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When Disciples are Treated Badly

February 1, 2014 3 comments

The BibleMatthew 10:24-26 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. {25} It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! {26} Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”

Disciples of Jesus are those who learn from Him. They also follow Him, and are willing to take up the cross and deny self in the process.

It should be obvious: disciples are not above or greater than their teachers. We are most certainly not above our Master and Lord Jesus. The best we can hope for is that we emulate Him and allow His life to live in us in such a way that the life we live looks like His life. This is our great goal: to be like Jesus.

Since disciples of Jesus are not above or greater than Him, it also stands to reason that we should not expect to be treated any better than He was treated. They blasphemed Him by calling Him “Beelzebub” (the lord of the flies … a Philistine deity).

If they blasphemed Jesus in such a horrible manner, we should not be surprised if the world speaks even more evil of us as His followers. We cannot expect to be given more respect than our Lord. This reality explains the persecution of believers all over the world, and also the marginalization of believers in the U.S. We have been pushed aside, considered irrelavent, even dangerous. But this is precisely what Jesus said would happen.

Our response: keep living the Christian life with passion and dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Keep preaching Jesus.

And DO NOT FEAR THEM. Do not fear the world, or their opinion of us. Just keep trusting God, loving people, and being known for what we are for (Jesus and His Word), rather than for what we are against.

We know we don’t belong in the margins, but let’s not live as though we are in them.

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Pastor Chuck Smith (1927-2013)

October 3, 2013 2 comments

pastor_chuck_smith_271144624_std.1Pastor Chuck Smith has moved. Changed address. Specifically, he relocated from his earthly body to his heavenly one; from time to eternity. He has gone to be with Jesus.

For a report from the Calvary Chapel Association leadership, check out http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=402ca9421c467de147acbbb6e&id=299b56b565&e=85d969d1d6 .

Chuck’s influence upon my life is almost indescribable. I can’t say that I knew him well … at least not on a personal basis. I spoke with him one on one maybe 15 times over the years, at the very most. Yet the gist of those conversations remain with me. He had that kind of effect. I really didn’t need to speak to him more often than that. His words were protein to my soul.

Pastor Chuck was the one preaching the gospel of Jesus the very first time I ever realized that Jesus’ death on the cross was on purpose, and was for me and the whole world. In that same evening I learned that I could not only go to heaven when I died, but I could know that I was going to heaven when I died by receiving God’s gift of salvation by faith. That was November of 1969.

Pastor Chuck was the pastor I told about my calling into ministry. He asked me about the commentaries I’d read, and the Bible books I’d taught. That was 1976. Then in 1977 he allowed me to be part of a “Shepherd’s School” put on by Maranatha Evangelical Association, an outreach of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, my home church. It was during that week-long school that I was invited by the Lord to plant a church on the Monterey Peninsula.

In 1979 it was Pastor Chuck who let me into Calvary Chapel as an affiliated pastor. I hadn’t even applied … one day I saw my name on the list, and I was “in.” He gave me an opportunity. I don’t know if I’d have received an opportunity elsewhere. That’s an area where Chuck really shined. He allowed the equivalent of David’s mighty men to come into the ranks and serve as pastors. We were not the cream of the crop, we were the crop that had been creamed … by our sin, and by our pasts. But the Lord had plans for us, and His power began bringing those plans into fruition.

Several times over the years, Pastor Chuck sat down with me and reviewed our church’s finances and budget. I had been super concerned about the big numbers. He was unconcerned, and assured me each time that the numbers were well in line with what it costs to run a church. I learned that while salvation is free, ministry is expensive. I also learned to take steps of faith, no matter what the cost. The Lord was always faithful to provide where He had guided.

In the early 90’s Pastor Chuck met with me and two of our church leaders to review our build-out plans in a leased warehouse. In that meeting he said, “what you’re doing here is building a building within a building. Why don’t you find some land and build a building of your own?” Until that time, I’d not thought of that as an option. Chuck’s words were seeds of faith that got us started down a brand new road toward the purchase of land in Monterey at an obscenely low price, and the construction of a beautiful facility that made even the Monterey City Council members proud.

In 1996 Pastor Chuck flew up to Monterey to dedicate that new building. He told the packed auditorium that this facility was to be a place where people could come and meet God, and gain an eternal perspective. I’ll never forget that sermon. It’s still on my iPod. And that’s exactly what has happened in that place even to the present day.

It was in 2006 that Pastor Chuck learned of the ending of my first marriage. He was genuinely grieved and brokenhearted for me. Although I was only letting him know the situation (not asking for anything), he offered me a job at the Bible College in Brazil. So, so gracious…

It was in 2007 that he made a DVD recording of his blessing upon my remarriage, a video we played at the wedding. What affirmation.

In short, Pastor Chuck was used by God to open many doors for me and others. He was a risk taker with men he believed were called. I will be eternally thankful for that.

Chuck’s example of the style of ministry we should do, the life we should live, the purpose and joy of ministry we should maintain … it all spoke volumes to me. Still does.

His “simply teach the Word simply” approach to Bible teaching was our model. We sought to do the same.

Pastor Chuck will be missed, but he has left a lot of himself behind. In my life, and in the lives of countless other pastors and leaders all over the world who are better servants of Jesus because of the life of Pastor Chuck Smith.

-Bill Holdridge

Pastor Chuck Smith has moved. Changed address. Specifically, he relocated from his earthly body to his heavenly one; from time to eternity. He has gone to be with Jesus. For a report from the Calvary Chapel Association leadership, check out http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=402ca9421c467de147acbbb6e&id=299b56b565&e=85d969d1d6. Chuck’s influence upon my life is almost indescribable. I can’t say that I knew him well … at least not on a personal basis. I spoke with him one on one maybe 15 times over the years, at the very most. Yet the gist of those conversations remain with me. He had that kind of effect. I really didn’t need to speak to him more often than that. His words were protein to my soul. Pastor Chuck was the one preaching the gospel of Jesus the very first time I ever realized that Jesus’ death on the cross was on purpose, and was for me and the whole world. In that same evening I learned that I could not only go to heaven when I died, but I could know that I was going to heaven when I died by receiving God’s gift of salvation by faith. That was November of 1969. Pastor Chuck was the pastor I told about my calling into ministry. He asked me about the commentaries I’d read, and the Bible books i’d taught. That was 1976. Then in 1977 he allowed me to be part of a “Shepherd’s School” put on by Maranatha Evangelical Association, an outreach of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, my home church. It was during that week-long school that I was invited by the Lord to plant a church on the Monterey Peninsula. In 1979 it was Pastor Chuck who let me into Calvary Chapel as an affiliated pastor. I hadn’t even applied … one day I saw my name on the list, and I was “in.” He gave me an opportunity. I don’t know if I’d have received an opportunity elsewhere. That’s an area where Chuck really shined. He allowed the equivalent of David’s mighty men to come into the ranks and serve as pastors. We were not the cream of the crop, we were the crop that had been creamed … by our sin, and by our pasts. But the Lord had plans for us, and His power began bringing those plans into fruition. Several times over the years, Pastor Chuck sat down with me and reviewed our church’s finances and budget. I had been super concerned about the big numbers. He was unconcerned, and assured me each time that the numbers were well in line with what it costs to run a church. I learned that while salvation is free, ministry is expensive. I also learned to take steps of faith, no matter what the cost. The Lord was always faithful to provide where He had guided. In the early 90’s Pastor Chuck met with me and two of our church leaders to review our buildout plans in a leased warehouse. In that meeting he said, “what you’re doing here is building a building within a building. Why don’t you find some land and build a building of your own?” Until that time, I’d not thought of that as an option. Chuck’s words were seeds of faith that got us started down a brand new road toward the purchase of land in Monterey at an obscenely low price, and the contruction of a beautiful facility that made even the Monterey City Council members proud. In 1996 Pastor Chuck flew up to Monterey to dedicate that new building. He told the packed auditorium that this facility was to be a place where people could come and meet God, and gain an eternal perspective. I’ll never forget that sermon. It’s still on my iPod. And that’s exactly what has happened in that place even to the present day. It was in 2006 that Pastor Chuck learned of the ending of my first marriage. He was genuinely grieved and brokenhearted for me. Although I was only letting him know the situation (not asking for anything), he offered me a job at the Bible College in Brazil. So, so gracious… It was in 2007 that he made a DVD recording of his blessing upon my remarriage, a video we played at the wedding. What affirmation. In short, Pastor Chuck was used by God to open many doors for me and others. He was a risk taker with men he believed were called. I will be eternally thankful for that. Chuck’s example of the style of ministy we should do, the life we should live, the purpose and joy of ministry we should maintain … it all spoke volumes to me. Still does. His “simply teach the Word simply” approach to Bible teaching was our model. We sought to do the same. Pastor Chuck will be missed, but he has left a lot of himself behind. In my life, and in the lives of countless other pastors and leaders all over the world who are better servants of Jesus because of the life of Pastor Chuck Smith. -Bill Holdridge – See more at: http://www.poimenministries.com/2013/pastor-chuck-smith#sthash.3X4JXcAr.dpuf

Keys to Successful Pastoral Ministry

May 15, 2013 2 comments

success failure“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, {19} having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck…” (1 Timothy 1:18-19)

In my own ministry as a pastor, I have often turned to this passage to strongly remind myself of the call of God upon my life. I do not think I’m alone in this … we pastors have great need to build upon the foundation that Jesus Christ has laid down for us, and in us.

The passage includes four critical criteria for effective and God-honoring ministry.

1.      We must accept the charge or command of God concerning the focus of our ministry. 

In the context of 1 Timothy, the command of God had to do with the proper interpretation and application of the law of God (“the law is good if one uses it lawfully”), as well as the instructions concerning the nuts and bolts of pastoral ministry found in the letter.

1 Timothy 3:15 …but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

2.      We must conduct our ministries in view of specific prophecies that came to us as part of our calling. 

Every pastor I have ever asked about their call into pastoral ministry has a story to tell. There were Bible verses, there were words of knowledge, there were direct words from God in times of private prayer, there were prophetic words that were often unsolicited.

What Paul is telling Timothy here is that he must call to mind these words from God, and use them for courage, for authority, and for specificity in serving our Chief Shepherd.

3.      We must exercise faith. 

No one can fulfill the ministry of pastor-teacher without faith. Sometimes the faith is the actual gift of faith … the supernatural ability to believe God for supernatural things in a specific situation. Sometimes the faith is visionary faith. The pastor knows the Lord is leading, and trusts God to guide and provide for what He is doing. At all times the pastor is to believe what he believes … about the Bible, about God and about sound doctrine.

4.      We must work hard to maintain a good conscience. 

No doubt this is a difficult task, especially because the enemies of all true believers are also the enemies of the pastor. We deal with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The devil uses these realms—the world and flesh—in his attempts to destroy us. Only through Christ will we emerge victorious.

Thankfully, the pastor has access to all the means of grace … the word of God, the Spirit of God, Christian fellowship, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, confession of sin, sanctifying grace enabling him to repent when necessary. He must be diligent to apply these means of grace in order to live a life pleasing to God and fruitful in His work.

The prize of a good conscience makes the effort worth it. Continued fellowship with and closeness to God are of inestimable value.

The success of our ministries cannot be measured by numbers, budgets, or programs. Success can only be measured by the degree of faithfulness to our calling. God is faithful, who will also bring it to pass if we allow Him.

Chosen to Abide and Rest

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

chosen

When I assumed the lead pastor role at a former church, one of the amazingly supportive couples in leadership sent me the following thoughts. The church was going through a grieving process over the loss of their previous pastor, always a tough situation for the incoming pastor.

When I received their note I sensed the presence of God in the words. Somehow I knew I’d need the assurance and confidence they would inspire within me. Now years later, I can see how true that has been. In fact, I find myself leaning upon these truths even today.

Last week I was meditating on John 15, and the Lord reiterated these same thoughts to my heart. Back in September (2012) when I went fulltime into my current ministry, Jesus spoke to me about abiding in Him, and He in me. That would be the key, I heard Him say. He would open doors, give me the wisdom I need, provide for our needs, and direct me clearly into the teachings He would have me share as I travel here and there.

All I can say is that He has been faithful, and I’m continuing to learn how to rest in Him.

I hope these words are a strength to you as well … rhema to your soul. God bless you.

_________________________________________________________________________

“You are in God’s place at God’s perfect time. Your days are in His hands, and He is your future. 

“He has gifted you and placed His hand upon you to bless you and make you a blessing.

 “The burden of your ministry is not yours to carry—as you rest, He will work; as you abide, He will bring fruit; as you sow, He will give the increase.

 “He is your shield and your exceeding great reward.” (Roy Lessin, from God Has Chosen You.”)

We thank the Lord that He has called you to Himself, to your ministry, and to us. God Bless You.

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.”  —  John 15:16 (King James Version)

The Great Need for Seasoned Senior Pastors

February 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Poimem Ministries-Logo Final

My latest e-Newsletter provides some exciting news and important information.

Check it out at: http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=402ca9421c467de147acbbb6e&id=0fc6234402&e

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to sign up and receive this periodic newsletter, please do so on the page you’re heading to!

In Christ,

Bill Holdridge

Dig Up the Old Wells

January 14, 2013 3 comments

wellAnd Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. (Genesis 26:18, NKJV)

I am a fan of this passage, and its present application as it pertains to church life. In another blog from last week, author Jon Langley introduced the question about how to do church. From my perspective, Genesis 26:18 helps greatly in answering the question.

(Note: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached his incredible series on revival based largely upon this text, but that won’t be my subject here. For that treatment, check out the book. It’s called Revival.)

The passage tells about Isaac—young Isaac, inexperienced Isaac. As he began to move about in the land and enjoy/obtain the promised inheritance, he encountered some difficulties with Abimelech, king of the Philistines. In spite of these difficulties, Isaac was blessed and became very prosperous.

Things were going well for him when he came upon some wells that had been dug by his father Abraham. Although these wells had been earthed by the Philistines for some reason, Isaac felt it well worth the time and effort to unearth and re-dig the same wells. Apparently he sensed that these wells were valuable, having been dug by his well-respected father. Not only did he re-dig the wells, he revived their names. He called them exactly what they’d been called when Abraham had named them at first.

The connection between this story and the present day question of how to do church seems obvious to me. The application of this connection may not be so obvious.

If we’re going to do church today we should do it in view of history, in the light of what has been done before. Like Isaac with his father, we should respect the work of those who have gone before, and build upon any solid, Christ-centered foundation they have laid.

So how far back do we look?

As far as the church is concerned, we have to go back to her Founder, namely Jesus. Sadly, in far too many places even His well has been covered up. Living water isn’t flowing in such places, to be sure. Jesus is the One who said that He would build His church. Paul later added that no other foundation could be laid than that which has been laid. The foundation is Jesus Himself.

(Pastor, here are questions for you: is the church you are pastoring build upon the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you know Him well? Do the people know Him well? Are the grace and truth of Jesus part of your DNA? Is the sole aim of the people to follow Him? Is it your sole aim to follow Him? Is He your example for love and grace?)

We must also look back and re-dig the wells of the apostles and prophets. We do this primarily through the study of the NT epistles and the book of Acts. We don’t need to look around today nearly as much as we need to look back. We look back to Romans for soteriology, to Ephesians for ecclesiology, to Colossians for Christology, to James for practical Christian living, to the book of Acts for the pattern of ministry in the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.

Additionally, we look back and re-dig the Christ-centered, apostolic wells that are evident from church history. When we find such wells, we drink deeply and wisely, constantly measuring water quality through the tests of Christocentric and Biblical revelation.

And when we do look around at current methods of doing church, we’re in a constant evaluation mode. Is this thoroughly Biblical? Does it appear in the nature and teaching of Jesus? Is it found as a pattern anywhere in the book of Acts? Is there specific teaching on it in the epistles? Does it square with the two great commandments?

Isaac would have been extremely unwise (and disrespectful) had he decided to just pass by and ignore those old wells. So it will be for us, if we only look around at what others are doing … and fail to look back to what has gone before within the plan and purposes of God.

The Only Hope That’s Left

December 17, 2012 2 comments

hope

For many years, I have pondered and taught on the inevitable downward spiral that takes place within a culture that suppresses the truth about God. Romans 1:18-32 tells the story. It’s social and spiritualdevolution—it is God giving people what they want. They want a life without Him, and He gives them over to their own desires.

Living in a culture like Romans 1 describes is difficult and painful. The greed, murders, and all kinds of evil wear people down. “Life” becomes increasingly unlivable. People don’t feel safe, loved, or optimistic about future prospects. It can become a grind to just get up out of bed and face each new day. It’s not a pretty picture.

Romans 1:18 says that this downward spiral is the present manifestation of God’s wrath. God is angry at ungodliness and unrighteousness and the effort to avoid and ignore truth.

How are Christians supposed to live in such a place? Let me offer a few suggestions, if I may:

  • We are not to become self-righteous, but rather brokenhearted and empathetic. Romans 2 describes the moralist, the one who thinks that because he is able to criticize the sins of Romans 1 he is somehow exempt from judgment himself. We can’t be that guy. We need to follow Jesus, the One who wept over Jerusalem and paid for the sins of the whole world. We need to be like the Father, who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  • We should engage the people living with us in this corrupt society, not withdraw from them. It would be easy, and is no doubt tempting—to isolate, move, disengage and remove ourselves entirely. But that would be a complete failure on our part to obey Jesus’ commands to be salt and light.
  • We should see the degradation of the culture as a great opportunity. The light of the gospel shines brightly in the darkness. The opportunity to be healed sounds wonderful in a hospital of sickness.

We really do need to be like Jesus. Jesus came as a missionary to this sin-laden planet. He was sent by His Father. He listened to His Father, He watched His Father, He obeyed His Father, He operated by the power and authority of His Father.

Now He turns to us and says, “As the Father sent Me, even so I send you.”

Therefore, we are sent by Jesus as missionaries. We are to listen to Him, watch Him, obey Him, and operate by His power and authority.

We’re the only hope that’s left. Christ in us is the hope of glory. There is no Plan B.