Fighter Verse Reflections: "Serve the LORD..." pt. 2

“Serve the Lord with gladness!” - Psalm 100:2

This is part 2 of the fighter verse meditation. As we said earlier, this Psalm is a Psalm of Thanksgiving in which the Psalmist summons all the earth, particularly the people of God, to praise and give thanks to God for His redemptive love and faithfulness. Today I want to focus on who we are called to serve.

THE LORD

It was early in the morning and I got called to a hostage situation. Only this was between 2 of my children. One was holding the other’s toy hostage and refused to give it back. The owner of the toy came to me and requested my help. I told them to use their words. They informed me, in so many words, they had tried but to no avail. I then said, “ok, tell them ‘dad said to give it back.’” Sure enough, that did the trick. Why? Because those 2 words “dad said” bring new meaning, authority, and incentive to the command to return the toy. 

Who you serve makes a difference in the how and the why. We are reminded that all our service is to honor the LORD. Believers were once slaves to sin, but now have been set free and are bound to Christ by faith (cf. Romans 6:1ff). Israel’s slavery in Egypt paints the picture well. Sin is a harsh task master, much like Pharaoh, it’s always “more bricks and less straw.”

But we serve the LORD! A gracious, kind, burden-bearing, soul-lifting, sin-forgiving, self-sacrificing, redeeming King! Who you serve makes a difference. Our God commands us to serve mainly for our joy, as all of His commands are meant to guard the joy of His people.  

We are commissioned in the New Testament: “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). 

APPLICATION

In all of your serving, who do you serve? Our hearts can turn even good things into idolatrous desires and deeds. 

Ultimately, the driving motivator for my service can’t be how I feel, or to be seen as successful, or to have my ideas championed as the best ideas, or because I like the people involved in a certain ministry. 

The main reason I serve must be to honor God and know Him more intimately as a response of worship and adoration. Or put another way: “because Dad said…” and this Dad loves me more than I could ever imagine, and only commands that which is good for my soul.

So beloved, let us head into the weekend and “Serve the LORD with gladness…”

Fighter Verse Reflections: "Serve the LORD"

Serve the Lord with gladness!” - Psalm 100:2

This Psalm is a Psalm of Thanksgiving in which the Psalmist summons all the earth, particularly the people of God, to praise and give thanks to God for His redemptive love and faithfulness. I want to briefly meditate on verse 2. We will note What we are called to do, next time, we will focus on who we are to do it for, and how we are to execute this.

SERVE 

I asked one of my children to do something the other day. Their response was a hearty: “ah mannnn...” I thought, “Wow, how often do I respond that way when I’m asked to do something?” (Too often).

One way to assess your conformity to Christ is to ask yourself how you respond when presented with an opportunity to serve. The psalmist here calls the people of God to give Him thanks and praise for several reasons, and includes the call to serve as part of that response of worship. 

As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, your worship must not be confined to merely singing, or sitting under the preaching of the Word of God. As essential as those components are, serving is also a significant part of worship and one of the ways we tangibly express our worship to God and faith in Him. Jesus models this for us in every way as he said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

APPLICATION:

On the basis of the above, there are a few questions to consider:

-Are your serving?

-How do you serve the Lord?

-How do you tangibly express that toward other believers in the church (Gal. 6:10)?

-Are you more of a consumer or a contributor in your local church?

-Has it ever occurred to you that not serving may actually be hindering your spiritual growth? 

-Have you considered that the call to serve is a command not a suggestion, such that failure to serve can be a sin of omission (cf. James 4:17 & Prov. 3:27)? 

-Are you “too busy?” 

-It is possible that you are not being a good steward of the time you have. How can you “redeem the time” and reprioritize your daily routine so that God’s purposes become central and integrated into every facet of your life? 

-Do you take initiative in serving or do you sit back and wait to be asked or told what to do?

This next set of questions applies to those who serve A LOT and may prompt the reflection of WHO are you serving (which we will cover in the next blog post): 

On the flip-side, maybe all you do is serve...and serve...and serve. 

-Have you allowed your service to take you away from sitting under the teaching of the word of God AND/OR walking in fellowship with other believers? (Think Mary & Martha).  Remember, God is not a slave-driver. He actually invites and commands His people to rest from their work.

-Do you struggle to say “no” to service opportunities because you think: “if I don’t do it, who will?” This often leads to frustration, stress, and burn-out. It’s worth remembering whose church it is and who promised to build it. Hint: Not yours and not you. 

-Do you find serving actually provides a good “reason” for you NOT to engage in fellowship, and thereby use it as a good “reason” to get out of edifying conversations with others? 

-Do you get mad, angry, frustrated, or upset when people don’t do things the “right way” (I.e. your way). Life in the body is actually meant to draw these responses out, so that God can refine and conform you to be more like Christ in ALL things. Once you reckon with your own sin and struggles, you’ll be in a much better place to assess the situation clearly and actually come alongside and help. It’s not an easy process, but it is a Biblical one. 

-Do you withdraw from participating in projects when people don’t do it the way you think they should?

-Do you find yourself criticizing the work of others constantly as opposed to encouraging and constructively helping it?

If you answered ”yes” to the second set of questions, it’s understandable and happens to many who serve. It’s one of the ways sin and satanic schemes work their way into the church, disrupt unity, and steal joy from those engaged in kingdom work. It’s also a sign that you may have lost sight of who you serve and why you serve, which is really easy to do. 

Spend sometime meditating on the rest of the Psalm and possibly acknowledge sinful thoughts, attitudes, and motives that may have snuck into your heart in regards to your service (or lack thereof). Rejoice that in Christ all of our sins have been paid for, and thank God that He isn’t done with you. 

Right now, He is using this as an occasion to conform you into the image of Christ: a servant, which is what He promised to do, and what we pray for regularly. 

When we serve, eventually we are brought to the end of our wisdom and our strength and must rely on His. As Pastor John Piper has said: “The gospel is not a help-wanted ad. It is a help-available ad.” And serving is one of the ways that God invites us to see that in all of our service, He’s the one serving us.

We’ll cover the who and how in the next post.

Fighter-Verse Reflections

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. -1 Thessalonians 5:14

Happy Valentines Day! This day is generally spent displaying love in some form to those who are dear to us. Here’s a Valentines day word from Paul with some relational insight for all of us.

Consider, one way to love each-other well is to follow the commands in this passage. At times, love demands a corrective word to an unruly brother or sister. 

Other times, it demands a biblically sound word of encouragement to a discouraged believer. In “The Pilgrim’s Progress” we see a good example of this in the character of “Great-Heart” while he was interacting with Mr. Feeble-Mind. Mr. Feeble-mind was rehearsing his many weakness and suggesting he should be left-behind. Great-Heart replied:

“But, brother,” said Mr. GREAT-HEART, “I have it in commission to comfort the feeble-minded and to support the weak. You must needs go along with us: we will wait for you; we will lend you our help; we will deny ourselves of some things, opinionative and practical, for your sake; we will not enter into doubtful disputations before you; we will be made all things to you rather than you shall be left behind.”

It’s worth reading the exchange in full sometime, but this is the idea. 

Still on other occasions, it requires assisting the weak. This can be weak in body or in frame of mind. This often looks like helping with our words AND our work or physical exertion. In other words, it’ll demand time and attention, which to grant will require a measure of self-denial on our parts. 

The final exhortation is worth being reminded of more frequently than all the others: “Be patient with them all.” Our admonishment, encouragement, and help must be accompanied by patience at all times. This isn’t just waiting in a line at the checkout. It carries with it the idea of being actively provoked while you wait, or as some versions used to translate it: “Long-suffering.” If we’re honest, we tend to demand patience for ourselves and are slow to grant it to others. This command signals that the fruit of admonishment, encouragement, and help often isn’t seen immediately. It demands patience. 

So beloved, let us love one-another enough to listen carefully, assess accurately, help sacrificially, and speak wisely to each-other with all patience so that we all grow into greater degrees of Christ-likeness. Happy Valentines Day!

"There Are Lions In The Way."

And looking very narrowly before him as he went, he beheld two lions in the way…Then he was afraid…for he thought nothing but death was before him.” -The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

This famous book records the journey of the main character, Christian, from the City of Destruction (our world) to the Celestial City (heaven). At one point on his journey, Christian comes across 2 lions in the way. To return to his prior life means certain death and with no way around the lions, Christian is gripped by fear of what lies ahead. 

Here at the beginning of 2019, we have much to look forward to! The launch of a church plant, the appointing of deacons, the continued sharpening of discipleship efforts, various opportunities for outreach and much more! 

With much to look forward to…still many look ahead and see the unknown trials of the future and it can cause anxiety. Some see change and grow uncertain. Some see more than unknown trials or change. Some already see present challenges, suffering, and perhaps even active opposition, or as Christian saw: “lions in the way.” Such a sight saps anticipation and replaces it with anxiety and dread. 

What hope is there then? For Christian, just at the right time a fellow-servant of God, referred to as the Porter of the palace beautiful, “happened” to observe Christian’s fear and situation as he encountered the lions and called out to him: “Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.

This is an incredible promise to remember. The book of James states the same thing a bit differently: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). 

So as you look ahead to 2019 and either present trials or future circumstances, grant me to take the place of the Porter and remind you, “the lions are chained…” Fear not. Follow Christ in faithful obedience in 2019 and no harm shall come to you. Hau’oli Makahiki Hou KBC and lets look ahead with anticipation at what God will do this year in our individual lives and corporately as a church! 

Walking With You,

Pastor Randy

Pearl Harbor: Remembering Threads Of Redemption

December 7, 1941 is a significant day for Hawaii and for our nation. The events on this day, in which we remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, serve as a reminder of the unfathomable wisdom and sovereignty of God to redeem fallen humanity.

See, it was the events surrounding World War II (WWII) that diverted missionaries from their work in Asia to Hawaii and ultimately to the island of Maui where Kahului Baptist Church would eventually be planted in 1944. They originally began meeting out of a Buddhist hall near the airport.

In the 1940’s, gospel seeds were sown by the rerouted missionaries. Those seeds would take root in the lives of countless people. This includes the likes of a young girl named Natsuko (Hilda) Imoto, who turned from the broken cisterns of Buddhism to the Fountain of Life, Jesus Christ. Her life was forever changed and she faithfully followed Jesus as a member of Kahului Baptist Church until the day she met Him face to face last year at age 87. Countless other stories could be likewise told throughout the 70+ years of ministry at Kahului Baptist Church. And all of it can be traced to the events of Pearl Harbor and WWII. 

So as we reflect upon those events, and the many who lost their lives in the war that was to follow, let us also remember the countless number who found Life for the first time as a result. Out of the chaos of an act of war and in a house of idolatry God was redeeming a people for Himself.

Sin and death will not have the last word. The Lamb has conquered and will reign victorious forever and ever.

An Overseer: Established In The Faith & An Excellent Reputation

He must not be a recent convert…he must be well thought of by outsiders.” -1 Timothy 3:6-7

Imagine, a relatively young new preacher comes to town with no seminary or bible college degree and immediately begins to undermine the teachings of almost all of the religious leaders in our community through his sermons. He’s never been a pastor before, has no prior church staff experience, and one of his biggest fans appears to be a homeless man. Admittedly, he’s fairly sharp, but some of his closest family members think he might be going insane. Many that hear him like him or are at least intrigued by him. The most trusted leaders in town are more than a little concerned though. In the opinion of some, he seems to lack self control, drinks a little too much, doesn’t interpret the Scriptures very well, and keeps company with some shady characters. Finally, some have wondered if his success can be attributed to demonic activity. Would he be a candidate that would meet the above qualifications? And yet, could this not also be a description of the ministry of our Lord, Jesus (Luke 6:2,7; 7:34,39; Mark 3:21; Jn. 10:19-20)? Therefore, our understanding of the above passage is worth some consideration as to its application and meaning in the local church. So lets dig in. 

He must not be a recent convert.”

The reason given makes this quite easy to understand: “he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (vs. 6). New believers have much to learn in understanding the Scriptures, how they unfold, etc. before they could accurately teach them to others. Additionally, they have much to learn in regards to the subtle and deceitful nature of their own sin and it’s inner workings in their lives. Rapid appointment to oversee the affairs of the church in such cases is often a recipe for disaster. 

Conversely, this may not take as much time as many think and certainly doesn't demand prior ministerial experience or a degree. The New testament scholar, D.A. Carson, records the following concerning this quality: “this is nevertheless a relative category. For example, in the book of Acts, Paul goes out through what is now Southern Turkey and plants various churches there, and then on the return swing he appoints elders in every place. There is no way that those Christians have been Christians for more than a few months; that is what the chronology demands…” That being said, as with all the other qualifications, this requires prayerful wisdom and will look different in a well established church whose members have a relatively commanding grasp of the Scriptures than it may in a church plant for example.

In any case, there should be an established pattern of Christ-like character and humility as demonstrated and tested in a variety of circumstances, conflict, and controversy. 

He must be well thought of by outsiders.”

As our brief sketch of the ministry of Jesus revealed, this cannot mean that everybody likes this man or that he is without enemies or accusations of any kind. So what does it mean then? 

In short, these men must not act or be engaged in any immoral or improper pattern, behavior, or conduct that would tarnish or be inconsistent with the gospel message and corporate testimony of the church. You don’t want the response of non-believers to be, “What!? THAT guy is a pastor?! He’s one of the most crooked people I know,” etc. I have met people, gotten to know them first, and then later discovered they were pastors at a church and that was essentially my response. That’s the type of thing Paul has in mind here. As some have noted, these are the type of men who conduct themselves in such a way that when someone makes a negative or critical comment about them, you are more concerned for the person making the comment than you are for the one they're talking about.

This final quality circles back to “above reproach” where we began in verse 2 (I'd encourage you to read that post if you haven't already). All of these character traits together render a man blameless and above reproach. In the providence of God, the people best equipped to discern these character traits in the life of a man are his local church family with an eye to the Scriptures and in dependence upon the Holy Spirit. As you pray, examine, and cast a vote this Sunday, may God grant these type of men to serve as elders/pastors at KBC and may many more be cultivated in the coming years. 

Examining With You, 

Randy Pauley, Pastor

An Overseer: Exemplary In The Home

He must manage his own household well…-1 Timothy 3:4-7

Sometimes, raising a family with children can feel like you live in Jurassic World (or is it just me)? How does a potential pastor respond and handle it? In this post we turn to one of the longer explanatory qualities given by Paul for those who would serve as a pastor. As you read, remember, the desire is that you would look beyond the candidates to your own life and seek to grow in Christ-likeness in all things such that your own life would align with the description given in 1 Timothy. So lets get to it:

He must manage his own household well

In verse 15, Paul refers to the church as “the household of God.” Part of the task of Elders/pastors is to oversee this “household of God.” The word used here is translated as “manage.” In 1 Timothy 5:17 it is translated as “rule.” Given this reality, a natural place to look to assess a man’s ability to faithfully oversee God’s household is to observe whether this man is faithfully ruling his own household. While this has in view all aspects of managing a home (finances, stewardship, etc), it particularly pertains to the relational aspects of his home. Every man is a pastor of his own household, his wife being the charter member, and his children are his greatest disciples. 

It’s important to note that he is to manage his household “with all dignity keeping his children submissive.” Is the manner in which they lead “dignified?” It’s not just about results, it’s about reflecting Christ in all things. These men are involved (that word ‘involved’ is worth an article to itself) and lead in Christ-like love and grace. They shepherd their children’s heart and apply Biblical methods of discipline when appropriate to correct behavior. The result will not yield perfect children, nor is that the expectation, but it should yield generally submissive children and a well-managed home. 

As elders have the role to teach and model godliness and exercise spiritual authority in the church, the questions to ask are pertinent to this. Is this man making disciples in his home from those who truly follow him the most? Has he learned to exercise authority with love and effectiveness such that his children are generally submissive and his home is well-ordered?

On one hand, we must show grace for this and account for differing temperaments of children, cultural/generational differences of emphasis on parenting, seasons of trial, and other factors. We want to be careful that we do not set the bar so high that it’s unattainable. On the other hand, we mustn’t explain away all mismanagement and misbehavior such that the qualification effectively means nothing either. 

So how do we assess this Biblically? In humility and prayer, we look at the general pattern, effort, and result of a man’s management of his household. In so doing we should conclude a few things: He leads in Christ-like love, he’s diligent to disciple his family, and he exercises discipline faithfully in such a way that his wife and children generally follow where he leads. 

If he is faithful and able to do it in the home, then he can be considered to lead in the church.  

As you consider this in light of the candidates, take a moment to examine your own household. If you’re the head of your household, do you lead in a Christ-like, dignified manner? Do you read and pray with your spouse and/or children at all during the week? Is gentleness or harshness your general pattern of speech and action? Are you and your spouse on the same page regarding discipline and correction of children? Would your children be considered submissive and well-managed by others in the church? How would you accurately asses this? Where can you grow in these things? As you seek to humbly examine yourself, may the Lord grant all of us to grow together so that collectively we adorn the gospel of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Growing With You, 

Randy Pauley, Pastor

An Overseer: Sober, Subdued, And Satisfied In God.

Not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” -1 Timothy 3:3

It is ultimately God that makes a pastor, not the Church. On the other hand, God works through means and has granted the Church the role of affirming and identifying those whom He has “called” to the work of the ministry. You can think of God’s appointing a man to the work of the ministry as having an internal subjective component (desires the work, is “called” by God to the work) and an external objective component (meets the qualifications through affirmation of a local church). If God has put the desire for this work in a man's heart, He will also work in this man in such a way that he grows in conformity to Christ-likeness so that he meets the qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Simply having the desire for ministry does not render one qualified to take the office. That desire must work itself out in a number of visible and tangible ways. We now turn our attention to the next four items in Paul’s list: 

Not a drunkard

It’s quite easy to ruffle feathers on this particular point. Alcohol use amongst Christians is often a point of contention and the abuse of it has and does lead to great pain amongst many families. That reality is exactly why this is even listed in the first place. The fact is drunkenness is a sin. Let me state it again: drunkenness is a sin. I have arrested MANY people (when I was an officer) for drinking and driving and many other alcohol related offenses. It is a substance to be used with great caution. As a slave to the Lord Jesus Christ it is wrong to be enslaved to anything else. We are to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led, and let nothing inhibit or impair the flow of the Spirit in our lives, be it liquor or any other intoxicant. That being said, we must not go beyond what is written (1 Cor. 4:6). While alcohol is dangerous, legalism is deadly because it parades as righteousness. 

Drunkenness is prohibited, but drinking in moderation is not. In fact we see the opposite. In the Old Testament law God commands and provides occasion even for his covenant people to enjoy alcoholic beverages in His very presence (Deut. 14:22-26), in the New Testament Jesus apparently drank enough to be accused of being a drunkard (Matt. 11:19), and his first miracle was to turn water into high-quality wine (John 2:1-12). The attempt to read prohibition into the Biblical pages falls flat every time. There is a latin phrase that is helpful in many areas: “abusus usum non tollit" - “Abuse does not take away proper use.” 

Abuse of ANY substance or excess in ANY area is harmful and dangerous. And a pastor is expected to abide by the same command in practice as every other Christian - he is not to be a drunkard. He is to control his appetites, and exercise wisdom in all areas. It’s best characterized, not by focusing on “how much is too much?” but rather by a proactive walking in and being filled by the Holy Spirit. For we know that whoever walks by the Spirit will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16).

Not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome.”

These go together. In essence, a pastor shouldn’t be quick to fight, they should be quick to love. They should be kind and reasonable. Another way this word could be translated is “tolerant.” A pastor should be able to tolerate a degree of provocation with grace and humility rather than seeing every challenge as a fight to be engaged(Prov. 12:16; 29:11, 2 Tim. 2:24-26 - “patiently enduring evil”). In so doing he models our Lord Jesus. That being said, a pastor shouldn’t go looking for fights, but he can’t run from all of them either. He should seek peace if possible, and engage spiritual warfare, wolves, or anything that threatens the flock of God with all the intensity and urgency that is appropriate as an under shepherd of God. Old testament leaders were chastised and condemned for their failure to protect and care for God’s people (Ezek. 34:1-10). David, the shepherd boy, is a good picture of this. A young man, while trusting in God, placed his own life in great danger to defend the sheep when threatened by a lion and a bear, even fighting them head-on when necessary. The balance must be struck for a man who desires to serve as a pastor between “contending for the faith and being contentious about the faith.” And even his contending must be done in a spirit of gentleness, not excess. So are they quick to argue? Do they major on minors? Do they have to have the last word or even a word in everything? Do they storm off in anger or yell when challenged or questioned? Are they gentle and gracious in general? These are all questions to consider in assessing this qualification. 

Not a lover of money.”

This does not mean he can’t have have money or be good at making money. It means he doesn’t love money. He is generous and kingdom oriented. He uses money for its intended purpose - to love others well. His lifestyle demonstrates “in God we trust” and exemplifies the reality that Christ is the true treasure of his soul. He recognizes the desire to be rich is a temptation and snare (1 Tim. 6:9-10) and labors for his soul to be content in God’s provisions, whether they be abundant or sparse. Unfortunately, many are in the ministry because they love money and profit through manipulation or other means. It has been this way since the 1st century. Our latin phrase from earlier is still true here: “abusus usum non tollit.”

Again, remember, all of these qualifications ought to be true of you as well, even if you are not a pastor or never will be. May the Lord grant you to be sober-minded, full of the Spirit, gentle, and free from the love of money. Satisfy your soul in God and in His provisions for you this week and forevermore. Don’t let self-examination be your final test. Consider asking someone close to you for a more accurate assessment since we are often self-deceived. Ask someone, “Do I struggle with drunkenness? Am I violent or quarrelsome? Do I seem materialistic? From my conversations and lifestyle is it apparent that God is my confidence or does my bank account or ability to plan and provide seem to be my refuge? How can I grow in these areas?”  As you do so, may we all grow together into maturity and christ-likeness. 

Examining With You, 

Randy Pauley, Pastor

An Overseer: Inviting & Instructing

He must be…hospitable, able to teach.” -1 Timothy 3:2

Hopefully you've had some time to catch up on prior posts in this series. If not, you should take some time to read from the beginning as there are some important points to note before you press further into the list. If you’ve already done so, let’s move to the next two pastoral qualifications mentioned by Paul to Timothy:  

Hospitable

I grew up down south in Savannah Georgia. So when I hear the word “hospitable” I have flashbacks of hot muggy summers, ice-cold sweet tea, good home-cooking (with lots of butter of course), pecan pie, and generally kind people who wouldn’t hesitate to ask you to stick around for dinner. These things are great and wonderful, but they are not necessarily biblical hospitality, although the components of it are present. At it’s heart, biblical hospitality is “love of strangers” or as Rosario Butterfield frames it: “meeting the stranger at the gates.” In regards to potential pastors, this guards against the ivory-tower mentality. A studious man with keen theological insights, yet as a whole is non-relational, and doesn’t engage people is not fit to be a pastor. It won’t do to love the idea of the church. He must actually love the church and those who have yet to be brought into the fold along with all of their rough edges and struggles. 

A few observations to note here: Is this man welcoming to a diverse group of people consisting of those familiar and strangers alike? Do they make a point to welcome and greet others even if they aren’t naturally outgoing or do they use their personality as an excuse not to engage? Are they helpful to those in need? This can be diverse in application, but are they ready to lend a helping hand in serving others? Do they open their homes and lives up to others, including strangers, and proactively seek opportunity to do so? These are all aspects of Biblical hospitality that a potential pastor must model in their life. 

He must be…able to teach.”

This ability is primarily what separates the office of pastor/elder from a deacon so we will spend some time on this one. All of the character traits are shared between the two offices. The distinction is mainly one of ability and maturity (not a recent convert - vs. 6). This presupposes a sound grasp of God’s truth AND the ability to communicate it. Some people have an incredible grasp of the Scriptures, but can’t communicate it to anyone in a profitable manner. Others are dynamic, engaging, thrilling speakers, and yet have little knowledge of the Scriptures or God and thereby have little substance to actually teach. Sadly, a church that settles for either of those will do a disservice to the people of God. Both situations would render a man unqualified to serve as a pastor. 

There are a few points to note here. First, we immediately tend to think of a man’s “preaching” ability, for lack of a better phrase. This is not necessarily what’s in view here. Not every pastor will be preaching or in a rotation, but every pastor MUST be able to teach. I have known men who struggled greatly to preach a sermon, yet in a counseling/discipleship setting demonstrated incredible wisdom, tact, humility and ability to instruct in sound doctrine.

Second, we can make the mistake that the ONLY thing a pastor does is preach on Sunday mornings. After all, pastors only work one day a week right? (Insert eye-roll here). In reality the oversight, teaching, correcting, interceding, and shepherding aspects of ministry demand a wide skill set in application to the diverse needs of the body of Christ. This means there are decisions to be made that may not require a sermon, but absolutely require an ability to think Biblically and critically to extend sound Biblical principles to a particular need or circumstance in the church. This is owing to the reality that a pastor doesn’t only teach in what he says, he also teaches in what he does or doesn’t do. The decisions that are made, how they are made, why they are made, and the manner in which they are implemented all demand a commanding grasp of the Scriptures and ability to apply them accurately for the glory of God and building up of the body of Christ. Paul references this separate function and need of elders who lead in this manner in 1 Timothy 5:17 : “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” All elders have the role to oversee, and some give themselves specifically to labor in preaching and teaching. We do well to broaden our understanding of the teaching function of pastoral ministry in assessing this qualification.

Finally, we can note that Paul does NOT say this man needs a seminary degree or formal Biblical training from a bible college in order to be considered “able to teach.” It does mean they must be consistent students of the Word of God and able to teach what they have learned and practiced. 

That sums up the summary of “able to teach” and what it refers to. How do we determine if the criteria is met? We can ask a few relevant questions: Do potential pastors demonstrate this ability to teach in the various venues in which they do teach? Are their lessons biblically clear, full of truth, and faithful to the text? Or are they prone to theological hobby horses or reading into the text what isn’t there? Are they pastoral in nature? In other words, do they beat the sheep or feed the sheep? Is the rod their only tool? Or do they lead in gentleness and thoughtfulness as well? Are they engaged in discipling and teaching on multiple levels? More questions could be asked, but perhaps this one would answer the rest: Are they teachable? Do they model humility in being taught by other pastors and elders? Will they model for the church what it looks like to receive the word of God and accept correction with humility and grace? Part of teaching is to teach others how to be taught as well. As teachers, they ought always to be learning for the good of the church. A man who is unteachable is in danger of being more of a dictator than a teacher. May the Lord grant us humility to always receive His word with humility and joy. 

“Hospitable” and “able to teach” are two essential qualifications of a pastor. To a degree, this is expected of ALL Christians. We are all commanded to be hospitable and to make disciples of all nations, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:20). So when was the last time you engaged a stranger in order to demonstrate the love of Christ? Or even had a fellow church member you didn’t know over to your house with the aim of doing them spiritual good? How do you assess your own ability to communicate the truths of the faith? Could you explain the gospel in 5 minutes or less? Can you communicate some doctrinal distinctives of our  church? What, if anything, distinguishes us from those around us? What do we share in common? Why does it matter? These are all fruitful questions for you to think through and be able to answer in your own life, but definitely should be present in potential pastors.

Can pastors drink liquor/alcohol? This question and others will be examined in our next blog. I continue to pray with you and for you as we approach our vote of affirmation.

In His Service,

Randy Pauley, Pastor

 

An Overseer: Dedicated & Disciplined

He must be…the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable.” -1 Timothy 3:2

Today, we begin to get into Paul’s list of instruction for Timothy concerning those who serve as an overseer. It’s worth stating again for some who may have missed it: the New Testament uses the terms “pastor,” “elder,” and “overseer” as interchangeable titles that refer to the same office. They refer to different aspects of the same office that we normally refer to as "pastor." This tends to be the source of a great deal of confusion. So when you see those words, they are interchangeable and that’s what we are referring to: a pastor. 

So lets get into the next qualifications in the list. An overseer must be: 

The husband of one-wife.

This qualification is often the most misunderstood and disputed of them all. Does it mean an elder cannot be divorced? Does this exclude single men from pastoral ministry? Is it geared toward polygamy or did Paul have something else in mind? On and on the questions go. This is not the place to address those questions. I address all of those questions in sermons preached on this section. Short answer: This passage does NOT rule out single men or divorced men from serving as pastors (although I’d take that case by case). The links to those sermons are in an email I sent out last week. If you missed that email or would like the links, please email me or shoot me a message and I’d be glad to get them to you. 

So briefly what is Paul saying? Literally the phrase is “a one-woman man.” In essence a pastor must be wholly dedicated to his wife. He’s not known as a “ladies” man. His is not promiscuous (either digitally or in person). His eyes and affections are only on his wife. He is faithful to his marital covenant. 

And why is that important? Because this office is to be held by men who are devoting themselves to the proclamation of the gospel and oversight of the bride of Christ and those who serve in it are to have lives and marriages consistent with that work. In regards to their marriage, we must recall that marriage itself is a demonstration of the relationship between Christ and His church (cf. Eph. 5:22-33). It is to be a picture of the gospel. Therefore, their commitment to Christ and the work of the ministry is to demonstrate itself in singular dedication and faithfulness to their marriage covenant.

Sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable.” 

The next 3 qualifications all relate to the overall manner of the man’s life. Sober-minded carries with it the idea of clear-headed. He doesn’t just avoid drunkeness (vs. 3). He avoids anything that impacts his ability to respond with the “mind of Christ.” This would include other illicit drugs and being enslaved to their appetites, whatever they may be. He is temperate, not given to excesses. 

Self-controlled is related, and conjures up pictures of a disciplined person. They aren’t carried about by fickle feelings and desires. They don’t “follow their heart,” they lead their heart according to the Scriptures. This is also a sign they are walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:23).  

Respectable: this greek word appears only in 1 Timothy, here and in 2:9. It is actually where we get our english word for “cosmetics” from. It has to do with external appearances. Have you ever seen a leader respond in a manner that fell short of what was expected for a person in that position? There seems to be no lack of examples of this in our day. That’s what this qualification addresses. In short, this man has the biblical wisdom to consider their actions in light of varying circumstances and respond in an appropriate manner. It is crucial for a leader to evaluate not just what he may want to do or say, he must also give thought to what his action (or inaction) communicates to those who watch. All of us have seen leaders who respond in ways that left you shaking your head and wondering what just happened. This is the opposite of respectability. Men who serve as pastors are to exhibit sound wisdom that leads them to respond in a respectable manner to varying circumstances and trials. 

So what must a pastor be? He must be dedicated to his wife and disciplined in his life. Come to think of it, this is actually expected of all Christians. Are there areas you need to seek to grow in from this passage? It might be helpful to take a moment and jot down 1 or 2 areas you need to work on. Doing this will help guard this process from becoming merely a mental exercise and will turn it into an edifying process for everyone. In the next post we will examine the next qualifications in 1 Timothy. I hope to see you this evening at 6:30PM for our last corporate Q&A of the elder candidates. 

Growing With You, 

Randy Pauley, Pastor

 

The Pastorate: A Good Work, A Gospel Work.

“If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” 1 Timothy 3:1

When you think of a “Gospel work” what comes to mind? Perhaps homeless ministry? Widow care? Evangelism? Helping the needy? All of those things definitely can be good and great Gospel spreading works. But what about sitting in on a Q & A to examine elder candidates? It’s probably not the first thing on your list, yet it is an incredible gospel work, indicated by Paul’s formulaic statement that he earlier used to introduce the gospel itself (cf. 1 Tim. 1:15) and has massive bearings on all of the former items listed. So when you think of what we’re doing right now in our Church, let that come to your mind as you consider your role in it. It is a good, necessary, and valuable Gospel work. 

We had our first two Q&A’s this past Sunday of our elder candidates. Many questions were asked. Some covered personal matters (finances, how you spend your free time, family life, etc). Some covered theological matters (Views on Revelation, free will, female pastors, and more). Some pertained to philosophy of ministry (vision for the church, definition of Biblical teaching, etc.). We have 1 more Q&A this Tuesday at 6:30pm at the church. I hope you will come. 

In order to continue to help you think Biblically, I’d like to offer a few reasons why you should care about this process and some brief thoughts on the first 2 qualifications listed. 

Why should you care? 4 Reasons:

  1. You will be the ones responsible for affirming these men as pastors/elders. 
  2. You will be expected to follow and submit to their teaching. 
  3. You should want to imitate their manner of doctrine and life. 
  4. Whether you are called to pastor or not, this list of character traits is truly expected of all believers and it would be valuable for you to consider your own life in light of the qualifications. 

6 Qualifications You Won’t See:

Before we get into what the text DOES list. Let’s briefly mention what you will NOT see in the requirements. You will NOT see the following items listed as qualifications of a pastor:

  1. Multiple years of experience either as pastor, deacon, intern, etc. 
  2. Age requirement. 
  3. A seminary degree. 
  4. High charisma. 
  5. Dynamic speaking ability.
  6. Sinlessness. 

All of these things tend to be aspects of what is looked for in many churches when people consider elder candidates. While there may be value to the above characteristics, they are not Biblical qualifications and should not serve as a basis for making a decision. So lets begin to look at what IS listed in the Scriptures. 

An Overseer Must Be: 

  1. Before we get into the formal list in verse 2, we actually must ensure we don’t miss a crucial qualification in verse 1. That is, simply put, there must be a desire for the work of the ministry. The desire to be a pastor is not inherently a bad desire. It is good to desire work that God calls “good.” Furthermore, 1 Peter 5:2 exhorts elders to execute their task, willingly, “not under compulsion.” That is, it should be obvious to all in the body that these men love the gospel, love the church, and desire to serve God in whatever capacity He sees fit. This divinely placed desire manifests itself in such a way that a man is driven to pursue Christ-likeness in his own life and the lives of others such that he gives himself willingly to this work of the ministry. 
  2. The next statement is the formal introduction, like a header that sums up what comes after: “He must be above reproach.” He is considered above reproach when he is faithful to his wife, self-controlled, sober-minded, respectable, hospitable, etc. In other words, this man has a consistent and established pattern of responding in a Christ-like manner across the spectrum of areas in his life. This cannot mean there is NO sin in their lives, otherwise, all would be disqualified. D.A. Carson explains it as follows: “This doesn’t mean that such a person is sinlessly perfect; there’s too much in Scripture to the contrary of that sort of expectation. What it does mean is that there is no obvious inconsistency or flaw that everyone agrees is there and serves as a reproach to the man.” 

In summary, that’s what we want to affirm. Men who are characteristically responding with Christian virtues to the trials and circumstances of their lives and have a divinely placed desire for the work of the ministry. We will work further into the list in the coming days and weeks. I trust this will be beneficial for you as we continue in the process and get closer to voting on June 3rd. 

Soli Deo Gloria, 

Randy Pauley, Pastor

 

"Put What Remained Into Order."

“Put What Remained Into Order, and appoint elders in every town.” -Titus 1:5

There’s a first time for everything they say. And for our church ohana, we are in a new season. This exciting time period marks the first time in the history of the church that we are moving to identify and affirm a plurality of elders to lead and oversee the affairs of the Church. 

We have 3 candidates: All of them identified through the members, and all of them love the glory of God, the Word of God, and the people of God. Even having these conversations is a sign of God’s answering prayers and His working in our midst. Being that this is our first time walking through it means there are bound to be questions and a multitude of other matters to be considered in order to navigate it well.

To assist in that regard, I have sent out an email with links to 3 past sermons over Biblical qualifications of a pastor, and the questions asked of the candidates already. This is all geared to help you think Biblically and respond accordingly (if you would like a copy of that email and didn’t receive it for whatever reason, please contact me). 

Additionally, given that there are some members who may not know all or any of the candidates very well or possibly haven’t gotten to see or talk to them much, there will be a time of sharing on May 20 after Sunday morning services. This time is to allow for members to share testimony for or state other observations of the candidates in a spirit of love, with an eye to helping others who may not know them discern the Biblical qualifications of any given candidate. The candidates and their wives will not be present at this time and we hope this will help you exercise your role as a member in making a Biblically informed, Spirit-led decision. 

Lastly, the formal vote of affirmation will occur on Sunday, June 3rd, following Sunday morning service. In the meantime, be in prayer over this. If you have questions, I’m here to help answer them to the best of my ability and you are encouraged to speak with the candidates as well if you have more personal items you’d like to have addressed. I will be (hopefully) writing more frequently throughout this time in hopes to review matters of qualifications and other things that are pertinent to think through. Anything I write will be posted to this blog and announced on Facebook member connect page. So check there often for updates. May God be honored and glorified in and through the saints of Kahului Baptist Church. 

Working With You,

Randy Pauley, Pastor

Every spiritual blessing: Unity

eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” -Ephesians 4:3

Air conditioning in your vehicle is one of those things that makes driving around Maui enjoyable and you likely don’t think about it…until it’s gone. When you’re a/c breaks, the heat rises, and you begin sticking to your car, you quickly recall the joys of having a/c. Unity in the church can be kind of like that. The presence of it makes church life extremely pleasant and enjoyable, but if it breaks, it can make life in the church body miserable real fast. 

I think about unity often at Kahului Baptist Church. Not because we don’t have it, but because there is a great degree of it right now, and I know how much of a gift it is. For that reason, I want us all to be proactive to maintain it and cultivate it, rather than reactive to repair it or regain it. So I hope you are challenged and encouraged by this multi-part blog series on unity. I will for sure not say everything there is to say, nor will this be an exegetical commentary on Ephesians 4, it is meant to be brief and observational on matters pertaining to unity in the life of Kahului Baptist Church. 

In this post, we will consider 1 aspect of unity that is essential and foundational to this passage: 

The Nature Of Our Unity.

First, we note the nature of this unity. Paul refers to it in this passage as, “the unity of the Spirit.” This work of unity is a divine, God-wrought, spiritual miracle. It isn’t ultimately unity around a common interest that can be generated and organized by human effort. No, this unity is a work of the God-head: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. In unity, God pursues, forgives, redeems, restores, adopts, and lavishes rebellious sinners with an abundance of grace and draws them to Himself in love and mercy. You should read that sentence again, slowly (cf. Eph. 1:3-14, & 2:1-10).

Right now, historic meetings are taking place between North & South Korea. These 2 countries have been in a state of war for 65+ years. The hope is that through these meetings, we will see an official end to the war, and a cessation of hostilities that allows for unity on the Korean Peninsula. 

If these historic talks between 2 hostile countries bring such hope (uncertain as it may be), how much more hope ought the finished work of Christ bring in our lives as we have genuine peace with God! The unity of the Spirit, made possible through Jesus Christ, results in an actual cessation of hostilities between God and us that ripples outward and radically impacts our relationships with others (Eph. 2:11-22). 

We should often ruminate on this truth (for without it, we have no basis of unity with God or anyone else). Before we seek to apply it and flesh this out in detail, take a moment, survey your life and many challenges, struggles, and hardships, and praise God for His lavish work of love and grace in your soul to forgive you and bring you to Himself. 

In the next post we will consider another aspect of this unity as it pertains to our understanding and practice. I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday and hope you join us after for a special member meeting.

In service to Christ, 

Randy Pauley, Pastor

Faithfulness Feeds Many

"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?-John 6:9

Do you ever feel the pressing weight of the daily grind? Or maybe you just have a sense that there's got to be more, but you don't know what "more" is or how to get there. Well, you'd be correct. There is more to life and we get a glimpse of the impact the Gospel has on the mundane daily tasks of life in John 6. 

Here, in John's Gospel, amidst this very important section that sets the stage for Jesus' profound statement as the "bread of life" (Jn. 6:35) we have this minor detail in the account. Of all 4 Gospel accounts of the feeding of the 5,000, only John records this detail of the source of the 5 loves and 2 fish. Where'd they get even that small amount of food from? A boy, a child, who was willing to place it in the hands of the Bread of Life, the true bread from heaven.

Many questions are unaccounted for concerning this child and we won't delve into speculation, but one thing is sure, someone caught those fish. Someone made that bread. And someone gave it to the child for some reason. Bread making, fishing....done on a daily basis for a living can be quite mundane and appear insignificant. The bread maker may thank God for the resources to make bread. The fisherman may pray to God for a good catch, but neither likely feels like they're doing anything world changing. Yet, their commitment to these basic tasks, ultimately placed these resources in the hands of a child and into the hands of Jesus to do a miracle the world would never forget. And in the process, He'd make an emphatic statement about His own identity as the true Bread Of Life, who alone can satisfy His people. It's this consistent faithfulness in the small things that God often uses to feed many and display the glory of His Son, Jesus. 

Let me encourage you to live by faith for the glory of Christ and, like this child, offer whatever you have in service to Christ. Then, patiently wait to see how God will use it. Faithfulness feeds many through Christ. 

In Service To Christ,

Randy Pauley, Pastor