I find myself amazed that the most successful shows on television are often filled with a shallow and disrespectful view of women. Television is deceiving us. Facebook is deceiving us. The selfie culture is deceiving us. The celebrity culture is deceiving us. Are we really that easily deceived?
In a day when top reality shows include Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, The Bachelor, and The Bachelorette, we know we have a big problem. The problem with shows such as The Bachelor is in how they define women. Often they are portrayed merely as items on the shelf for men to look at, examine, hold, and try out. If at any point he isn’t happy with the item, he can simply return it to the store where it’s restocked and he can continue shopping.
True biblical womanhood is under attack. This attack began when Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden. Whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is God honoring, the devil will seek to spray his graffiti upon it. Biblical womanhood is a pure and holy thing. When put on display in the life of a Christian lady, her home will have the aroma of godliness and holiness. That type of atmosphere affects her children and benefits her husband. However, we are raising a younger generation to ignore biblical womanhood and to pursue the decadent and immoral lifestyle publicized by Hollywood and the reality television culture. The television screen is often used as a center stage for the devil’s empty talk and perverse lies. Consider the following lies about women that are portrayed by popular mainstream television.
Lie #1 – Reality Show Obviously Means It’s Real
One of the biggest problems with reality shows is that they are heavily scripted. If some popular reality shows were genuine reality, they would likely never make it to your living room. It often requires a staff of writers and publicists to make a reality show work. The false portrayal of a man dating multiple women and “trying out” a few before he settles down with his top pick is less than real and it cheapens marriage, relationships, intimacy, and yes – women. The devil would have us all believe it’s real, but it’s not. It’s really a lie.
Image is a big deal and the pressures to conform to the ideal image is overwhelming to many. One article that recently appeared in the Metro out of the UK stated the following:
The relentless rise of the mobile phone pictures, coupled with a fixation on celebrity culture, creates unrealistic expectations, they say. It has led to one in three plastic surgeons in the US reporting a rise in requests for procedures from ‘patients being more self-aware of looks in social media’. More than half have seen a rise in cosmetic procedures on the under-30s.
When the shallow world of social media selfies and celebrity culture is contributing to cosmetic surgeries among 20 somethings – we know there is a massive problem brewing in our culture.
Lie #2 – Women Must Wear Less to Impress
Let’s be honest. Advancement in screen driven marketing has changed the dress code of society. Modesty has been lost in the wilderness of depravity long ago. June Cleaver has been replaced by the short skirt wearing career woman of American culture. However, more than June Cleaver’s job has been left behind in our television culture. June Cleaver was known to be modest in her dress. Today, not only has the length of dress changed, but in many cases, it has almost disappeared completely. Women are wearing less in order to impress. This can be traced to the pursuit of job advancement, self marketing to available men, and in the case of younger ladies it’s often as simple as popularity points on campus. In many cases, this behavior was learned through the television screen. Not only in movies and sitcoms, but news anchors and marketing advertisements have all contributed to the lack of clothing women are wearing in public.
God expects His daughters to live out the gospel in simple ways – including how they present themselves in dress. It doesn’t matter what the culture says is cool or attractive. What matters is what God thinks. The way women (and men) dress reveals much about their heart. Where do you think styles of dress originate? They appear in magazines and on television screens. We look at it while waiting in the doctor’s office and it appears on the television screen and then we go to the stores and purchase it. We are easily influenced. Dressing with less may impress a depraved mind, but it doesn’t impress God.
Lie #3 – Faithfulness is Folly
We have been hearing doom and gloom statistics for years regarding divorce rates. It seems that the divorce statistics are fairly consistent between the church and unchurched populations. Presently, there is a divorce every 13 seconds in America. That totals over 6,000 failed marriages every day in our nation. As we continue to examine these statistics, we find that 41% of first marriages end in divorce and that number drastically grows to 60% of second marriages and 73% of marriage number three. What is fueling this horrible problem? One of the great catalysts for divorce is the perverse culture that surrounds us. The entertainment world has been dumbing down marriage and denying the sacredness of the marriage bed for many years. Behind this madness is a message. Satan hates Jesus.
Marriage is often compared to Jesus’ relationship to the church. In Ephesians 5:25-28, the apostle Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
One way that Christ loves the church is that He never leaves her! Our culture continues to claim that remaining faithful to one person for life is a crazy idea that should be written off as archaic and unnecessary. However, the gospel is rooted in faithfulness. God instituted covenants with His people and proved Himself to be a covenant keeping God from Old Testament to New Testament. Therefore, as we view marriage and faithfulness to our spouse, we should not allow the culture to redefine the boundaries of such gospel rooted commitments. Marriage matters. Why else would it be under such heavy attack in our present day?
Lie #4 – Cheating is Winning
If the culture of the selfie has taught us anything, it has certainly proven Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?“ John Calvin referred to the human heart as an “idol factory.” As the selfie culture continues to expand, it causes us to want to see ourselves in specific places with specific people doing specific things. The human imagination is powerful – for good or evil. In the case of our modern entertainment through the television and movie screens, the human imagination will often seek to place ourselves in the context of the main characters. When young women are engulfed by the decadent shows of American culture, it often causes them to applaud sin and view adultery as an avenue to success. The devil would like to make women believe that cheating is the way to more fun and a truly exciting life. He paints that picture through shows like Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shore where women adorn themselves in garish attire as a lure to men. The continual glamorization of such lewd acts through comic sitcoms and reality shows is one way the devil sprays graffiti upon the gospel.
Proverbs 6:32 says, “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.” We know the commandment that says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), but do we really believe that it’s a true line in the sand for our modern culture? Does God really care about cheating in marriage? Do we make too much out of this ancient commandment? The fact is, God’s commandments never grow old and God’s Word is immutable – never changing. Therefore, it’s a serious indictment on our church culture when many women who sit on the pews in the average church are watching shows like The Bachelorette and Desperate Housewives. In doing so, they give credence to such depraved entertainment, applaud sin, laugh at debauchery, and open up their own heart for sinful influence. Cheating is no way to win in marriage.
Lie #5 – Courtship is Crazy
Courtship is the idea that a man pursues a wife and his “dating” her is merely preparation to marry her. Recreational dating in America denies the necessity of marriage, commitment, and often rejects the sacredness of intimacy between a man and his wife. Americanized recreational dating cheapens our view of women as men enter the marketplace for their Friday night companion. The typical American dating routine insists that men “try out” different women in search for the one they are most compatible with. This idea is played out in high definition through shows like The Bachelor. Is courtship crazy?
The fact is, nowhere in the Bible do we see recreational dating. We see marriage emphasized and a true commitment between one man and one woman for life. God places a sacredness upon marriage and demonstrates the need for a man to take leadership seriously as he plans to care for his bride. This picture is played out all through the Old and New Testaments. If courtship is crazy, why are so many 30 something men sitting in their mother’s basement playing video games instead of looking for a job? If courtship is crazy, how many fathers want that type of man to ring the doorbell and ask to take his daughter out on the town?
According to John 8:44, the devil is a liar and the “father of lies.” In our present day culture, the devil will use entertainment outlets to preach his dirty lies. As American girls continue to follow him, he will continue to pervert the gospel with his graffiti. The devil knows the gospel of Jesus Christ is the source of biblical womanhood. It’s time for an army of older women to sit over coffee with their daughters and granddaughters and tell them the truth about Titus 2. It’s time for the older women to warn the younger women about the dangerous traps of the devil.
If the temptations are overwhelming – just turn off the television and don’t allow the magazines into your home. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 5:29, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”
Whatever happened to the modest woman of society who didn’t find it necessary to market herself through lewd dress? Does that woman still exist? I pray this elusive woman will be found not only in the sanctuary of our church buildings but in the marketplace of our culture as she illuminates the gospel through modesty as opposed to lurid and sexually explicit clothing. From dress to faithfulness in marriage – our culture needs to see the gospel on display through women. What an opportunity women have to shine for Christ.
You don’t know me and perhaps we will never meet in person, but I’ve often applauded as I’ve listened to your scathing rebukes of our failed political policies. However, as I read your article regarding Dr. Brantly and the horrific Ebola virus in Africa, I was very much saddened by your words. I just returned home from Africa. To use your words, I “slinked off” to Zambia Africa – a Third World country. I was sent off with another man from our church on a vision trip for a church planting project through our local church. As I read your article, I was extremely concerned with your tone and interpretation of the gospel of Jesus. The problem with your assessment is that you have rightly addressed many of the issues facing America while missing the mark of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Is America in the gutter of sin? Is our nation overrun with teenage pregnancy fueled by promiscuous “safe sex” campaigns through political propaganda? Absolutely. However, in your love for America, you fail to see that Jesus doesn’t need America. The thriving of America is not the answer to the world’s decadence. If our teenage girls practice abstinence and our inner city boys play basketball without murdering their friends or raping sleeping grandmothers in the middle of the night – the world is still being swept down the river of perverse depravity. The answer isn’t for American nationalism to rule and moralistic values to increase here in order for the world to follow in our footsteps. The answer to the world’s decadent sin problem is very simple. Jesus gave the Great Commission to His followers saying, “go to all nations” rather than a selected powerhouse nation. Jesus didn’t command His followers to merely focus on Jerusalem or Israel as a nation. He scattered them across the entire world.
In your article, you said, “If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.” Once again, what you fail to see is that Jesus doesn’t need Hollywood power-brokers to accomplish His work. In fact, in His own earthly ministry, Jesus called and commissioned fishermen and shepherds who were often the lowest people of society to do His gospel work. Jesus didn’t need to call a king from his throne to do the work of the gospel. The fact that Jesus chose to use the the unwise, weak, and common man to spread His gospel message across the world is what confounds the wise and causes all attention to be placed upon God rather than the power of a man (1 Corinthians 1:20-31).
It is true that America is in trouble politically. It is a fact that our schools are in shambles. It is indeed a sad reality that our inner cities are saturated with violent acts against women and the elderly. However, the answer for the world is not a safe America. The answer to the world is a rapidly spreading gospel. In many cases, Americans have exported vile decadent sinful practices and false religions to these Third World nations. Jesus’ commission is first to the heart of the unbeliever and His commission likewise involves loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). Therefore, what these doctors are doing in these Third World nations to treat Ebola is part of Christ’s mission. Rather than going to these nations to merely focus on disease, these mission agencies you referenced are interested in treating the soul – not just the physical body. Did Dr. Brantly risk making his wife a widow and his children fatherless as you accused? Yes he did. However, you failed to remember Jesus’ own words found in Matthew 19:29-30, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.“
As you conclude your article, you claimed that Christians “need to buck up, serve their own country, and remind themselves every day of Christ’s words: ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.’” Could it be that in your rash rebuke of Dr. Brantly and others that you failed to interpret Jesus’ words in their proper context? Just before the words you quoted, Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14). What did Jesus command? To go to all nations with the light of the gospel – the good news.
Wouldn’t it be just like Jesus to use one of those Third World countries to send missionaries to America in order to spark a national revival? He once chose a fisherman who preached one of the greatest sermons in world history where about three thousand souls were saved (Acts 2:41). The entire world has never been the same since that sermon. God often chooses to use the underprivileged and the outcasts. God often picks the poor of society or the uneducated to do His work. What if He chose one of those Third World African nations to bring America to repentance? You seem to be worried about Christian narcissism. I’m worried about American narcissism. If we stay home and send selfie pictures with American flags and healthy children to the Third World via smart phones it will do them little good. If we fool ourselves into thinking that Jesus needs America, we have failed to understand His sovereignty.
I pray that you will rethink your positions. I pray that you will apologize to Dr. Brantly and his family. I pray that you will take another long and detailed look at the gospel of Jesus Christ. Is there anything wrong with being a proud American? Absolutely not. But when the passion for America outshines our passion for Christ, we are standing upon sinking sand.
A Concerned American Christian,
Pastor Josh Buice
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*This letter is a response to Ann Coulter’s article “EBOLA DOC’S CONDITION DOWNGRADED TO ‘IDIOTIC‘”
When Paul wrote to Timothy from the dungeon prison as he was awaiting execution, his heart was focused on the church at Ephesus where the Scripture was under siege. What Paul had promised the elders in Acts 20 had come to fulfillment. The wolves had clothed themselves in sheep’s clothing and infiltrated the church. They were teaching heresy in the church. They were leading women astray with fables. It was a sad day in Ephesus. As Paul sat in the damp dungeon awaiting death, he sent a letter to his young disciple and charged him to stand firm upon the Scriptures and to preach the Word of God. From 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5, we can almost feel the heartbeat of the battle tested apostle from those words that appear in our Bible. The Scriptures were under siege and Timothy was to thunder the Word of God without hesitation.
All through church history, the Bible has remained under constant attack and criticism. The position of the church throughout her history has been that the devil has no stories of his own, therefore, he must attack God’s story. He will twist the Bible, add to the Bible, subtract from the Bible, malign the Bible, pervert the Bible, and do everything within his power to spray paint graffiti upon the sacred text of God’s Word. Sometimes he will do it through open attacks of heretical religions and at other times he will seek to be more stealth-like in his approach. In either case, his mission is to silence the Word of God.
God wrote the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3:16, we read, “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” The word, “breathed out by God” is a compound Greek term - θεόπνευστος “Theos” – God and “Pneō” – breath. Literally speaking, the Scriptures find their source in God as He literally breathed them into existence through human authors. As we consider the fact that God has written a book and preserved it through the ages, it goes without saying that the devil would center his attack on the Scriptures. As the devil reads the Bible, he sees himself in it and undoubtedly he has read the ending and knows of God’s sovereign judgment that awaits him. Because the devil hates the ending, he will center his attack on the beginning of the Bible and continue to twist its meaning and message into something other than what God has truly said. The story of the Bible centers upon Christ – the Son of God. In the beginning of John’s gospel, we see his description of Jesus as “the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.” What did the devil seek to do with Jesus? He fueled the murder of Jesus and tried to silence Him by death. Why should we be amazed that he continues to try to silence God by silencing the Bible?
As we survey our present day, we see that we are in a day of famine. Our famine is not for lack of Bibles. We have many Bibles in America. Our famine is with the right preaching and the right submission to God’s Word as He continues to speak through the sacred Scriptures. As the agenda of silencing God continues to roll forward, the thundering pulpit turns into a muzzled rumble and rattle. As pastors cave to the pressures to “grow” their church through fleshly man centered agendas, the devil presses the mute button upon God’s Word. As this attack continues to grow it suppress the Word of Truth and leads pastors down the road of pragmatism. Seeker sensitive approaches to increase church attendance and entertain the crowds is a perpetual gagging of God. What flows from that broken and unbiblical pattern is “VBS for adults” and ultimately culminating in what Christian Smith has coined, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. So long as the Word is minimized, we will continue to teach a Christless Christianity. This message will major on morals and minor on the message of the gospel. All of this is the fruit of the devil’s attack upon God’s Word. This pattern leads to agnosticism which eventually gives way to atheism. A low view of Scripture will always lead to a low view of God. In many cases it will lead to a complete denial of God.
No matter if you’re a pastor who labors in the Word each week or if you’re a homeschool mother, it remains our duty to rightly handle the Word of God. How we handle Scripture matters. We should not be surprised by the constant agenda to normalize Mormonism and homosexuality in our culture. Both movements have an agenda to twist God’s Word or silence it completely. The message of Jesus is a threatening message to Mormonism and Joseph Smith’s crazy ideas of salvation and eternal life. The message of Jesus is a threat to the growing homosexual agenda in the United States. In our modern culture, the Bible is treated like fictional literature. The Bible is often ignored by the scientific community, rejected when reconsidering marriage laws, and bypassed by the culture as many ethical laws and ordinances are being redefined and rewritten.
Therefore, we should not be surprised by these attacks. Satan attacked God’s Word in the Garden of Eden and he attacked the Word that became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. He has not ceased his attack in our present day. We must look for it. We must be ready for it. We must see it as it’s revealed in the world of politics. We must learn to spot it in our entertainment outlets. We must be on guard as this attack will walk through the front door of our church buildings. We must not give up. Like Timothy, we are called to stand firm upon the firm foundation of the sacred Scriptures. Just as the Reformers stood firmly upon Sola Scriptura, we are to remain steadfast upon the Word of the God in our present evil culture.
Paul warned of the attacks that would come upon God’s Word and the church at Ephesus (Acts 20). In 1 and 2 Timothy, that attack was in full bloom under Timothy’s ministry. By the time we come to Revelation 2, we see Jesus’ warning of judgment upon the church at Ephesus if they did not repent. Sadly, as we survey church history we see that apparently the church at Ephesus died. What a tragedy. What will be the legacy of your family? What will be the lasting legacy of your church? Stand firm upon God’s Word!
Several years ago while I was in seminary, I heard some rumblings about a man known as the “African Spurgeon.” His name, as it was told to me, is Conrad Mbewe, a pastor serving in the city of Lusaka, Zambia. I didn’t know what to think of such a title, especially since many people tend to label themselves in order to fuel self promotion.
Over a period of time, I started listening to sermons by Pastor Conrad Mbewe and immediately knew that this man had something to say. He wasn’t like others who boast of exaggerated titles and yet remain very shallow in the content of their preaching. His preaching was quite good. His theology had the kind of depth that provides the basis for God exalted passion in the pulpit.
Last year, I had the privilege (along with our church) to host Pastor Conrad and his sweet wife Felistas for the 2014 G3 Conference. He preached twice in the conference and an additional time in our church on the Lord’s day immediately after the G3 ended. During the conference, we got to know one another as we shared meals together and traveled across town for an additional speaking engagement on Sunday evening. Our conversations centered primarily upon missions and church planting. I was interested in the work of the “African Spurgeon.”
After a thorough explanation over dinner in our home, he extended an invitation for me to come and see the work in person. After praying about it, we made plans to travel to Zambia. Anthony Mathenia extended an invitation to join him and a group from HeartCry as they were planning to have a missions meeting with the missionaries from the various church plants surrounding Zambia and beyond. The decision was made and soon thereafter the plane tickets were purchased. David Crowe (a member of Pray’s Mill – the church I serve as pastor) and I traveled together on this vision trip to Zambia.
After arriving in Zambia, it didn’t take long to see that the work of Conrad Mbewe taking place in the southern region of Africa is not exaggerated. From orphan care to chairing boards for schools, Conrad’s preaching is not the only thing that sets him apart from the normal pattern of pastoral ministry.
The mission philosophy of Kabwata Baptist Church and Conrad Mbewe is based on a commitment to plant healthy churches through indigenous missionaries. In fact, the churches that are planted through Kabwata are distinctly Reformed in their theology, led by a plurality of elders, are pastored by indigenous missionaries, and agree to a pattern of future reproduction through church planting. Although HeartCry comes alongside Kabwata Baptist in their efforts, the mission here is completely facilitated and managed through the local church.
During our 10 days in Zambia, David and I were able to sit in on missionary meetings, attend worship at Kabwata Baptist Church, visit the preaching interns who are being trained by Conrad, and visit other church plants. In fact, on Sunday evening I was given the privilege to preach in a church plant (Faith Baptist) located in an area known as Kabanana. Overall, my visit was enormously profitable on many different levels beyond mere information gathering and vision setting for our local church. I learned that the title “African Spurgeon” is not exaggerated. Below are several characteristics I witnessed regarding Conrad Mbewe’s ministry.
More Than a Preacher
During my 10 days in Zambia, I logged many miles in the truck with Conrad riding through Lusaka. During those days, he was engaged in many different tasks related to ministry. From a weekly radio commentary to hospital visits, Conrad proved that he was more than a stage man. He is more than a talking head. Conrad is a pastor who loves and cares for the flock that God has entrusted to his care. Over a meal, Conrad explained the way he and his elders make home visits each year within the church family. It is their desire to visit the home of every member at least once per year. This is the work of shepherding – not just preaching.
Conrad is a powerful preacher and sought after conference speaker here in the United States and around the world. That type of thing could cause many men to swell in conceit, however, Conrad consistently meets with his elders to discuss ministry plans, missions, and other shepherding responsibilities within the church. Rather than playing the role of dictator or becoming jealous of other trusted elders in his church, he willingly shares the leadership and oversight responsibilities. The elders of Kabwata Baptist are a band of brothers who work together to equip the body of Christ and oversee the flock. There is no tug-of-war going on behind the scenes. Genuine shared oversight is the permeated aroma of KBC.
Serious About Church Planting
Kabwata Baptist currently has around 450 members. However, they could be much larger if they were not committed to the task of church planting. Conrad and his church have consistently demonstrated a desire to plant healthy churches along the main highways and cities throughout Zambia. They have organized an internship program for prospective church planting missionaries. KBC houses, trains, and prepares these men for the work of ministry. This is an enormous undertaking. All of the money and resources are meticulously accounted for. This requires much time, energy, planning, oversight, and money. KBC has sacrificed greatly in this effort through the years and God continues to bless. HeartCry Missionary Society has come alongside KBC and assists in providing resources for the continued expansion of their ministry. God continues to raise up men and Conrad and KBC continue to send them out into the field. I found this to be enormously encouraging in a day saturated with empire building ministries.
Complimentary Doctrine and Practice
Make no mistake about it, Conrad Mbewe is solid theologically. If you want to sit and talk theology over tea (or as I would prefer – coffee), he is more than happy to go as deep into the ethics of 1 Timothy 3 or the doctrines of grace. However, his head is connected to his heart. High theology should always produce high doxology, and that comes out in the ministry of Conrad Mbewe. Not only does it appear in his sanctuary worship practices, but it also spills out into his orphan care, involvement in adoption, commitment to African Christian University, chairing boards for schools, overseeing the work of the school that meets on his church campus, missionary training, church planting, and relentless evangelism around Lusaka. His theology fuels a hot heart for Zambia and beyond.
Tough and Tender
Conrad is unapologetically serious about pursuing the God of the Bible. He is willing to defend the faith once delivered to the saints. As we were riding down the road, I asked him what his major challenge was in ministering to the people of Lusaka, Zambia and he responded by describing the relentless impact of the health, wealth, and prosperity message that is plaguing his land. In many locations, you can’t drive over a mile without seeing 3 to 5 different advertisements for “faith healing and deliverance” ministries. Although Conrad is willing to stand firm against the false teachings and false ministers, he remains a tender pastor who is approachable within his church ministry and a tender leader who loves his family and seeks to lead them to Christ. His home is filled with the fragrance of love.
I traveled over to Zambia to see the work of the “African Spurgeon” in order to bring a report back to our church about how we can get involved. I learned more than his missions philosophy. I witnessed faithful leadership practices and evangelistic zeal from a man who is passionate about reaching the continent of Africa with the gospel. Years ago, a man heard Conrad Mbewe described as the “African Spurgeon” and he protested. He said, “I don’t think he should be called the ‘African Spurgeon’ – after all – Spurgeon was Spurgeon.” Eventually that man went over to Africa and witnessed the work of Conrad Mbewe in person. He returned home and was immediately asked by his friend, “So, what do you think?” The man responded, “About what?” His friend replied, “You know, about the ‘African Spurgeon’ title?” He said, “I still have a problem with it. I don’t think Conrad Mbewe should be called the ‘African Spurgeon’ at all. I think Spurgeon should be called the English Mbewe.” Often times you hear men labeled and decorated with exaggerated titles only to be disappointed when you peak behind the curtain. I learned much during my stay in Zambia. I was only disappointed in the lack of coffee.
Please pray for the ministry of Kabwata Baptist Church and the continued involvement of HeartCry Missionary Society in the region of Zambia and beyond. They are now starting to explore opportunities to move into more dark corners of the African continent. Would you pray about leading your church to help in this effort?
*If you are interested in learning more about church planting opportunities in Africa, please reach out to HeartCry and they will explain the details.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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Connect with Conrad Mbewe:
His blog – A Letter from Kabwata
Guest Post: Dr. Chris King, Gulfport Ms.
Last week, I was told about a pastor who recently left town for a much larger church in a growing city. It was a triumphant story describing multitudes of people believing the Gospel and the church “blowing and going.” This new church afforded him a much larger “platform” to do God’s work. As I listened, jealousy and envy crept into my heart. I envied the man’s apparently increased sphere of influence, and was frustrated by my seemingly insignificant “platform.”
It seems that pastors are often jealous and/or envious of other pastors—of their influence, their giftedness, their churches, their families, or their ability to write books. This article aims to help us fight this sinful temptation.
The nature of our pastoral work renders us especially vulnerable to ambush from the green-eyed monster. We have God-honoring desires like being faithful, making disciples, and advancing the Gospel. These good motives can make us susceptible to envying the “success” others seem to be enjoying in God’s work. Sin is deceitful, and temptations are usually cunning—masquerading under the guise of Godly motives (like being “effective” in ministry). Thus we wrongly want what someone else has, supposedly for the glory of God.
Jealousy is defined as, “resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or against another’s success or advantage itself.” Similarly, envy is, “a feeling of discontentment or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.” As pastors, what can we do to fight and kill these sins for the glory of God?
First, we should search for the deeper roots that give rise to these sins. As the above definitions point out, the sins of jealousy and envy often work in tandem with other sins (like rivalry, discontentment, and covetousness). Many of these sins can be traced back to pride. They often flow from prideful, self-centered, self-exalting demands of, “I want that, I deserve that, why don’t I have that.”
Second, we must recognize jealousy and envy as sins, and repent when they lurk in our hearts and minds. Remember, it was jealousy that led the Jewish religious leaders to oppose the Gospel and the Apostles (Acts 5:17-18). The Jews reviled Paul because they were jealous of the crowds he was attracting (Acts 13:45). In Romans 13:13, Paul lists “jealousy” alongside the sins of “sexual immorality” and “sensuality” (a word reserved for gross sexual deviance). Jealousy and envy are described as “works of the flesh” by Paul in Galatians 5:19-21. James writes, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:14-16). When we feel the first twinges of jealousy pull at our hearts, we should meditate on Scriptures like these. If we have a particular disposition toward these sins, we should memorize relevant Scriptures and use them to fight our temptations. It helps me to remember that it’s demonic wisdom to be jealous of another brother (James 3:15).
Third, we should replace these mortified sins with contentment. When Paul wrote to the Philippians while in chains, his heart wasn’t envious of those who were free to preach the Gospel. In fact, he rejoiced the Gospel was proclaimed (Phil. 1:18)! His circumstances were probably far worse than most of us will ever face. Learning to be “content in whatever situation” (Phil. 4:11) can help us fight temptations to be jealous and envious of those in “better” places than us. We should gladly take on Paul’s standards for the Christian life and confess with him, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Tim. 6:8). Paul’s austere vision of contentment in the ministry reveals the vanity of our modern expectations. Let us be content, and not spend time meditating on all that is lacking in our place of service.
It’s especially tempting to be jealous or envious of exceptionally gifted brothers. We must learn to be content in the gifts God has given us. Our deepest contentment should rest in the fact that the Lord graciously saved us and called us to a holy calling (2 Tim. 1:9). We must learn to be content in the glory of what we have in Christ. If you struggle with contentment, Jeremiah Burrough’s classic The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment would be worth reading carefully.
Find contentment especially in your wives. See them as “a good thing” and a “favor” from the Lord (Prov. 18:22). Finding great earthly contentment in her will also probably help nourish your relationship (which is always helpful in ministry).
Fourth, maintain a healthy perspective on God’s providence. We are where we are because of God (and let’s be thankful to Him for that). Furthermore, He has purposes, often unknown to us, for placing us where we serve. Trust God to fulfill His good purposes for you and your ministry.
Finally, focus on your own sanctification and ministry work, and don’t allow jealously or envy of others to distract you. Instead, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching…” (1 Tim. 4:16). Strive to be diligent in your work, especially in rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Have confidence in God’s working through your faithful preaching, evangelism, and discipleship (even though you may not see the results you long for, or are apparent in another’s ministry). Make disciples, remembering one may be the next John Owen or Charles Spurgeon. Consider the approach to ministry John MacArthur adopted early on, as he explains,
“If I take care of the depth of my ministry, God will take care of the breadth of it. That little slogan has stood by me all these years. In a sense it’s sort of against the grain of a young man’s ambition to be driven by depth rather than breadth, to be driven by excellence rather than success, to be driven by quality rather than quantity. Ambition sort of pushes you in the direction of what can I do the biggest and the fastest, not what can I do the smallest and the slowest. Ambitious people tend to be driven by breadth rather than depth. They tend to be driven by success rather than excellence and by quantity rather than quality.” Quoted from the sermon, “The Scope of Jesus’ Influence” based on Luke 8:1-3.
Grace to you,
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Dr. Chris King serves as the senior pastor of the Bayou View Baptist Church in Gulfport Ms.
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Challies on Mark Driscoll
Tim Challies describes the dust cloud surrounding Mark Driscoll by writing, “I doubt we will see another Mark Driscoll anytime soon—someone known equally for crudeness and for gospel preaching. We get it now, I think. The two are incompatible.” Read his full article here.
Mark Driscoll Removed From Acts 29
An article in Christianity Today begins, “Hoping that “the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored,” the Acts 29 church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll has removed the Seattle pastor and his Mars Hill megachurch from membership.” Read the full article here.
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