The Hidden Pastor

Someone said that we need guides by our sides rather than sages on stages, and they were talking about pastors.

I read a review of Francis Chan's new book, Letters To The Church, and this line jumped out to me:
"In China, the most influential Christian leaders had to be the most hidden." 
I understand that the church in China is mostly underground.  It makes sense to keep a low profile there, to be an effective minister.  But, there is a lot more to it than that.  This is the context of that statement (emphasis mine):
"For those who have never had to deal with floods of people strongly stating their opinions about you, be grateful. I have met very few people who have navigated that world and remained humble and loving yet courageous. Large crowds do something strange to all of us. We can subconsciously begin preaching to avoid criticism rather than teaching truth regardless of the response. We live in a time when people are so volatile.  If we say one wrong word in public, it can wreak havoc. It is only going to get more difficult for pastors to speak in front of large crowds with boldness and humility.  Maybe that's why we are finding fewer pastors known for being humble and courageous. I was deeply affected by a pastor in China who said to me, "In America, pastors think they have to become famous to have a big impact.  In China, the most influential Christian leaders had to be the most hidden." My soul leaped when I heard that, imagining a chance to fight for impact and obscurity all at once.  It feels as if our current way of doing things in America sets us up for failure. Those who pursue massive Kingdom impact seem to always be fighting a losing battle with pride.  It is how the Enemy lures us away from the very character that makes us effective.
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
-Hebrews 13:7 (ESV)
Leaders, I want to challenge you to examine your lives and see whether you can truly tell people in good conscience to follow you as you follow Christ.  For those not yet in positions of leadership, as we go through the qualities that are essential for good, biblical leadership, I urge you to examine your leaders in a spirit of grace and humility to discern whether their faith and way of life is something you want to imitate. For some of you, God may be calling you to step into leadership, and I implore you to devote yourself to growing in the following areas. 
That heading may sound ridiculous, but is it safe to assume all pastors are Christians? Just because we claim to believe in Him or went to school to study for ministry, it doesn't ensure that our hearts are His.  Having spent two years in Bible college and three years in seminary, I can tell you that a degree can be proof of intelligence or discipline but not spirituality. Those were easily the five worst years of my life.  Remember that in Jesus' day, some of the religious leaders were the most evil. Scripture is always warning us to be on guard against false teachers.  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 
"And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.
-2 Peter 2:1-3a (ESV)
Jesus taught that wolves will come in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7:15).  What better camouflage than as a minister? Some will teach false doctrine because of their desire to be accepted. Others will preach truth while living a lie.  Whether it's their message or lifestyle that is false, both are condemned. If you read the rest of 2 Peter 2, you will see that terrifying judgement is reserved for them.  If you are reading this and living an immoral life, it is time to step down. The worst thing you can be is a false teacher. There is nothing more evil you can do during your few years on earth than to lead people away from their Creator."
-Francis Chan, Letters to the Church, pp. 110-112

Sky Links, 3-9-19

My image repair analysis of the IAG report
-Benjamin Ady

Jo Anne Lyon, Gary Walter, Leith Anderson, and Margaret Diddams
Here begins my image repair analysis of the IAG report IAG of @WillowCreekCC & @GLNSummit. I learned this method from @jdahlmd, based on Benoit's image repair theory & Melody Fisher's doctoral thesis. Here's @jdahlmd's description of the 4 nonChristian image repair categories...Here are the two Christian categories of image repair, as described by @jdahlmd, based on Benoit's Image Repair theory and Melody Fischer's doctoral thesis. Haven't seen either of these in this report so far. Please let me know if I missed them.

Carolyn Custis James: Helping Men and Women Create An Alliance Based on Biblical Understanding

The Brains Behind AOC Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
-Mr Reagan

Sky Links 3-2-19

Hobby, Job, Career, Vocation
-Elizabeth Gilbert

How to Ask Better Questions -Josh Spector

How to Ask Better Questions (Blog Post)

Why the English Standard Version (ESV) Should not become the Standard English Version
-Mark L. Strauss

Virtual Reality Church

D.J. Soto is a former megachurch pastor who started a new type of a church: one that takes place online in virtual reality. It’s called VR Church, and he says people feel like they can worship without judgment using the platform from their homes. “People feel comfortable opening up in that environment,”-Megan Kelly (Today).

Young men giving up on marriage: ‘Women aren’t women anymore’
-Hilary White

As a writer and researcher into the trends of marriage and relationships, Venker said, she has “accidentally stumbled upon a subculture” of men who say “in no uncertain terms, that they’re never getting married.”
“When I ask them why, the answer is always the same: women aren’t women anymore.” Feminism, which teaches women to think of men as the enemy, has made women “angry” and “defensive, though often unknowingly.” 
“Now the men have nowhere to go. It is precisely this dynamic – women good/men bad – that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. Yet somehow, men are still to blame when love goes awry.”
“Men are tired,” Venker wrote. “Tired of being told there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Tired of being told that if women aren’t happy, it’s men’s fault.”


Sky Links, 2-23-19


-Carey Nieuwhof

-I don’t attend church.
-(Attend) Once or twice a year.

11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
-Josh Reich

  1. Your marriage and life revolve around your kids.
  2. It’s been over a year since you read a book on marriage.
  3. Roles in marriage feel like a trap instead of freedom.
  4. You can’t remember the last date night you had.
  5. You have sex less than 2 times a week.
  6. You nit pick at your spouse.
  7. You consistently talk about how much you love your spouse on Facebook.
  8. When you are alone with your spouse, you have nothing to talk about.
  9. There are things in your past your spouse does not know.
  10. You fantasize about being married to someone else.
  11. A friend knows more about your marriage than your spouse does. 

The New Nihilism
-Victor Davis Hanson

  • Democrats are calling for an unconstitutional “wealth tax” on the accumulation of already taxed income. They propose a radically new estate tax to confiscate already taxed income. And they envision new rates of 70% to 90% on the top brackets—on the logic that if the government does not get your savings account, or your estate, it can at least take your income.
  • “The New Green Deal”, within a decade after its passing, would call for the end of the internal combustion engine, without ensuring that Americans have reasonable ground, air or sea transportation, affordable methods to heat and cool their homes, or the means to replace the sources of 83 percent of our generated electricity. 
  • Forbid any border fence or wall, although border barriers were mainstream Democratic tenets during the passage of the Secure Fence Act of 2006?
  • Make college “free” for all. Thereby, we would send a message to those who forewent college and have been working since 18 that they must shoulder the burden of the educational debts of their peers. 
In sum, the emerging alternative to Trump is not Democratic pragmatism, but an angry nihilism that is as incoherent as it is destructive.

Whoops! That Didn't Work!
-Mark Dice

9 Things You Should Know About the United Methodist Church
-Joe Carter 

From today through Tuesday, the United Methodist Church is holding a special session of their General Convention to determine the denomination’s policy on ordaining practicing homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions.
Next week TGC will report and comment on the outcome of the session. In the meantime, here are nine things you should know about America’s largest mainline denomination.

  1. Within the United States, the United Methodist Church (UMC) is the largest mainline denomination, the second-largest Protestant denomination (after the Southern Baptist Convention), and the third-largest Christian denomination. 
  2. The UMC is part of the Methodist movement, which began in the 1700s in England under Anglican minister John Wesley and his followers. 
  3. The UMC’s polity is based on connectionalism, a term that dates back to the founding of Methodism. 
  4. Within the connectional structure, the UMC’s primary grouping of people and churches is the conference. 
  5. The General Conference is an international body of nearly 1,000 delegates that generally meets every four years. 
  6. The foundational documents of the UMC include the Apostles’ Creed, the Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church, and the Confessions of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church. 
  7. The laws, doctrine, administration, organizational work, and procedures of the UMC are collected in the Book of Discipline, a document published every four years following the meeting of the General Conference. 
  8. Within the UMC, clergy are individuals who serve as commissioned ministers, deacons, elders, and local pastors under appointment of an elder (ordained minister) who has been elected to the office of bishop. 
  9. The UMC, considered one of the “Seven Sisters of American Protestantism,” is a member of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America and of the World Council of Churches.

Jordan Peterson interview (Helen Lewis) on a variety of topics

Unfulfilled Promises and Dreams

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going.
-Hebrews 11:8

If your promise or dream has not come true, you are naturally sad.

But it also means that God is working.  God is not done.

If your situation seems impossible, that doubly means God is at work.

God is going to do something in your life... If you let him.

This is the irony.

We are the only ones that can stand in the way of our destinies.

Because, God can overcome everything else.

But, he will not violate our will.

We must unfold our arms and raise our chins.

We must prepare ourselves, encourage ourselves, to be ready for God.

We must manage our attitude and keep the faith.

We don't make it happen, but we let God take us there.

This means we will have to do things, say things, go places.

Because, faith is an action.

Sky Links 2-9-19

(Updated 2-10)

Why we should all stop saying “I know exactly how you feel”
-Celeste Headlee

“conversational narcissism.” Often subtle and unconscious, it’s the desire to take over a conversation, to do most of the talking, and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself.

How to talk about politics constructively
-Celeste Headlee

Help make america talk again -Celeste Headlee

The case for Russia collusion … against the Democrats
-John Solomon

There is clear evidence now that shows Hillary Clinton’s family and charity profited from Moscow and simultaneously facilitated official government actions benefiting Russia that have raised security concerns.
And there’s irrefutable evidence that her opposition research effort on Trump — one that inspired an FBI probe — was carried out by people who got information from Russia and were consorting with Russians.
It would seem those questions deserve at least some of the scrutiny afforded the Trump-Russia collusion inquiry that is now two-plus years old.

John Solomon interview -Maria Bartiromo

The bigger scandal in Virginia occurred in newsrooms in 2017
-Larry O'Connor

In the wake of this week’s monumental meltdown of the three top officials in Virginia government (all Democrats), one is left wondering where the mainstream media were during the election of these politicians who are now severely damaged by deeds from their pasts that could have been revealed and reported on before their electoral victories.
To understand how, and perhaps why, the mainstream press ignored and neglected the headline-grabbing scandals gripping Richmond today, one must recall the era in which these Democrat embarrassments were elected.

Moses Has to Beg God Not to Kill Everyone?!
-Nick Lloyd

Exodus 32 (and the story of Jonah) are a good reminder to be cautious in assuming that our violent inclinations find any correlation with God. And we see that even in the Old Testament the picture of an angry God is more likely a “mask” put on him by others (a term used by Martin Luther) than the reality of his nature.
So let’s confess with Jonah a belief in the goodness and patience of God: “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”
And let’s be aware of when our own temperament and response is anything but God-like.

Yes, I’m Black And I Write For Conservative Media…Here’s Why
-Kira Davis

I’ve applied for jobs at left-wing publications. I think I have a pretty good record of making reasonable points. My work is never going to win a Pulitzer but I’m educated and expressive. I’m not someone you’d call “extremist” and I do make an effort to see all sides of a given issue. But just like most conservative publications don’t hire too many liberals, liberal publications don’t care to hire conservatives.
Add to that the fact that I’m a woman and I’m already fighting through a lot of noise and history to be seen as a competent writer.
Add to that the fact that I’m a BLACK woman and now the labels are stacking up against me. In liberal, mainstream media there are plenty of conversations happening about the difficulties in being “seen” when you’re a minority woman. I face all those same difficulties.
We’re always complaining about minority women not being given a voice and yet when I’ve tried to dip my toe into mainstream/left-wing media I’ve been shut down time and time again simply because I don’t fit a stereotype.

Why Ministers Shouldn't Walk Away From Social Media
-Mark Wingfield

Despite the well-known challenges, it is self-defeating for pastors in particular to declare their moral superiority to everyone else and walk away from social media. We may not like the present reality of how people communicate, but it is the present reality. When we opt out, we remove our voices from the conversation and fail to be informed about what others are doing and saying. 

What gave the Coptic Martyrs such steadfast courage?
-Francis Phillips

I have recently read The 21: A Journey in the Land of Coptic Martyrs by Martin Mosebach, an acclaimed German novelist, essayist and poet. He is a Catholic which makes sense when you read it; his reflections are too perceptive to have been written by someone without religious belief.
His book concerns an event that made worldwide news in February 2015, when 20 Coptic migrant workers from Egypt (the 21st, from Ghana, was “adopted” as a Copt when he chose to die with them) were beheaded on a Libyan beach on 15 February that year by black-clad, masked ISIS terrorists. It wasn’t possible to read the book quickly, or skip sections; this was partly out of respect for the story itself and partly because on nearly every page Mosebach has worthwhile things to say. This is not glib, dramatic or sensational journalism but a sober and insightful investigation into what lay behind the lives of these young men.
Mosebach is essentially asking the question we would all pose when confronting the fact of their martyrdom (it is reported that during their 43-day captivity before their executions they were offered the choice to live if they abjured their faith and embraced Islam but refused): what gave them the courage and the steadfastness to face their gruesome end with such patience and dignity, murmuring “O my Lord Jesus” as the knives were held to their throats? 

Remember Job
-Francis Frangipane

 The story of Job is not only about an innocent man suffering unjustly from a satanic attack; the bulk of the story concerns the suffering Job endured from his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (and later Elihu). These men, probably religious scholars of their day, were friends of Job. Yet during his distress they falsely judged him; they became his accusers.
.... Indeed, the book of Job is a portrait of people with a religious mindset who are self-assured they are right, who judge without having truly heard from God.

How the church interacts with a culture that is rapidly moving toward things like gender fluidity or same-sex marriage.  How does the church maintain holiness and still attract the unchurched?
-Carey Nieuwhof (panel discussion video)

(Unfortunate low level audio, with stereo mix)

Carey Nieuwhof, My Story (Leading Change)

Democrats Are Showing Us All Who They Really Are–Let’s Believe ThemPart One: Very Late Term Abortions & Infanticide
 -Brian Cates

We are now living in a unique era in American history. A political party that long ago embraced radical extremism on many issues was able to hide this from much of the public with the help of a mainstream media that was willing to turn itself into that political party’s propaganda arm.
Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and even into the 2000s, the Democratic Party was able to keep its mask of being a pro-American, mainstream political entity firmly in place. Starting with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, however, that mask began to slip.

The 10 Most Insane Requirements Of The Green New Deal
 -David Harsanyi

It is not hyperbole to contend that GND is likely the most ridiculous and un-American plan that’s ever been presented by an elected official to voters. Not merely because it would necessitate a communist strongman to institute, but also because the societal costs are unfathomable. The risible historic analogies Markey and Ocasio-Cortez rely on, the building of the interstate highway system or moon landing, are nothing but trifling projects compared to a plan that overhauls modernity by voluntarily destroying massive amounts of wealth and technology. That is the GND.


God's Secret, Hidden People