My Favorite Quotes

My Favorite Quotes

"Instead of criticizing people who are fall short of our expectations, however, we ought to put on our boots, overalls, all helmets, and get busy on the work site." Joel R. Beeke

Thursday, November 25, 2010 Top Ten Ways Single Parents Can Disciple like Jesus

Top Ten Ways Single Parents Can Disciple like Jesus

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some Criteria for Evaluating Preachers and Preaching

Some Criteria for Evaluating Preachers and Preaching
Having recently been on a pastoral search committee for many months it helped solidify some important qualities to look for in a pastoral candidate. My hope is that this might be useful to other pastoral search committees in local churches.
First what are some of the characteristics we should look for in a candidates’ sermon?
  • Authoritative – this “text” is binding upon believers and not to be demeaned.
  • Logical – the train of thought is followed easily and well structured.
  • He preaches BOTH the indicatives and the imperatives. The NT uses indicative statements when discussing the certainties of what God has done, is doing or will do for us. Imperative statements (on the other hand) are commands declaring from God what we should do. What God commands us to do (the imperative) as Christians is always based upon what He has done, is doing or will do for us in Christ (the indicatives). For example, the first three chapters of Ephesians are indicatives, declaring the foundational grace we have in Christ, while the following chapters, which say “therefore …” (live this way), are imperatives. Selecting a preacher who understands this should be a number one priority because this is the clearest indicator of whether he is preaching a full-orbed gospel, avoiding both legalism and antinomianism. What God has done for us in regeneration & justification results in preaching faith and obedience, because it is God working in us that makes this a reality.
  • Exegetical accuracy (including Christocentricity). In his sermons, does he demonstrate the significance of every text in the light of Christ and his cross? Does he demonstrate the centrality of Christ in both Testaments and in all different genres of the Holy Scriptures?
  • Doctrinal substance: Fear of man plays no role in how he preaches the text. If a Text speaks of an unpopular doctrine, he does not avoid it simply in order to maintain peace. It is the preacher’s job to communicate the fullness of God’s message.
  • In the pulpit doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about self – for the most part, leaves “me” of the message – He points to Jesus Christ. Although an occasional testimony to the power of God's grace in his life, tasteful confession of personal struggles, etc., if it does not detract from the message of the gospel, may be appropriate.
  • Pointed application – What is the message about, and what is the listener to learn and remember for the day/weeks ahead?
Follow up questions after the sermon has been preached:
1) Did the sermon comfort the distressed? and
2) Did it distress the comfortable?
God has made provision and He is relentless in reminding us that “our relationship with Him lasts because He chooses us, not because of our devotion and/or obedience. If we only do the former(#1) we’ll comfort the self-righteous; if we only do the latter (#2), we’ll lose our audience without Christ.
Leadership Ability
It is key to find leaders who are passionate about their calling, who, as the apostle Paul says, are in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in the people he shepherds. So they must be relational and have a big heart for saints and skeptics alike. But the Bible specifically characterizes leaders as:
1)Those who take initiative [there is a problem and here is how to solve it] (Nehemiah 1:4-7; 2:6-8, 17-18; all of ch 3; Acts 27:9-10; Proverbs 16:9). Motivating people not through manipulation, force, hype or theatrics but communication courage and strength in ways people can understand and explaining how a goal is attainable and leading us there. Not a passive leader (good leaders never are) but one who leads and who is not afraid to get his hands dirty alongside his people. And people will follow his lead even against ridicule, discouragement, deceit and opposition (Nehemiah 4-6). Someone who knows how to overcome obstacles, organizes, and motivates followers. This is an essential quality of ANY effective leadership.
2) Who have good judgment. Not a risk taker who will wager with his people’s souls. Someone who will not subject his people to unnecessary hazards (doctrinal and otherwise). The fastest way to lose credibility as a leader is to make a foolish decision that leads people down a blind alley. Many young persons in ministry make ill-considered decisions - leading without knowing where they are going. They do not count the cost and are not sensitive to God's leading. A leader will assess the risk and plan for contingencies.
3) Who are courageous (Psalm 93:4, Acts 27:22; Philippians 1:21) In Numbers 13:1-3, 25-30 the majority were intimidated by the situation. But godly leaders chose to believe God for the resources to overcome all obstacles to success.
4) Exhibits humble gentleness and genuine compassion with the sick, hurting, and despairing.
5) Who speak with authority. This kind of authority of course is not born of self-confidence but relies on the certainty of God's promises. God cannot deny himself and a leader speaks definitively and with certainty. Of course this means he must know and trust the God of the Scriptures and believe with unshakable conviction that God's word is true and be able to communicate his own convictions with confidence and conviction. Unless you have this firm trust that conveys strength you cannot speak clearly or with authority (2 Corinthians 1:20; 2:14). Verbally you will not project certainty or courage and, in this case, will find it difficult to lead people.  A biblical leader speaks with absolute confidence because he derives his authority from God's word. This does not mean he has to speak with authority on every subject, but on subjects the Scripture clearly views as important. The word of God is not merely an opinion but is authoritative.

6) Who strengthens others (Acts 27:25) He gives them a reason to hope in the future, hope in something bigger than themselves (The One True God) even when it may appear that there is no hope. He does not avoid hard, unpopular truths if the Text he is preaching from declares it.
7) A leader takes charge. This kind of leadership is tested and proved in crisis, who can handle stress, solve problems, bear burdens and find a solution when everyone else is confounded. This is not conferred by title or rank but through influence.  He never, therefore compromises absolutes. Compromise may be good in handling relationships but not principles. In morals and principles in the word of God it is never right to compromise. One who does not take charge may take the pragmatic way out, which may come out of cultural necessity, but a good leader is not afraid to make hard decisions that may seem impractical to the average person.  Many people are timid and fearful of hard circumstance but biblical leaders are not. A real leader knows the difference between that which is negotiable and that which is non-negotiable because he lives from the word of God. This means the leader will draw everyone focus on the objectives, not the obstacles.
8) Who earns people's trust. When you observe the candidate’s interaction with people individually and in groups, does he easily connect and earn their trust.
9)The pastor's personal life, of course, has an exemplary moral deportment and reputation (along the lines of 1 Tim. 3).
10) A keen ethical sense and ability to give practical counsel in difficult situations.
11) Reading/study habits -- does he read a variety of authors with differing but essentially gospel-based viewpoints, from a variety of time periods, with discernment and not blind allegiance?
12) exegetical helps -- does he make use of technical exegetical study helps? Is he sufficiently capable in the original languages to put exegetical commentaries, theological dictionaries, and so on to good use?
Note: no human pastor will be perfect in all of these areas, but a qualified pastor will demonstrate growth and basic abilities in all of them, even granting occasional failures and imperfections. Hope you find this list helpful.

J.W. Hendryx


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Survey: Americans don't know much about religion

A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.
Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.

The survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life aimed to test a broad range of religious knowledge, including understanding of the Bible, core teachings of different faiths and major figures in religious history. The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion.

Respondents to the survey were asked 32 questions with a range of difficulty, including whether they could name the Islamic holy book and the first book of the Bible, or say what century the Mormon religion was founded. On average, participants in the survey answered correctly overall for half of the survey questions.
Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.

Not surprisingly, those who said they attended worship at least once a week and considered religion important in their lives often performed better on the overall survey. However, level of education was the best predictor of religious knowledge. The top-performing groups on the survey still came out ahead even when controlling for how much schooling they had completed.

On questions about Christianity, Mormons scored the highest, with an average of about eight correct answers out of 12, followed by white evangelicals, with an average of just over seven correct answers. Jews, along with atheists and agnostics, knew the most about other faiths, such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Less than half of Americans know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and less than four in 10 know that Vishnu and Shiva are part of Hinduism.

The study also found that many Americans don't understand constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools. While a majority know that public school teachers cannot lead classes in prayer, less than a quarter know that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.

"Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are tighter than they really are," Pew researchers wrote.

The survey of 3,412 people, conducted between May and June of this year, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, while the margins of error for individual religious groups was higher.


Full Report here:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yoga poses dangers to genuine Christian faith: Theologian

A leading Baptist theologian says the ancient practice of yoga, bound to Hinduism, is wrong for Christians, that poses like saluting the sun (a Sarah Palin favorite pose, FYI) instead of focusing on the Son, is breathing in trouble.

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, blogs today about a new book by Stefanie Syman, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, calling it "a masterpiece of cultural history" even as he decries her findings.

Syman, a 15-year-yoga devotee, proclaims yoga is now so mainstream, so sanitized of spiritual connotations that it can be touted on the White House Lawn during the annual easter egg roll. Mohler writes,
... the growing acceptance of yoga points to the retreat of biblical Christianity in the culture. Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding. Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God -- an external Word that comes to us by divine revelation -- not to meditate by means of incomprehensible syllables.
...Nevertheless, a significant number of American Christians either experiment with yoga or become adherents of some yoga discipline. Most seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, and the exercises and disciplines of yoga are meant to connect with the divine.
Mohler reminds believers,
...We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness.
But are Mohler's warnings too late to slow the widespread Christian yoga craze?
In 2005 a writer for Christianity Today talked about the advantages of yoga without any fear that it would lead a strong evangelical astray. Agnieszka Tennant wrote:
The Hindu gods don't make it onto my mat. Yoga purists don't lead classes at mainstream American gyms. Could it be that some of them learned yoga from the purists? Yes. But no one's making me repeat any mantras. The closest any of my gym's several yoga teachers get to religious utterances is by bowing and saying "Namaste" at the end each class, which can be translated as "The soul in me honors the soul in you" or "The image of God in me honors the image of God in you." I like it! It just reminds me that, as C. S. Lewis put it, there are no mere mortals.
There are multiple web sites citing a Christian twist on yoga.
Outstretched, Inc., an outreach ministry of Jubilee Shores United Methodist Church in Fairhope, Alabama, suggest on line that...
We become more spiritually healthy through the yoga practice by calming our minds and quieting ourselves to the point that we can tune out the world's frequency and tune into God's frequency.
And says yoga offers people of all faiths
an embodied spiritual practice that inclines toward deeper prayer. It is embedded in our spiritual DNA to go to God the way God came to us -- in and through the body.
Mohler, however, sees the proliferation of yoga posing as ...
... a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church. Stefanie Syman is telling us something important when she writes that yoga "has augured a truly post-Christian, spiritually polyglot country."
Are you feeling spiritually fractured or enlightened in yoga class? Does it interfere with, or override or reinforce, your religious beliefs?