Month: March 2013

Fresh Bread

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 4.21.03 PMToday I have two major pieces of news to announce and a special favor to ask all of my friends.  Let me begin by giving you the news.

First, I am proud to announce that on May 5th, I will be launching the sale of my new book “Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude.” Throughout the process of writing and publishing this book, I have been convinced that God is going to use it in a tremendous way.  The book is going to be available through several retail outlets but I am encouraging everyone to buy it through Amazon.com.  I will send you more information about prices and how to buy the book as the launch date gets close.

Second, I am even more excited to share with you that during the entire month of May 100% of the profits from the sale of the book will be donated to…

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When Pastors Fall People Lose Confidence in the Gospel

Challoner's 1749 revision of the Rheims New Te...
Challoner’s 1749 revision of the Rheims New Testament borrowed heavily from the King James Version. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Throughout the past week I have explored the problems created in the church when Pastors fall into sin.  The truth of the matter is that with leadership comes a higher standard of accountability and responsibility.  As Pastors we need to be especially careful about the conduct of our lives because when we fall we harm the testimony of the church and hinder the mission.  But perhaps even more serious is the fact that lost people are making their minds up about the truth of the Gospel by the way they see us live.

Several years ago, while I serving as the Pastor of a church in West Virginia we took our teenagers on a mission trip to the lower part of our state.  One of the projects that we are asked to do for the church we were working with was to conduct a survey of the local community and to share the gospel with the people that we met.  One afternoon while knocking on doors and taking this survey, I met a man named Tom who invited me to sit down and talk with him for a while.  As we sat on his front porch, sipping iced-tea, the conversation started to come around to the matter of church.  “Tom,” I asked, “have you ever been to that church just down the street?”

“Yes,” he replied, “when my wife and I first moved here we went to that church but then the Pastor got into some trouble and we never went back.”

When I asked how long ago that had been Tom said, “Oh, I guess that was about 1965 when that happened and I never went back.  In fact, I’ve never been back to any church since then.  I just didn’t see the point, they are all just a bunch of hypocrites anyways.”

“Do you really believe that all Christians are hypocrites, Tom?” I asked.

“No,” he replied, “just the preachers. I figured if you can’t trust them how can you believe anything they say.  I just figured that the whole thing, the Bible, the stories, the whole thing is just a bunch of malarkey  ”

That short meeting with Tom stills haunts me because it reminded me of how much people are making their decisions about the truth of the gospel by they way they see us live— and by “us” I am referring specifically to Pastors.  We all know that hypocrisy and sin within the body of Christ is always damaging, but we also have to agree that the fall of one Pastor can do more harm than the sin of ten other church members.  This is why Satan targets Pastors with vicious and unrelenting attacks.  As Pastors we need to be vigilant about dealing with the roots of sin as soon as they rear their ugly heads.  Unconfessed sin will grow far beyond what you ever imagined and it will consume your life if left unchecked.  But it will not stop just at taking your life, it will ruin your testimony and keep lost

 

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Some Posts that You Might Find Interesting

Here are some of the posts on other blogs that I found interesting.

The History of Christianity in 25 Objects – Tim Challies

In this ongoing series of articles we are tracing the history of the Christian faith by pausing to look at 25 objects, 25 historical relics that survive to our day. From the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester we return to the city of Rome and this time we travel to the Palatine Antiquarium Museum, a museum dedicated to the history of the Palatine Hill. Rome is the city built upon seven hills and the Palatine Hill is at the center of them all, rising up above what remains of the Roman Forum on the one side and the Circus Maximus on the other. It has been the context for many of history’s most significant moments. Some of the museum’s exhibitions display models of the early villages that predate the founding of Rome while others hold relics of ancient temples and other buildings that used to adorn the hill. Among the relics, secured high on one wall, is a curious piece of graffiti.

 

Behold the Son – Trevin Wax

At the foot of the cross where the sins of the world are being condemned and judged and the Savior is down to His last breaths, the soldiers are casting lots for His clothing. They divide and rip up His clothes, but they take care not to sever the tunic. Why tear such a good piece of fabric? Meanwhile, the body of Christ hovers over them, torn and bloodied.

What love! Christ was stripped naked on the cross, so that you and I might be wrapped in His robe of righteousness. Our sin for His righteousness. His death for our life.

I’m reposting something I put together for myself several years ago after reading John Stott’s book Between Two Worlds on preaching. This is basically an outline of his chapter on preparing a message with slight additions for my own personal use. I hope it encourages fellow pastors. (The picture is from 2005 when I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Stott who has since gone on to be with the Lord.)

 John Stott on Preparing a Sermon – Josh Harris

I’m reposting something I put together for myself several years ago after reading John Stott’s book Between Two Worlds on preaching. This is basically an outline of his chapter on preparing a message with slight additions for my own personal use. I hope it encourages fellow pastors. (The picture is from 2005 when I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Stott who has since gone on to be with the Lord.)

 

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Unconfessed Sin Distracts from the Mission

ID-10053881When a church has to focus the majority of its time and attention on cleaning up the mess left by a Pastor who has fallen into sin, it will be distracted away from it’s primary mission of preaching the gospel.  When I was first starting out in the ministry, I had the opportunity to see from a distance the effects that occur when a Pastor falls into sin.  In this instance, the issue was not adultery but rather the mishandling of church funds.  A routine audit of the church books revealed that the Pastor had been using thousands of church dollars for his own personal use. Prior to the scandal being discovered this church had been one of the great missionary churches in that area of the country.  Over twenty Southern Baptist Churches had been planted from this one congregation over the years and they had a reputation of being one of the most missionary churches in our denomination.  But after the scandal things changed drastically.  While they continued to try to be involved in planting new congregations, the missionary zeal of the church slowly diminished as more and more of the ministry was aimed at healing the wounds left by the scandal involving their Pastor.  Today they are on the verge of closing their doors.  I cannot help but to wonder what kind of work they could have accomplished in the Kingdom had it not been for this one sad incident.

This same story has been repeated across the evangelical world. Once vibrant churches have been rendered ineffective due to the sin of their Pastors.  When the church has to spend more and more of its time and resources trying to mend the broken hearts and lives left in the wake of a Pastors moral failure, there is little time or energy left for the mission.  In one of the strangest paradoxes that you will ever witness,  churches that goes into this kind of “survival mode” all but guarantee their own slow but inevitable death.  Being on mission with God gives life and vitality to a church, so when the mission is replaced with merely trying to survive the present crisis churches end up trapped in a slow churning spiral of death.

A Special Request for All of My Friends and Fellow Bloggers

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 4.21.03 PMToday I have two major pieces of news to announce and a special favor to ask all of my friends.  Let me begin by giving you the news.

First, I am proud to announce that on May 5th, I will be launching the sale of my new book “Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude.” Throughout the process of writing and publishing this book, I have been convinced that God is going to use it in a tremendous way.  The book is going to be available through several retail outlets but I am encouraging everyone to buy it through Amazon.com.  I will send you more information about prices and how to buy the book as the launch date gets close.

Second, I am even more excited to share with you that during the entire month of May 100% of the profits from the sale of the book will be donated to our mission fund at First Baptist Church, Metropolis.  After May, I will continue to give 25% of the profits to this missionary work in Haiti but we have a special opportunity to make an impact on the lostness in Haiti during the month of May.   My prayer is that over during the month we will sell 5,000 copies of this book, which would help to raise over $10,000 for our mission’s efforts in Haiti.  But I need your help!  Let me give you three ways that you can help:

1.) Pray –  In fact, if you don’t do anything else please pray for this book and offer to be used to touch people’s lives.  Throughout the process of writing the book, God spoke to my heart and helped me to grow in my spiritual life.  I am certain that it is going to be a blessing to all who read it.  But the proceeds from the sale of this book are going to help make an even farther-reaching impact on the people in Haiti.  Pray for God to use these funds to spread the gospel, plant churches and change lives in the country of Haiti.

2.) Bloggers needed to review the book  If you are a blogger, I am willing to send you a free PDF copy of the book in advance if you will commit to doing the following 3 things for me:

A.) Write a review of the book on your blog during the week of May 5th-12th.  The review can be positive or negative, but I want you to be honest and fair.  In order to make the greatest impact I am asking you to please hold off publishing your review until May 5th.

B.) Please share with your readers the link on Amazon where they can buy the book.  This is not live yet, but I will send it to you in an email once the book goes live on Amazon.

C.) Please include in your review that during the month of May, 100% of the profits from this book will be used to fund missions work in Haiti.

If you are a blogger and interested in helping me spread the word about the book please send an email to joe@metrofbc.com and I will send you the PDF files containing the book.  Please be sure to include the web address for your blog so that I can verify it.

3.) Help me spread the news– You can start helping me to spread the news right now by simply by sharing this post on your Facebook or Twitter accounts.  But then I am going to really need your help is during the week of May 5th-12th. During that week I need you to help me spread the word about the release of this book as far as possible.  Please take a moment to follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/joe.buchanan.73744) so that you will receive updates.  During the week of the release I ask that you help me to share the news about this release to all of your friends and followers.

This book has been one of the most enjoyable projects in my life and I am hoping that it will be a huge success but more importantly I want it to make an impact on the lostness in Haiti.  I hope that you will help.

If you are interested in reading a short excerpt from the book click on the link below:

 

The Consequences of Pastoral Sin: Part 1

Bathsheba Goes to King David
Bathsheba Goes to King David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Over the past several days I have posted a series of articles dealing with the problem of unconfessed sin in the life of the Pastor.  Over the next couple of days I would like to share with you some of the consequences of Pastoral sin.  This is of particular importance because the Bible shows us that sin in the life of a leader can have greater consequences.

 

Sin in the Life of a Leader Can Have Greater Consequences

 

We all know the story from 2 Samuel 11-12 of how King David fell into sin with Bathsheba.  One of the haunting verses in that episode occurs when Nathan the Prophet confronts David with his sin and says, “because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”⁠1  The phrase that I want to draw special attention to is when God says, “by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.”  I doubt that it ever crossed David’s mind that in committing his sin with Bathsheba that he might embolden God’s enemies and give them occasion to blaspheme the name of the Lord, but that is what his sin ultimately accomplished.

 

As Pastors we have to accept the fact that our lives are on constant display for others to see.  This is a natural part of being a leader and anyone who isn’t ready to accept it should get out of the ministry.  We are God’s representatives before the church and when we fall into sin it comes with enormous consequences.  I have observed at least three major consequences that occur when Pastors fall into sin:

 

1.) When a Pastor is Caught in Sin it Causes the Congregation to Question the Integrity of their Next Pastor

 

Jim and his wife Nell were so excited when Good News Baptist Church extended the call for him to come to be their new Pastor.  Jim was fresh out of seminary and anxious to get started in his first Pastorate.  For the first few months, Jim and Nell were in their proverbial honeymoon period with the church and they could not have asked for a better reception.  The people of Good News were excited by the new energy and enthusiasm that Jim and his wife brought to the church.  But as the months went by Jim started to notice that things were beginning to cool off.  He had come up with a list of several ideas that he wanted to implement to help the church grow but was meeting with some resistance.  Some of the members whom he had counted as close friends were now starting to distance themselves and he started to sense that something was wrong.

 

Jim did not know it when he was called but a Pastor a little more than ten years earlier the church had caught their Pastor in a sexual affair with one of the women in the church.  Rather than deal with it openly the church decided to cover it up and try to deal with it as quietly as possible.  Unfortunately for Jim, this meant that the church had not dealt with the matter Biblically and in the vacuum of silence the people had never come to any closure or resolution.  The church appeared on the surface to be fine but for over a decade just underneath the surface a putrefying abscess had grown and was eating away at the soul of the church. One of it’s chief effects was to create a deep-seated mistrust of Pastors among the congregation.

 

That deep mistrust came to the surface one night during a business meeting when Jim recommended to the church that they start looking into hiring a secretary to help him with some of the administrative tasks.  Good News Baptist Church has never had a paid secretary before and Jim explained how now that the church was growing it was important to try to free up some of his time from administrative duties.  As Jim explained how the time he was spending putting together and printing the weekly newsletter and bulletins could be better used in ministry activities he noticed a change come over the room.  Suddenly, Brother Richard Johnson, one of Jim’s of closest friends and a loyal deacon was on his feet.

 

“Brother Jim,” Richard almost shouted, “I am against this motion and want to urge everyone here to vote against it.”  Shocked by this statement Jim said, “But Richard if we are going to grow we need to be able to free up some of my time, so that I can be dedicated to the work of ministry rather than so many administrative tasks.”  Jim thought that this would bring some clarity to the issue, but in truth the statement only served to enrage Richard even more.  “Pastor,” shouted Richard, “this is a waste of money and you know it! I’ve been a member of this church for twenty years and every Pastor we’ve ever had printed the bulletins and newsletters and I don’t see any reason why you can’t do the same.”  Then Richard dropped the bombshell, “Just because you are too lazy to do your job doesn’t mean that we need to pay someone else to do it for you!”

 

Those words cut through Jim and Nell like a knife.  They considered Richard to be a friend and were shocked that he could make such a hurtful statement.  Jim humbly withdrew his motion and closed the business meeting in prayer.  As he and Nell laid in bed that night praying about what had just happened, Jim began to realize that something deeper was going on.  He didn’t know what it was then, but he knew that something  besides money must be driving his friend to act so rudely.

 

The next day Jim called Richard and they went to have lunch.  Jim began the conversation by saying, “Richard, I’m confused about what happened last night.  Did I do something to offend you or to hurt you?”  As the two men talked Richard eventually opened up and told Jim about the situation with their previous Pastor.  “When Pastor Daniel got caught having an affair it just tore me apart.” Said Richard, “ He and I had been good friends, he was the one who lead me to the Lord and baptized me.  To discover that he was a fraud was one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with.”  Richard did not realize it but along with many other members of the church, he had become mistrustful of Pastors in general because of their experience.

 

Come back tomorrow to learn about the second consequence of Pastoral sin.

 

 

 

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1 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995 (2 Sa 12:14). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

 

 

 

Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 4.21.03 PMI have two major announcements to make in regard to my new book.

First, the official launch date will be Sunday, May 5th. I hope that you will mark this date on your calendar and purchase a copy of “Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude” on Amazon.com.  If you are a blogger please email me (joe@metrofbc.com)to receive details about how you can receive a free advance copy to review on your website.

Click here to read a brief excerpt.

 Sign up to follow my blog by email and  receive automatic updates about the release of the book.

Second, I am excited to announce that 100% of the profits from the sale of the book during the month of May will go to support missions work in Haiti.  As you may know, the church where I serve is very committed to the work of reaching Haitians with the gospel and this book is going to provide a tool for making a major investment in the work their.  After May, I will continue to contribute 25% of the profits from this book to our work in Haiti, but in order to help launch the book I wanted to do something special.  My prayer is that during the month of May, you will help me to sell 5,000 copies of this book, which will provide over $10,000 for the work in Haiti.

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 4.21.03 PMScreen Shot 2013-03-26 at 4.23.20 PM

Here’s what others are saying about the book:

“Cultivating A Gospel Shaped Attitude” by Joe Buchanan is a much-needed addition to the literature on the Beatitudes. There are many good works available. Dr. Buchanan’s is unique in that it shows how the gospel impacts our attitudes, actions and character. Read it with blessing and practical application.”

Jerry Vines, Pastor-Emeritus, First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida; Two time president of the Southern Baptist Convention; President, Jerry Vines Ministries, Inc.(www.jerryvines.com)

There are plenty of books that will help you to have a positive attitude, but most of them are missing what Joe Buchanan brings to the discussion – how the gospel shapes our attitudes and in turn, our actions, to produce in us a Christlike character. My mind and heart are in a better place because of Cultivating a Gospel-Shaped Attitude, and yours will be too! Buy it, read it, and give a copy away!

Brandon Cox, Pastor at Grace Hills Church, Editor at Pastors.com

“In Cultivating a Gospel Shaped Attitude Joe Buchanan delivers encouraging, practical, and highly readable insight into Christian character development, and the heart attitudes that Jesus teaches are at the core of that development.  By showing us the inner attitudes that make the actions of faith more natural, Joe offers new freedom and victory to those of us who may be frustrated in our efforts to be more like Christ.”

Nate Adams, Executive Director, Illinois Baptist State Association, Author of The Acts 1:8 Challenge (LifeWay) and The Home Team (Revell)

“Joe Buchanan looks with new insight to this great passage of scripture in Matthew.  He illustrates out of his own personal experiences as a young pastor serving a small church in rural WV to his current days of leading a much larger church in Illinois to drive his point home.  Brother Buchanan writes with simple wisdom and candor that will touch every heart.  I fully recommend this book for your personal instruction or for use with a small group.  You will be blessed if you read it and follow the wisdom found within.”

Terry L. Harper, Executive Director, West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists

“There is no shortage of books in this world based on the general premise that, if we adjust or eliminate our bad attitudes, our quality of life will improve.  In Cultivating a Gospel-Centered Attitude, Dr. Buchanan moves beyond feel-good rhetoric to focus instead on the source of a healthy attitude  – in a heart aligned with the desires and teachings of Christ.”

Jerry Falwell, Jr., Chancellor and President, Liberty University

Whenever I read a book I want the book to be intellectually challenging, spiritually encouraging and readable. Dr. Joe Buchanan has captured all three. It is the kind of book that pastors and lay people alike will greatly benefit from and be blessed by it. This is one of those must read books.

Dr. Morris Anderson, Evangelist, President & Founder of MANNA Ministries, Inc.