Civil discord...

Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:26-31)

Read this statement of the Apostle Paul and it's clear shepherds today are unwilling or unable to mount the sort of serious campaign our fathers in the faith mounted in defense of their flocks. Wolves are devouring sheep and their blood is on our hands... 

Pastors today respond to heterdoxy as if it were tea and crumpets; heresy as if it ought to be countered by a collegial dialog over scotch and cigars. Nothing's dangerous. No enemy is coming. No need to blow the bugle.

It's incomprehensible to think of a pastor in his farewell sermon today telling his congregation that none of their blood is on his hands.

"Blood? Whose blood? Where? What are you talking about?"

Pick up the sermons of John Calvin and read one of them...

Read anything written by Luther, Knox, Baxter, Edwards, or Machen. Or better yet, read any of the New Testament Epistles. Then stop and consider whether you have ever used any similar tone of voice in your care of your flock as you've waged war against the wolves that have arisen within your congregation? Where have you demonstrated a similar zeal and clarity and courage and intensity and wielded insults and parries and thrusts that bear resemblance to that habituallly used by our faithful fathers?

Is it that we've arrived at a time in church history when we're blessed with an unusual degree of peace--is that it?

Speaking personally, I haven't noticed fewer temptations to apostasy in my own soul as the years have passed by.

Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour while those of us who are ordained and set apart by the laying on of hands and prayer for the work of guarding the flock purchased by our Lord's precious blood preach suggestively, counsel tenderly, and warn with just the right touch of irony and humor. Then we're off to a good night's sleep.

Gone is the day of good shepherds killing the wolves. No one's ever a wolf, today, and no sheep are ever devoured.

This, of course, frees those of us who are shepherds to demonstrate what cultured gentlemen we are.

Which is good, really, since we live in a day when raised voices wake the babies and make mothers mad.

Brothers, if you would stand on that Great Day when we will give an account for our ministries, you better begin to see the danger and raise your voice and shout and declare in your sermon the precise thing you know will bring the wrath of your head elder's wife down on your head.

If you refuse, you are no shepherd. You're a hireling with a sinecure.

May God remind us every last day that here on earth we have no abiding place.

(TB)

Comments

Tim,

Perhaps I'm an audience of one, but I'd like to hear some real-life examples of how you and the pastors of CNC (or CTW) are "playing the man" for their flocks. Not the blogosphere stuff, important as it is. But where is the battle, for you, day-in, day-out? What are fighting? I see plenty of battles myself... but there are, to your point, very few trumpets being blown.

What's up for "Joe the Plumber" at ClearNote?

Love,

Here is one for you Matt...

I watch our pastors fight Reformed parents that prefer their children fornicate and have abortions than get married and miss out on the almighty college degree.

Did you guys see a lot of that out at Grove City?

This reminded me of something I read about four years ago, when S. M. Hutchens was explaining why he and his colleagues at Touchstone were (yet again) rejecting an invitation to make common cause with religious feminists in some enterprise that (supposedly) had nothing to do with religious feminism per se. In the midst of his reply to them (and to critics who found the Touchstone editors typically hide-bound about it all), he explained:

"How much more friendly and comfortable and status-filled life might have been if I had not come to the convictions on this [i.e. relgious feminism] that I did, for believe me, I am an unpopular man, and don’t enjoy being ill thought-of by nice people with whom I would like to be friendly.

But to hell with all that: life is short, and I must soon give an account of myself and my teaching to the Lord. I would rather experience some discomfort in this life than to have him identify me as a coward, a toady, and a false teacher.

And that is why I say what I say in the way that I say it."

If only someone who criticizes religious feminism in Bible translation would also decline to make common cause with them on something that (supposedly) has nothing to do with religous feminism per se!

Matt,
What you're asking for is what the Apostle Paul always called boasting, isn't it? And the Apostle always said he was talking like a fool whenever he did it. Why are you asking Tim and David to talk like fools?

I agree a preacher should be the first to submit to the truth he preaches. But asking him to list some ways he's faithful exposes him to temptations to folly, I'm not sure that it's wise. Maybe you could find out from others somehow? I know they sometimes post their weekly bulletins to their church website with elders' and deacons' phone numbers, why not call one of them up and ask your questions? I think that would be better.

By "their church website" I meant Clearnote Bloomington, I don't know about Christ the Word.

Someone help me if cold calling an elder or deacon wouldn't be appropriate, I don't want to mislead with bad advice.

Dear Matt,

If you could have, you should have come to the pastor's conference a few weeks ago - it was all about this. I couldn't go but hope to hear the audio.

I would imagine the last thing these pastors want to do is to give themselves credit or to disclose private things by relaying any such stories. Whenever I've thanked them for their work, they look horribly embarrassed and even ashamed. It surprised me and I didn't know how to interpret it, later realizing it is humility.

And I pray I don't present a stumbling block for them by praising God for their work here.

Thomas Watson said, "A hard knot must have an answerable wedge, else, in a cruel pity, we betray their souls."

There are answerable wedges here.

My family is a member at ClearNote and I can't even begin to describe way these pastors have defended the sheep and proclaimed Christ in so doing. I've only seen a small percentage of that work, what they've done for my family and families I'm close to, but even what I've seen causes me to marvel at what the Holy Spirit will do when men trust and fear God instead of man.

Even people from outside the church have come to us needing to be saved from the most vicious wolves and the most insidious of generational sins and, even though the pastors and leaders are exhausted from the fight, they virtually never turn anyone away and yet somehow balance this emotionally excruciating work with their leading of their own wives and children, somehow managing not to bring too much of the stress of it into the lives of their family.

I've really just never seen anything like it, not even close.

They've admonished individuals and families they dearly love, in faith, knowing it is exactly what they need but also knowing it will likely drive them away.

Most of us would rather assume that men who admonish this way are taking on too much so that we can validate our own laziness but trials are a blessing.

"Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance..." We hardly ever think of it this way but it tests the pastor's faith to rebuke and admonish and see whole families fall away - but it also builds the entire church's faith when we see the Holy Spirit work repentance in the hard knots and entire families saved.

The flock has to train itself to see the often quiet whisper of God's grace in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially when those who fall to the attacks of our enemy are so overwhelmingly loud.

Cruel pity is the order of the day, and there are few answerable wedges, "But if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again. It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men."

A pastor must chose to be an answerable wedge or else betray souls with deceitful kisses.

Daniel & Matt,

I'm not sure it's boasting, but I also don't understand Matt's question. Surely a good portion of the posts here are about exactly this sort of thing.

Feminism, issues of sexuality, trusting in "science" above God's word, the doctrine and authority of the church, rebellious factious men to rebuke, false teachers both within and without the church to silence.

Telling particular stories of these sorts of things might be helpful in some circumstances, but I'm not sure about doing it here.

-Joseph

Clint gives a beautiful testimony! Thank you.

>>> Surely a good portion of the posts here are about exactly this sort of thing.

Ha! I didn't think about that.

>>Not the blogosphere stuff, important as it is. But where is the battle, for you, day-in, day-out?

Dear Brother Matt,

I've written a post in response to this part of your question. Please check out the main page.

Love,

Pastor Beatty,

I didn't realize you were a pastor. I would have spoken differently to you if I had realized it.

God bless you and your ministry,

Daniel (and other commenters):

Perspective is everything (or at least a great deal). In my mind, I asked a legit question about what types of issues confront the brothers at CNC and CTW in a given week. A slice of life. I'm assuming a couple of things.

1. The Baylys are, in fact, playing the man in their congregations. They are shepherding - exhorting, confronting, teaching, rebuking, and consoling men, women and children in/with the Gospel of Christ.

2. While I think the Baylys have a valuable ministry via the internet (indicated by the "important as it is" qualifier), my question had face-to-face, personal ministry in view.

I would suspect (erroneously?) that the saints in Bloomington are struggling... but is running out to buy the NIV2011 one of the struggles? Or buying Keller's new book on marriage? Or thinking IV's campus ministry is a happenin' thing really an issue?

Having been to both Bloomington and Toledo, I'm sure that the elders of both congregations have more than there share of work to do given the size of each. But what specific themes, trends, etc. are relevant in a congregation that takes the Gospel seriously, pastors take their calling seriously, and parents and called to take their calling seriously and little attention is given, formally at least, to being hip, cool, in-the-know, etc.

This hardly, in my mind, involves "boasting" on Tim or David's part. I'm neither asking for or expecting names and addresses or particular "success" stories. Just a general sense of things.

For example, in my work community, many men struggle with increasingly draconian demands of employers on their time (something the underemployed college/grad students I see in our current church community have no sense of...). Men are also very unequipped to teach their sons about sex. The Bible isn't read in the home, in spite of a flurry of religious activity and meeting. Men with swelled egos divide church after church... and elders just let them go.

That's the kind of thing I was referring to. I'm wondering if my communities (one suburban/professional, one urban and "missional") are similar to Bloomington?

Sorry for being obtuse. No call for "boasting" (fail to see how relating these things are boasting...), just a relating of broad lines of analysis.

>>> This hardly, in my mind, involves "boasting" on Tim or David's part. I'm neither asking for or expecting names and addresses or particular "success" stories. Just a general sense of things.

So helpful, I had misunderstood. Thanks for clarifying.

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