The Maturity Trials Produce in Our Lives

We have six children and our seventh is due May 2018. Our oldest child is ten, and while we have enjoyed our children at all ages, we still want to see them mature. When they make decisions that disappoint us, we feel disappointed with their maturity. Consider how tragic it would be if children remained immature throughout their lives.

God Is a Father and He Wants His Children to Mature

The author of Hebrews rebuked some of his readers who had been following Christ for some time, but had not matured. Hebrews 5:12 & 6:1 says:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food…Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.

Unlike these Hebrew readers, the believers in 2 Thessalonians 1:3–4 had matured significantly:

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure.

The Thessalonians were a wonderful church. Paul applauded their growth, which he attributed to the trials they experienced. This is one reason we can find joy in trials—we know they are producing patience that leads to maturity. First Peter 5:10 says, “After you have suffered a little while, [God] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” During trials we can tell ourselves, “This is strengthening me spiritually, giving me endurance, building my faith, and preparing me for the future.” Jerry Bridges said:

Every adversity that comes across our path, whether large or small, is intended to help us grow in some way.

Continue reading “The Maturity Trials Produce in Our Lives”

Ways to Avoid Hypocrisy in Parenting

We want our children to embrace the Gospel and follow the Lord at the earliest possible time. We want the best for them, but they face so many threats. Could one of those threats come from us? We need to avoid hypocrisy to ensure our children see the Gospel in us and through our parenting.

To accompany the message, below you will find:

  1. Lessons
  2. Discussion Questions
  3. Notes

Lessons

Lesson 1: ____________ ____________________ so you don’t see your sins in your children (2 Sam 13:21, 38-39, 14:33, 18:5; 1 Kin 1:6).

Lesson 2: Don’t let ________ ________ prevent you from disciplining your children (Pro 13:24, 19:18).

Avoid hypocrisy in parenting by:

Lesson 3: ________________ ________ you want from your children (Rom 2:1, 20-24; Matt 7:1-5).

Lesson 4: Telling your children ____________ __ ____________.


Discussion Questions

  1. Day 1—Read 2 Sam 13:21, 38-39, 14:33, 18:5, 1 Kin 1:6 and discuss: What sins did David see in the lives of his sons? In what ways did David’s sons’ sins reveal his sins? What are the dangers associated with viewing our children too sentimentally?
  2. Day 2—Read Pro 1:8-9, 3:12, 13:24, 19:18, 22:6 and discuss: Why didn’t David discipline his sons? Why would past sins prevent parents from disciplining their children? What can parents tell themselves when past sins prevent them from disciplining their children? When parents have sin-filled pasts what can they their children to avoid hypocrisy?
  3. Day 3—Read Rom 2:1, 20-24, Matt 7:1-5 and discuss: Do you have expectations for your children that you don’t have for yourself? What would your children say in answer to the previous question? Do your children see behaviors from you that you don’t want to see from them? Are you presenting a high view of God in your home, not just from what you profess, but the way you live?
  4. Day 4—Read Rom 3:9-23 and discuss: Why should parents share with their children that they’re sinners too? What are the dangers for parents if they don’t share with their children that they’re sinners too? Why is it important for parents to avoid making excuses to their children? What happens if children grow up with parents who regularly shift blame? In what ways can children see Christ through humble, loving parents?

Continue reading “Ways to Avoid Hypocrisy in Parenting”

Why did Jesus teach more about hell than heaven?

Since my parents purchased a Prius, I paid special attention to Toyota’s recalls in 2009-2010. A number of people experienced unintentional acceleration, causing numerous reports of people losing control of their vehicles, and even a two-car collision on Aug 28, 2009 that killed four people in San Diego, CA. Customers were angry about the the defective production, but most people reasonably understand mistakes happen even at the highest levels of industry.

The actual outrage from people was caused by the subsequent revelation that Toyota was aware of the defect, but didn’t warn anyone. What if on February 24, 2010, when testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda would have defended himself by saying:

We thought it was unloving to tell people about the danger they were facing. We didn’t want to upset them.

While this seems ridiculous, surprisingly people apply this thinking to telling people about hell—it’s unloving, hateful, judgmental. The truth is, it’s loving, and this is why Jesus taught so much about hell. If people are heading off a cliff, the worst thing you can do is look the other way. Jesus did the opposite. He warned people!

Recent posts discussed the Blessings and Woes in Luke 6:20-26. Seems many preachers fall into one of two categories:

  • Those who only want to talk about God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, and all the things God wants to do for them. Many of these individuals could be considered “health and wealth” or “prosperity preachers.” They only want to teach on the blessings.
  • Others who only want to talk about God’s justice, holiness, wrath, anger, judgment, and punishment. We call these “fire and brimstone” preachers. They only want to teach on the woes.

But Jesus taught on both. He discussed the Narrow Gate that leads to life, and the Wide Gate that leads to destruction (Matt 7:13-14). In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus He explained the comfort of Abraham’s Bosom and the torment of hell. He was a balanced teacher!

Or at least it seems that way at first… Continue reading “Why did Jesus teach more about hell than heaven?”

3 Encouragements for Homeschooling Families

I was recently invited to speak at the Annual Home Educators’ Day at the Capitol, and a few people asked for my message. Following are the three encouragements I passed along to homeschooling families…

Homeschooling Encouragement 1: The responsibility to teach and train children is on the parents’ shoulders.

Encouragements for homeschooling families
At the Capitol with former WA State Representative Jason Overstreet, who is now president of Christian Homeschool Network. I’m thankful for his ministry and heart for Christ.It’s not on the shoulders of the government, public school, or even the church.

Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach [the words of God] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 

The “You” is parents, and this teaching is supposed to go on all the time, when you:

  • Sit in your house…
  • Walk by the way…
  • Lie down…
  • Rise up. 

When I taught elementary school as soon as the bell rang I sent students home for the day, but as homeschooling parents educating is never done. God wants us teaching and discipling our children around the clock, every day, all day.

Continue reading “3 Encouragements for Homeschooling Families”

The 7 Steps I Follow to Develop a Sermon

As I develop a sermon, it takes up much of my week. I’ve often wondered what other pastors do and how much time it takes them. This led me to some articles discussing the preparation of well-known pastors. John MacArthur and Mark Dever said they require 30 to 35 hours of preparation per week, while at the other end of the spectrum Mark Driscoll said he only needs 1 to 2 hours. It’s worth adding no other preachers even come close to approaching the minimal amount of time Driscoll said he requires. Most other prominent pastors – Matt Chandler, John Piper and Tim Keller – said they require around 14 to 16 hours per week.

This looks to one of the interesting realities associated with preaching: pastors prepare in vastly different ways. While I’m sure there are some similarities between great preachers (their familiarity with Scripture, diligence in studying, time committed to prayer, etc.), their actual sermon development looks very different.

Even though I’ve only been preaching consistently for the 4 years I’ve been at WCC (when I was at Grace Baptist I preached occasionally, approximately once every 6 to 8 weeks), the way I prepare has changed slightly and perhaps it will change even more in the future, but for the most part it has remained the same. I thought I might provide some posts discussing how I prepare a sermon. First I’d like to be clear though that I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong way to develop a sermon and I don’t think what I do is better than what others do. With that said…

First, I develop a sermon by reading over the passage a number of times

I want to make sure I’m very familiar with the passage. Since it usually takes months to preach through a chapter, most passages have been read numerous times.

Second, I develop a sermon by copying the verses to Word with spaces between them for the notes I’ll add

Whether it’s for a sermon, Sunday School message, devotional or any other teaching, my notes always keep the same format: I put the verses in bold, my notes in normal font, and quotes in italics. This provides visual clues for me as I’m teaching. If you’d like to see the notes for any of my sermons as examples, you can click on any of my messages and the notes are attached.

Third, I develop a sermon by looking at commentaries

This is where I add the most to my notes, not just because of what I learn from commentaries, but because what I learn from commentaries leads me to think of other things to share/teach as well. As far as the length of time looking at commentaries, it usually takes one full day and sometimes runs into a second day. At this point my notes still look fairly unorganized and will later require a significant amount of organizing and editing.

Fourth, I develop a sermon by determining the number of verses to cover

I take two factors into consideration:

  1. The context of the verses: I want to keep appropriate verses together, conclude with verses that tie up a section well, hopefully not introduce another topic that can’t be exposited (explained) thoroughly, etc. Basically, I want to leave people with closure on a certain passage or topic and be prepared to introduce a new point or topic in the next sermon.
    One of the real challenges is a chapter, a section within a chapter, or a few verses might have their own theme or point. Deciding what to elaborate on can be challenging. For example in the last sermon on the old and young prophet in 1 Kings 13, the young prophet committed the “sin leading to death” (1 John 5:16-17). Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10) and some partaking in the Lord’s Supper in “an unworthy manner” (1 Cor 11:27-30) did the same. I had quite a bit of notes on all this, but I took them out for two reasons: they didn’t relate to the theme of the sermon and I didn’t have room for them
  2. The second factor in determining how many verses to cover is the number of words in my notes. As I add to my notes the number of verses I’m able to cover decreases. Since I add to my notes throughout the week, the number of verses I’m able to cover also decreases throughout the week; therefore, this step doesn’t take place on a certain day or at a certain point in the process; it’s really an ongoing “step” as I develop the sermon.

As those people who have attended WCC for any amount of time know, the number of verses I expect to cover usually ends up being much less than I actually end up covering. As a result, the passage I copy to Word in Step 2 usually lasts a number of weeks. For example, when I recently preached through Ephesians 5, I copied verses 25 to 33 to Word, but those verses were split up over six sermons, therefore lasting six weeks. When I copied 1 Peter 3:1-6 to Word (the verses discussing wives), the passage became three sermons lasting three weeks.

My notes are a manuscript

While some pastors’ notes contains statements or phrases reminding them what to say, I write out everything I want to say.  Manuscripts typically average about 4,500 words, which results in 50-55 minutes sermons.

While it’s great to be “led by the Spirit” – and there’s definitely the occasional addition to a sermon that wasn’t in my notes – I think it’s much better to have invested the time studying and use the material that’s been meticulously prepared, prayed over, thought about during the week, etc. than information preached off the cuff

Fifth, I develop a sermon by adding lessons

This step takes place throughout the week as opposed to one point in the process. There might be times during Step I when I’m reading over the passage and something strikes me as significant and worth emphasizing, so I’ll make a lesson for it. Then I put the lessons on an insert for the congregation to fill out while I’m preaching. I decided to try this for one of my earliest sermons at WCC and I’ve been doing it since. Here’s the interesting – and somewhat ironic – background…

My previous church, Grace Baptist in Lemoore, CA, is where I began paid ministry (first part-time, and when the church grew they hired me full-time). The senior pastor, Joe Gruchacz, who was also my mentor, used inserts with lessons, but I thought it was unnecessary – and honestly – somewhat silly. Why? Because I spent my Christian life in Calvary Chapels where I hadn’t seen that done, and I was convinced what CC did I should do, and what CC didn’t do, I shouldn’t do. My suspicion is Pastor Joe probably got tired of hearing me say, “That’s not what Calvary Chapel does!”

Try to avoid “a running commentary”

I also thought the best approach to preaching looked like reading a verse, explaining it, reading a verse, explaining it, etc. with very little organization or structure to the message. Early on Pastor Joe shared a quote with me from Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“A sermon is not a running commentary on a passage. I emphasize this because there are many today who have become interested in what they regard is expository preaching, but who show very clearly that they do not know what is meant by expository preaching. They think it means making a series of comments, or running commentary, on a passage. They take a passage verse-by-verse and they make their comments on the first, then they go onto the next, and when they have gone through the passage in this way they imagine they have preached a sermon. But they have not; all they have done is make a series of comments on the passage. I would suggest far from having preached a sermon such preachers have only preached the introduction to a sermon.”

Occasionally I preached for Pastor Joe and these words were meant as a criticism of what I was doing. I have to say this quote was perfectly fitting, it has really affected my preaching, and I’m very thankful Pastor Joe cared enough about me (and those I’d be preaching to over the years) to share it with me. Even though I still generally preach verse-by-verse and probably always will, this motivated me to ensure the material in my sermons was arranged in such a way that it wasn’t simply a “running commentary.” Part of that has been the addition of lessons that I try to relate to an overall theme.

One of my weaknesses when I started preaching was my sermons were largely teaching with a lot of technical information, but little application. Katie has really helped me in this area as a result of our different preferences. I could listen to a sermon with little-to-no application and if the verses are clearly explained I’ll enjoy it, but Katie will be bored: “How is that going to help me be a better mother or wife?” And if a sermon is filled with application, but contains little exposition, she’ll be thrilled and I’ll be disappointed: “He read over those verses and hardly explained them?!?!”

This led to some interesting conversations between us when we first started going over my sermons together. At times I would consider the application from verses to be obvious to the congregation asking Katie, “Don’t you think everyone will take away that application from the explanation?” Katie would say, “No, you need to make it clear. Spell it out for us.” Over time I put more application in my sermons, trying to provide a balance with exposition/teaching. I want to make sure people have a thorough understanding of the verses, while also receiving application for their lives.

Sixth, I develop a sermon by “shaving” down my notes

I’m almost always hundreds of words over a reasonable length for my sermons. This requires cutting out parts of my sermon: a painful, but beneficial process because it forces me to make every word count. There are times at the very end of my sermon when I’m looking back-and-forth between paragraphs struggling with what to remove or keep.

Here’s a quote by Mark Twain that really sums up what it feels like: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one.” He meant – and it’s what everyone has experienced when they’ve had  to be careful with their words – it takes more time and focus when we’re limited by space; when we have to be concise.

Seventh, I develop a sermon by going over my notes with my wife

This takes place two times per week, about two-to-three hours each time. My parents usually come over to watch the kids, but sometimes Katie’s brother Boyd or sister Molly (who moved to the area) help; it really is a family affair! We normally do this Thursday morning, and then I make changes the rest of Thursday and Friday, before going over it again on Saturday. If a third time is required (because perhaps it was a little rougher than expected on Thursday), we’ll try at some point on Friday. Going over my sermon with Katie serves a number of beneficial purposes.

Since we don’t speak the way we write (usually our writing is more formal), when I go over my sermon with Katie it allows me to change my notes from the way I write to the way I want to speak from the pulpit. I’ll add visual cues and arrange the information in such a way that it’s easier to preach: bullets, capitals, ellipses, spaces between lines or thoughts, etc.

One of the difficulties associated with preaching is it involves presenting information I’ve studied, become familiar with, etc. and as I explain it I’ll believe I’m doing so in a clear, understandable way…but maybe I’m not! One of the blessings of going over my sermon with Katie is she’s able to say, “Ummm…that doesn’t make sense.” Maybe I’ll say, “Okay, this is what I was trying to say” and she’ll say, “Well that’s not what it sounded like you said. What you just said is what you should say instead.”

Also, Katie might have verses or thoughts that she’ll share with me. The funny thing is when we start my sermon I’ll say, “I’m X hundred words over a reasonable length” and Katie will say, “Oh, I’ll help you with that” implying she’ll ruthlessly tell me parts of my notes that can be taken out – which she does – but she usually offsets that by the verses, stories, ideas, etc. she thinks I should add.

Discussion Questions

  • If you prepare messages, whether in the church or secular world, what approach do you take?
  • Do you have some advice for preparing sermons or other types of messages?

Pastors are Prophets???

Pastors are prophets

If someone asked me what verse I believe most accurately describes what it feels like when I’m studying the Bible (as opposed to simply reading it) I would say 1 Peter 1:10, which says regarding the Scriptures “the prophets have inquired (or investigated) and searched carefully (or intently or diligently) to understand the truth in them. The prophets are pictured as straining to see the truth contained in God’s Word; they’re striving to understand what God has written so they can proclaim it to the people. I’ve always thought of the prophets almost like individuals standing in a dark room with very little light trying to clearly see what’s on the other side.

I don’t consider myself a prophet (as it’s listed as a separate office in Ephesians 4:11); however, prophecy is still part of the preaching of God’s Word according to 1 Corinthians 14:3, which lists three things prophecy does: He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. The Amplified adds, The one who prophesies [who interprets the divine will and purpose in inspired PREACHING AND TEACHING] speaks edification…” Unfortunately, we tend to think of prophecy as only predicting (foretelling) the future, but it’s much better to think of prophecy as proclaiming (forth telling) the Word of God.

This looks to one of the biggest changes to my preaching since coming to WCC almost four years ago: instead of focusing on simply explaining what verses mean (basically providing a running commentary), it wouldn’t be too much to say my greatest desire now is for people to feel like God is speaking to them through His Word during my sermons. Simply put, it’s my desire prophecy would be taking place. My prayer throughout the week is for people to hear from God through the Scriptures. Of all the feedback I could receive regarding sermons, nothing is more encouraging than, “I felt like God was speaking to me while you were preaching.”

My home fellowship and Sunday School messages will continue to be mostly verse-by-verse exposition, hoping to stir up discussion over what we’re covering, but for sermons my prayer throughout the week is always the same and it could be summarized as: “Father what do You want to say to Your people?”

Barry Branaman: a great friend and mentor

Barry Branaman
Barry with his wonderful wife Kathy on the day of his graduation from seminary in 2009.

When people discuss their blessings, they’ll usually mention spouses, children, friends, health, finances, etc. If you asked me to discuss my blessings I hope I would mention the godly men God has put in my life. One of the most important is Barry Branaman.

He was a mutual friend of Elwyn and me when I taught in Marysville, CA. I met Barry through his two daughters who attended a young adults’ Bible study I started attending. He became my mentor soon after I became a Christian. The first Bible study I ever led took place in his living room under his supervision. He rarely said anything, but it was a constant source of encouragement and comfort to have him present. I knew he could answer any questions that I couldn’t.

Barry taught me to make time for people.

I spent many hours in Barry’s living room talking to him about the Bible. People have told me that I ask a lot of questions, and I would agree; however, Barry was the person God put in my life at that time to answer all the questions I had as a new Christian…and there were a lot. If I had to single out the one person who helped me understand the Old Testament it was Barry.

Barry taught me about stewardship.

I told a story in a sermon about Barry helping me see our possessions as a stewardship. When I thanked Barry for letting us use their home for our bible study, his simple response was, “That’s what it’s for.” With Barry everything he had was for serving God’s Kingdom. When Katie and I visited California in December 2012, we stayed with Barry and his wife Kathy. From the moment Barry and I saw each other I felt like no time had passed. He was as gracious answering my questions then, as he had been eight years earlier.

When I moved to Lemoore, CA in 2004 I remember standing in Barry’s kitchen telling him goodbye and that I really loved him. In return he gave me A Harmony of the Gospels, which I just took off the bookshelf behind my desk to read the note he wrote inside:

“To Scott,

May the Good News ever grace your heart and lips, thoughts and life. may the love of God always surround you and keep you in all ways. May your service in Christ be ever for His glory. May the Holy Spirit be your continued guide and Comforter, “empowerer” and keep.

Your brother forever,

Barry”

Barry still speaks.

On Thursday I received the news that Barry Branaman passed away at the age of 59. Last week’s sermon was about finishing strong, and Barry is an example of a man who did that wonderfully. I’m very thankful God blessed me with such a great friend, mentor, and brother in Christ. I’m much better for having known Barry, and by “better” I mean I have a deeper love for God and His Word because of him.

Hebrews 11:4 says, “Abel still speaks even though he is dead” and that could be said of Barry. I learned so much from him that when I’m teaching the Bible, often I’m passing along what he taught me.

If you knew Barry Branaman and would like to share a memory about him, I’m sure it would be a blessing to anyone who reads this post.

Coaching our kids in t-ball with my best friend…

Some months back when Elwyn was considering whether to take the kindergarten teaching position here, I remember walking in the house telling Katie, “He’s not going to move to Washington.” He had been offered the job, but before we got off the phone he told me he was staying in Marysville, CA. The whole situation was so sudden, and involved so much change, and required so much to be done in such a short period of time that for anyone it would seem almost impossible. Plus you factor in Elwyn had been in Marysville for almost twenty years: he had a routine, he was very well-respected by a school and community that knew and loved him, he told me he could walk into his classroom each day without preparing anything because he had been doing it so long, his job was completely secure, he was making good money, etc. Plus, he had a wife and two small children who would be seriously affected by the decision if it didn’t go well. It was a huge decisions to consider, BUT God had opened all the doors. A number of “fleeces” had been laid out, and God had answered in the positive regarding all of them. Still, what was being required of Elwyn and his family was so much that I could understand why he was waiting to come for the following school year. I was very disappointed, but it made perfect sense.

Then something happened that I’ll never forget. Forty-five minutes after telling me he wasn’t coming, Elwyn called me and told me he was coming. It was a wonderful, emotional moment. When your best friend tells you he’s bringing his family to be part of your family (and church), and you consider all it’s expecting of him…and he happened to be the person God used to see you become a Christian…and now you’re going to be his family’s pastor, it’s hard not to get emotional…even for a guy like me who never gets emotional :).

Elwyn said he had one requirement though. It wasn’t, “Be a great pastor to me and my family” or “Let’s make sure our families hang out once per week” or “Please introduce us to some other families so we have some friends” or “Can you get some people to help us move in?” it was, “I’ll move there if the two of us coach our sons together in T-Ball.” I have coached football, wrestling and girls’ basketball, and as of Saturday afternoon at 10:30am, Elwyn and I became the proud co-coaches of a Woodland T-Ball team, with Brooks, Ricky and Rhea as three of our players. Do we have any idea what we’re doing? Not at all!

Elwyn purchased this jacket for me, which happened to be the same jacket he'd purchased for himself. He's a Michigan fan; hence the colors.
Elwyn purchased this jacket for me, which happened to be the same jacket he’d purchased for himself. He’s a Michigan fan; hence the colors.

Rules for the Classroom…or Life

Rules for the Classroom...or LifeIn a recent sermon I mentioned my “Team Expectations” (aka classroom rules) from when I taught. Katie shared them on Facbook saying “They could also be rules for the home or life in general.” In response to some requests for them, here they are exactly as they were posted in the back of my classroom with brief explanations below each…

MR. LaPIERRE’S TEAM EXPECTATIONS

1. Be honest – don’t ever lie for any reason.

The world acts like lying is no big deal. Lying is even expected in some circles (politics). But lying is one of the six things God hates according to Proverbs 6:17. I wanted my kids to know that.

2. Be humble – don’t brag or be prideful.

Also included in this rule is what I called, “subtle brags” or bragging when you’re acting like you’re not. In real life it looks like being the hero of your own stories, and on Facebook it looks like:

  • I’m so glad there are still nice people in this world. An old man just came up to me and said, ‘You sure are beautiful!’”
  • I’m so completely exhausted, but what a blessing it was to spend the entire day helping my friend move.”
  • Posting shameless selfies. If the majority of your profile pictures are just your face…from a few inches away…and you swap that picture out for another picture of just your face from a few inches away then this is probably you.

Proverbs 27:2 Let another else praise you, and not your own mouth, a stranger and not your own lips.

3. Be nice – say and do things that help your teammates: compliment, encourage, clap and cheer for them.

Kids are naturally competitive and jealous. The solution is to encourage them to rejoice when others succeed.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Encourage one another and build each other up.

4. Do not say or do anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

Usually this is worded like, “Do not say anything mean.” The problem with that is the word mean is subjective. All year you’ll have to listen to kids saying, “I didn’t say anything mean” or “I didn’t mean to be mean.” But when another kid is crying they can’t say, “I didn’t hurt his feelings.”

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any abusive language come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.

5.    Apologize if you hurt someone’s feelings…

  • even if it was an accident
  • even if someone hurt your feelings too, because you still need to apologize for your actions
  • and do not use the word “but” or make any excuses when you apologize.

I could write a completely different post about apologizing (and maybe I will), but for now I’ll just say most people don’t know how to apologize. If your apology sounds like, “I’m sorry BUT…” or “I’m sorry YOU…” it’s not an apology; it’s an excuse disguised as an apology.

I wanted to start teaching kids early the right way to apologize. If people have hurt you and you were looking forward to an apology but heard, “I’m sorry you’re mad” then you probably wish that person had a teacher with this rule.

James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other.

6. Do not shift blame to someone else for your actions – YOU are completely responsible for all of YOUR actions.

99% of the time when kids get in trouble, the first word out of their mouths is the name of another student or the pronouns he, she, or they:

  • “Brian pushed me first.”
  • “She was talking to me first.”
  • “They told me I could.”

It began at The Fall when Adam and Eve were confronted:

  • Adam said, “The WOMAN whom YOU gave me, gave me the fruit” (Gen 3:12).
  • Eve said, “The SERPENT deceived me” (Gen 3:13).

In a few words, Adam blamed God and Eve, and with nobody else to blame Eve said, “The devil made me do it.” The moment sin entered the world and man received a sin nature, with it came the terrible habit we all have of shifting blame.

I wanted to try to prevent that in my classroom as much as possible.

7. Do not whine, moan, groan, complain or roll your eyes.

We all do this – myself included – and the people who say they don’t are breaking the first rule.

Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing.

Classroom pic

classroom

Pastors (shepherds) and how they equip (feed) their flocks…

Last Sunday evening we discussed church government with a focus on the interchangeable nature of the terms elder, bishop (also translated as overseer) and pastor, learning that all three refer to the same office, with each providing a different emphasis: elder emphasizes who the man is, his office or title; bishop/overseer emphasizes what he does in overseeing the affairs of the church, and pastor (literally: shepherd) refers to an elder who’s uniquely given a heart to tend to, care for, and feed God’s flock. Here’s the message if you’re interested.

The Greek word for pastor is poimen, occurring eighteen times in the New Testament: seventeen times it’s translated as shepherd, and only one time translated as pastor in Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors (NOTE: despite the attention pastors receive, this is the only place they’re mentioned in the New Testament) and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. The Greek construction of the words pastors and teachers indicates the two terms go together; in English they could be hyphenated as pastor-teacher emphasizing the pastor’s ministry of shepherding and teaching. John MacArthur said, “The phrase is best understood in context as a single office of leadership with the word translated ‘and’ meaning ‘in particular.’ Since pastor means shepherd, the terms go together defining the shepherding teacher.  It’s related to 1 Timothy 5:17 where Paul says, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” The word especially shows not all elders labor in teaching, but some will have that ministry separate from the other elders and that’s the pastor-teacher.

What I kept thinking about this week is the relationship between Ephesians 4:12 and 2 Timothy 3:17: pastor-teachers equip the saints for the work of the ministry and 2 Timothy 3:17 says Scripture equips the man of God for every good work. If pastors have the responsibility of equipping the saints, and Scripture is what they’re equipped with to do every good work God wants done, then it only makes sense that pastors would shepherd or feed God’s flock by teaching them Scripture. This explains why the one time pastors are mentioned in Scripture, they’re tied to or united with the word teaching: that is how pastors or shepherds, best tend to and care for God’s flock: feeding them God’s Word.