Priscila and Aquilla come up a fair amount, that wonderful couple that befriended Paul in a hard time and then trained up Apollos. They were still in Ephesus and no doubt a great aid to Timothy. Those wonderful and encouraging saints in the church can get a pastor through hard times and bring great joy to a sometimes lonely heart. I wonder if they were ever aware of their impact on Christendom. Apollos taught many. Paul mentioned them at different points. Their legacy has lasted thousands of years, these tentmakers. I’ll never know this side of heaven the impact the Lord may work through me. That’s ok. Occasionally I hear from a former student or parishioner and I love it. It is so heartwarming. Quite a few have spoken up since I left GBC. Many wrote wonderful notes while I was there also. I’ve kept most of them. Paul left elders and ministers wherever he went. He was an evangelist, an apostle, but he didn’t just preach and move on. He made sure a church was established and there was leadership to continue reaching and training people. That concept was lost for a lot of at least the American Church, I think, for a while, but I’m glad to see the emphasis on church planting and plugging new converts in with a church growing. Paul was also forgiving. He said he wanted forgiveness for those who’d abandoned him at his Roman trial and he listed them as those sending greetings. They were good. And those words of forgiveness after the quick reminder to try and come before winter (either for the cloak or travel conditions or perceived time remaining) and blessings of grace may have been the last words Paul ever wrote. Not a bad way to go out. Lord, help me by You Spirit to finish strong!
Diakonosmeanshumble servant and we translate it asdeacon.Particularly for we Baptist, but for more stringent congregationalist churches in general, we’ve made the deacon role something it was not intended to be. Deacons serve underthe elders’ oversight, not above them. In the Baptist world, the senior pastor is viewed, in the Biblical translation at least, as interchangeable with the elder or overseer. Practically that hasn’t been how many churches have treated the role. The pastor is an employee of the church who report first to deacons rather than the under-shepherd serving under Christ. The deacons often rule over the pastor, and that is not biblical. Deacons are to carry out assigned duties in the church to free the elders up to focus on what they need to do as modeled in Acts 6. Really, many church staff and a lot of volunteer leaders are deacons in this sense and deacons tend to operate more like elders. This list really applies to all church leadership roles. Deacons must be dignified or respectable. People see them as leaders in the church and their character should reflect such as it reflects on the LORD and His Church. The BKC says they should not be clowns. I like a good clown, but there is a time to be silly and a time to be more dignified. The next requirement is that they be me dilogousor literally not double-tongued. I like the NET translation, not two-face. Ooh that is such a hurtful and dangerous trait for anyone in a church, particularly someone in leadership. Leaders must be trustworthy. They can’t present one face to some and another to others. They can’t say one thing to one group and something totally different to others. I’ve been hurt by that to the core. It’s like being stabbed in the back. Another interpretation is sincere and unhypocritical. It’s easy to talk about what Scripture teaches and apply that to others, but it can be another thing to live it out when tested yourself. Deacons should do both. Deacons also shouldn’t be drunks and shouldn’t engage in any dishonest means of financial or other gain. That goes along with being respectable and having integrity. These are really just a list of Christian characteristics. It’s modeling the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We just have to be extra sure people in leadership exhibit those traits.
So what’s the antithesis of that worldly way of thinking? How do you combat that lifestyle? Be self-controlled. That’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Endure hardship, and there will be plenty in ministry. Self-control helps to endure. It goes along with patience and faithfulness which are also Holy Spirit fruit. Evangelize at every opportunity. I pray for those opportunities constantly. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing them. It seems about everyone I run into here is a Christian. That’s a good chunk of the great commission. Carry out the ministry to which I am called. It’s the same root as deacon, having to do with voluntary service. I’ll serve somewhere, somehow, whether paid or not. Sometimes I wonder about endurance. My faith endures. I am staying faithful to ministry in general and don’t see that changing even if it somehow becomes all volunteer. I question myself sometimes after leaving GBC. Should I have just endured the hardship? But things tend to pop up to affirm how I left and why. I’d go back if called, if we could do the tough work together to get things right. I’m not giving up. I’m pursuing new ministry opportunities and wiser about what to choose and what to let pass me by. I pray the Lord makes it clear and grants more opportunities to share the gospel and gives me boldness to do so. That prayer yielded a bit of an opportunity at Thanksgiving and I pray that will go further.