4 Reformers who Changed Culture and History by Using the Scriptures

Luther. Zwingli. Calvin. Simmons. Why were these men regarded as reformers? Because their proclamation of the Gospel uncompromisingly reformed society and left an indelible impact on the pages of history or because of their own agendas? To this day, Believers all across the world owe a debt to the faithfulness of these men who served The Lord Jesus Christ in carrying forth the Gospel. …not all results were seen in their lifetime.

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Why Bivocational? Part 4

Paths for Balance

Stress can be dealt with many ways. Some of the key strategies mentioned by Head are learn to say no, do not overcommit, learn to schedule what you need to accomplish each day and do it, and develop a hobby. Working ahead of time for projects and papers for work and ministry will greatly reduce stress. The keys to dealing with stress include common sense, integrity, planning, and adequate preparation.

To prevent drywells, bivocational ministers can proactively plan ahead, schedule regular times off and with family, and spend time in solitude. Spending time to reflect and review is essential to essential to a balanced life. Taking time with family and friends to develop relationships is needed to maintain humanness in ministry. Ministers, especially bivocational ministers must seek to have as balanced a life as possible and must build some margin into their lives. High stress conditions 24/7 lead to health problems from hypertension and ulcers to heart attack and stroke. Seasons of hardship and desert will come. In those times hold on to the Lord’s promises. Pray them, preach them, cling to them. And consider taking time to devote fully to solitude with the Lord. A sabbatical may in order.

As a minister you cannot nor all you to do everything. In fact, Scripture even commands this. As a pastor, one is to equip the local church for the work of the ministry; not do it all for them. Remember what the Apostles did in Acts, they appointed 7 deacons to take care of the practical matters of service needed in the church so that they could fully devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word as they were called. Seek to do that in your ministry. Also recall, that the Lord chastened Martha for her busyness and honored Mary that she had found the one thing that was necessary (sitting at His feet). In delegation, one must have wisdom. Delegating preaching every week would not be wise, but delegating administrative tasks and pastoral care is commanded by the Lord. Begin delegation of tasks before it is a necessity.

Casual study occurs when reading a Christian book on the go or “light reading materials.” There is value in this study for becoming knowledgeable about some things, but to become thoroughly understanding of a subject matter, sermon study must be done. Sermon study is serious, focused study on Scripture passages often including commentary consultation and Greek and Hebrew root examination. Sermon study requires a focused concentration. Casual study can be done on the go or while waiting in line throughout the day. Both are needed but both cannot be done just anywhere.

Bivocational ministers must support their wife and children. They must express their love, affirmation, care, and authority. One must spend quality time with his family. He must be Dad and not “pastor” to his children. He must be a loving husband who is sacrificially laying down his life for his wife as Christ did for the church in his marriage. The pastor does not have an exception in his calling as a Christian. He is called to first be a Christian and then on top of that to be a pastor. Care for your children. Show them love, invest in them, do things with them. Affirm your family. Attend the recitals, games, etc. that you will only have once short season to spend with your children. Pour your all into your family first for that is the testing place of your ministry. If a man cannot care and manage his household, how can he manage the church?

Many bivocational pastors felt an identity crisis. Full-salaried ministry has enough demands upon ones family life but add a full time job into the mix and things become incredibly stressful. One must say no too many good things and focus on the essential things. Also, many bivocationals have felt weak in counseling or church administration and long for more theological training. The question is how? While there are extra stresses and demands on one’s time, bivocationals have experienced many joys by seeing spiritual growth, baptisms, and equipping of the Believers in their local body as they partner together in the Great Commission.

Bob Mills describes three distinct types of tentmakers. The first group are those who have of their own volition chosen the bivocational path and feel equally called to ministry and to a secular vocation. The second group is composed of those who are qualified for “full-time ministry” and even desire it. They do not feel called to the marketplace and have earned seminary degrees but because of the circumstances/condition of the finances of their local church must be bivocational and thus become tenmakers. The third group is made up of those who are called not called to the marketplace but are working in it while laboring in ministry with the end goal of one day ministering full-time. No matter what the reason for bivocationalism, tentmaking is a Scriptural pattern for ministers and is not second-rate or second-class ministry.

I believe that a bivocational minister can be just as effective as the pastor in a full-salaried church. In terms of equipping his people to do the work of the ministry and evangelism, the bivocational may well be even more effective than the full-salaried minister. Full-salaried ministers may be more effective in equipping other ministers and counseling as their schedule is more open and their position often more geared toward this end. However, bivocational ministers appropriately give themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word as the Bible teaches and are less involved in some of the “American pastor” conceptions of visiting every member, always being available to anyone who has their number, and “not having a real job.” Certainly a pastor will visit some members at their homes and in the hospital for he loves his people, but to task one man with that responsibility easily becomes unrealistic. A family member of a member or a good friend of theirs is in crisis and they want you to go and minister to them. Easily, one’s list can grow to 200 or more and no one man can handle that. The deacons, the Sunday school teachers and the attendees themselves should go and care for other members without having to be asked by the pastor for all are called to care for one another as Christ loved us, as one Body, one Family.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

In 2015, Ryan shared at a community Thanksgiving Service of multiple churches the following, we pray it will encourage many more in print here on the blog:

Giving Thanks in Our Times

Today may we give thanks.

Today, look away from all the cares and worries as Jesus commanded us. Do not worry about tomorrow, let tomorrow worry about itself and again let not your heart be troubled. Christian Faith is not dependent on emotions, circumstances, or conditions.

The Apostle Paul put it well in,

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Why Bivocational? Part 3

Advantages

There are many advantages of bivocational ministers. One, is patterned by William Carey who was a testimony to the natives of India through his bivocational work on the field and a rather consistent “support” from that income while he yet labored on in sharing the Gospel. Choosing a “harder life” often inspires others to listen rather than reject one’s message. Two, bivocational missionaries are able to reach many who would never step foot in a mission because of fear or pride, thus more can be won to the Lord through faithful bivocational ministry. Third, bivocational missions provides an “undercover” status into countries that don’t allow missionaries or Christianity. Last, yet another advantage is that bivocational missions provides a more stable support base for missionaries whereas a purely donation model often suffers from those who do not give as they pledged that they would. Read more

Why Bivocational? Part 2

      There are many fallacies of bivocationalism. Perhaps the worst is that the bivocational minister is only in “part-time ministry.” No, he is in full time ministry. All Christians are called to be ministers of the Gospel and to use the gifts and callings the Lord has given them; not all are called “to preach.” Nonetheless, bivocational ministers are not part-time although they may give on average 20-30 hours per week to the church on top of their “secular” vocation. Another fallacy is that bivocationalism is only for struggling churches who cannot support a full-time pastor. Again, this is true in some cases, but a growing number of churches of considerable size have a staff of bivocational pastors who fill different roles with their specific gifts and calling. Still another fallacy is that bivocationals are not totally dedicated to the Lord’s calling on their lives. On the contrary, many bivocationals are very adamant about their call to preach from the Lord, yet recognize that He has not called them to do it as a “job”—they aren’t hirelings and are pastoring where the Lord has placed them, not where they could get the best paycheck. The last fallacy that will be discussed here is the fallacy that bivocationalism can’t work and isn’t healthy for a minister. On the contrary throughout history and the Biblical record, most ministers called by the Lord appear to be bivocational. The prophets were bivocational at best if not completely self-supported. The early Christian deacons and elders were bivocational in many instances. Early preachers in America were almost always farmers, school teachers, or mercantile owners in addition to their church work. Bivocationalism is how the church often moves into new communities and meets people were they are with the Gospel message.

Open Door but No Peace, So You Left . . .

Have you ever had the Lord open a door but not been at peace? Paul experienced the same thing. I was reading 2 Corinthians 2 last night at got stuck thinking on this section:

“When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” 2 Corinthians 2:12-14 ESV

God opened a door for Paul but even though Paul was in God’s will, he was not at rest. Why? Because Titus wasn’t there. We too can be in God’s will and feel unsettled because someone we love and know is not present. Now I want you to notice what Paul does. Although the Lord had opened a door for Paul at Troas, Paul left because Titus wasn’t there. I’m not going to debate the theology of whether Paul should have left or not, that is not the point of the passage because of the next verse-thanks be to God! It is God who always leads us in triumphal procession for the sake of the Gospel! If you have repented of your sins and surrendered to Jesus, then God in His Sovereignty continues to spread the Gospel fragrance through our lives, which He purchased with His own blood despite our shortcomings, mistakes, and failures. (Going on in the context, I don’t want to neglect to mention that Believers are salt and light – refreshing each other and a reminder of coming judgment to outsiders, verses 15-17).

Gen1toRev22: A Way of Deliverance

Scripture Passage: Genesis 7:7-24

Observations on the Context:

In verses 7-10 we see reiterated that all life perished. The Flood was global and catastrophic. The fountains of the deep burst forth and the windows of Heaven (water canopy) was opened. For 40 days and nights rain fell and it wasn’t no sprinkle but a torrential downpour!

Yet God preserved life. He made a way of deliverance, of salvation, for Noah who sought Him.

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Why Bivocational? Part 1

Beginning this series on Bivocationalism, my goal is to show the benefits of Bivocationalism. You may not receive any pay, minister, for obeying the Lord in your calling. But money is not the object anyway. I in no way wish to diminish the blessing of “full-time” ministers. But, guys, Paul was bivocational and our Lord Jesus spent most of His life in construction in Israel. So without further ado, here begins a series of posts from a course I took from Seminary Extension a couple of years ago:

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Book Review: A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards

A Reader’s Guide to Jonathan Edwards probes the historical and theological underpinnings of Jonathan Edwards, who has been called the greatest theologian of America.

I was privileged to obtain a copy through Crossway’s Blog Review Program.

It was encouraging to see that Edwards wrote as a ministry, not merely to get his opinions across but to defend apologetically the Biblical truth that was under attack in his day. It was also interesting to note that Edwards criticisms of Arminianism had more to do with the Wesley extremism than simply a historical matter.

Further, Edward’s legacy is one of a man who stood on the Bible while excitedly looking for evidences of God’s hand of revival in his day. Edwards did not diminish the need or reality of revival, but wrote on how true revival produces long-lasting fruit in individual lives.