Jesus And His Elders

We had an odd little hat in our home growing up that had two bills on it. It didn’t make any sense to wear it, or was it comfortable to wear. But, on the front of it it said, I’m their leader, which way did they go?! It made a good point in a fun way.

Leaders are all around us. I think it’s impossible to go somewhere and not encounter a leader or an entity that is being lead. It’s more likely noticed if it has poor leadership is it not? We recognize good leadership, have you ever been to Chick-fil-a at lunch time?

It’s no different in your church. To a large degree churches are successful or not on account of their leadership. This has been our area of focus this week in class, Church leadership.

There are three basic forms of church leadership.
First is Congregational / Independent. This would be a majority of Baptist, Bible or Non- denominational churches. It may have a board or group of deacons or elders that help make decisions but it’s main characteristic would be that it’s guided by a form of CEO pastor leadership.
Secondly, is Episcopalian. This would be the Roman Catholic, Methodist and Anglican type churches. These churches likely have a hierarchal structure.
Finally, Presbyterian. This is a form of government that is run by elders. It is representative in nature. The Elders are equal in power and make decisions for the church as a group. Presbyterianism has had great influence in our country. It is not coincidental that our American government is a representative form of government!
The word ‘presbyterian’ comes from the greek word ‘Presbuteroi’ found in 1Timothy 3:1. This refers to the ‘office’ or ‘position’. ‘Episcopi’ is the greek word translated ‘Overseer or Pastor’.

Through out the New Testament we see the apostle Paul giving instruction to appoint elders in the new churches that are being planted. Timothy himself was appointed to his ministry by a council of elders in 1 Tim 4:14. In 1 Timothy 3 Paul gives to Timothy a rather lengthy list of qualifications for a man ‘who aspires to the office of overseer’. In Titus 1 there is another list of qualifications for elders. Paul tells Titus to ‘put what remained into order and appoint elders in every town’. Paul directs him to appoint Godly mature men to help these new churches grow.

Advice for these elders can be found in Acts 20:28. Paul exhorts the overseers or pastors, ‘Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained by his Blood.

The Church belongs to Christ. It is his body (Col 1:18). He appointed twelve to go and preach, make disciples and plant churches. They in turn appointed men to care for and to protect Christ’s Church. Let’s pray more and more that churches will look to Scripture for an effective way to lead and care for God’s flock.

Lastly, notice that it is the Holy Spirit that has made these men overseers. God is establishing his church by His Spirit. Let us not despise the leaders of our Churches but pray for them, after all, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to put them there for our good.

What about the Dragon?

Week one is over and the sprint through eschatology is complete. What a great first week of class! Eschatology is the study of last things. Issues that are considered include the millennial reign of Christ, The Kingdom of God vs. the Kingdom of Heaven, the Second Coming, Hermeneutics, Figurative language, and a host of other topics.

The bulk of time this week has been spent continuing to understand the main four views of Eschatology. These views are commonly referred to as Historic Premillennialism, Dispensational Premillennialism, Post Millennialism and Amillennialism. I’ll forgo all the in and outs of these views but what is in common between them all is that at some time in the future Christ will return, there will be a resurrection, he will judge the living and the dead, he will defeat death, and he will reign over the new heavens and the new earth for eternity.

It is such a pleasure to sit under and learn from my Uncle, Dr. Dwight Zeller. There is no one like him! A student that comes to Sangre de Cristo will be taught the scriptures and have opportunities to flesh the difficult aspects of doctrine that are hard to understand but what I find to be the real gems are the comments in-between our lectures, either about his career as a Navel Chaplin or pastoral comments that come from a lifetime of ministry. They are rich and wise, kind but firm, gentle but forceful, belly achingly funny but sensitively serious and unshakably rooted in the truth of the Word.

So what about the dragon? Revelation 1:1 begins with, ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place’. When you think about the book of Revelation, what comes to mind? Perhaps trumpets, seals, bowls of wrath, strange creatures? Are these the point of Revelation? Is the 1000 years the point? Is the intermediate state the point? Is the tribulation the point? Is the dragon the point? NO! It is the revelation of someone, it is the revelation about someone, it is the revelation OF Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the point. It is about a victory that he wins over sin and death. It gives us a hope that we can be sure of, something that we as believers can be certain of, it is something that gives us solid, concrete, joyous hope!

That little word, of. Don’t look over the small words. They help direct us. Let us pray that we not lose sight of who is important.

Coram Deo

It’s Always Good

From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. Psalm 104:13

I love weather. The view of the Sangre de Cristo mountains from where I sit writing is glorious. The clouds have quickly rolled in and a beautiful spring snow is currently dusting the Seminary. It’s a chilly 50 degrees here, but snowing! The Sangres have been blessed with a lot of snow this year and the landscape is alive and bursting with colors as spring creeps in and overtakes winter. The kids have especially loved the deer and hummingbirds that have welcomed us to our new home and in all this, I’m reminded of God’s great kindness in his creation.

Psalm 104 is a psalm of Gods great power and majesty in creation. All people are recipients of the world he has made and he has given it to us to enjoy. The earth is blessed by the fruit of his work.

It’s not uncommon however to hear a comment on a rainy day that the weather is bad or that it’s nasty outside. Quite a few years back I heard a guy respond to my comment about the inclement weather and he said, ‘It’s always perfect’. It did get me to thinking, God brings the rain to water the earth for us and for his glory. I’ve had to reform my view of rainy days, and happily so. God in his wisdom waters the earth for our benefit and to display his handiwork.

The psalmist says here in 104 that he displays his majesty and splendor in creation. Verse 13 says that the earth is satisfied by the rain that the Lord sends. He makes the springs pour forth and he waters the mountains.

It is a beautiful sight to see the snow, and the rain that water the mountains. And when it rains, remember it is because of the Lord’s graciousness that the rain falls and waters the earth.

As I gear up for class on monday I am thankful to be able to study in such a special place and to behold the beauty of Gods creation. Thank you all for your prayers as we made our trip west and as I start my studies. Elena and I are truly grateful.


And we’re off!

Well here we are. The house is almost empty, last minute projects are getting wrapped up and a pile of books have been purchased and are ready to be read this summer. So far, in all of this, we haven’t lost our mind. But it’s gotten pretty close. 🙂

Thank you all for keeping us in your prayers. We are truly thankful. For this blog post I thought it would be a good idea just to give you an overview of what will be next for us. Today, we will pack our trailer and begin our trek west and hope to arrive in Westciffe CO Sunday the 26th. We will have a week to settle into our new home before classes start on June 3rd. We plan to take a day trip to the Great Sand Dunes and enjoy wading in the Medano creek caused from the the snow melt from the rockies. I haven’t haven’t been able to do this since I was a kiddo with my parents and I look forward to being able to experience it with my kids.

Getting acclimated will be part time job for us low landers. The seminary is located at a lofty 9000 ft. It’ll take a couple weeks to get use to that altitude. But I’m sure Waylon and I will get in some hiking before class starts and huff N puff our way around some trails in the area and help that process right along. Waylon and I also plan on tagging some mountain peaks this year. We hope to summit two: Horn Peak which measures in at about 13,500 and Humboldt which comes in at 14,065.

As to my class schedule, the summer will kick off with the study of last things…first, Eschatology. Then over the next three months we’ll cover Church Leadership, Pneumatology, Church Evangelism, Church History II, Biblical geography and Archaeology, New Testament Theology, Old Testament Poetry, and Christology. It’s a sprint. Please pray for the students as we make our way through all of this course work. During the fall the majority of time is spent learning Greek.

I was commenting to Elena the other day that we get to do this! It is a privilege to study the bible for seven months at Sangre de Cristo. Elena will stay busy taking walks in the cool mountain air, homeschooling and correcting my grammar! I trust it will be a special time for our family and am thankful to the Lord for making a way.

Thank you again for supporting us in prayer, we are grateful for them and you.

Finished and Ongoing

Touring the country with a band has been an incredible journey. There is something special about climbing on a tour bus and sharing 200 sq ft of floor space with 11 other guys. It’s a club, a fraternity, that I’ve grown to love dearly. I can’t fully describe the laughs a bus full of crew guys can stir up. The front lounge transforms into the most hilarious commentary of the days events that even on the worst of days can end on a high note.

The touring crew guy is a special breed. I’m not in their league. The techs I’ve met along the way are talented beyond anything I could ever hope to be. Things don’t go really wrong very often, but the few times I’ve seen it hit the fan I’ve watched the audio, lighting or system techs work the problem like cool calm collected surgeons. It’s impressive. These guys are pros. I’m fortunate to get to work along side of them….and watch. 🙂

My role for the band has been as a back line tech for the past four years with bigdaddyweave. It has been a pleasure taking care of the band and their needs before the show or during. As my time on the road has finished, at least for now, I can look back and see how the Lord has brought me through some significant seasons. He has used each person on tour to help shape me. It hasn’t been easy sometimes. I’ve been very thankful that BDW encourages an environment where we can grow in the Lord. For a touring act it’s rare. For me, it has been a process of understanding and growing in sanctification. Rooting out sin is not a cake walk. In fact, it’s usually a messy process. But God uses these situations for our good (Rom 8:28). This brings me to Hebrews 10:14,

‘For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.’

We who are in Christ are perfected and we are being sanctified. We are righteous and being made righteous. It is both done and being done. Finished and ongoing. Already but not yet. Wow.

This ‘already but not yet’ reality is actually an incredible promise of the Lord’s faithfulness and should provide for us immense assurance and confidence in our progress of sanctification. He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). He will bring it to fruition! He will complete the work that he starts. Our sanctification though, is accomplished by faith. It is a gift from the Holy spirit, the same as our belief in Christ. It is a gift (Eph 2:8-9).

Colossians 2:6-7 says, ‘Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving’. Walk in him. Walking in him includes reading his word, praying his word, studying his word, meeting together with fellow believers and being taught his word, and living out his word in the world around us.

The Westminster Confession of Faith in chapter 13 on sanctification says, ‘…through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome: and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 confirms this, ‘And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. The Word and Spirit working in us grows us in grace (2 Peter 3:18) and perfects our holiness(2 Cor 7:1). The Lord is our continual supply, he is at work in us.

The Westminster Larger Catechism question 77 is absolutely outstanding. The question is a comparison of justification and sanctification but its explanation of what Christ accomplishes in our sanctification is terrific.

Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?

A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

He infuses Grace and enables us to exercise that grace, He subdues sin and He Grows us in Christ as we work out our salvation (Phil 2:12-13). This is good news.

Coram Deo

The Waiting

Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act. Psalm 37:5

Psalm 37 is quickly becoming one of my favorite Psalms. It has so many great verses of God’s promises we’ve heard and memorized. As Elena and I and the kids have been preparing for our time at Sange de Cristo Seminary verse five has been our go to anchor verse. We read it, think on it, talk about it, mediate on it, and pray it over and over at virtually all times of the day. Scripture is powerful. It is God speaking to us. At night when we wake up anxious or fearful we’ve made a habit of praying this verse until sleep comes near again. The promise is profound, Trust in him and he will act.

This verse and psalm can certainly be applied to our personal circumstances and daily activity but it goes far beyond that. David teaches us many times in his Psalms about God’s sovereignty over all things and all people and specifically of our righteousness. In psalm 37 God is actively involved in the lives of his people. David tells us in many different ways that the Lord is working for us. David writes: He (God) will bring forth righteousness, The Lord upholds the righteous, He upholds their hand, The steps of a man are established by the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart, He will not forsake his saints, The Lord will not abandon or condemn the righteous, He will exalt you, He is our Salvation, He is our stronghold, He helps and delivers, He is our refuge and He saves us.

These are promises we can rest in as we live our busy lives. We can rest in this since we are in Christ and because we have union with Christ. This is his work and he promises that he will do. He is the cause of our righteousness, he is the cause of our salvation and he upholds us securely. We can be confident that he will do these these things.

The hard part is the waiting. Waiting is mentioned three times in this psalm. We are to be still and wait patiently, we are to wait for the Lord and keep his way, and, those who wait shall inherit the land. I believe waiting is an integral part of the christian walk. It certainly runs against our instant society. We want our desires right about now. But, our growth in sanctification is a slow and life long process. Is God going to answer our prayers and wishes on our timetable? I kind of doubt it. But there is an active anticipation involved. There is an eagerness that we can have. Galatians 5:5 says we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness and in Hebrews 9:28 it says we eagerly wait for the return of Christ. We wait, eagerly. It’s a part of our sanctification. We wait for the Lord’s return. We wait to be able to see through the glass clearly and unobstructed. We wait until we are finally glorified.

Notice the progression of verses three to seven. Trust in the Lord… Delight yourself in the Lord… Commit your way… Be still… Wait.

We should lean on him, love him, give it to him, submit to him, wait and he will act.

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I’ll Do It My Way…

Church, is it worth your time? Does it matter that you go? Maybe I’ll just stay home and listen to Frank or Elvis. In my 40 plus years I’ve have been able to observe a large swath of American christianity. I’ve been to church all over the country and around the world. To get an idea of the variety of church’s just go to youtube and you can find all kinds of differences even within bible believing evangelicalism. Take a look out the car window as you drive around town and you’ll see the First Church of Us or the Second Church of Them, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Non-denoms, or the cool kids at Relevant, Vertical, Bridge, The Point, Life, Crossroads, Innovate(I sure hope not!) or my favorite original name, City Church. It’s seemingly endless. And with all this comes the usual negative comments.

Unfortunately, there is a common theme that I’ve heard repeatedly regarding the church and it basically boils down to ‘Jesus is good, church is bad’. Now, this is a generalization but the idea being presented is that: church’s are too divided, there are too many church denominations and of course they’re bad so who in their right mind would want or even claim to be in one, church is man’s organized religion, church denominations are divisive and fight amongst each other, there is no unity, Jesus wasn’t part of a denomination, the church’s creeds and confessions are old and out dated spirit-quenching religion, church should only be in houses, I have no creed but Christ etc. etc. and so, I’ll just do it my way.

Some of those criticisms are justly deserved, and yes, church can be held in a house, but, they miss the most important point. The church was ordained and commissioned by Jesus Christ and Christ is its head and the church is his body, Colossians 1:8 tells us, ‘he is the head of the body, the church’. Further in Ephesians 1:22 it says, ‘He put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body the fulness of him who fills all in all’. So yes, the church you see in front of you and all of its shortcomings is the way God has chosen to use to bring his people to himself.

So, why all the resistance to church? I would suggest the first issue is one of submission and authority. Hebrews 13:17 says we are to submit to our leaders and James 4:7 says to submit to God. However, we’d rather be our own final authority. Our natural tendency is to want to do things our way and so we rebel against God and what he’s built (Acts 2:27) by making church about us and not about God. Church should cater to ‘my’ needs, right? Paul repeatedly tells his fellow workers to appoint elders and overseers in the newly formed churches. The books of Timothy and Titus give us full lists of qualifications for these leaders who are to care for the church of God (Acts 20:28). However, when we reject the fellowship of Christ’s body (Heb 10:25) because we don’t like the music or the preaching or all the hypocrites or the presumed lack of unity or the discipline, we close ourselves off to the body of Christ, and so we are in a sense, rejecting Christ.

Next, by isolating ourselves from the church body we are forsaking our perfecting (KJV) or equipping (ESV). Ephesians 4 is very descriptive of all the benefits of being in the body of Christ, the church: we are built up, we help minister to others, we mature in the unity and knowledge of God, we stay grounded in sound doctrine, we learn discernment, we learn to love, and we grow up into Christ in love. Furthermore, returning to Ephesians 1:22, since the church is the fullness of Christ we receive grace upon grace from being a part of his body. John 1:16 says, ‘For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace’. We grow into the image of Jesus when we are with other believers reading, praying, singing, confessing, and bumping into one another in what my pastor calls ‘The Holy Jostle’!

Finally, the unity of the church universal is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We are unified in Christ. 1 Cor 12:12 says, ‘For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body’. We are bound together in Christ by his spirit that seals us to God the Father. If you trust in the person and work of Jesus you and I are unified.

Our unity won’t be gained when all the church signs read the same name. Unity won’t be achieved when there is only one denomination. Our unity is found when we gather together and worship the same Jesus Christ. It is beautiful to see the unity and power of Christ’s Church in its variety. We are the body, the church, Christ is our head and by his grace, we do it his way.

Coram Deo

Living and Moving

There is always a decision to be made. The split second decisions that come at us everyday and kind of decisions we wrestle with over great amounts of time. I have a tendency to question the decisions I’ve made and wonder if they have been the right ones. I second guess myself and generally have a default personal philosophy of ‘shoulda coulda’. This is simply an unbiblical frame of mind. On the contrary the Bible says in Acts 17:28,

‘In him we live and move and have our being’

Thankfully I am not wondering around autonomously in my own strength but my existence is set solidly ‘In Him’ that is, In Christ. I need to remember this and continually trust in God’s providence.

Scripture gives a lot of details in how active and involved the Lord is in our lives. Our plans, decisions and steps are firmly set in Christ. Because we are in him we can be sure that what we’ve done and where we’ve been is purposeful.

The Lord is sovereign in our steps. Proverbs 16:9 says, ‘The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.’ We pray in the 23rd Psalm that the Lord will lead us beside still waters and also to lead us in paths of righteousness. Next, at least in some aspect, our decisions are from God. Proverbs 16:1 says,’The plans of the heart belong to man,but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. A bit further in Proverbs 16:33 it says, ‘The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.’ And of course the Lord holds our whole life in his hands as Job confesses in Job 12:10,‘In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.’

In the plans that we make for our lives we can be assured that the Lord is with us and leading us. We can decide to do something and trust in the will of Lord. James 4:16 give us a clear directive in how to think about a decision, ‘Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ James is telling us to look to the Lord and rest in his sovereignty as we make our plans and decisions. So, If the Lords wills, I’ll be in class at Sangre de Cristo seminary the morning of June 3rd.

I need not be anxious or fumble around in a ‘shoulda coulda’ self- centeredness, but instead be encouraged by Gods active and personal involvement in my life. Romans 8:28 needs to permeate my thinking,‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose’.

I may not specifically understand how a particular move I made was part of God’s plan but when I put it up next to scripture and view it through the lens of his word I can trust in him and move confidently into the next decision and trust that it is part of his purpose for me and rest.

Corum Deo

Think on These Things

Are all my thoughts pleasing to God? Well, that’s a pretty easy answer. Philippians 4:8 (see below) impacted me this past year. Recently, as I was bouncing blog names around and trying to land on something meaningful I came across this verse in another article and for some reason the last four words popped out at me, ‘Think about these Things’. And there is was, the blog title. This verse is convicting to to think about because of what James says were inclined to do naturally. James 1:14 says, ‘But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire’.  However, the Apostle Paul encourages us and exhorts us in Philippians 4:8 to do the opposite,

‘ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ That’s a pretty high standard and seems impossible.

The only way to think on ‘these things’ is by the ordinary means of grace through reading God’s word and the spirit’s activity in you. Lets take a look at Philippians 4:4-7 and see what Paul lays out in a few points to help us.  

‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness (gentleness) be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’. 

Paul is thankful, he rejoices in the Lord, he says not to be anxious but to pray in all things, and then we see the good news, the Lord’s promise. He promises his peace, the peace of God that will guard our hearts and our minds. We can not do this in our own strength. Trying harder will not get us there. We can only think on ‘these things’ (verse 8) when the peace of God is in our lives actively guarding our hearts and minds, then we will think on things that are glorifying to God.

So, how do we do this? How do we get the peace of God? Read his word and pray. Read the words he has given us to read and pray. Ingest scripture into your heart and mind every single day and pray! Yes, it’s that ordinary.

I love how chapter 13 of the Westminster Confession of Faith puts it, ‘They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are farther sanctified really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his word and Spirit dwelling in them‘. God works ‘these things’ in you. Amen! (Phil 2:8)

We can pray in faith that by his word and spirit God will work in our hearts and minds and give us the peace of God and new thoughts that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. This is the gospel! God works for us and in us for his glory!

Corum Deo

Thank you for stopping by and reading! Also, Thank you to those who have followed the blog! This is the third post in three days but only to get some momentum going. Once classes start in June I will post once a week. Thanks again so much -Ben

A New Blog, Continued…

Elena and I moved to Tennessee twelve years ago and I finished my bachelors degree at Middle Tennessee State University. Since then I’ve been able to work in the music industry for nine years and have loved it. I’ve been very fortunate to meet some fantastic people and have had the privilege to work some amazing tours and events including cruising the Caribbean! For the past four years I’ve been touring with my old college mates from Mobile Alabama, Big Daddy Weave. It really has been the experience of a lifetime. But, my family’s needs are changing and the desire to be closer to home and church has become more pressing.

The thought of going to seminary has been in the back of my head for a long time. I just never thought it was something I’d actually do, but the Lord has certainly changed that. The decision has been an interesting one to wrestle with because of the obvious question most people ask, ‘are you called to be a pastor?’. The answer to that question is a fluid one, I’m open to where the Lord leads.

I do recognize a need. First, understanding the truth of scripture is needed today just as much as in any other time. Scripture has fallen on hard times in our post modern society. Post modernism is rampant in the church and Scripture is striped of its meaning and power by our feelings and our own preconceived ideas. The Westminster Confession of Faith says of Scripture, ‘The authority of Scripture for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.’ 

Secondly, the visible church needs to once again be seen for what scripture says it is, Christ’s Church. Again, the Westminster Confession of Faith describes the church as, ‘the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.‘ Eph 1:23. Further, ‘Unto this visible Church Christ hath given the ministry, the oracles, and ordinances of God, and the gathering and perfecting of the saints.’ We need to remind ourselves of this again and again. The church is the body of Christ and the fullness of Christ. We are not filled and built up on our own in isolation, but we are filled up by Christ in his church in the ordinary gathering and fellowship of Christ’s body.

So, we’ll see. There is a lot to do, a lot to learn, and a long way to go. Thanks for reading and I’ll ask for prayer again for energy and focus as this journey begins.