin of many.
C. Do the people in the fellowship point to him? A godly overseer can also be identified by who is following him. If his influence is Spirit-led, the people who follow will be inspired to walk in the Spirit. The fruit betrays the root. The fruit of the authentic leader is evident.
D. Does the existing church leadership point to him? True leaders will be able to recognize other such men (they also will be able to smell a rat). Had it been after Pentecost, the eleven remaining apostles would have recognized Judas for what he was. So it will be true of your Spirit-filled leadership team; so be sure to use them to help you discern and decide (Proverbs 11:14).
They need to speak the truth, albeit in love. They need to provide all the input they can, without turning their input into demands. And after a decision is made, even if they disagree, they need to practice unity, and stand by the decision of the pastor and board. They do not criticize or second-guess their decision afterwards. They will show esprit de corps.
The secure pastor wants strong men around him. These are men who may be pastors themselves someday, or who are serving and leading well in their own right. The pastor wants God to use the men serving with him, and doesn’t mind at all if they surpass him in specific areas of ministry. The secure pastor loves for his leaders to succeed. Note: The insecure pastor wants men around him that he feels superior to, those who do not pose any threat to his “kingdom.” Do not be that guy. Do what you can to be like David, who had his mighty men. Strongly avoid being like Saul, who hated that admiring women were singing David’s praises.
No, there is no contradiction here with number III above. You are the leader, the one God has called to oversee the church as a whole and also oversee the overseers. If they cannot learn from you, it shows they do not respect you. If they do not respect you, they will not submit to you. You will never get anywhere with them, and they will stall or outright hinder the work of God.
Perhaps they will not have the visionary capability you have, but they will be able to grasp the vision God has given you, and love the fact that they get to work with a pastor and leadership team that have vision. They get excited about hearing from God and moving forward. They are outward thinking. They are rooted in scripture, theologically and practically, and are thinking about God as they serve with you. They are not stuck in the past, or mired in the mud of tradition. “But we’ve always done it that way” is not something you will ever hear men of vision say.
These men will help you organize legal matters and look after financial matters with the utmost integrity. Budgets are important. Good bylaws are important (many churches have been forced to fold because of badly written corporate documents). Not only do you need a BOD, you need to meet with them often enough to do the legal and financial things with excellence. Board meetings aren’t as exciting as the altar call, for sure; but they are very important nonetheless.
For a church to grow deep and wide, the pastor needs these kinds of men. If he doesn’t have them, he needs to pray and wait for them. They may already be in the church—yet undiscovered and undeveloped. He needs to find, train, and coach them up. This is how Jesus did it; pastors today need to do the same.

A Journeyman Finishes His Work (Remembering Pastor Larry Anderson)

We’ve all seen the lines of uniformed men and women turn out when a fellow police officer or firefighter dies in the call of duty. They’re decked out in their dress uniforms, with flags and solemnity, and respect for the one remembered.
For those who serve God, I imagine something similar, yet different. The faithful from centuries past, along with God’s army of angels, will welcome those who fulfill their call of service, and Jesus will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21). Instead of a time of sadness, it will be a celebration.
Finishing well
This past week, a good friend and fellow pastor finished his service for the Lord Jesus. He shared his last message on earth at a church in Kosovo. He finished well, doing what God called him to do many years ago.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV)
Pastor Larry Anderson was a genuine and humble servant of God. His wife, Jeri, was his faithful partner in ministry and life. My wife and I would stay with them when we visited their church. Being good friends, we also hosted them when they visited us and our ministry in the Philippines.
Larry and his church were early supporters of our move to the Philippines and the ministry we did. Larry and Jeri were partners with us in ministry, as they were with many others. They were especially effective in ministry to couples, and as encouragers.
No coincidence
I’m sure it’s no coincidence on God’s part that Larry and I connected at some important points in my life and ministry.
He was an encourager and supporter when we transitioned from pastoring in Southern California to serving in the Philippines as missionaries. He and a team from the church he pastored were with us when a tragic fire devastated our ministry and lives in the Philippines. He and his team immediately helped us with the rebuilding process, literally and at a personal level.
In my recent time of ministry in Alaska, Larry and I connected again. Sadly, it was the last time I would see him. But, we had a great time together—encouraging each other, comparing notes, going off on photo shoots, and enjoying good fellowship. Larry was one of a team of pastors serving with Poimen Ministries.
I value the time we shared just two months ago, because I value you his life, his ministry, and our friendship. Larry was a humble yet confident leader, something I’ve echoed by others who knew him. Many in the church in Juneau, where we both recently served, told me of his personal interest and engagement with them. They were blessed and excited about the impact He and Jeri had in their lives and with the church.
A final salute
I salute my friend out of respect and love, and am certain of the celebration and welcome he received in heaven. But mostly, I’m thankful for knowing Larry in this life, and for the partnership we shared in service to God and His kingdom.
I’ll miss you my friend.
If you knew Pastor Larry, what are your favorite memories of him?
For those who knew Pastor Larry, please continue to pray for Jeri and his family in the coming weeks and months. If you’d like to help with the expenses of the family at this time, here’s a link where you can do so– Assistance for Pastor Larry Anderson and family

Our August-September 2014 Newsletter

We greet you once again and thank the Lord for your prayers and support this summer. The prayers and intercessions made on our behalf has unlocked many doors of opportunity. The financial support has made it possible for us to continue ministry here, enabling us to travel around the Southwestern part of England to further the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The summer months here in the UK are a bit slower than the rest of the year. The University students have gone back to their homes, families are planning their holidays (vacations for you US folks), and it is a time for us to rest a bit and get ready for a very active autumn season.
We were blessed to be able to host Phil Twente, the missions pastor at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, during a weekend in June and then drive him up to the UK Pastor's and Leader's Conference in York, England (about a 6 hour drive from Exeter with traffic). The fellowship and encouragement at this conference is a tremendous boost to the vision and focus of all the ministry that goes on here in the UK. Pastors Brian Brodersen, David Guzik, David Shirley, Bill Gallatin, Levi Lusko shared with us during the four day event. On the drive back home we stayed overnight with Chuck and Anita Saunders in Oxford, England
Pastor Phil Twente and Pastor Bob
Walmgate in York (upstairs is Calvary York coffee house!)
Chuck and Anita Saunders, Jeanne and Bob in Oxford
Jeanne and I were able to host a few more individuals during these summer months. Donna Lentine, from Arizona; Denise Savoie from Germany; Pastor Mike and Theresa Howard and family from Harrogate, England; and Pastor Chris Ward and his daughter, Madison, from Calvary in Maricopa, Arizona. We thoroughly enjoy hosting and serving others who come through. Our place turns into a kind of B&B, especially during the summer months!
We sold our blue van in June and purchased a more inexpensive vehicle enabling me to send Jeanne to the states this August for a three week whirlwind tour of Colorado, Oregon, and Arizona. She was able to see and love on all nine of our grandchildren, two of the oldest who had birthdays during August. Jeanne also had the opportunity to share with the Colorado team of ten who are coming over next month to do a ten-day ministry time to help with outreach into Exeter and Wotter. Also, during her time in Phoenix, she was able to share with many brethren how the work is going over here and to personally thank them for their support.
Christy, Josie, Jeanne in Aurora, Colorado
Jeanne with new puppies at Josie's house
Hannah's 15th Birthday in Phoenix, Arizona
Short Term Mission Team from Aurora, Colorado
Front of team t-shirt
back of team t-shirt
The first week of August is the annual CreationFest UK outreach, which takes place at the Royal Cornwall Showground just outside of the town of Wadebridge, England. This is a FREE music and Bible week, open to thousands of believers and unbelievers alike. I was asked to teach several times during this week and also volunteered at the Information Center to assist those who needed help. You can see what went on during that week by checking out the website: I had the opportunity to minister to so many people--pastors, seekers, unbelievers, those from other countries. I was very blessed to see how many from our two congregations at Exeter and Wotter served as volunteers during this very busy week.
Helping at the Information Center at CreationFest
Praying with those about to be water baptised
My personal friend, co-worker and co-director of CreationFest, Pastor Phil Pechonis, passed away in July just before the event launched this year. It has been a bitter-sweet life experience for Jeanne and me. Phil was instrumentally used by the Lord to open our hearts to moving over to the UK during this later season of our lives. Phil leaves behind his wife, Megan, and four children. The family is moving back to the Ft. Lauderdale, FL area from where they were sent out many years ago. Phil is with the Lord right now, beholding His glory and has heard that 'Well done, good and faithful servant' from the lips of our Lord Jesus. This is truly a glorious thing. Please be in prayer for the Pechonis family, though, as they battle with major medical bills and with the deep loss of their husband and father. For more information on how you can help the family go to:
The churches in Exeter and Wotter continue to grow spiritually and numerically. It is just amazing to me how people find us, since we do no real advertising. It has all been by word of mouth and the Holy Spirit setting up divine appointments throughout the weeks. Praise be to His glorious name! We are teaching on Sundays in the Gospel of Matthew, and mid-week we are doing a series called ROUTE 66, A Survey through the 66 Books of the Bible. You can listen to the recordings online at
We finished our first session of Ministry Development Team (MDT) the end of July. The group of fifteen has bonded closely and we all have had a deeper appreciation of each other's hearts, gifts and vision. We begin again with session two in September for another three month period, twice a month for two hours on a Saturday morningat our home. This is one of the ways in which Jeanne and I believe we can pour into future leaders for ministry here in the Southwestern part of England.
Yea!! We just found out that we will be having a co-laborer moving to EnglandSeptember 9th to help us in the work! Molly Kruzel from Calvary Chapel Maricopa, Arizona obtained her two year visa to come alongside Jeanne and me for the ministry at Exeter and Wotter. Some of her responsibilities will be:
-help coordinate the outreach for Pastor Pat Lazovich coming during the last week of October
-help coordinate a possible DAY IN THE WORD event in Exeter in November
-interact and lead discipleship with the University ladies
-work with Jeanne in women's ministry
-some admin work for Calvary Exeter and Wotter Community Church
-help coordinate team events and logistics for Colorado team coming in September
-be on rota for children's ministry for both Exeter and Wotter, Sunday am and pm
If you would like to help support Molly financially for her ministry here, send any donations to Calvary Chapel Maricopa, 44301 W Maricopa Casa Grande Hwy #105, Maricopa, AZ 85138
Molly Kruzel
Calvary Maricopa sending out Molly to Exeter/Wotter
The next few months looks to be quite a busy time for us. Below is some of what's ahead, Lord willing:
* Short-term mission team from Calvary Chapel Aurora, Colorado will be with us Sept 12-23. This team will be led by our oldest son, Micah! They will be doing outreach in Exeter and Wotter, and helping with building repairs and maintenance at the Wotter church.
* Session Two of the Ministry Development Team begins September through November. It looks like there will be a few more individuals joining this team during this session.
* SOLOMON'S PORCH, our University student ministry in our home, will start back up in September on Friday nights, twice a month.
* Steve and Barb Tessitore, our co-laborers here from the states, will be on furlough for one month during September
* We will be hosting a pastor and his wife from Calvary Houston the first week of October. They are praying about moving over either to the UK or to Europe to church plant.
* Jeanne is (hopefully) scheduled for major surgery the first part of October. It will take place here in Exeter. Please pray for a successful surgery and quick recovery time with no complications or infections.
* Pastor Pat Lazovich from Calvary Chapel Sierra Vista, Arizona will be ministering with his 'hands-on' pottery message the last week of October here in Exeter. We are hoping to get the Exeter Cathedral green during the week and then the full presentation on Saturday night, November 1. Please pray that many will be touched and encouraged to get back to the Word of God during these presentations.
* Pastor Ed Taylor and family will be with us for a week before they fly to lead an Israel tour. Pray that they have a restful time and also for safety and strength during their time in Israel.
* Pastor Frank and Susie Gonzales from Athen's Greece possible one-month ministry here in November
* Christmas Carole Service for Wotter Community Church in December
* Jeanne and I are set for a month long furlough in California and Arizona Dec. 31 - Feb. 3. Hopefully we will be able to see some of you who have been praying for us and supporting us.
Here are the top prayer requests for the coming months:
** Larger meeting place in Exeter near the University by September (it looks like we will
have many more Uni students joining us this Autumn)
** Wisdom and discernment in raising up British leadership for future ministry
** Harvest Festival Food Outreach September 28th at Wotter Community Church
** Resources of all types to enable God to do all that is in His heart through us
** Balance in our family life between ministry involvements and personal time
** Studio Flat for Molly nearby the University of Exeter
** More laborers for the harvest here in the Southwestern part of England
Jeanne is posting regular updates to her blogsite: You
can also hear the teachings I have given at Calvary Chapel Exeter at this link:
All Poimen support monies now should be mailed to this address:
Poimen Ministries, Pastor Bob and Jeanne Claycamp
14201 N 32nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85032
There is also an online donation PayPal link toward the bottom of my website page at (note: PayPal subtracts a small percentage of the amount donated before it gets to us.) You can also set up online bill pay through your bank or credit union that will automatically send an amount each month. Please use the POIMEN MINISTRY address listed above and mark it on a separate piece of paper for: Pastor Bob and Jeanne Claycamp,
Thanks once again for taking the time to read our newsletter and to pray for us.
Our email addresses:
Jeanne: (click on our picture in the right column on the Poimen website)
Our NEW US phone number is 602-812-2972 (free internet phone, but data charges may apply to your plan).
Poimen Ministries is a tax-exempt non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of California's Franchise Tax Board.
Pastor Bob and Jeanne Claycamp
+44 (0) 7513 169719

The Temptation

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)
Inevitably, this day would come—the day of temptation for our first parents. Before temptation the garden had been a place of innocence, which meant that our first parents had not been exposed to anything but a perfect environment and a perfect Creator. There was nothing about which to make moral decisions; choices were not possible. They were innocent because they were sheltered. Therefore God allowed temptation, so his creatures would have a choice to either love Him or reject Him. Without this choice, they were like robots.
The serpent became the tempter. He was the devil, the slanderer of God and His nature; the tempter was Satan, God’s adversary … deceiver, and the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:9-10). His origin would be described later in Isaiah 14:12-17 … he had been Lucifer (“light bearer”) and son of the morning, but became the one who exalted himself in God’s presence and willed to be like God. This same Lucifer was cast out of heaven, and became the enemy of God.
Note the tempter’s cunning. His target was the woman, who became deceived by his arguments. The tempter convinced the woman that God was keeping them from good things … by not allowing them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Weakened by his suggestions, the woman listened to an outright lie: “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Yes, they would die. And no, they would not be like God if they ate. Nothing the devil said was true, because he in a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).
What happened here? In essence, the woman questioned the character of God, and thenrejected the Word of God. This is the pattern for all temptation.
For Further Review
1. Ponder the blessing of the gift of choice. How does this gift make a loving relationship with God more genuine and meaningful?
2. Read John 8:44 and Ephesians 6:10-13. What protection do we need if we’re going to be able to remain strong against the devil’s tactics? Consult Ephesians 6:14-18 for the Biblical answer.
3. Think of an example in your own life when temptation deceived you into questioning the character or Word of God. Talk to God about that situation and pray the prayer of Matthew 6:13a to gain God’s help against that temptation today and in the future.