Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Questions and Answer Times

John Lennox:  We do Christianity no service at all when we do not claim the clear results of science.  Science is a bit of evidence that points toward God.  Science can't tell us everything, but it can tell us somethings.  Don't position yourself as an obscurant.  

John Piper:  I would point out their hypocrisy.  Do you use 911?  Do have a refrigerator?  Do you have heat in your home in the winter?  We are glad enough to enjoy the benefits of science?

In what ways are Americans unprepared to suffer in the way the Bible describes?

John Piper:  Suffering is something we are all wired to shy away from.  Teaching is lacking.  Suffering should be talked about regularly.  If you want to live a godly life, suffering will happen. The lack of preparedness is real, due to a lack of teaching.  Also, we live in America.  We have pills for everything.  We have 911.   It's like American Christians have to work to get into hard situations.

Alistair Begg:  Rather than a theology of suffering, we've had a theology of triumphalism.  Come live in America, everything's great.

What are the common mis-steps of a pastor who thinks his church is spiritually and numerically stagnant?

John Piper:  We beat up on our people.  We criticize them.  We get so discouraged, that we get mad.  Anger becomes our default to disappointment.  

Alistair Begg:  We might capitulate.  We bow under the pressure and give up.  Call another pastor who's been through the same thing.  Sometimes we assume that we as pastors are right, and everybody else is wrong.  Perhaps you're actually making a hash of it.  

Where ought we go to college?  Christian college or secular university?

John Lennox:  There are dangers in both places.  When children are little you want to protect them, not because they are any better but because you don't want them infected.  When children become adults they must decide to stand for what they believe.  There is the danger of staying inside the Christian ghetto.  We need salt and light in the secular universities of the world.  

John Piper:  In a Christian setting you have an 18 or 19 year old helped by a professor to form a Christian world view.  I was so naive that if I'd been thrown into a secular environment, I'd be in trouble.

Alistair Begg:  Where is the place of the family and the church?  The necessity of standing for Christ in the university in England produces stronger Christians in those schools.

What do you believe the greatest challenge for Pastors will be in the next ten years?

John Piper:  The same things they've always been.  Staying red hot for God.  Read your Bible and pray.  That's all you can do.  To stay relevant talk about the half a dozen things that eternally never change.  Death.  Marriage.  Sickness.  Family.  If you can help people understand those things, you will always be relevant.  If you prick Spurgeon he bled Scripture.  If you bleed the young pastors these days they bleed movies.  That doesn't help at a funeral, a wedding, or when your baby dies.  

Alistair Begg:  Uhhh . . .

John Lennox:  To stand vertically and stable for God in a society that will try to marginalize you.  The pressure will only increase.  In Europe they face legislation that will affect the way Christians confront sexuality.  Whether we are pastors or not, we'll face a tidal wave of opposition.  To withstand that we must soak ourselves in God.  We must faithfully teach the Bible not in trivialized sound bytes.  Engage others, but revel in the freshness of the Word of God.  We must be ready for people to criticize us.  

What advice for the pastor who tries to maintain a stable relationship with his wife during an increasing avalanche of pastoral duty?

John Piper:  Get a team of people around you who know your family and know your marriage who can help you with the dynamics of your relationship.  You need advocates when you say, "I can't do that.  I can't be at that event."  Ask them to help you prioritize your life.  Win the trust of the congregation so they don't have to constantly try to be on top of you.  

Alistair Begg:  Tell your congregation, "I will be your servant, but you cannot be my master."  Sometimes a church is driven by the deacon who's been in office for 147 years or the church member gives 40% of the churches finances.  Some pastors just are a poor mismanagement of time.  They waste their time and their ministry and their lives.  Not everyone functions in the same way.  We must be skeptical with ourselves.  

John Lennox:  Your wife is your most important relationship.  You've promised yourself to be faithful to your wife till death you do part.  Speak to the church elders that you need to spend time together.  Beware of getting more involved in the lives of others than you are in the life of your family.  Be utterly honest.  Ask your wife what she sees.  What is happening?  Where did it start?  When did it start?  

What advice would you give to men seeking to start in the pastoral ministry?

Alistair Begg:  Read your Bible.  Seek out the type of people you aspire to be.  Ask them questions.  Read voraciously and widely.  

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