The Duties of Elders

Introduction

While on his third missionary journey, St Paul found himself “constrained by the Spirit” to go to Jerusalem, despite knowing that “imprisonments and afflictions” awaited him there (Acts 20:22–23). However, before reaching Jerusalem he desired to meet with the elders of the church in Ephesus one final time. These elders were not strangers to Paul, who had spent three years with them and their church, never ceasing day or night “to admonish everyone with tears” (20:31). Understanding this context, we can assume that Paul communicated that which he thought most important for the Ephesian elders, knowing that this was his final chance to exhort them in the work of the ministry. Therefore, when considering pastoral care and the duties of elders, it behooves us to give attention to Paul’s words here.

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Christ Our Servant

This communion meditation was given at King’s Cross Church (Moscow, ID) on March 13 A.D. 2022.

When Christ established this meal with His disciples, He also did something else that evening in the Upper Room.

He rose from the table, laid aside his outer clothing, and tied a towel around His waist. He then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet, wiping them dry with the towel wrapped around him.

He took the place of a servant.

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Help Your Children Worship

This exhortation was given at King’s Cross Church (Moscow, ID) on March 13, A.D. 2022.

One of the most immediately obvious facts about our church for a newcomer is that children are very present.

There is no peppy volunteer waiting to scan their barcode and send them down the indoor slide to children’s church.

And not only are children present, they are welcome. They belong here. Not because we think they’re cute—which they are—but because God has claimed them as part of His family. And it would be quite a statement to leave someone out of a family gathering.

But not only are children welcome here, they are here to participate. They are here to worship their God along with the rest of us.

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Favorite Books A.D. 2021

As I’ve done since 2015, here are my favorite books that I read this past year with a comment for each one. You can find a list of all the books I read here. I didn’t read Homer as I hoped, but hey, we’re starting another new year. I’d also like to take a stab at Kristin Lavransdatter this year. Maybe saying that here will make it happen this time.

1. The Puritan Hope by Iain Murray
Absolutely loved this book and was encouraged by it. I don’t often imagine re-reading books but I expect to do that with this one. The missionary Bible translator on our church staff saw it on my desk and said how much he marked his copy up years ago. Likewise the pages of mine are covered in green underlining and stars.

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Christmas for the Aucas

This excerpt is from ‘Through the Gates of Splendor’ by Elisabeth Eliot.

“One Sunday afternoon, December 18, Nate Saint sat at his typewriter to tell the world why they were going—just in case. In speaking these words he spoke for all: ‘As we weigh the future and seek the will of God, does it seem right that we should hazard our lives for just a few savages? As we ask ourselves this question, we realize that is is not the call of the needy thousands, rather it is the simple intimation of the prophetic Word that there shall be some from every tribe in His presence in the last day and in our hearts we feel that it is pleasing to Him that we should interest ourselves in making an opening into the Auca prison for Christ.

As we have a high old time this Christmas, may we who know Christ hear the cry of the damned as they hurtle headlong into the Christless night without ever a chance. May we be moved with compassion as our Lord was. May we shed tears of repentance for these we have failed to bring out of darkness. Beyond the smiling scenes of Bethlehem may we see the crushing agony of Golgotha. May God give us a new vision of His will concerning the lost and our responsibility.

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One Lord, One Table

This meditation was given at Christ Church Downtown on Nov 7 AD 2021.

In my exhortation earlier I encouraged you all to remember that the church is indeed one.

Despite our many differences, we are united by a common faith in Christ, and we are all part of one Body which has Christ as its head.

And yet while our oneness is a fundamental attribute of the church that can never be denied, it is still something that we must continually strive for and maintain at the same time. To do this we must avoid unnecessary divisions and conflicts which strike at and strain our fellowship and unity.

And it is here at this table where we find a means of grace toward that end.

It is here in this sacrament called communion where we all partake together as one.

For this table is the Lord’s and this table is one. It stretches across the earth and across time, and at it sits the Lord and His Bride.

As we partake of this bread and wine week after week, the Father delights in continuing to answer Christ’s prayer—that all who believe in Him would be made one in His perfect love.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

The Church is One

This exhortation was given at Christ Church Downtown on Nov 7 AD 2021.

We confess with the Nicene Creed that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ is one.

As St Paul wrote, there is “one body and Spirit,” just as there is also one hope, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:4–6). And last week Dr. Merkle preached on Christ’s High Priestly prayer, in which He asks the Father that all who believe in Him would be one, just as He and the Father are (Jn. 17:20–21).

But what do we do then with the divisions we see today?

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Gracious Speech

We are commanded by St Paul in Colossians to walk in wisdom toward outsiders, letting our speech always be gracious, so that we may know how to answer each person (Col. 4:5).

While the truth remains the same and unchanged no matter the conversation – it can be presented in a variety of ways, some more edifying than others depending on the context. We see this in our Lord’s ministry and how he spoke to the Pharisees contrasted with how he spoke to contrite sinners.

Just like there are different tools for different jobs, there are different ways of speech for different conversations. For one person, you might need to use a rhetorical chainsaw to chop them down a peg, but often for others a rhetorical bandage is required to heal their gaping wounds. And it takes wisdom to know which tool to use.

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