Ready……Shoot……Aim!

The headline read, “Killed by Friendly Fire.” Pat Tillman was killed in 2004 in the mountains of Afghanistan not by the enemy, but accidentally by his own army. This was a tragic event that received nationwide attention.  His death was mourned by thousands.

Unfortunately this happens within the Body of Christ each and every week. Doctrinally sound pastors and Christian leaders are shot, so-to-speak, by those in their own army — by other pastors and other Christian leaders. And while this is taking place, the real enemy sits back and laughs, free from any opposition.

In many cases we have lost sight of who the real enemy is. We get ready…..shoot……and then aim.  We are duped into ‘sowing discord’, gossiping, and attacking others. The whole time this is taking place, we incorrectly believe that we are fighting for the sake of Christ. In reality, we have become a hindrance to the work of Christ.

There are several things we need to realize.

1- Satan is the real enemy, not each other.

2- Doctrinally sound pastors and churches are to be unified in fighting the enemy. This is done by focusing on the Gospel.

3- As has often been said, “If you can’t say something nice (edifying) about someone, don’t say anything at all.” This needs to be practiced. Sure there are times when doctrinal error needs to be pointed out, but here we are talking about non-doctrinal issues.

4- Understand that we each have a responsibility to pray for each other.

Pastors, let’s keep the crosshairs on the real enemy. Get Ready…..Aim…..THEN Shoot!

How to Avoid Worship Service Hijackers

The weekly worship service of a church should be valued, prioritized, and protected. As pastors and church leaders, we should guard the worship service from those things that attempt to hijack it.

What is a worship service hijacker? It is anything that draws the attention away from the worship of God, singing praises to his name, the preaching of his Word, and responding to the message that has been preached.

The challenge is that seemingly good things can hijack a service by drawing the attention to religious entertainment and unimportant time-wasters. The worship of God is far too important to allow these things to hijack a worship service. Here are several ways we can guard against it.

1- Keep the purpose of a worship service in clear view.

The purpose of the worship service is to worship! This means that everything that takes place in the worship service should aid and contribute to worship. If you are doing something in the worship service that does not contribute to worship, it is a hindrance to worship.

2- Educate your staff and have them also guard against worship service hijackers.

This may take some time and you may have to eliminate those things that tend to hijack a worship service gradually over time, but having your staff on the same page will go a long way toward this effort.

3- Learn to lovingly say no.

There will be times you simply have to say ‘no’ to something that someone wants to do in the service so that you can keep worship as a priority. Simply explain your reasoning, and pray they will join you in prioritizing worship.

4- Understand who the sole audience is.

If the goal of a worship service is the worship of God, then we really only have one audience. The congregation is not an audience, they are participants in worship to the audience of one. Eliminate those things that turn the congregation into spectators who are entertained and highlight those things that help them be worshippers of the one true God.

Pastors, you will always have to guard against those things that hijack your worship service. Be focused on the purpose of the service, educate your staff, learn to say no, and remember who the audience of one is.

Searching The Scriptures

Not too long ago I spent some time on the phone with some friends who are passionate about searching the Scriptures. This time discussing God’s Word reminded me of several things.

1- A passion for studying God’s Word is contagious.

If you get excited about studying, understanding, and applying God’s Word it will spread to others. John Wesley once said “Get on fire for God and men will come to see you burn.” I believe this also applies to our attitude toward God’s Word. Get excited about studying God’s Word and that excitement will spread to others.

2- Studying and searching the Scriptures should be normal for those who have a relationship with Christ.

Pouring over God’s Word alone or with friends should not be a rare occurrence. In fact, it should be a normal part of our lives.

3- It is easy to slip into the trap of having wrong priorities.

There are so many things we can be passionate about, but far too often the Bible is not high on that list…if it is on it at all. Make studying the Bible a priority.

4- Studying the Bible takes time and requires work.

Let’s face it — there are some difficult passages of Scripture, and while we may not always have all the answers, we should be willing to invest the time into studying the Bible. We should be diligent in our study. I often remind myself that I am only willing to work for what I view as a priority.

5- If you are only feeding on God’s Word on Sundays you will spiritually starve.

You need God’s power in your life in order to live in a way that is pleasing to God. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to rely on God’s power while ignoring God’s person. The power of God cannot be separated from the person of God. Seek Him daily through His Word.

6- The focus should always be on understanding Truth accurately.

I saved this for last because it is crucially important. We don’t study God’s Word simply to increase our knowledge — we know that knowledge alone puffs up. We don’t search the Scriptures so we can become better arguers with others. We don’t approach God’s Word with our preconceived ideas, pre-formulated preferences, or selfish agendas and then seek to align God’s Word to what is comfortable to us.

Rather, we go to God’s Word with an open heart and an open mind — willing to adjust our thinking to its Truth. We go to God’s Word seeking to align our lives with what it says. This requires taking the time to study it diligently, understand it accurately, and apply it consistently.