Pastor You Must Be A Theologian – Part 2

Scripture and compass

In part one of this five-part series I discussed the rise of the nones and the dones.  A large percentage of the former group has no experience with the organized church. This is in sharp contrast with the latter group who has years of experience with the organized church but have chosen for various reasons to no longer be a part of it.

A major factor that keeps both the nones and dones disinterested in the church is the inability or outright refusal of God’s shepherds to preach the Word of God without compromise.  Unfortunately this is nothing new and certainly is not unexpected from a biblical perspective.

What Does The Bible Say?

God states plainly through the prophet Amos for example that “days are coming . . . when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11).

Through the prophet Jeremiah God identified why this latter-day famine would be so widespread: “Many shepherds have ruined My vineyard, They have trampled down My field; They have made My pleasant field A desolate wilderness” (Jeremiah 12:10).

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture! Declares the Lord.” Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1-2).

“My people have become lost sheep; Their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; They have gone along from mountain to hill And have forgotten their resting place” (Jeremiah 50:6).

Through the prophet Ezekiel God spoke these words: “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock;” (Ezekiel 34:8).

And then this: ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them”’” (Ezekiel 34:10)

What Is The Problem Today?

I am willing to admit that some shepherds today simply do not know how to preach and teach the Bible.  Fifty plus years of inadequate and intentionally misguided seminary training has yielded a generation of shepherds ill-prepared to be the leaders of God’s people that they must be for the times we live in.

However, there are a growing number of shepherds who simply choose not to teach God’s Word.  They have chosen to be CEO’s instead of foot washers, Public Relations managers instead of holy writ counselors, managers of staffs instead of friends to people in their fellowships.

To these God spoke as well: “Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’ And I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen’ (Jeremiah 6:16-17).

Time To Refocus

What all of these passages and many more speak of friends, is the absolute necessity of God’s shepherds knowing God’s Word, being able to counsel using God’s Word, and basing church life and practice on God’s Word.

God has always set a clear path for His shepherds to lead His people upon.  Today, many shepherds have chosen a path that appeals more to the flesh than to the spirit. When God’s people are fed God’s Word they will flourish.  Perhaps the issue for modern-day shepherds is a lack of faith and trust in the power of God’s Word.

Friends, don’t mistake goat food for sheep food.  Large crowds and large church campuses do not identify healthy ministries.  Faithfulness to God and His revealed Word are the marks of a faithful shepherd and church.  It is true today more than ever, as the shepherd goes, so goes the sheep.

Stay tuned for part three of this five-part series on “Pastor You Must Be A Theologian.”

The Wonders of Calvary

This is a prayer of thanksgiving penned by Charles H. Spurgeon. In it he demonstrates a wonder and awe of God who stoops down to save mankind.  This provides a good reminder of the depth and the riches of the love of God for us.

CH Spurgeon
Great God, there was a time when we dreaded the thought of coming near to You, for we were guilty and You were angry with us, but now we will praise You because Your anger is turned away and You comfort us.  Yes, and the very throne which once was a place of dread has now become the place of shelter.  I flee to You to hide me.

We long now to get away from the world, even from the remembrance of it and have fellowship with the world to come by speaking with Him that was, and is, and is to come, the Almighty.  Lord we have been worried and wearied oftentimes with care, but with You care comes to an end, all things are with You, and when we live in You, we live in wealth, in sure repose, in constant joy.

We have to battle with the sons of men against a thousand errors and unrighteousnesses, but when we flee to You, there is all truth and purity and holiness, and our heart finds peace.  Above all, we have to battle with ourselves, and we are very much ashamed of ourselves.  After many years of great mercy, after tasting of the powers of the world to come, we still are so weak, so foolish; but oh! when we get away from self to God, there all is truth and purity and holiness, and our heart finds peace, wisdom, completeness, delight, joy, victory.

Oh! bring us, then, we pray You, now near to Yourself.  Let us bathe ourselves in communion with our God.  Blessed be the love which chose us before the world began.  We can never sufficiently adore You for Your sovereignty, the sovereignty of love which saw us in the ruins of the Fall, yet loved us anyway.

We praise the God of the Eternal Council Chamber and of the Everlasting Covenant, but where shall we find sufficiently fit words with which to praise Him who gave us grace in Christ His Son, before He spread the starry sky.

We also bless You, O God, as the God of our redemption, for You have so loved us as to give even Your dear Son for us.  He gave Himself, His very life for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and separate us unto Himself to be His peculiar people, zealous for good works.

Never can we sufficiently adore free grace and undying love.  The wonders of Calvary never cease to be wonders, they are growing more marvelous in our esteem as we think of Him who washed us from our sins in His own blood.  Nor can we cease to praise the God of our regeneration who found us dead and made us live, found us at enmity and reconciled us, found us loving the things of this world and lifted us out of the muck and mire of selfishness and worldliness in the love of divine everlasting things.

O Spirit of God, we love You this day, especially for dwelling in us.  How can You abide in so rude a habitation, How can You make these bodies to be Your temples, and yet You do so, for which let Your name be held in reverence so long as we live.

O Lord, we would delight ourselves in You this day.  Give us faith and love and hope that with these three graces we may draw very near to the Triune God.  You will keep us, You will preserve us, You will feed us, You will lead us, and You will bring us to the mind of God, and there will You show us Your love, and in the glory everlasting and boundless, there will You make us know and taste and feel the joys that cannot be expressed.

But a little longer waiting and we shall come to the golden shore; but a little longer fighting and we shall receive the crown of life that does not fade away.

Lord, get us up above the world.  Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove, and mount and bear us on Your wings, far from these inferior sorrows and inferior joys, up where eternal ages roll.  May we ascend in joyful contemplation, and may our spirit come back again, strong for all its service, armed for all its battles, armored for all its dangers, and made ready to live heaven on earth until soon we shall live heaven in heaven.  Great Father, be with Your waiting people, any in great trouble please greatly help; any that are despondent sweetly comfort and cheer; any that have erred and are smarting under their own sin, bring them back and heal their wounds; any that are panting after holiness give them the desire of their hearts; any that are longing for usefulness lead them in ways of usefulness.

Lord, we want to live while we live.  We do pray that we may not merely groan out an existence here below, nor live as earthworms crawling back in our holes and dragging now and then a withered leaf with us; but Oh! give us to live as we ought to live, with a new life that You have put in us, with the divine quickening which has lifted us as much above common men as men are lifted above the beasts that perish.

Do not let us always be hampered like poor half-hatched birds within the egg; may we chip the shell today and get out in the glorious liberty of the children of God.  Grant us this, we pray You.

Lord, visit our church.  We have heard Your message to the churches at Ephesus; it is a message to us also.  Oh! do not let any of us lose our first love.  Let not our church grow cold and dead.  We are not, we fear, what once we were.  Lord revive us!

All our help must come from You.  Give back to the church its love, its confidence, its holy daring, its consecration, its generousness, its holiness.  Give back all it ever had and give it much more.  Take every member and wash his feet, sweet Lord, most tenderly, and set us with clean feet in a clean road, with a clean heart to guide them, and bless us as You will in a divine fashion.

Bless us, our Father, and let all the churches of Jesus Christ partake of care and tenderness.  Walking among the golden candlesticks trim every lamp and make every light, even though it burns feebly now, to shine out gloriously through Your care.

Now bless the sinners.  Lord convert them.  O God, save men, save this great city, this wicked city, this slumbering dead city.  Lord, arouse it, arouse it by any means, that it may turn to its God.  Lord save sinners all the world over, and let Your precious Word be fulfilled.  “Behold He comes with clouds.”  Why do You delay?  Delay no longer, O, our Lord.  And now to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost be glory forever and ever.


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Be Offensive In Love (Part 2)

Thus says the Lord of hosts,“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the Lord. “They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You will have peace”’; And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, They say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’ Jeremiah 23:16-17

In part one of this series I introduced the idea that the definition of tolerance has been hijacked by cultural elitists and redefined.  This new definition is part of a larger strategy with a clear endgame.  Let me explain.

Tolerance used to mean defending the right of everyone to state their opinion in the public square of debate. Today tolerance has been redefined to mean that only opinions that are consistent with those ideals espoused by cultural elitists are permitted. Attempts are made to silence all contradictory viewpoints and some are silenced through the weapon of choice for these elitists – government activism. Here are some examples.

Army Lt. Colonel Christopher Downey is likely to be discharged after being administratively convicted of violating the military’s open policy concerning gays.  What was Colonel Downey’s crime? He attempted to stop two lesbian Army officers from filming their erotic behavior that included kissing, groping, and disrobing each other while on the dance floor at an official Army officers dance and dinner event.

In another case in point, although certainly not surprising, California officials have once again passed irrational and convoluted legislation. The California legislature along with Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that permits all public school children to self-identify their gender and based on that self-identification choose which restroom facilities they will use. This self-identification even allows boys to participate on girls sports teams and vice versa.

Perhaps the single issue that more than any other provides proof of the redefinition of tolerance is the culture war surrounding same-sex marriage.  This is the most hotly contested issue of our day.   But if cultural elitists have their way, all viewpoints that fall short of affirming and celebrating same-sex marriage will not only be silenced but criminalized.

Some may smirk at such an assertion but I would ask the doubters to consider that the Supreme Court is by all appearances poised to make same-sex marriage the law of the land.  What remains to be seen is what price Christians who stand on the teaching of Scripture will pay to oppose this.  I will share more specifically on this subject  in the next installment. Stay tuned.

God bless you today friends.

Are You Living An Offended Life?

Most people would answer this question in the negative. Of course they are not living that way.  But if you want to know if you are living an offended life, then pay close attention to how you react to the mention of certain people’s names or what you think and how you act when you are in their presence.

Author John Bevere in his book “The Bait of Satan,” explains that people can live an offended life without even knowing it because they are so focused on the hurt done to them.

Offense that is harbored and allowed to have free rein produces varying degrees of anger, outrage, jealousy, resentment, strife, bitterness, hatred, and envy. These emotions in turn produce division, separation, broken relationships, betrayal, and even a cooling of faith and love.

Clearly, the devil utilizes the bait of offense to destroy us and other people.  So what must we know and do?

First we must realize that we have a choice whether to pick up the bait of offense.  I have a dear friend who many years ago made this statement that has stuck with me for decades. He said, “I’m not smart enough to be offended.”  In his own humorous way, he was saying, “I love you and will not let words or actions come between us.” The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sin.

The point is this – we have a choice whether or not we will become offended or whether or not we will forgive.  Remember friends, forgiveness has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the one receiving forgiveness deserves it.  What it all boils down to ultimately is this –  do you want to remain free of the rotten results of harboring an offense?

Then secondly, we must determine to forgive those who have hurt us. I am convinced that a big reason love among Christians is growing cold is because people refuse to forgive. They believe they are justified in their feelings.  Perhaps they have never been told that Christians must forgive.  Perhaps they don’t understand that their holding onto hurt has frozen them in time, effectively making them a prisoner of the one they believe has hurt them.

Friends, God’s way for His children is that we live in peace with one another.  You cannot do that when you are living an offended life.

I recommend you pick up a copy of John Bevere’s book, “The Bait of Satan,” and begin reading and praying for your own deliverance from this heinous trap of our enemy.

When you do you will experience a transforming moment in your life.

Jeremy Gimpel Tuesday, February 17th at Calvary Chapel of Lima

Mark your calendars friends. Tuesday, February 17 at 7p – Jeremy Gimpel will be speaking at Calvary Chapel of Lima. Join us to hear what is happening in Israel. You won’t hear this from the American news media.

Jeremy is a Commander in the IDF Reserves, rabbi, former co-host of the popular TV show “Tuesday Night Live in Jerusalem,” and current co-host of the radio show “Israel Inspired” with his best friend Ari Abramowitz on Voice of Israel. Jeremy is deputy director of the World Mizrachi Movement, and is a well-known and sought after speaker concerning the land and people of Israel. You won’t want to miss this inspiring night!

Jeremy Gimpel