Pastors and their Children

I came across what I believe to be a disturbing set of verses in scripture the other day. It was one verse in Titus in regards to overseers (or pastors) and to be blunt it totally blew me away.

In order to understand its significance though, I think it’s important to start in Timothy since both 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 are our primary verses when assessing qualifications for leadership such as pastors and elders.

If you don’t want to read all the verses just focus in on the bold face print.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 (v4-5)

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Nothing particularly surprising about these verses. What I gathered here is that God has a very high standard for leadership, plain and simple. Next we’ll look at Titus.

Titus 1:5-9 (v6)

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order and appoint elders in every town as I directed you – if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick -tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

Wait?! So is God saying that if a pastor’s children are un-saved, that he is unfit to hold the position? I really can’t find any other answer other than, yes. The text seems pretty black and white to me. The question is why?

1 Timothy 3:5

“For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

Essentially it comes down to discipleship. If you can’t disciple your own kids, then why would should you be allowed disciple beyond that. To much who is given, much is expected right?

It occurs to me then that I’ve never seen any pastor step down from leadership because his children were unbelievers even though I’ve known some who clearly have unbelieving children. Maybe this is one of the reasons for our spiritual malaise in the American church?

What does this mean for the Church of God?

  1. God puts high emphasis on the family. It is a pillar that helps to uphold the church. Good families make good disciples. Is God’s house not a family? Does not the bond between believers run deeper than blood? If he can disciple well on a small scale, only then is he qualified to disciple in a larger setting.

2.    Parents are responsible largely for their children’s salvation and I believe this lines up very well with other parts of scripture (see Proverbs 22:6). Hebrews 13:7 makes it clear that all families are to model themselves after leadership so in a sense the rules given in Titus apply to common folk outside of leadership as well.

Sometimes we have a tendency to dispel parental responsibility. We blame our children’s actions on the world or their friends or video games and television. The bible however seems to say that all those things we see wrong in our children are just symptoms of the sin in our own lives or in other words our inability as people to parent our own children.

I will most likely post a whole separate blog on this second issue but for now I think it gives us something very deep to consider.

What do you think? Do you believe that pastors are only qualified to lead if their children are believers too?

Tough Questions: Why is injustice allowed by God?

“If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them.” Ecclesiastes 5:8

I had been reading Ecclesiastes over the past few days and stumbled across this verse. In the process it made me ask a poignant question: “God why is there is injustice?”  Why are little girl’s and boy’s trafficked for money? Why do crooked people prosper? Why are good people impoverished? Why was this person murdered? Or perhaps the more difficult question: Why does the guilty responsible for these things go free?

It’s clear from the verse that God is saying he sees everything, including the injustice brought on by corrupt rulers. Nothing escapes his eye so why does he allow in his divine sovereignty these things to continue?

  1. Beauty from Ashes

“Do you know the balancing of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,”

Job 37:16

God’s mind is beyond our comprehension. To have perfect knowledge is to know the outcome of every single thing that happens in the universe! It means that God knows everything. He knows and sees the woman abused by her husband. He knows and sees the widows and the elderly who have been shunned by their own families or the orphans who’ve never had a mom or a dad.
How many times have we heard of God using bad situations like those listed above for good? How do we not know that these acts of abuse, isolation and neglect will turn and become moments of salvation? God is the only one who can take bad situations and truly make them into something incredible.

2. Time to repent

If your processing all this logically, you probably will ask: Then that makes God sick? He creates bad situations so that people will come to him? Why would a loving God do that?

Not to get to off topic but in my opinion, the above question assumes that God is obligated to act on behalf of man and it is my belief that he is not. This is why grace is so scandalous. God does however allow these acts to happen. One of the reasons why, I believe is because he is granting people time to repent, in particular those who are committing these unjust acts.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9

God allows these bad situations because he is graciously giving these people time to repent! The abusive spouses, the neglectful parents, the corrupt employers and yes, even the one’s we don’t want to extend grace to, the murderers, child molesters and traffickers. God wants them all to come to him as much as he does us. Why does God not kill these people on the spot when they commit their wicked sins? The same reason he didn’t kill us when we sinned thousands of times before. He is patiently waiting for them to accept his grace.

3. Judgement

“God why do you not punish these people now?” We’ve all heard that question before. The answer to it is that if they are not punished in this life – unless they come to repentance – they will be in the next life. God has promised judgement for all sinners who are not atoned for by his grace. This should be a great hope to us as believers because it assures us that all the criminals who are never caught will be at the end of time. No unrepentant murderer, child molester, trafficker or rapist will escape his wrath. The justice we seek will be delivered.

Ultimately there are times when we know the points written above, yet still find ourselves questioning: why God? During those times of doubt we just have to trust and know that there are reasons beyond what we can see and comprehend. I typically hate “The answer you seek, is, there is no answer” line but in this case its true. God really does work in mysterious ways and when we find these mysteries offensive, we should dig into his word and pray through them. Those moments are opportunities for us to grow closer to him!

Should Christians Vote Christian Principles Into Law?

I had a discussion with someone over Facebook who claimed that it was wrong for any Christian to vote an issue into law that essentially forced non-believing/secular people to abide by. The issue we were discussing was the Indiana religious bill that protects business owners from being bullied into selling their goods if it conflicts with their religious convictions. My argument was that Christians should not shy away from doing so for two reasons:

1) The dominion principle

In Isaiah 9:6-7 it states:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end…”

This prophecy is all about Jesus and the word that I want to specifically draw attention to is “government”.

When we look at Jesus, in the New Testament where do we see him seated? In a throne, at the right hand of God (Matthew 19:28). Monarch’s sit on thrones. Jesus is essentially a co-ruler with God and the Holy Spirit. Why is this important?

Because this same government that God runs, he calls man to take part in. Genesis 1:26 & 28 are God’s command to Adam and Eve. God tells Adam and Eve to take “dominion” over the earth. It is my personal belief that God here is actually calling his creation, mankind, to take part in governing with him. He tells them to “rule” over the creatures that he has created and in Genesis 2:19 God allows man to name the animals he has created. Why? Because this was God’s way of involving man in helping him govern.

2) Paul declares the Law good

In Romans 7:7 Paul says:

“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.”

Paul, in a nutshell acknowledges the importance of the levitical law. Although the levitical law did not save him, he argues that it was not pointless because it actually made him recognize his own sin and therefore pointed him towards his need for Christ.

I think a similar argument can be made in regards to our laws here in America. If sinners were to see a law that told them what they were doing was wrong, would they hate it? Probably, but would some of them see it, realize they were sinners and come face to face with the living God? Yes, some would.

In summary, God’s call for man to take dominion and rule with him on earth allows us as people to take a stand for the bible and ensure that everything, including our national government operates off biblical principles whether people like it or not.

Will Jesus hold these sinners accountable to his law at the final judgement? The answer is he absolutely will, therefore it is our duty as Christians to vote and enact legislation that furthers the kingdom of God despite whether secular and non-beliving people choose to ascribe to it. In doing so, we may very well be able to point some of them back to the bible and thus back to God, giving them an opportunity to repent.

Why was David not permitted to build the temple?

Then King David rose to his feet and said: “Hear me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord and for the footstool of our God, and I made preparations for building. But god said to me, ‘You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.’ Ye the Lord God of Israel chose me from all my father’s house to be king over Isarel forever.

1 Chronicles 28:2-4

I’ve always been very curious about this subject. A friend recently brought this to my attention again and it stirred up some thoughts that I found might be worth sharing.
The question that perplexes me is why did God not let David build him a temple if he was the one who had commissioned David off to war in the first place? It almost seems like circular logic. After all David all throughout 1 & 2 Kings is referred to as the ideal standard for all other kings in both Israel and Judah. David even acknowledges this fact in 1 Chronicles 28:4. So why do it? One big over arching reason comes to mind.

God is Holy.

If we go back to Genesis we see that the Garden was made perfect. There was no sin and there was no pain, just as there will be when we are re-united with Christ in Revelation. (Revelation 21:4) God’s intention has always been perfection but our sin gets in the way of that.

War is a result of man’s sin. Ecclesiastes 3:8 makes it clear that war is necessary at times but ultimately war falls short of God’s standard of perfection. However this is not to say that God does not use war to accomplish his perfect plan of redemption, therein lies the answer to our verse 4. God allowed David to wage war because it ultimately was moving forward his plans to reconcile his people.

Job 4:18 states “Even in His (God) servants he puts not trust, and his angels he charges with error;”
It does not matter that David was chosen, or considered a righteous king. Ultimately all things, including God’s elect angels ultimately are not even holy enough to stand before God. We see a very real picture of this truth in Isaiah 6:2. The Seraph’s that encircle God’s throne cover their faces and their feet as they fly. Why? Because even they are not holy enough to look upon God. They are created beings (R.C. Sproul believes this is why they also cover their feet, to acknowledge that they are created beings). Their actions, give glory to God and acknowledge their lesser status. If the angels are not considered holy, how much less so David, a sinner (Psalm 51:4, 2 Samuel 11).

So in summary:

God does right by not letting David build the temple. Though it may seem strange that he commanded him to go to war in the first place and even though he regards David as the most righteous king Israel ever had, David was still a man of war, and war is a result of sin. Until we reach glory, there cannot be peace. God’s temple was to be perfect and unblemished and for David to build it would have been to tarnish that.

The crown of a husband

I’m currently in Proverbs 12. Wanted to share what the Lord has been speaking with me there. There’s a whole bunch of cool truth’s in here but I’m only going to tackle one verse right now. The one that’s really been sticking out to me is verse 4:

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

Proverbs multiple times makes it very clear that marriage can be a wonderful thing (here) or a terrible thing (Proverbs 25:24).

What’s really great about this verse is that its packed full of things and connections that can be easily overlooked.

1) The crown

The good wife is presented as something external, here it is a crown. A crown is something given to a monarch. It is a symbol of not only his authority but also his power. Obviously a monarch does not require a crown to lead at all times, but the illustration is meant to be simple in that it shows that the wife is an integral part of the power system and structure that exemplified through her husband.

However that being said, a King in those days who had no crown was probably no king at all. The idea of a king being separated from his crown is to essentially strip him of his kingliness. The union between a king and his crown is similar to that of a husband and wife. Without one you cannot have the other. A king cannot rule without his crown and a husband cannot lead well without his wife.

If we look to Proverbs 31, we see this idea really taking shape. Here, we see the ideal Godly woman and in verse 23 it says that “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”

In Old Testament times, It was customary for the elders of the city to sit in the gateway where people entered and left. When people had a problem or a dispute they would consult these same elders. When Boaz goes to ask for Ruth he goes before these same men (Ruth 4:1 &11).

So in other words, a Godly woman enables her husband to lead well. If it were not for the woman there is good reason to believe that the man may not be an elder at all. What are the qualifications to stand before the people and lead them? One must be wise. This must be the obvious conclusion given what Proverbs seeks to accomplish (Proverbs 1:1-6) and if one is to be wise. He must take for himself a wise wife for wisdom surrounds himself with others who are wise (Proverbs 13:20).

In summary,  If a man seeks to be wise, he must find himself (or allow God to find for him) a woman who loves God and is wise herself. Only then can he really be fit to lead.

2) The rottenness

On the one hand we have a symbol, the crown. It is high and it is visible to the community. In comparison with that idea, we see that a woman who is shameful is a cancer inside a man’s bones. One is external and glorious, the other actually destroys him. It decays and rots his bones until he withers away and dies.

Waltke writes:

“It suggests that the shameful wife robs her husband of social standing, and the noble wife strengthens his very being by giving him social honor and empowering him to rule the community (see Proverbs 31:23)”

The verse may seem obvious but unless we align ourselves with wise, Godly people, in this case a Godly spouse we actually bring destruction on ourselves.

The Dollhouse

Just heard this song yesterday and I realized that it’s a great analysis of not only secular culture but also church culture. The song is called Dollhouse by Melanie Martinez.

Check it out here

Lyrics:

Hey girl, open the walls, play with your dolls
We’ll be a perfect family.
When you walk away, is when we really play
You don’t hear me when I say,
Mom, please wake up.
Dad’s with a slut, and your son is smoking cannabis

No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens
Don’t let them see what goes down in the kitchen.

Places, places, get in your places
Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.
Everyone thinks that we’re perfect
Please don’t let them look through the curtains.

Picture, picture, smile for the picture
Pose with your brother, won’t you be a good sister?
Everyone thinks that we’re perfect
Please don’t let them look through the curtains.

D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E
I see things that nobody else sees.
(D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E
I see things that nobody else sees)

Hey girl, look at my mom, she’s got it going on
Ha, you’re blinded by her jewelry.
When you turn your back she pulls out a flask
And forgets his infidelity.
Uh-oh, she’s coming to the attic, plastic
Go back to being plastic.

No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens
One day they’ll see what goes down in the kitchen.

Places, places, get in your places
Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.
Everyone thinks that we’re perfect
Please don’t let them look through the curtains.

Picture, picture, smile for the picture
Pose with your brother, won’t you be a good sister?
Everyone thinks that we’re perfect
Please don’t let them look through the curtains.

D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E
I see things that nobody else sees.
(D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E
I see things that nobody else sees)

Hey girl (hey girl, hey girl, hey girl, hey girl)
Hey girl, open your walls, play with your dolls
We’ll be a perfect family.

Places, places, get in your places
Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.
Everyone thinks that we’re perfect
Please don’t let them look through the curtains.

Picture, picture, smile for the picture
Pose with your brother, won’t you be a good sister?
Everyone thinks that we’re perfect
Please don’t let them look through the curtains.

D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E
I see things that nobody else sees.
(D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E
I see things that nobody else sees)

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2

People are hurting out there. Go tell them about Jesus!

The Sabbath

The question I was asked a few days ago was whether or not the Sabbath (the day of rest in the Old Testament Exodus 20:8) is still in effect for today and Is the Lord’s day (Revelation 1:10) the replacement of the Sabbath except for Sundays?

In order to tackle that issue I started with what the OT had to say about the Sabbath.

The Sabbath was to be kept holy. No one in the family was to do work of any kind, this entailed:

1) No lighting of fires (Exodus 35:1-3)

2) No selling, or working or trading on the Sabbath and no treading of winepresses (Nehemiah 13:15-21)

3) No gathering of food, no one was to leave their tent (Exodus 16:5,27-30)

if we’re going to follow the Sabbath we have to at least be following these rules which will be hard since none of us live in tents anymore. So right there we all fail… Kidding. There’s more to it then that, lets keep going.

There is one really big hang-up though if we’re to show that the Sabbath was a temporary covenant or in other words, one specifically for Israel that passed when Christ died and rose again and it’s this:

What happened to the other 10 commandments? Are they gone too? Where did they go?

If we look at Jesus’s teaching on the issues of the “Law” we see that he said this:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

Jesus came to fulfill the Law of the Old Testament since man was incapable of doing so. Jesus then addresses the 6th and 7th commandments except he doesn’t describe them the way it is written in Exodus 20, instead he modifies them and makes them more difficult.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘you shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”

Murder here Jesus still regards as sin but he states that anger makes you liable to punishment the same way murder does. He then does the same thing with adultery.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So we see from these verses that Jesus is actually expanding upon what has already been written. Why does he do this?

To show people that there are no other avenues to salvation except through himself. Jesus not man is the fulfillment and our atonement.

The Matthew 12:1-8 dilemma

To summarize, Jesus is walking through a field of grain with his disciples who begin to pluck the heads of the grain and eat them. The Pharisees see them doing this and claim they are sinning. Jesus then argues two things:

1) That David did something very similar by eating the consecrated show bread (1 Samuel 21:1-9)

2) That the priests themselves every Sabbath day defy the Law because they have to work, light fires etc.

Jesus then appeals to himself saying “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Some would argue that what the disciples did was sinful. They were gathering food which was specifically prohibited to do on the Sabbath according Exodus 16. However if that were the case then why does Jesus allow it? Is he not responsible for his disciples sin? We know from Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus never sinned, therefore there must be a better answer.

The only answer here in my mind that makes sense is that Jesus here again is modifying the rules. Given what we’ve already seen in Matthew 5, in the same way Jesus modifies commandments 6 and 7, so I believe here he is modifying the command about the Sabbath.

I believe these scriptures here illustrate this point further:

Colossians 2:16-17

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

Paul is very clear here in stating that the “Sabbath” (Capital ‘S’) was a shadow of things to come and that Christ was the fulfillment of all these things.

It’s also good to note that nowhere in the New Testament do we see Paul, Jesus or anyone else for that matter telling us we must abide by its rules.

Romans 14:5-6

“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

Douglas Moo writing one of the most well regarded commentaries on Romans had this to say about verse 5:

“But we have seen good reason to trace the root issue between the “strong” and the “weak” to Jewish concerns about the law. And the observance of days was, of course, important in the OT and in Judaism. Whether the specific point at issue was the observance of the great Jewish festivals, regular days of fasting, or the Sabbath is difficult to say. But we would expect that the Sabbath, at least, would be involved, since Sabbath observance was, along with food laws, a key Jewsih distinctive in the first century, and surfaced as a point of tension elsewhere in the early church (see Galatians 4:10, Colossians 2:16).”

If we accept Moo’s statements as true, we begin to get a clearer picture of what Paul is really talking about in Romans 14. Paul literally is stating that those who choose to observe the Sabbath cannot condemn those who choose to not uphold it.

Long story short It’s difficult to disagree with great people like the Puritans, the reformers, Martin Loyd Jones, R.C. Sproul and Allister Begg but the truth is I see no evidence in regards to applying the Sabbath of the OT to us under the New Covenant.

Jesus was our showbread! (1 Samuel 21:1-9) Every day is supposed to be a Sabbath rest, when the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 4 tells us to “strive to enter that rest.” He’s not referring to the Sabbath but Jesus! The Lord’s day is not the Sabbath Jesus was the Sabbath, If we’re to follow any of the OT law we must follow it all. I for one choose Jesus knowing that its impossible for me to fulfill it any other way. Any other folks out there with me?