Public Virtue is a Reflection of Private Virtue

The following is a snippet from sermon that I found very insightful. By permission, I shared the sermon at the Church I Pastor. This was one of the statements that stood out the most.

Our [American] government was established on Christian principles and will only be successful if we are a virtuous people. The way we’re set up is that our leaders are a reflection of our people. If we have immoral, godless leaders, it’s because we have an immoral and ungodly society. We can’t have public virtue in the nation if we don’t have private virtue in the home.

• Virtuous homes make for virtuous families.
• Virtuous families make for virtuous churches.
• Virtuous churches make for virtuous cities.
• Virtuous cities make for virtuous states.
• Virtuous states make for virtuous nations.

Before we blame the White House [State House, County Council, City Hall] for not being virtuous, we must first look at our [own] house

Mike Deguzman
Sermon, Where’s God, There’s God, 2014
Listen Here

Psalm 33:12
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”

Deut. 6:4-9
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Sermons and Subpoenas

I’ve been thinking a lot about the news I heard this week regarding Pastors being threatened to turn over sermons to a court by a Mayor in Houston. Honestly I’ve been going back and forth over feelings regarding the report.

I posted a few remarks on my FB, received a few comments, and even some shares. One comment has stuck with me, it read…

From what I have read the subpoenas are from sermons that were given that use that mayors name and have discriminating content. Would really like to know what was said from that pulpit to spark such request.

Over the past few days I have seen much discussion regarding this topic. In this post I want to do nothing more than post a few scriptures that have come up in the past few days in my personal time. I understand we live in America. We have constitutional rights to free speech, etc. I also know we don’t live in the “christian” nation that used to exist. Our nation and world has rapidly changed just in my short lifetime. Though our nation was founded on Biblical principles our government no longer operates nor upholds those principles. So what’s a Follower of Christ to do? Here’s the scriptures that I keep coming back to.

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (‭Matthew‬ ‭10‬:‭16-20‬ NKJV)

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. (‭Matthew‬ ‭12‬:‭36‬ NKJV)

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (‭Colossians‬ ‭4‬:‭5-6‬ NKJV)

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. (‭Titus‬ ‭2‬:‭6-8‬ NKJV)

In short, we must watch our words and rightly divide His Word. It won’t set well with our culture. We will be ridiculed, mocked, threatened, and maybe even persecuted.

So, what are we to do?

2 Question Survey for Pastors: Message Prep Schedule

I am curious and would like feedback from my Pastor friends. As far as message prep goes how do you structure your week and/or calendar to ensure you are well prepared regarding the messages you are to deliver?

Would you mind taking a 2 question survey for me. It’s simple. Let me know how many times a week you preach/teach and then list out your message prep/study schedule. You can take the survey by clicking HERE

It’s Easier To Draw A Crowd Than It Is To Convince…An Expanded Thought

Last night I posted a quick verse with a thought. I truly believe, it is easier to draw a crowd than it is to convince someone of something.

You don’t have to convince someone to go to the fair when they see the Farris Wheel towering above the tree line from miles away.

The fair is coming to Aiken, SC in a few days and among many, there’s one thing I love about it. When we leave our house and travel down Hwy 1 towards Aiken, the fair grounds sits on top of a hill. You can’t tell this when you are passing it but, when the Farris Wheel goes up and when your driving towards Aiken, from a few miles out the view is spectacular at night. But, that’s another post for another time. In short, you don’t have to convince me to go to the fair because the gimmicks already have. I don’t have to be convinced to drop a $100.00 in the hands of people I don’t know because the gimmicks already have.

That brings me to my next point, last week I had the opportunity to speak to a Pastor in the area and as we were talking I mentioned the number one goal that I have as Pastor of NACOG. Simply, it’s to establish and ensure that the word of God is taught to the people of God from the pulpit. The priority of the Word must be there first, before we try to start anything else. It will set the standard for what we do elsewhere. Why? I personally believe that the Word will confirm itself. It will not return void. As a Pastor/Teacher, a Shepherd, God has me at a place where I don’t feel that he simply wants me to draw a crowd but to convince those under my care of His truth. Once those who are here are convinced, they will share with others.

Here’s the thing, what you do to draw a crowd you’ll have to keep doing in order to keep the crowd.

Believe it or not you’ll have to one up yourself. Your biggest competition will be what you did the event or week prior to your current one. Many times we feel like our job is to go up and convince people that are in our services to come back the following week. Our job is to teach the word and allow the word to do the work. If their life is being transformed by the Word they will come back. When they do, they will bring someone with them because of the transformation. While doing events (and events/things aren’t wrong) we must ask ourself, why are we doing them. Is that our ticket to get more or is it used as a way to convince. I may be wrong, and I submit, knowing I need to grow…a lot. However, I really do believe the Gospel is enough. I also believe we need to communicate the Gospel well, but, the Gospel is enough.

Truly it is easier to draw a crowd than it is to convince someone. The following is also true. When someone it completely convinced there is no gimmick or distant lights that can draw them away.

I type all that to relay the following. Let the desire to rightly divide the word of God be your goal as a Pastor or ministry leader. Whether you teach Sunday School, lead a boys or girls group, a small group leader, or Pastor. Equip and convince those under your care first.

Gimmicks draw a Crowd and Convincing Takes Work

Could it be possible we are settling to entertain when God has called us to convince?

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (‭II Timothy‬ ‭4‬:‭1-5‬ NKJV)

God Told Me To Go: Seeking Answers When You Can’t Ask Questions

Everything I would like to relay can not be contained in this post on this topic/subject/thought/rant…

It may take a few posts, it may end with this one. Whichever is the case I must start writing. I simply see a problem and want to identify it. Reminder, I’m a Pastor so many of my thoughts will be related to that field. Keep that in mind when reading any further.

As a Pastor there’s something that I can’t wrap my head around. The simple fact that God can lead someone else to another church and somehow we can’t get real answers to our real questions. When we do ask “why” the conversation always points back to, God told me. The translation of that statement is, “you’ll have to take that up with God, set up a meeting with Him to find out why he asked me to leave.”

Over my short time as a Lead Pastor (Feb. 2015 will be 4 years) I’ve had individuals to let me know they were going to be leaving the church in order to attend or be involved with another ministry. I must add that it’s never been in person. It’s usually been by text or I have had to track them down after many weeks of not being at church. Leaving message after message on their voicemail week after week I would finally receive a call back. The initial text out of the blue would read something like this, “I just wanted to let you know that I have decided to go elsewhere (beginning this Sunday) so you will need to find a replacement in order to fulfill my ministry obligations.”

After making contact by phone usually asking for a face to face meeting (it’s been declined 100% of the time) I am told, “It’s nothing you’ve done pastor nor that anyone else has done in the church, I simply feel God calling me to leave here and go there.” I am left to say okay, reluctantly knowing that I can’t argue or question God, right?

I’m not doubting God calls people to other local ministries/churches. Further more, we should embrace and celebrate God allowing people to be part of our local fellowship for a season and then send them off with our prayers and support. Here’s my soul searching observation, I believe Pastors are in large part to blame for the weak broad answer of, God told me to leave.

While I know this is vague and may not be the best place to end, maybe it’s a great place to keep chewing. I can’t write everything in this post due to time constraints so I will pick up later on. Keep chewing.

God Told Me To Go: Seeking Answers When You Can’t Ask Questions (Part 2)

This post is a continuation from a previous post which you can read here. I left off by stating that, “I believe Pastors are in large part to blame for the weak broad answer of, God told me to leave.” While I will not go completely through the earlier post, in short, it’s easy for members/attendee’s of our congregations to move on with no questions asked or feeling the need to give real answers because we, as pastors, have modeled that in front of our congregations.

Pastors do great harm to congregations when they simply leave and their only statement to the congregation is, “God told me to go, I could stay but that wouldn’t be in the will of God. You want me in the will of a God right?” Here’s what I mean, when Pastors stand up in the pulpit on a Sunday to announce their resignation and that “another door” has opened, more times that not the first statement is similar to this, “God has let me know that my work here is finished. God told me to go.” In that one statement alone, we shut down the congregation from asking questions because without saying it we are saying, “take your question up with God.”

While I will admit we don’t have to explain Gods reasoning for what he does, most of the time we as Pastors claim that God is leading us as long as His direction lines up with what we want. Congregations have questions and I am certain that they deserve honesty while we are on our way out the door. I also find it amazing that week after week we don’t mind speaking on behalf of a God. Point in case, we can stand behind the pulpit one Sunday and say, God told me (blank) and then we will relay the why. But, when it comes to leaving we say, God told me to go…but never relay the why.

What’s even more unnerving is that somehow we feel like it’s okay to leave like that. Somehow we’ve shut ourself off from the fact that even though we are Pastors we are still part of the “flock.” We are still members of that local body. When a member is disconnected, cut off, or leaves there is an open wound that takes time to heal. In fact, when we fail to give honest answers and simply leave our fellow members with a God told me to go and nothing more, the healing process malfunctions. I know people who still wander the real reason a pastor left some years later. Further, wouldn’t you think God would want us to answer their questions. I have seen the pain in the eyes of men and women who have trusted, loved, and supported a former pastor only to be betrayed with a half hearted, God told me to go.

What’s the fix?

Honesty and Integrity!

If we need more money and another opportunity presented itself that could better take care of your family, let the congregation know. It’s simple, say, “we are unable to provide for the needs of our family so I began the process of looking elsewhere. An opportunity presented itself, we are pleased with what they offer and am thankful for the opportunity to serve here but we feel that this is the move we need to make.” Though separation is never easy at least there will be few questions. Trust me, it will save the next guy following you.

Here’s what I’ve found. It’s easy to blame God. However, sometimes we use God as an excuse in order to not answer tough questions. Another thing, hirelings leave feeling they owe no one an answer. Vagabonds move from place to place with no sense of ownership and responsibility to the place and people they are around.

Pastors, you are not hirelings and members/attendee’s you are not vagabonds. You are all members of the same flock and an honest answer goes a long way.

I believe there is one more post before I finish this thought. Until next time, keep chewing.