Filling Your mind

upright, holy and disciplined. Titus 1:8d,e

The elder qualities go hand in hand with self control. Again, it starts in the mind and works it way down into your spirit.

What are you thinking? What are you feeding your mind? What goes into your head day in and day out? What are you filling your mind with?

Have you ever begun humming the song you sung in church three weeks ago but don’t know why? We’ve all experienced this. We fed our minds three weeks ago It can certainly happen the opposite as well. You’re listening to a Rock or Country station and an old song just starts being replayed over and over in your mind.

So, what does that have to do with anything? What you feed your mind matters. We know that to be true in Hollywood. An entire generation has grown up desensitized to vampires, witches, demons, magic potients, homosexual relationships, and even into the transgender malaise. And most of that is through cartoons. Think about that for a second. It started with an idea, filtered down to television, went into the minds of kids, and look what we have today.

That’s why we have to fill our minds with good, holy, and righteous songs, hymns, and verses. The world continues to battle for our minds. If they have our minds, they can do much of what they want and you’d be abnormal if you didn’t believe it.

Be careful what you put into your head every day.

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The Self Controlled Life

who is self-controlled, Titus 1:8c

Self control is often applied to the mind before it is applied to the body. It is an active verb and not a passive one. If we make it passive, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

In Self-Control: The Battle Against ‘One More,’ Ed Welch said, “As the Hebrews were promised the land, but had to take it by force, one town at a time, so we are promised the gift of self-control, yet we also must take it by force.”

What does that look like? What does an active approach to self control look like? We are to be controlled by Christ. We are not to bring our passions and desires under our own control but under the control of Christ. It’s not about saying, “No!” That’s called will power and works only minimally. Instead, the Holy Spirit can teach us self control.

As David Mathis said on desiringGod.org, “All his life he was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). He stayed the course even when sweat came like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). He could have called twelve legions of angels (Matthew 26:53), but he had the wherewithal to not rebut the false charges (Matthew 27:14) or defend himself (Luke 23:9). When reviled, he did not revile in return (1 Peter 2:23). They spit in his face and struck him; some slapped him (Matthew 26:67). They scourged him (Matthew 27:26). In every trial and temptation, “he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8), and at the pinnacle of his self-control he was “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). And he is the one who strengthens us (1 Timothy 1:12; Philippians 4:13).

I know this post is about pastors and elders, but it certainly does apply to us, doesn’t it?

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Love What is Good

one who loves what is good, Titus 1:8b

I’m trying to imagine a scenario where a pastor would not love what is good. The implication is that the person is generous and good-hearted. Again, returning to the theme of doing things for others, this verse suggests that the pastor is a giving, benevolent person.

In recent conversations I’ve had, we discussed the persecuted church. to me, it would be very difficult to be benevolent towards those who persecute you. And yet, it’s done all the time.

Today, would you pray for the leadership in these persecuted lands. They need wisdom in the face of persecuted and possible imprisonment. They may also called upon to carry out acts of kindness and goodness among their fellow Believers and persecutors.

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Be Hospitable

8 Rather, he must be hospitable, Titus 1:8a

When Paul wrote this, hospitality was very important as there were plenty of itinerant preachers and teachers passing through. But it’s really not that different than Jesus taught through his life. Jesus had time for people. His ministry was other people. Hospitality could be defined in a narrow sense of taking someone into your home, but it can be much broader too.

A friend of mine in Wisconsin had a ministry to Spanish speaking workers who lived there. They were mostly in the country illegally but he never asked any of them. As we continue to debate a wall and what to do with illegals in this country, my friend did not care how they got here. He was trying to teach them English. He was being hospitable in a very inhospitable world. He didn’t argue with anyone on the merits or legality of what he was doing; he was too busy helping these men. As followers of Christ, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. I’ve thought about that scenario often as the illegal immigration continues to heat up. What should our role be regardless of where they come from and how they got here? The politicians and pundits will be up in arms about this issue, in particular, for years to come but we can still be ministering to the very people who are the subject of scorn and ridicule by these same politicians.

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No Violence Here

not violent, Titus 1:7e

You have to wonder why Paul had to include this in his list of elder characteristics. Perhaps he was dealing with a violent culture in general, and it just naturally seeped into the church. This verses is similar to 1 Timothy 3:3. Gentleness is the rule of the day. There’s very little place for anger among leadership. Getting angry at gross injustices and societal abuses is completely legitimate. Getting upset and knocking a fellow believer down because he’s wrong is completely out of order.

Pray again for your pastor and his family. Pray that he will continue to exhibit gentleness and love over anger and violence. Pray that he has wisdom to speak peace over those who are violent in his presence. Pray that the Holy Spirit would engulf your pastor in peace and calmness as he walks in the Spirit of God.

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No Dishonest Gain

not pursuing dishonest gain. Titus 1:7f

There are plenty of ways to make a buck in this day and age. It’s also easy to lose a few of your morals and ethics to turn a fast buck. A solid Christian work ethic used to be “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” But we often want the easy money. I believe it was John Wesley who turned down a pastorate because he said it was “too much money and too little to do.” That’s rare.

As a spiritual leader in the church, the pastor must be above board in his finances. People are watching, and especially so when it comes to money. The temptations are real and there are plenty of them.

Pray for your pastor, that he will be especially cautious on the subject of money. I suspect they already know that instinctively, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have others praying for him and his family. Pray that God will bless what he’s been given.

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Under the Pressure Cooker Every Day

not given to drunkenness, Titus 1:7d

This is a verse that, depending on where you live, changes scope. Some would argue that this verse argues against alcoholic beverages completely, while someone else might see it as encouraging pastors to drink, just not too much. I don’t think it encourages drink but it certainly doesn’t forbid alcohol. What it does, though, is lays parameters. God knows the human heart. He knows what we struggle with and what we’re given to excess. Alcohol is one of those things. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to “avoid the appearance of evil.” Getting drunk as a pastor certainly raises all kinds of eyebrows. Very few inside and outside the church would respect a pastor who does that. The pressures these men of God face are enormous. They have to weigh every action they take against what could be perceived as being really wrong. Of course it’s an unfair burden to place on pastors, but it’s hard to change.

Pray for your pastor today. Understand the pressures he’s under every day. Pray that he will successfully offload those burdens into the lap of Jesus. That’s the only way he could possibly bear the burdens.

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Even-Keeled

not quick-tempered, Titus 1:7c

Pastors need to be even tempered and rational, especially when the people they minister to are chaotic and angry. The insults they might receive from breaking up a fight, for example, are rarely directed at them, but it would be easy for them to internalize it and take it personally. It takes a very wise man to be able to evaluate a situation without becoming so emotionally involved.

Pray that your pastor will be level-headed and even-keeled throughout his ministry at home and with church people.

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People Absorbed vs. Self-Absorbed

—not overbearing, Titus 1:7b

The next few days we’ll be discussing the characteristics that Paul laid out for Titus, which are applicable for today’s pastor. The first quality is the person should not be overbearing. Other translations say, not arrogant, not self-absorbed, and not bossy. The pastor is a leader. He can’t be arrogant or self-absorbed, which would be the antithesis of what he should be. After all, pastors care for their people so there’s no way they should be self-absorbed. Even as they prepare teachings, it’s all about the parishioner listening and applying the message to their lives.

A few years ago we were visiting a church. The preacher spoke and we went home. I went to the church’s website to find out more information about the church and their beliefs. On every page I clicked on was the pastor’s new book he had written. I believe the subject of the book was worship, but that is irrelevant. In my mind, he did not have the congregant in mind when he chose to hawk his book all over the church website. I know I was turned off by it but what about non-believers who are searching for that church to go to occasionally? It leaves a terrible first impression in my opinion. I may come off as nitpicking or judgmental but it wasn’t my intent. My intention was to merely point out that our actions (selling a book on countless web pages of a church) have consequences (turning away good people).

Pray for your pastor again today. Pray that he will have the mind of Christ in all situations. Ministry is difficult because we are always dealing with messy people. Having the mind of Christ helps us to discern good from evil, right from wrong, and people-focused from self-focused.

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