Interviewing the Holy Spirit

Discernment of the Holy Spirit is essential. This skill is one that we never master because there is always room for improvement. Still, it is important for Christians to have a baseline understanding on how the Holy Spirit speaks. If anything, to know how the Spirit does not speak. Otherwise, we may just make important spiritual decisions on our own, which we are sure to get wrong from time-to-time.

Unfortunately, it took two difficult pastorates for me to grow in the area of discernment. In fact, as I look back at one set of church interviews, it was clear that God was shouting to me, “DO NOT GO HERE!” Sadly, like many others, I had to learn through the hard path of experience. Continue reading “Interviewing the Holy Spirit”

Parsing About the Parsonage

Once upon a time, it was thought that I lied to a church about moving into their parsonage. That is not exactly correct. While I failed to communicate my change of mind, I did not lie. These points and more I accept responsibility. More importantly, I am glad for God’s redemption ability despite challenging church leadership and my poor judgment.

As stated in a previous post, “The Church Parsonage is Not a Benefit,” but many churches believe it is an excellent tool to recruit ministers. In some cases, it still is a significant advantage. More and more pastors though are declining to live in them. Like many in their congregation, they want to build equity for their family’s future, which a provided house does not give. As a result, many churches are choosing to sell their parsonages. However, where I once pastored the expectation was still for the pastor to live in the parsonage.

The conflict over me and their parsonage began when a deacon on the Pulpit Search Committee asked

“Brother Mike, I got a question for you! Are you going to live in our pastorium?!”

On asking his question, there was at least one committee member who interjected against this deacon’s question. His objection centered on the previous pastor who experienced problems when he lived in the home owned by the church. Despite this committee member’s concern, the deacon reiterated with,

“Hey, our former pastor needed to get out. When you resign as the pastor, you need to exit the pastorium sooner than later. Besides, we are better than some churches. I know one church who had the water cut off the next day. We gave the former pastor more time than a day!” 

This scenario was a shock to my senses. Not only did I doubt the long-term benefit of living in any parsonage; the committee was admitting their checkered history with their building. Still, I had to give a response, so I said, Continue reading “Parsing About the Parsonage”

Book Review: New Morning Mercies, by Paul Tripp

UnknownDevotionals can be a dime a dozen. The way they are laid out is almost as predictable as a crime show procedural. Readers know there will be an entry for each day and that the entry will not be very long. Usually there is a scripture to accompany the devotional and after each one is read a reader moves onto the next day. As a result, it is tough to add something new to the genre, but Paul Tripp does this with his yearly devotional, “New Morning Mercies.” He does this by simply focusing on the foundational aspect of the Christian life, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is a mystery that Tripp helps the reader unpack each day in this devotional. As one learns from the book, it is uniquely simple, yet completely profound. As a result, Christians can pursue two paths towards the Gospel. First, they can believe they understand all they need to know about the Gospel and never go any deeper. This can stem from teaching that mainly emphasizes the saving element of the Gospel and not much else. However, the grace of the Gospel does much more than that, it sanctifies and grows a person in Christ. This is the second path Christians should take in regard to the Gospel once they are eternally secure by the grace of God. By growing in one’s understanding and application of the Gospel each day transformation occurs that eventually leads one to fall more in love with Jesus. There becomes a deep affection for Christ that encourages one to continue to unpack the mysteries that the Gospel has to offer. In other words, the ability to understand the Gospel is without end and Tripp masterfully writes about it each day in this devotional. Continue reading “Book Review: New Morning Mercies, by Paul Tripp”

Christians Should Praise In Public & Criticize in Private

“Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness or you’ll be like him yourself.” (Proverbs 26:4)

UnknownDuring my undergraduate degree one professor gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me for years. He said, “Don’t get into a peeing contest with a skunk because if you do you’re sure to get some on you.” This semi-grotesque statement has a simple truth to it, which is, there are some debates, arguments, and conversations that are not worth having, especially in public. Sadly, too many Christians I see on social media have yet to learn this lesson. As some of the worst Christian disagreements occur publicly on social media.

For example, too many Christian bloggers attack each other over semantics and nit-picky issues when we really have more in common in Christ. This type of public arguing does little to convince our critics from the culture. In fact, this confusion begins to make them ask,

“Do we know what love looks like”

Or,

“If they can’t love another then how can they love those who are not Christians?”

Therefore, we need to stop being foolish by not airing our sharp disagreement out in public. Rather we need to wisely discern to handle things in a private chat, phone call, or otherwise. In other words, we must consider the consequences and results from how we handle our differences. This is because Jesus prayed in John 17:23-25: Continue reading “Christians Should Praise In Public & Criticize in Private”