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Posts Tagged ‘budgets’


Recently there have been books released that deal with the heart of the pastor. They aren’t books about how to do ministry but how a minister should be. Jared Wilson’s The Pastor’s Justification is the second of these books I have read. Earlier I had read Paul Tripp’s Dangerous Calling.

Both books are very good but quite different from one another. They form a good “Good Cop, Bad Cop Routine” when read in tandem. Tripp’s book is a dangerous read. Perhaps I should say a hard read because he is ruthless. This doesn’t mean he’s legalistic or avoids the gospel. In addressing our sin he does bring us back to the gospel regularly. His concerns, reaped from talking the numerous pastors, center on the gaps in their preparation and a sense of having arrived that cripples men spiritually. He puts his finger on many common struggles for pastors.

“The primary problem in pastoral ministry, brother pastor, is not them. It’s you. You are your biggest problem.”

Jared’s book is kinder and gentler. This doesn’t mean he ignores sin because he doesn’t (see the above quote). You will feel the sting of conviction here as well. He also keeps bringing us back to the gospel regularly. The point of Jared’s book is one that I got from Tim Keller a few years ago: preach as a justified man. Of course it is about more than preaching.

[This book is not just for pastors though. Missionaries would likely benefit and see a great deal of overlap. It would be a helpful read for elders and ministry leaders as well. They will experience many of the same temptations and need to find the same freedom in Christ pastors need.]

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“Do you like dahgs?” So the Piker asked Tommy when he went to buy a new mobile home for Turkish.

If you don’t like dogs, don’t go to Mexico.  They are everywhere.  It is difficult to tell if a dog is feral or not.  If they actually wear a collar, they probably belong to someone.  We saw one dog being walked on a leash.  Other than that the vast majority were wandering around loose.  Bob Barker needs to make a whole lot of public service announcements and pay for a wandering crew of veterinarians to fix all those dogs so they don’t make more dogs.  It has gotten to the point in America that it is rare to see and “intact” dog.  Looks nearly obscene though it was quite common when I was a kid.

For breakfast on our last day at work we had hot cakes.  We were all dragging.  I work behind a desk much of the time, so the physical work was exhausting (and the lack of sleep didn’t really help).  But all of us were feeling it.  We had to push through though.  We were in the 4th quarter and needed to finish strong.  Most of what we had to do was the dry wall near the ceiling.  Lots more measuring and cutting.

The BEAMM missionary we worked with was working on the budget.  We’d gone over on construction supplies, and our food budget.  But had saved lots of money on housing.  When he made the budget, it was based on the hotel they’d used in Mexicali.  It was $70/night.  The infamous Motel Continental was $45.  If we upgraded it would have been about $100.  Quite the difference.  So thanks to our time “living it up at the Motel Continental” we were actually under budget.  The question was what to do with the extra money.  We decided to buy them all they needed to install the ceiling, tape and mud the dry wall and do a few other necessary projects.  They don’t lack the will or the skill.  The problem has been lacking the resources.  It is a small church and the people don’t make much money.  One woman who worked at a tortilla factory made under $10/week.  They put their “widows’ mites” into the offering plate, but there is not enough to do projects like this. Hopefully this will help them grow spiritually and numerically so they will have more to help others in the future.

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Two years ago (June 2007), I began a series on “church killers” after someone asked me why churches close (lack of prayer, evangelism & love).  This morning I pondered such matters again.  Perhaps it is because a sister church is closing this month.  I was reminded of a number of seemingly unrelated situations that had a common thread.  That thread was fear- the great “what if?”

In many ways our congregation was in bondage to that question.  It blocked attempts at outreach.  It blocked attempts to “think big” and plan for the future.  People were often afraid we’d be sued because of this, that or the other thing.  Ideas were shut down, and no alternative ideas were offered.

The reasons were sometimes dressed up in spiritual garb- “we cannot test God”.  This was used to try to keep us from trusting and applying God’s Word to our particular context.

We often misunderstand what it means to test God.  The Israelites tested God through their sin- grumbling.  They essentially tested God’s unfailing love by denying He loved them to justify their sin.  Satan wanted Jesus to put Himself in mortal danger, and Jesus responded with this command from Deuteronomy.

We were not putting ourselves in mortal danger, or certain danger.  Expanding the budget is not the same as jumping off a cliff unless the increases are too great a percentage of the current budget.

Fear actually does test God by thinking He won’t help us to obey Him or protect us when we obey Him (Jesus would have been obeying Satan, not the Father had He jumped).  We tested God by thinking He’s sustain us in our disobedience to the Great Commission (among other things).

Fear kills churches by stifling faith.  This lack of faith limits giving & budgets, outreach & evangelism, discipleship, church discipline and more.  The congregation in bondage to fear doesn’t do anything because of the “what if” (what if someone gets hurt, what if someone gets mad, what if someone leaves the church, ….).

In some ways, I also lived in fear- the fear of losing my job if I ticked off enough people by challenging their lack of faith and exposing their fear for what it was.  See, there was a silent conspiracy of fear operating to slowly, silently kill the church.

Fear is one of the leading causes of church deaths in America today.

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