What I’m Learning This Summer

(Written last summer, but very good thoughts to reflect on as we look forward to this summer!)

Even though Phoenix can get too hot, my family and I enjoy the summer months for several reasons. My wife Toni teaches piano ten month out of the year but takes June and July off to spend some extra time with her husband (that would be me) and our sons. During those two short months I take the bulk of my vacation time off so we can have some special times together. All of us are “crazy busy” during the majority of the school year. My sons (Jonathan, Jeremy and Joshua) are at a fun age – 16, 14 and 12. They’re all involved in school, church, sports, music, etc….When the end of school comes around they are as needy of a break as Toni and I are.

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The Decision-making Process of the Local Church

Introduction – Not long after I had surrendered to the call of ministry, I started to become aware of a number of “inner-struggles” that existed in many, good fundamental churches. Because my Dad had been in educational ministry, I had overheard various discussions in which Dad (Dr. Jerry Tetreau, President – International Baptist College) would reach out and encourage various hurting believers from all over the country, who were being wounded because of an errant “decision-making process, ” in that particular ministry. As I continued to develop in my theological and ministry training, I became alarmed at the frequency of what I considered to be poor, and at time disastrous, interpersonal relationships in many ministries between “pastors,” “deacons,” and members of the congregation. My decade in the pastorate has unearthed the finding, that this problem persists in many churches because of (I believe) a gross misunderstanding of the “decision-making process of the local, New Testament Church.” I have dedicated the last 3 years of my academic work, plowing through the Scriptures, searching for God’s heart on this topic. This work is in connection with my D.Min. Final Project at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Plymouth, Minnesota.

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Defeating Discouragement and Depression

An alarming rate of the Lord’s servants suffer from major discouragement and depression. What has been especially difficult and alarming is the number of presentations I have listened to that seem to indicate that this discouragement comes to those who are in some way, “weak” and “sinful.” Often times the listener goes away with the sense that if only I were “more holy,” or perhaps “more disciplined” I would be able to “break free” from these feelings of discouragement. Panic, anxiety and other physical “reactions” to stress and strain are often assumed to automatically be signs of “bad theology” or “personal sin.” Often such symptoms certainly may in part be connected with sinful choices. But we need to remember that one cannot assume that because a servant is going through a time of depression – even the type that effects one physically, that that is necessarily the result of “sin” in faith or practice. For those who refuse to accept this, I simply need to remind you of Jesus of Nazareth. Christ, in His humanity, suffered physiological symptoms (sweating blood) on the eve of his crucifixion. Yep, you have “physiological results” from “internal strain.” I hope we would not say that Jesus’ suffered from “bad theology” or “personal sin!” Just as it was normal for Jesus, to suffer the physiological effects of strain at Golgotha – Those of us less divine can certainly expect that often we will feel the effects of discouragement even depression and anxiety in our weak, physical bodies and brains!

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