Last week I blogged about the importance of submitting to a pastor-teacher and listening regularly — almost daily, actually — to his teaching as the primary means of fulfilling Romans 12:1,2: “ …present your bodies a living and holy (set apart) sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship, and do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is (divine) good, and acceptable and perfect (whole, matured).”
I believe the Bible teaches from such passages as I Th 5:12,13 and I Pe 5:1-3 that each of us is assigned a “right” pastor and each pastor is assigned a “right” congregation, and that it is the pastor’s teaching we present our bodies to, so that our minds may be renewed.
Recently our church, located in Somerset, Massachusetts (which we attend online via Paltalk and through a same-day recorded video on Sunday), has been in a state of turmoil. Our pastor has been on leave, as has one of his main substitutes, a man he trained for the pastorate and ordained several years ago. This has left some of the newer pastors whom he has also trained) to stand in the gap to a much greater extent than they ever have before.
Official word has not gone out as to why our Pastor has taken such a lengthy period of leave (about two months now) and in the absense of official word, rumors have filled the void. Some people have found his absense not to their liking and left the church. Others have believed the rumors, and also left. Still others talk of which pastors they like best, which ones they don’t like and suggest that perhaps our Pastor is no longer their right P-T but one of these newer ones is instead. It’s a situation of confusion and some, particularly those relatively new to this type of ministry, have struggled with it — the absence, the not-knowing, the confusion of loyalties, the concern for the future.
Struggle is all too often a good thing, however, as it has been in the case of my friend, Mary Hugill, for it challenged her to write down her thoughts to see what she really thought about it all, to see if once she set her emotions aside, could she think the matter through to some reasonable doctrinal conclusions? Indeed she could and I thought she did such a fine job, I asked if I might share her conclusions here as a “guest blogger.” (My first, I think! Although I have quoted from Mary’s emails at least once before; I just didn’t call her a guest blogger)
Mary is a military wife, living in Utah where her husband is stationed. She has two young children whom she homeschools and she and her husband have been involved in Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries for about five years. Here’s what she had to say:
What is Bible Doctrine all about? Where in the scale of importance does the “right” Pastor Teacher fall? Is it the main issue in Bible Doctrine? My understanding is that positive volition is the main issue in Bible Doctrine. My “right” Pastor Teacher is not really MY issue at all. The Pastor Teacher is a grace gift from God and as such it doesn’t really have anything to do with me, or my personal choice. It can seem in the current situation as if there is a list of voices and I should maybe pick from those voices the one that I might “think” is my Pastor Teacher. It sounds reasonable but I think it’s a deception. I think it’s a tool of confusion in the hands of the kingdom of darkness.
Nothing gets me more confused than too many choices. God is not in a hurry — no, God is NEVER in a hurry. He isn’t worried or concerned about anything. He has a perfect plan. My issue is Positive volition so I’m going to go forward with my positive volition and have absolute confidence that when I need a different “right” Pastor Teacher, which I may or may not, He will make it certain and clear and I won’t have had to do a thing except be positive to the word of God.
I have seen people reject the right Pastor Teacher doctrine and I have seen the shipwreck of their spiritual lives. I believe it to be a very important doctrine and right up at the top of the scale of importance. I also believe that one needs to have confidence in the timing and faithfulness of God, confidence in waiting on Him and not rushing out to do it all right. I may go in the wrong direction at times, I may feel disturbed and uncertain but I am never ever to be in doubt of who holds me in the palm of His hand. He can turn every curse into a blessing every wrong direction into a scenic route on the way to maturity. I am NOT lost though I may feel it at times. The way is narrow but I don’t have to find it by myself. There is only one man to follow and that makes it easy. Be positive towards The Lord Jesus Christ. Love the brethren. Endure. Believe what you can’t see. Be very strong and courageous…
Sometimes we have thought the spiritual battle was only something the Kingdom of Darkness was playing at. Sometimes we haven’t believed they are really trying to destroy us. On the battle field the fallen soldier is never left behind, never scorned or derided for getting wounded or killed. No matter his condition his fellow soldiers go into the fire and get him even if it’s only the body left. Those on the front lines take the greatest risk and the highest casualties. Those who have poured out their lives for us deserve honor and respect. It’s only those who wouldn’t go to the front, who ran from the battle before it began that get the scorn and punishment they deserve.
We may be proud of those who have fought and served and were wounded in battle. We must also continue in the battle ourselves and fight on without dwelling on our fallen. If we fall to despair we are not useful. And a good soldier is mindful of the purpose of the war and whom they fight for. Don’t be afraid to hold your ground and don’t ever forget that the enemy is not trying to annoy you; he’s trying to destroy you. Stand firm.
New orders will be handed down at the proper time. Until then we must always tune out the shouts and taunts of the enemy. Their shadows and illusions must be ignored.
Psalm 7:8 “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise, though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.
2 Cor. 11:3 “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from simplicity and devotion to Christ”
“Life is not a bowl of cherries. Sometimes the spiritual life is the pits. Just keep listening.” ~ Pastor Joe Sugrue
These are exciting times,
Thanks, Mary. I have some additional observations sparked by Mary’s words that I’ll share tomorrow.