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Your pastor prays for you. His God-given duty, after all, is to “keep watch over your soul” (Heb. 13:17). But unless you’re a rare individual, you don’t pray for your pastor as much as you should. I want to convince you that your pastor desperately needs you to pray for him consistently.

A major factor in your pastor’s need for prayer is the simple reality that he is a human being. He is tempted, as we all are. He sins, as we all do. He is targeted by spiritual warfare. Because he is a human being seeking to live a godly life, he needs prayer and support.

But there are other reasons for his need for prayer related to his unique role as a pastor. I want to explore three of those below:

 

  1. YOU EXPECT YOUR PASTOR TO SPEAK FOR GOD.

All of us desperately need to know what God thinks about all of the issues we face in life. We need to hear from God—regularly, insightfully, passionately.

So put yourself in your pastor’s shoes here. Week after week, you gather with other believers to hear a word from God. And your pastor is the one who will deliver God’s word to you. His job is to stand before you on a regular basis and declare, “Thus says the Lord.” Much of the Spirit’s conviction in your life will come from words your pastor speaks. Many of your beliefs about the nature of God or how God wants you to behave in a given situation will originate in your pastor’s sermon prep.

Your pastor speaks to you on God’s behalf. He feels the weight of that burden. Make sure you’re praying for him. Pray that God will speak to him. Pray that he will listen. Pray that God will empower him as he takes on the formidable role of a modern day prophet.

Francis Chan Preaching

 

  1. YOU EXPECT YOUR PASTOR TO SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS.

Perhaps this sounds overdramatic. But when something goes wrong in your life, who are you turning to for help? When you’re struggling with sin, when you can’t navigate a dysfunctional relationship, when you’ve experienced loss, when you’re depressed, when you need some guidance—who is it that you turn to in these situations? If you’re like most Christians, you’ll turn to your pastor to help you solve your problems.

That’s as it should be, to a certain extent. Your pastor does indeed keep watch over your soul; he is there to help you grow. But once again, consider it from your pastor’s perspective. What if you were the last line of defense (and often also the first) with every major issue anyone in your congregation could possibly encounter? That’s an enormous burden to bear. And an impossible schedule to maintain. (Even if your church has multiple pastors, that means your church has more people to care for.) Be sure to pray for your pastor in this regard. Ask God to give him wisdom, patience, and endurance.

 

 

  1. YOU EXPECT YOUR PASTOR TO THINK & ACT LIKE YOU IN EVERYTHING.

You’re not offended by everything your pastor says, but let’s be honest: there are a good handful of topics over which you would be horrified to hear your pastor disagree with you. What if your pastor preached a sermon that gave a differing view on the end times, or on speaking in tongues, or on the proper use of alcohol, or on the way Christians should relate to politics, culture, homeschooling, workplace evangelism, infant or adult baptism, or whatever? The list of issues upon which Christians disagree is almost literally endless.

You might not be upset about every theological point your pastor makes, but someone is likely to be. Consider it from your pastor’s perspective: It’s impossible to preach on the end times, hell, the role of obedience in the life of the Christian, or spiritual gifts without offending someone. You can imagine the weight that this places on his shoulders every week.

Pastors face constant criticism. Their lives are lived in a fishbowl, with everyone analyzing what the pastor and his family do (and don’t do). Not only that, but he also has to present his (well-studied) views on controversial topics to a large roomful of people every week. Can you imagine the pressure? So don’t forget to pray for him. Be gracious to him when he “gets it wrong” theologically, and don’t forget to pray that God would give him grace, patience, and encouragement as he has big and small conversations week after week with people who are angry about something he said.

__________

You may love your pastor deeply. Or you might have a real problem with him (for good or bad reasons). But either way, be sure that you are praying for him. He has devoted his life to speaking for God and ministering to your soul. That’s an impossible job. Keep praying that God will encourage, shape, and empower your pastor. And please heed these words from Hebrews:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (13:17)

Depression

Mark Beuving —  August 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

I’ve seen more talk about depression on social media this week than ever before. We’ve all been stunned by Robin Williams’ suicide—most of us never knew he struggled with depression. The question that keeps getting passed around is this: How could someone so funny, so apparently joyful, be depressed?

This discussion has been eye opening as more and more people are thinking about depression. I’ve also seen many people open up on social media about their own struggles with depression. Depression is far more pervasive and complex than most people assume, and we’re beginning to realize that.

In reality, there’s not one type of person who struggles with depression. Any type of person can be affected. There’s not one cause of depression. It’s not solely biological or circumstantial or personality-driven. There’s not one simple cure, whether a pill, a therapy, or a Bible verse. It’s a complex experience, and before we rush to diagnose and “fix” the problem, we need to spend a lot of time listening to and loving the people in our lives who experience depression.

For those who are beginning to think a bit more deeply about depression, I recommend this Silo course that we recently launched, featuring our own Dr. Scott Mehl. This self-paced online mini-course is $25, and it consists of 17 sessions, each of which features a 5-6 minute video and discussion questions. It’s the perfect format for those who want to think more deeply about what depression is, how it affects us, and how we can help those who are wrestling with it.

You can watch the first two sessions below, and preview the course outline here.

Counseling: Introduction to the Gospel & Depression from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

Counseling: Defining Depression from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

Sign up for “The Gospel & Depression” here.

Some of you have been waiting for this for a long time. Our Silo courses on Homosexuality, the Bible, & the Church are now ready to go! Preston Sprinkle has created two Silo courses that will help you think through the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and a gracious approach to interacting with the LGBT community and those in our churches who experience same-sex attraction.

Silo Bible Teaching for Normal PeopleFirst, a quick word about Silo. The Silo Project takes insights from our college level courses (I’m referring to Eternity Bible College) and presents them in attractive, self-paced mini-courses. Each course consists of 12–16 sessions, and each session features a 5–7 minute video with optional online discussion. It’s a perfect way to dive deeper into the Bible, theology, or ministry in the midst of a busy schedule. Each class is also affordable: $25 as an individual or $20 if you sign up with a group of 5 or more (each course also features a small group study guide). You can also license Silo courses for classroom settings at a significant discount.

Now about Preston’s courses on homosexuality. Preston’s study on homosexuality, which many of you have benefited from via this blog, is now being presented in two Silo courses. The first is entitled Homosexuality & the Bible. This course explores what the Bible says about homosexuality, gay marriage, and gender identity. Preston examines the key passages carefully and also dives into biblical principles that relate to the topic.

>> Sign up for Homosexuality & the Bible here, or start with a free trial.

Preston Sprinkle SiloThe second course is entitled Homosexuality & the Church. This course builds on the biblical foundation of the first course and explores how Christians should interact with the LGBT community and minister to and with those within our churches who experience same-sex attraction. He also explores a number of practical questions, such as:

  • Is same-sex attraction caused by “nature” or “nurture”?
  • How can I respond biblically to my same-sex attraction?
  • What do I do if a gay couple walks into my church?
  • What do I do if I think my child is gay?
  • What do I do if my child “comes out” gay?
  • Should I vote on gay marriage?
  • Should I attend my gay friends’ wedding?

>> Sign up for Homosexuality & the Church here, or start with a free trial.

Because we want all of you to be able to benefit from Preston’s careful study, we are offering both courses at a significant discount: $15 each for individuals, $12 each for groups of 5 or more. To get this discount, use the code “hbc” when you register for the course. Also, see below for preview videos and outlines for each course.


 

Homosexuality & the Bible

Session 1: Introduction

 

Homosexuality & the Bible: Introduction from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

 

Session 2: Gender & Marriage in Genesis 1–2

Homosexuality & the Bible: Gender & Marriage in Genesis 1-2 from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

 

Session 3: Sodom & Gomorrah

Session 4: David & Jonathan

Session 5: Leviticus 18 & 20, Part 1

Session 6: Leviticus 18 & 20, Part 2

Session 7: Jesus’ View of Homosexuality, Part 1

Session 8: Jesus’ View of Homosexuality, Part 2

Session 9: Jesus’ Posture Toward the Marginalized

Session 10: The Context of Romans 1

Session 11: The Argument of Romans 1

Session 12: Counterarguments for Romans 1, Part 1

Session 13: Counterarguments for Romans 1, Part 2

Session 14: Words Matter

Session 15: 1 Corinthians 6

Session 16: Summary

 >> Sign up for Homosexuality & the Bible here, or start with a free trial.


Homosexuality & the Church

Session 1: Introduction

Homosexuality & the Church: Introduction from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

 

Session 2: Does “Nature” Cause Same-Sex Attraction?

Does “Nature” Cause Same Sex Attraction? from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

 

Session 3: Does “Nurture” Cause Same-Sex Attraction?

Session 4: Theologically Speaking, Does “Nature Vs. Nurture” Matter?

Session 5: Living with Same-Sex Attraction

Session 6: Celibacy, Part 1

Session 7: Celibacy, Part 2

Session 8: When a Gay Couple Walks into Church

Session 9: What Do I Do if I Think My Child Is Gay?

Session 10: What Do I Do if My Child “Comes Out” Gay?

Session 11: Should I Vote Against Gay Marriage?

Session 12: Should I Attend My Gay Friends’ Wedding?

Session 13: How Should We Relate to Those Who Disagree?

Session 14: Developing the Proper Posture

 >> Sign up for Homosexuality & the Church here, or start with a free trial.

This entry is part 19 of 22 in the seriesBook of the Month

You & Me Forever Cover - Francis & Lisa ChanOn August 26, you’ll get to read another powerful book from Francis Chan.

Francis has been hinting at writing a book about marriage for years now, but other important projects have taken priority. But now the wait is (almost) over. Francis and Lisa have been working together on this book, entitled You & Me Forever, and it will finally be available at the end of August.

 

The Premise

Francis and Lisa will tell you that there are many good books on marriage available. If you’re anywhere near the “marriage arena,” chances are you’ve read at least a couple. While You & Me Forever isn’t going to replace the best marriage books out there, it does offer a unique approach—an approach I’ve never seen before. Honestly, I wish this book had been available when I was preparing for marriage, and I plan to use it when I do premarital counseling with engaged couples.

The unique approach is evident from the first pages, when Francis says:

“Even now, I am working to make sure that my family is set up for the future. When most people make that statement, they are talking about financial security for their last few years on earth. When I say it, I’m referring to the millions of years that come after that.”

You & Me Forever is all about viewing marriage in light of eternity. With chapter titles like “Marriage Isn’t that Great” and “Don’t Waste Your Marriage,” the emphasis is on how marriage fits within God’s overarching plan, how marriage displays God’s glory, and how marriage functions as a part of God’s mission for us on earth.

What you won’t find here is a handbook of communication principles, advice to strengthen your sex life, or guidelines for handling finances. It’s not that these things are not important, but Francis and Lisa have written a different type of book—partially because that book has been written many times over, and partially because they wanted to write a book about marriage that didn’t focus on marriage.

To be sure, every chapter is about marriage. But Francis and Lisa insist on every page that while marriage is good—wonderful, even—it’s not ultimate. Our marriage-mania can easily push us to idolize marriage, idolize our spouses, idolize our kids.

You & Me Forever provides an excellent model for thinking deeply about marriage while always subordinating marriage to its proper place in relation to the God who made it and the mission he has given us.

What you will find in this book is a high view of God, a genuine delight in God’s gift of marriage, a passion to work on our marriages for the sake of God and his mission, practical stories that show the beauty and tragedy of marriage, and a call to put God first in everything—which is the only way any of us will survive marriage in the first place, let alone glorify God in it.

 

The Format

Francis and Lisa wrote this book together. In every chapter, the bulk of the material is written from Francis’ perspective (that is, the first person pronouns refer to Francis) and then Lisa adds a section to each chapter from her perspective. At times Lisa’s sections are nearly as long as Francis’, at other times it’s significantly shorter. But even the material that Francis wrote from his perspective was a team effort. Both are great writers, and the combination of their voices adds strength to the book.

Francis and Lisa ChanAnother interesting feature of this book is that Francis and Lisa want to use the book as a donation tool. So 100% of the net proceeds will fund a variety of important charities. As has always been the case, Francis is not looking to get rich off of his books (though he certainly could)—he just wants the book to be used for God’s glory at every possible level.

 

Where to Get It

You will be able to get a copy of the book at regular book outlets and at youandmeforever.org. Once the book releases, there will also be videos corresponding to the each chapter that you’ll be able to access for free at that web address. A workbook is also in the works that will facilitate group discussion and premarital counseling.

A big thank you to Francis and Lisa for continuing to follow the Lord and for sharing their insights in such a gospel-centered way.

 

You and Me Forever – Francis & Lisa Chan (Trailer) from Marcus Hung on Vimeo.

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the seriesLessons from Elijah

I recently posted a blog on Elijah, burnout, and how important it is for us to spend extended time alone with God. If he needed to slow down and spend some long, extended time in the desert alone with God, how much more do we need to do the same in the 21st century!

But as I meditate on the story of Elijah, I see there is more to this ubiquitous issue of burnout than just spending time alone with God. Believe me, I have spent many hours and now many years searching my own heart and evaluating what went wrong in my life that caused me to hit the wall like I did. I am often asked questions like ‘what caused you to burnout?’ and ‘ what can we do to prevent burnout?’

Dangerous CallingI had a breakthrough insight recently. It has to do with ‘identity.’ I see it in Elijah, but my eyes were really opened to this idea through Paul David Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling. This recent book is an important and essential read for all pastors, people in ministry, and followers of Christ. I was convicted page after page, and had so many ‘aha’ moments I lost count.

Tripp is talking about the numerous and often burdensome responsibilities of the pastor when he makes this statement:

All of these concerns can become seductive pastoral idolatries, and when they do, you may think that you are serving God, but your heart is ruled by something to which you have attached your pastoral identity and inner sense of well-being….you do ministry in the hopes of getting horizontally what you have already been given vertically. In ways in which you are unaware, you are asking ministry acclaim, success, reputation, etc., to be your own personal messiah. (p202)

Ouch. Nailed. Yep, that’s me. My identity and significance in life was completely wrapped up in the concept of ‘pastor’ but I didn’t realize it until I finally resigned the pastorate, and lost my identity. I honestly (although I did know better theologically) wondered what in the world I would pray about now. Can I even pray as a non-pastor? Why would I read my Bible now? As these questions coursed through my soul, I was brought painfully face-to-face with the reality that I was guilty of ministry idolatry.

Tripp goes on:

So you will never find in your ministry the rest of heart that every human being seeks. And when you look there, it only ends in anxiety, frustration, hurt, disappointment, anger, and bitterness and may ultimately lead you to question the goodness of God. I am convinced that what we often call “ministry burnout” (a term I don’t think is particularly helpful) is often the result of pastors’ seeking in their ministry what cannot be found there, and because it can’t be found there they end up weary and discouraged. (p203)

Wow. Guilty. There it is. Perhaps not the final answer to my quest of why I burned out, but a huge step closer. He nails it here: I was seeking for identity, reputation, significance, etc. in the pastorate. But that was idolatry, and it could never truly give me rest. So after 18 years of trying, and not succeeding, the weariness and discouragement got the best of me, and I had to regroup. Of course I know that my identity is found in Christ alone, as a child of His, and not in any role or task or ministry that I do. But it is still a struggle to assimilate that truth deeply into my soul and make it part of my daily sense of identity.

Back to Elijah. In 1 Kings 19, God questions Elijah. Part of Elijah’s answer is in verse 10:

“I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left…”

In other words, nobody has it together in ministry quite like I do. I am the prophet to end all prophets. I am the only one left who loves you and serves you. My identity is wrapped up in being a prophet. A few verses earlier, Elijah was basically suicidal over this state of affairs. Classic ministry burnout based on the faulty notion that his identity was in ministry, not in Christ alone.

We must get our eyes back on Jesus. We will never find rest and identity and satisfaction in anything but Him. Not in ministry, not in the pastorate, not in our jobs, not in our family, not in our success…nothing but Christ alone. To do so is to invite weariness, discouragement, burnout. Search your heart to see if the seeds of this error are planted and starting to sprout. Study Elijah. Read the book Dangerous Calling. Save yourself from ministry burnout.

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