Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Why Do Pastors Need a Sabbatical?

Why Do Pastors Need a Sabbatical?
by Becky Dietz

The very basis of the word “sabbatical“ is from the Hebrew word “shabbath“ which means intermission or sabbath rest.  God set up the sabbath for the purpose of rest—and we were to keep it holy or set apart.  Every seven days we were to rest.  
A sabbatical is for the same purpose—to rest and to be renewed. Many universities give tenured professors a paid sabbatical after they’ve been there seven years.  The sabbatical is usually for a year—but could be anywhere from a month up to two years.  The idea is that the professor will travel, study, and rest and then come back renewed and energized to continue teaching the students.  Many companies are now seeing the value in giving their leading employees a sabbatical for personal enrichment and professional development.  

Why don’t more churches give their pastors a paid sabbatical?   I believe most churches don’t realize the need or value it would bring.  And, more realistically, they probably don’t think they can afford it.  Not only would they be supporting their pastor during that break, but they’d also need to fill the pulpit while he’s gone. And then there’s the philosophy that if the layman doesn’t get that kind of privilege, the pastor doesn’t deserve it either.    

Why DOES a pastor need a sabbatical?  Very few professions minister to body, soul, and spirit.  A pastor does. He or she spends time each week studying to prepare a sermon (or three), visiting and praying over the sick, doing weddings and funerals, doing civic and community outreach, ministering to people—even those who are not members of his church, counseling, helping, teaching, evangelizing, dealing with the finances or governing of a church, and doing many mundane physical jobs. The pressure a pastor feels is heavy.  The smaller the church, the more he may be required to do.  The larger the church, the more intense issues may be.  In short...a pastor gives and gives and seldom receives ministry. He gets very little real rest.  His mind is constantly planning and thinking of others and their needs.  His vacations are almost always interrupted by the needs of his church.  In fact, many times a pastor has to return home early from a vacation for that reason.  He seldom is able to give attention to his family that they need.  

2015 LifeWay Research survey of 1,500 pastors of evangelical churches revealed 84 percent said they are “on call” 24 hours a day. The survey showed 54 percent found the pastor’s role frequently overwhelming, and 48 percent said they often felt the demands of their job to be more than they could handle. And only 29 percent of churches have even considered having a sabbatical plan in place.  My guess is even fewer implement a plan.  

If a pastor is loved, (and by pastor, I’m referring to all pastors—youth, children’s, music, evangelism, missions, etc.) the best way you can show your appreciation for a job well-done is to give him an extended, continual time of paid leave.  A time other than vacation.  You have no idea how a pastor needs to lay down his responsibilities for a time so he can rest and be renewed. He needs to be in a position of receiving ministry.  Genesis tells us that God worked six days and rested on the seventh.  He set the example for us.  

If I could offer every church one piece of advice concerning their pastor, it would be this:  If your pastor has been in your church for seven years, give them a sabbatical and insist they take it!   Most pastors are selfless and will work until they drop—it’s just hard for them to turn everything off. You may have to insist they get away. I can promise most pastors would have more longevity in their churches, a more positive outlook, and more energy and focus if they were being sent on sabbaticals every seven years. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Andy’s Ancestors

Frank Huffer & Mary Jane Bryant Huffer

Christian F. Dietz

John W. Byrns

Charles Arund Dietz

Anna Maude Tarrant 

Janie Inez McKemie’s mother

Elizabeth Claire Byrns Dietz
Beverly Floy Byrns Bell
Anna Maude Byrns Underwood

Robert (Bob) Frank Dietz

Lilburn Roy Byrns

Elizabeth Claire Dietz 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Women in Ministry by Paul Burleson


[What follows is my view of some of the scriptural texts relating to the issue of women in ministry. This is the current raging controversy in the SBC as you probably know. It may be outside the realm of interest to a lot of people who normally read what I write. I understand! If it DOES strike a cord in some, enjoy.]

In that ever controversial verse, 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul used a word translated “authority” [authenteo] in the KJV [and other versions] that is NOT found anywhere else in all of scripture. Not even in the Septuagint. [The Greek translation of the Old Testament.] The word has come to be traditionally translated with the idea that women are to “not usurp authority over the man” meaning, she has her place and that place is under the authority of men. [A Universal Principle.]

However, it is correctly translated according to Strong’s Word Studies, by the ASV, “But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness.”  [Vincent Word Studies says, The KJV’s “usurp authority” is a mistake. It is to be rendered “to have or exercise dominion over.”] 

The unfortunate traditional view assumes that the very act of a woman teaching a man is, in their view of scripture, inherently a wrongful act that violates male headship. That’s NOT what Paul was saying at all. He is correcting FALSE teaching and a domineering attitude in a woman, which I will show in a moment. 

It would be wise to notice that Paul has already named two MEN [Hymen├Žus and Alexander] who were teaching incorrectly in Ephesus and had to be dealt with, and deal with them Paul did. [See 1 Timothy 1:20]  So, it is NOT surprising to see that a wife who is going astray in her teaching [as we shall see] in the church had to be dealt with, and deal with her Paul does.  

The fact that there is no command (imperative in the Greek) from Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12 at all makes a good case for questioning the previously mentioned traditional interpretation of making it a Universal Principle. Also, contrary to the traditional view, Jesus taught us that in His kingdom “authority” [who’s the boss] is to be a complete non-issue between believers. Servant-hood is our issue. (Matt.20:24-28; 23:11; Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46; 22:24)

The wording in the KJV, “I suffer not a [this] woman,” can certainly sound like a command, but it isn’t. Instead, it is in the simple present tense, “I am not now permitting a [this] woman…” [singular] This MEANS [IMO] that in Paul’s thinking at THAT moment about THAT situation, [the previously mentioned problem couple in the fellowship in Ephesus] was that Timothy, the pastor, should NOT allow that situation to continue.

Paul did address “women” [plural] in verses 9-10 as to modesty and decorum, but he switches to the singular in verses 12-15 to talk about a SPECIFIC woman! [And her husband.] He is saying in the Greek language, when properly translated, ”I do not in this one instance allow [suffer[ this woman [wife] to take charge over her man [husband] in an unseemly [my toned down word for domineering] manner." [Woman and man are both singular and when used together in scripture usually mean a husband and wife.] 

As I said before, "authenteo" [authority] is NOT found in the Greek language, but it has been found to be a street word in that culture with perhaps even some sexual overtones describing the use of sexuality as a tool for control. So Paul, writing under inspiration, is probably saying to this church's pastor, [Timothy] who had a church with some women members who were saved out of the very mystery religion that used such tactics, and had one specific problem couple in particular, as the wife sought, using that method, to badger her husband into a false belief,  “Enough is enough. Don’t let her do that,” Paul says!  [Whew!] 

[Old patterns often don’t die easily EVEN after you’ve become a believer and this one woman in that church at Ephesus that Timothy pastored seems to be doing exactly that to her husband and Paul is stopping it.]

Jon Zens, a friend of mine, has a masterful exegetical work on this passage in his book entitled "What's With Paul And Women," [you can get it on Amazon] in which he says this..."If there is [had been] a divine law that 'women-teaching-men' is sinful, then there can be no exceptions. But there is no concern in this regard expressed in Scripture, as there are clearly cases where women taught men. In Romans 12:6-7 where Paul is listing some gifts, he mentions both “prophesying” and “teaching” and there are no sexual restrictions given – both men and women can be involved is such activities.” 

There is nothing inherently evil or unscriptural in "women-teaching-men", but it is CERTAINLY a problem when women teach error, or teach with a view toward dominating men. Of course, the same concerns hold true if men teach error or teach with the view toward dominating women!

Finally, a brief word about the ever-present question concerning Genesis 2:20 where the woman is said to be man's "help meet". [KJV] The fact that Eve was created as Adam's "suitable helper" does not establish a woman as lesser at all, it seems to me! In English the word sometimes is used that way, but it certainly isn't in the original Hebrew. God said she is to be a man's "ezer" [Hebrew for help-mate] which is a word used for God Himself in relation to man, Israel, the nations, you name it. If it DID mean "less than" then God is in trouble since He is that to so many. No, the word means "One essential to" and is perfectly legitimate to be used for a woman's relating to a man. 

I do believe God's original intention for the male/female relationship was clearly established in Genesis 1 where “He said to “them” that "they" were to "have dominion" and for “them” to "multiply" and for “them” to "care for the garden." It looks to me to be at least a partnership going on from the very beginning. 

Of course, the “original fall of Adam and Eve” messed it up and the text shows both [male and female] THEN tried to “be in charge.” She tried to take over by “desiring her husband” [the meaning is not a Godly thing but one of taking charge] and he tried to take over by “ruling over her." [No Godliness there either, as it means to be a despot.] 

What God said in His address to them AFTER the fall seemed to me to be a DESCRIPTION of the RESULT of their sin and rebellion rather than a PRESCRIPTION for the behavior He expected. So both male and female are pretty well messed up by now in this “authority” thing. 

But hang on, God straightened all that up in Ephesians 5:21 [New Covenant remember] where BOTH male and female were told to submit/serve one another and to do so in the power of the Spirit, as they are walking in Him. [Ephesians chapter 5] 

The wife does this by CHOOSING to serve her husband. Hupo-tasso was used in the middle voice which means it came from “inside herself” and not because of an outside requirement. Hupo-akuio would have said that! And the husband does this by CHOOSING to love his wife as his own body serving her. 

A man “choosing to love” is not less submissive than a “woman choosing to serve.” It's just the New Covenant way of correcting the "who's the boss" failure and making it a non-issue. We all know the Lord Jesus is the BOSS. So all Christians are servants to Him and to one another. 

One final thought about this "woman being created second" question. I never had seen how man being created first and woman coming from man would set up an authority thing. No doubt he was and she did, but, if who’s created first is a principle for authority then the animals and birds should rule man. 

Of course that specific woman in the church at Ephesus [coming out of the mystery religions of Ephesus] HAD believed that women WERE created first by their gods and were far superior to any male. So when Paul addressed who was created first I believe he was correcting heresy of the mystery religions again. Also remember that since that original creation moment, every MAN has come from a woman. Not a lot of bragging room there! 

Now if we could just get believers to get it straight about men NOT being superior just because they were created first, wouldn't that be refreshing! Different? Yes! Superior? No! 

In New Covenant theology the Holy Spirit is the Gifter, Decider, Authority, Power, and Sender of all gifts and ministry to all believers regardless of race, gender, or age and what we do is for the edification of others.

As the title indicates, this is my sort of scriptural  "road map" to show how “authority” is a non-issue in male/female relationships in Kingdom living. For a few references that I've found to be an immeasurable help, let me recommend...

Jon Zens____What's With Paul And Women?

Gilbert Bilezikian___Beyond Sex Role

Cheryl Schatz DVD Series Women in Ministry: Silenced or Free.

[Check Cheryl's series out on YouTube]

My hope is that you'll personally study the texts mentioned and come to some conclusion for yourself on this major issue about Kingdom people. I have!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Too Old to Have a Baby!

Too Old to Have a Baby!

This past Sunday, Jason Peters, our Sunday School teacher, was using Luke 1 and the story of Zacharias & Elizabeth in his lesson.  As he read the story, something jumped out at me!   Twice it says that Zacharias and his wife were aged—or advanced in years.  Gabriel tells him that his prayers have been heard and they will have a son.  

Now if you’re advanced in years (and I’m assuming past baby-producing age), don’t you at some point quit praying and asking for a baby?   I’m almost 64-years-old and I can promise that would NOT be a request I’d still be making!!   It wasn’t that God didn’t hear all those years ago.   And it wasn’t that He was saying, “No!”   Oh no—God heard!  It was the fact that He had many pieces to this puzzle to put in place.  Mary (Elizabeth’s cousin and the mother of Jesus) had to be born and grow up.  God used those years to season and teach Zacharias and Elizabeth.  They remained righteous and blameless even when it seemed their prayers went unanswered. God wanted mature, godly overcoming parents to train John the Baptist who would become the forerunner of Jesus.  

But when they were past their prime (or so they thought) and when their reproductive systems were dead...a miracle took place!   They had a baby!!!   And not just any baby—but the promised forerunner of the Messiah.  

This should give all of us such HOPE!!  What prayer has gone unanswered in your life?  Did He really say no?   Could it be that God is having to put many things in place?   Is He wanting to wait until everything seems dead so he can produce a living miracle?   

Don’t give up hope!   And in the meantime, worship God and live righteously before Him.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Mirror

Have you read this verse and thought about it?  "As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects one person to another."  Proverbs 27:19

I can't tell you the number of times I've gotten aggravated with someone over their idiosyncrasies, habits, flesh, or sin. I might have even gone on a rampage or two because of them.  But God, in His faithfulness, has been quick to point out the same things in my own life.  It's humbling, to say the least.

And then there’s the passage in Matthew 7:1-5 which tells us not to judge or the same judgement will be given to us. The insinuation in this passage is that it’s made of the same substance.  We’re not to try to get the splinter out of someone’s eye until we’ve gotten the plank out of ours.  Again...the same substance.  

Yesterday, I was angry over a situation where I felt someone had undervalued me.  I stewed about it for 24 hours.  And then I went to God. I began journaling all of my thoughts about the situation.  God didn’t say a word, but caused me to remember this principle He had taught me many years ago...and I chose to put the comparison mirror up in front of me.  Ouch!!  The very things of which I was accusing another were true in my own life.  

It should be a red flag when we’re examining someone else’s life with a fine-toothed comb.  At that moment, we should hold up the mirror to our own hearts and allow the Spirit of God to examine us.  And anything that opposes God?   Uproot it!!  Ask for forgiveness.  And receive grace and extend that same grace to others.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Spiritual Muscles

Spiritual Muscles
by Becky Dietz

Have you ever thought about how committed God is to making you strong?   As your father, he allows hard things in your life intentionally.  It isn’t to harm you.  Instead, it’s to build your spiritual muscles.  He is a good, good father and he stands ready to catch you at any point.  But as a good father, he knows that if your life is perfect, you’d probably never turn to him for help (or intimacy) and you would fall apart at the slightest problem.  

Romans 5:3-4 says, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  Tribulation or trials or problems are the way we get to perseverance.  Perseverance means to endure, to have tenacity, backbone, dedication, steadfastness.  And those things produce character.  God delights in good character—having a good name is to be chosen over riches!   You’ve become purposeful and intent—and manage your life well—when you have character.  Character delivers hope.  You have hope because you’ve overcome!   Because you’ve endured and persevered, you know the steadfastness and faithfulness of your good, good father.  You know he won’t leave you.  As you press in to him during those trials, he presses in to strengthen your spiritual muscles!   His whole goal is to strengthen you through the process and for you to intimately know his good character.   

It’s our nature to strive and chafe when persecutions, trials, or tribulations come.  But remember you have a father who is intentional in building your spiritual muscles.  And he allows exercises to strengthen you.  Embrace him.  Turn to him.  He’ll help you if you ask.  He’s a good, good father who wants nothing more than to fill your heart with hope!  His plan is very good.  

Monday, September 9, 2019

Interrupted Expectations

By Jan Stockdale

Interrupted Expectations
Psalms 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

    For so many years of my life I have believed that grief and loss were only due to someone dying. Going to a funeral to celebrate their life was a bittersweet experience. The loss of saying goodbye and living without having them in my life right now was deeply felt with sorrow and grief. My hope was in the assurance of living with them in eternity but it still left me broken hearted!  However, what I know now is there are many interrupted expectations that occur in a life time and are definitely a space designed for me to recognize and grieve.
    I have designed a class that I teach called “Interrupted Expectations.” It is all about loss and grief and how we handle these interruptions. The passion to help others understand the purpose and benefit of embracing the grief and loss while giving people tools to accomplish this, was birthed out of a conversation I had one day with a counselor at my church. I asked her, “What is the root cause that you find in your clients when they come in for your help with a particular issue?” What she proceeded to say was a paradigm shift for me at that moment. She said, ”Eight out of ten of my clients that come to see me for a particular issue, I can take them back to a specific time in their lives where there has been a significant loss that they did not grieve appropriately.” That seems like a pretty high percentage to me so I began the process in my life of allowing God to reveal to me these interrupted expectations of loss that I have buried deep within my heart, that will always resurrect somewhere. The picture that came to my mind was that of a volcano and how at times it looked calm and peaceful but knowing that it had the power to spew out hot fiery gushes of lava at any given moment. That was the way that I could see my emotions if they were not acknowledged and grieved appropriately.
    My research has given me validation in helping others. The Bible has given me revelation of loss in models of how to express my grief. Being in ministry has helped me validate and normalize (not fix) the sorrow and pain of loss in the lives of those searching for answers to healthy recovery.
    So what I hope to give you as pastors wives will be tools for you to give away to others but also give you a place to acknowledge your grief and loss. God wants to give you health and healing and he wants to heal what you are willing to reveal.
    At first I would like to have us explore a few defense mechanisms that we all could be carrying with us that we must recognize and step out of. An excellent acrostic taken from Celebrate Recovery material gives a picture of a major defense mechanism called denial.

D... disables our feelings
E... Energy loss
N...Negates growth
I....Isolate us from God
A...Alienates us from our relationships
L...Lengthens the pain

Other denial walls of defense might look like minimizing your pain and grief by comparing it to others, blaming others and even yourself rather than looking honestly at what is true reality. Also rationalizing, intellectualizing and becoming hostile are road blocks as adults that keep us from growing spiritually and emotionally. What I now understand about grief is, it is about a broken heart, not a broken brain. All efforts to heal the heart with the head tend to fail because the head is the wrong tool for the job. Grievers are not broken, therefore they do not need to be fixed.
    What does work as you step out of denial? Understanding grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind will help. Grief is conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior. Embrace your grief and walk through it not around it. Jesus was acquainted with grief and suffering (Isaiah 53:3) and as we are being transformed and conformed to His image we to have to embrace sorrow and grief as a part of life. Many today believe that the pathway of life ought to be smooth and fair. Any interrupted expectation or loss is out of the ordinary.  Perhaps it is the other way around, that the smooth, comfortable times of life are in reality a bit abnormal.
    In John 16:33, Jesus says to us his children,
“ I have told you these things so in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” Therein lies our HOPE. One day God will make it right!
    Interrupted expectations cause major adjustments in our lives, one that we would rather avoid, but are inevitable. Loss is one of our constant companions throughout life, so it is so confusing to me that we don’t talk about it very often. For some reason the concept of loss means something is wrong and carries over into almost every area of life. Yet with every loss comes potential for change, growth and new insights, understanding and refinement. All positive descriptions and words of hope.
    The number one tool that I use in ministering to people grieving is to normalize and validate their feelings. I do NOT TRY TO FIX THEM! Any emotion, good or bad, is validated and recognized as normal feelings. I don’t give them scriptures to read but I do let them know that King David in Psalms was a man after Gods heart that showed strong emotions in his despair and grief. The Psalms might be a place to start in the Word for validation. We can’t take away the pain but we can sit with one another in the pain. What a comfort the Holy Spirit is to us as He sits with us in our sorrow and pain.
    Each month I will continue to give you more tools for ministering to others as well as using for yourself. You may be feeling that you have no one to normalize or validate you, but I pray that you will find at least one safe person to share your emotions with.  Grief shared is grief diminished.
    Let me leave you with this excerpt from a book written by Walter Wangerin,Jr. called “Mourning into Dancing”
Sorrow and joy are not separate. Happiness and sadness may be the opposite of one another, but not joy and sorrow. In fact, it is through sorrow that one discovers a calm, abiding indestructible joy. This is the paradox of our faith; joy is forged in sorrow.

*Jan Stockdale is a grateful believer in Jesus and is all about building up the body of Christ for God’s glory. She has served in women’s ministry as a team leader for 12 years. Her passion for helping others comes out of her losses and pain plus being a wife to Tom, a funeral director, for over 30 years. Her role in their ministry to the hurting was aftercare and grief support groups called GriefShare. Much of her material and tools come from being a facilitator of a grief retreat called Spark of Life and the Grief Recovery Institute. She is now a grief coach through SparkofLife.com.
Lastly, much of the insights given in her classes are from H.Norman Wright’s curriculum “Helping Others Recover from Loss and Grief.”