The Challenge of Bivocational Ministry

This week my “day” job started by up again. My day job is teaching English Language Arts and Reading to 7th graders. People usually feel that I am a glutton for punishment; I pastor a church AND teach rambunctious junior high students about all the grammar they want to forget.  But this is because the Lord has seen fit to bless me with a unique challenge: bivocational ministry.

I will be candid with you: bivocational ministry is a challenge. If you read any pastor blog, magazine or journal, you will be confronted with the fact that the modern pastor is required to wear many hats: preacher, prayer leader, hospital visitor, funeral conductor, administrator, social media marketer, bathroom cleaner, yard mower and cat wrangler. What is required of most pastors today is daunting. Now imagine that you must squeeze those pastoral duties around an 8-to-5 job, family life and marriage. You see why bivocational ministry is a challenge, don’t you? So how do I and the numerous other bivocational pastors out there make it through the day?  Continue reading “The Challenge of Bivocational Ministry”

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Psalms on Saturday: Psalm 55:22

“Cast your burden on the LORD,
and he will sustain you
He will never permit
the righteous to be moved.”

Psalm 55:22

What burdens do you have? What is heavy upon your heart and soul? One burden we carry is guilt. It is astounding how much guilt we carry with us. We look on Instagram, see that someone has worked out and think, “Why didn’t I work out today?” We wanted to, we know we should have and in that moment we put a little guilt on our backs. We yell at our children, apologize to them and hug them, but we still feel badly because we know that so-and-so would never yell at their children; we grab a little more guilt and put it on our backs with the rest. And so we live our lives until our souls are hunched over, groaning for relief, too weary to go on. If you know the feeling, this psalm is for you. Continue reading “Psalms on Saturday: Psalm 55:22”

Book Review: Pray About Everything

With his book Pray About Everything, Paul Tautges has done something unique: he reminds us that prayer is not a solitary activity. This book is helpful call for pastors, churches and laypersons to remember the importance of the church not only praying for each other, but with each other. Tautges divides this helpful book into three sections: the first is a reminder and theology of God dependency; the second is a series of meditations for prayer meetings on a variety of subjects related to God dependency; the third is a series of appendices with helps to push a congregation towards a spirit and practice of God dependency.

Prayer meetings, in my experience, are usually quite underwhelming. We read in Acts how the Spirit moves powerfully and forcefully as the people of God pray. Yet, when most congregations gather to pray today, the prayers are usually man-centered, particularly on the physical health of the congregation. If you have been underwhelmed and feel like this is not what the Spirit wants our prayers meetings to be like, this is a book which will help you.

Psalms on Saturday (Mar. 18, 2017)

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food…
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night.”

Psalm 63:6

Earlier this week my wife and I had the excellent opportunity to stay at the Haven River Inn in Comfort, Texas. On Tuesday evening, we ate at the Subway there in Comfort and at 4 o’clock in the morning, I discovered that the Subway food and I were having a large disagreement in my belly. For quite a while, I rolled around and could not fall asleep as the battle raged on in my belly. Giving up the fight for sleep, I reached over, grabbed my phone and began browsing through social media, blogs, etc. for an hour.

My wife eventually woke up and I flipped on the lamp and began reading Psalm 63 and in verse 6, the Holy Spirit dropped the hammer upon my heart. In my rolling around, searching for sleep and relief from the Subway-stomach carnage, I never once prayed and asked God for relief. I never once thought back to the Scripture I memorized for just such an occasion. I didn’t even pull up the YouVersion Bible app on my phone to read the Bible for comfort. Instead I sought comfort in the backlit, blue light screen of my iPhone. I did not exemplify Psalm 63:6 (which is quoted above).

Psalm 63:1 says, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” I love this verse; it is one of my favorites in all of Scripture and it is what I aspire and hope would describe me. But if these things are true, if I truly and earnestly desire the Lord, then why was the Bible the last place to which I turned?

The answer is not that I do not love Scripture or do not love God. But the answer is that earnestly seeking the Lord, having a soul which thirsts and yearns for the Lord is a daily and lifelong process with many victories and failures. I failed to turn to Scripture because I was not trusting that God could take care of my problem or provide comfort. However, I did think that my phone would provide the comfort I needed. I failed to trust God.

But even amid the failures, the Lord is gracious and plants the seeds of victory. If I would not have failed, I would not have realized how easily distracted my mind can be and how I do not turn to the Lord in moments of crisis and pain. But through my failure, the Lord showed me these things and now they will be more and more present in my mind the next time a small crisis arises.

“Thank You, Lord God, for showing me that I was not trusting and finding my comfort in you. Please Lord, help me and every Christian to find our comfort, not in our phones, or something else, but to find our comfort in you.”

My Letter to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee

I sent this letter to the Executive Committee today in light of the Prestonwood Baptist Church, CP and ERLC controversy.

Dear Members of the Executive Committee,

The recent action on the part of Prestonwood Baptist Church (PBC) and other churches to withhold their Cooperative Program giving is extremely distressing and disturbing. Dr. Russell Moore has done a great job at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in leading Southern Baptists to pursue racial reconciliation, to uphold the necessity of strong and moral character and behavior in our public leaders, and to keep the Gospel central in all we do. The action of PBC and other churches seems like little more than extortion in order to force the Executive Committee and the Convention to bend to their will. This is not any different than a church member withholding his giving in order to force a pastor to do what the church member wants; in both situations, the action is borne out of pettiness and a need for control.

As a committed Southern Baptist pastor, I wholeheartedly support Dr. Moore and the work of the ERLC under his leadership. He and his staff have helped and will continue to help to give Southern Baptists a positive witness to the watching world. I ask you, the members of the Committee, to do two things:

  1. To public support and affirm Dr. Moore and his leadership of the ERLC;
  2. To not seat any messengers from churches that refuse to support the work of the Convention by not giving to the Cooperative Program.

I thank you for your time and you will be in my prayers.

In Christ,

Gradon Schaub

Pastor, Duffau Baptist Church

How to Catechize Your Children

Last week, I presented several reasons why you, as a parent, should teach your child the truths of the Christian faith using a catechism. This week I will discuss the more practical side of teaching your child a catechism.meme-catechism-evil-toddler

Anyone who has ever worked with children, especially small children, knows that you have two seconds to get done what you need to get done. After two seconds, the imperceptible-to-the-adult-eye details of the room begin to distract the children, like that one little, thin pencil line in on the top of the door frame, as well as their own little minds (“Why wouldn’t I be thinking about Darth Vader? Duh.”). These things are good, because you want your children to be curious. These things are also frustrating, because you just want them to pay attention. And it seems that with spiritual things the combination of hypersensitivity to obnoxious decor-related details and attention deficiency increases. Or at least when you are trying to teach them spiritual things. So what is a Dad and Mom to do to get the little darlings to sit down long enough to learn about Jesus?

  1. It is a marathon, not a sprint. One question a week. That is all it takes. More and you will burn yourself and your kids out.
  2. Pick a time to introduce your children to this week’s question. My wife uses part of her homeschool time to introduce and review the questions. And by introduce I mean that she and the girls memorize the new question and answer. She asks the girls seven times the question and answer and the girls recite it and memorize it. The girls learn the question and answer by heart.  It is not hard and children are fantastic memorizers. (Also, my wife somehow uses puppets to help with the memorization, but you would have to ask her about that.)
  3. Memorization requires review. The key to memorization is not the initial memorization but review the information frequently. That way it becomes internalized.
  4. Review does not need to be painful. Ask your kids the questions at the dinner table. Ask them in the car. Ask them at random times during the day. If you have a family devotion after a meal, that would be a good time to throw in the catechism question. You do not have to sit the kids down on the couch to review. It can happen anywhere.
  5. Modernize the language where needed. The catechism we use was written in 1798 so the language, at times, is a bit archaic. So modernize it. Use should instead of ought. Change thou to you, thine to your and so on.

But how do you know if your children are really learning the questions? The answer is, as weird as it seems, when they intentionally give you the wrong answer. Our youngest daughter thinks it is hilarious to give us the wrong answer to the questions. As discouraging and obnoxious as this is, it does mean something: she knew the right answer enough to put it to the side and make up a wrong answer. And also indicates something else: there is a spiritual battle going on in her soul. Her sinful nature, by making a joke of God’s truth, is waging war against the truth. And this leads me to the final bit of advice:

  • Pray that your child’s heart would be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, my teaching my children the catechism will not change their soul. It will not bring them from darkness to light. Only God can do that. But God has called us to be faithful to teach our children His truth, as it says in Deut. 6:7: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” By teaching our children these truths, we are preparing the soul so that the Holy Spirit can plant, water and raise up the plant of salvation. And we must commit ourselves to pray that the Holy Spirit would bring about this change in their lives.

To end, which catechism should you use? That is up to you, but I would suggest that you use one which accords with your theological beliefs. We use a Baptist catechism because are committed Baptists. Below I will list some options for different groups

  • Baptists – This website has numerous Baptist catechisms. The Catechism for Boys and Girls was designed for elementary age children, though the first few questions are easy enough a four year old can learn them. The Orthodox Catechism by Hercules Collins is one which accords with the 1689 Confession.
  • Evangelical – The New City Catechism is a catechism for a broadly evangelical audience produced by Tim Keller and Sam Shammas. The website is nifty (that’s right, nifty) and there is also an app for the iPad. It’s advantage is in its broadness; most evangelical denominations (Baptist, Presbyterians, Assemblies of God) could agree with most parts of this catechism.
  • Presbyterian – The First Catechism is introductory catechism for the Westminster Standards.
  • New Covenant Theology Baptists- For those who want a distinctly NCT perspective regarding the law and the Sabbath, there is the Catechism for Little Ones.

And as a special treat and only after four takes (because someone was rolling around on the ground in the other three), my wife recorded my daughters answering some of the questions. *Disclaimer* The questions are not asked in the order in the catechism and also I do not know why Gwenny felt compelled to say “Hammer, Hammer” after every question.

 

 

 

Around the Web (2/13/17 to 2/17/17)

These are some articles and other helpful information that I have found in my weekly journey through the Internet.

  • Some helpful insight to help you connect with your church’s visitors.
  • Tim Challies gives a excellent reason NOT to see film adaptation of The Shack: the second commandment.
  • Douglas Wilson outlines the differences in approaches between conservatives and progressive in how to treat a person’s conscience.
  • If you are a Verizon user, here are the “catches” on their new unlimited plan.