Aiming,though often failing 'to become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some'. Join with me in these reflections,discussions, videos and even humour about how we might become truly authentic in mission:Contextual yet Biblical:Passionate, but also Compassionate:In Word, as well as in Deed.The Spirit of Jesus within is calling each of his followers to reach out and fulfil the Missio Dei in a world of pain and need.
This is a good lesson from that good man John Piper, which lay and professional Christian workers would do well to heed. AK
John Piper (Photo: Desiring God)
In a recent interview about South Korean mega-church pastor David Yonggi Cho's sentence for embezzlement, retired pastor John Piper plead with the shepherds of God's people to guard themselves from the snare of riches.
78 year-old David Yonggi Cho was sentenced to three years in prison for embezzling around twelve million dollars. He pastored Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea, the largest Pentecostal church in the world.
"With every public dishonoring of Christ, and every public dishonoring of His word and His Gospel and His Church, it makes me angry and it makes me sorrowful," Piper said during his interview. He cited Galatians 6:1 as a preface to his advice for pastors, where Paul says "Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted" (English Standard Version, Galatians 6:1b).
"I want to keep watch on myself, and I want pastors to keep watch on themselves," says Piper, who has authored over 50 books and travels doing speaking engagement and missions work in his retirement from pastoral ministry - "My hope is that pastors will listen to this, and they'll take this 68-year-old pastor's heart aching that we not bring this kind of reproach upon the name of Christ."
Piper suggested five ways for pastors to guard themselves against the love of money.
"Kill every desire to get rich," he says - "if you see the desire in your heart, take aim at it with the words of Christ and the words of Paul, and put it to death with the swift blow of the sword of the spirit." He cited 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs."
Piper also suggests that pastors set a limit on their income, "Communicating to your people that you lay up treasures on earth." Pastors should grow the percentage of their giving as their income increases, he says. "Money is insidiously deceptive ... be content with what the church pays you, and give the rest away with joy and strategic wisdom," says Piper.
Piper believes that pastors should be completely transparent with the elders of their church about the amount of their income from every source (if the pastor also writes or does speaking engagements). "Let all the books of your income be open to any member of your church who asks the elders," he says - "Secrecy around money is deadly. It's a sign that something is not right."
The former pastor encourages others to live simply and to model for their people that their treasure is in heaven and not on earth. He makes it clear that he is not endorsing "pauper theology," wherein pastors give away so much of their income that they are unable to care for their families. Piper suggests buying reliable cars that will run well for years and clothes that are simple and durable. He says that pastors should seek to live in a home which "Accomplishes your family and your ministry purposes, leaning toward ordinary folks in your congregation, not the wealthiest." By doing these things, pastors can be examples for their people and show them that Jesus Christ is their Supreme Treasure.
Finally, Piper suggests putting a leadership structure in place where the lead pastor only has one vote among a plurality of elders - a "chief among equals" who doesn't have veto power over the church. He is passionate about helping future pastors honor the Lord as they serve Him, and contends that God's name is blasphemed by hypocrisy. "Oh for every pastor to be ready to cut off his hand before he uses it to bring reproach on the name of Jesus by grasping for money," he says.
- See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/50553/20140306/john-piper-on-david-yonggi-cho-s-embezzlement-scandal-how-to-guard-your-heart-from-temptation.htm#sthash.ZqQejlsh.dpuf
“I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” — Psalm 16:8.
God is an eternal being and life and reality. He is not a mere term or a philosophic concept–God is. He is a person, and I want to go into His presence. I want to know Him; I want to speak to Him. I will approach Him just as I visit a friend. I am going to visit God and commune with Him; I am going to have fellowship with Him. This is what David means by setting the Lord always before him.
Of course, there are many ways of doing this, but none is more important than the Word, the Bible. God has revealed Himself to us there; so as we read it, we obtain knowledge about God. He is speaking to us through the Word about Himself and about ourselves, so that the more we know it and read it, the more it will take us into the presence of God. So if you want to set the Lord always before you, spend much time in regular, daily reading of the Bible. And let it be systematic reading, not just picking it up at random and turning to a favorite Psalm and then to somewhere in the Gospels…I think any Christian should be ashamed who does not go through the entire Bible once a year. Go through it systematically. Many schemes have been designed and can be purchased that will tell you how to do this and will help you do so…
Also read biographies of godly people. When you see the kind of life they were enabled to live, you will feel, “Oh, that I were like that!” You will discover that the reason for their living as they did was that they always set the Lord before them. And so you read that when they were taken desperately ill or when bereavement and sorrow came, it did not disturb their equanimity, they were not finally upset. They were not inhuman; they did feel these things, and they felt them very acutely. But they did not lose their balance. They did not feel that all was lost and gone. And when trials and calamities came, even wars, they did not feel that everything had collapsed. Not at all! They went on, and there was a kind of added sweetness and beauty about their lives and a still greater joy and peace. That is what you find as you read their biographies, and you will find that their secret was that they spent a great deal of time every day reading the Scriptures and praying to God.
My dear Christian friends, is this not the trouble with so many of us today? We are much too busy. We are activists. We are running to meetings or organizing them or busying ourselves in various organizations. We do not even read as our forefathers did. We must always be entertained; we must be looking at something, or somebody must be doing it for us. The secret of the saints in the past was that they read the Word themselves and prayed and meditated and read good books. Not snippets, not mere devotional commentaries–they got down to doctrine, to the depths, and they lived in those depths and not merely in the shallows, producing glorious lives.
Oh, that we may all resolve to be like that! Do not let life control you. Never let any organization control you. Do not let “the thing to do” control you. And when I say that, I do not only mean it as it applies in the world. I mean “the thing to do” even in evangelical circles. Set the Lord always before you–the Lord Himself, not merely activities in His kingdom–because if you do not do this, you will become very dry in all your activism. Your heart will become cold, and in the time of need and trouble and trial you will not know where you are, and you will be a poor witness to the faith and to the grace that you have received and that you hold.