Friday, August 1, 2014

The Pastor's Corner

*Article was published in the August edition of The Herald; a monthly publication of Green Hill Baptist Church

August ushers in a very important time in the life and ministry of our church – the nomination and election of deacons. I’d like to take a moment and discuss what the Bible teaches regarding the office of deacon.

First of all, why do we have deacons? According to Acts 6:1-6 the early church was experiencing tremendous growth. They were growing numerically, but so were the number of needs within the congregation. Eventually needs were being neglected; specifically, the needs of widows. The elders realized that it was physically impossible for them alone to effectively and efficiently tend to every need and care for every person. Therefore, the congregation appointed seven men to assist the elders in ministry. Those chosen were given the responsibility to care for the physical needs of the congregation, which freed up the elders to address spiritual needs through prayer and ministry of the word (v. 4). Elders were responsible for praying and preaching, so they alone could not tend to the vast needs of the flock. Certainly, deacons are vital to the ministry of the church.

Secondly, who may serve as a deacon? 1 Timothy 3:8-13 gives specific qualifications for anyone nominated to serve as a deacon. Let’s briefly look at each one:
  • He “must be a man of dignity” – this refers to reputation. A deacon should be someone who is honored and respected by those who know him well. What would someone say about him (inside or outside the church)?
  • He is “not double-tongued” – this refers to honest speech. A deacon should be trustworthy and credible. He should never say one thing to one person and something else to another.
  • He must be “sound in faith and life” – while a deacon is not responsible for teaching, he does have significant influence on the spiritual formation of others. Therefore, he should always be pointing others toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • He must be “tested” – he must have proven character. Specifics are not mentioned here, but reputation, doctrinal convictions, and commitment to the church should be tested at the very least. Observing and evaluating a candidate often takes time, so a church should never nominate or elect a person who has not proven himself to be of good character and repute.
  • He “must be the husband of only one wife” - marriage is not the context of this verse, so Paul is not saying being married is a prerequisite for serving as a deacon; nor is Paul arguing that someone who is divorced is automatically disqualified. However, if married, he must be committed physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually only to his wife.
  • His wife must pursue godliness – the qualifications for a deacon apply also to his wife. Together, they must shoulder the responsibility of parenting and managing the household.

I urge you to begin praying for our deacon nomination and election process. We have a tremendous responsibility before us to choose qualified men who also have a passion to serve. Men, whom we will appoint, will have a vital part in the next chapter of ministry at Green Hill.

Serving Together,
Pastor Brett

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What is the Kingdom of God?

In this recent interview conducted by Ministry Grid, Dr. Russell D. Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, discusses the importance of the kingdom of God. This kingdom ushered in by Jesus the Christ, is the central defining theme of Scripture and the end toward which God is moving all of history. Listen as Dr. Moore talks about the nature of God’s kingship, and why the kingdom of God has everything to do with how we live the Christian life.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Pastor's Corner

*Article was published in the July edition of The Herald; a monthly publication of Green Hill Baptist Church.

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Galatians 6:14 (NASB)

It would be accurate to say that the cross was the singular, most defining, life-altering, reality of Paul’s life. No aspect of his life was untouched by Christ’s atoning death at Golgotha. By viewing life through the lens of the cross, Paul had become painfully aware of his past sinfulness. Everything that he had counted on for crediting him righteous before God was futile and empty. Nothing of his own merit would ever be worthy of earning God’s approval. Paul also realized that the cross defined his present; “To live is Christ,” (Philippians 1:21) which meant knowing, pleasing, serving and glorifying Christ, was the heartbeat of his life - the purpose for which he lived. The cross also determined his future. If to live is Christ, then “to die is gain” (1:21). All of life’s hopes and joys were found in Christ, so for Paul, dying would just add flesh to his faith - his faith would become sight.

The cross defined Paul’s life - his relationship to God and his relationship to the world. He was crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), which meant that his sins had been forgiven and that his sinful nature had been nailed to the cross. Never would his life be the same again. Here in Galatians 6:14 we read that the world was crucified to him and he to the world. What does this mean? It means that no longer did the world hold any power or influence over him. In his book Worldliness, pastor and writer C.J. Mahaney says, “He [Paul] didn’t crave its [the world’s] approval, embrace its values, or covet its rewards.” Paul’s entire life, including his thoughts, attitudes, actions and behaviors, now existed for the purpose and glory of God.

What does this mean for us? It means that a bloody cross stands at the center of our faith. It means that through the lens of the cross we rightly see our past sin, God’s present grace and His future glory. It means that in Christ the world is crucified to us and us to it. It means that no longer are we defined by the world, seduced by the power of the world, or looking for approval, fulfillment and satisfaction from the world. It means that all we are and all we need is found in Christ alone.

Friends, it’s a joy to serve with others who understand the cross. We are His people and we exist for His purpose and glory. Therefore, “…let us run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

Serving Together,
Pastor Brett