Pilgrim’s Progress Characters — Mr. Worldly Wiseman

imagesJohn Bunyan’s famous allegory Pilgrim’s Progress is filled with men and women who happened along the path of Christian as he has started his journey toward the Celestial City.  We have spent a little time with Ignorance who wanted to talk Christian into trying to make the journey on his own works.  Evangelist is another character who was very instrumental in the conversion and later the discipleship of Christian.  He is representative of a faithful godly pastor who spends time and effort working with the travelers as they labor through the journey.  We now come to another impediment, another character, who will serve as an agent of Satan to hinder the pilgrim’s progress.  Mr. Worldly Wiseman is a convoluted but very brilliant soul.  His brilliance rivals that of Ignorance who was just as polished and shameful except Mr. Worldly Wiseman is an older gentleman who has been around the world for a while and knows the general thoughts and doubts of the travelers.

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Study Bibles for Expositors–NIV Zondervan Study Bible–Zondervan Publishing

We have been reviewing several study Bibles that I thought would be helpful to those who are making a concerted effort to become effective expositors.  An expositor is a preacher who has a commitment to preach through the Bible dealing with the context, the doctrinal content, and the application to a New Testament apostolic church.  Expository preaching can be best summed up in this threefold manner:  Read the text, explain the text, and apply the text.  On the other hand don’t let that greatly simplified form lead you to think that this makes for simple preaching for it does not.  I have been working at this angle of preaching for a little over ten years now and it is the most demanding sort of preaching that a minister can give himself to.  It requires great discipline and you have to get control of your personal schedule so that you can effectively work somewhere that is free from interruptions.  However, the soul building that takes place in the preacher and in the life of the church will be astounding!  So all of these study Bibles that I have been reviewing for the last four posts is nothing more than an effort to encourage men to be students of Scripture.

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Isn’t That Something?

I have been revisiting some of my journal scribblings from the last four years or so and have found a variety of thoughts I had written down.  Some of those scribblings had to do with little mental or spiritual stimulations that I thought I would put on this blog.  This post comes about from three different entries that I have merged together.  The first one was from Eugene Peterson’s very fine memoir, The Pastor and the other two were blog entries that Thom Rainer had written which dealt with pastoral ministry.  Peterson’s angle was that pastors have fallen into the trap of being turned into church growth gurus and it has cost them the priority of their own spiritual life of prayer, personal Bible reading/study (you would be shocked how many pastors don’t read the Bible on a regular basis), and the practice of spiritual disciplines which include the previous two and a host of others.  His fear was that pastors are being turned into executive automatons who can drive cattle about on a range but have lost the art of leading sheep through still pastures.  Rainer wrote about the dilemmas pastors face in the church which contribute to great dilemmas in the soul of the pastor.  The best way to describe it would be to say that the little foxes have gained an entrance and they are spoiling a harvest.

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On Pastoral Criticism–Part 3

We have spent the last two posts speaking of what takes place with criticism in the confines of a church.  The first one was what takes place in the soul of the pastor.  The second was what takes place in the soul of the critic.  This last post is devoted to what takes place in the church when critics began to do their work.
As a leaping off point, look to Romans 16:17-20 from the Message (as a disclaimer, I don’t use the Message as a primary source):

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On Pastoral Criticism–Part 2

We are continuing this brief series on pastors and dealing with the fact that a pastor will have to deal with criticism on a fairly regular basis.  In the last post, I dealt with what criticism does to a pastor and the ways that he can let it work productively for him.  By no means am I insinuating that criticism does not have a mark that it leaves on a man who generally is working to do his best to help people to grow in their spiritual walk.  Over the years, I have had multiple conversations with pastors who were enduring some form of criticism for decisions they had made concerning the churches they pastored.  What I have found to be true is that the size of the church really does not matter.  It can be a small church or a mid-sized one, or a large church and all of these men of God found themselves having to contend with the critics they were attempting to lead.
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On Pastoral Criticism–Part 1

There is one occupational hazard of a calling into the ministry, especially that of being a pastor, that seems to hurt more and grate at ministers more than any other—having to endure criticism.  It is one of the necessary pieces of territory that comes with holding a public place in ministry.  Even though it is painful to endure and it is understood that we have to deal with it, it has the capacity to create overwhelming waves of discouragement and free-falls into the abyss of despair.  No matter how faithful a man may be or how diligent he is in his work ethic, criticism is coming to a local church near you.  If you are district official, it is coming to district near you and there is nothing we can do to make us protected from it.

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Apt to Teach – Part 2

I have a few more thoughts to add to the idea of this challenge that comes with being “apt to teach.”  As I revisited this passage again in 1 Timothy 3, it is important to point out that this is the only skill or practice that Paul notes is specific to the church.  He very well could and must be a teacher to his family but the overarching purpose of being apt to teach is that he provides instruction to the church.  We also must give consideration to the idea that all of the character traits that Paul lists; blameless, husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, not given to wine, no striker (not violent), not greedy of filthy lucre, patient, not a brawler, covetous, ruling his own house well, having his children in subjection, not a novice, and having a good report of those that are around him; that all of these matters will have a great impact on his ability to teach.  If these matters are compromised, his public ministry of teaching will be publically ignored and privately mocked and scorned.  This matter of character in apostolic ministry has far more reaching boundaries than most of us who are in public ministry grasp and understand.  You cannot separate your life and practice from your doctrine.

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