January 18, 2010

Servant Leadership

We are endeavoring as a deacon leadership team to study out what spiritual leadership looks like for men with the official position of "servant" (diakonos = servant in Grk = deacon in Eng). If, as we contend, from a Scriptural analysis, deacon is a position of service and not decision making, then what does that kind of servant look like? I propose that deaconing (to verbalize the noun) must mimic Jesus' example of service. So, literally, our question becomes how would Jesus be a deacon? Good question! :)

From our "reading through the Bible" (RTB) passage for today (Matt. 12:15-21) Jesus gives us some insight through His own actions and an Old Testament quote.

Jesus ministered to the needs of people, avoided grandstanding, and ignored the baiting of his adversaries (12:15-16). His service was intended to bring an awareness of God's power without show. He didn't do the miracles to draw attention to Himself (although that would not have been a bad thing -- cf. Phil 2:6). Instead, He cared for people, bringing God's power to bear on their lives and giving them personal hope and encouragement. His goal was to minister to people, not build a following. He refused to be stymied by the Pharisees telling Him (God in flesh, dwelling among them) what was an "approved" work. He did instead the work of the Father, Who had sent Him. That work was to care for people -- sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally, sometimes spiritually, always without a string attached.

The Old Testament quote is from Isaiah 42:1-4. Matthew claims that Jesus fulfilled this description of God's servant perfectly. Matthew was, in fact, claiming that Jesus was the Servant, par excellance, the Messiah. The description of God's Servant is: one who has been chosen by God, who is loved by God, who delights God, who is filled with the Spirit, who proclaims justice to the nations, and who does not quarrel. While these characteristics were applied to the Messiah, Jesus, we ought to strive to mimic them in our world today, that the nations may hear and believe! The Servant of Isaiah's prophecy has come and He has reproduced/birthed a chosen people, a group of royal priests, a holy nation, and a people of God (1 Peter 2:9). We, as spiritual leaders, must serve as ambassadors (representatives) of Christ and live in such a way that we bear the message of truth to a lost and dying world. Remember, we now have the mind of Christ!

So we have an excellent example of spiritual leadership already laid out for us to follow. the choice really comes down to whether or not we WILL FOLLLOW or whether we will choose the business model instead. Will you join me in praying for your spiritual leaders at TaB (or the ones at your church if you aren't a TaBber)?

1. If we are to be servants, after the order of Jesus, how should we behave and minister?

2. If we are following Christ's example and we are confronted by others, what should our response be?

3. What should our goal as servants be? Does it have anything to do with bigger congregations or buildings or budgets?

4. What one area of service have I made about "bigger" rather than "better"?

5. If put alongside Jesus, how would my servanthood match up with His Servanthood?

6. What is my prayer request following this evaluation?

June 22, 2009

A Very Grand Word Pic

I love illustrations that teach, especially metaphors. Here's one that I read today that describes the balance between sovereignty and free-will.

"In the building of the old cathedrals, the masons, stonecutters and woodcarvers were allowed and individual liberty within the total plan. The design was not thus impaired but made rich, as witness original masonry lines, grinning gargoyles, and wood screens that are the spirit's rapture. So we are free within the plan."

George Buttrick, Prayer, p.58

  • How would you define sovereignty and free-will? Can you think of another illustration that helps you balance these two concepts?
  • Is it possible for two people to face the same decision, make two different decisions, and still both be following the will of God?
  • How would this understanding of man's ability to be creative and flexible within the divine plan affect the way that we "do church"? Is this concept freeing or confining?
  • Have you thanked God for the beauty of your church -- not the building, but the people He has put together there?
I have a beautiful picture in my mind. I hope this helps you!
Pastor Paris

June 8, 2009

Communion RE:commitment

Communion ought to be a time of celebration. Communion is meant to be a time of remembering all that Christ has done for us as believers. Communion lends itself naturally then, to recommitment.

Let Thy blood in mercy poured,
Let Thy gracious body broken,
Be to me, O gracious Lord,
Of Thy boundless love the token;
Thou didst give Thyself for me,
Now I give myself to Thee.

excerpt from The Book of Praise, #200 by John Brownlie

  1. When last I celebrated communion, did I fully appreciate the boundless love behind the tokens/symbols? Did I hurry past that too quickly?

  2. When I think of the fellowship or communion that I now have with God, do I remember that it was paid for with a priceless gift -- the gift of life? Do I remember that I could not do it on my own?

  3. How should grace and mercy affect my communion with the others that are gathered around the table with me? Do I gush mercy and grace on them out of the overflow that has been given to me?

  4. For a fellow sojourner, what are the exploratory implications of the words "Thy boundless love"? Think about Psalm 139 and its connections to this phrase!

At TAB, we just celebrated our monthly RE:commitment to RE:maining in Christ, putting our roots down into the fellowship with God. What a great joy to focus on personal spiritual growth to maximize our representation of our Savior in this broken world.

If you do not have a church home of your own and/or if you are in the Ithaca area, we would love to have you visit our community of believers. We always love spilling the love of Jesus Christ over onto our friends! :)

May God make His face to shine on you!

Pastor Paris

Welcome <-- READ THIS FIRST!

Thanks for stopping at this blogsite. I hope that you have found it because of a personal, friendly invitation from a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church. I hope that this blog will become a "favorite" on your blog reading list and that you will interact with the postings regularly.

My desire is for you to be challenged, encouraged and helped along in your spiritual life through the quotes, questions, and quips of a Baptist pastor from Ithaca, NY. I look forward to our interaction via the blogosphere! Grab a cup of coffee, your Bible and enjoy the journey.

May God richly bless you today.

Pastor Paris

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