It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer,
it is a fine work he desires to do. 1 Tim. 3:1 - NASB95
For the past 27 years as senior pastor of this church, it has been my privilege to serve alongside a host of godly elders. Working with the men the Lord provided has been a true joy. I won't scare you with stories of things that have happened to other pastors I know, but my experience of mutual love, respect, and unity, is not the norm. Praise God for all the wonderful men in the history of this church who sought to be biblically qualified and serve out of the overflow of a growing relationship with Jesus.
One of my concerns for the future of our church is to continually train up more godly men to lead the way. I thoroughly enjoy praying for, meeting with, and equipping faithful men to be leaders (2 Tim. 2:2), but I have found that I can't force them to have the desire and put forth the effort. That is what Paul was talking about in 1 Tim. 3:1 when he used the words "aspire" and "desire."
When was the last time you heard a pastor encourage a man to lust? Lust isn't inherently a good or bad word, it simply refers to an intense desire (craving) for something. Most often in the Bible it refers to something negative (i.e., sexual sin), but when Paul says the office of overseer "is a fine work he desires to do," he uses the Greek word epithumia ("lust") in a positive way. For a man to be effective as an overseer (elder) he must lust not just for the office but for the
. Serving as a leader in the church is not simply going to meetings and making decisions; it is hard work. It involves sacrifice of time, money, energy, and sleep. It involves praying, studying, counseling, teaching, discipling, planning, administrating, and serving. It thrusts a man into intense spiritual warfare like never before. For many it leads to an intense battle with pride. For others, it is frustrating and discouraging. That is why a man has to have a God-given intense desire to do the work.
If the intense desire is there to serve in this capacity, it must be accompanied by a willingness to
exert much energy
to get there ("
"). A man must look deep inside his own heart and begin to confront areas of ungodliness, repent, and grow. He must develop character that is above reproach, and prove it in his own home. He must study the Word of God, be sound in his theology, and be able to teach it to others. All of this requires intense effort. It means saying "no" to other things in order to say "yes" to being the kind of leader the church needs. There is a price to be paid and this man is willing to pay it.
Why do I bring this up? For two reasons:
1) We will be
affirming our elders
at our annual business meeting this summer for the coming year. I want every elder (myself included) to recommit themselves to this kind of radical pursuit of being the best elders they can possibly be. I also want the church members to pray for and encourage the elders as they lovingly lead the flock.
2) We need to
raise up more elders for the future
. I am looking for more men who can become the future leaders this church will need into the future. I am asking God to put it on the hearts of some men to come and make it known that they earnestly desire to work hard and become an elder in the future. I am looking for men who are willing to read, study, develop skills, and grow in godly character, so they can eventually be qualified to serve the flock as deacons and/or elders.
How about you? Do you love the Lord Jesus and His Church? Do you want to grow in godliness and bear fruit that will bring great glory to God? Do you desire earnestly to shepherd the flock of God and train people to be mature, multiplying disciples? Are you willing to work hard to become more useful to the Master? Randy Leinen and I are prayerfully putting together plans for Leadership Training that will begin this fall. We want to invest in those who will invest their lives in others. If you have the desire and are willing to work hard... let me know.
Most Christians know that we all have a responsibility to share the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus Christ with those who are lost. But few of us do this as much as we should, even though we know that so many people are dying every day and heading to their horrifying eternity. A startling fact is that on average approximately 6,000 people die every hour of every day.
So, why don't we try and talk to them? The answer, I think, for most people is fear. We are afraid of the whole process. We are afraid of what people might say or think of us. We are afraid that we will look foolish. But if we think about the reality of the situation, those who are lost are the ones who should be afraid. They're the ones who are in deep trouble if someone doesn't talk to them, or if they don't listen.
On Friday nights, at Breaking Ground (our College and Young Adult Ministry), we have just started going through an evangelism training course called, "The Way of the Master." This week the lesson is about overcoming our fears. Here is a short summary of the main points of this lesson.
1. Compassion Overcomes Fear - Jesus often looked at the crowds and had compassion on them. When we consider that the people we are talking to are truly in deep trouble (destined for hell), we can sympathize with them. We should remind ourselves of this before and during our conversations.
2. Fear Drives Us to Pray - Paul talked about being inadequate for the task of being a living witness for Christ. But he also points out that our adequacy comes from God. The fact that we are afraid is actually a good thing. It helps us to realize that we need to pray and ask God to help us in bringing opportunities and helping us with explaining the Good News. One of our church members who talks to people about Jesus all the time was asked this question, "How often do you pray for opportunities to witness?" His answer? Every day!
3. Ice Breakers
- The hardest part of talking to someone about Christ is knowing where to start, especially with strangers. Good tracts or pamphlets are very useful in starting a conversation with someone. Go to
and you can find many different and inexpensive tracts that are great ice breakers and tools for turning the conversation to the things of God.
4. Drive the Conscience - Paul says in Romans that every person has the law written on their hearts. It is built into every person!! The Good News becomes REALLY good news when people know that they have broken the law and they need to pay. Even if they claim to not believe in God, we can know that their conscience says otherwise. The tracts mentioned above have great ideas for helping people to listen to their conscience. We don't have to convince them. God will do that through our mouths and His Word, when the time is right.
This is just a summary of one lesson. We have lots to learn. Overcoming fear is just one aspect of learning to let our light shine before men. Please pray for Breaking Ground as we seek to become those who are effective witnesses for Jesus Christ. Hopefully you are one too!
by Pastor Steve Lively
27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites from all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem so that they might celebrate the dedication with gladness, with hymns of thanksgiving and with songs to the accompaniment of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 So the sons of the singers were assembled from the district around Jerusalem, and from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth-gilgal and from their fields in Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built themselves villages around Jerusalem.
One of the things that saddens me in the church culture these days is the shutting down of choir ministries. It's almost as if churches have decided that the "choir thing" is just some man-made trend whose efficacy has passed. But the preceding Scripture from Nehemiah 12, along with some 40 other references to the choir or "singers" would belie that thought. God has given us each a voice with which to praise Him in "songs, hymns, and spiritual songs"- Eph.
3:16. Every believer is included in this directive. Then, as in the OT, there are those who are gifted vocally and musically who have a special role in worship, just as one who is gifted in teaching or preaching. Choirs are clearly God's idea and it is my opinion that they should continue to be a regular part of a vital church worship ministry. We should use every "tool in our belt" to effectively give God praise.
This past year, our faithful
Adult Choir, Shepherd's Voice, took a break to allow me to focus on the needs of our Youth ministry and to "recharge our batteries", as it were. Now, it is time to restart our ministry and I would like you to consider joining us if you feel God has gifted you in this area. We will be having a preview night that we call Christmas In July, which will give you an idea of what our choir is like and what the music is for Christmas this year. It will be
evening, July 25, on the platform in our Worship Center. We will start at 6:30 PM with a time of fellowship and refreshments and then we'll listen to some music and rehearse it a little bit. If you decide, after this event, that you would like to make a commitment to be a regular part of the choir, we will set up an audition with you sometime in August.
This Tuesday time frame is the one we utilize for our regular rehearsals, which begin in late August and continue through the middle of May. We sing in our morning worship services once per month and also present special concerts for Christmas, Easter, and Spring. A better than average voice and the basic ability to read music are required.
We would love to have you join this "worship choir"- the fellowship is sweet, the music is God-honoring, challenging and fun. Feel free to call me here in the office should you have any further questions:
. See you on
The Biblical Counseling Center
by Mike Vos
What is biblical counseling?
Biblical counseling is a ministry of the church. It is a private, personal ministry which assists its members to practically apply the Word of God in their lives.
Biblical counseling is where brothers and sisters come together and help one another overcome difficulties in life using God's Word as the final authority. Biblical counseling is a skill that is learned and not just something that happens. Jesus is our example; He is the wonderful counselor and our example of how to be an effective counselor. The Bible is inspired and trustworthy and sufficient for all of life's challenges. His word is relevant for the specific challenges we face in everyday life.
Our biblical counselors are trained with skills to help our church members to walk a life of godliness and overcome life's challenges. Our biblical counselors are certified through the
Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). For 40 years, ACBC has been certifying biblical counselors to ensure doctrinal integrity and to promote excellence in biblical counseling.
The Bridge Counseling Center is an ACBC certified training center and strives to teach, train and counsel Christians to glorify our Lord and build up the body of Christ.
Who needs biblical counseling?
Everyone needs biblical counseling. Biblical counseling is a form of discipleship and we are all called to love and disciple one another. An important part of building up the body of Christ is to come alongside and encourage, exhort and help one another. All Christians need discipleship; it's an important part of spiritual growth, as iron sharpens iron.
Benefits of biblical counseling?
In biblical counseling, you'll learn how to practically apply God's word to the struggles you face in life. You'll learn the secret to lasting permanent heart change, not temporal change. Are you tired of dealing with that same old problem (anger, anxiety, depression, lust, etc.)? Then it's time to learn how to permanently overcome the challenges we face. You'll be a winner and have victory over those things that hold you back from being more effective and pleasing to Christ.
Length of biblical counseling
Biblical counseling can be as few as 1 or 2 sessions. The average counseling case takes about 10-12 sessions. More difficult problems take longer. Sessions are generally 1 - 2 hours in length and are usually weekly. As you progress the sessions move to twice a month or monthly. Sessions are usually held at the church but can also be held in homes, restaurants, etc.
How to get started with biblical counseling:
Simply go to our church website
and under Ministries you'll find the Biblical Counseling webpage. From the Biblical Counseling webpage, you can download a
Personal Data Inventory (PDI)
. Complete this form and email it to
and a counselor will contact you. You can also complete a PDI at our church office.
Update on our counseling ministry:
The Bridge currently has 5 ACBC certified biblical counselors who are counseling an average of 35 people. There are 3 students completing phase 2 training in August who will then be ready to start counseling, bringing our biblical counseling staff up to 8.
Our next ACBC training program (phase 1) will start in
. If you're interested in learning more about becoming an ACBC certified biblical counselor, please email
and we'll send you detailed information. Any of our counselors will tell you, this certification process has dramatically changed their own lives and personal relationship with our Lord. The personal growth benefits alone are worth the efforts to be ACBC certified.
Bridge Counseling Center
is committed to training biblical counselors and providing the highest standards of biblical counseling to our church body and our community. You can contact our counseling ministry anytime with questions at