Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Chapter 7.5 Why Are You Still Sitting There?

My Brother in Christ, Pastor Dwayne Dunning, has put together another great chapter. Here is the second part of this chapter, like always please read the first one to get the full understanding of what is being said.

Pastors preach and the congregation just needs to sit there and listen. Don’t do anything with what is being said, just sit back and enjoy the nice speaker and his beautiful voice. Please just be entertained by all of it. Isn't that what it is all about anyway? Isn't this what Jesus wanted from His “followers”, a bunch of “hearers” not listeners or doers? Let me ask you, does this sound at all correct? Of course not.

While thinking about this dilemma, the problem of obesity came to mind. “Why obesity?” you may ask. Well, let me explain. I can remember many Sundays when I was young, leaving the church and my dad saying, “I am so tired of all of the overweight Christians in the world”. As a boy I thought he meant this literally. I mean obesity is a major problem in America, isn't it? People are dying more often of complications from being overweight. Kids are bigger now than they ever have been. We get lazier and lazier. So I just thought he meant it literally. I mean, I saw Mr. So and So that could barely stand up to pray without almost killing over. I saw large people at the church every time we went. But he was saying nothing about the physical weight or size of the people’s bodies. He was speaking about their spiritual condition. My dad was upset because of the lack of willingness to be a true follower of Christ. My dad saw their lack of concern and desire to get off their rear ends and do something for the Kingdom.

This intrigued me, so I sat down one day and asked my dad more about this thought. After the conversation I saw his correlation. Too many people come in to services on Sunday, partake of the word, and then just let it sit there. They do nothing with it. It is no different than sitting down at the dinner table every night, consuming everything that is in front of you, and then going straight to bed. We all know what happens then. It goes straight to our hips and we get fat! If we never exercise, we will just get fat and be out of shape.

The word that is given by pastors is like the meat and milk for our spiritual lives, it is the food that we need so badly for our health. It is part of our spiritual nourishment. Just like our meals are our physical nourishment. But there has to be a time of working it off. We can’t just sit back and take it all in or we are just fat, sloppy, lazy Christians.

Most of us are like babies, we have to be spoon fed. We aren't responsible enough to feed ourselves. We don’t dig into the meat of our word enough on our own and we need that person to feed us. Not saying this is the way it should be. We should get into the word on our own, but God has given us pastors to also feed us the word. Ephesians 4:11- It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers. We need what God is feeding us through them. But we have to get out and work it off or we will get fat and useless.

Pastors get the word, study it, and put time into the message, just as a mother that cares for her family spends time in the kitchen preparing a great meal for her family. This message or meal is not for you to just hear but to apply it and actually begin to use it in life. As pastors, they want legs put to the words and they want healthy energetic Christians.

After a meal has been eaten and we are full, we need to then take the time to exercise and work off the weight. We need to take the nourishment we have been given and work it off and make it count. When God has given a word to the pastor that leads you, you need to partake of it and then exercise it in your life. By doing this, it helps lead you to a healthy spiritual life. It causes you to begin to do and be what God wants.

Pastors take what they have been called to do very seriously, at least they better. I know that there are those men that pull off a Saturday night special and just get up in the pulpit and spout off whatever they have thrown together, but most seek God and put all that they are into every message that is spoken. Why? Because they want us to live it out. They don’t just want people that sit in the pew and hear the words, but people that will listen to the words of God and then become doers of that word.

In his book The Lost Art of Listening, Michael Nichols writes, "Listening is so basic that we take it for granted. Unfortunately, most of us think of ourselves as better listeners than we really are." In other words, most people are no more than “hearers”. They aren't really paying much attention to what is being said. They are taking it in, but it really isn't doing much. Sort of like a child sitting down and just inhaling the plate of food that is in front them. We have to listen, really listen to the words that have been given by God to the pastors that are over our lives. If not, there is failure.

Why do many marriages thrive, while others fail to survive? Why do many families flourish, while others seem to falter? Why do many sermons inspire, while others lack fire? It often depends on how well people listen. For those of you that are pastors, consider your own pulpit ministry. As you actively listen and learn from God's Word and from God's people, your preaching becomes all the more vibrant and vital. Consider your congregation. As members actively listen to God's Word, as they hear and heed Christ's call, as they prayerfully respond to the Spirit's leading, they become all the more fruitful in fulfilling the mission that has been set before them.

Charles Swindoll suggests that Christians who study Scripture, hear the words of a pastor, but seldom put God's Word into practice are not followers at all. Rick Warren speaks of this kind of inactive listening among believers. Warren observes, "The Dead Sea is dead because it takes in water but doesn't give any out. When any Christian's schedule consists completely of receiving biblical input but has no planned outflow of ministry or evangelism, his spiritual growth will be limited. Study without service leads to stagnation.”

This is exactly what I am trying to get us to understand. All of us need to listen to the words that are spoken to us by our pastors, apply them to our lives and do something with them. If not, we become stagnant and fat. This in turn makes us useless to the Kingdom.

Look at what the writer of Hebrews sad about this. Hebrews 13:17- “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

According to what was written, we are called to submit to the words and authority of our pastors, those who lead us. The only biblical authority a pastor has comes from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit working through his teaching in the lives of his flock. In effect, he’s not a source of authority himself, but a vessel of it from the Lord to His people. That’s the authority God’s people need to submit to—the work of the Spirit through the faithful, consistent teaching of God’s Word through the pastor.

And how should believers respond to that kind of authority? It says to obey it and submit to it. Don’t just hear it but listen to it and begin to apply it to your life. Do something with the nourishment that is being fed to you. Listen to it and use it. According to the scripture, if you do not, “it would be unprofitable to you.” It would be worthless and pointless.

Think right now about your pastors and what they are asked to do. It’s a tremendous grief to try to shepherd a rebellious flock. Watching over the people of God is no easy task to begin with. Pastors are called to train, disciple, support, and serve you. They are called to guard your purity, and to lend insight and exercise oversight with you. They are also called to exhort, warn, admonish, reprove, rebuke, and discipline in the application of God’s Word in your lives—all for the sake of your spiritual growth. They are called to feed you.

That’s hard enough with believers who are eager, engaged, and hungry. It’s almost impossible with people who won’t be faithful and put legs to the words that have been fed to them. If you have a faithful pastor or church leader who exemplifies the qualities of a shepherd, let him know how much you appreciate his labor on your behalf (1 Thessalonians 5:12). It will be a great encouragement to him to know he’s making a spiritual difference in your life. Let them know that you appreciate the meal that is fed to you each week. Don’t do this through empty words. “Great message today pastor!”. Show your appreciation by getting up and exercising and working off the meal that was given. Put legs to the words of your pastor. Be doers and not just fat, overweight, stagnant, “Christians”.

And just to be brutally honest here in the end. If you’re a believer who rejects the biblical authority of the pastor and won’t submit to his leadership, you need to do a careful, thorough examination of your heart. What’s behind your rebellious spirit? What sin are you harboring that’s keeping you from submitting to godly authority? What’s keeping you from listening to the word God has given through your pastor and then doing something with that word? Why are you too stubborn to listen and do?

Let’s all begin today with a brand new work out plan. It will consist of daily listening to the word of the pastor, consuming it, and then going out and putting it to work. Let’s all try and stop the obesity problem in our churches. God bless.

Thank you again Pastor Dwayne and like always I am going to leave you with some questions. Are you an overweight christian? Do you put actions behind what you hear preached? Are you making God look bad by not obeying the words your authority is speaking to you?