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The Ultimate Aim of Pastoral Overisght

In any task one must keep in view the ultimate end or purpose. This is true for pastoral ministry as well. In the final assignment for my pastoral ministry class I always ask students to state the ultimate aim of pastoral ministry. Richard Baxter provides a good answer to this question:

“The ultimate end of our pastoral oversight is … to please and to glorify God. It is also to see the sanctification and holy obedience of the people under our charge. To nurture our people’s unity, order, beauty, strength, preservation, and increase must be our task. It is the right worshipping of God. This means that before a man is capable of being a true pastor of a church, he must have a high esteem of these objectives. He must make them the great and only end of his own life” – Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, 68

importance of confession of sinThe Center for Baptist Renewal, directed by Matt Emerson and Luke Stamps, posted today a brief piece I wrote on the value of having confession of sin as a distinct piece of our corporate worship. You can read the piece here.


Lecture, “Portrait of a Faithful Pastor”

Earlier this month I had the privilege of participating in the lecture series of the School of Christian Ministries at California Baptist University. I titled my address “Portrait of a Faithful Pastor.” Drawing from 2 Timothy 2 and other texts I argued that to be a faithful pastor a man must give himself to God, to God’s word and to God’s people. The video is below.



CBU School of Christian Ministries Lecture Series with – Dr. Ray Van Neste – April 5, 2018 from California Baptist University on Vimeo.


From Good Friday to Easter

Good Friday:
Pause to perceive the pain,
sit with the sorrow,
contemplate the cruelty
of the condemnation of Christ,
the substitute of the sinless Son


Sad Saturday

Saturday, the settled gloom
Speaks only doom
Our Lord sealed in the tomb.
Our hopes were high.
Why did he have to die?
Was it all a lie?
Stumble through Sabbath, weak,
Everything so bleak
What to do at the first of the week?


Easter Morning:
Tears are turned to triumph
Woe to wonder
Sadness to singing
Aching to alleluia
The blues have blossomed to blessing
And darkness is driven away by delight.

He is Risen!


Rehabilitate the Noble Word, “Pastors”

Amen, John Stott:

“In our day, in which there is much confusion about the nature and purpose of the pastoral ministry, and much questioning whether clergy are primarily social workers, psychotherapists, educators, facilitators or administrators, it is important to rehabilitate the noble word ‘pastors’, who are shepherds of Christ’s sheep, called to tend, feed and protect them.”

The Message of Acts (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1990), 323.

Leadership in the Church

Today in my Pastoral Ministry class we will be discussing 1 Thess 5:12-13, which is a significant passage on the duties of pastors to congregation and congregation to pastors. Some seek to evade the language of authority in this text, but that is misguided. I think it reveals our discomfort with the idea of authority- which is a problem. Of course, there are examples of abuse of authority, but every good thing God has ordained has been abused somewhere. The way forward is not to reject what God has made but to pursue its proper use.

Greg Beale, in his commentary, speaks to this issue well:

One of the reasons for this predicament is that we too often view church leaders as CEOs of the church “corporation,” whose purpose is to meet our needs.  If the church does not meet our needs in the way we think it should, we find another “church store” to attend.  Another reason for this situation is that the American church has been so permeated with democracy and individualism that these two great American ideals have been taken to an extreme.  Too often churches proclaim that their goal is that every believer become a “minister.”  The implication is that every believer is to be equal with every other believer and that, ideally, there should be no one in an authoritative position over anyone else.  Of course, it is true that everyone in the church is equal in the sense of being in the image of God.  Accordingly, all should grow in their recognition and exercise of the diverse gifts that they have received from God.  But Christians are not equal in the sense that they have functional equality in the church.  Rather, they have different gifts that entail different kinds of functions.  Leadership is among these gifts (Eph 4:11).

We need to be instructed about the important role leaders play in the church and how others who have not been called to be leaders should look upon those in authority over them.[1]


[1] G.K. Beale, 1-2 Thessalonians, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003), 158-59.


“Go, Labor On; Spend, and Be Spent”

I recently came across another hymn by Horatius Bonar, which I have added to my “Poems of Perseverance” file. It is on my office door this week as my Poem of the Week.

 “Go, Labor On; Spend, and Be Spent”

Go, labor on; spend, and be spent;
Thy joy to do the Father’s will;
It is the way the Master went;
Should not the servant tread it still?

Go, labor on: ’tis not for nought;
Thy earthly loss is heav’nly gain;
Men heed thee, love thee, praise thee not;
The Master praises, what are men?

Go, labor on; your hands are weak,
Your knees are faint, your souls cast down;
Yet falter not; the prize you seek
Is near, a kingdom and a crown.

Go, labor on while it is day,
The world’s dark night is hastening on;
Speed, speed thy work, cast sloth away,
It is not thus that souls are won.

Men die in darkness at your side,
Without a hope to cheer the tomb;
Take up the torch and wave it wide,
The torch that lights time’s thickest gloom.

Press on, faint not, keep watch and pray;
Be wise the erring soul to win;
Go forth into the world’s highway,
Compel the wanderer to come in.

Press on, and in thy work rejoice;
For work comes rest, the prize thus won;
Soon shalt thou hear the Master’s voice,
The midnight cry, Behold, I come!
–          Horatius Bonar

Power in the Pulpit

While preparing for an upcoming lecture on pastoral ministry I came back across this helpful quote from the little gem, The Ministry: Addresses to Students of Divinity, by Charles Brown. Where some in the past thought the press had made preachign irrelevant, many today think various forms of media have had the same effect. Brown’s words are a good reminder.

The power of preaching. But we are told that this in our age is gone, the Press having taken its place. If so, assuredly the worse for the age; for the Press, whatever may be its power, can never supply the place of the Pulpit. But I believe that this whole allegation about the power of the Pulpit being gone is baseless. I will tell you what is gone. The power of a neat little manuscript, carried to the pulpit, and prettily read – that is gone. Oh, never attempt, by the reading of a little manuscript book in the pulpit, to compete with the volumes which issue from the press, or you shall be miserably cast in the competition.
But carry to the pulpit a different thing altogether; carry to it well-digested thoughts, with suitable words to express them – written in your inmost soul, and if needful also in your manuscript – thoughts and words wherewith to stir the souls of your hearers to their inmost depths, – wherewith to hold living intercourse with them, and tell them what God has been telling you; and both you and they shall find that the Pulpit still wields a power altogether its own.” (61)

Christian History Magazine Issue Devoted to Billy Graham

Christian history mag, B grahamIssue 111 of Christian History Magazine is titled “Billy Graham: Apostle of Changed Lives and Second Chances” and is completely devoted to the the legacy of Graham. You can see this issue here. I am excited to peruse this issue.

Here is more information about it from the press release:

Christian History magazine’s guest editorial consultant, Grant Wacker, a Duke Divinity School professor and author of America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation, leads a team of distinguished historians and writers who tell the epic story of Mr. Graham’s life and career, a unique contribution to the character and spirit of the evangelical church, the nation and the world. The issue’s 10 articles, rare archive photos and intimate writing style documents the life and family of Billy Graham, who has personally shared the salvation message of Jesus Christ with more people than any other individual in history.


Guest editor, David Neff, former editor of Christianity Today, has assembled the talents and expertise of several leading historians and writers, to capture the essence of the life and times of America’s most prominent religious figure, Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association ministry (BGEA). Outstanding among many central themes associated with Mr. Graham in the issue, and lasting throughout his career, is his core preaching message focused on belief in Jesus and the believer’s life, lived in faith and holiness.

New Baptism Hymn

My poem of the week last week was a new baptism hymn written by one of my pastors, Justin Wainscott. We really do have a shortage of good baptism hymns, which is odd for Baptists, so I was delighted to see this new hymn from Justin, whose poems I have posted here before. It is a wonderful thing to have pastors produces theologically rich poetry, which we can sing congregationally!

The hymn is in common meter so it can be sung to a number of well known tunes including the tune commonly used for “O God Our Help in Ages Past” (St. Anne).

“Baptized in Union with Our Lord”

Baptized in union with our Lord,
Like Him we’re called to die;
Those waters are to us a cross,
Where sin is crucified.
Baptized in union with our Lord,
Those waters, like a grave,
Are where our old and sinful selves
Get buried ’neath the wave.
Baptized in union with our Lord,
Rejoice that it is true:
That from those waters, just like Christ,
We’re raised to life anew!
Baptized and raised, as though reborn,
Alive to God above;
The Father looks on us as sons;
In Christ, we are belov’d.
Baptized according to the Word,
And in the threefold name;
Our faith in Father, Spirit, Son,
We do hereby proclaim.